Closed Death and the Desolate Priest

Madeira and Jomi confront a Desolate One, and the stakes could not be higher.

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The Diamond of Kalea is located on Kalea's extreme west coast and called as such because its completely made of a crystalline substance called Skyglass. Home of the Alvina of the Stars, cultural mecca of knowledge seekers, and rife with Ethaefal, this remote city shimmers with its own unique light.

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Death and the Desolate Priest

Postby Madeira Craven on January 8th, 2019, 11:23 pm

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91st of Winter, 518



“You can do it, kitten. Careful now.”

Madeira was in the kitchen of the Infinity Manor, standing slumped and vacant over a bowl of dark dough. She could feel it squish between her fingers, and could smell the rye flour and sour cheese that made this particular soulmist recipe, but she was not truly in control. It was little Emma Chamelle who flexed her shaky hands and pressed downwards, kneading and mixing in jerky, unsteady movements. The concentration the little ghost was putting forth was incredible, but even in a body as broken-in and trained as a master Spiritist’s she struggled with the simple tasks. Poor Emma was proving to be too weak and timid to be any kind of possessor.

As Madeira waited patiently for the clumsy little ghost to spend her last energy, her eyes wandered to the kitchen window. The day was dying slowly as Syna set just in time for the dusk rest. The chill winter wind was rushing down from the mountains to scatter the last of the warmth and the brittle fall leaves. The Manor was creaking and sighing against it, its awareness flickering in the grounds as it struggled to raise its wildflowers six months out of season. This was a night to stay home and give the ghost and sentient house in her care some much needed attention. Not to mention Madeira’s due date was approaching, and the heavily pregnant woman was finding it much more comfortable to stay home.

After a chime whatever energy Emma had left was completely spent, and the the little ghost rose meekly from Madeira’s back to hover behind her. The Spiritist’s astral body rushed to fill the vacated space and she blinked hard to shake off the last traces of unwieldy possession.

“Good job, Em!” she praised lustily, scrapping black dough from her fingers. The child could use a confidence boost, however cheekily unearned. She dug around in a kitchen drawer and after much noisy clattering surfaced with a small pairing knife. “I’ll get Jomi in for this bit.” Shaking back her sleeve, she shouted for her most trusted servant, so he could practise his possession by drawing his master’s blood.

The summoned ghost slammed into her body much harder than Emma ever would, and expertly took control. Madeira could simply pull back and let the ghost into her arms rather than her whole body, and watch passively as the foreign soul wielded the flashing knife in her own hands.

It was as the silver tip of the knife was pressed into her skin that the world suddenly stopped.

The presence that proceeded her was so powerful it seemed to drown out the sounds around them. Madeira never heard Emma’s gasp or the eruption of confused white noise the house slammed into all their minds. The wind in the flue and the creaking of the eaves was suddenly all very far away. Time itself seemed to leak away as Madeira slowly turned her head, her alarmed soul holding tight to the ghost still lurking in her body.

She was standing in the centre of the great room, by the winding staircase. Pale and dressed in a simple black dress, she was impassive, watching, and exuding a patience that stretched back to the dawn of the world. Two tall, regal jackals sat on either side of her; one black, the other white. Together they waited with their mistress, all of them immovable, powerful, and cold.

Madeira was facing them, standing six meters away from Death herself, and for once her words failed her. White showed all the way around her wide blue eyes and her mouth hung open and dry, everything she might have said dying unuttered on her lips. What is this? What is happening?

“Do you know who I am, child?”

Her voice was slow and soft, yet it reached every corner of the room and shook Madeira’s tongue loose from its frozen hold. There was no frustration in that voice, no impatience, just a gentle kind of inevitability- she knew Madeira would speak, so she did.

“Dira”, Madeira managed to choke out, her voice croaky and tight and quite unlike itself.
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Death and the Desolate Priest

Postby Madeira Craven on January 8th, 2019, 11:25 pm

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The goddess in their home acknowledged the spirits around her with no more than the contact of her eyes. First Emma, who was no more than dematerialized smoke hovering in the kitchen, too scared to run and too terrified to stay. Then to the possessing ghost trapped in Madeira’s arms. Then finally all three pairs of eyes were studying the human.

“Madeira Craven, I have been watching you. You are one of the most powerful spiritists of your generation. You strive to learn more of life and death, and show an understanding of the balance that I protect. You have brought many troubled souls to their proper rest and now you teach others to follow in your footsteps. Were you to turn this influence and power to the proper course, you have it within you to do great things.”

The praise was unexpected and confounding coming from the mouth of Death herself. The silence that followed seemed to expect an answer, but Madeira’s mind was full of noise and none of it could seem to reach her mouth.

“But you are untested and avaricious”, the goddess continued in the silence. “Those souls who take time to put to rest you turn to servants and slaves. In your studies of death you have helped prolong the life of a Nuit, who’s life is forfeit by the very laws I command. I have heard your prayers, but you do not truly carry me in your heart. Will you speak on your own behalf?”

Her eyes were black. Blacker than Allister’s, blacker than the darkest night and the deepest well. Speak, Madeira begged herself. Oh god, Death is in your living room and you must speak.

