Scroll - Blood Fiction in Weekly Parts

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Re: Scroll - Blood Fiction in Weekly Parts

Postby Tchernobog » Mon Oct 27, 2014 05:24 am

Just in case no one has noticed, I have only one final level from Cryptic Passage yet to name for one of my parts.

Part Thirty Four: Abysmal Mine

Once again the old gunslinger found himself pursuing his own special kind of enemy flag carrier through the dank, dark, bowels of the earth. It slowly dawned on him that he was now in almost the exact same position that he was in when he had first started his journey all those many months ago. The abandoned mine ran deep under the mountains, and without a torch or any other source of significant light it was growing increasingly hard for Caleb to find his way through the ever confusing maze of tunnels. He still had no idea how long it had taken for him to dig himself out of the snow, but as time went on a sinking feeling in the bottom of his stomach started to tell him that the Cultist was probably going to get away after all. To have been so close and yet at the same time so far was maddening.

He was still in many ways lucky though; he had now confirmed that the scroll was indeed where he thought it was, that the gargoyles were no longer necessarily a threat to him, and that by doing all of this he was actually going in the right direction for once. He had still not encountered any sign of the fleeing Cultist however, and to make matters worse he was now also beginning to feel as if he were being followed again. The same creeping sensation began to appear on the back of his neck, and he had to constantly stop himself from taking nervous glances over his shoulder. Whoever it was that was ahead of him on the mountain path must have been surely taken out by the avalanche though. Regular people simply did not recover from such things. Then again, if he himself had managed it, than anyone could. That was not a comforting thought.

He suddenly swore that he could hear footsteps approaching from somewhere behind him, and he brought out his sawed-off shotgun and turned around. The longer he waited the less sure he became. Could he have just imagined it? Then something that was definitely not all in his head screeched from somewhere far off over his shoulder. Caleb spun on his heels again in order to face this new threat, already sure of exactly what it was. He had heard that scream often enough before; it was just another Phantasm come to take offence at his continued existence. "Oh, you again..." the old gunfighter observed, really not feeling it this time. "How about coming back in a few more years, preferably after I am already dead?" The spectre only released another bloodcurdling scream in response. Caleb sighed. "I thought as much..." he added, before feeling a sudden burst of wind on his face.

He fired both shells at the source of the wind, the flash of the barrels briefly illuminating the Phantasm's skeletal features before blowing the being back again. Caleb rushed forwards and kept on firing whenever he felt the spectre rush towards him, lacking any other effective means of tracking the being's location other than listening to the terrible screams it felt compelled to produce every other moment. In amongst all of this though he could still swear that he could hear once more the footsteps coming from somewhere behind him. It was all getting to be too much. Seeing ahead purely from the light produced from the flashes of his shotgun, he began to get a clearer picture of his surroundings. The Phantasm was only taking marginal damage, Caleb's inability to aim clearly taking its toll on his performance. He had managed to keep the spectre at bay through his almost constant fire, but that would evaporate as soon as his ammunition ran out.

Caleb's heart began to beat loudly in his chest. Then he saw in brief glimpses that he was running down a lengthy metal track, and that up ahead there was an empty mining cart lying abandoned on its side. He was by now utterly sick of all this. He was sick of always having to stand his ground, sick of having to look over his shoulder, and sick of being at the centre of everyone's hate. Just this once he would like to simply bow out, blow the joint, and call it a day. In a feat of amazing upper body strength he wrenched the mine cart back to a standing position and slammed it down hard on the winding metal track, hopping inside of it at the end of one long protracted movement. Due to all of the force that was imparted on it the mine cart shot its way forward in the dark almost as if it were a runway train. Caleb fired a few more final warning shots behind him, but not even the Phantasm could could keep up with him at this speed.

"I guess this the end of the line for you!" Caleb sneered back, just as the last of its screams faded into the darkness. He was actually making good time now. Now all he had to do was see how long he could keep it up for.
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Re: Scroll - Blood Fiction in Weekly Parts

Postby Tchernobog » Mon Nov 03, 2014 06:42 am

Part Thirty Five: Desperados Under the Eaves

As he hurtled through the darkness Caleb began to feel weightless, all of his senses either being blinded or excited by the varied sensory input that he was receiving. For several moments he really did feel as if he was no longer part of this material world, but was instead flying rapidly through some strange featureless void. Then he up ahead he saw a light, and a different thought struck him. That torch must be attached to a wall of some kind. If that was true, then that wall must be directly ahead of him. Maybe the track would curve in order to avoid it. The light grew even closer. He could no longer permit himself to sustain such an illusion. "I've a bad feeling about this..." Caleb observed, right before he bailed from the runaway mining cart.

Caleb hit the ground rolling and cartwheeled backwards along the track. He then righted himself just in time to see the inevitable happen. The mining cart, forced to an almost unearthly velocity due to the gunslinger's own shocking strength, hurtled into the approaching wall and compacted into itself like an aluminum can that is placed directly underfoot a large boot. Not even Caleb knew that he could manage to do this amount of damage. The force of the shock and the rush of air produced by the cart almost appeared to snuff out the torch for several moments, but it did eventually reappear again in order to provide Caleb with enough light to guide him once more on the way ahead.

Upon reaching what was left the mining cart, Caleb soon discovered that the track ended abruptly next to a platform in which an ornate carved stone door could be found, something that seemed considerably out of place given the industrial setting of the rest of the mine. With some effort he was able to wrench it open, and was then greeted by an elegant stone stairway found inside a carved tunnel supported by many well maintained wooden arches. Caleb proceeded to ascend the stairway, aware of the loud noises that his footfalls made as he walked, and once again felt as if he were walking up the steps of some great temple. After what seemed like an age he finally reached the top of the stairway, and if he had not been as impressed as he was by the sight that was now before him, he might well have realized that not all of the sounds of footsteps had ceased when he had done.

