Puppet Dance

Discussion in 'THREAD ARCHIVES' started by Minibit, May 22, 2013.

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  1. Lawrence stopped to wipe the sweat from his brow, planting his walking stick in the rocky earth for stability as he looked back on the path he'd just climbed.

    It spiralled down the mountainside, studded with trees and dry shrubs, and punctuated with boulders and smaller rocks. The evergreen woods were thinning out as they climbed past the tree-line, to be replaced by thin air and chill winds; grass, and some other hardy vegetation poked it's way through the crumbled rocks at his feet, but this was too high up for much more vibrant life to survive.

    Swallowing, Lawrence shifted his pack across his shoulder, and turned ahead to continue. A caped figure walked ahead of him, the hood long since knocked back from the wind; two extraordinarily thick, black braids, woven with coloured threads and beads, bounced across the figure's shoulders as she walked ahead.

    Once again the young traveller found himself marvelling at his luck. To think there was still a survivor of that ancient race; and that he should happen upon her, one of millions of people populating this world - the odds were incredible; the only explanation would be destiny.

    So, of course, he was skeptical.

    It had taken a long time to convince him she was the real deal. He was pretty sure she was starting to be offended by the time he agreed to let her guide him through the impassible mountains.

    "Hurry up, Gimp."

    Lawrence huffed, but picked up his pace. He didn't enjoy the term this girl used more often than his actual name, but from someone of her apparent heritage, it could be much worse. Using the Element was a skill handed down from her people over the millennia; to be a half-blood (well, probably more of a 1% blood from her standards; it was unlikely his father's family was exclusively Magus) as well as to be barely capable of even using the Element without help... Well, given what he knew of her ancient tribe he was probably lucky she agreed to help him at all.

    "Are we nearly there?" he asked, swiping his matted blond hair out of his head; the dampness was dying the usually dark blond tones more of a brown shade. His headband was basically useless at this point, he reached up and pulled it off, shoving it into the pocket of his long vest.

    "We're there."

    Surprised, Lawrence looked up just in time to see a soft-leather boot disappear over the next ledge. Rolling his eyes briefly, Lawrence tossed his walking stick up; the stones and feathers tied to it clanked on the smooth stone. Grunting, he reached up for a grip, and struggled up. For the hundredth time, he cursed the heat of the short fur and leather most of his clothes were made of; the sweat on his palms made it hard to get a grip, but after a couple minutes, he struggled up the side.

    The tableland on the summit was smooth as a mirror. In the center was a small, oblong pool. The mountain winds caused gray waves to slosh along the sides, and the mist blew into his face, cold.

    "All right, perhaps I should clarify" He said, trying to catch his breath - "By 'there', I did not mean the coldest, hardest place to possibly camp for the night, I was asking if we were near our final destination."

    Her face was stone, she didn't look amused. He was starting to wonder if the original Magi race were without a sense of humour. "Get over here." She said, pointing to the ground near where she stood.

    Lawrence sighed, picked up his walking stick, shaking it gently to make the ornaments fall straight, and walked forward.

    "Lawrence David's Son. Everyone has a purpose for being alive."

    he sighed, and set back on his heels to prepare for another speech of ancient wisdom. To look interested, he concentrated on her face. The tattoos were just as startling as they'd been when he first saw them. Blue and black triangles on her cheeks, chin, and forehead, all pointing to the centre of her face. Usually her hood and veil hid them, but they were far out of the reach of civilization here.

    "...and your purpose - "

    Lawrence snapped his focus back to her eyes; sounded like she was wrapping up. Honestly he would be far more interested in these monologues if they were more sense and less superstition; it made the man feel like a boy being scolded the way the words just blurred together.

    " - Is right here."

    With one half-gloved hand she gestured toward the pool.

    Lawrence blinked. "You said you would guide me to the Origin Tree."

    "I did"

    "You did say that or you did guide me there, because this doesn't look like a damn tree and frankly after two weeks travelling with you I'm getting a little sick from your vague words."

    "Then allow me to be clear" the woman assured, reaching up to place her hands on Lawrence's shoulders as he stepped forward. She leaned close, and her straight black eyes flashed as the first smile he'd seen ghosted across her face. "Every person, every... being, has certain needs. Humans need to eat. Fish need to swim, and for those who don't need to eat, don't need to exercise or swim or work... those kinds of beings just need something to DO."

