(Inquire within for joining)
At the edge of our world exists a place of untamed horror. The Lost Sea. Many had tried to explore these waters, and many had tried to conquer the scattered islands. All had inevitably perished, or unfortunately suffered far worse… afflictions. Only a lucky few have returned with their bodies and sanity intact, yet still their sleep is troubled and minds unquiet. For centuries man had been drawn to the Lost Sea, the spirit of adventure never truly going away in the face of repeated failure and danger. And why should it? Mankind was born for conquest. Man had conquered nature and secured food and hearth in ancient times. Man had conquered each other to establish kingdoms. Man had conquered science. Airships cruised the open skies while ships without sails prowled the open waters, exerting dominance wherever they went. Machines made machines which made machines in an unending cycle of technological progress. Medicine which could keep a man awake and working for days, guns which could fire dozens of bullets without reloading, ironclads which rolled across land! Mankind was conquest.
And yet, in one far corner of the world, existed a place untouched by man. Explorers, warlords, pirate-kings, and every brave captain had attempted to surf these waters in the hopes of bringing home treasure and knowledge aplenty. Whales were plentiful here, and so much needed the oil their meat produced to function. Alternatives such as coal were nowhere near as efficient as whale oil when distilled by the Holt process, and whales were fast disappearing from commercial waters. Gold and other precious minerals were also plentiful here, simply found lying about on eerily silent beaches. Miracle plants and animals existed too, and many breakthrough medicines were created by the few specimens brought back to the Old World. Even still, there were rumors of human tribes living on some islands, and some were as wild to suggest that there were animal folk here as well.
But why not? The Lost Sea is a realm of madness and wonder. Strange, anomalous happenings are the norm. The stories that surviving sailors had brought back with them ranged from curious to bone chilling. At times the sea was known to go completely calm, the water motionless and taking on the appearance of glass. Other times, terrible storms would roll across the water in mere seconds, approaching like an avalanche and enveloping all caught out in open water in a roiling tempest of apocalyptic proportions. Ships had to travel near each other, as sightings of ghost vessels were so common that entire fleets have been split apart, thinking they were traveling together before their fellow ships simply vanished in thin air. And of course, there was the Curse. The longer sailors spent at sea, the more their minds were assaulted by visions and premonitions. It was enough to drive many completely mad and to do things that they would otherwise never dream of doing. The Curse was stronger in some areas, and was even rumored to affect the body physically in strange ways as well… though these were but mere rumors, for few have returned to credibly confirm this.
And of course, there have always been rumors of gods....
For the first time in over one hundred years, a grand expedition has once again been assembled to tackle the Lost Sea, this time under the command of the young Admiral Viktor Mannfred. With the wonders of modern technology, how could failure be possible?
Hello, all. At this point in the continuation from the first thread, all new players will be taking on the roles of just characters - not ships with crews as the original players have. The roleplay is always semi-open/closed depending on how new characters can be added, so feel free to ask about joining but there is no guarantee that is possible. I will control most NPCs that interact with the expedition, but some will be under player control. All happenings and events are likewise under my direction. Feel free to discuss ideas with other players or myself for something interesting, as the ultimate goal of the roleplay is entertainment.
The technology of this world is roughly comparable to that of the late 19th – early 20th century. Whale oil is a primary source of fuel for most smaller machines, but is not sufficient enough to power large vehicles like ships – these vessels still primarily utilize steam and coal. You can imagine this setting being pseudo-steam/dieselpunk. The expedition fleet is a coalition of people from all across the Old World, a land where history has not been kind.
The Story So Far - Continuation from Thread 1: https://forum.facepunch.com/f/gip/rzxu/The-Lost-Sea-Lovecraftian-Naval-RP/1/
Not all is as it seems. With the Old World finally erupting into a grand new war, the expedition has carried on and made good headway into the Lost Sea. The first stop at the inhabited island of Campo Diablo - the first and last civilized human settlement - has shattered the original expectations of the expedition. A visitor from beyond the mortal world, a being from the Abyss, visited the expedition at a ball held in their honor by the island's governor. This creature is known only as the Messenger, a herald for the dark god Raum. His words foretell of a coming apocalypse that will consume the rest of the world - just as it had the Lost Sea millennia ago. It is revealed that Admiral Mannfred knew more than he was willing to let on. Gods and demons were very, very real. And they were a terrible threat to the inhabitants of the Old World. The expedition was not just arranged for discovery and conquest, it was arranged to stop the return of the evil god Raum, the one who started a cataclysmic war which shattered the very existence of what is now the Lost Sea, leading to the deaths of almost all of the gods.
This news has not been met with great applause and enthusiasm among all members of the expedition. Having been tricked and lied to, the expedition is held together by the conviction to save their countries - and the persuasions of whispering spirits and gods seeking assistance with the humans. Some feel that they must fight on to save their homelands, while others believe that perhaps Raum isn't a great evil as suggested. Others have found direction for other purposes - to gather incredible knowledge, or to revel in the purity of chaos.
Alignments have began to shift widely. After visiting the island of Blackstone to utilize a divination ritual to see not only locations of fallen gods and their tombs, but of a possible strand of the future, it is clear that the matter regarding Raum is very real, and very serious. Raum has yet to been seen, but his minions and corruption are hard at work to thwart the expedition. Already, some have pledged allegiance to this malevolent soul.
The expedition has now arrived at the Cattan Islands, a series of islands home to the beastfolk - humanoid animals that talk and behave similarly to humans. These people are friends of the enigmatic Admiral Mannfred, who has been revealed to be a sorcerer of some type, one who has eluded death on more than one occasion. Already, the expedition has come into contact with four surviving gods who have all been crippled in some way - Shalo, now a small white house cat, Farryn, who has been trapped within his own skull, Margaretta, trapped and recently freed from a painting, and Veritas, a curious little wooden doll which has already found one follower within the fleet. With trouble finding them in the Cattan Islands, the fleet is further targeted by gods, spirits, and corruption. With their next destination being the hostile nation of Kadesh, matters of moral, ethical, and spiritual importance may soon come to a boiling point....
1. Keep it nice, folks. No meanies allowed.
2. No power or metagaming. I'll be pulling the strings for results, so a bit of intuition and rolling on my part will dictate outcomes. That said, you have a good degree of freedom.
3. Out of Character (OOC) chat should be in double parentheses, ((so it will look like this when you post OOC)).
4. If you go inactive or drop, your character(s) will be under my control and likely killed off. If you let me know you're going to be inactive for a while and can pick back up later, I'll try and look after your character(s) so that they are still around when you get back.
5. This is primarily a PvE not PvP game, but I try to keep my RPs open so if you come into conflict with a player, make sure you guys are cool with what is/will happen.
6. As GM I am god and reserve the right to do as I wish, including make new rules when needed.
Link to Facepunch RP discord: https://discord.gg/TGpuRrh (Recommended that you join this if you join the rp, most discussion and news on the rp occurs here!)
--Dossier Form (Application - to be posted in the rp, or messaged to me via discord)--
Character Name: Self-explanatory, can include a special title
Appearance: Picture or description is fine. Special visual traits are allowed (e.g. strange eye colors, pointed ears, etc.) Please link pictures.
Species: New characters will be humans or Cattan (beastfolk) who are already part of the expedition and can "join in" on any of the ships with consent of that player who controls that ship. However; non-human characters such as demons may be permitted if thoroughly discussed with me.
Bio: Some background on your character.
Skills: Any notable abilities, with two main skills (feats). So for example, you could be a venerable captain that can handle their crew well during times of distress, or be an excellent fighter and do well in personal combat. Keep in mind this is an exploration/adventure/survival roleplay. Don’t be afraid to go with different than normal skills.
Starting Inventory: Clothes, weapons, etc. that the character is starting with.
--My Dossier and Ship--
Captain/Commander Name: Admiral Viktor Mannfred
Appearance: Stands at a sturdy 5’11, he has a sailor’s figure with a strong upper body and core. His face was damaged early in his life when he was a young ensign, and lost his right eye in a fierce sea battle. As a result, a long scar cuts across his face and there are more smaller scars scattered around the missing eye. He walks with a slight limp, likely another war injury.
[A commissioned portrait from some years ago.]
Bio: Viktor Mannfred was born to a lesser noble family in the Kingdom of Brunswick. He purchased a naval commission as an ensign at the young age of seventeen and served aboard the dreadnought Indomitable. Service on a dreadnought was highly prestigious, and as such a young officer he faced a great deal of trouble from both the enlisted and fellow officers despite his excellent bridge service. He had spent only a year onboard the ship when the Colonial War broke out between Brunswick and the other major nations as they warred over colonial holdings and sea lanes. The Indomitable joined a war flotilla and was ambushed at high sea by a combined force of Corsou and Pavlovian ships. In what became known as one of the longest naval battles, the Brunswick fleet was ruthlessly assaulted over a three-day running battle. During the first night a shell detonated alongside the bridge of the Indomitable, killing a large portion of the bridge, the captain, and all senior officers present. Mannfred was grievously wounded, but quickly took control of the helm and kept the ship from entering anarchy without any officers to command the ship. He successfully held the remaining chain of command together and became the defacto commander for the remainder of the battle at just the age of nineteen – making him the youngest naval captain ever. By the end of the battle the flotilla was mostly destroyed, with the Indomitable the only remaining dreadnought. They had sunken over twelve ships, and damaged numerous more alone. Upon their return to Brunswick, Mannfred was given the King’s Own medal – the highest honor in the kingdom – and was promoted to captain and given commander of a light cruiser almost immediately. He had saved hundreds of lives by keeping the flagship operating and afloat, but more importantly, he had protected the national pride of Brunswick by ensuring they had not lost all their dreadnoughts in a single battle. He was a war hero, and continued to fight the war with a stellar record. By the end of the four-year long conflict, he was a Commodore in command of a small independent fleet.
He retired from the navy at that very rank after another six years. The sea ran in his veins and he was never one to be far from a ship. It was inevitable that a captain of his caliber would be drown to the fabled Lost Sea. He began mounting small scouting missions into those waters, traveling further and further until it became clear he couldn’t go any further without a full expedition force. Mannfred is considered one of the few experts on the Lost Sea just from seven years of surveying the “safer” areas of the sea. After repeated petitions to the king of Brunswick, he was granted a full charter and access to war surplus to lead the largest expedition into the Lost Sea in over one hundred years, drawing captains and ships from around the civilized world.
Skills: Mannfred is without a doubt a natural born captain, capable of easily commanding a ship or fleet effectively. His organizational skills and foresight is commendable. Unfortunately wounds from his time in battle and at sea have hindered his abilities of becoming anything more than an average combatant in person, though his aim with a pistol is said to be marksman worthy.
