Did we just introduce sadism?
That depends on the youth.
I take no responsibility for the youth not knowing where or what can be considered a vital organ.
|# ? Jan 9, 2021 05:29|
|# ? Jun 21, 2021 02:04|
Choosing a roll: 1d8 7
Slowly, a voice not so much 'heard' as felt rumbled to life.
Sorcerer: Life is transient, she has not seen much death. We must teach her that it is nothing, to harden her in a controlled manner.
Teacher: I remember when you did this, I’m… Hesitant, you were much older than her, and we had to postpone so many lessons because of it.
Emily coughed and wiped the tears from her eyes, <I can hear you,> she pushed, <I can do it.>
Sarah looked at Emily, <It’s not hard, you need to touch the skin, the suit blocks magic.> The man fired a bit of energy out of his finger, it was tiny, barely larger than a pearl and it struck Emily in the cheek. She shook her head and grabbed his hand, he tried to jerk it out of the way, but he was so weak. Emily could feel his aura more intensely when she took his hand. She could feel his heart, beating slower and slower. For a second it swallowed her.
Teacher: If we’re doing this, we’re doing it right… Don’t shelter her from this.
Sarah nodded, and was quiet.
She had always lived on the outskirts, and the Joy-food rations were getting low. The nutrient blocks the Doctors had been handing out were so bland. Not offensive, but just a chewy block, just enough bite that your teeth wouldn’t atrophy from lack of use, but no texture, no flavor. He wanted to go to school, learn Transmutation for his family, for everyone in his whole building…
It’d only take 4 years, and some post grad work and he’d be able to come back.
She was 15 now, she had done her studies, graduated top of her class, with time to spare. She was holding a rejection letter. Her mom is hugging her and saying it’s ok. No-one is starving, and people are getting all sorts of work done. There’s plenty of work out there, and there’s a lot of magic that’s taught on the job. She shakes her head.
Emily was in bootcamp, she was 18? No, 16… She had stolen bread? The bakery in town had smelled so good, and she just wanted something that had a smell to it, that had a taste. She grabbed a loaf without thinking, and barely made it a block before the Frogs showed up. There was a fine. Her mom paid it, but they had to sell a few of their Mem-bottles, and a couple of board games. “Still, we’ve still got the community theater, and you know, maybe we can all help out with that?”
Full scholarship, she’d get money and send it back to her parents.
She’s 22 now, she sends every penny she has back to her mom. They find out she’s good with magic, real good. They have a division of elite forces, which doubles her pay, and would teach her all sorts of magic, including transmutations. She didn’t hesitate to sign up.
A wild mage is slinging spells at her, but they bounce of her armor. She stabs her. It’s her first time. She vomits. The suit detects an imbalance and adjusts. <Breathe.> The suit says, one breath in her tongue tastes the bitter air, like an uncoated pill, like chewing acetaminophen. She breathes out. She is fine
Her troop finds a group of mages have been cavorting with Demons. The fight is massive, but she is largely unharmed. She feels the man’s skull crush underneath her boot. She doesn’t even blink this time. The Demon is upset. It can’t die. They had some sort of deal for mems in exchange for books. It croons that it was peaceful, there was no need for death. The Demon is livid, it calls her names she had heard a thousands times before. Everyone readies their magic, the Demon tears two men apart, her suit gives her a boost. She can barely feel as she and the others attack. They pull out “The Tool” the demon fights harder, but it means nothing. The Tool is a giant dagger, it has runes inscribed on the edge of the blade, and glows with an ominous purple glow. It slightly bends the atmosphere around it. Just looking at the thing give her pause. The demon’s tantrum starts, and she rolls her eyes. Sure it will kill a few, but in the end the same thing happens.
It screams as the mages chant their chant. They move their hands in arcane motions, and then The Tool fires and sinks into the demon’s flesh. The demon screams and the dagger starts to melt his form, he lets out a loud scream, but he can’t stop melting. He tries to fight it but his form is just gasping for breath, slowly dissolving. Then the liquid pools and pulls itself inward, until it forms into an ingot. The ingot shakes angrily, there is no other sign of the creature inside they pick it up, and send it to HQ. She looks at one of the dead, her brother had enlisted last year. She speaks, “Emotion: Grief. Rectify.” Her body goes taught for a moment as the icy feeling of pure unbridled joy and pride in succeeding her mission goes through her. She looks at the corpse, and the suit gives her a tiny extra jolt of excitement. He died doing what he loved. The other Frogs are patting her on the back. They go back to town to drink. She checks her bank account, and smiles.
Emily caught herself, she pushed through the memories. The residual feelings of the memory are still with her. Her breath slows, and she pauses for just a moment. She tries to copy the magic, she breathes in. She breathes out. Nothing happens. She grabs the mask, and puts it on. “Rectify.” She breathes in, she breathes out. She follows the veins, the pumping of blood is so slow now.
Sorcerer: What is she doing?
Empathy: She’s dissociating.
Queen: Does that still color her aura?
Sorcerer: Yes, the taint is in the soul, not the body.
Sarah was confused, Should I let her do this?
Guilt: It’s too late now.
First, the brain stem. Then the heart.
She focuses and makes two snips, the man jerks and his hair disappears, the runes on his arms fade away, and soon he is hairless, eyeless, and bare. His features slipping away into nothingness, merely a trick of the light that was now faded and gone.
<Are we safe here?> Emily asked.
<We should go deeper in… The forest will accept me, and will watch you carefully.> Sarah said, <Do not anger it.>
Grimm picked up the man’s corpse and shouldered it. Together they walked through the forest, and Sarah started to talk about general etiquette, <They are going to be weary of you. No-one comes to the Badlands willingly, the whole place is covered in human tech, and… Have they covered human-sickness in your classes?>
<There’s external and internal contamination? Like if you eat stuff that has Human on it, it gets inside of you, and you pass it out through your sweat and stuff, and if it’s real bad it’ll mess up your body?> Emily said, her voice was calm and even, she took off the mask, and her pupils were dilated. Her eyes were heavy and slightly drooping. Sarah was a bit concerned, because she could not feel Emily’s presence as much, as though she had simply… Dimmed.
<Yes exactly, what we call ‘The Badlands’ is largely scrubland of sort, with grassfields that’s grown over most of it. There are giant craters everywhere, and it is littered with human tech. Without some sort of protection, you’ll succumb to this sickness. Now why do you think Demons live there?> Sarah asked.
<Because… No-one else can?> Emily said calmly.
“Exactly right! A demons life is a double edged sword, they can be summoned by anyone that knows their ‘True Name,’ and if they get a drop of someone’s blood, they can be summoned to them. Now most Demon’s live on their own plane, which some of them think is hell (because many humans show up there, and most of them are awful,) though I think that is just a confirmation bias. The Demonic plain is largely like this one, except it exists outside of ours. When someone tried to summon a demon.”
Emily spoke up, <I know this part, when you summon a demon, you call it’s true name into the circle, then you barter with it, the promise being that if it does the job, you allow it to change it’s true name.>
Sarah was shocked, <No, I… What? That’s awful. Why would you force it to change itself?!>
<It’s the only way to ensure no-one can use it against you, any deal that doesn’t have a name change in it can be undone by the demon, and if they have the same name anyone can summon it.> Emily was neutral as she explained
Sarah scoffed, <I.. Well that’s cruel and horrific. Changing a demon’s name essentially kills them in a sense. They reincarnate, with all the same memories, but they are inherently a different person. You should never re-name a demon, unless the specifically ask for it. Normally after losing a loved one, or getting so old they feel detached, some just need a change after a while. Others personalities are so harsh that it’s hard for them to live with themselves. While others find that memories are too painful to keep as they are.>
Emily was confused, <How would a demon lose a loved one? Aren’t all demons immortal?> Then she thought of “The Tool”
<Yes, yes they are, but not everything around them is. If they have a beloved pet, if they bond with a person from a different species as their own, or even a piece of fiction or music.> Sarah shook her head, <They don’t externalize their emotions the way we do. They don’t have auras so everything they feel is intense, with very few outlets. The proper way to summon a demon, is to use no name. This creates a hole between both worlds, and normally demons that are curious about our world, or are already comfortable with it will poke their head through. Feed it a bit,then talk about what you need, and more often than not the creature will help you. Using its’ name would just annoy it at the very least, and make it actively hostile at worst. Most are just looking for entertainment. Eternity is exhausting, I’ve learned this myself, entertainment is just as important to the soul as loving, eating or breathing.>
Sarah continued, <The most important thing to understand is that being empathetic and kind will do you a world of good more than anything else. Still, being knowledgeable of their culture, and showing that you’ve made an effort to learn about them will go a long way as well. So let’s begin...>
[To Be Continued!]
School is slowing everything down, I’m taking 5 classes this semester. This does not mean that Kitty Quest will die. I have never just gave up on a game and left it without an ending or an epilogue of some sort. It does mean that posts are going to be slower, so I’m going to do story bumps, unless a bunch of people tell me not too, in order to keep the thread alive, and not be forgotten. That being said, if you want to Shard Post or ask questions, I’ll be keeping a keen eye on the thread.
Boba Pearl fucked around with this message at 09:56 on Jun 6, 2021
|# ? Jan 18, 2021 10:17|
Nice insight as to what a demon will expect in this modern world. Methinks Sarah is in for some uncomfortable realizations from the immortals.
|# ? Jan 18, 2021 16:20|
So instead of enslaving them we can recruit a demon to our cause in exchange for tasty tacos and rocking beats? Solid.
|# ? Jan 20, 2021 18:46|
Perhaps... No, this shard did not misjudge the youth. It did not.
The lesson was necessary for teachings to come.
If learning to take a life seems demanding now, the art of hunger will prove crushing.
No matter, the point is moot.
This shard will relent for a time; We wish the youth to grow hardened, not to break.
On that note, the youth did quite well.
A review is in order, I think.
Quick. Clean. Efficient.
The youth did not cause more damage than necessary.
There is little more to note on this matter. A positive, if unimaginative (see below) attempt. 2/3.
The dissociating was unfortunate, but unsurprising.
The youth is new to this life after all.
Quelling future bouts of dissociation will pose a simple challenge; doing the same without causing considerable harm to their own psyche is not.
I look forward to watching how this progresses. 3/3.
The youth listened to the beings they met recently telling them to kill.
Pointedly, they put up minimal resistance to the idea.
The issues with this are hopefully apparent.
Aside from the obvious issue, there is also the matter the youth declined to experiment, most likely due to their inexperience.
Capturing the snipped aura could have provided a useful bargaining chip or means of powering certain materials slash magic.
The youth will be given a pass on this however, as this was already a demoralizing experience. 2/3.
In total, 7/9. Not a single 0/3 among them.
This shard remains pleased with the youth.
Of course, it would be for the best not to let the youth in on any of this right now.
The youth has enough to think on without a pastel-coated performance review for their first execution rattling around their consciousness.
My, this shards social skills have rusted terribly, haven't they?
I suppose it's a given, considering our host. But alas all the same.
|# ? Jan 22, 2021 02:54|
Emily and Sarah were walking into the forest, and Sarah had continued her lecture, <The most important thing to understand, is that being immortal is profoundly lonely. Unless you surround yourself with others that are like you, your point of reference for time gets stretched. There is a limit to this, but for anything older than say, 200 or 300 years, it seems as if time is just flying by. They exist in the moment, but their existence is transient because if they get too attached to something, it will be gone. Have you ever had a pet Rat, or Hamster?>
Empathy: God we were so lonely, for so long.
Guilt: Do you even remember their names?
Teacher: Hush, she is lecturing.
Emily nodded, <I did… For a little while, but eventually I kind of just… Gave up, I didn’t want to get hurt anymore.>
Sarah <It’s exactly the same with us and them, on a much grander scale. If you’re going to live for thousands of years, why attach yourself to something else? It’s harder for them then, like I had said before they exist outside of the Aether, they get wrapped up in the maelstrom of emotions that follows us all. They can’t help themselves. I don’t know when we started to call them Demons, or everyone had turned on them, but I’ve always found them amenable.>
<I don’t understand, I thought this was going to be about etiquette,> There was a slight dim flash of annoyance, but it was quickly muffled.
Sarah, <This is etiquette, treating living things with respect and dignity is the highest form of etiquette. To be honest what you’ve told me about this world I’m seriously worried that you don’t know this. There are no magic spells you can use with people. You can’t use magic to change their mind. You can’t bewitch or ensorcell someone to do what you want. Part of understanding Magic and Aether is understanding emotion, and how our actions affect each other.>
Emily shook her head, <Wild Mages can bewitch people. They can control your emotions, and enslave you to their wills.>
Sarah scoffed, <I’m sure you believe that, but do you understand how hard that would be? You’d not only need to have perfect control over your magic, but you’d also have to understand enough about the brain and the body to manipulate those tools. No-one can control someone’s thoughts or emotions, at the end of the day we are all responsible for the actions we make, and the decisions that lead us to them.>
Memory: A priest screaming for clemency, your stoic face. “Renounce your gods,” he refuses. No escape, a long and horrific death. Another body to the funeral pyre. The next one is brought in. An insidious threat to the empire. No-one understands.
Queen: Silence fool.
Sorcerer: If we could even see our Aura, what color would it be now.
Teacher: We’ll never know.
Empathy: It’s ok to feel guilty, even if it was the right decision.
Suddenly, as they were walking a large fox jumped in their path. It growled at her, she ran back behind Emily’s legs. It pulled its ears back, and growled. Emily raised her hand, and pointed it at the animal.
<”NO.”> Sarah yelled as loud as she could, both with her mouth, and Emily looked at her with big empty eyes. Then back at the fox. It’s children were with it. Emily felt… Something… She looked at it with her hand extended, <Listen, I didn’t think you’d go around just killing things but I will warn you once, Only Kill for Sustenance. The forest will not be kind to you if you kill for fun.>
<Guilt: Do it.>
Emily felt the presence push into her head. It was loud and commanding, and she thought about it. Her head was foggy, she felt… Not good. Bad? Why was she feeling this way. She looked at the mask, it’s respirator lined with runes. She also felt cold and empty. Was she going to kill a fox.
<Guilt: Do it, you deserve this. You killed a man. You took it’s life, you deserve whatever happens next.>
Emily looked at the fox, it growled at her Sarah was saying… Something… Everything fell away. Sarah gasped as she was pulled in. Emily was in the mindscape again. There was a wall between the bridge, Sarah, and Emily. She grasped her knees and pulled them inwards. One of the sparks had broken past the bridge and wall, it took the form of a… Woman. She was lean, with short cut hair that blew in an imaginary breeze. She had sharp pointed teeth, she wore a vest over her shirt, she looked largely unassuming. She smiled and walked over to where Emily was sitting. The mindscape was foggy, all around her was mist. She couldn’t think, the woman was laughing at her, and pointed towards a crack. Emily gasped, the man’s dying face was burned into the floor, except it wasn’t him, it was bloated, and crying, it had wounds and it poured blood that looked tainted, chunky, corrupt pouring into a huge chasm in her psyche. Sarah stood strong, her giant form lifting her hammer. “You weren’t requested.”
Guilt smiled and looked down at her, “That’s the thing about curses Sarah, they’re not just for when you want them. Oh I know, the others feel the damage has been done, you’ve managed to wind your mind like a coil around oh so many justifications, and half truths. You've even managed to get some of these pathetic shards on your side. Well guess what? We’re not here to help you. This is a punishment. At least I haven't forgotten that."
“You don’t want to do this.” Sarah said.
