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[Dead] The Blade of Cthulhu

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The Dead General had been on enough airship to have built up some tolerance for turbulence; but the winds that buffeted the Sphynx now were testing his limits. Scenes of their craft breaking apart and scattering him and his comrades to the heartless winds crept into his mind; and he realized his heart rate had become elevated. Death did not scare the shinobi; he had been in its presence long enough to grow accustomed to its silent embrace. Helplessness, however, was a terror that had been cultivated in his heart during the hell that was his childhood. To his mind, few situations seemed more helpless than plummeting through the sky from so high up.

But he was not a child. The man who sat on the bridge of the Sphynx now may have been shaped by the experiences of his youth; but with great effort, he was learning that those traumas did not define him. He needed only look around to see that he was no longer helpless. It was through his own strength that he had come so far; overcoming all obstacles put before him to gain the life he had. Even if the ship should break apart, he would find a way to overcome that as well.

His resolve remembered, there was still relatively little Shikai could do as the ship attempted to break through to another dimension. As the ship finally pierced the veil, there was a sensation akin to pushing hard on a door only to have it suddenly opened. Their new surroundings were dark, save for a single light that flashed over and over again.

"I know what a lighthouse is," he chimed in, "And what a lure is too. But It's not like we're spoiled for choice, huh?"

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A pocket dimension? Interesting.

She was both relieved and disappointed that the cabin barely felt any of the turbulence upon reaching this new realm. It would have been the quite the new experience but fate was just cruel to thirsty woman like her. The unquenching thirst for knowledge and new experiences had always been one of her greater flaws.

Her eyes drifted to the new world outside. Dark and possibly barren except for the neverending waters and the beam of light that came and went ever so often. But not all was lost as their ship was still working. Yes, that was the most important thing right now.

"That lighthouse does seem interesting," she spoke out loud."However, can we still locate Bladesweeper?"

Just need to focus now. The important part is that the signal hasn't been lost yet. It would be bad if they had to search every nook and cranny of this new land. Using that method to find two airships did give her quite the headache.

"Hmm...what else is there outside," she mused as she expanded her own senses pass the airship and into great unknown hoping to find something of note....

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A bloom of telekinetic anchors rushed out from Sierra, creeping into any available nook or crack and twining around the ship's solid core, as they sought to secure the Dead and their white-garbed associate against the ship's violent crash into the pocket dimension.  Their pressure was as steadfast as the tribeswoman's expression and, but for the curl of her brow, equally unmoving.

“We’ll have to ram straight into it.”

Oh, that's fun.

An idle glance from Sierra took in Cain sidelong; the tilt of her chin, and spark in her eyes, suggested amusement at the tumult.  

It was never a boring day.

For a long moment the Dead sat in silence and blackness, lulled by the gentle rock of the ship as it drifted.  It could be that the entirety of this world was like this - a wide expanse of nothing, and nowhere, with no one to conquer and nothing to collect.  It pressed on her; the threat of nothing was somehow claustrophobic and she fought the urge to cast her Will out in search of something -- anything.  Her breath slipped over her lips, past the twin strips painted down her chin, like the last gasp of the fallen and she stared at the horizon as if the land could be forced to emerge.  Moments passed, marked by the steady sound of her fiddling with the hammered metal ring wrapped around her thumb.

When the light appeared, the tension that had crept across her frame fell like the distant waves, and her eyes angled up toward the stars.  "I thought we were trapped in nowhere, for a minute," she spoke, her words on the exhale, thrown to no one in particular as her black gaze cast out across the dark blue expanse, toward the lighthouse's distant heartbeat.  "What a strange place."

Edited by Noko

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“Have you ever seen a lighthouse?”

Blooms eyes were wide with perception, while Cain’s were sharp with it. Where she absorbed on a broad scale, Cain delved into her with his words. He had not yet laid his suspicion upon her, but for his purposes of deciding who or what and how worth the Dead’s envelopment she was, Blooming Rose’s silence throughout the duration of their journey was… insufficient. Nonetheless, his question had been rhetorical; as the mysterious ocean’s waves lapped them to the lone probing light of foreign shores, the lighthouse became starkly familiar.

