Venturing Into The Dark, New TerritoryEdit
Rustling of branches, the eerie wind blowing fiercely at the top of trees, producing the ever present "creeeeek", creeeeek" noise that filled the ears of those near the dense forest adjourning the rushing crashes of the tides that broke against the shore. This land was Troia, albeit... the coast, commonly used by Pirates for easy access into the territory. The coast was altogether too large for an entire defense network, and allowed many to enter freely if using the proper channels and bribing the approriate customs.
However, this area of Troia was the best they could find peace in. The only harbor the Queen Shiba's Revenge could find shelter in, the storm behind them forcing them aground. And as rain poured down upon the heads of the man and women, antromorph, hybrid and human all working together to get everything tied down. The anchor crashing against the earth, seeping into the muddy sand several feet into the murky waters until it solidifed it's presence there. Unmoveable admist the rocks it had crashed into, and the anchor making no room for being pushed away from the area.
Captain Nidar Ismaris called out to his crew, "Get your bloody arses moving, I don't want a single crate of that Powder falling into the sands! With this tide and the winds, the neighboring villages could be zombified or poisoned..." grumbling into the razor sharp winds, biting at the back of his neck. His brimmed hat fluttering back and forth, the sails above his head ripping apart. Hissing in his teeth, his crew could only work so fast, and he knew it. This night was a bad night, he had no clue what time it was. No stars were out for what he could assume was hours, the moon refused to shine, and the tides had thrown them completely off course. All he knew was that this had to be Troia, if nothing else then an island near the nation itself.
This shipment was stored in a secret cove, well hidden in the very coasts of Troia itself. All he knew was that it had to arrive there ASAP and he was going to be extremely tardy due to the most recent slip up... he had underestimated the force of the storm.
The scuffling of boots, squeeking across the wooden decks, hands, extended palms, and paws all working together to reign and tie the sails down. All the crates being taken below deck for security measures. And as the last one was taken underneath, he pulled his collar upright, hoping to free himself from some of the sharpness of the howling winds.
Grunting distastefully, he knew a fire would need to be made and contained the lower quarters of his frigate. He'd have to be ready to keep his crew warm, and setting out camp in uncharted woods was not what he wanted to do. Lest he invite a wandering townsman or worse; a Yevon Patrol. The bastards.
But he needed firewoods and a better knowledge of the surrondings area... the Red Mage needed to know their location, if even remotely.
"Icefang, Blanka, get a few of your men! We're heading out to the woods, we need to find some wood. Icefang, make sure you keep track of the area, I want to get a grasp of where the hell in Troia we are." rolling his eyes, not that he wasn't already deep enough in hell already. Owing Silvia favors was beginning to wane on his own revenue, sighing in contempt at himself. Damned woman, if he didn't owe her for good reasons, he would have left long ago.
Icefang the Ronso nodded, strapping his spear across his back. Taking the first steps in getting armed, pulling his belt taut across his waist, his snow white fur shimmering in the light from the recently lit lantern he now held firmly in his hand. "Aye aye Captain!" looking towards a few Al Abassi under his command, "You heard the man!" roaring out fiercely, "The Captain said we need wood, so you lucky ladies get to help out!" whether they were female or not mattered not to the First Mate, and he perpared the lower lifes for their duties. With a little pressure. "Now!" The Al Abassi shuffled as quickly as possible, arming themselves and each getting lanterns.
Blank in return did the same, a poised and calm Guado. Wearing the garb of a Samurai, unsheathed and pulled tight to her back just like Icefang had his lance. The blade she wielded on her back featuring serrated edges and emblazoned with various Oni images graphed into the blade itself. Her hair waving about wildly, kept as tight as possible through the use of a bun on the top of her head, a lovely red shade if one could see it in the ill lit night. The second mate brought her own uproar soon after, "If I don' see one all ov' ya lazy bums movin' avout, you'll all get fed to the sharks, bu' only afta' I've sliced ya' to vi bi's!" her accent not hindering her own subordinates from scuttling about in a rampent frenzy.
It took them only a few minutes to prepare, and they threw the rope ladders over the sides of the ship, some leading off with spare planks that were intended for boarding (amidst many other tools, but these were the most practical).
The wind picked up, and Nidar Ismaris took up behind Icefang and Blanka, stirring his mind for thoughts, hoping to distract himself from the matters at hand. "If we're near Polatavia, we should be able to find Silvia's contact there for proper shelter!" "We'll know!" Nidar was grasping at straws with the words spoken, but it would be much better for the morale of his crew to feed off hope. And if the hope was true: then a real warm bowl of soup and approriate bedding for each of his crew members in the Polatavia Rambling Inn, a locale of pirates seeking shelter from the authorities in Troia.
Steel clattering against backs and hips, lanterns creaking slightly. Each crew member trying to do their best to stay on the move and keep active lest frostbite reach their finger tips or toes. Sure to be nipping at all their ears in a short while if allowed to stay out in this flurry of a storm.
