Don't be bound by common sense
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Sitting crosslegged on a patch of land scarred by the large scale magic Lien had used here, a lone man was the only life among the ruins, if you could call them that. Were the leftovers of a ruined city still ruins? Or just rubble and dust in the wind?
For days now he had wandered the plains, seemingly unable to leave, it almost all looked the same and the blackened skies made it impossible to navigate by looking at the sky. It had taken him almost a full day to realize he was lost, the first night had been strangely uneventful and so had the nights since. He had expected the nights on the plains to be teeming with creatures of unspeakable horror but instead it had simply been.....empty. It was almost as desolate as Nor'sys. Almost, simply because he knew Necronus had life in it somewhere, wherever they were now. He had wondered then why he couldn't seem to find the city. The plan had been to find the city and work his way back to civilization from there. However it had turned out to be much more difficult than he'd imagined to find it again. Tired and not at all in the mood for more fruitless wandering he decided to turn in early and pick up the search early the next day.
Day 2 had been more of the same, though as 'night' neared he began to feel he was being watched. He couldn't say for certain why, it was just a lingering feeling that eyes were upon him. Even though there was nothing visible. No matter where he looked it was just empty space, and it was only when he searched that the feeling would go away.
However this pointless searching had caused him to look over the surroundings and for once truly take in the scenery of the area. It occurred to him then 'plains' were really more like a tundra. Perhaps they might've been plains once, but they were far from that now. Plains were teeming with life, warm,.....green. This was something else entirely. The land itself looked starved and when the the wind blew it often howled though in this place he couldn't help wondering whether that was really just the wind. Shelter was nonexistent, and almost every other plant he came across was either dead or corrupted by whatever blight had tainted the land and it's skies. Scavanging edible food would prove to be challenge if he stayed out here too long. Some plants seemed to have warped entirely into something new, he even noted one or two carniverous plant species, entangling small animals and slowly consuming them. Drawing out the kill likely out of necessity, there was no telling when it would catch another meal so they stored as much as possible. He wondered how it was these plants could catch food yet he had yet to see a living thing walking around thus far.
Day 3. He stumbled upon the mines, At last something he could use as a reasonable landmark to determine where he was. However it was 'day' at the time and none of the undead appeared to be awake. Day and night were difficult to keep track of here, but he had a rough approximation based on subtle changes in the light level the brightest Necronus got was something slightly darker than twilight elsewhere, and he guessed that was about high noon. By now he had figured out much about the landscape, and the way things worked here. But still hadn't figured out why everything seemed to be avoiding him and in that moment it became obvious. They were avoiding him. He stuck out like a single bright spot in an otherwise dark picture.Anything in this region could probably sense him long before he got close enough to see it. Likely his aura kept them away, they sensed the danger he presented and kept their distance. He wondered if he ventured into the mines if that would remain the case or would he find that the creatures dwelling inside would be more than willing to chance taking a swing at him. He stood there for what seemed like quite awhile but in actuality was only a few seconds before deciding it wasn't worth the trouble to find out. He wasn't here to fight with the undead.....Not at the moment anyway.
The 'night' this time however proved to be more active than previous days, his proximity to the mine meant he was close enough that they could not completely hide their presence from him, avoidance no longer an option they chose caution a few even ventured far enough to eyeball him for awhile simply staring curiously before returning to whatever it was they did. It seemed the mines had become sort of a home away from home now that the city was ruined twice over with little to no rebuilding being done. The underground caverns made a natural hideaway for them anyway. He wondered how many of the undead never even came out of the mines, just slept and ate and worked there without ever leaving.
Day 4 in Necronus was an eventful one. He woke to find he had a companion he didn't recall having the night before. Sitting on her knees staring at him with something between curiosity, barely disguised hunger, and perhaps....a hint of fear? She seemed unable to decide what to do but having come so close to him was unwilling to simply run away. Even as he woke she gasped realizing her chance to do whatever she had intended had passed. Yet even still she did not flee, merely watched him, waiting. He rose quickly at the first sight of her reaching for his blade and she flinched looking away as if preparing herself to be struck down but she made no move to flee or cry out, or even a desperate lunge at him. She just....sat there as if paralyzed.
Realizing she was more afraid of him than he was of her Darshe stopped "Be gone." He said simply and as if some spell had been broken she hopped up and fled. The curious encounter left him wondering. He hadn't even taken the time to get a good look at her....was she some young undead? Perhaps turned only very recently? Or was she simply weak and starving? The latter case seemed unlikely since she made no move to attack him though.
Then he woke up.
She was there again. Staring, closer this time. Or was he closer? The events repeated and he woke up again.
The third time he realized it was a loop. He had been bewitched! "Enough!" He yelled and released a burst of light energy. A scream followed and this time he woke for real. A figure inches in front of him groaning and clutching at it's face as it stumbled away from him. When it's hands came down the face was a seared ruin of what had previously been the attractive girl's face he'd seen in the illusion. Her face twisted in a snarl as she lunge forward, Darshe wasted no time drawing Ascension this time and cut clear across her abdomen as he ducked her outstretched hands which had been reaching for his face. Likely to scar him as he had scarred her, instead she now lay in a heap with her own blood pooling under her.
