Before Winter Comes [ze_kraken x Morgan]

ze_kraken

Professional Squid
Original poster
Roleplay Invitations
Group Roleplays, One on One Roleplays
Posting Speed
A Few Posts a Week, One Post a Week
My Usual Online Time
16:00-20:00 US Central
Writing Levels
Adept, Advanced, Prestige
Genders You Prefer Playing
No Preferences
Playing Style- Passive or Aggressive
Depends on the group; I am used to GMing most of the things I'm in, but I can easily let someone else take the reigns.
Favorite Genres
Cyberpunk, Sci-fi, Fantasy, and other low-tech/fantasy.
Genre You DON'T Like
Multiverses, canon fandoms, and most modern.

179511

Prologue - Haven
The dawn had barely come as Ethan roused himself from a fruitless, nightmare-wracked slumber. For a good while he had remained inert in bed, muscles protesting the very thought of motion. His eyes hung heavy, his mind clouded and still halfway between cold reality and peaceful rest. Sun filtered through the cracks in the boards pinned to his windows - a faint pink and amber, highlighting the dust floating around his bedroom as he watched the ceiling fan above, picturing it whirring about as it might have years ago. Only now it was as motionless and still as Ethan.

Grunting, Ethan hoisted himself into a sitting position, grimacing as his shoulders popped and he stretched his legs. He planted his feet on the ground, swaying as the blood rushed to his head and gripping the bed frame tight to keep from collapsing back on the bed. Reflexively, Ethan reached to his bedside table and opened the first drawer, pushing his handgun aside and reaching for a small carton of cigarettes and a box of matches. With unsteady hands, he flicked the match across the side of its box and brought the lit cigarette to his lips, taking a long drag and exhaling. Almost instantly his nerves calmed and his hands stilled.

Standing up after finishing his cigarette, Ethan dressed himself in a pair of disheveled jeans and a flannel shirt with the sleeves rolled to his elbows. Though it was barely July, it was already beginning to feel like autumn. He flung his belt through his jeans, ensuring his knife was there and retrieving his gun from his bedside table and placing it squarely in its holster. Lastly, Ethan tucked away a few cigarettes in his shirt's front pocket and left.

By the time Ethan left his small, unassuming house on the edge of Haven, the sun was beginning to peek its head through the clouds and foothills in earnest, casting the gloomy morning in a dimly lit haze. Further down the road to his left stood Haven's wall - an impressive structure of rusted sheet metal and tires stacked high, with a parapet and cover atop the wall to protect from conventional weapons as well as the dead. Markus, the sentry posted to this particular section of the wall, waved from his post down at Ethan, crossbow held at ease.

"Mornin'!" He called down.

Ethan raised a hand in greeting and made his way to the center of the town, boots crunching against the hideously ill-maintained and weed-infested road below. Haven had been built in an old, historic downtown of a county seat deep within the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains. Its wall, which Ethan had no fondest idea of how people had managed such a project, stood blocking each of the four main access points to the town center. The town hall had been converted to a fortress of sorts, lined with sandbags and barricaded at all points of access while the town's park had been turned entirely into a farm that was able to sustain its meager 30 or so inhabitants. Whatever they couldn't grow, they scrounged for outside of the town.

Already the town was beginning to stir - people were waking up and going about their days. Some went to police the walls, others to tend to the crops. Ethan reported to the town hall and fetched a plain hunting shotgun and five rounds before making his way to his post above the town's gate, constructed by a first layer of rollable chain-link fencing backed by a barricade of rusted out cars. The chain link had allowed the inhabitants to slowly fend off any dead that pressed their way through to the gate and spare ammunition, even if it, in Ethan's opinion, was not the sturdiest material.

Ethan unclasped the shotgun and loaded a round into the chamber before snapping the barrel back into place and ensuring the safety was on. Trespassers, dead, and brigands were uncommon this far from society, which made for quite a lonely time atop the wall, but it was better than tromping around alone on foot beyond the relative safety of Haven. As he sat around, Ethan pulled another cigarette and lit it, huffing on it as he watched the sun rise over the hills.

This is the life, he chuckled to himself as the smoke caught itself on the wind and drifted off...


 
Last edited:

Morgan

Penholder
Roleplay Invitations
Group Roleplays, One on One Roleplays
Posting Speed
One Post a Day, A Few Posts a Week, One Post a Week
Writing Levels
Intermediate, Adept, Advanced
Genders You Prefer Playing
Male, Female
Favorite Genres
Fantasy. Modern. Romance. Slice of life. I can persuaded to play more, it's all about plot, really.

She woke with the sun. She always did. Her mind was awake before her body, though. That was also normal. Riley was well aware that she was waking up, but whatever she had dreamt just moments prior had not yet left her. She was still floating in that strange but wonderful space between sleep and awake. But that wouldn't do. Not today. Not ever. In this world you had to stay on your toes and keep awake. Riley sighed and opened her eyes slowly. The sun was kind to her as the brute force of its early rays was softened by the curtain in her window. Her eyes stung initially. A few blinks alleviated the sensation as well as pulling her surroundings into focus. Sitting up in her bed, she cleared her throat and looked around at her living space.
It wasn't much but she had done what she could to make it home. It was a small apartment on top of what had once been a small clothes store. It consisted of a combined living room and bedroom, a bathroom and a kitchenette. Usually everyone ate together in Haven, but she was able to make a cup of tea or toast a slice of bread for herself in her room. It had shutters on the windows as well as curtains. The shutters were there to cover up the lights of their small town. Sometimes there were roaming bands of brigands, and they would rather stay hidden from them if possible. The floors were wooden and creaky. The paint on the walls were peeling in some places. She'd made a mental note to fix it, but hadn't had the time lately. Otherwise it was quite simplistically decorated. A drawer for her clothes, the bed in which she lay, a mirror and a chair. A few vases with flowers to make it slightly more interesting to behold. A painting resembling a small boat in a violent but beautiful storm. Riley had found it long ago and while she was not knowledgable about art, she had been stunned at how vivid and lifelike the waves were.
She swung her legs over the side of her bed and let the covers fall from her naked form as she stood. The stinging sensation in her feet and the soreness in her muscles reminded her of life in Haven. Quickly she found her clothes and dressed herself. She wore dark gray cargo pants, a black t-shirt and a denim jacket. Nimble, strong fingers braided her thick hair quickly. All in all, her attire was very much like Riley Gray. Before heading out, she grabbed her knife from under the mirror which hung above her clothes drawer. She strapped it to her belt and put it on her hip. Looking in the mirror, she noticed how her reflection looked more tired than she felt. So Riley rubbed her eyes in an attempt to fix that.
The street was nearly empty as she walked out into the morning. It was a beautiful one at that. She had always loved getting up early. She had always loved nature. Only a few people cast shadows on the decrepit road, but more were getting up. Riley was going to be preparing traps today. Snares and the like. After that, she would be walking the perimiter of Haven to write a list of maintenance. An easy day. It left time for her to see to her exercise.
First stop, however, was breakfast. Riley headed straight for the old Cafe. It was the only building with a proper kitchen they could use. She got herself a bowl of oatmeal and an apple and brought it with her to her workshop. The workshop was a building set against the wall. It was more a large shed than a building though. There were a few of those around the walls, like barnacles on a ship's hull. Riley saw a few people up on the walls as he approached but said nothing. She sat down on the steps of the workshop shed and silently ate her breakfast. On days like these she felt almost like a hermit. More often than not, she spent most of the day alone as no one else visited her in the workshop. Everyone had their own chores and tasks to set about, but it could be challenging to one's sanity to spend the whole day without speaking a word to another human being.

After the first few bites, Riley began to hum a tune from the old world to herself. It was a tune she couldn't remember where she had heard, but it was stuck in some dusty corner of her mind. It was a tune that made her want to start walking. Into the woods, toward the sun. It made her sad and blissful all at once. It was a tune that she would never forget.
 
  • Like
Reactions: ze_kraken

ze_kraken

Professional Squid
Original poster
Roleplay Invitations
Group Roleplays, One on One Roleplays
Posting Speed
A Few Posts a Week, One Post a Week
My Usual Online Time
16:00-20:00 US Central
Writing Levels
Adept, Advanced, Prestige
Genders You Prefer Playing
No Preferences
Playing Style- Passive or Aggressive
Depends on the group; I am used to GMing most of the things I'm in, but I can easily let someone else take the reigns.
Favorite Genres
Cyberpunk, Sci-fi, Fantasy, and other low-tech/fantasy.
Genre You DON'T Like
Multiverses, canon fandoms, and most modern.