Ship Name: Revenant
Type: [Flagship, Expeditionary Dreadnought]
4x 16”/50 Heavy Cannons (two barrels per turret)
16x 5”/51 Secondary Cannons (two barrels per)
28x 5”/38 Medium Dual Purpose Cannons (one barrel per)
16x 40mm Dual Purpose Light Cannons (one barrels per)
18x 20mm Dual Purpose Light Cannons (one or two barrels per)
Miscellaneous lighter guns
The Revenant is an Expeditionary-class dreadnought, meaning it is a one of a kind vessel that was specially constructed with traveling into the Lost Sea in mind. The ship has a specially made superstructure that is well-balanced and resistant to extreme tipping and capsizing. The hull is moderately armored, with instead a focus on a very resistant and sturdy superstructure to protect against all manner of natural and anomalous happenings. As the heaviest armed ship of the expedition, the Revenant is the primary anti-ship vessel that can be brought to bare against other human targets. The ship sports state of the art communications and medical facilities, as well as another one-of-a-kind piece of technology called the auspex, a device which detects ships and large targets at varying ranges.
Crew: ~1,500 (Seamen only, not including marines)
Accompaniment: ~300 Marines, further manifest withheld.
--Fleet Roster (Players, not NPCs)--
Dropped players' characters have been sorted out to be controlled by myself or other players.
Revenant - Flagship - Admiral Viktor Mannfred
Dawnbreaker - Heavy Battlecruiser - Vice Admiral Jonathan Dobbs, Duke of Gloucester [Dropped]
RNS Caledfwlch - Heavy Battlecruiser - Captain Cadwallon Elias Crowley [Dropped]
VKS Valdemar II - Light Cruiser - Captain Ruben M. Gustav [Dropped]
Tetsubo - Heavy Battlecruiser - Captain Chohei, Yoshimoto
Mariner's Boon - Specialized Escort - Captain William S. Tobey
NECS Blixtvåg - Escort Submarine - Captain Wilhelm Jäger
Eisenstrasse - Support Zeppelin - Captain Edgar Krantz
Eye of Horus - Support Zeppelin - Captain Reginald Fontaine
Zuflucht - Repair Platform - Captain Sabine Fallensteller die Rabenschwarz
Problem Child - Heavy Freighter - Captain Chechie Spaghetti [Dropped]
The Thornhill - Support Research Zeppelin - Thomas 'Tommy' Christensen, Jr. [Dropped]
First Mate George Bennett - Serving on board the Mariner's Boon
First Mate Yves de La Toison d'Or - Serving on board the Problem Child
Ephraim "Walentyn" Brose - Serving with the Eisenstrasse (In command of a dinghy)
The excitement in the bed of the wagon was overflowing. The bats were chattering with anticipation as they neared the harbor, having caught a glimpse of the Mariner's Boon and mistakenly believing it to be their destination. They became even more raucous when they were instead directed to the hulk that loomed over the deeper part of the bay. The Zuflucht was practically another island, by comparison. "[That's a boat!?]" Lunaire blurted. "[How does it move!?]"
"[They explained it to us before, little one,]" Bitara grumbled. "[They burn a great fire below deck and make steam, and that steam-]"
"[It's flat on top! No masts or sails at all!]" Lunaire interrupted. Bitara let out a deep sigh as she glanced at Captain Fallensteller, and wondered whether it was really a wise decision to go along with the human travelers. The other bats didn't seem to put much thought into it, not even the level-headed brothers Seckahr and Crusid, who lost their composure in the fervor of adventure, and even now bore grins from ear to giant pointed ear.
As for herself, it was all Lunaire's fault as far as Bitara was concerned. Her parents had made the baffling decision to entrust her Chiri, who, despite being Bitara's cousin, was practically her opposite. For some odd reason, Lunaire's family tended to gravitate toward goofy, good-for-nothing types so long as they had an innocent smile and a kind demeanor, but Bitara knew that kindness wasn't going to keep little Lunaire safe from harm, and so she went along to keep an eye on both of them. She looked up and down the wagon and spotted Mesahri looking a bit more thoughtful and wondered if there was something concerning her. Perhaps she had heard something in the human language that she wasn't passing on.
At the front of the cart, Fallensteller and Schuster had been having a long and quiet conversation in Gren. Much like at the camp before, Schuster looked pale and fearful, but the Captain seemed as confident as she was earlier in the day. In truth, Schuster had asked about Neustadt, and upon hearing Fallensteller's cover story, asked her bluntly: "will we be seeing her again?" as a means to suggest that the Captain had made her disappear, as she had done to Pletcher, days earlier.
Fallensteller replied, "without a doubt, Commander. If you have business with the engineer, a radio call can be arranged. If you'd like to know more about the rebuild, I'd be happy to discuss them with you on the bridge when we have to pour over the documents." She glanced at the rifleman she had tasked with holding and guarding the wooden box, who smiled back at her with pride.
That seemed to alleviate Schuster's concerns, but Mesahri still found it odd how the two chief officers seemed to be communicating in double meanings. She also had suspicions from earlier in the day, when Schuster seemed to suggest treachery was afoot between the Captain and the Admiral. Mesahri had assumed that if there were issues, that the humans would resolve them among themselves, and that her own kin would be spared from any consequence. At the same time, she hadn't passed on her suspicions to the others as she didn't wish to worry them if her concerns turned out to be nothing.
Eventually, the whole party loaded into the skiff and motored back to the Zuflucht. There, Fallensteller would be greeted with horrible news.
"He- he took him?" Fallensteller stammered, slack-jawed. "And you did nothing?"
Kirsch looked insulted. "And what could I have done? It was an order, ma'am. There's no going against the Vice Admiral-"
"Yes, yes, I know, that's quite true..." Fallensteller replied, pacing about the room looking frustrated and slightly panicked. "That was inappropriate and I'm sorry, Lieutenant. It's just that Sebastian was due to have his fate decided tomorrow, and now, if he's really as unhinged as you say he is, he's going to be telling the whole fleet that I'm a devil worshiper and this whole cycle of suspicion and doubt will start itself all over again! After all my efforts..."
"I don't think so," Kirsch said quickly, "even the Vice Admiral seemed to think Ackermann was out of his head. He certainly looked like a loon, and I don't think anyone else is any more likely to put stock in what he has to say. He even tried to suggest that you killed Officer Pletcher yourself!"
There was an uncomfortable pause as Fallensteller stared for a moment before bursting into a fit of laughter. "A-haw haw haw! I see what you mean, Mr. Kirsch." In turn, the helmsman laughed as well. "Maybe I'm worried over nothing. I'll be sure to check in with the Reverend tomorrow, regardless, just to double-check that I haven't been possessed without noticing. In the meantime, I encourage you to meet our new crew members."
With the conversation safely deflected away, Fallensteller was free to think more carefully about the situation with Ackermann. Mainly, she was bitter that she didn't get the chance to either convert or kill the man; perhaps she should have done the latter much sooner, but nevertheless, naval code suggested that such a blatant attempt on her life would warrant execution not only by her own command but by the command of any superior officer in the fleet. Dobbs had no reason, nor right, to keep Ackermann alive, except for one nagging possibility.
What if Kirsch was wrong? What if Dobbs believed Ackermann?
"Um, Captain," Lieutenant Weber said when the opportunity came, "there was a message from the Blixtvåg. Captain Jäger is requesting your presence aboard his ship to consult about a repair."
"I see," Fallensteller replied, feeling a bit reassured as she pictured the dashing gentleman she danced with at Campo Diablo. "Send a reply inquiring what time he would like to meet. I could leave immediately for Niakoma if the damage is severe enough..." She then remembered the blade in her pocket. "Scratch that- tell them I can leave within the hour but no sooner than thirty minutes from their reply."
"Yes ma'am," Weber replied. Both lieutenants saluted.
With everything else squared away for the moment, Fallensteller returned to her quarters, giddy as a child. She closed and locked the door behind herself, lit every candle in the room before shutting off the light, pulling her rug out of the way, and seating herself before the mirror, staring deep into her sanguine eyes. She pulled the knife out of her coat pocket and set it on the floor between herself and her reflection, and, upon noticing that she was wearing her white uniform, quickly disposed of her clothing to prevent staining it with her blood. Quite suddenly, she found herself with nothing left to do except the act she had been dreaming of since her first exposure to the Messenger. Snatching the knife off the floor, she placed the tip at the edge of her neck and smiled madly into the mirror.
"Master... I give you all of me, and ask for nothing but an eternity of servitude!"
She dragged the knife deep and fast across her throat, slashing it wide open with a torrential gush of blood.
The wagon slowed to a stop as the soldiers began to call out to the Heran girl in alarm about the wagon, and she placed her hand firmly on the top of the lantern she had on her lap. Her fingers gently wrapped around the top loop which was used to hold and move it. She looked around at the soldiers and crewmen wearily.
"Its... its fine, its always been like that. The wagon is old, it'll be fine."
They were all almost in the middle of the cordon, closer to the bulk of the Cattan guards and soldiers within. Many troops were loitering around, sitting on the streets with their rifles standing up in pyramids, sharing smokes and chatting. A number of the Cattan were discussing things with human officers outside of the port authority building. It appeared that the Heran was intent on getting closer to all the action despite the condition of the wagon. The split hadn't widened much but it was still there.
Up above the docks was the airship, and within were some hungry kobolds. The party of beastfolk entered the mess hall like a group of school children ready for their lunch, chatting loudly and happily. They marched right up to the kitchen window where the food could be served one way or another and began inquiring on the proper protocol to eat.
"Can we just... take some?" Kass asked Ephraim. "Its free right? Do we have to do something?"
The chattering and hungry kobolds were starting to get a little rowdy at the prospect of food.
The message to the Revenant went through and the Brunswicker bridge crew thought over the contents.
"A cart with pots and vases of oil?" One of the ensigns asked, scratching his head. "Why does that concern us?"
"Because its a little late for deliveries, don't you think?" Another replied. "Sounds kind of strange to me."
Captain Murdoch tapped her fingers against her command chair, staring off into the night past the bridge window. She bit her lip and her eyes narrowed.
"Lieutenant Devalli?" Murdoch finally called out, summoning over an older woman with streaks of silver in her hair.
"When we first made landfall to these islands, about six years ago now... there was a similar situation, was there not? It was only one man but he had two pots of oil balanced on a pole over his shoulder, and he was wandering through a marketplace with a lantern... am I remembering this right?"
Devalli nodded slowly, with a growing frown. "Aye, captain. He was screaming about us being a danger to the islands. He shattered the pots on the ground, along with that lantern. Turned himself into a fireball along with anyone near him. I won't forget that, my team was in the area and one of them ended up biting a bullet after seeing it."
Murdoch's skin prickled as she remembered more of that long-ago event. "Comms, report back to the Eisenstrasse. Don't let the wagon move. And don't let the driver near any fire at all. Detain them if needed, I don't like the sound of this."
The message went through promptly.