“Welcome, everyone,” said Cain in the Sphynx’s dimness. The only sound following the grim breadth of his words was cool air hissing vents around the deck that smelled like freon filtered the scent of the dozen-and-a-half peoples’ existence for hours and across dimensions. Cain tapped the big digital map at the front of the bay, a familiar sight. In fact, it was a map of the exact same area they’d taken off from originally.

“To Umbridge Isle.”

As the waves gradually settled, and their ship’s propellers pulsed them gently forth, they saw a man standing at the end of the pier. There was a boat rowing up toward him with one single individual in it. From this vantage point they could also make out another ship approaching in the distance. Then, shrouded in the fog behind that ship, a barely conceivable dreadnought loomed miles away.

“Look familiar?” Cain’s lips formed the words bitterly. There was no humor in his voice, his back to the team and his stabbing gaze on the man at the end of the pier.

Then, only after the ugliness of such bitterness had left his face, he turned to face them. Now, he sought the black rose Sierra had laid upon a silver banister. After an hour and a half it lay flat against the polished steel, its petals pooling in the flower’s lushest of death throes. He brought it to his nose and drew in its scent, a memory of love lost. 

“I’ve been here before,” the rose lowered to his side, twirled in his fingers as Cain’s gaze now listed toward the back wall  in memory. “This realm is inhabited by a demi-god that uses some type of mirror magic. It seems pretty hell-bent on protecting whatever’s in here. Nevertheless, it is apparent to me that we’ll all face some version of ourselves in here.”

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“I found this pocket dimension first in my search for Blade Sweeper,” said Cain as the Sphynx lilted gently up to the pier that was a mirror of the same pier they had met on. “I found that whatever inhabits this realm is replicating Umbridge Isle no matter who enters or when, and that’s what led me to the Isle. I searched everywhere there and couldn’t find anything, just plants with black flowers everywhere, and… a bunch of horses. There wasn’t a lot to work with, but I think the horses have something to do with it. One thing is for certain, this illusion isn’t about us. I think that Isle is just where it found the ship we’re after.”

It was almost indiscernible, but a dark laughter tickled the edges of the Dead’s collective consciousness as Cain spoke. It was cruelly feminine; whatever had manifested the laugh could be nothing but blasphemous, the saliva on its tongue nothing but acid and blood. Thenceforth, they would hear its purr in the back of their minds.

“This.. demi-god, or whatever it is, is damn powerful,” Cain was already onto the extended gangplank, salted night air filling their cabin as he paused to invite them into the abyss. He was still holding the black rose, like he had imparted upon it some sentimental value. The smile he lighted upon them was telling, disarming. 

“That’s why I brought you guys.”

And then he left the Sphynx, approached the mirror version of himself. 

Everything here seemed similar besides the time of day, but the Cain up to whom Cain walked was not entirely Cain. It was a man like Cain but with pale skin and black hair. He wore a black admiral’s coat, which was not the present Cain’s brown suit, but it was certainly something Cain would wear.

The black-haired man, hands in his great jacket’s pockets, averted his gaze from the oncoming ship to look sidelong at Cain.

“Back for more? Oh look,” the black-haired man said with mock surprise, his bare feet shifted through the mat of white petals on this pier. “You brought friends.”

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"I think that Isle is just where it found the ship we're after.."

"You always take me to the best places." Sierra angled her dark-capped head down toward Cain's firey mop, biting back a grin as she lowered her voice to quietly tease the Architect.  It was true; the pair of them, they had a way, and unfortunately it was a way of almost getting killed.