    Lawrence gulped. If the woman six inches from his face - which had to be pulled downward from his shoulders to match her diminutive height - had been anyone but the last survivor of a centuries-old race who seemed to speak only in riddles and mysticisms, he would have found this situation unnerving in a good way. As it was, it only put a knot of lead worry in his stomach.


    "And what do you think such a being would do?" she questioned, taking a step forward. On reflex, Lawrence stepped back, but she maintained her hold on his shoulders, sharp nails pressing into his back. "To keep themselves... oh how to put it in mortal terms - entertained?" She thought about it for a second, and seemed to decide it was a good enough word. "Do you like plays, Lawrence?"


    "Plays, performances, acting, stories, oral and visual histories! Do you know what the best kind of play is?"

    Lawrence's mouth was dry, but he swallowed anyway. There was a flame of madness in her face.

    "The kind without a script" she whispered, and then smiled again. He decided he didn't like her smile.

    "The kind where the stage collapses beneath the player's feet; the kind where the audience takes part in the act; the kind where the theater is set afire!"

    Lawrence laughed, nervously "Th-that would be-"


    She grinned. her teeth gleamed an eerie white in the dimming light. "Exactly. I thrive on danger; it's the only thing that fulfilled me. Now there are simpletons I can simply poke with a stick and watch them die, but that isn't much fun, is it?" That pout would be sinfully seductive on anyone he wasn't 90% certain was a psychopath. "I need players with brains, skills, guts. I need players, like you.

    "Oh it took a long time to get you here; you may be one of the hardest I've ever lured away; there are so precious few areas in this world I can make an effective portal from. most of the Element here is impure, nearly depleted, really. You've no idea how hard it was not to laugh when you said that pendant of yours was 'pure' Element." she giggled. "Oh you will be so much fun. Promise not to die, Lawrence dear, promise to live as long as you possibly can."

    "Th-that's the plan." he tried to step back; she stepped forward. He tried to remove her hands, weighing the dwindling odds of the Origin Tree against the likelihood that he had fallen in with a madwoman after all. They were like the grip of a bird of prey; but colder. The mountain wind seemed to chill him through, and he shivered.

    "Please let go of me."


    He hardly had time to be surprised at her released group before he found himself falling backward. He put his hands behind him to catch himself, only to find his fingers and then his arms rushing through icy water instead. The same water rushed into his open mouth before a shout could be released, and he plummeted.

    When the blackness was driven from his vision, he was on the round, sprawled on his stomach. His walking stick still gripped in his hand, the feathers as bedraggled as his clothes. Gasping for breath, he grasped for the satchel pack at his side. Wet.

    "Damn damn damn damn" he quickly dumped the contents onto the turf where he sat, and began spreading the contents out to dry. Sitting back on his heels, he looked up first, expecting to see some kind of cave he must have fallen into. There was only open sky. Tall, stone buildings with black, yawning archways and windows towered around him, mostly crumbled and overgrown by vines and foliage. If people lived here, it was a long time ago.

    "There are way too many dead places today" He muttered, pulling his headband out of his pocket to wring out.
    #1 Minibit, May 22, 2013
    Last edited: May 26, 2013
  2. The sirens wailed almost ear piercingly loud. People scrambled in the chaos and rushed out of the repair bay. The open bay doors revealed a surreal scene as jet fighters were pitted in deadly dog fights. Stray missiles screamed as they hit the base. Shaking the entire building, causing smaller electrical fires and explosions to erupt. The base was under a surprise attack. A base filled with not only fighters, but their families. Men, women and children there only to aid the cause of the leader that commanded the base.

    “Everyone! Evacuate the bay!” A young woman’s voice called above the chaos. Young enough to be a cadet she was in charge of this bay and all it’s people. Her pale freckled skin was covered in cuts and bruises as she alone tried to usher those under her command out. Her tools jingled on her tool belt, fastened around her hunter green jump suit. A stay missile hissed as it flew over her head, hitting a jet fighter as it tried to take off. Her green eyes shut as she covered her strawberry blonde hair to protect herself from the blast. Her brown boots thudded the metal floors as she scrambled about directing her men where to go.

    She looked over a few of the already dead bodies, rushing to find a certain one not accounted for. Her thin freckled face smeared with grease she called for them. “Sarah! Where are you?!” She called out. A scream jumped from her as she dodged a chunk of debris. Looking up she heard a tiny voice. So calm and emotionless it was almost serene. “Sona. This way.” Sona looked up to see the one she was looking for. A little girl about the age of six or seven. The young mechanic had come to grow fond of the girl over the two weeks she’d been here.

