Hallows Eve The Veil Falls

For the Halloween event 2020
Arriving at the Haunted House

Caliane Ruinë

Angel Nuke
Staff
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As dawn breaks across Arethil it is not the pale autumn sunlight that filters in through shutters or blinds of people's houses. In fact, it would appear to most as though dawn had forsaken the world altogether. Across the rays sits the swollen form of the moon, casting a sickly and pale mockery of light over the land. In its shade the air feels cold and crisp, the jaws of winter nip at exposed noses and toes sticking out of warm duvets and bedrolls. Soon, the people of Arethil began to wake.

The first scream pierces the eerie mood like a knife as the first ghostly figure is discovered.

In Alliria the first Death Echoes begin to appear is that of a man in the market, shambling home from a night at the local tavern. He falls face down into a puddle and drowns in a mix of rainwater and his own vomit. In Elbion, a scholar rolls over and comes face to face with his old mentor who once owned the rooms he now occupies. The old mentor gasps for breath, face purple. Over in Raagash a man drowns trying to save the Echo of a child drowning out at sea.

The Veil between the living in the dead appears to have almost ceased to exist.

Among the Echoes appear odd creatures. There are many names for these creatures in different tongues but in the Common they are known as Pstyxia. Guides of the Spirit World. They dart between the Echoes and the living in an attempt to get someone's attention.

Your attention.

They lead you along overgrown paths or down abandoned alleyways, their black eyes casting over their shoulder every few seconds to ensure you still follow in their footsteps. Suddenly, they disappear through a silver crack in the very fabric of the world. It glows and pulses, dragging at the very core of your soul and urging you on. Peering through the crack reveals only a murky, distorted image of what lays beyond. For the most part it is darkness except for a single light, and the wavering form of the Pstyxia. Stepping through the crack is like wading through mud. Your world drags at you, attempting to hold you to the world of the living. Then suddenly you are through, the speed at which you entered the World of the Dead is multiplied by five which might cause you to stumble or lose your footing - perhaps even your breakfast.

You are no longer in your world.


You find yourself on a splintered wooden pathway with a house looming up in front of you. The only light comes from the spluttering candles stuck inside the hollowed out heads on spikes that adorn the planks like twisted garden ornaments. The Pstyxia that has led you this far seems impatient and urges you on towards the door of the lonely house.

C-c-creeeEEEEAAAK-kk.

Goes the large oak door as you push it open. The air inside is as cold as ice.

A large room greets all the guests who have followed guides to this unworldly house. It's size belonged more to that of a mansion than it did the ramshackle house it currently resided in. In one corner stood an ornate fireplace with dying embers pulsing in its hearth and in another corner an old fashioned desk upon which sat a book. The book lay open with row upon row of names listed. Ink spilled across it and dripped slowly onto the floor in a steady rhythm of a beating heart. An Hourglass lay smashed by the desk, as though someone had knocked it off in a haste to stand up, along with their chair. The plaque of the name matches that of the last entry in the book.

There are many signs of a struggle in the room now your eyes adjust to the dim. The walls look to be filled with row upon row of similar Hourglasses, many of which now lay spilt on the ground, their dark sands strewn across the faded black carpet.

Your guide turns to look at you and the growing crowd that's gathered. It whines, ears slowly pressing back against its skull and eyes darting all around the shadowed corners of the room. When the floorboards above your head creak, they scatter, leaving you - their chosen few - alone.
 

Smiling One

Heartbreaker and Life Taker
Banned
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"Why the hell am I always stuck in these strange situations?"

It was something Willis desired as a child, to explore strange new lands, to meet new people, new creatures and expand his horizons but only on his own terms. Being dragged into an unknown land full of Ghosts quietly drifting in the air would be nice to explore if he chose to travel there. Instead like many other times with Loot Runners, Willis gets pulled into the unknown lands facing who knows what. Frowning Willis entered the creaking, old home surprised to see the inside of the home larger and more expansive than it was outside.

As a Monster Hunter, Willis knew that looks can be deceiving and right now the young man saw the house damaged beyond repair. "Well," he shrugged holding his hand on the hilt of his Cutlass. "Might as well explore this place see if there's anyone else who got sucked into this place with me."
 

Sylvian

Snow White
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A cold shiver ran across her spine.

Her lips thinned into a bleak smile and rose blushed cheeks paled at the sudden change of scenery and the shift in the atmosphere. She sucked in a hard breath, gulping down the frosty air before reluctantly taking a step towards the spooky building. And then another one. Her hands were against the wooden door frame, slowly pushing up against it until it opened up and led her into the darkness.

Sylvian Sinderion was lost, but not afraid. The snow elf did not shiver in the cold, although she noticed the drop in temperature more than usual. A watchful pair of sapphire eyes scanned the surrounding area and the female came to the conclusion that this place wasn’t one she could simply fly away from. Thus the Avariel’s wings were safely tucked away beneath a cloaking spell.

For the time being, Sylvian would explore this strange realm by foot.
 

Kiros Rahnel

Outcast Priest
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He had followed along when the ghost was but a curiosity, and kept doing so even once it led him into a world arcane and strange. Even now as he approached the house the otherwise cautious mage remained rather confused about his own uncharacteristic lapse-of-restraint; certain only that there was no going back.

Kiros gazed onward at the house for a moment; the clear destination in mind of whatever entity was leading him on. Boards creaked underfoot as he opened the door, peering inside in shock to see an expansive interior that defied the building's exterior. Kiros made his entrance inside before hearing a voice he thought he recognized. Staff in hand, he simply chose to follow it until he could see the source himself; not entirely unconvinced it wasn't a trick. This whole trip had been a trick, and at this point the cautious man of magic was well on his guard.
 

Colette

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It all started with the boy at the well.

