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New Dream, Old Nightmare (Private)

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Chapter 1, "New Dream, Old Nightmare."

 

 

Honeyed eyes peered from bronze balcony, the clocks’ ticking, and grinding of gears serving as a sonorous cacophony. The ballad of innovation like a grand symphony, of which she was the maestro. The expanse of bleached rolling gnolls stretching beyond the horizon, as the kerfuffle of a debate from the street, trailed to keen ears. Luscious lips bending into a smile as the shifting of the sand due to times waning influence had sowed discourse. Friction necessary for progress, for it’s through the fire and hammer that metal can be repurposed into an implement. Hand gripping the railing, as lunar light perforated the veil of twilight. Stars were twinkling in the heavens, as a gentle gelid breeze coursed between the spiraling bronze buildings. Locks of raven hair drifting to its call, cascading downward as stray strands obfuscated inquisitive gaze. 

 

The mood contorting, proving somewhat malleable as expression bent to the influence of her third eye. Dreams within dreams, an endless expanse of worlds connected by the most narrow of bridges. The tapestry of fate being plucked, the fleeting of one of her kind vexing mind. She was exasperated by the fact she recognized this baneful spirit, this mischievous cur foolishly traversing the abyss between worlds. Djinn were fickle, their mind able to resonate with one another across a vast distance. The epiphany anything but melodious. More like the chaotic clashing of brass instruments as she withdrew into her home. The laboratory housing many trinkets, discoveries wrought through blood and sweat. Combing endless dusty tombs to further her reach. Curvaceous form now exposed, as she would change attire. The white silk dress, while flowery and flattering, was not suited for the road or task at hand.

 

Rummaging through her closet, she’d eventually embellish figure with her favorite traveling attire. The garb consisting of pure black clothing, a jacketed top with an orange stripe running up the center, mounds of flesh leaving cleavage exposed as sexual prowess like any tool had its place in her arsenal. Bottom half and midriff covered in straps of leather, held together by buckles that clasped onto her top. Flowing dress that left thighs exposed, only shielding her bottom from wanting gaze. Fingerless gloves to limit callous from formulating on her gentle hands. Dark leggings and a pair of traveling boots to trek through sand and mud alike. Traction being a vital component when one walks the lonesome road. Once covered, Myrriah would gather her things, tossing in a capsule that housed one of her creations, as well as, food, water, change of clothes, perfume, a few rags into dimensional pocket. 

 

Fingers were running through hair, as she meandered within lavished halls, reaching the golden adorned vestibule of her home. She was peering over her shoulder, giving the nest one final glance. Gloved hand reaching for the knob of brass, twisting and pushing the barrier open. Stepping beyond it’s gaped maw, sealing the door shut once past the threshold. The winding streets of metal patrolled by clockwork machines, steam pouring from the grates darted across the city. As the sound of boots making their way to the stable near the city's limits echoed, betraying her approach. Blending into the darkness, only to reemerge into the rays of artificial crystal light, exiting the safety of erect walls, as she rode on the back of a giant beetle, her loyal steed. The portal between realms a well-kept secret, eluding the comprehension of most. Yet Myrriah wasn’t like the common rabble, nor was she comparable to the gelatinous nobility that plagued her realm.

 

The lady of coin a unique breed with unprecedented aspirations that have governed her actions. Why care about one stray spirit? Because a wrathful Djinn can prove quite the blight, and the thought that someone may link it to her world was nettlesome. The empire thrived despite the chaotic rule of the Queen, yet prosperity comes in seasons. For across the near infinite dreams were eyes ravenous by nature, hungrily peering out for new worlds to subjugate. This foolish soul could bring the ire of a nation within these arid borders if it managed to cause harm. Insectoid appendages barreling forward, it’s pulsating belly feeding on the magical properties emitted from the grainy bosom of the sands. Sustenance propelling the organism forward, as the Mistress of shadows would find her way toward the sea of dunes.

 

Within the epicenter of the wasteland, few dare tread, even the most hearty of adventurers she rested for a moment. She was reaching into her dimensional pocket, pulling out a soft fabric like a towel to wipe sweat from brow, chugging down some of the water she had brought to thwart the parching of lips. Dainty fingers ran across the carapace of her bestial friend, the partner while not sentient still had an whimsical perception for the caramel toned beauty. It’s carapace as black as the night, as the soft underbelly seemed lined with organic material, crimson in hue that like air sacs expanded outward before contracting. The hulking beetle pressing onward as the two would inevitably stand at the center, fingers snapping the sand around them vanished, the pinkish light of the rising sun eclipsed by utter darkness.

 

The swarthy curtain was robbing one of sight, the deprivation maddening if one were to lose themselves within the tunnels connecting our worlds. Following the residual energy left behind, like a ghost trapped in time. As the laws of reality differed within this void, the sense of nothingness palpable, beyond dreadful. The harrowing experience troubling the beetle, yet it wouldn’t last. Within that space between space, time ceased to function outside of its chasm. Yet, within, the process felt like hours. The heartlessness of that space giving way, evaporating as the link between their dream resounded. Striking a chord through a complex network of frequencies permitted the two to infiltrate the curtain. Yet the process did not proceed without a hurdle or two. Dimensional travel was a complicated affair, if facile, then all planes of existence within the dream would have been linked already.

 

The tumultuous turbulence vehemently shaking the two beings, their very cells vibrating in the most excruciating of ways. While outside time remained locked in torpidity while transmitting oneself through those blacken halls. Once they reached the pinnacle, the compression unfurled, as time leaped forward. The exact passage unknown, though, enough to permit the other spirit to escape from the entry point. The darkness cracking, as the depravity of one’s soul within the void, dissipated. The wailing brought on by nothingness never got easier with time. Pearly fangs grinding against one another, as grunts birthed from agony, bellowed forth from juicy lips—light beyond blindingly flooding the scene, as both shielded their oculus. From nothingness, everything came into being.

 

Standing now within the wilderness, the labyrinth of trees stretching onward as the melodious call of winged beast echoed. Birds roosting within the branches, their shade provided respite, allowing Myrriah to repose herself. Gloved hands were grasping the reins as she ordered her friend onward. The beetle lumbering forward sluggish at first, it’s oafish approach facetious to observe. The change in magic, the gravity of this planet, and other natural forces, be them greater or lesser, taking time for both of them to acclimatize to. The foliage rubbing against legs and chitin, as the beast of burden, pushed into the brush. Eventually, the two finding a path, the road cut naturally due to the traffic of the local wildlife and indigenous folk who called this quaint world home.