The Sphynx came to a halt, its momentum ceasing in a sudden, blunted thud at the edge of the dock, as Sierra pressed her anchors firm and held herself and the remainder of the companions in place.  As it settled, they retracted and took their comforting sense of stability with them; the ocean still swelled, back and forth, like ball bearings beneath their boots.  She followed Cain off the deck, snatching her pack on the way and ducking the headrail as she exited so the tip of her spear wouldn't hit. 

Amidst the rhythmic thrumming of the ocean waves, she felt laughter echo in her thoughts, and the Mindgorger slammed shut like an iron gate.

"This.. demi-god, or whatever it is, is damn powerful,

That's why I brought you guys."

"Seems they have friends, too.  Are you hearing that or is it just me?"  No small amount of considering lined the tribeswoman's brow as she set her dark eyes on Bizzaro-Cain's not-so-distant silhouette.  Her trust in Cain was infinite, even if bringing more guns to a gunfight didn't typically result in higher survivability.  "I suppose my double could be a dull-witted homemaker, or maybe just terribly fashion-conscious and lacking motivation."  The edge of her humor, tossed at Cain from behind a too-tight grin, betrayed the Psion's concern as much as the waver in her aura.  A wave of seeking Will rolled out toward the mimic like a torrent over a rocky shore as the First sought to understand and characterize; in truth, it was barely intended, no more purposeful than turning toward the sound of someone calling your name.

'Mirror version' was a world of possibilities; none of them likely good, and she needed to understand.

"Back for more? Oh look, you brought friends."

"Do you know what it wants?" she further wondered, dragging her attention back to real-Cain before she threw an echoing question out at his double.  

"What do you want," she called out, "Can we deal?  Or is it just all blood and screaming from here on out?"

Spoiler

@amenities Does this thing have an aura?

 

Edited by Noko

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"Let him take you out on the town sometime," Shikai quipped, joining in on the teasing of The Architect, "Joran City still hasn't completely recovered from our last party!"

Suddenly the shinobi was aware of a presence in his mind; his recent, "therapy," sessions with Phoebe having made him far more aware of who might be trying to get inside his head. The presence was faint, but tinged with an undeniable malevolence that lingered on the periphery of his senses. For now it seemed content to just creepily giggle at nothing in particular, but the shinobi sensed that it wouldn't stay that way for long. By the time he was descending the gangplank, he was already preparing himself for an attack.

"This.. demi-god, or whatever it is, is damn powerful,

That's why I brought you guys."

"He looks like you boss," Shikai observed, "Minus the charm, of course."

"Back for more? Oh look, you brought friends."

"Do you know what it wants?"

"I'd say a fight."

Shikai stretched out his hand and from the shadows a blade as black as the darkness that surrounded them appeared in his hand. The Legendary Blade Mykur had been in his possession since the aforementioned mission in Joran City. He was currently in the process of awakening the blades true power, but even dormant the sword was razor sharp; capable of cutting even magic. Twirling it around in his hand, he looked at the shadowy figures standing before him and his comrades. 

"I've only beaten myself up metaphorically before," he joked, a feral grin splitting his face, "So this will be a new experience!"

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On 11/23/2020 at 3:49 AM, amenities said:

“I found this pocket dimension first in my search for Blade Sweeper,” said Cain as the Sphynx lilted gently up to the pier that was a mirror of the same pier they had met on. “I found that whatever inhabits this realm is replicating Umbridge Isle no matter who enters or when, and that’s what led me to the Isle. I searched everywhere there and couldn’t find anything, just plants with black flowers everywhere, and… a bunch of horses. There wasn’t a lot to work with, but I think the horses have something to do with it. One thing is for certain, this illusion isn’t about us. I think that Isle is just where it found the ship we’re after.”

"Interesting," the Dead Mistress mused as Cain's words. Despite the lengthy exposition, the prospect of exploring an unknown dimension greatly piqued her interest. Contrary to populate belief, she was just a simple bard whose life revolves around the pursuit of knowledge. Collecting stories, gathering lore and experiencing the world were the main purpose of her life. With this brand new world laid before her, it was more than enough to keep her invested in their current endeavor. Not to mention the actual search for Bladesweeper. She just can't wait to confirm the existence of such a legendary vessel.