Resting before him on top of great precipice was a gigantic castle. A massive bridge way connected the mountain face that Caleb found himself on to the peak that supported the mighty fortification, the gap between two mountains serving as a kind of empty moat that nevertheless would represent instant death if trespassed in the wrong way. Caleb could see the sun setting over a forest in the far distance, but could not for the moment see any signs of Cabal habitation. He was sure that they were here though. The Cultist had to be heading somewhere after all, and he had heard too much to doubt who it was that held the keys to the place. Seeing that there was no other way to gain admittance, Caleb simply shrugged and strolled his way across the bridge.

He reached the other side without incident, with not so much as a curse being hurled at him. Caleb was beginning to feel annoyed. He knew better than to assume that they did not know he was here; he had just walked down their front path after all. Caleb was still not in the mood for any unnecessary drama. He knew perfectly that he was going to have to storm the castle, and that the Cultists must have been waiting to set a trap for him. He really wished they would just show themselves and get it over with. Maybe he should just knock and get the ball rolling himself. He looked up to the orange sky and noticed the overhang of the castle's roof. Caleb then realized that he had a far more personalized way of announcing himself.

"Don't the sun look angry through the trees" his voice boomed out musically, just as he burst open the castle door. "Don't the trees look like crucified thieves." He marched into the castle's spacious entrance hall, finding nothing but chandeliers and Gothic art. "Don't you feel like desperados under the eaves, heaven help the one who leaves." Still no Cultists were there to greet him. "Still waking up in the mornings with shaking hands." He took a right turn which led him down a spiral stairwell, something which he found to also be devoid of any opposing life. "And I'm trying to find a girl who understands me, but except in dreams you're never really free." He reached another door decorated in a similar fashion to the one that he had found previously. "Don't the sun look angry at me." Caleb forced the door open and stepped inside. He would be giving them all a performance yet.
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Re: Scroll - Blood Fiction in Weekly Parts

Postby Tchernobog » Mon Nov 10, 2014 06:54 am

Part Thirty Six: Castle

"Silence him!" a pained voice cried out as Caleb entered the commodious room, the Cultist in question evidently not a fan of the gunslinger's raspy singing voice. Caleb was well used to the criticism; even his fellow Chosen ones had complained about it often. What concerned the gunfighter far more was the fact that they now had almost every single weapon in the room trained directly at his own hatted head. The trap had been sprung once more, and Caleb really did not have a well formed plan of attack to counter it this time. He simply did not have the patience for it anymore. He was a brawler, and if he had to get chewed up by anything and everything his enemy was about to throw at him just to get his mission completed, then so be it.

"Well, if you really did not fancy that, maybe you would like a little dance instead?" Caleb offered, right before he was placed in the middle of the firing squad. Caleb did indeed dance, hopping his way through a routine he liked to call "staying alive". In amongst all of his fancy footwork he also tried his best to trade fire with the people who were presently oppressing him, firing volley after volley into the sea of robes that had been assembled as a stopgap in order to try and stop him in his tracks. Due to a strange expression of predestination Caleb still found himself to be unharmed even after several more moments had passed in this fashion, and there were now several robed bodies oozing blood on the polished stone floor.

"Too stubborn to quit, too stupid to die" the same Cultist who had spoken earlier remarked, remaining relatively safe from the betrayer's wrath due to his position on an overhanging balcony. The betrayer's hearing was far better than the Cabal Lieutenant in question would have at first suspected however, as upon stating this a volley from the gunslinger's shotgun came very close to obliterating the man's head. Caleb smiled as the Cultist drew back and out of sight once more.

"Amateurs..." he commented before ducking behind one of the balcony's support pillars. So far this was going far better than he ever could have expected; so far he was proving to be nothing more than an unstoppable force of malice and spraying bullets. There was a balcony on either side of the large room, and other than the one Cultist above him that was directing the piece the rest seemed to have been constrained to merely taking positions on the ground level. Caleb could see pieces of marble chipping from the pillar as his aggressors tried their best to sink a shot into him. He responded in kind once more, taking down three robed men with just one casting of his buckshot. With results like these, he found that he was even beginning to enjoy himself.

A brief flash of light suddenly became apparent in Caleb's peripheral vision, and before he knew what was happening the old gunslinger found himself hurled back against the nearest wall. Someone had started to throw dynamite. The balcony moaned and groaned from above as several of the support pillars were forced loose, but the loudest sound was that of the Cabal Lieutenant screaming. "WHAT ARE YOU IDIOTS DOING?" the man in charge cried out after recomposing himself. "Hatanoceo marana crunatus desco Shatruex!"

"Hurts doesn't it?" Caleb shouted up at him, still possessing enough knowledge of the Cultist language to understand what the man was driving at.

"Cruo-stragaraNa malax!" another voice boomed out from the direction in which the dynamite had previously came, making it quite clear to the both of them that whoever it was that had started throwing it still had no intention of holding back now. They were then greeted by another flash and an explosion that threatened to take out the rest of the support pillars. Realizing that his current position was now far from tenable, Caleb was forced to rush out back into the open just as the balcony started to fall apart behind him. The Cabal Lieutenant was not so lucky. The ground gave way right where he was standing, forcing him to fall onto the hard ground right before the rest of the balcony landed on top of him. Seeing that was even enough to make Caleb wince, if for nothing else but the fact that he himself had actually come extremely close to sharing the Cultist's fate.

