Dante's Legacy (IC)

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  1. Master Post

    Aeneid’s Author awoke mere moments before the shining vermillion hue of Algol could seep into his window frame, remembering once more, that his damnation had ceased to be eternal. His breath followed in the wake of his racing heart, and the decrepit scribe shuffled out of his bed of silk and other linens. With anxiety etched upon his grim visage, the Roman poet struggled to unfasten the locks on his rustic door. Frustrated, Virgil pounded on the iron knob with his walking staff, freeing himself from the confines of his own home. Now old and apt to forget, the poet, with all his elderly might, ran forth towards the docks. Lined with dusty cobblestones and smoothened skulls of both Damned and demon alike, the avenues of the Damned Polis, hidden by a thick quilt of cold mist, greeted Virgil with not so much as a good morning. The poet turned left, and right, in and out of both the shadowy alleyways and the chapped bridges, as if following a route that seemed erratic and unknown. Because it was dusk, not a single Damned was awake to help old Virgil run, and even if there were, they would much rather escort the once wise leader of the mortal rebellion back to the Hall of Kings. It was true; his mind had slowly failed him, hence, so too did his lunacy fail the people of the Polis. But, on this very day, despite the poet’s enfeebled mind, Virgil felt something amiss.


    Passing the large statue of the Crusader Dante, whose hand held a cross that irradiated a calming blue light, Virgil arrived at the docks, where a lowly bard awaited the coming of the Demon Star. The young man’s platinum locks were quite dishevelled, having been ruffled by the freezing winds of the coastline, as well as his arboresque horns. The young Greek musician plucked the strings of his lyre, composing a forlorn hymn that accompanied the solemn silence of the night. With an icy sigh, he withdrew his instrument and wrapped it around filthy rags, enshrouding his face with the shadows of his hooded mantle. “Where are you going, Orpheus, my son?” Virgil enquired of the elegist, his voice crackling with weakness and despair. The old man stepped forth, but once he did, Orpheus recoiled. He could no longer live in the Polis, for the hope it once brought began to wane. “You are not my father,” the young bard’s words were daggers to Virgil’s heart. Orpheus, who was through with his adoptive father’s inaction, desired to spite at him. “What did we do, Virgil? What did we do, when Dante entombed our “Lord” into the Cocytus?” With contempt in his eyes, the young bard stepped forth. “While Satan’s forces dispersed like fools at the loss of their God, and ours were at their most powerful, what did we do, then?” He gripped the old poet’s shoulders, shaking him violently, “While Eurydice waited for me, I stayed here, waiting for naught! We should’ve done something the moment Satan fell! We should’ve voyaged—“ it was then, that the young man was slapped. The bard was speechless, and he stepped back. He boarded the small raft, and began untying the ropes. “Eurydice and I will reunite, Virgil. Even if I have to brave the Burning Hells without you, unlike our hero. You disappoint me…”

    “We did many things, my son. We bolstered our defences, erected homes for the Damned, and after eons, Limbo became not a piece of perdition, but a beacon of hope! We’ve introduced forgiveness and repentance to these people, so much, that Julius Caesar has learned to forgive Brutus and Cassius. Don’t you see, Orpheus? We have literally done the impossible! A war is brewing between us and the creatures of the Inferno, yes, but the oppressed needn’t more violence. You do not understand. Even with Satan gone, many demons still operate under the cover of darkness. In fact, Hell is even more dangerous.” Virgil loosened the grip of his staff, and while it strained him heavily, knelt down to hold the rope. “Do not leave, Orpheus, I beg of you! There’ll be a time for redemption, but now is not that time. It is the time for preparation, and we need you t—“ gripping his heart, Virgil fell. With widened eyes, Orpheus leapt off the boat and clenched his sickly father. It was then, at this moment, that Algol peeped from the horizon, illuminating Limbo with a darker form of day. Orpheus carried his father and ran to the home of Hippocrates, the first doctor.

    A week later, in the late King Minos' chambers, turned into a lyceum for public hearings and gatherings…


    The rising Algol lingered behind the misty and mountainous verge of Limbo, reluctantly, perhaps, to show its face on a cold, crisp morning. “He is gone, but not forgotten,” a powerful voice erupted, speaking to an assembly of an almost immeasurable amount of mortal Damned. “For how could we forget the one who taught us hope, kindness, and forgiveness, even in the Inferno? How could we forget the one who, despite having Paradise before him, returned to Hell’s beginning to appraise us that salvation is, in fact, a possibility?” Julius Caesar’s voice, unlike Orpheus’ only moments ago, succumbed not to sorrow. The Roman Emperor remained levelheaded, and although he was greatly bereaved, showed no weakness, as it would only demoralise the denizens of Limbo. It was most unfortunate for them, as a second death in the afterlife will reduce one to nothing. Virgil was gone forevermore. While Julius delivered his speech, Orpheus disappeared from the crowd. Guised underneath the hood of his greyish blue mantle, the bard paced along the empty streets of Limbo. He stopped by Dante’s Monument in the centre of the Polis, where a new, albeit smaller statue of his father, Virgil, was erected beside it. He wept silently, brandishing his lyre and playing the last tune Virgil heard him play that fateful night at the docks. “Forgive me, father… I will leave tonight,” he touched the statue’s arm. Although he still desired to be with his beloved Eurydice, Orpheus wished to tell Dante of his and Virgil’s legacy.
    #1 Damien Kriez, Jun 9, 2016
    Last edited: Aug 29, 2016
  2. MordredDid the abyss have a night? It certainly had no Sun. This much the Kinslayer knew. He had traveled far and wide, wandered from one barbarous Hell into another, and never once had he seen light from anything. Save fire. Fires of the Damned, fires of Damnation. Dancing across the flesh, into the mind, down to the soul. The fires screaming, the fires burning. God, the smell of the fires... He loved it. Anything to be near the warmth, close to the heat. And then, there was this place. Polis. City of the Damned. Light illuminated it, brilliant light, white light, pure light. Light from the sky.

    A Sun.

    It had been far too long ago that the Kinslayer had seen it. His first steps into Limbo were confused and agonized. What was this new light? So bright and clean. No screaming. No madness. No fire. No warmth... Yes. This was God's light; there was no mistaking it for anything more. It illuminated, but it was cold and unforgiving. It did nothing to alleviate the chill of the Inferno. So cold... Ice. Snow. The Kinslayer remembered these things. He hated these things. He'd killed the first soul he saw, left the body decapitated and scorched on the steps of some building. Perhaps it was important? He could no longer remember. The body certainly wasn't. What good was a dead man? The poor sot's clothes, though. Those were important. Mordred had needed warmth, something to chase the cold away. With no fires anywhere, what could one do otherwise? But it was never enough. No matter how many clothes he stole or bought, depending on the time of day, the cold never went away. It left him slow and weak. Weakness was intolerable in the Inferno. No one could see him like this...

    And so Mordred, Kin and Kingslayer, Son of Arthur Pendragon, Once-King of England, cowered, as he had for decades, under his bridge. A tattered, broken thing, it loomed over a canal that cut round the docks of the Styx, shallow enough to wade through, but inconvenient enough so as to warrant an alternative crossing. Long ago, when Polis was young, perhaps it had been important. Mordred recalled that it had a name once. But it was a silly thing, naming bridges. Why bother? Nothing more than an arch over water made of marble and mortar. Important things deserved names. And this bridge, no matter what its past, was long forgotten. None had passed over it in years, leaving it to memory. When it collapsed, perhaps a concerned citizen would call for the removal of the rubble, simply to clean away the blemish. But until then, it was home to vagabonds and the lost and weary, souls who found no place in Polis to call home. Home for the Damned who were lied to. Polis held no peace or pleasure for them. No solace. For them, nothing could wash away the spiritual stains of the Inferno. Not even the canal. How many had drowned themselves when the hopelessness broke them? Too many. Once, this place had thrived, if the word were appropriate, and the highest count Mordred could recall was three score. Perhaps more. Now, only Mordred remained.