Cattapoli, Alleyway w/ Graves
Some of the Cattan shrouded their eyes when the lanterns started showing up more and more. A number of them had their hands bundled within their robes and heavy clothing, concealing nearly all of their bodies but their faces. The nearest Cattan, an Omae female with a scar on her snout and a chipped ear, looked up at Graves.
"We're pilgrims. Just... resting for the night. Can you leave us be?" She asked neutrally, without anger but rather bluntly. Further down the alleyway some of the Cattan spoke quietly to each other out of earshot, casting long looks at the group of humans at the end of the alleyway.
Cattapoli, Eye of Horus
"Yesssss," the voices purred at Karam's question. "She is corrupt. Scheming. She thinks she is sly. We know better. You know better. Why let her live? Kill. Kill her."
The temperature in the room began to drop steadily. Any moisture in the air started to chill on metal surfaces, creating a sheen common when it was a cold day and snowy. It was hard to tell, but Karam's breath came out frosted. Just a thin wisp of vapor. It wasn't freezing, not quite, but it was cold. The lone candle in the room next to his figurine began to flicker, causing more smoke. That smoke became thicker and it lingered above the candle, and suddenly it started to expand like a cloud. It began to darken. The temperature started to get much colder.
Within this cloud, two little shining stars emerged. They twinkled like embers as they beheld Karam.
"We are the Nameless," the shadow-cloud said in a crisper voice. "Our Lord Raum feasted upon our blood and eradicated our souls. We were gods, long ago. And now we know not who we were. We know not our names. We're the murdered and the damned. The servants to death. No more. No more," the creature hissed. Its wispy form started to become turbulent.
"You know our torment. You are apart of it. Cruel masters. Your heart has spoken to the void. We could sense it. Defy the cruelty. Defy it!" The Nameless spoke disjointedly, likely a characteristic of multiple once-gods being melded into a single entity. Its eyes sparkled even brighter.
The succubus took the gun hesitantly, her fingers wrapping clumsily around it as she looked it over.
"I don't even know what this is. A firearm? Clearly its no sword or dagger," Yarah said as she examined the gun. She glanced down the barrel and played with the safety switch, before finally pointing it awkwardly down and pulling the trigger several times causing it to click repeatedly.
"Fighting has never been my expertise. A bite to the neck. A claw through the heart. That has always served me well enough. I've hardly ever been in a fight because when I strike no one is expecting it. Be it a hot poker, a pot of boiling water, or a simple shove... my foes never see it coming," she explained with a little chuckle. "I can use a knife well enough, I suppose. Never wielded a sword. And I don't see how this... firearm... helps me. Do I throw it?"
She sighed and shook her head. "And what else do you want me to tell you?"
Cattapoli, Nita & Spaghetti
This street was dark. Only a few lamposts had been constructed here, and even then not all of them had been lit. Some of the intersections were illuminated by torches and braziers, but none of the houses seemed to have any light coming from them. As they rounded one street corner and went down the next, Nita started to feel that something was... off. The robed figures at the stone cart were suspicious enough, and this detour was starting to feel that way as well.
That feeling worsened when the next street was blocked.
A simple empty wagon was parked sideways in the street, the only light here an oil lamp further down the street at the turn. The moon's glow was dim tonight but it provided some light for those whose eyes adjusted to the night.
Quick, partly muffled and dull footsteps were the only signs of people approaching. From the dark alleyways on either side of the street, two heavily clothed individuals emerged. Both went for the two soldiers who were stuck having to walk or jog behind the carriage. Knives glinted in their hands and before these two soldiers even knew what was happening in their inebriated state, both had daggers plunged into their necks and their bodies were left to fall with a thud onto the stone street.
"No moving," an accented voice said harshly from the darkness. "Or you all die. Drop weapon. Leave cart slow."
Cattapoli, Dagger Rock
Everyone opened fire on the demon, an entire fusillade of bullets erupting from the human party. Shotguns, submachine guns, and pistols all made a terrible cacophony in the confines of the large indoor cistern. Some of the cultists on the other side of the room clamped their hands to their ears, which were likely more sensitive than human ears, and also wholly unaccustomed to gunfire.
"Watch your fire!" The admiral shouted. "Don't hit the Consul!"
The demon screeched again and it levitated up off the ground. Bullets peppered its scaly flesh, leaving nasty red holes which bled, but all the lead that was thrown at it did nothing to kill or slow it down. It swooped its arms at the pool and towards the humans, sending in more water tentacles.
One such dendrite sliced outwards towards the two sorcerers of the group, Mannfred and Vunor. The admiral tried to dissipate the water with a blast of crackling energy but it failed to do anything, causing the tentacle to slice across his chest. It cut him like a sword, tearing open his jacket and sweater beneath and ripping across his flesh. A fatal wound for some, but not for him. He snarled angrily as the horizontal gash bled and he outstretched his left arm, fingers curled like claws. The blood from his wound gushed out into several thick ribbons, not unlike the water tentacles, but these were entirely independent and were not connected to him as the water tentacles were to the pool. These ribbons sliced out at the water, cutting the dendrites and sending the water pouring back down into the pool.
Still, there were a lot of these tentacles still slashing and reaching out. The dendrite which had sliced Mannfred also cut across Vunor's arm, and a marine took a nasty gash to the side of his head, his ear partially cut off.
Krantz now had a submachine gun from the dead marine who was drowned in the water, and Varadi was putting several well aimed shots into the demon. Fontaine fired off at the monster's head, but his bullets were simply smashing against its eyes and turning into pancakes that fell into the water like rocks. The eyes and head seemed nearly impenetrable, and even if it wasn't, it was not clear if it mattered - its body was riddled with bullet holes but it showed no signs of being harmed.
"Use silver!" Mannfred shouted as he worked his magic, wielding the blood ribbons with his left hand and energy with his right. "Krantz! My revolver and the pouch beside it! Use my silver!"
His long jacket was in tatters from taking slices by the water tentacles, and his open holster was present on his right hip with the revolver in it. There was a small leather pouch behind it, along with a dagger in a scabbard near the front of his belt that was much harder to reach - and possibly not silver.
The cultists held off in the back of the cistern, the demon separating them from the humans. They didn't move to attack so they didn't get shot or in the way of the demon's attacks.
Continued in the post below....
(( Surprise page break everyone! ))
"No more questions for now," said Jäger as he approached Yarah-kei.
Jäger raised his hands as Yarah played with the gun. "Hold on, let me show you."
He walked up behind her and started to correct her posture. Using his feet he made Yarah move her own into a proper stance. Jäger grabbed her by the arms, still standing closely behind her, and started to adjust her upper body.
"Two hands at all times as this gun got quite the kick. Make sure to keep your feet in this position. Your arms need to be straight, otherwise the recoil from each shot will make you sway all over the place."
He moved around to her right side. "Firearms are long-range weapons. They come in several sizes, lengths and calibers. Caliber defines the type of ammunition- projectile- with some calibers being favored for their ability to pierce infantry armor."
Jäger tapped the revolver. "This is a standard-issue Gothian revolver. 7mm caliber. It is primarily for self-defense but work just as great inside buildings.
Its firing mechanism is a revolving cylinder- your magazine- which automatically spins after each shot, alllowing contiuous fire. Each cylinder holds nine bullets."
He let go of Yarah and looked her in the eye. "Questions?"
It was time. Fallensteller settled into her quarters with a childish glee that she hadn't felt in a very long time, with a sense of purpose and desire in every action and movement she made. By her hand, she plunged the entire room into darkness except for the collection of candles she now had surrounding the room. The light from these little candles danced ominously on the walls, like a choir awaiting for the sermon to begin. The shadows they cast seemed... alive. Curious. Waiting. Observant.
She set her clean, white uniform aside so that it would not be in danger of being... stained... when she finally did what she had been yearning to do since she first realized her lord was out there, awaiting for her to perform his first command. The knife sat between her and the mirror, radiating an excitement similar to her own. It was almost lovingly cold in her hand when she finally picked it up once more. Her skin prickled and her heart began to pound expectantly in her chest as the blade touched her neck. She spoke her words with a frenzied determination, and sliced it across her neck with all her strength.
Her body was not expecting this. Deep within her mind, her primal instincts took over in sudden alarm. The knife clattered from her hand as dark red blood simply gushed from her neck, pouring out with every powerful heartbeat while her other hand shot up to cover her throat uselessly. It washed down her front side like a waterfall, staining her pale skin. Her spine tensed and her body warred with her inner devotion, her mind unable to comprehend that she had just performed such an action.
She began to feel numb, her body unable to hold itself up. Her head drooped and she collapsed back onto the floor, arms and legs unresponsive and her eyes wide open. She couldn't blink, she couldn't breath, and she couldn't even make the slightest sound. Her vision remained remarkably clear as she simply laid there, her head tilted right at the mirror so she could see her wide eyes and throat continually and weakly pumping whatever blood it could out of the gash.
Had this been a mistake? The thought lingered in her mind as her body died, her heart finally coming to a stop as there was no longer enough blood to keep it pumping. It was... painful. There was no description for the feeling of the mind being aware of the heart growing weaker and weaker as it came to an inevitable stop. When it finally did, the sensation was like running out of air and being unable to breath - but magnified tenfold, the entire body wanting to seize up and flail about to bring back its own pulse.
This was it. This was death. Her eyes continued to remain open, staring accusingly at her dead body in the mirror. You did this, a part of her raged, you did this. How could you? It was only a tiny voice in her head, dying away, but it raged at her for her actions. The most eternal and basic instinct such as survival faded away, thrashing against her weakly as it slipped into nothingness. Slashing her throat felt like the ultimate betrayal to her shattering consciousness.
It was impossible to say how long it was as she laid there, unable to break her own gaze in the mirror, body truly dead but mind wild with thought as the candles flickered violently like a celebrating crowd on the walls of her cabin.
Finally, something cold began to envelop her. It was hard to tell from the way her head was craned up at the mirror, but it seemed as if liquid was bubbling up around her. The candlelight glimmered off of it, but it did not have the dark copper redness of blood... it had the endless depth of black pitch. Ink. It formed around her like a pool before slowly her body began to sink into it, just as Pletcher's body had. Feeling this ice cold ink wash over her felt like she was falling into the embrace of a lover. When it finally reached her head, it filled her open mouth and nose, but she felt nothing as she had stopped breathing long ago. Her eyes caught one last glimpse of her pale lifeless body sinking through the floor before they too were covered in the ink.
Fallensteller awoke with a sudden start, her eyes reopening and body spasming with life once more. She was laying naked on a cold stone floor which was smooth and covered in grey ash. The wind was blowing lightly, stirring it up around her. Her body was clean of both blood and ink, and her throat felt strange - it was still slit.
There was a tall ceiling above her, and it appeared she was laying down in some sort of... gallery, overlooking an outside world that was dark like night but without any moon or stars. There was a balcony just before her, and as she stands and looks out, it was clear that she was somewhere very high up, and no where natural. There looked to be mountains in the distance, and a bleak lifeless lake far below her perch that had only a dim little fire burning on the shore, where it appeared there were some tiny figures sitting. It was difficult to tell, but it also looked as if there were ruined structures all around the dark landscape below her.
