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

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Re: CDDA: Adventures in Cataclysm
« Reply #5130 on: March 12, 2019, 09:15:54 am »
The trio had purchases a few more supplies, flour and other goods for the journey ahead, sold at cost given the aid they offered to the village in its hour of need, traded away for some of the coin Horace still had on him.

They would find, after getting ready, Abraham just outside the village, snapping branches off dead trees and sweeping up dead leaves, piling them onto a body. That of the sickly old mare that had weathered the journey this far. Whether it was the harsh blizzard or simply old age, the gunslinger wasn’t certain, but he suspected the latter.

Horace looked at what Abraham was doing, “...What are you doing?” He asked. Abraham shrugged, “Ground’s t'hard fer an actual burial.” He drawled matter-of-factly. Celine balked a bit at the sight, looking away in disgust, before she finally spoke up. “So where we headed next, anyway? Guess he’ll be riding in the wagon...”

“West. Across the mountains. We may find what we seek there.” Horace answered plainly, looking back towards the road. “There’s a mountain pass along the way, as well.” he added, Abraham hmming a bit. “Think yer wagon’ll be good enough fer shelter?” Ceiline gave a nod, “Should be… Not a whole lot of space though.” She explained, scratching her head for a moment.

Abe hmmphed a bit at that, looking down the old road. “Right. Better than a crowded chuck down to Santa Fe at least.” he remarked, getting a stare of confusion from Celine, and an amused chuckle from Horace, as he mounted his own steed. “Let’s go...”

They rode onward, along a cracked and worn old country road, running along the way towards one of the major passes in the Appalachian mountains, knowing full well they were in the shadow of a haven for the otherworldly and ethereal, and that way lay beyond was likely to hold even stranger things. The signs of life, at least earthly life, seemed to fade the farther along they went. However, every so often there were signs that some people occasionally still traveled these old roads.

“So why are we heading this way, anyway?” Celine asked, looking down from her position on the wagon at Horace. “Finding a way to deal with a threat we’re after.” he answered plainly, the mage shaking her head. “That...doesn’t explain much.” she remarked, only for Abraham to leaning out the wagon a bit, having overheard the conversation.

“Fuckin’ space shoggoth his talkin’ axe done sent him t’ kill. So what y’find up there anyway?” Abe added, an explanation that just confounded Celine further. Horace gave a little hmmph at that, gaze focused on the road ahead. “Got a few answers. We’re after Astor. The demon controlling God’s Army. There is a way to harm it at least. The artifact can open rifts as well as manipulate them, and that can weaken it...”

“Open rif-are you crazy!? Last big one that opened up made everything almost as haywire as back when this started! What the hell could be worth causing that again?” Celine said, only for Horace to shake his head. “Anything big enough to kill it would likely be at least as disruptive to The Veil as the last one that opened, not to mention take more power to be practical. But a smaller one, a ripple. This thing can open them safely, and close them afterward.” he said, before looking back to the mountains looming in the distance.

“We’re being sent to find something that might help kill it. But for now, we at least have something that can wound it.” Horace gave a dry sounding exhale, as he got as comfortable as one could in that wagon.

Time passed, Horace was left to his thoughts and Abraham dozed off as the wagon found itself onto a paved road. The party neared a roofed small stage on the side of the road. Must have been a part of a bar due to the large pile of rubble nearby. Over a dozen people crowded in front, to watch a man in odd looking motley garb put on a show.

As they neared, the mix of travelers that obverse seemed to include a few of less savory appearance, kept from causing trouble only by the offer of momentary respite and a few words from a silver tongue. Even then however, as the strumming of a weathered old guitar wound down into an outro, one of the men spoke up, heckling the odd fellow with some indistinct drunken shout.

Horace hmmed a bit, hopping out of the wagon and walking ahead as Celine pulled the wagon to a stop, Abraham mumbling groggily as he stretched before practically rolling out of the back, the all-too-brief rest leaving him feeling practically hungover at first. “Never can sleep well in those gatdamn things...” he mumbled, the three of them making their way over to get a closer look.

Pretty much right as the three got to the back of the crowd, one of the more rowdy bandits stepped up, waving a half-empty bottle of probably-stolen alcohol. “Hey Krusty! Do Freebird!” The Jester turned his head towards the heckler, he seemed to start Freebird and strumming the strings before suddenly stopping. “No thanks!” The Jester said, giving a little chuckle as he set the guitar aside. “I don’t do just music, I do magic too!” He stated in a joyous tone, as he took out a deck of cards. “I’m going to need a volunteer, friends! Hm…” The Jester tapped his chin, looking at the crowd. He pointed a gloved hand towards Celine, “You! The redhead! Come on up!” He said, his grin widening as he gestured up towards the stage.