Emma, the house and Jomi were all quaking. The Goddess was standing in the exact spot where Allister had once gotten to his knees to hold her and proclaim that they had finally found home. The jackals were regarding her with eyes of gold fire, and she wondered how insignificant they all must look in the eyes of something so eternal. Oh god, speak. Find your voice. Death is here and its the only shield you have.

“I… I take servants to hold close and keep control over those who I work to exorcise”, she defended herself in a voice thin and dry, as the memory of every sin she had ever committed rolled through her head. “Emma, Jomi, Hurik… Their services are invaluable, and I have kept my promises to seek the resolutions they need to return to your domain. As for my work with the Nuit… You’re right, I did not do it in your service, but I did it to understand. The transference was ethical and would have gone ahead regardless of my presence. But now… now I know more of the undead than I had before, and I- I do not regret it.” Sweat was rolling down her neck, and she was suffocating under the weight of Dira’s presence. Her justifications felt mean and weak, sizzling and dying in the air before they ever reached the goddess. “All of my work, with spiritism and malediction and even my collaboration with the Nuit I do with the goal of understanding and respect.”

The baby in her belly was fussing, she could feel it turn and kick in a dance of new life. The Goddess was watching her, judging her with those black eyes. When she spoke she spoke again in that soft, inescapable voice.

“I am here to recruit you, Madeira Craven, to join you to my cause and give you the guidance you desperately need. Yet you are untested, and your resolve may yet bend one way, or the other. I have waited for this weakness to be tested, to see if you are worthy to share my power, and now finally your hour approaches. I am here to watch you, judge you… and warn you. I am not the only one who has noticed your potential, Madeira Craven. Uldr has sent a priest against you.”

Uldr, god of undeath, enemy of Dira. His followers were the monsters of her bedtime stories. As a Craven she was required to learn about every kind of undeath, from ghosts to Nuits to monsters, yet they were always more boogeyman than real, something that belonged solely in her nightmares. But as Dira’s simple words sent shards of ice through her overtaxed heart she heard the truth of them, and a mad desire to laugh bubbled up her throat. Death is here, and the nightmare is real!

“The winds carry this Desolate One fast and high”, the goddess continued in her soft voice. “It will be here within the bell. If these servants of yours are truly invaluable as you say, I will leave a small gift to arm them in this fight. Good luck, Madeira Craven, and do not fear. Death comes for all.”
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Death and the Desolate Priest

Postby Jomi on January 11th, 2019, 8:59 pm

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Date 518 AV
"Speech"


Jomi hovered intently as a dematerialized pillar of smoke over Madeira and Emma's shoulder. His mists fussed silently and the ghost judged the youngest of Madeira's servants as the pair went about mixing the various ingredients to the clay bowl. Jomi knew the tiny ghost was trying her hardest. The intricacies and strain of puppeting a astral body that isn't your own is the hardest thing a ghost will ever learn to do. But he was craving his Masters soulmist and the little girls clumsy possession was slowing the process to an agonizing crawl.

“Good job, Em! I’ll get Jomi in for this bit.”

The dark skinned ghost wasted no time, jumping into the spiritists body eagerly even as his name was still trailing off her lips. He focused his soulmist and drove it into her arms. The possession trained, broken in and familiar body encased the invading spirit like water in a vase. Jomi was sure he knew his Masters body better than he had ever known his own in life.

Madeira moved aside expertly and offered him control, allowing his essence to coil around the muscles and tendons as he flexed their fingers experimentally. The small silver knife flashed in the light as he pressed the tip into the soft flesh on the underside of her arms, careful to fit the point between the puckered white scars that marred them.

And then the world stopped.

Jomi felt his Masters soul dislodge him from her astral body and encase him, trapping the terrified ghost. Not that he put up much of a fight. Death stood in their front room and the thought of standing in her presence alone was exponentially worse than his sudden confinement.

No, please gods no. I'm not ready!

But the goddess wasn't there for him. Her words fluctuate between praise and cutting admonishments as she addressed Madeira. But the young spiritist held her own against the goddess of death. Putting her silver tongue to good use.

"If these servants of yours are truly invaluable as you say, I will leave a small gift to arm them in this fight. Good luck, Madeira Craven, and do not fear. Death comes for all.”

Dira and her minions vanished as quickly as they came. Sounds slowly filtered back into the empty space as Jomi took advantage of his Masters shellshock to wrest himself free of her body. The ghost fought his way out of the palms of her hands, lifting off her like fog on a cold lake and half heartedly materializing in the center of the room.

"Alright...what was that about." The ghosts whispered in a low voice. His wide eyes darted around the room, half expecting the goddess or her jackals to be hidden in a dark corner. Waiting to drag him back to her realm.

"Who's Uldr? What's a Desolate? What did...she, mean by gift?"

No sooner had the words left his mouth that the ghost saw a glimmer of red in the corner of his eye. On the rug at his feet there was a small red uncut stone, shining clear and bright where the goddess stood no more than a chime ago.

"A...Rock?"