179612
The day began to crawl by as Ethan stood at his post, watching over the lonely mountain road that split Haven into east and west. It curved along a winding forest path before vanishing along a sharp curve right, fading into the foothills. He could still remember taking this very road three years ago into Haven for the first time - how it still resembled a road then, and how his Chevy, now one of the cars forming the second line of defense behind the gate, still ran. Now that Chevy was a rusted-out hulk scrapped for its internal parts, and the road looked more like gravel with each passing day.

Right as the sun hung overhead, Ethan was snapped from his trance-like obsession on the road by Samantha. The tall, broad-shouldered woman inclined her head and jerked her thumb behind her.

"Come on cowboy," she said, gesturing for Ethan's weapon. "Your shift's up for now, get some food - boss wanted to see you in town hall."

Ethan ensured his weapon's safety was still on before handing the rifle over to Samantha, curtly nodding. He stretched his stiff legs, joints popping and crackling as he made his way from the gatehouse to the Cafe. There, he had a cup of hot water brewed with mint leaves and powdered caffeine (the town pharmacy had been packed with the stuff) and a can of beans heated in an iron skillet by Maggie, the town's resident matronly saint. Just over 60 years old now, Maggie was as tough a bastard as Ethan had ever seen. Stout, scarred, but kindhearted there was not a resident of Haven that could bear a grudge with old Maggie, even Ethan.

Ethan ate his meal in relative quiet, occasionally exchanging chatter with Maggie as he picked and prodded at his food. Black beans were not his favorite, but then, it was more filling than a handful of greens and some bread. After finishing, Ethan left for town hall, waiting patiently in the central chamber until Thomas, the town's defacto leader, came down the stairs, feet barely scraping the worn and dirty stone floor. Tom was a tall man, one of the few in Haven who still managed - somehow - to have a gut that hung over his pants. He claimed it had come from downing too many kegs in college, whenever that had been. Tom was approaching 50, his salt and pepper hair tied back in a messy bun, his beard equally ragged and wild.

"Ethan," he stated, extending a hand which Ethan accepted in a curt handshake. "How was the watch?"

"Uneventful," Ethan croaked, voice cracking from lack of use.

"That's what I like to hear," Tom replied, chuckling, the corners of his mouth tugging into smile lines and his amber eyes twinkling with amusement. "Look I know you're a no-nonsense type, so I'll cut right to it. I sent Eliza on a run a few weeks back to scour the area for any places we haven't picked clean, and she's found a hardware store and a supermarket in the same shopping district about a day's march north of here. Says the barricades look intact and no one's inside on account of there being no smoke from fires or anything of the sort."

"And you didn't know about this before?" Ethan asked, cocking an eyebrow.

"You know how little we leave Haven," Tom replied, crossing his arms across his chest. "I want you and Riley to take point on this one. I reckon the less people we send the better, 'til we know that this stash is legitimate."

"Not Eliza?" Ethan asked in a note of confusion.

"We need at least one cop at a time here - half this lot don't have formal training, and I've seen you fight. I know what a difference that makes."

"Understood," Ethan replied. "When do we leave?"

"First light, tomorrow. You and Riley's watches are cancelled for the night. Rest up, enjoy an extra ration - you'll need it for the trip."

"Consider it done."


 
Last edited:

Morgan

Penholder
Roleplay Invitations
Group Roleplays, One on One Roleplays
Posting Speed
One Post a Day, A Few Posts a Week, One Post a Week
Writing Levels
Intermediate, Adept, Advanced
Genders You Prefer Playing
Male, Female
Favorite Genres
Fantasy. Modern. Romance. Slice of life. I can persuaded to play more, it's all about plot, really.

She set the bowl down and sighed contently. As Riley took good care of her body and made sure she was in good shape all the time, she didn't mind eating oatmeal despite how bland it got at times. Sitting on the steps in front of her workshop, she beheld the gradually more busy, though sorry looking, streets of Haven. As she did, her brown eyes sparkled. They always seemed to do so in the morning sun. But of course, Riley was unaware of this. Exhaling sharply, the brunette placed her palms on her knees and stood up. It was time to get on with her work.

As she has made hundreds of traps and snares in the time she had spent in Haven, it didn't take long for her fingers to warm up. After half an hour she was producing at her usual rate and the work sat well with her. It made her feel good to be occupied. If left idle and alone for too long, Riley's hands would usually start fidgeting as if they were searching for work. She was so used to be constantly occupied that it felt awkward not to be. Like if you had a stone in your shoe, or if the sheet on your bed had a fold right under your back. But true to her nature, she was effective when working. Soon she had filled one box with snares and started on another type of trap.

A couple of days prior, she had been making arrows. Ammunition was not something you came by easy these days, and so bow hunting had become an important an effective way to hunt prey. It was also quieter and could still be used to kill the dead. But hunting parties were not without risk, and were not conducted often. But when successful, all of Haven rejoiced. Looking over at the quivers filled with arrows, Riley was reminded that it had been a long time since anyone had brought game back from a hunt. A knot of worry formed in her chest and landed somewhere in her stomach. She decided to ignore it.

"Riley?" The voice followed a couple of knocks on the doorframe. "Get some food in you. Tom wants to talk to you." Henry nodded at her.

"Okay." Riley nodded back. Wondering what Tom wanted, she wiped her hands on a piece of cloth and shrugged. As far as she knew, she hadn't done anything that warranted beratement. Stepping outside, she noticed that the wind wasn't as cold and the sun was higher in the sky. "Holy..."

"Did you get lost again?" Henry asked and chuckled, shaking his head slightly.

"I must have." It wasn't unusual for Riley to forget time like that. It was midday already. "Thanks, Henry." The two of them parted ways and she headed toward Town Hall. Food could wait.

The walk to the Town Hall was short. On the way it seemed like she had plenty of time to wonder what exactly Tom wanted. Again, she reassured herself. She pulled her weight and worked as hard as anyone - sometimes harder. Walking into the central chamber, Riley saw two people standing there. One was Tom, noticeable by his stature. The other was Ethan. The lean ex-cop with whom she had only spoken little.

"Riley!" Tom exlaimed the moment he saw her. He left little time for her to answer though, and moved straight onto whatever he had called her there for. "I was just telling Ethan that I want the two of you to go on an outing."

With a raised eyebrow and a slightly puzzled look, Riley waited for what came next. She found the word outing a curious choice of word. It made leaving the confines of Haven seem much less dangerous. It sounded almost like a picnic to her. "Oh?"

"Eliza has found a supermarket and a hardware store that look like they're a good hit." Tom continued and jerked his thumb over his shoulder, as if it was just a trip down the road. Their leader looked from Ethan to Riley. "Ethan can tell you more about it and you know where the maps are." Tom added when he noticed Riley's puzzled expression.

"Uh.." She began, looking down at the floor for a moment, then to Ethan and then back to Tom. "I don't mean to wiggle out of it or anything but... Why me?" Riley had never been on a raid before. She usually worked around camp, went hunting or on scouting trips. She knew Ethan was good at things like this.

Tom smirked. His index finger wagged between the two of them. "You're both tough. He's good with guns and you're good with maps." He seemed to be amused. The type of amused people were when they had come up with a good solution to a problem. Smug.

The answer disarmed her and she shrugged. That was enough answer for her. Riley smiled back and nodded. "Alright then." She turned to Ethan and looked at his gaunt features. She had never thought of him as the most inviting sort of person. His eyes had little life in them and his face was edgy and sharp. He was lean and tough and taller than Riley.

"So I didn't eat yet, but I was thinking we could maybe pick a table in the Cafe? I'm sure I can smooth talk Maggie into cooking something up for me." She said to Ethan with a brief smile. He was a hard man to read, but that intrigued her more than anything.
 
  • Love
Reactions: ze_kraken

Morgan

Penholder
Roleplay Invitations
Group Roleplays, One on One Roleplays
Posting Speed
One Post a Day, A Few Posts a Week, One Post a Week
Writing Levels
Intermediate, Adept, Advanced
Genders You Prefer Playing
Male, Female
Favorite Genres
Fantasy. Modern. Romance. Slice of life. I can persuaded to play more, it's all about plot, really.
Ethan vaguely remembered Riley - she had been at Haven as long as he had, if not a little longer as she had been one of the few to receive him that faithful night. Wracking his brain, he remembered her now approaching the door to his car brandishing a pistol she clearly did not know how to use, along with four others. She had grown considerably in that time, Ethan admitted as he looked her up and down with probing eyes. Leaner, harder, more confident even if her words suggested otherwise.

Tom was already making his way up the stairs as Ethan turned about on the spot and meandered towards the door with Riley.