He leaned in, trying to scoop water up into a crude bucket. But there was something off about it. His movements were unnatural, his flesh seemed pale. Too pale. Colette couldn't take her eyes off him, she wondered if maybe he needed help. She wondered why he was here in the middle of town at this hour so far north of Vel Anir.

Then he slipped. His body vanished. And she cursed herself for not speaking up sooner. For not rushing to his aid when she had the chance. There was no hesitation now, not after he had fallen into the hole. The splashing and screams from his young lungs crying out. Her concerned face peaked over the side to glance down as he shouted in muffled words, "help! I can't swim!"

"I'll save you!" she called back, looking around to see if anyone else was near. Checking to see if rope or line could be found anywhere within arm's reach. "Somebody help!" was all she could think to scream. But it was to no avail, it was too early in the day. Too soon for her fellow guardsmen to be awake. She noticed that the child's pleas for help had ceased, the surface of the water rippled as he fell further down. She had to make a decision, she had to take action.

Plunging down, deep through the darkness of the well until she splashed into the water. She grabbed at his hand, it was tiny and cold to the touch. And then...

Then she looked up. She wasn't in the water, she was just holding his hand. His face looked back on her. It was wrinkled, it was waterlogged, the bags under his eyes seemed to gone on for miles and miles. He led her down the wooden path towards the old house.

The creak of a door. Books and hourglasses lining the fancy looking desks. Colette's face looked like a deer facing slaughter. Where was she?

The boy from the well left. To where she had no idea.
 

Chadwick Strongpants

Librarian
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Chadwick had followed the pstyxia eagerly thinking that maybe the spirit of the dead would lead him to the spirit realm where the gods reside. Once within the spirit realm he did not recognize which of the four gods' realms he was in. The flaming head hinted towards the god of war, but the dreary tone of the land said otherwise.

Strangely there seem several other travellers here, but few, if any, seemed to be Canorssians. Chad wondered what business they had in the spirit realm.

Eventually Chad also reached the lonely house. He did not understand the symbologies of time before him, but he did recognize danger when the spirit animals flee'd from a creaking floor. So Chadwick took on a ready pose with a book in his hand, flexing for good measure.
 

Thorne

Dread Hunter
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With rumors of a rebellion in Vel Anir dancing about Alliria's information channels like sparks about a campfire, Gideon Thorne had taken it upon himself to travel home to Vel Anir. Such a journey was a great risk, and one he rarely made if he wasn't pursuing the head of a Dreadlord or some vulnerable Anirian official. Such a rumor was almost assuredly bait, regardless, meant to lure enemies of the state into some sort of trap, but...

Something had been pulling at Thorne's subconscious for some time now. His mind wouldn't quite let him place it. Perhaps he felt he owed it to Autumn, or to those he'd lost to at least check things out for himself. Was that it? He mulled it over as his horse trotted lazily down the trail he now rode.

A dreary day in a dreary time of year. Grey skies surrounded him, backdropped by rainless thunder on this evening. There was an itching sense of familiarity to his environment, though he couldn't recall having taken this road before.

Before too long his mount stopped of its own accord. Thorne clicked and dug his heels into the horse's sides, but it refused to budge. At first he imagined that it had sensed a predator further up the trail, but quickly learned that it wouldn't turn around, either.

Thorne sighed and dismounted, boots hitting the ground with a puff of dust. Dust and...ash? The ex-soldier stared into the trees to his south, the familiar buzz ever growing. His eyes adjusted shortly, and he saw it: the wreckage of a burned home within the forest. Suddenly he knew where he was: the land that House Whispergrove had once called home.

Pain and realization swept through him. He had felt the need to return to Vel Anir because he owed it to his wife to do so. The anniversary of her death was this week, after all. He could've sworn, he could almost hear her whispers on the wind...

As if drawn by some unseen force, Thorne left his mount behind and walked towards the ruined manor. Closure... he needed closure, that was all. A few minutes to honor those lost, to mourn Vera's death...that was all...

...Gideon...

"...Vera?.."

He could've sworn...no. Hallucinations induced by trauma and bitter memories. There was no way he had heard the voice of his dead wife as he walked the charred and overgrown remains of Whispergrove Manor. There was no way that--

"Gideon."

Thorne froze as he turned the corner and saw her. Hauntingly beautiful and pristine, perfect as the morning before he'd lost her. Tears ran unbidden from his tired eyes and into his unkempt beard.

"Vera...Vera, I--wait!" He called after her, frantic, as she turned from jim and ran. "Vera, wait, PLEASE!"

To no avail. Thorne chased her through the burned halls, through crumbled archways, over rotting wreckage. Reality slowed and warped as he followed, never quite able to reach her, and then...

You find yourself on a splintered wooden pathway with a house looming up in front of you. The only light comes from the spluttering candles stuck inside the hollowed out heads on spikes that adorn the planks like twisted garden ornaments. The Pstyxia that has led you this far seems impatient and urges you on towards the door of the lonely house.

Then he was somewhere else, being coaxed into a house he didn't recognize. Confused, he entered, only to watch her vanish from sight. He grit his teeth, seemingly unaware of the presence of anyone else within the strange house.

"Surely the gods must hate me to let me suffer so." He muttered to no one.
 

Lazule

The First Slayer
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"Why didn't you help me?" said the Death Echo.

Lazule did not believe what his eyes--wide behind his helm's visor--were telling him.

There was Gordon. The Monster Hunter. The man Lazule had intentionally let die. He was here. Again. Out in the Spine. Not precisely where he had died, and he was not corporeal. He appeared to be some manner of ghost, yet he looked as he did in the last minutes of his life: gone below the waist, his abdomen in ragged strips of torn flesh and muscle and loose organs where the dire wolves had torn off his legs. Ghostly blood streaked his face and his neck. His teeth and gums were again visible through the hole were once his left cheek had been. In the peculiar darkness of the dawn, it was all the same as it had been before.

