Private Tales The wrong place

Discussion in 'The Chronicles' started by Valthar, Jun 13, 2019 at 6:10 PM.

  1. Valthar

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    #1 Valthar, Jun 13, 2019 at 6:10 PM
    Last edited: Jun 14, 2019 at 8:42 AM
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    The great crack rang out and launched a flock of birds into the air. Silence followed before the crash came as the broken bough of the tree fell through the undergrowth, crushing branches and ferns. A dark shape stumbled through the destruction, lashing out with its claws. The wildlife stayed quite still, watching and waiting.

    It's voice finally filled the silence it had created. A twisted roar of pain as the beast stumbled and fell. Huge paws scratched at the ground as it tried to pull itself along. A deer darted from the woods and fled.

    The bear finally drew its shaking shoulders from the ground. Its fur was covered in dark spots. It wasn't the colour of its hide, but where blood had matted its fur.

    The roar became a growl and then a groan. The pitch of the voice changed, no longer reverberating through the trees. The bear twisted and writhed. It's body contorted in ways that shouldn't have been possible. Slowly, second by second, the bear began to shrink into the form of a man.

    Valthar was left curled up on the grass. The midday sun beat down upon his bloodied form. He had never seen so much green in his life; he had not known anything but the endless tundra.
     
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  2. Maranae

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    The entire world was a place of endless wonder, every step a new adventure into the unknown. The young woman with the red-gold hair traipsed along the Woodlands without a care in the world, eyes bright with the joy of exploration.

    She was a tall one, every bit of six feet and then some, with lustrous red gold hair hanging onto her waist and framing a face that was the definition of beauty. Eyes the color of jade, bright and inquisitive, regarded everything with a childlike wonder, as a toddler would regard the world. But her body was not that of a toddler, but of a woman grown. Wide hips and a narrow waist gave her an hourglass shape that practically oozed femininity from every pure. It was almost as if she had been designed by a man that knew exactly what he wanted.

    And, in truth, that was exactly the truth.

    She wore ragged trousers with plenty of holes in them, where they had worn through or were otherwise just torn. The blouse she wore was not in much better shape, either. She was clean, or at least not unkempt in appearance even if her garments were worse for wear.

    Currently, she was searching for the source of the racket that had echoed through the woods minutes before. While many would have been cautious or avoided whatever was the source, she merrily plowed through the woods rather carelessly, pushing through undergrowth without the slightest trace of fear.

    She bore no weapons. And she did not carry the gravitas of some kind of mage. Yet, the fearlessness was born of either supreme confidence...or ignorance.

    She stumbled into a path carved through the woods, bare feet pricked by splinters of wood and ignored as if they were nothing to be concerned by. Head cocked to one side, bright eyes full of curiosity, she turned to follow the path.

    And that was how she found the man. Apparent human, but she would likely not have known nor understood the difference if he had not been. His bare form held little of interest to her, though, other than his wounds. The bright red triggered something feral within her that she neither understood, nor did she like. Crouching, moving forward as silently as the wildlife around her, she reached out to touch this human, curious if he was dead.
     
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  3. Valthar

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    Valthar turned suddenly, but all he had the strength left to do was draw his lips back into a snarl. His eyes didn't hold any anger. He looked pained and frightened. First he had been drawn into a world of demons and then, just as started to shift into his Svalen he was thrown back to the wrong part of the world and left entirely on his own.

    It was hot a humid to the point where his skin was covered in a thin sheen of sweat despite the lack of clothes. His head fell back to the grass.

    "Human?" he asked softly.
     
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  4. Maranae

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    Rather than shy back from those curled lips, the woman merely smiled brilliantly at him, an open and inviting smile on her face. She shifted so that she was on her haunches which turned out to be a much more comfortable position for her.

    "Mara does not know," she replied brightly, voice sweet and soft and completely fitting the body it was coming from. She cocked a head to one side, inquisitive expression on her face. "Are you? Mara also wonder's why you leak that red liquid," she added. Blood. Its called blood. Something in the back of her mind stirred, a feral thing that Mara did not like very much at all. The watcher had been there ever since she had woke from the long slumber. "That...blood?" she added, questioningly.
     
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  5. Valthar

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    One of his senses was failing him. That didn't entirely surprise him.

    He was clearly being spoken to by a child. At the same time he was clearly being spoken to by a young woman.

    Valthar looked down at himself, expecting to see some fresh wounds. Just those he had suffered in the Hellscape. There was nothing that threatened his life unless infection set in. This had been his first ever transformation into his Svalen form and he barely had the energy to lift his head.

    "Blood. Yes. Where are we?"
     
