Author Topic: CDDA: Adventures in Cataclysm  (Read 22192 times)

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Re: CDDA: Adventures in Cataclysm
« Reply #5100 on: November 27, 2018, 06:32:56 pm »
(( Horace stuff written with Wilson, Alice and Steinar stuff written after discussion with Vulnus, Lilith stuff written with Mrno's approval. ))

   As Horace and Abraham rode on, the gunslinger gave a little glance at the road ahead, before looking back to Horace as he led the way. “So. What do y’think yer boy is sendin’ us after?” he asked, Horace just shrugging. “Something dangerous, I bet.” he remarked after a moment, Abe hmming a bit. “Reckon that’s just what yer hopin’ fer. So, y’sure you know where we’re going?”

   Horace just gave an irritated grumble at that. “Yes, I do. Rather hard to miss the mountains, can practically sense it all the way from here.” At that Abraham chuckled quietly, replacing his glass eye with the other in his possession. “An’ I reckon the entire Appalachian is probably alight with whatever voodoo is goin’ on over there. Be like findin’ a needle in a haystack ‘less you have directions.” he pointed out.

   “And I do.” Horace answered, looking down at his axe. “Y’sure? Figure more that we’re lost.” he said, cracking a wry smile. “Or is it, we’re not lost, just don’t know where we’re going?” Horace looked up at a thick plume of smoke, letting out a “Hmmph.” and pointing towards it. “I know where I’m going, revenant.”[/color] He stated simply, turning his steed towards the smoke.

   “Lookin’ like y’ might be right about there bein’ a fight...” Abraham grumbled, spurring his steed to pick up the pace, watching out for any other sign of trouble up ahead. Horace likewise drove his horse to lead the way, readying his axe as they rode.

   The village at the foot of the mountain was in utter chaos. Buildings were set alight and the small contingent of Canadian troops there had been driven back to the buildings on the very edge of the mountain trail, frantically holding any position they could. Had it been any other circumstance, they would’ve had no need to even return fire. But this time the strange abominations under unknown control were faltering.

   It had been a while since the last time God’s Army had attempted to take the village. The Canadian troops had thrown much of their forces into utter chaos, and what remained was properly wary of the entire Appalachian. But the forces advancing through the burning ruins were fanatical, filled with renewed morale. And in the very center of the chaos was a single robed man, calming holding a crucifix in one hand, and a weathered golden talisman in the other. Strange chitinous beasts and flowing ethereal shapes, marked in the familiar white runes of Mount Katahdin’s unseen protector, descended upon the interlopers. And one by one, the man would gesture with the three-pronged golden trinket, runes fading only to erupt into blue flames, sending attacking monsters crashing to the ground and screeching alien cries of agony.

   A few of the travelers stopping at the village had joined in the fighting, taking positions anywhere they could, wary of the fact that the mountain itself was practically at their backs. A handful of soldiers had managed to fall back and take positions on the ledge overlooking the village, despite the protests of the more superstitious guards and those who’d decided to stay instead of continue into Canada.

   As one of the crusaders pushed up down what had been the main street of the ramshackle town, a young woman peeked out from behind the cover of a crumbling, bullet-marked stone wall. She was nervously clutching an old lighter with a faded patina, partly obscuring ornate engravings. Seeing the ruins alaze on every side of the streets, she found herself gazing into one of the burning buildings from her concealed position. The young cat-eared man beside her was about to yank her back down behind cover when a surge of flame erupted from the ruins, engulfing the crusader and sending the men behind him backpedaling in fear.

At this the apparent leader of the bunch, adorned in a bishop’s robes, sent another strange shifting monster crashing down towards their segment of wall, the mutant fellow bolting for another position down the street, and the young woman narrowly avoiding being crushed beneath the polypous abomination, as ghostly fire enveloped it. “I can sense your little sorcery, young one.” the man called out, calmly walking along behind the bulk of the men combing the ruined city square. “You’re not the one I’m looking for. You’re pure, full of potential...give up, and you will be spared the punishment owed to this profligate filth.”

The woman held up two fingers, before striking her lighter as she murmured a chant. “May the eternal flame cleans thine flesh, thine bones, thine aura and soul…” She repeated it quietly as she continued to strike the lighter’s flint, more and more sparks falling to the floor. One of the templars gave a shout as he fired blindly at where he guessed the interloper was hiding, others scrambling to take cover behind a burned-out wreck of an armored vehicle. The bishop frowned at this, stepping back as he saw the line of sparks encircling the position of those ahead of him. “It’s a trap you idi-” The woman turned her hand and brought her two fingers up, and a slight swirl of flames was seen by one of the privates. The fireball expanded rapidly, incinerating the crusaders and privates in front of the bishop.

