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Hush High

Discussion in 'Imperium OffTopicum' started by Seon, Aug 14, 2019.

  1. LordArgon

    LordArgon Chieftain

    Feb 10, 2019
    Vensor looked at the newspaper reports for anything interesting. While the play looked fun, the news about a stranger in town piqued his interest. He decided he would see what the stranger wanted and what he could get from the stranger. He was a bit disappointed the stranger's location was leaked, but he quickly found some stairs to slip into. Vensor loved the ubiquity of stairs. Their ever-present angles had helped him slip out of many deadly situations. Staying mostly in the angled in-between he observed the paranoid stranger and his attempts to hide. "Hey mister. Yeah over here in the corner. Don't worry, if I wanted you dead you would be. Now your location is now public knowledge, so a bunch of supernatural freaks will be pounding down your door pretty soon. Now I think we both can help each other out, but only if you do what I say." Vensor throws out a costume for one of the Queens of the River and instructs the man to put it on. "There is a nice alley two blocks to the left. Put on the costume and meet me there. Make sure to ham up your acting and move quick or you will end up dead. Well lets see if you can make it out, so have fun." Vensor remains in the corner watching the man to see if he follows his requests.
  2. Kyzarc Fotjage

    Kyzarc Fotjage Rise Up

    Apr 16, 2009
    Western Washington
    More from Deedee's Big Mob Adventure
    Spoiler Deedee Meets Mr Creosote :
    The headache was what woke her. It was like some jerk had taken a bunch of them wedges and drove them straight into her head right down the middle then started whalin' on her with a great big honkin' hammer, only they kept missin' so her brain was bruised as well as broken up. It hurt is all she's sayin', like a lot. The bright light tht kept showin' up in her face weren't helpin' matters none either, though it might'n't of been a real light, but one of those bright spots that yer vision makes when you're all loopy and all, its kinda hard to tell when you're all loopy like. And... a noise that kept repeatin' over and over, it was real annoyin' and it was gettin' louder and was it sayin' something? Oh, someone was shinin' a light in her face and sayin' stuff at her. Maybe if'n she asked polite-like they'd be willin' to knock it off and maybe give her one o' them pills that makes headaches go away. That sounded plausible.

    Deedee opened her lips and croaked "Mrgh"

    Yep, that should do it. At the least it seemed to make everyone excited, so there was that. Didn't help the headache none what with everyone talking over everyone all at once and the voices were getting louder and coming at her from every side and she wished they'd just shut up. it was so bad she didn't even notice the needle stick her, and she hated gettin' stuck full o' needles, it always made her feel like she was some kind of pin cushion and that ain't no thing a person should ever be. Person's gotta... gotta have... huh, that actually felt pretty good. The voices were all still there, but the pain was recedin' like noone's business. It must've got the message that it weren't welcome.

    Without the pain sending spots across her vision the vague shapes nearby slowly coalesced into a doctor, or least somefolk in a lab coat like what Karry always wore and she always said she was a doctor even if she didn't know no medicine,. Behind the doctor was a huge, and I mean huuuuuuge man that looked someone took two small quarterbacks were joined at the shoulder like one of them conjugated twins only with all the muscle added on top of each other, and she didn't much like how he was lookin' at her, like she was some kind o' turkey dinner and he ain't eaten in a month or somethin'. Next to him were what was basically a narrower version of him, and this one looked satisfied like some kind of dog that just knew it did good and was waitin' for the praise. Maybe his son or somethin'? Deedee wasn't sure. There were other folks behind them, but all she could make out on them was the suits and their faces just looked blank, like they was robots or somethin waitin' for instructions. Weird that. Well, the doctor was slowin' down in whatever they was sayin' to the kid in the suit, time for the diplomacy

    "Margh?" Deedee tried, lips somewhat cracked and sticky. How long had she been out?

    The doctor immediately wizzed around and started shinin' that light back into her face, which she thought was da-darn rude. What was they sayin' anyhow? Somethin' 'bout 'pea-soup syndrome' and an exorcism? That didn't sound too good, she hated peas. The big dude, now labeled as the kingpin due to his suit lookin' like somethin' straight out of that gangster movie, that one with that real pretty actor, Kevin somethin', was steppin' closer and grinnin' like some kind o' hungry bear about to snack on some poor fish and she were that fish. That weren't no good. The younger one, princepin? Is that how that worked? Naw, just go with junior kingpin, junior for short 'till she comes across another junior, he was steppin' forward too and puttin a hand in front of his dad and said somethin' 'bout recovery, maybe he weren't all bad? It took a long moment for Deedee to realize that he was stickin his hand right through kingpin's chest. The doctor took the pause to start gabblin' at her, holdin' up a cup of water for her to sip from. That was kind o' them. She tried once again, rememberin' her manners and everythin'. Politeness cost nothin', or so Karry says when she's not zonin' out and ignorin' everyone.

    "Thanks miss," She tried, voice hoarse but audible.

    The doctor smiled with a bit of visible relief, "Do you have a name?"

    Deedee thought for a long moment. She wasn't supposed to give out her real name, least that's what 'Arry said, or what 'Arry demonstrated, but if they didn't know her name then that might stop them from gettin' her back to the others. Where were they anyways? It was the first time in a long while that she had five whole minutes w'out one of them stickin' their head in to see how she was doin'. Oh well, nickname should do fine. She stuck out her hand to the doctor and smiled back, or least she tried. From the doctor's expression she guessed it didn't look quite right. "Name's Deedee miss. How do you do?"

    The doctor shook her hand after a moment's hesitation, then ignored her question. Rude that. "What is the last thing you remember?"

    Deedee shook her head then shrugged. Tellin' folks about the ghosts always made things awkward and usually ended in them callin' the government or somethin' and then she had to run away and it wasn't no fun. Honesty was still important though, wouldn't do to tell lies. "Last I remember was sleepin' back home. Folks say I go sleep-walkin' or somethin'?"

    The doctor exchanged a look with Junior, they were havin' one o' those silent adult conversations told through eye contact before talkin' again, "Yes, something like that. How are you feeling now?"

    Junior stepped forward impatiently before Deedee could respond, "Pat-"

    Pat shook her head at him with a glare and her voice went quiet. Why did they assume that because they weren't shouting that she couldn't hear? "This is very experimental and we can't risk the damage forcing things might cause."

    Junior hissed back with a hint of annoyance and... fear? "What damage? You didn't say anything about damage."

    "I don't know, I don't think anyone's tried doing this sort of thing properly before. Its not as though we have alternative subjects and Mr Creosote would be happier knowing that we're doing things correctly than risk throwing away his one chance because *you* got impatient"

    The kingpin rumbled something unintelligible and the son flinched, though Pat didn't seem to notice, "Fine, just... hurry things. Fath-Mr Creosote is eager to get back."

    The adults backed away from each other and finally remembered that Deedee was there. She coughed to clear her throat, "Um, I'm feeling much better now, thankee kindly for askin'. I would be likin' to head home now if you'd be so obliged Miss Pat." She gave Pat a cheery grin, that usually helped.

    Pat shook her head and smiled back. "You are home child. Your parents have been looking for you for such a long time, and now they've found you."

    Deedee was confused, she remembered her parents. Or rather she remembered their ghosts fading away. Or least they were the folks who'd raised her at first, and taught her to be callin' them mom and dad. Deedee opened her mouth to ask her about that, but saw the tightness of Pat's smile. Ah, a lie and she knew it. That didn't mean nuthin' good. That meant that none of this were real, these folks didn't actually want to help her, and her friends not bein' here was probably cause o' them too.

    While she thought all this she smiled back broadly and lied without conscious thought while her voice got somewhat sleepy, "I was hopin' they'd find me 'ventually, I was... startin' to worry..."

    Deedee stifled a yawn and closed her eyes as she lay back. She felt someone pull a blanket up over her, probably Pat, and then a pair of retreating footsteps. She could hear heavy breathing over her, though no footsteps, which stayed for what felt like hours, though really it was most like a minute or two. She cracked an eyelid and saw the Kingpin, probably Mr Creosote was his name? she wasn't sure, standing over her. He weren't sayin' nuthin' either, just standin' there starin' and smilin' like she was some kind o' pet cat or somethin'. She wished Lia were here, she'd get rid of him.

    It weren't for another few minutes before Mr Creosote finally left, creepily smilin' the whole time. She needed to be gettin' out, she wasn't sure exactly what was goin' on, but she was pretty darn sure it weren't nuthin' she wanted no part of.
  3. NinjaCow64

    NinjaCow64 The Continuation of the Dream Supporter

    Apr 4, 2010
    “The Tower and the Town are far easier places to exist in than most places. But sometimes I still get shunted out. I always find my way back pretty quickly, quicker than most places! Its kind of relaxing. Except when it isn’t. You see when I crawled out of that pit I ended up in, I was back in town! Except I was a little too close to the train station a little too close to when a train had arrived and now, I’m being followed by…this creep.