Lazule, with a horror that hollowed out his thoughts, repeated now what he (she) had said then: "You would not understand if I told you."

"Why didn't you help me?" The exact same words from Gordon as then.

And Lazule, almost powerless to stop himself: "I made a choice."

The repeat of the past continued. Gordon said, "I trusted you. Are you...even a Monster Hunter? Are you?"

"I was. I do not know if I still am."

Ghostly blood leaked again from the ragged hole on the side of Gordon's face. "What the fuck is wrong with you?"

Lazule had this conversation. He had already had this conversation. In a different body. Before it was destroyed. In a different frame of mind, in a Broken way of being. Before...

"Do you love your father?" Lazule asked him, now in the present as he had in the past.

"Fuck you..."

"Do you love your father."

"I'll see him soon...thanks to you."

And here Lazule broke from the cycle of the past. Changing the question he had asked then.

"If it was you who had killed your father, would he still love you?"

Gordon tried to answer, more than once, but he could not. Weakness overcame him, and the Death Echo began to fade.

And that is when Lazule--shaken by the anomalous experience--saw the Pstyxia.

* * * * *​

Lazule did not know why he had come. Why he followed the strange creature. Why he did not immediately attempt to slay the creature or the Death Echo. It was illogical, but Lazule thought that there might be a connection between the sudden appearance of the Pstyxia after his interaction with the ghost of Gordon.

He thought (in a Broken way) that the Pstyxia might lead him to a redemption for what he had done. For failing Gordon. For killing Father. It was a feeling that had precedence over his actions, and one that Lazule could still observe in a detached manner even as his body acted.

He had no appropriate Mantras to guide him through this, and he could not discern for himself if this course of action was correct or incorrect. What did he want to see? What insight did he seek to gain?

(Righteousness lies solely in action.)

Lazule walked along the wooden pathway with the spluttering candles.

(Are you righteous? Were you ever?)

He put an armored hand to the large oaken door.

(Or do you relish the trade of violence for its own sake? The supreme authority of it?)

And he entered the otherworldly house.

(Has Cruelty claimed you too?)

The light was dim. Sub-optimal for the use of Luminomancy. A host of decorations and curiosities in the main room, some in states of apparent use before an abrupt discontinuation of said use. The peculiar number of Hourglasses had among their number some that had fallen and broken and spilled out their contents upon the floor.

Others were gathered. Others who retained the sanctity of personhood. Not monsters. And among them, a familiar face: Willis Reede.

"Willis," Lazule said, his voice reverberating in that metallic way inside of his helm. He walked over to him, heavy footfalls of his pronged feet on the wood. Said further, "The sun did not rise in the Spine. From where have you come? Did you observe this as well?"

Smiling One
 

Farzad Oldsummer

Dungeon Delver D.D.
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Farzad was a lightshow. A smoldering swell of incense lapping their scent into a cold and musty breeze. Ancient incantations illuminated strips of paper to ward off death and decay on such a foreboding day. To say he was superstitious was an understatement. As he had coined it, on this horrid day, the day when the veil drops and damned seek the livings hold once again, when corpses mount not on footsteps but on tides of death and the very moon seems to be a swollen and engorged eye, a little too closely observing the world like ants in a glass jar. No, Farzad was not superstitious. As he called it.

Extremestitious.

It was a wonder than. Even to himself, that he followed a death echo. The throws of a Pstyxia. Was he cursed? Maybe he was caught on a string of rather morbid curiosity. Even he said if ever there was a day for it, it was today. No he was confident. That's all it was. He was confident, morbidly curious and with the whims of incense and a drop of liquor he felt invincible. And that call... That call. That specific whining call. A child. A dying child. He could feel it resonate in his bag, in a small warm pocket. He could hear her voice. That wish. That whine. "Farzad... Help..." The thing wasn't sentient. He knew the doll wasn't sentient. Nothing more than memories tied to a strip of magic imbued fabric. He looked into the dark alleyway. He saw hanging at the lisp of light where the lanterns fresh light met the edge of the building, a dead rat mouth and fangs hanging loose in a pile of scrap and fur.

"Why... Why is..."
"When... Will I leave..."
"What's going on..."
"Where am I? It's cold..."
"Who are you?"

The voices stung. And only just beyond.
It was as if a hornet had gotten into his heart and started prying it open. Farzad was gutted and in pain. There was little he could do and there was little he knew he could do. Theories. Maybe hope. He wasn't sure what he was riding on. He took his first step into the cold darkness, his body a beacon in the darkness as he tried to find the cacophony of voices, the lost and listless caught in the throes of death. It was a serial killer. He knew that. And if that serial killer wasn't already dead. Farzad would make sure he was. And if he was already dead.

He'd root out the corpse and make it suffer a worse death.

He stepped into what he assumed was another rat, the torchlight flickering around him as he ran his finger along the cold stonemasonry of the wall. He took a few more steps, his fingers running... running... runn... His fingers slipped on air. The world seemed to sharply twist and contort, the dank musty smell of the alley becoming the repugnant smell of a cold swamp, a lone building hanging loosely on a prairie of mud and haunted lights. The moon seemed even larger here.

"HmmmmMMmMMmmMmMMMmMmmMmmmmMMMmm" It was a reply that was long, drawn out and seemed to travel into the void of eternity. He sucked through his teeth. "Wonderful. Simply... Wonderful." Farzad could feel himself narrowing his gaze, doing everything in his power to aggressively glare into his backpack and into that small warm pocket. He pressed his staff onto the creaky wilting floorboards. One gave in as he took a hard step towards the imposing mansion. Every step and the thing seemed to grow twice in size until he had made it to the doorway. Left leg covered in mud and grime. Farzad didn't open the door. He instead knocked.

