Rivers in a Dry Land

Qayin
Citizen of the World
Joined: September 2nd, 2016, 3:28 am

February 7th, 2018, 8:21 pm #1

It had been months of searching in the wastes, fruitless sifting of the eastern sands for some sort of evidence, a sign that the sealed city was within his grasp. Qayin had at times been driven to hunt beasts like an animal himself, tearing and thrashing at the sand-beasts until his growing hunger was satisfied. There were scarce few towns in the region, and far fewer that would take in what appeared to be a feral nobleman, soaked in dark magics even the most blind of the villagers could see. So it was that he wandered the region for some time, searching. A tattered crimson-gold robe and the howling of strange beasts that walked the plains long ago accompanied his presence on the nights in which he would roam.

The few towns that had seen his presence spoke in hushed tones of a wandering spirit that would deliver gifts of food to starving towns, though never in earshot of the rare inquisitioners that visited the region. They knew that often the ground would darken beneath his feet, and that the creatures he travelled with were not truly alive. No true Ashokan would associate themselves with a necromancer, the risk was too great, and the magic too foul. They still thanked him for his protection, whether they associated with him or not. Few robber-caravans roamed the wastes where the Crimson Geist roamed.

“Seek the canyon-dwellers. They will know, foul things that they are.” This remark from a merchant who Qayin had saved was the first help he had gotten, and he thanked them for it in stuttering words. It was this exchange that drove him to explore the Origa Ravine, seeking out all the dark corners and crevices in the underdark of the towering stone walls. Remnants of some sort of battle lay discarded about, a history of history that he did not know about. It was scarce few days when he found himself in a town with no name, lost to all but those who traded with them. They were slavers, and hardly what one would call living. This was something they tried to mask with their cloaks and hoods, but as soon as the necromancer stepped foot in their home, the connection between them was evident. They knew what he was, a sparking in their undead flesh would hardly let them forget. Their leader came shambling out of the darkness of his abode, a wendigo with limbs and neck far too long for his torso, towering over the ghouls and other creatures that made up the population there. With halting speech, he attempted to communicate in common. Qayin shook his head, silencing him.

“I speak the mother tongue, kinsman. You may speak freely with me.”

“It is good to find one who understands us, necromancer. What is it you are looking for?”


“Brixith.” It was one word, but it carried much meaning for those beings present. They muttered longingly under their breath, and then their leader spoke.

“Home. Why is it you seek out the home we have been trapped away from?” Qayin paused, choosing his words carefully.

“It… It is my home as well. Your legends may speak of me, though perhaps now even those fall away. The culture of our people survives only in texts, and I only know what I’ve uncovered through texts, and through my parents, now lost to the sands like so many others. I am the key to reopening the city, the Lock-Breaker.” Everyone within the camp fell silent.

“You may stay here for the night. I will consult with those-who-remember, the ones who recite our stories, and we shall see whether they know of what you speak.” Qayin nodded, agreeing. The deep shadows cast by the canyon walls were soon replaced by those of the night, and the small town fell into silence. However, that would not last. Something was on the hunt.
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Shell
Citizen of the World
Joined: February 17th, 2017, 9:55 pm

February 7th, 2018, 9:44 pm #2

The night air of the desert was cold, but not as cold as it could have been: clouds had tumbled over from the South, pushed up by the Do-suul mountains and billowing over the Badlands. Already thunder rolled in the distance, but the rains had not yet fallen, and the clouds were pregnant with them, blotting out the moon and stars and providing little light by which to make one's way.

But something unusual skulked about in the darkness, something that did not, at first glance, belong in the night, nor in the wastes of southeastern Ashoka.

It had been six months since she had left her new home in Soto, six months since she had found the third Pearl -- six months since she had decided to stop fighting for a while and take it easy. It had not been a decision she remembered making very often before, nor one she tended to stick with very long on the rare occasion she did; but the last year had been particularly hard on her sensitive nature, and she simply couldn't do it anymore. Not for a while, at least.

Shell had spent the majority of the colder seasons in the south, spending time with friends and making a nest there, hibernating, as it were, from her more confrontational side. She had needed the break -- the run-in with the organ harvesters had left a terrible impression on her, and she never ended up being quite the same since.

But thank the gods for Mordecai, who set her well on the path to recovery, and also opened the door to a possibility that she had never dreamed of: meeting her fellow Dragons again; and the ability to carry them with her at all times.

For this reason, the cold of the desert night scarcely bothered her, with the pearl of Khana thrumming within her, heating her dead body enough to stay more mobile in the lower temperatures. She crouched on the lip of the canyon, nearly invisible in all black, her hair down, only the ghostly impression of her face visible. Her mask had been left all the way back in Madrid -- she found that she didn't feel the need to wear it anymore, and in the night she looked a bit like Death's Hand anyway.

Lazar -- who with Qayin's help had found his Kid again, and had of course made himself right at home in her house -- had told her of a town he'd encountered in his wanderings during her long slumber beneath the plains of Morrim, a town comprised entirely of undead. At first she had been delighted to hear of this, but her had delight turned to horror when he told her that they were also slave-drivers, their conditions and states of being lending great advantage to their strength as such. For days she had tried to ignore it, but the frightening nature of the very notion of undead slavers ate at her, and soon her curiosity overcame her.

"I fuckin' knew you'd do this," Lazar had grumbled, annoyed. "This is why I don't tell you shit."

On the trip here, she had made up her mind: she'd felt sorrow for them when she learned of their conditions (for who truly wanted to be a monster?), but she also could not condone their choices and actions based on this. She was no negotiator, so she had no hope of convincing them to leave this ironic way of life behind. She had only weapons at her disposal, and it would do no good to make her presence known before she got the first shot in: these were not mere humans, but wendigos, ghouls, and other man-shaped beasts.

