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[Dead: Haunted Glen] Blood In, Blood Out (Closed)

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Session 0 below

Spoiler

Session 0

1) Premise

With lingering concern and general confusion as to why vampirism didn't take root in her, Phoebe gathers up a handful of Dead to retrieve the only expert in Vampirism found in Lagrimosa- Quinlan Nash.  Quinlan, a vampire herself, has been found to be located in the Haunted Glen.

2) Setting and Theme

This thread takes place in the Haunted Glen.  The theme is supernatural horror, with paranormal creatures and a generally off-putting wrongness.  The setting is the Haunted Glen, which for this thread will be a secluded, vegetated, valley, with far more shadows than light (as makes sense in a steep valley).

Aura readers, psychic characters, empaths, necromancers, spirit-workers, undead, and vampires all have special modifiers.  PM me for details if your character is any of these things.

3) Characters

4) Thread Rules

  • With the characters involved and the setting, we'll be using mild-powers due to environmental impacts - so you have reasons for not clearing the forest!
  • If you have character impacts due to the environment, please play them out 🙂
  • Have fun?

Posting Guidelines: We'll skip characters after five days without a post (if it's their turn).  Please just let us know if you won't be able to post or if life comes at you sideways, it's considerate to your fellow adventurers.  If we skip you three times in a row, you'll be considered to have dropped out.

 

 

Edited by Noko

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credit for HTML layout goes to Csl.

 

 

 

 

 

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There are many words to describe the atmosphere, the encroaching feeling hanging so heavily in the air. Similarly to stepping through a door from one room to the next those that enter here can sense the disturbing differences. Skeletal but daintily covered in foliage are the trees that hang overhead, not a sound, not a single shuffling of the leaves. Still and quiet and blanketed in greying condensation. This fog is natural here, thickest just inches above the ground, wisps stirring from dark into light as foot falls trespass against their lackadaisical stagnation.

Heaviness, sleepiness, dreamscape of nightmares even to those that walk the path of darkness and death. Those found lacking are warned, those found wanting are drawn forth. Whispers...not words but feelings that tickle the flesh with ashen dew drops that cling from the air as it is met.

Stay back…

Leave this place…

Or we shall keep you…

Several layers of shadow exist here, from the backsides of hills to the fluff of clouds overhead to the shade of the decaying bark of trees and the fog itself. Even still those with enough sight can see the moving ones, the roving strangers beyond arms reach. Swaying, twitching, disappearing only to return in a new place, a new stance. Figures of silence, carefully watching, waiting for their chance to move.

If one steps carefully enough there are many paths to be taken, portions of ground where moss does not dare grow though the top layer is sickeningly green where something tries its hand against such dampened soil. While one may be attempting to avoid the suction created by every lift in their footing it's possible to run into figures camouflaged by the natural landscape. Here and there strewn haphazardly about are stony statues. Some overgrown by vines, others tilted by the shift in silt under their weight. On closer observation nearly obscured by the mixture of thick fog and muddy ground small crumbles to piles of dust and granite lay near the more open of the gargoyles pillars. Age and weathering wear seemingly taking their toll.

Deeper…

Come closer…

Join us here in the dark...


Quinlan @DarkHorse: There is nothing as warm or pure as the blood of those we drink, it makes us stronger, faster, more lethal than we can ever imagine to be. It grows within you, Vampire, that thirst for the blood of the living...be they damned anyways... Listen to it...let it call to you that thump-da-dump....thump-da-dump... Every pulsation is a gong in your ear, mercilessly tortuous...

Shikai @danzilla3: Something about this land, though foreboding, is welcoming. It's warm and cozy as a fire on a winter night. You feel it in your dead rickety bones. You are stronger in the presence of the deathly shadows in which you and your friends walk. You know it, you feel it, and cannot help but want more of it. This catchy new feeling creeps up and snakes around you, you're not invincible, but you cannot help but feel that somehow you most certainly are...

Phoebe @Noko: You greatest strength has become your weakest link. There is nothing to stop the song in your head, it's a somber concerto...with childlike tones. She calls for you in the fog...and tells you her worries, her sorrows, and pain. You can see her too can't you? Crying for you come closer, to help her to show her the way out of the forest and back into the sunlight...but you can't just yet, can you?


 Beware the sirens call

and the banshee's scream

as there's not much of an obstacle

other than trying to walk out of a dream...

