|Saito Eiji||Pale fingers of light crept their way into the apartment, grasping at anything it could manage to reach. The half-light offered an adequate view of the latest victim in what had become Sendai's worst serial killing since the Izumi-ku killings... Eiji's stomach turned as he approached the pallid body, slumped lazily against the wall. His flashlight would illuminate the corpse enough to make it evident that it was a woman, but... He slipped a glove on before propping her chin up gingerly, revealing her dessicated visage. Pale, dry skin was spread so taut over an almost crumpled skull that she barely looked human anymore. It was as if so much of her vital essence had been forcibly torn from her so quickly that it mummified her.
"It's him again, Inu."
He dropped the light to her chest, inspecting the five peculiar punctures that perforated her blouse. Just behind the cloth, surrounded by a cage of exposed and broken ribs, was a pentacle of ruptured skin and the faintest impression of a shriveled heart. He lined his digits up with the wounds and grimaced... The murderer always seemed to drain their victims by siphoning the very life directly from the source. Eiji rose and retreated from the corpse, flashing his light across the rest of the room. Little sign of a struggle, if you didn't count the five empty Cup Noodles flanking her nightstand. "This makes eight."
Something in the air shifted for the worse, filling with a familiar black that sent an anxious static rolling up his spine. The sensation would settle at the base of his skull, his blossoming pupils hungrily searching for what lied just beyond the average person's perception. Tiny tendrils of shade coalesced like black smoke, writhing forth to vacate the husk. Her atrophied sinews twitched, and the sunken orbs in her skull filled with a false life. The corners of her mouth would tear like aged parchment as the dark force compelled them to utter breathless words that would echo in his mind.
"I see you, vermin."
She lurched forward, paperthin skin shredding against any point of friction. The splinters of her ruined ribs protruded further, curving unnaturally against her posture. Her stomach distended violently, threatening to burst as she pitched herself onto her hands and wretched. From the tattered edges of her jagged maw would come a plume of smoke and brackish tar that, with each following heave, pooled just beneath her, writhing like the darkness that consumed her... She lazily slumped into the putrid bile. A languid sigh punctuated the end of the fit.
Eiji's brow knit together at the spectacle. Whoever this was, had given him a lot of information with this scare tactic... He'd seen things like it employed by demons before, though hardly ever as dramatic. "That rules out a traditional vampire, and definitely points towards a sorcerer; a necromancer, specifically."
The tarry ichor would coat the inside of the short vial he scooped a portion of it into... This was a direct challenge to him, that much was certain. Tiny tendrils of searching malice swirled inside of the glass, greedy for anything it could cling to. It had to be a hint... No mage worth their salt would ever leave behind such a tangible aftereffect, unless they fully intended it to permanently silence their target. This necromancer wanted to be found at this point. Whether bored of innocents that rarely got to struggle, or perhaps merely irritated that his loosely connected web of evil had been treaded, this was bait. He would clench his teeth tightly, disgust filling his mouth with bitter vitriol...
Someone like this needed to be exterminated.
"Inu, can you recognize this scent?"
|May 23, 2018 23:53|
|Gyldi||It’s him again, Inu.
Her ears twitched at his words, though she continued to sniff around the entrance. This place gave her an inexplicable sense of unease; it crept from the top of her head, down the length of her spine and through the tip of her tail, all the way down to each individual paw pad. It started as an uncomfortable feeling that only seemed to grow with urgency, and she was wary of moving further inside.
Dutifully, she made her way to his side, each step a tentative move toward the unknown. Dread hung heavy in the air, the death utterly suffocating as it engrossed her. Gyldi couldn’t bring herself to tear her eyes away from the face, even as that creeping feeling grew stronger.
Being a Grim came with an obvious affinity for Death, and everything that surrounded it. There, in that place, Death was present; she could feel it all around her, the way it called and beckoned, always just beyond reach. Yet, it was as if Death’s hold wasn’t absolute, and it stirred a strange unsettling deep within her.