"Sure, food sounds good," he said in his Texan drawl, pushing the door open and letting in the dimmed noon sunlight. "You've been out of the town before, yeah?"

While his eyes were probing and seemed to study her, she didn't hold it against him, nor was she made uncomfortable by it. It must be a part of him. She was aware of his profession before the outbreaks. Ethan was trained to study other people. It was likely a habit he couldn't turn off. With Riley it was just because she loved watching people.

She followed Ethan and walked outside as he held the door open. His question caught her slightly off guard as she was embarrassed by the answer. For all her hard work within the camp and her outstanding physical shape, she had never been selected to go on supply runs.

"Uh.. Well, yes I've been outside before. Just never on supply runs." She admitted, not liking the words as they left her. "I won't slow you down, though." Riley quickly added, wanting to make that very clear.

"You're still alive. That's no accident." Ethan retorted. "You're not going to slow anyone down, not anymore."

The pair continued to walk from the town hall to the Cafe, Ethan and Riley walking more or less in tandem. The silence felt comfortable to Ethan - though, silence always felt more comfortable than unnecessary conversation. He knew what he needed to about the inhabitants of Haven. How reliable they were. How tough they were. Riley fell in his good graces, that's all he needed to know.

"I'm back," Ethan called, the closest to cheerful he could muster. "Riley's here, too."

Maggie stood up from her seat behind the counter of the old cafe, offering a toothy smile to the pair and waving them over.

"That'll be nothin' for you, boy," she chided to Ethan with just a touch of warmth. "What'll 'ya have sweety?"

The aged woman turned her attention to Riley, harsh brown eyes carrying with them a deep compassion and genuine care. Even Ethan felt disarmed as she watched the exchange.

The switch in Maggie's demeanor when she spoke to the two of them made the corner of her mouth tug slightly into a brief smile. Riley had always had a soft spot for Maggie. Haven was lucky to have her with them.

"Just whatever you have, Maggie." Riley said humbly, smiling at the old woman. "You know I'll always like your food."
That was more or less true. But it didn't have anything to do with Maggie's cooking. Sometimes all she had was just something Riley didn't care for very much. But you ate what was served.

"Sweet-talking won't get you a bigger plate." Maggie lifted a hand and wagged a finger at Riley, still with a great deal of kindness in her voice. They both smiled as the older woman turned.

Riley looked at Ethan and then gestured at a table in the corner of the Cafe. "Let's sit there?" It was part question, part statement. Next to the table hung a bulletin board with a map on it. Every building had a map of the area. Riley took it down as she walked over, and sat down. "Should we start with what we need for the trip?"

Ethan crossed his arms and began to reach for a cigarette tucked in his shirt pocket before deciding against it, casting Maggie a cautious glance. She hardly had any concern voicing her distaste of his habit, particularly when he had the nerve to do so indoors. The ex-cop shifted in his chair and nodded as if to acknowledge Riley's question.

"Right, so," Ethan began, pausing to collect his thoughts. "We'll want three days of canned food and some basic utensils. Bedspreads, too - as well as some tinder and matches for a fire if we need it. Handguns only for emergencies, crossbows otherwise. Bows aren't too useful at taking out the dead. I'll ask Markus for his kit - he's got a crowbar 'n some spare backpacks hiding around we can use if we can't find them in town hall. We'll each need melee weapons, fire axes if they aren't in-use since they're multipurpose."

He made a mental note of each item as he went along, talking more at the table than to Riley as he rambled off items. Maggie placed Riley's food at the table, offering the pair a brief smile before leaving them to their business.

"Anything else you can think of?" Ethan asked after a brief delaying, snapping his attention back to Riley. "Probably going to need a map, too, come to think of it."

She nodded as she grabbed a piece of paper and a pen. In an effort to make the cafe seem genuine, the decor had been carefully set up like it had been before the outbreak. It was appreciated by most everyone in Haven. Quickly, while they were fresh in her mind, Riley wrote down what Ethan had said. The pen scribbled quickly across the paper, but her handwriting was surprisingly neat and very readable.

Taking a spoonful of her food, she nodded. Carrots and some beans and a stale slice of bread. Not the most interesting meal, but it was only meant as fuel and not a culinary experience.

"First aid kit." Riley said after swallowing her food. "But don't worry about that. I've got some. Maps too." She had her own backpack that she always had packed. It always contained the things she deemed valuable if she had to leave Haven quickly. Among those things were maps and first aid kits.

"Other than that I think I agree with you." She added first aid kit to her list, just for good measure. "So what area exactly are we talking about?" Riley turned the map so Ethan could see better and took another spoonful of her food.

"So if we look here..." Ethan pointed to the north side of Haven, where the gate stood marked out on the map alongside its walls before, and began to trace up the main road. "About twenty miles up this way should be what Tom was talking about."

Ethan's finger came to rest off a small town labeled "Coker Creek", shown nestled among a web of local roads. It was an area he knew well enough - he had driven through it to Haven, and frequently passed by it on the way to hunt in the woods just on its outer fringes. No one had dared enter it proper for fear of the dead. Well, that was until now.

"Town of this size, should be easy to spot a supermarket," he continued, tapping the spot on the map. "If I had to guess, it's closer to the north side because we don't head that way often, which explains why no one's ever seen it 'til now. Which means we can loop around and connect with the town on the other side, which might take another day to do properly, or we pass through and see if we can't set up shop in a safehouse before trying to head in."

She followed his finger as it traced around the map. Her agreement showed in the way she nodded, making a mental note of the map and the locations Ethan pointed out. That way, she would also have a rough idea in her head of where to go, should they somehow lose their maps. Riley had never been that far away from Haven in a long time. She had gone hunting and on a couple of lumber-runs, but twenty miles was further than she had ever been.

"Sounds good." Riley said and briefly looked up at Ethan before brushing a stray lock of her hair back behing her ear. She had finished her meal and appreciated the energy and warmth it brought. Though the food was not the most interesting constellation of ingredients, Maggie had a knack for making even the most bland of meals just a little bit interesting. A few moments went by in silence as Riley committed Coker Creek to memory. "So you knew where to get a crossbow? I take it you have access to handguns and rifles." Riley would not be surprised if he had one on him at the moment. She had never been good with guns. Knives and crossbows were her thing. "I can get knives, first aid kits, rations and maps. Do we still keep fire axes in Town Hall?"

She knew there was a room in Town Hall where they kept all their weapons. It was of course named the armory, but not everyone had access to the room. Ethan might, though. She was lucky with her partner.

“I can get us some crossbows,” Ethan replied, nodding. “The armory in town hall is stocked with a lot of them that we scavenged about two years ago. Still have a lot of store-quality bolts, too. Handguns I have covered. Rifles won’t be needed – if we get ourselves into trouble that a handgun magazine can’t get us out of we’re fucked anyway.”

He stood up then, nodding at Riley. “You get those supplies, meet me at the gate just before dawn tomorrow. I’ll see if I can sneak off with those fire axes and get those extras from Markus. Rations’ll be in town hall, too.”

As the two made for the door, Riley having left her dishes for Maggie to pick up, Ethan stopped.

“And hey,” he said abruptly, the following words sounding a bit unnatural if intended sincerely. “Glad you’re coming along.”
 

Morgan

Penholder
Roleplay Invitations
Group Roleplays, One on One Roleplays
Posting Speed
One Post a Day, A Few Posts a Week, One Post a Week
Writing Levels
Intermediate, Adept, Advanced
Genders You Prefer Playing
Male, Female
Favorite Genres
Fantasy. Modern. Romance. Slice of life. I can persuaded to play more, it's all about plot, really.

The words must have made an impression on Riley, as they had made her smile. It was always nice to know that you were appreciated, and she had half prepared herself for a trip with someone who didn't believe in her skill and grit. She was so used to it, that she just assumed everyone thought she was weak. But she was anything but. Riley maintained a physical shape better than most in Haven. She was in her prime as well, which definitely helped.

After the two of them parted ways, she went straight for her home. She took the creaky stairs leading up to her flat two steps at a time and quickly unlocked the door. The sound of the lock clicking reverberated in the room. Riley stepped inside and shut the door behind her. She kicked off her boots and put her keys and her knife on the drawer, under the mirror. Not wanting to postpone it any further, she set about packing the items she was responsible for into her rucksack. Some of them were already there. Like first aid kits, matches, tinder and maps among other things. That left rations and a bedspread. Ethan would collect weapons.