Nidar glanced to several trees, bent over in odd shapes. Probably from the storm, not to mention that Nidar was not all too familiar with the flora of the religious nation. Icefang looked to a rising mountainous face, grinning largely. "There we go men! Wait till we reach the mountain, if that's the Polascis Mountain, then Polatavia sits right underneath it with warm food and hearth!" immediately the men and women under their command perked up. Quitting any groaning that would have attempted to form.
Nidar couldn't say, but he felt less assured then most of them. Troia could have any number of mountains... this could just be one simple mountain. But, better a hopeful crew then a grumbling squad of pouters.
And as time slowly drifted by, Nidar could only guessed they had been approaching the mountain for near half an hour, they were near it's base. Still the storm didn't let up, and the only relief they had from the squall was a little less noise from the shore. Better then nothing...
At last, light flickered in the distant. Above eye level, amidst the branches. An approaching as quickly as they could near it. Breath heavy, they were wet... cold... hungry... and had yet to make sure they had fire wood. But atleast they had something better... hearth.
Blanka called out, pointing towards the light, "It's a lamp-post, it's the village sir!" "I'll send word back to the crew!" Nidar nodded to her, "Take Varin with you, he's light on his feet and able to keep up with you, travel in pairs Blanka, you know I don't trust unknown territory, whether or not we be close to friendly ground." The samurai nodded, her clothes flapping about, her frame quaking from the cold. Taking the smaller bat like Al Abassi with her, close behind.
Leading ahead, Nidar pressed past his first mate, still moving on to the village ahead. "So you excited for some warm grub and hearty mead tonight boys?" all would have cheered had their bones not been touched by the cold. They made up for it with chattering smiles and appreciative nods.
And now, the lamp post came into clear view. A sign labled with the village's name below it: Polatavia. A small village, numbering only near 70-100 populace in total. Enough to keep it running and stay afloat contently. Luckily, the village wasn't known for it's fanatacism like most of Troia seemed to represent. Just hard working citizens with a heart for others not so fortunate. Like him and his men. Which is why Silvia's agent there, (and the one who ran the inn) allowed them sacntuary if ever in trouble.
The events that took place tonight fit his idea of being in trouble.
All is Not it Seems, Something UnnaturalEdit
The town looked as active as ever, for the time of day it was... the lanterns were lit to allow view of the small streets and market place. All tightly close by in order for the ease of the village.
Nidar immediately went up to the inn in question, sighing softly. "Stay out here Icefang, we need to make sure Blanka brings the rest safely. They have twenty minutes to get here, if not by then, then we head back. Filled belly or not." The Ronso didn't seem too fond of the idea, but knew well enough then to question the orders given. Blanka was a friend, and was the next in line for command. He couldn't lose that standing just because he was a little empty in the gut.
Nidar knocked again. Nothing. Knocking harder this time, "C'mon woman, damn it... me and my men are cold out here! Opal, we don't have all night, our fingers are going to fall off!" his hands were shaking, but he could say he was happy to hear the winds were dying down. The rain was still drizzling down though, but nothing like the deluge from before.
Icefang looked with concern to Nidar, brow raised as if to question why the door wasn't being opened, much less responded to. It was the very least even an unhospitable place would do. Armed or not...
The Red Mage Captain tried once more, "Please Opal, we're dying out here! It's just me and a few of my men, our frigate crashed on the shore and we're knee deep in trouble! I can't owe Silvia any more money, I just need a place to stay for me and the crew for one night, that's it!" "We're going to lose limbs if you don't, Opal!!!" slamming the door with his fist extra hard each time, bound to splinter it if someone didn't intercede.
The lights flickered on the inside of the building, lights being turned on. Lamps. Sighing with relief, the door opened up, revealing the sunken face of a pale woman. Hair wildly unkempt, falling across her face in bangs, shrouding her eyes. A look of worry filled her eyes, so deep it made her very presence seem glazed. "Hurry, come in..." the crew on hand had no worries, they wouldn't stay out there for a second more then they needed to shove their way in (politely as possible as the door was only wide enough for a single body).
Opal was wearing a dark cloak, black as the night, fingerless gloves of poor material, and a shoddy dress recently patched. Looks like she was in need of a new tailor. As soon as they were in, not a moment too soon was the door slammed shut tight. "Did anyone follow you?" Nidar shook his head, the usual question she always asked. Strangely, the bar was empty... only Markus, Opal's husband and the bartender stood behind his usual location. "Why'd you let them in?!"
Opal shook her head, paying no heed to her husband. "Are you listening to me Ismaris!? Were you followed?" Icefang's brow raised, asking the question for the captain, "No we weren't, I made sure. Nothing but the wind was at our backs. Unless you consider misery an unwanted companion..." which it actually was this journey.
Opal's voice turned into a raspy shout, as toned down as possible as to not let her voice carry outside of the walls. "Nidar, you fool!" groaning slightly, rubbing her temples in small circles. "Keep your friend on guard outside..." Icefang took his queue, both from Opal and Ismaris to venture out the door, watching out for whatever it was that 'may have followed them'. Doubtful... but he obeyed nontheless.