 

Mandibles colliding several times, as a hand gently patted the top of the thorax, the jubilant creature proving contagious as the Djinn smiled. Honeyed orbs peering down the road, tapering as the trail of her officious brother while subtle, didn’t escape her mental grasp. The exact location obstructed from vision, yet the third eye tucked away from the flesh had enough foresight to deconstruct and disseminate the general direction—radiant ray piercing between the green leaves, providing warmth to olive-tone vestige. The humid air a far cry from the arid landscape of her home, as the two continued with merriment down the path. The mind left to wander, evaluating various outcomes and potential ramifications for this interloper. Heart beating like a drum, mind running at speeds twice as fast as that of an average human. 

 

The strangers within a strange land out of their element left Myrriah suffering from sightlessness when it came to how this plane operated. Ignorance and complacency two predators she often eschewed, finding their company less than elfin. The ditty rhythm of their unremitting stride juxtaposing impeccably with the natural ambiance, as they incessantly prowled across the scene. The sun setting, seeking shelter behind the edge of the world, Myrriah setting up camp away from the road. Taking refuge within the wilds as stalwart gaze remained vigilant. Her own body’s physiology unique as sleep, thirst, and hunger took much longer to have a toll on her. The rest necessary for her insect, leaning against the bark of a nearby oak. Shuffling that deck of cards that had served her faithfully through many frays. 

 

The chirping of crickets resonating, bouncing off the acoustics of the woodlands as the frigid night air caused goosebumps to litter across velvety canvas. The camouflage of darkness working both ways, as eyes adjusted to the night. The evening passing, as dew-kissed the blades of emerald colored grass. She was stirring her mount from slumber as it pushed out hot air from its extremities. Rising as the energy of the land kept fueling the creature, the magical properties not as dense as that of her motherland, but enough to thwart off starvation. Their travels were recommencing, as the moisture clinging to the brush stained skin and exoskeleton, once more trodding down the muddy road. Crisp cerulean skys were holding up, as the sun crawled across the heavens. For nine days, they repeated this process, cleaning clothes in the river, drying it off with a spell, gathering water, fending off beast, receiving curious glares, and intimidating a few bandits. The dried salted meat she packed providing nourishment, while not a delicacy by any stretch of the imagination, it did suffice.

 

On the morning of the ninth, the Djinn could feel they were close. She was holding a polished silver mirror, combing hair, beautifying herself with the makeup of crushed plants, cactus, fungi, minerals, and insects as the fragrance of honey and berry perfume was applied to the skin. The ritual of maintaining her ravishing visage proving somewhat therapeutic, even if no one was around to revel in the fruits of her toiling labor. Once more, the beetle would shake off atrophy hold, shuffling to its feet as it wiggled thorax. The two are now approaching a ruin, covered by the natural growth from the land. It’s jaws open, as a harrowing, frigid gale escaped the mouth. Myrriah was reaching into her pocket realm, pulling out a crystal on a pedestal, placing it near the entrance as she would set up camp. 

 

The crystal would consume the vile chi irradiating from the beating heart of the evolving being. Its current form would slowly corrupt her or any organism within its grasp given enough time. The process would take a few hours, and so she would sit on a stump, shuffling her deck as nimble fingers provided showmanship. The tarot cards from her word vanishing from fingers. Flicking wrist for them to appear once more between the other hands digits. She was repeating this process as she hummed an old folksong to herself, as if trying to soothe the nervousness washing over that hourglass form, fending off the insipid nature of the mundane, allowing placidity to take root.

 


@Fierach

 

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Edited by Sombersong

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Posted (edited)

Whispers came to the Order of Force Majeure of a a strange spirit, a foreigner to the forestlands of Lagrimosa.

Such entities were well within their remit to handle, and the Daemonslayer himself went to investigate the stories and rumors and find out the truth of it. Whether this was a single, benign incursion, or the beginning of something more sinister had to be known, and James would never task his subordinates with something he would not do.

Eventually the cloaked figure trekking across the forestlands of Lagrimosa would come across a ruin in the distance. This was, where the rumors said, the locale of the spirit. From afar he first scouted the location with a spyglass, noting its features, emplacements, entrances, and age, and checked it against a crude local map he had procured. There was the faint air of magic about the place, stronger and more recently cast then its surroundings. Satisfied that this was the place, James got ready to head on in. 

Perhaps it would be Myrriah who saw him first, a man clad under a long worn cloak, emblazoned with a brilliantly burning corona. His face was young in years, but old in experience, dark eyes framed in by darker bangs of hair, and he carried himself with the confidence of an apex predator.

He was clad completely in custom armor under his cloak, mended and modified over a hundred times, and a large gilded war belt sat upon his waist, with the snarling head of a wild beast. At his right hip lay half a mask that looked as if belonged to some circus troupe, and the other lay a fine, sheathed longsword. 

James would pause at the sight of Myrriah. Then he would start to approach slowly, his hands out from under his cloak and empty as a sign that he was peaceful.

For now.

"Hail stranger" he greeted simply, deeply once he felt close enough.

 

Edited by Fierach

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Time passed, the crystal slowly waning the odious chi encapsulating the gaped gullet of the ruins, the process not yet completed as the shuffling of cards continued. The balmy day was providing the brisk realization of tranquility, yet peace was a vigorous imposture, an illusion that often led one down a path of expiration. A truth while seldom spoken out loud, any true warrior worth their mettle, who has experienced the ravaging inferno of war and strife, knew this to be authentic. The universe duplicity served as both sides of the coin, yet melding to form a singular image on closer scrutiny. The scintillating ray of the sun, peering through the cavity between the branches and leaves, as the shade tempered the perturbed mind. Thoughts were now idling, as the cordial embrace proved to ameliorate, similar to the ardent touch of a mother. The homogeneous visage of the scene coalesced with the stillness of the soul.

 

No matter the precariousness of Myrriah situation, the rhythmic beating of heart dismayed cynicism. They were blighting the swarthy roots that weighed down her thoughts, alleviating the palpable sense of dread once looming over perturbed mind. The sound of feet pressing against the road betraying obfuscation, as the clanking of armor while abstruse to the obtuse mind, resonating against keen perception. Honeyed orbs maundered toward the entity, stoicism greeting him as quizzing soul bemused as edification sought to be gleaned from the most tenuous of sources. No matter the camouflage, the Djinn had a way of slowly extracting the truth. Most often, they were betrayed by the most minuscule of details. These infractions perceived to be defunct to most, that few attempted to obnubilate, let along occlude them.

 

The splendiferous quality of his armor promulgate the opulence of prior work, the phlegmatic stride hinting not at hubris but confidence warranted. This wanderer meandering her way methodical like was anything but a charlatan, drawing a parallel between this one and the Kitsune’s of the White Sands. The bodacious mannerism proving tantalizing, drawling both vexatious and ebullience inspired emotions. The concoction earning the evanesce of her pacified expression, as luscious lips flowed into a soft, yet hospitable smile. They were beckoning the man to come closer, as the Djinn knew a valuable asset whenever she beheld one. They say beauty and worth are subjective, yet while some inherent truth can be hearkened from this conclusion, it seldom proved infallible. The two beings contrasting one another, this man wore his abilities with bravado, while Myrriah preferred subterfuge. 

