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Thread: The Bitter King

  1. #1
    Member
    EXP: 107,947, Level: 14
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    Level completed: 27%,
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    Rayse Valentino's Avatar

    Name
    Rayse Valentino
    Age
    27
    Race
    Human
    Gender
    Male
    Hair Color
    Black
    Eye Color
    Black
    Build
    5'10 / Athletic
    Job
    Independent Contractor and Arms Dealer

    The Bitter King

    Out of Character:
    Closed to Revenant.


    Two giant, glowing red orbs cast down a blinding light down upon Rayse, their sharpness turning the rest of his surroundings into black mush. He stood in front of the crimson radiance, unable to breathe or even think. Pure fear washed over him, sapping his will and putting him into a catatonic state. He could hear his own heartbeat, beating louder and louder until suddenly it went quiet completely. In that moment of silence that seemed to last forever, everything turned to black.

    The next thing he knew, his eyes opened. He was lying down on something hard, and the stone ceiling was illuminated only by candlelight. After sitting up, he noticed his surroundings: He was in a little room. What was he was lying on could only be described as a stone slab, and to his sides were long stone shelves attached to the walls with various tools and liquids in jars. A flickering candle stood on its waxy mount on one of the shelves, and around it he could make out the deeper details of the items: A jar of green liquid, surgical equipment such as scalpals, a needle next to a ball of thread, and... bones. Not just any bones, but bones that were kept together with metal cylinders bolted into the joints.

    He felt groggy, the kind of sensation associated with a long night of binge drinking, but without the hangover. There was also a strange coldness in his chest. What did I do this time? Putting his feet on the ground, the feeling of the stone floor shocked him as he realized most of his clothes were gone. The only thing left on him was his pants, which were ripped along the sides and completely gone past his knees. His first thought was that he was mugged and then dumped here, but the surgical tools gave him some pause. Then there was the fact that this place smelled sort of like cigarette smoke. He actually wasn't sure of the precise nature of the odor, but it was much stronger than his cigarettes. Oddly enough, he didn't feel too concerned about his situation. There was a strange calmness inside of him, and while the nightmare gave him a bit of a shock, he couldn't really make a big deal out of it. Even if he was completely drunk out of his mind, there was no way a mugger could kill him. Ever since he merged with the element of fire, many who sought to end his life found it very difficult to inflict injury. In fact, they usually burned themselves just trying. Also, there was nothing on his person of too much value, or so he thought. He had so much money stored away from his illicit activities that no mugger could injure his financial solvency. This type of disinterest was not typical of him, although maybe it was since as of late he had been rather listless about his dangerous life. Nonetheless, his immediate concern was getting out of here. He stepped off the slab, cracked his neck, and looked around for the door.

    The fuck? There was no door.

    Now he was starting to show interest in his situation. While it was difficult to injure him, trapping him in some airtight prison was a good way to kill him through suffocation. He felt around for anything that resembled an exit with a heightened sense of urgency, not really able to see more than two feet in front of his face with the dim light of the candle. It had to be the worst candle ever too, because its light was a dim red that could barely be seen. While searching for the door, he kept thinking how much he wanted to leave, and as if listening to his request, one of the walls he was feeling suddenly started rising. Not all of it, but a small rectangular section wide enough for his body to pass through without much trouble. As the 'door' lifted up, more yellow-ish red light filled the room and as it hit his eyes, he had to squint from the brightness. Before he could look outside however, he saw himself.

    His skin was grayish-black, his nails orange-red and his chest covered in stitches. The bangs that were falling over his eyes were completely white, and grabbing a handful of his hair and bringing it into sight revealed that the rest of it was the same. He backed up into the room, swallowing hard with his eyes darting back and forth across his hands. With the light in the room, he noticed that there was a mirror as well, and in the reflection he saw his milky white eyes. Even his pupils and irises were white. His skin was hard to the touch, some parts of it cracking to reveal his muscles.

    Now panic was starting to set in. He knew better, or at least he thought he did. He suppressed the thought that emerged, doubting and denying and trying to calm himself with the assurance that his imagination was simply running wild. After all, at first glance he looked like a corpse.
    Last edited by Rayse Valentino; 09-21-13 at 02:25 AM.

  2. #2
    Member
    EXP: 107,947, Level: 14
    Level completed: 27%, EXP required for next level: 11,053
    Level completed: 27%,
    EXP required for next level: 11,053

    AP
    30
    GP
    15147
    Rayse Valentino's Avatar

    Name
    Rayse Valentino
    Age
    27
    Race
    Human
    Gender
    Male
    Hair Color
    Black
    Eye Color
    Black
    Build
    5'10 / Athletic
    Job
    Independent Contractor and Arms Dealer

    Rayse felt as though he was in the middle of a false awakening between dreams. He was a fairly meticulous man, and rationalizing came as naturally to him as breathing. Speaking of which, that was one good way to wake up: A little asphyxiation. With his eyes still adjusting to the light pouring into the room, he held his breath, chanting wake up wake up wake up in his head. After about thirty seconds, his head went blank as he realized that being unable to breathe did not inconvenience him in the least... just like a corpse.

    Fuck!

    Okay, time for more extreme measures. A good enough shock, like falling from a great height, was enough to wake anyone up. Since he wasn't exactly standing on a cliff, he went for the shock usually associated with sudden pain. He reached for one of the scalpels and wrapped his rotting right hand around it, planting his other hand on the stone slab with fingers outstretched. Without any hesitation, he slammed the scalpel into his hand, confident that he would be out scamming and corrupting the innocent populace of Salvar once more, but instead he dropped to his knees with a grunt, the scalpel still sticking out of his hand. Dark red blood, almost completely black, started seeping out of the wound. The pain was real.

    He pulled the scalpel out, clasping his hands together and glaring at the wound with an unending supply of prejudice.

    What happened to me?! Is this some sort of wizardry? Did I mess with a goddess-damned arch-mage while I was drunk? Some sort of asshole necromancer?

    He couldn't believe that he could have such an experience, no matter how drunk he allegedly was. Maybe he was cursed? Not really dead, just... looking like it. After all, how many zombies had such vivid memories of their past? He wasn't really an expert on the undead, as there's not much to care about when they all burn the same, but he was fairly sure that zombies barely knew who they were, much less able to recount events in their past lives.

    He looked up and saw outside his room, hearing the sound of shuffling and whispering. He crept up to the door and peeked around the corner, seeing the grand antechamber before him. He was in a massive circular room with a dome-shaped ceiling. In the middle of the antechamber the air was different, as it was shifting and stretching, winding and contracting. This sort of optical illusion Rayse recognized from his trip to the deserts of Fallien as the effects of heat. The center of this place contained a big pit that likely had something really hot in it. More importantly, several hooded figures in white robes walked in columns of two, side by side, toward the pit of heat. In the front of their formation two hooded figures were carrying someone by their shoulders. Despite the heat, they marched right up to the edge of the pit completely unfazed.

    Rayse could hear them now, as they began chanting in unison, "On this day, the third solstice of Arkh'Girah, set in the Uli of the fifth, let it be known that Kirrak The Jubilant has become a Lost One in our realm. We are both deeply saddened to lose another one of our kind, yet deeply happy to offer him back into The Void. May The Writhing God bless our sacrifice of his body, and may his spirit return to the plane."

    They recited various passages from what Rayse assumed to be scripture, but in a language he did not understand. At the end of it all, they tossed the body into the pit, which spawned a great whitish red fire a hundred feet into the air before returning back into the cauldron. The hooded procession then marched in formation toward what he assumed to be an exit, where they stood in front of a section of the wall that opened up for them in the same way it did for him. His eyes widened as he saw them remove their hoods before leaving, revealing their heads. Some of them were missing facial features, others various patches of hair, but they all had some evidence of rot. He had seen this before: They were undead. They weren't just some cult, but a cult of undead? He didn't understand. In his confusion yet with curiosity, he found the confidence to act in his own situation.

    Still holding his bleeding hand, Rayse looked around and saw some old bandages that he applied to the wound in short order. The great antechamber appeared to be empty now, so he stepped out into the light. Wherever he was, he was sure that staying would not do him any good.
    Last edited by Rayse Valentino; 10-21-12 at 04:09 AM.