Nidar placed his hat on the coat rack beside the entry way, looking around the room. The bar was generally filled, even this late at night... it was the perfect time for company and warm food. No one liked sleeping in a storm. A bad omen, bad luck offered a place at the doorstep.
Opal looked to the other crew members, "You lugs look hungry..." sighing softly, despite her harsh tone, she had a soft spot for people in pain. And these men were hungry and very tired, "Markus, can you heat them up some of the stew from today?" Markus nodded, "We have plenty left over..." Opal finishing her words, brushing the bangs from her eyes. She looked exhausted, eyes red from lack of sleep most likely.
"Nidar, you come with me..." pulling him up the stairs with but a glance, Nidar knew better then to ignore the command of a Troian woman. Things got bad if you dared deny them. His boots leaving small wet spots on the steps, the walls a bright white, recently painted by the looks of it. "Why the sudden change in color?" hoping to take any of the dread that was felt since he crashed on the shores of this damned nation... Opal only looked back to him, "The children didn't like it..." Children? This was news to him.
Nidar opened his lips, about to speak when he saw what she had just mentioned. Huddled together in a bed room, sleeping together, was a dozen or so children. All peacefully rested, but looking equally as exhausted as Opal was now. "What the hell... Opal, these surely can't be yours..." looking at her with keen interest and worry, Something didn't add up, and he could only assume this is why she brought him up here...
Opal stayed her gaze on the children, never leaving them. Her very stance appeared glazed. Worn out again, and likely only recieving a few winks every few hours. The tell tale signs of insomnia emulated from her. "They are now..." "They lost their parents recently, and no one else will take them in..." dread sunk into her tone, her shoulders drooping with the feeling of immense guilt.
Nidar blinked several times, thinking over the whole situation. "Were their parents killed?" Opal only nodded, sniffling slightly. "What killed them Opal..." Opal refused to look at him, keeping her back turned, eyes on the kids. Opal felt tears streaking her face, "Opal, answer me..." Ismaris was feeling his heart pound as the anticipation for the answer kill him on the inside. What could have done this?
"You shouldn't have came here..." Nidar shook his head, "Opal, just answer my question!" pulling her shoulder so the older woman glanced to him, "We don't know! It was the darkness out there!" The Red Mage met her gaze. He found fear. Unadultered fear. Pupils dilated, shaking slightly within the confines of her iris, lips quaking with stress. So much worry... so much depression... she was on the verge of breaking down herself.
"What was it in the darkness?" Opal began to laugh, her eyes still showing her condition unchanged. Her breathing became heavy, apparent by her pulse racing, felt through the physical contact by Nidar. "It wasn't the darkness, Nidar! It was the darkness..." "It came out of no where, gnawing at our doors the first nights... it just sat there in our periphial vision..."
Nidar slowly brought Opal to him, carrying her to a chair that was seated in the nook of the wall so that the one sitting may watch the door and the stairway. "Go on..." leaning himself up against the wall, holding her hand to ease her burden the best he could. Keeping his emotion out of this, lest she feel fear again. Gently rubbing her knuckles back and forth.
It was working, and her voice refused to vibrate back and forth as it once did. Luckily, the bar downstairs was full of laughter and a happily eating crew. Even Markus was heard guffawing.
"It took the form of nightmares... everyone in the village had them. Terrors that woke us up at night. The Militia guards reported seeing things at night, eyes... they claimed to even hear laughter, crying, all sorts of sounds. At first we disclaimed them... saying it was for lack of sleep." She shook her head wildly, "But we were so stupid... we were wrong..." "It killed the guards first, attacking families in the middle of the night. I can still hear their screams..." laughing into the tears she now had forming. Stress nearing it's epitome. "And I knew everyone of them! Every woman, man, and child! The inside of the houses were so bloody!"
Nidar patted her, "Calm down Opal... that's all I need to know." Maybe it was best he and his men didn't stay, maybe he should bring them with her. They were all in trouble, but this place was proof that their toll was just as bad, even worse.
"No! Why did you even come in?! The lamp-posts were all put out! We snuffed out the flames so no one would come near!" The halfbreed knew what the lamp posts being snuffed out meant. Bad time for a visit. Whether that meant the Yevon Contingents were there, or other such law enforcment officials. "We sent a message to the other cities and villages, telling them to send help..." "But that was days ago, and we haven't found or heard anything... it's too dark to go out during the day, and this was going to be our last night here..." sobbing into arms, Nidar leant forward, wrapping his arms around her. "We'll get you and the children out. Everyone else out."
Opal sniffled, "There is no one else but me, Markus, and these kids, Nidar..." "Everyone else is dead." But their cries still filled her memory each and every day. The twisted faces gnawing at her sanity. The nightmares of the dead haunted each step she had left to live. If it was even worth living anymore... then suddenly, her eyes opened wider then before. "Wait. You said the posts were lit?" head raising from the nook of the coat, creases forming from the area she once rested.
Nidar nodded, "Aye, we took it meant good tidings and came in... but don't worry about that, someone must have lit it..." patting her slightly before seperating them both from the comforting hold before.