    “lITTLE bOY” said the creep, “wOULD yOU lIKE sOME cANDIE?”. The creep appeared human by sight and by touch, but even the blind and those who could not touch it would know that the creep was not human. It looked and sounded human, but on a deeper level it had failed to disguise itself as human. Even its words, even though it sounded fine on a fundamental level the words were just wrong.

    “I hate being mistaken for a man,” I mutter under my breath “Sorry, not interested.”

    “lITTLE gIRL” said the creep, “wOULD yOU lIKE sOME cANDIE?”. I have been told that many people come to the town by train and by car and I have also been told that very few of them are friends. I am beginning to suspect that this is the truth.

    “I hate being mistaken for a woman,” I mutter under my breath “I said I’m not interested! Buzz off!” I would have used stronger words, but I am afraid much of my vocabulary are Danger words in the Town and the Tower. Hmm, I’m sorry, I should explain. All words have different effects in different places, Danger words are words or combinations of words that could cause a Very Unpleasant Event (my death, or worse) to happen. Once I have identified an area’s Danger words, I try my very hardest to not to say them or write them down. There are beings who sometimes view this place who do not take kindly to certain words, they also strongly dislike being talked about under certain circumstances so I will stop talking about them now. Some words are always Danger words. Some words are Danger words if you even think about them. Luckily I do not remember any of those Danger words and that is why I value items that can erase or otherwise manipulate memory so highly.

    Much to my chagrin, the creep continued to follow me and continue to offer me “candie”. While it was easily keeping up with my legs, moving in a different way wasn’t a good option. I’ve been around long enough (don’t ask me how long though, its real easy to lose and/or gain time out there) to know when moving in a different way is a bad idea. Some things get you when you move with legs. Some things get you when you move without legs. This thing appeared to be both, although moving with legs would give me a small amount of time. I could already see the shopkeepers running to the Tower to get the Janitor, but I don’t think I would last long enough for that glorious mop to arrive. I’ll just have to make my own mop.

    Spirits, spirits, spirits. There are many spirits, they can do a great many things for you if you know how to call upon them correctly. Most spirits ask something of you in exchange for their help. The ones who don’t ask for anything are liars, they want something you don’t want to give and they usually aren’t very helpful. Except when they are. During my travels I learnt of a spirit, his name is a Danger word for reasons I will explain in a bit. I have heard many stories about this man, some sanitised for religious purposes. Here is the most accurate version of the story I can give you – a very long time ago, perhaps before history was shattered, there was a man. This man found another man who was different. Because of their differences, the first man beat the second man to death. The second man managed to wound the first man in self-defence and the first man bled to death from his injuries. The first man became a spirit and grew in strength every time someone killed another person because of a fear of differences. This spirit would be dangerous indeed if it would lend its power. However, the spirit was powered by so many contradictory ideas that it had built an unreasonable and unobtainable image of humanity in its head and wished death upon anyone who failed to live up to his ideal. Saying his name would be enough to summon the spirit and, in most circumstances, would lead to the summoner to be torn to shreds by the spirit who is angered by such an aberration summoning it. Unless there was something more offensive to the human ideal nearby. I know of this spirit and how it works because that trick was used against me once and I was very lucky to escape alive.

    I looked directly at the creep and said the spirit’s name. Soon, the creep was screeching and defending itself against the spirit. I knew that the spirit would surely find such a crude mockery of humanity more offensive than my slightly less crude mockery. I stopped existing in the Town for a bit, better to let those two work things out themselves. When I returned, I found the Janitor cleaning up what remained of the mess I made. I whistled and walked away, better not to disturb he and/or she while he and/or she is so busy.

    The creep had dropped its wallet and, considering that it didn’t need it anymore, I would pick it up. It was filled with currency of some sort; I don’t really like currency (it’s completely useless when you move history as often I as do) so I gave it to some overenthusiastic student in exchange for a newspaper. The newspaper was very interesting, I should try and speak to the editorial board at some point. But for now, I would have to make do with the Nirvanic Club. They seem interested in the pursuit of the truth (as opposed to the Truth) and I’ve found that truth is a great way to keep oneself safe. Seeking the Truth can come later, I want to spend a lot of time here and if I don’t work the rules here and how to keep safe well then I’m not going to have a whole lot of Truthseeking time on my hands because I’ll be too busy being dead.
  4. Glatux

    Glatux Chieftain

    May 31, 2019
    Amélie adventure in the cave (co-written by Seon and I):
    Spoiler :

    The basement is dark and cold and lit by lamps of black nephrite. Further down the stairs, wind flows out like whispers. It is dark, but for some reason your eyes can still see. It is cold, but Amelie’s skin is free of goosebumps. The Janitor is elsewhere--cleaning up some other mess in the town. She will have to find it herself.

    Luckily, there is a map. Two more floors down. A hallway to the right.

    Amélie took a long look at the map, not sure there was going to be a second one and took a moment to prepare herself mentally to go deeper, her headache had gone worse but she promised to go and, well from what she heard, she shouldn't lie and breaking a promise is basically a lie.
    She gave a slap to her own face, and continued down "Two floor and on the right..." she repeated.

    Floors down, most of the doors are locked up tight. Rusted at the hinges. It would be easy to break through these doors, if she wished to do so.

    There is nothing in the stairways leading down except for the lamps, which emit something that is not quite light, but still capable of showing her the way. The door that you are supposed to go through is not rusty like the others. In fact, it is reinforced with metal. It is a dungeon, and there is a list of forbidden things to bring to the dungeon to the side.

    -Sharp Implements.



    -Writing tools

    -Digging instruments

    -Stringed musical instruments


    -Wooden implements of any kind

    And below, somebody has carved a few additional forbidden items.




    The first things made sense but some of the forbidden things were weird, but I guess weird is the norm, through thinking about it the Chisel given to her by the Janitor would be part of the forbidden thing.

    Amélie was terrified, and hesitated to open the door, in the past she would have used her sight but the tower made it weird… maybe it could work here ? All Amélie was sure off is that her head felt like it was going to explode but she nonetheless tried to see 2 futures, one where she opened that door, one where she didn't… assuming her sight would work this time.

    In one future, Amelie stood around in front of the door, scratching her head. Then the Janitor--


    In another, she went into the dungeon. It was empty. There was a lot of blood. She chiseled out what appears to be numbers and notations. Then the Janitor--


    Amélie wanted to avoid lying, as well it was dangerous to lie, or so she was told and well for the first time since she got here she was able to see more than one future. So she chose the one where she got in and started her work, but seeing the number added to her headache, for a brief instant she blinked, only to see darkness before blinking again, back to seeing normally. She was worried about what was going to happen, both future ended with the Janitor being there… will she need to fight ? She sincerely hoped she wouldn't need to…

    The dungeon is full of cells, currently empty and lying open. Blood pools inside a few of them.

    They still seem fresh.

    Regardless, there is work to be done. There are a thousand scratchmarks inside the stone cells. If sharp implements of any kind were forbidden, along with hard vegetables that could potentially be sharpened to a point, then were these etchings done by… fingernails?

    REMEMBER WHAT HAPPENED TO THE DINOSAURS, reads one scratch mark. Amelie erases it with her chisels. There are a lot of equations, numbers, and drawings she does not quite understand, reminding her of… that place in her mind that she can’t quite place. A memory of something truly unpleasant and horrible.

    One of the cells remain closed and barred. There is a knocking from inside.

    She knew it was wrong but again she had the sight now it worked here, in that place… "I shouldn't stay here...", she heard a ringing in her head followed by "do not trust anyone" in a voice that sounded too close to her own for comfort. The sight was used again, her choices were : just doing her job and removing it and leaving, the other, doing her job and asking "Who's there?", and she felt bold enough to look into a third future where she tried to open the door, that future will never happen anyway, it'll just be a curious peek.

    It appears as if trying to look at the future where she did not open that door, without actually opening that door firsthand, is impossible. Or perhaps, the future in which she does open that door inevitably leads to death.

    Doing her job terminates when the Janitor--

    Nothing further can be seen when she enters into the frame. Perhaps… she is interfering with the future sight somehow?

    She tries to see the future in which she asks the question to the creature inside the door, but the Tower denies Amelie from seeing this future without asking the question first.

    Only having one future, Amélie conforms to one, altering the future was impossible right ? She chiseled, and chiseled, and boredom took over soon enough, and she dared to ask "Is anyone here?" the janitor interfered with her sight and that was scary but the other stuff was worrying still curiosity was Amélie's weakness her sight only saving her from death.

    “Oh thank god!” a voice inside the cell said. “I knew that someone normal would come along sooner or later! Let me out of here!”

    Amélie tried to open her mouth but the ringing reapered and she heard once again "Do not trust anything!". Amélie merely responded "What proves me you're really normal", she approached the door, after all, the weirdness in this place caused her headache, which intensified as she got deeper in, if the pain got stronger it would mean that person is weird right ? Well that's just a theory, hard to know what happens, Amélie wasn't used to not be able to use her power to its fullest extent.

    “What the hell? Of course I’m normal you dumb, useless, girl!” the voice from the cell cries out, banging on the door. “Unlock the latch and let me out! Before the Janitor comes back! She’s gonna end you once she does!”

