• Mature • To Darkness Deep Where No Men Sleep

For Finn. Graphic. Not for faint of heart.

Rising from the stony plateau overlooking the rivers and plains of the western continent, and growing wealthy from the gem stones pulled from this same rocky soil, Etzos is a bastion of independence, eagerly spreading its belief that man should rule Idalos, not be servants of the vain Immortals who nearly destroyed it. But can the different factions set aside their agendas long enough to see this through?

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• Mature • To Darkness Deep Where No Men Sleep

Postby Noth » Fri May 25, 2018 11:25 am

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Ashan 67, 718
The constant clitter and clack of talons accompanied the twilight hybrid as he maneuvered himself through the passageways of the cavern. He passed by a great deal of activity as he continued onwards towards his destination. There were a group of soldiers lowly in rank playing cards with one another, their voices rising in exclamation and excitement, and occasionally falling into the gentle droning lulls of those who are almost certainly going to lose the current hand. The chitter of coins across the ground made it quite clear that they were gambling, and whilst that meant that the stakes were at least somewhat higher, the hybrid was pleased that they had coalesced enough into a unit that they felt comfortable spending their recreational time together. Such exploits would certainly raise group cohesion, and cohesion was one of the finer points of discipline.

Elsewhere throughout the cave, necromantic energies were swirled and directed towards assorted projects. Crows hung lifelessly from the stony outcroppings above, their dead eyes peering downwards at all that passed, unmoving from their silent vigil as they kept watch on everything occurring within the area. Noth was not entirely certain whether or not the necromancer in his employ was actually gazing through their eyes on a fairly regular basis, or whether they had simply been called to those places to give the impression of surveillance, but either way, there was an uncanny sensation of being observed the deeper one went into the cavernous depths.

Further still, chains rattled and shook constantly as the fiercer undead ravishingly grasped and clutched towards whatever meat had decided to make itself known to them. Their ferocity was unmatched in all of the denizens of the cavern, though even these stilled themselves into a catatonic absence as the twilight hybrid stepped by, their innate origins having been designed with him in mind. There were certain rules that their creator had implanted into their minds from conception that would not allow them to bring harm to the avian warlord, and even in his absence, such biological programming prevented them from bringing harm. Indeed, even the monstrosities of the cave were not permitted to lay a hand upon the Prince of Eternal Mercies, nor did they have any desire in him whatsoever, treating him just as they would treat any other dead thing.

A few further bits of travel passed as he navigated himself past the torch-lit tunnelways, finally reaching a series of smaller outcroppings which had been worked upon with manual labor in order to ensure that the metallic doors they had purchased were capable of fitting within them and not being knocked aside by stray kinetic energies. The groaning exhalations of the tortured and the imprisoned reached his ears, and brought forth a sigh of disappointment from the Avriel, both at the suffering which he had inflicted, and the further agony which must surely follow before their inevitable release into that which exists beyond mortal life. He was not, actually, the chief interrogator in many cases, and he had begun to deviate from much of the interrogation processes, allowing his assorted Hands to take up the work so that there was a lessened emotional strain placed upon him.

Most people didn’t consider the mental agony that followed after the torturer. No, they focused upon the immediate, the physical suffering which was inflicted by blade or brand. True, such agonies were not to be discounted, and they were often times truly pitiable to observe, but few considered what it must feel like to be obliged to press the brand into a fellow man’s chest, to lash a blade across his fingers or to pry away his fingernails until only the whimpering echoes of words were left upon the tip of his tongue, the howling shrieks driven so deep into the psyche that they awoke only as vivid nightmares when one finally lay down to rest. Even the murderous Avriel had a limit, though his especial talents made him pivotal to the extraction process in far too numerous cases to count.

Outside of a particular door awaited a Defier whose knowledge of the arcane school had made him an excellent guardian for the pair of prisoners within. The Avriel nodded towards him, outstretching a hand towards the door, and with a wordless nod the Defier had entered into the room ahead of him to bind the child once more and prevent his abilities from being manifested. Afterwards, the Black Guardsman; he had grown remarkably less emaciated in the last few days, as though a flicker of his strength had begun to return, was removed from the chamber as was standard, and the twilight hybrid himself entered into the dimly-lit place, immediately stricken by the stench of confined feces in the corner bucket and the rugged terrain underfoot. He’d certainly need to make sure that the chamber was being cleaned at more often intervals, he noted with a further sigh, shuddering the metallic door behind him with a shriek of metal agony not uncommon in the torturous pits.

“Good trial, Finn. I trust that your meal was acceptable?” He began, refusing to make mention of whether it was morning, day, or night, because it was part of the process itself to not inform the child of how long he had been present, even if the relative timing of the intervals for his arrival was fairly consistent.

“We have much to discuss as always, and then, I will allow you to rest again, alright?”
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As a note: Noth is a Grandmaster in Intimidation. That means that he's at least as scary as the Count from Sesame Street. Beware.