 

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There were places on this earth that no longer wanted the taint of the supposedly 'sentient' species, areas that had given themselves over to their wildness and cast aside the dreams of humanity. Yh'mi, as an illustration, with its ghastly mountains and the dreadful will it set up on travelers who dared to scale its peaks; Taen, which draped its treachery with wondrous beauty and buried its victims' bones beneath layers of moss, and now this - the Haunted Glen.

The Haunted Glen was a blight upon the land, the tormented and tortured cast-offs of the wicked souls that walked here in search of power and glory within its darkened boughs. In many ways, this group was no different than those others- black hearts in beautiful bodies looking for salvation.. or was it control?

Phoebe fought the land for every step, listening to the plunk of her spear as the mud swallowed its end into its rotting depths. The spear shaft gave her balance each step, but leaning on it twisted a dagger into the core of her rebuilt shoulder. It shouldn't hurt- between the Troll which Cain filled her ruined flesh with and rage with which the PRIME's essence had risen to fight the injury, plus the expertise from the Dead's fixers, she should be fine.. but she wasn't. Phoebe could still feel the berserker's fangs bury themselves in her flesh; she could still hear her tendons snapping as it tore through the strands like a wildcat on its meal. The memory was a nightmarish fugue comprised of stomach-turning dread and wrongness that refused to settle in Phoebe's thoughts with any permanence. 

She had so many questions, but highest on the list was if she had been infected.

Was she one of them?

She'd had tests run, a battery of them- her blood in vials, her piss in jars.  There had been more scans- her genetics, her biomarkers, the way she walked, and talked, and thought, until every single test had come back with the scientific equivalent of a shrug.  Her baselines were old; pre-James, so to speak, and worth less than the jars just mentioned.  If Phoebe wanted an answer, she needed to go elsewhere - she needed an expert - so she'd take Quinlan Nash with a song or a sword.

The plodding journey into the Haunted Glen had been unending for her- an unyielding slog, where every step forward was a battle against the muck laden earth, and the damp air sank into her bones like the contract's binding and dragged her down toward the wet soil. At some point, she had started to hear her - as if the ever-present bond which linked them had expanded and grown until it was a thick and vibrant thing instead of a delicate thread.

As if she were here...

Passing beneath a low hanging bough, Phoebe ducked her head and thanked all the gods that she'd bound her mane back in a bun today; it was so sticky, so claustrophobic. Even in her thoughts, she felt stifled, listening to the somber verse and wondering where the Mindgorger's familiar looming presence had disappeared to.

"It's like.." she began to speak, only to have a gnat fly into her face and attempt to ride her breath inward straight into her lungs. Phoebe gave a sharp cough, then spit off to the side.  "It's like this place is competing to be worse than Yh'mi."

She paused, coming to a slow halt as her eyes drifted off to the side, toward a distant shadow. 

Is that...

Abruptly, Phoebe shook her head, taking the Mindgorger in toward the center of her body, where she leaned on it like a staff. "Yh'mi at least had open air.  Do you have a location check - I feel like we're... " She squinted, her eyes narrowed to dark slashes in the quasi-night. "..off course? There's no sense of direction in here."

 

Edited by Noko

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PAIN. Rage. Darkness. More pain. 

POWER. Joy. Tearing, ripping, shredding.

HUNGER. Blood. Fulfillment. Darkness. 

Crickets? Mud? The smell of pine? 

A forest. 

 Vision clicking in with terrifying clarity, Dr. Quinnlan Nash found herself in a forest. With no idea how she got there. She looked down at her hands and turned them over several times to be sure they were hers. Several nails were missing, gouges and burn marks ran down her arm onto one hand. Sleeves were torn and shredded, wounds healing slower than they should be. Flecks of human flesh and the smell of human blood lingered on her clothes. But far more alarming was the smell of her sire that clung to her skin. 

The tape threatened to play again - blacking out - waking up to find him in pieces - blacking out again. She killed him and Ira ran - her hands started shaking violently. She killed her sire for Ira and he still couldn't abide her existence. Quinn's vision began to flicker like a dying lightbulb. Her whole body began to quake as everything tensed up. She didn't want to do it again! She didn't want to remember - she didn't want to black out and go away again! 

He promised I would never hurt again!

She curled in and down on herself, holding onto her sides as if it could keep her from breaking further. 

