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xx Guard me now, for I can't see
« Thread started on: Aug 22nd, 2009, 6:04pm »

Dimitri woke up on fire. He jumped to his feet and beat out the flames on his shirt tails and up the side of his pants. Then he realized that he had no idea where he was. He looked up. Sand. Yes. Very good. Not terribly helpful. And something was wrong. In every direction he could see only desert. He didn’t remember being in a desert. He remembered being in a basement. He had been in a basement with Dr Ludwig. They had drawn on the floor three circles in salt and lamb’s blood, just like the books had said. Something was wrong.

He looked down. His nice, white slacks were more or less intact, if black at the seams and cuffs. That might come out. His boots were still shined. His nickel plated Colt still hung in its holster. He unclipped the top. The barrel was slightly melted along the edge, but it was otherwise intact. Ludwig had laughed at him for putting it on. “If anything goes wrong,” He’d said. “You’ll need more than that!” Dim had reasoned that, since it was him giving up his soul, he would wear whatever the hell made him feel better.

His vest was in shreds. He’d lost his suit coat. He pulled the melted, twisted remains of his pocket watch from his pocket and dropped it to the sand. Useless. The shirt underneath was also in pieces. The top two buttons were still done, up to his neck, and the bottom buttons were intact. The cuffs were still done up. However, there was a giant, smoking hole from his chest to his abdomen. The shirt fluttered like a sail in the almost breeze. Underneath his skin seemed untouched; completely intact. But something was wrong.

He sat down and turned that feeling over in his mind. They had summoned the Creatures of the Unfathoms. That had gone well. They’d payed them in sugar and cream to speak to their superiors. The whole thing had gone just as planned, actually, except…except he remembered Ludvig’s head had come off. His arms too. Actually all of Ludvig had come off. That fact created no panic. There was no feeling of loss or victory. He just felt empty. Then he realized it.

“Oh.” He said. His voice made monotone seem thrilling. “God.”
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xx Re: Guard me now, for I can't see
« Reply #1 on: Aug 22nd, 2009, 6:32pm »

A hundred years before, a native tribe further into the numberless sands than their usual migratory swing took them took direction from a seer with hexmarks wrapped around his arm, pointing true west, pacing a leyline with beaded moccasins and withering determination. A hundred and fifty years on metal men in metal carriages race on metal ribbons beneath a sign bearing a pair of emblazoned 6's: Ten thousand years in both directions is dry, dust dry, and dead, dust dead.

The leyline has all of these things in it. The leyline remembers/knows/forgets it an displays it like a scroll unfurled in a world of unlettered minds.

It has a gentlemen in shredded clothing on it. Roughly now. Six days from now.

And it isn't supposed to.
(A hexeye blinks. A set of recursive painted markers indicating an eye. Lines pointing to a center. Tiny conveyances for localized power to force the eye to see.

Maybe a dozen are painted on tent flaps and floormat, cut into the table, cut into the untouched steak on the table.

A single massive eye blazes violet from a dormant iron shape, a frozen iron smell, lumbered in the searing tent's corner. )
It isn't natural.

Josaphine closes her hexeye and shoves her cap back onto her head. Her biological eyes open, assess the smoldering tent, direct one long, pale arm to shove the tent flap open. Arching her back, hooves bare in the tent mouth, sweat glistening off her shoulders and arm and face, she reaches out and places her palm on the iron eye. The tent's ambient temperature falls a dozen degrees.

A voice like the grating of iron gears says:
"Ye...s...my....la...deeeeee"
A voice like a silk firecracker says:
"Get up, ther' somefin' ta be seein' 'bout."

+++ Six days later+++

The concentration of history here created a tangible force. Past, present and future eyes strained to make out illusions of Josaphine's form in the swirling heat, took her for mirages or dreams or sendings from minor saints with long dark hair and wild lightning eyes. The patron saint of ten-gallon hats.

If it made Josaphine uneasy she gave no sign. Seated sidesaddle on Win's shoulder, with her hooves crossed daintily and one long, impossibly pale arm wrapped around his skull, coiling up the parasol he supported, she waited.
Alternating between her wildeye and her organic ones, she had the mien of a collector. Of a specialist.

It became an air of smug certainty as the swirling dust settled around Dimitri.