    Unable to resist and despite the voice and pain in her head, she goes to open the door trying to look into the future at each step, pain turned to nose bleed, physical pain from forcing herself to look too much too fast, hoping she's making the right choice or that she can stop before it's too late.

    “Yes, yes, yes! Thank you, thank you so much!” the voice inside the cell says, rattling the door loudly. Just for a moment, as she raises the bar holding the door back, she sees a vision of the future of some horrid man… or a creature… emerging from the door and…. Nothing.

    “And perhaps,” the voice says from the slit on the door. “After you unlock the door, we could have a nice little tumble.” It sticks its long tongue out the slit on the door.

    As she saw that her mind filled with terror, the ringing came back and grew louder and louder and louder and then… nothing… for Amélie's mind anyway…

    On the outside, the girl's head was down and she was holding it with her hand as she felt pain and then, she stops and her raised her head up, but where her eyes were only darkness could be seen, as if her eyes where reflecting it, and she gave a kick to the door, slamming it shut and spoke in a much more mature voice "Pathetic creature, trying to take advantage of a poor little girl" on her forehead one horn grew and another seemed to glitch in? "Unfortunately for you I exist, hahahaha". Whatever took control of Amélie seemed much more comfortable here.

    “Dumb little girl!” the voice inside screams, somehow, even with its tongue severed. “You belong behind this door, not me!” The door rattles, its hinges strain, but it holds.

    “Let me out or by Enoch I will have your soul! You will not die easily!”

    "Oh that's right I'm not from this time, you don't know me..." she cackled "Oh I won't let you out, don't want to get the kid into more trouble but if I did...hahahahaha… I'll demonstrate my knowledge of demonic anatomy, how to make them feel pain, then I'll drain you of your essence, devour your body and soul like I did the others" She sounded extremely excited as she finished that sentences as her body seemed to change in subtle ways. "But I think I'll let you rot here, like I said kid's busy, but it was nice to get to stretch a bit outside." And Amson left the door alone, whistling a demonic tune as she carved in her arm "Do not open the door <3 :p" and doing a bit of work as her body revert slowly to Amélie's normal form.

    The demonic creature, whatever it is inside the cell, continues to bang against the door while Amelie transforms back to herself. There is a sound of footsteps coming from outside. Is it the Janitor?

    Amson quickly vanished letting Amélie take back control in fear of having to deal with the Janitor. Amélie brutally awoke chisel in her hand the work was almost done, her eyes went wide as she saw what was written on her arm, but sounds of someone approaching was heard and she quickly finished was left, before peaking in the future to see who was coming.

    The Janitor walks in and--

    The Janitor walks into the hallway. Its presence is like an anchor, and future possibilities vanish right before Amelie’s eyes. It looks upon the walls where Amelie worked. “Satisfactory,” it comments. “I see also that you were wise enough to not let out the man in cell 871. There were some who were not so wise. I let their blood pool inside some of the cells as a warning to others.”

    It flits--Amelie can’t describe how it really moves--down the hall. “The rest will be done by hands other than yours. It is unsafe to be in the basement for too long, although I have always maintained that it is character building. Here,” she says, coming closer. There is a small, jingling bag in her hands.

    “Coins for your help,” she tosses it to Amelie. “And if you will allow me, I will cleanse and devour your thoughts, and grant you a secret of yearning in the mind that may perhaps guide you through darker places.”

    Amélie grabs the coins "I have to be honest, letting my thoughts be cleansed and devoured it a terrifying prospect and not being able to use might sight around you is terrifying but just promise that will not damage us and you have our… my permission… and I do love secrets…"

    “Us…” the Janitor remarks at first, but stops herself. “I cannot guarantee that there will be no damage, although you have my promise that I will not hurt you.”

    Amélie took a breather and her heachaches vanished her other self seeming to blend with her main fragment, almost impossible to distinguish "I mean, you've enticed me with the secret and I don't think I have a choice, if you don't cleanse me I'm not allowed out right ? So go ahead"

    “I do not hold sway over the students actions. You are free to go,” the Janitor says. It produces a small rib bone from its pocket and cradles it in its fingers. It tilts its head apologetically, as if holding a rib bone in this scenario is an unfortunate necessity that must be done. “Are you sure you wish to be divided?”

    "I'm not ready to be unified, and I want that secret, but I'm not sure of what I cannot see, as you blind me" While Amélie might be unaware of the nature of her other self, the tough of merging was instinctively scary.

    The Janitor snaps its finger.

    Then there is another Amelie, looking some variety of surprised and demonic rolled into one. The Janitor casually pushes her into another cell. “Thank you,” it says. “I was in need of restocking pantry. Allow me to tell you the parable of what may be lost, so that you know the way into the dark forests of our minds.”

    And something strange, like a centipede of thought, crawls inside Amelie’s head. All of them are answers to a single question. “What may be lost?” Something tells her that this is a potent secret and a mantra. Change, occasionally, comes through shedding and shearing of things, not just appendation.

    Amélie look at the new Amélie and says "Sorry", before turning to the Janitor "I didn't expect that, I guess I can add another death to my count, cya…" she says with a tone of sorrow as she goes to leave the basement.

    Kyzarc Fotjage likes this.
  5. jackelgull

    jackelgull An aberration of nature

    Dec 30, 2013
    Within the realm of impossibility
    Sometime in the past:

    Honestly, communicating with a heart isn't as weird as he thought it would be. Maybe he's spent too much time binding the spirits of the True World in forms so nightmarish and wrong or maybe it's the knowledge the Heart is the most pitiful wretch in the Tower, bound to live against its will, that Conrad can't really muster any feeling except pity.

    "You already know some of what I teach" the Heart says. It is not a statement or a question as much as it is the beginning of an assessment.

    "My master was once a pupil of yours" Conrad says.

    Maybe it's the human instinct for anthromorphization at play, but Conrad can almost swear there's a pulse of recognition and then the Heart beats, "Ah, Heinreich Kemmler then."

    "You remember him?"

    "I remember everyone. I don't have much left besides the remembering."

    "How did he get out then? You must know something" Conrad is working really hard to keep a desperate edge from creeping into his voice. Whether or not the Heart was the most pitiful creature here didn't mean it was anymore inclined to show empathy to him.

    "He had no ambition, and so the Tower let him go. That is it."

    "So there's no way out other then just being let go?"

    "I didn't say that. You can also find your way to the top of the Tower, if you're brave enough."

    Conrad holds his breath. Honestly the Tower scares him. There is just a sense of power emanating from it, like it houses the power of a near deity. He wonders if this is how an ant feels when it sees the boot coming down upon it. He stares at the ceiling for a moment, and then hardens his resolve. He'll go hme. He'll make it to the top of the tower, ignore the allure of the beacon if light and make his way home. Kemmler wasn't neccessarily the best parental figure, or even a good one but Conrad loved him anyways. But underneath the resolve, there's a niggle of doubt.

    What if I can find out about the truth of my parents? What if the story I was told was a lie?

    Either way, he looks to the heart with a question, "Is there anything you can teach me?"

    The Heart just sort of looks at him as much as a heart can look at anyone. And then it beats, "I can teach you the art of decay, and curses worse then death."
  6. Robert Can't

    Robert Can't Grantaire

    Dec 7, 2007
    The Barricade
    It started as a doodle in the margin - an insignificant scribble. Long ago James had taught himself not to doodle - sometimes it goes horribly wrong - but there's something about this place, about how boring it is, that just pushed his hand do mark the page. In his minds eye he could see flowers and gardens and all the joys of life with the Queen. He had loved her so very much. His thoughts flicked from scene to scene perfectly remembered in paint, those happy years.

    By the time had had finished doodling his mind had wandered far off and what interest the page might once have had was totally lost to him. He looked down to see what he had been drawing. At the top of the margin there was a man and a heart (the heart?). Something was twisted about the man, an aura of death, and he was in deep conversation, rapt with awe at horrors which the pencil could only flow around. Further down a student tried to avoid a not-human shape that looked remarkably human and further down still was a picture of two people locked in a room, or perhaps locked outside it - a trick of perspective made it unclear.

    These doodles weren't of interest to James though. He could see a bit of the truth in all of them - these were clearly other students from the tower he could even recognise some of them from how he had drawn them. It was annoying because his scrawling had spilled out of the margin and encompassed the whole page. There was no way he could read whatever it was he was meant to be reading anymore. He flipped the page hoping that what lay ahead would give an answer to what he was meant to be taking away from this book.

    But the text did not continue onto the next page, instead the page was blank but for a pencil drawing in the centre. He recognised it instantly as the work of his own hand but he had no memory of drawing it.

    The drawing depicted a path through the woods reaching the edge of the treeline. In the distance a was a great ruin of an old world but in the foreground was a figure standing on the threshold of the forest looking out longingly towards the ruined city. He had the bushy tail of a squirrel and a long traveller's staff.