  3. #3
    Member
    EXP: 107,947, Level: 14
    Level completed: 27%, EXP required for next level: 11,053
    Level completed: 27%,
    EXP required for next level: 11,053

    AP
    30
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    Rayse Valentino's Avatar

    Name
    Rayse Valentino
    Age
    27
    Race
    Human
    Gender
    Male
    Hair Color
    Black
    Eye Color
    Black
    Build
    5'10 / Athletic
    Job
    Independent Contractor and Arms Dealer

    As he stepped out onto the warm stone floor, the wall that marked the exit to the room he emerged from lowered and closed it back up. He could see along the edges of the part that was raised that it was marked with a dark paint, like a frame around the 'door' that allowed him to leave. There rectangular markings were all over the walls here, which told him that along the circular walls were hundreds of rooms such as his. He looked up at the dome-shaped ceiling, and the hole at its center from which the smoke from the pit escaped. There were intricate markings all along the ceiling with its bronzed color, but none of them looked legible. He took a few steps toward said pit of white fire, but it was clear that the temperature around him was going up exponentially the closer he crept. How those zombies managed to not get incinerated was beyond him. At that moment, while looking toward the pit, a memory flashed inside his mind.

    --

    "This is the place?"

    --

    He took a step back, and realized that the voice was his, but he did not know when or where. He tried to think about the memory, but it only caused him pain, so he refocused his efforts on escape. He looked away from the pit and at the section of the wall that was raised for the procession. It was clearly marked by a dark red paint, setting it aside from the black-painted sections that indicated rooms. Without hesitation, he walked toward that red paint and saw a part of the wall rise up before him, as if knowing what he wanted from it.

    The hallway that entered his field of vision looked plain enough; gray, with bright red torches lining the walls. Adding to the rounded theme of the previous room, the walls, ceiling, and floor merged into a curve that made him feel like he was walking through a wind tunnel or a large pipe. Everything about this situation made him paranoid, mainly because this was too easy, like giving the prisoner the keys after locking him in. He was not trapped at all, and it looked like he could freely walk out of here at this rate. However, he wasn't one to look a gift furboar in the mouth. He walked through the hallway slowly, noting that the all of the stone around him had a familiar glean. Marble? It seemed to fit. Polished gray marble everywhere. He tried to think of Althanas locales that made extensive use of marble, but came up a bit short on that lead.

    At the end of the short hallway was his first decision: Right or left? The hallways in either direction were slightly curved inward, which made him think they wrapped around the antechamber. He took a right and fished into his pockets instinctively, almost surprised to once again find nothing there. It was rather rare of him to go this long without a smoke, but it didn't bother him as much as it usually does. He tried to make a mental mapping of this place as he went, but after a few more intersections he concluded that this place was a labyrinth. A disturbingly empty labyrinth. That is, until he caught one of the white-robed undead entering a hole in the wall. This looked like the perfect opportunity to take out his frustrations on an unsuspecting victim.

    He rushed for the closing wall and dashed into the room, startling the zombie inside. It was a small abode with a stone slab for a bed, a few miscellaneous items scattered above the shelves that were carved into the walls, and a few red torches for light. He grabbed the robed undead, pushed him up against the wall and pressed fingers into his neck with both hands. Its purple-red skin felt like old jerky left out in the sun too long, and the rest of its head was decorated by missing parts and open wounds.

    Rayse didn't mince words, "Exit. Now."

    The undead, still a bit flustered but perfectly able to reply despite his neck being constrained, "W-what the?! Who are you?!"

    "Wrong answer." Rayse squeezed tighter, but the zombie's expression didn't change. The smell he previously thought was cigarette smoke assaulted his senses, but it was coming from his victim. This is... that thing used to preserve bodies... formaldehyde? It then occurred to him that denying a zombie air wasn't the most efficient interrogation tactic. "Tell me how to get out of here and I won't pop your head like a grape."

    "A what?!" he replied, blinking and looking down at Rayse's hands. "Are you... Aren't you the Lost One that was brought in?" He sighed upon this realization, and calmly stated, "Let go of me. I would gladly escort you out."

    Rayse didn't believe that for a second, but the zombie's sudden calm was a bit unnerving. He let go, if only because his hands were starting to feel gross holding onto that rotting neck. "Lost one?"

    "You... I see. I understand what's happening now. You've recently awoken, yes? I will explain everything." He walked over to one of the stone shelves and pulled out a book, an action that Rayse questioningly let him do. "We only take in Lost Ones here, as in those that have lost their immortal souls and leave behind the shells they once called bodies. If you're here, that means..." His words trailed off, and he swallowed before flipping through the book and then returning it to the shelf.

    Rayse could tell something was up, but he ignored it for now, "So, you got the wrong guy."

    "Essentially, yes."

    "And you'll let me go."

    "Yes."

    "Why do I have a hard time believing that?"

    "It doesn't matter. After the commotion you've caused, you won't have much of a choice since there's a Servitor waiting outside."

    Rayse looked back at the wall, which opened up to reveal a gigantic armored skeleton, towering at nine feet. At its side were several swords, maces, a whip, chains, and a machete. It was wearing a breastplate, its joints had plates as well, and on top of its bony head was a helmet with two horns sticking out of it at each side. Most disturbingly it didn't look like a single skeleton, but rather all of its limbs were smaller bones fused, stitched, and bolted together. Only its head looked like it was in one piece, but it had huge stitch marks across the skull. In its empty eye-sockets were two faint yellow lights. I guess they want to burn. Rayse held out his hand, palm upward, expecting something to happen, but there was nothing. Not even an ember. While he was perplexed by his lack of magic the Servitor's huge skeletal hand pushed Rayse down onto the marble floor and clasped down upon his head.

    "Gah!" Rayse grabbed the bony hand in an attempt to pry it off his face, but it was fruitless.

    He couldn't see, but above him he heard the zombie's voice, "I apologize for the inconvenience, but this is a hallowed ground upon which you walk. Since you have recently awoken, we will forgive your holy transgressions today, but I warn you never to come back. At least, not until it is your time."

    He felt his body being raised up by his head, struggling the whole time as he was unceremoniously carried through the labyrinth blind. The next thing he knew, he was tossed outside, with massive stone doors closing behind him. When his eyes finally opened, he saw the ground, which was still marble but without any of its sheen. It was worn and dull. He looked around near the ground, pulling his body up as his eyes darted to and fro. Aside from the enormous circular building he was tossed out of, there was nothing in his immediate vicinity. He felt as though he was 'outside', but it was still dark... and misty. Only a faint red light gave him vision, which made it hard to believe he was really free. He couldn't see more than twenty feet away. The outline of a massive wall protruded from the circular building, but what caught his attention was when he finally looked up.

    The sky. He could see all of it uninhibited, and he did not understand what he was viewing. A giant, swirling mass of black clouds with a red glow. It was infinitely far away, and yet he felt as though he could touch it. At its center was a whirlpool of red tendrils extending outward among the black clouds like the shape of a snail's shell. It looked like the center of a great storm, but completely quiet. He could only gawk at the sky in wonder.
    Last edited by Rayse Valentino; 09-21-13 at 01:19 AM.

  4. #4
    Member
    EXP: 107,947, Level: 14
    Level completed: 27%, EXP required for next level: 11,053
    Level completed: 27%,
    EXP required for next level: 11,053

    AP
    30
    GP
    15147
    Rayse Valentino's Avatar

    Name
    Rayse Valentino
    Age
    27
    Race
    Human
    Gender
    Male
    Hair Color
    Black
    Eye Color
    Black
    Build
    5'10 / Athletic
    Job
    Independent Contractor and Arms Dealer

    His view of the sky was only interrupted by the expanding view of the city as his eyes adjusted to the mist. More and more appeared in his peripheral vision, but he couldn't make out any of the finer details. Aside from the gigantic walls that marked the building he was recently ejected from that seemed to go on for miles, various living corpses were milling about the on the marble ground, walking with indifference to the world around them. He found himself in a small courtyard outside the building where he woke up, but beyond that his eyes couldn't pierce the mists shrouding the innumerable buildings that surrounded him. He felt like he was out in a foggy night armed with nothing but a flickering lantern. The bleak rust-red light cast over the city, though bright enough to see through, was still dull as an ancient sword. The heavy smell of smoke and burning oil assaulted his senses, and though the stench was thick enough to wade through, his eyes barely watered and somehow his lungs seemed used to the filthy air.