The bishop facepalmed at the display, only to lift his strange talisman, a beam of wicked lightning lancing through the smoldering ruins and over the charred corpses before him, sending bolts arcing in every direction as it impacted the rustic old stone, sending a spray of molten shards of stone flying overhead. Then, he raised his crucifix, calmly striding forward as the lingering flames parted for him. “I will not make any further offers of mercy, sorceress. Perhaps drowning would be better fit than the cross for you...”

The woman hefted a bag of flour, chucking it towards the bishop as she rose the lighter. With a single strike of its flint, a thin arc of flame flew towards the paper bag as she ran in the opposite direction. The others marching beside him scrambled for cover, most reduced to crumpled burning heaps as the flames engulfed them, the bishop taking a wary step back. Where charred corpses surrounded where he once stood, only ashes littered the ground in the center of the group.

A knight, followed by a gunslinger, galloped into town at all speed, catching the scattered remnants of the attackers from behind. Axe blade fell in wide sweeping strikes, hewing men to pieces before they could react to the horseman behind them, and behind him the gunslinger unloaded round after round from an old revolver into any God’s Army soldier he could catch in the open, beyond the knight’s reach.

The Canadians watching the scene unfold were stunned, wary enough of the roaring flames of a recent arrival, and now it seemed the cavalry had literally arrived. What remained broke and ran, Horace dismounting and his horse turning to clear the way, willed along by whatever strange magic guided it.The young man previously beside the mage broke cover to retreat to the other positions farther back, only for a snap of electricity to resound through the air. A beam of light lanced through the raging inferno that engulfed several old buildings between the young woman and the Canadian positions, parting the flames momentarily and sending the young man toppling to the ground in a smoldering heap, flesh stripped from the bone where he’d been struck.

The flames surged forward in a living inferno, and with ashen footsteps the bishop’s figure coalesced from out of the flames. “I gave you one chance...” he said, watching as she turned to run, caught in the open. The bishop rose his odd talisman, sending an arc of lightning towards the retreating mage. Meanwhile, A knight ran to the mage’s aid, catching the arc to the black breastplate. ”Enough.” Horace yawped, falling to one knee with the axe’s pommel bracing him.

The bishop watched in stunned silence, moreso when he caught sight of the axe. “You...” he muttered, glowering at the knight before another beam lanced out. Horace had managed to stand, whirling to face the bishop, but even though the beam struck the axe instead, dispersing arcs of lightning around both knight and mage, he staggered back, reeling and looking less like an injured man, and more like a suit of armor about to topple over in pieces, as he practically was. Then he stood, bracing the axe as lingering sparks lingered, trailing from now-glowing runes. “I am not going to die from your stolen magicks. I am the Knight of the Abyss and I have had ENOUGH of your foolish cult, following a damned PARASITE. he said coldly, taking a step forward.

The knight gripped the axe firmly, the faux lightning crackling from the blade. “You will know the true extent of your unfounded zeal, you filthy raving MISCREANT. Horace roared at the lone Bishop, the echo from his armor intensifying the sound of his voice as it rang out. The bishop flinched visibly, hesitating for a moment only for the energy from the axe to be released as Horace swung the tool savagely with an inhuman shout, although the energy itself was weakened.

The bishop glowered, brandishing the crucifix. “You misuse that heathen power, beast...” he said, stumbling back at the impact. The wave of energy seemed to surge through him, less of an electric arc and more like a blade of divine fire, seemingly still standing. He raised his arm, and it took a split-second to realize that his hand did not follow suit. Only then did he take notice of the bloody gash across his chest, after the energy seared right through the arm held out in front of him a moment ago.

Horace shuddered forward. Each step was more like a lunge forward from a poorly used marionette, a hand reaching towards the Bishop as he took long, stiff and lunging steps towards him. Horace was looming over the Bishop before he dug his hands into that bloody gash, hands tearing the flesh. The man gave a strained cry of pain as he tried to backpedal, brandishing the symbol of judgement only for a round to rip through the man’s arm, shattering bone and forcing him to drop it, deformed lead skidding off Horace’s breastplate. “Watch your fire...” Horace growled out, just barely loud enough for the gunslinger to hear, the bishop glaring into the empty visor. “H-hah...I forsook him years ago, to think I’d ever lay eyes on one of the b-blades again...let alone his puppet dancing with it.” he spat out, a hint of blood running down his chin.