"The tyrant confuses those he can't convince, corrupts those he can't confuse, and crushes those he can't corrupt." - Anonymous
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To Darkness Deep Where No Men Sleep

Postby Finnegan O'Connor » Fri May 25, 2018 1:37 pm

To Darkness Deep Where No Men Sleep
67th Ashan, 718


H
e’d suffered the discomfort of various holding cells throughout his life, though never with a rattling chain tied to an ankle, and never with a corpse for company. Technically the man wasn’t quite a corpse yet, but for all intents and purposes the gaunt, bony face that had greeted him was as close to death as one of the undead monstrosities that Noth kept in his hideout. They were kept in chains for purposes unknown, though he was glad that the half-eaten corpses didn’t wander around freely, it was disturbing enough to see their sudden, spastic movements through the cold iron bars of the metal door that barred him from freedom. He wondered if Noth had intentionally placed him there so that he’d be reminded of his own twitching, spastic movements and the terrible shock that had accompanied it. It seemed excessively cruel, but Finn couldn’t put it beyond the avian’s decrepit mind to entertain himself in such a fashion.

In time he’d figured out that the Black Guard had been left there to starve before he was to be added to the collection of undead dwellers. He, on the other hand, was being kept alive. Each day another faceless thug would come plodding their way, open the metallic door a smidge, and toss a bit of old bread at him as well as leave a water sack filled with fresh, cold water drawn from the stream within the cave.

He knew the stream was there, he could sense it as much as he could hear it, and during his first night in the dark, damp cavern he’d tried to think of a way to use the water as an escape. But then he’d noticed something strange. There was another voice. A fifth voice belonging to no element, yet steering them much the same. When he tried to coax the water to slosh and boil and rage, the other voice persuaded it to remain calm and flowing, and at peace. The skirmish lasted for over a bell before he’d exhausted himself and though he knew he could push himself further he also knew that overstepping would only further complicated his chances of escape or, if he couldn’t escape, his chances of survival.

After all, if he failed to manage on his own, he could always count on Zipper to find him. She’d be there tomorrow, she’d cause a bloodbath of apocalyptic proportions and she’d swoop Noth and his pathetic little band of thugs aside like leaves in the wind.

But she wasn’t there.

He had another go at it the next trial, though he wasn’t sure if it was really the next trial for the passage of time often turned into a pointless and abstract exercise in circumstances such as these. But Finn was bright enough to notice that the bustle of henchmen was louder and busier throughout the cave during the nighttime. He imagined that that was when they’d strike. He sat in silence while the Black Guard rocked back and forth, mumbling sweet nothings to himself. This time he focused his attention on the rock and earth surrounding him. He wasn’t particularly well acquainted with the slow and hard element that so often hated being displaced, but he could speak to it well enough, and it was in no mood to do his bidding.

Again the other voice was there, a presence that was neither elemental nor-

No, it was human. All too human. How had he not noticed before?
A tall, balding man with a neatly trimmed beard, sun-kissed skin and dark, thick eyebrows waved and grinned from the other side of the bars, clearly amused at Finn’s frustrated efforts. Finn took the liberty of pelting a loose rock in the man’s direction, which drew a bout of hollow laughter before the face retreated into the shadows again.

He didn’t get to see Carlos’ face again until Noth (whose presence was preceded by the clatter of his armour and, worse, another entity of neither flesh nor bones), entered to bind him. There was a struggle and an angry cry from the elder Defier suggested that Finn had managed to hit a sensitive spot in a flurry of kicks and punches.

When Noth finally entered he was greeted by a red face, spiky hair and a thin red line marring the youthful face, though it could not be Carlos’ doing, for it had already healed. The culprit had been removed from the holding cell a little while before: the Black Guard who had thrown himself at Finn when the first food and drink had been brought in. At first he’d fought back, but over the last two trials he’d simply surrendered two-thirds to the elder fellow and saved himself from having his face ripped open by dirty, untrimmed nails.

The air seemed to cool even more as Noth’s broad, menacing shadow draped over him. He’d grown less afraid of the Avriel as he knew the Prince was keeping him alive for some purpose or another. Indeed, Noth only confirmed as much when he said that they had much to discuss.

Pity that Finn didn’t say anything.

Well, nothing of use at least.

The first word out of his mouth wasn’t a word at all. It was a phlegm: a thick clod of spit expertly aimed at the Avriel’s face.

“Why don’t you shove that pretty mace up your arsehole, huh? Do you even have an arsehole or are you it? You don’t scare me you fat, ugly pidgeon.” He would’ve made several rude gestures there if he hadn’t been tied down and there were already more vulgarities rising to his throat.

Noth would have to work for his answers.




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To Darkness Deep Where No Men Sleep

Postby Noth » Fri May 25, 2018 4:48 pm

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Ashan 67, 718
It was true that Finn was merely a young boy. That was the reason that the twilight hybrid had been so insistent even when the child had struck out against him that he be treated with at least some semblance of kindness. Oh, naturally he wasn’t foolish enough to simply allow him to wander the premises, or even to escape free from his prison confinement, but he had ensured that food and water were brought to him on a fairly regular basis, and that none of his soldiers had stricken out against the child in any fashion.