Celine was taken aback by this, looking back to Horace who simply shrugged, before stepping up on stage with him, one of the banduits giving a catcall right up until her nervousness gave way to a glare that promptly shut him up. The Jester nodded, the bells on his hat giving a little jingle as he passed the deck to her. “Alright! Look through the deck, then showcase the deck to our lovely crowd here, then pick a card” He explained, before giving a turn of his hands at her.

Celine regarded the act with curiosity, knowing more of the arcane than sleight-of-hand, playing along with it out of genuine interest. After all, this was something she never thought she’d end up seeing after the cataclysm. Horace meanwhile watched on, his gaze at this point fixed on the jester. Abe glanced over at The Knight, “What? Y’see somethin’?” He asked, as he simply gave a hmmph, “He has got essense on him. Cards are magical too. Can’t you see it?” Abraham gave a nod, “Since I saw ‘im, yeah. But he’s playin’ a show, what’s the worst that could happen?” He answered, which Horace gave a shrug to.

Celine, in contrast, had no innate sense of the odd magic that was afoot, showing the audience the deck as instructed, looking through to pick a particular card, settling on the jack of hearts. “Alright...” The Jester took the deck back, “Thank you! Now, with a quick shuffle…” He narrated as he put a little pinch of dull essence on the cards, before he stumbled a little. “Whuh-” He exclaimed as he fell forward, dropping the deck onto the stage, all the cards face up.

Celine was about to try and catch the jester as he stumbled, though the sight of him bumbling around earned momentary amusement from the crowd, only to stop and stare as she realized what he’d dropped. One moment the deck had been perfectly normal, the next every single card was the same one she’d picked. The Jester did a little sumersault, gesturing towards the cards with a flourish. “Tadaa!””

Celine found herself applauding the trick as well as most of those present as she stepped off the stage, not realizing the nature of the spell and merely assuming it was a stage trick, in which case it was genuinely impressive.

By now the group that had gathered was starting to disperse, a few conversing among themselves as they prepared to continue on their way, when a pickup truck pulled over nearby, clipping a battered old motorcycle as it went, a couple men in similar

garb to the few drunken troublemakers stepping out and glaring at the trio who’d stopped to watch the show. “Now what in the goddamn are you louts doin’, standing around watching a puppet show or somethin’? Ain’t y’ got work t’ do?”

    The Jester grew pale, “Uh oh…” He said quietly, as he slinked off suddenly, snatching his guitar. Horace hmmphed a bit, already keeping his gaze on the group of troublemakers, as was Abraham, a few of the other travelers quite wisely getting out of the way. One of the men who got out of the truck pushed one of his drunken comrades aside as he stepped forward, holding a crowbar in both hands. “And where you think you’re goin’, clown?”

“Those lot look like trouble...” Abraham muttered, watching as Horace started to step forward, Celine glancing back at the group warily. They were just close enough to overhear The Jester, with a shit-eating grin, give the bandit a response. “Ya’know. To see your mother?” he answered. “On second thought, do we hav’ta help the idjit?”

The Jester’s grin just widened, as he held out a palm full of essence dust. He blew the blue dust into the face and eyes of the crowbar wielding bandit, as he threw another handful of dull essense onto the hard pavement. The dust threw up a thick plume of glittery smoke as he backpedaled, giving himself space as the Jester drew a dirk with a black grip.

The man stumbled a bit, crowbar raised defensively as one of the others caught him. “Oi. Y’alight?” he asked, and the man looked around only to go into a panic, promptly braining the bandit that caught him. Everywhere around him, was that same jester, and he simply lashed out at the first one that seemed “real” to him, which just happened to be an image mimicking the fellow behind him.

“Oi! You fuckin’ dumbass, watch where you’re swingin’ that goddamn thing!” another shouted, a few others stepping up and drawing various weapons, mostly knives and clubs, though one had a wary hand on a sawed-down shotgun. “C’mon kid, don’t make us get too rough. Can’t pay us back if you’re dead...”

As this went on, Horace started to step up, hefting his axe as a couple others watched the flank, one of the glaring looking up at the knight. “Mind yer fuckin’ business ‘less you want a few holes in that armor. I swear, a knight, a cowboy, and a girl walk into a bar...” he muttered, pointing a short-barreled rifle at Horace. Quincy of course, quite gleefully spoke up at that. “Hey! I write the jokes here!” he called out mirthfully.