Shaking her head dispondently, she knew better. Something was off. Terribly wrong. It had gotten smart... it had figured it out already? That's why she kept hearing screams at night... people were still traveling to the roads. The darkness was somehow using the very beacons of hope against travelers and the militants... luring them in the pitch black of night, a baited hook. And they were the intended meals. "That's why... no..." "We should have burnt this place to the ground once it all happened... now you're dead too." hysterics beginning to take their toll, revealing themselves at last.
Nidar shook his head, "It's magic by the looks of it. A monster. Maybe both... don't worry Opal, me and my men can get you to the Queen Shiba's Revenge, kids and all. We'll transport you to the next Troian coastal town. I give you my word, everyone is going to survive this... not one of you are going to die."
Opal nodded with little hope, attempting to recuperate from her struggling sanity. It was waning fast, and anything further would cause her to slip off. She was a covert agent meant to pass on low level intel and provide shelter for pirates under Silvia's command, little else. No combat experience, no tragic past to give her defenses for the things that occured the last few nights... she was on the bad side of things, and he was here to help her. "Alright, I'll wake the kids, and get them packed... we'll travel with the sun rise..." If we make it that long...
Nidar allowed her to go do as she said, heading back downstairs, grasping his hat from the coat rack he had flung it on minutes before. Watching as his crew of men turned merry drank and ate contently, still sober: which was to his liking at the moment. "Stay ready men, we stay till sunrise, then leave immediately. We have extra bodies, and we need to move out with haste. Get some rest as soon as the meal is done. As for other half of ya'..." glancing to the left side of the bar, "You get to stay up on watch. Blanka and Icefang will take watch after she returns, got it?" They nodded in agreement, plenty of time to drown in some spiced rum!
Nidar had no pleasure in getting his men worried over nothing. But he knew dark magics were at play... the dead and missing people. The fact that only the children were left? Only the children? Opal and Markus were apparently the only adults left to fend for them. It was a noble act, and one that Opal stood for. She wasn't going to leave them behind, and he had no plans of sacrificing his morals either.
"I'll be outside with Icefang..." turning with his heel, he opened the door and soon shut it. Looking to Icefang, who's snow white fur was slick and shiny from standing in the drizzle for so long. Thankfully the wind had died down, and the temperature was rising slightly. "See anything of interest?" glancing out into the market place, and out into the forest paths from which they had arrived. "No. And that's what concerns me..." "I can smell nothing thanks to the rain..." Al Abassi were known for their enhanced senses, and a dimmed sense of smell was a detriment, but nothing of consequence...
Nidar tipped his hat slightly, letting droplets fall off the angled corner. "And that's it? It's old news, don't tell me your eye sight is getting bad in your old age Icefang..." Icefang was unusually riged, shaking his head with a grunt. "This darkness is unnatural. I could spot a rabbit playing in the roots of the trees... but here..." Icefang's shining eyes glanced all around the woodlands. "I see nothing beyond the tree line. This darkness is unnatural..."
The captain shook his head, "Then it's what I thought." Gaining Icefang's ear, he explained the details in summary. "... and my guess is that it's magic at hand. It has to be. Some twisted mage or fiend is out there playing with the populace of the village."
Icefang shook his head, "No beast would leave children alive. If anything, they'd be the first to go. Easiest meals. Any mage would attack during any time of the day, regardless. I smell something wrong here. It's alien Nidar... and you know it."
"I hate to say it old friend, but I do..." not uttering the words albeit. "Where's Blanka?" just now realizing the rest of his crew was another good twenty minutes late. "It's been nearly an hou-..." '
Aaaaaagggghhhh!!!! the shriek of a woman pierced their eyes, blinding them from the rest of the world's calophony. The screams continued, now mixed. Filled with men and women, all crying out together in a shrilled terror.
The cries continued, more sinister this time. Turning into haunting laughter. Cheering as the howls of misery died out. "What out of the Great Beasts spawn was that?!" Icefang unsheathed his spear, "That has to be Blanka and the rest of our men!" it was easy to put the two together. Not bothering for permission, he darted out into the wilderness. "I'll return, Nidar! But I won't let Blanka die to this unholy night!" they weren't sure what was going on, but the men inside unbuckled the doors, peering out. "What's a matter, Captain? What was that scream?"
Nidar was about to speak the words in his mind, but was cut short by the sudden abyss pooling around them. The posts were snuffed out. Not by rain, or by wind, but swallowed by the very bleakness of night it tried to keep out. He felt shivers down his spine, and the feeling of groping all around him, his breath turned short. Eyes formed in the darkness, "Get inside now! Get everyone out the back door! We'll go through the mountain pass and make our way around to the Revenge!"
Latching the door shut as Nidar shoved his was in. Nothing was visible outside, not the woods, not a star. It's like they were at the bottom of the sea... even the sound of rain drowned out by the heartbeats of everyone in the house.
