The Eldritch Servant (Formerly Lost in Time & Space)

Tales from the Atreblan Valley

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Michelle Montoya
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The Eldritch Servant (Formerly Lost in Time & Space)

Post by Michelle Montoya » Sat Oct 26, 2019 11:16 pm

"You fall through cracked, weedy Cyclopean masonry into a green and slimy vault. Cephalopods in stasis stare at you with lifeless eyes."

It would end up being a premonition, a vision of things to come. Michelle screamed as she fell off the tilted Ferris-wheel - the Ring of R'lyeh - and into the inky, oceanic portal below. She felt like she was drowning - which was odd, considering her powers as Keeper of Water. It frightened her.

As she twisted and turned, the portal opened and unceremoniously dumped her onto a shoreline of mud, ooze, and slime.
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R'lyeh

Post by Michelle Montoya » Tue Oct 29, 2019 11:35 am

The most merciful thing in the world, I think, is the inability of the human mind to correlate all its contents. We live on a placid island of ignorance in the midst of black seas of infinity, and it was not meant that we should voyage far. - H.P. Lovecraft

Her hands scraped against the rocky shoreline, water dripping from her hair and clothes. “Damn it!” Michelle slipped again as she stumbled back up into a run. It was dusk, and something slithered behind her at an alarming rate. She didn’t dare look back. Her blood pounded as her feet struck the ground, heedless of the broken shells and jagged pieces of obsidian cutting into her skin. A slick, rubbery appendage wrapped around her ankle. She fell, hard, against the shoreline. Panic swelled within her chest as she twisted back, trying to yank herself free. With a desperate urgency, she uttered a quick incantation to produce a small burst of flame from the palm of her hand. Whatever had grabbed her slithered back into the disquieting shadows of the Cyclopean masonry. Shivering, she held the flame aloft, uncertain as to how long she could keep it there. This place had a way of quenching light.

The starless sky loomed oppressively, darkening as the eerie blood-orange sun dipped further into the ocean. Shelter. She needed to find shelter. But every nook and cranny she had searched so far had proven to be a haven for some monstrosity or another, and her wand lay broken at least half a mile back. First, there was the bear-like beast, now split in two with its yellow-fanged maw divided on the shoreline. Then a pair of rubbery gargoyles with no faces, they fled through a portal when they got struck by lightning. And of course, the thing she called a ‘creeper,’ whose many faces lay lifeless as thorns crept into their empty eye sockets. When the large, tentacled creature had surprised her by exploding from the ground beneath her, Michelle fought tooth and nail. Her wand had broken when the corpse of the burrowing worm landed on her. The loss pained her. The black spruce wand wasn’t just a focus for her magic, but a connection to home. Without it, finding a portal out of here would be much more difficult.

Finding a portal would have to wait though, nothing good could come from the darkness here. Michelle tried, again, to shift into hawk form. Shapeshifting had never come easily to her. Derrick’s Buelito had taught her the basics. But it wasn’t a skill she particularly liked using, and so she wasn’t well-practiced. She could almost hear his voice in her head, “Mee-chel. You need a clearer mind.” She knelt on the ground, holding the flame aloft, and started to breathe deeply. She let her thoughts flow like a river, noting them, but not fixating on them. As her breathing slowed, she tried, again, to turn into a hawk. Michelle felt her skin turn to feathers and the uncomfortable sensation of her bones shifting while her organs rearranged themselves. With outstretched wings, she sought the high ground, a place where the creeping, tentacled, dark horrors might leave her alone.
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R'lyeh II

Post by Michelle Montoya » Tue Oct 29, 2019 8:16 pm

It was nightmare itself, and to see it was to die. - H.P. Lovecraft

At first, Michelle tried a methodological approach to her search. She would divide her location into a grid and explore each place, looking for a spot where the veil between time and space was thin. Within hours her approach proved to be both futile and maddening. She would mark out locations using visible parallel markers in the crude masonry, but found that the walls shifted and fell upon each other like M.C. Escher's impossible painting. And unlike the stable portals of Atrebla, or even the shifting portals of RhyDin, her ability to sense an opening in the veil was undermined by some malevolent influence inhabiting the self-same non-Euclidean masonry. All the lessons she had received from Gren and Mallory on such practice seemed inapplicable in her current situation. Altogether, it made for a most frustrating exercise. Twice she had found a place where the veil was rent - but the hole was barely the size of her hand. She tried to pry it open, using her hands but pulling with her magical source. The first time the veil exploded, throwing her into a crumbling wall, which proceeded to shed additional layers of rock upon impact. The second time, the veil constricted and nearly cut her hand off in the process. Needless to say, her quest was heretofore unsuccessful. To break the monotony, and reduce some of her needling frustration, Michelle took an artistic tour of the inhospitable city.

She wandered around the titan blocks and sky-flung monoliths. Almost everything dripped with green ooze or some iridescent slime. Beneath the muck, a deranged artist, or group of carvers, had Jackson Pollock'd their nightmares all over the city. One unnatural representation seemed to be a favorite motif. Michelle shuddered every time she saw this recurring likeness carved into the irregular masonry. It was a monster, or perhaps a symbol of some terrifying beast. It was carved in bas-relief all over the place, depicting something that was both octopus, dragon, and a human caricature. In one depiction, she saw a pulpy, tentacled head placed upon a grotesque and scaly body with rudimentary wings. In another, the wings stretched broadly across a vast horizon while the tentacles devoured the sun. The one she found herself staring at right now had eight enormous tentacles with suckers carved to look like humanoid skulls. The bulbous head held the curved snout of a dragon while skeletal wings protruded from an arched spine. Only a diseased and fanciful mind could conceive, let alone create such awful imagery. And underneath it all? A sinister, latent horror. That horror was often realized by the monsters who harassed her as she tried to navigate the dreadful geometry of this place. A chaotic sensation echoed in her mind, causing the most painful headache behind her ears. Where was it coming from?

Painstakingly, Michelle tore her gaze from the most recent enthralling depiction and turned to search for a portal. The greenish-black stone beneath her feet gave way suddenly, crumbling into a pit beneath some archaic temple. Buried under the rock - something akin to soapstone - was a green and slimy door which no doubt led into a vault of some kind. Resisting the investigative urge, Michelle clambered up the pit walls. No sooner had she paused to catch her breath, than a burrowing, tentacle worm erupted nearby. Unwilling to be its meal, she sprung up and ran in the opposite direction.

The next few weeks followed a similar pattern. Michelle would try wild-shaping into a hawk and find a safe place on a skyward bound monolith to rest. Most days, she was successful; otherwise, she dragged her exhausted body to the far shore and slept against the tide. Once, she had tried to sleep in the seaweed-green ocean. Halfway through her slumber, a spiteful, hazy Scyphozoa had wrapped its paralyzing tentacles around her feet. The Key to the Tower of Water earned it's coral at that moment, as it allowed her to temporarily incapacitate the prehistoric ancestor of the jellyfish.

Speaking of the Key, she didn't always have it. Sometimes she would wake up to find it missing, its comforting weight absent. The first time it happened, she had searched for half the day, retracing her steps and running afoul of the faceless nightmare from the day before. She had given it up for lost until two days later it was back around her neck. Michelle had no way of explaining it and chalked it up to the bizarre nature of this world.

After a restless sleep, she would go to the ocean and strain some water. She tried not to think of the rubbery skin she had carved from a faceless nightmare to hold the precious liquid. Half the time, the water made her ill, but it was better than no water at all. If she was lucky enough to have a strong stomach, Michelle spent the rest of the day looking for a portal - interspersed with the terrifying tours of the artistic masonry.

She tried to keep track of the days at first. The first time she got ill, she used a bit of druid-craft, some water, and a bit of spare masonry to make a very crude water-clock. On her second 'sick-day,' Michelle noted some inconsistencies in her time-keeping. The third rest-day, she concluded that time wasn't constant here at all, and so keeping track of it was a practice for the insane. Regardless, she held a loose account of sunsets.

Twenty sunsets in, Michelle made a break-through. Through some concentrated effort, and perhaps by adjusting to the planar irregularities, she found a gap in the veil. It was about two feet wide and a foot and a half at its tallest point. Luckily, she had the Key today. Without caring where it led to, she dove through the portal head first.
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Re: Lost in Time and Space

Post by Mallory » Tue Oct 29, 2019 10:12 pm

The gently lapping waves of the River Styx were all but lost over the roar of the slime-encrusted Cyclopean ocean, the only portent of the witch’s arrival. Winged creatures, each with vegetable-like flesh and a bulbous yellow eye wreathed in tentacles in place of a head, hopped and scraped their way along an upended monolith on the shore, digging their talons into the amorphous black shape of some rotting leviathan that had killed itself with exhaustion tearing down these monuments to a rival titan. Great stones that had once gathered into towers lay broken for miles down the coast, the jagged edges worn smooth by erosion and padded with seaweed and slime.