She banged one of her hooves against the barrel chest of the great metal man she rode. Eight feet wrought iron, sandblasted and pocked and worked very simply, it stood absolutely steadfast with a dome head and jagged holes for eyes. A hexeye was picked out on it's chest in imperial purple. The word WIN was written in engineer's block lettering down the left arm. Hexagramic wards and tiny printing covered every inch of the body, giving it the mottled appearance of scales.

Oddly enough, an apron had been tied around it's dome skull, covering almost half of it's gigantic torso. None of this seemed unusual or even relevant to Josaphine, who's entire will was bent on Dimitrie.

"Ah, oi! Be ye man a' demon? Way do ye heah?"
« Last Edit: Aug 22nd, 2009, 6:45pm by Sykes » User IP Logged

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xx Re: Guard me now, for I can't see
« Reply #2 on: Aug 22nd, 2009, 7:11pm »

Dimitri had been sitting in the sand for almost an hour. The back of his neck was burned. There was, he had established, a matching hole in the back of his shirt and vest. His skin was slowly burning there as well. His elbows were set against his knees. His fingers were steeped before his thin nose. He glared through this crosshair and thought of Senka. He had reasoned thusly: He needed his soul back. Somewhere in this wretched world his soul spun loose and free. He had to have it back. He was sure he could find it. He did not question this assurance. He needed Senka. No one had told his younger sister, but she was possibly the best he’d seen. Both of them had been talented, physically and mentally. Both had been stoic and dedicated absolutely. He needed her. He needed her because alone, in all the world, he could be sure that she would follow him.

He also knew that he was no longer a follower. He wasn’t entirely certain he qualified as human anymore. Many people included ‘soul’ in their definition of humanity. It was difficult to focus on the matter at hand. He wanted to tear something down. He wanted to tear anything down. What a strange feeling. He’d never had it before. He was also in pain, as if had been hit with a cart…repeatedly. Suddenly, someone spoke to him. He immediately kicked himself for letting something like…that…to sneak up on him. He didn’t feel surprised. He felt very much as he had a moment ago, only aware of a Golem and a girl.

“Good…um…afternoon I assume.” Dimitri said in his best ‘pay no attention to the fact that I was recently on fire’ voice. “I am a man, more or less, though who knows what any of us are, at a sub-superficial level. Here, I mean that…ahem.” He looked about him, realized his hands were still crossed in a rather villain-esc way. He dropped them. He also tried to lean back, aware that he had not been moving as a normal person might in order to communicate ease. “I am sitting here, at the moment. I am a little lost I suppose. My name is Dimitri August Secutus.” He pronounced the name with the accents in all the right places. “And you are?”
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xx Re: Guard me now, for I can't see
« Reply #3 on: Aug 22nd, 2009, 7:54pm »

"Jos-a-phine Mar-ee Paller." She managed the name with an affected western accent almost as convincing as Win's attempt to pass for human. The construct shifted slightly at some invisible whim of his mistress, causing her legs to boom around, flashing pale and thin beneath her billowing skirt.

"And y'aren't lost so much as you be completely lost or may-as-be doomed."

Josaphine cleared her throat and peaked her cap with a thumb.

"Ye be a dozen miles frae any city o' note. An wi'out any water or like. Ye've drawn poorly, I am afrae."

Josaphine pushed off her seat on Win, who slouched to lessen her drop. Her skirt settled around her ankles. Dust settled around her shoulders. The height of the golem served to set off Josaphine's shrunken stature. Barely five feet tall with two feet of black-sand-black hair swishing around her diminutive shoulders, Josaphine's only concession to the heat was Win's parasol. Her dress was flawless, unmarred by even the most minor of sweat-stains on it's stylish blue-and-white sweep. A pattern of white fleur-de-lis defined the shoulders. A pale leather gunbelt matching her pale, sundried hat, indicated where her waist was, her fine form otherwise lost in the dress's sweep.

"If human ye be at all!"
This last, delivered with one, razorsharp index finger leveled at his sternum, followed up by pinprick eyes.
"I axe agin'! Be ye man or devil?!"
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xx Re: Guard me now, for I can't see
« Reply #4 on: Aug 22nd, 2009, 8:46pm »

Well, that made things more difficult. It certainly made sense that he would be flung somewhere hostile. The powers they had been tampering with did not like to leave witnesses. They also did not like to directly murder anyone. It was actually a fairly good way to go about things, as a rule. Well, he needed to get out of here. He hoped he wouldn’t have to kill this woman to do so. He wondered if he could, if it came to it. She seemed made of hard stuff, and there was that thing she had with her. He didn’t look forward to taking on that.