    An arrangement he was perfectly happy with. Too many voices, too many noises and smells and tastes in the mouth. It agitated him, really. And Mordred Kinslayer wasn't one to be agitated...

    He gnawed at the bone in his greasy hands, itself already picked to a clean white. He shuffled in his flowing rags, the robes of an alley king, muttering to himself. The bulk never seemed to aggravate him. It was warm, and made resting easier. Oh, not sleep. Far from it. There were no dreams. No sleep. Not for Mordred. But it was entertaining to pretend, covering his eyes and wrapping himself in trash atop a pile of scrap cloth, as if he were a king lounging on his bed. Bored with his toy, Mordred tossed the bone into the canal waters and began to pull another from the corpse beside him, whispering something about rot and ruin. Once, it had been another beggar, an old fellow who slept under the bridge when the others had left. He had seemed kind, but lonely. No telling what he'd been through. And then, one day, long after the many others had left or died, he'd simply never woken from his slumber. For a while, Mordred had let him be. Bodies rotted quickly in Hell, and it would be nothing but bones in time. But then the hunger came again. And meat was hard to come by. He ripped another piece of flesh from the bone, pretending it was mutton. In the past, he'd despised the stuff. Now, he wished for nothing more than the meat of an animal. The others ate well in Polis. But he could not go out there. Into the light. Into the cold...

    Dust and specks of rock fell on Mordred's forehead. His skin crawled, and he leapt off his throne of discarded clothes, glancing back and forth, seeking the source of his disturbance. One hand gripped the handle of a blade, and the other ripped at the sheath that covered it. The two were the cleanest parts of his wardrobe, well-kept and polished by water and spit and work. Perhaps it was a habit from his time on Earth, but Mordred was obsessed with these items, the only objects in his possession he truly cared about. The blade was inches out of the scabbard before Mordred realized there was no one around. He looked up and prodded the underside of the bridge with the point of the sheath. More dust fell down, and continued prodding disturbed a chunk of marble. It fell with a crash, shattering upon hitting the ground.

    "Hmph..." That could have hurt. "What could have started that?" he wondered aloud, before falling back into frustrated ramblings about the mess and how long it would take to clean it. Tossing his sword back onto the bed pile, Mordred started dusting the fragments of rock into the water. Ultimately he just started digging a hole, losing track of what dust was making a mess and what was just part of the ground. As he did, thoughts came to mind. Unwanted things, they teased at the back of his head, and buzzed around when he tried to swat them away. What was he doing here? Mordred remembered what he was. A king wasn't meant to live under a bridge, eating scraps of another man's corpse, startled into a battle-frenzy at the slightest disruption. He remembered the taste of real food, and the comfort of a real bed. And he remembered that he'd never see any of it again. That he simply could not go back to that life. His fault. All his fault...

    A tear streaked down his face, plunging through the air and impacting the disturbed dirt beneath Mordred's fingers. He shuddered for a moment, holding back his emotions. And then, he remembered...


    The Kinslayer poked his head up above his bridge for the first time in decades. The gray Sun had set in the west, leaving only the false night and the wretched cold. Red light filtered down from on high, brighter than the black of the new moon over Limbo. Mordred looked up and saw it: Algol. He recalled lessons from someone... His mother? Father? The Demonstar was violence. The Demonstar was an omen. How fitting. His head craned to follow the sound of receding footsteps, far away down the path of the bridge. Climbing up out of his ditch, dragging his sheathed sword behind him, Mordred began to stagger down towards the docks. Towards boats. Towards his real home.
    #2 The Philosoraptor, Jun 9, 2016
    Last edited: Jun 9, 2016
  3. Lady Macbeth

    News of old Virgil’s passing cut through most of Limbo’s citizens like a hot knife through butter, since there were many aspects about the old poet the Damned of Limbo treasured greatly.

    For those unpunished with heinous torture, the virtuous of Limbo, Virgil was a mentor. Set apart from the other thinkers, Virgil shared pieces of advice and enlightened even his elders with newfound knowledge. Even after seeing firsthand the workings of the Lord within Dante, the academic within the poet compelled Virgil to return to Limbo and captivate his colleagues with tales and new information. The news broke out quickly, and if not for Virgil’s kindred spirit, hope would not have been known to the Damned. Against the initial protests of some of Limbo’s anal pedagogues, Virgil opened the Hall of Kings to the people, encouraging his colleagues to relinquish their entitled lives.

    For the refugees who were subjected to more atrocious forms of torment, Virgil was another hero. While Dante dealt the final blow to the Father of Lies, thus trembling the Inferno and giving the Damned an opportunity to escape, it was the poet’s vision of the Polis that gave them direction. While imperfect and most certainly far from being a utopia, the Polis gifted the punished with bounteous opportunities, such as meager jobs, food and drink, and a roof above their heads. While the mental, emotional, and spiritual damage would take longer to heal, the tortured souls from beyond the misty mountains of Limbo rest assured that bodily harm would never again come upon them.

    Gruoch felt no different. Burned for eons and stripped of all former beauty, the Lady Macbeth, once wife to the former Thane of Glamis, and of Cawdor, and thereafter, the King of Scotland, felt secure within the Hall of Kings. The surety that was promised arrived the moment the Lady landed upon the cold and glistening shores of Limbo, but it was only after spending decades within the Polis that Gruoch realized the blessing that had befallen her and her peers. There, she lived as a poor widow, fed and protected by mortal authorities and at the forefront of these charitable efforts, stood Virgil the wise.

    As the Damned sauntered back to their tawdry homes, Lady Macbeth paced to the fro to meet with Julius Caesar. Gazing upon Virgil’s decaying corpse, encased beautifully within glass and onyx, Gruoch placed her hand atop the coffin with woeful remembrance.

    “I doth fail to understand what affliction most accursed had befallen dear Virgil. It seemed he died of age, but in the Inferno, that matters not.” Lady Macbeth said, her Scottish accent thick as the blood the trickled down her shoulders.

    “Satan distended our lives into infinity, so that even the most barbaric tortures would not end in death. With the Fallen King depowered, a second death was made possible. While his defeat was and will forever be a reason to celebrate, the grim reality is, death is upon us once more. We’ve lost a lot of men in the battlefield, and now Virgil.” Caesar replied, his eyes locked on his old friend’s wrinkled mug.

    “So, will you be Limbo’s new potentate?” Lady Macbeth said, her Scottish accent thick as the blood the trickled down her shoulders.

    “There are worthier,” Caesar replied, his eyes locked on his old friend’s wrinkled mug. “I intend to keep the Polis a beacon of hope.”

    “A new chapter is upon us, Julius! You were once a general, and emperor of Rome in thy life’s past. Like my husband, thou art too full of the milk of kindness. Hark to me, Julius, for I wish to be cleansed of sin, yet I say, the Polis can be a light whilst in the midst of battle. I’m not tricking you as I did my husband in my past life.”

    “Perhaps you are right,” Caesar exclaimed, burdened with the urgency to lead the Polis to their promised salvation. “My reign was taken from me by the very people I have forgiven. Perhaps, this is a second chance. I will deliberate with the other thinkers.”