He grunted disgust and left her there making mental note to be more careful now. He had gotten careless from the days where absolutely nothing had been near him. Next time he would find somewhere safer to sleep....or put up a ward or something to keep the undead away from him.
The day went otherwise without incident, though he stumbled upon the edge of the blast radius of the spell that had ruined Necronus for the second time. It'd left a area that could best be described as 'the scar' in the ground. The undead wouldn't venture near it and so it seemed he'd found his 'safe haven' however he decided to take no chances and drew a circle, inscribing some basic protective runes into the ground to keep out 'the unclean'
He slept soundly this night, and dreamed a strange and ominous dream.
He was surrounded by fire and darkness, screams echoed through the blackness and for a moment he thought he was back in Moun, but soon it became clear it wasn't. It was a place he hadn't sen in many many years. A place that no longer existed. A place that had ceased to be the day he was 'born'.
Darshe was standing among the flames nearly nude, wearing only a pair of shorts. He was unsure what had happened or where he was, and then out of the darkness she appeared. For some reason he could only see her face, her eyes were feral looking, and their amber color reminded him of Freya, but she had cats eyes, and her skin was slightly lighter than a bronze color her hair was crimson which invoked memories of Illurya, yet she also had streaks of blue in it and some on the tips. It fell around her face in curls and she grinned as she looked her over, revealing she had either short fangs or slightly long canine teeth. There was a odd quality to her, despite her wild appearance her expression was soothing, so much like Gabrielle.......almost gentle. She was saying something but he couldn't hear the words....Why couldn't he hear the words?
He woke suddenly, with a sensation of intense discomfort, feeling as if the eyes of the woman in the dream still lingered on him even after waking. She bore the traits of many of the women he knew. But most strongly resembled the big three. Freya, Illurya, Gabrielle. He leaned over placing his head in his hands.
"You look like hell."
He froze. He refused to show fear, so instead he got up slowly and faced the source of the voice.
along the edge of his circle a woman was walking, her blue eyes watching him with a predatory gaze, taking long calculated strides as if she were on a stroll while at the same time clearly showing off her long and currently bare legs. He noted she had a tatoo of some sort inked on her thigh but couldn't quite make out what it was from the distance. She wore a V necked dress that was split at the thigh, and hugged her body almost too snugly, as even from where he was he could tell she had no brassiere. He also noticed she had no weapons, save perhaps for natural ones in the form of her long sharpened nails. Her long blonde hair fell over her shoulders on either side.
"You look like death."
She laughed, at that "Does little me frighten a big strong man like yourself?"
"In this land pretty things are often the most dangerous." He replied
"Mmm." She drawled playing with her hair she stopped her walk around the circle and tapped a finger to her chin thoughtfully. "So you think I'm beautiful?"
"I didn't-" He didn't get to finish as she interrupted him again
"You are right though...Pretty things are dangerous here. In a world of hideous ugly creatures that were never meant to be, the beautiful ones are either the most dangerous, and so they get left alone, or bait for a trap,...or merely ignorant lambs who have wandered to a slaughter. Those last two are often overlapped."
"And which are you Demon?" He demanded though he hadn't drawn his sword he was clearly in no mood for games.
She feigned innocence, "I have no idea what you are talking about. Who said I was a demon?"
"The fact you are here, where the undead do not go and as I said before you are too pretty. Only a succubus would be both and approach a strange man she didn't know. Besides the fact you have not entered the circle means you are not human. You've been trying to subtly entice me into inviting you in."
She frowned, "Well aren't you smart." She said huffing, and brushing back her hair to reveal a stubby horn on one side of her head." Indeed. You are correct. Now can you please invite me in?"
This time Darshe laughed "Why would I do that Succubus? I don't know you."
"There you go assuming things again. Who said I didn't know you?" That caught him off guard. "Who are you?" he demanded and she laughed. Turned and called over her shoulder "If you had trusted me and invited me in....I'd have told you.Perhaps another time." She left him staring at her back as she faded into the shadows.
He wandered searching for signs of her but found nothing. The scar was a large area and her ability to hide was obviously impressive. He realized quite quickly that he would not find her unless she wanted him to.
However he discovered something else interesting. Demons, in Necronus of all places. With Akara gone some had come here after Necronus' second fall to cause trouble, somehow they had ended up settling in the scar Lien had left behind. It was anathema to the Undead and so they could not pursue the demons into it. It was likely quite the problem for whoever was in charge these days. It occurred to Darshe just then that he had no idea if Darius was alive or not. The son of Ezekiel, had been.....less than impressive. The future of the undead seemed questionable under his leadership. Especially now if he were still around.
Darshe spent the rest of the day in the scar, it's demon occupants were somewhat less immediately hostile than expected. In fact they had made camps and were rather well settled, despite the lack of real buildings. It was like being in a tribal village compared to what Akara had been it was a downright pleasant place.
Even so he didn't trust any of them farther than he could spit, so he made sure to set up another ward where he slept. Hoping when he woke the succubus would be there again....he wanted to know how she knew him.
