Scroll - Blood Fiction in Weekly Parts

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Re: Scroll - Blood Fiction in Weekly Parts

Postby Tchernobog » Tue Jul 22, 2014 12:22 am

dosgamer000 wrote:Already on chapter 20 now...seems like it was yesterday when you started this.

Not to me, but anyway... :P
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Re: Scroll - Blood Fiction in Weekly Parts

Postby Tchernobog » Mon Jul 28, 2014 06:24 am

I must admit to being a little rushed with this one again; I procrastinated at the beginning of the week and then was called in for a full day of honey extraction on Friday, something which can really knock you off your feet. So I decided to try a different tact and make this next section actually function as a proper walkthrough for most of the level. As you can see, the story wrote itself.

Part Twenty One: Gothic Library

Johnny watched in quiet awe as Caleb threw open the large steel gate that presented the only admissible entrance to the massive structure that laid before them. This was no quiet small town regional library tucked into the middle of nowhere, but a massive complex that promised to hold thousands of books. A large brick pathway led up to an intimidating set of steps lined with two stone gargoyles on either side. Caleb gave these a long suspicious glance before proceeding forward, as if he suspected that at least one of them would come alive at any moment. Johnny felt as if he were ascending the steps of a great temple as the two of them made their way to the door.

It was firmly locked shut, just as they had both suspected it would be. Caleb had come prepared for such an eventuality however, and out of his pocket he extracted some lock-picks that he had pilfered from one of the dozier shopkeepers they had encountered earlier that day. For a man who claimed to be an expert in security he had sure not been all that observant of their actual theft. After a few tedious moments the lock finally gave, and Caleb led Johnny inside the library's hallowed walls. A similarly impressive hallway lead into a rotunda wherein a circular librarian's desk sat vacant, an eerie stillness gripping the place, there being no one around to shush them for their noise.

Instead of checking themselves in at reception, Caleb moved Johnny down a separate hallway that was right adjacent to the entrance to the rotunda, a route which took them up a staircase and through two more levels of the massive building. As they ascended Johnny could see the reception area becoming smaller before them, while from the top of the stairs he could then see the third level of the dome, its curved walls lined with books and bookshelves, a rail running in and around the hole in the floor that allowed them yet another glimpse of reception. Caleb also observed a locked door to their right, one with what looked to be a flame symbol emblazoned on either side of it that looked as if it bore some special significance. Caleb went ahead and tried the door, but found it to be locked.

"You going to try and pick it again?" Johnny inquired, sensing his companion's growing frustration at these repeating impediments.

"Not on this one. We are going to have to find the key." Caleb absolutely despised key hunts. The pair headed back down the stairway and stopped again when they reached the reception area, trying their best to get their bearings. There was another door to their right which had a curious looking eye symbol above it, something Johnny took to mean that it contained yet another lock that for whatever reason could not be picked by them. The two then walked forward past the curved reception desk down another hall that took them to a large room that held in front of them yet another door with symbols on either side, this time of a crescent moon.

"I'm getting sick of this..." Caleb muttered angrily to himself. To their left was a bench and several bookcases, as well as a door that led to to the manager's office. This door bore no strange symbols except for the helpful "MANAGER" label at its top, but it still refused to open despite Caleb's exertions. "Ah, its stuck!" he complained, the place now definitely beginning to set off his temper. Seeing nothing else for it but to turn around, the duo this time headed right past several more large bookcases before then hitting a right angle bend that took them to an open study area with several tables and two more bookshelves embedded in the right hand walls.

On the other side was yet more examples of the strange artwork that could be found in abundance in this place, while back on the right hand side a large switch could be seen embedded in the wall between the two bookcases. This immediately drew Caleb's interest, and he walked over and started feeling for it, eventually triggering something that opened a small wooden section of the wall at the far end of the room beside yet another bookcase. Caleb and Johnny promptly rushed forward and walked through the recently discovered opening only to find themselves in yet another maze of books and wood. All these tomes, and yet none of them were the ones they wanted. Caleb and Johnny pressed on through the strange labyrinth.

Then, seeming larger than life, a key could be seen in-between two of the shelves that enclosed all around them. On its handle a large eye could be seen, explaining which door it could be used to operate. Without giving it a second thought Caleb walked over and collected it, right before both he and Johnny started backtracking all the way back from whence they came, eventually ending up back before the rotunda again. Caleb shoved the key into the lock of the door marked with an eye, which to their relief allowed itself to open without incident. There they saw yet more bookcases, and started to search awkwardly for another key.

It was actually Johnny that discovered the room's secret first. In one of the corners a bookshelf lay prone on its back, seemingly knocked over. While Caleb went to examine a rather handsome looking skull he spotted resting behind a desk at the opposite side of the room, Johnny instead examined the overturned bookcase, eventually discovering on one of its edges another large metal switch. He pressed it, causing a bookcase on his left to slide back and reveal another hidden entrance that this time led into the manager's office. Inside, on the manager's desk, Caleb and Johnny finally found what it was they were looking for: a key with a flame symbol emblazoned on it.

The two wasted no time in going back out of the office, through the rotunda, and up the large flight of stairs, finding themselves facing the flame emblazoned door once again. Johnny had no idea what it was about this room that made Caleb attach such a large significance to it, but whatever it was that was waiting for them behind it, it would hopefully give them the answers they needed to carry on with their journey. Before sticking it in the lock, Caleb gave one last tired glance at the key that he now held in his gnarled hands. "Let's never do that again" he stated, right before the flame door started to slowly open in front of them.
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Re: Scroll - Blood Fiction in Weekly Parts

Postby Tchernobog » Mon Aug 04, 2014 05:47 am

Part Twenty Two: Pursuit of Knowledge

The flame emblazoned door opened to show yet another circular room made into an open study area, bookcases lining the rounded sides, surrounding three lonely desks which seemed ominous in their abandonment. It was not exactly the kind of place Johnny had imagined when told he was to be out looking for hidden secrets. Above them another upper level could be seen, ringing around the circle. A doorway on their left led to a stairwell which looked as if it could take them to that upper level. It was then that Johnny noticed something that could change his opinion. Lying at the foot of the stairs was a large dog.

It was not a breed of dog Johnny had ever encountered before. It appeared to be completely hairless, something which only helped accentuate its strange orange skin. Every time it heaved in a breath of air smoke would bellow out as it exhaled, something for which Johnny even had trouble fathoming a reason why. Whatever breed the dog was it was at least asleep, something which Johnny was supremely thankful for. He was both relieved and disturbed to discover that Caleb was considering the creature with just the same level of severity that he was, staying as still as he could, deciding on their next move. The dog snorted, making both of the men jump despite of themselves.

"I hate hell hounds..." Caleb stated under his breath, feeling unable to let that go without comment. Such an ominous handle did little to revive Johnny's laggard spirits. After what seemed like an eternity Caleb finally came up with a plan of action, slowly inching his way along the wall towards the stairwell. Johnny unwillingly followed, his heart beating in what seemed to him to be an unnervingly loud fashion as they passed. The hell hound reflectively sniffed the air as they slid their way by, but whatever awareness it might have had of its new visitors was somehow lost in dreamland. It was presently consumed in hunting down and slaughtering imagined hell hands, devouring them one by one as it went.

Upon reaching the top of the stairs and taking one last nervous glance behind them, Caleb finally relaxed and started to actually walk again. "Just stay quiet..." he whispered to Johnny before moving to take charge of the new area before them. Even more bookshelves were arranged in neat rows, forming yet another labyrinth of paper and wood. Caleb started to take a much greater interest in these shelves, satisfied by the precautions that they had to previously overcome that these books might actually contain some of the knowledge that he sought. Johnny himself noticed that these tomes looked far older than the ones they had seen before, and took that as a sign that they were indeed moving in the right direction.