That said, he had also not stopped the hunger-crazed man from lashing out at him, nor even reprimanded the action after it had already occurred. The Black Guard had been captured nearly two dozen trials prior, and had sense grown accustomed to waiting inside of the cell, slowly wasting away along with whatever precious secrets he deemed so important that he would take them to the grave. The Avriel had considered simply cutting the man’s life short, and allowing him to finally enter into the eternal rest he desired, but that would be a waste, and it was no concern of his in the end whether the fellow lived or died so much as it was a concern that if he was too quick he might prevent himself from learning more about his enemies. He hoped that the presence of another in the cell might provoke him to more speech, though it seemed his mental faculties had begun to deteriorate in the abyss. Nevertheless, he was a stark reminder to the child of what would happen to those who disobeyed and made themselves rebellious against him.

Carlos had identified without a shadow of a doubt that Finn was a Defier after the first trial had passed. Noth had assumed as much after his fireball casting exploits, but having a professional voice his opinion on the matter as well certainly removed any doubt that might have run through his mind. That was fascinating in itself, because as the Avriel understood it, someone would have had to grant him the abilities to use Defiance. What sort of person would intentionally seek out a child in order to bestow fantastic and mighty abilities upon them? Could it be that the Turkey Company had begun to recruit from such talented persons, and that they were attempting to steal away what little resources remained in the way of mages? There were few for him to take into his own service anyways with the presence of the Seekers and the Coven and the Black Guard… but to further lose more to Gangui and his wretched Corp was an insult.

Upon viewing the child, he was immediately met with a sticky globule of phlegm and snot which traveled across the room with the expert precision that only a regularly-irritated and bratty child could manage, striking directly upon the cheek of his metallic armet. He felt immediately satisfied at the metal helmet’s presence, and concluded with an internal chuckle that it was capable of preventing more than simply blades and bolts, but even the ire of children could be turned away, or, at least the non-verbal portion.

Noth waited a short while for Finn to run through his repertoire of insults and phrases, sitting idly, apparently unphased by what he perceived to be little more than the defiance of youth. Eventually, as the bits dragged on, the Avriel growled softly, and stepped forward into motion, beginning the wolfish encirclement that was often present in his interrogation sessions. There was something particularly unnerving about having a known murderer skulk across your vision and then disappear behind your back, and the Avriel had grown accustomed to rasping one of his talons across the ground with each and every circle just to intensify the discomfort.

“So many words, and so little use from any of them. You must enjoy it here to be so unwilling to simply give me the answers I need.” He paused in his encirclement. Feeling the power of the Beast begin to flow through him, using his body as a conduit into the reality of mortals, conniving alongside it as they settled upon a particular question.

“Where did you get your powers, Finn?” He questioned, not calling upon the Diri for his initial question, as was his typical policy. If it went unanswered or if the boy deigned it necessary to give an answer laced with sarcastic uselessness, he would repeat again.

“Where did you learn Defiance, Finn. Who taught you? Tell me.”
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As a note: Noth is a Grandmaster in Intimidation. That means that he's at least as scary as the Count from Sesame Street. Beware.

"The tyrant confuses those he can't convince, corrupts those he can't confuse, and crushes those he can't corrupt." - Anonymous
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To Darkness Deep Where No Men Sleep

Postby Finnegan O'Connor » Fri May 25, 2018 5:24 pm

To Darkness Deep Where No Men Sleep
67th Ashan, 718


I
n the privacy of his mind, Finn reminded himself that Noth needed him, needed him alive. On the surface he managed to keep his act together, safe for the involuntary shiver when Noth walked around and behind him, where his presence could be felt but not seen. “You must enjoy this shithole of a cave to live here,” he bit back. “How do you keep your dummies from eating the goose? How do you know it hasn’t been eaten yet? Haven’t seen her around and if I am being honest: the bread is a bit a stale, I’d much rather have some roast goose...” he glared up at the red-eyed fiend here, but only managed to keep his eyes trained on those fiery coals for a few trills before he glanced down again. “Any kind of bird would do, really.”

He made a distasteful retching sound and spat again, though not the Avriel’s face but rather just at the bird’s sharp talons. Part of him was relieved to see he missed by a feet or two, fearing the retaliation those claws could bring forth. It would not be a clean or painless death, if such a thing existed at all.

“How about you answer my questions first?” He rubbed his wrists together and grimaced. By Noth’s command no one had hurt him, but Carlos had seized the opportunity to make a particularly tight knot around them and it was starting to itch. “Why do you have a price of ten thousand nels on your head? Why do you let him,” he nudged his head toward the empty spot where the Black Guard was usually drowning in self-pity, “starve, yet you feed me. What did he do anyway? He seems rather harmless…” His ill-timed, misplaced, cocky smile soon faded and was replaced by a more serious look.

“You don’t have to do this Noth. Just ‘cause you look like a monster doesn’t mean you have to act like one.” Or the other way around, he added in his thoughts as his mind drifted to Zipper. She would come, wouldn’t she? She always did.

Except that once-

No. This wasn’t the time to think about that.

“I got my powers from,” he started as a frown marred his forehead, “I got ‘em from here.” He moved his bound hands up to his chest, over his heart and then-

-slowly unrolled both his middlefingers and let Noth take a good look at them. “It’s part of my personality, really. I-”

That was where the cocky, smarmy comments ended. His hands would have shot up to his temples if they weren’t held together by rope. The force of the power assailing his mind was immense, but he was quick to throw up walls, even if they couldn’t last forever. He needs you, he repeated over and over in his head, he needs you alive. The moment I start answering is the moment I lose. I need time. More time…

The pressure only mounted and he could sense his defenses crumbling, his jaw already slackened, opening to formulate a slow, dumb answer, but then he shoved the rope between his wrists into his mouth and bit down so hard that he tasted frayed fibres. “Mnngnm,” he said, “mnnngnmm mnggnhm nmngmng!”