On 11/23/2020 at 3:49 AM, amenities said:

This.. demi-god, or whatever it is, is damn powerful,”

A soft sigh escaped her lips. Even now, she can never escape these so called almighty beings. Even when she had disposed several of them way back in the past. Clearly, there was no escaping her damned fate. TIll this day, her every path would still be blocked by one of these so call 'gods.'

As she trailed behind her other companions, she pulled out the sealed package inside her coat then attached it to her sword belt letting it dangle beside the right side of her hip. For now, the sword within is still sealed under various enchanted gabrics. However, she cannot hide the sword's thrumming as it responded to Shikai's rather rash branding of Mykur. As sister blades, the reaction was as expected.

On 11/30/2020 at 6:49 PM, danzilla3 said:

"I'd say a fight."

"Although I 've always preferred the non-violent option, I won't hesitate to fight if it plans to obstruct our path. I did bury a couple of these so called 'gods,' recently. Dealing with this one shouldn't take that long."

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The Void Cain’s golden eyes observed the Valucre Cain’s companions, head cocked in curiosity as they made their inquiries, made ready to fight? Their queries about battle were met only with the confused quirk of a brow. After a moment its pale lips split open like dry skin, a not sharp but predatory grin heralding his amusement unto them in the form of a laugh drier than bones. Its hollows echoed with the same, feminine laugh that skittered softly across the brain pan like acrylic nails. 

Phoebe would feel it best: The sensation that they were all standing in a haunted snowglobe being watched and, occasionally, shaken up.

"Although I 've always preferred the non-violent option, I won't hesitate to fight if it plans to obstruct our path. I did bury a couple of these so called 'gods,' recently. Dealing with this one shouldn't take that long."

As the Dead Mistress spoke, the ship that presumably held the Void versions of the Dead docked on the black beach and traversed the white petals littering the dock en route to them. It was almost as if the three fated figures hovered to them, ghoulish in their appearances.

Void Phoebe was perhaps most like its original. Her flesh was a pale tint that fit the black-and-white thematics of the realm they had entered into. Around her face, covering her eyes was a tattered black cloth. Beneath the cloth, where Void Phoebe’s left eye would be, was the first sign of color in this realm— an orb of violet light penetrating the thick gossamer that blindfolded Void Phoebe.

Void Shikai was like a hulking orc. He actually dwarfed the original Shikai at about twice his size. Utterly obsidian flesh stretched tight over thick muscles, a great mane of flowing white hair twisting surreally in impalpable winds. Within its hand it held a black rendition of Mykur, except this creature didn’t seem to hold the actual Mykur, or in fact any blade ready for battle, but merely as an attachment of his hand— as if it could never leave. Void Shikai’s mouth was a mess of stitches. A similar emanation of violet light peeked through the seams in its sewn-shut mouth.

“What’s that!? You’re going to have to speak up.”

Lastly approached the Void Mistress. Her hair was black, her eyes black, her skin powder white. She was remarkably similar to the Mistress. Void Mistress kept banging her ear on her hand as if she were trying to get some water out of it. From within her left ear there glowed a’something violet.

“You might as well put your sword away, Shikai,” said Cain, eye level with the Void Shikai’s chest, the most threatening-looking one of the bunch. “I don’t like it any more than you guys, but this ‘god’ isn’t like any of the other ones you’ve encountered. Can’t chop this one up with brute force.”

Cain brought the black rose up between him and his Void counterpart. Within the black rose held by Valucre Cain, for the first time, there illuminated a violet node.

“You want this?” he said to Void Cain.

Something carnal overcame the humor in Void Cain’s expression and he suddenly snatched for the black rose, but Valucre Cain yanked it back. Hissing as Cain withdrew the petaled flower, taking on a serpentine expression even for an image of Cain, the Void Cain regrouped. Phoebe would feel that the expressions and feelings of their Void versions were broadcasting through the whole realm. As Void Cain regrouped, the Void creature regrouped.