    Lady Macbeth paced forth, about to leave, until she was stopped by the former Emperor of Rome. “Gruoch, I require your services as one of my brightest students.” She was quite flustered after that, and despite the insecurity coming from the burn mark on her face, she felt a tad bit of love from his words.


    “The colonies beyond Limbo, reach out to them. Tell them of Virgil’s passing, and that the rebellion will begin anew. In spite of your disability, you are one of the Polis’ most formidable mages. I have faith in you and your strength.”

    And with that, Lady Macbeth paced to the docks. Though the fear of her meeting her husband Macbeth was definitely within Gruoch's heart, her newfound spirit and sincere willingness to deliver the message to the Polis' soldiers beyond Limbo motivated her to no end. She had hoped, prayed, in fact, that she wouldn't cross paths with her husband, any time soon.
    #3 Weiss, Jun 9, 2016
    Last edited: Jun 10, 2016
  4. MordredMordred's thoughts, so jumbled and incoherent, were focused for the first time in eons. Home... Wasn't that the bridge? So comfortable and hidden, where food could be found and warmth was to be had? Or was it that faraway place? Angle... Land? Green and bountiful, with skies at once a bright cerulean and deep gray with storms. A land in his daydreams and memories, as if he'd been there once before, but could no longer quite remember it. Yet there was another place, a place so familiar to him. Where his nightmares came alive, and his survival was determined by his brutality, honed by years of watching his tormentors. A place of heat and ash, and ice and cold, and desert sandstorms and flaming rivers. And it was a place that felt so much like home.

    Somehow, Mordred knew where the man he followed was going. Had he walked to the docks before? Or did he walk from the docks to the bridge? The path was well-worn, and split off into several other paved streets. In fact, by comparison, the path the two walked was dirty and forlorn, a grim alleyway cutting in between two old storehouses. It was clearly as forgotten as the bridge; once important to the business of the fishermen and merchants of the Acheron, and long ago abandoned for more economical paths. It looped a few times around several buildings that seemed to have been built around it, before ending at the docks themselves. The stranger seemed to already have a ship picked out, if a ship it could be called. More a raft, cobbled together from scrap wood and rope. It floated, and seemed to be able to hold weight. It would serve Mordred well.

    He clung to the walls of a storehouse, whispering words of scattered and broken prayers under his breath, watching his quarry go about his business. His left hand groped the handle of his sword, clutching at the dragon leather-wrapped handle. Mordred peeled his form out of the shadows, exposing himself to the line of sight of the stranger. Mordred took mental notes on the man: He was very boyish, pale of skin and blonde of hair, so blonde as to be almost metallic white. Gold horns peeked above his hair, shining in the red light of Algol. More defining, though, was the lyre that protruded from the stranger's rags. A musician. How curiously mad to find one in Hell. Raising his sword in the air, pommel to the sky, Mordred called out as loudly as stealth would allow "Ho, demon-bard. Spare a ferry ride for a wanderer?" His eyes never broke from the stranger, eyeing him with close suspicion. If a lyre could be concealed in rags, so too could a bow, or a dagger, or any manner of weapons.
  5. A small raft made from the hollowed bones of a large demonic monster emerged from the fog, and the single person moving the oar appeared to be rowing it weakly, as if in pain. As the man drew closer to the docks of Limbo, he saw two men—a pale, ghostly young adolescent male dressed in rags and a mantle, and a grizzled, black knight of sorts. The latter raised a weapon with pride, and as he spoke to the young male, the migrant on the raft faintly heard the knight’s plea to ride with the bard. After some days of sailing alone to Limbo and spending time out in the vast, silent waters, the lone boatman became overjoyed at the sight and sound of other Damned. As he rowed his oar towards them, the skeletal raft neared the Polis’ ancient docks. He emerged from the mist, and it quickly became evident that the man was actually two men in one body.

    They were trapped within an able-bodied individual. The right part of the body, from head to toe, was covered in jagged, rocky growths, and slits that dimly glimmered a tarnished, golden color. There was still human flesh, but it was situated deep underneath the thick, golem-like layer of skin that he adapted because of years of his torture in Greed. The left side, however, was unchanged—it was of an olive, medium brown skinned man. The skin of the left part of the body looked like the skin of a normal Damned soul, which meant it had a very dirty and dusty appearance. The skin also had a lot of bruises and wounds. Both had shoulder-long dark brown hair, yellow eyes, and wore Punjabi pants. The human side wore no chest piece, and his bare muscular body was seen. He only wore a shoulder guard. Strapped to the left side was a bladed, golden whip.

    “You two! I am Ali Baba, and this is my brother Qasim, and we need your help.” The man exclaimed, his rocky hand introducing the human half of his body, and the human hand introducing the rocky half. It was confusing to see, but he had hoped that the two men would quickly catch on.

    “I… we are the captain of the squadron in Greed, and our camp was raided by demons. I am the only survivor. Is Virgil around?”
    #5 Gooby, Jun 10, 2016
    Last edited: Jun 10, 2016
  6. Lady Macbeth

    Damned Algol... despite its orange tint upon the land, the docks were still hidden by the mists. By now, there were a number of people on the docks, like the fishers to provide Limbo with food from the blackened sea, and the sentinels atop their watchtowers. In one corner, however, were three Damned. One she knew fell, another she saw once or twice in the past, and another new and unidentifiable.

    Orpheus looked young, as always, and Gruoch would always hear the sad tunes of his lyre. She was unfazed of course. In fact, she liked his genre of music. The man who seemed to have a split personality, however, was trickier. Was he that soldier from Greed who visited the Limbo long ago? With eyes wide, Gruoch realized that he was. His disappeared long ago, and she was never curious as to why he left, or where he even went. It's quite noble seeing that his absence was because of his volunteerism for the rebellion. The third man, however, made Lady Macbeth raise a brow. She hadn't seen a British knight in so long. She was so accustomed to seeing the warriors of Scotland, who wore less armor and more war paint smeared upon their faces. There was an attractiveness to this knight's nature, but at the same time, a sense of dread familiarity.

    “Virgil is dead,” She spoke, her eyes locked on the man who asked for him. No smile was on her lips, nor any form of joy. She took a gander upon her friend, the bard, and gave a soft albeit forced smile. “How now, Orpheus? What compels thee to leave on such a good morrow? And on this... dinghy no less?”

    Lady Macbeth eyed the small sailboat that the Greek musician stood beside. If that was indeed his vessel, they wouldn't survive the storms of Lust... but then again, it would be better for her to tag along with Orpheus, as bringing a large ship and crew might attract some unwanted company.

    “I've heard of you, friend. Tis' a fortune for death to come upon such merry men. They've died with honor most high.” She spoke to Ali Baba and Qasim. Carrying a sack of simple cloaks and food for the trip upon her shoulder, she displayed her magic by creating two arms of blood with full detail. She then proceeded to place the sack gently on the floor. “Caesar will be the new King... that way, the rebellion can begin anew. His militaristic background will serve the Polis well.” While she spoke to the Brothers, she wanted to compel all of them to allow her to join their quest... however dangerous it may be. “He has given me a task to spread the news, and my reward is that of reconciliation... If I will it, I may step forth to the beyond and enter Mount Purgatory, and never come back.”