After twenty minutes, she was satisfied with how she had packed. There was plenty of room for rations as well, perhaps all of them in her bag. That meant Ethan would have more room for bolts and his own supplies in his bag. Riley set the pack down on the floor next to the door and decided to rest. They would need all their energy for the trip they were to go on. It wasn't only the physical part. The mental aspect of such a journey would take its toll on you as well, depending on how it went, of course. The less stress they'd suffer, the easier it would all be. But somehow Riley knew that this trip wouldn't be so lenient. She shook her head and lay down on her bed.

Riley spent the rest of her day in her small flat. She would lay on her bed for fifteen minutes, then she would get bored and find something to do for half an hour. Like sharpening her knife or cleaning the kitchen or making some tea and read a little bit. Only when it was time for dinner did she leave. She went to the Cafe and found a table by herself where she ate in silence and left when she was done.

Now she had to sleep.

It wouldn't be so easy though. She'd set an alarm and wasn't worried that she wouldn't get up, as that was rarely a problem. But still Riley tossed and turned and slept for little sprints of half an hour a piece, waking only to realize that she didn't have to leave yet. Whether it was annoyance or sheer stubbornness that tired her out she couldn't say, but eventually she fell asleep.

Her alarm went off seemingly shortly after she had closed her eyes. Riley was up immediately though, and got herself dressed. She put on all clean clothes. She put on a t-shirt made of thick fabric and another of her many pairs of cargo pants. This time in black. She looped the canvas belt through the sheath of her knife and closed it around her waist. Socks and boots. Scarf and gloves in her pack. Lastly her leather bomber jacket and she was good to go.

With her rucksack on her back, the first stop would be Town Hall. Her breath hung in the air as she walked. It was getting colder. Riley didn't mind cold weather, but it came earlier and earlier it seemed. Shaking her head in an effort to rid herself of that thought as well as the last vestiges of sleep, she continued. Outside the armory door was a single guard. As he watched her approach he merely nodded.

"Tom let me know you were coming." He explained. They always had a guard on the door, day and night. It was good of Tom to inform them that Riley was allowed to get some supplies. She had been wondering how she was going to get in there.

"Thanks." Her reply was short, but the guard did not seem to mind. He was tired and eager for his shift to finish. It didn't take her long to find what she needed. Bedspread was attached to the top of her rucksack and the rations were packed in the large compartment. Two years of scavenging had resulted in a strange collection of weaponry. It was not as modern as she had expected, but the stuff they had would do the trick nonetheless. Riley left shortly after she h ad entered and headed immediately for the exit. The sun wasn't quite rising yet, so she was right on time. Ethan should be waiting for her. Approaching the gate she saw that she was right. A silhouette that could only be her partner was waiting for her.
 
  • Love
Reactions: ze_kraken

ze_kraken

Professional Squid
Original poster
Roleplay Invitations
Group Roleplays, One on One Roleplays
Posting Speed
A Few Posts a Week, One Post a Week
My Usual Online Time
16:00-20:00 US Central
Writing Levels
Adept, Advanced, Prestige
Genders You Prefer Playing
No Preferences
Playing Style- Passive or Aggressive
Depends on the group; I am used to GMing most of the things I'm in, but I can easily let someone else take the reigns.
Favorite Genres
Cyberpunk, Sci-fi, Fantasy, and other low-tech/fantasy.
Genre You DON'T Like
Multiverses, canon fandoms, and most modern.


179852
After parting ways with Riley, Ethan hovered around the entrance to town hall and finished another cigarette, the craving striking him throughout the planning session with Riley. He went over his mental checklist of items they would need and flicked his cigarette butt to the ground, extinguishing it with his foot. Nerves calmed, that tugging sensation at the back of his mind temporarily abated, Ethan headed into town hall and made his way downstairs. Every time he made the trip to the armory, it made him feel like a cop again - checking in to request gear or return evidence. Only instead of a clerk greeting him, it was an armed guard.

"Tom is sending me on a run with Riley," Ethan explained, not entirely remembering the man's name. "I need two crossbows, two fire axes, rations for four days, a backpack, and ten crossbow bolts each. Quivers too, if you have 'em. Oh, and a bedspread."

"Got it," the guard replied.

A few minutes passed before he returned from the locked armory with the gear in hand, passing it off to Ethan. Ethan gave his thanks and, assortment in toe, made his way from town hall to his apartment. Once there, he ensured the backpack had been secured with the food before taking his handgun from its holster and ensuring its magazine was fully loaded. Satisfied, he fetched his second pistol from its hiding place beneath one of the baseboards - owning more than one firearm wasn't strictly allowed in Haven - and prepared a fresh magazine for Riley.

Pistols ready to go, Ethan tied the bedspread to the top of the backpack and lashed some additional straps around the fire axe until it was snug and secure and did not shake loose when he violently tossed and shook the bag around. Once he was content and sure the axe would not slice off a foot if he tripped, Ethan placed the backpack by his bed and treated himself to one days' ration from his backpack, having asked for one more day's worth to sate himself for the night.

Then, with what felt like a relatively full stomach for the first time in months, Ethan collapsed on to the bed and passed into sleep's embrace...

---

The next day came too early. Ethan snapped awake, roused by a nightmare that had faded from memory as soon as his eyes were yanked open. Stilling his frantic heart, Ethan reached for a cigarette from his drawer and, thinking better of it, stuffed it back where it was. Unsteadily, he rose to his feet and changed into attire more suitable for travel. Sturdy boots, reinforced cargo pants, a plain white t-shirt over which he donned his bulletproof vest from his cop days. Over that went a long-sleeved shirt and thick, padded jacket with arm braces made of thick leather sewn into the fabric across the wrists and shoulder pads pinned in place on either side.

Carrying both his and Riley's weaponry, Ethan made his way to the gate and waited as the sun began its slow ascent over the mountain peaks. Once Riley came into view, he waved and sauntered over to her. He handed her a crossbow and quiver with bolts, his own slung across his shoulders, the quiver at his hip. His backpack hung loose, a testament to how meagerly packed it was. Once Riley accepted the crossbow, he produced her pistol - which he had tucked behind his jacket in his pants. He lifted a finger to his mouth and offered Riley a wry wink, the most life he had shown her in their brief time together.

"Ready?"

Without waiting for an answer, Ethan spun around and went about undoing the mechanism securing the roll-away gate - a wrap of heavy chain. He fished the key from its hiding place among the ruined cars and undid the chain's padlock before swinging the gate open to the side on its wheels. He ushered Riley through and shut it behind them, tossing the key to the guard atop the wall and waving.

"Good luck!" The man called out.

Ethan waved a hand in reply and began to march down the gravely road, boots crunching in the chill morning air, disrupting the otherwise idyllic mountain dawn. He could hear Riley's footsteps behind him, and he slowed to match his pace with hers as they took the sharp turn up and away from Haven, the town receding into view behind them as they turned the bend.

"Let's do this," Ethan huffed to no one in particular, staring out to the vast stretch of empty road before them...

 
Last edited:
  • Love
Reactions: Morgan

Morgan

Penholder
Roleplay Invitations
Group Roleplays, One on One Roleplays
Posting Speed
One Post a Day, A Few Posts a Week, One Post a Week
Writing Levels
Intermediate, Adept, Advanced
Genders You Prefer Playing
Male, Female
Favorite Genres
Fantasy. Modern. Romance. Slice of life. I can persuaded to play more, it's all about plot, really.

Quickly, she attached the axe to the side of her rucksack where she could easily get it when she would need it. Mirroring Ethan, she placed the quiver on her hip and swung the crossbow over her shoulder. What her partner did next surprised her. He'd brought a pistol for her. Riley wasn't particularly good with pistols, but she appreciated the gesture nonetheless. She was surprised at seeing the spark of life in Ethan's eyes as he handed her the weapon. It changed his expression so much it was disarming. Riley couldn't help but smile.

Once they had gone through the gate and outside, she quickly caught up with him. As they put Haven behind them, she couldn't shake the feeling of excitement and worry at the same time. She sighed, the last bit of sleepiness leaving her, seemingly evaporating and floating away with her breath that was visible in the cold morning air. For a while they walked in silence. The dawn was beautiful here, nestled into the mountains. It was almost as if the sun was struggling to spread its fiery light into their little vale, nestled among ancient stones. It almost made her forget about the dead.