Terrible Headaches, Heart RupturingEdit
Their hearts were racing. Feet scampered out on the muddy roads, sent to retrieve the rest of the crew, moving with haste. The elegent form of the Guardo second mate was comparable to the beauty of a dancer, but refined with the disciplene of a tactician, trained for war. A path she had never taken, but prepared for. Blade strapped to her back, armor surronding a jacket and hakama, light leather with dashes of plating to offer her defense.
The bat like Al Abassi, the look out for the Revenge was hot beside her, traveling with as much haste as she did. Despite the lack of wings, he seemed to glide through the air with grace unparalleled. As if he were born for the air, floating between the trees and limbs.
Something caught Blanka's eye, a shimmer of light in the darkness, far off to the right. Stopping her in her tracks, sloshing the mud between her feet. "Did you see that?" Her hand extended to her blade, preparing to draw it from it's holster.
Rarin shook his head, "No mam, what do you think it was...?" trying not to disbelieve her, knowing well the acute eye sight of the samurai before him.
"I don't know... but it... it looked like..." suddenly, something was heard from behind them. Laughing. The laughter of a little child. This time, Rarin joined Blanka in turning her head towards the sound, "You heard that..." the bat nodding his head, turning his body slightly, "Hello? Is someone out there?" Blanka unsheathed her blade, slowly and with persistence. Focused intently on what was going on.
Hehehe~ there it was again. This time from to the left.
Rarin's fur bristled, dark and gruff, it puffed out, the lantern he held offering the only light. He extended his long arm out towards where he had heard the last snicker. "Is there a little girl out there...?" No sooner had he said the words, when a girl, no taller then his knees moved from between trees, hiding behind the second. Blanka's eyes widened, a child was out here? Probably from the village, but something was wrong, she shouldn't have been here... did something happen when they had left?
Rarin got closer and closer, extending his hand, "It's alright, are you okay?" hoping to coax her into taking his paw and coming out from the brush. The girl sniffled, moving back slightly, her body not shivering like either Blanka or he. "What's your name?"
Blanka noticed something, the darkness had somehow gotten closer to them... the lights from their lanterns was dying out too quickly. Like it was being suffocated. "Grab the girl! Something's wrong!" Blanka waved her lantern around, too late.
What appeared to be a figure of pure black slithering out of the darkness, melding out of it. A tall slender looking man, but with no face. Many arms, with many clawed hands all above and around them. Tentacles like an octopus, but no suckers entrenched around them. The creature was wicked in appearance, and it emited a feeling of dread, attempting to prevent them from breathing.
Rarin looked up towards the many hands around them, "What in the hell?!" Suddenly, the girl was pulled with a snap back into the growth, as if on strings... Blanka swung her sword, slicing at the creature. In this motion, the creature retaliated in twain, slapping the lantern away. Extinguishing the light at last... "Rarin, get out you--" it was too late. Teeth ensnared around them, slashes from all around, claws tearing away them. The very darkness had spawned something to embody it, and it was hungry.
The sounds of screams followed him into the forest. Both from his front, and at his heels. Sounds of pain and agony filled his nostrils and lungs. The feeling of eyes boring into his skin, baring down on his neck. He could see things out in the darkness, making out the appearance of spiders. He hated spiders... he had to rescue Blanka. Nidar could protect Opal and the rest if they were in trouble.
Lance in arm, shaped like a trident, primed and ready for battle. A net tied to his hip, much like a gladiator used in the arena. Nothing more then bracers, and plated shin guards clothed him; lastly being his own fur and a long loin cloth. "Blanka! Where are you?!" The path looked different. He had been racing through the woods for what seemed like hours. Yet, he had only left just minutes ago. Surely he could have found their tracks at the least.
Then he noticed something. Glancing behind him, the posts were out. The very path he was running down was different, the trees were bent out of proportion. Some gnarled and wicked, the faces of a horrified face shaped into the knots. Icefang pulled his eyes up, hoping to see signs of the stars. And as if the trees themselves sensed his thoughts, the nature betrayed him. The tree tops so tall they prevented sight of the sky...
He was lost. But how?
Icefang turned his face slowly behind him, the sound of bones snapping caused the abrupt turn. a girl with red hair was looking straight at him. Peering from underneath the wild and unkempt bangs she had flowing infront of her. "You must be my new plaything..."
Icefang roared out, thrusting his spear forward, "Vekred Sa!" the chant of battle. Conjuring blue magic, and preparing to face the culprit behind the illusions...
They were running through the mountain pass as fast as they could, Nidar staying behind the rest to make sure the children were all accounted for. All twelve... safe and sound. Opal and Markus had left all everything behind, taking only a dagger for each, and other medical supplies incase any of the children hurt themselves.
The Captain of the Revenge prayed to the old gods that Icefang and Blanka were alright. Maybe they had drawn it off them... but he wasn't sure it was worth it yet. What they were fighting out there had to be wicked enough to kill off an entire town. An entire full of villagers, not to mention they were armed. The Yevon were sure to frequent the area to prevent pirate incursions... (which they failed at, but nontheless, the town would be visited).