"You promised!" She yelled at the ground "You promised!" 

I'm not here Quinny. Her Sire's voice intruded her thoughts. The blackness continued to encroach, the pain increasing again. 

"I don't want this!" She yelled again as if it could keep her from falling apart. 

But its yours. 

"I don't want to feel anymore." Her muscles started to relax, blackness retreating. 

Your an animal.

"I'm not! IM NOT!" She screamed, "I'm NOT like them! I'm not a mindless animal!" 

You murdered me. I created you!

"You forced me to!" 

You destroyed all the refugees just to kill something. 

"I didn't mean to.....I didn't mean to!" She was sobbing now, blackness gone, "I don't want to do that again...."

I won't let you forget. 

"Get out of my head! I'm not doing this again!" 

You can't go home. 

Quin fisted her palms and beat at her temple, hard...….there was silence. 

Exhausted and torn from destroying her Sire, and the subsequent days she couldn't remember, Quin fell over into the muck with a squelching sound and lay there. Two tone eyes stared blankly up into the gloom as the remaining tears finished carving a path through the gore that coated Qinn's face. The smell of human's tickled her nose, enticing her to hunger once again, to stalk and chase and pursue through the dark depths of the wood. 

Blood drunk is a very real thing Quin. Don't over indulge, lest you find yourself in the same predicament as before. Her Sire's voice wafted in on a memory, coaching, guiding...… 

Another tear coursed down her cheek before her face scrunched up in anger. She wasn't supposed to feel pain ever again! Never the less, the reminder curbed the hunger that threatened to take over. If she had, in fact, killed the entire refugee camp, chances are she over ate and didn't need anymore for a long time. Quin sat up and scratched at her head, what were humans doing in such a dangerous place? Even for her, a creature of darkness, this forest could prove deadly if she wasn't careful. Were there actually humans or could this be some machination of the forest? Quin stood up and let the muck and mud slop off of her, now she was curious. 

Edited by DarkHorse

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Shikai didn't care for the jungle.

Truthfully, he was most at home in urban environments; the rooftops and back alleys the perfect setting for a shinobi to prowl unseen. Jungles were hot, and humid, and hard to move around in. Thick mud and dense vegetation made it hard for him to utilize his agility to the fullest; and the constant chirps, growls, and roars of wildlife assaulted his senses. Under normal circumstances he would never set foot in such places; and if it became a necessity, he would do his utmost to accomplish his objectives as quickly as possible so that he could leave. 

But something about this place was different.

Despite the fact that he'd never set foot in the Haunted Glen until today, he felt as comfortable here as he did in his own apartment. Somehow he knew where exactly where to step, when to duck under a low-hanging vine, and what direction he needed to go. The sweltering heat felt less oppressive, and more like a thick blanket he would wrap around himself on a cold winter night. Part of his mind knew that this didn't make sense; but it didn't seem to matter. Amongst the tall trees and the looming shadows they cast; he felt like nothing could hurt him here. Most unfortunate souls who found themselves in the Glen might be prey to what lay within; but Shikai was something different. Something predatory.

"I don't know. I kind of like it here!" he declared cheerfully, pointing to the right of where Phoebe walked, "And I'm pretty sure it's this way."

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credit for HTML layout goes to Csl.

 

Footfalls squelching through the muck and the mire are the only sounds to be heard. No there are voices here, trespassing vocals on an otherwise serene setting. Disturbed, betrayed, disrespected. It thickens that fog creeping up from the ground. Cold and condensing as it crawls from the toes to the knees in winding spindles of white. Staining gray whatever it touches with trails of whitewashed edges.

Welcome…

Welcome…

You who dares enter here…

They tickle the senses, twist the minds, enliven the spirits of those that belong. Treacherous as it is, that which thinks it belongs truly does not, but Shikai is welcomed nonetheless. Undead and strong, awakening to the power trapped within. There is nothing to bar the way but creeping shadows in the distance, flickering eagerly, pacing... but so distant. Not yet engaging. Waiting. How much for a night? Another dime another dollar, another soulless whore for hire!

Yes...welcome...