"Did you sleep well?" It was the best she could do. The best question she could come up with, in an attempt to break silence and perhaps make the walk less boring, though the scenery was entertaining enough. Riley didn't want to tell Ethan that she wasn't comfortable with pistols. At least not yet. She made a mental note of asking him to show her later. It felt good to be up this early. There was always something special about the air this time of day. It felt clean and cleansing. Calm and soothing. It almost moved her to tears thinking about how beautiful life could be, if they could enjoy this world freely, with no worry of being killed by the walking dead. Shaking her head at herself, she glanced at Ethan and then focused on the road ahead.
 

ze_kraken

Professional Squid
Original poster
Roleplay Invitations
Group Roleplays, One on One Roleplays
Posting Speed
A Few Posts a Week, One Post a Week
My Usual Online Time
16:00-20:00 US Central
Writing Levels
Adept, Advanced, Prestige
Genders You Prefer Playing
No Preferences
Playing Style- Passive or Aggressive
Depends on the group; I am used to GMing most of the things I'm in, but I can easily let someone else take the reigns.
Favorite Genres
Cyberpunk, Sci-fi, Fantasy, and other low-tech/fantasy.
Genre You DON'T Like
Multiverses, canon fandoms, and most modern.


180010
"I slept fine," Ethan lied, trudging along the road as the two continued their way through the lonely stretch of winding mountain road.

In truth - like most nights had been for the past five years - his sleep had been wracked by nightmares and kept aloft on a razor's edge for fear he might awaken to teeth sinking deep into his flesh. This night had been no exception. He had awoken in a chill sweat, mind frozen and panicked over a memory that had faded as soon as his eyes snapped open.

The silence between the two extended for a moment as Ethan thought of what else to say. He was not used to working with others - all of his assignments thus far outside of Haven had been alone. Before Haven, he had traveled mostly alone. How did one even maintain human decency while keeping a low profile? In all the years since the collapse of society - and, as a result, much of Ethan's sociability - he had not spent so much as 20 minutes alone with someone outside of discussing matters of life and death.

A goal made it easier, Ethan thought as the pair continued on with nothing but the sound of the chirping birds to keep them company. Already the leaves were beginning to turn amber and red, leaving Ethan careful to add the sounds of crunching leaves underfoot to the voices of the birds and the whisper of the wind.

Biting at his lower lip, a sudden dread mounting deep in his gut as he pondered how exactly to keep on the conversation that had just recently perished, Ethan cleared his throat. That caught Riley's attention, if only for an instant, her eyes flicking back to him almost excitedly. He was trapped into speaking now.

Fuck.

"So," he started, pausing to collect his thoughts. "How did you get to Haven?"


 
  • Love
Reactions: Morgan

Morgan

Penholder
Roleplay Invitations
Group Roleplays, One on One Roleplays
Posting Speed
One Post a Day, A Few Posts a Week, One Post a Week
Writing Levels
Intermediate, Adept, Advanced
Genders You Prefer Playing
Male, Female
Favorite Genres
Fantasy. Modern. Romance. Slice of life. I can persuaded to play more, it's all about plot, really.

In the silence, Riley was amused by herself. Not so much so that it was made evident to Ethan beside her, as her face didn't reveal it. She was amused because it was very easy for her to forget the world they lived in. Walking a mountain road in the fall at dawn, seemed to make you forget all the bad in the world. Being outside and close to nature had always had that effect on her, for as long as she could remember. But this feeling didn't last, as she quickly pulled herself back to the moment. Riley was conflicted. She chided herself for daydreaming and getting lost in the beauty of the scenery around her, but also found that it as important to let such things touch your heart in a world like theirs. Eventually her determination won out and she decided to focus on Ethan for now.

She knew he wasn't the most talkative type. That was fine by her. But she could almost sense how his mind was racing to find a subject to talk about. Riley liked how rusty he was. She made a mental note that he probably just needed some time to warm up. Conversation for any extended period of time was not something any of them were used to, but somehow it seemed very much the case that it would come easier to Riley than to Ethan.

"A little bit before you did." Her words were soft in the wind. Her boots crunched the ground underneath in unison with Ethan's. It was as if they marched to the same rhyhtm. There was an unspoken agreement between them to keep the pace. "I don't know if you remember. I don't blame you if you don't."

The memory came flooding back. It had been such a long time ago. Longer than it seemed, probably. Riley had approached Ethan's car, pointing a gun at him. In hindsight it could have been quite dangerous, if she'd had any idea how to turn the safety off. Her heart had been pounding through her chest. She had changed a lot since then. Her skills with guns had not improved much, though.

Riley made the shape of a pistol with her fingers and turned her body slightly toward Ethan, mimicking someone who clearly didn't know what they were doing with a weapon like that - a relatively accurate imitation of herself all those years ago. She laughed. A musical sound that seemed to float off into to the woods.

"What about you? Where did you come from, before I so professionally held you up at gunpoint? She asked, deciding to keep the conversation going. This was a good start, albeit a slow one. They had a couple of days to practice. "It cou-" Riley trailed off and stopped dead in her tracks. She extended her arm and grabbed Ethan by the elbow. She heard the sound a few seconds before they came into view. Quickly, she realized it was not the dead, however. The noise didn't match. Riley's lips pulled into a smile as several deer crossed the road up ahead. The light of the sun caught them and it made for an impressive sight. It would have been a good morning to hunt. As soon as they had appeared, they were gone again. A few moments passed in silence again. Both of them appreciating the experience, but none of them voicing the notion. She let go of Ethan's elbow and smiled at him. "Let's not wait around for whateer made them run, yeah?" She proposed. Whether it be the dead or a wolf she didn't know, but it wouldn't be worth it to take any chances.
 
  • Love
Reactions: ze_kraken

ze_kraken

Professional Squid
Original poster
Roleplay Invitations
Group Roleplays, One on One Roleplays
Posting Speed
A Few Posts a Week, One Post a Week
My Usual Online Time
16:00-20:00 US Central
Writing Levels
Adept, Advanced, Prestige
Genders You Prefer Playing
No Preferences
Playing Style- Passive or Aggressive
Depends on the group; I am used to GMing most of the things I'm in, but I can easily let someone else take the reigns.
Favorite Genres
Cyberpunk, Sci-fi, Fantasy, and other low-tech/fantasy.
Genre You DON'T Like
Multiverses, canon fandoms, and most modern.


180061
Ethan halted right away as Riley grabbed his elbow, fighting the reflex to flinch away from the touch as he had learned in close encounters with the dead. He strained his ears to pinpoint the noise, hand already placed squarely on the butt of his pistol, ready to draw at a moment's notice as the pair waited in tense anticipation. Motion flickered through the underbrush to their right - Ethan's grip tightened into a readier grip around the pistol as he stood and gawked at a small cluster of deer coming barreling out of the trees.

It had been ages since Ethan had seen anything larger than rabbits - in truth, he had expected the dead to have cleared out much if not all of the wildlife around or driven them far, far away from all vestiges of society. The deer saw Ethan and Riley and altered course, bolting across the road and back into the trees to their left. He felt Riley's hand loosen and slid his arm away, letting go of his pistol.

"Let's not wait around for whatever made them run, yeah?" She asked, ghost of a smile still etched on her face.

"Agreed," Ethan replied, opting to enter the edge of the treeline to their left should they need to make a run through the trees.

The two continued along the road for a moment in silence as Ethan attempted to pinpoint the cause of the deers' flight. After concluding they were safe, for the moment, Ethan cleared his throat and returned his attention to Riley.

"I remember that night," he spoke softly, just barely within earshot of Riley as to avoid drawing unwanted attention - greeting the harsh reality that forest strolls and conversation were artifacts of another time. "I remember your finger wasn't even wrapped around the trigger, either."

He paused, then, continuing.

"I came from Maryland down through the mountains," he continued. "I, uhm, I had come up from Texas - heard they were organizing some kind of rally point up north in Maine where the dead froze in the winter time. Made it halfway before the battle of New York ended after 'bout six weeks of retreat after retreat, caught up in the wave of refugees and was set up in one of those camps they set up right before the end. Had army presence, I was even an MP for a while. Thought a cop would be perfect for that. Only, that lasted all of a couple months before the supplies started running dry. Once that happened, enforcing peace became impossible. I fled with a few friends and."

He paused, images of them being shot or mauled flashing before his eyes as they marched along the road. He swallowed back a choked sob, doing his best to pass it off casually.

"And. Just me," he finished. "Just I got through. I spent a year moving down the mountains to avoid detection and stumbled on Haven right as my car was falling apart."


 
Last edited:

Morgan

Penholder
Roleplay Invitations
Group Roleplays, One on One Roleplays
Posting Speed
One Post a Day, A Few Posts a Week, One Post a Week
Writing Levels
Intermediate, Adept, Advanced
Genders You Prefer Playing
Male, Female
Favorite Genres
Fantasy. Modern. Romance. Slice of life. I can persuaded to play more, it's all about plot, really.

Following him to the edge of the treeline, Riley smiled a little shyly at his words. He had noticed that. She may not have seemed like the most intimidating guard, but she reasoned that Ethan had become a valuable part of Haven now, so whatever they had done back then had been the right thing. Haven had gained a hard working man. She may not know Ethan very well, but she knew that.