    “Orpheus, may I join thee? And might I add... who is thy friend?” She eyed the black knight that pleaded to ride with the bard.
  7. Orpheus

    The bard, lone and unafraid, began placing a threadbare sack of provisions beneath the sailboat's wooden thwart, when a hoarse and lordly voice pierced the silence of the dawn. Orpheus reared his head towards the holler, and lo, there he saw the knight. Thereafter, he erected himself and turned towards the mysterious man clad in blackest armour, raising a brow in response to his humble question. “It depends,” the golden minstrel said with circumspection in his tone, turning his back and fixing the boat once more. “Who are you?” As a student and the adoptive son of the late Virgil, Orpheus knew all if not most of the Polis’ denizens. This knight was a stranger, and Orpheus was wary of strangers. Still, braving Hell alone would be nigh impossible, and to have this stalwart warrior fall into the musician’s life so abruptly could be a blessing in disguise… at least, this was what he had hoped. With a nod of his chin, he accepted Mordred’s plea to join him in his quest.

    As the knight stepped forth to be further bathed under the light of the Demon Star, another individual emerged from the cover of the misty horizon. He had rowed a small raft towards the Polis, and whilst the sentinels of Limbo’s safe haven blew their horns and alerted the citizens of the Ali Baba and Qasim’s presence, Orpheus stepped into his "dinghy." Concurrently, his friend Lady Gruoch of Scotland had made her appearance. Her question, he answered with, “Simply, my duties.” He then began to fix the sail. “Tell me, knight. Why have I never seen you around?” Orpheus asked.

    As Gruoch entertained Limbo’s newest visitors, or visitor, the mention of demons piqued his interests. “I believe we must go, then. Ali Baba, Qasim, would you mind accompanying us? To have sailed by yourselves from Greed, past the piercing hail rains and rabid monsters from Gluttony, and across the violent winds and thunderstorms of Lust, must’ve taken an unfathomable amount of effort and skill. We do need a navigator… And,” turning to his bloody, armless friend, “Lady Macbeth, I would be honoured to have Limbo’s greatest mage in the journey, as well.”
    #7 Damien Kriez, Jun 11, 2016
    Last edited: Jun 11, 2016
  8. MordredMordred prowled forward, back straight but pace slow. He lowered his sword, hooking it onto the belt at his waist. The Bard did not appear hostile, and more than likely was friendly. But Mordred had once had friends. And they had tried to cut his throat in the night for food. Not very friendly, if you were to ask him. It caught him off guard when the Bard asked for Mordred's name. What was it again? It had been so long since Mordred had actually spoken to someone. So long since he had introduced himself, or even cared to think of his self. For so long, he had simply been an old soul, sharing space with the others under the bridge. None of them had names, lost to the callous flow of time.

    With hesitation in his voice, he called out "I had a name once, but use it no longer, for it implies that I exist as a man. Call me Wanderer, or Nameless, for these are things lacking a soul or humanity. But, if you must, call me Medraut, for that is the name of a dead man I once knew." At the Bard's approval, Mordred stepped onto the raft, which bobbed a bit in the water. A ramshackle thing, no doubt, but better than many of the vessels that came through Polis. It would do its job, ferrying the two of them into the Second Circle. Of course, it was certainly better than the demon corpse piloted by the crazy Arab. It gave Mordred slight pause hearing these words pass through his head, and brought a slight twitch of a smile to his face. He listened in silence as the Bard, whose name was Orpheus, invited the Arab onto the boat. Or was it Arabs? The man, named Ali Baba, seemed to believe there to be a second man aboard his vessel. Of course, who was Mordred to criticize a man for the voices in his head? As the two engaged in dialogue, he began to make himself comfortable aboard the vessel, taking a seat and adjusting his cloak of rags to cover his armor. He slid his sword behind him, pinning it against the hull. In response to the Bard's inquiry, he said plainly "I do not... Socialize."

    Closing his eyes in an attempt to detach himself from the conversation, he heard yet another new voice. The dead are simply popping out of the woodwork, these days, aren't they? It was good to hear the news of the kingdom, a knight had once told him. The King was dead. Long live the King, eh? But the witch's name... Macbeth. A voice wailed at Mordred from the back of his mind. "... Bastard! Come back! Please! Help me, damn you! Help meeeeeeeeeeee..." His hand started to tap his leg uncontrollably, creating a muffled dinging against the plate beneath his robes. His eyes opened slightly, and turned to stare at the armless woman. Gruoch. Mordred said nothing, but eyed her warily.
    #8 The Philosoraptor, Jun 11, 2016
    Last edited: Jun 11, 2016
  9. Lady Macbeth

    "I do not... Socialize." After giving the musician a smile as a form of thanks, Gruoch heard these words emanate from Medraut's lips, which appeared to tighten, tremble, and twitch with erratic tension. By now, she had stepped on the boat, placed her bags underneath one of the wooden seats, and hid her face underneath the shadow of the hood. "'Tis a shame," she said, her eyes unlocked from Mordred and in stead unto the far horizon, which she gazed upon with unbroken concentration. "Most of the Damned here are quite benign," She took a seat on the spot where her friend, Orpheus would sit.

    “Forgetfulness is a curse of the Inferno,” With a drop of blood, Gruoch levitated a hardtack biscuit and placed it upon her lap. This nigh imperishable cracker was the breadth of a small, portable chest within her sack. “I too, for the longest time, have forgotten everything. When I was bathed in fires endless, I could do naught but scream. I learned to talk again after some months, and I give my gramercies to Limbo's thinkers.” Glancing upon Mordred, who had then eyed the Lady with wary vigilance, Lady Macbeth shook her head and encouraged the Polis' knightly visitor. “'Tis unwise to deny yourself of the name you were born with, Medraut. Though no long'r men or women, we aspire to become those once more, through the good graces of Heaven. Bury your name within yourself, knight.”

    Lady Macbeth eyed the contents that lay beneath her feet. She was thankful for blankets, and a fishing rod should any of them scorn the hardtacks. Although Gruoch had grown accustomed to a life humbler and far less lavish than her years as a mortal, to spend a number of days on the boat was some steps backwards. Still, her mission was true, and though she was unwilling, Gruoch took a deep breathe and prepared herself for the voyage.
  10. The Brothers
    They were genuinely surprised that Virgil was dead. When the woman, Gruoch, told them that the man who had taken them in for a few months and allowed them to represent the revolution of the Polis in Greed, Ali Baba and Qasim's single heart fell. The brothers' head fell, and they clenched their shared fists in anger. Was it an accident, or was it more? Whatever the truth was, Ali Baba and Qasim felt that their journey was a pointless one. They had been alone, occupying a single mind, fighting for control and the chance to speak. They had been rowing for weeks, fishing with the whip, but eating it raw. The demonic fish of Hell weren't exactly a gourmet meal. Their body was tired, but vengeance was stronger, and so, the Brothers nodded. "It was a daunting task, especially Gluttony, but yes. I will. Hopefully, the weight of my hardheaded brother will not be too much of a burden on this feeble vessel." Ali Baba said, initiating some banter with his brother, as the other half of the body, with its jagged claw, pinched Ali Baba's shoulder. Humor was rare in Hell, perhaps even on the brink of extinction. Even if it was, these Arabian Knights, discoverers of once a great treasure, wanted to share riches more valuable than any gold or silver... the jovial richness of humor.

    They stepped off the raft, and with a rope, began to tie their skeletally crafted boat unto the stern. To Qasim, this boat was of the highest value, as it was made from the carved out remains of one of the demons that attacked their camp. At the urging of Ali Baba, when all their men were brutalized and reduced to demon feed, the Brothers ran. While Qasim was not one to back down from a fight, his more timid brother promised him vengeance and justice for the soldiers of Greed. After doing this, Ali Baba and Qasim stepped on it once more. "We will stay here. Give you eyes where you are not able to see. " While his words were true, he also wanted to steer clear from the black knight and the witch. While the bard, in all his boyishness and youth, appeared to pose no threat at all, it would be best if the Brothers didn't stay with them... at least for now.
  11. Master Post
    And with that, these unlikely companions were primed for their voyage unto the Hells below. These Damned souls, Orpheus felt, were verily unlike most of those he had already met and, as one of the Polis' most prominent indwellers, he had met many. Indeed, simply taking a gander at them caused Orpheus to conclude that they possessed a powerful albeit seemingly grim divergence. As he unknotted the rope that tied them to the docks of Limbo, the bard took a mental note of each of his companions.