He woke to find he was alone, unlike previous nights no unexpected guests had shown themselves this time. So he explored again, the scar was the region where the spell had been most intense, and so the magic had seeped into the very ground itself. Like a magical foot print, it had Lien's aura all over it mixed with whatever magic he had cast, so besides the demons he'd found there really wasn't much to see. There was perhaps even less life here than he'd seen elsewhere in Necronus.
Darshe discovered something he hadn't recalled seeing before. A single building, untouched by the any damage to the city. How had he missed it before? He strode toward it and the doors opened as if he was expected. Though he couldn't see inside, only blackness met his gaze. He hesitated for a moment before making up his mind to go inside. Stepping into the darkness and the doors slammed shut behind him.
Only after they shut did seeing inside become possible. He found himself inside a grand library, it seemed to stretch on as far as his eye could see, books books and more books. "Welcome seeker." came a disembodied voice as he looked for the source but as had become common these last few days, no one was in sight.
"You won't find much if you look only with your eyes." The voice called again.
"Then what should I be looking with?" He asked the seemingly empty room.
In response to his question a mask appeared. "Put it on please. The seekers identities must remain hidden for their own protection."
Cautiously Darshe reached out to take the mask and looked it over. For some reason it was the only thing he could see, even the doors behind him had vanished into the blackness. So what choice did he have? He studied it a moment, it was a simple mask, like one you'd see in old theatre shows. It was plain and without decoration and it's paint looked faded. He couldn't feel anything special about it but obviously there was. So he put on the mask.
The world seemed to blossom around him as the darkness suddenly was gone, he shut his eyes at the sudden illumination and wondered if he'd just been transported somewhere else entirely. Others were present but minding their own business. Not one giving him so much as a glance. Each engrossed in their own studies as they scoured the library for whatever forbidden knowledge they sought. He soon noticed that all of them looked the same on the surface, only their masks differed. "Choose a name for yourself while you are here seeker. Your mask hides your identity as it does these others here. None but the librarian shall know your true face so long as you do not remove the mask." The voice spoke again clearly directly inside his head.
He was beginning to understand now. The nature of this place. The 'seekers' were those who sought forbidden knowledge that was why they were here. But he was not one of them. He desired no dark magic in particular. But perhaps this place held secrets he could still use or benefit from. Secrets were powerful things after all.
During the next few days Darshe read many books within the library, learning things about the world's magic and ancient histories. Some of it was just theory. Such as the writings of one wizard calling himself Azemarth, who had many theories about the undead and their nature. He suggested that the Undead's ingrained distaste for the living came not from the magics used to revive them but because they recognized what they once had been. He went on to suggest the undead were prone to violence not out of any real need for blood but because of mental trauma caused by being brought back to life. He even went so far as to test his theory by seeing the reactions of undead in situations familiar to ones they had known in life. The results of course were always bloody. Darshe had a distinct feeling Azemarth may have stacked the deck with obviously unstable test subjects.
It occurred to him then that Freya had been no exception to this theory. Prone to recalling moments that had happened as if they were happening then and there. She often relieved past trauma. But it seemed to be 50/50 whether the reaction was rage or fear based. Perhaps there was some merit to his theory after all....however flawed it might have been.
Another book that had held his attention, was one about ancient rituals for summoning gods of the ancient world. It had sounded more like it was attempting to summon the ancients themselves and a bargain could be struck for some of their knowledge. He couldn't help wondering what sort of price had to be paid though. After all such potent magic always had a price.
He even found books that spoke a creature called the Aesarim. It spoke of a creature that devoured the souls of it's victims and took their bodies at it's own. He couldn't help notice the similarity to the Aesir. So he read on and it told the story of a being who evolved to a higher state of being and at first was benevolent but over time was corrupted by it's host bodies desires. However that creature was said to have destroyed itself in the end. Perhaps it left behind a way for others to do what it did? Or perhaps it was merely dormant and someone later reawakened it? Too many questions too many possibilities.
He put the book aside and looked for something else, He read of vampires and the origin of some of the myths related to them. He found the origin of the belief a vampire must be invited in to ones home for them to enter. Apparently it originated from vampires themselves. In older times people used to bless their homes with protective wards and icons, they would say prayers and the like and so the more pious would in effect make their homes into holy ground, protected against intrusion and evil. A vampire wandering in would soon after burst into flame unless they had permission to be there, thus exempting them from the blessing's protection. Vampires spread the word amongst themselves to protect each other since they had no way of knowing in advance which homes were blessed and which were not. Darshe grinned at that. Such a primitive form of magic keeping vampires at bay. Of course as the practice of blessing one's own home fell out of common use so too did the need for vampires to adhere to the myth.
Darshe leaned back in his chair there was so much to read here...so much he could learn. Yet there was no telling how many years it would take to read even a quarter of the knowledge gathered here...and he hadn't even touched most of the stuff related to dark magic theory or any of the books on the links between light magic and dark magic for those wishing to make the transition between the two. Of course some of that he guessed he would already know.