  6. Maranae

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    The woman shrugged. "Mara knows not. In a forest somewhere, wandering." Whatever the apparent mental age she displayed, her eyes were brilliant with intelligence as well as good nature. She made a gesture towards the skies and the trees, a grin on her face. "Is all very beautiful. Mara had to wait long time to see all of this. Master did not want to let Mara outside very much," she added, somewhat peevishly.

    Leaning forward, she grinned even more brightly. "Does the naked man need assistance?" she asked. Something inside cringed, but the woman thought nothing of it.
     
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  7. Valthar

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    Yesterday he had hauled his boat up out of the waters. He had flipped it over and checked the surface laboriously. His uncle had come to fetch him with a simple request. Join the other men with your shield and axe, defend the pass. His father had been a renowned warrior. Valthar was not, but he still knew how to handle himself.

    After that had come the mists, the witches and the demons. And now...this. His people had always been suspicious of outsiders. Valthar had never travelled far from his home town. There was no reason to understand the wider world.

    "This...naked man...yes," he said quietly. Every inch of skin ached. His bones hurt too. He'd never felt his bones hurt quite like this. He hadn't had a fracture before. It was every single stretch of every bone in his body.

    Master didn't want...

    Valthar didn't like the sound of that. He'd heard of the concept of slavery before. Master sounded like someone to avoid. Not that Valthar had much control over anything. At least the woman was smiling. It was good to hear a voice.
     
  8. Maranae

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    Without any regard or, perhaps,understanding of the pain it could cause, Maranae took the man's affirmative answer as all the justification needed, and bent low, taking him by an arm and then, arm en tow, lifted herself and him as well off the forest floor. A low grunt of effort seemed to be all she displayed for it, easily lifting him - much larger than herself by mass - off the ground.

    "What has happened to you," she asked, curious, as she let go of him, heedless of whether he could stand on his own or not.
     
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  9. Valthar

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    Valthar barely made a sound as he was yanked to his feet. His jaw was clenched shut and he took sharp breaths through his nose. The young norden tried to get his footing, but being abandoned so abruptly dropped him back to one knee.

    He held up a hand to try and ward her away from immediately trying the same thing.

    The pain of the transformation was slowly fading into a dull ache, but the wounds he had received were becoming even more vociferous in their clamour for attention. At least the tundra witch had healed some of the burns. The transformations would become easier now. Eventually he would be able to slip in and out of his Svalen form with barely a thought.

    "This isn't my home and I don't know where this is. I don't know where my people are."
     
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  10. Maranae

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    She sid not appear to care that he had dodged the question, instead cocking her head to one side. She did not understand what he meant by his people. She really did not understand the idea of people, anyway; so far, everyone she had met was like her, appeared like her, and sounded, more or less, like her. The scent was often different, but they had mostly smelled similar to the Master.

    "Maybe Mara can help!" Her excitement was evident in the tone of her voice. That thing in her head, though, was still regarding the stranger with keen interest, using her eyes and her senses to observe him. The beast within remained quiescent, however.
     
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  11. Valthar

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    "Have you ever heard of Eretejva?" he asked. There was little hope in his voice. Unsurprisingly the transformation had done away with the binds that had kept his hair neatly braided. He looked up at her through a tangled mess of dirty blonde locks.

    Slowly he turned away to regard their surroundings. It could have been anywhere but home.

    The Spine. He knew of the spine of the world. The great mountain range that bisected to other continents. If he could find a hill maybe he could see it and at least know which side of the world he was on.
     
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  12. Maranae

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    "Yes," she said. The happy and care free tone was at odds with his desperate one,but she hardly seemed to notice. It perhaps, she just did not understand. "An five-pound sub-continent to the north and east of the blightlands," she repeated, as if reading from a book.

    She had never been there. The idea of ice was foreign to her, in any other capacity than purely abstract. The idea of child was in her mind as well, the text in the book as fresh as if written there, indelibly marked. That she was one, in mind if not flesh, was also beyond her.

    The concept of the distance between here and there was also something unknown to her.

    "Tell me, where is your master, man-with-no-clothes?"
     
  13. Valthar

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    "It's Valthar. My name, not my master's," he clarified. "We have a queen. I have never met her."

    Valthar turned his gaze east. Just above the treeline he saw distant mountains. If this was west of the spine then they were very far from his home.

    Making a rather feeble attempt to cover himself, he finally allowed the lack of modesty to cross his mind.

    "Do you know where I could get clothes?And water?"
     
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  14. Maranae

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    "Yes," she said, then stood fully upright. She appeared to pay no attention whatsoever to his state of undress, clearly uninterested in any wares on display. She turned and started back through the woods the way she had come, going a dozen feet before turning to look back.

    "It is this way," she added cheerfully. "Come, come!" She turned and continued on her way, barefoot and heedless of the splinters, the thorns, and the upturned rocks she stepped on, all they way hurtling to herself. "Another person! Mara is so happy, no more loneliness!"
     