Dimitri smiled at Josephine. It was a smile in the same way that a bowl of milk is ice cream. “You certainly are a difficult person.” He said, blandly. “I am a man. My turn.” He raised a thin hand to the metal man. “What is that?”
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xx Re: Guard me now, for I can't see
« Reply #5 on: Aug 22nd, 2009, 9:09pm »

Josaphine rapped a knuckle on the machine's chest, unsettling a cloud of vapour and a rolling, tolling clangor.

"Issa Win'. I made'em, ah-mee-go." The last rolled off Josaphine's lips like a seven carriage pile-up. The western dialect remained elusive and alien.

Josaphine's face was pinching steadily. Over the last two statements a possessive, gleaming grin had become a vexed scowl, two stretched brows becoming heavy slants over narrowed eyes. Hrumphing, a noise which lacks any sort of commanding posture when you're four feet tall and tiny, she neatly flipped her hat off her head, closed both of her biological eyes and opened a third, vividly green eye in the center of her forehead. She blinked once, and spoke again, low and slolw.

"Ya not lyin' to me, you be man: So why be ye so scrawled wit' voodoo sittin' onna ley line so far away from any'tin?"
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xx Re: Guard me now, for I can't see
« Reply #6 on: Aug 22nd, 2009, 9:23pm »

“I was bound by honor and faith to trade my soul so that my boss might receive the dark powers of the underworld.” He said offhandedly. He inspected the hole in his shirt. “I seem to be more or less in one piece, however. Though he came came out the worst for it. Perhaps not. Hm…Yes. Anyway, I seem to have been dropped off here, where I made your wonderful acquaintance.”

He didn’t see any reason to lie. Lies were for people who had something to hide. As it was, he was smoldering in the middle of the desert facing a very dangerous young woman with the ability to create phenomenal weapons. No, at this point he was curious how she would react. No. The decision was good. There was no reason to lie to her. Either he made a connection here, or he would have to fight her, or she would back down and leave. The first and last were good. If they fought and he died, well, that would be less than good, but he had trouble caring much beyond a vague sense of self safety. At least he had the revolver.

“So, care to give a poor, lost, man a lift?”
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xx Re: Guard me now, for I can't see
« Reply #7 on: Aug 22nd, 2009, 9:45pm »

This evidently was closer to her initial imagination of this gathering. Josaphine's face lit up like a prairie sunset.
"Ah ye' a gentle-en-man, so I could no refuse ye anyhoo"

Josaphine bowed low, swishing her skirts and striking a hoof on the sand. She bowed like a man might, hair dipping and grinning like a fool, as she gestured towards 'Win.

If an energy like this could be sidetracked, she had been. Her tone was thickly cajun and two halves of incomprehensible at the best of times, laden with a sort of mangrove sarcasm, as deep as swamp soil and as dark as swamp night, the congenital cadences of voodoo, but now it was truncated, clipped, without the usual rooty-tooty western flair. She kept stealing glances at this gentlemen out of the corner of her eyes. All three of them. Consulting the shape, the strange, apparently dormant, hexshapes around and inside of him.

Josaphine scrambled onto the golem, sitting softly if somewhat compactly in the crook of it's right arm, offering the more traditional cushion seat on it's right shoulder to Dim.

"What did you be given for your masta's strength, if I may be askin'?"
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xx Re: Guard me now, for I can't see
« Reply #8 on: Aug 23rd, 2009, 07:46am »

“Ah yes. Hm.” Dimitri rose and dusted off his ruined pants. He wasn’t entirely sure how he was meant to get onto that thing. Certainly, it couldn’t be done with any kind of grace. With a deep breath he stuck his foot against a bolt and heaved himself up to the shoulder. He grimaced. Balancing his weight on his chest meant bringing up that pain again; like he’d been slammed through a wall by an enormous fist. Finally, he managed a sitting position and delicately, placed a hand over Win’s head. The big chap didn’t seem to mind.