"Is any... Eleth be damned... Is anyone home?"
 
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Zier Xya Zythos

Let's Be Honest, My Title Is Dumbass.
Elbion College
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He really doesn't know why he's here. He didn't want any part of this.

Things were pretty normal

for a few minutes at least.​

He was originally heading home, but he took a detour to savor the freedom and solitude. He had walked this path since he was a child, and it's never lost that tranquil feeling. He didn't mind the brisk air or the constant crunch of the brittle, orange leaves that might stick to his shoes. All that matters is tha- The fu- He's forgotten what matters at the moment.



He paused as he saw a figure in the far distance, clutching something in their hands. It swayed freely as their arms began... frantically tying the other end? He stared there in silence, watching them as they threw the other end over a branch. His heart instantly throbbed his chest as he realized what exactly this person is doing. "WAIT!" He shouted while running towards them. "How about we talk instead!?!" His pleas went unanswered as the person stepped onto a stool.

With no other option as they were moments away from slipping their head into the knot, he leapt forward to tackle them. Although, he went through the man entirely, hitting the ground as he carried out his unfortunate act. Zier was shivering uncontrollably, not just from fear; that thing was freezing. It felt like he jumped in a semi-frozen pond without clothes. Practically immobilized with fright and the cold sensation, he could only sit there and quiver while wondering what the fuck he just seen.

It was then when he saw the Pstyxia, perched on the boulder nearby and just staring at him. What would your initial reaction be? I know what mine is. "F- F- fuck N..no." He tried to scoot away and stand up, but his body was still shaking. The Pstyxia came down from it's boulder, stepping calmly over to Zier, who was cursing at himself and it in his head. It looked like the normal foxes that were seen around here, but it clearly isn't anything close to normal.

As the fox approached, Zier retreated, which was him inching himself backwards while watching the fox speed up. At that point, he turned around, forced himself to stand and ran-- as best he could-- away from it.

He aimlessly stumbled through the underbrush in a desperate scramble to escape. He doesn't know what the fuck is behind him but he's in no condition to fight it. However he didn't get far. He momentarily turned his head to see if it was behind him, but nothing was there. When he looked back in front of him, there it was. He doesn't know why... but he felt his fear ease the more he stared at it. Honestly, that's a red flag.

A red flag he clearly didn't listen to.
Your world drags at you, attempting to hold you to the world of the living. Then suddenly you are through, the speed at which you entered the World of the Dead is multiplied by five which might cause you to stumble or lose your footing - perhaps even your breakfast.

He fell and almost lost his chicken and potatoes. He looked like a drunken, queasy, cold mess as he stumbled into the door, seeing an array of different characters who look like they've arrived here in a similar manner he did, confused as hell. He's seen Farzad before.. and Lazule seems like a hazy fever dream.

Or he unintentionally killed himself by following that thing. He doesn't even know anymore.​
 

Smiling One

Heartbreaker and Life Taker
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Just then Willis jumped immediately unsheathing his Cutlass at the sound of a metallic voice calling his name. "Ah fuck!" the young man rubbed his forehead cursing himself for not paying attention. In an unfamiliar place one slip up could get you killed. However, Willis slowly recognized the voice booming from behind the gorget.

"Wait a minute?!" Willis raised an eyebrow. " Lazule is that you?!" He still wasn't used to Lazule's deeper voice. From the years he worked with Lazule he was a blond young woman who was dedicated to killing as many monsters as she can. Well she or he still is dedicated but Willis still had difficulty wrapping his head around Lazule's true nature. He was still miffed that he told Cali and Eren about who he was before him after everything they've been through.

"Looks like they got you too," he said sheathing his Cutlass before looking around. "Quite a creepy place we're in! Do you know where we are?"

Perhaps Lazule knew about this area more than Willis, he was always the observant type.

Lazule
 

Colette

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Only after the boy from the well left did she realize that the lobby of this building was filling up with other people. Normal people. Well, mostly normal people anyway. She adjusted her standard issue Anirian armor and stepped over towards the fireplace.

Cinders sparked and popped as the dying heat from the hearth radiated outwards. It felt good on her cheeks, counteracting the chill in the air of this unwelcoming place. She arched her back and examined the top of the mantle, a finger traced the top leaving a trail in the dust that had caked it.

When was the last time anyone had been here? The last time anything had been here?

Her ocean blue eyes flickered against the hazy glow of the smolders as they caught sight of the sturdy desk in the opposite corner. There was a broken hourglass strewn across the ground, the state of the desk was entirely out of order. This whole situation had reminded her of the time Talus, Donric, and she had investigated the serial killer. Had a murder happened here? Or some sort of burglary? That was the only explanation she could come up with for the state of disrepair here.

Bent down with her face pressed close to the sand she just stared at it. Trying to ignore the voices of the others and their loud steps which creaked the warped wood underfoot. When she caught sight of the nearest being to her she nearly leapt out of her skin. It was terrifying, the worst possible thing she could have encountered in this haunted place...

An elven woman with white hair and a lithe figure.

Donric had told her stories of elves, although Colette had never formally met one. According to another soldier they could suck out your soul if you weren't careful and while Colette was certain that wasn't the truth she was pretty sure that elves had razor sharp fangs hidden on the roof of their mouths.

Trying not to be rude she asked in a jittering, nervous voice, "um, hi, do you know where we are?" She wasn't sure how far they were from the camp just north of Vel Anir. Could be miles or days worth of travel. Perhaps the well contained a portal stone of some kind?
 