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  15. Valthar

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    Where are the others?

    The thought struck him rather suddenly. They'd all rushed towards what was apparently a portal stone. Demons still coming at them from all sides and tendrils of midnight Black erupting from the ground.

    The fleshy thing around the portal stone had convulsed. A flash of blue and then darkness. Then the voice in his head had told him something. There had been a vision of an even greater demon looking down at them with a hundred eyes. It had told them to spread the word of their return.

    So where had the rest of his people been sent?

    With a groan of exertion he pushed himself to his feet and stumbled after the woman. The second person talking about themselves in the third person. The first had the excuse of being a witch.
     
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  16. Maranae

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    The Woodlands remained thick as she nimbly picked her way through the undergrowth, leaping with seemingly no effort onto thick fallen logs and displaying seats of lithe agility that an acrobat might envy. The canopy overhead remained broken and incomplete, patches of sky showing here and there. The sky held that quality of the late afternoon, the light shading toward red-gold like her hair. The land had the distinctive feel true wilderness, untouched by the hands of humans.

    Oddly, no wildlife was present. The birds were absent, the air silent of their song. No deer. Not even squirrels made their presence known. It was as if the world had suddenly fell into a pensive stance, waiting for the next blow to fall. For the headsman's axe to drop. The further they went from where the shattered wood of whatever beast there had been, the more disquieting it became.

    And so she led for half an hour by the march of the sun as it descended, every minute of it chattering nonsense about company and how he looked tired and worn and how there would be clothes and food when they got to the Master's place.

    Which, when they arrived, turned out to be two heavy doors set into the ground at an angle, much in the fashion of storm cellars. One door was open, laying back against the mound surrounding the entrance, which was itself set into a wooded hillside. The other was shut, and from within was darkness and an unpleasant scent, sharp to her nose and likely his as well.

    The smell of death.

    "It is in here, down in the dark," she chortled, and then darted into the opening, descending into darkness without a seeming care in the world.
     
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  17. Valthar

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    "No," he groaned, stopping a few feet from the doors. His people had an acute sense of smell and he was no exception to that.

    "Did I die?" he whispered to himself. Perhaps he hadn't made it to the portal stone after all. Perhaps he had and had never woken up after crashing to the ground. This was all some twisted punishment in an afterlife.

    Valthar shook the notion away. That stench was real. This wasn't even the most surreal part of his day. He had caught the scent a distance away, assuming a predator had left a carcass rotting. He stumbled a step to the side, leaning his shoulder into the rough bark of a tree.
     
  18. Maranae

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    She made it a dozen feet into the passage, steps carved from the native rock descending into the hillside. Dark lamps bolted into walls marked regular intervals along the way. To her eyes, the darkness was as bright as day, and she could see the steps descend a dozen more feet down before T-ing off. It was then she noticed that her new friend had not followed her into Home, and she stopped, looking back with an almost comical look of puzzlement on her beautiful features.

    After a moment, she ascended into the gathering gloom out of doors, and saw the man leaning against a tree, seeming disoriented. Cocking her head to one side, she gave him the same bright smile. "Does man-who-is-Valthar not like the dark? Mara does not know how to make fire work. Mara is sorry," she said, a touch of nervousness entering her voice at the last. Perhaps an undercurrent of fear, small but still present. "Please do not hurt Mara," she added in a plaintive tone.
     
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  19. Valthar

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    "I... What? No, I wouldn't hurt you but... What is that smell?"

    She didn't look dangerous at all. It was this talk of a master that was beginning to seriously concern him. The reality he faced was that he was too desperate at this point to give it much thought.

    Yet that animal part of himself stirred at the scent that came from that dark tunnel. He was wounded, not ready to be backed into a corner. The desperation he felt as he weighed up the decision was clear on his face.
     
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  20. Maranae

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    The smile on her face took on a brittle quality, some fragility that she had not displayed prior to this. When she spoke, there was a quiver in her voice, something borne of fear or sorrow or perhaps some twisted mixture of both. "Mara is not sure, but she think it is the Master who stinks so."

    The shift was swift. The girl - woman - looked absolutely terrified. She backed towards the darkness of the tunnel leading into the earth, wringing her hands in front of her, shaking. "Master will be mad. Please don't hurt...please..."

    She could not believe the man-who-is-Valthar would not beat her. Some thing coiled around her soul cringed at the sensation of terror, and whispered sweet promises to the girl, who did not listen the it. The other was not to be trusted. Not at all!

    With a wail, the girl darted into the passage, swiftly swallowed by the darkness with.
     
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  21. Valthar

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    The smell was her master? Then he was dead. The bravest of his people had told tales of an ice lich that had once inhabited the northern tundra. A creature that had mastered magic to such an extent that the death of its own flesh could not stop it.