Horace’s hands dug in deeper, as he tore apart the flesh with his gauntlets alone, discarding the axe for a moment. “Cease your prattling, petulant child.” Horace snarled as his hands dug in deeper, as they widened the bloody gash. The man said nothing, a glare of pure hatred being the only answer as the knight tore him open, flesh yielding along with the ribs beneath, widening the gouge the axe’s surge cut into flesh and bone, until gauntleted hands ripped him open entirely, grasping at the first thing he could reach to tear it free, the bishop’s heart. Horace tore out the muscle, throwing it to the ground, and grinding it into the floor.

The pyromancer was busy emptying her lunch onto the floor at this, utterly disgusted. One of the Canadians stepped up once it seemed the remaining attackers had all been put down or fled, giving a wary wave to the pair before helping the mage stand. “This is an unexpected surprise, but one we’re grateful for. What are your names?” the man asked. Horace dropped the torn mass of flesh, still shuddering and threatening to fall apart as he spoke. “Horace.” He said simply as Abraham double-tapped a nearby God's Army soldier, “Abe, who's the girl?” Abe asked simply, racking the sawn down rifle.

The mage grumbled a bit as she stood up, fumbling with a cloth to wipe her mouth, and simply tossing it into the flames. “Fucking hell...” she grumbled, the Canadian smiling a bit. “Don’t think they’ll buy that your name’s Fucking Hell, ma’am.” he joked, prompting her to facepalm. “Name’s Celine.” Horace let out a wince-like hiss, “You’re okay, that's good.” He said wearily as he walked away, Watcher. I… Need help.

In response to this the Watcher turned his attention back to the knight. My, smitten by a sickened stranger? he teased, prompting an irritated metallic growl from Horace. No, dammit… Celine meanwhile regarded to stumbling knight with concern. “Are you okay? Come on, let’s get you inside one of the buildings that’s still standing...” she said, catching up to him and reaching up to put a hand on his shoulder. The plate was hot to the touch, No. I- I just need to be alone. Leave me be, I will talk to you later.” Horace snarled softly, moving his shoulder stiffly out of the mage's grip.

Celine grumbled a bit at that, looking over to Abraham. “The hell’s his problem...” she said, and Abe shrugged. “Beats me. Yer as likely t’ get through t’ him as y’ are t’ take black off’a kettle.” he said. “I...okay...” she said, promptly regretting asking him about it, watching as Horace stumbled off. The others looked on in stunned silence, wary enough about having to go just up the ridge overlooking the foot of the trail, to see the man just stumbling off was a worrisome sight, one that brought to mind whispers among the soldiers of the last person to do so.

Abraham shrugged a bit and looked around, before grumbling. “Well hell. Tell y’what, say we get in afore the weather gets any worse? Catch our breath a bit. Fella’s a tough ol’ bastard an’ I’m sure he’ll do just fine.” he said, Celine reluctantly showing him to one of the village’s remaining buildings to have a well-earned moment of respite over dinner.

The knight trudged up the mountain path, armored boots falling heavily over loose, cracked and overgrown stone, sitting down beside a crumbling boulder. “ I...” he mumbled, and the watcher regarded this with curiosity. Perhaps the expected outcome of that traitor attempting to turn one of my own symbols against my chosen, or...ah. No. Just’ve failed to even consider that you have a soul bound to this otherwise-needless body, and where there is body and soul, there is the mind. And that still requires rest…

Horace walked among weathered cobblestones, overgrown and cracked from grass and vines. He was whole again, flesh and blood clad in dark clothes, button-up shirt and slacks. He walked past ivy overgrowing old stone edifices, so worn and covered in greenery that it was impossible to tell if the underlying rock was natural or manmade.

He took a seat in a quaint wrought iron chair, in the center of what was once a garden. One thing came to mind. He wasn't weary as he once was, nor in pain from the strikes suffered during the last battle. His new unlife was far from his mind. Instead he was hungry. He sat at a table, vaguely reminded of things from a past life, buried in the haze of death and the bloodlust that consumed his latter years as a mortal.

A figure was sitting across from him. A heavy woolen cloak, dyed a modest dark color, was contrasted by finely-tailored and patterned robes of pale, coarse undyed linen. A deliberate paradox of fine clothing worked from crude cloth. The hood was down, and an equally-paradoxical face veil of richly-embroidered yet undyed linen had been laid out on the table. The face so-exposed was not something living mortals were expected to see.

There was darkness, wispy shadows occasionally coalescing into brief imitations of human structure. And in the darkness, intermittent glimpses into whatever faraway worlds the figure held dominion over. Of war, of death, and in turn vague afterimages of the less-grim things they were foils of.