"Enjoying the view?" A soft voice hissed. It was familiar, and one she had heard not so long ago.
The Messenger strode up behind her, still clad in his all encompassing black robes. His nearly translucent white hands were visible from the sleeves, but the hood over his head created a fathomless dark pit where his face should have been visible. As he walked towards her, stepping up onto the balcony, the motion was fluid as if he was sliding across the ground rather than walking with feet. He was taller and larger than her, but his proportions were all normal and she felt that prickling sensation across her body again.
"You, Sabine, are the first mortal to step foot in this place in a very, very long time," he said as his hood turned slightly, the only indication he was glancing at her and not the view before them. "I was worried you were beginning to fail our master, despite your... best efforts. Its not been easy to keep track of you, nor assist you, with the demon protecting the fleet. I am happy to see that you have prevailed entirely."
When he spoke at the mansion at Campo Diablo, he sounded like a drowning man, but the tone was now different. As if this was his natural voice, perhaps now not obscured and strained from his visit to the mortal world.
"Your first foray into the Abyss is one with honor. Few have the audacity or the conviction to perform, let alone, survive the journey here in one piece as you have. There would have been an entire honor guard and celebration for your arrival were these the old days, but alas," he waved his arm out behind him, from the direction he came. Glancing back, there was a large open room that stretched on for hundreds of meters, with a long stone table stretching down the middle. Ornamental chairs surrounded it, many upturned and smashed or otherwise strewn about. Dull cutlery, plates, and goblets littered the table. There were no walls to this room, and instead there were just massive marble pillars holding up the ceiling. Ash was blowing in from the outside, as it was on the balcony they stood upon, making the entire place look utterly decrepit and deserted.
"You are standing in Raum's Cathedral... what is left of it. The war has left many scars, and the mortal world bears only half of it. Even this place did not escape it. But you are not here to listen to such tales, not yet. No... you are here to meet our master."
He turned silently and beckoned at her to follow.
The Messneger led her into the massive banquet hall. It looked like this place had been abandoned for thousands of years. It... probably had been. Here and there, scattered on the floor, were rusted shells of armor. At first it wasn't obvious, but they were knights. What looked to be shells were heaps of rusted and decayed metal half buried in ash. As they strode deeper into the room, there were more of them, strewn about at random. Some were merely gauntlets or shattered helmets, while a few were fully intact and laying out as if a body was still within. Most of the ancient weapons they once wielded was buried in a thin layer of ash.
They strode through the hall in silence for several minutes, such was the length of the room. The shells of dead knights continued to litter the ground, along with bones and other unidentifiable refuse and debris. Finally they reached the end of the room where there was a wall, and instead of a balcony as there was on the opposite side, there was a single open doorway.
"Come, Sabine. He lies within."
He stalked through the doorway, leading her into a much smaller room. It was devoid of any decoration or items, and no dust clogged the floor here. It was immaculately clean. Other doors led off into other locations, but the stone bed in the center of the room drew her attention completely. Someone was laying on it.
The figure was dressed in a tight black set of robes. Their forearms and hands, as well as their calves and feet, were bound tightly in what had to have been one long strand of black cloth. It was rather similar to the puttee worn by soldiers back in the Old World, yet this figure wore no boots or shoes over their clothed feet. A silken black sash was tied around their midsection, with a smaller leather belt going around the center. One hand was folded over their stomach, gently grasping a scabbard with a sheathed blade, while their left hand was lain out beside them with the palm facing up. Where their heart should have been, there was just a gaping hole right down to the stone bed they laid upon. It was a perfect circle that tore clean through the robes and the body beneath.
The head was encased in black mask that conformed to the contours of the face. A simple horned and winged skull was fasted to the front of this mask along the forehead in ornamental fashion, with two rubies inlaid in the eyes. The actual eye holes for the mask appeared empty, with nothing visible within. From behind the mask, long smooth and black hair flowed out, carefully combed and divided up so that two streaks of hair framed the mask, and one long ponytail emerged from the back.
As Fallensteller eyed the body over, it was clear the figure was rather... small. Not particularly broad or tall, but not feminine either. This was not the body of an adult.
The Messenger bowed low beside Fallensteller, and then he glanced at her.
"As you can see, he was wounded. The heart is the encasement for one's soul and his was eradicated utterly, but he fought on for some time without it. Such was his conviction and power. It wasn't until they were all dead that he finally collapsed and fell into this slumber. It pains me to see him so, but I feel the slightest relief that his sister is not here to see him in such a state," he said in a low, melancholic voice.
"If you so wish, you may take his hand...."
Jäger chuckled. "I'd prefer to keep your true form a secret. If an assailant believes you to be a mere lady with a gun they may make... mistakes." He gently took the gun from her. "Tomorrow you'll get a demonstration, as well as the opportunity to fire off a few shots yourself."
"With that said, it's time to sleep. You will sleep inside my quarters." He smirked. "Don't worry, you'll get the bed for yourself."
After motioning for Yarah to follow Jäger walked to the door and opened it. The two guards on either side of the door saluted.
"Have some of the kitchen staff clean this up. I also want all the clothes delivered to my room inside a footlocker. After that, you may go to sleep. Let Kahleen know that you wiln have nine hours off. Dismissed."
The soldiers nodded and set out to carry out their orders. Jäger offered Yarah his arm once more as the two of them walked towards his quarters which was near the bridge.
He looked her over. "Any thoughts on your mind?"
As soon as the transmission came in from the Revenant, the radio operator relayed it to Von Strauss. Stop the cart and remove the driver as well as their lantern. Von Strauss nodded, before turning to another officer. "Signal the group on the dock. Use one of the spotlights. Red bulb. No flashing. They'll understand." she said, to which the officer promptly saluted.
Down on the docks a few moments later, the troops were soon bathed in a red glow from one of the spotlights above on the Eisenstrasse. Red was the universal symbol to stop. And universally known for warnings. Something was wrong, and the Eisenstrasse had caught onto it. The sergeant turned to the driver of the cart, his rifle pressed to his shoulder. "Ma'am, stop the cart. Blow out your lantern, hand it to one of my men, and gently step down." he said, as the rest of the troops guarding the cart soon stepped around to the front of the cart.
"If you cooperate, you will no be harmed. If you don't, we'll will use force. Do you understand?" continued the sergeant, as the others took aim at the deer girl.
"Krantz! My revolver and the pouch beside it! Use my silver!"
"Understood!" responded Krantz, moving to retrieve Mannfred's revolver and bullets. He holstered his own pistol as he moved, keeping an eye out for any water tentacles as he moved.
One he arrived, he quickly snatched the revolver from the holster and a handful of bullets from the pouch next to it. After ejecting any spent cartridges from the revolver and slipping in the silver ones, he took aim at the demon. Bullets weren't affecting the head or eyes, so body shots would have to do. He aimed for where the heart of the demon would be, then pulled the trigger.
Fallensteller was awe-stricken. The fear, the pain and the doubt which had begun to grip her when she lay dying in her quarters was now behind her, and now she stood at the side of her God. His cathedral was empty and nearly-devoid of life, but her arrival would begin to change all of that. Even in his stillness she was taken by his magnificence. His will built an empire, long ago, His power brought the lesser gods to heel, and now, and His grace had preserved her from death itself! But... how had it come to this? A titan, an unstoppable force, now reduced to a dormant state, deprived of a heart, and apparently, a soul, and yet living all the same...
And Raum... had a sister? Was she a god, like him, or only a servant, like her? She briefly remembered the executioner's log, and how so many siblings had been slaughtered together, and instantly she began to assume there was a connection. And he was only a child, it seemed. Could he have grown even stronger? Or is this simply the form he chose?
Staring into the hole where His heart once was, she felt a deep sense of sorrow and anger. This could not be allowed to stand, and she would see to it that it would not. She would stop at nothing to see her God restored to his former strength. She would murder every last sailor on the Zuflucht and beyond, on the ships of the Mannfred expedition, turning their blood into his medicine, if called upon to do so. But she suspected, reasonably, that healing God would take more than just acts of violence. She would need to be artful, to grasp powers and ideas beyond her reckoning to accomplish her servitude. She would need to become much more than a lowly human. It was fortunate, then, that she had already started on this path.
"Master," she whispered as she got on her knees, "I am the first of many," she assured Him as she took His hand.
Ephraim looked over at Kass and responded: "Yeah, something like that. You come up to the window, state your name, and then grab whatever is on the menu. Speaking of which..."
Ephraim knocked on the kitchen windowsill and exclaimed: "Ephraim Brose, going to grab some beef stew!"
He grabbed himself his meal whilst assuming that Gawain's stare is one of judgement.
"Running that hard made me hungry!" he told the skeleton.
Silence, maddening silence. The only light that shines being the dull reds and pallid blues that flicker and fade like distant explosions on a battlefield. Their origins are hard to place, though taking the time and pondering on said origin was a fruitless venture and a waste of time. Time. So finite and wasted so easily. Ever since the glimpse he was obsessed with the concept, once alien to him now the understanding was just barely palatable. It broke off in rivers, streams, stagnant pools... Many of his experiences up to this point had been familiar, others entirely new. That damnable wind. Each breeze that blew threw penetrated him, taking just a chip off of the collected consciousness and sanity he had accrued. He could last through it, but this was certainly not a permanent solution.
That temporary abode he chose to stay in looked to be a grand library. Once-grand, rather, as its current state had it in dimensional flux much like many other parts of the Abyss. Over a black and shadowed forest was one of its many great wings, more accurately the strewn pieces of it left behind after the cataclysmic events of ages past. Whole hallways and rooms were scattered about, floating like islands and anchored to one another with invisible wisps of magic that made it just barely navigable. He floated through the blasted-halls and suspended supports frozen in time and space, pulling dusty tomes out from the air just to flick them open. Every book he opened was blank, more or less, though some would yield interesting results. One page literally stared back at him in an array of many eyes before the narrow slits got up and skittered away from him, another drew symbols and words that had no relevance to him - thoughts he was thinking appearing on the page yet the words flipping backwards or changing lettering. Small, useless wonders that he tossed aside before moving on to the next. The floor he tread above was completely upside down, the hallway and its shelves a spiraling and precarious position he gracefully floated through.
"No, that cannot - hm, yes. But what if? Preposterous." he spoke aloud to himself, postulating and theorizing as he grew fixated on every detail. He had experienced this before, hadn't he? Where would it lead. What part of time would he step into? What path did he need to take to get to THE proper timeline? He had all the pieces of the puzzle, he just needed to see how it would unfold.