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To Darkness Deep Where No Men Sleep

Postby Noth » Tue May 29, 2018 9:45 am

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It was true that Noth did, in fact, need Finn to survive. If he were questioned on the exact reasons behind why he needed the young child to live, however, it would be revealed that he cared for far more than simple information and knowledge. No, Noth needed Finn to survive, because it was an integral part of his personality. He had long ago descended into the abysmal social pariah that he was today, and he had accepted that his grim outlook and way of dealing with things was necessary if he was ever going to accomplish his goals and save the world. Nevertheless, he had instilled certain rules and regulations in himself to guide his path, and one such was that he would never allow a child to come to harm.

It was difficult to live with such principles when the easier solution presented itself. Oh, he didn’t doubt for a moment that he could simply yank the information free from Finn if he truly wanted to, because he recognized that the child’s tolerance for pain would not be nearly as developed as an adult’s, and it would take perhaps only a couple of breaks with a blade to extract what answers he needed to continue his dread plans. So, instead of falling victim to the slippery slope of child torture, he had decided to simply tear away what little information he could each and every trial, using the Diri which had bonded with him in order to manipulate his mind and withdraw as much as possible.

He wasn’t entirely certain whether or not the Diri was capable of simply yanking the information out all at once, but he took regular breaks regardless so as to avoid accidentally breaking the poor boy’s mind. It wouldn’t have been a physical anguish that he would lash upon him, but it would be a breach of his code of ethics nevertheless to turn Finn into nothing more than a mere husk. That said, he was willing to go quite close to that event horizon before turning away, and for all of his rules and regulations, Noth was still a tyrannical murderer.

Finn began to question the Avriel, turning the tables quickly upon him in an attempt at regaining at least some semblance of control over the situation, and Noth indulged him, assuming that his cooperation would warrant cooperation in turn. The child’s first question was not at all one that the hybrid would have expected, though he wondered whether or not it related somehow to the reason why he had decided to arrive in the first place. Noth desisted in his encirclement, talons raking harshly across the floor once more before coming to a pause directly before the captive.

“I am a threat to the government. They seek my extermination.” He stated bluntly, not bothering to go into the details of Gangui and his never-ending quest for what he perceived to be righteousness, or the fact that he had interacted at least once with Vuda who may or may not have been involved in the actual laying out of the bounty. The next question was at least somewhat more expected, and one that the hybrid had worked up at least a viable answer to, although it was hard to break it down to the level of a mere child who didn’t see the same vision as he had seen.

“The Black Guardsman in your cell was an enemy combatant in a recent raid that took place sometime around twenty trials ago along a roadway between Etzos and Foster’s Landing.” He paused to allow the geography to settle into the child’s mind. “He was spared solely so that we could extract information from him. I have no reason to allow him to live beyond that.” He didn’t mention that he had intentionally thrown the child into the room with the starving man to further deteriorate his convictions, or that he recognized immediately that the desperate fellow would be siphoning off at least a small amount of the boy’s food in order to prevent his inevitable demise, but such thoughts had at one point flickered into existence in the demented bird’s mind.

The questioning came to a close, and the boy resorted to the same pleas that all persons did when they felt terror drawing nearer in the presence of a man turned monster. He spoke of how he didn’t need to do what he was doing, and how his appearance didn’t define him. It was true, there was no doubt that every word was true on at least a technical level. He wasn’t bound by any benign or malevolent force to carry out his mission… and yet… he knew that it had to be accomplished if the world had any chance of survival.

“I’m sorry, Finn. But I do.” He whispered, his conviction wounded for the briefest instant before it bolstered itself once more, and he set about his dreadful work.

There was little doubting that Finn would prove resistant, at least at first to the Diri’s domineering abilities, but that was to be expected. Noth could sit and wait and allow the child to exhaust himself on the rope for a short while, bearing down upon him until finally there was nothing to prevent his speech. Yet… it seemed at least somewhat possible that he might simply continue in his resistance, and time was always on the line in his occupation.

The Diri retracted its mental probe as the hybrid arose and withdrew himself from the room. He paused briefly to speak to a pair of nearby Talons who kept watch over the Black Guard prisoner.

“Take him inside. Tie him to a chair. I’ll be returning shortly.”
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As a note: Noth is a Grandmaster in Intimidation. That means that he's at least as scary as the Count from Sesame Street. Beware.

"The tyrant confuses those he can't convince, corrupts those he can't confuse, and crushes those he can't corrupt." - Anonymous
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To Darkness Deep Where No Men Sleep

Postby Finnegan O'Connor » Fri Jun 01, 2018 11:18 am

To Darkness Deep Where No Men Sleep
67th Ashan, 718


J
ust as sudden as the assault on his mind had started, it ended. The thing had stabbed into his mind like a knife and twisted there, conjuring images of failure upon failure, of all the suffering he’d caused, of all the suffering he lacked the power to stop. Now the blade withdrew, but it left a gaping wound in its path and Finn gasped for air through his nostrils before he pinched himself, making sure that the cold, damp holding cell he found himself in wasn’t another one of the thing’s tricks.