    James slammed the book shut. He was here to find the truth, not some truth but the truth. Whatever this was he didn't need it.
  7. Crezth

    Crezth 話說天下大勢分久必合合久必分

    May 26, 2006
    The Path of Worms
    Evelyn rapped her knuckles on the side of her electric lantern, causing the bulb to rattle in its socket as it flashed to life. The smell of electricity mixed with the pungent stench of mildew, and the buzzing of the lantern vibrated into the silent darkness of the tower depths.

    She held up the lantern, casting the beam down the spiral stairs, where it hit the opposite wall and showed no more before the stairs wound out of sight. Her free hand went to thumb at a leaf of paper sticking from her pocket - a scrap from that Elisa girl’s “newsletter.”

    “‘Samantha was here,’ huh?” Evelyn murmured to herself.

    “Students are not permitted beyond this point,” a voice whispers from above. Glancing up, the Janitor clings upon the wall, its eyes staring daggers at Evelyn through its anthracite goggles. “Please leave.”

    Evelyn gives the Janitor a circular look. “Beyond which point, exactly?” She gestures her lantern towards the stairs. “Down here?”

    The Janitor nods, and crawls down the wall. Its movements reminds Evelyn a lot of that of insects. “Down here we condemn lies to be forgotten,” it says. “It is no place for a student.”

    “Yeah, well,” Evelyn pulls the scrap of paper from her pocket, unfolding it and revealing the newspaper article, “I read the article Elisa wrote about you, and this basement. One of these graffiti seems to be left by someone I’m looking for.” Evelyn points her finger at the photograph. “Would you know anything about that?”

    The creature extends an arm and gingerly takes the newspaper article from Evelyn. “I see that Elisa has been downstairs again,” it says matter-of-factly. It hands the article back. “Yes. I do know something about this graffiti.”

    “Well, what? Do you know who left it? When they left it?” Evelyn takes a few steps closer to the Janitor, reaching into her vest pocket for a notebook and a pencil, which she begins fumbling with as she sets the lantern down in a nearby window sill. “Where they are now?”

    “I know who left it,” the Janitor says simply. It drops to the floor. “She’s probably still downstairs. I don’t particularly know when she left the message. Run along now.”

    “She’s still downstairs?” In spite of herself, Evelyn felt her heart rate quicken. “Well, do you know for sure? Have you seen her? You see, if it is my sister, it’s very important I get her back.”

    “Your sister…?” the Janitor muses. “Yes, come to think of it, you do look familiar… although I dispute your claim that it is important to get her back. If she is what I believe she is, she has already made her choices. You are better off climbing the tower, staying in the light.”

    The Janitor steps slightly aside, leaning against the stairway wall. “She’s with the worms now.”

    “Worms…? I don’t know about that, but if my sister is down there, I’m going down there right now to get her back.” Evelyn puts her notebook away and snatches up the electric lantern, the buzzing and flick-flickering of the bulb punctuating her words. She hesitates briefly, pausing to consider the Janitor. “What ‘worms?’”

    Janitor waves a dismissive hand. “Hateful little things,” it says. “They have bred uncontrollably ever since the Sun was divided. They want to devour everything that is so that everything we know becomes nothing, and everything that isn’t become everything that is. They are weak, pathetic creatures, or at least, they used to be.”

    It leans forward, as if to act conspiratorially. “But they have since learned to walk in the skin of man, which saved their kind from extermination.”

    “Not that the Red Regent will ever care enough about a little worm infestation problem to get in the way of her debauchery.”

    Evelyn’s face quickly melts into one of complete puzzlement. “The - uh - the what, now? You call them worms?

    “Yes, that is what they are. Worms,” the Janitor says.

    “Ho-kay, well…” She looks down again towards the descending stairway, the brief confusion being replaced with grim resolve. “I’m sure they’re nothing worse or more dangerous than anything else I’ve seen since coming to… this place,” she says. “I have to go down there and get my sister back.”

    “There are reasons why students are forbidden from venturing down there,” it shoots back. “The worm infestations have not yet been contained in certain areas.”

    “Are you saying it’s dangerous? I can handle myself, good sir,” snaps Evelyn defiantly. “And in any case, it’s worth the risk to get my sister back. She was kidnapped by these… worms, or whomever - I’m certain of it.”

    The Janitor shrugs. “If that is what you believe, than I will not stand in your way,” it says, leaning very much against the walls of the stairway. “But should you become a host for one of those awful creatures, be warned that I will never let you leave the basement.”

    It snaps its fingers and the way down the basement becomes lit by lamps of black jade, glowing something not quite light. “Light damage some sensitive things down there,” it says somewhat defensively.

    Evelyn feels her heart hammering in her ears. Somehow, the Janitor standing aside makes her skin crawl. She fixes her lantern, and before allowing the next moment’s hesitation to stop her, starts to descend.

    “I will be back,” she promises the Janitor.

    The Basement is dark, and lit by no form of light that Evelyn can recognize. Yet its long, endless, winding halls are visible as far as the eyes can see. The doors to its many rooms have rusted shut long ago, but perhaps they can yet be opened.

    Evelyn realizes now that she has no idea where to even begin her search in the depths. Luckily or unluckily, something seems to be trying to get her attention. Insistently. It is banging on one of the many iron doors here. Whatever’s behind that door doesn’t sound human.

    Evelyn reaches for the door handle, but before she attempts to open it, puts her face up to the door. “Hello? Who’s in there?” she calls.

    Something knocks into the door. Hard. Hard enough to knock her back a few feet and against the door on the other side, which gives way. Inside the room is a lot of dried blood, with lots of scratch marks and writings carved into the walls. It’s too dark to make them out.

    Something bangs against the locked door again. The iron dents under the pressure.

    “Ouch!” She rubs her bruised nose sullenly, barely suppressing a sneeze. “Achoo!” Dazed, she casts her eyes around the room. The scratches and scribbles run together.

    She shakes her head, gathering her wits. She pushes herself back to her feet and watches the hinges on the locked door gingerly. She slowly starts backing away, further down the hallway, her gaze cautious but ready.

    “That was rude!” she calls out.

    Bang. Bang. The thing behind the door seems to be emboldened by Evelyn’s shouts. Bang.


    The iron door clatters against the floor. Out comes… a woman. Or is it a woman? In these dark hallways, it is impossible to tell. She has long hair, seems to be wearing a long, flowing dress… yet she is tall. Too tall.

    Evelyn is reminded of a passing comment by one of the faculty of the Tower. “Humans are social animals,” he said gruffly, bending iron around his finger to make some kind of a ring. “They always recognize their own.”

    “What if you can’t tell if someone is a human being?” a boy in the classroom asked.

    “Then that’s not human.”

    She notices Evelyn down the hall, and crouches.

    Evelyn takes several steps back, trying to raise her lantern to see better in the twilight, before realizing that the light cast by the lantern merely gave her the impression of being able to see better and did not actually contribute down here. She drops her lantern and squints her eyes, hand reaching for the gun on her shoulder holster.

    “Hello!” she calls, gingerly, after a moment’s hesitation - her fingers lightly resting on the pearl handle of her revolver. “I’ve come from the floors upstairs to look for my sister, who was kidnapped by beings from another world, and brought down to this place. Tell me: are you a demon or a visitor from the stars, and would you know my sister?”

    “Are you there?” the woman… the thing says in lieu of answering. Her voice is as broken glass. She slowly creeps forward. “I can’t see… come closer. I’m so… soo close…” Out from the back of her dress juts out jagged bones. “I can’t… I can’t see…”

    Evelyn hesitates before stepping backwards. Her heart is thrumming rapidly. Whatever it is, it’s no friend; she wants to believe it’s a human, but the chill that has settled in her spine before laying eyes on it… is too much.

    Evelyn briefly turns her head to look behind her, further down the hall. Should she just keep going? She takes a few more steps, just in case. “You’re blind?” she offers, her tone sympathetic though she herself felt no kind of sympathy for this thing.

    “I hear you!” the woman snaps. “Where are you?! Where?!” She crawls on all four closer, and closer. Her limbs are long. Abnormally long, and she crawls faster than Evelyn walks. There’s a strangling whine in the air, and Evelyn is surprised to discover it came from her own throat.

    She… it looks up. Through its long, black strands of hair covering its face, it looks towards Evelyn with red, yet eerily human eyes. “I can see you,” it whispers.

    That did it. A switch flipped within Evelyn, and she whips her gun from its holster. The pearl handle glints oddly in the twilight, and in half a second, a bright flash is there and gone again, and a deafening BANG echoes down the hall like a thunderclap.

    The creature leaps towards the ceiling, surprisingly nimble for its size, but the bullet grazes its ankles. “It hurts!” it screams as it falls on its back onto the floor. “It hurts! It hurts! Ithurtsithurtsithurts! You’re dead when I catch you! I only needed a little bit!”

    At this, Evelyn produced a short dagger from her boot, and held it ready in her right hand, assuming an alert posture. “A little bit of what? My blood?” Her thumb pulls back the hammer on her revolver. She pulls the trigger again.