This wasn’t natural.
This wasn’t the way of things.
To Gyldi’s horror, the body suddenly sprang to life, lurching toward Eiji with a villainous intent. And, to her horror, something rooted her to the spot. Whether it was fear or something else entirely, she couldn’t find the ability to will herself forward. Everything in her existence, everything that she’d ever known was struck down in this place.
Death was final.
Almost as suddenly as it had started, the body slumped unceremoniously onto the ground and moved no further.
Eiji remained unphased, but Gyldi was shaken to her core. This went against everything that she existed for, and fear of the unknown terrified her. Too long she’d spent learning that lot in life, all to have it turned upside down by those sudden events.
He’d told her of this necromancer that he’d been after, but she hadn’t quite understood what that meant. Someone with the ability to toy with Death, as if it was some mere task to be handled… She couldn’t grasp it. At least, not until she was faced with it. That, in her eyes, was power beyond measure, and something that shouldn’t be trifled with.
But she would follow Eiji to the ends of the Earth.
At his request, she dipped her nose carefully toward the sludge that had come forth from the reanimated corpse, her eyes never leaving the body. Just in case…
After committing the scent to memory, she lifted her muzzle and followed the extremely dim remnants of the odor in the air. Once outside, she turned herself this way and that until she finally had a good bearing of direction. With a quick glance behind at her counterpart, Gyldi set off at a brisk pace.
They traveled in silence, and she couldn't help but dwell on what had happened back there. Whatever had caused her sudden body-lock, she had simply watched as Eiji faced potential danger head on. His death still weighed heavily on her mind, as it still hung from him like a shadow. But she’d also never known anyone to last this long, after having laid eyes on her. Perhaps he was someone who just had a close relationship with the concept…
Unsure of how long they’d been trekking, she only stopped when she came to the edge of what appeared to be a bog. Sniffing around, there was no denying it; the scent was strong here. Turning to look over her shoulder, she let out a soft sound of acknowledgment, almost like a whisper on the wind.
|May 24, 2018 22:51|
|Saito Eiji||"Good girl."
The bog opened up ahead of them through a decrepit veil of gangly trees that all twisted themselves unnaturally, fighting their arboreal brethren for purchase of the Sun's touch. His worn knuckles would hover just above his waist, eager to reach for the pistol tucked into his jacket. It was a rarity that an acolyte of entropy would make themselves known... Eiji could only recall one other time. Only a child then, he could remember the frantic way his Father prepared to hunt him. He could remember him coming home without an arm, shamed and broken.
"I'll take point, watch my feet," he ordered, sifting into the brush. There were no footholds of humanity here, no well-beaten paths to travel. His eyes would flit between every branch they passed, searching for something out place, something leading... This necromancer was vain enough to leave them a calling card; he couldn't imagine that he'd lay his trap somewhere obscure. Convincing himself that this wasn't a ploy to throw him off while another innocent was defiled wasn't the easiest task after an hour had passed. The bogwater had risen to his calves now.
As soon as he could turn the glow of his flashlight onto the murk below, his suspicions were dashed. Several sets of eyes were staring up at him, their glassy stares trained on his every step. He flashed the light further out... His stomach turned and threatened to retch as an almost innumerable amount of severed, half-living heads bobbed just beneath the water's surface. Each of them were in a varying state of animated decay, but only seemed to stare until your ankles nudged them; he could see the couple nearest to the path's entrance, greedily gnashing their shattered teeth towards his leathers.
"Careful." He'd whisper, glancing back at his companion. She'd been a constant for him, throughout everything else in this time. So despite her incorporeal state being immune to the biting dead beneath them, he would reassure her with a small smile. When he'd been so close to collapse, she had been there to comfort him in what small ways she could afford... It made him grateful enough to let a warmer part of himself exist amongst the burnt out cinders of his will, ever smoldering. His ability to press on was only afforded by her presence.