What happened next was unexpected but only served to strengthen Finn’s resolve. The starved, mad Black Guard whose insane mutterings had been Finn’s only company for the past trials was returned to the room and, upon the Tyrant’s instruction, bound to a chair. For a few trills he wondered why the gaunt spectre of a man was being returned to the cell. The man’s stained clothes were as thin, dirty, and threadbare as their owner and his feet showed festering gashes from where he’d cut himself on the rock. The fellow’s pale skin was red with scratch marks from where his overgrown fingernails had raked over his skin, trying, against all hope, to rid himself of the demon in his head, that creature that probed under his skin.

Finn clenched his jaw. If he told Noth what the monster needed to know, he’d end up like this too, reduced to a shadow of his former self and left to rock back and forth in a dark corner. He looked away from the Black Guard, unable to stand the sight of his beaten face any longer. Whatever relief he’d felt at Noth’s departure washed away as he considered the Tyrant’s plan which, undoubtedly, involved harming the poor husk of a man whose eyes had glazed over and dulled a long time ago.

It would be mercy to release him from his suffering. He shot another glance at the man who’d resolved to stare at the ceiling while muttering some confused prayer. The man’s dry lips cracked into a strange, misplaced smile as though some imagined angel had come down to visit him before his face snapped toward Finn with a sudden bewilderment.

“What are- who are? Y-y-you have to s-stop them! Please!” He violently swung himself back and forth in his chair but was unable to free himself. “P-please, no more! No more! No more!”

Finn wished he could cover his ears and shut out the sobbing pleas that the man spewed at him, but even as he averted his gaze, the dreadful sound of a man knowing what terror was about to step through that door echoed throughout the depths of the cave.



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To Darkness Deep Where No Men Sleep

Postby Noth » Fri Jun 01, 2018 12:26 pm

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It was often true that a person’s resolve stood true against a great many trials. Most people had convinced themselves of certain inalienable truths, and it would take a great deal of effort to convince them otherwise. The Etzori people, for instance, held firmly to their belief that the Immortals were little more than tyrants and dictators, and that no matter what they did for mankind, they were little more than a scourge. Noth himself personally found himself agreeing with those sentiments, and he recognized that it would take a great deal of evidence and motivation to convince him otherwise.

That said, there was always a breaking point. No matter the belief or ritual which had been enacted, no matter the reservations a person had made in their mind, there was always a line of stress in which their ideals would fracture under the immensity of the pressure. Whether it be the loss of a close family member or friend, or perhaps the trials and tribulations which arose when one was thrust into poverty… not simply hunger, but true poverty, where one skulked around the alleyways in hopes of snatching up a mere rat which they could devour whole, just to stave off the inevitable demise which faced them.

He would find Finn’s breaking point. Everyone had one.

The rattling of the hybrid’s talons whispered death through the caverns as he approached the room once more, wrestling about with the strange entity within his hands, and ensuring that he had a firm hold of it as he entered into the room. The… thing; for it had certainly lost any hope of ever being referred to merely as an animal, wriggled and hissed in vehemence at its manhandling, biting weakly at the metallic garments which bore its weight, unable to pierce through the steel, and yet, undeterred by the lack of progress in its insatiable desire to consume.

The Avriel approached the fellow who had been chained to the seat, bringing the maggot into view. It was roughly the size of a small dog or a particularly large cat, and it never ceased in its incessant wriggling, the mucus and liquid dripping off of it in waves, leaving a sticky substance wherever it lashed. On its head was a notable mouth, filled with razor teeth which grinded, agitated against the gauntlets. Small and beady eyes peered out, unnatural in their size, in the way that they remained dead-forward at all times, unblinking, unshifting, and black in a manner that immediately evoked a sense of revulsion even in the Avriel.

It had been exposed to necromantic energy over a long period of time. Originally, it had been one of the projects of Neronin when he had still served under the banner of Al’Angyryl, but in his absence, Divinya had begun to experiment on the abominations herself, continuing to feed them the necromantic energy which they craved and which had birthed forth their massive size. Noth wasn’t even entirely certain whether the beasts were alive or dead, so active was their constant squirming, and their unbearable desire to consume all flesh that they perceived, and, in the end, it was unimportant.

Releasing one of his hands from the vicious maggot for an instant, he latched it upon the limb of the Black Guardsman, and promptly shifted it so that his hand was firmly attached to Finn’s own arm, capable of pressing it on it, perhaps a comforting gesture in some ways to the fellow, though… its purpose was quite literally the opposite.

“Stubbornness bears little fruit, Finn.” He sighed with evident exasperation, returning his grip fully upon the maggot before it could writhe free of his grasp, threatening it with malignant crimson eyes.

“What do you think Strength is, Finn?” He began, latching his eyes upon the boy, unmoving for perhaps the first time in their many interviews, simply standing before him, his hands the only piece of him which moved, and even then only to quell the escape attempts of the maggot.