    Another bullet pierces the creature’s body, sending its screams soaring into the upper registers. Now, its body unfurls like an origami of bone and flesh into something distinctly nonhuman. It cranes its neck, exposed spinal column clattering like centipede’s legs, and launches forward, narrowly missing Evelyn as it almost literally throws its own head like a whip through the hallway.

    The long spindly neck undulates in the air briefly, the spinal column rattling, as Evelyn lifts her dagger up and swings it down in a ferocious arc. “Well you can’t have it!” she grunts, knife lodged in the still-undulating neck.

    The creature howls and writhes as Evelyn hacks at its neck. Its claws reach forward, knocking Evelyn aside and slamming her against the wall like a wet sock. It tries to dig out the knife lodged in its throat. “It hurts it hurts!”

    Then it crumples on the floor.

    A phone call sounds from one of the rooms.

    Evelyn pants heavily, trying to regain her breath. Slowly, she pushes herself to her feet, back braced against the wall. She gives the crumpled creature a cursory glance, considering removing the knife, then reconsidering it in case it’s not really dead. She gingerly steps over it, trying to back away, when she hears the ringing phone.

    “Uh…” She looks up and down the hall, trying to catch where the ringing is coming from, but the echo makes that somewhat difficult. She inspects several doors, giving the monster a respectful berth, before finally triangulating the noise behind a heavy wooden door.

    She tries the handle, and gives a push.

    The door pushes open easily. Behind the door is a sparse room whose only furnishing is a small rotary telephone at the far wall. The phone is ringing.

    Without being able to account for it, Evelyn had the strangest feeling of déjà vu. She approaches the telephone warily and, at that moment realizing her pistol was still out, re-holsters it. She picks up the receiver - a bit unsurely, she had only actually used a telephone once, and seen one twice - and speaks.

    “Good… evening?” she says into the receiver, looking around the room for some kind of bearings. Of course there was nothing else in the room.

    “Hello? Hello?” the voice on the other end says. It is a man’s voice, relentlessly cheerful. Given the context, it almost sounds mocking. “I say, what’s with the noise up there?”

    “I beg your pardon? Who is this?” Evelyn pulls the receiver away from her ear to inspect it visually - yeah, just an apparently-normal telephone receiver.

    “Who am I? Why, I haven’t been asked that in ages!” the voice says cheerily. “Honestly, I thought I knew, but now, I’m not sure anymore! I’ve been down here for so long. Studying worms, you know? Are you from the Academy? Have the Headmaster finally sent for me?”

    “I… uh… I am from the Academy…” Evelyn says slowly. “Do… do you need help?”

    “Help? Oh no, we are all beyond help now,” the voice answers. “Have you encountered a worm, by any chance? I thought I heard some fighting up there. Hey, you aren’t a worm pretending to be a human, now, are you?”

    “No, I’m a human,” Evelyn reassures the voice. “At least, I’m pretty sure. I guess I… have encountered a worm.” She frowns. “You say you’re beyond help? What do you mean by that? Where are you?”

    “Oh, somewhere below,” the voice answers. “See, we were running some experiments down here and, heh, we donked up for good.”

    “See, for a long, long time, we didn’t know what exactly the worms wanted from us. Aside from wanting to turn the earth into a place like… hahaha… this… we didn’t know why they hunted us so on the surface. So we observed them. We fed them. And then,” the voice falls into a whisper.

    “They turned into humans when we fed them enough souls.”

    “There was a containment breach some time ago. These ‘humans’ escaped long ago. I assumed that everyone up there was infested by now! But hah! You are here! If you are fighting the worms, you must not be one of them! Unless, of course, ‘you’ got eaten and now you are a worm. I’m afraid that I can’t exactly reveal where I’m hiding down here.”

    This was a lot of information, and Evelyn’s head briefly reeled. “You’re… hiding?” she manages at length. “You’re hiding. And this whole place is a…” She looks around the empty room, and thinks about the bizarre hallway lined with… cell doors. “...Science experiment.”

    “Oh, oh no,” the voice says. “This place’s been here long, long before we arrived. We just moved in like a hermit crab would find a new shell! At least, I think we did. Hell if I remember. It’s very useful place, no? Free real estate. Besides, because there is no light here, normal laws of reality doesn’t exactly apply! It’s a very, very fascinating place to study the world. Did you know that the worms aren’t actually blind?”

    Evelyn was only half-listening at this point. Somehow the environment was only now raising the hackles on her neck - and how. Automatically, her mouth moved. “Do you know of someone named ‘Samantha’ by any chance?”

    “Oh, you know her?” the voice says. “She was interning with one of the professors here. Went up to find help when everything went to hell. Did she send you down here?”

    This only raises more questions all around, but Evelyn takes it in stride. The very fact she was down here in the first place, looking for Samantha, made no hypothesis too ridiculous. Whatever Samantha was doing down here, at some point she left safety; she went up to find help.

    Evelyn looks back at the door to the hallway. She speaks out of the side of her mouth into the receiver: “Yeah. She did. Well, sit tight. Help has arrived.”

    “Oh, there is one very, very important thing you should know, if you are going to fight the worms!” the voice cheerfully adds. “It’s imperative that you always keep calm and be cheerful! The worms can only see you if you fear them. I’m still not sure how that works.”

    Evelyn regards this knowledge grimly. “Thanks for the tip,” she says. “Well, whoever-you-are, you’ll either hear from me again, or you won’t. Cheers.” She hangs up the receiver without waiting for a reply, and pulls out her revolver again, pushing the cylinder out and reloading the two empty chambers. She steps back out into the hallway, and regards the dead worm balefully. She yanks the dagger free from its neck, steps over its body, and continues walking down the hall, venturing deeper into the twilight complex.

    [written: Crezth & Seon]
    Last edited: Oct 6, 2019
    Kyzarc Fotjage and Seon like this.
  8. Kyzarc Fotjage

    Kyzarc Fotjage Rise Up

    Apr 16, 2009
    Western Washington
    Spoiler Deedee's Wormy Adventure :
    Nirvanic Club is possibly one of the most unique place in all of the Town and the Tower.
    Unique because it almost seems normal. At least, what passes for normal in this cryptic, fog infested town. The Clubroom is a rather aggressively normal looking shed next to the enigmatic looking Tower. To be fair to whoever built it, it is clear that some effort has been made so that norma- ‘usual’ students of the Tower would not notice the building as they move to and from the Tower and its sister buildings in the Lakeshore campus. The Shed is situated by the lake, but behind an orchard and a rather gothic looking structure that reminds DeeDee of old cathedrals.

    The shed itself is rather reminiscent of cabins from Friday 13th movies. Given circumstances, perhaps not exactly the most enticing of comparisons.

    The door is left unlocked. There are clearly people inside.

    Deedee stands in front of her own body, giving it a critical look as Karry tries to stand straight. Its not her fault she’s got a perpetual slouch, tis just one o’ them things that happens to science students, like diplomas or rings under the eyes. Natural part of their evolution sort o’ thing. The drapes weren’t the greatest of cloaks, but it weren’t too awful either. Lucky Sil was a dab hand with the needle. She gave herself a grave nod and Karry returned it, then turned to lurch through the door. Now that was just plain unnecessary, though she had to admit, she made a dang fine Igor. Igorinna? Igorette? One o’ thems.

    Inside, many students around DeeDee’s age in normal (!!!) looking clothes (rather than something out of 1920s) are gathered around dozens of maps, charts, pictures, and documents and loudly arguing about something that she can’t quite understand. (“No no, I’m sure the Town actually actively expands as result of observation--”) (“Clearly it doesn’t! I’m sure that the Town itself remains static, while our own capability to observe is being influenced somehow--”)

    One of the students notices DeeDee’s presence and shushes everyone else in the room. “Uh, hello? Can we help you?”

    Karry was… dangit, Karry had frozen up. She never was good with crowds. Deedee gave her an encouraging thumbs up, saw her breath in, breath out, then smile just as she’d taught her.

    “Hello, I am K-Deedee. I was told this was the location of the Nirvanic Club, who are investigating all the strange phenomena around the school?” Deedee nodded and gave another encouraging thumbs up. She nailed it.

    “Oh! Well, then, you are in the right place!” the student beams at DeeDee. He’s about her height. Bespectacled. Maybe kind of nerdy, or at least, gives off that impression. “Welcome to the Nirvanic Club! Don’t ask why it’s named that way. It was just like that when we got here. We are still totally trying to figure out what exactly we are supposed to be doing. Funnily enough, everyone else in the Tower seems to no more about what the Nirvanic Club is supposed to be than Club members!” He gives off a nervous laugh.

    “But seriously. We’ve been reading some of the files and charts we found in this cabin and we are trying to get to the bottom of the mystery, you know? What the Town is. What the Tower is. We are trying to get to the bottom of it all. But uh, we kinda ran into a problem.”

    Okay, okay, com’on Karry, you got this. No, don’t look at me, look at them, no dangit, not the… okay, fine yeah, I guess looking at the charts are fine. She seemed to be relaxing somewhat, that should make things go smoothly. “Problem? Something weird or supernatural?” Aaaaaand encouraging smile to get them to say more after a leading question. Good, years of listening to old professors blather on are finally kickin’ in.