Gingerly the ghost knelt down and extended his hand. Drawing up the latent power in his soulcore to draw out and activate the soulmist in his arms. Jomi rolled the stone into his palm, using the mists in his hand to push up against the pull of gravity and hold it up to his face.

The ghost glanced over to the spiritist, his transparent brows knitted together in confusion. "What do you think this-"

A sudden burning pain engulfed the spirit, extending into the very ends of his soulmist and piercing his core. Every thought and word died on his lips and morphed into a tortured scream as the stone melted into his hand and fused to his mists.

The ghosts wildly erratic mists wound and contracted around his soulcore without prompt. Twisting and fusing with each other as they began to build up Jomi's materialized body. The sudden flair of pain died and the ghost cracked his eyes open experimentality and was greeted with the dark calloused, dirt covered skin of his palm.

Jomi rose to his feet unsteadily and took in his transformation with a mixture of shock and awe. He was wearing the clothes he died in. A fitted rough cotton shirt with the rope Edith had tied around the waist to prevent the material from snagging on windowsills and dark leather pants. This was the outfit he had been materializing in since his death but now the details were beyond what a ghosts rendering was capable of.

Every texture, shadows and movement were identical to that of a living body. Everything from his long ebony black hair that moved and fell with every shift of his body to the lines in his palm and the dirt under his fingernails. Everything was exactly as it had been in life.

Save for the dull red glow that emitted from the palm of his right hand.

Dira's Bloodstone acquisition

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Death and the Desolate Priest

Postby Madeira Craven on January 15th, 2019, 10:45 pm

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Sound came back in bits and pieces when the Goddess left; the wind howling in the flue, the song of the birds that roosted in the eves, little Emma sobbing with fright. Jomi pulled himself from Madeira’s unresisting body and materialized in the center of the room. She could almost see the raise of his badger’s hackles as he scanned the dark corners.

Swallowing hard and sucking in a deep breath, the Spiritist slapped colour back into her cheeks. This was too much. This was too fast. She wanted to go upstairs and crawl into bed and imagine this was all just a bad dream. But Emma, Jomi and the house were watching her. Allister her beloved and Savis her partner could come home any moment. She was the queen of her dead and broken things and she needed to keep her head.

Suddenly through the ringing in her head she heard a tortured scream. Jomi was kneeling on the ground, his soulmist kicked up in a whirlwind of pain. The temperature dropped and the burning lights flickered and suddenly it wasn’t Jomi the ghost that was getting to his feet, but Jomi the Kelvic.

No, that didn't make sense. Madeira watched him turn, catching moonlight through the window across the bridge of his nose. It was slightly crooked, like he’d broken it before. His hair was long and pin-straight, falling in a luxurious curtain to his ribs, and she could see every strand. His skin was burnished and windburnt and reflecting candlelight off the sheen of sweat on his face. No ghost looked like this. None of them could catch light and shadow and detail like this. He was completely indistinguishable from a true, flesh-and-blood person. Even her, a Spiritist at the height of her skill, could pass him on the street and never realize he was a ghost.

“A gift”, she realized belatedly. “This was Dira’s gift! She’s arming you…” Against the most vicious undead creature that exists, with a passable lie. She’s armed us with an illusion, when we need weapons.

The enormity of what they were doing threatened to crush her. The Goddess said the creature would be there within the bell, and she had no idea how long they really had left. Her first thought was to run, to pack up everything she loved and flee. But there was nowhere to go. If the beast was truly sent to find her, it would. A Desolate One could turn to smoke and ride the winds, trickle through any locked door, and slaughter anything in its way. No. They had to stay, barricade themselves in, buy as much time as they could and send for help.

“Emma. Emma, kitten, listen to me”, Madeira crouched before the weeping girl, pulling her wrists away from her hiding face. The Spiritist’s eyes were hard and cold, and her voice firm. She could allow neither to shake. “I need you to get help. Find the Shinya, the Dusk’s, Rotsam, anyone. Run. Run as fast as you can. Find Savis and tell her not to come home. Find Allister and say…” and say I’m sorry. No, she couldn’t. Not yet.

“B-but Raj!!” the child wailed, tears catching in the open sores around her eyes. Across the room the stuffed tiger looked fierce with the moonlit shadows collecting in his snarling mouth.

“Raj will protect us. Nothing can harm him anymore", Madeira promised. But the girl just wailed all the louder, the fear and confusion too much for the eternal child. She tried to twist away from Madeira’s grip, but she grabbed her by the shoulders. “Don’t blink away, Em. Don’t you dare. I need you to be brave, just this once, just for me. Emma, look at me.”

The girl’s unneeded breath, a habit carried from her living body, was coming fast and hard in a wet sound that wheezed out of her chest. She managed to look Madeira in the eye, but her brown eyes were squinted almost closed, like she was afraid to even look at her. Madeira loosened her grip on the child's shroud, and her eyes softened.

"I know you're scared, but we need you to be brave. Raj needs you to be brave." she pointed to the tiger head. "He's going to protect us, and he needs you to help protect us too. Go tell them whats happened. Tell them whats coming. If they don't believe you, find someone who will. Baby, this is important, and we need you to be strong."