“So many people thing that strength is all about your ability to lift things, to throw things. They see it as something physical. A person is strong if they’re able to overpower, and they’re weak if they cannot.” He spoke in a matter-of-fact way, as though he were explaining a lesson to a child, and, in many ways, he was. The Avriel shook his head with a weak smile underneath the metallic armet. “No. For all the strength of men who bear their bodies as weapons unto themselves, it takes little to slay a man, a sword, an arrow…”

“Does that mean that weapons are strong? Is that what strength is about? Possessing the best equipment, the hardiest steel, the sharpest adamantite?” He reached down for the mace at his side, tossing it aside as though it were refuse with a sharp clunk as it struck the wall. “Ah. I’m deprived of it. Am I weak now? Have I lost all of my strength?” The question was rhetorical, and the viciousness in his eyes spoke as much to the boy.

“What about your powers. Your magic? A great many people around the world have grown to prominence and power with such abilities… yet, can you name a single one who now remains king of his chosen country? Is there a single one allowed in distant Rynmere who may defy the laws of its lord? What of Hiladrith? What of even here where the Coven and the Citadel convene to leash your kind like dogs? What strength is there as a slave, even one with grandiose ability?”

Finally, the hybrid shook his head simply. “None of it is Strength, Finn. Oh, it can let you do things, it’s not worthless, but money or equipment, prominence, magic… none of it is really strength.”

“Strength comes from within. It’s something inside of you.” He removed a gauntlet from the worm for a moment, pressing a pair of digits against the child’s chest where his heart lay. “It’s something you possess no matter your circumstances, no matter what you claim.” He paused, retracting the hand. “It’s not merely choosing how you live, what you do, what you think. Even the worm here can choose what it does with its life. Merely being able to act doesn’t make strength… strength is so much more than that.”

"Strength is deciding what happens next. Strength is being able to approach any crowd of people and dictate what they will do. Strength is deciding who lives and who dies, how much of this goes to whom, and how much of that to another.”

“Strength is all about being able to make decisions. To force orders that will not be countermanded or disobeyed. Strength is being able to save your loved ones, and condemn your enemies.”

“Screw the magic, the metal, the position. I can call in a man now and torch the room to cinders, or I can direct my gaze to a caravan, and it will crumble at my command. That’s strength.”


“You’re resilient, child. You’re far more resistant than I would ever have anticipated, but… are you strong? Are you willing to choose the fates of others? Are you willing to be the one who decides? You do not always choose to possess strength… at times, it is thrust upon you.”

Without another word, the Avriel directed the maggot and its maw towards the waiting hand of the Black Guard, the one which was still latched down upon his chair. The vicious creature was quick to snap at what it perceived to be food, its maw digging into flesh, ripping away at the meat with a suckling crunch as it tore through his hand. The screams were unbearably close, brilliantly loud, the suckling worm devouring into meat for several trills until the hybrid pulled it away, leaving merely a messy lump of muscle and bone where once a hand had remained, bleeding, leaking upon the floor in vivid crimson. All the while through the excruciating experience, the other hand of the guardsman would clamp down upon Finn’s own arm, sharing only the faintest fraction of the suffering he was enduring, showcasing what was happening to him in the only way he could when his voice was shredded by the shrieks.

“Show me your strength, Finn.”
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As a note: Noth is a Grandmaster in Intimidation. That means that he's at least as scary as the Count from Sesame Street. Beware.

"The tyrant confuses those he can't convince, corrupts those he can't confuse, and crushes those he can't corrupt." - Anonymous
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To Darkness Deep Where No Men Sleep

Postby Finnegan O'Connor » Fri Jun 01, 2018 1:40 pm

To Darkness Deep Where No Men Sleep
67th Ashan, 718


T
he dreaded noise of Noth’s approach was enough for the sobbing man to still himself, his pleas now replaced by rapid, shallow breathing and his dull eyes tearing away from the boy and settling on the metal door with a sense of unbearable finality.

Finn swallowed down a gulp at the sight of Noth who could’ve made his fortune in a freak circus, could’ve chosen to remain a hermit in his cave, could’ve chosen to direct all his might and fury at the Immortals who cursed him and at his own kin, who’d shunned him. Instead, Noth’s shadow loomed over him once more, and the effect was just as potent now as it had been the first time Finn had encountered the reclusive monster and his goose.

Was that Vern in his hands? What use would a goose be-
No, it was not Vern. Vern didn’t squirm, didn’t drool, didn’t hiss and stretch and make squishy noises as it moved. He thought he saw a limb. Was it a babe ripped from a mother’s womb? Slayed and then reanimated? Finn gagged as the entirety of the monstrosity came into view, its pale skin glistening with slimy moisture and its angry, hungry teeth bared. Everything about the wretched creature was wrong: its body was too large, its eyes bulged too much, its teeth were misaligned and festering with rot.

When Noth halted before them and then stirred his hand, Finn leapt back, as best he could given the ropes around his wrists and ankles, but the squirming maggot wasn’t tossed in his lap to feast on his flesh. Instead, the cold, dreadful hand of the Avriel forced the Black Guard’s bony digits onto Finn’s arm and the once proud guardsman, revered among the Guard as a brave and honorable man, clutched to the only comfort it could find. The hand shaked and trembled like a shivering stalk in the wind and Finn could not bring himself to pull away.