Caleb's eyes flashed as he spotted one of the more promising candidates, grabbing the ancient volume roughly in his greedy hands. He then threw it away just as carelessly, groaning irritably. "Mere trivia..." he muttered to himself, just as the book hit the ground hard and became lost to the dust. Johnny glanced over at what was left of the cover; the book promised to inform the reader on the proper incantations needed to awaken the dead. He wondered to himself why corpses were not raised more often if the phrasings contained in the tome were really so elementary. Caleb kept scanning the titles, pawing through them with a strange contempt.

Once again it was Johnny that spotted what Caleb had missed. In one of the bookcases was another metal switch, which when pressed opened up an enclosed compartment made up of bookshelves and wooden panelling. Inside was the key for the moon door they had spotted earlier, as well as a large book that was kept separate from the others. Upon further investigation it turned out to be a directory of all the Cabal held property in the region, including an inventory on what important artifacts were being held at each site. It was exactly the kind of thing Caleb was looking for. He scanned the pages for word of his scroll, and in among all the the other numerous entries, including the ones that listed all of the books that he may have just destroyed, he found it.

"The castle is extremely large and ancient, but within its walls lies a gateway to the otherworld" Caleb read out load, going through the entry that outlined where his scroll was supposed to be held. Johnny absently wondered where their noise prohibition had gone. "Here also is to be kept a scroll capable of upsetting the balance of power in the otherworld, overcoming both life and death itself." That last part was written in fresh ink, likely the work of some hooded bookkeeper only a few hours prior to the duo's arrival. Caleb knew that this must be where the gargoyles had taken the scroll. He merely had to find this castle, and claim that which was rightfully his. It was within his grasp again. He could almost feel it.
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Re: Scroll - Blood Fiction in Weekly Parts

Postby Tchernobog » Mon Aug 11, 2014 05:53 am

"Tune in next time on: As 'It burns, it burns'. Enjoy these answers and more soon... we promise. In the meantime, get into some major BLOODBATH!!" - Blood II Epilogue

Part Twenty Three: As It Burns, It Burns

Good things never last for long, and Caleb was smart enough to get out once he was ahead. Cavalierly tearing out the pertinent pages from the Cabal's hard worked directory, he stuffed them into his breast pocket and headed for the stairs, completely forgetting about Johnny. He did not forget about the hell hound however, navigating himself around it just as he had done previously. Johnny, aware that he was being abandoned, attempted to do the same. Good things definitely do not last for long. While on the final step of the landing something in the floor gave slightly, letting out a prolonged and noticeable creak. The hell hound opened its eyes slightly, just in time to see the figure of Caleb disappearing around the corner.

The huge dog vaulted to its feet, tearing off after him. Johnny watched the proceedings in dumb startled horror from his position on the landing. Just as soon as the dog had vanished through the open doorway Caleb chose to reappear, rushing back into the room headed for the stairs again, the trim of his trench coat on fire, booting desks and papers around in his wake. He launched himself towards Johnny, callously shoving him out of the way as he hurried his way up the staircase. After having his face smashed into the wall, Johnny quickly righted himself in time to see the canine swiftly approaching him with hell fire in its eyes, the smell of brimstone permeating the air as it went. Johnny did not have either the time or the lucidity to react.

An arm reached out and grabbed him by the shoulders, pulling Johnny backward up the stairs. He became aware of something rushing in front of him, shielding him from the burst of flames that came shooting out of the dog's mouth. Then he was running. The arm still held firm, yanking him forwards. His legs tried piteously to bring this rush of movement back under his own control, flailing and striking the ground impotently as they went. The smell of burning leather danced in his nostrils as the sound of padded feet could be heard from behind him. Johnny dazedly observed as he was taken down several flights of stairs and back to the library entrance. The large doors flew open and several robbed figures appeared. Bullets flew over Johnny's head.

He was roughly turned around and retreated back to the rotunda. When he got there he was hurled over the reception desk just in time to avoid the sound of something large whooshing in the air above his head. Given no time to rest, the arm returned and hauled him up, forcing him back to his feet. Then he was running again. They ran into the other room and straight for the door with a crescent moon emblazoned on either side. The arm dropped him and quickly popped the key into the keyhole. The doors then opened, moonlight clearly visible on the other side. The arm took him again and with one final effort threw him out into the night, right before rushing out and locking the door behind him. Then Johnny saw Caleb jump into the decorative pool that was in front of them, his backside a brilliant blaze.

After a few moments he resurfaced and removed what was left of his trench coat. His shirt was charred but did not look burnt. The coat, however, was gone. Caleb dug through what was left of it. The pages that he had put into his breast pockets were gone, but that was not what really concerned him at the moment. He extracted a black and charred photograph. All that was left of what it used to portray was the faintest of faint outlines. "Ophelia..." he said under his breath, right before uttering a loud guttural "NOOOO!" He grabbed his shotgun, and then he grabbed Johnny, forcing him against the side of the building. He brought the gun to his temples and cocked it. He paused. He brought the gun down again. He let Johnny go.

"Go home kid" he ordered dismissively. "Go home and leave me alone." Johnny merely gawped at him; it had all happened so fast. Caleb stashed what was left of the photograph into his pant pocket and headed off down the path that led away from the library. Johnny watched him depart helplessly. From somewhere behind the door a loud thumping could be heard as the cultists tried their best to batter the door down. He reluctantly realized that he could not stay here. He looked around for an alternate exit from the one that Caleb had took; there was no safety for him there. He headed over to the large hedgerow that bordered the path and with some effort jumped and climbed over it. From somewhere behind him the door finally gave. Johnny ran. There was nothing else he could do.
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Re: Scroll - Blood Fiction in Weekly Parts

Postby Tchernobog » Mon Aug 18, 2014 06:23 am

Part Twenty Four: Steamboat

The shrieks of birds and the croaking of frogs spread through the humid night air as Caleb tried his best to bury his face into his newspaper. He hated exposing himself to the general public like this, but the only way he could make his way through these bogs in any reasonable amount of comfort was to take the steamboat that flowed down river, even if it did also happen to be a rather popular tourist trap. The world was growing increasingly crowded; all of the quiet places where he could have escaped from humanity's insidious and insipid grip in his early days were slowly disappearing. For the moment, Caleb managed to keep his anger and the bloodlust at bay.

He glanced at some of the articles, not really taking any particular interest. This was not really his world anymore. In Germany, Adolph Hitler was appointed the new Chancellor, while Japan and the Soviet Union had reformed their diplomatic connections. Caleb did not even know where or what many of these places were. He continued to read the paper, if only to ensure that nobody else bothered him. In his own country, unemployment was close to 25%, agriculture continued to be plagued by drought, and a new president was to be inaugurated in the vague hope that he could manage to seal in the cracks. None of this directly affected Caleb, who lived on the margins of society by default, but it did provide a fertile breeding ground for the Cabal.

As more and more people were set adrift, the cult would be there waiting to take them in with open arms. They would offer the hungry and the desperate direction and hope, a vision of the future unrestrained by the current social, economic, and political realities. Those that could be used would be used, while those that could not or would not be used would be eliminated. Even in their weakened state the Cabal could still choose to prune out whoever they wanted; in the current climate there would always be plenty more willing candidates. The thought of all those disposed and dispossessed masses made Caleb's mind return to Johnny once more, and he responded by trying his best shrug the memory of it off yet again.