Thumping, pounding feet and splashing mud, little shoes in the sludge. Mommy! And she runs, that flicker of illusion, a brush of the hands across the thighs, a smack against Phoebe’s support. Why’d you leave me? Why do you always have to go? It’s a game of hide-and-seek. Come find me! There it goes again, from behind, a poke, a tug of the clothing. Come catch me! Pressure begins to build at the base of the skull, shooting behind the eyes. Is the fog thickening again? Or is the mind blocking out the sight? It’s harder this time, an attack against the base. The point of the spear that sinks into the ground hit hard enough to slide it even in her grasp. That won’t help you here, MOMMY! In the fog is a swirl, and the figure is gone again.

But the thumping of her pulse is heavy. It echoes and calls to the creeper in the darkness. Saturated silken creature, lost and alone. It’s a song of life, of warmth, of… Quinlan will find it, will learn what it means. Her endurance is weak, her mind tearing. The shadows follow. You let me die there...Quin… Why couldn’t you save me? The fog thickens. You couldn't save me then, you can’t save anyone now. You’re worthless...like your dust driven mother.

They do not stop, they do not wait, nor tarry, nor concede. They have begun and will not let go. Somewhere in the distance, or it is close by? Stone grinds against stone. And a hollow scream. Wailing from the trees. The further in they go, the worse the sounds inside and out become. And soon they can feel the touch and pluck and grab of hands from the darkness.  Banshees come.

Look me in the eyes

Tell me what you see

Is it the darkness deep within

or reflections of the trees...

Edited by -Lilium-

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"Am...!"

It was instinctual; she couldn't help it- the shadow went dashing by, and Phoebe shot after it with grip and will, snaking through the thick air and corraling it like a child at the edge of traffic, snatching it by its rough, lichen-flaked wrist.

Wait, that's not right.

Her light eyes blinked not once but several times quickly, and with dawning awareness Phoebe unfurled her fingers, one by one, from the low slung branch she had snatched in her chase for her daughter. Turning her palm upward toward the anemic light, she stared at her empty hand, then the gnarled wood, then back to the scrapes and the grime smeared across her palm. In her thoughts, she could feel the Mindgorger flare like a sun. Its will burned as it soaked through her consciousness, seeking to purge the intruding influence like a psionic inquisitor, but the Glen was so insidious; every interrogation cost time and against a hydra like the Glen, time was reality.

Mommy, mommy!

Why do you always have to go?

Phoebe was, at least, aware; the Mindgorger and experience had given her that much.  She knew the Glen was playing tricks, but its tricks were the kind that tripped her instinct before her mind could check its truth. She answered without realizing; her words only a murmur, half of a conversation which took place in her head, partnered by the figment of a little girl who was entire worlds away.

"I told you.." The words floated out, dream-like, as Phoebe pulled her spear free of the muck and planted it ahead of her. The Glen seemed to pull in, constricting and compacting around her like a twisted snowless snow-globe. "Hard work is how we get what we want. Plus," Split-minded, in her thoughts, she booped the girl's button nose, then traced its curve before the child dashed off, even as in life the First turned her shoulders and sliced past the trees' grasping branches.

"We have to kill the bad people- just like you will, one day."

You mean when you're dead?

"Yes, love."

Come catch me!

"I ca--.. "

As Phoebe leaned forward, the spear butt skittered out from beneath her weight- its end sliding, as if on ice, and dumping the First onto her knees in the mud and bringing a sharp curse to the curve of her lips.

"Fuck."

There was no shout to it, just frustration and weariness, as her eyes darted through the shadows, searching for something Shikai couldn't see.

"Where.." She brought her hands up to her face, uncaring of mud that smeared as she pressed the tips of her fingers against her forehead and shut her eyes. Slowly, Phoebe regained both reality and her feet- first to one knee, then a laborious press to stand while she brought the Mindgorger back to its rightful place at her side. "..research on the Glen severely understated..

..a lot."

The treacherous swamp continued to pull at Phoebe and shred her concentration- every step was a symphony of sensation, as the fog curled up her legs like a twining vines and a hundred unseen hands dragged at her flesh, alternatingly painful, intimate, or playful, but always constant and unceasing.  

Screams rose in the background.

Somewhere, her child laughed and begged for entertainment.

The forest danced amongst her always extended awareness, tickling across a mind that was always watching, always feeling for the next threat.

She tripped on a Judas root.

A biting insect landed on her forearm, driving its mandibles through her skin and into the blood welling beneath.

Her frustration grew with each insult, soon taking on a life and a presence of its own- one that added to the Glen's already pervasive essence. One could feel her unraveling as her carefully manicured mask cracked and aggravation spilled out, built on itself, and soon rose into a rage that was palpable, and tactile, and barely contained. 