    Despite the icy grip at the base of his spine he padded towards the opening. It was dark down there. Whilst he couldn't see Mara, he could hear her feet against the stone stairs. Someone had taken care carving this passage into the rock.

    A few blinks and he could make out the path sloping away from him. A tentative step and his bare foot met the cool, smooth rock.

    "Mara?" he called out as he limped down. He kept one hand flat to the wall on his left. "Come back!"
     
  22. Maranae

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    Only the sounds of her retreating, bare footfalls answered his calls. A desperate moan echoed in the dark every so often as she went deeper.

    The place was utterly silent, beyond the fading sound of her flight. And cold, as chill as winter so that the breath smoked. At the bottom of the stairs, bones of varying sizes and origin lay messily piled to the sides of the passage, some broken with the marrow sucked clean out. The stench of decay was worse to the left than the right, and the gagging smell thick enough to stun the unwary. It was just as well that the woman had not fled towards it, but rather away from it. The hallway was lined with doors at varying whiles, dark lamps lining the wall evenly.

    Cobwebs already adorned the ceilings, and some of the doors. Many were ajar, as if the place had been vacated in a hurry.

    It was like a mausoleum, illusion shattered only by the occasional sniffle echoing directionlessly.
     
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  23. Valthar

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    This was another corner of Pandemonium. It had to be. He hadn't been returned to Eretejva because he was still on the other side.

    Valthar had to cover his nose. He felt an itch at the base of his spine, recognising it as his Svalen form wanting to break free again. It was a primal fight or flight response. With his other hand balled into a tight fist he forced it back down. He doubted as Svalen that he could even make his way back up the corridor behind him.

    Valthar dared not call out. Her master was almost certainly a demon of some sort and he didn't want to rouse it. He had to carefully pick his way through the bones to avoid puncturing the sole of his foot. He paused between two doors, turning his head to try and hone in on her sniffles.
     
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  24. Maranae

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    They struck her.

    With whips and with bows, with fists and feet. Over and over again, day after day. After day. Until blood streamed down her delicate face, gashes adorned that perfect body. Screaming at her with words she could understand, yelling at her.

    Telling her she was weak, that she was defective. Yelling that their experiment was a waste of time. She could feel the anger in each lash, the rage behind every bone-shattering blow. She bled on the outside while those words cut her deep within. And that fragile self, newborn to the world in more than just name, bore the abuse silently.

    It must have been some obscure aspect of the manner of her birth, then, that the pain and the anger took hold of, shaped with cruel hands fed by the cruelty of the Master. The Master who had given her life, but seemed to consider her less a being with her own agency, her own self. More as if she were a tool devoid of independent thought, of a sense of self.

    Rage. Building. Building. Subsuming
    everything.

    ---

    There might not have been the truly vile stench of decay down this corridor, but the filth in the air here was still unpleasant. More bones, still bearing a little flesh, lay in this long corridor. Motes of writhing white adorned what little there was left here, the decay was not as overpowering as back the other way.

    Doors leading to either side. Some were ajar, and while most were empty - a dining hall, table overturned, spilled food on the floor; a room with some beds in it, neatly made, clothes hung on racks in an alcove cut into the rock at the back of the room; a room with a kettle full of scummy water, suspended over cold ashes with long wooden handle sticking out of it, and a pile of clothes on the ground beside it - not all were empty.

    A room, a half eaten body leaving its stink to cloy in the air, leaning against st a wall,one leg bent at a strange angle with jagged shard stabbing through corpulent black flesh. Another with a body literally torn in half, lower torso laying in the middle of the floor amid black, dry blood. The upper half lay on top of a counter with a variety of broken glassware in odd shapes and sizes.

    And, in a room towards the end, the tall, lithe woman curled into a quivering ball, tears staining her cheeks. "Do not hurt, please do not hurt, do not hurt Mara, please please do not.." she whispered, voice plaintive and hitching with the tears she said. It was like a litany against evil, and she repeated it over and over, up and backing into a corner, wrapping her arms around her knees and rocking back and forth. Never ceasing the litany.
     
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  25. Valthar

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    His heart was drumming out a bear as loud within his own head as he could ever remember it. Pandemonium had been all fear and rage and the clashing of steel and beasts. Here there was a cold tension that turned his limbs to jelly rather than affording him strength. He kept imagining the flicking shadows and bones were creatures moving rather than the shadowy echoes of decaying things that had been.

    "I am not going to hurt you," he stated. Valthar had never been one for wasting words.

    "Did your master...kill these people? Will he hurt me?" Valthar asked. He tried to keep it as simple as possible but his mind was racing with possibilities. None of them were pleasant. They needed to leave this place. Every sense was united in that front. This place was death, not for the living.

    Or those who wanted to stay that way, a group of which he counted himself a member.
     

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