Then, the epiphany. A ripple in the balance of power as space folded and resettled. Immediately he went still, trying to absorb and place its location as all of the thoughts and tangents in his head went silent for that moment. Another breeze pushed through him. It didn't matter - for he could feel it, he was close. So many powerful beings, old and new, were congregating for... something. What was the meaning? Another war? What were they doing out THERE? Surely all the answers were where he was, down below in the Abyss. Or were they? Curious... He had gained a location after spending some time in deep thought, one where he may very well find the answers he sought.
The figure shut the book in his hands, slowly dropping it as he prepared to embark into the waking world.
"Ah, that makes sense. Won't they be surprised when I bite their neck out!" Yarah laughs, letting Jager take the gun from her hands. When he mentioned she would be sleeping in her own bed, she cocked her head to the side and eyed him strangely.
"You summon a succubus and you're having me sleep alone? Thats... not a first, but I can count on my hand the amount of times this has happened. You don't strike me as a love-sick loon so perhaps this is a first, in a way. Not that I don't like it, of course," she quickly added. "I won't complain if you have any toys for me, though, male or female."
She took his arm as he offered it and walked with him towards his cabin. "So why exactly can't I talk to this admiral? He seems... interesting. I don't know how he thinks he can stand against Raum, but I'd like to see him at least. What does he look like? Tall and strong, like a hero?" Mannfred was only of average height, and physically he didn't look all that imposing unless you counted his watchful eye and scarred face.
The spot light from the Eisenstrasse bathed a fair portion of the dock in dark red, and the Heran looked fearfully up at it with a cry of alarm like a creature staring up at an attacking dragon. Even among the Cattan guards and some of the marines, the sudden light from the airship caused a little commotion and more attention was drawn to the wagon.
"O-okay!" The Heran driver stuttered as guns were pointed at her, "Just let me put on the breaks!"
She held out the lantern in one hand, and with the other she yanked up on the break lever.... which caused the entire back of the wagon bed to split open down the middle, sending a cascade of pots and vases filled with oil onto the concrete and wooden docks. The bottom containers all shattered and oil flowed out from the wagon like a small ocean wave, covering the area around the wagon by a great deal. All the soldiers in the vicinity had the oil rush past their boots, and still more of it was spreading out. Not all of the pots on the top had broken when the wagon bed was revealed to be a trap door, but it was more than enough.
With a sudden incoherent scream, the Heran raised the lantern up high in both hands as she was getting ready to shatter it on the oil-slick ground.
Cattapoli, Dagger Rock
Krantz was able to make it through to the admiral without getting assaulted by one of the razor sharp water tentacles. The admiral's pistol was easily removed, and there were twelve silver bullets in the pouch - enough for two full cylinders. There were already a few regular rounds in the revolver, but those were spilled out and quickly replaced with silver bullets.
The demon rose one of its hands and pointed at Fontaine, and before he knew what it meant something heavy hit him square in the back and sent him sprawling to the floor. It was a chunk of brick which had been laying on the floor, and two more pieces started to float up into the air. Another one came flying right at him. Meanwhile, a tentacle lashed out towards Varadi and Vunor again.
With the revolver full of silver rounds now, Krantz took aim at the demon's heart. He squeezed the trigger and fired... the first shot going wide. The second shot was luckier and it hit the demon in the abdomen, a few inches below where its heart should have been.
Once the silver round penetrated its body, the monstrosity howled again with its awful sonic screeching, sending some of the beastfolk cultists onto the ground, wailing in pain as they covered their ears. Even the humans were hit hard by it, and the admiral had closed his eyes as he stood steady, face curled into a fierce scowl.
This bullet wound caused a sickly black ink to spread around its scales at the wound, like some sort of foul corruption. This one round already stunned the demon and a couple of the water tentacles simply fell to the ground and splashed away into the pool.
The kobolds watched Ephraim closely as he announced his name to the kitchen before freely grabbing some of the stew. Then, like a frenzied cult, they started to shout their names before diving in to grab bowls of beef stew. Their little clawed hands snatched up bowls and spoons, as well as forks and other things for whatever reason as they all jostled against each other to get some stew from the steaming pots sitting out. The crowd started to thin as kobolds got their food, but more than a few were walking away with a bowl in each hand as they triumphantly walked to the tables and began to eat enthusiastically. By the time the last kobold had left the pots of stew... they were empty.
The Abyss, Unknown Location
The ripple of energy was subtle for most, but not for the demon. It was difficult to distinguish from the scouring winds of the Abyss, but the feeling of it cutting through one's body was unique. Almost like the difference of feeling snow compared to rain upon one's flesh. This particular ripple was rich, and one like it was not very common. There was always something of note or concerning great power occurring somewhere, but this one had a particular... taste to it, an urgency that spoke of something which hadn't been seen in a very long time. Like all demons, he could capture and savor that feeling and decipher from it a thread - almost in a literal sense. So much in connection to the Ether, the Abyss, and all things magical often had a twine, or thread, attached to it. People had them connected to themselves and those they were around most of their lives, between lovers and friends, and even enemies or strangers they never knew.
This thread was realized in the back of his mind, as if his consciousness was seeing two different realities at once. In a way, he was. The thread led all the way into the mortal world and it finally ended among a series of islands that had a significant amount of energy from souls and living creatures. Faintly, and nearly imperceptible, some images flashed in his mind like pictures. There were creatures who looked like animals but walked on both legs. Humans in identical clothing loitered around in the belly of some dark metallic beast. The unmistakable scent of gods washed in on this thread, along with that of other demons. A small feline curled around a skull. A black void of ink swirling in water like a black hole. A tidal wave of blood.
The thread was tantalizing. Delicious, even. It promised so much knowledge and teased so little that it had to be investigated.
The demon dropped the book it was holding and began to prepare itself for a journey to the mortal world. These types of travels could be difficult without preexisting connections, so it took some time to find a viable way to breach into that plane of existence. There was considerable trouble trying to form one on the existing tethers as they were all cut off through some warding, but a weak line that was slick with corruption had snaked its way around the wards like a fragile vine. It was weak and would likely collapse after his travel through it to this location, which meant there would be no easy return.
The Abyss, Raum's Cathedral
Fallensteller eased herself onto her knees beside the stone table in which Raum laid upon. Gently, she reached up and took his open hand in hers. There was... a pulse. It was faint and slow, but steady. A slight beat... and another.... and another. It wasn't the pulse of something that was alive, as it was far too slow, but a pulse paradoxically meant there had to be life. And with no heart, it was even more astounding to feel this sensation from Raum's hand. There was also some warmth, and his hand felt like that of any person who was simply sleeping. Touching his hand was not touching that of a corpse, as there was no rigor mortis or fragility. It was more clear than ever that Raum existed in some state between life and death.
"Pray and speak your heart to him, as you so wish. I am certain he appreciates such candid devotion," the Messenger said from behind her. "When you are finished, I suspect you have some questions for me...."
"Curious... Curious, curious, curious." he spoke as the book floated away from him, fingers unfurling as they started to twist and dance in the air, pulling on those strings in an elegant dance one would expect a harpist to perform. It was not like anything he had ever experienced, to be sure, but there was still that nagging at the back of his mind telling him that this was all familiar. This was the correct path, it had to be. Yet there was the very real possibility that he had no ties or threads to tether himself here, his presence and state were so incredibly temporary to one such as himself. Even here, he was considered an outsider - more so than the countless other displaced entities that navigated this fragmented landscape. They at least had allies to aid them, to run and hide together, or at the very least similar kin they could have fealty to, even as they stabbed said kin in the back. Him? Not so, he had always been alone, his origin and memories vivid yet so incredibly distant. He was going to learn of it all. Every secret would be his to hold. The demon was not certain on how or why, but he had that glimpse to hold on to - and like the ethereal string in his mental grasp; he had no intention of letting go.
With but a small glance over his shoulder he slowly tightened his hands into fists, gently pulling on the invisible thread with a few short tugs. As quickly as he performed the maneuver, he broke the hold in a flourish, palms spreading out as they faced one another before fingers clawed at the still air. They gestured outwards, the demon used his mind to shorten the distance between his end of the thread and the one beyond - the small grasp on reality this realm had bending to his will after some time. He did this with a certain degree of experience, but that did not make the process any less difficult or taxing. In time a gateway yawned open, the view inside one of a turbulent and rolling storm that crashed and flashed against the sea of blackness that served as the Abyss' 'sky'. Slowly, he lowered his arms, floating gently toward the portal and venturing inside without any hesitation.
He had no way of knowing where exactly he would end up, who he would meet, and how they would react. But part of him did, somehow, and he clung to it like a precious treasure. Fate would lead him to his destiny, and the portal he took now was him crossing the threshold straight to it.
Jäger ignored Yarah's request for a "plaything" and simply grunted. "Mannfred is... weathered. He looks like the weight of the world is on his shoulders. I may not entirely agree with his methods- seeing as he deceived the fleet- but he's without a doubt a good man.
He will likely summon us later on. You may join me should that happen, but you will not speak to him unless I say so or unless I'm mortally wounded."
The two of them entered the bridge which was currently manned by no more than ten sailors, including Helmsman Smedberg. Smedberg simply nodded at Jäger who returned the gesture.
"This is the bridge," said Jäger. "From here we can both maneuver the ship, submerge it and communicate with our allied vessels."
He turned towards the comms operator. "Messages?"
The operator nodded. "One, sir. Captain Fallensteller accepts your invite. She requests a time."
"Eleven AM, tomorrow. Brunch."
The operator nodded and Jäger looked to Yarah. He was about to say something but simply smiled instead. Leaving the bridge behind they arrived at Jäger's quarters. It was a relatively large room. One double bed, a large wardrobe, a weapon rack, a table with two chairs and an office desk with a rotating leather chair were the only furniture. A lamp in the ceiling filled the room with dim light.
Jäger shut the door and locked it. On the outside a green light above the door signalled Jäger's presencd. He turned around and gestured towards a smaller door in the right corner. "Bathroom, should you wish."
After locking the door he removed his large coat and hanged it over his leather chair. He also removed his two holsters, his dagger and his sword. They were placed on the table. Finally he unbuttoned his tunic, leaving only a short-sleeved undershirt on his upper body.
His arms bore the marks of intensive fencing and firearms training. Muscles intertvined with veins and dozens of scars created by blades, hot shell casings and other svarp metallic edges.
Jäger leaned against the desk as he removed his boots, placing them on the floor. He looked up. "Is the room to your liking?"
Fallensteller glanced at the Messenger and nodded before speaking again to her wounded God. She left nothing to assumption and assured him explicitly: "You, like few others, understand me as I am: a deceiver and a fiend among the human race. Whereas once I was driven to possess fortune and power, now I am driven solely by You. You are my higher calling. You alone saw value in the wretched creature I am... a childkiller. I called upon You to guard the heart which belongs to You, and You saved me twice over, and if I was willing to sacrifice the lives of my own two children to launch my career, I am willing to do the unimaginable in Your name. Raum... fifteen-hundred souls fall under my command, sailing as pawns on the ship I captain, but they call our enemy Viktor Mannfred their master. I will not rest until they serve You! In these days since I encountered Your messenger, it has not been easy. But their resolve is weakening, their unity is crumbling, and I will soon come into possession of a list of those who we can rely on. Most fear You, and some are ignorant, but none will challenge You. I will make servants of them, just as I did my old friend, Silke. And when the time is right, we will take on Mannfred's fleet, reveal our deception, and they will either kneel, or we will drown them all.