The witch choked on the hot and fetid air as she staggered out of a shadowy tear in reality and onto the long slab where the great beast had breathed its last, startling the leser creatures that seemed to be eating the rotting flesh with gnawing beaks embedded in their palms. The nearest hopped back, keeping itself aloft with two mighty flaps of its wings, and lashed out with a barbed, coral-encrusted tail that embedded itself in her belly with a fleshy squelch, translucent tubules pulsating as it drained her blood and pumped its poison into her body. The ancient oar in her grasp clattered onto the stone, and the creature drank deeper.

But the witch did not seize up like its other prey, seemingly unaffected by the poison, and it cocked its strange head in surprise when she spat out the blood rising from her throat and reached out to it.

“Break.”

With a vegetable-like snapping, cracking sound, the creature burst apart, and the others immediately took to the air, keeping their distance but unwilling to give up their claim to the leviathan’s carcass. Mallory pressed her hands around the half-dollar-sized hole in her skin, squeezing her eyes shut as she tried to focus through the pain. She staggered, fell to one knee, and grasped the Stygian oar to push herself up again.

The wound would heal, just like any other, sealed by the blood that flowed from her disembodied heart; but the injury and pain would cost her time and energy that she could not spare.

She let out a frustrated hiss, then screamed over the roar of the alien ocean: “Michelle!”

* * * * *

The sun seemed to be rising at first, but the air was hot for pre-dawn in a place that had such frigid waters. It felt like hours had passed in the time that Mallory tended to her wound and conducted a search of the surrounding area, but in that time the sun barely cracked over the horizon, turning the sky ugly shades of green and red and brown. The pendant Mist had given her, threaded with Michelle’s hair, spun in chaotic directions until she found a space far enough from both the rotting beast and the still-intact monoliths that stretched interminably up the coast away from it.

By this point, she had realized that time was flowing backwards, and at a crawl that made this aeons-old place seem all the more infinite.

The pendant swayed towards one of the intact monoliths separated from the others, about thirty feet out to sea and fissured along the top, perhaps broken as it slowly sank into the slimy waters. Or was it rising, time being what it was here? Would the monolith become more whole instead?

Could Mallory become more whole, if she lingered here?

The maddening thoughts were shaken from her head with a scowl of disgust. These were stranger but ultimately no different than the dead ends that plagued countless alchemists, driving them to chase their own goals in circles as they abandoned all connection to their former lives.

Michelle needs me.

She slid her legs over the oar with a grunt, a steady dribble of blood still leaking from the not-quite-mended hole in her belly, and slowly rose into the sky. The higher she rose, the heavier the Key of Earth felt on the necklace tucked into her shirt, and a part of her felt sure she would turn to stone and shatter on the rocks below; but she grit her teeth and continued to rise, just high enough to breach the top of the lonely monolith.

There was no one up here, no sign of Michelle, only the slimy trails of beings that had slithered up here to stare at the starless skies. She scoured every nook and cranny for what felt like an hour, and only succeeded in gaining the ire of an eyeless snake that slithered out of a barnacle and tried to take off her finger. She answered its bite with several clacking words of Primordial, turning it to dust in a wave of entropy—

—and with the disturbance, a lone feather fluttered out of the darkness.

The witch snatched it before it could fall back out of sight, holding it up to her eyes, and the trinket hummed. It was a hawk feather, the same form that the Keeper of Water favored; but it was dry and brittle to the touch, far older than FearFest, which had only happened a few days ago. She cocked her left hand and ran her fingernail across her skin, opening a cut that the feather vanished into; and the pendant in her other hand suddenly went still. Mallory’s brow furrowed, and she muttered to herself as she considered the implications:

“...If you aren’t here anymore... where did you go?”

* * * * *

The way back to the River Styx did not open again, no matter the bind between it and Charon’s oar in her grasp; and the way to the Lyceum was shut, the symbols to its anchored circle wavering and fading in this changing alien vista before she could hope to complete it. And the winged creatures were growing impatient, one or two at a time daring to venture closer, investigating the witch for signs of weakness, and she could only begin to guess at what other lurking horrors were drawing ever nearer, summoned by her intrusion here.

But the Veil was thin in places here, and when she stood on the right spot, shut her eyes and listened closely, she could hear the beating of her disembodied heart in the vast demiplane her year-long ritual had constructed for it. She breathed a needless sigh — breath was more habit than necessity for the infernal abomination the witch had made herself into — and braced herself for what would have to be done to leave this place.

As she sank to her knees and shut her eyes, she thought she heard wings. Not the too-stiff wings of the vegetable-like buzzard creatures circling overhead, but the feathered wings of a hawk, and the swift, quietly confident cadence of footfalls she had come to associate with her friend. “Michelle?” she breathed, and she dared to look.

She was alone, at least in this moment; but had Michelle been here in another? How long ago? And where, and when, was she now?

The questions had no easy answers, none that she would find here, at least. She shook her head faintly, shut her eyes again, and blew out a steadying breath, a comforting routine. Her right hand twisted over her left, producing a thin silver knife cradled in her bloody palm; she repeated the gesture once more, then plunged the blade into her own chest.

She coughed violently, spewing blood into her lap, and forced her blood-slick lips to form the name of her avatar: “Malleus.” As she began to slump forward, a gateway opened to a bloody fountain, where a clawed marble arm grasped a beating heart, and milk-pale hands dragged her backwards through the breach.

* * * * *

When Mallory came to, shaken awake by Eri as she lay in a pool of her own blood in the windowless room in their home, less than ten minutes had passed since she had left.

((Character of Eri used with permission.))
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Unpinned

Post by Michelle Montoya » Wed Oct 30, 2019 11:57 am

“Ultimate horror often paralyses memory in a merciful way.” - H.P. Lovecraft

The Gate screamed and whined around Michelle, piercing her ears, as she was flung across the chasm of time and space. It narrowed and broadened like a distorted, swirling venturi tube. The curved walls resembled the same green, soapy stone with gold and black spotting. And a shadow, a rubbery mass of darkness, trailed her descent. The nauseating experience distorted her vision, and everything went black within seconds. A crushing, painful impact jolted her awake.

She was lying on a coarse, concrete slab that smelt like musk and mildew. Michelle groaned, shifting herself into an upright position. Dim candles flickered around the room. Her back and chest felt tender, and every breath felt like a sharp knife through her left side. She whimpered softly. As her eyes adjusted, she started to make out humanoid figures, forming a close circle around the table. The ringing in her ears subsided, making way for the strange, poetic vocalizations of her worshippers. Their faces were covered in lime-green masks with cut-outs for their eyes and mouth. Every one of them was garbed in dark robes embroidered with a strange and perverse logographic script. Their voices began to rise in a sing-song chant, a form of ululation that pierced her soul with terror.

Her eyes wild and terrified, she saw the fleshy shadow ooze around the room, a prowling, slimy hunter. As the chanting crescendoed into passionate worship, fat, bulbous tentacles shot through every member of this frantic coterie. Michelle screamed in horror as the entire circle was lifted up by the slimy, prehensile appendages piercing through their hearts. Unable to find an escape, she looked up, desperately, to see if the Gate was still present. The frayed borders of reality were closing rapidly. With one last glance at the fallen souls - who, strangely enough, bore no marks or blood-stained wounds from the vicious assault - Michelle painfully gripped the edge of the portal and heaved herself inside. The frayed edges closed around her as she tumbled back towards R'lyeh.

***

When she awoke, Michelle startled to find herself on another table. This one was made of the same irregular masonry and was slick with a dark green ooze. She slid off the surface and proceeded to vomit what little ilk and water were in her stomach. Green slime dripped on her face, and she looked up to glimpse putrid tentacles hanging from the ceiling. For the thousandth time, Michelle cast a simple, but effective charm, against the evil of this place, and slinked into hiding.

Michelle tore yet another strip off her clothing to bandage an infected wound on her arm. Surviving here was only possible because of her modest, magical talents and her ability to find a little greenery here and there, which could be coaxed into a small meal. But feeding her stomach was of little interest compared to the sorrow and madness that filled her mind.