    Looking at his hands again, he still couldn't believe that he had become undead. Who did this to him? How? Where? When? Why? He didn't know where to begin. He failed to even begin a train of thought, because he couldn't make sense of his last zombie encounter, as in, why the hell was he thrown out? Was there really some sort of mistake? What kind of mistake turns a man into a walking corpse?

    He put his hands over his head to stop the beating of his emerging headache, when a short zombie asked him with a raspy voice, "See a lot of deaders goin' in, don't see a lot comin' out."

    Rayse looked at the zombie, who wore a pair of baggy brownish-red trousers that were far too large for him. They were wrapped around his upper chest with many bandages. There was a gray shirt underneath, but it was tattered passed the shoulders. That was another problem he had- everything was some shade of red! Were his eyes broken? Maybe all zombies saw like this?

    Rayse was too lost in his incomprehensible thoughts to reply, so the zombie continued, "Recently awoken, eh? I can tell the look. Since you're new blood, I can tell you what this place is all about. In return, you tell me everything about your plane of origin. Deal?" He cracked a grin, revealing several missing teeth among the surviving yellowed stumps. His gums were as blue as his face, save for the two wells of darkness serving as his eyes.

    Plain of origin? Rayse thought, and then sighed. He was shooting pool with a broken cue as far as ideas went, so against his better judgement he decided to go along with it, "Fine. Where am I?"

    "Hold on there lad!" the zombie answered. "This ain't the place for a proper discussion, y'see? Follow me." Without even waiting for an objection, he turned around and started walking down the courtyard.

    As if his feet had a will of his own, Rayse followed. He couldn't believe he was listening to some rotting bag of meat, the kind he incinerated by the wagon-load during The Corpse War. The thought briefly reminded him that he wasn't able to do any sort of pyrotechnics, which sort of made sense considering he was... dead? He stopped that thought in place, and looked around for something to distract him. He didn't want to think that someone killed him. That his life came down crashing to its end and now he was in some sort of abysmal afterlife. The zombie lead him into the mist, and soon he found himself in a passage that was too big for an alley but too small for a street. The walls closed in around him, and the small streets had intersections like a labyrinth. Each twist and turn seemed random to him at best, with no particular rhyme or reason to them. He felt like he was at the bottom of a canyon during a dust storm, and he could only see so far before the mist covered the objects in the distance. The walking sacks of flesh that littered the courtyard outside the grand circular building were numerous along his trek, but soon they were walking the streets alone. The last thing he saw was a torso walking around the streets on its hands. Before he knew it, they had arrived at a tall blank-looking wall, the kind that usually kept the rabble out of Rathaxea Square in Knife's Edge.

    Carved into its center were the words Solinal Delvers. He remembered that doors here were simply walls with marked sections, yet none of the walls he passed had such markings. The wall he was standing in front of didn't have the marking either, and yet part of it rose up the way he expected anyway. He could feel the atmosphere was different here than at the huge structure he woke up in, as there were a few loitering zombies who took particular attention to his presence. To see almost no undead for a while then suddenly find a swarm of them, even Rayse knew what part of town he was in, even if he didn't know which town it was. He recognized those looks, they were the kind of people whose job it was to watch what goes in. The marble ground was more cracked, and as he got closer to the entrance he realized that the building had more features than he previously thought, such as various stylistic ridges and a few windows on what he assumed were higher floors. Suddenly he felt like he was in Old Quarter in Knife's Edge, with its ancient ruins being made into hideouts, but this felt different. This felt like it started as a hideout and became a ruin.

    As he walked inside, it only took a glance to realize what this place was: A pub. Zombies of all colors and fashions were sitting on the ground drinking from glasses and mugs. There wasn't a table or chair in sight, but that didn't stop the merry-making as they sat cross-legged or on their shins. While most were human, some had pointed tails, others had beaks, and pointy ears were fairly common. Next to the doorway stood a very fat zombie with thick arms, and legs, and neck He looked like he could barely stand up. Most of the undead wore some sort of rags, but some were in ripped robes and others wearing nothing but shorts. He couldn't tell whether the stench of rot or alcohol was more overpowering. The interior of the pub was unremarkable, but there were many colorful pictures carved on the walls, although they were all completely illegible to him. It was a bit brighter in here due to the mounted torches along the walls. He could see quick glances, just the tiniest of movements that showed that the patrons were aware of his presence. The zombie lead him to an empty spot on the floor and sat down, motioning for Rayse to come over, who obliged as he lowered himself. Rayse overheard many of the conversations that were going on.

    "Think I'll get lucky tonight?"

    "You heard about Kirrak? It's so rare to see a scab become a Lost One naturally."

    "I wouldn't go out there today. They say a Lower City monster's on the loose. A lot of the regulars have gone into hiding, it's deserted out there."

    The big-pants zombie tried to make Rayse more comfortable by ordering a few drinks, "Get me the usual and one for our new friend here. He's had quite the rough time!" Rayse couldn't help but feel uncomfortable. He rarely entered a precarious situation without at least assessing the situation, yet here he was. He would often scope out a town and gather as much information as he could before making his move, blending in with the inhabitants. He couldn't stomach the sensation of being out of his element. "So, friend, as with all new rotters I suppose you want some answers, eh?"

    Answers would be nice, although Rayse was interested in something else first, "Got a smoke?"

    The zombie cocked his head, "Huh?"

    Rayse's eyes widened, "A smoke. You know, that thing where... zombies can smoke right?" While for some reason he didn't crave the cigarettes he usually had, there was something calming about having one in his mouth.

    "He means one of those burners, right boss?" a nearby zombie asked.

    Boss?

    "Oh right," said the short zombie. "I think we have some of those too."

    Rayse was given what looked like an old, dusty black cigar. Since he didn't breathe, he had some apprehension over how this would work. Nobody else in the pub had one. He was provided with one of the torches in the room and lit the cigar, taking a few puffs and relieved that nothing was out of the ordinary. He was still poisoning his lungs just like any other day.

    The zombie cleared his throat and began speaking once it looked like Rayse was satisfied, "I'll explain as though you were a visitor from beyond, which you are, but bear with me as most of this is common sense to me. If you have any questions, just ask. Remember to tell me all about your plane afterward, alright?" Rayse nodded while taking another drag on the old cigar, and the zombie continued, "This is the what is called The Plane of Unlife. However, nobody calls it that around here, since all we know is this city. One thing you should learn is that names are very valuable, and to assign names to greatness is to belittle them, because we believe there are no words amazing enough to describe our city. For that reason, we call it the Nameless City.

    In this city, there are three levels: The Upper City, The Middle City, and The Lower City. Think of it as three thick plates on top of each other, with the lower plates larger than the ones on top of them. The edges of these plates, as it were, are connected by massive walls, so tall that you can't see the top of them. The only way to move between them is through the tunnels that go through the walls, that involve a long staircase with hundreds of steps. We are in The Middle City, and the The Sanitarium is where you have awoken."

    "What do you mean by awoken?"

    "To put simply, when you come into this plane you are put into a dormant state. We call them sleepers. There is no telling when the sleeper will awaken, but generally the person will be left alone until that time."

    Rayse had a hard time buying the idea that he was a sleeper, but he pressed on, "I was in something called The Sanitarium?"

    "Yes. You have seen how large it is, but that doesn't even begin to describe its size. It is the largest building in the city by circumference, and the only building that exists in multiple levels of the city at once. Half of it is here in The Middle City, while the other half is in The Upper City. While the outer layers generally serve as a medical center to stitch up broken bodies, the inner sanctum, known as The Crematorium, is the domain of the Order Of The White Fire, who perform sacrifices to The Writhing God."

    As he explained that the only sacrifices were Lost Ones, information which Rayse already knew, he thought about the possible reasons why he was there in the first place.

    "Who... brings the Lost Ones in?"