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Lazule

The First Slayer
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In a fitting way, it did not make much difference that Lazule was wearing a helm and that his facial expression was therefore hidden from view. Both his face and the shaped metal over it exhibited the same impassiveness when Willis wheeled around with his cutlass drawn.

And he stood and listened to what Willis had to say. Only a slight movement of his helm, off to the right, and then back centered, seemed to indicate this.

"Yes. I am Lazule. No. I have insufficient insight regarding the nature of this location," Lazule said. "Thus, your apprehension is understandable."

The feeling of creepiness Lazule did not comment upon. He was unfamiliar with it, though he had gathered through contextual clues and interactions with humanity that it was a kind of low-grade horror. A specific unease concerning someone or some situation. His encounter with the ghost of Gordon was weighted too heavily on the horror scale to be considered creepy by this definition. The horror of it was manifest and potent.

No answer from Willis concerning Lazule's question. It was mostly irrelevant, affecting them little in their present circumstance.

Lazule turned from Willis. Began to scan the other individuals within the mansion, those who were already present as well as those who had just come, the focal "V"-point of his visor shifting as he glanced about. He looked to Sylvian. To Kiros. To Colette. To Chadwick. To Thorne. To Zier. Two among them were conversing. There had also been a knock at the door and an unsure voice from someone yet to enter. Why was that one man deprived of a shirt?

None appeared to be threats. They appeared to be humans, and allies of humanity. So it was right then to assume of them the retention of the sanctity of personhood. If any of the proved otherwise, their appearances or demeanors deceitful, then the matter would be resolved in the only way that it was ever resolved: slaying the monster. A problem in this regard. Lazule might have to inquire of Willis to borrow his cutlass for the scalping. It was a concern that would be handled if and when such had arisen.

Lazule looked back to Willis. Said matter-of-factly, "I am going to examine the book."

He had seen it after his eyes had traveled from the fireplace (the best position to hold, that corner with the fireplace and the light coming from it, should violence become necessary). And Lazule walked over to it, the clank of metal and the slick rubbing and clacking of stone sounding from his armor as he did.

He stopped before the desk. Laid an armored hand down on it. And read what was writ upon the open page.

Smiling One Caliane Ruinë
 
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Kiros Rahnel

Outcast Priest
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His mind still was recovering from the gruelling trip between worlds, and still bothered by his own error that brought him here. He had recognized the deceit when it was first set upon him; vividly recounting his own disbelief at the ghostly visage. The last moments of a stranger long dead and gone, he'd been able to tell.

The disorienting confusion subsided further from his mind, providing him with needed clarity to recall and retrace the steps he had taken to get here. He had followed and the illusion had beckoned him, albeit needlessly; he had been drawn more out of curiosity than anything else. The experience was an uncomfortable one to say the least. He hardly expected much to come from it, but the need to know had bid him on.

That was what led him to the Pstyxia. Which, after a bit of effort, had led Kiros to follow it too. Curiosity prompted him to continue on further, secure in the misguided belief that his own awareness of the ruse would be enough to prevent himself from falling into it. The ghostly creature led him all the way to a strange phenomenon before disappearing into the silvery crack - a rift between worlds. But rather than jump in, he was content to observe the rift itself. This is what he was lead towards, and he had achieved all he wanted at the destination of this brief, spontaneous activity. Satisfied with knowing what laid at the end of the road, his journey was at an end.

With what he remembered, Kiros gathered his thoughts.

"Well, I didn't jump in. And I didn't turn back. I think I cast...Oh." The internal monologue sparked memory of what action he took next. An incantation of insight directed on the pulsing, silver crack in attempt to reveal further answers. Instead, this allowed it to pull and urge on his psyche. His mind filled with haze; flooded with temptations that poured in with intent to draw him beyond. He could now even recall the particular one that finally managed to do so:

"Salvation; forgiveness for your transgression lies beyond."

And now he was here, drawn by nothing but a false promise. One he had sworn to disbelieve, yet completely failed to. Using his magic to peer into that portal... that was a mistake learned far too late.

While he was busy with his own personal recollection of events he'd hear Lazule and others call out, and overhear Willis's response. This provided Kiros with some relief; whatever had pulled him in had no doubt pulled in the others as well. Though, from the conversation Lazule seemed as clueless as he. He doubted answers would come easily.

Looking throughout the entrance he'd see it had filled with a myriad of people; no others familiar to Kiros at all. And from their conversations so far, no one had any clue why they had been all brought together. He looked around further, eyes scanning over the room before he moved over towards the wall of hourglasses. He couldn't fathom why there would be so many, and finding out could be a start to gaining his bearings. It's better than doing nothing, he mused as he observed them, one by one.
 
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Sylvian

Snow White
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The sand creaked underneath her bare feet.

In her white gown the elf looked almost ghostly, although the reference would have been lost on her. Her silver hair fell loosely below her waist, with a few singular strands framing her small face. Bearing a look of curiosity, Sylvian’s watchful eyes observed the dripping ink until she could no longer take it: her small hand wrapped around the bottle, erecting it to keep further liquid from spilling.

There were other souls present, most of which seemed uneager to acknowledge one another. Sylvian felt the same; too interesting were her surroundings and there was much to behold. Still, the creeping feeling of dread never left the back of her mind and the female kept her guard up, too uncertain was the situation.

A bright voice snapped her out of her trance.

“Oh.” Sylvian gasped; her pale brows had arched in surprise.

“A girl,” she breathed, visibly delighted by the sight of Colette. “A human girl.” Her frosty voice betrayed the ever-softening expression on her face, and Sylvian’s features became more gentle by the second. Sapphire eyes fixated on her round face and taken aback by so much innocence, Sylvian nearly forgot where they were.