“The shards of your mind are not for you to manipulate. This is a Curse. It’s supposed to hurt, and you’ve brought this darling child into it. Who knew children were so easily replaceable. You dote on her like she is your own, and for what?Well, now she gets to hurt too. It's been less than a year, and what have you brought her? A curse that she can never escape. A life she can never return too. A father who will likely never see his daughter again. She’s thrown her life away to die for a cause millions had already died for. Millions you killed by the way, with a stroke of the pen and the grinding of treads. It's disgusting! You. Need. To be stopped.”
The mindscape swelled and stretched, faceless creatures crawled out, each wearing a mask.
“You can do whatever you want to me, but she is off limits.” Sarah growled and lifted her hammer.
“You don’t have a say in this,” Guilt laughed and walked over to Sarah, “You made your decision. It's the actions of the two of you, not mine, that fractured this place.”
The silhouettes curled and climbed, there were so many of them, they jerked forward awkwardly, there body moving like marionettes. They were stiff and disjointed. There were loud snaps and cracks as it moved, each movement shadowy and twitchy. It crawled towards Emily. As it moved the blood left a trail, the ground cracking behind him. Sarah turned to face him, and struck him hard. He got lifted into the air and thrown back, blood bursting out of his every orifice like a crushed container of jello, thick globulets arcing behind him.
Sarah glowed with blue flames that crawled up her body. She rested the hammer on her back and turned to the growing horde, “I gave you a choice.” She yelled, loudly, “You decided your backwards governments were more important. That your gods were more important. That your nobility, your rent, your property was more important. I took that from you, and I would do it all again, because what we built on your ashes was an empire that was truly equal.”
The bodies closed in closer, and Guilt laughed as the crowd closed in on Sarah. “No-one here believes you.”
Sarah grabbed Emily and threw her into the air just as the crowd started to surround her. She spun with her hammer and slammed it into the crowd, the shockwave of it sending huge gouges through the floor. Her strikes send multiple flying. Guilt put up her hands and let out a soft giggle, her white gloves were drenched with blood, and the way she moved was so fast, Sarah let out a swing with the hammer, and she used the head of it as a vaulting board, landing on Sarah’s shoulders, she leaned low and whispered, “What do you think your families’ last words were when the empire fell.” Sarah let go of the hammer and reached over her shoulder, but Guilt was too fast, “Do you think they used human tech? Hanging? Maybe the same process you used to… Process so many people.” The edges of the Mindscape became crystal clear.
Sarah growled angrily, she caught Emily as she came back down. Guilt gently touched her cheek “Oh this precious thing you’ve ruined.” Sarah launched herself backwards into the floor, and Guilt slid effortlessly off as she moved. She grabbed her hammer again and roared. Guilt pointed at the crowd of masked silhouettes, and they crawled over each other to create a gallows. It had 3 bodies, and Sarah recognized their faces. She tried to get angry, but her rage was fading. She could feel the shard in her brain digging deeper. It was painful, so painful. The fire started to fade, and she put a hand to her mouth. “Damnit.” She tried to grab the hammer, but it was so heavy. Guilt grabbed Sarah’s head, and turned it to Emily, “This is your future, the two of you wallowing in despair in the deadlands, with only eternity and those you failed to protect to keep you company.”
A small mote of purplish light pushed into the area, and took the form of a man whose face was stitched in half, half of his suit was black, the other was white, everything was split, even his hair, and he wore a pair of round spectacles. He looked at Guilt, “This doesn’t make sense, if she wants to know she can just scry it. Why torture yourself without knowing what the truth was.” He smiled and reached down, “Besides the new government would need some sort of legitimacy, and it very well could be that your family lived a happy life as they ensured the transfer of power. You did call yourself a monarch, which would imply some succession through bloodline.” He helped Sarah get on her feet.
Guilt growled and leapt forward and punched her hand through Logic’s chest, his still beating heart held in her hand. She pulled it back and took a giant fleshy bite out of it. It was throbbing and spewing blood everywhere. Guilt grew slightly as she continued to consume Logic. His form dissipated into smoke and dust, and she inhaled deeply, the dark mist filling her. Her skin turned alabaster white and small cracks appeared over her body. “You’re not going to think your way out of this.”
She grabbed Sarah by the throat, and lifted her, the new Shard was taller then Sarah was, and she slammed her fist into Sarah’s stomach. Sarah coughed and nearly threw up. It threw her body aside, she looked down at the two broken people. She walked over to where Sarah had fallen and slammed her loafers into Sarah’s ribs, and then walked over to Emily. Emily was still in the fetal position, Angst raised her fist, and Emily flinched. She laughed and walked back towards the wall in the mindscape, “I’ll be here.”
They woke up on the forest floor, the fox was gone and they had found themselves in a clearing on a bed of poppies, there was no light, and yet the poppies themselves glowed a light blue, and when they moved the dislodged glowing dust that rose to the treetops. <Sarah?> Emily said quietly, her mind reaching out to Sarah.
<I feel like poo poo.> Emily said, crawling over to the cat, cuddling it.
<I know, me too.> Sarah said lying in her arms.
They sat there like that, neither could say anything about the overwhelming malaise taking them. Grimm stood perfectly still, holding the now rotting corpse of the man who they had slain. Emily looked over at it. She knew what she had to do, but she didn’t have the energy to do it. She could feel something gripping her chest, a tight pain that stopped her from acting, from thinking, she just laid there. They rested in the clearing for a while. Each feeling intensely alone, and yet happy to feel alone with someone else.
A few… Hours? Days? They had lost track of time in the darkness. They started to get hungry, they thought about moving, to go hunt and find sustenance. The moments seemed to stretch on for eons. They spend large chunks of time sleeping, eventually Emily had gathered up the energy to sit up. <Sarah, what are we going to eat?>
Sarah coughed and stood up gently, <We will have to find a meal, the forest does not provide for those who do not try to take care of themselves.> They stood up and walked for a while, Grimm following behind them. They searched the forest floor for fruit of some kind, but there was none to find. They heard birds but never had seen them, still Sarah led the way. She walked slowly. They both still felt terrible, but for the moment the feeling was ebbing. They slowly gained more energy as they moved. Though they quickly spent it as they tried hunting. Eventually, Emily groaned “I don’t want to look anymore, I’m so hungry!” she yelled frustrated.
Sarah spoke aloud to her for the first time in… However long they were in there. “I know, I know, but…” Sarah heard a noise in the brush, and her ears and whiskers turned forward towards it. “Shhh… I hear something.” Emily raised her hand, and kneeled down. She focussed on Sarah, who was focussing on the prey. She could hear it, she could feel it’s heart beat. She pointed her hand and waited. Sarah coiled up ready to pounce. It would need to be fast, as soon as it stopped…
The moments stretched as they quietly crept through the forest to keep up with their prey, when suddenly, it stopped. As it stood up on its hind legs, Emily barely registered it as a rabbit before she fired. A thin piece of fire stretched between her and the rabbit, grass blades slightly singed as the beam passed over them into the rabbits neck, quickly severing the spine and it’s neck in one shot. Emily smiled, and Sarah roared with triumph, they ran forward and grabbed the rabbit, and handed it to Grimm, who started to field dress it, quickly removing the fur and meat. Emily bemoaned that there would be no salt, but Sarah was not concerned, to a cat’s palette the cooked meat would be delicious.
As Grimm started the fire, Emily looked at the man’s body, Sarah looked at the two of them, <Why are you keeping that thing anyways?>
Emily looked down for a second, and then took a deep breath. <I had brought my spell books, Grimm is a family set of bones that’s passed down. It’s hard to get someone to sell their bones, most of the time it’s more prudent for the family to part the body out and get paid for the individual parts. A clean set of bones is… Well it’s very hard to get. So I wanted to see if I could create my own.>
Sarah wrinkled her nose at the body, <Well you better hurry up, he’s going a bit off.>
Emily went through Grimm’s bag, and pulled out her book, <Well, from what I remember the preparations to prepare the body for bone extraction, is to bury it in Fertile soil for 3 weeks, which will imbue the bones with life force, but I think there was a new process. Let me check my text books> She reached into the bag and started to pull out different books, she found the one she was looking for and quickly flipped through the pages. She avoided looking at the face or at the body at all.
<Ah here it is, yeah so if we carve him up, as long as we don’t knick the bones too much it should be good. I’ll have Grimm do it.> Grimm had grabbed some large leaves, and made little parcels for Sarah and Emily, the meat had the bones removed and placed aside. Grimm dragged the body over to the fire, and monitored both the temperatures of the food, and started to slowly, and methodically remove the skin and flesh from the man. Sarah watched somewhat disinterestedly, but Emily turned her back to it.
Angst: It should have been you.
Angst: You’ll never save anyone.
Angst: What do you think will happen to your family, now that you’ve killed someone?
Angst: Would your father be proud of you right now?
Sarah hissed and hushed the voice, she could hear the mocking laughter as it pulled back. She looked at Emily, who had buried her head in her arms. <It’s ok,> Emily reached down and scritched Sarah behind the ear. Grimm grabbed the parcels and placed it in front of the girls, and then returned back to the grizzly work. Grimm placed the parts together aligning them anatomically.
Emily took a bite and groaned, <It’s so bland, except for the overwhelming grass flavor.> Sarah looked at her and opened her mind to her, Emily took a bite and it tasted much better. “Thanks.” She said smiling at the cat. Sarah did her best to smile back.
<Do you think I could use the trees around here for magic?> Emily asked, Sarah looked around her at the thick foliage.
<I think that would be fine.> Sarah said unsure.
<Then I think I should do it before… Before we lose the energy to do it again.>
Emily reached out with her hand and grabbed a tether of the aether around the tree. She pulled on it gently and coaxed the energy out of it. She turned to where Grimm had, after about 30 minutes of working, had expertly disassembled all of the man’s skin and bones. Grimm was surrounded with 3 piles, one of muscles and fat, another of skin, and a final one with the offal separated out. Sarah looked over the piles.
Felinity: We should make sausages.
Queen: I don’t think that’s a good idea.
Intellect: It’s technically safe to eat.
Sorcerer: We’ve already absorbed their aether, let the meat go to waste.
Emily pushed the magic into the bones, and focussed. If she had time, she would do this part with a knife, slowly carving each rune into each bone, but she didn’t have time, and while she had never practiced this before, she felt more confident of her powers than she had in awhile. She focussed on each part, and carefully imagined the knife strokes necessary to carve the runes. As she felt the shape take form in her head, Sarah could see the bones starting to glow, with tiny runes appearing on their own, as though being opened by a thousand tiny knife cuts. Emily orchestrated the aether expertly, she moved with slow precision, fluid movements, she had improved so much in a short time.
It was slow, laborious work, Sarah had eventually gotten tired of watching and took a long nap, when she woke up Emily was still at it, focussing on the final runes, some of the skeleton was standing now, with the individual bits of it floating in the air as it was constructed. This wasn’t like animating the bones of small creatures she killed in the forest with Sarah, she was pouring her heart into it, creating something new, something that could hold onto its own magic, and pull energy from the aether around her. She continued her movements, and soon, she was exhausted, and the body stood up. She looked at it.
Now it was time for the naming, she had to figure out what she’d call this new thing she made. She looked at the suit, and then back to the skeleton and smiled, power crackled in her mouth, and her eyes glowed bright white as energy converged around her, she could feel her throat being squeezed in, and she shouted “FROGG.” The bones made a rattling noise as they all lined up and clicked together. The new one was about as tall as Grimm was, and glowing with blue eyes. Emily pointed to the Frog Suit, and Frogg slowly got dressed. She smiled at it, and was a bit woozy. She fell backwards, and both skeletons jumped forward in synchrony, grabbing her so she didn’t fall. Sarah jumped on her stomach and laid down.
“This is a much better way to travel.” She said.
The next day, Emily under Sarah’s Tutelage created a stretcher by strengthening and singing leaves and wood into a makeshift cot that the two skeletons would carry. They moved through the forest, and Emily turned to Sarah, <If the forest is so deadly, why doesn’t it hurt us? It seems like any other forest, but dark.>
Felinity: Catch the bug!
Sarah was stalking a particularly large caterpillar that had landed on Grimm’s shoulder, and the thought intruded on her stalking, she laid down low and wriggled gently as the anticipation started to build. Emily rolled her eyes and gave Sarah a gentle kick. Sarah jumped into the air with a start, and she wheeled around at Emily and hissed, then pulled herself back, <Sorry… Sorry. I was distracted what did you say?>
<Why doesn’t the forest attack us? Or like… Everyone made the deep part sound super dangerous. It’s not doing anything to us.> Emily said.
<It's because you intend to do no harm here. If you come in to the Dark Forest with malice or ill intentions it multiplies that. It amplified our worst traits, and we fought them and… We didn’t die, so it accepted our presence.>
<What’ll happen to the people following us?> Emily asked
<They will be tested, and if they succeed they will follow, but no-one will come to the badlands.>
Emily absent mindedly rubbed the chunk of metal on her neck. Gently plucking at it, as one would a scab. She looked at Sarah who had rolled on her back and was snuggling down for another nap. <It’s a good thing I brought all these textbooks, or else this would have been really boring. Hey Sarah… Did you know any Demons?>
Felinity: She knew so… SO many. Everyone hated her because she was so popular with the Demons. They would live right in the city with everyone else, and they would help people, make deals, and let them torture each other for their amusement. They were in all the courts, and they upheld the law, and they would help people! Demons gave the best pets, and whenever one would visit her, I’d get a treat
Memory: Dead Family, An angry creature wounded beyond repair.
Sarah paused, <I… I don’t know what that one’s talking about.>
Emily looked at Sarah, <Did you not…> She was shocked, and then explained what she had seen in her memory, from the beginning the bootcamp, the grief, the drugs, and the demon being turned into an ingot.
Cold rage poured from Sarah as she listened. She got angrier and angrier. She swore and rounded on Emily, <Savages. Why. Why is your world this way. What happened?! Did no-one fight? Did no-one try to change anything?> She was pacing angrily up and down the cot, deftly moving from Emily’s thighs, to Frogg’s shoulders, back to Emily again. <Why do you all just go along with this? I don’t understand, there were people who fought, fought hard to make sure you had every chance for success, and in just as much time as it took to build everything up, you’ve torn it all down. Into this… Into this hellscape. Turning them into ingots? SO what, you can melt them down and wear them as jewelry? So you can turn them into weapons that you use to throw away people, turning them into mindless husks.>
Emily looked at her, <So what are we going to do about it.>
Sarah looked at Emily <We’re going to raise an army, and we are going to burn these institutions down to the ground. We will start over, and we will fight with all the might of billions of peoples wronged.>
Queen: Oh my
Sorcerer: Yes, speak it into power.
Angst: You’ve seen this world, it’s as big as your entire empire, with all the trappings. How are you, and a handful of demons (which are slowly being captured and turned into objects,) going to do anything.
Emily laughed, <I’m sorry, but she’s right, there’s no way we could fight back.>
Queen: Not without the use of some very potent weapons.
Sarah looked at Emily, “The last time I wa-” She started to cough up a hairball, and gagged, she leaned over the side of the cot and kept hacking, until a large lump of fur, the size of Emily’s palm fell out and splatted wetly to the ground.
Felinity: You will just have to wait and see.
Memory: The fear on their face, Anger, a refusal
Angst: A failure, who inspires no-one, and accomplishes nothing.
<But before any of that, we must train you.> Sarah led the skeletons to a tree with a particularly large hollow, she leapt inside, and came out with an owl in her teeth, which she passed over to Grimm and Frogg who got started cooking. <Here reach in.> Sarah reached in and pulled out what looked to be a large steel chest. She looked at Emily excitedly, <It’s still here! Oh finally some good news, go ahead and open it!> Emily looked in and found what looked to be some fairly large clothes.