Small scampering children all huddled inbetween his men and the him, he looked down towards the forest. Glad to be out of the dense wilderness and amidst the mountain path. For now... He knew they would have to make a dash for it towards the ship. Whatever this 'thing' was, it threatened to kill everything in it's path. They had no sunrise to save them, it had forced their hand.
Nidar felt like he was being played. Like the whole thing was some elaborate plot. Or knowing his luck, maybe he just sucked with timings...
Crash, bang, boom! the sounds of trees being plowed. Uplifted and torn apart, ripped from the roots they had so deep, causing them to tumble. "Eyes out! Where was that from!?" Nidar's men glanced outward, casting a small spell, one of them sent out a small magical flare...
And the trees were parting, willingly or not. Dust was being sent into the air, wind burst outward. "Down there sir! On the way back to the ship!" Nidar cursed, that's where Icefang had left off to. Whatever was out there was having a brawl with him. "Get 'em Icefang, just hold 'em off till we get to the ship..."
Opal stopped for a moment, allowing her to fall behind and run beside Nidar. "Go help your friend, Ismaris. I know what we've been through as been much... but your men are capable of keeping us safe." He felt like she was lying, trying to keep him guilt free incase something were to go wrong. "You were terrified moments ago, what's got into your head?"
She glanced offward, "I'm sure we're all going to die tonight. I don't doubt that. But I will keep this children away from that thing... if it's possible..." unsheathing her blade, "I will die to keep them safe Nidar." They had done her nothing, they were not hers. They weren't family... but after all the events.
Any survivours of this incident. Anyone apart of this village that lived would soon find themselves calling eachother family.
"I promise, Opal, we'll all survive. I'll even name the ship after you if you do." hoping to the heavens she was wrong and he was right. Patting him on the shoulder, he leaped off the rock face, disappearing into the fog and tree tops, off to aid his comrades.
Escape, A False RealityEdit
The Culprit revealed: Engage!Edit
Nidar swept pass the trees as fast as he could, whispering a small green magic spell to allow the earth and air to cushion the fall. The sounds of rustling leaves flew past him, the shimmers of water, his clothes drenched after all the rain. When would this hellish place ever stop drowning him? Blade glinting off the small illumination spell he soon cast as well, gazing out into the woodlands. Following the sounds of roars, both Al Abassi and hellish nightmare...
The battle was still ongoing, and from how Icefang was fighting, he could tell this foe was clearly something on another level. Worthy of going all out in a fight to what he was going to guess was decided by death.
Arriving at the scene, Icefang was no longer the pure white he had once been. Bathed in head to toe in black and red, bleeding profously. Holding on only due to a regenerative spell. Nidar could sense the air itself was filled with Aether, so much magic. Too much. The Ronso was roaring vengefully at a creature of unknown make. It was colored with the darkness of void, hands aimed and ready to swath at the annoying furred beast before them. But more interesting was the thing it was attached to... besides the darkness all around that it was forming out of, the eldritch manifestation was direrctly connected to a red headed girl. A crooked smile was tearing through her lips, shining bright in the wicked bleakness of the starless night.
Her hands were poised like an artist or theatre actor, ready to perform or draw her next piece. Nidar knew all too well the position. Despite her stooped body and her manic stance, it was an elder form of magic. Magic used to bring about spells much more dangerous then the ones taught freely today.
Icefang glanced to him, "Get away Nidar! It's messing with my senses!" the tone he carried was aggresive and without regret. A tone Icefang never bared against his captain even under the most intense sessions of stress. The creature took it's chance to move, reaching out from the ground, several hands formed of shadow pooled out and wrapped around Icefang, pulling him closer to the culprit.
Nidar reached out, pointing his hand directly at the girl and the abomination. Whatever the hell it was, it was going to die. "Fira!" throwing the fire ball with breakneck speeds. The creature ceased it's actions, curling it's length around it's host. The shadowy form protecting her from all arm, soon untwisting itself. The girl was laughing, madly infact.
She was enjoying it. "You think your safe..." her eyes shrunk, pulling back her pupils into her skull. All too happy to be here inciting mayhem. She performed a short pirouette, excited by this new foe. "You all have such wonderful smells..."
Icefang howled at her, "And what do we smell of, bitch?!" leaping forward in a heartbeat, a burst of speed so fast that Nidar had trouble tracking it. However, it was nothing for the symbiote protecting it's host. Slamming him with one of it's tentacles, pressing him against a tree.
Nidar deduced as quickly as possible before rushing in with blade ignited with fiery energies, stabbing at her with a flurry of attacks, aided by magic to grant him the speed neccesary to perform the feat. She vanished from sight... the creature phasing from existance soon after. Letting the red coated Icefang fall to the ground, barely breathing. The Captain raced to his ally, picking him up by the shoulder.
"Fear." the word whispered, echoing throughout the forest. Icefang retorted, growling for all his might, barely making it out before he collapsed into his friends arms, still concious but unable to battle. Nidar picked up his friend the best he could, moving away from the scene where the fight had taken place. "It left us for a reason... it could have killed us." He knew it was for the rest of the survivours. They were of no threat... Icefang was nearly dead, bleeding out, and from the look of his wounds, he was poisoned... although he himself may be fine, he knew all too well this creature was something he hadn't prepared for. Nor could he have ever been. It was something new and horrendous. Was she controlling the beast? Or the beast her?