    Quiet and often short and almost cryptic responses, Sona had thought it was the trials she endured at such a young age that brought her to speak so little. “Sarah!” She called to the little girl. Sona didn’t dwell on the idea very long but it seemed odd how calm the little girl was. She rushed to the girl, a blast knocking her to her feet. Quickly the young woman scrambled to her feet, not noticing the small cut on her brow. She grabbed the little girl and tried to rush to the exit. “Boom.” The little one said with a most amuse child like giggle as a support beam came crashing down, blocking the exit. The giggle was sadistic and eerie, to say it didn’t freak out Sona would have been a lie.

    “Put me down. I’ll show you where to go.” The little Sarah said. Strangely Sona dropped the girl and followed her back to where she had been. “Sarah! Where are you going!? We can’t get out that way!” To Sona’s horror the girl smiled. Placing her little hands on her hips. “This is so much fun! And I didn’t even plan this!” She giggled, clasping her hands over her face from excitement. Green eyes grew wider as she wiped the blood from her brow, a habit of rubbing her face when confused. Her blood stained hand touching her hunter green jump suit. “But I have not been shadowing you for all this time just to watch you die.” The little one continued.

    Sona grabbed the girl to drag her away from the wall and to the exit but to her surprise, Sarah was like an immovable wall. “Sarah c’mon! We have to go! This is not a game!” The girl grabbed Sona’s wrists, claw like fingers holding her in place. “Oh but it is! It’s a wonderful play! And you are a great actor. I want you in my play. To dance to my music.” Sarah’s tiny child voice took on a dark tone. She spoke only a normal tone but even though the chaos and noise Sona could hear her. As if she had no other sound to compete with. “What are you talking about.”

    “You can’t die here. Because then you wouldn’t be in my play.” She pouted.

    “I don’t plan on dying! C’mon!” But something itched at the young woman. Something was wrong about little Sarah. Her eyes held a deadly shine and her white teeth the most disconcerting grin. “Really is a lovely thing. This chaos. I thought my chance to get you away from here would never come. But this chaos has upset the natural elements. Allowed me to open a portal.” By this time Sona was getting the idea that Sarah was not what she seemed. Now instead of trying to pull the little girl, she tried to tug her arm free. “Promise not to die, Sona dear, promise to live as long as you possibly can.”

    A chill ran down Sona’s spine, even as something exploded not far from her position. She shielded herself from the flames and snapped her face back to the little girl. Suddenly a stay missile hit the support beam beside her. Sending everything over head tumbling down. Sona could see a huge chunk of metal barreling towards her head. “Let me go!” She screamed in panic. Sarah giggled.

    “Okay!” She chirped playfully as she let Sona go. The woman tumbled backwards, her feet trying to scramble her away from the debris she was sure would crush and kill her. But her feet found no firm footing, only a liquid type substance. Ice cold water hit her senses and chilled her body to the bone. She screamed as the beam came down but it stopped and did not follow her into this new abyss. Water invaded her mouth and threatened to choke her from within. Darkness took her vision as she clawed for anything to hold onto.

    But just as quickly as it consumed her it was over. Hitting the ground with a thud and a yelp as her hip bounced painfully on her tools. Instinct told her to cover her face from the falling beam but of course it wasn’t there. Her body shivered as she slowly looked around, the silence nearly deafening compared to the explosions she’d just been surrounded by. Shake breaths left her as she slowly uncurled herself looking around at her surroundings. Her hands quickly touched all over her body making sure nothing was seriously broken.

    A frightened yet happy chuckle left her as she realized she wasn’t dead. Her hands touching her freckled face and pushing away the wet and bloody strawberry blonde locks. She started to calm down and realize she was somewhere else completely. Taking off her tool belt she tipped it upside down to relive it of water. Placing it back on as she looked around. The stone buildings were crumbling, covered in vines and fallen debris. Either time or a battle took this building down and she wasn’t sure which it was at this moment. “Hu-hullo?” She said almost timidly as she listened for a response. "Where the hell am I?" She said more quietly as she shakily stood up.
  3. The glass and tin instruments tinked on the cracked stones as Lawrence set them out to dry, a frown creasing his forehead and drawing his brows together. He arranged the vials, small pouches, and little boxes to drain, lamenting as the contents were completely waterlogged and useless. He wondered how long he'd been unconscious. Fanning out the pages of his one leather-bound notebook, he stood it upright and propped it with a nearby stone and sighed; so much useful material, totally destroyed.