Edited by Noko

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It was intoxicating; the feeling of power. 

Over the years he had grown stronger than he ever would have believed if someone had given his younger self a glimpse of the man he would become. He had honed his martial skills to a degree that allowed him to rival, and even surpass, the most skilled warriors. Through hours of study and experimentation he had mastered the jutsu that had given him his epithet in ways that their creator could only have dreamed of. Medical knowledge derived from the study, disassembly, and reassembly of the human body meant he could easily do the work of doctors and surgeons without ever having set foot in a classroom. Any one of these things would have made him a remarkable individual; but all three practically made him a living legend. 

Yet he had never felt like the practically mythical figure that he was. Humility had been beaten into him during the years of suffering he had endured as first a slave and then a whore. Show too much pride to the ones who held your life in their hands, and they would take it upon themselves to pummel the reality of your situation into your head; carve it into your skin, and etch it into the broken bones. Lessons written in blood were the ones that would last a lifetime. For years he had resented his tormentors; but now he was starting to realize that it was he who had been at fault. He had been weak, and they had been strong; and because of that undeniable fact, they could do as they pleased with him. It was the only logical outcome.

But now he was strong, he was powerful! He would never allow himself to be victimized. Never again would he allow strangers with lust and disdain in their gazes pull him into the dark and have their way with him. He was The Dead General, The Zombie; a man who made his enemies tremble at the mention of his name. There was no need for him to be humble. Why should he lower himself when he was on a higher level?

You are strong.

"Yes."

Stronger than anyone.

"Yes!"

Stronger than her.

"YES!"

Suddenly he realized that his gaze had turned to Phoebe.

"What?"

She orders you around like a common servant. No respect for you, or what you are capable of.

"No... no you're wrong. She's my boss... my...

Friend? She doesn't care about you. If you died right now she wouldn't spare you a second thought.

"You... no. No."

Even as he protested, he could feel a growing anger in his gut; directed at The First. It horrified him even as the rage boiled within; a terrible heat that felt like it would scorch away his self control. He realized that he was clenching his fists when he heard his knuckles pop under the strain.

She needs to be taught a lesson. The same lesson that you had to learn all those years ago.

"Shut up."

Do it now. She doesn't suspect a thing. You can do whatever you want with her!

"SHUT UP!"

Take her! Take anything you want; it's all yours if you just take it!"

"NO!"

Shikai collapsed to his knees; tears streaming down his face as he felt lust and rage that he did not want; but could not seem to rid himself of. His hands went to his temples as he began to smash his head into the trunk of a nearby tree over and over, even as blood began to flow from his face.

Edited by danzilla3

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Curiosity drove tired feet to move, to creep carefully just two more steps into the fog that surrounded her. Then she paused, using her enhanced senses to feel out the forest, smell the damp and moldering earth, hear the bird calls that reverberated around her. The hair stood up on her arms in warning that something, somewhere wasn’t quite right. Her sire would never allow her to be hurt too badly….

Quin clutched at her chest from the sharp pain she experienced. The loss so physically real she could feel the hole his violent departure created, they shared a hivemind. His presence was always there, and now it was not. The emptiness that yawned before her caused her vision to flicker in and out...

Alone….alone...alone…. 

You let me die there...Quin… Why couldn’t you save me? 

The Vampire’s head jerked up, it was all the patients she failed in the same voice, only it sounded very much like Samuel. Except this voice wasn’t intruding in her head like the other one. This one drifted to her from the depths of darkness. 

“Sam?” Her voice shook, he was so very long dead. 

The reel played so very often for her, that day she lost Samuel. The sound of hooves surrounded her, Quin’s vision faded out as the forest was filled with phantom horses stampeding around her. The smoke and ash of burning tents choked out her very breath. Her hands pulled and pulled and pulled at the chained collar tethering her just outside a flame engulfed canvas. The harsh material tore at her hands and the already chaffed skin around her neck. Her struggle ended as she was wrenched from the ground by that very collar, choking her even further. Bloodied fingers grasped at the collar in an attempt to create just a little space for air to reach her. Quin’s toes never even touched the ground as she was hauled towards the horses tethered just a short distance away. Running wasn’t an option, just as she was chained to the tent, she found herself chained to the General. 