    "Only members of the Order are allowed to bring Lost Ones into the inner sanctum."

    "And what would happen to someone who brought in a Lost One that was really just a sleeper?"

    "Hard to say... I've never heard of that happening before. Such a mistake would be punished severely I imagine."

    "So the one who brought me in is still in The Sanitarium, being punished?"

    "Hah! That one left shortly before you did. He probably escaped once he saw you were still alive. Don't know where he was headed."

    Rayse stood up, "Escaped?"

    "Calm down lad, why are you so worried about this fellow? Sit, drink and tell me about your plane, eh?"

    "Sorry." Rayse had to leave. His reason for being here was getting away. "Unless you can tell me where he's going, I'm leaving."

    The chatter in the pub eerily stopped. Everyone was looking at him now.

    The short zombie took a drink, "You... should reconsider, lad. We had a deal."

    "A deal?" Rayse took a drag on his makeshift cigarette, blowing the smoke out of his nose. "You wanted to trade information of equal value. If everything you know is common knowledge and everything I know is not, then I'm the one getting ripped off. You haven't told me a single thing that was worth a damn."

    "Let me rephrase then..." the zombie stood up with a lowered head, his teeth stained in crimson. Then, he looked at Rayse with bright red eyes that were bleeding, "TELL ME EVERYTHING YOU KNOW, OR I RIP OFF YOUR LIMBS!"

    The next thing the zombie knew, he had a fist leaving an imprint on his face so hard that he went flying across the pub. The rest of the zombies got up, hissing and snarling, pulling out small objects from wherever they could; their clothes; cavities in their bodies, cavities from the bodies of nearby zombies. They had knives made out of sharpened bone. Rayse's teeth clamped down on the cigar, turning his head to look at the entrance. The doorway was open per his will, but the thick zombie was standing right in the middle of it, completely blocking the way. Fucking instincts! I mean, who wouldn't deck something fucked up like that?! He ran at the thick zombie, trying to shove him out of the way but not even making him budge. Then he tried laying his fist into its gut, but its bulk rejected the attack like rubber. Determined, he spun around and delivered his heel into the side of the zombie's head, but it had the consistency of a brick wall. He backed up with the cigar still in his mouth, smoke seeping from his lips.

    The boss zombie got up, a creepy wide smile plastered across his face. He was small and thin, but unscathed by the attack. His arms would bend the wrong way, his head could turn completely upside-down, and his body looked like its very bones were just big muscles. His strange, stringy body crawled back toward where he sat, and he stared at Rayse while his arms, which were voluntarily dislocated, hung down to the ground. Blood was coming out of every opening on his head, but none of it was due to Rayse's punch. There wasn't even a mark on his face from where he was hit. Several zombies surrounded Rayse, including stepping in front of the thick sentry.

    The ultra-flexible short zombie made his way back to Rayse, musing, "I rather love it when they squirm."
    Last edited by Rayse Valentino; 09-21-13 at 01:11 AM.

  5. #5
    Member
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    Level completed: 84%,
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    Revenant's Avatar

    Name
    William Arcus
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    Mid-30's (apparent age)
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    Revenant
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    Molten Fire
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    5'11"/178lbs
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    Freelance Murder Machine

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    He was going insane, that’s what all the shuffling corpse mongers said.

    A refuse pile rustled nearby and William absentmindedly reached in and plucked the squealing, dried husk of a rat from it. Taking little notice of the creature’s struggles, he grudgingly placed the rabid thing between his teeth and bit down, ignoring the fetid, rotting flavor that came from the measly flesh. Decaying rat flesh was an unpleasant necessity for a ghoul in the Warrens who didn’t want to eat other ghouls or, worse, corpse-born meat. As crazy as it sounded, he once thought that eating diseased rat would be beyond him, and knew that eventually cannibalism would be commonplace for him as well. After all, creeping madness was the way of life for those who found themselves lost in the Nameless City.

    Grunting, William wiped the rat’s foul fluids from his lips and tossed the creature out into the alley. The creature rolled to its feet, bared its fangs and hissed at William before scurrying back into the safety of the refuse. Warrens rats were hardy stock, he knew, and it would take more than a few errant bites to kill one of them. Death didn’t mean quite the same thing in the Plane of Unlife as it did back on Althanas.

    Althanas. That was a place he hadn’t thought of in a long time. The daily struggle for existence in the Warrens tended to make such thoughts a luxury that he usually couldn’t afford. Today, however, was the day that Gor’Havah had finally shattered the grip of the Broken Thorn Paws by shattering the skull of Vreela Thorn Paw. Gor’Havah, the name was whispered with fear throughout The Undercities, only it wasn’t a name. It was a title that meant “Burning One” in a forgotten language, and it was what the citizens of the Nameless City had come to call William during the long years of his imprisonment.

    Years wasn’t exactly the right word for his tenure in the Plane of Undeath though. William exhaled slowly, and leaned back, gazing deeply into the eye of the Red Maelstrom. There was no set pattern of day or night in the Nameless City, making it somewhat difficult to judge the passage of time accurately. Sure the corpses that ran The Crematorium had a scaling hour clock that the city used to measure time, but deep in the twisting maze of passageways that made up The Middle City’s Warrens, time was an unknown. As best as William could reckon, he had spent nearly a year tracking down the Broken Thorn Paw’s hideout, and another figuring his way into it so that he could send Vreela to the endless fire as a Lost One.

    Vreela hadn’t been in the Nameless City for long, but he and all the thugs that had come with him learned the hard way what most people in The Undercities already knew. It took more than a fortress and a personal army to stop Gor’Havah.

    “Burn it all,” he spat, rousing himself from his bed of junk. He’d done quite well for himself since waking to find himself here, but the time was catching up with him. The Bitter King’s gaze lingered longer and longer in his mind each time he slept, the light from those red orbs flensing the very substance of his soul. He needed to find a way out of the Plane of Undeath and now that Vreela had been made a Lost One he had his key.

    Or rather, he would when the Void-Shapers paid him his fee.

    “Is … is there a problem Gor’Havah,” a weasly, liver-spotted ghoul limped around the corner, dragging a shattered leg behind him.

    “No Ceelah,” William growled, grabbing his warscythe from its perch. The simpering ghoul was one of Meredith’s underlings and though he hated the loathsome creature, the self-styled Ghoul Queen had insisted William bring him along.

    “There shouldn’t be,” Ceelah stifled a raspy giggle, “The remnants of the Broken Thorn Paw should easily fall in line with the Ghoul Queen’s wishes without Vreela leading them astray.”

    “The thought makes my shriveled heart want to beat again.”

    Ceelah’s rictus locked cheeks turned down in the parody of a frown. “Come now, Gor’Havah. Every soldier for the Ghoul Queen is a soldier fighting for all of the Nameless City’s ghouls.”

    “I do what’s necessary to keep Meredith happy so that she’ll keep the stiffs off my back Ceelah, nothing more.”

    Ceelah hissed his raspy giggle again. “Something she’s more than happy to do as long as you remain useful.”

    “As long as we understand each other then,” William grunted.

    “Just make sure you remember it,” Ceelah snapped, his humor finally soured by William’s tone. The two ghouls stared at each other for a moment before Ceelah finally turned away, sneering. “You’re already taken up too much of my time,” he hissed as he slunk away, “I must relay the news of the Broken Paw Tribe to the Ghoul Queen with all haste.”

    “I was beginning to think he would never leave,” a sibilant voice behind William whispered. “Any longer and I would have just left and considered our contract fulfilled.”

    William turned to face the robed figure that had seemingly materialized out of the shadows behind him. “That would have been a mistake Vorlash. I’ve heard that even the Void-Shapers fear me.”

    Vorlash chuckled, a dry sound like snakeskin being drawn over sand. “You overestimate yourself Gor’Havah. The Void-Shapers fear nothing, least of all a ghoul with a grudge.” The sleeves of Vorlash’s robe rustled as if the Void-shaper were clapping, though no sound emerged. “But then your willingness to overly extend your reach is why we came to you. That and your desire.”

    “The desire,” William echoed, “That you promised to fulfill if I were to deal with Vreela for you.”

    The hood bowed, “Indeed.”