Caleb never had second thoughts; he would never allow himself to be wrong. Still, there was something about it all that remained to make him feel uncomfortable. Something about the kid always made him stay his hand, a rare privilege. At times he even caught himself rationalizing his own actions by deciding that, in the end, he had actually done the boy a favour by cutting him out. He had not forgotten about the loss of his photograph however, and ultimately he still could not bring himself to forgive Johnny for it. He had saved the boy's life in exchange for it, after all. His new leather trench coat also served to remind him of his losses, with it still fitting uncomfortably stiffly in comparison to his old burned up reliable. At the moment, he hated everything.

The sound of laughter danced in the air as a young attractive couple walked onto the wraparound deck to get a better view of the passing scenery. Caleb, who was sitting in the corner with his back to it all, hoped the two of them would just ignore him. The couple had only recently been married, and were partaking of the steamboat ride as part of their larger honeymoon. This was not the first time that they had burst onto the scene to disrupt his bitterness and melancholy with their over abundant happiness. Caleb held the newspaper in front of his face in a death grip, glaring at the text in the hope they would see that he was reading and just pass him by. The newlywed wife observed this through her overwhelming mirth, and decided to try and spread some of her joy around.

"Why so glum good sir?" she inquired in an all too polished accent; at times like these only the upper classes could enjoy the luxury of retreats, something which would have made Caleb an outsider even if his eyes did not glow in the dark. He slowly lowered the paper and raised those softly glowing red eyes of his to view his unwanted guest, who continued to watch him in gentle amusement. Despite it all Caleb could not help but notice that she was actually rather pretty, dressed and made up well according to the fashion of the time. Caleb hated pretty women. They always served to remind him of what he had lost. To make matters worse, the lady that was presently before him was also a redhead. He felt the natural attraction he felt for her turn to bile in his stomach.

"Save it for someone who cares" he responded disparagingly. She frowned at him rather fetchingly, something that made him despise her all the more.

"Whatever it is it can't be that bad" she observed consolingly, cocking her head. Her red bangs shifted out of position and fell over her eyes just like Ophelia's used to. Caleb decided that he had enough. He got up out of his chair and back onto his feet, forcing all of his domineering height down on her, his now sharply illuminated eyes bearing their way into her's. She stared up at him unsure, still looking far more passive than Caleb would have wished her to be.

"I'm your best reason to be afraid" he warned, his warm breath blowing across her face, resettling those unfortunately familiar bangs. Her husband, who had by now observed all this with a considerable amount of alarm, marched over and gathered his bride protectively in his arms, stepping between her and her present menace. Caleb considered this from his position above, the pair of them looking almost comically small in comparison to his own naturally tall stature. Caleb felt his anger die down as the impotence of the man's defence became evident to him.

"Come on darling, we're leaving" the newlywed said to his wife, who acquiesced with a slight nod of her head before being pulled away forcibly by her husband. Caleb started laughing.

"Pathetic insects" he commented just as the pair of them disappeared around the corner of the deck and out of sight. As they had left the wife had kept her eyes fixed on him, her expression exactly the same as it had been when he was bearing down on her. Caleb felt his cynical glee die down as he realized what that had meant. He had not really managed to change her impression; she was still feeling sorry for him. Caleb sighed, walked over to the rail, and considered the riverbank. This is why he could not have nice things. His thoughts went to Johnny again, but he managed to shrug them off. He then sat down in his chair and went back to reading the paper. He deserved to be alone. There was no other way.
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Re: Scroll - Blood Fiction in Weekly Parts

Postby Tchernobog » Mon Aug 25, 2014 06:00 am

Part Twenty Five: Kneel Before Me

Caleb sat slumped at the steamboat's bar liberally taking shots of something green and very alcoholic while everyone else around him continued to laugh and socialize, most unaware of the real present danger that was currently in their midst. Money was not a problem for Caleb. It had taken several months after parting from Johnny for Caleb to organize this journey, but now that he was here he was quite prepared. The loss of the papers outlining the whereabouts and attributes of the castle where his scroll was kept was a hindrance, but since he now had a very clear idea of what it was he was actually looking for, ascertaining the location of the castle proved to not be very difficult.

Getting there was another matter, however. Caleb had discovered that the castle was located deep in a nearby mountain range. That was troublesome enough, but to get there he would first have to make his way through kilometres of swamps and bogs unless he found a way to go up the river that flowed away down from the summits. At first he thought he could charter a boat from one of the locals, but upon approaching them he found that they were all surprisingly uncooperative. There were many strange stories regarding this part of the world, and all those who lived nearby respected these tales with a reverence that Caleb himself wished he could refute. Unfortunately for him, he actually knew the truth of many of them.

That left him with this luxury steamboat, commanded and utilized purely for the enjoyment of the upper classes, all coming to enjoy the view of what was to them a far distant land without even the slightest clue of what it might actually have in store for them. To get on board Caleb had to of course pay his way, something which he did eventually manage to do by falling back on one of his old tried and true habits from his days as a gunslinger, namely robbing a bank in true old western style. Once that was done it was a relatively simple thing for him to clean himself up, swagger over to the ticket booth, purchase a ticket, climb aboard, and then hold his tongue for the rest of the trip.

Well, it was relatively simple at least. The final part of that plan was proving for him to be increasingly difficult. Caleb allowed himself slight glance over his shoulder where several people were either playing or observing a game of billiards, including the young married couple from earlier. The husband was one of the two that was playing while his wife watched from the sidelines, occasionally protesting her total ignorance about the game in order to ensure she did not intrude on the assembled group's manliness. Every once in awhile she would also steal a glance at Caleb, who tried his best not to notice the fact that each and every time she did this she still wore the same expression of gentle concern that she had had on her face before.

Caleb returned his attention to the glass that he was drinking from, staring at the ripples that formed whenever a particularly large smack was heard emanating from the billiard table behind him. He felt his current thoughts start to slip away as all of the drinks that he had previously consumed started to do their work on him...

Caleb and Ophelia ascended the large stone steps of the Hall of Epiphany together under a darkly clouded orange sky, a cold wind cutting through the air as they went. Neither Caleb or Ophelia had any idea why it was that they had been summoned, why their audience was now being so urgently requested by Lord Tchernobog. After all, it had only been a few months earlier that Caleb had done his first bloodletting in penance to the cult on these very steps. Rarely had recent converts ever been allowed to even enter the temple, let alone be beckoned into its very heart. Since joining Caleb had not exactly shown himself to be all that cooperative with them either. It was all very strange.

For instance, he was still sporting the same hat and trench coat combination that he had been wearing when he had joined. They had of course tried to force him into the ritualistic robes that were sported by the others, but Caleb had flatly refused. He did not see the point of them; he could do his service just as easily if not better in what he was wearing now. In reality, it was all about uniformity, all about control. The cult wanted everyone to become like everyone else, because they knew how to control someone who was like everyone else. Caleb would not be controlled. If he was to serve, he would be doing it for his own reasons. That had proved heretical enough to almost make him be excommunicated. Excommunicated from his head.

Ophelia, who had previously also followed the party line, had become emboldened by the death of her husband and son, as well as her present relationship with Caleb. She also joined the protest, taking a liking to a brown outfit which included a flowing green cape. While the conflict had still not been completely resolved, it had eventually reached a point where those in charge appeared to be willing to look the other way. At the very least, they had stopped bothering them about it, letting them go about their business unmolested. The two exchanged quick glances with each other upon reaching the final step, a look of gentle concern on Ophelia's face. Perhaps they had not forgotten about it after all. Maybe they now had something else in store for them. Maybe tonight would be their reckoning.