Horace was torn between wanting to ignore the figure and enjoy his dream in peace, and asking the watcher questions that started to come to mind. But he didn't get the chance to do either. The sensation of sitting where he was seemed to fade, but the cold of his metal seat faded more slowly, permeating through more of his body as it did so. A gentle breeze sweeping through the garden ceased all at once, and it seemed as though night was falling upon the surrounding woods. It all seemed to fade, before he had the chance to say anything to the watcher...

A storm had rolled into the area over the course of the night, leaving heavy blankets of snow across the mountain trails, dense fall stifling the lingering fires left in the village below. A strange sight for the warmer season, but one that had become increasingly common around the mountains at all times of the year. Horace could sense, rather that feel, the chill that lingered in his metal frame.

He neither felt nor sensed snow on him however, nor his immediate surroundings, even though he started to become vaguely aware of it all around him. There was also light, a fire burning a few feet from him. That drew his attention immediately, the plates shifting as he sat up from his half-collapsed position with a start.

Across from him was an old man, at least from the weathered face and long, scraggly beard. The rest of him was covered in furs of varied states of disrepair, obscuring the rest of his features. Leaning against a nearby tree was a long staff that vaguely glowed with magic to his senses, one end decorated with carved pieces of some mutated insect's overgrown chitinous plates, the very end ragged in rags. Covering either the end of a staff, or more likely a spearhead from what he recalled of common magical items.

"You're awake. Good." the man murmured, glancing over at Horace. "Lucky you're lacking in fingers to lose from frostbite..." he remarked, regarding Horace's armor with amusement. "Who are you?" he asked bluntly, the old man simply smiling. "The one who lives up here, keeping an eye on things below." he answered.

Horace sat up straight, regarding the man with suspicion. "The reason those monsters were attacking..." he said coldly, and the old man shook his head. "Because there were intruders attacking the village. The beasts surrounding this place are under my control. They keep an eye on things, keep a measure of order down there." he said.

"For all the good that did." Horace scoffed, and the man gave a little sigh. "I can only do so much. The man that led the attack...he was one of ours. Turned aside the magic I used." he said. "One of yours, you mean. I wasn't part of your little cult." Horace answered. The man noticeably went pale, tensing up a bit. Still uncertain of the armored figure's purpose.

It was then that a familiar presence echoed around them. Do not fear the one I have sent to meet you. Though he was not of my followers in life, he has proven himself worthy. the watcher directed. Horace would've grimaced a bit if he could, before nodding. "This is...better than how things were after I died." he admitted. "So that bishop was one of yours. Surprised that he would abandon you for the parasite, watcher."

That one broke his oath to me years before God's Army ever became a concern. Then and since he had been an occasional threat to my faithful, though the decline of the Keepers did what no one man ever could. the voice answered. I suspect he pledged allegiance to the parasite to avoid my wrath. Perhaps believing that the abomination devouring his soul would be a more pleasant fate. But that oath outlives even one who dares break it. He has been brought to where he is fated to be.

Horace seemed to perk up a bit at this. "Hmmph. Serves him right to burn in whatever hell you drag your oath-breakers to." he remarked. The aura pervading the area seemed to reflect the tone in the watcher's voice, a faint hint of amusement. Perhaps. All who have sworn my oath are to be received in my domain, for the time being. But my judgement for those who have wronged others is a ledger, not a scale. His judgement will be attended to by all those spirits I have accepted, for all good and ill done by him. And he has wronged a great many of those spirits...

Horace hmmed a bit at that, shaking his head. "Right. Well, not my concern then." he muttered, the old man nodding. "For now, it seems we have some things to discuss..."

Hector had spent most of yesterday working on the posters with Roxanne and posting them here and there, smiling a little as he picked up his helm, set on the desk. "Wait, wha-" He stopped, staring into it. There had been padding inside it, a simple arming cap made of scavenged fabric that had long since replaced the original padding the great helm was fitted with. Figuring it simply fell out of place he looked around a bit in the room, before resigning himself to simply getting an older spare out of Roxanne's dresser, now storing clothes for both of them.

The fact it was noticeably missing a few items here and there startled him, mainly random bits of clothing stolen from Roxanne's wardrobe. He knew that much, she certainly hadn't decided to wear any of the items that stood out as missing.

As soon as he went outside, he saw Nathaniel there along with Lilith, both seeming less than pleased with something. "Nate, you both alright?" he asked, and Nathaniel shook his head. "Nope. Y'know that nice jacket Bandit went and made for me? Fuckin' thing's disappeared, and I know Lilith didn't go eating it or whatever, even if she likes your old lucky jacket more." he remarked.