As Ethan spoke about his past and where he had come from, she listened with genuine interest. It was one of her better traits. When you spoke to Riley, especially about yourself, you always got the impression that she was listening and paying close attention. You got the impression that she was interested in you. Her brown eyes would always meet those of the person she spoke to. She would nod along, smile and furrow her brows, thus revealing how she felt about what was being said. With Ethan it was no different. She found his story impressive. Most everyone knew he was from Texas already. But Riley didn't know that he had been that far around. He'd tried a lot of things. When he'd finished explaining, she gave his elbow a gentle squeeze. It was clear that the latter part of his story was not easy to talk about. The road they were on didn't seem like the right time to ask him to elaborate on that. Besides, Ethan didn't strike her as the type of person to open up about his feelings. Least of all to her. So Riley didn't ask about it, but instead opted for a different approach.

"So.. Since you clearly noticed my lack of skills with a gun, I was thinking..." She trailed off and bit her lip, glancing at Ethan. "I was thinking maybe you could teach me some basics?" She found it slightly embarrassing that she hadn't really improved on that area during her time in Haven. "Most of the hunting I do is trapping or with a bow." Riley added. Hunting with bow and arrow or crossbow served a couple of purposes. It conserved ammunition for rifles and pistols and it was quiet. Making noise while you were out in small groups could be your rapid undoing.

The road before them stretched gently up over a hill and then made a soft turn to the left. There was a guard rail on their left and a steep slope on the right side of the road. As far as she remembered, the road would snake along for a good while before it came to an intersection. They'd be taking the left at the intersection to get down from the hills again. Riley was happy with the tempo they had set already. If they could keep it up, they'd be making good time.
 

ze_kraken

Professional Squid
Original poster
Roleplay Invitations
Group Roleplays, One on One Roleplays
Posting Speed
A Few Posts a Week, One Post a Week
My Usual Online Time
16:00-20:00 US Central
Writing Levels
Adept, Advanced, Prestige
Genders You Prefer Playing
No Preferences
Playing Style- Passive or Aggressive
Depends on the group; I am used to GMing most of the things I'm in, but I can easily let someone else take the reigns.
Favorite Genres
Cyberpunk, Sci-fi, Fantasy, and other low-tech/fantasy.
Genre You DON'T Like
Multiverses, canon fandoms, and most modern.

180481
Ethan was caught off-guard by the question posed by Riley - teach her to shoot handguns? He scratched at his chin slowly and deliberately, mulling the question over as they turned the bend in the road. He had taught the denizens of Haven basic self defense - how to work knives, crossbows, and so forth but ammunition was a priceless commodity and there was only so much he could teach Riley without live rounds.

"I can teach you the basics," Ethan replied after a lapse in their conversation. "How to handle the gun, how to aim, but we can't go off popping rounds at the range like we've got all the bullets in the world."

Ethan cast a glance behind his shoulder to the trees behind them, which began to give way to a craggy formation of rocks atop a steep slope overlooking the valley. Ethan could still see little mountain cabins dotting the hills, and wondered if anyone still resided inside them. He had parked himself here with a scoped rifle once just to see if he could spot something, anything to suggest people lived outside of Haven. When he had asked Tom about it, the town's leader had just shaken his head and said they had investigated the cabins when Haven still had military-grade weapons and found no one.

"If I remember," Ethan said as the two passed the overlook, trees replacing the majestic view as the pair pressed on. "It's a left up ahead and then we'll take that down the side of the hills. Should be able to see the town from there first. We'll get a good lay of the land, see if there are anything obviously bad like a horde, and head down. Sound good?"


 
Last edited:

Morgan

Penholder
Roleplay Invitations
Group Roleplays, One on One Roleplays
Posting Speed
One Post a Day, A Few Posts a Week, One Post a Week
Writing Levels
Intermediate, Adept, Advanced
Genders You Prefer Playing
Male, Female
Favorite Genres
Fantasy. Modern. Romance. Slice of life. I can persuaded to play more, it's all about plot, really.

She looked at him as he seemed to consider her question. It made her smile. He was so serious. Riley was satisfied with the answer she got though. He had agreed to teach her some techniques. That was all she wanted. Everyone knew how precious ammunition was and she was not interested in attracting any walkers - or worse, hordes. If they could get through this with as little bother as possible, she'd be happy.

Once they reached the overlook, she found that she had stopped. She hardly noticed. . The view from there was breathtaking. The colors of the leaves and the way the land rose and fell, filled her with a deep sense of joy and calmness. It touched something deep inside her. It brought her peace. Like a warm embrace of the heart; a blooming of the soul. Not until Ethan spoke to her again, did she snap out of it. Riley took a few quick steps to catch up and was quickly back at his side. She nodded along with his words. Ethan was right. He was good at planning ahead and that was something she appreciated. It was vital for your survival out in the wild.

"Yeah." She said simply. Riley walked next to Ethan for a while in silence. She would give him some peace for now. Occasionally, she would cast a glance his way when she was confident he wouldn't notice. She was interested in him. He was interesting because he was so serious. Having heard some of his history before he came to Haven, Riley knew that some of the things he had lived through had helped shape him to the man he was now, but there had to be something else in there. Something beneath the hard shell. Whether or not she would like that person, she didn't know.

The road stretched on for a while. Both of them looked sideways from time to time, ears alerted to some noise, like cats hearing mice in the undergrowth. But they saw nothing. The forest was empty aside from them, it seemed. But they both knew that was too good to be true. It was maddening, really. The notion of peace and quiet and safety in their little mountain enclave, that was constantly overshadowed by the ever present sense of danger. It frustrated Riley still, as it had since the outbreaks. But they reached the intersection, eventually, nonetheless. Riley turned left but slowed her pace slightly, looking for a good spot that might provide over-watch into the town. While she had a mental image of the area in her head, it'd do the good to plan their approach. A little ways down the road, though not so far down that they'd lose their advantageous view of the town, there was a widening of the road. It would provide a perfect spot for them to look into the town.

"Ethan." Riley called in little more than a whisper, as she had strayed away from him. She pointed down the road and then raised her eyebrows, as if asking him a question. Growing somewhere in her stomach was a sense of unrest. Not quite fear. Not yet a least. It was a sense of thrill and awareness. They were close now.
 

ze_kraken

Professional Squid
Original poster
Roleplay Invitations
Group Roleplays, One on One Roleplays
Posting Speed
A Few Posts a Week, One Post a Week
My Usual Online Time
16:00-20:00 US Central
Writing Levels
Adept, Advanced, Prestige
Genders You Prefer Playing
No Preferences
Playing Style- Passive or Aggressive
Depends on the group; I am used to GMing most of the things I'm in, but I can easily let someone else take the reigns.
Favorite Genres
Cyberpunk, Sci-fi, Fantasy, and other low-tech/fantasy.
Genre You DON'T Like
Multiverses, canon fandoms, and most modern.


180859
Ethan nodded and gestured to a small clearing right of the road - a bare path of tramped-down earth with a clear view of the town below. Countless scouts and runners from Haven had utilized this exact spot to scout out their approach through the valley to the point that plans had been made to construct an observation post atop the hill had been set into motion once Haven could requisite the necessary supplies, and once the winter passed. For now, a fallen log and a good pair of binoculars or a rifle's scope was all they had.

Ethan hunched down and lay prone in front of the log, gesturing for Riley to do the same. She was a resourceful one, he mused to himself as he fished his crossbow off his back as delicately as he could. He had not minded traveling with her, in spite of her chattiness and general insistence on conversing. Though they were still at least half a day's march at least from the town proper, and even with a scope their view would be severely limited, Ethan flipped the cap from the tip of his crossbow's attached scope and peered through down at the town below as Riley took her place beside him.

Tracing the path of the main road, Ethan looked over the town from their vantage point. Having been left unattended for years now, it was beginning to grow difficult to distinguish buildings from trees at this distance. Grass grew all over the road, and vines and trees had started sprouting in decaying and collapsing buildings. Though Haven looked worn and beaten down, it shared more in common with the old-world abandoned Appalachian towns than with the ruins of Coker Creek. He could spot a handful of lurking silhouettes flickering along the main road. That was unsurprising - the dead tended to cluster in towns, possessing some semblance of understanding the need for shelter and protection.

"I see a couple of lurkers down there," Ethan whispered, paranoid even from this distance they might hear him. "Not sure how many sleepers there are."