    William tapped his foot impatiently, “Well?”

    “Well what Gor’Havah?”

    “You know what,” William snapped peevishly. Dealing with the Void-Shapers was almost as bad as being forced to ferry around Meredith’s toadies and patience was not something he was well-known for.

    “I only wish I were toying with you Gor’Havah, but the truth is that I cannot aid you until you ask for your boon.”

    “Fine,” William sighed, pushing his anger down. Despite his earlier threats he knew that violence would get him nowhere with the Void-Shapers. “Give me a portal, any portal. I don’t care to where so long as it’s out of here.”

    Vorlash’s hood cocked slightly at the request.

    “No.”

    “What?” William snapped forward, his eyes flaring wide, bathing the Void-Shaper in blood red light.

    “Sadly, our order cannot create otherworldly objects, including portals. We can only twist the nether into objects for this plane.”

    William raised his warscythe as if to strike out at Vorlash but stopped short, his eyes narrowing as an idea formed. “Then create a key and show me to the portal it opens.”

    Vorlash’s hood shook slowly, as if expecting the request.

    “No.”

    William sighed, extremely tired of the mental cat-and-mouse game.

    “No?”

    “Portal keys are intrinsically tied to the otherworldliness of their portals…”

    “And you can’t create otherworldly objects,” William finished. “Then tell me where I can find a key.”

    Vorlash shook again with dry laughter.

    “No.”

    William actually hissed at the monk, who held his hands up defensively.

    “Peace Gor’Havah. I would give you a location if I knew, but the Order doesn’t actually possess that information at this time.”

    “Well do you know anyone who does?” William yelled, his voice carrying through the Warrens.

    “Yes, actually.”

    That brought William up short. “Oh. Really?”

    “Indeed,” Vorlash answered. “You can find one fresh from the Dead Piles in The Middle City.”

    “How fresh?”

    “I have told you what I can,” Vorlash shrugged, “And now our bargain has been successfully concluded.”

    “Successfully maybe,” William grunted, “But not very satisfactorily.”

    “Why Gor’Havah, I didn’t think you were naive enough to expect that much from the Order.” Yet again William was buffeted by Vorlash’s dry, mocking laughter. With no further business to carry out between the two of them, the robed monk bowed deeply to William and stepped back, fading into the shadows from whence he came.

    “Good riddance,” William spat into the darkness. Then, tapping the haft of his warscythe on his shoulder in thought, he muttered, “The Dead Piles, eh,” and made his own way out of the Broken Thorn Paw’s former hideout.
    Last edited by Revenant; 05-21-12 at 06:35 PM.
    "I have looked upon all that the universe has to hold of horror, and even the skies of spring and the flowers of summer must ever afterward be poison to me." - Call of Cthulhu

    David vs. Goliath: History's first recorded critical hit.
    JC Thread - The Bitter King

  6. #6
    Member
    EXP: 87,910, Level: 12
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    Revenant's Avatar

    Name
    William Arcus
    Age
    Mid-30's (apparent age)
    Race
    Revenant
    Gender
    Male
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    Black Stubble
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    Molten Fire
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    Freelance Murder Machine

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    The Middle City’s Warrens was a deadly and treacherous place. While there were certain routes through the shifting maze of masonry and refuse considered relatively stable, nothing in them lasted forever. Trying to map the Warrens was the epitome of madness, as hordes of burrowing rats and other, more sinister, creatures collapsed and carved new tunnels through the twisted mass on a daily basis, entire sections appeared, rotated, and disappeared with no rhyme or reason, or were just demolished by the constant internecine warfare between the gangs of ghouls, zombies, and the Warrens’ own native offspring. He’d once heard some Upper City scholar pose the theory that just as the three cities’ Dead Piles acted as a focus for bodies coming to the Plane, the Warrens acted as a focus for dead buildings. It was as good an explanation for the blasted place as any, he supposed.

    Regardless of the reasoning behind the Warrens, it was one of the most dangerous places in the Nameless City, and certainly the most dangerous place in the Middle City. And since it was the only way for the non-elevated to get from the Middle City to the Lower City, it was also one of the most well-traveled. Couriers could demand exhorbant fees to make runs through the Warrens to deliver packages, and more than one mercenary group could be hired as escorts through the shifting maze if the price was right. More often than not, William knew, those groups left their clients as Lost Ones in some random alley with considerably lighter pockets.

    But that wasn’t merely the way of life in the Warrens, it was an encouraged art. William could name the dozen or so gangs that currently claimed supremacy in the Warrens, though he’d seen many more rise and fall during his time here. Most of them owed allegiance in some form or other to either Meredith the Ghoul Queen or Deckard, the head zombie man of the Middle City. When those two weren’t driving the zombies and ghouls to kill each other, they were encouraging them to kill themselves. In theory it was to ensure that only the strongest remained to serve them, but William had a feeling it had more to do with their mutual fears that one day someone would come along and send them on a long overdue trip to the Crematorium.

    Of course, William was a special circumstance. He’d pushed the line against both Meredith and Deckard more than once and yet had been allowed to continue existing. Part of that was because he had proven to be a ridiculously hard son of a bitch to kill, but mostly it was because he was a damned good killer in his own right. Still, after his last incident with one of Deckard’s favorite ‘associates’, William had almost used up the last of his good will. Meredith had only continued to extend her protection to him because he had offered to deliver the Broken Thorn Paw to her leaderless and mostly intact. Even so, he was treading on thin ice when it came to the Ghoul Queen’s favor. Just another reason why he needed to get a key and get out of this god’s forsaken place.

    William stopped, hearing the scab before the would-be ambusher could even jump out to bar his path.

    “What’s this?” the zombie laughed, reaching up to reaffix the side of his jaw that unhinged when he did so. “A lone rotter out to make his way in the world? You may think you’re a big baddass with that blade you’ve got but I’ve got Ole’ Sweetsie here,” the zombie waved the long, jagged knife he carried menacingly. “She and the three of me boys I got with me thinks that your fancy blade there’d be more comfortable with a bunch of scabs like us than with a sad, lonely rotter like you.”

    Ignoring the threat, William looked casually around, easily spotting the scab’s three companions. One of them took a bit of finding though, and might just have a real future in the Warrens. Assuming he lived long enough, that is.

    “Hey, rotter!” the lead zombie yelled, waving Ole’ Sweetsie again, “I’m talking to you.”

    “Shit, I dunno Jacks,” one of the zombie’s companions piped up. “He don’t look like no easy mark.”

    “You should listen to your friend,” William said nonchalantly. While it wouldn’t really take him much effort to make these fresh scabs Lost Ones, he really did have better things to do.

    “Shut the fuck up rotter,” Jacks spat and took a step forward.

    “Wait!” Another of his companions, the smart one, called out. “Ain’t he that Gor’Havah guy we were told about?”

    “Gods’ shit,” another one suddenly cried out fearfully. “I think Yobo’s right.”

    “No rutting way,” Jacks spat, though he didn’t sound quite as arrogant as he had before. “All that Gor’Havah shit was just spook talk.”

    “I ain’t so sure man,” the last zombie called out. “Maybe we should just let him go.”

    “Fuck that,” Jacks screamed. “Who’s going to take us seriously if we can’t even fucking deal with one lone rotter on our turf?”

    “You really should listen to them,” William repeated, though in a decidedly less neutral tone. He was very quickly becoming annoyed with the situation.

    “And I told you to Shut. The. Fuck. Up. Rotter!” Jacks brandished Ole’ Sweetsie once again, the steel back in his voice. “So what if you are this Gor’Havah guy, huh? That means I get to make a name for myself as the scab who Lost One’d Gor’Havah.”

    “Better than you have tried scab.” William sighed inwardly, he could see where this was going and just wanted it to be over. His only hope was that Jacks’ friends retained their own common sense.

    Jacks screamed an incoherent string of curses and hurled himself at William, Ole’ Sweetsie cutting the air in front of him savagely. Spurred on by their leader’s fearless charge, two of the other zombies followed suit. The obsidian edge of William’s warscythe flashed in the darkness as it caught Jacks in the temple, mid-stride, and parted his head neatly in half. Ole’ Sweetsie flew from his limp grasp to be lost amongst the refuse and he managed one surprised blink before collapsing in a heap at William’s feet. The other two zombies didn’t even have time to register Jack’s final death before the warscythe ushered them too into the ranks of the Lost Ones. Less than a handful of seconds after the attack had begun, it was over.