"Quin!” Ira’s voice wrapped itself around her and gave her arms strength. 

She managed to snake a finger in between her collar and her neck, air whistling down her throat in a wheezing gasp, then another. So painful to pull in, yet her reflexes overrode the pain and continued to force the small amount of air in and down. 

“Not a step further!” Samuel stepped from the tree line and between them and the horse. 

The ground met her feet much too quickly and her knees buckled beneath her. Her gasping coughs not enough to cover the sound of a sword being drawn. 

Quin wanted to yell, tried to yell, but couldn’t. Samuel was an archer, he didn’t stand a chance this close range. Yet still, he held his ground, firing arrow after arrow after arrow. Each striking something new, something different. Yet still, the General pushed forward, dragging Quin by the neck as he went. She could hear Ira’s pained bellow from somewhere behind her, he couldn’t get through the soldier thick camp fast enough to stand between them. The gap closed, the general’s step faltered, and then he clashed down on Samuel’s hastily drawn sword. The movement was quick, but it was enough, a side slash, and Sam was on his knees. Bloodied sword raised to swing down and Quin charged, throwing her weight into the back of the General’s knees. He lurched forward and Sam raised his sword just enough to run him through. 

Quin didn’t hear Ira’s yelling, she didn’t hear the clash of swords anymore. She heard nothing but Samuel’s body hitting the ground from where he knelt. The field doctor worked quickly, the collar still tethered to the cooling general. The torn edges of Samuel’s shirt were not enough to staunch the bleeding, his stomach split, and innards threatening to spill outward. Two blood coated hands did their best, pressing in, applying pressure, but it wasn’t enough.  She needed her supplies, more hands, anything. 

“It’s going to be ok.” She desperately worked through the tears, “I’ve got you Sam…” 

“Quinn.” His voice was so quiet now, so weak. 

“Just stay with me…” She pleaded. 

“It’s okay Quin, you are okay.” He was fading. 

“I can’t save you.” Quin choked out the admission. 

“I know.” He rasped, pained breath causing his eyes to roll…..

“It was my fault.” She whispered into the void. 

The sound of Ira’s agonized cries echoed through the very trees in the forest, fading to nothingness as tears coursed their way down Quin’s cheeks. She was back in the woods again, the scene having run its terrible course. How long had she been frozen this time?

You couldn't save me then, you can’t save anyone now. You’re worthless...like your dust driven mother.

Those words, so carefully chosen, each one a poisoned dart seeping into the remains of her humanity. Except - they were in his voice, Samuel’s voice. He would never have spoken those words to her, not in life nor in death. She pushed away from the tree she leaned on in her exhaustion and shook her head to clear her thoughts. That voice was not that of her Sire, and it was very obviously not Samuel, so it must be something else entirely.

Quinn sniffed the air again, she most certainly smelled humans - were they the ones causing this?! The urge to rip and tear and kill just for the sheer joy of it overtook her until the still-fresh memory of Samuel threatened to plague her once again. She decided to investigate first, shred later, and began to stalk in the direction she smelled them. 

 

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A certain kind of violence took to the air.  

It was easy for her to recognize the stain, for she bathed in it until she and it were the same.  Phoebe could no more ignore its summoning than she could her own name and when the feel of the Glen shifted, when its black glee ran free and untamed, she closed her eyes and welcomed it like a lover.

This was her world.

These were her Sisters.

Want.  Power.  Control.

Familiar and lovely shield-maidens, the triplets were welcome bedfellows to the First- to Phoebe.  Beautiful, long-limbed sycophants whose tantalizing touch and marvelous artistry rewarded her every success, whose comings were celebrated like the arrival of Queens, with open arms, open beds, and readied feasts.

But not like this.

Like a mouse becoming aware of the cat hiding in the long grass, Phoebe shifted her shadowed gaze slowly across the dappled glen toward her General, showing the whites of her perfect teeth in a broad grin.

There were no mice here.

"That's not right," she declared.

Her grin crooked, its angle sharp like a knife as she turned to face Shikai.  The air around him began to thicken; its texture ragged like shattered glass as it shaped itself into hooks that snaked around the General like a nest of vipers and held him fast.  In moments, the rest of his space filled in, encasing Shikai in a perfectly frozen cube which began to rotate toward Phoebe.  It trapped the moth which had been hovering nearby, diced the mud and moved it with him, carved a piece of the tree out in a perfect right-angle slice.  