“My apologies.” She murmured. Her lips formed a smile. “I don’t. I got lost in the woods and then I found myself here,” the woman recounted her story and paused for a moment. “With you.” She added at last.

“If you would like we could find our way back out together.” She offered her a hand.

Colette
 

Thorne

Dread Hunter
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31
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Thorne pulled himself from his malaise and drank in his surroundings. A decrepit, dreary room with strange decorum, and a mix of different people that had not had seizures and promptly vanished. Others, it seemed, who had fallen into the same fate as he did. Thorne pulled his cloak forward and examined each of them.

A man with ebon skin, dressed no different from a commoner but wearing an air of confidence like a custom made suit.

A delicate looking she-elf who looked as graceful as she did dainty. She looked as though the slightest touch might break her, or that she might crack like glass were she stared at too hard.

A middle aged priest wearing Kaliti vestments, sporting a grimace that betrayed a life of suffering, not unlike Thorne's own.

A giant encased in alien-looking armor that exuded a subtle radiance, perhaps some sort of holy warrior from a distant land.

An elf of the Falwood, nearly as tall as the armored figure and brimming with youthful energy...or perhaps angst.

And...an Anirian soldier, by the look of her armor. Strangely quiet and lacking in confident body language for a woman of the Guard, but not too surprising given her youthful appearance. Thorne reserved judgment for her, aware that the Guard were but cogs in the Anirian machine, and she wasn't likely to know who he was.

Then, a knock from the door came, followed by a normal sounding voice. Perhaps more guests invited to this otherworldly soiree.

Thorne was content to watch and listen in silence for the time being. This scene would play itself out, then he would get to the bottom of what was happening.
 
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Farzad Oldsummer

Dungeon Delver D.D.
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141
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The voices rattled and chimed between each other. Voices of monologue. Voices in converse. And voices that just seemed to like talking. And none of them seemed to acknowledge him. He outstretched interlocked fingers, the sharp crack of bones snapping in relief as Farzad tapped the door open, slowly swinging on its hinges as the form and figure was made clear. Lit in incense and candles, arcane incantations and masquerade obscuring his features. He gave a fantastic wave of his quarterstaff, rolling it in a wide arc to address everyone as he narrowed his eyes, his free hand pointing to his, than to each person in succession in the room. "Yall better not be more death echoes." Farzad widely accused.

He looked around quickly, scanning and taking the bare notes of the room. His first, was the place didn't feel clean. Look's was one thing. But this place stunk of death. And he knew the best way to cure any stink and stench. Was fire. It was no wonder that he than, gravitated towards the Fireplace. Not many people were there anyway. They seemed scattered. Scared. Would it be up to Farzad to lead and gather the scattered people? Farzad doubted it. In fact. Farzad didn't want to do it.

Instead he sent himself busying away at the dying flickers of emberlight that hid like shy coral, so close to a brilliant bloom. Just needed the right motivation. He luckily had it in droves, pulling out a small sliver of paper, light and incantation rolled off it like smoke soon would the flames he erected before his hands, soft words spoken in arcane tones and ancient languages hobbled together. Arcane flames burned at his fingertips as he warmed his fingertips up by his new fireplace.

"So. Anyone know why we here? Yall follow a Pstyxia here or yall get ghouled another way?"
 

Smiling One

Heartbreaker and Life Taker
Banned
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1,036
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Willis sighed "that's pretty much the nature of these contests," he said crossing his arms and looking over towards the other people who were also present in the room. On his way to the house, the young man did notice death echoes wallowing in the sky. They were mostly harmless monsters but due to their nature of the sprit reliving the last minutes of their lives, many people find them distressing. Thankfully they don't emerge until an eclipse happens. Though he haven't faced them himself, Willis heard that a way to get rid of a Death Echo was to have it come to terms with its death.

But that was just a rumor.

He recognized some of the people in the room Kiros Rahnel a mage whom worked with Willis during the fiasco that transpired in Fairbarin and an Elf that had been making the rounds amongst the Monster Hunter safehouses Zier Xya Zythos. "Been a while Kiros," Willis smirked. "I take it that you don't have any more idea of where we huh?"

Turning to Lazule Willis frowned. "So big guy," he said crossing his arms. "What did you find?"

Lazule
 

Caliane Ruinë

Angel Nuke
Staff
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464
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The knocker Farzad Oldsummer used to knock on Deaths Door was not extraordinary in any way really to the naked eye. Perhaps a little odd, sure. Who else would have a humans shrunken skull gilded in silver of all things latched to ones front door? But as the wizard let go of the ring that was shove through the skulls mouth and passed on inside, alas there was nobody behind him to see the skulls sullen expression change.

It smirked and quietly, it locked the explorers inside.

Lazule upon examining the book would find a seemingly boring account of names and dates in neat, perfect little columns. He would notice, if he looked, the last name in the book was only half completed and matched that of a tiny hourglass sat in front of the book.

The date related to the exact time and day the young soul departed from the world.

Colette, having her face to close to the sands of a persons Life Sand, probably got a putrid whiff of death. Little did she know her thoughts were along the right path. To destroy someone's Hourglass was to release the soul of the deceased back into the world of the Living, not necessarily as a whole spirit.

As the flames, created by the wizard, leapt higher into the air it revealed more of the enormous room. Not only did the rows of shelves containing hourglasses seem to stretch on for miles but the light now revealed two curving staircases that led up into a dark second layer of the house.

It was from there the creaking had come.
 

Lazule

The First Slayer
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217
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He observed names. He observed numbers arranged into particular formatting. Dates. Dates in written form. Father had taught him that when he was still new to Arethil, learning in the Tower, and inhabiting the body of his slain daughter. But he remembered the knowledge clearly now.