    “Gods’ shit,” the last remaining zombie, Yobo, quaked fearfully at the sight of the massacre, dropping to his knees atop the rubble which he had hidden behind.

    “Don’t worry … Yobo was it?” Yobo nodded vigorously. “Well Yobo, looks like you were the only smart one.” William paused to wipe the zombies’ ichor from the blade of his warscythe with the back of Jacks’ shirt. “I’d recommend finding some smarter scabs to throw your lot in with next time. Now get out of here.”

    Yobo wasted no time in vanishing back into the shadows of the Warrens, while William resumed his path back into the Middle City.

    By all the unnameable gods above, he needed to get out of this place.
    Last edited by Revenant; 05-21-12 at 06:36 PM.
    "I have looked upon all that the universe has to hold of horror, and even the skies of spring and the flowers of summer must ever afterward be poison to me." - Call of Cthulhu

    David vs. Goliath: History's first recorded critical hit.
    JC Thread - The Bitter King

  7. #7
    Member
    EXP: 87,910, Level: 12
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    Revenant's Avatar

    Name
    William Arcus
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    Mid-30's (apparent age)
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    “Deckard,” William spat, “It’s always fucking Deckard.”

    To say that William was pissed off would have been an incredible understatement. While he had no reason to doubt the truth of Vorlash’s information, he wasn’t exactly finding it useful either. The Void-Shapers generally avoided dealings with the Nameless City’s ghouls, but William had never heard of them outright lying to one. Lying was bad juju for information brokers. Still, the truth of Vorlash’s statement didn’t mean that the monk was anything other than a huge asshole.

    All of the guards at the Dead Piles had sworn up and down that none of the corpses inside had awakened recently, which was something William was less inclined to believe. But even the protection that Meredith gave him wouldn’t amount to a pile of dust if he were to assault a member of the Order of the White Flame. He’d unhappily accepted the pronouncement and had left the Dead Piles with no other leads.

    Which meant it was time to turn to Deckard.

    While the Middle City’s head zombie and William had never exactly seen eye to eye, the two of them still managed to maintain a somewhat professional relationship. Which meant, of course, that Deckard hadn’t tried to kill William recently because it would have brought some bad mojo from Meredith’s ghouls down on his head. Knowing this, William had made it a priority to jab Deckard every chance he got. Yeah, he thought. This isn’t going to go well.

    But that was when William saw Deckard entering Solinol Delvers with a bewildered rotter in tow. Ghouls, in general, weren’t exactly welcomed into Deckard’s pub with open arms unless they had something that the head zombie wanted. There had been something oddly familiar about that particular zombie however, and while William was sure that the guy was no one that he knew from the Plane of Undeath, he knew that he had met him somewhere before. It would have been much more convenient, he grumbled to himself, if everything on this thrice-damned Plane didn’t become undead.

    “Hey,” William approached one of the not-so surreptitious guards that Deckard had stationed around the plaza.

    The zombie eyed him warily. “What do you want Gor’Havah? Deckard ain’t exactly keen about you being around Delvers.”

    “Yeah, I got that,” William said, then jerked a clawed thumb towards the pub. “Who’s the rotter with Deckard?”

    “What’s it to you?”

    William reached out and grabbed the zombie’s collar, pulling him menacingly close. “Cut the crap scab.”

    To the zombie’s credit, he only quivered for a moment before steeling himself, “You don’t scare me, Gor’Havah. Right now there are six other scabs like me marking you.”

    “And you think they’ll be able to save you if shit goes wrong?”

    That took a little bit of wind out of the zombie’s sail. “I – I’m one of Deckard’s men rotter. Touching me means going to war with the zombies.”

    "Maybe,” William shrugged, “Maybe not. Either way, you’re still a Lost One.” He tightened his grip, the ridges of his bone carapace cutting into the zombie’s dried flesh.

    “Alright, alright,” the zombie finally relented, holding his hands up defensively. He rubbed his neck vigorously as soon as William released him, giving the ghoul a scathing glare.

    “Well,” William hissed impatiently.

    “He’s just some rotter that Deckard saw coming out of the Crematorium, that’s all. I swear.”

    “Bullshit. Rotters aren’t allowed in the Crematorium.”

    The zombie gave William a patronizing look, “Which is probably why Deckard wanted some time to speak with him, neh? That’s the only reason I can think of for Deckard to be wasting his time with some fresh rotter.”

    “Fresh?” William’s interest piqued.

    “Yeah,” the zombie shrugged. “One of the guys said he saw the rotter going in dead and coming out awakened.”

    “Interesting,” William scratched his chin in thought.

    “You done here Gor’Havah? Cause being seen with you ain’t really good for my image.”

    “I’ll keep that in mind next time,” William grunted, leaving the zombie to head for Solinol Delvers.

    “There better not be a next time,” the zombie yelled after him. William returned the sentiment with a rude gesture. By the time he reached the pub things were already swinging. William cursed as he pushed the door panel up, hoping that Deckard’s goons hadn’t already torn the ghoul to pieces.

    One of Deckard’s big goons, quite literally, had barricaded the entrance with his bulk. While it seemed to be a problem for the young ghoul inside the pub, it was far less of a problem for William. Though the Plane of Unlife had sapped the heat from him, the revenant retained all of the physical capabilities of his war form, even while ghoulified. All it took was one heavy shove to send the fat zombie slamming into the wall.

    “Who the fuck …?” the zombie began, rounding on William, only to receive a club fisted punch which shattered his jaw and sent him reeling backwards into his cadaverous companions.

    “Gor’Havah?” Deckard spat angrily. “What the fuck are you doing in the Delvers?”

    “I came for this one,” William gestured towards Rayse with his warscythe.

    “Fuck yourself rotter, he’s mine,” Deckard snarled, his eyes blazing with bleeding red light.

    “Not unless you got two dozen more big boys stashed behind you he isn’t.”

    “Keep talking shithead,” Deckard’s visage of rage twisted in a rictus grin. “You know you’ve been tossed to the curb right?” The zombies around Deckard joined their leader in a low chuckle. “Meredith’s not going to back you anymore. You’re persona non grata with both sides now Gor’Havah.”

    William’s eyes narrowed. Deckard could have been bluffing, but it was very unlikely. He had been expecting this for some time, sure, but the exact timing wasn’t exactly the best. “Start running and don’t stop till I tell you,” he hissed to Rayse. Then, seeing that the other ghoul was about to say something, he added, “I said run. Don’t talk, run.”

    Though he didn’t seem pleased by the command, Rayse nodded and did as he was instructed, and none too soon. The zombie crowd had started to edge forward, drawing strength from their numbers. William shot Deckard a savage grin and gave him a little wave, “Be seeing you around scab.” He turned and ran after Rayse, moving almost impossibly fast by the standards of the dead.

    “You can count on it Gor’Havah,” Deckard screamed after him, his voice echoed by the wrathful roaring of his subjects. “You’re Lost Ones, you hear me? You’re both fucking Lost Ones.”
    Last edited by Revenant; 05-21-12 at 06:39 PM.
    "I have looked upon all that the universe has to hold of horror, and even the skies of spring and the flowers of summer must ever afterward be poison to me." - Call of Cthulhu

    David vs. Goliath: History's first recorded critical hit.
    JC Thread - The Bitter King

  8. #8
    Member
    EXP: 107,947, Level: 14
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    Level completed: 27%,
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    Rayse Valentino's Avatar

    Name
    Rayse Valentino
    Age
    27
    Race
    Human
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    Male
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    Black
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    Independent Contractor and Arms Dealer

    What the fuck is wrong with me? That was all Rayse could could think as he dashed out of the pub, passing confused thugs who only turned to chase him once his alleged savior caught up with him. He wasn't always that stupidly cocky. That absurd little zombie known as Deckard definitely freaked him out, but he didn't know why. Did zombies have feelings? Could he still die? Was he not already in the afterlife? Why did he feel like he just ran out of a scam gone wrong in Knife's Edge?