There had been two more portals wide enough for her to escape through. Her second attempt tossed her into a bonfire in the middle of some hedonistic worship. She had rolled out of the flames and ran straight for a nearby river. The priests and priestesses weren't very happy that their ungodly manifestation had run away from them. Michelle immersed herself in the water and, using the Key, kept herself hidden until the disappointed cadre returned to their homes. She spent a week there, recuperating with clean water and some bushberry fruit. The locales seemed pre-industrial, and the sky held three moons instead of RhyDin's two. Weakened and exhausted, she did not want to interact with the people here, uncertain as to how they would respond to her disheveled and emaciated appearance. The reprieve was short-lived, as one morning while gathering food, Michelle felt a stomach-dropping sensation like falling off a cliff. She watched her body flicker like a static connection. Suddenly, Michelle was facing the soapstone altar while green slime dripped into her hair. She had collapsed to the ground and cried bitterly.

Her third attempt landed her in the middle of an orchard. There was no cult, or disturbing ululations, or immediate threat. The trees were fruitless, and the frosty wind bit through her shredded clothing. Crisp snow crunched under her feet, and she shuddered at the sudden cold compared to the hot, fetid air of R'lyeh. Michelle looked around, her heart leaping, as the mountain range not only felt familiar but was indeed the high peaks of Atrebla. This was her orchard. She ran in the direction of her home. The hopeful anticipation shattered the moment she came upon the homestead. The manor her father built was an ashy skeleton. Decayed and moldy stables had collapsed on themselves, and the window panes were smashed like the broken shards of her heart. Michelle fell to the ground, sobbing. When the nauseating lurch came, she didn't even fight the pull to R'lyeh.
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Plaything

Post by Michelle Montoya » Thu Oct 31, 2019 1:03 am

I now felt gnawing at my vitals that dark terror which will never leave me till I, too, am at rest; “accidentally” or otherwise. - H.P. Lovecraft

Michelle trembled on top of the monolith, about thirty feet out to sea. It was one of the few that stood tall and strong, reaching up into the sky and growing upward at a slow, interminable rate. Flying nightmares circled around her, beating their large membranous wings before diving at her, pulling up at the last moment. They cackled, not audibly but in her mind. She closed her eyes each time they tipped and swooped towards her, fearful that it would be the last. Once or twice, they lifted her in their prehensile arms, tickling her face with barbed tails before dropping her roughly on the coarse, mucky masonry. Too exhausted and worn to resist or wild-shape, Michelle eventually rolled to the edge and dived half-heartedly into the water. The tortures beneath couldn't be worse than the nightmares above. As she fell, she heard the Nightgaunts laugh in a hysterical, high-pitched keen. Beneath the oily green surface, Michelle swam deeper into the water, relying on the Key for its magical gifts. She hoped it would not disappear while she was so far down, for it would undoubtedly mean a dark and watery grave. As a force of habit, her mind reached out, hoping for a portal of some kind. She'd found a handful more in the past thirty sunsets.

More often than not, she was spilled into a dark ritual, sometimes accompanied by one of the more terrifying inhabitants of R'lyeh. These worshippers, cultists, or deranged sects would sometimes try to kill her, worship her, or tear her skin from her bones. To their utter disappointment, she would either find her way back through the portal or flee through any available egress. Sometimes, she used her magic or relied on the horror accompanying her to distract or dispatch her assailants. Only once did a young man - not a participant to the horrifying proceedings - rescue her from would-be captors. While the cult bowed in deference, he recognized her terror and helped her flee into the forest. It turned out he was an investigative reporter tracking down a ghoulish cult - upon which had found and observed from the safety of the trees. He was eager to question her but took pity on her weakened state and sheltered her in his home for three months. Michelle gives this man, Servius, the credit for her life. Without his ministrations, she would have died upon her next return to R'lyeh. When he started to ask about her experience, Michelle felt obliged to tell him everything. The night after her first accounting, she felt her stomach drop suddenly and knew that the Old One had found her once more. Something had bound her to that place, to the terrifying visage engraved on the masonry. Michelle often considered the possibility that she would never be free. Regardless, the reprieve and healing Servius gave her renewed the courage and zeal to find home.

That was twenty-three sunsets ago. Servius' kind, no-nonsense demeanor was long gone along with his warm stew and beautiful garden. Now, she drifted aimlessly in the dark ocean, trying to outlast the Nightgaunts' boredom. While floating in this way, Michelle sensed a tear in the Veil. She swam towards it, relentless in her pursuit for a way out. The circular opening became apparent as the liquid on the other side looked pure and clean compared to the murky, inky substance that passed for water in R'lyeh. As she swam closer, Michelle could feel the summons of her friend Kohloss; she could feel his power trying to rip a space open for her. With every stroke, an invisible current began to sweep against her, a rip-tide so powerful that she ached and strained to cut through it.

"No. NO! I'm coming, Kohloss. Just, keep it open. Just a bit more!"

Michelle could almost see the old, paunch-bellied Triton on the other side, along with Sargasso and other residents from her Tower. She could feel their strained efforts conjoined together to bring her back to them, to the Lagoon on Twilight Isle. Whatever great magic they harnessed was waning, sucked lifeless by the depravity of this evil ocean. Great tentacles reached up from the depths, grasping at her arms, legs, feet, and hands - preventing her from getting closer to the diminishing portal. The Key strained against her neck, the strong cord growing taut as it tried to reach its home.

The gateway closed, and the Key fell limp against her chest. Suckered tentacles released her as she drifted, aimless once more, in the ocean of muck, grime, and ooze.
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Life-Line

Post by Michelle Montoya » Sun Nov 03, 2019 1:50 am

“I felt myself on the edge of the world; peering over the rim into a fathomless chaos of eternal night.” - H.P. Lovecraft

Michelle sat with her back against the stone blocks of the monolith-crowned citadel. Colossal statues guarded the entrances, bas-reliefs of the tentacled, draconic horror watching with cruel disinterest. She rubbed her finger along the beautiful coral Key, feeling it's power and connection to the waters. Is this how Kohloss had found her? The Key disappeared for weeks after that encounter, and recently, it had returned. Perhaps, they had tried to summon her along with the Key. Or was this Key somehow fixed in time and space, while she was not? Michelle tapped it against her chin thoughtfully. Another possibility is that the Key was tied to the Tower as much as it was bound to her.

Whatever the answer, somehow, this Key to the Tower of Water was the only thing that could travel easily in and out of R'lyeh. She took a drink from her rubber waterskin, her stomach clenched, and grumbled, but the life-saving liquid stayed in her stomach. If she was somehow a beacon for the Key, if they were bonded by her stewardship, then maybe the answer wasn't finding a way out but helping someone find a way in. Michelle reached down and bit off a rubbery piece of tentacle, chewing slowly. But was it fair to bring someone here, to this hell hole? A place where you could come but couldn't leave? Where you fought horrors and ate their oily skin or squishy tentacles just to survive?

She stood up and made her way down the broad steps - surfaces so big and wide that even a giant would feel small standing on them. The worn and cracked hand-holds oozed, slime dripping down from each step to the one below. The footing was tenuous at times, leading to slips and falls. After spending months here, Michelle had come to know the patterns of the monsters. Most of the time, she knew where to go and when to avoid contact, though they were erratic beasts, and she often found herself hiding. Her skin was covered in the same mud and slime she had recoiled from during her first few encounters. It was an intentional aspect of subterfuge and survival.

The sun, in all its distorted glory, rose slowly from the west. It cast little light here these days, for each sunset precluded a darker, and darker dawn. A shadow leered from behind a monolith before ducking into the elusive, crazy angles of the craven rock. Concave openings that provided shelter at first would suddenly be convex, exposing her to the elements and her antagonists. Michelle clutched the Key in her hand as she found the pit beneath the archaic temple - the only place that didn't seem to move and shift throughout the weeks. The slimy green door had an ornate black lintel, and it lay askance. Perhaps it had been flat once, or maybe it was slant like a trap-door. She hadn't dared to open it yet, considering what might be behind it. If this was the only constant in this world, then this is where she would find an opening. Michelle waited until a slippery, tentacled beast slid out of its crevasse to hunt. She scooted around the edges, quietly, her heart pounding in fear. Michelle slid into the vacated hole, her small resting place for the next few hours.