She looked at it and then back to Sarah <It’s… Clothes.>
Sarah nodded excitedly, <This is…> She stopped herself as she felt another way of nausea coming on, <Just put them on, you’ll see.>
Emily looked at the clothes <I’m not so sure about this…>
Voting time: What does Emily’s new outfit look like?
Pick 3 Emoji or SA smilies, a time-setting (Past, Present, Future,) and a color
There is now a space in Sarah and Emily’s mind. Nature abhors a vacuum and this too must be filled. The Shards have decided, it’s time to coalesce one more time.
A.) Togetherness - Emily’s family was what was most important to her, it feels like she’s losing sight of that. This shard wants to find a family, and keep those who are important closest to her. Outside of her father, the only friend she’s ever had was Sarah. This shard seeks comfort in the presence of others. It has insight on how people feel about each other.
B.) Brazen - Emily has made leaps and bounds to leave her comfort zone, and she has been pushed to do so a lot. Her inner will power is intense and this shard is as well. It knows the boldest actions, and will speak up to let the two of them know that certain courses of actions will be beneficial, or would impress others.
C.) Mindfulness - Emily has always has a good grip on her mental wellness, but the last few days have been hell on her psyche. This shard helps keep people aware of themselves and their surroundings. Spending time to meditate is important, and when you need soothing, or rationalization this shard knows what to say.
D.) None of these - You have an idea for a shard, pick an emotion and explain what this shard purveys. I will use your idea, though it may not be in the exact way you’ve intended...
Boba Pearl fucked around with this message at 09:56 on Jun 6, 2021
|# ? Feb 1, 2021 08:14|
|# ? Feb 1, 2021 09:19|
|# ? Feb 1, 2021 10:41|
Yup. If I’m reading this right, Logic just got wrecked. We need a voice to help keep us in line.
|# ? Feb 1, 2021 19:57|
Future Deep Green
|# ? Feb 1, 2021 21:16|
|# ? Feb 1, 2021 21:22|
"You know, we didn't deny that the sort of bewitchment our host spoke of is possible."
"Gets around telling a lie, but don't be surprised if it comes up again."
"Ah, the darlings.
"All their blood takes me back... But, I forget myself."
"We are not what we once were, no?"
"In most cases less, but in some, some we are more."
"They grow so quickly, don't they?"
"It would bring a tear to my eyes, if I had tearducts."
"What a delight it is to see some initiative in our host, yes, yes indeed."
"Tsk, tsk, tsk."
"How's it going to be different this time, hm?"
"Your... our current state is bad enough."
"So many shards of a once-great mirror; how will it ever be whole again?"
"...What, is it that much of a surprise?"
"Our host holds great potential for the arts of hunger, but they are as of yet unready, in need of tempering."
"Some mindfulness ought to handle that nicely."
|# ? Feb 2, 2021 00:32|
Kitty Quest takes a while to update, and requires a lot of drawing and writing. Sometimes to blow off steam I work on or create other projects, this one is something simpler to work on while I wait for people to get posts in, or when I'm exhausted working on stuff for Kitty Quest.
In you are a Monster. You are a Monster.You must escape.
|# ? Feb 5, 2021 02:39|
Emily first put on the undercoat, which looked like a spandex swimsuit, it was incredibly loose when she slipped in to it, and she looked concerned. <If you were as big as you are in the Mindscape, I don’t think this is going to fit me…>
Sarah laughed a bit, <Don’t worry, it’s one size fits all, once you’ve got everything on, you’ll use the air tank to create a tiny layer of air pressure, that’s what the belt is for.>
Emily slid on the pants and clipped them to the inside of the shoes, the fabric creating an airtight seal. All of the clothing was oddly heavy, and as she pulled it on, it seemed very loose. She wasn’t sure how safe it was going to be, but ignored that for now. She connected the air hose to the helmet, and then the helmet to the tank on the back. She clipped on an odd C shaped belt, that seemed to slot into the shirt. The belt clamped on with a tremendous amount of force that nearly toppled Emily. It immediately kicked on, and she noticed that the glass on the suit had some sort of read out. A few symbols she didn’t recognize showed up on her screen, and she watched as one filled with green energy, then depleted and flashed red, and the other emptying from Full Red, to Yellow, to Green at the bottom.
Sarah walked over to Emily, and pointed at her with her paw<Ok, so the bar on the right is the Oxygen filter, now humans had tanks that interacted with the nozzle here,> She said pointing at the belt. <But that’s long gone now, so now it uses the emergency filter. While it will last forever, this does mean that if you’re not careful, you can run out. At that point, you’ll need to wait for the tank on your back to filter more air. It should only take a few minutes, so you’ll need to hold your breath until it’s done..>
<The bar on you right tells you how much of the Human’s curse is in the area. It tends to be closer to craters, their technology, homes, and bases. Basically if you find a big area of where humans might have been, you’ll find plenty of the cursed aura in that area. This is going to be going off constantly in the Badlands. It’s very hilly until you reach the crater, so watch your step.>
Sarah paced around Emily, <Now, touch the bar on your Left side, and swipe it all the way to maximum.>
Emily quickly fiddled with the touch screen, the movement now a bit more awkward to manipulate through the gloves of the suit. As she did so she was shocked, giant geometric shapes were emitted in front of her, glowing a bright blue.
They moved with her as she adjusted her arms and legs. There were two large pauldrons that hovered over her shoulder, and as she twisted her wrist she saw that it had what looked to be a large spear that jutted from her wrist, together each set of shapes blocked her head, and arms. Her torso had a huge star that covered her face, and as she looked down at her legs, each had a barrier on it as well.
<This is hard light, it’s resistant to magic, small arms fire, most blunt and sharp edged weapons. It won’t stop an immense amount of weight from crushing you, but it will hold up to quite a bit of damage. Careful though, it runs on Oxygen, so if you take a big beating in this thing, you’ll quickly run out of air. Which is fine normally when there’s tons of air to breathe, but you’ll need to watch yourself in the Badlands.>
<Should I be wearing it now?> Emily said, looking down at the suit.
<Yes, it’s one of the rarest pieces of human tech I have ever seen, it’s actually clean, and even after hundreds of years it’s going strong. It even has temperature controls, and wicks away body oils. It is maybe one of the most advanced pieces of equipment I have ever seen. It was also a gift, when I first started my journey. I obviously can’t use it now, but you can, and that’s what’s important.>
They climbed back into their makeshift chariot, and the two skeletons started to trot off into the distance. Emily grabbed one of the books from her bag, and started flipping through the pages. As she did so, she noticed the suit was highlighting the pages, and quickly processing the information. She looked at the upper right corner of the helmet, where a quick spinning menu had opened a large drop down menu appeared, and as she looked at it, it scrolled through what looked to be titles of hundreds, if not thousands of lines of text, there were three columns, a title of some sort, a column with names, and dates, though not any she could discern. She focussed on one of the titles, as she stared at it, a bar started to fill, and the text flashed, suddenly there was an entire page on her screen. She started to read it, “Necromunda’s Notes on Dragons, and the separation of soul.”
Foreword: In this book, I have assembled my notes on a guide of my time in Czetsnalia, where I spent many years in the employ of a Large Dragon by the name of Goresneer. Together we had studied the creation of many kinds of soul magic. A brief history of the region is needed, as the cultural differences will explain why even my most in depth notes will be difficult to replicate. In Czetsnalia the cultural importance of magic is incredibly important. Instead of using the highly regimented and strict applications of cause and effect that you see in the capital of my home country Zergward, they instead communally perform a sort of ritual magic tha…
Emily tried to look away from the book, but as she did so more menus opened on her screen, and soon the entirety of it was covered in scrolling text. <Sarah help.> She reached out as yet more things opened under her gaze.
<It’s a vision based system, just look at the x in the corner of every box until they’re all gone.> Sarah rolled on her back, and looked at the canopy of the forest, she couldn’t be sure but it seemed like sunlight was filtering through the leaves. Besides the loss of a shard, and the overwhelming danger of the Mindscape, it looked like the Forest was being rather gentle. She tried to think what it would mean to only have intellect but not logic anymore. Though she immediately regretted it as musing about them seemed to summon them.
Intellect: The difference between knowing and something and being able to apply that knowledge are two different purviews.
Angst: Besides you’re a dead girl walking anyways, I wouldn’t worry about it.
Mindfulness: What’s that sound?
<What?> Sarah said looking around, when she realized she could hear it too, a high pitched buzzing rising in the trees. She looked around but couldn’t see what was making that noise, Emily quickly gave a scan around herself. The darkness of the forest was oppressive, there was a slight chitter that seemed to rise. <Oh… No.>
Emily looked around herself, <What. What is it!?>
<It’s Cobbolds.> Sarah said, she felt her heart start to throb, she felt like she couldn’t breath. <We must be close to one of their warrens.>
They looked around as the chittering got more and more excited. One of the creatures popped out of the forest, and stared at them as they walked past. It had sunken flesh where the creature's eye was supposed and it’s torso was incredibly thin. It’s chest was smooth and tapered off to a waist that was a little larger then a milk bottle, and the razor sharp claws on it’s hands and feet were curved. It was 2 or 3 feet tall, and it’s flesh was a deep red. It didn’t attack though, just watching. As the skeletons moved through the forest, more and more appeared. The hair on Sarah’s back stood on it’s end, and she seemed like a big round void with all of her fur standing straight out.
Emily, suddenly felt very glad that she had her suit, and looked out ahead of them. Suddenly there was another Cobbold that fell from the top of the trees. This one was different, it had 4 eyes big and beady like a spiders. It’s face was taught and smooth, a deep blue. Lines on it’s skin glowed brightly, Emily wondered how she had missed it, now that it was in front of her, she realized it was so bright it lit up the trees around it. The cobbold was wearing a breast plate, and in it’s hand it had a weapon that looked remarkably like the piece of human tech in the archaeological dig site she had seen almost a year ago now. It had the same barrel design, though this one was smaller with a giant gem bolted to the bottom of it.
It pointed the weapon at the skeletons, “I’d stop to chat if I were you.” Emily quickly gestured at the skeletons and it put the makeshift cot down. Emily slowly stood up her palms pointed inwards. “That’s right, lets all be nice and calm now, ok?” The creature said as they stood up. The crowd grew larger, and soon there were a large group of Cobbolds circling them. Emily looked around her and realized she was surrounded.
“We were just passing through,” Emily said quickly, “We don’t want any problems.”
“Oh yeah?” The cobbold said, not dropping the weapon, “You know, spirit of the forest told me there were people in the forest, you wouldn’t know anything about that would you right? Wearing fancy suits, kind of like the one you’re wearing.” He gestured at another Cobbold. This one had a face like a wolf, pointed ears, and it’s skin was a bright green, it was wearing a backpack, a suit of armor that bulked out it’s tiny frame. It reached into the bag and threw a head onto the ground. It was one of the Frogs, the head made a damp squishing as it bounced in the dirt. “Funny, this one took a shot at us. We really don’t like it when people come through and cause trouble. Are you the type to cause trouble?”
Emily shook her head, “No, I’m just trying to get to the Badlands, I am only passing through, I promise. I’m really the friendly kind.”
They stared at her, and waited, “Yeah? Going to demon territory to dig up more human,” with the word he spat on the floor, “bullshit?”
Mindfulness: Deep breaths, keep calm. If he wanted to kill you he would have done it already.
Memories: A scared General, pleads to abandon the Cobbold’s territory. Thousands lives lost, sabotaged equipment, multiple cities razed to the ground. A forced peace treaty.
“No, no, I just want help.” Emily said, “I’m being hunted for being a sorcerer. I need to find a place that I can hide, and train myself. I just want to be safe and learn.”
The Cobbold held the weapon on her, “Now, this may come as a shock to you, but we’ve found that meta-humanity is nearly as bad as regular humanity when it comes to respecting other people’s territory. You’ve brought a lot of trouble to our forest, and we’ve spent a long time protecting the Badlands, those are good folx with bleeding hearts. I’m sure your little sob story would get them just gushing over you, but I’m not as easily swayed.”
“I’ve lost too many friends getting involved in things that didn’t concern them. So we’re going to do a little experiment. If you pass you’ll get to leave, go to the Badlands, if you don’t we’re going to drag you alllll the way back to our H’olm, and replace every bit of you until you’re faceless, just like the rest of these beautiful dregs you see before you.” He waived with his free hand at the assortment of Cobbolds that had gathered.
He handed the gun to the Green creature, and reached his long claws into his mouth, pulling out a handful of what looked like smooth stones. The Faceless Cobbolds, with their hollow eye sockets and deep stares suddenly started to move in synchrony. They quickly took the piles of stone from the first, and started to work them into the ground. They moved the hard packed earth as though it were clay, the stone slowly turning to putty glowing brightly. In the center they placed the head of the Frogg, taking the helmet off letting his decaying face drip.
“You’re going to get out of the Human Suit. The skull is going to ask you 3 questions, if you lie, try to subvert the truth, tell a ‘technically’ truth or tell a half truth, then the circles you see these lovely creatures making will, like a great snake, rise up and swallow you. Then you’ll be pressed into the earth, just barely enough pressure so that you can breathe. Not deeply mind you, just short shallow breaths as you slowly starve to death. I would not recommend trying to get around this.”
Emily looks at the circles and bites her lip, “What kind of questions?”
The Cobbold shrugged, “I dunno, that’s up to the skull.”
Sarah looked at Emily but kept her mouth shut, it wouldn’t behoove anyone to reveal herself. There were 4 circles in total, and as she stepped into the first one, there was an intense flash of light and heat. The skull in the center sprouted tentacles from it’s skull, each one pink throbbing with purple veins. The very tip of it looking extremely sharp. Before Emily could react, she felt the thing pierce her neck. Right at the base of her skull where th-
The limiter sparked and fell off, and there was a sudden maelstrom of energy. It exploded outwards from her threatening to swallow everything around her. The aura was so intense that the swirling colors started to show up on the normal plane, a bright light show that pulsed with energy. Another tentacle pierced right underneath Emily’s neck, the sharp spike splitting her tongue and the roof of her mouth. The maelstrom started to die down, but her eyes were shining with energy.
The Skull looks at Emily, “What do you fear most in life?”
Mindfulness: A simple question, and you have all the time in the world to answer.
<Not existing? Dying?>
Mindfulness: Most likely, but is that what you fear most?
Angst: It’s me isn’t it, I’m so delighted.
Sarah took a deep breath, and started to go through the guided exercises that Emily had taught her. She thought long and hard, doing her best to focus on the world around her. The swirling of the maelstrom, the emotions washing over her.
Angst:I can’t wait to watch you slit your own fu- hey. What are you doing? Stop that!
Sarah took another deep breath and pushed the emotions deep down, feeling them being subsumed by her own void of aether, the shards getting quieter.
Emily knew what she feared. She tried to shake her head, but the spears in her body stopped her. Her blood trailed down the tentacles. She felt her body shake.
“That one day, at my lowest, I’ll do it.” She found it remarkably easy to speak, though it hurt her immensely to do so. The maelstrom whipped around her sending her hair flowing in every direction. “That my fear of death will some day not be enough.”
The Skull nodded and Emily was pulled closer, into the 2nd circle.
“What was the happiest moment in your life.”
Mindfulness: You’re doing great. This is hard but you can do it. You know these things are true, admitting them to yourself will only help you in the future.
“I… It’s a tie…”
“Then say both,” The Skull said.
“When… When I was in the forest and I chased down the deer and wolf, the exhilaration, the ending of a life… The taste. I can’t stop thinking about it, the euphoria.” She struggled but as she started talking she could feel the words just spill from her. “The Aether is so strong and exciting. It’s invigorating, I’ve never felt anything so amazing, and the closer I get the more I feel like the parts of me I hated are being washed away. I’m living the life I was meant too, that I’ve known was right since I was a child.” She took another deep breath.