    His thoughts were inevitably cut off as his rescuer pulled ahead, turning corners into tiny streets with such ease he might as well have been running blind. If it wasn't for Deckard's transformation, Rayse would think this new figure in his life was more dangerous than anyone in the pub. After all, the man looked like he was half demon, half burned human. They were entering the thick of the Warrens, although Rayse couldn't see much beyond his rescuer's back due to the ever-present mist. All he could see were the figures of strange structures circling around him, snake-shaped buildings, towers that seemed to curve back down, pyramids and buildings that looked like different types of architectures were layered on top of each other. None of the structures had a pattern, and even the streets seemed to slope up, down, and curve at wild angles. This was more than a maze, it was like a surreal painting. There was not a single undead in sight after their escape, and while Rayse simply thought this was normal, he couldn't shake the feeling that the street-side shacks and makeshift hovels along their paths were recently occupied.

    The cold ache in Rayse's chest was agitated as he ran, his right hand moving to cover the column of stitches down his chest. The pain was a constant reminder that this was no dream, that at any moment whatever was left of his existence could come crashing down to its ultimate end. He was half-tempted to dodge into a different street, to slip away from the other man and try to get his bearings on his own. However, there was something inexplicably familiar about him. He could not discern the source of the memory, but he knew that he was suffering from short-term amnesia. If this man managed to evoke this sort of reaction, then he was very likely tied to his missing history in some way, not to mention the short work he made of the bulky zombie in the doorway who Rayse couldn't even bruise.

    It was difficult for Rayse to keep up, because the coldness in his chest was getting worse. It was like someone left an icicle in his body. The sensation of burning overwhelmed his senses, a cold burn that spread throughout his body. The extreme sensation poked him in every organ and turned his thoughts to mush. His savior had noticed Rayse's decrease in speed, how the contractor's run had become shaky wobbling, and after another minute of attempting to run farther, he stopped at a wall of a building. They were in a small street between a tower with roofs on each floor that extended out beyond the edges of the building, and an arch-shaped building. They were staring at the side of the arch, and the man moved toward a section of the wall, willing it to raise. As the wall raised, he motioned for Rayse to go in first, and then he followed, willing the door to lower behind him. The door in this case was completely unmarked, and Rayse started to wonder how many secret doors existed in a place like this.

    The inside of the structure was a long stone hallway. It was dark, with the light of the outside completely blocked out by the closing door. However, there were slots along the wall that held torches, and the man simply reached into his pocket and sprinkled what looked like dust onto a torch and it immediately became lit. Rayse had to avert his eyes for a moment as the intensity of the lit torch overwhelmed him. The man then lead Rayse down the hall, and while they was walking, the chest pains had started to calm down. Some of the walls had markings on them, while others did not. Were they doors? Was this a series of rooms? The man confirmed Rayse's suspicions when a door opened up on their side, and they both walked in, closing it behind them. The room was completely empty, just a square box with rounded edges. It gave Rayse a nervous feeling, like this was the room he would die in.

    "This will have to do until you can move freely," said the man who saved him, placing the torch into a slot in the room. Rayse finally got a good look at him, and while his appearance was still strangely familiar, it was ultimately still that of an undead. What's more, his features seemed more demonic than human.

    "What do you want from me?" Rayse asked with a groan. His fingers caressed the stitches on his chest, his mind trying to push away the sharp tinges of pain.

    "Your key."

    "My what?"

    The man said it again, "Your key. The one that gets us out of this rotting plane." He took a step forward, the grip on his scythe tighter with impatience.

    "I... don't have anything like that. I don't remember." Unlike Deckard, this man was very specific in his desires. Unfortunately, there was no way Rayse could give him satisfaction.

    The man's voice rose, "Bullshit! I know for a fact that you know the location of a key, so tell me where it and the door connected to it lie."

    Rayse pressed his back against the wall, and noticed that the cigar was still in his mouth. Every few seconds a smoky mist would escape his lips. He was still breathing, even though there was no need to do so. He couldn't help but smile at the absurdity of his situation. Being in a small room with an impossibly strong man seemed far more terrifying than a large pub with a gang of drunk zombies. Yet, he couldn't muster the energy to feel the full extent of the fear. Something was sapping him of his strength. Ever since he awoke, his weakness has been compounding.

    "I don't know what to tell you," Rayse said. "Unless you think I'm hiding them up my ass, I don't have any goddess-forsaken keys." Another groan escaped his lips as he clutched his chest.

    While originally the man did not think much of it, now he was actively staring at the stitches. Generally, the undead here did not suffer from any irritations or pains. While wounds carried with them an initial shock, that faded away in time. Even an injury sustained during the confrontation with Deckard would not persist like this. It didn't seem like an act, either. When two of the stitches became loose, the man realized that they were fresh.

    The man smiled, "It's there, isn't it? That's where you're hiding it."

    "The fuck is wrong with y-" Rayse tried to say before he choked on his own spit. His lungs felt like they were being frozen from the inside. He looked down at the stitches and finally noticed their significance. Last he remembered, they weren't there. It took him this long because they were a relatively benign detail compared to his other physical changes. "You... wait a minute..." He eyed the scythe suspiciously.

    The man raised the weapon. There was, after all, one reliable way to get what he wanted. Rayse put up a feeble resistance, throwing a punch that missed entirely, stumbling past the man. When he regained his footing, he turned around to try to make another attack but only saw the blade of the scythe rushing towards him. It all happened in a moment, with the weapon cutting through his stitches, causing him to scream out in agony as blood was spilled. After the attack, he dropped to his knees, watching the blood fall to the ground.

    The torch flickered, and in his hazy state he heard the man speak again, "For the sake of not getting myself covered in your blood, I'm going to let you pull it out yourself."

    To Rayse's surprise, the pain started to fade from the wound, leaving only the freezing sensation. He even forgot about how he stabbed through his hand, since he didn't even feel like it was hurt. He reached into the newly-opened chest cavity and felt around. It was right below his rib cage, and at first he felt some sort of cloth, but then a deep coldness like dry ice. He didn't pull back upon this feeling, instead he grit his teeth and grabbed the source of the cold, tearing it out of his chest with another scream. The freezing sensation was now in his hand, and he nearly threw it across the room as he dropped it. The object fell onto the ground between the men. The bottom half was covered by a bloody cloth and left no discernible sound upon the stone floor, but the top half made a clunking sound as it landed.

    It was a small glass vial with a white liquid inside.
    Last edited by Rayse Valentino; 10-23-12 at 12:10 AM.

  9. #9
    Member
    EXP: 87,910, Level: 12
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    Revenant's Avatar

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    William Arcus
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    Mid-30's (apparent age)
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    Revenant
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    “What the fuck?” Rayse murmured, slumping down onto a a pile of crumbling stone. Bewildered eyes darted from the blood stained vial to the gaping hole in his chest, then to William, and finally back to the vial.

    Completely ignoring Rayse’s moment of horror, William hungrily leapt upon the container, a predator latching onto his prey. “Finally,” he hissed, sucking his breath through jagged teeth, “A key out of this wretched place.” Dull red light pulsed excitedly from the revenant’s cracked flesh as he swept upon his prize, giving his entire being the appearance of a battered, beating heart. But no sooner had his claws touched the vial than all his vigor fled and he pulled away from the vial with a yelp. “What in all the blighted planes?” he snarled, shaking his hand vigorously as if snake bitten.

    “My thoughts exactly asshole. Now imagine having it inside your chest,” Rayse spat. William, finally seeing to remember the other ghoul’s presence, shot him an annoyed glance.

    “Where did you get this?” William snapped.

    “Fuck you.”

    “I’ve been stuck in this nightmare for longer than I can remember, and I’ve never heard of anything that could make a corpse feel cold. It just doesn’t happen.”

    “So grab a blanket.”

    William frowned at Rayse’s snarky attitude. Fresh ones, in his opinion, were all the same; creatures who hadn’t quite figured out that all of the importance and clout that they had held in their original Plane meant nothing in their new home.