The starving pond stretched ahead of them, the foreground to the faint dancing of lights, beacons leading them into a snare they would willingly walk into. Anything tangible could bring them closer to their quarry. He prodded the waterlogged domes away from him as he crept further in, until finally the Sun would be entirely swallowed by the canopy.
One head didn't budge. His flashed his light onto it and drew a hefty knife from his thigh, barely in time for the impact... An intact corpse sprung into him, its cheeks rotted away to expose every jagged knife within it's oozing maw. He jerked, jamming the knife into its braincase. A foot drew back to brace himself, but found no traction on the bog's floor...
The water devoured them, a limp corpse loosely clinging to his frame, forcing him beneath the surface where its still writhing brethren bared their tenacity with clashing teeth.
|June 07, 2018 23:37|
|Gyldi||Their entry into the bog was eerie at best, and the sense of dread she’d felt back in the shack only seemed to increase tenfold. She fell back at his orders, constantly feeling something watching and casting jolted glances over her shoulder. There was no life there, but something far, far more sinister hung in the air, sending it’s lilting fingers brushing through her fur. There was a constant unrest, a state of ruin and decay, and it was heavy.
The light beaming from the contraption in Eiji’s hand caught the harsh stare of something in the water. Gyldi couldn’t quite make it out, thus she lowered her head near the bog… Only to be face to face with a corpse-less head with an intense glare. For a moment, she couldn’t pull herself out of its gaze, and it was only her companion’s whispered words of caution that brought her back from the brink.
In Eiji’s gaze, she found the courage to keep moving forward, if only for his sake. Gyldi had seen him at his lowest, cradling the dead body of one that meant the world to him. While she didn’t encroach on that moment, letting him mourn without intrusion, she’d done her best to let him know he wasn’t alone. It was the only comfort she could offer.
Pressing forward, the heads bumped against her corporeal form, a muted touch that set her soul aquiver. Their teeth clacked up at her, admittedly harmless but obtrusively unsettling.
Just ahead, she heard the disturbance and bolted through the craniums, closing the distance between them just as he collapsed into the bog with the corpse. A yip of terror burst from her maw as her head darted forward, breaking the surface of the water and colliding with disembodied skulls and cheeks and mouths. Unable to open her eyes to the onslaught of terror, she drove herself forward with sheer panic and desperation. However Eiji had to die, it couldn’t be here, not in this way.
Her open jaw finally found purchase in what was the unmistakable feeling of cloth, and she pulled with a might she was sure she’d never possessed. She didn’t stop pulling until her feet hit solid ground, and she dragged him up the side of a weakened embankment, slipping and sliding the whole way, but determined to get him out of the bog. Her grip only slackened once she was sure he was out of harm’s way, and as he coughed and sputtered and regained his bearings, she faced the water in a defensive stance, daring anything to come out after them. Her whole body shook with fear, but there was a strange electric feeling coming off of her in droves.
|June 12, 2018 14:03|
|Saito Eiji||Time slipped away from him in those fleeting moments, caught beneath the tepid waters, snapping jaws gleefully descending upon him. A misshapen stone protruded from the floor of the pool, robbing him of his senses. He could feel the muted pressure of teeth grinding against the fabric of his clothing, but couldn't manage to wrest his focus long enough to shake them away.
A weathered face stared down at him, hard lines defining the deep scowl that dominated his jawline. His eyes were like black steel, lacking in warmth, but comforting in the resolve they displayed. Eiji would retch, sputtering up whatever water he had managed to aspirate. It would only be a brief moment after he could finally catch his breath that a set of calloused fingers would drag him to his feet by his collar. "What have you been told about playing near the river? You're lucky Ota is a quick runner, or I might not have made it in time... What would your Mother do?"
He looked up to his father with his eyes, full of shame. Eiji fought to stammer out a response to him, pointing towards the enbankment where he'd lost his footing. Small points of light danced along the water, shimmering an unearthly assortment of greens and blues that only he could see.
"It was the kodama, t-they pulled me!"
The weathered vindicator's features softened. But only a bit.