He did not have much time to waste on commiseration though. As he had left his no longer safe haven he had almost immediately swooped up two Tommy Guns that had been left by two of the felled Cultists and started to fire them one in each hand akimbo style at both of the entrances and egresses, pinning down whatever resistance could be found there. He then closed his eyes and tried his best to ignore the ache in his arms as he did so, the kick from the weapons barely being marshalled by his own particularly potent upper body strength. Firing two submachine guns at once was definitely not something he would recommend for everyone. He ground his teeth as the rattle of the two weapons started to shake its way into his mind, the noise feeling as if it were drilling itself into his head.

Then the firing stopped. Then the rattling stopped. Then the noise stopped. Caleb opened his eyes again. Both of the drums were now empty. He then heard the sound of dozens of weapons being cocked overhead. He looked up to the other remaining balcony and saw dozens of rifles being pointed at the various parts of his person. This was then joined by the sound of more weapons being prepped from either side of him as yet more Cultists moved to reclaim the positions that Caleb had previously been successfully able to block them from. Just how many of them were there in this building? It was almost as if the entire cult had been assembled here to stop him. Caleb realized dimly that they might just be able to get their chance. He was out of options. Short of a miracle, he knew there was no way he was going to get out of here alive.
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Re: Scroll - Blood Fiction in Weekly Parts

Postby Tchernobog » Mon Nov 17, 2014 06:39 am

Part Thirty Seven: Excitable Boy

Caleb and the Cultists simply glared at each other, each wishing the others ill health to the best of their abilities from the inside of their own myopic minds. It was a fragile peace based purely on a force of concentrated animosity; for the moment each side was just too hateful to let the other one go. Instead, they all wanted to see the other squirm, something that Caleb was still managing to make his opponents do despite the fact he really no longer had any control of the situation anymore. No matter how much sheer malice he could throw their way the Cultists still had him, even if the gunslinger's mere presence alone was still enough to have them all barely able to keep more than a shaky nervous grip on their various weapon triggers. This truce of enmity could only hold for so long. Someone was going to have to fire the first shot.

Someone did. Caleb's expression changed from one of absolute loathing to that of total surprise as the balcony above him was suddenly cleared of all opposition. The Cultists, who had been up to that point concentrating all of their attentions on the form of the betrayer, had been completely unprepared for any kind of volley coming from their own level. Not one to be caught with his pants down for long, Caleb promptly caught one of the falling rifles that had previously been discarded by one of those slain above him and fired several shots in the direction of one of the two entrances into the room. He then ducked down onto the floor as yet more bullets whistled through the air which only moments before had constituted the area of the gunfighter's head. Caleb span round and returned fire from a prone position on the floor, successfully neutralizing both of the targets that had been amassing on his level.

Satisfied that he was no longer in anyone's gun sights, Caleb rose to his feet and glanced up at the balcony again, only to see a surprisingly familiar face starring back at him. A thin pale boy dressed in a black trenchoat and hat was considering him from above, a sinister looking machine gun still smoking in his clasped hands. His face showed no emotion, but the boy's eyes still managed to probe their way into Caleb's own, making him feel as if they were staring into his very soul. It was almost the exact same feeling he had felt back in the swamp, back when he had first suspected he was being followed. How exactly the boy had managed to both keep track and keep pace with him Caleb would never know, but he was here now, and for his own part the old gunslinger was grateful.

"I believe these men still have something of yours" Johnny said in a voice far more assured than Caleb had ever heard it before. "I hope that by my actions today you will finally be able find it." A fury of movement could then be heard from somewhere off in the near distance, and Johnny wasted no time in discharging his weapon and running off after it. The sound of cacophonous cries and heavy weapons fire then filled the castle as Johnny carried on with his own chosen work. Caleb for the moment said and did nothing. The boy remained a very great mystery to him. Why had he not headed his own warning to stay out of this whole business? Did he feel as if he owed the old gunfighter something? Why had he willingly decided to stay embroiled in someone else's crusade?

As the shouts of the Cultists continued to grow louder and louder even as they became more and more distant Caleb eventually decided on an answer. He had indeed given the boy something far greater than returning his freedom or saving him from the fiery clutches of the hell hound. Johnny really was indebted to him for something far more important than all that. Just like Caleb the boy had lost everything he knew at the hands of the cult, but unlike Caleb, the cult had also been able to take his own rebellious spirit from him as well. Through the gunfighter's own example Johnny had not only been able to regain the will to fight, he had also been shown the way to fight. Caleb had granted the boy the option of dreaming of a better world free of the Cabal's influence. Through the actions of his own despair the old gunslinger had managed to inspire someone else's hope.

Even with all that being accepted though, Caleb did not think that Johnny had ever really owed him something anymore. The boy had after all already given him something immensely valuable in return for his help. Through Johnny for the first time since Tchernobog's betrayal Caleb had really managed to form an actual human connection with another person. Johnny had allowed him to express his own humanity, and even though he had forced and shoved him away, that connection had remained just as strong. Even without the help of the scroll Caleb now felt as if he had been given something of his own life back. Still, such thoughts of nauseating sweetness could only last for so long, and before Caleb knew what was happening he was once again staring down the barrel of yet another gun.

"Crudux cruo!" the Cultist bayed excitedly, having stumbled upon the gunfighter while Caleb was still being consumed with his own thoughts. Before Caleb had the wherewithal to respond however a stream of bullets started to impact their way into the robed man's back from somewhere else, as the illusive form of Johnny once again appeared to act as Caleb's own resident variety of deus ex machina. Even though he only saw Johnny's face for a mere instant as he had rushed passed, Caleb could have sworn that he saw what looked like the appearance of a satisfied smile on the young man's face.