Sleepers were those dead who, in an effort to spare energy, went into a hibernation of sorts, leaving only their auditory senses alert. The dead could eat just about anything, and needed to in order to survive, but that did not stop them from adopting little quirks to stay 'alive' in the meanwhile. Sleepers, in contrast with their more active lurkers, had only started cropping up in the past few years as fewer and fewer food sources remained viable to the dead. Still, like lurkers, once agitated they moved swiftly and without much care for their own safety, powered purely by adrenaline and rage.

"Only a couple, though," he continued, sweeping down the main road with his scope. "I'm sure there's a few more lying down somewhere around there. Doesn't look like there's a horde, though."

Ethan spared a glance at Riley who sat hunched next to him. She offered him a quick smile - in spite of himself, Ethan fumbled momentarily and looked back through the scope before shifting back into a sitting posture.

"We've still got a way's to go down the mountain, but I think it best if we move up to about half a mile before the main road and see if we can split around to the sides of the town, pick an angle and tackle it together."


 
Last edited:

Morgan

Penholder
Roleplay Invitations
Group Roleplays, One on One Roleplays
Posting Speed
One Post a Day, A Few Posts a Week, One Post a Week
Writing Levels
Intermediate, Adept, Advanced
Genders You Prefer Playing
Male, Female
Favorite Genres
Fantasy. Modern. Romance. Slice of life. I can persuaded to play more, it's all about plot, really.

She waited for a while as she sat hunched there beside him. Riley was peering through the scope of her own crossbow. She was relatively comfortable with it, though she was a better shot with a standard bow and arrow, she found. But that didn't matter. Right now, she didn't have to shoot the weapon, though she was confident her aim was true when she would have to. There was a fair way down to the town itself and the distance meant that she had to be steady with her movements. Ethan's words confirmed what she had seen as well. Lurkers they could deal with, if there were only a few of them. Sleepers were another thing entirely. In her experience, they always appeared out of nowhere. Riley shuddered. There was something scary and quite terrifying about sleepers, she found.

No horde was good news. That would have been the worst thing they could deal with. They hadn't the resources of ammunition to deal with a horde. It was incredibly risky to attempt luring them off. It would mean one of them trying to gain their attention, but that resulted in a charge more often than not. So far, what they were looking at didn't feel overwhelming. It didn't feel like something they couldn't handle. It was reassuring. They had to be careful. Always careful and always vigilant, but she was confident they could pull this off. Back at Haven, Riley had not understood Tom's decision to include her on this trip. She had not really been on outings like these, so far from Haven. Now, with Ethan, it didn't seem so bad.

"Sounds like a plan." Riley nodded and shouldered her crossbow. She stood back up and waited for Ethan. Once they were both ready, they continued to move closer to the town. The closer they got, the less was said. They both understood that the risk of being heard by one of the lurkers grew with each step. Riley reminded herself of the pistol on her hip and tried to prepare and plan for how to react if they got in a scrap. But in spite of her efforts, she knew that when the time came she would just react and not really think. But it was a welcome distraction and it occupied the time they spent walking.

"Did Tom tell you anything about scout reports?" She said after a while of silence. She spoke softly, only high enough that Ethan could hear. "I know we've seen no hordes or anything, but..." Riley sighed and shrugged, looking at Ethan. "I'm just wondering what else they missed." She had been wondering that for a while. Of course, they knew that the town was here and scouts had been there and supply runs had been conducted there, but the fact that they had now found something new and sent Riley and Ethan to investigate was curious. She didn't question the work of her fellow people in Haven, but everyone made mistakes.
 
  • Love
Reactions: ze_kraken

ze_kraken

Professional Squid
Original poster
Roleplay Invitations
Group Roleplays, One on One Roleplays
Posting Speed
A Few Posts a Week, One Post a Week
My Usual Online Time
16:00-20:00 US Central
Writing Levels
Adept, Advanced, Prestige
Genders You Prefer Playing
No Preferences
Playing Style- Passive or Aggressive
Depends on the group; I am used to GMing most of the things I'm in, but I can easily let someone else take the reigns.
Favorite Genres
Cyberpunk, Sci-fi, Fantasy, and other low-tech/fantasy.
Genre You DON'T Like
Multiverses, canon fandoms, and most modern.

180948
The two began their descent along the side of the winding hill-side road into Coker Creek below, the sun already beginning to wander off back into the mountains as it began to set. They would need to find shelter for the night before pressing into the town proper tomorrow, Ethan thought as they maneuvered their way as stealthily as they could downwards. Ethan and Riley clung close to the treeline, sure to keep themselves as concealed as possible as they descended.

---

"The key is to keep your feet light," Ethan's father said, holding up a low thicket for his son to pass through.

Ethan stumbled forward, rifle clutched in-hand, his foot snapping against a fallen branch. The crack carried through the trees, sending the birds cawing and flapping away.

"Like I said,
light."


---
Ethan snapped back to attention, torn from memories of his father taking him hunting as Riley spoke up in a hushed whisper.

"...I'm just wondering what else they missed."

"Who knows," Ethan grunted in response, taking the opportunity to rest on his feet and take a drink from his water bottle, making sure to keep it from clanging around. "My bet is the last time we had an official report was two, three months ago so whatever info they had isn't accurate anymore. Last person here was on a run, so I doubt they were keeping track of much other than the run."

He paused, recapping his bottle and sighing. He hated heading into situations with minimal preparation, but as he looked over the crest of the hilly road down to the town below he realized they would soon have to dare the approach. Ethan unclasped his crossbow from his back and planted it firmly between his feet on the ground, hoisting the string back and notching a bolt. He signaled for Riley to do the same.

"It ain't exactly safe to do this," he explained. "Would have never done it hunting, but keep your finger to the side of the trigger while we walk. I just don't want to be caught unawares. Keep your fingers clear of the string - it'll slice your thumbs off without skipping a beat if you have to fire it."

Ethan nodded, and continued down the hill, keeping the crossbow at a relaxed but ready stance clutched in both hands, his finger perpendicular with the trigger laid across its guard to avoid misfires. He craned his ears, already hearing faint groans and grunts from the lurkers in the town below - they communicated with a
rudimentary system of grunts to communicate their location and mood. Shrieking indicated prey or danger, grunts and groans position.

The pair continued down for a while longer, silent as they tread carefully on sure feet across the churned and gravely road. The noises grew louder and louder the further down the hill they scaled, the sun flying lower and lower until it peaked over the crests of the mountains above, casting the town in an amber twilight.


As the road widened out at the base of the hill, Ethan ushered Riley to the side of a partially collapsed house, glancing out over the road to spot two lurkers shuffling around, limbs clinging tight to their bodies. They appeared to be distracted, or at the very least their attentiveness was lacking. Ethan counted himself lucky as he leaned back to Riley, whispering.

"Two on the road, I see a house we can hole up in. We can take these two out or sneak on past, it's your call."


 
Last edited:

Morgan

Penholder
Roleplay Invitations
Group Roleplays, One on One Roleplays
Posting Speed
One Post a Day, A Few Posts a Week, One Post a Week
Writing Levels
Intermediate, Adept, Advanced
Genders You Prefer Playing
Male, Female
Favorite Genres
Fantasy. Modern. Romance. Slice of life. I can persuaded to play more, it's all about plot, really.

She followed his movements, crossbow sliding off her shoulder. Riley notched a bolt quickly and with deft hands. She chuckled and nodded. Ethan sounded like a father teaching a child to ride their bike. It was not annoying so much as it was funny to her. To someone else it might have been annoying. To someone else it might have seemed like Ethan didn't have faith in them, or that he doubted their ability. But Riley didn't have to prove herself to anyone. Besides, she knew he only said it to be sure. He probably wanted things to go as smoothly as possible. She didn't say anything though, but just listened. Actions would speak louder than words.

'It's the loud ones I don't like.' She thought to herself, looking down at the crossbow in her hands.

Approaching the town itself, Riley too heard the lurkers. You couldn't overhear them. She had never liked the noise they made. Shrieking wasn't something humans normally did and although they were dead, it was still strange to see this thing that had once been a living human being shrieking and screaming. A chill crept up her spine, the hairs on the back of her neck standing.

When Ethan ushered her to the side, she immediately did so. If they were to work together efficiently, it was important to act right away if the other gestured. Riley felt the adrenaline pump out and she strained to listen. The few moments Ethan spent watching the road felt longer than they were. She was eager to know what he could see.