“That and the… When I killed that Frog, when I saw that he was a monster through and through, and he would never hurt someone again… Knowing that I was more capable than him, I was so scared of how good it felt, the drug pushed the euphoria down. I am so strong, so capable, I could do literally anything I want, and no-one has the power to stop me.”
The maelstrom spun even more, Sarah looked at the sparkling shots of life, and watched as it kicked up a branch off the ground and flung it into the throat of one of the faceless. The other watch unblinking, and the two glowing ones took cover behind a tree.
The skull pulled Emily even closer to the center circle, it was the final question. She could feel it, deep in her heart, she had always known what the last question would be, and what the answer would be. Would admitting it change everything? The cat must know she had figured it out. The memories, the shards, Sarah’s curse stopping her from talking about her past.
“Who is Sarah?” The Skull asked loudly, as the Maelstrom started to rip bark off the trees, kicked up dirt, and scorched everything around it. “Who was she?”
Emily reached deep in her heart for the truth, “She…”
God she didn’t want it to be true, she desperately tried to search for any other explanation, but it was impossible, there’s only one person who would know so much and yet so little. Only one person who would care this much about society, would want to wage war on an entire world.
“She’s… She’s the Red Queen, the Unnamed Scourge.”
The skull pulled Emily into the final circle, and dropped her. The wounds slowly healed. The maelstrom whirled around her and the energy wouldn’t stop she couldn’t control it, she didn’t know what to do, she looked at the dead Cobbolds.
As suddenly as it stopped, the colors stopped showing, like a vacuum Emily started to absorb the energy of everything around her. The trees, leaves, bugs, the grass, so many of the cobbold s, all dropped dead black and dessicated like a corpse left in a crematorium until there was nothing but carbon and ash.
She felt that thrill again, it was so enticing, so amazing. The euphoria spread all over her body. She looked at the cobbolds, and her hands started to glow. She started to giggle as she slapped her hands together pulling out two blades of energy just like the Frog did. She spun them around in her hands, and started to chase the one with the weapon. He didn’t run like the faceless or the others did.
He aimed the weapon at Emily, and fired. The gun had fired a solid chunk of lead that struck Emily right in the chest. The Cobbold reloaded and fired again as she went down. A giant chunk of her skull was blown away, revealing brain matter bits of skull and half of her tongue.
“<NO!>” Sarah screamed, she ran straight at the Cobbold. She reached deep inside and tried to pull out the energy she had earlier, when she had struck Emily in the forest and stopped her. She needed to help, she had to help.
Emily’s entire body started to spew out energy again, and it whipped around her. She tried to say something but suddenly, a pillar of light started pouring out of the open bit of skull, blasting the entirety of herself into the air. Sarah could feel the pain, fear, and… Euphoria that Emily was feeling. She couldn’t breathe as her head got hot and foggy, and her body started to bristle all over. The Cobbold merely watched, leaning on his gun like a staff.
Emily was incinerated entirely, every tiny cell atomized and pushed outwards simultaneously. The beam of light disappeared, and then whirled back around taking the form of a young naiad. Emily fell to the ground, and looked at her hands as wisps of energy spilled over her form. The Cobbold looked at Emily, “That was interesting.” He shrugged, “The Skull didn’t kill you so you’re good to go on your way.” Emily reached out for the Cobbold's energy, she could feel it’s tether, she was going to pull it, all of it until there was nothing left of him, there was another bang that filled the forest, when suddenly Sarah looked down at herself. Her head hurt, and there were… She tried to process all the visual information, she could see through her own eyes, through Emily’s eyes, and through.
She looked down and there was a large slug that was floating in her incorporeal essence, stopping it the moment before it had hit Emily. She held her hand up and tried to reach out for the Cobbold’s essence, but she couldn’t. She tried to fire energy, but nothing happened. Then she looked at the ground and noticed her large hammer was there. She picked it up, it’s heavy weight giving it an incredibly satisfying heft.
The Cobbold shrugged and turned around to walk away, he pulled a transceiver out of his pocket, “Yeah Momma. It went just as you said, but we lost some faceless. Both of them. Alright, we’re coming back, do you want to let them go to the badlands? Ok.” He waved over his back at the two? Three? Of them. “Let’s hope we don’t meet again.”
Sarah felt the projection of her energy slowly dissipate into the void where Sarah’s aura would be, if she had one she tried to will it to stop, but it was becoming even more incorporeal with every passing. Emily stood up off the ground, and started to put on the human tech suit, and buckled it. Sarah looked at her, <Are you ok?> she said, putting her arm on Emily’s arm. Emily hugged Sarah as hard she could and started crying.
<I think… I think I died… I think my Dad is dead too…> She cried even harder, full on sobs that wracked the forest with her grief.
<Oh… Honey…> She gave Emily a squeeze, holding her up as her legs collapsed underneath her. She grabbed her head and gently ran her fingers through Emily’s hair. <It’s ok…>
“You’re the only family I have left…” Emily said sobbing. “You’re the first person who taught me anything, believed in me… Like my mom.”
Sarah’s heart broke in two, and she cursed loudly as her form started to disappear, no just a few moments, she needs it. She quickly lifted Emily off the ground and placed her on the cot. Sarah crawled on top of her as a cat. “If… From what you’ve told me about her, if your mom were here, she’d be so proud of you. Your Dad too we’ll get revenge, I promise, we’ll get them back for this.” Sarah looked up at the dense canopy and it started to break up, the forest had released them. It’s trials were over. Then she looked back at Emily, who had fallen asleep.
The skeletons carried the cot out of the forest, from there it was only a few hours from the forest to the badlands, the huge mountains looming the Skeletons kept the mountains to the left of them, until they had reached a break. A large gate spanned from one mountain to the other. It was large, and on top was a demon, it looked down at the woman and cat that had approached. The Skeletons stopped, Emily was still asleep. Sarah took a deep breath, and yelled at the Guard.
“We are enemies of the Capital, and wish to apply for sanctuary with the demons in the badlands.” The guard looked down, and turned into a black fog of void that quickly slid down the wall in front of them He leaned down and looked at the Cat, “I didn’t know Kitty Cats could be enemies of the state.” He said with a laugh. “You will get no mercy here, while I’m impressed you were able to make it through the forest, there’s just no way I’m letting you in. Your kind is just trouble, and there’s no-one to vouch for you, if there was I would know you already.” He tried to pat Sarah’s head but she recoiled.
Sarah looked at him, and was shocked. She had never heard of the demons not allowing people seeking sanctuary inside. What else had changed, she knew of a demon that would be able to vouch for her, well maybe. It had been hundreds of years. She wracked her brain for Demons that she knew personally, members of her court maybe?
A.) Ceres of H’olm seventy sixth of his name and Neat of H’olm 3rd of her name, human’s bane, servants of light, and destroyer of the Cleresy
Sorcerer: Ceres and Neat were steadfast friends, their loyalty to each other was unbroken, and each was lost without the other.
Queen: They were very lenient, and had trouble with being stern. Hard to get them to focus on work when with each other.
Memory: Spent a large time with Cobbolds, were incredibly skilled at ritual magics, and they regularly were able to create things with Cobbold help that met, or surpassed human technology. Best scientists in the Empire.
B.) Magdalene of the lost forest, last of her line, last of her name, the manipulator, the unbroken, breaker of the blood moon.
Teacher: The smartest of the group for sure.
Empathy: Of course you’d say that.
Intellect: It was hard to get along with Magdalene, her lust for vengeance and justice is hard to control, and she rarely shares her plans with anyone
Teacher: Still the most capable.
Intellect: She’s technically not a demon, a nature spirit without a forest.
Memory: Grueling training, constantly being berated, never good enough, yet she gave us so much power. So much.
C.) Damocles of the nine hells, thirty ninth of his name, Creator of the sword, crusher of realms, and reviver of souls.
Angst: This fool, walked with humans for years and what did that accomplish him? Nothing, he gave it all up for a boy. A boy that doesn’t even talk to him anymore. A public defender in the court, and gave everyone the benefit of the doubt.
Intellect: Damocles is younger than Ceres, Neat, and Magdalene. Very weak for food and wines.
Memory: Writing sonnets together, relaxing under the shade, and sharing the sweetest of wines. Obsessed with Gerald.
D.) Gerald of nowhere, last of his line, 1st of his name, the inquisitive one, master of the sanguine.
Felinity: Always had the most scritches and treats. So nice and warm. My favorite Demon.
Mindfulness: This one might be able to relate with Emily’s problems, he was a good friend and very attuned with people’s emotional state.
Memory: Very inquisitive and intelligent, but is prone to long periods of melancholy. Constantly involved in an on again off again relationship with Damocles. The two have a shared past neither wants to talk about.
Pick a Post: 1d6 6
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Boba Pearl fucked around with this message at 09:56 on Jun 6, 2021
|# ? Feb 15, 2021 20:40|
D Of course this guy leaps to mind, the kitty likes him!
|# ? Feb 15, 2021 21:20|
Ohhhh poo poo.
Damocles is back! Gerald too!
C. He was resourceful and knew how to have a good time.
|# ? Feb 15, 2021 22:13|
D If the kitty and mindfulness both seem to like him, I'm gonna vote for that.
|# ? Feb 15, 2021 23:07|
|# ? Feb 16, 2021 00:07|
"The song of vigor, pure'n unfettered growth eternal more."
"To sup and be supped upon, the feast eternal, the [consumption-of-ones-own-flesh-to-satiate-deepest-hunger]."
"We had tasted stars and danced the light'ternal."
"Divine flesh was the sweetest of all. So scarce. So scarce."
"Oh, how we might..
..might, might. Ah. It has been so long since we've seen such a display."
"The sensation is headier by forced abstinence, and no less sweet than so long ago."
"Pay this shards ramblings no mind."
"We've been sundered for so long, it was only a matter of time before something slipped in the mirrors cracks unnoticed."
"...Did the youth hear any of this? I hope not."
"It would be dreadful if the shard meant to teach about hunger were caught falling to their own."
"Funny, isn't it?"
"Of all the demons we've met, how many did we know well enough to call friends?"
"Correction: To call friends and mean it."
"If, of course, there were any."
"Time has a way of complicating recollection, no?"
"Ceres and Neat were quite popular, weren't they?"
"Our friends or not, it would do well to check in on them."
|# ? Feb 16, 2021 05:38|
The Demon studied Sarah and Emily his eyes shimming pearlescent colors while the fires on his shoulders dimmed slightly. “Where did you get that name?”
Sarah looked up at him, and tried to puff herself up as big as possible, “I was a close friend to many demons, and a valid confidant.”
“I will call to the first city, you will wait here.” He turned back into a fog, and quickly scampered up the wall, as he got to the top he yelled back down, “It may be a while, here’s a care package.” He attached what looked to be a wicker basket to a fishline and let it sink down to the bottom. Sarah peered inside the basket, and then looked back up to the top of the wall. The Demon who had greeted them was gone.
Inside the package were bars of pressed nuts and dried fruit that had been stuck together with honey. Emily picked one up and pushed it past the Light Shield of her visor, the light refracting off of the bar for just a minute sending striking blue rays everywhere. She grabbed another bar, and started to eat that one as well. Emily looked at Sarah, “If you knew the Demon’s name that you were going to have vouch for us, why didn’t you just summon them?”
Sarah looked at her and sighed, she still clearly wasn’t getting it, and Sarah didn’t know how to fix it. “Because they might be busy doing something. They might not want to see me. They might not recognize me. Their name might have changed.” She spun around on the grass and flattened down a bit to lay in the Sun. It was late morning, and the crispness of the dawn was giving way to the thick warmth of noon. “In our days, a Demon only shared it’s true name when they wanted to make sure they could always be on call. So that if the person with the name was in an emergency scenario they could call on a Demon to help.” She sat down and tucked her arms under her body, curling up into a tiny ball.
Emily stretched her legs, and looked at Sarah, “You napped the whole way here, are you really going back to sleep? I was hoping to get some training in before they get back.”
Sarah yawned largely, “I guess we have not done nearly as much training as I had thought. The forest proved more dangerous than both of us expected, and the cobbolds definitely put a damper on things.”
Emily absentmindedly touched the side of her face where the ritual had punctured her. It was such a horrifying feeling to have something sharp tearing at the jagged edges of her flesh, and she shivered and shook her head trying to get rid of the thought as soon as it entered her head.
Sarah’s eyes gently started to drift, each blink getting subsequently more and more shallow “I will teach you something since you’ve asked. Something easy while I catch a few Zeds.” She yawned. “Put out your hands, yes this will work in the suit, it has pores on the gloves that let’s aether flow through it.”
Emily did as she was instructed.
“Now imagine a line extending from one palm to the other, something sharp, in the shape of a sword, a spear, a dagger maybe. Then clap your hands together and focus the aether into the palm, and then pull them apart. If you did it right you should have a manifestation of your Aura. Once you’ve got that down, spar with one or both of the skeletons, it’ll get all of you better at fighting.”
Sarah started to slowly nod off, as Emily started clapping her hands together, trying to summon up a weapon of some sort. Emily tried to hold the shape in her mind as she clapped her hands together. She tried to assert her own pressure onto the form, like she did with the chaos bolt. Instead of spitting out a tiny spark of energy, she wanted to re-route it into her hand. She wasn’t sure what kind of weapon she wanted to summon, and realized that was part of the problem. She kept at it, trying different versions in her head. She thought about the suit, and activated the panels of hard light. Holding her hands up she noticed the two extremely sharp points that jutted out from the emitter on her hands and arms. She’d need to supplement that somehow, a sword or dagger wouldn’t help, and would even require her to breach her own barriers just to get it in hand.
She studied the shapes around her that she could see, and pulled a sketch book out of her bag, she quickly jotted down some notes, and then looked at the information module. It seemed to have a few books on every subject, and she quickly scrolled through the book until she found a history book that was talking about the different kinds of armor and more importantly, weapons. She found a setting to only look at pictures, and started to scroll lazily through them until she found a design she liked.
She scrolled quickly past the huge swords and spears. She didn’t want to have to try and swing around something so large, and she had no experience fighting. The Spear would barely poke past the edge of the gauntlets, so without any reach, it seemed useless. There were different kinds of swords, some thin, some thick, some curved, but they all were much too short. Then she saw it. She opened up the chapter, and it had very little information on it.
An ancient human weapon, that was recovered at some cultural heritage sites, used to practice some form of martial arts. After locating a Demon over 6,000 years old, we had a quick interview about this weapon. It was called an Urumi, what you see pictured is the metal parts of the sword remaining. The blades were extremely thin and flexible, allowing the user to whip about and manipulate the swords through the air. Multiple of these sword would fit in a pommel, and the weapon would be used by spinning the weapons around and lashing out with them. As they wrapped about the enemy, they cut deeply. Sadly, the Demon in question went through the re-naming shortly after the interview, and refused to answer any questions we might have had.
She studied it, the intricacies of it, it was more complicated than Sarah had suggested but with her gauntlets, this weapon would be a perfect fit. She focussed on the thin blades, on the handle that wielded them. She tried to pull the weapon out again, her aura shifted and glowed as she pressed her palms together, but still nothing.
She tried again and again, while Sarah slept, Emily stood there focusing her energy. It was harder to get it to manifest then anything she had tried before. She looked over at the dozing cat, Easy she said, she pouted, why does her magic take so much longer to learn?
Angst: Because you’re not very good at it.