"Well, he's just an excitable boy!" Caleb remarked as a broad smile arrived on his own lips, right before he too moved to once again throw himself back into the fray.
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Re: Scroll - Blood Fiction in Weekly Parts

Postby Tchernobog » Mon Nov 24, 2014 06:04 am

Part Thirty Eight: The Siege

The fighting remained just as intense despite the addition of another combatant to Caleb's side, something which eventually caused the old gunslinger to start to idly wonder about just how many robes the Cabal could manage to fit inside this building. Although he was always made aware of the boy's presence due to the sounds of gunfire and the pained death cries of his enemies nearby, Caleb and Johnny's paths were not to cross again. The castle they were in was simply too massive for that, and besides, they each had their own stories to weave for themselves now. Caleb instead started to focus his mind once more on his ultimate objective, and set out in search of the location of his scroll. The cult could have hidden it anywhere around here.

Not since the days of his first bloody rampage of vengeance against the cult had he seen it necessary to inflict so much damage. Johnny it seemed was trying his best to operate as a force of almost anarchic terror, leaving it up to Caleb to more systematically cleanse an area of all the opposition that remained after he made his first sweep of it. Even with the boy's help it still remained quite a struggle, and every step that either of them took had to be made on top of the spilled blood and mangled bodies of their adversaries. A realization slowly dawned on the old gunfighter that if the cult really was investing this much energy in trying to stop him then it must mean that he really was going in the right direction. Why else would they be willing to give up so much for comparatively so little?

As he went Caleb made his way through great Gothic stone and brick halls, strange reverberating chapels and shrines, comfortably furnished dormitories, a well stocked kitchen, a library filled with shelves of books, and even a brightly lit common room with a fire burning from the hearth. This castle had obviously been a place where the Cabalists could enjoy all of the comforts offered by their own strange cultic existence in peace. Caleb and Johnny's red repainting and disruptive sense of interior decorating was going to put a crimp on all of that of course though. As time carried on Caleb eventually began to notice that the almost endless stream of Cultists that had been pouring towards him almost since he had arrived at the castle had at last started to become nothing more than a slow trickle; even the sounds of Johnny's struggles in the distance had grown far fainter and less frequent.

When at last no one appeared to come out and challenge him, Caleb finally allowed himself to stop and think on the problem for awhile. He knew that the tenacity and the placement of the Cultists here had not been an accident. The cult was obviously trying to stop him from reaching some central point, and at that central point it would be logical to assume that they had hidden his scroll away. He just needed to divine where and what that place was. Why had the cult taken the scroll to this place as opposed to all others? He recalled the entry in the book he had read all those many months ago back when Johnny was still at his side, remembering how it mentioned that the castle itself was to contain a gateway to the otherworld. If that was the case, where was this gateway?

Caleb had been feeling a strange sensation for awhile now that he was only now being able to consciously realize. Something nearby seemed to pulling at his attention, something repulsive and at the same time all consuming. Seeing nothing else for it, the old gunfighter decided to let his feelings guide him and allowed his gut to lead him the rest of the way. Eventually he came to a massive stone door with marked switches on either side of it. Each switch, when pressed, would then show an area designed for the depositing of a specific key, something that Caleb had thankfully been mindful about earlier, having taken the precaution of picking up and carrying every single key he had come across. Once all of the keys in his collection had been placed in the slots, the door, through some power or force of its own, swung open to reveal a sight like the old gunslinger had never seen before.

Inside was a large circular room with a suspended platform that somehow managed to hang over an unfathomable abyss, wisps of ethereal white fog billowing out from the walls on every side. In the centre of the room the platform extended to large round portal. Something about the portal made Caleb feel a deep sense of uncontrollable loathing, as if by its very presence the portal was somehow disrupting the natural order of things. He had never had such a strange adverse reaction to such a thing as this before. Still, he knew that this must be the gateway that the book had spoken of, and in spite of how much the prospect presently seemed to irk him, he knew that he needed to take advantage of this rift between the worlds in order to complete his mission. His scroll must have been placed somewhere through the gateway; it was the only reason the Cabal would have chosen such a place. Caleb made his way down the suspended platform and jumped into the portal.
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Re: Scroll - Blood Fiction in Weekly Parts

Postby Tchernobog » Mon Dec 01, 2014 07:34 am

Part Thirty Nine: Beyond The Rift

The first thing that surprised Caleb was how graceful the drop was. In light of certain past experiences he had expected to feel as if he were being sucked through a vacuum tube, but instead the portal gave way beneath his feet as if it were just thin air, depositing him on the ground in his new location with only the slightest of auditory thumps. The next thing that surprised him was that, wherever the hell he now was, the place evidently had no guard rails. He stumbled in spite of himself at the sight of the near endless void that presently surrounded him, something that caused the gunslinger to land unceremoniously hard on his now well worn and ancient rump. Caleb was once again placed on a seemingly weightless platform hanging over a just as apparent nothingness, enclosed by nothing more than a vast array of starry night.

Well, that was not entirely true. On either side of him were placed two great stone obelisks, and extending out in front of him was what looked to be akin to some kind of stone vessel designed to ferry him across to his next destination. On this contraption a panel with the palm of someone's hand carved into it could also be plainly seen, and the old gunfighter slowly found himself to be increasingly drawn to it. Placing his own hand into the sculpted grooves, Caleb soon discovered that the panel itself gave way easily to his touch, and before he knew what was happening the stone structure beneath his still unsteady feet suddenly took off with an alarming amount of speed. Caleb then noticed that he was heading towards an even larger floating structure, the architecture of which reminded him greatly of the Hall of Epiphany.