“I still have three other pieces,” he said smugly.

“Hey, what’s he saying?” said Void Mistress to Void Phoebe, who stood with her arms folded listening sternly to the altercation.

“He’s saying we’re about to play a little game,” said the blind-folded Void Phoebe.

Void Shikai’s blade quirked at the words, a war-grunt rumbling in his chest, but the beast was visibly restrained from speaking by the seams shutting its lips.

Ocean water lapped with mysterious gentleness against the dock. They stood way, way out on the wooden platform that led out to the middle of the Isle. It seemed, because there was a whole island beside them, that they might venture in since, according to Void Cain, there was no great battle about to ensue.

Void Cain stepped forward. The three Void Dead members stood behind him, pointing to the hulking ship far off in the foggy distance.

“There’s your stupid ship,” Void Cain said with impunity. Now, as Void Cain spoke and Phoebe became better acquainted with the Void creature’s aura that wrapped around them like a blanket of 1960’s filament, she would hear the feminine voice in the background speaking in unison with Void Cain, perhaps even powering it.

“But I’m not gonna give it to you.” Void Cain turned to face them, and the wrinkles in his face were innumerable, his brow a piercing crucible of anger and judgment. His body swelled like a monster in a dream, looming over them with an illusion-like frame and anger. “This is the last thing I hold dear!”

“That is..” Void Cain continued, “unless you complete my three riddles.”

“The first riddle!” he said, stepping aside and gesturing to Void Phoebe, Void Shikai, and Void Mistress. “Which monkeys are these?”

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"...what the actual fuck," murmured Sierra, as she watched herself descend to the white-petaled beach. 

The similarities between Sierra and void-Phoebe were so numerous as to be unmistakable.  Side by side, the surface-level differences she relied on to create Sierra- the tattoos, the darkened hair, the wildness in the way Sierra carried herself- all cracked and fell to the dust as Phoebe sank to a crouch, letting her grip slide down the Mindgorger's polished shaft as she stared the doppelganger.  Even the advancing fringe of her Will recoiled from the strangeness, disbelieving, and unwilling to test the oddities of this place by mingling herself with it. 

In time she stood, finding the rigidity of command in the defiant set of her shoulders, and as the conversation went on around her she shot a simple, razor-sharp question to her void-reflection, "Why would you let anyone do that to you?"

The defilement was anathema to the First- the subservience, the degradation, the insult of looking across the distance to see herself disfigured like that.  Beneath Sierra's sun-weathered tan, she felt her heat rise as she waited for an answer, or an acknowledgment, or anything from her disgraced twin - anything, even if those words were some tacit dismissal of choice.

The interlude didn't go unused.  As the conversation continued, Phoebe turned her focus to the distant feminine laughter underpinning the isle - the melodic lilt that filled the gaps and seemed to bind all the bits of this void place together.  It was hard to separate it all- to sift the unseen woman's dulcet tones from Void Cain's looming rage or to screen out this version of Shikai's fury from the cold efficiency reflected in her own twin, but she tried.  There was a commonality, there - a crimson thread that linked them all with the unseen woman who kept- fucking- laughing

It was grating, the mockery, and she ground her teeth against the continued insult.  There was an answer here, somewhere, and she was going to find it.

It wasn't until Void Cain's petulant temper burst and his presence flared in threat that Phoebe refocused from her search- a barrier formed unbidden, born and wove from her reactive unconscious, only to fall away in the same moment as she found the threat stillborn; Void Cain's voice falling away to outline the rules of the game her Mirror had spoken of.

"The first riddle!" he said, stepping aside to gesture to the other three, "Which monkeys are these?"