The shadows around them didn't fade. They never even moved, not due to lantern light, or magical flame. Something about this place was wrong.
Icefang hissed in pain, looking to his waning life force, glad that some of his anguish was being submerged with numbness. Nerves damaged. "I can't believe I got lost..." still in shock that his tracking skills had been off, the Al Abassi simply couldn't accept the fact he may have been wrong. If only he had been...
Too Late, Promises BrokenEdit
As the children passed through the woods, at last off the mountain pass... they were close to safety. They could hear the sound of waves caressing the shores. Only a few minutes away... Opal could have cheered with joy. Till she saw something, having just looked towards the skies for hope of stars. But instead of stars, she found only the miserable comfort of void.
Something splashed onto her face.
There it was again, this time, the group felt it as a whole. The rain had died out a while ago, and this felt thicker. Markus and the crew gazed towards the tree tops. Eyes widening as they realized what was upon them. The Yevon contingents that had been sent out to rescue them, impaled on the fine tips of the trees end, branches not impeding their slow descent. It was horrible.
Markus realized what had been falling on them. Blood. They had been laid out to dry like lambs at a slaughter house.
Opal looked away from it, "Don't bother looking to the stars kids, clouds out tonight..." trying to shield the children's eyes. She could feel vomit pooling on her tongue, held back only by skilled restraint. This thing that had killed off the village, had taken the effort to slay an entire contingent of freelancers and paladins... even lured in Nidar and his crew. All for what?
She could only assume it was for sadistic pleasure. It took joy in their fear. In the hunt. It wanted to see them run and scurry about with lit hopes. Only so it could snuff them out in the cruelest way fashionable... the sign of a cruel and heartless abomination. And as the wind pushed against their backs, they were glad to keep running. The path was muddy, with rain and blood. The darkness refusing to move, it grasped at their heels. No where in this damned place was safe anymore.
And as they approached the shore... they realized they weren't at their destination. Cries and grunts of anger filled the air behind them, "So you think you're just going to stop being my playthings?!" the creature appeared, allowing her form to take shape. The shores infront of them vanished, an illusion. All make believe. The sounds were nothing but auditory disruption, replayed at the beck of it's twisted master.
"You are sorely mistaken... you can never leave. Nor will I let you take them with you!" Opal assumed it was the children, for whatever sick purposes it had fashioned for them, the mother figure would not let this manifestation of evil take them away without a fight!
Drawing her dirk, Opal stood infront of the kids, "Stay back!"
Phoebe quirked her head, laughing happily. "I don't need to get close to you to make you dead." her eyes glinting with magical powers, she cast her hand forth, letting loose the power she had so many years ago on her fellows. On her own family.
Madness swept over them, tearing their minds apart. Shredding their reality into fine bite sized pieces. Just right for Wode. And as they screamed, her protector ripped his mouth apart, like seams popping off of a piece of clothing. Black ichor dripping from it's lips. "These play things are not wanted anymore."
Wode fufilled his master's desires.
Live to Fight Another DayEdit
Nidar and Icefang heard the screams. So many and unending. Tears filled his eyes, a rare feat for the likes of a pirate. They weren't fake. He could tell, distinguishing Opal's and the rest of his crew that he had taken with him to the Inn. Even the children.
Shaking his head. He couldn't think of that, he had to get out alive. The Captain felt gutless for abandoning them if they live. If this was some sort of trick on his ears and he was wrong? Swallowing hard, he made his decision. He knew this gut feeling wasn't lying to him. If he went towards the screams, there would be nothing but dead bodies, and he didn't want the sight of a dead friend imprinting his final memories of her.
Slowly, a light from the east, faint and dim. Sunlight. Sunrise was not too far away.
Icefang was barely awake, attempting to push through the loss of life he had remaining. Breath hot, body aching. He spat out in pain as his foot tripped over something. Gasping in pain, Icefang grunted alongside him. "C-captain...?"
Nidar looked behind him, Blanka lay across the muddy road. Still alive. "How are you...?" Rarin being the reason for him tripping. Or what was left of him...
Blanka shook her head, biting her lip, her hand on what was now an empty socket for an arm. Completely torn off, it lay infront of her several feet. Blood had been seeping out for awhile now, but her strength and resolve had kept her alive. Nidar was sure she had used her Pheonix Down to keep herself alive. A rare feat, and probably one of the last times she'd ever escape death. It prevented the blood loss from killing her, and it had clotted now. Her face was weary, and she looked exhausted.
"The creature c-came a' us... i' jus' des'royed us... i' used one han'..." gazing to the space her arm should have been. "And i' was gone... tore i' righ' ou' ov' that socke'..." spitting up blood, she stood slowly. "I can f-follow you Captain..." she understood enough. The look in Nidar's eyes was one of finished resolve and dead hopes. The look a Captain revealed only when the stakes were too high then to not retreat or fall back.