"Sneak past." Riley said quickly. If they could avoid getting into a scuffle with the dead, she would always go for that option. Sometimes it was necessary, but right now it wasn't. At least, it didn't sound like it was. "Right?" She asked, raising her eyebrows while she looked at Ethan. The sun was setting and they should find shelter as soon as they could. Who knew what unforeseen challenges might keep them outside until the dark encroached upon them. She silently weighed the risks of taking on the lurkers versus the benefits. She found none and stuck to her initial conclusion. "If they haven't spotted us, let's try and get to shelter in that house fast." Riley whispered to Ethan, leaning closer to him. She could smell him from how close they were standing now. He didn't smell of cologne and aftershave. Few men did these days. But it was a pleasant scent nonetheless. She was never really physically close to anyone. Riley had no family in Haven and only few people hugged her. It wasn't as sad as it sounded, when she thought of it. She was just not very close to anyone. "The sun is setting." A nod toward the red orb to indicate that they were running out of daylight, but Ethan had noticed.

 

ze_kraken

Professional Squid
Original poster
Roleplay Invitations
Group Roleplays, One on One Roleplays
Posting Speed
A Few Posts a Week, One Post a Week
My Usual Online Time
16:00-20:00 US Central
Writing Levels
Adept, Advanced, Prestige
Genders You Prefer Playing
No Preferences
Playing Style- Passive or Aggressive
Depends on the group; I am used to GMing most of the things I'm in, but I can easily let someone else take the reigns.
Favorite Genres
Cyberpunk, Sci-fi, Fantasy, and other low-tech/fantasy.
Genre You DON'T Like
Multiverses, canon fandoms, and most modern.

181116
Ethan's hands began to shake as he nodded to Riley, leaning further out behind the corner to raise his crossbow to a readier grip. He had found a modicum of comfort in being inches away from another human, but they had a job to do - intimacy or human moments beyond the walls of Haven were practically impossible. Only now, sweat formed on his brow and he had to fight to keep his hands steady on his crossbow. He always reacted like this around the dead as he had from his first time encountering them.

With his sights trained on the closest lurker, Ethan gestured for Riley to move across the street by jerking his head back. The house was a little over 20 yards to their front, at the corner of an intersection overlooking the main street. The lurkers were a little over 10 yards further than that, shuffling in the direction opposite where Ethan and Riley stood. So long as they were quiet, there would be no problem.

As Riley began to dart forward towards the house Ethan followed pace, weapon raised as he remained steady on his feet, keeping the lurkers in his crosshairs. He followed Riley out of his periphery, relying on her to lead the way to the house as he kept a look out. His hands had steadied now, his breath had evened out, and fear had given way to hard determination as it always had. All was drowned out as Riley fiddled with the door - the lurkers' groans, the setting sun, all was cast aside as Ethan remained trained on the threat.

A quick tap to his shoulder signaled they were in. Ethan snapped to and followed Riley into the house, quickly shutting the door silently behind him and laying his crossbow at the doorway, retrieving his fire axe from his side. Clutched in both hands, Ethan cast a look at Riley, suddenly finding himself short of breath again. Was it fear? He glanced left, then right, scanning the floor of what had been a plain shop. The windows were boarded, the shelves pushed to act as a second layer of defense while the counter had been equally fortified.

Directly behind the counter stood an open doorway, leading to a flight of stairs. Ethan carefully made his way across the open shop floor, keeping his eyes low to look out for sleepers. Seeing none, even tucked away in the corners of the main floor, he signaled for Riley to follow up and glanced up the stairs from safely behind the counter. He retrieved his crossbow from the doorway, retrieving the bolt from the string and manually releasing it before tucking it back on the shop counter and vaulting over it, axe at the ready. He waited for Riley to do the same and leaned in close to her, momentarily caught off guard by her scent as he whispered.

"Right.." He paused. Pine - she smelled like pine. "Come up behind me, keep your axe ready. There's only one more floor, but better safe than sorry right?"

He withdrew with a touch of reluctance, savoring one last whiff of pine needles and fresh air clinging to Riley before beginning to make his way up the stairs, reassured by Riley's footsteps behind him. They progressed silently up the stairs, feet barely scuffing the worn and, in many places, rotted away wooden stairs. Mold and algae bloomed alongside the walls, bursting through gaudy purple wallpaper and offering an unpleasant contrast to Riley's own scent.

Once Ethan cleared the staircase, he swiveled around, finding three open doors to his left, right, and center. The door immediately in front of them housed what must have been an inventory closet at one point, which had been ransacked. Shelves had been tossed over, their contents rotting or rotted away on the ground. Clothes, mostly. T-shirts and jackets and pants. Ethan looked right and saw an empty office space, left relatively untouched - dusty, and moldy but untouched. Perhaps people had deemed business records and computers non essential when the left or looted the store. To the left, a break room. The door was left slightly ajar.

"Follow me," Ethan breathed, barely enough to be heard by Riley who stood a few steps below him.

He approached the door and gently pushed it open, proceeding inside with Riley not far behind him. Here, the windows had not been boarded up entirely. Ethan could spot where a rifle had been perched, noting a dip in the wooden planking that suggested weight had been put against it disproportionately to take advantage of the gap in the planks. At their feet were scattered chairs and tables - too much time had passed to see if there was dried blood, but Ethan guessed that here the shop owners had made their last stand. The chairs and tables were all lined in a semi-defensive position in the corner of the room, and the ones tossed aside seemed to arc from a gap in the defenses.

Ethan approached the ring and peered over, finding some spent and rusted shell casings and bits of tattered clothes. A struggle had certainly taken place here, but it was long gone. All that mattered now was that, for the time being, he and Riley were afforded some level of safety so long as they were quiet.

"Fuck," Ethan breathed out in a raspy tone, sliding to the floor and raising shaking hands to his forehead, allowing himself a brief moment to vent the built-up tension and fear he had suppressed since entering the shop.


 

Morgan

Penholder
Roleplay Invitations
Group Roleplays, One on One Roleplays
Posting Speed
One Post a Day, A Few Posts a Week, One Post a Week
Writing Levels
Intermediate, Adept, Advanced
Genders You Prefer Playing
Male, Female
Favorite Genres
Fantasy. Modern. Romance. Slice of life. I can persuaded to play more, it's all about plot, really.

Her knuckles were white with how hard she was gripping the axe. Riley had held it close to her, almost as if she was afraid of dropping it. It was her weapon inside this building. Aside from her knife it was her means of defense. The crossbow would not be quite as useful here. From the moment Ethan has said 'go', her heart had been beating so hard she thought her ribs would break. It made her nauseous and it had taken a while before she had been able to steady her breath. It didn't pass once they were inside the building. No, the tension had only seemed to build up the stairs. Only now, standing in the same room with Ethan, knowing that they had a place to sleep that would keep them relatively safe, did the color return to her fingers as they loosened on the axe. Her heart stilled itself very slowly and she let out a breath she didn't know she had been holding.

She hadn't known how she would react. Not until now. She was still in control. She hadn't been paralyzed with fear. In fact, she felt a strange sort of calmness bloom within her. It was nothing heroic at all, like being okay with the risk to their lives they currently faced. It wasn't something like that at all. It was the fact that Ethan was sitting down, breath expelling the fear he had also felt. Right there, in the middle of the broken room, in a ruined world, it felt so completely and utterly human. And Riley could relate to all of it. That reassured and calmed her. She was not alone.

Riley turned one of the chairs scattered around them up to an upright position, leaned her axe against it and put her backpack on the seat of the chair. She took her canteen and unscrewed the cap. She took the few steps over to Ethan and knelt down. She set the canteen down on the floor momentarily and then took both his hands with her own. Riley offered him her best reassuring smile. Her heart was still beating and the fear had not left her, but for the moment they had shelter and they were safe. If they stayed quiet. She took the canteen and pressed it into his hand.

"We made it this far." She said, smile widening to reveal her teeth. She wasn't going to say that it was alright and everything would be fine. There was nothing alright about the world and had no right to promise that they would make it through it all; even if it was just a small raid on a hardware store and a supermarket in a small town. Riley stood up. She tried not to think of what had happened to the people who'd last lived and worked here. There were clear signs of struggle. For all they knew, they were walking outside with all the other lurkers. Picking up a few more chairs and setting them upright as quietly as she could, Riley sat down on one of them. It felt nice, as they had been walking all day. She leaned her head back and rolled her shoulders, feeling a few pops in her neck. She sighed and then rummaged through her backpack.

"Hungry?" Riley asked quietly, having given Ethan a few moments to himself. She pulled out a few ration packs and set them down on one of the chairs, for when they wanted to eat. Her own stomach was empty and at the thought of food, it growled loudly. She shook her head and ignored it. Riley looked at Ethan again. "Should we maybe try to secure the building a little bit before we eat? Doors and doorways?" If nothing else, it would help Riley sleep better knowing that they had put a table or two in front of the door leading into their room.