Wherever this outpost was, it must have been a creation of the Cabal and Tchernobog. Caleb thought back once more to the book entry that had brought him to this place. All it had said was that the castle contained some kind of gateway to the otherworld, which was presumably the same place he found himself in now. The scroll he was searching for was also said to be able to upset the balance of power in this otherworld. It was then that a thought struck the old gunfighter. If his scroll was supposed to be capable of overcoming life and death itself, how exactly was it supposed to be able to accomplish that by changing things here? Caleb suddenly felt a cold feeling rise up from inside him. The Cabal had been trespassing on sacred ground. This place was not meant for mere mortal's to tread, or at the very least, it was not meant to be accessed by mortals on this side of the grave.

Then again, it could be argued that given that caveat Caleb could still qualify. He was now certain that the otherworld he was now in could actually be better described as the world beyond. After having been hounded by his spectral agents and having even seen the man himself in passing, Caleb had now gone and knocked directly on death's door itself. With that in mind, could he not now find his fallen comrades and take them back with him? The thought, though enticing, presented with it a not inconsiderable list of associated difficulties. So far at least Caleb's access to the place seemed limited just to this lone settlement created by the soldiers of Tchenobog, and even if he was somehow able to find his fellow Chosen ones here, Caleb's own means of returning back to the land of the living for the moment remained very much undetermined.

The scroll was the key to this place, the old gunfighter knew, and finding it remained very much his top priority. Yet another cold shiver then ran up Caleb's spine. Somehow even the thought of breaking the rules of this world left a bad taste in his mouth, even as he openly contemplated the idea to himself. His own disgust at the undead creature he had become was surely a part of it, but even with that thought being accepted, his own revulsion at the idea of breaking the bindings of this reality welled up inside of him so strongly as to make it seem to be one of the gunslinger's newly discovered passions. If it were not for his own just as strong personal desire to see the faces of those he had lost again he would never have managed to come this far. Through the scroll he hoped to satisfy both of his compulsions, returning Ophelia to him without defiling the place he was now in.

The vessel he was riding on then docked with the approaching temple, and Caleb made his way up a series of winding steps made in dedication to the dreaming god once more. Tchernobog must have had big plans for this place. The old gunfighter thought back to some of the being's last words to him right before he had shot the god down, a fresh anger rising inside of him. "With the power you bring, I shall throw open the door between the worlds and inherit the earth." It was a perversion, and even though Caleb still did not fully understand the reason for his present choler, he was now extra glad that he had put an end to Him when he had. Even though his heart now felt burdened by this new strange sense, the old gunslinger was still glad that he had made it this far. It was a journey that he had to make in order to see that his business here was finished, once and for all.
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Re: Scroll - Blood Fiction in Weekly Parts

Postby Tchernobog » Mon Dec 08, 2014 06:19 am

Part Forty: The Lord Of All Nightmares

As Caleb ascended the final step and entered into the heart of the temple he then heard the door slam dramatically shut behind him, causing the old gunslinger to whirl round startled before he even had a chance to study the room he was in properly. When he did finally get the chance, Caleb felt his heart sink almost immediately. Before him was a massive circular arena with a monumental pillar in the middle of it covered with various carved human shapes. Leading to this pillar on either side were two ornate doors very similar to the one that had just slammed closed behind him. As he observed this, the old gunfighter could not help but also notice the fact that both of them now appeared to be rising.

Caleb had been around the block more than enough times to know that nothing pleasant could be waiting for him behind those two doors. As such, it really was no surprise when he saw two fire breathing Cerberi emerge from their hideouts in the wall, even if he still could not have been expected to pinpoint exactly the kind of monstrosity that he was going to be facing. Just like the humbler hell hound that had previously caused both he and Johnny so much pain, Cerberi were massive canines that were both larger and more dangerous than their lowlier counterparts, having the advantage of sporting one additional head more than was the usual. They were double the trouble when found on their own, and now Caleb was going to have to finish off two of them.

Out of all the ways to die, fire was the one that always made the old gunslinger the most squeamish, even if he still did not have much problem in inflicting it on others. Just the thought of being enveloped in searing flame was enough to make Caleb want to release a powerful high pitched screech akin to that released by a screaming child, something far removed from his usual gruff callous voice and headstrong manner. Despite this urge, Caleb still managed to collect himself. He was not even sure if it was possible for something to die here. The thought brought with it all kinds of metaphysical questions that the gunfighter really was not in the best of moods to solve right now. He would soon find the truth out at any rate regardless, either by meeting his own end or by delivering it to one of his dual headed adversaries.

Thankfully the old gunslinger did not come into this fight completely unprepared. During his assault on the castle he had encountered an experimental Cabal weapon that the gunfighter had in fact been saving for just such an occasion as this. Named for the famed electrical engineer Nikola Tesla, the Tesla Cannon was capable of shooting electric bolts that could stun an enemy until its firing ceased. With two of these creatures on his tail, Caleb knew that being able to immobilize one while keeping an eye on the other was going to be very advantageous to him. Knowing full well that the beasts in question were not going to be showing him any favours, the old gunslinger jumped right to it, shooting arc after arc of current into the form of the nearest Cerberi.

Although the species did have a hierarchy, they did not assign any titles from which any single individual could be identified, something that made the practice of telling them apart extremely difficult. There was still something about these two that seemed familiar to Caleb though; he could have sworn that he had done battle with them before. He wondered if they were not the same dogs he had faced during his initial campaign of revenge, if the bounder he was currently shooting at was the same beast that had toasted his friend Ishmael, and if the other animal that was presently trying to circle strafe around him had been the same one that was waiting for him in the Hall of Epiphany, the last to stand guard before his ultimate assault on Tchernobog's throne. In this world, anything was possible.