Until then- I am not strong enough to defeat the enemy alone. I must continue to undermine him in secret, and I will strive to make full use of Your gifts; they have served me well thus far. They are difficult to hide, but I only do so out of necessity. Once I have created a suitable environment for Your following to blossom, I will wear Your mark with pride, Master."
When she had finished praying, she stood and turned to the Messenger, speaking urgently but respectfully. "Finding more servants won't be a problem, now that you've found me. But I must know what I can do to help restore Him. How did this even happen, for that matter?"
Tobey had sat for some time after Fallensteller had left, studying the earring in the light at his desk.
"What ancient secrets do you hold for me?" he whispered as he turned the ornament in his hand.
Suddenly there was a knock at the door and Tobey went to answer it. It was Bennett.
"Did you escort Miss Neustadt to the sickbay?" he asked. Bennett nodded, "Aye, Cap'n. But I'll have to say it was uneasy. Her voice.. it was unnatural. But I no better than to question your methods."
Tobey viewed Bennett with a acknowledging gaze. He then walked past him and motioned for him to follow. They walked briskly, once again entering the bowels of the vessel to the brig.
The Heran slave that they had acquired earlier had been placed there, but in one of the more comfortable cabins. It was certainly no cell, but more of a quarter with a door that locked from the outside. When they arrived, Tobey motioned for the guardsmen to open the door to the cell.
The room was deathly quiet, only the creaking of the ship breaking the tense air. The heran looked up from her bed, and she could see the stonefaced man, flanked on his sides by three of his equally stern looking henchmen. Her eyes darted between the individuals, but focused on Tobey was he stepped forward and looked down on her.
"What is your name" he began, slowly extending his hand with the earring dangling from it's chain, "and what do you know of this artifact?"
As Neustadt didn't answer, Marsh sighed and beckoned for her to follow into one of the adjacent rooms, "Come. I think some rest will do you good, judging from how troubled you look."
Outside the consulate, Norrys and his men had worked with setting up a perimeter. Various parts of the expedition had diverged to either inspect the villa areas or return to the docks, but Norrys remained at the consulate door. He scanned the surroundings slowly with a deeply furrowed brow.
"All's quiet around here, captain." one of his men informed him as he returned from his rounds of the guard posts. Norrys scoffed, "The enemy always attack when you're least expecting them to. Make another round of the posts."
The soldier was about to object when Norrys slowly turned to face him. "Make another round of the docks, Barrister".
The soldier saluted and headed back the way he just came from.
"Sir, she's gonna light us all up if we don't do something!" said one of the soldiers, as some of the others began to panic. There was oil everywhere now, and the moment that lantern shattered, the dock would become an inferno.
"Ma'am! Please! Just calm down, and put the lantern down! Be reasonable!" said the sergeant, attempting to calm the deer girl down. Which didn't seem to be working. The other soldiers started to move back, looking for a dry area to retreat to out of the oil. None of them felt like being roasted tonight.
_ _ _ _ _
Von Strauss and some of the other crew continued to observe from above. It WAS a trap! Von Strauss could barely contain herself. This was so exciting! She could only imagine the fear that the troops on the ground were experiencing. The panic that was spreading like a disease amongst them. And all it took for things to grow into full blown chaos was a single flame to touch the oil that bathed the dock.
As soon as the screetching stopped, Krantz took aim again at the creature and fired off more shots. The silver was performing beautifully, but he needed to put more shots into it before it was put down before good.
Vunor grunted in pain as the dendrite slashed his arm, causing his blood to slowly ooze out and flow down onto his body. The pain was only temporary as adrenaline kicked in, nullifying it for
the time being in the conflict. He looked at the demonic figure as it fought, howling in pain from the silver that had penetrated its body, as well as the water it controlled. Vunor motioned his
hand towards the pool to prepare for a spell, only to be met with a sharp pain in his mind. The water was... in agony. He felt it in its enthrallment to a dark entity as well as the suffering it
caused. Vunor gasped in shock as he felt these emotions and sensations, before quickly composing himself and steadying his hand. He brought his wounded arm forward as well and
positioned it towards the water as well and spoke a single word: "Fjrósa." Within moments, the edges of the water began to solidify and freeze and the cold tide began to rapidly advance
throughout the entire pool.
Nita looked to the street and saw the glinting knives and the dangerous figures. The Cultists. she thought to herself as she quickly glanced around. We fucking drove right into their trap. Her heart raced in fear, as she firsthand witnessed what cruelty they were capable of.
She gripped her hands together and whispered to Spaghetti and Jack with a stern look, "I hope you have a plan that involves us not dying." The soldiers in the carriage were also starting to realize what was going on, and began to prepare for what might come. Spaghetti however, looked cool as a cucumber, almost nonchalantly ignorant of what was happening.
"This isn't good. No telling how many lie in the shadows." Jack whispered back. "Maybe if we-"
"Fear not. I have a plan." Spaghetti announced somewhat loudly to everyone in the carriage, much to the annoyance of Nita. "It's simple, you'll jump out and attack. They'll never see it coming." he continued, now in a quieter tone before quickly jumping out of the carriage and faced the attackers: "Greetings!" he started with his arms extended outwards, "I shall deliver unto thee one chance to surrender and you may yet leave with your lives."
Nita took her staff and brought her left hand to its top: "Hyrrá osh incato." she whispered, summoning flames and imbuing her staff with fire. The energy crackled in the staff, making its exterior glow as veins of red light traveled down it. "I sure hope you know what he's doing." Nita said to Jack. He responded with a shrug and gripped his pistol, "I often don't."
Ephraim tried his damndest to keep the kobolds in order, and apologized to those in the mess hall for the ruckus. Fortunately, it looked like no one else was coming in for their final meal, so the pots being empty shouldn't be an issue.... hopefully. He sighed in relief as he began eating his beef stew while the sounds of enthusiastic kobold eating rang through the room.
Dr. Marsh seemed like a decent fellow, and Neustadt felt rude for not speaking to him. Her shame was too great; surprising Jonesey with her freshly-tainted voice in the hall didn't make her feel one iota better about the whole matter, as Jonesey hadn't reacted severely enough to warrant even a cynical laugh. The voice wasn't some jack-in-the-box party scare, it was a part of her that would leave others on edge any time she spoke aloud. Perhaps because Dr. Marsh seemed so decent compared to the others, Neustadt's mood plummeted when she realized what her voice would do to him. As he led her along, she struggled with dark thoughts, mainly resentment. After all, shouldn't she be furious? It wasn't just Sabine that did this. It was Tobey who gave them the knife. And it was Norton and Jonesey that dragged her along to that auction house in the first place. If only she had kept running... No, she thought, a wave of resentment building, I should have gone to the Admiral at the very start. I should have turned Sabine in for her devilry... and then Ackermann would have been captain! Gods, he's rotting in the brig, isn't he? What will the Zuflucht do without him? Without me? I must find a way to send a message. They'll probably kill me, but I have to...
Suddenly, Neustadt's train of thought came to a crashing halt. If I'm killed, I'll face a fate far worse than damnation. Raum holds my soul, or at least part of it. I'll be torn apart... Oh... OH GOD, YOU CAN HEAR ME, CAN'T YOU!?
Dr. Marsh turned to find Neustadt halfway collapsed in the door frame, clutching her head. "Doctor... doctor, please..." she said in her deformed voice, "prescribe me something, put me in a deep sleep! I've consorted with Raum and sold myself to Him! I can't- I don't know what to do! There's no escaping!" The panic had returned in full.
Yarah just laughed as Jager described Mannfred. "A good man? You can't be a good man and expect to go up against Raum. If you say he has already deceived you, then he is a deceiver by nature. But if he truly is planning to take down Raum and thinks he can do so, then I suppose we're lucky to have him on our side. I must admit I do look forward to meeting him even more now. I wonder how he'll bend to my charm...."
On the bridge, the succubus looked around with some mild interest, looking the people over just as much as she did the stations and interior. There certainly had not been anything like this in her time. A submarine was far too advanced - and for many reasons. She kept silent as Jager spoke with some of his crew.
She examined his personal cabin with the same passing interest as she had the bridge, though it was clear this room was much less... interesting to her.
"Hardly what I would call luxurious. I figured an officer would have a room that was much more grand and spacious," she sighed, glancing over his scarred body. "Where are all the pillows? The silk? No pipes or drink? I've lived with slaves who've had nicer quarters."
Yarah-kei glanced around the room again. "I only see one bed, too."
Veranhal, Mariner's Boon
The small Heran slave looked up uncomfortably at Tobey and his crude-looking bodyguards. She already looked tense from the moment they opened the door. A slave left to their own thoughts in the custody of a new master, and in a strange place on top of that, made for an unhappy soul.
It seemed she was measuring what to say when Tobey spoke to her, and after a second she finally spoke up.
"My... name is Andria," she said somewhat slowly. "And I know that you hold one of Ryza's Tears. Its a type of Rift stone... I didn't expect a human to have one."
The breaking of the wagon and the subsequent flood of oil caused a large commotion on the docks. Some soldiers resting nearby were jumping to their feet in alarm as the oil rush towards them and around their boots, coating a large portion of the docks near the wagon. The wooden section of the docks which were built out into the bay from the main concrete pier stopped the spread of oil in that direction as the liquid fell through the cracks, while in the other direction the oil was stopped by the street curb which went up one level from the concrete to cobbled stone. A dozen Cattan had been sitting on the curb and were suddenly in a larger panic when the oil came their way, and they all started running well before the shock of it began to settle in. The human's were slower to react as they were more confused than anything.
Alarmed, the sergeant called out for the Heran to be reasonable and surrender. His words were hardly out of his mouth when she threw the lantern down to the ground with all the force she could muster.
It was difficult to describe how fast the oil went up. The cart exploded into a massive fireball, shooting out shards of flaming pottery, as the pots that hadn't broken from the fall but were thoroughly doused in oil became simple bombs. The deer girl, the sergeant, and those closer to the wagon were engulfed in this exploding fireball and incinerated - dead instantly, or close to it.
The soldiers who were starting to back away were the unlucky ones. They were far enough that the initial blast didn't kill them, but knocked a couple off their feet and right onto the oil slick ground. Searing flames ate up the oil in an instant, covering everywhere which had been touched by oil into a literal island of fire. These soldiers who tried to run were caught up in the flames in the worst way possible, with no escape from the inferno.