    First, there sat Lady Macbeth, the Polis' lionised enchantress. As Julius Caesar's greatest student in the art of combat, as well as a maven in the field of sanguimancy, Gruoch is formidable in every conceivable way. It was quite ironic that her infernal gifts poured forth from her stripes. With such a Mephistophelean ability, Gruoch's allies were most blessed to have her... and blessings are sparse within the mighty Inferno. Despite their years as the Polis' denizens, the musician and the magician knew almost nothing of each other, and this provoked Orpheus' thoughts. Could, at any point, the rumours behind Gruoch be true? That she had condemned her husband with trickery alone? Could she do the same, right now? Only time will tell.

    Second, were the Brothers, meditating on their lonely raft. For warring minds, to share a single body is its own torment. With one side strewn with the jagged minerals of Greed, and the other a feeble sack of Damned flesh, Qasim and Ali Baba appeared to have the worst torture in all of the Burning Hells. Still, his decision to offer himself as a soldier against the monsters was as noble as it was perilous. These men lived a precarious life—one that Orpheus would finally get to experience. The Greek musician had prayed that this double navigator would have a mind in chorus, so as to lead them where they ought to go, and that he was as trustworthy as he had claimed.

    Lastly, was the man before him, shivering to a nonexistent cold, and mouthing soundless words. Medraut's eyes were bloodshot, as if he was disallowed to rest. He was the most enigmatic of all, and because of this, Orpheus knew not what to think. There was only one logical response to those who evoke the unknown, and that is vigilance, and vigilance alone.

    At long last, Orpheus unleashed the sail, and it garnered wind and enough force to push the boat towards the misty, nigh endless sea. There, beyond the horizon, the true Hell will soon befall these individuals. While Gruoch, Ali Baba, Qasim, and Mordred rowed, the golden minstrel began to strum and pluck his lyre, quelling the silence with a mellow, somewhat calming song.
    End of Chapter 1

    #11 Damien Kriez, Jun 12, 2016
    Last edited: Jul 5, 2016
  12. Mordred
    "Help! I'm alive over here!"


    "Please! Don't leave me!"

    You're unwanted.

    "God damn you, you bastard! God damn you twice over for your sins!"

    You know nothing of sins.

    "Please! Come back! Help me!"

    Mordred leapt up from of his thoughts. His eyes hastily scanned the horizon, imagining a foe of some sort hiding in the swirling mists of the Acheron. But there was nothing save the moans of the souls who drowned in the waters. T'was their curse. The twice dead would simply cease to exist under normal circumstances, but the Acheron was a place of Damnation. Those who died beneath the waves found no solace in the emptiness of the void. They were trapped, forever seeking the demi-salvation of the Inferno proper. It reminded him of the Cocytus, how they were unable to move up above the water. Perhaps that was why these memories haunted him now.

    Or perhaps it was her. The armless witch. Queen of... Scotland, was it? The barbarians in the Highlands had royalty? Who'd have known they'd ever develop without the Romans? She was comely, and a polite, if feisty, specimen. Mordred didn't like her. She stank of Violence, and he had heard of her powers from Orpheus's open dialogues. On principle, Mordred hated witches. There had only ever been one exception, and she for reasons of blood alone. It only made it worse that she tried to be so high and above him, while at the same time deigning to try and speak with him. Bloody royals. And the name...

    "I am Macbeth I of Scotland, peasant! I command you to help me!"

    Gruoch. Lady Macbeth. The name brought back memories. Distasteful memories. Mordred tried to keep his distance from the wench on their tiny vessel, and refused to engage in any particularly long conversations with her. Of course, no one questioned this behavior. It was how he interacted with all of them. Orpheus, Bard as he was, had asked him a handful of times who he was. Storytellers always sought stories. T'was natural. But he had ceased to bother him, instead settling for their mutual wariness. The only others who Mordred did not immediately find distastefully full of dialogue were the Brothers. It was ironic, really, as they were quite jovial and friendly. Perhaps it was that they remained a safe distance away on their own raft. Distance did make conversations difficult.

    Mordred glanced at his traveling companions. The Bard and Queen were off watch duty, and had taken the opportunity to sleep; Orpheus was lounging against the aft, while Gruoch leaned against the mast for support. The Brothers were barely visible in the mist, but seemed to be rowing at a slow pace, seemingly able to keep up with the boat relatively easily. Shivering at an invisible wind and muttering about the cold, Mordred dipped a finger into the water beneath the ship, poking a soul in the eye in doing so. He tested the air for any feeling of wind and found none. Hmm...

    Mordred aimed a light kick at the Queen. "Wake, Lady Macbeth." The word still tasted sour on his tongue. "Grab an oar and wake the Bard. We're moving too slowly." Gripping the ropes snaking up the mast, Mordred raised the sail. Tossing some ropes upward, he managed to loop them around the bunched up cloth, tying it in position. He snapped up an oar of his own and got down into position, gesturing at Qasim (or was it Ali Baba?) that he may have to speed up. "Witch! We need to move faster. Row."
    #12 The Philosoraptor, Jun 12, 2016
    Last edited: Jun 12, 2016
  13. Lady Macbeth

    For seven days, the party was swathed by the cold and lingering mists. They saw nothing but Algol's rise and fall, ushering in a dawn that was, in its brightest, only as vivid as a mortal sunset, and a dusk that was bereft of the comfort and guidance of the stars. While the first few days of their voyage were marked with better meals, such as fruits, skewered meats, and the like, the four individuals found themselves parceling out the teeniest crumbs of Gruoch's hardtacks later on. The fourth and fifth day rolled in with the challenge of saving as much food as possible. While Orpheus did bring a fishing rod, the fish of the Acheron were more pestilential than they were the Polis' delicacy, as these pesky demons grew within and fed upon the drowned corpses of the cold ocean itself. No one was that desperate just yet.

    Orpheus' songs were the antitheses of both Mordred and the Brothers' silence, yet there were times Gruoch had preferred to hear the latter. As beautiful as they were, the hymns of Orpheus nipped and reaped at the Witch's psyche, and it was as if she had grown physically burdened by her friend's compositions. At this, she had slept.

    Her body tossed and turned in its place, and whilst her lack of arms gave her most space to move, the boat itself felt as if it were shrinking. Winds began to prowl abruptly, luring thunderous clouds with their howling. As bolts of lightning struck the waters before them, the spirits of the Acheron poured forth from the waves, clawing at one another, climbing upon one another, as if setting foot upon their dinghy would given them the salvation that they themselves had sought. Ali Baba and Qasim screamed from the thickness of the mists, but at once, their voice turned to incomprehensible gurgling.

    Lady Macbeth stood up and peeked over, but only found the rope that connected Orpheus' humble vessel, and the Brothers' raft. It appeared to be gnawed. Mordred stood forth and brandished the blade that bathed in flames, beheading and cutting down any soul that clawed at him. Unfortunately, he too was overwhelmed. Distressed, Gruoch attempted to take Mordred away from the horde via a tendril of blood, but what she got in his stead was his Clarent, with his hand still attached to the handle. Orpheus, too, attempted to quell this sudden outburst of the Damned, but he was stabbed behind by an all too familiar face... the King of her past life, the subject of all of Gruoch's wicked trickeries, King Duncan, whom she stabbed countless times with abandon. He eyed him, and upon seeing her, kicked her to the ground.