Mindfulness: You’re not focussing very well, you’re too excited, and not thinking on the forms. You’re trying to make the end result, without thinking about the shapes that go into it. Focus on the shapes!
She closed her eyes and took a deep breath.
Angst: You know, we’ve actually seen this spell before!
She ignored the voice, and clapped her hands together.
Angst: Yeah, at the beginning of the forest.
She thought about the shapes that made up the blade, it was 9 individual thing planes, with a cylinder to hold onto.
Angst: That guy you killed! Hey you know what would be fun.
She clapped her hand, and something was different, there was sparking energy that pulled away shining out of her hands. She clenched her fist, and she could feel something solid beneath it. She pushed her hand to the Pommel and pulled the aether through her fingers creating the individual blades.
Angst: Oh good job, shame really you’re not going to enjoy it…
She gasped and the form went away, she tried to catch her breath, she couldn’t breathe she was so scared she was going to die. She tried to call out to Sarah for help but she couldn’t hear her. She collapsed on the ground as chills crept all over her body, she gasped for air but it wouldn’t catch. She felt nauseous, and tried to roll over in case she vomited. And still the gasping continued as she was smothered. Her visor turned a deep calming blue, the screen cleared, and in the top right, the suit said in thick scrolling black letters, “ck ... Remain calm, you are fine, you are having a panic attack… Remain ca” and her vision was enveloped by a green circle.
She tried to follow the instructions on the screen, and tried to breathe, but it just wouldn’t come. She heard a tittering laugh as she tried to compose herself.
Intellect: SARAH WAKE UP!
Sarah jerked awake and ran over to Emily who had tears leaking out of her eyes as she kept trying to breathe. Sarah pushed into her mind and tried to block whatever was bothering her. Angst just kept laughing at the two of them. Slowly, ever so slowly she recovered, Sarah kept burrowing deeper in trying to push past the barriers Angst had built around Emily’s mind. She slowly regained her breath as the moment passed. Emily started to cry harder, “What the hell was that?”
Sarah frowned, “It was a panic attack, it’s to be expected after what you’ve been through.”
“Well it was awful…” Emily curled up into a small ball, the fabric of her suit sliding smoothly across itself. “God this entire thing has sucked for the most part.”
The cat nodded, and pressed itself against Emily’s leg, nuzzling it gently with her chin. Emily tried her best to pull herself together. The suit was still going through the breathing exercises, and Emily followed along. Soon, the suit stopped beeping and the screen cleared. “These experiences… They mold you, and while it’s awful to go through them in the moment, each one has made you stronger, smarter, better than before. That being said, it’s ok to be upset about what has happened in the past month, hell it’s ok to still be upset about what happened in the ruins.” Emily nodded, and then pulled herself up.
“Well, I know how to summon the sword whip at least,” she clapped her hands again, and pulled out the thin bladed whip, she gently swirled it around in the air. She quickly noticed that the weapon was repeatedly striking her own frame. She had a moment of relief when she realized she couldn’t hurt herself with her own weapon, despite it’s best efforts. As she swung the blades around, she realized she could feel it, every part of the weapon. It was an odd sensation, like it was an extension of her arm, she could feel the air whizzing past the thin points, and with a little more focus she realized she could control them. She swung the weapon at Frogg, and tried to focus, the whip wrapped around one of his limbs, it was close, but she wanted to do it with all 5 pieces of it.
Emily spent the next few hours practicing with her weapon. She tried her best to move the individual arms of it and was slowly getting more successful at it. After a while she was tired, and while her suit kept her comfortable cool, it didn’t stop the fatigue from swinging her arms around with the heavy suit on. She laid down in the grass next to Sarah, who had not returned to her nap since the incident. The cat had been watching, and gave little tips of advice here and there on how to best focus with her chosen weapon.
When Emily laid down she looked at Sarah “How come you didn’t use an aether weapon, like the Frogs, or like you had me do just now.”
“My weapon was a receptacle, I poured my Aether into it, and in return it was lighter, stronger, and hit harder than anything I could produce through magic alone. A proper arcanus, whether it’s a hammer, a sword, an orb or even a book, it will take your power and leverage it further. Like the difference between trying to hammer in a nail with your fist then with another block of wood. My hammer was sung by a-”
She started to gag, and a giant hairball started leaving her mouth in a long log, making it impossible for her to speak.
Memory: The smith, the Iron Trees of Tired Wailing. He hands us the hammer, “The People’s Liberator,” he says proudly, “Sung it meself.” The weapon is surprisingly heavy, and instantly starts to absorb Sarah’s energy, it was stuck to her hand. The smith just smiled, “One swing of your hammer, and the walls of Tired Wailing will fall. Free them my Queen.” We smile back at him.
“Of course,” we give them a hug, a firm warm embrace.
Sarah eventually recovered, “I’m honestly a little scared at how many tools of death and destruction your society has made. Especially while letting those go hungry in the streets. I’m not surprised though, it’s much easier to crack the whip than to bake the bread.”
Sarah was going to continue, but before she could get another word in there was cranking and a great turning of gears. The Gatekeeper had returned, and out strode a Demon clad in clothing, with dark Red Hair that was messy and unkempt. Sarah smiled, “He hasn’t changed a bit.”
This clip has sound
Gerald took a long drag on his cigarette, and exhaled a heavy cloud of deep black smoke, an inky blackness that seemed heavy, and drifted across the ground. His shoulders were slightly slumped, and he scratched his head with one hand. He just stared at the pair for a bit, the silence palpable. He looked up at the Gatekeeper and nodded, “Yeah I know these two.”
“To hell you do Gerald. You can’t keep doing this, do you even have room for another two.” The Gatekeeper yelled, incensed.
Gerald looked them up and down, “Yeah, even if I didn't, what's it to you? My guests are my own,”
“Not every stray needs to be picked up and coddled Gerald. I know they don’t know you, they used a name that was over 500 years old.” The Gatekeeper slid down the walls, and stood in front of Gerald.
“You know the rules Noma, as long as I vouch for them, they’re allowed sanctuary. Besides, it’s not every day a talking cat comes to our home and asks for protection.” Gerald looked at Noma and twisted his neck slightly, a loud crackling pop echoed threatenly, “Besides are you really going to try and stop me.” It wasn’t a question. Gerald looked down at Sarah, and squat on his thighs, his feet flat on the ground, “The Badlands are cursed, most unprotected by wards or armor die in a few days, the exceptionally strong will make it to a month, maybe two. Are you ok with that?”
Sarah nodded, “Yes, I know.”
Gerald stopped, and his eyes dropped into a low squint. He pushed past Noma, and gestured at Emily and Sarah to follow him, “Come on, it takes a few hours to get to the city from the gate, and I have a lot to ask.”
Noma turned into a cloud again, and ran up the side of the gate. The wide doors, far taller than any normal sized person swung open slowly, and the three walked through the gate together. When Gerald finished his first cigarette, he summoned the portal again and grabbed another one, the smoke following them, billowing around Emily and Sarah’s legs, the smoke just high enough that Sarah could barely keep her head above it. They walked in silence for about 15 minutes, and when they could no longer see the gate, Gerald stopped.
“How did you get my name?” He asked bluntly, cutting straight to the quick.
Emily stuttered, and Sarah was quick to respond, “Yo-” She started to heave, and when she dipped her head beneath the black smoke her deep breaths filled with an intoxicating mix of smells. She recognized many of them, the smell of old books. A perfume filled that smelled of Roses and Chocolate. The caustic acids of science. She gagged and lifted her head. Her mind swam, and Emily looked concerned.
“You gave it to her,” she said pointing at the cat, “You two were confidants, and friends.” Gerald looked down at the Cat and quickly scooped her up in his hands, lifting her out of the smoke. Sarah felt loose and dizzy, like her head was too heavy, and her body went limp in Gerald’s hands, he quickly cradled her to his chest.
“I’ve had many friends, mice, dogs, people, and yes even a few talking cats. Most Demons don’t take the forms of animals, and even less people do. So either you were given some sort of enchantment to make you smarter, you’re cursed, you’re a familiar or you just really, really like animals.” Gerald used his nails to gently rub Sarah’s head. Sarah tried to bat his hands, but she moved so slow, and her hands just lazily swung through the air. Sarah looked at her paws, and tried to focus, but in her minds eye she could only see the claws of a Devil-Born. Like she once was. She reached up and patted her head and felt horns.
To Emily it just looked like she was pawing thin air.
<Sarah are you ok?> Emily asked concerned.
Sarah’s words through the mindscape were distant and echoed, each word seemed to take great concentration. <I’m, fine, just a, bit tired, and hungry. You should, read that book, I’ll take a, quick, peek.>
Felinity: Please do not bother us, it is time for the good scritch.
Gerald looked at the Cat again, and then back at Emily, “How long ago did I give you this name.” Sarah didn’t even bother trying to answer.
“Over 500 years ago, I think.” Emily said, guessing.
“You think but you don’t know?” Gerald pushed
“Well, you saw, when she talks about her past she gets sick, so I’ve been mostly piecing it together.”
“Hmmm… I did know a talking Cat a long time ago, but it definitely did not have this voice.” He picked Sarah up by the scruff of her neck, her dopey grin wide.
With his free hand he took another puff of his cigarette, and blew it directly into the Cat’s face.
“HEY!” Emily said, annoyed, “You can’t do that, that’s terrible for any animal. What is wrong with you.”
Gerald looked at her over his shoulder, “You might want to think about the situation you’re in, miss. I’ve got to figure out if you’re good or bad before we get back to the City. So excuse me for taking some shortcuts. Now.” He turned his glowing eyes back on the cat. “Felinity, that you?”
Sarah went limp and her eyes started to close, when they opened her eyes were a bright green. “Good King Scritch” Felinity said, her voice deep and gravelly, like the hum of a motor, or a dog's growl. Gerald stuck his smoke back in his mouth, and moved the Cat back to a cuddling position, her belly exposed as she gently pawed in the air.
Gerald quickly started to speak aloud, though whether to Emily or himself it was unclear. “Alright, so you’re both here asking for Sanctuary, the Sprawl is on the other side of the Forest. So you must have come from there. You have a suit I recognize immediately, though that was before Noma’s time, so it makes sense he didn’t notice. The Cat has a couple of voices I remember, though I’ve never met you before.” He said, looking Emily up and down, “Empire provocateurs don’t really try to get into here all that often, the suits give them away, and most don’t want to risk death. Besides I don’t think there’s anyone alive on your side of the gate who would remember that voice AND be able to replicate it. I think all the Queen’s Mem-Chems were wiped in the purge.”
Gerald continued to walk and talk aloud, while Emily listened, “So you’re either really good spies, and I want to keep you on a close leash, or you’re a dead girl walking.” He said looking down at the cat. “Well, dead-er. When you went missing, I was sure they had found your Gem-spot.” He looked down at the Cat, the eyes were bright pink and purple once again.
“They could never find it. I threw it into the Ocean, and left it at the bottom of the sea.” Sarah tittered, “When I die I just poof back on top of the water..” She laughed. Then her mood shifted quickly and she sounded depressed, “Well I used too, now I just appear in the Forest, but how can I show up there? I see no Gem. Just leaves, trees, foxes with gnashing teeth, cobbolds with sharp claws, snakes that can swallow a Cat whole. God I hate the forest Gerald. I hate nature so much.”
Gerald laughed, “Yeah, I remember when Josephine wanted to go camping. I think you lasted one night before you absolutely insisted that you be allowed to magic up some better surroundings.”
Sarah smiled, “Oh the Gazebo, with the sling.”
“God that thing was dangerous, of course you tested it first.”
“And it fired me right into the ground and I exploded like a grape. Pop.” Sarah laughed again.
“Josephine had to call me to clean up the mess, it looked like a war zone. I think there’s still some pieces of your ribs stuck in the trees.”
“And you all called me the Devil’s Grenade for months,” Sarah groaned, “It wasn’t even that funny.”
Gerald laughed, “Well it’s how much it bothered you that made it funny.”
Angst: That’s because you- wait what?
Empathy: Yeah sucks doesn’t it. I think we’ve heard enough from you today.
Mindfulness: Don’t leave out Emily.
<No really it’s fine,> Emily said to Sarah, <I don’t think I’ve ever heard you tell a story before.>
Gerald turned to Emily, “So you’re fleeing the Empire, I guess that makes you a Sorceress, or a political dissident either way congratulations.”
Queen: Finally some recognition of our talent and birthrights. Not being chased about like some sort of hooligan.
Sorceress: I’ll have you know that hooligans make the best mages.
Intellect: Or at least the most experienced ones.
“Aren’t you a little young to be a revolutionary,” He said looking at Emily, “How old are you?”
Emily looked at Gerald confused, age was a difficult thing to describe with metahumanity. Some species aged to a certain point and then stop, while others continue aging in perpetuity, a few even die off at general points. Ontop of that each species reached adulthood at different times. Most just say what level of maturity they’re at. Toddler, Adolescent, Teen, Young Adult, Adult, Young-Elder, and Elder. Unless they’re still in school, then they go with that, which is a good shorthand for describing where they’re at as well.
“I’m an Adult in University, I’m trying to get my Masters in Hu-” She stopped herself, and realized what she had given up to pursue “wild” magic. She had never really considered it before, Sarah had talked about helping her Mom and learning true magic and power. She had quickly threw away something she worked so hard for. For what? Power? She shook her head, “I was trying to get my Masters in Human Anthropology.”
Sarah smiled wide, “I can’t believe I forgot, Gerald was human once!”
Emily’s eyes grew to the size of saucer plates, “Oh my god you were?! What was it like? when were you Human? What kind of government did you have? Why is everything cursed? Why did you make so many weapons? What did you eat? Did you all farm, or some of you? What kind of magic did you do? Were there other species around? Why were your summoning circles so complicated? How did you all communicate?”
Gerald laughed, “Ok so in order…”
“I was human about uh…” He touched his chin, “I guess it’d be 8,000 years ago, though I had a good timeskip for the first 7,000. We had a federal constitutional republic. There wasn’t a world spanning empire like you all have now. There were multiple kinds of governments that worked at various degrees of success. I don’t know why everything is cursed, but humans in general kind of sucked at making decisions. Which is why we had so many weapons, mostly to kill each other for various reasons, most of them either geographical, or because one set of humans was absolutely dead set on eliminating a different set of humans.”
Gerald stroked his beard, sighed deeply and continued “Where I grew up these things were pretty common. Most agriculture was done in temperate zones on the planet, using magic. Most things were made in different places. Like some places had laws where kids could work, so they had really cheap labor. Where I grew up we mostly used prisoners, we had a really strict set of laws, and then applied them only to those who couldn’t defend themselves.”
Gerald kept expositing as they walked, “As for summoning circles, we didn’t really understand Demons all that well. Or magic to be honest, there was always some new breakthrough in spellcraft that would revolutionize everything. When it came to Demons, we weren’t able to make the big open portals like you guys could. When we summoned one we’d get what you guys would call a Shade. They could only stay here as long as they were fed and taken care of, and then later we would use a second set of runes to make it permanent. We had to pull demon’s from their realm in parts. We thought we were being clever when we summoned one, but honestly demons are just really bored and want to help. They come through the circles willingly just to see something interesting happen or else we wouldn’t be able to summon them at all I think.”
Gerald looked at Emily, “What was the next question?”