It was Ishmael that was waiting for them inside the temple. He still wore the same embellished Elder robes that he had been wearing when Caleb had joined. "Our lord is waiting for us in the throne room" he stated, eyeing the new guests critically. "Follow me." They of course did follow, observing the interior of the temple with some degree of awe as they passed. Ishmael lead them through several more winding corridors before eventually reaching their final destination, which predictably enough was a large room that displayed a very noticeable throne. What was less predictable was what was sitting on that throne. He was huge, skeletal, and definitely not human.

Tchernbog towered above them even from a sitting position, His large goat like head staring down at them with no other discernible expression on His face other than that of an emaciated grin, His long claws digging into and scratching the stone floor as He waited. Standing beside the figure was also the form of a man, clad entirely in steel armour that covered him from neck to toe. Why something like that would need a human body guard was beyond Caleb's comprehension. Maybe he had been summoned here too. All four of the people present jumped despite of themselves when the large goat thing decided to let loose His voice. "These are the ones?" Tchernobog inquired, beginning to lean down towards Ophelia and Caleb.

"Indeed they are my master" Ishmael replied, relatively unfazed by the size of the head that now hovered only a short ways in front of him. "These are the one's that have defied our orders to wear the sacred robes." Caleb and Ophelia inadvertently squeezed each others' hands, unaware that they had even grabbed for them earlier upon hearing the sound of the god's speech.

"Do you think you are better than the rest?" Tchernobog asked, this time quite clearly directing the question at both Caleb and Ophelia.

"All except you, my lord" Ophelia offered in supplication, still not ready to concede their whole protest quite yet. Caleb found himself stepping forward, moving between her and Tchernobog protectively. If he had been aware that he was doing it, he probably would have stopped.

"They have performed well otherwise my lord" Ishmael interjected, foreseeing exactly where this might end up. "It might be a mistake to let all that go simply due to the failure of us, your servants, to break their pride."

"You can leave that to me!" the man in the body armour cried in a thick creole, stepping forward to properly greet the newcomers.

"Silence Gabriel!" Tchernobog chastised, forcing the insanely tall man to stop in his tracks. The god then turned His large head back to Caleb and Ophelia again. "I do not want them to be broken."

"My lord?" Ishmael inquired, actually confused for once. Caleb and Ophelia exchanged more glances, while Gabriel looked on and simmered.

"Assemble before me!" Tchernobog ordered, forcing Ishmael and Gabriel to reluctantly stand beside their lower ranking visitors. Caleb and Ophelia let go of each others' hands and straightened, the four of them becoming a uniform line ready for inspection. Tchernobog approved, letting out a deep and powerful laugh that reverberated around the throne room. "My choice is now complete. You four are to be my chosen. The Chosen."

"An honour to be sure, but if I may ask..." Ishmael started, but was cut off by a flourish of Tchernobog's hand.

"Silence" He instructed, forcing everyone back to attention again. "You four shall lead the Cabal, but only one of you can lead the Chosen." Tchernobog stared down the line, observing each of them, settling on a choice. "Only one of you has not tried to win my favour tonight." The god then reached out and extended one of his long arms towards Caleb, pointing him out from the crowd. Caleb felt three sets of eyes, two in anger and one with pride, watch him as he stepped forwards. "You shall lead them. I can see great things in you."

"As you wish" Caleb replied, before bowing down and keeling before Him, his own followers doing the same from behind. Tchernobog laughed again. His deliberations were complete.
Last edited by Tchernobog on Mon Oct 06, 2014 06:51 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Scroll - Blood Fiction in Weekly Parts

Postby Tchernobog » Mon Sep 01, 2014 04:46 am

Part Twenty Six: Love You To Death

Something nudged his shoulder. Caleb snorted. He was lying crumpled with his head in his arms on the surface of the bar. He had been dreaming. Something nudged his shoulder again. From the corner of his eye he could see it was a gloved hand. Something about observing that made him feel the need to recoil, forcing him to shoot up and face whatever it was that was touching him. The person in question did not even flinch at this, and continued to observe him with a placid interest. It was the red headed newlywed again. Why was she so incapable of leaving him alone?

"They're closing the bar" she informed him, cocking her head again in the way that made her bangs fall about just like Ophelia's used to, the way that Caleb hated to see imitated. "The barman rather rudely suggested that he was going to try and throw you out bodily, but I managed to convince him that a gentle reminder would do both you and him better." Her husband stood by her, looking far less confident about this than she had implied the barman was.

"I don't need babysitting" Caleb replied, getting to his feet. He winced as a bolt of pain shot through his temples as the light hit him in such a way as to make him feel paralyzed.

"What is it that you do need?" she inquired, observing all this with a knowing eye. "It is our duty as civilized human beings to try and relieve the suffering of others. Those without pain do not find themselves all alone by themselves in bars."

"I don't need babysitting, and I sure as hell don't need your pity!" Caleb snapped back, his head pounding. The husband stepped forward and tried to get between the two of them again just as he had done before on the wraparound deck, but the lady reached out one of her gloved hands and gently held the man back.

"You need something" she continued undeterred. "Something you always force and shove away, something that would allow you to accept the charity and compassion of others, something that would allow you to express your own humanity."

"I gave that up long ago" Caleb replied, growing increasingly tired of this conversation. "To continue searching for it is pointless. To act like you understand is insulting. Now, please, get the hell out of my way."

"Then make me understand" she offered, not willing to let it go. "Make me understand what it is that is troubling you." Caleb's eyes began glowing even more ominously, and for the first time the lady reacted, finally accepting that it was not all just a trick of the light. She began to back away but Caleb's arm shot out and grabbed her roughly by the shoulders, knocking her husband aside as he went.

"You want to understand?" he stated, his eyes continuing to increase in luminescence. She froze and shivered, her own wide eyes now showing white with fear. Something moved somewhere behind the woman's shoulder. Caleb spotted the culprit but did not have time to react. A shot rang out, hitting the lady in the back, blood spurting out of her chest as she let out one last final gasp. Caleb had inadvertently used her to shield himself from the attack.

"Cruo-stragaraNa malachtose!" the cultist cried out in its archaic tongue, as Caleb gently let the woman slide to the ground. Her husband, who had watched the proceedings in muted horror, rushed over and began to cradle his no longer blushing bride in his arms. Caleb reached into his trench coat and brought out his sawed off, preparing to go off in search of the bloodcurdling voice.

"If only you had loved the world less, and I had loved your love more..." the husband began, tears streaming off his face. Caleb turned at the sound of it, his eyes still burning threateningly, his heart conflicted, his inhibitions strong and uncontrolled.

"Just shut up!" he cried, unloading both shells into the grieving widower. The couple now lay together on the floor, blood oozing out of their wounds, their hands clasped together in one final display of matrimony. He felt the bloodlust continue to well up within him; all of the patience and restraint he had shown earlier on the trip was gone. He smiled, the thought of the cultist that was now roaming the decks entering his mind again. "Victims, aren't we all?" he commented to the corpses, before swaggering off towards the door.
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Re: Scroll - Blood Fiction in Weekly Parts

Postby Tchernobog » Mon Sep 08, 2014 05:27 am

Part Twenty Seven: When The Time Comes

Caleb caught sight of the Cultist again as soon as he had taken the corner, just glimpsing the hem of its robe as it immediately ran out of the range of his vision once more. Even Caleb who was far from   being the brightest of bulbs was still astute enough to know what that meant; whoever it was that was hidden under that heavy garment had never intended to take him out in the first place. Instead, they had killed the woman merely as a means of getting his attention. Even though he had never really like her and had in fact been threatening the lady in question right before the time of her death, something about that still managed to rub him the wrong way.