Already the other two quite wisely stepped behind Horace, or at least Abraham pulled Celine behind the armored figure as he drew his revolver, and the bandit fired at Horace’s chest point-blank, expecting the round to go right through him. He had just enough time to realize that the round had hit the strange iridescent steel only to be reduced to a spray of bullet fragments, before the axe cut deep into his collarbone, continuing on through ribs and everything else in its way until it had cleaved halfway through his torso, his rifle dropping to the ground utterly soaked in blood.

Horace struggled to yank the axe out of the bandit’s gushing wound, as he was distracted he was clonked in the back of his head by an aluminum bat. The suit rung like a bell for a moment, the knight struck the man across the jaw with the back of his gauntlet. He followed up with a haymaker that sent the bandit flying.

Quincy chuckled a bit as he twirled the dirk a bit, letting one of the others come at him with a knife before he deftly, swayed and whirled out of reach, letting the man push ahead of the others and isolate himself in his eagerness. The very next moment he was behind his would-be attacker, delivering a pair of quick cuts that opened up tendons along and arm and a leg, ensuring he dropped the knife and stumbled to a knee. At that he vaulted over the bandit, using that added momentum to send the man crashing hard into the pavement. “Heehee, play that tune again, friend!” he said, seemingly in response to the noise Horace’s helm made when struck.

Horace groaned a little, “I’m not a drum…” He grumbled as he stomped on the man’s throat. The shotgunner levelled the sawed off towards Quincy before a shot rang out, splattering the bandits fingers. Abraham drew first, having already cleared leather and fired off two shots. The man clutched his hand as the shotgun clattered the floor, another of the men rushing towards Abraham with a makeshift machete, before a burst of flame struck him square in the chest, charring the leather of his jacket and sending him smacking into the side of the pickup truck.

“What the fuck!?” Between the sight of the flames leaping from Celine’s hand, with at least two men crippled and another two slain, the few of them left were variously either backing away and dropping their weapons, or frantically scrambling to pile into the truck, intending to simply cut their losses and run. Horace grimaced at the sight, half-tempted to give them no quarter until Abraham set a hand on his shoulder, watching the old man still keeping his gun in their direction as they chose flight other what was quickly looking to be suicide. “About goddamn time sons o’ bitches think to quit while they’re ahead...”

Horace let out a little yelp at the hand on his shoulder, raising a hand and nearly backhanding Abraham. “Don’t- Don't touch me.” He rasped out quickly, shrugging the hand off his shoulder. Abraham shrugged at that, while Celine gave a little wave to Quincy as she approached. “Are you okay?”

The Jester skipped over into a bow as he offered a pink tulip from his sleeve. “Better than okay, my dear!” He declared as he held a hand over his chest. Celine blinked at that, a bit surprised as she looked back to Horace and Abraham. “That’s, er...that’s good then.” It was then Horace stepped forward, hmming a bit. “What were they after, arcanist?” he asked bluntly.

Quincy’s entire body seemed to wilt alongside the flower, he got back to his feet and dusted himself off. He stuffed the flower back into his sleeve as he explained, “I may have used a teensy weensy itty bit of magic to- ah.” He cleared his throat

“Cheat in a game of poker.” Quincy admitted as he scratched at the back of his head. Celine was just about to tease Horace for mistaking a magician’s tricks for actual arcane ability, until Quincy seemed to just brush the remarks off without acting like being found out was at all unusual, or if the accusation wasn’t rather weird. “So that wasn’t just sleight of hand, it seems...”

Quincy shook his head, “Kinda-sorta!” He exclaimed. “I still have to hide the essence use!”

Horace stifled a sigh, “...and why did you cheat at poker?” Quincy seemee to perk up a that, “I was strapped for valuables and they seemed pretty stupid!”

Horace uttered an “Of course…” Under his breath as he clonked an open palm against his helmet, which caused Quincy to give an amused giggle. “Hee hee! You make a great chime, friend!”

Celine found herself snickering a bit at that, looking back to Quincy. “You know, maybe between a humorless knight and a gruff cowboy, we could use some comedy. What do you say?” she asked, Abraham giving a blank stare. “So yer basically askin’ ‘can we keep ‘em’ like he’s a stray puppy.”

Quincy's grin grew toothy as he looked up at Horace, who would grimace if he could. “Fine. He better be useful…” He growled as he made his way back to the wagon, Quincy simply gave a mock salute. “Sir yes sir!” as he followed behind him, the various bells on his outfit jingling.
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