With the Key in her hands, she started to murmur Mallory's name. Her senses reached out, trying to detect a portal, not to a place but to her. Hopefully, she could find a place where the Veil was thin. Michelle felt a tug, it was small - like the thread of a sweater being pulled by a sliver of wood. Cautiously, Michelle stepped out of the crevasse and followed the life-line, the thinnest strand of fiber. "Mallory," she continued to whisper. Slowly, cautiously, Michelle followed - it took all of her focus, and so the shadows creeping behind her went unnoticed. Kneeling on the ground, she pressed her hand to the dirt. Dirt. It was one of the few places here not covered in stone. She placed the Key on the ground, feeling the soil beneath her fingers. "Mallory," she wove the name, the image, and the memories into the Key.

"Michelle."

The voice was like the flicker of a candle. Michelle shoved the Key into the dirt with all her might. The Key resisted at first, then winked out of existence. And shadows leaped forward, hissing and crackling in an overwhelming wave of darkness.
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Rescuers Down Under R’lyeh Pt I

Post by Mallory » Tue Nov 05, 2019 10:22 pm

November 3rd, 2019 - after dark...

Exactly forty feet below the half-sunken Ring of R'lyeh that still loomed over Orktoberfest, where the wounds from the Abyssal hole in reality were still fresh, and the Veil was thin, the witch had used the Key of Earth to carve out a chamber. It had been the dead-end of a stretch of old subway tunnel, the other end terminating with a ladder to the surface fifty feet behind them.

The chamber itself was a twenty-foot dome of dark basalt, lit by two lanterns dangling from hooks and several scattered glowsticks for good measure. The shadows danced uneasily around Mallory, less from the flickering or waning lights around them, more from the pull of R'lyeh from beyond the Veil. She knelt on the cool bedrock, murmuring in Koine, Latin, Arabic, and Primordial as she dangled the Key of Earth from one hand —

— and made sweeping gestures with her left, dripping blood from the long cut across her palm. The circle she was forming out of trails of glittering red sand was nearly complete, though it appeared only half-finished, like a gibbous moon, pressed up against the wall.

Eri and Riho stood just outside the circle. The sukeban had a flaming jian in her grasp, while the enforcer known as the habu unsheathed a dagger that held a sinister gleam as Mallory announced, "Nearly done. Is everyone ready?"

Eden stood to the back of their grouping with Gloria. Rescue missions were something she was only partially comfortable with. But Michelle was missing, and that just didn't seem like the right state of things. And she hadn't been able to buy any chocolate pie from Bak'd in days. Uncertain of her role---or at least thinking it probably didn't involve the sword she had in the bag of carrying slung over her shoulders---she kept her hands free and smiled brightly to Mallory. "I'm ready!"

"Ready, my queen," Mist noted with a wisp of a smile. His short surcoat revealed the chain maille he wore underneath, fine and silvery. A band tied over his head kept his short hair out of his eyes. He held his staff in hand while a peculiar blue aura haloed him. He'd come shielded.

Jewell nodded. She stood clothed in light, flexible, and well-worn battle leather. Ishmerai was at her side, and the pair were flanked by five knights of the Wayward Court in inky black armour. "We're good to go, champ."

"Tch. Call me champ again, and I'm leaving your blue behind in R'lyeh." The witch narrowed her green eyes playfully at Jewell, then placed the coral-encrusted Key of Water in the center of the circle, by her knees.

Jewell just smiled and flipped Mallory off, checking that her blue hair was properly tied back as the witch chuffed at her reply.

"Place gives me the creeps." Hope echoed out, making her way to the party. The lone bright spot in her dark attire -- a black hoodie with several layers -- was the blue opal dangling around her neck on a chain. "Let's do this, whatever it takes."

Eden looked from Jewell to Ishmerai, to the five knights, to Hope, and then to Mist. Eden was wearing jeans and a bright yellow sweater with a waving pineapple on it. She leaned to Hope, whispering loudly, "Was I supposed to wear black?"

Hope gave Eden's pineapple sweater a thumbs up. "As long as we're not in our birthday suits."

"I think it is a good idea to channel Mabel Pines," Mist added, though he was just wearing darker shades of blue.

"Nah cupcake, you're perfect. All my other clothes were dirty," Jewell grinned at Eden.

Everyone seemed ready. Mallory took a steadying breath and nodded over at Eri. Her arms shifted to either side, leaving her chest open. Eri had been given her cue and saw it, adjusting her grip on the hilt of the jian then bringing it forward so that the point pierced Mallory's chest. The grimace on the sukeban's face indicated she didn't care for this chore very much. Mallory tried to give her wife a reassuring smile as she approached, though she too grimaced when the jian pierced through her skin. The point passed further, to the center of where her heart should have been, and blood bubbled at her lips as she choked back a cough. Her eyelids fluttered, rolled back and turned solid red — she lifted her trembling hand and screamed out: " Μιχαέλα!"

Eden's eyes widened as she watched Mallory and Eri. Slightly... you know... alarmed, she looked at the others in the rescue party to see if they shared her concern. Jewell and Ishmerai watched with more interest than alarm, though the faerie shot Eden a brief, reassuring smile. The knights at her back watched on, impassive. Mist watched, dispassionate. It was the tools that they had, and he seemed entirely at peace with it. Though, there was still a flicker of golden eyes at the stabbing. His gaze honed into the whirl of madness, head lifting slightly. Hope watched breathlessly at the ritual, muttering a few words under her breath before checking her side.

((Adapted from live-play with Eden, Eri, Hope, Jewell, Mallory, Michelle, Mist. Gloria’s character used with permission.))
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Rescuers Down Under R’lyeh Pt II

Post by JewellRavenlock » Wed Nov 06, 2019 8:24 am

The odour rising from the repugnant chamber was intolerable, and a tangible darkness and unfathomable geometry obscured the inner walls. At the centre was a sloped monolithic slab - a greenish-black stone altar. Its iridescent golden flakes and striations were enticing, alluring and inviting. Four figurines surrounded the platform, each a variation on the same malignant anthropoid horror carved into the cities vast stonework. The nearest statue was illuminated by the flickering light of the portal. It had a cephalopod head with a mass of stringy feelers, rubbery scales coated the bloated body, and four limbs extended into grotesque claws on hind and forefeet. Long, keratinous wings arced into the sky, as if to lift the swollen, corpulent mass from it's squatted station. Behind the altar and statues, a slumped shadow moved against the rooms' tenebrous edge. It chittered, chanted and gurgled while scraping something into the wall. Small, fanged, lipless creatures started loping towards the portal on spindly legs and long arms. The Key, streaking towards the shadow at the back, pierced four of them, their bodies tumbling in long-limbed chaos. More crept from the shadows to take their place and defend their prize.

"Well, fuck me..." Jewell muttered, staring into the chamber and pulling a set of matching daggers from the air.

"Of course." Hope covered her nose with her sleeve, trying to get a good idea of just how many things were before them. "Can't Michelle just get whisked off to some Candyland? Why did it have to be this?"

Eden stood on her tiptoes, squinting into the darkness to see. "What is it? What's there?" Scrunching her nose.

The Grue chittered and shrieked, a discordant psychic energy building up as a pack of them raced towards the portal's edge. A flash of colours, hallucinations, and disorientation preceded them in a wave of hopelessness. As the wave of discordant psychic energy hit, Eden staggered back, her frown deepening. "They're not friends." An accurate assessment.

"Στέλνω τέρατα πίσω σε σας, Ρελυα!" Mallory croaked the words at the advancing swarm, staying in the center of the circle as blood flowed from the ragged hole in her chest and dripped from her lips. The inherent chaos of R'lyeh threatened to shut it, but Mallory's sacrifice and Gloria's Celestial power kept it stubbornly stable. Snapping jaws went for Mallory's outstretched left hand, from which much of her power flowed — but with a flash of fire and the swift descent of her jian, Eri separated its head from its body. Riho stayed close, her sinister dagger darting out to any who drew too close, draining strength in an ugly necrotic wave whenever it pierced flesh. Maybe... just maybe... Eden might need a sword. It was only occurring to her now. Eden swung her backpack opening towards herself, reached in, and drew her rusty-hilted sword.

Jewell looked aside to Ishmerai, "Make sure nothing that's not us makes it out alive." To the knights, she instructed calmly, "Glamour shields, please. Cut through those hallucinations. Keep us grounded. Also, make sure Princess Pineapple doesn't die." Instructions given, she didn't wait for any go-ahead. The Grue certainly weren't. Ishmerai stayed at her side up to the portal, but she dashed through it, more deterred by the smell than the psychic energy that parted around her. Her daggers flashed, cutting through the limbs of those that had gotten ahead of the others. Two of them fell instantly.