Eiji scrambled to his feet, hungrily gasping to replace the tepid ichor in his lungs with air. The sleeves of his jacket were ragged and torn, but he had been spared anything worse than a few bruises. Relief swirled through his muddied consciousness; a bite from something that rotten would have undoubtedly lead to serious infection... There were three of his compatriots in Umbra that he knew had lost limbs to zombie-rot, and half a dozen more that had died. A glance fell to his left arm, and he winced. People often mentioned his likeness to his father, but he was none too keen on furthering that resemblence.
"Thanks, Inu..." He trained his sight onto her, just in time to feel a numbing charge crawl up his toes. Tines of static seemed to spring towards her, tiny arcs streaking across the foliage. Instinct drove him to take a step back. All this time, he'd been referring to her as if she were an inugami, but it was clear to him now...
|June 28, 2018 22:55|
|Gyldi||Before she could react to his whispered reverie, a hand lurched up out of the bog water and clawed at the bank ominously. The skin that still clung to the bone was a sickly green color, somewhat bloated and entirely ghastly. Instantly, the electric current died, and as more hands appeared, groping for purchase in the wet ground, Gyldi instinctively took a step backward. A grotesque sort of shock fogged her mind as she tried to process what she was seeing, which made her entirely unprepared for the familiar voice that broke the eerie silence.
”Oh, sweet sister, how long it’s been…”
The language in which he spoke was but an echo of a time long-since buried, but never truly forgotten. Had it been spoken by any other voice, it might have been a welcome occurrence, but the deeper undertones that whispered forebodingly beneath the accustomed cadence of Arvid’s voice were off-putting. As he came more into view, she was greeted with the lingering effects of her own wounds upon him, prominent even in the lurking decay of his corpse. A smile pulled at his decrepit mouth, but his eyes were unrecognizable and entirely blacked out.
”You are a disgrace, and no kin of mine…”
The deeper bass of her father broke the air around them, effectively tearing her gaze from her brother. It didn’t take long to register what was happening, and as her family broke the water’s edge, she felt herself cowering back against Eiji, a soft whine emanating from within her. Too focused on her own struggles, she missed entirely the unfamiliar bodies whose attentions were centered entirely on her companion.
It was when her mother appeared that she collapsed at Eiji’s feet. Her eyes, the same blacked-out abyss as the rest of the corpses, held no warmth or love, and Gyldi was forcibly reminded of the night she cursed her to Odin’s will. There was no denying it; she had failed her family.
But they suffered no fate as bad as her own.
”Tell me, Gyldi, does your companion know of your shortcomings? Does he know how you betrayed your village and left us all to die? Does he know what curses you to your existence?”
No, she thought, closing her eyes to the onslaught, and if he did, he’d probably abandon me for it…
Something in her mind snapped, and her grasp on the physical world weakened noticeably. Her form, once thick and dark, now appeared significantly less opaque, and with it, her surroundings seemed to fade into a soft mist. A void encompassed her, even as she tried to call out to Eiji with a muted yelp and before she knew it, she was alone with the beings that tormented her.
|July 09, 2018 20:14|
|Saito Eiji||One by one the faceless dead had dragged their harrowed husks out of the murky bogwater, skinless fingers prising towards them... Eiji's awe faded the moment he saw her succumb to fear... Of what he couldn't be certain, but he knew what these creatures were. The skin across their visages was drawn taut, nearly featureless. Their only defining features were the pair of hungry black orbs that begged attention. Staring into them were akin to falling into a chasm, where you could see nothing until your mind simply filled in the blanks. Fear was ecstasy to them.
Eiji lurched, gathering his wits swiftly enough to spring himself forward. His fingers frantically dipped into his jacket after his pistol... The nambu would have the opportunity to loose a single shot, the bullet glancing off of the monster's brow. The second shot would never come, as a shadow glided into his peripheral and stole his attention. A sharp elbow slammed into his temple just as his finger tugged the trigger, staggering him just long enough for a swift knee to climb into his sternum. The exorcist doubled back, simultaneously trying to find both his footing and his breath.