    She awoke from her nightmare, breathing heavily and frantically looking around. After hearing Mordred's words, she eyed him with contempt, but at the same time, thanked him in her quite literally rotten heart. “Un-understood...” she was still shaken, but was relieved it was all a dream. She proceeded to shake Orpheus with a tendril of blood, patting his slumbering body with, and placing the oar upon his chest.
  14. The Brothers
    While Hell in itself was incomparable to the Paradise above, and being accustomed to the hardships galore was a prerequisite for the Damned, the Brothers' situation made their condemnation even more unbearable. As expected of two individuals sharing a single body, deciding what words to say was already twice as hard. Despite being twins, Ali Baba and Qasim are nothing alike, and even the food they ate in life could never be paralleled. For the Brothers, everyday was a war, and their mind, the theater of it all. Both brothers were, by nature, selfish, inconsiderate, and inward-looking, and Satan deciding to glue them together was a punishment that was every bit as ironic as their own droll and sarcastic jests. Oh, the look on their faces when, in the midst of battle, the jagged Qasim would wave his craggy arm and clench his fist, while Ali Baba cracked his bladed whip. Oftentimes, they would harm each other without even intending to. It was eons of this horrid punishment, and both Brothers wanted nothing more than to get rid of each other. After all, tolerance for each other never meant that they would accept the terrible fate they were in.

    Unlike the extreme tortures of the regions below the City of Dis, Ali Baba and Qasim never lost the ability to think well or speak fluently. The only time there was any disorder in the way they thought, acted, or talked, was when they, and other people who shared in their absurd predicament, were grudgingly stitched together. They were condemned instead in an endless skirmish. Lifting, rolling, crushing, and being crushed by boulders was, satirically, a form of training. Qasim was a testament to that. He and his brother believed that, because of the ceaseless fights, Greed was the most prepared to fight in a war... never have they been so wrong.

    Using Ali Baba's whip, the single-bodied Brothers began fishing. Sometimes, they would decapitate the drowned souls of the Acheron, and sometimes they caught fattened fish. Either way, the Brothers were never satisfied, because while Qasim was not above cannibalism, Ali Baba despised the thought; and while Ali Baba found the fish of the Acheron more bearable than the bodies of those who once had lived, Qasim found eating the Acheron fish unpleasant, for their bones, like normal fish, were difficult to eat around.

    "Elder brother, I beg of you, do not put this hand in–" It was then that the rocky hand shoved a fetid albeit meaty arm into their mouth. Ali Baba fought against his brother's will to bite into the zombified flesh, but gave in. The body closed its eyes–the human side, because of disgust, while the jagged side, because of satisfaction.

    "Ali Baba... I would like to apologize for our mortal lives. I know our relationship was never the best, but I appreciated you and your ways. And I too would like to apologize for giving you the password to the Thieves' Den. I should have known it was too dangerous for either of us." They spoke, rowing the bone raft whilst looking at the bard's sailboat. They saw the knight signal, and he rowed his raft close enough, so that his skeletal raft and the bard's boat were beside each other.

    There, he saw black knight, the blood witch, and the bard row. Stepping into the boat, he helped them row with his own oar. The boat shook a little, but no damage was done. They rowed faster, and faster, together, and they rowed until the winds blew stronger again. In the very far distance was a piece of land they could barely see.
  15. Master Post

    Awakened by the patting of a cold and hollow oar, as well as the pitter-patter of both Gruoch's ichorous sleeves and the icy drops from the Acheron, the golden minstrel turned and raised himself from his confining position upon the dinghy. He groaned somewhat, and as he gripped the bloodied oar and rowed without question, his eyes widened at the sight of the horizon before them. It was an incredulous sight to behold. The lands of Lust, marked by black sands, gnarled palm trees, and a more corrupted albeit tropical world, was before them. The tips of the carnal towers peaked ever so lightly above the fog... one thing, however, was gravely amiss. Orpheus bobbed his head, relinquishing his oar in favour of his vessel's edges. "Something's... off, he whispered, his voice breaking into an anxious shiver. The skies, painted by Algol's vermillion light, had then delved into a dull and joyless grey. It was not, however, the Demon Star's descent into darkness that contributed to the gloom, but rather an impenetrable ocean of clouds that devoured the very skies itself. Within the thickness, the clouds would implode with white and purple light, until great fissures would unfurl and give birth to forked bolts of lightning. These billows also charioted tintinnabulations of cracking thunder, and as a corollary to these disasters, the wind, too, revved itself up. The gusts pushed the sail towards Lust, and the party drew closer to the lands with matchless speed.

    "Ah!" the bard bellowed, "There it is! Hold on!" the winds now roared and the lightnings flashed, crashing the noise of thunderous, drum-like thrums upon the land, as if another Heavenly war had ruptured overhead. As per his own instructions, Orpheus had gripped the ship's thwarts. Alas, the winds were far too great of a foe. A stray bolt of lightning fell from the grey, and most unfortunately, struck the boat. Orpheus and the others could not react swiftly enough, and were thrown into the cold and tumultuous ocean. While Gruoch's trail was marked with her blood, the riptides erased the red as quickly as a tide's visit of the earthly shore. Reduced to ashes, burnt cloth, and driftwood, Orpheus' vessel had become. Orpheus, Gruoch, Medraut, and the Brothers were then thrashed and thrown into a vicious cycle of being chewed, swallowed, vomited out, and devoured once more, by the violent waters of the ever-stormy Lust. The party was then lost as quickly as they found each other.

    Eight hours passed, and the Brothers and Mordred awoke, their bodies, dusty by the black sands of the shore. The trees beyond the shore had created a makeshift wall of thorns and deadwood. There appeared no other sign of life near them, and the sounds of howls and snarls could be heard deep within the shadows of the dark forest. A herd of pigs could be seen oinking to the side, somewhere near the woods. They bathed in the mud, happily, as if they knew not what Hell was. Mordred, Ali Baba, and Qasim could faintly see the tip of a small palace through the demon-infested wood, and it is there they must journey.

    Meanwhile, in another part of the lands of Lust, far from the reclusive Black Knight and the refugee from Greed, Orpheus and Gruoch still laid unconscious. That is, until a pair of hands had dragged and carried them, and loaded their soaked and shivering bodies unto a caravan, pulled by a demonic steed. The man who had carried them rode the steed to a small settlement of no less than fifteen people. The man had then given the bard and the noblewomen a place to rest, in a soulless-looking inn made of iron, stone, and different metals. Soon, Orpheus awoke, and the very same man who had carried him and his friend, sat before their beds. There was a fireplace, a table, and some cooked demonic meats on plates of pewter and clay. To the renowned bard of the Polis, this room appeared less than what he was accustomed to, but it would do.

    While Gruoch still laid sleeping soundly, Orpheus greeted and thanked the man who saved him. The man appeared stalwart, encased in rusty golden armour. He lacked hair, his visage was almost skeletal, and his eye, scarred. His gauntlets seemed to blend with his flesh, and from his forearms protruded two bloody blades. His garb seemed awfully familiar, but the elegist could not recognise it. "Thank you for saving us. Might I ask, what is your name?" Orpheus asked of him.

    "My name," the man said, "is Lancelot du Lac."