Tears still glistening on her cheeks, the girl sniffed mightily and nodded. Her little hands were fists at her sides, and her lips were pressed into a hard line to keep from trembling. Madeira let go of her shoulders only once she was sure she wasn't going to run away and leaned forward to kiss her ruined cheek.

"Go, kitten. Run as fast as you can."

The ghost vanished. Madeira could feel her blinking away across the property, moving fast towards the slim chance of help. If these people were half as clever as she thought, they would stay far away from the Infinity Manor. But they had to try. If no help came, they were doomed.

Madeira stood and turned to Jomi. This new, life-like Jomi who looked and even smelled human. Without Emma's sobs the house was almost quiet. Anticipation was thick and cold in the air, and the seconds that remained to them seemed to be slipping through their fingers like grains of sand.

“Jomi, I need you to stay", she demanded. Or was it begging? "Please, for all we’ve been through, for everything you mean to me, I need you to stay.” Lifting her hands to tilt his head, she stood on her toes to kiss him between his brows. He might look human, but he still felt like a ghost. In her hands he felt as thin and insubstantial as a puff of air. A ghost cannot be killed, but they were capable of worse fates; they could be dusted, trapped, their fragile mental stability broken. But she would sooner risk Jomi than Allister, and she felt no shame in admitting that to herself. She needed someone to stand between herself and death, and she would choose nobody but than her powerful, deathless servant.

"Save me", she told him, pulling away only far enough to look him in the eye. Dijed sparked behind the pale blue as she willed the latent magic to twist and bend. The emotional surge she conjured was not subtle. She wielded the delicate magic of hypnotism like a hammer and attacked the ghost's mind through the contact of their eyes. He was one of the few who knew she was a hypnotist, and he would recognize what she was doing, but she did not care. It would not stop the artificial feelings of strength and pride and allegiance from flooding his mind. "Save your master's life, Jomi. We'll stand here, fortify ourselves until help arrives. We can do this. I have a plan, and I need you."
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Death and the Desolate Priest

Postby Jomi on January 17th, 2019, 10:52 pm

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Date 518 AV
"Speech"


Jomi stood back silently as Madeira wrest poor little Emma from the clutches of a full terror filled meltdown. The gods-enhanced materialization dropping until he was little more than a paltry shade. As she talked the child down from the preverbal ledge the weight of the situation became fully realized by the larger, darker ghost. The three distinct pieces of the dead Kelvic pulled him in different directions, leaving him shattered and confused.

The Human told him to save his own skin and run. This was a suicide mission, one that Dira forced Madeira to take, not him. There was no reward, no gain, just pain and suffering waiting for him here.

The Kelvic told him to stay and protect his Master, his family, and his home. The belonging and loyalty that had been cultivated for years in Madeira's care pulled him to defend them with everything he had.

And the Ghost looked on in apathy. There was no point either way, eventually his Master will die and he will be alone again. If not today than some other day. They all leave in the end, no point in getting upset about something as inevitable as death.

“Jomi, I need you to stay. Please, for all we’ve been through, for everything you mean to me, I need you to stay.”

The red rimmed eyes of the spiritist, glassy and wet under the flickering candle light, locked on the tormented ghost. The pleading intensity behind them gave him pause. Although he held tight to the flicker in his soul that threatened to blink him away. The ghosts etherial shroud twisted tighter around his body as the heavily pregnant woman walked toward him with a threatening purpose. The dull red light hidden in his palm shone brighter as the soulmist carved his body and reshaped him into a disturbingly convincing pseudo human. The ghost marvelled at the ease of the transition. A fraction of the concentration was needed to keep his soulmist in line, and it expended half the energy to keep up the appearance.

Thin white fingers pressed into his temples as the spiritist tilted his head down and gently placed her lips on his brow. The ghost stiffened under the pleading weight of her affections, still unsure about his willingness to risk himself in such a hopeless mission. Madeira pulled herself away, lowering herself to meet his tilted head at eye level.

"Save me"

A hurricane of emotion forced their way through the ghosts eyes. Loyalty and selflessness, affection and gratitude, everything Madeira needed him to feel was poured into his mind with a reckless force. It was hypnotism, manipulation of the cruelest kind, and it was exactly what the ghost needed.

"Save your master's life, Jomi. We'll stand here, fortify ourselves until help arrives. We can do this. I have a plan, and I need you."

The emotions that weren't his own pulled a long repressed memory to to forefront of his mind. The searing pain of a blade being pushed into his back and the panicked cries of his bonded as he pushed her onto the window ledge and out of harms way. Jomi pulled back from Madeira's grasp, breaking away from the hypnotic suggestions and started for the fireplace. Bird gave a nervous squawk from his gilded cage as Jomi pulled the latent electric energy up from his core and activated the mists in his hands. Carefully summoning his mists and using them to push up on the beheaded tigers fuzzy chin against the pull of gravity. Tilted the snarling face of Raj back from his mount above the mantle and reaching underneath to pull out a long, weightless starfire blade the stuffed tiger had been guarding.

"You're not Edith and you never will be."