There was no significance to Lazule concerning the names, for he did not know any of them. He noted the last name in the book being the same as that upon the hourglass adjacent to it, but this as well held no particular significance. There was to Lazule nothing of value to glean from all of this information--all of it was lacking proper context.

Willis inquired of him.

"I have acquired no new insights through the reading of this book," he said. "It is all information lacking true meaning to me."

Firelight reflected off of Lazule's visor, and he turned his head toward Farzad. Glanced toward the staircases that seemed to emerge from the darkness in the light's new radiance. And he said to Willis, "But there is something else I wish to investigate."

Lazule walked from the corner with the desk to the corner with Farzad and the fireplace. Stood before him, this man versed in magic. Magic that could conjure fire, and thus light. Weak light was better than no light.

Lazule spoke to Farzad in the direct and literal way that he often did. "My name is Lazule. I do not know why anyone is currently here. I know how I arrived here and I assume it to be the same for all others present. I have not heard the word 'ghoul' used in that manner before, and thus I am insufficiently equipped to comment on it."

Then he got to the purpose of why he had approached Farzad, saying, "I intend to ascend the stairs and discern what is causing the creaking sound. Will you accompany me? I require light to be battle effective."

Farzad Oldsummer Smiling One
 

Kiros Rahnel

Outcast Priest
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154
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Something about the hourglasses unnerved him. To be frank, quite a lot about the entire situation so far was unnerving; but the wall lined with vessels of life sand was supernaturally so. All inscribed with a variety of dates and names. None of them standing out as notably important. Having had enough with the wall, Kiros took a step back and almost unconsciously prepared another incantation of insight before he stopped himself out of cautious alarm. That was the exact spell that got him into this mess in the first place; casting it out there had been what brought him here. And he shuddered at what consequences could be possible it he cast here, be they real or imagined. "No", he mused, it would be best and safest to leave that spell alone for now. At least, so long as he remained present in this strange otherworldly house.

Amidst the conversation the entrance of another in extravagantly bright attire took his focus, one lavish with colour and layers. A sharp contrast to his own while robes, adorned with simple crimson and gold; as dull and drab as She would allow. And even then, hardly enough to Kiros's liking. Beneath the eye-catching garb was a man he had seen but never met, as even among the colourful inhabitants of Elbion, Farzad no doubt stood out visibly among them. Who could forget a man who dressed like that, or ignore such a bright outfit of chromatic flair that demanded attention. Or rather, as Kiros thought, begged for it. Ignorant of anyone's need for self-expression, Kiros silently felt that those who do so through appearance often have little of value to say.

But he watched on as Farzad gave his exaggerated gesture of welcome, his body language making reference to all before he would speak. And then came his words.

"Yall better not be more death echoes."

Gesturing no reply he simply remained silent in perceived confirmation what he had assumed.

The words of Willis Reede would take his attention next.

"that's pretty much the nature of these contests,"

Contest? What sort of ...”He thought in silence; Did he...just hop in out of sheer bravado? Foolishness? He could well recall Willis’s complete lack of hesitation and fear in charging a seemingly hostile troll five times his own size. It would be characteristic of him, or at least Kiros’s view of the man. Soon after, Willis turned to Kiros with his own inquiry regarding why they were even here; a common topic among the very confused guests.

“As clueless as all.” he answered with a shake of his head.

“My presence is involuntary. I messed about with a magical rift. I ought not have. It seems others were guided here through similar trickery.” he replied, recounting Thorne’s initial words of despair, along with the confusion expressed by others.

“But...What was that about a contest?” He inquired, as the room began to flash alight with the flickering arcane fires conjured forth by Farzad.

Kiros took a brief survey of the room again, now lit up with the magical fire exposing the seemingly endless room, complete with stairs leading upward to a second level. He didn’t much care for the noise coming from up there either, as unnerving as anything along this journey so far. Hearing Lazule’s plans to investigate, he gave a nod and moved over to the stairs, looking further into the long endless room they all stood in as well. It was a strategic vantage point; should anything hostile enter, a well chosen divine incantation would at least give them all time to prepare, he hoped.

He could only wish he had prepared better himself, before mucking around with that damned portal...
 
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Colette

Member
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98
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So, the elf girl didn’t know how they got here either. And she seemed sincere which meant this wasn’t some strange elven magic trick. Her face lit up slightly at the stranger’s warmth, she seemed friendly. ”Yes,” she squeaked back at the snowy haired woman, ”we should try to find a way out of here immediately.”

Another patron rambled on about contests, a shady figure examined everyone in the room, and one person said something about ‘death echoes.’ It was all difficult to follow especially as the Anirian girl found herself distracted.

By an odor. From the spilled sands.

It was a scent that she was, unfortunately, familiar with. A stench she had hoped to avoid for the rest of her days yet it kept following her like a stray pup. Hints of despair and rot with a hearty dose of excrement. It was unmistakable, it was the smell of death.

Once she identified it her muscles went rigid and she exploded to her feet. Staring at the shelves that seemed to go on for eternity with wide eyes and mouth agape. ”Those hourglasses, whatever is inside of them…” The fair skinned guardswoman found the words difficult to form. At least in a structured manner.

Amid her brief panic though another conversation was brewing. She caught only the tail end of it. An unusual man, or woman, in a heavy suit of armor announced their intention to proceed up the stairs. It was certainly brave but also unacceptable. Colette had no idea how everyone had ended up here but it was obvious, to her at least, that these people were civilians. And when she joined the Anirian Guard she swore an oath to defend these people.

Despite her fear she took two steps towards the ominous, creaking, staircase before her. In the most authoritative voice she could muster she somewhat loudly proclaimed, ”uh, excuse me? I mean,” her voice barely cut through the frightening sound of shifting floorboards above. She raised her volume a few octaves so all could hear clearly, ”I need your attention! My name is Colette Maconner and I am with the Northern Guard of Vel Anir. We really need to ensure we stick together. None of us know why we are here or what lurks above us.”