He still felt the bloodlust burning within him, his eyes looking as if they were going to burst out of their sockets based on the amount of radiant red warmth that was emanating from them. More people were going to die tonight, that much was certain. Caleb had already sussed out the Cultist's game; they were going to lead him into a trap, but he was ready for them. He had a surprise on him that they probably did not know about. His trench coat harboured many secrets, and not every bulge was as innocent as it may have first appeared. Having finally approached where he had seen the Cultist last, Caleb pressed himself against the wall and inched himself forwards, peering cautiously into the room that the Cultist must have entered in order to have made its escape.

Even at this point in the night, the room was crowded. A fancy dress party had been scheduled for the evening, and while it had already begun to die down the room was still full of people in a variety of outlandish and outrageous costumes. It really was no surprise that the Cultist could have been able to slip into this mess unmolested and undetected. For Caleb, the distinction of what was what, who was who, or which was which had by now become rather unimportant. He grabbed from one of his many pockets a bundle of dynamite, extracting one stick from the mass and lighting it carefully with his lighter. He then casually tossed it around the corner and into the room.

At first, nothing happened. Caleb began to wonder if the thing had somehow managed to burn itself out and questioned whether or not he would now have to go in and get it, something which was every explosives expert's worst nightmare. Then, like music to his hears, came the explosion and the screams. Death may have been the main effect of the blast, but fear was Caleb's real watchword. He wanted to let the Cultist and all of its fellows know that he was coming. He rounded the corner with his sawed-off drawn, blasting anything and everything that moved. As the smoke cleared, the extent of the carnage began to become clear, and more targets became visible for him to shoot at.

"Run, run!" Caleb cried out, right before he started cackling. All of his fears, concerns, and frustrations left him as he fired, evaporating into the bloody haze that increasingly started to envelope the room around him. When all the smoke had finally cleared there was no one else left alive, but he had still not spotted any robed bodies lying on the floor. Caleb stomped through the blood and viscera and came to the room's only other egress, repeating his performance of before by flattening himself against the wall and slinking forwards towards the opening. This time upon glancing around the corner however a shot came forth to greet him, striking the door frame and causing wood shards to fall to the floor. He certainly had managed to get them twitched at least.

"They're gonna need a bucket and a mop when I'm done with you!" Caleb shouted back, extracting another stick from his dynamite bundle. This time the fuse almost burned through while the stick was still in Caleb's hands, causing him to fumble it a bit and not give it the distance that he had hoped. Regardless, this time it exploded almost as soon as it had hit the deck, granting Caleb the cover he needed to come in guns blazing. This time he saw robes, and shot them down before they could return in kind. His initial satisfaction with finally making contact with his enemy began to subside nonetheless as more and more robed men became visible to him, presenting more targets than he could possibly hit. He was going to lose this particular game of whack a mole.

"In marana domus-bhaava crunatus!" one of the Cultists cried, aware of the advantage that they had suddenly acquired. Caleb had fallen for their trap anyway, even if their only real trap was one of numbers. In among all this shouting Caleb noticed something about the ground where his last blast of dynamite had hit. He doubled back slowly, still firing, and stood on the spot in question.

"Vilomox this, asshole..." he shot back, right before pointing his sawed-off down to the ground and blasting the area beneath his feet. As he had predicted, the floorboards gave way and sent him plummeting down to whatever lay below. None of the Cultists were brave enough to follow.
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Re: Scroll - Blood Fiction in Weekly Parts

Postby Tchernobog » Mon Sep 15, 2014 06:04 am

Part Twenty Eight: Smoke On The Water

Sometimes even bad men get favours. For Caleb, it was the fact that he managed to successfully land on his feet. Not only that, but when he did, he discovered that nothing had broken. His old bones may have been rattled, but they had failed to become shattered. His boots made a satisfying thunk as they made contact with the cold metal floor, his now almost effervescent eyes burning their way into the hearts of all those who just happened to be in the way. For the men of the ship's boiler room, who had already been suitably impressed enough by Caleb's dramatic entrance, it was almost enough to make them panic. It was his voice that proved to be the clincher.

"What are you all looking at?" he growled in a deep low voice, making it clear that he was offended. Everything got on his nerves now. Everything but pain. The boiler operators blinked. The apparition did not go away. In the darkness that pervaded the space, the intruder's eyes shot out like beacons. Beckoning them to where they did not know, but for everyone who was assembled, it soon became clear that it was not anywhere that they wanted to go. For Caleb as well it was the workmen's eyes that stood out, frightened large and rimmed with white. The room seemed to be lit up by them. "Time to dim the lights..." he commented, before reloading his shotgun.

Two of the burlier operators jolted out of their shock and rushed forwards in an effort to force his weapon away from him. Caleb effortlessly brought the first man down with a swift movement of his boot, first winding him with a powerful kick in the gut, and then pinning him by bringing his heel down hard on the man's back. This accomplished, he fleetly turned and raised his weapon against the other assailant, unleashing the full stopping power of the sawed-off into the man's chest. From below his boot the other man whimpered. "Ah, no one wants to play with me..." Caleb moaned mockingly, a horrible squelching sound coming from below his foot as his boot found its way to squishing the man's head.

"What... what do you want?" his captive screamed, his voice only slightly muffled by the fact that his face was being shoved into the floor. Caleb laughed. There was nothing else for it. He put his head back and shrieked with glee, his cackling feeling as if it could shake the room. Upon setting it right again, Caleb finally noticed something. The others were making their way to the door. They were getting away. With a sickening crack he finished off his prisoner, and headed off after them. He was not going to let them go this time, not today. He caught up with them next to the main boiler, and went to work on them. Sweat dripped from their bodies in the sweltering heat, soon to be mixed with the crimson tinge of blood.

"Crudux cruo!" something called out from somewhere behind him. Caleb turned slowly, very slowly, and gazed at the source. The Cultists had finally figured out where he was and had at last caught up with him. Caleb simply smiled at them.

"I've got time to play with you..." he replied venomously, right before reaching out a hand and flicking the switch that lay to his right. Hot steam was released from all possible outlets as the pressure in the room rose, the fire going full bore from inside its cage. Several of the robed men were scalded by the vapour release, which sent them reeling back and hollering out of the room. Those that were not burned rushed forward, only to be met by a hot grill to the face as Caleb swung open the main way into the boiler. One Cultist did manage to circumnavigate even that, but Caleb was still able to overpower him and shove him into the hot coals, slamming the grate closed behind him. The smell of roasted meat and burning cloth then met everyone's nostrils.

"Time to make my exit" Caleb observed to himself just as one of the gauges burst. The pressure was now completely out of control. He strolled out of the room with an explosion at his back, the main boiler finally having blown. In an act of almost predestined fate, providence had provided him with just the vessel he needed for his escape, a small motor boat perfect for his needs. He boarded it, more explosions ripping apart the world that lay behind him, and powered his way off the steamship. In among the explosions came screams, some of them in cultic and some of them not. Caleb did not much care anymore. He had sacrificed them all on the altar of his own unhappiness, his own bitterness.