 

Her bodies appearance, mannerism, and verbal inflections, working as one to cultivate the sense of nobility. The masquerade further embellished by her honey and berry fragrance, attire, and trinkets of gold and emerald. Fingers snapping, as the once prevalent deck of cards ceased to exist, melting from one’s gaze instantly. Palms were resting on knees, as the entity slowly uprooted herself from perched position. The words of this man reaching ears, brows were fanning upward as the greeting was rather bland considering the way he carried himself. Humility was a rare trait, an attractive one, yet meekness was a weakness in her eyes. A true soul that is at peace and understanding with itself knows when to proclaim and when to say nothing. Hands resting on wide hips, weight shifted as they arched slightly. The regal reaction was only furthering the deception, coming so naturally that few had pierced the veil quickly in her lifetime. 

 

One might be forgiven for assuming her to have been born with a silver spoon in mouth. However, Myrriah was anything but some privileged merchant surrounding herself in lavished goods and prosperity due to others actions. As a Djinn, she was birthed into slavery, toiling away at the cost of much sanity and effort to cast off yoke. Denying her inherent place in the cosmic order, defying the chains of fate as she instead sought to forge her destiny. A slave listens, a slave accepts, individuals questions, an individual disobeys when necessary—the most significant of tools within her arsenal, poetically serving as her greatest weakness. One might think if she were privy to this, why the spirit wouldn’t attempt to purge her faults. The answer was complicated; the truth rarely so simple and never spoken aloud. 

 

Curvaceous figure bending from the spine, offering the strange man a courteous bow, refusing to rise till returned or expression of offense reached ears. Ignorant of their customs, the Djinn would apply her peoples greeting. Hands were resting at her sides, clenching into a fist softly as she waited. “Greetings, my name is Myrriah.” Replying, purposefully keeping many details to herself, lest they cause an abrasion to form between them. This intimidating fellow had yet to show his hand, and the cards of fate were often uncharitable. The lady of coin unsure whether he’d be benevolent, or nefarious toward her cause. The meddling of unknown variables while an inevitability, still was something she loathed in secret. As a manipulator, one who prizes her mind over all else, she preferred being informed as opposed to wallowing in the darkness.

 

No matter his intentions, a few things were abundantly clear. This hunter, sellsword or slayer of vermin, was not prancing about the woodlands with glee. His approach far too expected to be some mere random traveler going for a stroll. Myrriah had already prepared for this mentally, considering the high possibility that the powers of the land would send out a scout, warrior, or representative to evaluate. It was after all a logical move, information being her currency, knowledge her sword it stood to reason that similar minds coexisted across the expanse of infinite dreams. The mistress of shadow would play her hand, not wanting to be a mere spectator or risk offense by coming across as vindictively manipulative. “I assume you are here for the spirit as well? Tell me, Sir, what do you know of it?” Query hinting that this strange lady knew more than she had let on, yet was receptive to the notion of disclosing it.

 

@Fierach

Edited by Sombersong

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James studied her with a measured practiced eye. Her dress invoked past memories and lessons, of peoples native to sand wastes, mysterious, and resilient. He breathed in deep, scenting the woods, and also catching something from her stronger then perfume, a sense of magic, inhumanly so. Could she still be human? It was possible, but he doubted any human would be looking so immaculate in such an outfit out in the wilds. She was quite beautiful, downright entrancing really by any estimation, but only made him somewhat more wary. Seduction was old of the oldest tricks in history, and still remained one of the most effective for good reason.

When she bowed, he paused, and then brought up both armored fists in a martial salute, his own style of formal greeting.

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Myrriah? Was that her name? Her real name? It didn't matter for the moment. "I am James Eredas" he responded in kind, before looking up at the ruin.

I assume you are here for the spirit as well? Tell me, Sir, what do you know of it?”

He looked back down at the woman. "So you know its a spirit too? I can see you're quite magically inclined. Perhaps the spirit is yourself? Then I would only know what you tell me"

It wasn't a hard conclusion to come to, even if it was incorrect, although James didn't know that. It seemed whoever the strange lady was, she was quite formidable, a spellcaster of no small ability or wit. James's talents laid more in the realm of the physical, although he considered his own cunning equal for the task.

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Though vision dared not trail upward, the prying eyes of titillating enthrallment all but eluding senses. The bewitched gaze through ephemeral daring not to tarry longer than need be. Lips simpering as the greeting was finally met, his introduction sufficing as vestige returned to an upright position. Honeyed oculus seemingly perennial in how they latched onto the gateway of his soul. An intangible thread forming, as she found herself being drawn to the idiosyncratic anomaly.  The string being plucked by ethereal hands, as a chord had been struck, flourishing as the sense of bewilderment blossomed. The visage seemed youthful, yet those eyes defied all initial deductions. He was reflecting not the sense of some hearty young man, but a weathered, battle-worn primordial soul.

 

Myrriah’s brows were unfurling, displaying her bedevilment with this dashing fellow. Jame’s, a name perchance familiar where he resided, but to this Djinn, it was exotic. His wariness. if known. Would not lead to offense, reflecting positively toward his character. Only a lummox soul would waltz with impetuous into her web. Far too often, the curious mind would succumb to mystification, resulting in easy prey for the ravenous temptress. Myrriah preferring that those she cast sight on displayed cautiousness; after all, resistance is the foreplay of the hunt. Digits ran through cascading raven hair, as the wind crept across the stage, causing foliage to rustle. Stalwartness lasting, even as her beetle grunted with concern, finding the man’s foreign odor to be vexing. 

 

The astute mind of this warrior connecting dots, though, he was only partially accurate. Regardless, the fact he was this perceptive only made him all the more appetizing. Finger raising, pointing skyward, as it wagged side to side. The preamble to her reply as words formulated on the tip of oral muscle. “I am not the spirit you’re looking for; however, you’re correct on that assertion. I know you probably expected me to lie or attempt to deflect suspicion. But, I see little reason to refute what is known, nor what I am. It would only serve as an insult to you, and a disservice to me.” 

 

Elegantly poised words revealing silver tongue, yet no insidious agenda or treachery lingered. The need to lurk in the shadows long since wilted, as such an approach would prove inane. Myrriah was many things, but boorish wasn’t one of her core attributes. Pools were noting his form, quickly deducing the brute for what he was, a bruiser. Good, how she loathed getting blood on her attire, never washed off easily. She preferred to have someone in the front lines so that she could pick off her targets from afar. While crimson staining may not be her ideal color, something tole the ancient spirit that Jame’s here differed. She could see the color proving rather flattering, barbarous, but stimulating on him.