It was as if space and time had segmented the General out for this one unfortunate moment.

In the shadows, a child danced and Phoebe dismissed it with the flare of her fingertips.

"Not now, love.  Mommy's busy."

The water and mud churned, cleaving a path from the First to her General as his space and his body rotated to face her.

"I spent a long time in your head; running around with your wants and your desires -- this wasn't there." 

A step brought her closer, mud and water cast forcibly to each side, thrown by her telekinetics as she drew face to face with Shikai.

"I would have noticed.  What's say we have another look."

The force with which she breached Shikai's thoughts was immeasurable- it was like trying to stop an avalanche with a shovel or an army with a farmer's fence.  She trampled over the suggestion of a barrier, pitiless as she obliterated its familiar wards and bulwarks, and in moments was fully resident within the General's mind.

<This isn't you.>

The command echoed, undeniable.

<Fight.>

<Fight or I'll burn it out of you.>

Edited by Noko

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<This isn't you.>

SHE'S LYING.

Was she? The voice spoke with the confidence of someone speaking an absolute truth that left no room to be second guessed. But Phoebe sounded equally confidant that it was wrong; that he was better than the wicked impulses that urged him to indulge in his darkest desires. Yet the difference was that she had indeed been inside his head; knew things about him that he had never thought he'd tell another person. If she didn't know him, then who did?

<Fight.>

NO.

Her words were an order; and it was clear that she expected his obedience. She was The First, his superior; one of a select few in The Dead who had the authority to compel him to do anything. Following her commands was not an option; it was his duty.

<Fight or I'll burn it out of you.>

YOU CANNOT!

"Sure I can," he growled, "I'm strong, remember?"

For the first time he could feel the presence of the vile intruder into his mind. The dark lust that filled his head now felt like a deception; a lie that had seeped into his skull and tried to subvert everything that he believed, everything that he was. It was a revelation that sparked fury within him; a wrath so hot that it felt like it might consume him. Phoebe's threat echoed his mind, one that filled him with hope and fear. She was like a crutch, a support that would kill him if he failed to do as was expected of him even as it enabled him to do it. 

"Get out of my head!"

Now that he could feel the malevolent presence that had infested his mind, he knew he could push against it; and he began to do just that. The sensation was like someone had lit a fire inside his skull while tearing the flesh from his bones. He screamed; a sound filled with rage and pain that was soon drowned out by his own heartbeat thundering in his ears. As it was forced from his head, the voice loosed a cry of its own that was filled with indignation that it could be driven out by these two outsiders. It thrashed and struggled; sending jolts of agony cascading across Shikai's being. Yet he did not give in. He could feel the grip loosening even as his world was consumed by torment. Just one more push, one last effort of will...

"GET OUT!"

Suddenly the shinobi felt a sensation in his mind that he could only liken to a weed being pulled out by the roots. There was a feeling of emptiness; like someone had opened up his stomach and let his guts spill out. But somewhere in that emptiness was a burgeoning feeling of triumph. He had won. 

That thought was the last one he had before he drifted off into unconsciousness.

 

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Agonized screams, it was such a beautiful sound. Someone’s very real torment echoed through the trees, birds took flight, crickets and peepers went quiet, the vampire grinned. Was one of the humans dying? Certainly sounded like it. 

Quin’s feet fell silent as she began to stalk, oh yes there were humans here. But it seemed they were falling prey to the very thing she was...and if she could get her hands on whatever the culprit was, maybe she could dissect it....or eat it. The mud no longer sucked at her feet and squished beneath her boots, she was a mistress of darkness, physically superior, a predator. The scent of human filled her nose as screaming continued, two heartbeats thrummed, both elevated, neither at risk of bursting despite the sounds. Pity - it could have been another cadaver to try and resurrect. 

The trees didn’t thin, but all senses indicated the humans were just beyond the dense line. Their presence filled the space and the air screamed of distress and rage, both audibly and inaudibly - the pain was delicious and revolting at the same time. Doctor Nash wouldn’t have allowed someone to suffer, Quinlan...she relished in the idea of humans being reminded just how weak and stupid they were. 