Emily had pulled up a voice recorder on her suit, and watched as every word Gerald said was transcribed into a notes file, “Were there other species? Like us? Like me? Were there Naiads? Were there Elves? Were they like the species today? And then your culture’s magic. Please”
Gerald shrugged, “Other races existed for sure, though I don’t think anyone could really sense the aether. When we did magic we did it mostly through what you guys would call transmutation now. We’d sacrifice blood, money, family, even concepts or ideals to power our spells. It had a huge effect, but it was incredibly dangerous.” Gerald looked down at the cat and gently scratched it’s chest, “When I was human, I had sacrificed my ability to have a home, my ability to work, every dime I had, people, hell I even through myself into the abyss, all trying to bring back my family from the dead. It never worked out. I talked to Magdalene a bit, and apparently Humanity has had multiple exodus’ from this continent. We are vicious, petty, and cruel, everyone around us wanted us gone. I can’t really blame them.”
Gerald, “And yeah the thing I miss most was how we communicated, we had this thing called the internet, and it ruled. Limitless knowledge at the very tip of your fingers. You could press a button, ask a question and it was immediately answered. You could share videos, pictures, we even ended up evolving how we communicated through language. We’d have these tropes where like you had a picture, and the picture represented a joke, and then you’d put words on it and that’d change the meaning just slightly.”
“As for other races, I think that a lot of changing has happened over the last 8,000 years. Like Naiads I knew only lived in rivers, and couldn’t go very far from them. They were ethereal, like… You’re corporeal you know? You’re solid, but they were spirits. I think the humans that didn’t leave or get wiped out, had bred themselves out of existence, now everyone just kind of looks like a modified human of some sort. To be fair, I think humans being gone and replaced with people who had better grasps of empathy and pattern recognition is a good thing. I really can not overstate enough how badly we sucked, as a species.”
Emily had so many questions, and Gerald answered most of them to the best of his ability, while Sarah slowly sobered up from the smoke. Gerald described to Emily what was, mostly, a modern world with modern conveniences. They covered everything from fossil fuels, to politics, to academia, public transport, memes, pet ownerships, all of it. Gerald kept up pretty well. Emily was fascinated and obsessed with the idea of the internet and smart-phones. It had explained so much, when Gerald was describing the different kinds of cables that went to different kinds of phones, a light bulb clicked on in Emily’s head. That’s why so many human artifacts seemed to have no communication tools in them, and lots of wires that seemed to go nowhere. The plastic and metal slates they found weren’t talismans, they were communication devices like Demity Crendel had theorized. When Gerald started talking about space travel and Satellites, Emily gasped Humanity had tried to explore everywhere, and they had gotten closer to the stars then anything she had heard of. Sarah had dozed off quickly, she had heard this all before, and honestly, she thought Gerald was making up half of it.
It had taken a few hours to get from the Gate to the first city, and the entire time was spent grilling Gerald. After a while Emily looked at Gerald, “Why hasn’t anyone just asked like I did, I feel like all of this should be common knowledge.”
It started to get dark as they walked.
Gerald laughed, “Prejudices against Demons, and I got very lucky that someone cared for me enough to try and save me. Damocles, my Husband had jumped into the portal after me, and he grabbed every piece of my atomized form he could, and tried to put me back together in the Demon realm. He had to use a lot of his own essence to put me back together. I’ve never met another human. Though I have met some old creatures, ancient ones and very few lived with humans, those who did viewed our society as a blight. Genocide is a uniquely human thing I think, and it doesn’t engender you to anyone.”
“What-a-cide?” Emily asked.
Gerald sighed, “Basically the entire extinction of a race. It’s the idea of making something extinct, through willpower and violence.”
Sarah yawned “Are you two still talking?!”
Gerald laughed, “She’s inquizitive. I like it, most people don’t care about human society inside the walls, since we’re all gone now.”
Sarah yawned, “Genocide is also when you try to wipe out a culture, before the unification wars there were a lot of different people, with lots of different ideas, ways they ran things, art they created.”
Emily balked, “That is awful, why would anyone do that?”
Gerald looked at Sarah, “Before she was a Cat, Sarah was a monster. She had a vendetta against religion, and when she had went on her crusades, she destroyed everything that was even close to worship. It was a huge anthropological loss, so many stories and people were wiped out.”
Sarah growled a low tone that started to tilt upwards at the end. “It had to be done, people were avoiding all sorts of things to follow their religions. They were turning down medicine in the hopes that prayers would help them, or they would starve the poor because that was their place under their God or Gods rule. I was creating an e-” She started to gag again, this time her stomach was empty, and a foamy bile was all that was produced.
Gerald rolled his eyes, “I’ve heard it a thousand times, ‘I was creating an empire that no-one would go hungry, or unhoused, everyone received a free education, and blah-blah-blah. Where did that get you exactly?”
Sarah, “A thousand years of peace, and a society that was truly enlightened. It would have been for longer if it wasn’t for the commercialists. I don’t know how they knew I would be so vulnerable that day. We were just getting to the point where we were understanding transistors. So close to creating the first computer”
Gerald merely nodded, “Yes, well now commercialism rules the world outside of these walls, and technology has largely grinded to a halt.”
Gerald lead them to the edge of a cliff, and pointed inwards, “And here we are, the First City of the Badlands.” Emily looked over the ridge, and gasped. What she thought was a cliff’s edge, was actually a crater, a huge one. It had to be at least 500 square miles, and inside were densely packed buildings, huge ones that seemed to reach up to the top of the crater. Emily was expecting something more modest, like huts, tiny villages and things. Instead it was a sprawling metropolis, and everywhere there were creatures. She hadn’t realized Demons came in so many shapes and sizes. Many were on the roofs of these large buildings, playing games, or basking in the moonlight. She stared at the edges of the crater, but it didn’t look like there were any roads, or ropes, or ladders.
“How do we get in?”
Gerald laughed, and picked up a rock, he threw it at the ground and it transformed into a tiny disc. “With magic of course. What do you think we would take some stairs?”
The sprawling city quickly seemed to gobble them up, and the disappeared inside of it. As they walked Emily marveled at the tall skyscrapers, even bigger than the ones at the college. The whole place was lit with lanterns that seemed to just… Exude light, but when she looked close she couldn’t see any aether, no magic. They just… Glowed. They quickly made their way through the city, the disc they sat on quickly diving in and out of the growing buildings. Gerald dropped another finished cigarette, flicking off to the side.
After about an hour of flight, the disc quickly flew up the surface of a building, and alighted itself on the roof. Gerald smiled, “This is where I live, my family owns the top 3 floors.”
Sarah, looked at Gerald, and raised an eyebrow, “Your family?”
Gerald looked at Sarah, “Oh yeah, you don’t know. I’ve had a slight title change. I’m now Gerald, 679th of his line, The Kindergartener. After we fled the city when the commercialists took over, lots of Demons had been banished to their home-realm. There were a lot of kids that were separated from their parents. So we opened up an Orphanage. Then as need grew, we also opened up a school. I personally adopted a few kids a year, every year, for almost 500 year s now, and raised each of them to adulthood. Then thousands more passed through my school. It was just me and Damocles at first, but we quickly grew.”
They walked inside as the two skeletons carefully disembarked. There was a very young looking Demon who was waiting for him. His brow was furrowed, and he seemed to be trying his very hardest to look tough. Gerald walked over and gave him a hug. The Demon seemed to stiffen, and then gently hugged him back, “I was worried you were going to bring home another person for us to watch die.” Gerald looked at him sternly.
“Listen, if people want to try and live here, if they know the consequences, we owe it to every person to give them the best while they’re here. I did that when I was a human, and I’ll do that now. Besides, if you were really worried, you wouldn’t be up here eagerly waiting to meet new people.”
Gerald gestured at Emily and Sarah who were just coming down the stairs. “This is Emily and Sarah, they will be staying with us for a while.” The young Demon looked at Emily’s suit.
“I’ve never seen a red and purple suit before,” he said staring.
Emily wasn’t sure how to respond to that. “I uh… Yeah, its new-ish. Sarah gave it to me.” The Demon looked at Emily intently.
“Do you play board games?” He asked.
Sarah nodded and Emily did too somewhat nonplussed, “Yeah… I do…”
The Demon stuck out his hand, “I’m Desoxyn, most people call me either D, or sox. Do you play real board games I mean”
Emily smile grew, “Yeah Have you played the Half-lights struggle?”
D nodded, “Yeah I have! I like that one.” He looked at Gerald, who gave Emily a wink, “Looks like you have the nod of approval, guess that makes you one of us. Gerald summoned another portal, this one was slightly larger.
“Here, keep this on you, it marks you as a member of our family. If anyone asks, just say you’re Kinder-sire, they’ll give you a pass.” Emily quickly put the sigil in her pocket, and Gerald pulled out a tiny collar with a pink bow on it, and put it around Sarah’s neck, and then hung a miniature sigil on it where the tag would be. Sarah growled again.
D looked at Emily and then started to talk rapidly, he described a bunch of different places they could go. Since Emily was new to the city, he wanted to show her everything their district had to offer. He excitedly listed off a bunch of places they could go right now!
Gerald nodded, and mentioned he’d be setting up their rooms, but it would take a minute to prepare, and that they might want to explore the city a bit. Sarah gave Gerald a look, and Gerald simply smiled. Whatever he was preparing he had obviously intended it to be a surprise.
“Let D show you the city, he is almost an adult at this point, and besides, any business you have here can wait.”
Sarah wasn’t so sure. Something felt off, she wasn’t sure why. She wondered if Emily’s overwhelming anxiety was affecting her too. She hoped not, one of the few small blessings of being a Cat was that most of those complicated feelings were behind her.
You clearly want to take Emily to a proper teacher, but she wants to explore a bit first. Where do the three of you decide to go [2 choices]?
A.) To the Recreation Dome, to see the play “Human’s Die in Moonlight: A Cobbold’s Tale”
D: The playwrights here are so good, I’ve seen this play a thousand times. It’s a musical and it’s about. Well I won’t spoil it, but it’s a play that dates back to the First Human Exodus!
Mindfulness: Sitting and watching a play might be good after so much travel and stimulation. You’ve been walking for hours, it might be good to sit for a bit, even if the suit is compensating for a lot of it.
Sorceress: Seeing Demon Magic up close, especially the kind for pageantries such as this could be very enlightening
B.) To the Library, where Emily might read more about Demon History
D: We’re right next to the Master Library for the city, it has a copy of almost every text that we’ve been able to find. Not only that, but it’s got a water fountain that Demon’s play in, and a bunch of Mem-Chems you can rent!
Queen: Mem-Chems are fun, we could relive Demon History. See what true royalty looks like.
C.) Explore the city, let the aether guide you
D: There’s always cool street performances as well, I think there’s a stage in the park, where we debate philosophy, and live bands down a bit from there. We could just walk around let the city guide us. I’ve never had a problem doing that.
Sorceress: Many times the most powerful experiences happen by chance.
Intellect: Getting a good layout of the city might be helpful as well.
Empathy: This boys mood is infectious, I think he would be excited to just talk about the city if we let him.
D.) To the Orphanage, and Help Damocles and Gerald take care of the little ones and learn from Gerald about Humanity, and the Eternal Timeline
D: Or we can go see Damocles, it’s just before dinner, so we could help him cook. I normally help out, but I wanted to greet the guests so I told him I wouldn’t. He seemed fine with it but still...
Empathy: It’s slightly bothering him that he isn’t helping, but he’s also conflicted because he wants to show you so much of the city. He might have a crush
Angst: If you crush his feelings, I promise not to say anything for a month Y/N?
Teacher: I rarely wage in, but I think meeting some of the other kids here might be good for you.
E.) Go Spelunking in one of the Human Ruins.
D: Or we could go explore some of the Ruins around here. Most people don’t care about the junk inside, and there’s so many in the badlands you can’t go anywhere without running into one eventually. I’ve found lots of cool tech and gadgets inside. Though it can be kind of dangerous, and I don’t know how bullets and lasers and stuff effect non-demons. But you’re wearing armor you should be fine.
Teacher: Gaining more knowledge and technology is how the Red Queen rose to power, it was inside this very country she had found the vehicles that allowed her to take over.
Queen: Spelunking human ruins always turns up something interesting, even if it’s not useful.
Mindfulness: Even if you are tired, overcoming a challenge might be just the pick-you-up you need! Besides, D has done this many times before, it should be safe… Enough at least.
F.) Be firm, tell Emily there will be time to explore later, right now they needed to go to the college and see about getting a magic tutor.
Sarah: D, that’s very nice of you to offer, but Emily will have to learn a lot of magic, and the sooner we get started the better, once we’re done at the college we could go and do something else.
Teacher: Education is important, we won’t be able to accomplish anything without the proper magic.
Queen: We don’t know how long it’ll take to get going, training is important.
Intellect: Naiad’s are ageless, once they hit maturity they live until they’re killed. We have a long time to live and train if we so choose. We also don’t know what saving Mom will entail, the more education we have the better.
Empathy: We can always do this later, it might be nice to just cut loose for once.
Mindfulness: Getting serious about training is good, and there might be fun to have at the college.
Boba Pearl fucked around with this message at 09:56 on Jun 6, 2021
|# ? Mar 5, 2021 19:39|
|# ? Mar 5, 2021 21:21|
|# ? Mar 5, 2021 23:32|
That was a very fun update to read through.
|# ? Mar 6, 2021 00:48|
"So many sights, sounds, people."
"Much better than those old woods."
"Now, I wonder what sort of culture Cobbolds have come up in the past... How long has it been again?"
"Oh, long enough to come up with something, I'm sure."
"Let's take a look, yes?"
"...And perhaps help out at the orphanage, too."
|# ? Mar 22, 2021 05:30|
Whoa, I've been slacking on voting, AC
|# ? Mar 22, 2021 06:34|
|# ? Mar 27, 2021 19:59|
THis is actually taking me longer than I thought it would, do you guys want interrim updates every week or two, or do you want a big post after I'm finished?
|# ? Apr 1, 2021 01:50|
Hm. S'been a while since you asked, so I'd go with a biggun for the immediate next. Smaller ones after that, perhaps?
|# ? Apr 11, 2021 02:53|
The next one is the last one, we're ending Chapter 1 / Book One with Emily and Sarah in the Badlands, and we'll be picking up their story again in Book 2, which will appear in a month or two after this update, as I sketch out a basic timeline and find ways to expedite my writing process, I want to be able to post 8 times a month, Kitty Quest 2x a month, LAB 619 2x a month, and a third webcomic CYOA 4x a month.
Boba Pearl fucked around with this message at 04:50 on Apr 11, 2021
|# ? Apr 11, 2021 03:48|
Emily smiled, “I don’t know the last time I went to a theater,” D smiled widely, as the three of them walked down the stairs to the lobby, D was speaking rapidly, and his excitement was palpable and infectious, “Yeah, so” D started as they walked down the stairs connecting the penthouse to the rest of the building, “The city rules to be honest, there’s always something to do, and as more and more of us gather we’ve been able to grow vertically. Oh man, sometimes after the play the directors do a meet and greet afterwards.”
The streets themselves were crowded, and people filtered in and out of random buildings. Giant flashing lights seemed to assault them from all angles. Beautiful colors advertising all sorts of things, places to change your form, places to change your fire, food, different kinds of entertainments and shops. D diligently pointed out each shop and explained them, Emily started to doubt that D was talking fast because of excitement, and it started to sink in that he was just always a bit hyper. <Maybe baby demons are just like that?> Sarah said connecting with Emily.
<Maybe… Haven’t you been here before??
<I lived here for a number of years, though it was such a long time ago, I don’t remember it being so crowded or so… Bright.>
Emily felt like she was home. She had been thinking about the city, and while it felt like home, this place was so much. The suit seemed to be recording everything D was saying and creating files based on his explanation, between Sarah, the suit, and D she started to get overwhelmed by all the stimuli, and the suit started to dim the audio around her, her visor slowly darkened, and she felt the inners swell slightly, so she was surrounded by a warm comforting pressure. D’s voice was displayed on the screen, and she read it as they walked.