Approaching the spiritist, Jomi held out the blade to her in the flat of his hand with a cheeky smile on his lips. It was time to be a Kelvic again.

"But you are a passable substitute."

Once Madeira had taken the dagger, Jomi blinked into her. He fused with her bones and spread his essence into her spine and nerves and moved to fill the space behind her eyes. The two souls settled easily into each other, a bond of familiarity that eased them into a graceful possession.

I'll protect my Master with everything I have left to give.

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Death and the Desolate Priest

Postby Madeira Craven on January 20th, 2019, 12:49 am

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Half a bell later the monster came.

In the dark it was nothing but putrid brown smoke carried in on the breeze, like her neighbors had built a fire of corpses. The house screamed its wordless warning when the creature first breached the property, and Madeira tracked its movements by the sound of the dying birds it left in its wake. At first she thought it was rattling as it flew, but it was just the shaking of the loaded crossbow in her hands.

She was standing on the grass in front of the porch, her weapon on her wrist and folded across her belly, an iron nail in her pocket, waiting for it. Behind her every window and door in the house was wide open. By the back door she could feel Jomi's nervous presence. And around them all was the moat.

Two and a half meters deep and four across, the defensive moat was dry and filled with stone spikes that rose up like the teeth of some horrific beast. The house was exhausted with the effort of rearranging itself in a such a drastic way, and she knew she would not be able to rely on the poor Architectrix for such change again for quite some time. This had to work now or it never would.

The moat didn't even seem to be giving the smoke pause, though. She watched it closing in, her heart hammering in her chest and sweat beading on her brow. Dira, she prayed, protect us.

As it got closer she could hear it laughing. It was the kind of laugh that sounded like a smokers cough, the kind that rattled teeth. Here was its prey, defenceless, waiting, thinking some little ditch could stop a creature of smoke. It laughed and laughed and laughed and then it hit the invisible barrier.

The smoke smashed into an impassable wall just on the inside of the moat, scattering its onward force into a confetti of mist not two
meters from where the Spiritist sat. The creatures laugh turned into a roar of confusion. Gathering itself, it whipped away in a sulfurous mist, one side pressed flat against the barrier as it circled the house. Finding no openings it shot up into the sky, risking its miasma in the wild mountain wind high above the treetops, but it seemed to go on forever. Seething with frustration, it fell back to earth.

Madeira had seen death before. She knew rot and decay and the oily texture of bone and fat. Had once pieced an eviscerate body back together in order to house a Nuit. But she had never seen this. As the smoke coiled in front of it it was made solid, hardening into shape, building itself from the bones outward. But its bones were porous and leaking fermented marrow, its veins were dry and black, the muscle it was wrapped in marbled with pus. Eyes filled the empty holes in its head, their iris a bright periwinkle blue wobbling in bloodshot yellow. A thick wormy tongue built itself in its mouth and its meaty lips pulled back into a parody of a smile.

"I'm beginning to think it is... expecting me...boy", it rasped. And wether it was male or female, young or old, she could not begin to say. The transformation had stopped with the ability to stand and speak, the rest of its body was still in its sour incorporeal form, poking at their defences.

Madeira risked a glance at her spiritism beads closest to her. The thirty six jade beads were wrapped completely around the house, spaced evenly apart, and all but invisible in the green grass. Though all she wanted to do was run and hide, she made herself laugh. It was thin and high and scared, but she knew what the creature would hear. It would hear calloused amusement and see a sickle smile on a sharp face. It wasn't a frail pregnant woman seething her defiance at the priest, it was a tall brown Kelvic. The Lie was held out in front of her like a shield, every nerve in her body focused on the shape and contours and colour of Jomi's body.
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Death and the Desolate Priest

Postby Madeira Craven on January 20th, 2019, 12:50 am

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"And I was beginning to think you'd never show up", she rolled her eyes, picking imaginary food out of her long imaginary fangs. "Farts move faster than you. And smell better."

If the creature was shocked to be openly mocked to its face, she couldn't tell. Bulbous unfinished lips and the tendons strung taunt along its dripping cheek quivered in something that could be amusement or rage.

"Does it think... this will hold me for long?" it wheezed, and in her mind Madeira saw the black diseased lungs that pumped its fetid air. "Does it think... I will not find him?"

"It thinks you're gravely unprepared. Come back with reinforcements if you want a fair fight. Or..." she raised a thin blonde brow, and the creature saw cheeky defiance in the Lie's heavy dark brow. "Is your precious god not going to take kindly to its great big priest running home a failure. Why, it's almost like he set you up to fail, isn't it? Let daddy down recently, have you?"

Sweat was running into her eyes, but she dared not wipe it away. This had to go perfectly. They had to do this exactly as they had planned. They were cheating a shark at its own game, with her life on the line. From deep within her soul she summoned her dijed, filtering it through her mouth to sit dark and expectant on her tongue. Holding the world magic of the Lie in one hand she struggled to balance the personal magic of hypnotism in her other, marrying the two in a way she had never tried before. With effort she pushed the suggestion of doubt forward, letting it drib from Jomi's wide lips and soak into the words the Spiritsit flung at the creature. Her will pushed the invasive feeling into its mind, letting it simmer there in the lining of its exposed brain.