"Something you always force and shove away, something that would allow you to express your own humanity..." Caleb recollected to himself, remembering one of the lady's final words just as his own actions commended her body and that of her husband to the deep. "There is very little of me that is feeling human tonight Johnny." His mind resting on that thought, Caleb motored away down the river. His work was finished here for tonight.
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Re: Scroll - Blood Fiction in Weekly Parts

Postby Tchernobog » Mon Sep 22, 2014 06:21 am

Part Twenty Nine: Boggy Creek

Insect chirps and the quiet putter of the the motorboat's engine were all that could be heard as Caleb slowly but surely continued his way upstream. The sights, sounds, and smell of the steamship wreak were now all but a distant memory, left behind and discarded at the bottom of the rushing river. Time had lost all relevance for Caleb. If anyone were left alive to ask him how long it had been since he had embarked on this new phase of his journey, he honestly would not have been able to convey a decent answer to them. Everything had been lost to the hours of minor steering corrections that had slowly began to swallow his mind whole.

Caleb closed his eyes, and found that he had remarkable trouble getting them open again. His whole body seemed to be shutting down. Part of it might well have been the amount of alcohol he had consumed earlier, but truth be told that was hours ago now. Part of it might simply have been his descent from the bloodlust, the fires that burned so readily going back to the cool embers which never fully became extinguished, but in the end it was also true that he was already quite used to that. Maybe it was just the monotony of his present task. Caleb unwittingly found that his eyelids were sealed shut once more, and did his best to force them ajar again with a considerable amount of physical effort.

He won the battle but lost the war, and before long he was slumped over his controls, the boat now moving about on a will of its own. When he did finally awake again he found himself to no longer be in the position that he once was; instead of sitting at the front of the boat steering as he had been when he passed out, he was now laying with his head back towards the rear of the vessel. When he brought his body forth again he saw that all about him was now obscured by a thick moist fog. The chirrup of the insects had only become more intense, and through the gloom he could see the vague outline of trees on either shore, far closer than they had ever been before. The putter of the motorboat had also long since ceased, meaning that it was no longer being driven under its own power.

It was then that he noticed something grinning at him from the front of the boat. In the darkness and the fog it was hard to tell, but the anemic little lantern it was holding made its presence known sure enough. Caleb sat himself up and stared at it. The fog lifted just enough to reveal its full form to him, and what a form it was. It was the kind of thing that would make anyone sit up and pay attention, even undead demigods like Caleb. Even with the fog gone most of it was still shrouded in mystery, the long cloak it wore covering most of it from head to toe. It was not so much what he could not see that caused Caleb so much concern however, but rather it was what little that he could actually discern that caused him so much alarm.

The thing was not really grinning at him at all. To do that would imply an actual effort on the figure's part to achieve that effect. Its teeth shown merely due to absence of flesh on the face, instead of being drawn back through deliberate effort as would normally be the case. Caleb's first thought was of the spectral Phantasms that still sometimes appeared to chase after him in order to regain what they felt they had lost, but this thing whatever it was was clearly different. While Caleb continued to stare intently at the figure, the form itself seemed largely to have ignored him, steering the boat on its own prescribed course while showing little concern about its only other occupant. There was something entirely different going on here.

"Who are you?" Caleb asked finally, not content with continuing the silence any longer. Still the thing did not make any attempt to react, appearing to stare at him from its end of the boat despite the fact it had nothing to stare with due to the vacuous gaps present in both of its empty eye sockets. "What do you want with me?" Caleb tried again, hoping to coax out a response.

"Nothing" came the form's unearthly reply. Caleb had heard more discouraging answers to that particular question in the past.

"Why are you here?" he inquired, not willing to lose the sudden burst of momentum that he had so abruptly gained with the figure.

"Searching" the form offered, but seemed unwilling to divulge anything more. Caleb then remembered one of the tales that he had been told by one of the locals before he had set off on this journey, something about an ancient swamp where Death itself steered a boat in search of lost souls and unwary travellers. The fog continued to lift, and before long Caleb had at least part of this vision realized as it became quite clear that in a swamp they were. Eventually the boat pulled up alongside a boggy patch of land, and Caleb decided that it would be best for him make his stay here as brief as possible. He hopped off the motorboat and onto the soft squishy earth.

"That is not dead which can eternal lie, and with strange aeons even death may die." Caleb turned around surprised, not expecting the form to address him again. It continued to stare at him in its own strange not actually grinning sort of way. "As has been before so we have met again, as shall continue until the very end. Farewell chosen one." With that, the figure navigated the boat away through the again growing fog, propelling it only through some force of its own devising.

"Little thing like death never stopped me..." Caleb observed calmly, before spinning on his heels and continuing on his way. He still had a long walk ahead him.
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Re: Scroll - Blood Fiction in Weekly Parts

Postby Tchernobog » Mon Sep 29, 2014 05:25 am

Another rushed entry this week; I was working very hard for most of it and then I came down with a very bad cold.

Part Thirty: If You're Blue And You Don't Know It

Putting one foot in front of the other, Caleb kept on walking. For how long he had been carrying on with this grim march he did not know; time still seemed to have no meaning in this place. Surely the sun would be coming up at some point to help punctuate the flow of sand through somebody else's hourglass, but for the moment it remained illusory, despite the fact that it had already been quite late in the night when Caleb had set off into this murky black and that he surely must have been walking for several hours by now. At least, he imagined it must have been hours since he had made landfall. He really could not attest to that fact.

The monotony of the place did not help matters either. For his entire time in the swamp so far all he had ever seen was ugly trees and the water that rushed up from under his feet whenever he made his next step. He had been trying to make his way back to the river, as without it he really had no guarantee that the direction he was heading in was actually the right one, but that also seemed to be as illusive as the sun was proving to be. To make matters worse he could never quite shake the feeling that something was following him. Several times he had spun around only to find the mushy sound of footfalls that he had thought he had heard must have only been the product of his own deranged imagination.

It was probably just a result of the place starting to get to him, but it was still unsettling none the less. He just needed someway to assert some control over the situation again. With no timepiece on his person, he needed to divine some other means to convince himself that things were indeed still moving forward in the way that he would normally have expected them to do. He decided that the only way he could manage this was to start singing again. That way he could measure the time spent based on the amount of songs he managed to get through; any excuse would do for him. The question was what precisely he should start to sing. He thought back to all of the wealthy people that had went down with the steamboat, and a sick sarcastic smile appeared on his face.

"Have you seen the well to do upon Lennon Avenue, on that famous thoroughfare, with their noses in the air?" Caleb started to himself, grinning horribly. "High hats and narrow collars, white spats and fifteen dollars, spending every dime for a wonderful time." His feet started to move forward in a more set pattern, as if his whole body hoped to reach the same rhythm as the song. "If you're blue and you don't know where to go to, why don't you go where Harlem flits? Puttin' on the Ritz." He tugged on his trench coat, making it fit more fashionably on his shoulders. "Spangled gowns upon the bevy of high browns from down the levy, all misfits, Puttin' on the Ritz." Caleb now thought he saw something different in the far distance.

"That's where each and every lulu-belle goes, every Thursday evening with her swell beaus, rubbin' elbows." He started heading off towards it, a new found hope in his heart. "Come with me and we'll attend their jubilee and see them spend their last two bits, Puttin' on the Ritz." Caleb could now hear the sound of rushing water. "Boys, look at that man Puttin' on that Ritz. You look at him, I can't." The river now beckoned Caleb forward. "If you're blue and you don't know where to go to, why don't you go where Harlem flits? Putting' on the Ritz. Spangled gowns upon the bevy of high browns from down the levy, all misfits, Puttin' on the Ritz. That's where each and every lulu-belle goes, every Thursday evening with her swell beaus, rubbin' elbows."