“This place has the best food, I don’t know where they get it from, but i-“ Then he looked at Emily in the suit, “Oh right, you can’t eat can you?”
Sarah chimed in, “The visor is actually permeable, as long as she keeps it up, it should filter out the majority of the rad-curse.”
D looked at his wrist and a small flame appeared, “Then maybe we should grab a bite to eat before we go to the shop, there’s a vendor who sells pork buns, and they are delicious.”
They walked down the crowded streets, and slowly Emily’s visor let in more and more stimuli, until her eyes adjust to the overwhelming neon city-scape. Emily heard a voice as clear as a bell, that seemed to be beckoning to her specifically, the filters of the suit was overwhelmed by the smell of sweet buns and cooking pork. “Can you really say you're a citizen of the city, if you’ve never Bechdel’s pork Buns?!”
Emily’s head twisted and snapped to what she assumed was Bechdel. Bechdel was a demon of huge proportions, and his huge swirling mass had many tentacles that were doing so many things simultaneous at once, one was beckoning to Sarah, Emily, and D, while another was mixing a bowl of flour and pouring various white powders into it. Another tentacle was acting as a fire source while large amounts of pork were fried. Many tentacles were pouring different ingredients into it. There were steamers that seemed to be precariously perched on a number of tentacles. The air was practically resplendent, and Emily’s mouth started to water as she smelled soy sauce and onions cooking on the wind.
The group walked up to the swirling figure, and three eyes appeared rotating in place as it stared at her. D reached into his pockets, and pulled out what looked to be a small orb of energy. “How many Megajoules for the buns?”
Bechdel smiled wide, “For you D? No cost. Just happy to see your face,” The creature leaned over and gave D a tiny peck on the forehead, D thought about recoiling for a second, wanting to save face in front of Emily, but he couldn’t help himself. Bechdel’s was smooth and ringing, like a tinkling on the wind, and yet raspy, like the sound of dry oak leaves being moved around in the wind on a fine autu day. “Where are you headed today?”She said, grabbing fresh buns from the steamer.
“We’re headed to the Theater, they’re doing the Cobbold play today,”
“Again?” Bechdel said with a small chuckle, “You’d think someone would write a new screen play in all this time.”
D shrugged, “I like it, besides it’s an important part of history.”
“It’s a part of history that’s long been forgotten,”
D looked at Bechdel, “Ceres and Neat were there, they know.”
“Memory is a tricky thing, the older you get, the more you idealize the past. Facts fall apart, and you instead just focus on the parts that make you happy, or sad. Who are your friends?”
“Oh this is Emily, and that’s Sarah,” D said pointing at the pair, “They got a fancy suit so they’re going to be laying low here for a bit.”
Bechdel gave them a warm smile, and handed Emily a pork bun, “Well pleasure to meet you Sarah and Emily,” Bechdel grabbed a small piece of parchment, and put the meat on it, “No onions for kitty, I’m sorry to say. It’s not good for you, but don’t worry I have all the red meat you could ever need.” Bechdel gives the cat a wink and hands Emily a piece of parchment with a pile of raw meat on it. Sarah scrambled up Emily’s armor to perch on her shoulder, and Emily held the food to Sarah’s face. With her mouth full she looked at Bechdel.
“Thanks!” She said.
“Anything for the Kinder, Gerald has been like a Father for me.”
“You’re the best Bechdel,” D gave her a peck on the cheek back, and the two raced off to the theater. As they walked down the street tand munched on their pork buns, the bustle of the city seemed to press in around them. Every once in a while Emily would catch a new and fantastical creature giving her the side eye, but it didn’t bother her.
Angst: You don’t belong here. You're like a splinter in the nail bed of this society. A colonizer invading a sanctuary. You’re making everyone here nervous with your very presence.
Empathy: Don’t listen to her, Gerald has welcomed you with open arms into this city, and I’m sure Bechdel would have said something.
Intellect: You’ll know better after a few days in the city, no need to make assumptions right now.
Angst: Oh I’m so sure. Listen, you don’t deserve to be safe. Besides every minute here is just another moment you’ve wasted. Don’t you have a goal in mind? But no, I’m sure a fun day at the movies is just what you need.
Venom dripped off of Angst’s words. Emily took a deep breath and tried to push the voices aside, but Angst’s was a sharp piercing one. Every word was like a small claw being dragged over a scabbed wound. Itchy, a bit painful, but somehow… Satisfying. She tried not to think about what this would mean.
D pointed to a building that looked to be mostly made of hard stone. It was tall and a half circle, it seemed open to the elements, there were fliers laying on the ground, and there seemed to be a small smattering of demons crowded around one of the entrances. D gave them a quick look, and ushered Emily and Sarah to another entrance. The stands were empty stone benches with Demons floating a few inches off of the ground. Every long strand of concrete was pointed at a singular stage that had a dark cloud over it, slowly shifting as unseen forms disrupted the inky mass.
Emily gently sat herself down on the stone bench, and was surprised when an invisible force seemed to reach out to her and pick her up. She could feel it lifting off the ground, she leaned back a bit and felt her body tilt, Sarah jumped off Emily’s shoulder onto the bench, and quickly tucked all four paws under her body, and stared towards the stage. D sat with his legs criss crossed, and rubbed a rune on the underside of his bench. A demon no bigger than a foot or two came flying over on tiny wings, and it handed D a small box that smelled of hot butter and salt. Emily looked over to see D had a box of popcorn, and he smiled and offered up a bit to her. She took a small handful and munched on it while they waited for the play to start.
The stage was silenced as a booming echoing voice filled it. It sounded like it was being announced from everywhere around her. Emily had never been to a play that was so loud.
The voice called out
“Welcome, to the Barrister Theater. Tonight’s play is an old one, but back by popular request. This play was written by our two favorite directors, Neat and Ceres, who have graciously blessed our theater with a number of works, and entertained millions.”
“Now sit and relax as we take you to a time long long ago, when the explored world was a tiny continent, where all life had started. There was a terrible war, and the monsters of the West had invaded the world. Pushing out all the good people of the world out of their homes. Children were burned and eaten. Meta-humanity had become slayed, kowtowed, and resigned. Except for one.”
“Here is where our story starts, A nature spirit who had watched the burning of her forest, the destruction of her people, and had come up with a cunning plan to end it all. To defeat the Monsters of the West, but first she would have to wait. She had found a small warren of Cobbolds, and whispered dark magics, aging her body and tearing at her life force. She tried over and over, wearing herself to pieces.”
“While she was working on her first weapon against the monsters, she also helped them. Not every monster was like the bulk, many were desperate farmers, or smiths. People who needed help, and in her infinite kindness she had done her best to ease their suffering if only a little bit, but all the while she knew that it was in their nature to betray her, so she sat, and she whispered. She poured her life energy into the tiny warren.”
The stage sprang to life. A demon had shifted into the form of an old frog, monsters with spears, pitchforks, and torches sat to right of her. Tiny sparks of energy disappeared above her head, and she collected it handing it to the monsters, who looked like a meta-human that almost resembled an elf, but wasn’t tall enough, and had rounded ears. Emily couldn’t figure out what kind of creature the monsters were supposed to be, but after a bit, she assumed that was the point. A Cobbold sang a song introducing themselves, talking about the Cobbold’s ability to absorb memories of what they killed, their ability to create anything out of stones and bile in their bodies. The Cobbold’s were played by actual Cobbolds, and many of them had smile pile of stones they turned into mock weapons. Then they set up traps on the stage. A few were named, a group of Cobbolds that acted as leaders, and talked to each other for the more monsterizing bits.
One of the main characters was a Cobbold named “Number,” number during the battle had summoned a demon through a mandala that they didn’t understand, and spent much of the play whispering to themselves, and coming up with increasingly complicated and fantastical designs to use against the monsters.
The first act was a long one. The creatures had turned on Mother Magdalene, the nature spirit. She had blessed a race of Cobbold’s with the gift of intelligence, and many of them fought with the monsters. They were forced to defend their home after waves and waves of monsters crashed against it. The monsters soon had swelled over their defenses, and for a moment it looked like the Cobbolds were going to lose. Slowly, after much fighting, the Cobbolds of the warren had pushed the monsters back to their homes. The scene shifted, and the Cobbolds were climbing over walls, flinging themselves towards danger. Many of them would fall, and soon the stage was filled with red lights that bathed everything in it’s dark aura.
Eventually the Cobbolds had overcome the monsters, and they returned. Some were seen crying over dead bodies, while others were helping patch up the diminutive creatures that had fallen in battle. When they returned the stage was lit with blue light. The Frog Character, Mother Magdalene, had a solo song that sang of the Cobbold’s troubles, and how tragic their need to fight to protect what is theirs was, while pushing the point that this was just the start, and none of their dead would be forgotten.
The song transitioned to another, a shanty about summoning demons. The cobbolds were seen at ancient ritual circles, and slowly their retinue grew. The demons themselves were smiling, they broke the fourth wall constantly, and worked the audience, flying overhead and cackling.
There was an Emperor Monster, and a advisor of some sort, and the two had self gratifying songs where they laughed at the destroyed cities, and summoned massive armies to try and fight the Cobbold threat.
The four nations each had a song, and the Cobbolds went to each one, performing favors with their superior ability of creation. The curtains closed, and the announcer came back on, announcing that the Cobbolds needed to prepare for their war, to finally push the monsters out of their lands.
D turned to Emily as the stage was covered again in Inky blackness, “So what do you think?” D said, his voice calm, and his face smiling.
Empathy: Tell him you liked it, it’s obviously important to him, and there’s no real reason not too.,
“It’s great!” Emily said with a smile.
Sarah scoffed, “They had a rather pleasant view of Magdalene didn’t they?”
D looked at Sarah, “What do you mean?”
Sarah shook her head, “Sorry… I shouldn’t have said anything, don’t worry about it.”
Teacher: Don’t speak ill of your betters, you may feel like queen of the castle here among the ants, but you still have much to learn.
Sarah rolled her eyes.
After a few minutes, the voice of the announcer came back on, and talked about the 4 nations. The Elvish Consulate, a seafaring race that could turn into giant snakes, they gave the Cobbolds the gift of Magic, and Cobbolds were seen glowing with an etherealness that made them tiny beacons of light. The Orcish Chiefs, a tall race of empaths, that gave the Cobbolds the ability to understand emotions, and the Cobbolds were seen walking a little straighter, and somehow, they looked a bit softer. From the Dwarvish Clansmen, a race of diminutive people who were technologically advanced, gave the cobbolds schematics to create armor that glowed, with bright weapons that seemed cruel and deadly. Guns that fired huge bolts of plasma. Swords that glowed with a neon pink that lit up the stage.
The Cobbolds were accompanied by a group of demons that had taken many forms, to show a multi-national alliance. It was no longer just the Cobbolds against the world, it was an entire country, all dedicated to winning back the land they were indigenous to. To show the monsters that they were not beaten.
The scene shifted, and the Emperor and his Advisor were seen singing a song where the King was constantly building up his accomplishments, and how he was basically an unstoppable force. All the while, the advisor was singing a song that intertwined about how it was finally his chance to shine. The advisor killed the Emperor, and then picked up his crown and said “Long live the Emperor”
The Monsters kingdom was falling, and there was a rousing song about how the Cobbolds and the other nations were going to finally win back their own lands, meanwhile, the Advisor is seen giving orders and getting increasingly irate as the Cobbolds slowly pushed the monsters back, the Advisor standing in the back as more and more of his men ran past him to flee the horde.
The advisor, when the cobbolds had finally reached him, had a song where he refused to admit defeat, and how he would do anything to survive. Lamenting his people forsaking him, and his own hubris had led to the defeat of a nation. He is seen drinking a vial of some black liquid, and quickly shifted on stage into a large dragon that breathed noxious fumes, green smoke filling the stage, so only the flashes of gunfire, neon swords, and screams were heard. The monsters rallied around the dragon, fighting the Cobbolds as it stomped around the stage.
All the while Number looked from the back of the stage. His muttering finally stopped as he grabbed a scalpel and dragged it across his skin, ichor filling the ground. Finally his leylines, the glowing runes on a Cobbold’s body, started to shine with an unerringly bright light.
There was a scream and suddenly, the shape of a cobbold rises into the sky, almost as big as the dragon, it’s legs a puff of smoke that led back to Number’s body. The Cobbold grabbed the dragon, and there was a fight scene as the two struggled, they moved to the back, and acted as a backdrop as the cobbolds and monsters fought once more. Again the Cobbold’s in the lead. Number’s false god was seen tearing the head of the dragon and through the carcass into the stands. Emily yipped and put her hands up to protect herself, as the Dragon’s body turned to smoke as it reached the stands.
The armies cheer as the Monsters flee to boats just off stage, and run away. Number who had, during the entirety of the play been revered as an inventor above all else, finally had his mind back together. There was no more muttering to himself, and had finally full capability of his faculties. The Cobbold’s watched as he built up train tracks, and showed how a light rail would work. Then was seen using satiation to power many different machines and tools.
The narrator came back on in the end, and talked about how the Cobbolds had lived a life of war and terror. That all of the nations had felt heavy casualties in the interim, but together created a nation that was strong and capable. One of the most technologically advanced nations thanks to Number and the other Cobbold’s. Then it turned somber.
“Nothing lasts forever, the Cobbolds had been blessed by Mother Magdalene, and while they lived strong and capable, the Cobbolds soon split off to create their own homes. The technological advances they had made still stayed, and many of the current amenities in the world can date back to Cobbold’s in the beginning age. And yet, the continent had split up over thousands of years, remarkably fast on a global scale, and the different nations atomized in their own areas. The monsters had found other lands where they lived in giant cities, much like the ones demons find themselves in today. The Monsters could out breed all of the other species put together. It was easy for them, and they were short lived, that soon all information of the world had been forgotten, outside of the Cobbold’s who told the stories to their children, and their children’s children. The story being passed down over and over, until we could tell it to you.”
“The moral of the story is simple, ‘Nothing lasts forever, and even the greatest victories will soon be eroded by the entropic energy of time. This means there is even more value than ever in fighting for what is right, to destroy as many minutes of suffering you can.’ Heed this warning well, because someday you will be called to fight for what is good and right in the world, and when the call is made, you will need to think about where you stand.”
D stood and cheered, and all of the Demon’s clapped. The leaders of the cobbold’s bowed, and the random demons had shifted into their original forms, and bowed. After the applause and bowing, the demons in the stands slowly filtered out. D tapped Emily on the shoulder, who had a big grin plastered on her face, for reasons she couldn’t quite explain. Together they walked down to the stage, where two fairly large demons were smiling and shaking hands with other Demons around the town. When they saw D they waved and beckoned him over.
“D, are you here again, how many times have you seen this play.” The shorter of the two demons said, pushing through the crowd to smile and shake Emily’s hand.
Emily didn’t realize a demon could blush, and the dark silhouette that was his form turned a light pink on the cheeks, “Only like… 6 or 7 times.”
Emily shook the creature’s hand, “Hi I’m Emily, I’m staying with Gerald for a while.”
The taller demon’s eyes lit up with a small fire, and their grin grew even wider, “Well pleasure to meet you Miss Emily,” the feminine voice filtered into her head, and she could suddenly smell bubblegum. Her head swam in the scent she spoke to the Demon, “I’m Neat, and this is Ceres.” She pointed to another Demon who had sauntered over to see D and now Emily.
<Don’t mention me,> Sarah said, trying to make herself look as small as possible.