He was surprised by how little the other occupants of the library seemed to even notice each others presence. None of them spoke to each other and now that he thought about it none of them had left since he'd been here either. He noted the same masks each day and no one else had come since he had. Apparently 'seekers' of knowledge were few and far between.
It was a somewhat depressing thought, that so few could appreciate the potential of the place. Yet it was probably a good thing that only a select few knew of what secrets rested here.
By the end of the ninth day Darshe was exhausted and he slept sitting in the same chair he had been reading in and again he dreamed.
In the dream Darshe was just an observer watching himself from the outside meet with a woman shrouded in shadow.
You know I'm not one to break promises. I don't want to hurt you but I need to breathe.
They walked toward each other until they were as close as they could get.
At the end of it all, you're still my best friend But there's something inside that I need to release.
He held up one hand and she held up hers their palms flat against one another "Dance with me." He said. and she laughed "I don't dance." "Sure you do." He took the lead curling his other arm around her waist her fingers interlocked with his as she looked up at him. "Since when do YOU dance." He grinned at the question "That's a secret."
Which way is right, which way is wrong How do I say that I need to move on You know we're headed separate ways
Their first steps were awkward she kept trying to go a different direction from him and ultimately what resulted was a clumsy fumbling around. "This isn't working." She said suddenly pressing against him and he sighed because he knew she was right.
And it feels like I am just too close to love you There's nothing I can really say. I can't lie no more, I can't hide no more. Got to be true to myself And it feels like I am just too close to love you So I'll be on my way
"You're right...this isn't working. You keep fighting me." she grinned "It's in my nature." He sighed again and seemingly out of nowhere he changed the subject to what was really on his mind. "You hate me don't you?" it took her a moment to react, carefully choosing her words no doubt. "Of course not....I could-" He cut her off before she finished another lie. "Yes you could. You do. It's been lurking there for some time now." She shook her head. "I think you've got that backwards. You hate ME."
He almost laughed at the ridiculousness of the statement. "Impossible.I've never [i]hated any woman."
You gave me more that I can return Yet there's so much that you deserve Nothing to say, nothing to do, I've nothing to give I must leave without you. You know we're headed separate ways
"Right...." This time she sighed, "We've been through so much it's hard to imagine." She didn't sound so sure. "I can't give you what you want you know." she added, changing the direction of their conversation again and he arched a brow unsure of her meaning. "Family. Kids, etc. I'm not the one you wanna pick out a house with."
He frowned, but said nothing. At some point they had separated from each other and he hadn't even noticed until now. So he held his hand out to her once more and brought things back to how they'd started "Dance with me." She laughed and took his hand.
And it feels like I am just too close to love you There's nothing I can really say I can't lie no more, I can't hide no more Got to be true to myself And it feels like I am just too close to love you So I'll be on my way
So I'll be on my way....
They danced, a tango, this time in synch. She would step when he did, turn when he turned, as if they knew what the other was going to do before they did it. "It's nice to not be fighting each other for once isn't it?" He spoke up in the middle and she agreed, as he spun her around and pulled her close again. "How sad is it that the only thing we could agree on is this?"
She didn't answer. Instead she stopped the dance and pulled him down into a kiss. One he eagerly returned but it was short lived and they parted, her hands linger on his for a few moments more before finally he pulled away and at the last moment at their hands parted she grasped him once more "Don't leave me.....Everyone always leaves."
He smiled and replied "I'm not leaving you, you're leaving me. But I'm sure you could find me if you wanted to."
He woke and felt something damp on him. Slowly he reached up to check, and realized he had been shedding tears while he slept. A pair of books were in front of him he didn't recall having before he fell asleep. One on drawing in magical power from the land to create enchantments and one called "The hidden nature of succubi". Obviously he'd had a visitor and he could only imagine it was the mysterious succubus who had paid him a visit. How she had found him though was another matter entirely. Perhaps she had been following him all this time? He cracked open the first book and began reading, it wasn't much new to him. It included various methods of enchanting from repeated exposure to similar magics to imbue the blade with latent energy. To casting the item into a dense magical field or some significant taint. One example pointed to the well of syn as a possible means of making dark weaponry. It even theorized that Frost Mourn may have been imbued with some power from the well to give it it's destructive power.
The last method however involved a long ritual in a magic dense place where one inscribed runes on the item to mark the intent of the enchantment and then channeled the magic into it, if the item survived the process,which it noted was rare, one would end up with a new enchanted item. It claimed the few mythical items of the world were almost all made this way. A claim that Darshe already knew to be false, having seen a few of those items first hand. Still the method seemed sound. Possibly even usable.....and there was a conveniently located area with just such dense magical energy lingering nearby. The only thing was he didn't have anything he wanted to enchant......or even an idea for an enchantment. Still he read it enough times to memorize the ritual so he could use it later if need arose.
The other book however, he was notably less interested in. In fact it didn't look like it had even come from this library. It seemed like it was totally out of place. He almost didn't even read it.....almost. A quick glance inside told him it was not the kind of thing he wanted to be caught reading in public and he tucked it under his book pile deciding it was time to go.