“Nothing at all, madam.” Dimitri continued. “As I said I was bound by honor as a servant and disciple. My leader asked for my soul to furnish his goals and I gave it to him. I was naïve to say the least, but we all learn our lessons in time. May I inquire as to where we are headed? Not that I’m partial, so long as it’s not desert.”
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xx Re: Guard me now, for I can't see
« Reply #9 on: Aug 23rd, 2009, 7:43pm »

"Aye, well, ah hope a spiritual desert won' pose a problem."

At some kind of unspoken command, Win turned and began to trot, slowly, and then more quickly, eating up sand with a rigid, tottering stride almost, but not quite perfectly coordinated to make the rider's position completely intolerable.

"It's Clauden, a lil' burg away from anythin' but they've all sor'a things there, as you might want."

Josaphine waffled for a second, tapping her fists on Win's carapace.

"So wha' can you be offerin' t' pay fer the ride?"
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xx Re: Guard me now, for I can't see
« Reply #10 on: Aug 23rd, 2009, 8:15pm »

Dimitri chuckled to himself. Not because he found it amusing, but because he was aware that it should be. He was aware that a comment about a soul desert was exactly what he was experiencing, and thus the comment was hilariously ironic. So he laughed. Well, that was depressing.

“Clauden might do fine. I need a set of clothes at the very least. I will have to relocate some money. Come again?” He looked down from where he clung to Win’s head. “As you can see I have absolutely nothing to trade for…this lift. I suppose my eternal gratitude is unacceptable?”
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xx Re: Guard me now, for I can't see
« Reply #11 on: Aug 23rd, 2009, 8:28pm »

"Well mayhaps y'can work off whatcha owe me?"

Josaphine allowed more of the natural edging to her grin back in. Win picked up speed, burring the scenery and setting up a scorching clip. His frosty, wickedly chill nature was more evident, as was a slow, creeping swamp-gas scent as he picked up momentum. The skin of machine began to slowly frost, the cushioned seat which Dim sat on dropped a dozen degrees. Josaphine shivered.

"I assume ya' old boss didn' just keep y' around for bein' traded. So what sorta' t'ings do you thin' you could do to pay for this kind service a' mine?"
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xx Re: Guard me now, for I can't see
« Reply #12 on: Aug 23rd, 2009, 9:19pm »

Dimitri narrowed his eyes in irritation. It was hard to see because he was too busy being knocked asunder. Instead, he tried to insert the irritation into his voice. “I am a bit tired of being a servant, ma’am. However, as you have me at a uh…disadvantage. Perhaps I could do a favor or two for you. I am well educated in most subjects, versed in half a dozen instruments, and fluent in 5 languages. I assume that you are more interested in my combat abilities, which I assure you, are extensive. I can also whistle passably. Also,” he looked about curiously.

How had he not noticed the air seemed to be, well, colder? He made a mental note. Apparently the lack of a soul came with a certain sensory…numbness. He should have noticed as soon as Josephine had been able to clamor up to him. This could be problematic. “Why is it so cold?”
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xx Re: Guard me now, for I can't see
« Reply #13 on: Aug 24th, 2009, 9:12pm »

Josaphine patted Win's trunk, eclipsing some of the gently pulsating inscriptions covering his torso. They had a subtle glow, somewhat unpleasant to the eye.

"Ah that'd be tha' witchcraft. Win's not a nat'ral bein', y'see. He's op'rated by hexwards containin' a spirit."

Josaphine considered briefly mentioning that this in turn allowed drinks to be kept cool inside of him. She decided, on principle to that this lacked somewhat the dignity she was attempting to comport.

"An' the work would be obtainin' a coupla things, probably fairy simple work, I should 'tink. Ye'd be compensated, ah can make all sor'a useful tings."
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xx Re: Guard me now, for I can't see
« Reply #14 on: Aug 26th, 2009, 9:26pm »

“Interesting.” Dimitiri mumbed without meaning it. The construction of magically powerful items might be useful. On the other hand, messing with magical items had not proven entirely safe in the recent past. He would have to be much more careful. On the other hand, there wasn’t much more he could lose. Magic tended to obsess over the soul thing.

“So, tell me, Josephine.” He was finding it increasingly difficult to maintain composure on top of a giant, freezing, rumpling robot. “What can you do for tracking?”
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