"I mean, when were you summoned to take care of 'the Spiritsit'? A day ago? A couple hours ago?" She let her dark eyes widen with surprise, as if she had seen the truth in its unreadable face. "Less? Damn. Do you even know who you're after?" She waited a few moments, but it did not answer. As she suspected, Ulder did not give its priest her name. She wasn't worth that much bother to the undead God. She threw back her head and laughed. "By the gods, look at you! I've been preparing for months, preparing, training, fortifying and digging, and this is all he has to offer? I am an undead hunter like you have never seen, and he's sacrificing you as a scout for your betters!"

With a roar that tore its thin cheeks and ratted the very windows the creature flung out its ethereal smoke to batter against the soul bead barrier. The barrier held, though her heart stopped as she she saw several beads rock towards her. The Lie held too. The Jomi facsimile was flicking saliva out from under its nails, while underneath the illusion Madeira felt a wetness beneath her skirt as her bladder let go.

Raising her crossbow almost lazily towards the attacking creature, her arm burst into flames.

Ghastly green fire seemed to suck the very life out of the bone, as everything from fingertip to shoulder disintegrated into something black and skeletal. She shot the loaded bolt straight into concentration of smoke, thanking the gods that ghosts and Desolate Ones were so easy to hit, as the wide surface area made up for the tremble in her hands. Part of its mist was dragged away on the imbued point of the bolt, and the creature screamed in pain as a part of itself dissipated into toxic ash. The weapon was nothing more than a souldart, but there was a certain drama in the magic of the Dead Hand Crossbow that might make the creature think there was more to it. That was all this was, lies upon lies upon illusions upon words. And between them all a thin line of beads and hope that was all that could save them.

Snorting and convulsing, the creature pulled back its wounded smoke, and Madeira tender mother's stomach rolled to see the creature unshrouded. It looked like it was turning inside out, its fleshy, putrid organs roiling and bubbling and reforming. No longer etherial, this looked like a different kind of metamorphosis. Without warning the creature leapt up and ran, loping off on malformed legs like some great half-skinned beast, still holding half its entrails in with a long, clawed hand.

It's coming! Madeira screamed silently into the awareness of the sentient home, trying to reload her crossbow with shaking hands. Tell Jomi it's coming!
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Death and the Desolate Priest

Postby Jomi on January 22nd, 2019, 2:42 am

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Date 518 AV
"Speech"




What about now?

Its a cloud now. Its floating up. it's looking for a way in.

Jomi sat on a grassy knoll on the back of the property, trapped behind the soul bead barrier he couldn't cross and the hastily grown moat. Struggling in vain to thread the wilted flowers from Infinity's winter garden with fumbling, nervous mists. He had let go of his materialization, returning to the semi transparent ghostly version of himself to conserve his energy. He was sure he'd need every drop he could spare.

A horrible inhuman screech echoed through the trees, sending the birds and insects scattering.

She shot it.

Infinity spoke telepathically with the ghost with an uncharacteristic lack of emotion. The play-by-play came with a monotone, almost robotic delivery in short matter of fact sentences. The ghost wonder if the young structure was trying to appear strong and stoic in the face of danger. Or if it was simply too scared and overwhelmed and had surpressed all emotion to protect itself. A tactic the ghost was worried the budding, impressionable sentience had learned from him.

Jomi took stock of his own supplies for the two dozenth time in the last chime. A large oak crossbow, its wood worn smooth with use laid beside the ghost. Madeira had loaded the soul dart and shown Jomi how to pull the trigger, should the need arise. A ornately carved, weightless silver blade made of starfire and blessed by Leth leaned adjacent to the bow. The ghost hadn't the faintest idea how to use these tools effectively. But if all went according to plan he wouldn't have to.

Ew.

I'm going to need more than that, Infinity. Whats going on?

You'll see in a tick. Its coming around from your left.

It took less than a full tick for the ghost to fully materialize himself. The stone imbedded in his palm shone a fiery red as the ghosts soulmist retracted and reshaped around his core. Carving out an impeccably realistic human body from the scattered etherial mists with nothing but a thought from the high strung Kelvic.

Jomi had seen gore and death. He had accompanied Madeira to the scene of grisly murders and had helped to dig up blackened decayed bodies to appease their owners restless souls. Back in Kenash he had seen a woman beaten so hard she miscarried, the fetus she birthed a malformed sack of tissue skin and loose blue organs that pulsed as it struggled to breathe. None of that prepared him for the horror of the desolate priest.

The skinned beast with grey weeping organs held at bay with a clawed paw held against its split belly loped around the moat. Its exposed tendons taunt and slick with a thick yellow mucus that rained down on its path with every step. The ghost sat petrified as it drew nearer and for the first time since his death Jomi praised the gods for taking his sense of smell.

Ew.

Infinity hummed its horrified agreement as the beast came to a stop before the ghost. It paused as it took in the Kelvic, who was wearing the same shell that Madeira had.

"What is the-... meaning of, this."