As he left he felt the mask lift on it's own, and it floated off as he exited. "It shall return to you should you return." The disembodied voice of what he assumed was the librarian explained. Then he was out in the cold again. "Well...Where to now?" He wondered aloud but with no real answer to that. Until a giggling began nearby and the succubus from before emerged as if from nothing. "So it was you." He said meaning the books he didn't remember having. She only nodded "I thought you'd be more interested in the other book.....I'm a little disappointed. Don't tell me you hate succubi?"
He shook his head "Quite the opposite...Your kind are my favorite demons." He replied and started off knowing full well she'd follow. "That doesn't say much." she pointed out. "A favorite demon is a lot like having a favorite disease. You don't like either much it's just the one you can deal with."
He shrugged off her comment and carried on like he knew where he was going.
"So where are we off to?"
"We? We aren't going anywhere. I am going to visit the well of syn because I've never given it a look close up before and then I think I'll be about done with this place."
"The well?" She sighed. "You might not like it there." Actually she knew he wouldn't but that was beside the point. He wouldn't listen to her and she knew it. True to her expectation he simply grunted and trudged onward.
His stomach growled and he stopped. Remembering he hadn't eaten in at least a couple days. His last meal had been when he was staying among the demons, and he wasn't sure what exactly it was he ate only that it wasn't human meat and that at the time had been enough for him considering his only other option at the time was to scavange for edible meat like a vulture...and that was to say nothing of drinking."Visit to the well postponed....first....Food."
She grinned "What will you eat? Or perhaps you'd like me to provide you with some-"
"Not a chance in hell."
She hmph'd and made a pouty face as if her feelings were hurt.
They made a detour paying a visit to the demon camps again and ended up staying awhile as Darshe decided to watch a fire dance...mostly because the dancer caught his eye. He found out only later she already had a rather large and violent male in her life and decided it wasn't worth the trouble to get to know her. So he wound up spending the rest of the day with the succubus...whose name he still didn't know.
"What IS your name? i mean...I don't have anything to call you." He had asked at last as he prepared to go to sleep.
"Mn......Secret." She said giddily and then an idea struck her "Oh! Call me Secret! That'll do till you figure it out. Besides I kinda like the mysteriousness it'll add to me." She twirled and posed obviously trying to get his attention but he was already half asleep....then he felt her lay down beside him. "No."
"Not happening." He said simply and shoved her away.
Now her feelings really were hurt. "Oh come on! I've been following you all this time and you still don't trust me not to hurt you?!"
"Hurt? No, I don't trust you not to make a meal of me while I sleep." Which for a succubus was kind've their thing. Taking advantage of men while they slept to satisfy their need and the man in question never felt a thing....and even if he did he probably only felt good things.
"And what's wrong with a little snack?...It's not like it'd kill you....I'm hungry too you know!"
"Then I suggest you go hunting." He replied as he sat up just long enough to draw another circle around his bedding and blessed it. "Because you are not getting in here." With a frown she stormed off now genuinely aggrieved rather than feigning it.
Darshe woke to find the succubus had returned and apparently had eaten because she looked rather satisfied with herself. He checked his circle by reflex, making sure it hadn't been broken.It hadn't. He rose and regarded her cautiously debating whether to ask who she'd gone and fed on. Then decided he didn't care. Out here there were only demons and undead for her to eat and he had no special love for either. She was staring at him, and frankly it was making him a little uncomfortable because the look was one of a predator getting ready to devour prey. At least in his opinion. From her perspective she probably thought she was being seductive.
Without a word to her he picked up his gear and headed off in the direction the well was supposed to be. "H-Hey! Aren't you even going to say good morning? Or how about 'sorry about last night?' or even a hello?" She called after him.
He didn't answer and just walked. "I guess that's a no then. You're impossible to deal with."
"That's what they tell me." He replied without looking at her.
"You don't talk much." She complained. "Actually I talk a great deal. Just not in the mood right now." He replied and pushed on ahead of her forcing her to quicken her pace to keep up. "Ok. What is it about me you don't like then? Obviously it must just be me since you said before you liked succubi."
He stopped and turned towards her "I like succubi because they're simple. I know what they want and why they want it. It doesn't get any more complicated than that and for that reason alone I like them. It makes them so very easy to deal with. I don't like you because you're a walking secret with hidden motives and not even a name for me to put to your face. Why in the nine hells would I trust you? Much less sleep with you, a creature who by your very nature kills your lovers."
She sighed and ran a hand through her hair momentarily revealing the short horns she kept hidden underneath her long hair. "Man I really played my hand wrong with you didn't I?"
He started off again "Spectacularly badly." He said over his shoulder causing her to laugh. "But you haven't shut me out completely either....." She noted, and he shrugged but offered no real reply to that.
The rest of their walk was in relative silence save for a moment where a unnaturally sweet scent caught both their attention. 'Secret' as she wanted to be called covered her nose and mouth "Ugh....that smell."
"What is that?" Darshe wondered and naturally went looking for the source. Secret grabbed his arm "No. You must not go looking for it. This is a hallucinogenic pollen...." she pulled at is arm and dragged him off without much protest from Darshe. His head was swimming and the world was fuzzy already but no real hallucinations had occurred. "That was an offshoot of those Corpse Crawlers you were scavving off of earlier. It confuses it's victims with spores when they're nearby and then attacks them....It's almost invisible till it pops out of the ground."