"...Well." Mist noted. He lifted a hand, flexing fingers into a fist, and abruptly flung the energy he had gathered forward, to meet with psychic power flashing towards him with a reflection spell. Hopefully, it would turn the effect back upon the creatures that had sent it to them. The creatures cackled in a cacophonous laugh as their own psychic waves were pushed back to them. A few rolled and tumbled backwards, but three pressed onward, lipless fangs seeking victims. Mist tended to work from the rear of any troop, and followed after the others, exhaling slightly. He restrained himself to giving cover, throwing 'handfuls' of pinging energy bullets, each a blue streak as it whizzed from his hands. Now and then, he reached up to touch over the rune over his eye, as if improving his sight. In reality, drawing out more energy.

Those that had been blown back by Mists' reflective spell gathered their long limbs and began swarming back out towards the portal, joining the third who had evaded Jewell. From the inky blackness above her, the sound of wings unfurling preceded the sudden drop of three bat-like Nightgaunts. Jewell hit the ground and rolled as one of the Nightgaunts tried to impale her. Two of the knights were at her back, dealing swiftly with one as the Empress gestured with her daggers, seizing hold of any fluid in the second and tearing it apart, spraying the ground with ichor and guts. The last Nightgaunt extended a barbed tail, reaching to wrap around Jewell's neck to lift her up from the ground. From the edges, something with slithering tentacles reached out for Eden's feet. His jaw set, Mist promptly took aim on the Nightgaunt grabbing for Jewell, fingers flexing to cast a cutting blade of light.

Hope had been busy with the blade drawn from her hip. Meticulous conduits and geometries were etched beneath them until she finished and clutched IceDancer with one hand and pressed her palm to the center with the other. An azure glow took to the diagram beneath. Hope darted from the portal in the direction of a swooping Nightgaunt. The creatures were increasing in number, a growing swarm pouring through the entrance, and Mallory's blood-coloured eyes seemed to widen in fury and fear — fear that she would lose Michelle for good.

((Adapted from live-play with Eden, Eri, Hope, Jewell, Mallory, Michelle, Mist. Gloria’s character used with permission.))
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Rescuers Down Under R'lyeh Pt III

Post by Hope » Wed Nov 06, 2019 6:10 pm

"Gloria! Can you hold the door?!" Wordless and focused, Gloria nodded and stepped to take the central position from Mallory, allowing the Witch to enter the fray. Her arms stretched out to keep the way open.

The faerie lost her daggers as a Nightgaunt whisked her off the ground, but before her knights could even begin to hack away at it, Mist cut her free and Hope was looking to finish the job. She fell to the ground and rolled, popping right back to her feet where she could see the growing number of eldritch horrors converging on them, "You and you, back to the portal. Grab Lavanya. I want Ishmerai on the ground."

Hope could barely make out the changing and warping silhouettes of their assailants. Still, she jumped and wound up a haymaker before her fist began to emanate a blue swirl. She drove that fist into the Nightgaunt, and her flash froze from the fist to the elbow. On impact, it shattered, firing a shotgun-like blast into the gaunt.

Eden didn't notice the tentacles reaching for her at first, too busy zippering her backpack of holding. But as soon as there was contact with her rainbow-coloured converse sneaker, she looked down and jerked her foot away, then grabbed a better hold of the sword to try to fend the slithery tentacles at her feet. The tentacles withdrew from Eden with a slurping screech, before lurching forward with a great maw of feelers.

"Eeee!" She jumped back from the maw, swinging her sword blade up from beneath in a solid, defensive swipe, trying to cut the jugular... if such a beast even had one! Four of the knights that had accompanied Jewell returned to the portal to stand watch and allow the Witch to enter the field, blades drawn against their enemies and shields up to form a wall. The fifth shadowed Eden, cutting down another creature that threatened her from behind. "Nice!" Eden paused long enough to offer a high-five to the knight behind her. Once relieved by the other knights, Ishmerai took to the field, his tekagi flashing and slashing at anything that moved.

The Witch ran her left hand along Eri's blade as she rose from her knees, splaying her fingers out and splattering blood across the nearest horrors as she croaked at them: "Break." Slimy, rubbery flesh burst apart before her, "Ewwww! Yuck!" Eden remarked.

Mallory drew the ugly elemental blade Meliai from the cut in her left hand as she advanced into the swarm. The Witch looped the Key of Earth around her right hand. In the moments before each blow of the heavy blade, she uttered words of Primordial that sounded like rumbling earth and cracking stone, petrifying the creatures in her path and shattering them, one after another, while Eri and Riho stuck to her flanks. Mist glanced back to Gloria, and stood before her, watching and waiting for any more of the swarm. Ishmerai, unable to make any real progress in reaching his lady, had fallen back to where the knight--who had been all about that high five--and Eden were.

Much as she had done in Tartarus, Jewell pulled the blood and bodily fluids of her enemies off the ground with a twist of her hand, using it to form long, tentacles extending out from each arm for herself. One would grab up a monster while the other hardened into razor-sharp ice, piercing the creature before it was tossed aside and another taken up. As the bodies piled up around her, Jewell created three more of those arms for herself, twisting around to keep her back to Hope. "This isn't working!" Hope shouted out, watching as with every cretin they slay, it felt like four more took their place.

The slight, emaciated shadow at the back of the room ceased to scribble on the wall. It turned and stepped forward, an eerie green light emanating from under its feet. Michelle's hair was damp with ooze and slime, her eyes the same green-black colour of the altar. Her arms stretched out as if beckoning the eldritch horrors to come. Mallory spotted her. "Michelle!" she cried out, stretching out her bloody left hand. "Push forward — we've got to grab her and get the fuck out!"

"Watch my back," Jewell told Hope since Ishmerai had made little progress getting near to the pair, stuck across a field of nightmares. Trusting the blonde to do as she said, the blood tentacle arms fell to the ground as Jewell focused instead on clearing a path towards Michelle. One-by-one seizing the blood and bodily fluid of each creature in her way, she froze them in their place until she had more than she could safely control. They writhed and screeched, rising up into the air under her control. Sweat poured down her face as she struggled to handle so many at once. With a final gesture, spreading her arms out wide, she rent them all into pieces, forcing all the liquid from their forms to spray across the landscape.

Michelle stepped forward, a mass of worms converging at her feet, two Nightgaunts flanking her as a royal guard. "Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn." Her marbled black and green eyes widened, ooze dripping from her fingers, the Key of Water clutched in one hand.

Mallory had been trying to slowly hack her way up to the altar to reach Michelle, but even with Eri and Riho watching her flanks, they could not protect her from every tooth, claw, and barbed tentacle that raked across her flesh; and more creatures appeared than she slew. But then Jewell tore open a bloody path, and the Witch shouted something in Japanese to Eri and the habu, who advanced into the gap to try and hold it open.

With her hands lifted up, Michelle continued to chant. A sphere of negative energy began to form above the altar, crackling ominously. "Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn!" As the sphere grew in size, the eldritch horrors cackled, chittered, and shrieked in revelry and anticipation.

"That doesn't sound like fucking Yankee Doodle to me! I'm willing to bet we don't want to let her finish!" Hope wasn't far behind Jewell, pausing to place her palms to the cool, slicked foreign stone to freeze the various things in place. As a team, Hope froze things and Jewell (summoning her sceptre from elsewhere) smashed them in place as she ran towards the altar through the path she had created. It was quickly filling back in, though, and they didn't quite make it there before the pulsing, chittering mass of bodies blocked their way.

The Witch, bloody and staggering, rested her arm against the twisted statue atop the altar, smearing down its slime-sick side. "This is your new god, huh." Solid red eyes glared at Michelle, fingers tightening around the Key of Earth as she hissed at her: "Fuck your new god."

((Adapted from live-play with Eden, Eri, Hope, Jewell, Mallory, Michelle, Mist. Gloria’s character used with permission.))
Last edited by Hope on Wed Nov 06, 2019 6:29 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Rescuers Down Under R’lyeh Pt IV

Post by Michelle Montoya » Wed Nov 06, 2019 6:19 pm

The altar began to crack and crumble, breaking the foundation of the sphere of negative energy.

Michelle stumbled, visibly pained. Her eyes flickered, for a brief moment, between the marbled black and green to sorrowful brown. She jolted upright and hissed, extending a hand out towards Mallory, sending powerful bursts of sickly green energy towards the Witch. One after another, each sickly, draining blast crackled across the Witch's body, sapping her life essence as she hung onto the altar. But she laughed as she licked the blood from the back of her teeth, her disembodied heart replenishing whatever the eldritch magic drained.