Still he said nothing. Only his eyes spoke, overflowing with hate and repulsion for Noth, matching those red, malevolent eyes as he conceived of the many horrors he’d bestow upon the demented bird as soon as he’d been released. The very thought that he’d once rested his head against the monster’s feathers now made him sick to his stomach. He’d almost made friends with this beast, this monster, this mad creature. No wonder there was such a high prize on his head: for the cruelty Noth was about to bestow upon the Black Guard, he deserved to be hung thrice over.

There was another flicker of fear in his eyes when Noth reached for his mace, followed by an inaudible sigh of relief when it was tossed aside. While the Tyrant mocked and lectured him, the hand clutching his arm ceased to shake. Finn looked to the Black Guard who seemed to have been cured from his growing insanity. There was a flicker of life in that frame, and all of its fading power was concentrated on the wriggling worm in Noth’s gauntleted hands. For a trill the Black Guard had regained his courage and stared his fate dead in the eye.

Then he screamed.

The chair shot back and forth as the wyrm gnawed at the supple meat, tore it free from the bone and splattered the ground with blood and thin stirps of meat, tossed aside and forgotten in blind, furious hunger. The only thing keeping man and chair from toppling over was the hand, those overgrown fingernails digging into Finn’s arm, holding on to the only remaining solid thing in the man’s wretched existence.

“Stop it!” Finn cried out. It was only by merit of his voice being youthfully pitched that it managed to cut through the ceaseless, retching screams of the guard. Somewhere he knew that the man was consigned to death either way and the only choice he had was whether or not that death would be quick, or slow and torturous.

The maggot, blinded with hunger, fell to the floor when it had consumed the last of the hand, leaving nothing but a leaking stump in its wake. Some part of it still possessed senses as it crawled forward, falling and tumbling and rolling and snaking, leaving a faint trail of slime behind it as it edged ever closer to the man’s leg.

If strength was what Noth demanded, then he could get it.

He’d hoped to have kept his second magic hidden for longer, to use it to aid in an escape, to corrode the lock in the door at the opportune moment to flee, but now Noth had forced him to reveal his power sooner. He reached for the ether, and it came easily to him, fueled by his anger and determination to commit hurt.

But not to Noth. Nor to the maggot.

Not directly.

The Ether Missile that flashed and bolted forth from his bound hands emerged at a strange angle and struck the Black Guard in his side. It wasn’t Finn who shrugged off the man’s remaining hand, it was simply the guard’s hand that stiffened as he toppled over, chair and all, then struck the floor with a sickening crunch.

It was hard to say what send the man into the after-realm. Perhaps it was starvation, perhaps it was loss of blood, perhaps it was the crackling ether missile that had blasted a chunk out of him, perhaps it was the force with which his head struck the rock. Only one thing was certain: the screaming had ended.

Had he not been fed a diet of bread and water, the ether missile might’ve simply left him winded, but now its cost was immediately felt in his throbbing temples. His hands now aimed at Noth, but the second ether missile that came forth had nowhere near the strength of the first one, and that Tyrant would have had plenty forewarning.

“I’ll never tell you! I’ll never forgive you! You made me a murderer!” he cried out, tears running down his face as he did his best to put as much distance between himself and Noth and the bloody mess as he possibly could. He didn't want to see it, didn't want to hear it, didn't want to smell the stink of death or taste the bitter iron of blood in his mouth. "I'd rather be dead!"



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To Darkness Deep Where No Men Sleep

Postby Noth » Fri Jun 01, 2018 2:42 pm

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Noth could see the evident repulsion as it lashed across Finn’s features, and he took heed of the boy’s struggle to distance himself as much as possible from the abominable amalgamation. In truth, the twilight hybrid himself had occasionally found himself utterly disgusted by the presence of some of the necromantic creations of his servants. Certainly, they served their purpose, and their efficiency in accomplishing tasks that would endanger or permanently harm living beings was undeniably useful, but they were nevertheless wretched creations. Visually, they were otherworldly in a disgusting fashion, and they could elicit a rising of bile in the back of ones throat if they had not prepared themselves for their presence. Perhaps even more disgusting, however, was the absolutely abhorrent odor which permeated their every pore, a side-effect of the constant state of rot which latched itself to their flesh, despite the relative preservation often granted to them by their necromantic creators.

For all the disgust, however, Noth knew that the worm within his hands would serve a grand purpose in breaking apart the resolve of the child, and after the gory mess had concluded in its entirety, he thought that he could perceive a break in the boy’s resolve. He had heard him shriek amidst the unpalatable violence, but at the time, he had made no effort to pause. If he had stopped too early, there was always the chance that his resolve would return to him at the ordered cessation of cruelty, and there was far too much potentially at stake to need to drill into his mind over the period of several more trials. Lives could potentially be on the line if he did not learn every aspect of the dreaded Turkey Company, and of the sneaking plots that they had conceived to capture him.

The Avriel released the maggot upon the floor to roll steadily closer to the fellow at its snail’s pace, crimson eyes focusing upon Finn, paying little heed to the whimpering mess of a man, the one who constantly glanced between the stump upon his body, the worm, the pool of blood and rent meat, and the boy who had decided his fate with inaction.

Except… he wasn’t being inactive any longer.