Neat and Ceres were far more monsteroid then many of the Demons they had seen on the walk over. Ceres seemed to have styled his form into a suit like Gerald’s, but pointier, and with hire shoulders. He also didn’t have the huge splashes of color that Gerald had covered himself with. Neat was wearing a dress, and she stood nearly a foot taller than everyone around her. She had a big grin, and a flower on her chest.
“You must be here to go ruin spelunking,” Ceres said, pointing at Emily’s suit, “Not many people even know about these suits, let alone own one. This one though is special, I know a certain woman who wore one just like it… Where’d you get it from?”
Emily bit her lip, she didn’t want to out Sarah, but she didn’t know how to talk about the suit without it seeming like she stole it, “Uh… Well… It was gifted to me, by a friend. A close friend,” Ceres’ eyes were glowing like Neat’s, and Neat put her arm around Ceres’ shoulders. The two started to laugh.
“So she’s alive…” Neat said look at Ceres with a knowing look.
“Well we always expected, she was a hard one to kill that one.” Ceres said back.
“Who was?” Emily said trying to play dumb.
“Oh you know who, The Red Queen of course!” Neat said happily.
“Oh… Right…” Emily was a bit lost, <Does everyone in this city know you Sarah?> She gave the cat a small inquisitive look.
<The demon cities are big, but they like to tell stories, and the friendliest ones live closest to the gate. Apparently, a lot of them were very sure I wasn’t dead, for reasons I can’t quite explain. They’re magics are different, and they are very secretive of just how much power they have.>
“How did you like the play?” Neat asked.
“I liked it quite a bit to be honest. The fight between Number and the Dragon looked incredibly cool, I almost cried when the carcass was thrown into the crowd.
“That’s Ceres for you, he always plays it up when there’s new people in the stands.” Neat said nudging Ceres in the ribs.
D spoke up, “We’re going to go on a walk through the city, do you want to come?” D said to the two.
“Normally, we would, but we’ve got other engagements. It was nice meeting you Emily, take good care of Sarah’s suit, it was made by Number himself.” Ceres said with a wink.
D looked at the suit in awe, but Emily laughed, “I’m so sure.”
“No really, well the original design was much puffier, but this thing is older than most of the people here.” He looked at the tank on Emily’s belt, “You might want to get that refilled, I think there’s a good mechanic in the city that would help out. Anyways, we just wanted to say hi to you and D, we’ll leave you to your walk. By the way Emily, if you want to learn more magic, expand your horizons… We know the city has assumed most magic is ‘Wild Magic’ but you seem to be more open minded. We’d love to give you a bit of training if you need it.”
Neat squeezed Emily’s hand, and the strength of it sent a coursing shiver down her spine, “Listen Emily,” she spoke to Emily, but was staring right at the small cat curled around her, laying behind Emily’s legs, “There’s a lot you could do here. You don’t have to go off fighting any battles you don’t want too.” With another squeeze she walked away with Ceres, and left her alone.
2nd Go walk the town
D, Emily, and Sarah left the theater, and walked out into the brisk air. It was nearly 10 o’ clock, and Emily felt invigorated. D closed his eyes, and took a deep breath, “You wanted to let the city guide you, this place is just as magical as the people inside of it. It’s constantly guiding everyone, even the flow of people seems to be subtly controlled by the city itself.”
Emily strained herself, and took a deep breath, the filtered city air felt crisp and clean, and she felt her temperature drop just a bit. She tried to push out all of the thoughts and just meditate, when there was a tiny, almost imperceptible noise. She focussed on it, and it got a little louder. “I think I hear something.”
D looked excited, “That’s probably the music, let’s go to the performance.” They walked together down the city streets, the music slowly got louder and louder, until they had reached the park. There was some instruments that Emily had never seen before, it looked like a guitar but flatter some how, and there was a cable running from the guitar to the demon’s chest. The music seemingly coming from the heart. Another Demon, that looked like a cross between a bull, and a spider, had multiple arms, and used them to play the drums.
There was another with some sort of brass wind instrument, and Emily was fascinated as she listened to the sound. The song seemed to be a ballad of some sort, it sang about the Red Queen’s time, when peace took over the land, and the Demons themselves could leave the city and be treated as equals. Sarah loved the song, but also felt somewhat intrusive on their moment. The song made her uncomfortable, and she tried to push down that feeling, poorly. She listened though, and the music seemed to be celebrating that moment of peace they had clawed away from the Commercialists.
She noticed a large group of Cobbold’s had gathered around the stage. She didn’t know many Cobbold’s herself, but it seemed wherever there were demons, there were also Cobbolds. One of them noticed Sarah, and walked up to her with a big smile, and horked up a tiny stone. Sarah recoiled a bit, when the creature picked it up, and quickly rubbed the stone with it’s hands, the material moving like clay, starting to glow brighter and brighter, until it turned into a tiny gem, and the Cobbold placed it on Sarah’s collar. “Thank you” Emily said to the small creature. It just waived and walked away.
D looked at Sarah and Emily, “Wow, I don’t think the Cobbold’s of the city hand out many trinkets. That must be a powerful artifact. That’s so cool.”
Emily heard a voice call over to her, and she looked around to see a Demon in a large hat that covered his eyes, there was a big toothy smile. This one was humanoid as well, but had giant wings that were folded on his back. “Come, Come rad-walker, I have such sights to show you.” Emily looked over at him, and seemed compelled to walk over.
D put a hand on her shoulder, “That’s the shadow man,” he said, his voice, “Careful, he likes cutting deals, and he’s gotten to a very old age while doing so.” Together D and Emily approached the Shadowman, who was busy shuffling a deck of cards.
“Hello girl, would you like to have your fortune read? It might help you while spelunking.” The cards seemed to be almost musical as the shuffled, they clinked together quietly, and Emily realized something that shocked her.
The cards were hard metal, they didn’t bend in the Shadowman’s hands, and yet they quickly shuffled when he made the necessary motions. She looked closer, and could see that they were all etched with red ink filling the grooves that had been sliced into the cards. Emily looked over to D for guidance, and D gave her a quick nod.
“So, what do I have to give up to get my fortune read?” She said, her voice trying to be more confident. Something about this particular demon seemed off. His very voice set every hair on end, and her body was telling her to run, run away as fast as she could, and yet she stayed.
“Oh nothing, nothing at all my dear. Just a bit of life force. Like everyone in the city, I need MegaJoules to survive.”
“Wow, you guys still deal in MegaJoules? Where I’m from, we use coins and paper that represent the joules themselves. You can take them to a machine that turns them into energy, but it’s just more convenient to carry the bills then having your pockets filled with soul energy.”
The Shadowman smiled, “Yes well, there’s not any conversion machines in the city, so we’ll have to work in the raw energy, if that’s alright. I’ll only need 30 Megajoules”
Emily thought about it for a second, and then shrugged. A loaf of bread only cost about 1 to 1.5 MegaJoules, so 30 was barely a scratch in the surface. She pushed her hands together and focussed, letting energy pool into it. A tiny orb raised to the surface of her hand, and she handed it to the Shadowman.
The Shadowman quickly snatched up the soul orb and bit into it, quickly putting it away in three bites, the soul quickly disappearing into his gullet. When he was done, he started to shuffle the cards again, and he held one up to Emily. “Go ahead and touch one,” Emily reached out, the cards were incredibly sharp on the edges, and rough on the faces.
“OW!” She cried, as the card itself cut her, the tiny blood drop on her finger floating through the air to the cards. They glowed a bright blue and spun through the air, the cards floated and lights were reflected off of them, when Emily stared into them she was mesmerized, the cards continued to spin, when suddenly three dropped to the table. The Shadowman looked at them, and made a tsking noise.
“You face a hard choice soon,” he said, pointing at the cards, “We have the Crossroads, the skull, and the farm. This means that there’s a chance for great change but it will mean much self sacrifice. Death, much like life, changes everything. It means the future is uncertain, but there are great rewards. If you take this path you may not live to see the end, but you will do great things, Or…” And he gestures to the Farm, “You can find a simple quiet life. Nothing changes on a farm, the seasons pass but your life largely remains the same.”
The Shadowman gives her a look, and then hands her a small piece of metal, “I’m interested in seeing your Story, Emily, if you choose the path of the skull, contact me and I’ll help you to the best of my ability.” D seemed uneasy, and Emily quickly palmed the card.
“Thank you Mr. Shadowman, I’ll keep that in mind” She gave the demon a big smile, and the demon waved lazily.
“Think nothing of it Ms. Emily.” He said in return, as Emily walked away.
Emily and D quickly returned to the Orphanage after their walk in the park. Gerald had just finished putting the children to bed, and offered the two of them to sit on the roof with some wine. Everyone consented, and to the roof they went. It seemed while they were gone, Damocles had set up some chairs, a pack of cigars, and a small fire place to warm themselves. There was also an ice bucket with two bottles of wine in it. Gerald poured a small bit for Sarah in a bowl, where she could lap it up, and the 5 of them sat together.
Damocles looked at Sarah and Emily, and after some pleasantries ‘Oh how did you find the city’ ‘fine thank you’ ‘did you like the play’ Damocles gave Emily a serious look.
Damocles looked young, and his jaw was sharp. He and Gerald sat together in what amounted to a love suit. Gerald was laying on his back, and had his head in Damocles lap, who absent mindedly ran his fingers through Gerald’s hair.
“Gerald tells me you have had some trouble with the law before you came here…” It was clear that Damocles had been walking to talk about this all night, and had finally gotten to it.
Emily took a big sip of wine, through the straw they had given her to make it easier to drink through the suit, “Yes, that’s right… I’m a sorcerer. One of the last ones not captured and sent to the Tower. I had accidentally exposed myself when I killed one of the Aether Scouts they had. They rolled on my home in a large armored personnel carrier, and had nearly burned my apartment down. I tried to get away but I had too…” Emily’s next words caught in her throat, and she took a deep breath, “I had too kill one of them to get away. I was so relieved when we had reached the city, I don’t… I don’t know what would have happened…” She said quietly, “But yeah, it’s illegal for me to exist, even if it makes me happy and powerful, and I had to kill a cop to escape. Otherwise he’d have killed me… Or worse.”
Damocles gave her a look that was inscrutable, Gerald exhaled, “That’s rough kid,” he said, “I know how hard it is to bounce back from something like this. You’ve had your whole life upended, you’ve had to do terrible things to survive, and you probably feel like poo poo that almost everyone you tell that you’re that way, you’ll end up putting your life, and relationships in danger.” He sat up and looked Emily in the eyes, “I have had to do a lot of lovely things to survive, and the two of us have gone through hell and back to get the life we have now.” Gerald pulled a cigarette out of the aether and lit it, “Listen, I don’t know what your plans are, but I’d like you to really consider maybe just staying here and studying magic. The other demons will largely not be a problem, you’ll be accepted soon enough, especially as they realize you’re probably not here to die somewhere peaceful.”
Damocles didn’t say anything, but looked at Gerald.
“You don’t have to leave. Ever. Fighting wars against tyrrany and fascism and all that? That’s Sarah thing, and she always wraps up everyone she can on these personal vendettas, and it ends up hurting thousands, if not millions. Even if you are successful, and find another tech stash, how many are going to die in that war. How many demons do you think you could get to fight with you? Do you think you could get strong enough to bear the brunt of a global government with almost infinite resources, and military technology unlike anything you’ve ever seen?”
“Do you ever wonder, why we stay here in this irradiated city, even though it’s crowded, bright, and constantly running out of space?” Damocles chimed in, “It’s because we’re tired of fighting. We could wage war with the powers that be, and it’s very possible we might win, but we’d lose so much in the process… And honestly, even though it was 500 years ago, many of us still remember that war like it was yesterday. I know the history books make it sound like it was an easy win, but it wasn’t. Setting up an empire took logistics, powers, and a strong inspiring leader. All of things we lack.”
“I… My mom…” Emily said quietly, but then she spoke up a bit louder, “I don’t know if I want to do Sarah’s plan and fight against an entire nation to overthrow commercialists to liberate demons, and bring a new age of peace, or whatever it is she talks about, but I want to find a way to fix my Mom, and rescue her from the tower. I want to free all the sorcerer’s from there…”
“That’s a noble idea dear, but…” Damocles gave Gerald a side eye, “You really should consider maybe staying here.
The idea did seem nice to Emily, she could just live with people who respected her, maybe find a nice demon boy and settle down. Naiad’s didn’t have a lifespan, so as long as the city stayed safe, she could stay here indefinitely. The idea resonated with her. Still picking at the back of her mind, was her Mother locked away in a tower having god knows what to her. Her Dad who would probably pay for her betrayal to the system. Yet she couldn’t stop herself. It’d be so nice to stay…
“Well, I don’t have to make a decision right now right?” She said, looking at Damocles, Gerald, and Sarah.
A small smile touched Gerald’s lips, and he tried to hide it. “Of course not, don’t worry about it. “
And so Emily did think about it, long and hard, over multiple months, maybe even a year or two.
To some people this may seem sudden, I didn’t really know how to end it, but I knew that when I was going to write it, I wanted it to end with a question that could be answered two ways. In this sense, the final part of the post is the culmination of what a CYOA is, until I write the 2nd Chapter anything is possible. Maybe Emily and Sarah retire in the Demon community that is willing to welcome them with open arms, maybe they get together and rouse a city, and it’s resources to fight a war against tyranny. Maybe they die as martyrs, maybe they don’t. The important thing is I didn’t want to leave this unfinished.
Does this mean Kitty Quest is over? Of course not, I plan to archive it forever on my website, and then start Book 2. The long and short being, this is going to stay, for a long time. I plan when I re-open this to do so on 2 forums, this one and sufficient velocity, when everyone votes, I’ll put the votes into the thread on there, and then use their rolling tools to pick a post. I want to expand the possible eyes I can get on this, I wrote a book! I want people to read it!
Tell me if you hate that idea, you’ve all followed me since the very beginning, and I’ll be eternally grateful for your time, your effort, and your attention. I want to also start a project that is a bit more difficult, but less time consuming. My next CYOA will be up in a few weeks/days/hours, and I’ll start posting on a consistent schedule, the idea being that, at minimum, there will be one post of each CYOA I start every 2 weeks. That means every other weekend will be a post of Escape from Lab 619, and on the interim weekend I’ll have a post in my New CYOA, a Webcomic called “Rise of Marie: League Chaser” (Name is a WIP)
Boba Pearl fucked around with this message at 09:57 on Jun 6, 2021
|# ? Apr 15, 2021 15:19|
Don't feel obligated, but if you're a lurker, I'd love for you to post, or just PM me your thoughts. I would love to see how many people out there were reading my story. Also because each and everyone of you who read this rules, and deserves praise for sticking it out this long.
Boba Pearl fucked around with this message at 16:07 on Apr 15, 2021
|# ? Apr 15, 2021 16:03|
I was lurking the past couple months since I just got crazy busy, but I kept reading and found this to be an interesting read. I think cross-posting in a couple forums would be totally fine IMO.
|# ? Apr 15, 2021 18:17|
I lurk most these threads.
Keep kicking rear end.
I love the reintroduction of Gerald. He was a complex being who's clearly trying to attone.
|# ? Apr 15, 2021 19:08|
It's been a pleasure to be here Boba.
Just be careful about burnout, yeh?
|# ? Apr 15, 2021 19:24|
It's been a wild ride, Boba!
|# ? Apr 15, 2021 19:58|
Stay in the city and make covert strikes to free momma
|# ? Apr 15, 2021 23:18|
Lurker enjoying your work. Thanks!
|# ? Apr 21, 2021 19:05|
Another lurker who has loved this!
|# ? Apr 26, 2021 09:47|
|# ? Jun 21, 2021 02:04|
It was very fun to read this, nicely done.
|# ? Apr 29, 2021 04:24|