 

“I have entered your world to undo the other, the one I assume you have come to quell or investigate. I am a Djinn, same as him, though that is thankfully where our similarities end. If I may make a humbling request, I’d prefer it if such a revelation remained between us. People often are quick to assume, casting darkness due to their heritage as if anything is so simple. I love how complicated and intricate our world truly is.” Adding as feet took a few steps forward, hand reaching out as pointer finger prodded pecs, having no qualms in risking her well being as she surveyed the man. Sizing his physique, not in a sensual way, more to evaluate where he stood prowess wise.

 

Eyes were returning to meet his own, tittering at his accurate summarization of her inclination toward the arcane arts. Her sweet fragrance was permeating between them. As a hand rested on the bosom, as if to sharply end her jubilation. “Impressive, I doubt your muscles are just for show? If so, we will make an amazing team though we need to wait. The Chi of my brother is toxic, but fret not, I am already working on a solution to this dilemma.” Pivoting, turning to face the humming crystal as it pulsated a bright pink. Hand fluidly motioning toward the artifact, a subtle display of dominance, a way to proclaim her efficiency and knowledge regarding her sibling. 

 

“We have maybe half an hour, though, how to pass the time? I do pray you have no intention to kill me slayer of vermin? I think you will find I am more useful and entertaining alive, as opposed to dead. Life can be quite bleak, but death, death is prosaic and finite.”  Shrugging shoulders, as heavy sigh drifted from lips. Eyes were closing shut. Fingers were snapping, the once vanished cards returning to her palm. Her loyal steed banging mandibles, oafishly fumbling about the tree it was tied to. “She likes you, though, she thinks you smell. Don’t worry; I beg to differ.” Eyes were opening, gracing him with a flirtatious wink, muddying the waters whether this was genuine intrigue or a gesture to bend the man to her will.  

 

Pearly fangs exposed, gentle pressing against succulent lower lip, as the Djinn waited to see how things would unfold. Unsure if Jame’s would pounce, humor, or show the rare trait of forbearance. Keeping judgments at bay until we have ample time to impart his conclusions toward Myrriah’s person. Not based on her race, but the actions of her character. Be them sufficient or ailing.

@Fierach

Edited by Sombersong

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A djinn! That explained a great deal, from her aura of magic, to her exotic appearance, garb and manner of speech. A spirit of sands, neither innately good nor evil, sometimes benevolent, sometimes malevolent, often mischievous.

The Daemonslayer made no move as she approached. As a hunter and slayer of monsters and men, James learned to read intent long ago, and no sensed no malice or ill will in hers. As Master Knight of the Order of Force Majeure, he tempered his killer's instinct with diplomacy, a fine glove of soft velvet hiding a mailed fist. 

The mailed fist that he now used to brush aside her touch, albeit with the gentleness of velvet. 

"Lets not be too familiar, yet" he warned her, and then smiled slightly, just enough to take the sting out of the rebuke. Her wordcraft was quite fine, insinuating, and redirecting but it flowed around him like a rock. Business first. Pleasure, if any, could come later.

Well, perhaps he could indulge her a little.

James look a cursory glance at her beast of burden, not any real threat in his estimation (but biggest damn beetle he ever seen), and then turned his attentions back to the exotic djinn before him.

"We can pass the time by learning of each other. I would like to know more about you... or particularly about your brother. Why is he here, what is he up to... ladies first". 

He cocked his head at her.

"Fear not. If I wished to kill you, we would not be having this conversation"

Edited by Fierach

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The tapestry she had woven seemed to prove futile, the man keeping his wits about him, as the hand was brushed aside. Luscious lips were curling, bending into a smile once more, approving of his rejection. While seemingly of little import, the quaint notion reflected wondrously toward his innate character. The discipline and fixation on the task at hand while pedestrian to most stirred a sense of delirium within the machiavellian soul. He was a professional above all else, artful, a master at his craft. How titillating the prospect of observing the idyllic stroke of his brush would be. To see the dance, the tango of death, as metal rend flesh from bone. Such barbarous actions may be despondent toward his foes, but to these honeyed gates, it would come across as nothing less than sublime.

 

The subtle gesture and draconian voice commingling in harmony with rigorous resolve. Oh, how Myrriah looks forward to getting to know this perplexing man, even if it is for the most finite of times passage. Without the need or want for dubious intents. No offense triggered by these actions or stiff words, nor would his flaccid tongue inflict any wounds to her pride. Djinn may be cocky, but Myrriah had learned to temper her demons like a smith did their blade. Taking a fault or blemish and bending it into a jagged weapon, purging it of many impurities, such an implement was not needed for now. No, instead, a jubilant rhythmic beat like that of her heart seemed more appropriate. Each action was proving calculative, an attribute each party seemed to possess in droves, whether the being before her admitted it or not. 

 

“All good things require time; if not, we would never learn to appreciate them.” Retorting, elegant tongue of silver lashing back, yet the sultry melody returned acid with warmth. Was she trying to charm him? Bewitching as Myrriah maybe, the lady of coin felt little desire to enthrall this unknown variable like some bard with their hollowed limericks and song. Her symphony was far more engrossing, a slow build-up, only graced toward those that have wiled enough intrigue. While an enigma, this hunter of beast has yet to raise himself to such a pinnacle. The beetle was rousing further, banging blackened chitin against the coarse bark of oak. The creature famished from their journey, the land lacking enough magic to provide comparable sustenance. His query was reaching ear as she raised a finger delicately, turning to face her insect friend. “One minute, dear, the baby needs to eat.”

 

Hips swaying with stride, sandal-clad feet perambulated across the way, shaking her wrist as a crystal appeared within gentle palms. Bending down, strands of dark hair dangling as the murmur of wind rushed throughout the scene, snatching scent within its maw. Mandibles chattering, letting out a pleased cooing sound as soft underbelly pulsated a crimson shade. The light reflecting against the blades of grass, as the energy preserved within the stone would be extracted toward the creature’s belly. Smile resting on veneer, an illusion to still the fracas of spirit. Nails sliding between the joints of exoskeleton, caressing the soft flesh underneath its armor as the head of the bug rubbed against her forearm.  “Try to make it last; you will need your strength for the journey home.” 

 

Removing her hand as it rested on the exposed narrow waist, turning around to face the man sharply as hair drifted behind. The mane resting against the back as the Djinn leaned against her mount. Digit flicking lower lip as Myrriah finally would address his point, not wishing to be perceived as too tardy in her reply. “Oh, don’t worry, I am not afraid. You don’t cross me as the holier than thou type. More the brooding, confident, observant fellow. You wear it well might I add.” Complimenting him, as hands drifted to her abdomen, wrapping around forearms as they nested against the core. “But enough with the flirting, it is quite clear you are resilient to my charm: that, or your one impressive actor. I need a moment to think about how to address your quizzing best, though; if you want to unravel me feel free to. I do enjoy talking about myself.” 