Picking up her sword with her one good arm, she attached her strap to her back once more, but instead placed her bloody limb into the place her weapon once went. "Silvia owes us this time..."
The sounds of laughter echoed all around them. Darting away, leaving corpse behind, they would honor their look out in memory. "How fa' is tha' ship?" Blanka asked coldly, hoping to stay logical and matter of factual in the face of death case it met them once more.
Nidar looked behind them, and he made out the figure of the slender eldritch vanishing too and fro in the woods. Making it's way to them through the shadows. Muscles burned, throats hoarse, bodies aching. And minds too tired to push on beyond the simple thought: Escape. Sight of the ship came into view, and they made it to the sandy beach. Hell was at their heels, and the shadows attempted to leave the place.
Blanka cried out in panic, "Drop the planks! Open fire! OPEN FIRE!" Nidar shouted along with her, crying for help. Whether they were in the blast radius or not didn't matter.
The ship had been moved off the rocks thanks to the tides come and go from the morning soon to be. Dropping the planks, the crew onboard pointed their guns and machina cannons towards the forest line. Watching as shadows attempted to invade the beach; and then slay anyone in sight.
Boom! Boom! Boom!
Exploding gunshots fired out, filled with magical powders, they lit the tree line in vibrant flames. Colored with blue, greens, and all sorts of summer spectrum. "Don't stop firing! Fire again!" Blanka exclaimed as she pulled herself up the rope ladder offered to her, Nidar on her heels.
Wode could not follow them any longer. The magical onslaught from the ship, and the dangerous mixture that filled the explosions were actually harming him. Hissing in pain, the shadows slowly kept back. And with the sun now lighting the horizon, it darted back into hiding. Shifting out of view, and deep in the reccesses of the forest they had escaped out of with their lives.
Nidar fell flat on the deck as his crew members pulled him and Icefang up. "Get the white mage!" panting out, he looked to the mountain, and knowing well where the village was. He looked to his chief gunnery, "Aim at Polatavia." the gunners all raised their brows, questioning his reasoning. "Destroy that damned place." Blanka looked to the men, who were all together shocked by the ragged appearance of their top superiors. "He said fire..."
Questions were not asked, cannon shot fire. Artillery guns used to pinpoint and destroy the village. Bombarding it for several minutes while the Captain, First and Second Mate were patched up. And as smoke filled the air, reaching the clouds: rising from the village.
Nidar was happy to escape with his life.
Looking to his men, he took the navigation wheel of his ship, heading her far away from Troia. Powder be damned. Silvia be damned. There was things that happened this night that never should have. Misfortune had struck and terrible things had occured.
He lost a friend. Innocents died. "Set a course for Damcyan. We dock, and then we go speak to Trade Prince Silvia at Descension. She's going to believe us, whether she likes it or not..." Silvia would take heed if he had anything to say about it. And once that was done, he'd make sure no one under her influence ever ventured to these unholy coasts again.
Blanka gazed to her captain, watching the medic wrap her arm with bandage, stitching the rift between limb and socket. Healing approraitely with magic. Icefang lay beneath several decks, attended by more immediate responses. Out of the fifty men they had underneath them, fifteen were killed. All valued members of the Queen Shiba's Revenge.
And whoever had killed them. Whoever had attacked her... was going to pay someday.
Off on the distant shores, hidden beneath trees, stood a lone red headed woman. Staring out blankly, knowing her experiment to see the potential of Wode had been a success. That all the little playthings had been perfect rats in a maze for him to hunt. Throughout the entirety of a single week, she had realized his potential. The night was their ally, and the darkness provided her illusion magic the ultimate supliment of fear and distraught. Innocents had been slain. Many delicious.
But that didn't matter. What did matter, was figuring out where and when to attempt this again...
A smile broke up from her lips, and she pulled a lock of hair into her finger tips, twirling it. "Cinquleur, Cinquleur, beware what I say. Lock your doors at night, keep the darkness at bay. Cinquleur, Cinquleur, so safe and sound. Too bad you couldn't keep the mad god bound." laughing manically, she drank in the victory. Victory, sweet victory.
Behind the ScenesEdit
Crimson Graveyard is a oneshot to provide the feel for Phoebe Makari. Bringing her down to her roots, what she truely is. A dark monster, sadistic and cruel, insanity incarnate. Something that goes bump in the night for those infortunate to cross her path, and make good on finishing up those that do so.
Features appearances from Nidar Ismaris and his crew the Queen Shiba's Revenge. As well, it reveals the appearance of two crew members (Icefang and Blanka) who were intentionally placeholders for Nidar himself, but feature as cameo first and second mates.
During the events of the story, several times did Phoebe utilize the darkness to her advantage. As it is the primary weakness for most human beings, preventing vision, and alienating sounds and locations, it allowed her the ultimate advantage in taking over the town and slowly destroying it. More or less to demonstrate her power, the story line also provided the vibe and feel that one should feel when thinking of Phoebe. A sadistic monster that only seeks to kill for her own pleasure.