"Just to lay the groundwork, we're going to have a problem if you ever call me a monkey," Her humor was saccharine, its molecules manufactured and unnatural, curling her lip as she turned to speak to Cain.  The words carried her inward, though, pulling the turn of her shoulder as she set her back to the offending Void creatures and drew his attention with the touch of her hand to his forearm.  "They're all monkeys, puppets maybe- even yours.  There's something else here, something bigger, but I don't know what.  You said you were here before, did you run into anything?"

Edited by Noko

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"What the fuck is that?!"

Shikai pointed at the hulking abomination that was meant to be him; expression torn between confusion and outrage. The only way he could tell it was meant to be him was the black sword that seemed to be welded to its hand. Well, that and maybe the hair... though even that was too long. Coloring was wrong too; it was supposed to be pale-white skin and obsidian black hair, damnit! But the most insulting of all was that the Void clone looked like a gorilla whose muscles had been artificially inflated with bicycle pumps. Lean muscle was his thing, and given the appreciative looks he got from men and women alike when he had cause to take off his shirt told him that he was not alone! 

Oh, and its mouth was sewn shut. He wondered how much of the clone's appearance was based off Cain's perceptions of his comrades; and if so, did that mean his leader thought he talked too much? But the Architect always seemed to enjoy talking with the shinobi. Did they all feel that way about him?

A violent shake of his head dispelled the troublesome thoughts. He needed to focus on what was in front of them; needed to make sure he and his comrades came out of this alive and victorious. 

“The first riddle!” he said, stepping aside and gesturing to Void Phoebe, Void Shikai, and Void Mistress. “Which monkeys are these?”

Monkeys? What did that mean... no, wait a minute. He did know this riddle!

"See No Evil," he pointed to Phoebe, and then to his doppelganger, "Speak No Evil!"

Spoiler

I just took a guess. Lemme know if you want me to change that, LOL.

 

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The Dead Mistress sighed as she saw her own doppelganger. At this point, she should just assume it's one of the other versions of hers. Not that it mattered but it was rather worrying to find out there's multitudes of her out there running around unsupervised. While she could stomach the existence of this questionable doppelgangers, she could not let this copycat's sloppy appearance pass. For one thing, no alternate version of hers would let have something glowing in their ear. This one was a definite fail.

Well, she did not look that bad on closer inspection. Her eyes narrowed at that thought. The darker aspects of this counterfeit was quite nostalgic for some reason. A stark resemblance to an older appearance of hers in the very distant past, features that have made an appalling resurgence everytime she would make more use of her ill-gotten powers and abilities. Yes, this creatures should definitely not exist beyond this realm. 

On 12/24/2020 at 6:37 AM, Noko said:

"The first riddle!" he said, stepping aside to gesture to the other three, "Which monkeys are these?"

Monkeys? The word brought a smile to her lips. Just like the old saying Aslom brought from another world. Monkey see, monkey do. But a riddle at this was not the climactic confrontation she envisioned upon entering this realm. However, an encounter was an encounter, the least she could do was to humor it.

On 12/29/2020 at 5:53 PM, danzilla3 said:

"See No Evil," he pointed to Phoebe, and then to his doppelganger, "Speak No Evil!"

Ah! Another old saying from Aslom. Somehow, that bloody oracle felt so useful nowadays. If she remembers it right, then the next part should be-

"Hear no evil?" she hesitantly spoke pointing at the uglier version of her.

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"Why would you let anyone do that to you?"

Sierra withering away from her flesh like ashes in the wind, Phoebe made a good point to her silent doppelganger. Why had any of the aberrations let themselves become this? The only response they would receive from the trio, for now, were their sick visages grinning in twisted resemblance back at them. And still, the laugh trickling like a distant stream in the background.

"They're all monkeys, puppets maybe- even yours. There's something else here, something bigger, but I don't know what.  You said you were here before, did you run into anything?"

Void Cain looked adoringly on his counterpart, the original back on him with disgust. It was Phoebe’s touch that snapped him out of it.