 

Jesting with him, though the lucid truth of that declaration had most likely been abundantly conspicuous. The crystal humming, as the corrosive energy had shown signs of waning, yet the barrier still to thick to meander through without risking bodily harm. The shift in the air palpable, a sign that this olive-toned woman knew what she was doing, peering at the stone with a smirk from the corner of her eyes, as radiant brown suns drifted fleetingly back to his chiseled canvas. She was drifting up toward his face as she took yet another inspection of his form and attire. “He may or may not be infected with a plague, an Eldritch plague of sorts. If so, the fool may be patient zero to a pandemic of antediluvian and monolithic proportions.  He is either already turned, in which case things will be interesting.” 

 

Fingers drumming against the skin, before digging deep as the notion of her brethren serving as a cancer to this world Myrriah’s normally gelid, and collective mind wanted to perish the thought, less it wilt away from guilt. “Or he is seeking to meld with the environment. Anchor himself to your humble world. If not infected, he will meddle and haunt these woods. If a carrier, the chi will inflict madness, tumors, altering flesh and bone as they barely resemble the husk of their species. Tendrils will spawn sprouting from muscle, the body will be covered in bile, pus, and mucus.  And that’s the adorable parts. My homeland is currently dealing with this minor problem, but fear not, I seek to remedy that after. If my world is to die, the last thing I want is to have this blight spread across the infinite dreams.” 

 

She added, hinting that, despite her facade and grandiose magnificence, the Djinn had a soft heart of gold. Venturing to do what she perceived to be the right thing, with the hope of blossoming benevolent fruit from her actions. “You have three questions, by the way, that’s one gone. I will answer them all honestly; after that, I might fudge the truth a smidgen.” Chuckling, the extent of the joke proving muddied, assuming any could be had. “Now my turn, I hope you too will play along, would be boring otherwise. Do you have any experience with let’s say...Pseudo Eldritch beings?”  The deck was shuffling in hand, as brows fanned upward, flicking a random card from within the center, the other ones fading as the spinning tarot card was caught between pointed and middle fingers.  She was sighing as she gazed at its face, refraining from showing the man what she saw fate was telling her.

 

@Fierach

Edited by Sombersong

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Well, she answered one of his questions. It was only fair for James to answer one of hers in kind.

"Too much" he replied. For somebody in his profession, any experience was "too much", rather then what a normal laconic might answer, "enough". There were things that no mortal man should know, voidborne secrets that haunted the dreams of magicians, and graced the communion of witch doctors, entities who were as incomprehensible to humanity as an humanity were to ants, whose mere visage could bring lesser men to stark raving madness. James concerned himself with such things, or rather their cultists and followers, deluded sycophants of dead gods, on vigilance to make sure their plans never came to the fruition of having gone horribly right.

Of course, the great majority were somewhat more pleasant to deal with, ordinary beings like Myrriah (for a relative definition of ordinary), whom reasoned and had faults and virtues like anybody else, but James had the feeling that was not what she was referring to.

He considered her explanation. An eldritch plague. Flesh change. If what she said was true, this was a greater threat than he expected, and James was glad he was here instead of one of his less experienced cohorts.

"I know for something that sounds like your brother, the best way to deal with a plague is to burn it out, excise the tumor".

Where he younger, James might've revealed one of his cards right there. Experience taught him the value of keeping them hidden, letting his enemies and even allies underestimate him. Myrriah might be able to sense it, the blaze of James's fiery aura, kept in a slow smoulder until it was needed. The Daemonslayer then pointed at her humming crystal from which he detected a faint transfer of magical energies.  

"I assume that isn't burning it out?"

Edited by Fierach

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Those finespun, inviting lips bending into an ardent, unfeigned smile as eyes peered longingly into his own. Myrriah was finding this being to be amusing, if nothing else. The precariousness of their situation eluding mental grasp, but perhaps this was for the better. The stories of yesteryear brought with it nostalgia, as well as the return of past horrors. Her peoples, their realm, meant little to this exterminator. Myrriah wished to live through his eyes vicariously, as the two would doubtlessly find themselves soon thrust into the fray. Regardless, his elementary replies, while not what she wanted, would suffice for the time being. Having dealt with men of his caliber on many occasions, the Djinn had learned long ago to accept their limited retorts. 

 

Finding the veil of mystery he erected to be more irksome, then bewitching, yet still housing some enamor. He was rather corneal as effulgent proof that the investigator would at least serve as estimable company. The spirit of mischief seldom is full of hubris not to see that her portrayal was equally mired in faults and annoyances.The two remaining, waiting out the clock as the crystalline device continued its toiling, the exact nature of it's function remaining obscured, until such a time deemed worthy of note. Deep down inside Myrriah was left to mull over his two word reply, delving more profound than most would, as if to ascertain the truth. Was this man as well-traveled as his visage declared? Or was this all a canny ruse, a facade to amplify perceived power, while secretly possessing little worth? 

 

Eyes narrowed, honeyed orbs piercing the shell like a dagger, as if to extract the answer to query. Those eyes flickering with quizzical nature, interrogatively noting and discerning the slightest inflections he managed to display. There was thunder in voice and posture, and there was lightning in his eyes. If this was deception, his subterfuge surpassed even the mistress of shadows abilities. A thought, while perturbing, wasn't utterly beyond the realm of possibility.The vexation of his mind crystal clear, showing soundness, only to be called into question by the bravado his posture permeated. Either this man was a true master at his craft, a god within his vocation. Or he was a fool with misplaced grandiose thoughts, suffering from acute delusions and hauteur. 

 

The resurfacing of this plight failed to loiter, dissipating into the recess of mind as the olive-toned beauty focused on the task. She was seeing little worth in exasperating oneself over frivolous details that time will reveal, as it often did without clemency. The continued talk of her brother caused the graceful enigma before him to shift, uneasy with how he took the usage of that term a bit too literally. All Djinn were related in some form, but they didn't possess familial bonds as he perceived it. Their connection is tenuous at best, non-existent at worst. As she stated prior, the commonality, they possessed evaporated beyond the fact they were both Spirits. Djinn comes in many forms, a thousand plus variants exist within their dying breed. 

 

One might be forgiven in assuming that this man and his kind had a hand in that, but Myrriah wasn't that obtuse. Perturbed mind plagued not by sightlessness, as the reality of the picture had long since been observed with unfettered limpidity. Her kind, the Djinn, were perishing slowly not due to an outside force, but an internal component. The times were changing, the sands ebbing and flowing beneath their feet. Those unwilling to adapt, those too supercilious to prove malleable with the shifting, invariably had their spine snapped. Doomed to be interred by grainy bosom, asphyxiate, and be purged not by hunters, technology, or philosophy. The real culprit of their demise proving vastly more quotidian, a tale as old as civilization, often ignored, the consequences of mulishness. This curvaceous beauty serving as proof, Myrriah was pliable, adaptable, witty. 