The first Cerberi was by now lit up like an X-ray radiograph, its intricate skeleton showing from beneath the punishment of the electrical stimulation that Caleb was now providing. Remaining stoic almost to the very end, the giant hound finally released one microscopic little whine as a single head dropped down to one side defeated. Caleb smiled to himself vaingloriously; he now knew that they could still be killed here. That was all that the gunfighter really needed to know. He the finished off the other with the release of one last gloriously pent up arc, using the alternative fire mode on the cannon. Now he only had the one Cerberi left to deal with. He whirled around and attempted to fire the weapon again. Much to the gunslinger's chagrin there was now no longer any charge left in the device. The remaining Cerberi then bore down on him with, if anything, increased vigour.

The gigantic creature bowled into him, shoving Caleb off his feet and causing him to roll across the hard ground. It continued to gnash its huge sabre like teeth at him, several times coming close to champing down on the gunfighter's not so fresh flesh. In his mad attempt to stay ahead of the clasping jaws Caleb bumped into a small switch that was embedded in the wall, something that started to lower the pillar that was placed in the centre of the room. The gunslinger got back onto his feet and ran, the sound of heavy padded feet still pressing on his back. The walls of the arena became scorched as the Cerberi started breathing its fiery fury directly towards Caleb, who had to veer and swerve as best he could in an almost vain attempt to stop himself from catching. During one of these swerves Caleb toppled over what was left of the now lowered pillar, sending the object that had been resting upon it crashing down onto the floor.

Caleb turned to see what it was, and was temporarily shocked to see the face of Tchernobog staring back up at him from the ground. Upon closer inspection he saw that it was merely a mask made to look like him, something that he had encountered before. The Cabal had referred to them as Death Masks, objects of great power which could grant the wearer invulnerability to any kind of attack until the power of the mask finally wore out. He had never known how they were made, but finding such an artifact here was certainly suggestive. Somehow through this outpost the Cabal were discovering a way to cheat death, and this mask was a part of it. Once again, Caleb started to feel the same kind of disgust that had been plaguing him ever since he had arrived here.

The gunslinger's thoughts were then disturbed however by a large fireball that struck him dead on his chest, exploding the area around him in searing flame. It was his one of his worst fears made realized. The remaining Cerberi howled in triumph, approaching the spot where Caleb had previously been standing intent on finishing off what little must have been left of the man. Then, emerging from the centre of the blaze came Caleb, the Death Mask securely placed on his face, obscuring the rest of his features. He was definitely no longer amused. "I am death, who want some?" he inquired, before firing both barrels of his sawed off shotgun down one of the beast's throats. The creature simply stalled in front of him, allowing Caleb to unleash onslaught after onslaught of shells.

First one head dropped down, then two. Releasing one last final whine just like that of its fallen counterpart, the enormous beast then joined its pack mate as yet another crumpled heap on the ground. Caleb caught the Death Maks right before it lost its power and fell of his face, casting it to the ground in such a way as to make it smash into a million different pieces. Considering the scale of his accomplishment, the old gunfighter could not help but feel a bit of levity. "I'm a little lamb who is lost in the wood..." he crooned, approaching the fallen form of one of the Cerberi. He then delivered a sharp kick to first of the creature's two heads, forcing it to collide with the other as if it were some kind of furry Newton's cradle. "Yeah right" Caleb added, before carrying on with his prescribed business. Nothing could possibly get in his way now.
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Re: Scroll - Blood Fiction in Weekly Parts

Postby Tchernobog » Mon Dec 15, 2014 07:27 am

Part Forty One: Accidentally Like A Martyr

Having defeated the powerful Cerberi, Caleb took a moment to wonder if this strange journey might finally be over. As he did so, a section of the wall opened up to reveal the ancient scroll that he had been seeking. For a moment all the old gunslinger could do was stare dumbly at the object, his mind having trouble grasping the concept that it was now finally firmly and easily within his reach. This is the scroll that Tchernobog had once promised would be his, the scroll which he would now use to control both life and death itself. After a long pause he finally began his approach, fully expecting it to vanish before his very eyes as it had done to him so many times in the past. Strangely enough though the scroll remained both amenable and material before him, giving to his touch as if it were any other piece of wound up paper.

The old gunfighter then brought the parchment before his softly glowing eyes, unrolling and stretching it out in order to take in its full glory. Strange symbols and Cultic phrasings littered the piece, some of which were familiar while others seemed to be in the most foreign of tongues. This truly was an ancient document, and yet none of its edges were frayed and its surfaces showed no signs of age or discoloration. It really did seem to have a life of its own. Caleb searched the scroll for any words or phrases that he could decipher, and finally found a passage written in a more modern Cultist script. Roughly translated, it stated that the bearer of the scroll could dismiss the forces of entropy and death by clasping the scroll in one hand and the object or person they wished to save in the other. The old gunslinger simply blinked at this. Then his heart sank like a stone.

Through his own actions Caleb had ensured that there was nothing left of Ophelia for him to grab hold of. To save her from the Cabal and the stone gargoyle lord Cheogh's defiling touch, he had burnt her remains on the Altar of Stone and had cast her ashes to the wind. There was nothing left of her for him to use this ritual on. The gunslinger started to pace around the arena uncomfortably, desperately searching for some way he could make this scroll work, some way he could use it to return his most beloved back to him. He also thought of the other Chosen, and how they were now similarly inaccessible to him. He had consumed what little was left of Gabriel, using his power to aid him in his quest for vengeance against both the cult and Tchernobog. Of Ishmael he was never able to find any trace. Without them, the scroll was useless to him.

The old gunslinger felt like howling, but somehow did not have the energy for it. All the hopes and dreams he had worked into the scroll suddenly left him, just as the old life he now sought so hard to return to had done so many years before. Was there any facet of his old life that was still left to him, anything at all that could provide him with some solace or even just the tiniest vestige of hope to carry him through the many long years and difficult trials ahead? Caleb idly placed his hands into his back pockets as he paced, and found there the charred remains of something else he had thought had been taken away from him for good. Gently he drew out what little remained of his photograph, the one that now bore only the faintest of outlines to show that the face of his beloved ever once showed there.