The beast face was stripped of all identifying features, no hair or skin to show what it was or what it thought. The oily sheen of its exposed, animalistic jaw shone in the light of the rising sun as the exposed tendons that held it in place worked to form the rough, broken words.

"Oh you finally showed up."

Jomi eased himself to his feet and brushed off the seat of his pants. Jomi hid his fear and panic in the depths of his soul. Smothering them with the much more comfortable emotions of snark and anger and the knowledge that the worst had already happened to him. This creature couldn't kill him a second time.

"While you took your leisurely saunter I had the time to switch out my weapons, you know, try something different. What do you think?"

The ghost held out his arm palm down as a thin ribbon of mist extended from the toe of his boot. The invisible strand coiled around the handle of the starfire blade as the ghost called up the latent power residing in his soul. The soulmist activated, pressing up against the pull of gravity in order to fling the blade into the ghosts waiting hand. The thin silver blade burst into a cold blue flame as its tip pointed towards the beast.

"Jump on my blade while you can, priest. I won't be as gentle."

A defaning roar shook the very foundations of the manor as the beast desolved into a sickly ash. The desolate bashed its body against the soul bead barrier. Jomi's materialization warbled dangerously as he fought his instincts to flee. its tainted black smoke curled about the invisible wall as it stretched out and searched for weak points. It crawled, etherial and enraged along the barrier. Slowly making its way back around to the front of the Manor. Another strand of soulmist shot from the ghosts foot wrapping around the bow and hefting the heavy weapon up to his shoulder. Jomi sighted the creature down the bolt as best he could beyond the tremble that rolled through his straining mists.

Jomi aimed at the centre of the creatures mass and pulled back the trigger with his materialized finger. The ghost was more startled than the monster when the bolt hit. It tore through the edge of the monsters etherial body and dragged out a piece of its mist. A roar of pain echoed throughout the property as the desolate priest hastened its way down the barrier.

The ghost laughed with humour he didn't feel. Forcing the hard biting sound to materialize from his ridged jaw.

"You can run, pig. But you'll just die tired!"

Boxcode by Allassanachassanya

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Death and the Desolate Priest

Postby Madeira Craven on February 15th, 2019, 11:02 pm

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It's coming.

Madeira struggled to straighten herself from her bent position, one hand on her knees and another on her chest as she struggled against fear, pregnancy, revulsion and stress to keep from retching. From the soulmist permanently imbued in her body she slipped back into the Jomi Lie, focusing on the every line of the Kelvic's body and forcing that image on the smoke that came creeping around to the front of the house. With it she was tall, fearsome, strong and vital. She had a wicked grin and hateful eyes and a laugh that was equal parts amusement and cruelty. She scratched an itch on her neck with her second loaded crossbow bolt and faked a dramatic yawn. It's all in the act, she told herself. Make this creature believe in more than just the appearance.

"I'm getting bored, priest. I have powers you've never seen and couldn't possibly understand. It's about time you crawled home."

"A Spiritist..." the creature rasped, all smoke and fire. The grass and pretty blue flowers rotted away as it passed low over the earth, the rich brown soil turning scorched and acrid beneath it. "A lowly Spiritist, full of tricks. I know your kind... I know your lies. You cannot fool me, boy."

A worm of fear wriggled up her spine, but her higher brain beat it back. Spiritists are not known for their honesty, that's just a fact. Their magic has no brute force behind it, so they are forced to deal in other methods. This thing has made a wild guess based on the stereotype. It still called her boy, for gods sake. I cannot see the lie in front of its face.

"Tricks?" Madeira laughed, all thunder and quenching rain. "You naïve fool. Did tricks predict your coming? Build this fortress? Did they punch you full of holes and stop you in your tracks?" Time for subtly and half-measures were over. It wasn't leaving cowed so easily. She summoned her dijed a second time, the hypnotism filling her mouth, sharpening her words like a whetstone until they sliced through the air. A show of will stacked the words like bricks, and she began to build. Every word built another layer to a magic she had only ever tried once; a hallucination.

"I am no mere Spiritist. I am no mere anything. How could you kill me when even Death herself trembles to take me? Can you smell it? Taste it? That linger of divinity in the air?" She raised her nose to the sky and sucked in a satisfied breath. "Ahh, what sweet bouquet."

Her concentration on the Lie was burning away as the hallucination demanded all her will. But it didn't matter, she slipped silently out of the Lie and into a different sort of illusion. Reality flickered in the sight of the creature; the ground began to roll beneath its feet, the sky turned to a kaleidoscope of colour, the Spiritist before it began to shift and change, there one second, gone the next, now a man, a woman, a child, an animal. The effort was burning through the last of Madeira's dijed, but she held it as long as she could. Using an Alvad's intimate knowledge of the illogical she reached into the creatures mind and warped every natural law and concrete root of reason.

Doubt, she snarled internally, sinking her claws deeper and deeper into its mind. Suffer and doubt everything.

In a few chimes the last of her dijed stuttered and died. Instinct born of the eccentric teaching of the leecher Uncle Frode had her not daring to reach any deeper, so she let the hallucination go. It crumbled from her words, and left her head ringing and her mouth blistered. She shook out her world magic like an old cape and struggled into the Lie, hiding behind Jomi's scowl as she recovered, coughing blood into her hand.