 

Using the alterations to further her station make the world a better place, and by extension, coexist with it. "It seems disarray has settled between us; perhaps in my pursuit of brevity, I failed to explain a few points properly. This spirit, this potential plague bearer, is not my brother in a sense you know of. We are far apart, only similar in that we superficially possess the same heritage. I would appreciate it Lovett, if you refrained from lumping me up to such a barbarous example of my kind. I value my liberalism, my receptiveness, and ability to accept this ever-changing world of ours. It is insulting, would be like if I assumed all humans were on the same level of their bandit counterparts, or those lesser in your organization. Even I can see a stranger in a strange land, that you are cut from a different cloth. If you weren't, I wouldn't be so inclined to humor you. Though, to be fair, I get the feeling this is a mutual opinion." 

 

Smile broadened as the smell of honey and berry lingered between them, carried by the wind as she permitted a moment of silence to fester. Giving time for her chastisement to sink in, as well poised tongue and sugary words, were clever guises for insipid disdain.The air thickened, as the mood between them might be perceived to acetify. Though, in the merchant's eyes, the clashing only made him all the more stimulating. Stepping forward, she'd grab his velvety hand, interlocking fingers as she attempted to drag him closer to the crystal. "Come, I will explain the genius of my creation." Purring, as a melodious voice, reflected her enthusiasm—wide hips swaying with pace, as the black skirt elegantly flowed behind her steps' fluidity. 

 

Everything seemed deliberate, preplanned like a delicate ballet, though such appearances came naturally to one such as her. The two now standing, as abruptly her progress halted, bending her knee as she crouched close to the contraption, hand motioning for him to join her. "Burning the affliction would serve no one, and the amount of energy far too excessive. In my research, I developed a better method, one more advantageous for the user. I am many things, but wasteful is not one of them, my dear companion." She added, the spirit being vague for the moment, as tongue traced luscious lips, happening to ward off them from being dehydrated. The crystal sitting in a clockwork pedestal, gears grinding as the mechanism ticked. 

 

Side vent spewing forth exhaust, which quickly was vanquished as it was dispersed harmlessly into the air. "Burning the chi would be quicker, but the energy to purging ratio, coupled with the benefit, was far too unappealing. So, I spent years developing this new approach. You see, at the risk of sounding cocky, I learned how to use my opponent's strength to make it a weakness. The energy you sense is filtering, the vile, sickening aspects purged as the field you see is turning against his favor. What would once prove debilitating, will only now amplify our strength. I am waning his own, if corrupted, while raising the prowess of the user if attuned. I know nothing of your physiology I'm a woman of knowledge and coin, hardly omnipotent. Though, if you trust me, you can lacerate your palms and drop some blood onto the device. I will use my energy to try and map it out, while not perfect, will give you some benefit. I just can't promise it will be above a 60% efficiency." 

 

Honeyed eyes peering at him from the corner of her eyes, brows fanning upward as she pondered if the hunter would trust a stranger? If he didn't, it made little difference, as it would serve her well enough if nothing else. "That was question two, by the way, my turn. The pursuit of perfection is foolish, but we all are entitled to our aspirations, no matter the folly. So, in the hope of tempering myself, what do you think of me? Both good and ill. Don't worry; this isn't some trick. I know I have chasms worth of failures. Imperfections and our strengths coalesce to paint the picture of who we are. Denying them is rather silly. I think we can agree on that much, even if I am a bit too wordy in my delivery." Sultry tone hinting at how different the two were, but not in a humiliating fashion. Myrriah sees little point in stirring the hive, less she gets stung.
 

@Fierach

Edited by Sombersong

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The Daemonslayer sensed her disquiet. Perhaps he offended her. The man decided there was no harm in humoring her a little more.

James gave the barest hint of a shrug, but the words that followed were more eloquent then before. "My apology then, for that disarray is borne of my unpolished language. I have traveled far, whilst likely not as far as you, with only my own dour thoughts for company, and it has left my tongue curt and temper grave.  Rest assured I make no association of any actual bond or kinsmen-ship between you and this other djinn, and even the most benighted scholar can recognize your singular personage and dignity."

There was a hint of mockery in his apology, but also not just a little genuine warmth. It was too elegant a roll to tell easily, not with the Daemonslayer. He allowed Myrriah to lead him to the device, and he walked around it slowly, studying it. 

He recognized it immediately. A mana converter, but specially attuned. A design far more efficient and advanced then even the latest magetech the Order of Force Majeure possessed. It was intriguing, a marvel of engineering, and it seemed like the djinn was a surpassing engineer and scientist as well as a conversationalist. But...

"I'm not sure if my physiology could even be considered for a test. At least not as the first one". James held his right hand out to the side, and from the center of his palm he produced a brilliant golden-orange flame. 

"Its more combustible then that of most others" he noted. 

Sacred fire. The power of his bloodline manifest, projection of the infernal aura of an Eredas warrior. Capable of harming immortals or supernatural beings, as well as scorching mortal ones to a cinder, and in its most potent and concentrated form, able to reduce even the hardest of substances to dust or slag. 

"What I think? I would like to answer that question fully later, when the task is done. Right now? Your estimation of me is likely not far off my estimation of you, and my greatest praise is that I think we'll get along well enough to see this critical task through successfully".

And for James Eredas, a man who preferred to, and often did work best alone, that was high praise indeed.

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His apology, while heard, initially elicited no response. Myrriah had moved on, not caring to dwell on past misgivings. Though her resolve now tested, palms resting on knees as she tilted her head, peering up at the man as a wide smirk plastered itself on caramel visage. Though she could sense his humor, the compliments were a welcomed change, even if made in jest. Chest swelling with jubilee as she placed a finger on her chin, tapping lightly as strands of dark hair loosely clouded honeyed suns. “I know your poking fun, but I still appreciate the compliment.” Adding matter of fact like, his praise embellishing her vestige rather snugly. Slowly rising back up, she slowly stretched her hand forward, mist sliding between her fingers before she instantly retracted her hand in pain—face shifting, displaying minor discomfort as the Djinn remained calm. 

 

“Close, oh, so close.” Whispering under breath, turning gracefully to face the man of lesser words. Hair twirling behind her motion, before resting against back. Face scrunching up, revealing a sense of befuddlement. Inquisitive eyes narrowing as she senses his enthrallment with the device, but, the lack of questions insinuating he had seen such technology before, or didn’t care, if not both. Her quizzical mind further beguiled by the elegance of words, proving that he can be more delicate when this hunter deemed it necessary. His physiology comment giving way to many queries, though, such pursuits for edification seemed inappropriate. Given how the fellow had refrained from delving too deeply into her origins.