    The charts seem meaningless and rather difficult to understand, at least to Deedee. A title of one read: “light level of town by distance from Tower.” Another, paired with a nice little map, read: “Height of Tower as determined from X.”

    “Well, let’s face it, everything is damned weird and supernatural in the Town,” the boy says. “Name’s Terry, by the way.”

    “Yes, but nothing in this town makes *sense*!” a girl chimed in. She raised up her glasses as she pointed at the charts. “Measured values and analysis don’t match up with others!”

    “That’s Suk-Gyeong,” Terry says. “She’s been running the last few ops. She’s been trying to map the town and actually gather scientific data on the Town and the Tower. Unfortunately our measurements keep disagreeing with each other.”

    “There seems to be some kind of localized reality or something in each section of the town. Measurements in local area all match up, but move to another area and try to measure the same thing and WHAM. Everything is different!”

    Karry!Deedee leaned forward as she peered at the chart and begins to fire off questions in rapid-fire succession, “That... makes no sense. What happens when you’re directly observing the Tower and move from one of these regions to another? Is it a sharp transition or a gradual one? If two individuals approach the same point from different regions, constantly observing as they go, will their observations match at the destination or will their origin influence what they measure? What measurements vary from location to location? What occurs if you take some object of known length, say, a tape measure, and slowly transition between regions, does the tape stretch evenly along its length or are there irregularities along its length? Is there any pattern to the irregularities? Do the irregularities remain constant over time, if not do they transition instantly or gradually over time? Do they ever seem to change location?” Karry hesitated, slightly out of breath, as she took in their slightly stunned expressions, “Sorry, I can get carried away.”

    “Uh,” Suk-Gyeong stammers. “Honestly we literally just started compiling these data and we aren’t sure yet. We initially thought that the changes must be gradual. Because the tower, uh, always seems to stay the same height no matter where it is observed.”

    “But our instruments… while admitting that there is a possibility of error, showed that it isn’t actually a gradual change! The Tower seems to orient its perceived height based on local geographic features, which remain static. When we jump from one ‘zone’ of the Town to another, there is a sharp change in its height. We aren’t sure if it is caused by some kind of mind affecting thing, or if space just kinda behave really weirdly out here.”

    Karry cracked her knuckles and starts leafing through the piles of notes, not even looking at the pair of students anymore. She absentmindedly reached for a pocket and frowned faintly at her glasses not being there. “Which is it, does the apparent height change based on the observer’s position or not? Or do you mean that the tower’s height over the observer is constant, regardless of the observer’s elevation? So if, for instance, I was atop the roof the top of the tower is the same distance above me as if I were at street level.”

    “I think what’s happening,” Suk-Gyeong suggests. “That the Town isn’t actually a contiguous location as normally assumed, but multiple ‘locations’ that are connected together by anomalous means.”

    “I think what’s happening is that there are certain ‘places’--buildings, important monuments, what haveyou-- in the Town which exert some kind of localized bubble of reality around it. And the Town is an amalgamation of these reality bubbles, rather than existing in one contiguous plane of existence. Inside each bubble, an observer’s relationship to the Tower based on location remain consistent. Go to the next bubble, and suddenly there’s a radical shift in relations, but something anomalous prevents us from recognizing the sudden shift.”

    “Of course, whatever odd thing is happening in the Town with regards to its relationship to the Tower doesn’t apply to this island that the Tower is actually on, but I think that’s because the Tower itself serves as these uhh… Places of Power, shall we say that exert a reality bubble.”

    “The work we are doing now is identifying important places of power in the Town to create a better map of how far each ‘bubble’ and ‘sectors’ fit into the map.”

    “We’ve so far determined,” Terry says. “Three Places of Power in the Town. The Starbucks chain shop. The theater. The Whaler’s shack for some odd reason.”

    “And we are trying to move onto another sector. We’ve so far narrowed down the Place of Power in sector A-4 to the following buildings. An Observatory, a jail, and a printing shop of some kind.”

    Karry nods slowly, still not looking up from the maps, “I can investigate the...” she trailed off, listening to a conversation noone else could hear as Lia, Sil, and Johnny finally showed up, apparently bored with wherever they’d wandered off to. They were, of course, bickering and only caught the tail end of the conversation. The three of them all spoke at once

    “What's gonnae oan? we're gonnae gang see 'at braw whaler?”

    “There’s a local theater? Sounds perfect for getting to know people”

    “Wow, this place is absolutely full of nerds isn’t it. You almost done Karry?”

    “Theater? we can dae sae much better than make believe, an' Ah bit th' whaler has better stories tae bit”

    “For the last time, we ain’t going to see the whaler. He sounds like he’s unstable even by the piss-poor standards of this place”

    “There isn’t call for that sort of comment, Miss Can’t-Dip-Worth-a-Damn”

    “I’m taking your side Johnny for Christsake, and how is it my fault that you can’t handle a bit of pain?”

    “She’s twelve Lia, you’re probably crippling her for life! You want her to end up like one of them child-hercules who’re stunted for their adult lives?”

    “There's naethin' wrang wi' a bairn daein' a stoaner days wark. a lot ay problems woods be fixed if fowk woods gonnae-no coddlin' kids”

    Deedee shook her head and shared a long-suffering look with Karry as the bickering continued unabated, “Com’on guys, she’s been a good sport with all the dancin’ and stuff. It's her choice this time.”

    Karry nodded to her and refocused on Terry and Suk-Gyeong, who were exchanging concerned glances. “My apologies, as I was saying I can go investigate the observatory, if you’ve got a tape measure, compass, and map I can borrow to triangulate the boundaries”

    “Sure, Sure,” Suk-Gyeong says. “We were actually about to head out and do the same right now.”

    “I have a hypothesis that I want to test out myself,” Terry says. “There’s an alternative explanation to the whole Place of Power theory.” Suk-Gyeong elbows him in the stomach. “Your theories are stupid and you know it!”

    Karry looks around the room again, then turns to the door, “Well, there’s no time like the present. You can elucidate your alternative hypothesis on the way.” Two-three-four and smile. Good, Karry was back in the ‘get academics talking’ groove. Nodding to herself, Deedee turned her attention back to breaking up Sil and Lia. Well, getting Lia to let Sil out of the headlock. Giving half-bald people noogies just felt mean-spirited. Sometimes it was hard being the mature one.

    “Alright, alright,” Terry says. “So, my hypothesis is that the so called ‘reality bubbles…’”

    “C’mon, are we seriously calling them that now?” asks a voice from the back.

    “Shut up Billy, nobody asked you! Anyways, these reality bubbles… my hypothesis is that they are not, in fact, connected to locations, but rather, an important people living in them. In places where we determined that there was a person of some importance living the--”

    “And how is a glorified boatman and a Starbucks employee a person of some importance?”

    “Oh come on, that’s just semantics re: Whaler. He’s clearly someone important. Haven’t you seen his scars?”

    Suk Gyeong Scoffs. Terry continues: “And as for Samael, how is it that nobody questions that a *Starbucks* opened up shop here of all godforsaken places?!”

    As the two continues to argue, the gang comes close to the Whaler. His body is mostly hidden inside a billowing cloak, but occasionally everyone can hear the gnashing of gears. “Where to?” he asks.

    Karry opens her mouth and Silvester spoke, Deedee’s body shifting from the hunched, slightly worried slouch of an academic into the relaxed and ready slouch of the elderly. A bit rude that, but fair’s fair, not as though we’d been doin’ much stuff that were o’ interest to him since arrivin’ and he’d hit if right off with the old fart. Somethin’, somethin’ avast me barnacles. “Awrite again, hoo is th' fishin' gonnae? We're jist headin' in toon tae check it th' observatory”

    Deedee patted the annoyed Karry on the arm, havin’ to reach up a fair bit. Weren’t fair how all her friends was taller than her, would’t ha’e been so hard for just one o’ them to be her height? “Don’t worry nonelikes, he’ll gi’e it back once we’re back on shore, you’ll ain’t miss nuthin’.”

    The Whaler nods. Once boarded, the boat begins its short trip across the lake towards the observatory--visibly jutting out atop a hill in the middle of the Town. “It is odd,” Suk Gyeong says. “How such a small town in the middle of probably almost literally nowhere has like, *everything* inside.”

    “That is because it is not in the middle of nowhere,” the Whaler says.

    Sil gave an easy smile, visibly relaxing as the rowboat leaves the dock. “Och pure? what's th' area aroond haur loch 'en? we huvnae hud a chance tae swatch aroond much yit ”

    The Whaler winces, perhaps trying his best to understand the accent. “Everywhere,” he manages to say. “Occasionally, even places which does not exist yet. Your alchemy teacher is from such a place. He’s been exiled here for a crime that he has yet to commit. He has yet to commit them because the world he hails from does not yet exist. If the worms have their way, it’ll truly never exist, either.”

    Sil frowned, making a disgusted face, "worms? ick, cannae stain them. is thaur some kin' ay w'rm problem aroond haur?"