"Interesting tool you have there," the statement came out through a filter of smoke and velvet, a rumbling rasp that bounced off of the walls of his aching skull. The man whom uttered it was long, and lean, and gaunt. His broad shoulders drew back into the sharp points of his overcoat. A thin, trim beard framed his regal features, stopping just below his cheekbones. A pair of luminescent golden eyes bored into the bedraggled hunter before him. "Hand it over, and you can go home. The dog for your life. Its bones are on you, yes?"
Eiji steadied himself and stared down his assailant. He had taken the time to grind each bone into a fine powder, to make them less conspicuous to travel with. Everything that was once her was neatly compacted into a container the size of a small thermos. It pressed into his skin with every jostle, reminding him of their position just above the small of his back, perpendicular to his spine. The faintest warmth emanated from it.
"Fvck you," he snapped, bringing his gunhand up and popping a shot off at the errant necromancer... It left the chamber, only to explode just as it escaped the barrel. Shrapnel sprayed back into his grip, drawing a dozen swells of blood that screamed with searing heat. The weapon squelched onto the muddy grass below, abandoned immediately by its bearer. A nearly feral tenacity swam in Eiji's eyes as he tore into the spellcaster, closing their distance in a mere moment.
Eiji's shoulder slammed into the mage's solar plexus, driving the breath from his lungs and the balance from his gait. They collided into the ground together, with the exorcist taking the top. Black light shimmered around his adversary's digits as he moved to retaliate, only for Eiji to drop his knee into the divot of his extended elbow. The necromancer grunted, turning his attention away from his spell to have his senses scrambled by a heavily scarred set of knuckles. The weight behind Eiji's strike shattered the bridge of his nose, splattering hot blood down his chin. The sorcerer rolled, grunting with frustration. He tilted himself and drove his free hand up, boring his fingers into Eiji's side before sputtering out some unintelligible word.
Eiji felt himself being propelled to the side, darkness suddenly swirling around the edges of his sight. He skid across the grass a few feet away, before the jarring numbness faded from his body. Blood freely spilled from his flank, where his ribcage appeared to have been detonated, his entrails only barely contained by shredded tatters of sinew and muscle. His lips parted in a silent, agonized scream... He couldn't help but to look towards his companion. The warmth of her remains was suddenly burning against his crumpled back, and his spasming pupils trained onto his pistol, just within his reach...
The gun was the heaviest thing in the world just then, as he blew the thoughts out of the demon nearest to her's braincase, before snapping to the grimacing visage of the magister... His finger drew back, and the bullet exploded just after it was loosed, the hot fragments of metal spraying back into his face, still twisted with savage expression. He would continue firing, praying that he might be too slow for just one bullet, only for each to reflect and tear more holes in his visage.
A hand grasped at his crutch, the warm vial nestled against him, and tore it free of his person. His hand had fallen slack at his side, his finger still desperately pulling the trigger, only to click at the dirt. Her remains were delivered to the waiting hand of the Necromancer, whose face he could no longer discern. A deep fog had come up from his subconscious to ease him into slumber... It was like a hundred hands, all gently tugging him down to the Earth. He took a deep draw of air, and sighed.
His shoulders relaxed, and his head lolled to one side.
"Make sure he's dead."
None of the black-eyed beasts moved.
|August 01, 2018 00:21|
|Gyldi||Back into the void Gyldi thrust herself, as pitiless and unforgiving as a catastrophic storm. You think I’m not sorry for what happened? The accusation tore forth in a bellow, her eyes pits of sorrow-laced fury. You assume that day doesn’t plague my very existence? Where were any of you? I was a child, yet you expected me to take on the entire English army?
“You abandoned us.” Her father’s words grated at her, the phrase seemingly the only thing they could repeat, over and over. “You led them to us.”