He stopped on the riverbank, and considered his position. He was now fairly confident that he had been making some progress after all. Now all he had to do was keep walking upriver, and he should eventually reach his final destination. "Come with me and we'll attend their jubilee and see them spend their last two bits, Puttin' on the Ritz." He turned back and gave the swamp one last disparaging look, trying to see if what he thought was following him still was. All was still and silent. He sighed and continued on his way. "Come with me and we'll attend their jubilee and see them spend their last two bits, Puttin' on the Ritz." He continued repeating that refrain until his mind grew tired and he moved on to something else, now fully cognizant of the long march of time once more.
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Re: Scroll - Blood Fiction in Weekly Parts

Postby dosgamer000 » Mon Sep 29, 2014 06:25 am

At the risk of sounding redundant, it's good to see a new chapter up Tchernobog! :)

Keep up the swell work and I'm sorry you had to deal with a cold. They suck, let me tell you.
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Re: Scroll - Blood Fiction in Weekly Parts

Postby Tchernobog » Mon Oct 06, 2014 06:11 am

Part Thirty One: Mountain Pass

Eventually the forest began to thin as Caleb made his way up river, the topography of the land becoming far more coarse and rocky as he went. The pale light of the early morning sun was just now beginning to peak its way over the mountaintops to the east, large stone structures that now loomed like the pillars of some strange temple before him. Caleb could tell that it was to be hallowed ground that he was soon going to tread, and knew both in his mind and in his heart that the tales he had been told about the place were true. There was something about these elevations that caused a reverence that came from far more than just their own plain majestic grandeur, and even a hardened old gunslinger like Caleb could not help but feel humbled by it.

Before coming here he had been told of some dark secret, some underlying truth that the mountain range was simply unable to fully contain. Villagers spoke in hushed voices about a group of explorers that headed here a year ago never to be heard from again. Some believed that they had been consumed by the beasts that were said to inhabit these perilous pinnacles, while others claimed that they had been lost through a doorway into another realm, a passage which could only be discovered if one had the patience and courage enough to seek it out amongst the cold harsh cliff faces and falling rocks. Either end was one which Caleb was not too terribly keen on repeating, and he kept a wary eye around him as he reached the mountain range's edge.

He gazed up and saw how the various flows carried the runoff down from the top of the peaks to be collected at the base of the river, supplying it with almost all the water it needed to become a mighty stream further afield. Seeing as there was no readily accessible way for him to make his way past the pinnacles through here, Caleb began his long march in search of a pass along the edge of the range, keeping his eyes sharp for the appearance of anything strange along the way. Eventually he came across a curious opening between two of the peaks which looked to be so convenient as to almost seem contrived. His suspicions deepened when he noticed what looked to be little carved stone steps etched into the side of one of the summits.

Seeing nothing else for it he began to climb, feeling very much as if he were ascending the steps of some great place of worship once more. It was far from the first time he had gone through such an ordeal for her. On her request he had braved the steps of Tchernobog's hall, standing at the foot of his great temple in order to have judgment passed on him. At her insistence he had persisted in his service, rising to the rank of the Cabal's elite general before being cast down. He had rose from the grave and found his way to the Altar of Stone just so he could cremate her with dignity. In order to avenge her death he had gallantly made his way back to the same hall steps in order to destroy that which had failed them, that which had failed her. And even after going through all of that pain and torment here he was again, rising to face the unknown in the vague hope that it could bring her back to him.

"We have been summoned" Ophelia had informed him on that cold and fateful night when all the world seemed to come crashing down on them. She had roused him from their common bed early in the morning, a place where they had just spent the night together locked in a mutual embrace. Arriving bleary eyed and faint of heart, there on those same harsh steps they had met up with Gabriel and Ishmael, two more servants about to be damned for sins not their own. For once neither of the two had an answer available for them, flippant or sage, and all four approached Tchernobog's throne with the same dark question in their mind.

"What is thy bidding, my master?" Caleb himself inquired, giving voice to the thought that rested in all four of their souls. The man whose voice represented the dark god on this fateful night stretched up, his eye's glowing white, grunting and choking.

"You have failed me!" the god's powerful voice cried out. "I disavow you all!" Anguish and disbelief filled the Chosen's hearts. The Cultist which had been selected to speak for his dark master then showed itself to have been nothing more than a convenient sock puppet, being forced to give out one last sadistic smile before promptly falling to the ground, its flesh quickly decomposing and dropping from from its bones.

"What's happening?" Ophelia wailed, just as Cheogh, the stone king of the gargoyles, appeared to take her off into the darkness. Caleb desperately leapt for her, but found himself enveloped by problems of his own. He found himself twirling into nothingness as what was left of his other two comrades was either enveloped by spider webs or incinerated with flames.

"I have taken your love" Tchernobog's booming voice reminded him. "Now I will take your life. Consider my power in a hollow grave." Despite all of the god's insistence, it was not Him but her that rested so heavily on his mind, and now even after the god's defeat it was still her the remained almost his sole purpose. Shaken from his reminiscences, Caleb turned and saw that the ground had now become nothing more than a distant memory of its own behind him.

"This time I am going to catch you Ophelia" he swore to himself, continuing up the daunting mountain peak. "This time I am going to bring you back to me for good."
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Re: Scroll - Blood Fiction in Weekly Parts

Postby Tchernobog » Mon Oct 13, 2014 06:30 am

Part Thirty Two: The Cold Rush

A cold wind started to blow through the mountain's domineering peaks as daylight continued to break overhead, catching the lower end of Caleb's long leather trench coat and causing it to wave about like some sort of strange flag to whatever or whoever it was that was behind him. Caleb was growing increasingly uneasy about that subject; the further on he went the more sure he was that something was following him. It was easy enough to dismiss such thoughts back when he was still meandering through the swamp, were everything seemed tantamount to an illusion, but the fact that the feeling had not gone away now, when he was ascending what seemed to be almost impossible obstacles with the full force of the sun looming overhead, was far more worrisome.

He noticed an outcropping of rock that appeared to loop around one facet of the mountain just on the left periphery of the main pass, something that would allow someone to double back to where they were before while still being relatively obscured from anyone else that was taking the primary path through the mountains. To Caleb it seemed to be heaven sent, or at least, it would have been, if he had still been in any position to expect such favours from the heavens. Still, regardless of the ledge's true divine nature or not, Caleb remained very much game to give it a try. Walking past the first way onto the outcropping, he took one last nervous glance behind him before sidestepping onto the second, the ground beginning to tremble beneath his feet as he went.

Suddenly this did not seem like such a good idea anymore. The ledge was not only thin but variable, meaning that he had to keep constantly reevaluating his footing in order to prevent himself from slipping off the ledge and back onto the ground which was now quite a bit more than a stone throw's away. Despite this, Caleb continued to inch his way forward, wrapping his way around the face of the mountainside. It was taking far longer than he had first anticipated it would. Initially he had thought of waiting awhile on the outcropping when he was safely out of view; that way he could ensure whatever it was he thought was following him would make its way past back on the main pass long before he reached it again.

Now that he was here on the edge though, with the ground seeming to loom right in front of his very eyes despite the fact it was still many meters away, he decided that enough time was passing in its own right to make any such precaution completely unnecessary. As he approached the other end of the outcropping the ground began to complain even more than it had when he had first got on, and Caleb became very much concerned that it was going to give way entirely with him still standing on it. Despite the precariousness of his situation, Caleb still managed to find it within himself to continue on grimly forward, knowing full well that any attempt to flee pell mell would only resulted in falling and death. He in the end did manage to make his way back to the main pass in this soul destroying fashion, all the while wincing whenever he heard yet another crack or creak.