    “Oh yes,” the Whaler says. “Horrid creatures, they are. I do not know when exactly they appeared--it seems as if they were always around even when I arrived at the Town--but they hunt unwary visitors here at the Town. You students are their favorite prey. They do not teach you this at the Tower, I see,” the Whaler rows silently for a few moments.

    “It’s true,” Terry says. “We at the Club had some… rather distressing encounters with the worms when we were in the Town.”

    “It’s no real danger,” the Whaler says. “Just keep calm and ignore them.”

    “Kinda hard to do,” Suk Gyeong mutters.

    “Dornt fash yerse, i've got bitts. unless these ur a body ay those sain worms in th' desert 'at eat fowk, Ah micht need bigger bitts fur 'at. got onie advice oan avoidin' them altogether? ”

    “Keep calm,” the Whaler repeats. “Ignore them, and they won’t hurt you. Ah, here we are,” the boat gently comes to a stop by a pier. There’s a path leading out of it all the way up the hill towards where the Observatory can be seen. “But if you must face them, don’t try to face them alone. Keep a weapon. They aren’t usually as tough as they can be. Beware those with red eyes.”

    Suk Gyeong hops out of the boat. “The Whaler tends to suddenly talk a lot like that when the subject of worms comes up,” she says. “I think it’s his favorite subject.”

    “He hunts them in his spare time, I think,” Terry mutters as he crawls out of the boat.

    Sil gives the Whaler a respectful nod as he steps back onto dry land, “Ah can respect 'at, they're mingin' things.”

    Deedee shook as Karry stepped back in, “Let us keep going, and I guess keep an eye out for worms? What is the deal with them? I assume they’re not literal earthworms or the like.”

    Terry winces. “No,” he says. “No, no they are not.”

    “According to the history lessons at the Tower,” Suk-Gyeong cuts in. “They were almost extinct as of a few hundred years ago due to a concerted extermination campaign by the gods, but they learned how to take human forms since. They have overran several worlds and Histories afterwards.”

    “The ones in the Town look human, but not quite,” Terry says. “Not quite sure how else to explain it. They don’t look ‘right.’”

    “The most dangerous ones though,” Suk-Gyeong adds after a moment. “Are those who are indistinguishable from humans… Or the ones who successfully took over a human body, I don’t know if there’s a difference. We… met one in the town. Once.”

    “We almost died.”

    Karry stumbles for a moment as Sil and Lia try to step in, but Deedee pushes them away frowning, “But what are they? Are we speaking of shapeshifters, parasites, a plague? And if they are a threat to the student body why has the faculty not taken steps to securing us against them, even simply warning us during the initiation? Surely something that the ‘gods’ find threatening would be something they do not desire anywhere near the campus.” The quotes around ‘gods’ snap into place with practiced ease.

    Sil and Lia, meanwhile are arguing, Sil sounding worried, “Ah dunnae kinn whit gods they're talkin' abit, but if these things ur a threat tae yoong miss 'en we shooldnae be wanderin' aroond toon loch thes.”

    Lia’s cockiness is unabashed in the face of his near-incomprehensible accent, “Come’on, I bet these skinny nerds just ran into a bum and the sailor is tryin’ to scare them”

    Sil reaches for the body, shaking his head, “It isnae worth th' risk, we shoods gang back. mebbe th' whaler knows mair, if he fights them regularly mebbe he has some tips”

    Deedee steps between them and Karry, “No, we all agreed it were Karry’s turn. If’n things turn real roughlike and it looks dangerous then we’ll be turnin’ back, but we ain’t gonna just turn tail cause o’ some scary stories ‘bout shapeshiftin’ bug people”

    Lia nods in agreement, “Yeah, besides, that tower didn’t sound too safe neither but that didn’t stop us, did it?”

    Sil lowers his hand, still shaking his head, “First sign ay danger, ye hear me?”

    Lia rolls her eyes, but Deedee nods and gives both her and Karry meaningful looks until they both nod, though Karry was somewhat distracted. “First sign o’ danger.”

    “Shapeshifters, plague, or a parasite?” Terry muses.

    “How about all of the above?” Suk Gyeong adds.

    “As for the reason why they don’t warn us about this stuff, my theory is that somehow, knowing and worrying about them makes their danger to us more… uh, ‘real’ than it really is,” Terry adds. “I have a feeling that they aren’t actually real.”

    “But things don’t have to be real to be able to hurt us in this world.” The Observatory is close now. “We don’t actually know what the Observatory studies,” Suk Gyeong says. “It’s been abandoned for quite a while, I think.”

    “The faculty clamped up when we asked them about it,” Terry says. “Must be a pretty important place if they don’t want to talk about it.”

    “What better place to search for when we are looking for a Place of Power?”

    “They refused to elucidate on its function or history, but they also didn’t refuse your entry to it? That sounds like they want us to explore it, otherwise they would’ve given a false story about its purpose and contents. Leaving it a mystery will attract the curious like flies.”

    “Maybe?” Terry says. “I don’t think they are allowed to blatantly lie--the faculty, I mean.”

    “At least, that’s what they tell us, anyways,” Suk-Gyeong adds cautiously.

    “We tried lying a few times in the island where the Tower is,” Terry says. “We can do it but it, uh, really feels kinda wrong.”

    “And it actually starts hurting when we try to do it at the higher levels of the Tower. Feels like words are made of fire when we lie.”

    “Besides, I don’t think the faculty actually cares that much about teaching us,” Terry concludes cynically. “I think we are part of some kind of huge experiment. Or a ritual, or something.”

    “It is no great matter to lie using facts, just read some grant proposals sometime.” Karry!Deedee smiles as she says that, then goes back to focusing on the steps up to the Observatory “Then why the facade of teaching? If they can truly create fire using their mind or turn the air to steel or whatever it is they do, would it be so difficult to subdue and restrain us? Surely that would allow for more controlled experimental conditions then allowing us to roam free, exposing ourselves to dangerous influences, such as these worms, or investigating their activities”

    “Hmm,” Suk Gyeong says. “Not sure.”

    “I think they just need one or maybe a few of us to learn whatever it is they want us to learn,” Terry says. “The rest of us can become worm food for all they care.”

    “Ah, here it is.” Suk-Gyeong says as the Observatory becomes close. It is a rusted hulk of a building. The roof where the telescope presumably extends from is closed. The rusty, metal door blocks the way.

    “Shouldn’t be too difficult to op--” Suk-Gyeong says as she touches the handle. “Huh, that’s weird. It’s open already.”

    “Maybe some other kids before us came to explore,” Terry shrugs. “Let’s go inside.”

    Karry nods and pushes on the door, making a note of this further evidence that the faculty wants us to go here.

    The inside is as much of a rusted, nasty hulk as the Observatory looks from the outside. However, it is clear that somebody else was here before DeeDee and the others were here. There are footsteps all over. On the far wall, somebody has taken the opportunity to almost literally plaster the wall with drawings and notes about… something. It looks rather similar to graphs and datapoints that Club Nirvanic produces back at the Clubhouse, except with rather insane amount of notes on the margin. In fact, the amount of notes and scrawlings on the pages makes the actual data rather hard to read, and the statements they say makes all of it look like insane conspiracy theory spouting rather than any actual real scientific data.

    “What the hell?!” Suk-Gyeong says as she notices the graphs. She moves to inspect it.

    DeeDee hears a faint footstep running away deeper inside the Observatory. Terry does not seem to have heard it. “Hey, don’t wander too far!” he says, chasing after Suk Gyeong. “We don’t want to split up inside this place.”

    Karry turns to look in the direction of the footsteps as she follows after them, one hand reaching in a pocket for Sil’s small whittling knife, “It would appear that we’re not alone here. Perhaps some rogue student is conducting their own investigation?”

    “What?” Terry says. “Maybe? I wouldn’t rule it out. There are definitely people here who might be crazy enough to do it on their own.”

    “Jeez, I can’t make any sense of any of these data,” Suk Gyeong says, oblivious. “There’s just so much stuff!”

    Karry steps in the direction she heard the footsteps fleeing, calling out. “Hello there? We wish you no harm. If you come out we can compare our findings”

    The footsteps came from a long and narrow hallway. It’s dark, and it’s hard to tell what lies inside it. Then, in lieu of an answer, Karry can hear (and faintly see) a coin being tossed on the floor.

    If whatever’s inside is trying to lure Karry away, it’s using a rather stereotypical method to do so.

    Karry gives the coin a long stare, then calls out again “Would I be correct in assuming that you are one of the ‘worms’ that I have been hearing of?”

    Another coin drops onto the hallway, rolling towards Karry.

    “You found something?” Terry asks from the other end of the room. “Sorry, Suk Gyeong really wants to figure out these charts and graphs. Suk Gyeong! We can just look at them later!”

    “Okay! Okay! Let me take a few pictures first!”

    Yet another coin.

    Karry steps back, still facing the hallway and keeping away from the coin. “I believe we should vacate the premises. Someone is trying to separate us and draw us in deeper. Does that sound like a familiar modus operandi?”