"Whatever's holding you back, Michelle... let it break.”

The word of power sent five deep fractures through the base of the statue, one after another; the Witch flourished her right hand with a few Primordial syllables, and the tumbling stones flew out into the chittering masses in Jewell's path.

Something deep within Michelle wrenched, twisting her body into horrific contortions. She collapsed to the ground, worms and larva flowed from her mouth, ears and nose accompanied by a hazy blackness that lingered for a moment over her eyes. The dark tendrils dissipated into the unorthodox angles of the room.

"Come on," Jewell offered a hand to Hope, yanking her up onto one of those stones that had crushed so many of the creatures in their way. Then she was running across them, towards the altar and Michelle as she fell.

Staying towards the back, Eden wasn't entirely sure what was happening at the front of the fray. "Is that Michelle?" She looked in that direction, then grimaced again as she squelched on more of these gross worm things.

Gloria groaned as something powerful tried to seal the portal; it took all she had to keep it open. "Hurry," she whispered. Mist shook himself, looking upwards as Gloria groaned, and lifted his staff while speaking a strange language. Pressing back against the pressure it exerted upon Gloria, while his gaze turned deeper within the hell hole.

The honour guard of horrors were driven into a mad frenzy, and their madness emanated in a wave of terror to everyone still within the chamber. The Witch bowed her horned head before the waves of terror — but her will was stronger. She relinquished her sword to Riho and pushed off from the altar with a scream, grasping at every writhing creature in her path. Words of Primordial turned them to stone, and hellish Infernal ignited the bloody handprints she left on them and made them shatter. She was fighting a bloody path alongside Jewell, as Eri and Riho kept the way back open. Hope was behind Jewell when the next wave of psychic attacks came, and she struggled to stay on her feet. The dark altered state was putting a strain on her as it was, coupled with the intense rupturing thoughts in her head, she watched as Jewell and Mal kept driving. Jewell stumbled, falling to a knee as the terror hit her. "No.. no. No no no no," she dug her fingers into the side of her head, pushing back with her glamour--with the light that was inside her. That was her.

Mallory's furious gaze locked with Jewell's, terrified and anguished. "The Devil fucking take you," she hissed, "you were supposed to be stronger than this!" A reminder of struggles they'd conquered before, more hellish than this.

Michelle lay behind the altar, limp, scrawny, and covered in slime. The Key fell from her hand - a spot of colour against the dismal stone. Her breathing was ragged and shallow. The Nightgaunt guardians snarled from their faceless heads, and both went for Mallory's horns and hands. Jewell's grin up at Mal was wolfish as she fought, not only her own demons but those around them. With a mental push, she cast a glamour across their field of battle. It was warm, reassuring, like a hug from the Empress herself, and it pushed back the terror of the night. "Behind you," she called, leaping forward beneath the Nightgaunt that was aiming for Mallory and rising up to take off the head of the other with the arc of a sword that appeared in her hand moments before it made contact.

The first Nightgaunt caught Mallory with its claws, digging deep into her forearms, and she grunted in pain, but Jewell's warning had prepared her to fight back. When its barbed tail came around, Mallory grasped it — and a wave of entropy washed over it, turning it into dust that blew across the decapitated form of the other guardian. "Get Michelle," she grunted, staggering unsteadily on her feet as the blood was beginning to flow from too many wounds now. "Gotta get the fuck out of here..."

Jewell jumped down off the rock they were on and scooped the OverBaker up. She was bleeding freely all over and struggled to hold Michelle between her own blood and the slime covering her friend. With some careful blood bending however, she got her balanced over her one shoulder, leaving her right arm and hand free to kill as needed. "Just for the record," she grunted to Mallory, "it's a douche move to quote yourself." There was a bloody, coughing laugh for Jewell's retort, followed by an unintelligible reply from the witch

((Adapted from live-play with Eden, Eri, Hope, Jewell, Mallory, Michelle, Mist. Gloria’s character used with permission.))
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Rescuers Down Under R’lyeh Pt V

Post by Mist Gul » Wed Nov 06, 2019 7:47 pm

"How are you holding up?" Mist asked Gloria, his gaze steady and eerily calm as he gazed further into the madness. He could lend more aid to her if she needed while watching the pathway. Now and then, he sent waves of energy fluxing along it, hoping to keep it clear of more of the bizarre creatures.

Gloria grunted, "I can hold a bit longer, but whatever dwells there is going to close this soon, whether I like it or not."

Creeping Grue tried to block the way back, attacking Eden and the Knights. Hope looked back to Eden and company behind and reached out. Her fingers clutched into a fist, and she ripped up. That glyph she had inscribed earlier duplicated, the second of which shot up above the party. Between the two layers, blades of ice began to fire out, lacerating their foes between while managing to barely avoid the friendlies. Her face contorted from the gruelling toll this took as IceDancer flickered about her.

Eden did her best to keep the way clear with the knights at her side. Her sword dripping with some sort of gooey something. It was probably a lost cause. She would have to go see Izumi for a new one. But for now, Eden used the toe of her shoe to push a Grue off her blade. She swung at it again. "Are you guys coming back soon!?" Calling ahead towards the front of the party. And because she couldn't see anything, she held out her free hand and sent a bolt of bright pink sparkles into the darkness. Even if it didn't help anything, maybe they could use the light. His lady was struggling, but Ishmerai stayed near the portal with the Wayward Knights. He did his best to keep the path home clear for those who had waded into the horrors.

Hope's digits began to slow as a thin layer of ice grew over her arm. Looking ahead to Mallory and Jewell, her other arm extended out. She squinted, her vision starting to fail, weaving her fingers to begin freezing over their ebbing wounds. It wasn't pretty, it most likely felt like they were being stabbed in the process, but their deep red glazed over in layers of ice. Hope could see her breaths now.

The edges of Mallory's portal started to creep inward, swirling like water down a drain. "Faster!" Gloria shouted.

"Mallory!?" Mist bellowed, stepping further within though Gloria staggered. "You have to hurry!"

Eri broke away and left Riho's side to go stampeding toward Mal at a full sprint. Any monsters that moved to intercept her would meet her lowered head instead of the sword. Riho was left alone at her section of the path carved through the monsters, but the bodyguard was now showing a visible glaring white eyeshine over her surgical mask and was putting Mal's sword as well as her own dagger to use with greater speed than ever.

Jewell's gait was all wrong with the weight of Michelle on her shoulder, and she seemed to stumble over something--an arm, decapitated Grue, a puddle of congealed ick--every few steps. The petite faerie was strong but exhausted. "Go go go!" she shouted ahead at Hope even as she froze their wounds.

"Fuck it's.. so... cold." Hope could no longer move her fingers on either hand and began to swing her wrists and arms, sending rough jagged icicles about. Haphazardly, their shrapnel was piercing around as she made her way back towards the portal.

Eri was attempting to drag Mallory back after assessing the fight's progress. By the time she was dangling limply in her wife's arms, Mallory was speaking nonsense, eyelids fluttering as she mumbled a string of Koine and Hebrew, Japanese and Old Church Slavonic. It rose to a few Infernal curse words at the sharp feeling of ice freezing over her wounds. She put up no resistance, though, as Eri dragged her back down the path that Riho kept open with her whirlwind fury.

Jewell was bringing up the rear with Michelle slung over her shoulder. She had her eyes on the portal even as it spiralled inwards. They were all going to make it. Weirdly impassive, despite all else, Mist abruptly slammed the base of his staff into the mire. He spoke words which were all too comfortably dire in this reality, almost visible as they left his lips. His runes flared, and then all of them went dark as he released the casting: Scourging swords. A vortex of spinning phantom blades would carve passageway for the escapees and slow down the portal from closing.

Seeing Mist's badass cast and the group coming through the portal, Eden danced back, clearing space, shifting her sword so she could offer a hand to help pull through anyone who needed assistance coming through. "You can do it!"

"Why... was he in the back?!" Hope lumbered closer to that storm of swords, and incredulously looked back at Jewell as if it was her fault. As the vortex of blades widened the path, the trio of Mallory, Eri, and Riho retreated back through the portal.

Mist wasn't a fighter But for his loved ones, he would do anything. Though he staggered with the casting of the spell, he abruptly slung the staff across the backs of the beasts trying to follow and grab after his friends before snarling another spell. Sunder. A bad spell for anything soft-bodied to be at the wrong end of, before rushing out with Gloria.