I was abandoned the day I was born, she countered levelly. I was never accepted in that village, or that family. They were coming anyway, but you, Father, she spit into the black pit that his feet were planted on, you were too worried about the black dog that gave Arvid what he deserved, and the village that put you at their head paid the price. But no one wants to take responsibility; they’d rather just punish a scorned child for centuries.
Her eyes fell, rage and emotion pulsing through her form. It’s during this collection of herself that she saw her beast form had been replaced by the memory of what she’d been: a small girl, lithe in frame, but without the weakness that life had afforded her. A new fire was set in her stomach, and she brought her hardened gaze back up to trail over each and every face of the those who had been her family. It didn’t even register to her that the decay was gone, leaving them just as they were hundreds of years ago.
In a show of defiance, her chin rose as she surveyed them, teeth grit together in a hard set. You all went home, and I was left, forgotten and alone, as always. I regret everything I did, because I’m reminded of it every day. But are any of you?
But she didn’t wait for an answer. Turning on her heel, she took a deep breath, more to steady herself than anything else, and willed herself back to her beast…
The bog reformed around her, but the corpses that took the form of people long forgotten were just dead bodies. They held no familiarity, making them much less frightening and allowing much less sway over her.
Just then, an explosion erupted into the head of the body nearest her, sending rotting flesh flying in all directions. Automatically, Gyldi hunkered down, unsure of what the noise meant or where it came from. Frantically, she scanned the vicinity until her eyes fell on a looming figure, with captivating, golden eyes…
Her heart sank in her chest.
It was him.
And suddenly, in the midst of the bog ravaged by war, his words came to her mind. She hadn’t understood him then; she did now.
Someone knelt down before her, but Gyldi squeezed her eyes shut and let out a soft whimper, still attempting to pull at her restraints half-heartedly. The man’s voice was soft, lilting, even as he grabbed her muzzle and forced her eyes to his. Earthy orbs met those golden hues, and she swore her heart stopped as a wicked grin pulled his lips upward. “Sweet child, I know what you are. One day, you will prove very valuable to me. But first, you must become...stronger…” He left her with a pat, and she watched him go with a dreaded fear in her heart.
The Golden-Eyed Man that had played a large part in the raid on her village. But how? she thought, uselessly.
Another explosion, followed by another and another, pulled her attention elsewhere, and her eyes fell on the desecrated form of Eiji. It didn’t process, not fully, not all at once. First, she saw his warm, dark eyes, full of pain and what was unmistakably death. Then, gaze travelling over his wasted body, she took in the damage.
And let out a howl of rage.
Springing forth as though she was a statue given life, she’d almost made it to the necromancer when she garnered the hand-off of something pulled from Eiji’s form. As the container touched the man’s hand, it was as if she were turned to stone once again, rooted to the spot and powerless over her own being. Using all of her willpower, Gyldi urged herself forward, the man’s foreboding words whispering hauntingly in her ears.
You will prove very valuable to me…
Make sure he’s dead.
An all too familiar scream threatened to explode all discernible thought from her mind as the electrical current gathered around her hackled form. Try as she might, she couldn’t will herself to defy the Golden-Eyed Man’s orders, so instead, she willed Eiji to move, to dive out the of way, to get up and run.
But he didn’t. He was still, and Death was already groping at his aura, smothering all Life and claiming him for its own.
The current pulsed through the air, colliding with Eiji’s body and sending him skyward before he unceremoniously crumpled back onto the sodden earth. Life had abandoned him, hurried along by the unforgivable electric force that still coursed through her veins. And just like that, the undead collapsed all around them, having carried out their purpose.
The Golden-Eyed man turned toward the beast, its glowing eyes red as blood. With a single wave of his hand, he signalled it to follow and, stalking through the trees, it did.
Humanity had abandoned the beast as Gyldi retreated into her broken psyche, wracked with a mind-numbing amount of regret and sadness. Maddeningly, she howled and sobbed, begging anything for a death that wouldn’t come.
Of all her failures, this would be the greatest.
|August 25, 2018 20:54|