Then he saw exactly what he had been looking for; fresh in the snow, going alongside the tracks that his own boots had made, were the footprints of another. Caleb immediately swivelled his head around in search of the individual in question, but only saw more prints taking off in the direction that he himself had already previously taken. He was still deciding on whether or not to try and follow the prints in order to overtake his pursuer when he heard a sound that made his heart sink. The moaning and the winging of the mountain had not ceased when Caleb had left the ledge, and now he heard the sound of the entire outcropping breaking off and slowly sliding its way down the mountainside. He watched dismally as it eventually made its way all the way down to the ground, kicking up stone and dirt and releasing a shock wave the reverberated all around the mountain range.

"This looks... extraordinarily bad" Caleb said to no one in particular, just as he saw the avalanche of snow barrelling towards him. There was nowhere he could run to. His only possible options were either to go up or go down, and neither had any chance of taking him to safety. All he could do now was stand straight and look stoic as the massive force hurtled its way towards the space that he was currently occupying. He then thought of the person who had left his or her prints in the snow again. Maybe it was just a coincidence that he or she happened to be following him. Maybe it was just some intrepid mountaineer that had just happened to try his or her hand at the summits at the exact same moment that he himself had done so. Maybe Caleb had just killed them both for nothing.

"I'd say I'm sorry, but you know it wouldn't be sincere" he commented absently, not really expecting whoever it was to be able to hear him. "Have a nice day." Upon finishing this statement, the mad horde of snow finally moved in and packed its first great wallop. Caleb did now feel sorry for himself at least.
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Tchernobog
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Re: Scroll - Blood Fiction in Weekly Parts

Postby Tchernobog » Mon Oct 20, 2014 05:48 am

Part Thirty Three: Cold, Cold Grave

For once when Caleb opened his eyes all he could see was white, rather than the usual black that tended to greet his wakings. Still, he was pretty sure that he remained in dark places, and all this snow really did for him was severely limit his mobility. He had no idea how far he had fallen, but for whatever reason he had gotten through it relatively peacefully. Maybe the rush of snow that had hurried past had cushioned as well as winded him. Maybe death was just grateful for the bit of company Caleb had provided him with earlier and had granted him a free pass for day. Whatever the reason, he was still alive, and all he really needed to do now was dig himself out from under all this damn snow. That was probably easier said than done of course, but he really had precious little choice at the moment.

The work was hard and it was cold, as cold as the grave. That was something that Caleb still happened to be quite familiar with. In fact, the entire experience of being entombed again had started to make him feel strangely nostalgic, which was probably a good thing all and all, because for anyone else it would probably have driven them insane. This was not so bad, truth be told. He did not need to worry about his flesh rotting from his bones since it was being kept in cold storage, and the rats would be quite hard pressed to dig themselves in here for a quick snuggle. Caleb had stayed in far worse digs; the tomb whoever it was had placed him in back in the day was cold but it was also miserably damp, and with its poorly secured lid the rats had the opportunity to visit him whenever they damn well pleased.

Now that he had started to dig himself out Caleb even started to feel altogether rather comfortable again, his own exertions warming up the little hollow he had dug out for himself quite nicely thanks to the snow's remarkable insulative effect. He had been marching since well before daylight and had already had a busy night beforehand. Surely he was entitled to a little rest. Caleb closed his eyes again and placed his arms on his chest, as if he were a vampire asleep for the day in its casket. He stayed like that for several more hours before an unusual sound jolted him from his unconscious revelry, forcing him to open his eyes again and take stock. He was still enclosed by snow, but it had all started to become soft and damp around him, indicating that wherever he was it must have been above freezing outside.

"Do you think it was the betrayer?" an anonymous voice asked, whoever it was being quite close by based on how well Caleb could hear him.

"Like we would ever be so lucky..." another person chimed in sullenly. "It was probably just a random rock slide. They are far from uncommon in the mountains."

"Just like the beasts we are supposed to be meeting" the first voice added. "Damn things are always late, and they have been holding out on us for far to long." Caleb then heard a deep loud growl disrupt the pair's conversation.

"You dare address us in such an arrogant fashion?" yet another voice boomed out, as the sound of leathery wings started to join the general milieu. Caleb felt his skin crawl simply from hearing it; he had good reason to be afraid. Even in his present state a particularly alert gargoyle could probably still sniff him out, but thankfully for him they all seemed to be preoccupied with other matters. Whatever it was they were discussing must have been something of considerable importance though to bring out the height of their royalty like this, considering only those of of noble blood were even capable of conversing with humankind in their own speech.

"Do you have it?" the second of the first two voices demanded, undaunted by the creature's evident disdain and anger over the first's obvious slight of character.

"First acknowledge again what it was that we have agreed" the stone gargoyle countered, equally unfazed by the man's belligerence. Caleb knew full well that they were not a race to take things lying down, and they never forget an insult.

"You put us in a difficult position" the fist voice replied, just as Caleb started to feel the snow running down due to all of the additional heat being produced. "With the spiders already breaking their allegiance to the cult, your desertion leaves us all the more isolated at a time when we need all the help we can get to avenge our lord and take on the betrayer."

"Your god is dead" the gargoyle stated dismissively. "We have already lost much and will not allow more of our own to fall in your crusade. There was a time when we never got involved in the affairs of men, and with no god to call on us we see no need for us to get involved ever again. Consider yourself lucky we still opted to do this one errand for you as a final parting gesture."

"Fine, but do you have it?" the second voice insisted once more. Nothing but the flapping of wings could be heard for several moments.

"Take it for what good it will do you" the stone gargoyle finally relented, and although Caleb could not actually see it, the gargoyle handed over the very object the old gunslinger himself so strongly desired into the hands of the second of the two robbed men. "As long as it is understood that nothing more binds us to the cult and its ways, we wash our claws of it."

"As you wish" the Cultist in question agreed and turned to leave, his companion at his back.

"There is still one more concluding thing though..." the stone gargoyle interjected, and a heavy reverberating sound formed from the collective growls of its companions. Then the sound of screaming assaulted Caleb's ears. "Take your scroll, but the one that insulted us is mine." Overwhelmed by the cries of torment, the noise of distant footfalls could still just barely be heard as the second Cultist made his escape, leaving his friend to die at the hands of the stone lord. Caleb, jolted into action by the mention of the object of his quest, started to frantically dig at the melting walls again. As he did so, the cries started to grow more and more faint, and before he was out even the noises made by the flapping of leathery wings had deserted the place.

When he finally did emerge from his now mushy tomb all that could be seen was the devastation caused by the avalanche and the corpse of a single man lying abandoned on the floor. The snow had collapsed a section of mine shaft, and a weak ray of light shined in from where the roof had caved in on itself. Wasting no time, Caleb strolled over to the corpse, giving it a quick glance before moving on forward. Etched on the man's chest was the symbol of two cylinders carefully placed in an "X" position with an bloody "K" emblazoned on top. It was the exact same symbol he had seen at the start of his mission, when he was pursuing the first gargoyle. Caleb now understood what it meant. It represented them breaking their fraternity with the cult.

"I guess that means you are all on your own now..." he commented, giving the corpse one last disrespectful kick before rushing off in search of the other Cultist and the precious cargo that he must still hold in his doubtlessly gnarled hands.
Last edited by Tchernobog on Mon Oct 27, 2014 05:30 am, edited 1 time in total.

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