Jewell's scream rent the air, and she tumbled forward to the ground, trying but failing to not drop Michelle as one of the Nightgaunts sunk its prehensile claws into her again. "MIRA!" Ishmerai shouted, abandoning the stand at the portal and using the path Mist and the others had opened to race towards his fallen lady, Michelle, and Hope.

The witch's eyes fluttered open at the sound of Jewell's flesh tearing open, and she raised her shaky and bleeding left arm to the sidhe and Michelle in her arms. Three shadowy tendrils erupted out of her arm to try to pull the two of them the rest of the way through.

"Take her!" Jewell shouted, twisting and fighting off the Nightgaunt by hand as Mallory's tendrils pulled them closer to the portal. Ishmerai grabbed Michelle from the ground and pulled at Hope as Jewell glamoured claws for herself. She and the Nightgaunt were locked together, tearing at each other, as they were dragged through the portal.

((Adapted from live-play with Eden, Eri, Hope, Jewell, Mallory, Michelle, Mist. Gloria’s character used with permission.))
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Rescuers Down Under R'lyeh Part VI

Post by Eri Maeda » Wed Nov 06, 2019 11:10 pm

Gloria fell to her knees, hands outstretched, sweat pouring from her face. As the last of them made it through she cried out, releasing the energy and letting the portal snap closed with a dark hiss. Slime dripped from the solid rough-hewn wall. Ishmerai set Michelle down carefully before grabbing the Nightgaunt by the horns and ripping its head right off. Jewell flopped back on the ground, the creature's claws still stuck in her flesh. Her own melted away as the threat passed.

"I was gonna keep that," Jewell complained as Ishmerai threw the Nightgaunt's head aside before carefully pulling the rest of the creature off her. "Ow. No. Careful. I said careful!" she hissed, sitting up once the weight of the beast was off her. She was bleeding badly from several places where the claws had torn right through the leather she had worn. "Check on the others.

Gloria shifted towards Michelle, uttering a healing spell that spread out towards all those who had gone into the fray. The witch was on the ground, shaky on her hands and knees. Blackness took her for a second — and Gloria's wave of empowered Celestial healing dragged her back. She coughed saccharine-smelling blood onto the floor in sporadic fits.

Mist exhaled softly, his runes extinguished, many of them bleeding. Healing was appreciated, though there was a wry touch of a smile to his lips. "How is Michelle?" he asked as he stepped to the woman.

"I don't know," Gloria murmured. She carefully examined her friend, inviting Mist to join in the assessment.

Mist dropped to his knees beside Michelle, a hand curling around her brow, a soft inhalation with the casting of a spell, this just to find her baseline, what needed to be done. The rune around his eye flickered blue around the red. "Ah, my friend. Where have you gone?" he whispered, leaning over further and sort of crumpling to rest on his butt. He pressed a kiss to her brow.

Hope stumbled to her rear and gasped. She lay on her back and tried to keep her eyes open. Eden shifted her bag around, letting her sword fall to the floor. From her bag she began pulling bottles of water. "Water?" She offered a bottle towards Eri and Mallory and Riho, then one towards Hope, arms out.

Eri took one of the bottles and another that she opened to give Mallory a drink. "Here. Water" she said in her almost inaudible voice. The witch would not have been able to manage the cap on her own for another minute, so it was good that Eri offered. She took greedy gulps until it was gone, gasping when she was done.
Her wounds were slowly oozing more than streaming blood at this point, though her skin was ashen.

"Are we all alive?" Mallory asked.

Ishmerai accepted one of the waters from Eden, giving some to Jewell and pointing out, "You are bleeding a lot, Mira."

"How can you even tell?" she snorted her response and then winced. "Swear it's more slime and guts than anything." Still, she was shaking as she tried to stand and eventually just settled on sitting. Riho seemed mostly unhurt, though covered in blood and slime from head to foot. The guard also looked extremely puzzled, as if trying to remember who she was.

Hope straightened up and shook some before taking one of those bottles and ruffling Eden's hair. "See, the pineapple kept them at bay."

"Yeah?" Eden brightened at Hope's encouragement, straightening up with a beaming dimpled smile. She had more water, pulling a couple more bottles out of her bag and looking around to see if anyone else was in need, her eyes regularly returning to Mist and Michelle, brow furrowed.

"She has seen... weeks, months, of deprivation, malnutrition, dehydration, strife and struggle. But her body will heal." Which was entirely different from 'she will heal.' Mist gripped Michelle's hands, a murmur of a spell spoken, enhancing the healing Gloria had already done. But it was still just the body.

"Months?" Eden's eyes widened again. "But she was only gone for a few days?" She looked to... well... anyone for confirmation before looking back to Michelle and Mist.

"...I was in R'lyeh four times in the last week," Mallory commented. "Time's... weird, there."

Jewell nodded slightly, "that place.. whatever it is, doesn't work the same as here."

"It was ... a year perhaps. Time ran away with her." Mist concluded somberly.

Eden nodded, but now she looked even more worriedly at Michelle. "Does she need some chocolate?" The last water bottle in her hand disappeared replaced by a mini-goody-bar. "It's milk, chocolate!"

Gloria whispered a few more spells to aid in Michelle's physical recovering before turning her attention to the others. "I can start bonking the people who are being too tough to admit that they need healing over the head and then heal them," Mist offered, gallows humour as he struggled to his knees, pushing at his staff to stand again. One by one, Gloria assisted Mist, murmuring soft 'thank-you's' to everyone, on behalf of Michelle's family and children.

Riho seemed to become rational enough to check over her own few injuries, shaking her head and holding up a thumbs-up sign to show they weren't severe enough to need attention. The witch wasn't too proud to beg. She made a shaky flappy hand gesture at Mist for healing. There, he smiled, a laughing one, and reached over to take the flappy hand. Mallory was nearly becoming as easy to heal as his own wounds: The energy shared was bright warmth, vivid as it rushed through her to find her hurts and heal them over. He had to direct it away from repairing her heart-not-heart, though. The strange, twisted pentagram of veins where her heart should have been took to the healing as well as the rest of her body. She felt... dead on her feet and like she'd been hit by three garbage trucks consecutively, which was a vast improvement. "A whole year," she murmured, lifting her head to stare at Michelle, her gaze weary and heart-broken. Her left hand settled over Eri's. Eri's natural regeneration seemed to be sufficient, and the half oni was already recovered well by the time she took and gripped Mallory's hand.

"A year is a very long time.." Jewell sighed, concerned for their friend now more than ever. She knew too well how useful bodily healing was when the hurt went so deep. Despite her wounds and offers all around, she only let Ishmerai tend to her and maybe Mist.. a little. Just to keep herself from passing out.

"There is a jarring of trauma over her entire being," Mist explained. And with a hapless shrug to Ishmerai, he reached over to pass on the energy, possibly Ishmerai was capable of taking what was offered to pass onto Jewell. Mist wasn't a gentleman when it came to battlefield injuries: he gave as much of the energy as it took to make all the blood stay where it belonged and at least bind bone and leaky organs.

Mists reward was an air kiss from the bloody Empress, who, after that shot of energy, had enough strength to order her knight, "Get me up. Let's go. I don't want to be underground anymore. Get her, too," she gestured to Hope. Ishmerai assisted Jewell himself while one of the other knights, having slunk into the background, stepped forward to help Hope.

((Adapted from live-play with Eden, Eri, Hope, Jewell, Mallory, Michelle, Mist. Gloria’s character used with permission))
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Eden Parker
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Location: Old Market

Rescuers Down Under R’lyeh Pt VII

Post by Eden Parker » Thu Nov 07, 2019 12:15 am

Since it didn't seem like Michelle was going to be eating mini-goody-bars anytime soon, Eden tore open the wrapper herself.

"One of you get Michelle up off the ground. Take her wherever they suggest. You, you walk Eden home." Since she wasn't at risk of bleeding out anymore, the Empress of the Wayward Court had put her bossy pants back on.

"...You good, Eden?" Mallory seemed inspired by Jewell's words to get to her feet, too, leaning heavily on Eri. With her free hand, she dug out her phone from her pocket, surprised that there was some form of signal bouncing off all the thin spots in the Veil down here.

"Mmhhmm!" She had a mouth full of chocolate. What could be wrong? She bent down to pick up her filthy sword, such as it was, then looked around to see who was escorting her. She could use a hot shower.

"You help Mist," Jewell was pointing at another knight and took a step forward before, "Whoah." Her legs gave out beneath her, and the only thing that kept her from falling was Ishmerai scooping her up.