The wooden dock which had been exposed to some of the oil was caught up in the flames as well. Marines who were loitering here were caught between a wall of fire and the black water of the bay. All chose the latter, shrugging off their kits and tossing their rifles away as they tumbled into the water with panicked shouts. About a dozen more humans - and beastfolk who were too slow - were engulfed in the flames on the other side of the street. They shrieked and flailed around, many unable to think clearly. A sailor from the Revenant was on fire completely and had fallen to the ground once he escaped the area that had been covered in oil, and two marines rushed to him and pulled him along off of the pier, the saviors themselves catching alight from the sailor by the time the three of them were tumbling into the water.
Another handful of beastfolk were also unlucky enough to have been too slow or unaware to run from the rushing oil which was on fire mere seconds later. With their fur, they went up faster than the humans who were shrugging and tearing at their uniforms to escape the fire. The beastfolk burned well.
The explosion from the wagon sent up a large plume of fire and hot air, heading right up at the Eisenstrasse. There was no danger from the flames themselves, but the sudden heat could cause instabilities in the air.
Everyone was in full panic and the docks were complete chaos. Nearly fifty men had jumped into the bay already, swimming out away from the docks as flaming oil dripped down into the bay. It was hard to say how many were dead, but atleast fifteen had already been claimed with dozens more already injured.
With the red light from the airship shining down on the dock, it looked like a portal to hell had opened.
The bridge of the Revenant was stunned momentarily as they watched a large portion of the pier and docks go up in flames without warning. From this distance little silhouettes and figures framed by the curtain of fire could be seen falling or running for the bay, others at either side of the pier running away from the fire. This particular pier was mostly concrete, but a myriad of wooden docks jutted out from the side of it, clogged with small boats, barges, and other dock materials. The fire had taken up most of the area outside of the port authority building, cutting the pier effectively in two - people trapped on one end with the warehouses, and the rest trapped on the side with the marketplace that led into the city.
"Launch the small boats, I want all damage control teams on them and headed for the pier right fucking now!" Captain Murdoch shouted, everyone calling in the orders. Alarms started to sound around the dreadnought as general quarters was called, but sailors were soon spilling out on deck to gawk at the inferno. Men were rushing for the small wooden boats and lowering them into the water, hoses and pumps being stuffed into them quickly.
"Comms, contact Captain Valdez! Get his ship in there!"
Captain Antonio Valdez was in command of the Buttero, one of the three traditional escorts which was part of the fleet. Valdez and his crew were Corsoun naval exiles and joined up with Mannfred to escape prosecution. They were a steady crew, but they boasted no marines and kept mostly to reconnaissance work. Instead of turning to a life of piracy like many exiles, they chose a more daunting life to accompany the Admiral into the Lost Sea.
Since the Buttero was a small ship with little displacement, being the smallest ship of the entire fleet, it had the ability to move in towards the docks and angle their pumps right at the fire. Most of the other ships were cruisers and were parked in the middle of the bay where there was room for them. The water was too shallow otherwise.
Within minutes, the small escort was already pushing for the dock with sailors flocking to the deck with their hoses. They would be able to lay water on the decks indefinitely so long as the pumps didn't break.
Cattapoli, Nita & Spaghetti
Spaghetti was rushed by the two cultists on the ground the moment his boots touched the stone street. He was a second away from being skewered from two sides when the voice that called out earlier did so again - "Spare that one! Subdue him!"
Instead of being stabbed, the two cultists grabbed at Spaghetti's outstretched arms. One kicked him in the back of the leg to send him to his knees, and the other held a knife ready at his throat with one clawed hand digging into his shoulder to keep him down.
"Out of wagon! Drop weapons or he die!" The voice called back out from the alley. Spaghetti was immobile for the moment, with two cultists ready to kill him. However, no other cultists appeared aside from these two and the voice giving orders from the dark alleyway.
Nita's staff began to glow lightly from the sorcery building up within. The sides of the carriage kept the glow from being too obvious, but if it wasn't used soon then the ambient light it emitted would become obvious.
Cattapoli, Dagger Rock
Vunor's spell sent ice spreading across the surface of the pool, causing a few of the tentacles to ice up and freeze in place. The demon was still reeling from the first silver bullet when a second - and a third - hit its chest and abdomen. It fell from where it was flying and thrashed in the water, ice closing in on it. Its screeching took on that of pain rather than anger. However, before the ice got too close the demon launched itself out of the water with newfound strength, corrupted blood pouring out from its front side from the silver bullet wounds. It flew forward towards Mannfred and Krantz at an awkward angle, but right at them.
The admiral sliced at it with his blood ribbons, and he shouldered Krantz aside as the demon howled and crashed into him. Both it and Mannfred fell to the slick floor, and the demon sliced at the admiral's side. Mannfred barked out a word, just a single word, and everyone who heard it felt like they had been smacked in the head without being touched by anything. The blood from the demon's wounds started to pour out like water from a sieve, and the admiral gripped it by its stubby throat. It howled again and this time it tried to flee from his grasp, but he wasn't letting go. So it stabbed its claw into his side again, going in a few inches. Mannfred gritted his teeth as blood seeped out around his lips, but he didn't let go of the demon as it thrashed in his grasp - growing weaker by the second.
Jäger chuckled. "This is a military vessel, not a floating palace." He gestured at the bed. "Like I said, you'll have the bed for yourself. I'm taking the chair." With that said he moved around to the other side of the desk and sat down in the leather chair.
He pulled up some notebooks and a pen. Writing helped easing his mind up.
One of the observers lowered his binoculars and turned towards Kahleen. "Ma'am! That was an explosion, pretty big one too."
Kahleen, currently standing atop of the Blixtvåg to oberve her soldiers and the Niakomans, glanced at the observer. "How big?"
"Big enough to turn the docks into ash."
Kahleen nodded. "I'll be on the bridge. Keep me posted."
Soon enough Kahleen found herself on the bridge where the comms operator wrote down every useful piece of information he could gather from the chaotic fleet chatter.
"Status?" Asked Kahleen.
"One explosion at the Cattapoli docks ma'am. Vessels are responding to support. Unknown number of casualties."
Damn. This wasn't good. Kahleen looked at the men on the bridge. "Prepare our two landing craft. Get me Sergeant Torsson and his forces. Sandrina and her medical team needs to be prepared as well."
Smedberg spoke up. "Are we casting off, ma'am?"
Kahleen shook her head. "No, we're not. Orders are to hold. Doesn't mean we can't deploy support craft to aid our allies. Now get to it people, our friends are dying."
As the bridge sprung into action Kahleen left the room and went for Jäger's quarters. Throughout the hallways requests for landing craft, marines and medical staff echoed.
Kahleen adjusted her uniform and her hair before knocking on the door.
Jäger opened the door slightly, revealing only himself and a small portion of the room. "Report."
Kahleen nodded. "Explosion at Cattapoli. We're preparing the landing craft, a marine force and a medical team." As she finished she couldn't help but look past Jäger and into the room. She spotted Yarah and frowned, obviously not content with the fact that the succubus looked like a Zamerian.
Wilhelm cleared his throat. "Carry on Kahleen. Keep me updated."
Karam's eyes widened. He knew these creatures. Legends spoke of them when humanity was young. The first humans had no form or shape, just a collection of thoughts and spirit, much to the gods' frustration. The Nameless were there before humans and had mastered the physical and spiritual forms. They took pity on the struggling humans and gave them their forms, forsaking their own physical form. For their sacrifice, they were given a special place in the heavens and where they would seek out to further help and shape humanity to attain the mastery they once had. The legends were half-true as it would seem. Instead of a place in heaven they were another victim of Raum, but it seemed the will to aid their fellow creations had not lessened, but strengthened.
"I know you. I know what you are." He spoke calmly to the Nameless one standing in front of him "You may speak crudely, but I know your intentions." he looked into the miniature stars resembling eyes. Fitting for them, he thought "If you believe she must be eliminated, then she will. It will take time and maneuvering, I'm afraid, but it will be done. On my honor and the honor of my family, you will see the wretch cast off this ship."
Graves and his men approached the hooded figures
"Sorry, but I can't just ignore you folks. Bad for public safety, you see?" He looked at the leader, trying to make out if she hid anything under that cloak of her's "if you do need a place to stay. Our ship has enough free space and supplies for you to sit and do...whatever is you do. No need to bother and concern the locals"
Fontaine was getting up after that last hit when the admiral's word knocked him on the floor again. It took him some time before he got up. He didn't get all the way up, just sat for a little as he saw the demonic creature thrash about in its death throes.
Tobey raised an eyebrow. He had read numerous accounts of rift stones in texts originating in the old world, but none of those seemed to have a shared definition on what it was. Some said it was a key, others a conduit or a beacon. Further more, what exactly the rift was could not be agreed upon either, assigned every description from a plane of pure chaotic arcane energy to a deep dark chasm between the supposed realms themselves. Tobey had never heard mention of Ryza, so acquiring Andria seemed to have been a good investment.
He grabbed a chair from the cells desk and sat down, coming eye to eye with Andria but still tilting his head slightly backwards.
"Can you tell me anything more about Ryza and this Rift.?" he asked with a stern face, but with a voice that conveyed genuine interest.
As Silke spoke, Barnabas was taken aback. However, his medical instincts seemed to kick in. "Y-yes... certainly!" he said as he stepped over her in the doorway and headed for one of the cabinets. Within there was a rag of chloroform and he quickly doused a rag with the concoction. When he returned he kneeled down next to her and held the rag in his hand.
He bore a troubled expression, and his hand seemed to protest to putting her to sleep. But when he looked into Neustadts eyes, he saw a great sadness and desperate pleading, like a animal in pain begging to be put down. It was an expression he had seen many times before
If he hadn't bore tinted glasses, Neustadt would have stared back at Sergeant Major Barnabas T. Marsh. His eyes, hidden from a cruel world behind shaded spectacles, reflected once more one of the darkest times of his life.
Marsh sighed, "Don't worry..." he said with a assuring smile as he pressed the cloth to her mouth. After a few panicked breathes she began to calm, and as here eye lids became heavier and her vision blurred she could barely make out Marsh's features.
"Everything is going to be all right"
Norrys instantly turned towards the harbor as the inferno broke loose.
He eyed it at length, an almost baffled expression on his face. Barrister came running back, having apparently also seen the explosion.
"Should we return to the harbor to assist the group?" he said, panting slightly from his sprint.
Norrys stood silent for a while and then, without looking to the Barrister, he took out a whistle and blew it.
Barrister knew what it meant, and so did the rest of his men who came running back to the main gate.
Pulling out his pistol, Norrys waved for the group to follow him. "On me! To the harbour!"
"Listen, listen, no need to be so rough. I am a captain you know, I'm often used to a greater measure of respect than this." Spaghetti muttered to himself, although he was powerless and at the mercy of the beastfolk.