    #15 Damien Kriez, Jun 19, 2016
    Last edited: Jun 19, 2016
  16. Mordred
    Mordred stood shivering on the black beach, silt falling between his fingers. He might need to add something to the growing list of things he hates in this world: Water. Water is cold. Water is wet. Water is bad. Drawing in short hisses of breath, the Black Knight trudged up the sands, dragging his soaked rags behind him. The black spikes and seams of his armor stood out against his damp robe, tearing it as he pressed on. His eyes swung back and forth over his environment, taking in the somber and foreboding woods before him, the frothing river waters behind him, and his companion(s) washed up on the shore, coughing up water. Snarling under his breath, Mordred kept walking without the Brothers. He could hear monsters prowling through the forest, as well as the squeals of swine that wandered away from their brethren. It seemed as though they existed as prey for the monsters; however, it did not explain how pigs, not native to Lust, let alone the Inferno, had been grouped up nearby this forest and seemed so blissfully unaware of their surroundings. Marching up to the edge of the wood, Mordred breathed in deeply. The smell of Lust was heavy here: Testosterone and sweat, mixed thoroughly on the breeze. Sounds of moans echoed across the branches, soft and faint, and almost drowned out by the peaceful snorts and squeals of the swine. The air was thick and heavy on the tongue, almost hard to breathe. But Mordred had been here before. Perhaps not this wood, nor this beach. But Lust? Aye, he'd spent upwards of three months in the storms, fought heroes and peasants alike who'd fallen to the great sin. He remembered this Circle well, perhaps better than any save the Ninth. Feels like home already. It was good to be away from the cleanliness of Polis, from the bustle and civility. It felt, dare he say, heavenly to be back in Hell proper. It almost broke him away from his soaking misery to recall his years of travel and freedom. Almost, but not quite. Ahead of him, over the canopy of the forest, Mordred saw the tip of a fortress, the only sign of civilization or life in general. Taking in the great wall of thorns before him, dry, sharp, and impassible, Mordred realized his path was blocked.

    "Well, this won't do. Whole thing will have to go, won't it?" In a single smooth motion, Mordred popped Clarent out of it's sheath with his thumb, grabbed it midair, drew it across the wooden barricade, and replaced it in its sheath. Within a matter of seconds, small embers began to appear across the cut. Turning on his heel, Mordred prowled back over to his partners. The heat of a fire beat at his back as he went. His shadow covered Ali Baba and Qasim.

    "Arab. Get up. Kill one of the boars over there. We'll need it for the journey ahead." The pigs were running, now, away from the flames. The blaze already towered over Mordred, engulfing whole trees as it grew. Through the smoke, Mordred could see the spires of the black palace more clearly. Turning back, he said "The path ahead is nebulous. I shall return." With that said, he stalked back to the inferno and disappeared into the flames.
  17. Lady Macbeth

    Gruoch's eyes unfastened from the sheepishness it felt. She turned around, blinked once or twice, and slowly sat up. Plagued with cold sweat and a migraine, Lady Macbeth coughed lightly. It appeared that the Lady was ill with a low-grade fever. Although this sickness was nothing the magics of Hell could not cure, the fact that diseases, disorders, and illnesses of the mortal realm, as well as other plagues exclusive only to this hellish and mystical domain existed in the burning Hells was a reality most of the Inferno's denizens could not fathom and accept. Curious, the woman surveyed her surroundings.

    The bedcloths were raggedy, covered in a light coat of dust, and smelled of the sweat of soldiers. This bothered her not, as it was Hell, after all. The walls of steel and other metals were understandable, as it was the only way for a settlement to exist in a land bedeviled by tempests galore. Anything standing on a foundation of, or built mostly of wood, despite the abundance of gnarled tropical trees in the Circle Lust, will not last a minute or so, and while the winds slept and the rain had yet to fall, storms were mightily frequent in this part of Hell. After hope's resurgence at the hands of Dante, these Damned souls constructed deeply entrenched towers, buildings with breadth, and steel edifices to combat the storms. It was as if the denizens of Lust had experienced enlightenment, or more appropriately, a renaissance after the darkest ages of man. Speaking of the dark ages, there appeared to be an English knight before both Lady Macbeth and the bard, who had already gotten out of bed. As soon as the other knight's name and words had rolled off the tongue, Gruoch raised her brow in intrigue.

    “Lancelot du Lac.” The Lady thought. The name sounded ever so familiar. With widened eyes, she realized that, much like how she, Mordred, and Orpheus' other companion, the single-bodied Brothers, were the captains and representatives to fight for the Polis in the Circle Greed, so too was this stalwart knight. While Gruoch knew of the Knight Lancelot via Virgil and Julius Caesar, it appeared that both she and the bard knew not of his connection with Mordred. Along with his beloved, Guinevere, he had led Lust's factions well... which is why it bothered the mage greatly that the settlement was occupied by only a handful of people, despite having visited the settlement in the past and seeing that cities like these bustled with the Damned.

    “Gramercy, great Knight. I've heard of you before. Have you also trained under Caesar?” She asked, while Orpheus sat with them.

    "Yes I have, dear Lady. He taught me well. What, pray tell, is your name?" Lancelot said, digging his blades deep within his arms, sheathing them. His disfigured and skeletal visage wincing in slight pain.

    "Her name is Gruoch, we come from the Polis." Orpheus responded.

    “Yes. This here is one of Virgil's many adopted children, the bard Orpheus. Speaking of, I come bearing grave news... the instigator of the revolution is dead. But that is why we have come–to speak life to it once more. Julius now leads the Polis, the denizens of which, the Emperor is rallying.”

    The man's head fell, and his fingers entwined together in a prayerful form. He motioned his right hand to his head, chest, and shoulders; the Sign of the Cross. "More bad news then... Damn this life!" He stood up, and kicked the chair. Anger filled him, and he clenched his shaven head.

    “What ever dost thou mean?”

    Lancelot looked at the pair. He clenched his fists, and the three walked out of the inn, only to see that swines have outnumbered the people.
  18. The Brothers
    The cold waters of the Acheron washed over the Brothers' prostrate body, and the black sands of the Circle Lust had begun filling each crack and crevice of Qasim's earthy side. It felt as if ants had crept inside, causing Qasim to turn the body around in great irritation. He stood forth, and as he did so, the first thing he saw was the dark forest ablaze. Ali Baba raised his brow, and scratched his side of his head in confusion and slight fear. While he was considered the more clever one, Ali Baba was more cowardly than his literally and figuratively hardened brother. "Let us do what he says, brother and... You fool! We cannot leave this man alone. Yes, we can and we must! Stop..." Ali Baba and Qasim took a deep breath. Forcing his will upon the body, Qasim moved forward to the pigs. With his jagged palms and superhuman strength, the elder brother snapped the wild boar's neck and bit into its jugular. Blood spewed forth the animal's throat, prompting the conjoined body to both recoil in disgust and savor the delicious taste of meat in the mouth, even if it was raw. As they chewed, the Arabians stood up and wielded the golden, bladed whip. With bleeding pig above Qasim's rocky shoulder, the body bellowed out: "No," and he proceeded to pace behind Mordred, ignoring the knight's order.

    "We do not know your feats, dark knight, and even if we do, we will not leave you to hunt demons alone... You're quite," he stopped, and Ali Baba whispered under his breath, "No, stop it Qasim! You will anger the man," but at once, his lips closed. After some moments, Qasim was back to speaking his mind. "You will neither evade us nor our words as easily as you evaded the bard and the woman's attempts to speak with you," As the embers spread across the forest, giving fiery life to the dead woods, Ali Baba and Qasim paced slowly behind the man. The path ahead was laden with flickering lights, footprints of fleeing demons, and the occasional swine that burned along with the trees. Ali Baba and Qasim could sniff the smoke, and while the light of the dancing flames enveloped the two soldiers, there still appeared glowing, menacing eyes.