"That is enough now, Mira. It is all under control."

"Just like her to charge in and get herself bloodied up, right?" Mallory cracked a grin at Ishmerai, well aware of the irony, as they started to hobble out.

"She is, as always, ridiculous." Ishmerai stated dryly, shifting the weight of the petite woman in his arms.

"Hey!" Jewell exclaimed.

Mist and Riho laughed, and some of the tension in the room eased. The healer accepted the knights' assistance, he was worn and weak, though the runes were slowly ceasing to ooze blood, some were showing light once more. Gloria turned to Mist, "Where do you recommend we take her?"

"I want to take her to her family, but not like this," he replied, exhaling, "Let's get her to RhyDin General just so they can observe her overnight, and we know she'll be safe. I'll call Collie and make her send someone to watch her. Then... We can move her someplace more comfortable."

Hope was lost staring away before she looked over to Michelle and took the blade she'd brought before handing it to Mist. "Make sure Michelle has this with her."

"Oh, yes, I will," he replied to Hope, taking the blade carefully. "Jewell, would you be able to take Michelle to Elfhame tomorrow, after she's had a night in the hospital?" Mist asked, mainly because he knew Mallory and Eri had school to teach.

Jewell smacked Ishmerai's arm so he would turn so she could see Mist and Michelle better. "Of course. She will be safe and welcome to stay as long as she needs to."

"I want her family to be able to come and see her, but I live so far out in the country," he explained, "I will have nurses come look after her."

"We're good at looking after broken people, right Merai?" The knight just sighed.

"Well, a few nurses couldn't hurt," Mist laughed softly. "Who's up for some pizza?" Mist asked, fishing out his phone.

"I like pizza!" Eden said cheerfully, starting to backtrack towards the exit from the Underground. Her sneakers splash in the muck, bouncing along, keeping her filthy sword cautiously at her side.

The knight shadowed Eden, trying not to get splashed with mud, "If my lady would like some pizza, I would be happy to obtain it for you."

Eden looked over her shoulder at the knight, brows raising. Then she offered her free hand for high-five. "Pizza!"

The knight Jewell had tasked with watching Hope hovered at her side. Hope gave the knight a scowl. "Hey, I appreciate it and all, but-- can you fuck off?"

The Wayward Knight stepped back, looking to Jewell for further instruction. "You heard her," the faerie laughed painfully, "fuck off. Come on... Hope you coming?"

"Okay, everyone! I will visit Michelle tomorrow! Go stop bleeding!" Eden waved, then bounced off with her knight friend in the direction of her apartment. They needed showers! And pizza!

Hope smiled and waved some with her hand. "Get a headstart, I'll make sure to catch up." Ishmerai looked to Jewell, who shrugged and didn't push it, heading out without Hope.

Riho desperately needed to replace calories, "I really am going to eat a pizza once I wash all this shit off me," she declared, following and still holding onto Mallory's sword for her. An ambulance was making its way to the grounds. They were getting to know that area pretty damn well. Mist waved to the medics and stepped ahead to meet them, and help get the gurney ready for Michelle.

"Pizza's on me," Mallory assured Riho. She craned a look over at one of the Wayward Knights to check on Michelle with a worried frown... and spotted the gleam of a familiar aquamarine gem, embedded in coral and dangling from Michelle's necklace. Her frown deepened. "...I could have sworn I..." Looking back at the chamber wall where the portal had been as they made their way out.

Mist paused and looking back to Mallory, his brows quirking. "If that thing is going to open again, I propose calling the governor and complaining about the infrastructure."

"... It's nothing," Mallory assured Mist. "Fog of war," she added, to assure herself, as they left the tunnel to R'lyeh behind.

((Adapted from live-play with Eden, Eri, Hope, Jewell, Mallory, Michelle, Mist. Gloria’s character used with permission.))
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Michelle Montoya
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Joined: Fri Apr 02, 2004 10:50 pm
Location: Al-Ibra, South Cadentia

Dreamscape

Post by Michelle Montoya » Thu Nov 07, 2019 12:20 am

“... dreams ar older than brooding Tyre, or the contemplative Sphinx, or garden-girdled Babylon.” - Henry Anthony Wilcox (H.P. Lovecraft)

It was cold. The hot, putrid essence of R’lyeh at dawn gave way to the chill of the evening, and it had gotten colder. Perhaps there were seasons here, after all. Michelle had buried the Key into the dirt thirty or forty sunsets ago. And it hadn’t come back. Perhaps she had been wrong all along - giving away the Key was like relinquishing her bond. At first, she had kept the faith, the hope, that Mallory would find her. But if she were honest, Mallory would be wise not to come. This place - this frigid, squalid, tainted, poisoned city was too awful. Or maybe Mallory had tried and failed.

Michelle had tried two more times to find portals out of here, but each encounter was filled with such debauchery and hedonism that she had tried to block them from her memory. The screams of the oppressed still haunted her dreams, as did the images of sacrilegious worship. Her will to act was swallowed up by R’lyeh, just as the light was swallowed by angles of masonry that shouldn’t exist. And so here she sat, before the great, green, slimy door which descended at an angle both acute and obtuse into the pit. If death was down there, she would find it. And be done with this place.

With one last effort, Michelle worked her way along the door, delicately pressing on each point along the edge. The grotesque and disturbing moulding gave way softly and slowly. It tipped inward from the top, causing her to slide down toward the indeterminable depth. The monsters here left her alone now. Maybe that was the worst part. An eerie, green glow extended from a tunnel both long and short, convex and concave. Trusting her feet more than her eyes, Michelle took slow, deliberate steps. She wanted terror. She wanted to be frozen in horror and fear. She wanted to feel something more than the endless despair and anxiety, gripping her heart in a stone-cold hand.

The vault was grand, grander than anything she could imagine. And before her was a soapy, greenish-black stone altar. Surrounding the platform were vast stasis chambers, cephalopods contained in murky water stared at her with lifeless eyes.

“Ph'ngluiph'ngluiph'ngluiph'ngluiph'nglui ”

There it was again, a murmuring just at the edge of hearing. It echoed from beneath her, an erratic cacophony. She backed up against the wall, but then the world spun beneath her.

***

Michelle held the exceedingly damp and singular box in curious, terrified, wonder. The bas-relief clay box was a rough rectangle, less than an inch thick and about six inches in area. It was both inexplicable and unexpected, producing an atmosphere of distorted reality and futuristic technology. Yet the writing was cryptic and prehistoric. The lines on the cube, although supposedly parallel, seem to merge into each other when held in just the right way. She laughed. And then crushed it between her hands, trying to shape away the disturbing geometry. Her laughter turned to tears as the box refused to give up its contradictions and horrific inscriptions. She threw it into one of the monolithic slabs surrounding the soapy, greenish-black stone altar. Its iridescent golden flakes and striations were enticing, alluring and inviting. Her head lolled, mouth open as her eyes tried to find something else to fixate on. From their deep, cosmic sleep, the cephalopods in stasis screamed at her. No language, no fiery or abyssal tongue, could describe the immemorial lunacy that permeated her mind. She shrieked with them, joining in dissonant song.

“Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu! Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu! Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu!”

The earth shuddered, rolling beneath her like a mountain trying to surface from beneath a watery depth. Michelle fell onto her side, eyes drifting aimlessly as she moaned and uttered the words in repeating ululation. Her stomach heaved, as did the earth. She dry-heaved onto the ground and scrambled towards the altar. Her arms wrapped around the base as best she could while the tremors flipped her world upside down. A grisly, nauseating odour poured in through her nose and mouth. A sickening, squelching, slopping noise came from further down the vast chamber. Michelle’s eyes rolled in the back of her head, only to see a green, slobbering, gelatinous Thing. The immensity of this Thing was so overpowering that it seemed as if it could fill the cosmos. Like it’s own grand, sickly, star.

***

The altar felt rough underneath the palms of her hands. Michelle lay, looking up into a vast, black totality. In her hands was a black, obsidian knife with green and gold flecking. This was it. This was the way home. A charnel stench permeated the room, inviting her to act. At the edge of her vision shadows, long-limbed beasts, membranous winged horrors all waited in anticipation. They were chanting.

“Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn.”

Michelle closed her eyes, and repeated it back, softly.

“Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn.”

They echoed it, louder still. She matched them, echo for echo, the resounding din growing with each call and response.

“Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn!”

She opened her eyes, stared into the depths of insanity, and thrust the obsidian knife into her heart.
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