 

She was listening to his words carefully, the stranger refraining from asking his third question, leading Myrriah to ponder whether he was bored of her little social game. If so, it was his right, but that wouldn’t stop her from posing her final inquiry to the slayer. The continued discussion on his unique anatomy, causing the lady of coin to pause, face grimacing as the word combustible did little to sway concern. Was he made of some flammable liquid? If so, could that serve as a weakness her brother could exploit? More unknown variables, burdening her beautiful mind, riveting. His final thoughts were reaching ears, causing the mood to shift from souring to perky. Compliments would get one everywhere with her; after all, what lady didn’t enjoy some praise from time to time. Especially if it came across as genuine and benign?

 

“I won’t pry much, but if you’re about to go boom, please be kind and let me know. I don’t fair well with explosions.” The caramel beauty was chuckling, the hilarity in choice words not escaping her.  Oh, how she’d love to tie him up, pin form to a frigid slab of stone, and thoroughly dissect what made him tick. A lesser Djinn would have embraced such degenerate desiderate wants. Myrriah, thankfully, has conquered those demons. While they persisted, as full purging was an impossibility, she had instead learned to curve them. What is greater? To have been born good, or to tailor your devils for benevolence? A thought that often came up whenever she opened up about her dubious and mired past. He had opened up, freely disclosing feelings no matter the risk. Given this fact, Myrriah felt compelled to obey, obliged to do the same.

 

“Take your time; I will enjoy relishing in it be it good or ill. But, it is only my turn to return the favor, before posing my final question. I find you rather enthralling. Like a puzzle I wish to solve, an enigma I long to comprehend. Chasms may separate us, yet, that does little to deter my desire to explore even if the climax proves lackluster. You should be flattered, few have held my interest for this long.” Astute words, spoken with fervor as honeyed tongue, unveiled thoughts without fear of restraint or action. Even if this offended the man, he brought the sword to the throat and led to her disembowelment.  Myrriah would at least have died the way she had lived, free and experiencing the realms her way. 

 

“My final question, are there any towns or settlements nearby?” What an odd question, seemingly drifting from far left field. Yet the ramifications of this answer had immense and disturbing implications—the sense of importance drenching those melodious, sultry words. As the device would pulsate quicker and brighter, It wouldn’t be long before the two could enter the ruin. The lack of reaction from the Djinn inside already proved a foul omen. Only furthering Myrriah’s fears, but the threat of contamination was something she had already prepared for. Given how their worlds were linked, the spreading of the blight was inevitable given enough time. A scenario, when played out, did little to still agitated mind. Having planned this scenario often, even the mistress of shadow couldn’t fully fathom the implications. Ignorance indeed was a repugnant thing.
@Fierach

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James took no offense. He was not a man easily offended, even if Myrriah were to rip the veil between worlds and try to tear him asunder, their next meeting (if any) would be tranquil and peaceful until it wasn't. He simply accepted such things as necessary risks, professional business instead of personal attack, leading to a strange personal policy that almost everybody, regardless of whom they were, got at least one free swing or chance to kill him if they so desired. 

Arching an eyebrow at her though, he chuckled and teased her, "You never know. You might quite enjoy certain explosions in their proper context, if I hold your interest for too much longer". Was he resilient to her charms? Yes. Was her proof to her charms? No. Or were those his charms he was plying on her in response, turning the tide of conversation with seeming renewed interest at a moment he deemed opportune?

One thing was certain, both of them were beings who would never yield, and so relished the battle in all of its forms, be it wit, or more physical contests. 

As for her question regarding nearby settlements, James didn't find it odd at all. It was an appropriate concern, the question of "collateral damage", or quarantine if matters should go ill. He recognized and appreciated her concern, if that was what it was, or otherwise applauded her caution, if she had measures in place to prevent the spread of plague. As he did as well. Scorched Earth was something he had no issue using, even if he preferred only to use it as a means of last resort. 

"Two villages by a few days walk, one township by five. Is that too close, or far enough?" he replied in a questing tone, trying to ascertain which was the reason, concern or scorched earth. 

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Explosion? Her mind was vagrant, musing before the dot's quickly connected. Her eyes were narrowing, honey orbs lingering on his as Myrriah taken a bit back. The lady of coin was used to suitors few merited more than an initial glance. Though, so far, he had proven himself worthy, though she wasn't that type of lady. Despite her appearance, and coquettish mannerism, the mischievous spirit wasn't one for vapid romantic engagements. Her mind far too preoccupied with more grandiose schemes, not woven out of maleficent intent, but what she deemed them to be for the good of the realm. The term rather vague, something she'd admit wholeheartedly a loud if pressured. Still, the elegant soul draped in alien garb wouldn't deny the glimmering of potential, a spark ever so modest between the two.

 

"I think you meant to say if we hold each other's interest." Her witty rebuttal designed to unveil that while she was interested, his own was far from obstructed from incisive eyes. Luscious lips were bending, elongating into a smile as Myrriah felt little need to refrain from expressing with lucidity. All such joyous expression stricken from face, the shift ever abrupt. The mistress of shadows doing little to hide the dire that proved palpable. Inner turmoil so thick it could be cut with a blade, if plausible. Eyes widening, iris shifting with repulsion as mind recalculated everything. The information gleaned altering her previous course, given her brother had a week, if infected, the nearby three settlements were either assimilated or on their way to be.

 

Initially she had hoped this to be spry engagement, slip in, gut her sibling, return home. But, it seemed the card she saw earlier was accurate, the hand of fate proving ever so cruel. Like moths to the flame, these two souls were drawn, destined to meet, though for what purpose had yet to be disclosed. Protocols, drills, theories all running through her mind, rushing at speeds doubled that of any mortal. Myrriah would be lying if she feigned everything was well, caring little for deception when it served no one. "They are all dead, their flesh added to the infection. Population, how ma-" Her words cut short as she heard a familiar excruciating shriek. Golden eyes were darting across the scene, as the brush near her beetle rustled.

 

The cries were getting louder, as the bushes around them seemed to dance and bend. Twigs snapping as the two decks of cards fired from wrist, circling Myrriah, orbiting her supple form in a circular motion. "Wailers." As if on cue, the decayed, puss, tumor, bile covered infants crawled out. Umbilical cord like a tentacle dragging behind as twelve eyes of crimson, glanced at them. They were blinking from random direction as eyelids closed. Four in total, as the beetle, banged against the bark, breaking free as it ran off. The stillborns far too focused to chase after the insect, instead of opening their mouths fully, jaws dislodging sinking to the floor. Fecal matter seeping from orifice as bone snapped, and body contorted as if clay—their form shifting, ever-changing, as if beyond comprehension.