She stood, and the storm-laced wind tugged at her long black dress and the silk trousers beneath, pushing her hair about wildly. For a few moments she deliberated, a hand straying up to her throat, where beneath the collar of her dress the sparkling onyx pendant lay, still carrying his energy. It gave her strength to do what she felt needed to be done.

Her hand fell away from the hidden pendant and the other raised itself up, both alighting in flames the next moment. Caring only that she would hit the interior of the town somewhere, she took scant time to aim, and lobbed two fireballs as hard as she could towards the inner bowl of the ravine. Without waiting to see where they fell, she turned and dashed along the ledge until she found the footholds she had scoped out earlier before the sun had set; it was a dangerous gambit, for her eyes, while sharp in the darkness, were not strong enough to see everything.

She slid down the ravine wall all the same, hopping to new footholds when she could and keeping her center of balance in the meantime. It took many minutes, but she finally found her way to the bottom and stalked along its edge towards the village. As she got closer she could hear the sounds of foreign fire crackling, voices raised in alarm; there were a few scouts out around the perimeter of the place, trying to locate the source of the disturbance. Shell shook her head, allowing her hair to fall into her face, obscuring its pallor for the most part, and picked a target, creeping behind them, coming closer and closer until she found her opportunity and sprung up. One hand snaked out and snatched its too-thin throat, squeezing out the air and voice of the thing, preventing it from sounding an alarm. She grinned, and leaned forward to bring her mouth near its ear.

"I'm back, bitches."

Without waiting or searching for a response, her free hand grabbed its sparse hair and wrenched the head back with a fatal crunch.
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Qayin
Citizen of the World
Joined: September 2nd, 2016, 3:28 am

February 28th, 2018, 1:13 am #3

He had become more consciously aware of death, as it surrounded him. The sudden killing of one of the guards jolted him awake, and the wailing of their spirit as it faded into the ether drew him up from his resting place. A death much stronger than the beings in the camp had found its way to them. If it were any other situation, Qayin’s necromancy would have been immediately put to use in stopping the attacker, but as he found himself standing amongst the unliving, the mage knew his spells would tear through them.

He could not allow that to happen, not when he was so close to finding what he sought. Instead the mage strode out into the central area of the down, cloak billowing from the gusts that the cooling of the desert had channeled down the canyon. His cloak hid his face, his voice was raspy and harsh from months of silence.

“I am the Lock-Breaker of Brixith, but I am also the wall that will defend it from the rest of the world. Face me now, hunter.” There was something familiar about the mind of this one, as little as he could see. The defenses were strong, too strong for him to break now. His mental abilities had weakened like an un-used muscle: the risk of taking on someone far stronger than himself was hardly worth it. His battlefield was that of the flesh, and he knew it was one he could win on.
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Shell
Citizen of the World
Joined: February 17th, 2017, 9:55 pm

March 23rd, 2018, 9:21 pm #4

The first body had barely dropped when the defenses were ramped up and her quarry grew wise to her presence. She could see in the inky darkness, barely backlit by the fires in the town, the other guards peering around suspiciously, weapons at the ready -- it wasn't long before she was spotted by one, but by the time it had moved to attack position, with her assuming a stance in response, a voice cropped up from within the boundaries of the place:

"I am the Lock-Breaker of Brixith, but I am also the wall that will defend it from the rest of the world. Face me now, hunter."

Her hair-shrouded face turned towards the source of the voice, as her would-be attacker had become still. 'Brixith'.... she felt some recognition with the name, a wisp of a long-ago memory, but otherwise it meant nothing to her: here, however, was the headpin of the operation, if his words were anything to go by. Even if they weren't, she would have killed him anyway -- she would kill them all, difficulty be damned.

"Don't mind if I do," She breathed, smiling a wicked Death's Hand smile as she made her charge for the cloaked figure. A peal of thunder rolled overhead.

Before clearing twenty feet she braced one of her legs and leapt up off of it, letting the air carry her a moment before turning sideways, landing with her right foot in the lead: the ground beneath it cracked on contact and a wave of dirt-dusted red rock shot out towards the figure standing in the center of town, stopping just short of a few feet in front of him. Without missing a beat she ran up its length and jumped from the edge, landing behind him and sweeping a clean roundhouse to his back, attempting to kick him against the rock before he had a chance to turn around.

With any luck she could at least daze him long enough to rip his filthy spine out.
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Qayin
Citizen of the World
Joined: September 2nd, 2016, 3:28 am

June 8th, 2018, 7:53 am #5

He was suddenly on his side, toppled over violently by what he imagined was a kick. His head collided with the cracked soil, and for a moment he thanked the tangled bundle of hair he had grown for somewhat weakening the impact. The pillar of stone they had made had been barely missed on his way down, pushed enough to the side by the kick as he was. For a brief moment as he whirled onto his side, he saw his attacker in the firelight, a pale creature with dark eyes and a grin even the savage djinns that he had met would shrink away from. Wild bloodlust was in its eyes, and realization dawned on him.

Juran.

“Juran, wait!” He was not sure his voice had reached her, as dry and raspy as it had become. Rapidly backpedalling, he did his best to avoid her onslaught, fumbling inside his cloak in search of it. With a swift attack, he was on his back, hair out of his face as he thrust his hands upward, presenting the comb he had given her in open palms. He could only hope she would not strike him down before recognizing what it was that he held.

“I am Qayin!” It was all he could think to say, the only words he could rasp out.
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