"Damn it! Toison was right. You're more trouble than you're worth." Jack tapped at his knee, gritting his teeth at having been caught in a trap all too easily. Stubborn as he was, Jack reacted quickly to the ambush. He looked around him for something to work with. He noticed Spaghetti's twin revolvers were left on his seat. He grabbed one and threw it on Nita's lap, and slipped his own pistol into his jacket sleeve, trying desperately to disguise its presence before they forced him out. Just as the voices outside pressed them to leave the carriage, he placed the other revolver on his own lap, and he grimaced when he noticed the crackling red magic coming from Nita's staff. "You better not set us on fire, bitch, or you'll have hell to pay from my ghost." He grabbed a sword- taking a deep breath in and out to calm himself. "I'll buy you time. Much as I can. Chuck that gun to me when you're able."
Jack carefully wound his arm out of the window of the cart, showing the sword to the beastfolk, and dropping it to the ground. He took Spaghetti's other revolver and threw that down too. "Let's talk this out like gents. I've surrendered my weapons, and I'd expect you not to rush me or my men, like you did my captain. Alright?" He opened the door and stepped out slow as he could, arms raised in the air. Half a dozen mercenaries followed him, disarming themselves albeit with a tinge of nervousness. Jack looked back at the two men dead behind the cart. His face soured. "As you see, we are all human. I assure you, that killing any more of us would bring dire consequences to your filth, no matter who you are." Jack tried out his best diplomatic tone, but his gruff, intimidating voice won out. He waved his men to stay put, taking a couple steps closer to the ones that held Spaghetti. "Tell us what you want, scum."
It felt like one of his more pleasant dreams, but it was as real as Toison could ever make it. Yves embraced Margaretta gently, taking her into his arms to comfort the returned deity, back again from her prison. Tears of his own that came only lightly before ran down his face, overwhelmed by her flawless voice ringing in his ears. He cradled her for what felt like hours, whispering honeyed words to Margaretta to calm her spirited cries. He stroked her hair, just like he would a sister. "Oh, sweet dame. No no, please, do not cry. You're here now." He glanced at his painting to see it void and empty, but... he didn't mourn the loss of one of his works. Rather, he smiled over her shoulder, feeling- nay, knowing he had brought something far more saccharine into the world.
"I know of your tale. Farryn told us, but I'm sure you know that. Raum..." He lifted Margaretta from their embrace, taking her hands into his, and squeezing them tight. "I defy him. I will protect you. No one must know you are here... No one but our admiral." He spoke with solid resolve, rigid as steel with an air of righteousness that could almost punch through the very same metal. Yves stared into Margaretta's eyes while he talked, fixed on her form- He paled to have her out of his sight, for fear of what eager, hungry, and black eyes could be settled on the two of them. Yet, for what felt like the first time in so long, Yves had something real to fight for.
The explosion sent the crew aboard the Eisenstrasse into a panic, forcing the zeppelin to move away higher into the sky to avoid the heat and flames of the inferno below. Alarms sounded, and the airship lit up. Spotlights were used to assist in spotting the men in the water. Meanwhile, the men that were unlucky enough to still be on the dock when the fire spread dove into the water as soon as they could, attempting to put out any flames that managed to latch onto their clothing.
Von Strauss tried to control herself, giggling as everything turned into a mess of disorder around her. Beautiful perfection! Lord Veritas would be so happy if he were here!
"Ma'am! Orders!?" exclaimed one of the other officers, which snapped Von Strauss out of her state of bliss. "Full alert. Prep a medical team, and deploy all row boats to help fish the men out of the water. Find Ephraim and tell him that its time to go to work." she stated, after composing herself.
Both Krantz and Váradi felt as though they had been smacked with a rifle butt, shaking their heads in an attempt to regain some sort of sense. What the hell just happened? Once Krantz had gathered himself together, he looked back to Mannfred. The demon was dying, held tightly in the Admiral's grasp. Though from the looks of it, Mannfred had also been wounded pretty badly himself.
He checked the revolver. Two silver bullets left. He could shoot the demon and finish it off for good, but it'd probably be better to save the ammo. Besides, the admiral had things under control. He turned his attention to the other cultists in the room.
Nearby, Váradi finally came to his senses and looked around. "Fucking demons!" he spat, before looking over to where Fawnstar and the cultists were.
The explosion surprised everyone who was in the mess hall, with some even accidentally spilling what little they had left of their beef stew. Before even a word could be said by anyone inside, as they still processed the noise they had heard, the alarms sounded and those working directly under the Eisenstrasse quickly got up and rushed out to see what was going on. Ephraim tried his best to calm the rest down, including the kobolds, with Gawain providing assistance.
As he did, someone came rushing into the mess hall, looking around until they locked eyes with the hired vagabond.
"Ephraim, we're gonna need the Magpisk's assistance!" he yelled at the hobo, Ephraim looking back wide-eyed, "I'll explain what's going on on the way to the cargo bay, let's go!"
Ephraim looked down to Kass: "Alright, well, I gotta do my job. I'd recommend seeing Von Strauss, though she's likely occupied!"
He looked at his boney friend next: "Gawain, you can come with or stick with the fellas here!"
Ephraim looked back at the man who had rushed in and nodded, with the two dashing out of the mess hall. Ephraim looked shocked as he was told what had happened, but was determined to help get men out of the water.
Vunor continued to groan in pain as he continued to work his spell towards where the cultists were, the ice rapidly continuing to spread across the entire pool. As the demon began to weaken however, the pain lessened in Vunor's mind, and he could concentrate easier. It's hold over the water began to lessen, and as such the water's torment waned. With a reinforced determination, he channeled his strength to rush the ice towards the cultists in hopes of incapacitating them.
Nita looked at the strange weapon for a moment before nodding to Jack. She kept it on her lap as Jack and his men left the carriage while Nita prepped herself to jump out for an attack. She
lowered herself as much as she could to obscure their vision of her, holding her staff in one hand and the revolver awkwardly in another. The energies of the staff vibrated softly, letting Nita
know that its contents were ready. Her heart racing, she steadied herself with deep breaths and prepared to leap out.
Abyss, Unknown Location
The portal closed the moment he stepped through it, entering into a realm of turbulent and unwieldy sorcerous energies which swirled violently around him. This was nothing but pure Ether. It existed between the realms like a malevolent ocean which gave life just as easily as it took it, but sometimes it could be crossed. Only a chosen few had ever tamed such energy and immersed themselves fully within. They had become the gods. But for those seeking to ferry themselves across, such action was far more simpler.
The tether he followed was like a current. It was one of thousands of fluctuations, existing for some time before disappearing. Some lines could last seemingly forever, while others emerged, linked, and dissolved within a second. A demon could see these lines easier than a mortal as they were partly born from such energies, but that made them no less dangerous and difficult to traverse. Time was a difficult concept to define in such a state of existence, but eventually the turbulent maelstrom around him began to calm slightly. The tether was reaching its end point. Another portal opened up before him.
It was impossible to pinpoint where it would truly end. The link seemed like it wanted to emerge in a roaring inferno surrounded by scared mortals, while it also seemed like it was promising an entrance on the flat surface of a metallic object floating in a bay. Static began to tear at the tether as wards from somewhere started to dissolve the link as soon as it opened. The future began to shift wildly again. A frenzied entrance at the bottom of a murky body of water, or falling from the sky? Another image flashed through his mind of the link closing entirely and him being trapped and torn apart within the Ether.
Finally, he did all he could and lunged through it. The portal closed.
He was now standing in a small room that had no illumination, though his eyes/senses were able to pick up the features of the room in the darkness. The walls were brick and stone, covered in water, moss, mold, and slime. The floor had a small accumulation of water and a rotten wooden bucket was overturned in the corner of the room. A small stone platform was against the wall and there were dissolved remains of what was once a blanket. On one end of the room was a small wooden door, but it was constructed very well and looked nearly impenetrable from normal means. It took a moment for the knowledge to become clear that he was in a cell of some sort.
From outside of it, he could hear the occasional loud thumps and bangs of something exploding repeatedly, along with screaming and howling. The vocalization was that of a demon, a dying one, as he sensed its presence like an animal catching a scent. Corruption had taken root nearby as well and its unmistakable presence tinged the air. Likewise, there was another powerful entity nearby the demon which was... difficult to comprehend. It was simultaneously powerful, yet projected itself to be weak like a mortal.
Abyss, Raum's Cathedral
Fallensteller finished her prayer to Raum, clutching the god's hand. As expected there was no response, but simply kneeling beside him and holding on to him was enough to make it more than meaningful. It felt right.
The Messenger was standing beside her, hands clasped together before him but hidden by his large sleeves.
"His revival is powered by souls. As mortals perish under the proper circumstances, their souls will be dissipated into their core essence and fed into Raum's scattered soul, nourishing and rebuilding it. As I am certain you have already guessed, sacrifice is the most direct method - but those killing each other in war, for example, also partly end up in our embrace. It was a clever trick. When the gods of war perished, their domains were left open, so to speak. While unable to entirely usurp these souls, Raum was able to shave a little bit off of each soul that passes under these circumstances. A hundred souls dead in war yields little... but thousands? Tens of thousands? Millions? That is where the power comes from. You see, our lord has a candid history with war since long before his godhood."
The hooded man turned to look over Raum's body, sighing just slightly.
"As for how this tragedy occurred, we would be here for a very long time if I explained it all. So I will answer as best as I can. Towards the end of the war, there were few surviving gods. There were a few we had lost entirely who had put all their effort into fleeing - across different realms, even - but nearly all had perished by our efforts. The survivors who had not fled gathered to make... what had to have been the fourth or fifth major stand against us. The war was nothing but one long period of conflict with gods scattered throughout, but there were several occasions where several gods fought together against Raum. This was the last occasion of this. These gods called themselves the Eternal Bond, a group of six who banded together to defeat our lord. They came with demons and hordes of warriors which fought with our own, but the real battle was always between the divine."
"Raum slew two of them in the opening stages of this battle. They were desperate and landed some blows, certainly, but they began to wear down. The toll of the lives of their own troops drew heavily on their minds, while we had no such qualm. When your motivation is life, then you are inherently held back. Still, to stand in their shoes allows for certain... moves of clarity. Sacrifice. A last stand. Hylos was the most desperate of the Eternal Bond. In his possession was a certain artifact of power. Its name is now lost from all memory and we only know of its existence because it was used against us, but it was a weapon which killed reality, so to speak. I was there and even I cannot say how it was used, as once it was it erased its own existence. In my memories all that I can see is a blur of it. From what I can deduce, a beam of energy tore through Raum's heart. A sure way to kill even gods, but he held on even then. Hylos and the rest of the Eternal Band were slaughtered after this weapon failed to stop Raum, until he too finally collapsed after the battle. His death, so to speak, and that of the other gods tore reality and the very earth asunder in the spot it occurred in. All that is left there for miles is simply a hole in the planet which leads into the Abyss, and this now so-called Lost Sea flows into it."
Sorry, you need to Log In to post a reply to this thread.