Up the nearest tree Quin scrambled, she promised herself she’d investigate first, then she could shred - if the situation warranted it and her self control held. Perching upon the sturdiest, leaf dense bush, she looked down on the scene. Silence seemed to stretch on forever, the screamer now mute - though he clearly wasn’t dead, just hovering, exhausted. Another, just below her, held him aloft. Did a human torture another human?! Her head tipped in confusion, mud caked hair dripping giant globs down from the tree onto the woman beneath her. 

Plop.... plop.....plop.....

Edited by DarkHorse

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credit for HTML layout goes to Csl.

It isn’t biased. Does not pick or choose whom to torment and whom set free at random. It just is what it is, a Haunt of a Glen. One coming alive due to the presence of foreign bodies. It’s bones, the naked branches above the fog, creak tiredly in the absence of wind. Those trespassers fighting for their minds too easily brings about another turn of events.

Those figures are closer now, silken threads more billowy than that of the fog but blend so seamlessly within it. They are dancing and twirling and making it even thicker. Thick enough to adhere and stick, thick enough to taste the putrid stench of the rotten ground from which it attempts to evaporate.

At first, they are the sweet voices of angels, whispering encouragement by the sheer push and shove of a pointy prod forward. Whilst Phoebe attempts to awaken Shikai from his miraculous strength and belief in his enduring emulsion into self greatness….they are encircling the two. Hidden vultures with gnashing teeth hidden beyond sickeningly wide brimmed smiles. Eventually the black holes of their eyes can be viewed. Closer….to close now. And once one mouth opens, so do the others begin the opera that shatters the eardrums. Shrills and screams of the banshees as they impress themselves on the two closest them. The wild nature of the Glen already pressing upon the Vampire dredging her way towards them...falling into the net of freshly caught fish.

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She was embedded; her thoughts and concentration wormed into Shikai's invaded mind like a rolling storm.  With wicked intentions, she assisted the General in his attempt to free himself, extinguishing the wanton violence with jagged shards of her own Will, which struck against the invasion like bolts from heaven.  Even as the threads wound tangling around her legs, and she stood motionless in a cloud of their thin tendrils, she continued to stretch her mind into his and target their enemies with murderous glee.  

There was something unhinged about the brutality with which she shredded his interlopers, something very not Phoebe, but it was viciously effective.

The first wet glom of slop from above hit Phoebe's arm unnoticed and rolled over her thin muscle, plopping into the pool of muck at her feet.  She had extended herself so far into Shikai, so deeply, that she'd stopped perceiving the world beyond.  He was the highest threat, or so she thought - and neutralizing him remained her priority as the Glen wound its blackened noose around her neck.  

The second muddy glop landed in a splash against Phoebe's neck, hovering on its curve for a half-second before its surface tension collapsed, and it slid down, gracefully spreading across her collarbone, then tumbling beneath the line of her shirt.

The third was an impotent drip of cold dirty water that fell in a stream, pointing the way.

Once Shikai's victory had become a certainty, she slowly withdrew- calming, breathing, and piecing her defenses back together as the Mindgorger ramped up.  Flush with familiarity, it began to tip the scales, grounding her in the present and lending her an edge against the Glen's intruding psychosis.  The real world took focus as she emerged from Shikai's isolation; its cool dampness settled and snaked across her flesh as the blackness filled in toward totality, forming from the mottled static of inattention.  It sharpened; it edged, white lines shot with black, in deadly jagged edges that didn't make sense until she could see- until her thoughts made sense of the nonsensical and she realized she was looking into a ghostly mouth full of teeth, spread as wide as her shoulders and grinning, hovering just the beyond the tip of her nose.

Panic slammed into Phoebe like a truck; wide-eyed, she whirled; she slipped her grip to the bottom of the Mindgorger, gripping it one-handed as she stretched overhead, carving through the air as she began to whip the Gorger's blade in a wide circle around her body.  The action demanded space- requiring it, or commanding an unrefusable trade: blood, for the unwillingness to move- but it was short-lived.  Unable to sustain a single thought beyond the shrill shriek echoing in her skull, she stumbled, pinwheeling to the side as her Will tumbled and collapsed like an ancient wall before the fires of war.  That failure freed Shikai; it unraveled her ever-present armor and exposed her flesh to the stinging darkness, breaking her senses as the once-playful children of her mind fled back into her consciousness and blinded her to unknown dangers in the shadows.

Furious, with determination amplified by the pain of the Banshee's scream, she summoned the sheer grit needed to roar in Shikai's mind.

<GET UP!>

Edited by Noko

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