    Suk Gyeong and Terry freezes. “...Act like you didn’t notice them,” Suk Gyeong whispers. “Don’t acknowledge them. Don’t act like they are there. We can’t leave. Not yet.”

    “Ah.” Karry turns to face the charts, but can’t help but keep the hallway in her peripheral vision. It didn’t help that both Lia and Sil were staring intently that way, both clearly tensed to leap at the first sign of danger.

    Terry and Suk-Gyeong for their part appears to have adopted to the situation perfectly. They are, in fact, not even bothering to keep the hallway in their peripheral vision as they bicker endlessly about some inane part of the chart.

    Karry notices something slightly peering out from the hallway, looking at the group. She stiffens and takes an involuntary step away, putting a little more distance between her and the door. Lia, in contrast, takes a step closer, only to be grabbed in the arm by a scowling Sil. Deedee, seeing Karry starting to panic, steps in. With a false grin plastering her face she points at one of the charts at random, “Wha’ that bit mean? The squiggly one with all the red and yellow bits”

    “I’m not quite sure,” Terry says, stroking his chin almost theatrically. “I’m fairly sure it’s talking about the innate redness of yellow and how orange isn’t a real color. Or something along those lines.”

    “...I don’t even think you are wrong and I hate it,” Suk Gyeong says. “Most of the things here are junk! I bet somebody put it here just to lure us in or something!”

    There’s something big and wet behind Deedee. “That’s…. Strange…” a new voice says behind her. “I… thought… I could…. Seeee something…”

    Deedee frowns as the shape gets closer, “Orange ain’t a color? Now that just sound patently all false. This sounds like one o’ them greek philosofas who said all stuff is made of fire or water or suchlike, and ain’t a mix o’ everything all together at all.”

    She ponders a long moment, then turns a little to the side to catch Karry’s eye. She was standing transfixed alongside Sil and Lia, staring at whatever was right behind her. “Would’ja mind go fetchin’ ‘Arry? I expect they’ll be wantin’ to check this wall o’ crazy out too.”

    Suddenly a thought occurs as Karry, still staring back, slowly backs away, then runs from through the wall towards the Tower, “Oh! A trap! Its like Ka-like I was sayin’ earlier, this is probably somethin’ the facili-facul-teachers set up to draw in over-curious students and make ‘em do puzzle work, try to tease out meanin’s and the like. Work on basic reasonin’ and logic and that sort o’ thing. Does that sound right to y’all two?” Lia and Sil, shaking off their initial shock, exchange a silent look then take up positions on either side of Deedee.

    “Right! Right!” Terry nods vigorously. Suk Gyeong nods too with a wide smile. “That must be it! Mystery solved! We can leave now!”

    “They tend to appear… when I… do… this…” the creature extends a long, spindly, misshapen limb to the center of the group. There’s a gleaming coin at its fingers. “When I drop it… I sometimes… see them…”

    Deedee smiles as she turns to face the exit, Sil standing directly between her and the creature and blocking her view while Lia had one hand on her shoulder, ready to take over, “I’m feelin’ a might peckish. You folks want to head to that coffeeshop for a snack? I bet it’d be real informative to see one o’ those places o’ power so we knows exactly what to be lookin’ for in the future.”

    “God, yes!” Terry and Suk Gyeong agree at once. A coin drops, clanging on the floor. To their credit, neither of the two Clubmembers appear to acknowledge the event. “That’s…. Strange…” the creature moans. While the bulk of the creature is covered from Deedee, the places where it can be seen can be best described as a vaguely humanoid-looking centipede. It appears to be deaf and blind as a bat though, so hopefully that means it’s utterly harmless.

    Someone who doesn’t look as harmless is the girl holding a knife standing by the entranceway, observing the whole shenanigan with a small smirk on her face. She gives a small wave. In the faint light, her eyes glint red. Then, she starts walking closer.

    Terry and Suk Gyeong chatters as they walk through the creature, seemingly not having noticed the girl… or doing their best to pretend that they didn’t.

    Deedee frowns at the two of them, was the girl one o’ them human shaped worm folks? The eyes were pretty weirdlike, and that knife didn’t look too friendly either. The other two seemed to think she were, lessen there were other folks you was just supposed to ignore, but if she were why wasn’t she mostly ignorin’ them like the big thing was? Well, sort o’ was. Well, they seemed to be knowin’ what they was doin’, so I guess just follow their lead? And if one o’ them gets cut then let Lia take over, she were the best in a scrap and didn’t have qualms ‘bout hittin’ a girl like Sil did. With a shrug and as much confidence and willful ignorance as she can muster, Deedee follows after.

    “Hey, you!” the girl with the knife says. Terry and Suk Gyeong almost jumps out of their skins. Deedee runs face first into a very, very solid centipede-human creature. The monster, for its part, swiftly turns to look at the girl with the red eyes. “You!” the creature hisses. “I can see-”

    “Yeah, buzz off,” the girl says, and throws the knife at the creature’s face, embedding it deep into its… skull… or exoskeleton or whatever it was supposed to be. “You folks better be running now,” she muses as the creature staggers to the side, screaming. “Next time, maybe knock before you enter my house, sheesh.”

    Terry and Suk Gyeong looks at each other, clearly uncertain, before breaking into a sprint towards the door.

    Lia steps in as Deedee stumbles back and the stumble transitions smoothly into a runner’s crouch. She lunges forward, young muscles creaking at the sudden strain, and ducks around the centipede, one foot slipping as she did so. Fu-friggin sandals, not enough traction. She told the others that Deedee should wear sneakers, but noooo. When they get out of this she was going to throw out her other shoes, maybe also toss those stupid jeans that Johnny got. What’s the point of clothes you can’t move in? The slip turns into a slide, then a roll, then another crouch, this one lower to the ground, with one hand on Sil’s whittling knife. God that thing was hideous. How could Deedee just ignore it? Probably the same way she seemed to shrug off ‘Arry. Doesn’t matter, got to reach the exit. Monsters don’t like daylight, right? And the girl with the knife seemed-oh, she didn’t have a knife anymore. Well, she still seemed confident. Just gotta get past her, let her deal with the human centipede.

    “Come on Come on!” Terry and Suk Gyeong hisses from the open doorway. Deedee has no problem making it to the open entrance, at which point the two slam the entranceway shut. The last scene Deedee sees inside is the girl with the red eyes laughing as she almost literally tears apart the monster limb by limb with her bare hands.

    “I’ve…” Terry gasps for breath. “I’ve never seen one that human before.”

    Lia skids to a halt, a thin sheen of sweat on her face. She is grinning widely as she breathes heavily. “She was tearing that thing apart with her bare hands, I think that means she ain’t fully human. Well, unless that thing were paper mache or somethin’, but that don’t seem too likely. I assume that was one of those worm things?”

    “Yes,” Suk Gyeong says. “They all have red eyes--that seems to be the one thing that they can’t hide.”

    “The more human like they are,” Terry says. “Stronger they become. Although I have seen some exceptions. The ones we fought before weren’t actually *that* tough though, just really, really, damned scary.”

    “So she were one of them? Weird, I guess she was speakin’ at the centipede then. Explains the red eyes though. Guess we ain’t gonna hang around to chat then. Where’s that coffee place anyhow? I’m a bit hungry. Y’all can tell me about the other ones you fought, prolly useful to know what they can do if’n I run into one again.”

    “Coffee place is close by,” Suk Gyeong says starting a brusque walk as quickly as she can away from the observatory. “The other one we fought… well, more like ran away from… also looked rather like human. We thought it was a human at first glance, in fact.”

    “Until we realized that she was walking around with her spine broken,” Terry quips, running after her. “Are they boneless? I guess they are worms after all.”

    “We need to put as much distance between us and… whatever it was inside the observatory,” she says. “I don’t know why that red eyed thing helped us, but I don’t want to risk it changing its mind.”

    Behind them, the door to the observatory slams open. The girl with the red eyes walk out, knife back in her hand. She spots the three, and gives a wave. In the better light, Deedee notices that her limbs seem… oddly proportioned. Too thin. Perhaps, too elongated.

    “Run,” Terry says.

    Lia does so with a wide smile, luxuriating in the pumping adrenaline. And here she was worried that school would be boring.
    Crezth likes this.
  9. Seon

    Seon Not An Evil Liar

    Jan 20, 2009
    Not Lying through my teeth
    @LordArgon Really sorry about the late response. Somehow, this slipped my mind entirely.

    The man quickly dons the costume for the Queen of the River. A wise decision--there is nobody in the town who will interfere with the work of the Queen of the River--punishment for doing so is death, for the given value of death in this town anyways. However, it should be known that the Queens of the River are scripted to die in the play they appear in. He escapes, for now, to a different location. Good news.

    Bad news, however, is that now the Drama Club is hell-bent on locating and killing him before the start of the next play. "The script must be followed," you hear them intone as they organize a hunter-killer party in the Tower. "Or else there will be literally hell to pay."

    More will come in the news article to follow.

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