He nodded and offered a weak "thanks."
"Oh now you're nice to me?" She mused "Word of advice, if you see a plant in Necronus stay the hell away from it. Normal plants don't exist here. They can't since the sky is always darkened. In order to survive many of the plants have become extremely dangerous....Except the grass....that's just weird. But not dangerous....except possibly if you're bleeding a lot."
"Eh?" Suddenly he was concerned, he'd walked through a lot of tall grass. "Surely you've noticed the strange color of the grass here? The grass seems to seek out blood, hence the reddish color. Not sure how it works really, I'm not exactly a specialist. I just know I've seen the grass soak up blood before."He sighed apparently there wasn't anything in Necronus that wasn't dangerous to something or another.
When the well finally came into sight Secret sprinted to it. "Fiiiiiiiinaaalllyyyy." She drank deeply of it's waters and was refreshed. When she had her fill she sat on the ground and leaned back tilting her head back to look at Darshe as he walked up. She licked her lips clean of some of the lingering fluid "I'd say have a drink but...it'd probably kill you."
Darshe's attention was elsewhere though as some recent construction had clearly taken place here. Nearby was a building that looked like a inn. Though it wasn't quite complete yet and building materials still lay around the site. It seemed the first floor of the place was complete though and He walked over to get a better look "Heeeeey stop walking off without me!" Secret called out as she scrambled to follow him. He still didn't know why she was following him other than she claimed she knew him. It was more likely she knew of him rather than actually knew him but he'd worry about that later.
"What is this place?" he asked as she moved to stand beside him. "Mn...Amon's place. Doesn't have a name yet....so for now people are just calling it "Amon's" He's a shifty sort. Nobody's quite sure if he'd demon or undead or what and he avoids all questions about it. His ability to make a deal though would make even imps jealous. You ever seen a scared imp? They make deals to save their skin faster than you can snap your fingers. But back to the point...Rumor has it Amon's even getting an Airship, so he can export water from the well to other places."
"Hm." Was all the comment Darshe had. He gave the place another look around. The work force was a mix of demons and undead. Smart or stupid....Darshe wasn't sure which. On one hand it showed no favoritism on the other the potential for the old enmity to surface since demons and undead had been on opposing sides in the war could destroy the place before it even got built.
Inside a man behind a counter was calling out orders to the others he was bandaged up a great deal, almost all of his right side appearred to be bandaged. His left side of his face bore a scar across the cheek and his one good eye was blood red. His build wasn't too bulky but he wasn't frail looking either. He wore a coat concealing the full extent of his injuries a gold medallion hung from his neck. He seemed to catch sight of Darshe and Secret almost immediately though he delayed for a moment before greeting them. "Welcome welcome!" He said in a booming voice letting his workers know they had guests. "We're not quite open yet but I'm glad curiosity brought you in anyway." He rubbed his hands together, which looked odd considering one of them was bandaged and he eyed the two of them like marks. "The place doesn't even have a name yet and my first customers walk in. Oh how shameful for you to see this place in such a state!" He made a overdramatic scene as if he might weep then rose suddenly with a pair of bottles in hand "Still! I'll never turn down good coin. So even if we ain't officially open I'll serve ya anyway." To his credit he never stopped to ask if they actually had money. A move which a novice merchant would make, any experienced merchant knew you could always make a deal. Especially when people owed you something.
"How about a nice tall glass of....Oh." He paused in the middle of his banter caught off guard but a late realization as Darshe and Secret approached the bar. "You're......" his voice took on a tone of disbelief. living.....and not a demon. Out here? On your own?"
Darshe grinned "That's a terrible poker face."
Amon laughed "Right you are. We don't see many living folk out here besides demons. Unless you count the bleeders...."
"bleeders?" Darshe asked
"Ya know....the 'food' the undead live on. The ones they cull they don't turn. They become bleeders. For the ones who like the 'real stuff' rather than the well water. The old bars around here used to be pretty grisly places, humans chained to walls to be fed on at the whim of whatever passed by. Their wills broken, or at least their minds....." Amon shook his head "No way to run a business I'd say. Too much of a mess to clean up." Yet he did not apparently object to the cruelty of the practice, just the extra work it made for the owner.
"So.....What do serve you? I'm not even sure if I have anything a mortal can drink. An oversight on my part. One I'll be sure to fix as soon as I seal that Airship deal and get some regular trade going."
Darshe focused only on one word in that. Airship. "You're getting an airship?" He played dumb as if Secret hadn't already told him the rumor.
"Yes. In fact it's due in any day now....should've been here really. Once that's in I'll be able to get all kinds of things in stock...and make money coming and going on rare materials out here that are common in the rest of the world." Amon set the glasses down allowing Secret to take her pick no doubt he was calculating the cost already.