"It's still other-me's jacket, not mi-" Lilith butted in, growling a bit. "Thupid dirt men took thmall man jacket..." she whined, prompting a confused look from Hector. "Thought I hadn't seen any of those little critters in a few days, but she's right. Saw one of the fuckers scamper off with Lil's old suit too." Nathaniel said, only to be nearly bowled over by a heavy paw giving him a dismissive little pat. "No thwear. Mean." the tigress remarked, giving what seemed to be her best impression of a shit-eating grin.

The two would've discussed the situation further, had something not interrupted. Explosions, gunfire, somewhat distant but still audible. The knight further secured his replacement arming cap and put on his helm, running out along with Nathaniel to see that Isaac was already running off to investigate. "Merda..." Hector mumbled, only to be staggered by a nudge from Lilith's paw. "Thpanish thill mean. No thwear."

The knight grumbled a bit, regaining his composure. "He likely has the situation well in hand, but we should get the tank ready just in case, follow along..." he mumbled, Nathaniel nodding a bit. "Lil, stay here and keep an eye on things."

"No. Go with thmall man." she answered, glancing over at the tank that Hector was making ready. Given her size, simply keeping up with it would likely be more practical than trying to desant on it like she used to be able to do. The three of them made ready to head out and belatedly follow after him, and to their surprise they saw Alice running ahead by the time they'd been able to get the tank ready and head down the road. She was in her full gear, rifle at her back, pistol holster, even the sword Hector had finished forging for her at her side, something that made the knight smile under his helm when he recognized the armament through the driver's camera feed.

Nathaniel opened up the hatch, giving a wave. "Come on, if you're headed our way to catch up. Gunner's seat's still empty." he called out, Alice nodding as she clambered up the tank, narrowly avoiding an over-excited tigress bolting past the tank entirely to run down the road, lifting up the hatch to drop into the turret, as the tank sped forward, Lilith following the trail and the distant sounds...

The morning had been an uneasy one for The Hall, one of preparing and tending to daily tasks that left a sense of foreboding in the air. It wasn't anything provoked by the recent visit, in fact yesterday's events had been a great relief for her.

However, the sudden resurgence of stolen items and sightings of those miniature golems gave her renewed concern. She assumed at first, especially with how they acted wildly unlike they did under Branches' direction, that they were running amok in her absence. But that didn't explain why they hadn't been active in between Branches' "death" and now.

She recalled the thoughts and suspicions she initially stowed away, some things that would've made her question the nature of the homunculus' death had she not disregard them, were brought back to the surface. But then, the sound of gunfire and explosions, distant but close enough to be worrisome, interrupted her train of thought.

She scrambled to the radio, picking it up. "Is everything alright?" she asked, hearing the rumble of an engine and Nathaniel's voice in reply. "We're on our way to the scene, keep an ear out for anything else going on closer to your position. Nathaniel out."

The radio message left her concerned and wary, gathering her gear just in case, until appearance of a familiar figure interrupted her further not long afterward. "Alexei...gods." she muttered, sitting and listening as he appeared to speak to her, and explain what he could. She wanted a chance to say goodbye properly to him, and ask him what happened.

Steinar mumbled a bit as he stepped into the main room of The Hall. "Helviti, fuckers took one of my old drinking cups, and three pair of winningas. Who in Odin's name needs a bunch of legwraps, and who's gone and started explo-" He stopped, seeing the faded apparition that had appeared before her. He didn't know the man that well compared to Helen or especially Sergei, but the realization hit him rather abruptly. Moreover it hit him with an instinctive sense of dread, something he couldn't quite place, the two of them watching as Alexei faded away.

He would've asked about what Alexei said to Helen, when yet another problem presented itself. A gunshot, much closer than the distant sounds they heard earlier. Helen was already up, heading for the door and soon directing the Six to keep an eye on things around The Hall. She guessed roughly where the gunfire sounded to have been coming from, and already heading off along the shore.

"Oi, wait! You...just as brash as any son of mine'd be." he mumbled, snatching up a drink off the table and downing it. He needed it more at this point, and he promptly grimaced at the taste. That watered-down Roman drink that Helen was known to mix up on occasion, something no descendant of his should be drinking in his opinion.

He was kitted out and out the door within a matter of minutes, muttering to himself. "Why do I have the feeling something stupid is happening..."
« Last Edit: November 27, 2018, 06:45:02 pm by Chaosvolt »