But if she was wrecked, so was the priest. It had reformed itself, but badly. A skeleton wrapped with stringy bits of muscle, dripping yellow fluid to sizzle in the blackened grass. Nails were sunk deep into the earth as if it feared falling off it. It was still mostly smoke, and its ethereal form was lashing out like a storm. She could hear it breathing, hear the rattle of its putrid chest, but something was wrong. It was coming in jerky, rattling guffs. It took her a moment to realize it was cackling.

"Such lies... Parlor tricks and lies. Little Spiritist... Little hypnotist. You think... to test the mind of a godly priest?"

No. No. What happened? It saw what she wanted it to see, she knew it did. What's more, it had reacted to it. Was it something to do with its gnosis? Does a gnosis sharpen ones mind? Her trump card rocketed back to her and cut her down. She had spent every last bit of dijed on that last attack.

But before she could think to reply the house was ringing its alarm bells in her head.

The Shinya. Shinya have come. Shinya.
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Death and the Desolate Priest

Postby Madeira Craven on February 15th, 2019, 11:06 pm

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The gate had swung open with a crash, and from the distance Madeira could see five people in white robes stagger as they saw the beast that waited for them. But they did not stop. The brave fools began to run down the long path, fanning out, shouting to each other, raising weapons.

Hope was rocketed to her soul by the Architectrix, and Madeira mirrored it. Emma had done it, the Shinya had come! She soothed the outburst of the house with a gentle thought and smothered its snapped tension and manic enthusiasm with a word. Caution, she told it. Bring Jomi here.

The priest turned its skeletal head at the noise of the charging Shinya. It instantly lost its interest in Madeira, both protected and trapped by her barrier, and faced this new threat. It shook off the last of its disorientation and pulled its shroud together in earnest. Layers of rotting meat and skin and fluid packing around its skeletal frame, and it grew larger, and larger still. This was not the half-ethereal form Jomi and Madeira witnessed, but its full Other form.

It might have been an gorilla, or a bear, or something in between. It stood on four clawed paws, though the back two were thick and stunted. Bristly fur sparsely covered its body, showing pink skin and festering sores beneath. Its jaw was as long as a crocodiles, its maw jagged with teeth and pus leaking from fist-sized nostrils. Its roar was a shrill scream, flicking saliva from its jaw as it charged the Shinya.

Madeira watched as the first blow from its paw ripped off a Shinya's spear and half her shoulder. The spray of blood over the garden of blue flowers looked like a wound opened in the earth. A man leapt between his comrade and the monster, and traded blows with a scimitar that flashed liked lightning and moved twice as fast. The creature dissolved its skin into smoke and reached effortlessly through the deadly swing of his blade. Within ticks the Shinya was dead, with chemical burns around his lips and nose.

Madeira wasn't aware when she started screaming. The sound came from somewhere deep inside her, where the little girl afraid of the boogeyman still lived. It rattled out of her chest in a spray of blood from her blistered mouth. And for a moment the world was screaming with her, as the roar of the battling Shinya broke with their own terror. But they began to wither away, one by one, with a choke of fluid or a crack of bone or the sound of tearing flesh. Until finally it was only her, weeping like a child in the sudden quiet, the slaughter continuing behind her eyelids in a red her tears couldn't wash away.

The Lie dissolved as her mind broke under the weight of what just happened. The image of Jomi sizzled away, and she was once again a frail human thing, vulnerable and weak and carrying a life she couldn't protect.

"Spiritist..." the creature hissed through its warped mouth, turning back towards her and the ghost, seeing the truth for the first time. Blood and bits of flesh shone in its ruined teeth as it snapped its jaw hungrily. "Spiritist..."

It was laughing as it dissolved, leaving nothing but its putrid bones and muscle, its smoke curing through the air like fire. Each tongue groped around its body, searching for something in the blood soaked grass. Each found a Shinya, and entered its body through the mouth or ears or the tears in their flesh. Then they rose.

Still dripping blood, missing limbs and spilling organs, they rose, pulled along like puppets by the creature's foul smoke. Their eyes were blank and vacant, but Madeira swore they were looking at her. They began to walk inexorably forward, beside the creature that had just killed them, and lined up at the edge of the moat.

"Spiritist..." the creature seemed to be breathing the title, a chant or a mantra, that spoke of hunger and longing. "Spiritist.... Spiritist..."

Madeira sank to her knees as the first Shinya dove into the moat, impaling himself on the stone spikes. There was something she had to do, Madeira knew. Some plan... But her head was full of noise and the afterimages of slaughter. The second Shinya leapt on the first body and fell forward, impaling themselves again. She watched with a kind of detached fascination. What a silly thing to do. The house was screaming its warning, driven half mad with its land full of blood and corpses, and Madeira heard its suffering as if from very far away.

It's alright, she soothed, as the third corpse completed the bridge, and the forth reinforce it for the priest's weight. Pipe down, sweetheart, you're so loud... I just want to sleep.
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