    “Listen shithead,” William said slowly, trying to keep his temper in check. It just wouldn’t do for him to tear this fresh rotter’s head off before he got the answers he was looking for. “Things work differently in here. Cold, fire, frost, and heat, doesn’t mean shit in this place.”

    That seemed to pique Rayse’s interest. “How so?”

    William knelt down, examining the vial more closely. “As in, ‘nothing here produces heat or cold like this.’ You want to know why, you can ask one of the philosophical assholes that seem to fill this place like maggots.” He looked back at Rayse, “Assuming you survive long enough to meet one that is.”

    Rayse rolled his eyes at the dramatics. “I can take care of myself.”

    William nodded and returned to his examinations of the vial. “Then you might want to start by moving away from the Khuulite.”

    “The what?” Rayse asked, looking around. He jumped from his perch as he saw the thick, rubbery black tentacle worming through the rubble towards him. It was slow but relentless in its pursuit, quivering as it neared Rayse’s pallid flesh.

    “Don’t let it touch you,” William said. “It secretes ooze that dissolves dead flesh.” Nodding to himself, he wrapped the vial’s restraining cloth completely back around the glass tube and picked it up. He walked over to the rubble and slashed neatly through the tentacle with an idle chop of his blade.

    “What the hell was that?”

    “It’s something that wormed its way up from the Lower City over the years. Its main body has to be buried somewhere in the Warren’s shifting rubble but it has all these tentacles that it worms around looking for food.”

    “I suppose we’re that food?”

    “And the Khuulite is one of the least dangerous things around here.” William shrugged. “But that’s behind us now that I’ve got the key. All I need is for you to tell me where the door is.”

    “I told you, I don’t know about any goddess-forsaken door. I don’t even remember how I got here, or how that fucking vial got in my chest.”

    A growl escaped William’s lips but petered out to a resigned sigh. He remembered the memory loss that had plagued him when he had awakened as a fresh rotter in the Dead Piles and assumed that it was no different for Rayse. As frustrating as it was, it wasn’t the ghoul’s fault that he couldn’t remember. He gripped the vial tightly, knowing that against his desires he had to keep Rayse alive and close.

    “This place is on the edges of the Warrens,” William said finally, “It won’t be long before Deckard’s scabs find it. That fat slab of rot at Solinol Delvers wasn’t the worst that he’s got at his disposal.” William gestured towards the door with his scythe. “If you want to walk out and try it on your own I won’t stop you, but I guarantee you’ll meet your final death by the end of the day with Deckard’s men out looking for you. The other option is to come with me to a safe house deeper in the Warrens.”

    “What about this?” Rayse asked, gesturing to the hole in his chest.

    A chuckle rolled across William’s charred frame. “That’s one of the perks of being a ghoul. Unlike the scabs, we heal injuries over time. They have to graft replacements on when they get too damaged.”

    “What's a ghoul?”

    "You're a ghoul, rotter. Anything living that gets pulled into this place becomes a ghoul. The dead stuff become zombies like Deckard and his gang. Unlike us, they retain no memory of their previous lives."

    Rayse’s eyes maintained their stoic, defiant demeanor, but now there was a hint of hope flickering deep within. "So I'm not really dead?"

    William shrugged, "Yes and no."

    "Fat load of good you are."

    "Look," William snapped peevishly, finally fed up with Rayse's sarcasm. "For the time being I'm going to buy your shit about not remembering what I need to know. Everything here is dead but the word on the street is that ghouls who manage to escape this place get to go back to being living, which is why I'm going to do something very stupid to see if I can get your memory back."

    “As long as it involves me keeping all my limbs,” Rayse mumbled.

    “It won’t matter once I’ve found the door out of here because then all this shit goes away.” William started out the door. “We’re done here. You can come with me to find the way out of here or you can stay to play with Deckard’s boys. I know which option I'd choose.”

    He peered about cautiously as he stepped back out into the Warrens. Giving Rayse the illusion of choice in whether or not to follow him was risky, but if the ghoul thought he was doing what William wanted of his own free will then he was less likely to give William shit. This series of events was already becoming far too dangerous without adding babysitting duty on top of it.
    Last edited by Revenant; 05-29-12 at 01:08 AM.
    "I have looked upon all that the universe has to hold of horror, and even the skies of spring and the flowers of summer must ever afterward be poison to me." - Call of Cthulhu

    David vs. Goliath: History's first recorded critical hit.
    JC Thread - The Bitter King

  10. #10
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    Rayse Valentino's Avatar

    Name
    Rayse Valentino
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    As William walked over to the lifting door, Rayse looked down and saw the cigar on the floor. It must've fallen out when the ghoul carved his body like a pumpkin. He reached down and picked it up, his eyes resting upon the still-lit end of it. He knew the choice wasn't real, but he had no alternative. It began to come into focus that the life he lead was a fleeting one, and now all that time spent was lost in the wind, however he still had that cockiness of hope. Maybe despite the pain, he still felt that he was dreaming. All this shit goes away... He made it sound so easy.

    "Fine," he said, dropping the cigar. "As long as we get out of this shithole." They both stepped through the doorway, finding themselves back in the long hallway of the safe house. "What do I call you, anyway?"

    "They call me Gor'Havah."

    "I'm Vincent." Rayse was apprehensive about sharing his real name with Gor'Havah. The ghoul somehow knew where the vial was, but didn't seem to know anything about Rayse personally. As far as he cared, it should stay that way.

    "By the way," Gor'Havah stopped. "You should have this." He handed Rayse a small, thick book. It couldn't have been more than three inches in length and six in height. "When I had memory loss I was told to keep a journal. It made my memories come back faster, maybe it'll do the same for you."

    "You sure?"

    "Go ahead. I haven't used it in a long time."

    It was a dark purple book with metallic, circular bindings. Inside the metal rings, a pencil lay dormant. As they reached the exit, the door opened up to reveal the streets of the Warrens, light causing the two to squint since they had just spent their time in relative darkness. Gor'Havah put the torch back in its slot, made sure the vial was safely secured on his person, and the two went out into the light of the Red Maelstrom. The coast looked clear for now, but Gor'Havah made sure to keep his head turning. The small streets looked the same as before, empty and full of dusted bones, trash, and debris. Everything here reeked of death, and to Rayse it felt like one of the foulest homeless nests in Knife's Edge while simultaneously looking like it had been abandoned for years.

    Fortunately, Gor'Havah was leading the two, so he couldn't see precisely what Rayse was doing with the journal. Rather than doing any sort of writing in it, Rayse was flipping through the many entries that were already written. His formidable savior was likely too concerned with escaping this nightmarish place than guarding the information within the journal, or perhaps he simply thought there was nothing in there that could be used against him. Rayse skimmed through the pages, stopping at a familiar name.

    Quote Originally Posted by Gor'Havah's journal
    The Writhing God.

    At first I thought it was something tied to the Order of the White Fire. A sacrificial god of the pit, a little folklore story that made the Red Maelstrom turn. Now I know it is something more, something that all dwellers of this plane fear and know. Even the most zealous skeptics believe in him. The story is known to all the beings of this realm...

    Long ago, this plane was just a chaotic mass of nether energy. A pure force of death, destroying the life of anything that enters. Then, one day a God fell in via the use of a key and portal, or door as it's referred to here, but his life force was so strong that instead of it being twisted by the nether, it changed the plane entirely. The corpse-born believe him to be the first one of their kind, and that he created the Nameless City and the Red Maelstrom. He is known to live outside the furthest walls of the Lower City, his massive form taking up the space of the rest of the plane entirely, with endless bony limbs that are lost in the sea of mist. He claws at the walls of the city, but he is such a slow moving creature that it takes hundreds or thousands of years to see even a hint of movement from him.

    He is more than just a god, he is the father of every undead on this plane. The reverence attributed to him is so great that blasphemy is a serious crime. I barely feel safe even writing about this. Legend has it that he was originally known as The Nameless God, but monks who sat atop the walls for centuries noticed the slow, terrifying writhing that occurs outside the walls.

    The only way to see him is through a portal in the Upper City, but there are rumors that a portal in the Lower City exists as well. If such a being truly exists, maybe I'll go see him for myself.
    Last edited by Rayse Valentino; 09-01-12 at 10:26 PM.

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