    The Brothers looked towards the sky, and noticed the winds and clouds picking up. The castle drew closer, and Ali Baba thought that if the rains fall again, then both the Brothers and Mordred would be in the very heart of the dark forest. With no more flames to protect them, they will then have to battle demons... and because of this, Qasim had silently hoped that the rain would fall faster than it does.
  19. Master Post
    Orpheus gazed upon the nigh countless, sullied swine that thickened the air with both the fetid stench of a heated manger, and the cacophony made unbearable by these oinking pigs. The settlement has descended into a great and ruinous chasm of pandemonium, brought upon by these farmland animals. As a maestro, Orpheus palmed his ears from the dissonance, biting his lips. Thereafter, as an illustrious bard would, he brandished his lyre and plucked its tarnished strings. A mellow hymn quivered from the lyre's sounding chambers and bridges, and into the pigs' ears, lulling them into a deep and restful slumber. While only a quarter of the boars dozed off to Orpheus' song, the other beasts felt fatigued, as if a spirit had siphoned off their vigour inches before death. They no longer scurried off like wild game, and no sounds escaped them; in their stead, only footslogging and silence. The trio gently pushed aside these impassive pigs to their sides, giving way to a clearer path. They paced forth to the castle proper. The fortress, a large, antiquated castle complex consisting of many buildings and keeps, some ancient and decrepit, some in good repair, appeared nigh regal to both Gruoch and Orpheus. There they saw the cunning Paris, rival to the late Achilles, unloading arrows into a target. Orpheus glanced upwards, treating himself to the bare back of a changing Cleopatra near the window of a tumbledown living quarters. To the side, Helen of Troy tended to the infernal steeds the Damned simply call horses, as they did in the land of the living. It was a poetic sight to behold, fit to be the motif of Orpheus’ new song. A few steps later, they arrived in Lancelot’s castle, its gate unlocked by two Damned squires.

    ”So, Lord Commander of the Knights of the Round Table, what’s the dilemma?” Orpheus uttered, entering the gate. He took note of the medieval decor that hung above head, such as the chivalric banners and mounted heads of slain beasts, among other ancient, Arthurian objects.

    ”Follow me to the War Room, the both of you. I will tell you there.” the knight’s voice was adamant and unbroken.

    Meanwhile, deep into the peering darkness of the deadwoods, flames had begun to spread. The smoke touched the skies, but was still unseen by those afar. Mordred, Ali Baba, and Qasim trekked on—the latter could not prevent the Brothers from following him. They neared the shadowed palace of which piqued their interests, and there, they saw a woman engulfed in lavender energies. As quick as they saw her, the lights faded into the blackness, prompting the Black Knight and the Brothers to doubt and question their own sanity. Just then, from the now darkened skies of Lust, came the sounds of howling. Four Olitiau, large, chiropteran terrors, swooped down like birds of prey. The flames singed their fur, but they could feel naught but a slight tingling sensation, for they were drenched in their cold, icy sweat. With wingspans of about six feet, their flapping cooled and fanned the flames, reminding Mordred of how Lucifer froze the Cocytus with his demonic wings. This sight angered the Black Knight. While the gnarled trees burned brightly still, the fire by the Coward’s Blade ceased to spread and billow smoke into the sky. Two Olitiau landed near the Black Knight, attacking him with ferocity, and the other two did the same to the Brothers, in hopes of granting Qasim’s wish of being separated from his brother forever.

    #19 Damien Kriez, Jun 25, 2016
    Last edited: Aug 7, 2016
  20. Mordred
    By the time he'd entered the clearing and stood before the great fortress, Mordred had begun to feel annoyed. His comrade had almost tripped over several scorched corpses, and Mordred himself was beginning to develop an unfortunate case of combustion. Brushing off a thin layer of embers on his shoulder, Mordred took in the complex before him. It was really more a palace than a castle, come to think of it. There was no practicality to its great obsidian mosaics, depicting the unholy copulation of men and women, women and women, men and men, and even on some he thought he saw the union of swine and human... The mansion's spires of charred bone rose up into the sky, and seemed to grow from the ground itself. His unfortunately living companion at his side, Mordred ventured towards the castle, morbidly curious as to who lived within. Suddenly, a bonfire of violet energy erupted before them. Dancing within the flames was a woman, an indistinct, yet voluptuous shadow. A deep, husky whisper resonated across the clearing. "Come to me..." Without a second word, the fire flared upwards and vanished.

    Flaming women, shadowy castles, and destroyable forests? This really was home! "Come, Arab! Sally forth!" As Mordred started forward, he heard the shrieks. He remembered them distinctly from his time in Lust. The winged tormentors who rode the tempests of the Second Circle, plucking meals from the skies: The Olitiau. And Mordred remembered that he hated them. In all of them he saw a particular fallen angel, who, in his own torment, took pleasure from torturing his fellow imprisoned. The wings. The wings would have to go first. Two landed within feet of him, seemingly unaware of who they challenged. One of them was a powerful specimen, whose wing muscles seemed more clearly developed and whose bladed tendrils grated against the ground, churning the earth underneath it. Fresh blood dripped from its fanged maw, peppering the ground dull crimson wherever the beast's face swung. It seemed more hesitant to attack than its companion, an emaciated and spastic specimen, showing a degree of restraint and strategy. More than could be said for its companion, which rushed Mordred almost as soon as it landed, moving with an ungainly, leaping crawl. Faster than it could blink, a gauntlet fist wrapped around its throat, swinging it into a blackened tree. A great crack echoed through the ashen forest as the burnt tree was split in two, the projectile Olitiau flying further through it. Galvanized by its companion's humiliating defeat, the larger beast leapt, clearing the distance between Mordred and the monster. Grabbing it by the wings, Mordred redirected it into the ground. Without hesitation, he slammed a booted foot on the Olitiau's back and pulled backwards. With a pop, and then a rip, the creature's wings came off, spouting black ichor onto the dirt. It spasmed, trying to crawl through the dirt, before it realized it was dead. Mordred's ear twitched, and he lashed out behind him with his boot, catching the other Olitiau midair, sending it flying back into another tree, though with not enough force to crash through it. Sprinting forward, Mordred grabbed the dazed beast by its head and slammed it into the dirt. Shrieking and flailing, desperately trying to catch Mordred with a stray claw, the beast couldn't fight against the inhuman strength of its supposed prey. Mordred rammed it into the ground again, and again, and again, until finally the beast stopped making noise and went limp. A damp, dark stain marked the dent in the packed earth where the creature had died.

    Rising to his feet, dusting himself off as if he'd taken an unfortunate tumble rather than fought a duo of demons, Mordred glanced around for the rest of the creatures, as well as the Brothers. "Madman! Where have you gone? Great glory has been won here, you coward!" Then he heard the yells of a scuffle above him, rather than around him. "Oh. Great strategy, friend Arab! Fight them in the skies! More glory to be won on the harder path! Well-played!" Mordred glanced around him enthusiastically, and found a lance-worth piece of lumber to be thrown at the beasts above. If one saw into the labyrinth of madness that was his mind, it might be said that Mordred was, for the first time in ages, actually having fun. As the quartet of combatants dueled in what from the skies was clearly a courtyard, a figure watched them from atop the tallest spire of the dark palace, a smile playing across her lips.
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