Noth had, quite honestly, believed that the Defier outside of the room was capable of holstering any of the abilities that Finn could exhibit against him. He had felt the fireball sting against his flesh, and had assumed that the ethereal energy he had dispelled had been little more than another trick of Defiance unknown to him. It came as something of a genuine surprise when it was revealed to be something which Carlos could not immediately detain, and there was a flicker of shock which flashed through his eyes as the whimpering guardsman was permanently silenced, not by his own hand, but by that of a child.

Naturally, he was not so disabled with surprise that he was unable to see the boy’s hands preparing for another missile, and his battle-hardened reflexes allowed him to redirect his gauntlet-bound hand, intercepting the bolt of energy and dissipating it into non-existence with relative ease. Crimson eyes glared at the boy, analyzing him for a several moments, attempting to decipher all of what had occurred within such a short period of mere trills, and then, as though a calming tide had lolled over them, his composure returned to its fullest.

“Strength indeed.” He spoke with new-found conviction, casting a glance at the corpse beside him, and the hungering worm which sped towards its meal, leaving a wet streak across the floor.

The boy cried out, shrieking in his childish manner that he would never reveal the information that he was withholding within him, that he would never grant amnesty to the murderous Avriel for making him complicit in the slaying of the man, and… some part of Noth deep away mourned very briefly at the loss of what might have been an apprentice. He did not enjoy his work, did not enjoy carving away at people and tearing them asunder, of committing such dreadful deeds, but all of it was necessary if they would ever achieve the paradisiac conditions that he had seen within the depths of his mind, that he had convinced himself could be brought forward.

“I did not make you a murderer, Finn. I made you a savior.” He spoke softly, consolingly, his voice gentle and light in stark contrast with the vile actions he had committed mere moments prior. He knelt down before the boy, keeping his gauntlet held lightly upon his bounded hands so as to prevent anything treacherous whilst he spoke, and looked him in the eyes. “He was suffering, he was broken and shattered. He would have bled to death, or starved, and perished in some other miserable and terrible way, and you saw that. You looked into yourself, and you saw what would happen, and you thought, ‘Lo, I can make a difference. I can decide the outcome.”

He nodded briefly in apparent confirmation of his own words. “You were strong. You made a decision.”

“I’ve made decisions too, Finn. I’ve seen what has to happen, what must occur… I know how to save the world, how to bring it out of this dark era of constant strife and death and suffering, and if that means throwing a dozen men into this cell until you finally tell me what I want to know, and letting that accursed thing eat them in front of you, I will do it.”

The Diri outstretched its’ tempting hand once more to the child’s mind, urging him to speak, to rescue himself from the dreadful fate and simply reveal what it knew.
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Credit to Pegasus

As a note: Noth is a Grandmaster in Intimidation. That means that he's at least as scary as the Count from Sesame Street. Beware.

"The tyrant confuses those he can't convince, corrupts those he can't confuse, and crushes those he can't corrupt." - Anonymous
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To Darkness Deep Where No Men Sleep

Postby Finnegan O'Connor » Fri Jul 13, 2018 10:24 pm

To Darkness Deep Where No Men Sleep
67th Ashan, 718


T
he fire that now assailed The Prince was not fire made manifest through ether, but a flame kindled in the deepest pits of the soul. Nothing could match the scorching glare of the Eternal Prince, but for a thing half the Prince's size and half his age, Finn came dangerously close. The color in his eyes was half eaten away by puffy, swollen, red eyelids yet he kept his gaze firmly trained on the Avriel as the wicked creature spoke. The repugnant smell of the crawling worm permeated the air, as if the flesh it had consumed was rotting away inside its guts that instant.

For all it had consumed, the mewling necrospawn was still unsatiated and Finn believed The Prince when he promised more husks would be brought in, to wither away here with him and be eaten alive unless he acted now and gave Noth what he wanted. How many trials had passed since he'd come to Noth alone? He recoiled at the Avriel’s touch, but in the end could do nothing about it and for a while the only sound was that of the hungry worm dragging its disproportionate body forward across the rock floor.

Perhaps it was better if he yielded, if he simply gave up and hoped for the best. There was no telling how many more people Noth would feed to his despicable pet before he'd grow impatient and would resort to different methods of persuasion. He noticed a familiar force pushing in on the edges of his mind, beckoning him to let go of the hate, the anger, to give in to the fear before he called a fate worse than death upon himself and countless more ro come.

Suddenly he stirred, as if he'd dozed off in a cramped, hot classroom and had been tapped on the fingers by a stern teacher. With a jolt he sat upright and began to speak, softly at first, but growing stronger with every next sentence.

“There was no scheme against you by Turkey Company. It was my idea. There's a prize on your head and I thought I could claim it. I thought I could lure you out and- and... ”

His ears started to burn as he met the Prince's gaze once more. What he'd just confessed was nothing short of treachery, betrayal of the creature that had once sheltered him against cold and rain and darkness. “I- I didn't mean to get anyone killed… I need to go, go away. Away!” He shook his head from one side to the other. “Get out .... get out, get out, get out!” He rocked back and forth, then raised his arms suddenly in defense against an invisible strike. “No, Zipper, no, I didn't tell anyone, I swear! I swear!” He threw himself into the closest corner and curled up into a ball of limbs, his feet scuffing across the floor as he battled the invisible force that sight to invade his mind. “Go away…” he muttered. “Go away… just leave me alone, please!



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