"You've got quite a mind for business....Also I'll take a glass of water if you happen to have any....or anything not mixed with blood or some dead thing's body parts." Darshe rubbed at his throat a little for emphasis to show his thirst and Amon quickly began rummaging around "Water eh? Hmn...Yeah we got some of that." Amon scrubbed a glass "Lucky for you we ain't open yet...A lot these ain't got no blood in em yet. I'll have to get another set of glasses for your type." He commented off hand. Already noting how many accomidations he'd have to add for the living folk. It might not be much extra business but there was no point missing out on good money. After all there wasn't ANYWHERE in Necronus set up to handle the needs of the living. He'd be the only game in town that had what they needed. Easy money if he could attract some of the folks who came looking for the library which most never found...or even made it far enough to see.
Darshe gratefully took the glass of water and downed it in a hurry. "Another if you don't mind." Amon nodded and grinned. "So what does bring a man such as yourself out here?"
"it wasn't exactly a choice." He admitted as he took the second glass...this time drinking a bit more slowly and savoring the cool refreshing feeling. "I was moved here by something. Well to Damaris actually....and in my fumbling around wound up here."
Secret had remained oddly quiet. Sipping her drink and watching the exchange. "You two get along rather well." She commented at the first lull in their conversation.
"Of course! A good merchant gets along with everyone!" Amon remarked and Darshe nodded his agreement. "I do believe we have an exceptional example of a businessman here and I'm no stranger to selling services myself."
"Oh? really? Perhaps you could do me a favor then...." Amon began, ah here it came. Amon had been far too gracious a host for someone who wasn't quite ready for customers. "What sort of favor?" Darshe asked cautiously.
"Nothing big....Just my airship is running late. I need someone to look into what's keeping them, besides I need someone who can negotiate on my behalf with people, I'm not exactly a visage of beauty. Humans don't like negotiating with people like me.'
"I'll....consider it." Darshe said deciding against saying no too quickly. He didn't want it to look as though he were one of those with something against dealing with Amon's kind....while in his place. "I wasn't looking to get into the merchant business again though. However, looking into the matter of the missing airship....sounds like something up my alley."
Amon grinned again "I thought you might say that. I noticed that sword you have there...and it looks like you're no stranger to fighting judging by your armor.
"Ah...so you sized me up as a merc right from the beginning."
"What can I say? I know my trade well. I'll give you a free night's stay here, and the drinks will be on the house if you find out what's holding up my shipment."
It was a good offer...but he couldn't shake the feeling Amon knew more about what was going on than he was telling. "You've got a workforce of demons and undead here....why not send them?"
"I can't spare the time or the manpower." Amon replied a little too quickly. He'd been expecting that question.
"I see. In that case I think I'll pass. If you can't put all your cards on the table Amon I ain't fetching your goods for you. No good merchant wouldn't at least try sending one of his own to look for missing goods before hiring on muscle to get it for him."
Amon looked almost embaressed "Well damn, looks like I goofed. The drinks are still on the house....call it an apology."
"DARSHIA NERIO CALLISTO!" The voice boomed directly into his head making Darshe wince. Secret glanced toward the door frame with a scowl before she placed a hand on Darshe's shoulder "Are you alright?"
He nodded. As a woman came into the bar dragging a massive sword behind her clearly too big for her to use. "There you are!"
"Uh oh...Friend of yours?" Amon asked getting edgy. "Actually....Yes. I think so." Darshe replied. Only a few people had the habit of using his full name when they were angry at him. Only one of which could actually do so psychically as far as he knew.
"Hello Corvina......Is that my-"
"TAKE YOUR SHIT." She yelled trying and failing to throw the buster sword, why she even tried she'd never know, but she was too angry with him to think straight right now. "You mysteriously disappear. Leave behind more than half your gear, Then when I track you you disappear again! Forcing me to drag this crap all over this horrid landscape. Do you have any idea how many things tried to do...who knows what to me on the way here? I'm too pretty to be in a place like this Darshe! TOO PRETTY!"
Darshe's eyebrows raised as he was actually taken aback by her rant. Secret got up as if about to say something to Corvina but Darshe reached out and grabbed the succubus planting her firmly back in her seat before she did anything stupid.
"And who is this wench? Another woman already? Damn you move fast." Corvina shook her head "Nevermind none of my business and I don't really care what you lay with. Just don't leave people with your mess to clean up."
Darshe stood and looked down at Corvina "I truly apologize for the trouble you went through. I did not think you would go to such lengths for me." She blushed a little. "I--" She began but he held up his hand "I'll make it up to you somehow." If looks could kill, the look Secret was giving Corvina right now would've killed her instantly.
Corvina's anger seemed to fade a bit and she now simply looked annoyed rather than raging. "What are you doing out here anyway?"
Darshe took a moment before answering that "I'm not sure really. I was put on Damaris, wandered a bit and got lost." He shrugged. Secret clung to Darshe's arm "Aren't you going to introduce me?" She cut in. Corvina regarded the woman with a curious stare. "How would I do that? You still haven't told me your real name." Corvina raised a brow at Darshe's statement. Secret sighed. "and I'm still not telling. But you could at least use the one I told you to use."
"I am not walking around calling you Secret." He said with a deadpan tone.