As he extended it out in one hand Caleb also brought forth the scroll in his other, closing his eyes as the mystical forces involved did their work. When he opened them again, he saw that something amazing happened. Not only had the scroll managed to restore the image of her back to him, it had done it in such a way as to bring forth such a definition as he had never seen before. The original bleached out sepia image had been replaced with something far more colourful and vibrant, revealing to him once more the true wonder of Ophelia's features; her hair, her smile, her lips, her eyes. It truly was a sight to behold. Tears started to well up in the corners of the gunfighter's dry old eyes, and a smile of warmth finally managed to break across his usually cold and cynical face, adding force to the words he was about to speak.

"I will find you Ophelia" he stated softly, staring into the photograph. "I don't know how, I don't know where, and I don't know when, but I will find you. I will bring you back to me for good. I just need to find a way." As he was speaking, he unconsciously started to bring the hand holding the photograph closer to his chest, and suddenly felt a strange feeling start to rise inside of him. The scroll had found its next target, and had set about reinvigorating him. It was giving Caleb his life back, supplying him with the force he would need to stand alone for the next century. It was telling death to back away from him, and sending his spectral reapers all the way back to hell. It was also taking Caleb away from it. He suddenly felt himself to be shifting, being pulled away from the realm of the dead and back to the land of the living.
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Re: Scroll - Blood Fiction in Weekly Parts

Postby N0t_mINe » Tue Dec 16, 2014 05:15 pm

Was that the last one?
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Re: Scroll - Blood Fiction in Weekly Parts

Postby Tchernobog » Tue Dec 16, 2014 07:31 pm

N0t_mINe wrote:Was that the last one?

I still have a few more things to resolve with it, but yeah, it will be done by the end of the year.
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Re: Scroll - Blood Fiction in Weekly Parts

Postby Tchernobog » Mon Dec 22, 2014 07:04 am

Part Forty Two: Loose Ends

When the scroll had finished its work, Caleb suddenly found himself to be back in the castle again. Before him was the same massive stone door that had needed him to input all of those keys just a short while before, the otherworldly gateway still suspended and billowing its way merrily in front of him. All of the bile and distaste that it had produced in him before once again boiled back up to the surface, now being mixed with the gunslinger's present feelings of both defeat and regret. He may not have had things go his way, but he would be damned if he was going to let this abomination continue to pervert the border between the living and the dead. It just seemed wrong somehow, as if something inside of himself was now being forced to cry out for order and proper universal delineation.

Caleb then felt a different kind of feeling build inside of him, his feet suddenly rising slowly from the ground as his arms outstretched wide on either side of him. Ancient and powerful magics he did not know he could control or even understand began to be set forth from him, holding together and binding the portal between the two worlds closed as if the work were being done by the force of two massive restraining hands crushing in the centre of a tube. When this processes was finally finished nothing remained but a long and perilous drop in the room where the gateway once lay, and Caleb was once again placed gently back on his feet as the magics within him subsided. He had just gone through two strange and powerful experiences, and did not really know what to make of either of them.

The old gunslinger stopped to take a moment to examine himself, and found to his surprise that he was in fact no longer quite as old anymore. His once gnarled hands were now made smooth, his decayed and desiccated remains given new form and texture by the scroll's regenerative effect. His eyes still glowed red with the fire of the bloodlust; there were some things that death had not been responsible for taking from him. Even with all that being accepted though, he was still far more human now than he had been for a very long time. It really was a strange way for the gunfighter to end his long and perilous journey. Caleb had set off in the hope of bringing his comrades and his lover back to him, but had ended up bringing back himself instead.

The castle was empty now. Johnny had evidently finished what Caleb had started, leaving the gunfighter alone with the dead. He no longer needed to count himself as being among their number. Outside lay the mighty and perilous mountains where monsters like the now free gargoyles roamed; he no longer needed to throw his lot in with them as well. No matter his faults, no matter the terrors he was still going to inflict, no matter how much he was still tempted to revel in his inhumanity, the gunslinger's life had been given back to him. He was still human, and as long as he still had that, he could persevere, and find a way to give what he found back to others. Even if it meant taking the life of hundreds just to grant it to his chosen few, he would find a way.

Having come back to the castle entrance, the same song returned to the gunfighters lip's. "Don't the sun look angry through the trees. Don't the trees look like crucified thieves. Don't you feel like desperadoes under the eaves, heaven help the one who leaves. Still waking up in the mornings with shaking hands." Looking around, he realized that a new dawn had in fact arrived during all of the time he had spent inside, bright orange light becoming just visible over the tree line. "Don't the sun look angry at me" he added, staring down the morn. He did not need its approval. He could still take care of himself. Caleb then set off to return back to the boat docks where his adventure had begun, ready to resume his dark journey afresh.
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Re: Scroll - Blood Fiction in Weekly Parts

Postby Tchernobog » Mon Dec 29, 2014 06:42 am

So, here we are, end of the line. Any final thoughts from anyone about the story would be very much appreciated

Part Forty Three: The Word

More prone bodies lay abandoned on the floor, all around the robed man with the skewed face. The betrayer had done it them again. Providence had given them all a hand only to have Caleb come and snatch it away from them again. Leaning heavily on his elongated ochre skull staff, he surveyed the carnage with the same grim melancholy that had almost taken him before. That scroll was going to be their future. Through its power he was going to ensure that the cult would never die, that one central point would always remain, timeless and pure. The man let out another frustrated sigh. To bring a child into the world without this privilege now seemed a callous and cruel act.