 

The constant movements causing tumors to burst like pimples. Spraying a intermixture of dark brown puss and bleed against the leaves and ground. The smell unutterable, like fermented urine and waste stuffed into a carcass, left to fester in the hot sun in a sealed contained for ten days. Tiny tendrils were protruding through flesh, as abdomen torn asunder. They were revealing black slimy hairs, and jagged teeth. A pulsating light escaping broken maws as Myrriah snapped her fingers, causing two cards to jump from the deck, resting between pointer and middle digit of each hand. A pinkish glow outlining the cards, as her mana had begun to charge her weapon—the man by now noting by now her unique, odd, and perceivable useless tools for devastation.

 

The children moaning, resembling that of an innocent child, as they would bounce against one another, as if to intimidate the two. "Djinn, magical batteries, hastening their evolution. This...is far worse then I had previously imagined." Her posture shifting, placing her right leg forward, hips were rocking back and forth as hands raised, her motion like that of an exotic belly dance. "Momma?" It's voice shifting, like that of many children. Imitating the words of those that had been added to the hive. Black blood coursing downward from eyes.

 

@Fierach

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Her alarm caught his attention, and the revelation of their foe drew a growl of aggression. 

Two villages and a town. How many people was that? James didn't know. He estimated several hundred, maybe a thousand tops between them all. There had been no sign of any abnormalities in the one he had passed through, but that was many days ago already. If the plague worsened, a quarantine team would have to be called, perhaps the Imperator Bellum to fly overhead and scorch the lands to glass. 

No.

 It would not worsen any further. This James Eredas vowed on the spot. There was nothing but cold contempt in his eyes now, as he gazed upon the so-called wailers. The Daemonslayer withdrew from his side a pale porcelain half mask and slide it over his face, whereupon it immediately transformed into that of an Oriental demon, a cruel grin broken by great tusked fangs. James's war mask, a filter in which he presented himself as something inhuman to his enemies, as terrible or more so then they were. 

Nothing more was spoken except for violence. Taking quick, determined strides towards the creature, the Daemonslayer drew his longsword and swept it out at the neck of the closest of them. The longsword, which was one of his prized possessions. 

Named the Rending Blade, it had been in James's arsenal for many years. Measuring at over three and a half feet of blade, the weapon gave off an unearthly pale glow as it sung through the air in his right hand. The weapon was touched by antimagic, a powerful field that was the most intense on its edges and tip and tapered off sharply to almost nothing a foot away. Even though it suppressed James's own powers in close proximity, it nevertheless remained an effective weapon in his employ.

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Myrriah saw something like it before, albeit on a grander scale, that transformation, the shifting in appearance. This man, this slayer of vermin, there were many parallels between himself and the Kitsune of her motherland. His demonic contortion was causing her to pause, honeyed eyes drifting to the blade and it’s wicked enchantment. Anti-magic, lethal to her kind, severing their connection with the arcane can displace or kill a Djinn. Just being this close sent a shiver down her spine, as goosebumps darted across olive-toned flesh. The spirits eyes darting back to the deformed children, the once human spawn crawling toward them, leaving a trail of blood and puss behind their approach. Myrriah was taking a few steps to the side, stepping away from the hunter less his blade ruin her means of defense. The cards now engulfed in a pinkish flame, as uncanny fluidity and speed came from the wrist.

 

 

The card flicked, slicing through the air as a thing tail followed their approach. The harmless cardboard was exploding, impacting the closest Wailer as it’s mangled, contorted flesh set ablaze. The cries of a thousand infants echoing from the flames. As the body was burnt to a crisp, fire and light attacks were their weakness, yet shadow and darkness would prove of little effect. Being Eldritch, they didn’t breathe, nor were they affected by bleeding, poison, or curse magics. The three remaining letting out a blood-freezing cry, as if lamenting the death of their comrade. Though, the collective never troubled themselves with one cell of the organism. Tentacles were whipping across the scene, crashing against the earth as lines dug into the surface.

 

 

 The otherworld appendages were sprouting teeth as the three crawled onto one another, forming a single entity. Their skin bubbling, flesh expanding, bones melding, and snapping. The tumors were popping, spraying puss, and urine across the earth. The new form resembling that of a ball rising t it’s stumpy feet. Fifteen toes per extremity, as the hands were dangling from the bubbling, shifting mass that was the body. A sea of eyes blinking, peering at the hunter as it stepped forward. The skin across the center was tearing vertically, organs ripping from the body, dropping to the floor as a sea of bodily fluids pooled where it stood. Jagged teeth on the edges, like a zipper, as from the dark cavity tendrils slithered forth. 

 

 

Zipping across the way as it attempted to grab the hunter with barbed appendages. Three hearts exposed, beating, pulsating as an inky liquid dripped from them like thickened soup. Myrriah snapping fingers as two more cards rested between fingers, her energy coursing from limbs toward the tarot cards. Those that circled her body spinning faster, as the longer they were maintained, the quicker she could utilize them as the deadly projectile. If the newly founded extensions touched the hunter, they’d burrow into flesh. They were penetrating skin, sliding between muscles as they’d envelop his bones. The latching extremities, once secured, would then start to drain Jame’s of his energy. While replacing it with their own corrupt Chi, resulting in his infection, The process varied, from instant to taking some time. All dependent on their targets mana reserves.

 

 

These were scouts, often clinging to their prey as a tick, fusing with them, or melding into one giant entity for quicker assimilation. Their cries were a warning, signaling the main hive that the hunters were outside. Myrriah piecing this together as eyes darted across the scene. Calculating how many they could have already added to the system. The Djinn had figured that these areas were isolated, at most a small town, but three in total? The true direness of their situation unknown, as they were no longer dealing with one or fifty Psuedo Eldritch abominations, but hundreds. The distant approaching of many more feet could be heard echoing within these woodlands. “Hurry! Dispatch of that thing quickly! And hug me! Don’t question, just displace the charm of your weapon and let’s go! There isn’t any time!” She cried, watery growls filling the woods around them. 

 

 

The hive now roused, hungry, seeking more thralls to add to their numbers. This was no longer a simple kill mission. If they didn’t act smart, quick and efficiently, not even glassing the region would stop them. The only thing giving them hope was that the brain of the horde had yet to evolve fully. If it had finished its metamorphosis, the infection would be on the move spreading its taint. The sky blotted by a storm of dark green fog, and yellow flashes. As the dead and living alike slowly succumbing to madness. If they failed, it wouldn’t be a war; it would be extinction. Yet, they had one fatal flaw that prevented them from being unstoppable, that being the network itself. Kill the brain, kill patient zero, and the rest will drop dead. A task easier said, then done. 

 

 

@Fierach

Edited by Sombersong

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