“I didn’t run into anything, but I felt it. They’re all one thing. Some trickster demon,” he said, the grins on their Void clones souring just slightly. “It uses traces of our magic and what it can make of our appearance to generate copies. Not even good ones, either.”

“Oh come on, you don’t need to ruin the fun,” laughed Void Phoebe.

With Shikai and the Dead Mistress’s answers, Void Cain held a finger in the air.

“Correct!” He said, leading them up the pier toward the blackened island. Fleets of white horses ran along the beach, scared away from where they grazed on white petals by the strangers. From the end of the pier, Void Shikai crouched. His coiled obsidian legs suddenly sprung him from the boards in a launch that sent waves crashing from either side of the pier as he rocketed through the air toward the horses. With the same motion as his landing, he used the replica of Mykur to slice one of the horses in half. Grabbing one half of the twitching animal under each arm, Void Shikai sprinted into the forest ahead of them. 

Soon they walked through the trees. Everything felt and smelled the way a normal forest would, but the colors were all inverted. There seemed to be no animals besides the horses with which the island was inundated.

Among one another, the Void creatures and the Dead walked together.

“Next riddle.” said Void Cain, plucking a low hanging fruit and biting his sharp teeth into it. “I have cities, but no houses. I have mountains, but no trees. Water, but no fish. What am I?”

The quiet laughter in the background seemed to be replaced by the quiet sounds of distress. Whinnying and beastial screeching scraped at the backs of their brains.

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It smelled like dirt; like dirt and stale rot, and instead of invigorating Phoebe like the sea air did and reminding her of dalliances with Aristotle, it coated her tongue and soured her mood. 

"I didn't run into anything, but I felt it. They're all one thing. Some trickster demon," Cain said, his words drawing Phoebe back to the conversation through her fingertips' warm tether. "It uses traces of our magic and what it can make of our appearance to generate copies. Not even good ones, either."

"Oh come on, you don't need to ruin the fun," laughed Void Phoebe, drawing a bland, mockery of a smile from actual-Phoebe's full lips as she twisted, tight with murderous want, and suppressed violence.  It was unusual in Phoebe, but this thing in front of her scratched something primal with its unnaturalness.  The way it looked like her, talked like her, gestured like her, almost.  It was a living uncanny valley, a repulsive representation of her failures, and the more Phoebe looked at it, the more she was sure she couldn't suffer it to live.

Still, she walked. 

Biting back her revulsion, the First walked step-in-step with Cain as their footsteps hollow echo on the wooden deck gave way to the deadened, fragrant silence of crushed white petals.

She watched Shikai's double with a clinical, hate-filled chill.

"I'm not sure what that says about you," commented Phoebe after a moment, her words tossed back to the General as the malformed monster of a once-man landed from his bound, intestines spilling from the half-horse tucked under its veiny, swollen arm.  She may not have been sure, but her tone suggested she didn't think it was good.

The beach gave way to the forest; the stale rot to the scent of damp, cool vegetation, and with the change of scenery, Phoebe shook her arms gently and tried to cast her anger free.

"So, a mirror-land, but only almost.." she began, speaking to Cain as she walked, eyes traversing the forest's flip-flopped colors and occasionally checking and charting their doppelgangers courses.  "It's not everything; it's lazy- or maybe intended in a way we don't yet know. The forest is a true mirror, for example, but the horses haven't changed. Why the horses?" she mused. 

The hammered silver ring around her thumb bore the brunt of her thoughtfulness, traveling from finger to finger as she worked through the problems, thoughts occasionally fragmented by an equine scream.  After a minute, or five, or who knew because it all felt like an eternity to Phoebe, she ground her teeth and settled on the most obvious course of action-- she asked, swallowing the wretched wrongness as she called out to her mirror, "Hey, Phoebe." 

Fuck that felt weird.

"Why is he killing the horses? Seems more off than normal for Shikai."

The riddle was ignored- it was as if she assumed The Dead Mistress or Shikai would answer it and leave her to work through the less obvious questions.

Edited by Noko

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