Her face went flush with red, her heart was beating rapidly, ”we certainly should look upstairs, but as I am a trained member of the Guard I’d ask that all civilians stay close.” It would be difficult to protect anyone if people began running off on their own.

She shifted towards the same staircase, placing her right foot firmly on the first step and waited for way to be illuminated.
 

Thorne

Dread Hunter
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Seemingly, everyone had a similar story: a ghostly image presented itself and lured its victim to fall into...whatever this place was. Some strange nightmare, that was all Thorne could nail down for certain. He tensed less as everyone seemed to come to the same conclusion, and as no one seemed particularly aware of what was going on. If someone was playing a trick on everyone else, no one immediately jumped out as an obvious culprit.

The man who had been outside forced his way in, clad in robes and a broad-brimmed hat; a mage, if Thorne had ever laid eyes on one. He began speaking of matters of the occult, of death echoes and pstyxia. The old soldier recalled his time spent in the presence of Ordo, of the man's obsessions with all things better left undisturbed, and remembered the names. Ghosts and trickster spirits, legends for all Thorne had known before. Now, it was clear that they were quite real.

"I was drawn through some sort of gateway by a vision of some hapless spirit, the same as anyone else, apparently." Thorne answered the mage's question.

"I require light to be battle effective."

This armored fellow was an odd one. A quick reader, to be sure, but...that last statement rung a little odd.
"So quick to jump to conclusions. Why do you expect a fight?" He asked, a slightly accusatory tone in his voice.

The guardswoman was no different, however. Whether she had come to the same conclusion as the large figure or just gone along with what he'd said, Thorne wasn't sure, but it didn't much matter. What did matter was how conspicuously green she was. She was liable to get herself, and everyone else if they followed her, killed with how little practical experience she likely had. Thorne sighed, exasperated already, as a bit of the old guardsman instinct took over.

"At ease, soldier. I'm quite certain not everyone here is a citizen of Anirian territory. They may not need nor want to heed your orders." He stepped towards her and placed a hand on her shoulder, pausing her ascent, and leaned forward to speak more quietly and authoritatively, just to her. "You look...shall we say, fresh to this, Maconner. If you'd like to retire one day, perhaps jumping head first into potentially dangerous situations is best left to folks like that big, armored gent over there, hmm?"
 

Sylvian

Snow White
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76
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Sylvian sucked in a breath. Oh, how adorable she is. The elf fawned in silence, charmed by the human girl’s squeaky voice. She was cute, pale and small: like a mouse. Sylvian liked mice, they were adorable! “Absolutely, we should.” She flashed Colette a sweet smile and then turned to look around the room once more; it no longer felt so dark and creepy. Many others had arrived and Sylvian was oddly grateful for the company.

Some had already engaged in conversation, others remained passive and the snow haired maiden was happy to join in. Still, with little Colette around the starstruck elf found it difficult to focus on much else, especially since she kept demanding for more attention.

With courage, the brave-hearted human stepped towards the ominous stairs and mustered up all she had to make an announcement. Sylvian stood close by and enthusiastically clapped her small hands. Of course she hadn’t missed another person’s rude commentary, and baffled by this the elf turned towards Thorne and snarled at the man.

“Please! She’s doing her very best.”

Needless to say, the Avariel wasn’t at all concerned by her spooky surroundings, the creepy atmosphere and the fact that she had been teleported out of the woods into an unknown realm. And why would she be? As far as Sylvian was concerned she was in excellent company and good hands.
 

Zier Xya Zythos

Let's Be Honest, My Title Is Dumbass.
Elbion College
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131
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As they all conversed, Zier remained silent. There isn't anything for him to investigate or add since the others already did. He had since picked up the chair that was thrown onto the floor to sit on it. Why stand around and do nothing when you can sit around and do nothing?

This chair may be dirty but it's comfortable and he was content with staying put in it for now until something ruined that comfort.

I am with the Northern Guard of Vel Anir.

No. Nononono. Nope. Door. Fuck all this. He stood up, strided over to the door and tried the knob, only to discover that it's been locked. Bust it down. No. He quickly dismissed that thought. The house is old and, apart from not wanting to make himself look like an idiot if he can't bust it down, he doesn't want to fuck with the houses structural integrity.

He gave the knob a final twist, smiling to himself as it still wouldn't budge. He doesn't know who the hell locked it out there but they need a firm ass whooping when this is over. He then turned back to the room just in time for the other announcement he disliked.

we certainly should look upstairs, but as I am a trained member of the Guard I’d ask that all civilians stay close.

HHHHHELL NO. He'll gladly admit that he doesn't know shit about the Guard, but it has VEL ANIR in front of it so it's definitely another broken, militaristic system that doesn't give a drawfs behind about... well the rest of that drawf or anything other than humans. He'd rather run up those stairs himself with his wrists tied while screaming "THIS IS A ROBBERY." in the same breath.

He's deadass about that. He'd literally do it if asked.

Thank every deity for Thorne right now. Perhaps he was persuasive enough so they don't have to follow her blindly into the dark. Although, there's something about him. He almost speaks with.. experience with the guard.

He was stay silent until Sylvian, unnecessarily in his opinion, chided Thorne for his words of advise. He couldn't help himself. "Okay... I don't understand the issue? He wasn't undermining her worth in any way. He was simply saying, and I mean this in the most respectful way I can, that we don't follow a visibly Anxious person literally into the dark."

He may, strongly, and he'll shout in right at the cities leader if he could, hate Vel anir, but he can applaud Colette's courage and ability to take charge in an uncertain situation. He doesn't feel she's the right person.. but at least she did.