Still, there were other means to an end. Even if it meant selling the Cabal and his soul to the darkest of threats, the most evil of evils, he would find a way to guarantee his offspring its birthright. He would plunge himself to depths unknown, and achieve power unimaginable, all to put an end to the betrayer. His heir would be the one to do so. The cult was growing increasingly and painfully fractured. Without a single deity to follow its members were increasingly only caring for themselves. The spiders and gargoyles had already deserted the cult, and unless they stopped it would not be long before the other internal squabbles that had so hindered their response to the betrayer's recent actions would swallow the Cabal whole.

In response, the man was going to create a new god. Unfortunately for him, it was a god that had just had its immortally removed. The child that would lead the cult back on the path to power and glory had just been rendered as mortal as anybody else. The man knew there were other ways in which his heir's life could be extended, but they would all involve a great deal of sacrifice in terms of both man hours and blood from the cult, something the Cabal was presently ill equipped to provide. A soul such stained could also never be considered to be pure again. As he continued to walk among the bodies of his fallen friends however, the man suddenly realized he did not really care anymore.

Even if it preoccupied the Cabal for most of what remained of the passing century, the man was determined that his child would be granted all the benefits that the cult could provide. His heir would need a long and elaborate teaching steeped in the ways of the Cabal, something that would give it the proper grounding needed in order to face the countless challenges that lay ahead. It would also be imbued with a hatred so great that it would literally chase the betrayer to the absolute edges of this world and beyond. On this last point the man in particular did swear. Even though he was now going to be playing the long game, the taste of victory still seemed to him just as sweet now as it would then.

Behind him the rest of the party that had been sent to investigate what little of the castle remained to them arrived, dragging a bound female prisoner in tow. Still resisting her bonds, the other two Cabalists threw her roughly to the ground by the man's feet, unable to break the woman's spirit. The Elder Cultist simply smiled at this. While it was essential that his heir be given his own shrewd intellect and intense loyalty to the Cabal, it being granted some of its mother's own personal strength and independence would also serve the child quite well. All of these traits would be needed in their next leader, something that had been missing from the Cabal as of late. The now heavily pregnant woman just continued to scowl up at the father of her child, not sharing any of the man's dark purpose.

From somewhere inside her womb, Gideon kicked.
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Re: Scroll - Blood Fiction in Weekly Parts

Postby dosgamer000 » Mon Dec 29, 2014 09:05 am

Congrats Tchernobog for finally finishing this story. As for final thoughts, it was an enjoyable adaptation of Sunstorm Interactive's great expansion pack. I like how you let the fate of Johnny depend on the viewer. At this point, we know he is very capable fighter and Caleb's so called protege has grown strong and even adapted his appearance in clothing. The spin of making the Scroll restore Caleb's youth took me by surprised, I was expected some otherworldly thing to happen that would foreshadow the return of the Chosen in B2. The dark implications of Gideon's birth at the final part was intriguing too.
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Re: Scroll - Blood Fiction in Weekly Parts

Postby Tchernobog » Mon Dec 29, 2014 08:03 pm

dosgamer000 wrote:I like how you let the fate of Johnny depend on the viewer. At this point, we know he is very capable fighter and Caleb's so called protege has grown strong and even adapted his appearance in clothing.

I am actually quite surprised by how well Johnny has been received as a character. He was first realized as a reaction to Eric J. Juneau's still very much unparalleled Blood 2: The Unforgiven, specifically the part where Caleb breaks Avery out of the asylum and then has to tolerate him until he can be handed back over to Walker. It was an interesting dynamic that I felt was worthy of more exploration than Juneau's own narrative had allowed him. Having recently gone through Dinner with the Preacher again I can also definitely say that a lot of Scroll owes its lineage to that work was well.

With Johnny though I was always very much concerned about him growing to become an annoying distraction that almost always managed to step on the important people's toes or further sidetrack the narrative. Due to this I always tried my best to maintain a certain amount of economy when it came to using his character; very little time is spent on flushing Johnny out, and most of his presence in the story is merely through the gauging of his reactions to the various other worldly events he is forced to encounter. Due to this he becomes less of a factor in his own right and instead functions more as an amplification of Caleb's own character traits as well as those of the off kilter world he is forced to deal with.

This economy is also of course maintained in the fact that I make Johnny disappear for a large part of the narrative, as I wanted to enforce the fact that the story was not about him and that he merely existed as a means to further explore the personality of Caleb. As it stands though I found myself missing him a bit as a narrative device, which is probably why the newlywed character grew to have a much larger role than I had ever initially intended her to, as she went on to assume much of the same role only in a markedly different way.

dosgamer000 wrote:The spin of making the Scroll restore Caleb's youth took me by surprised, I was expected some otherworldly thing to happen that would foreshadow the return of the Chosen in B2.

Well, I would not say it restored his youth per say, but rather it simply gave his own life force back to him. I establish in part fourteen of the story that whatever power or force prevented Caleb from succumbing to the grave was not his own but rather a lingering gift from Tchernobog, and that he was then in many ways existing on borrowed time, constantly being hounded by Phantasms. Of course the line between author intentions and the readers own interpretations is very thin, so you have to take what you want from it.

There is also actually some foreshadowing for the Chosen's return in Blood II if you care to look for it, as I do clearly establish that the dead do exist in another plain that is accessible and reachable through the practice of dimensional manipulation. The fact that the Chosen are returned to our world through the firing of a poorly calibrated Singularity Generator in Blood II can then be seen as an extension of this. In addition, I also imply that Caleb's own apparent distaste for the concept which came with the binding power he received also actively prevented him from exploring this possibility, martyring himself in the process.

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