"Ok, Ok....Call me...........Sapphire."
Darshe rolled his eyes "Fine. Corvina, Sapphire, Sapphire, Corvina. You're introduced." He said and turned back to Amon. "So about that missing Airship......"
"looking to get away from it all for awhile?" He replied with a grin.
"Something like that."
"No!" Corvina grabbed him by the ear and pulled "We've got things to do!"
"Owowowow..." Darshe nevertheless allowed himself to be pulled.
"Looks like your a bit busy. Perhaps we can make a deal some other time." Amon mused as Darshe was dragged out of the place. Sapphire followed but did nothing to help him since she didn't want him dealing with Amon either.
"What the hell!" Darshe yelled as soon as they were outside and Corvina let him go. "I don't trust that guy. He's clearly trouble. Besides you have work to do back home and you still need to explain what the hell happened to Astral."
He froze. He'd almost forgotten about that mess in dealing with Freya. He rubbed his eyes suddenly tired. "later." He really didn't want to talk about it right now.
"And..you left my gear in there." He realized and Corvina frowned as he went back in for it. "I was hoping you'd come back for this stuff." Amon said still behind the counter. "About that Airship....If I see it....I'll see what I can do. Assuming there's anything to be done."
"Fair enough." Amon replied and with that Darshe collected his things and was out the door.
"Now then ladies." Darshe said as he placed his gear back in it's proper places. He felt better with all his weapons on his person. Not that Ascension was lacking he just felt better fully equipped. "Off we go."
"Where to?" Sapphire asked. "I was thinking of paying Sanctuary a visit.....I think I could use some R&R. Besides I've not harassed Lilly in some time." Corvina's expression soured. "Darshe....surely you don't mean to go all the way to Sanctuary just to pine over it's leader and go home rejected?" Darshe shrugged "I wouldn't put it past me to do something exactly like that." He said grinning. Corvina thought she felt a headache coming on.
"Who is the leader of Sanctuary?" Sapphire asked obviously not understanding what they were talking about beyond that it was a woman. "Lilly Ann. A most unique and remarkable woman. Not to mention powerful....Much more so than you Sapphire. So don't get any nasty ideas. Lilly's a friend of mine...I trust her, and her city happens to be my favorite among the ones I've been to on this world."
"Is it your favorite because of the city or because of her?" Sapphire asked quickly.
"Hm....never thought about that. Perhaps both? It really is a beautiful place. The gardens are perhaps the most serene location I've been to." He didn't mention Linaya but she did cross his mind. He partially hoped to see her again. But didn't count on it.
He started off in a direction only to have Corvina grasp him by the shoulders and turn him. "That way."
"How do you know?" He asked "I'm a psychic remember? I can sense people and people are that way. We can figure out better directions once we're out of this damnable place."
"Damned." Darshe corrected. "Necronus was damned. Quite litterally apparently. Someone or something cursed it and it's people." He explained and Corvina gave another look around "Well that explains a lot and makes me want out of here all the more quickly."
They had wandered around 'lost' despite Corvina's insistence they were going the right way for the better part of a day now. However The reason soon became clear as they discovered the missing Airship, parked in the plains. "This is what you were leading us toward?" Darshe asked "I just pointed us toward the nearest life signs that didn't feel......'icky'." Corvina replied with a shrug. " Icky? That a professional term?" Sapphire chimed in. "Look that's the best way I can describe it ok. Besides this isn't exactly a bad thing....maybe we can hitch a ride."
That was perhaps the best idea among them.However after a short talk with the crew who were lounging about around the parked airship it became clear they were just as lost. With no clear sky to navigate by and nothing but constant dark clouds up there they hadn't been able to navigate properly either since Airship pilots depended on the sky to navigate.
"Well......... we can just lead them back to Amon's and get a lift out of here." The group agreed and that was exactly what they did. The captain of the vessel was eager for the help as his crew was about ready to tear into their shipment of supplies for sustenance out here. Amon had been grateful as well since their 'rescue' had saved him a great deal of money. Apparently he'd sunk a large sum of money in simply acquiring the airship and it was an asset he couldn't quite afford to lose yet. He swore he'd figure out some kind of method for the airship to find the place easier next time it made a trip there to avoid a repeat of this near disaster. As thanks for saving him an untold amount of money Amon allowed Darshe and the others to hitch a ride for free on the airship to wherever they needed to go and so they were off at last.....Though he still wasn't sure why Sapphire was following him Darshe didn't quite have the heart to tell her to bugger off. For some reason she seemed to care for him. Suggesting she really did know him from somewhere but where? He had no idea. That she wouldn't just out and tell him though suggested their history together wasn't all good. Perhaps she was trying to make something right? Maybe she was one of the few succubi who'd heeded his warnings and actually taken off when given the chance?
He looked over at her leaning over the railing grinning like an idiot as the wind blew her hair around her face and wondered if he'd ever even find out what she was really after. He heard her say something about how amazing human technology was and smiled. In some ways at least she was just like a normal girl.
(OOC:FINALLY done with this thing.......The song lyrics in darshe's dream are from Too Close by Alex Clare.)