    Straightening, he Lawrence dusted off the knees of his trousers and looked around again; even searching for it he couldn't find any specific indications as to where he was. It was an old city, and either it had been rocked from it's foundations by an earth-shake or some powerful magic, or it was very poorly built. The foundations and the streets were of stone, but they were cracked - some cracks were wide enough that someone could easily reach their entire arm down them - and moss, weeds and thistles had grown up, time and the seasons had been allowed to displace the stones to the point where many gaps had been filled with earth. The buildings were mostly of stone, though there were a few of wood; stacked planks not firmly nailed or crossed. Even the stone buildings were bricks without mortar; crookedly assembled as if they had fallen apart and been put back together many times.

    For a moment, he stood still, holding his breath. He heard not so much as the chirp of a bird or the buzz of an insect. Satisfied that he was alone, he set his satchel down to dry next to the other things, and began to walk down the street, scanning each crumbled structure for a sign, or a map, or some other bearing on his location.

    As he walked, he began to notice smaller details; not only were there no living creatures, there wasn't even a breeze. Many of the stones were stained black in spray-like patters. He knelt by one and ran his fingers along it; sniffing them afterword. Ash; these were scorched by something. Had this city suffered some kind of great fire in the past? The marks were widespread, some as large as Lawrence himself, a few slightly larger. They were all in a pattern as if someone had thrown a bucket of water, and left burns instead of moisture.

    Turning a corner, Lawrence stopped, startled. A great rift in the road, at least as wide as his walking stick twice over, yawned before him. It stretched down into the earth, black as night; he couldn't see the bottom. A bridge had been forged across it; if you could call it a bridge. Four flat planks of wood lay across, with long broken and rotted rope handrails stretching at waist height alongside. Lawrence chose a paving stone from a nearby building - torn in half by the rift - and set it on the makeshift bridge. It gave a loud creak and a groan; the wood split and the entire structure wobbled.

    He decided not to cross.

    Turning around, he headed back to his starting point, continuing down the street in the other direction. Turning a corner, he found himself at the yawning entrance to some kind of square or courtyard. It was gated, but the gate was leaning and, like most other things, decaying. Swallowing and listening carefully, he peered around. It was difficult to see through it; a lot of foliage had grown up from the other side. Tensing, he reached in and pushed some aside, It made a sound that seemed louder than it probably was in the dead silence of the ruins. Squinting, he leaned forward to see through the gap he had made, and stepped back just as quickly, withdrawing his hand.

    There was a person in there; a girl in strange dress. Gripping his carved staff, Lawrence leaned forward again, peering for a better look. She seemed to be unarmed; she was handling a belt with oddly designed implements on it, but none of them looked particularly threatening. Frowning, Lawrence weighed his options for a moment. Not trained in much combat, it was for his own benefit that he tended to avoid combat, but this didn't look like a person seeking a fight. She didn't have the air of confidence of a person who belonged where they were, nor did she seem strong or well-equipped enough to be any kind of guard or sentry. Taking a deep breath, he squared his shoulders and pushed the multiple vines over the gateway aside, making his face visible.

    "H-hello? Are you all right?" he asked, trying his best not to look like an enemy. Though, if she did decide to attack, he was two steps from having a broken gate and half his arm's thickness in vines between them.
  4. Sona's heart calmed over the moments she sat in her spot. no longer was she surrounded by people screaming and explosions. A comforting thought it was but where was she? The silence was almost chilling, her eyes looked around tentatively as she pulled her tools from her belt. She groaned with annoyance when she took notice of how water logged everything was. The certain electrical tools she had were ruined. They didn't turn on nor spark. Her slim data pad was not only water logged but cracked. Apparently it took the brunt of her weight when she fell.

    Fell? Where did she fall from? She rubbed her temples as a head ache started to throb from the head injuries and questions that swirled in her mind. The deepest despair hit her when she pulled out her phone. Water dripping from it. "No... Damnit..." She said to herself. She slumped in her sitting position and tilted her head back. Perhaps it would work if it dried? Upon closer inspection it was cracked too. Even the energy gun at her hip was soaking wet. Water and the energy produced could result in a violent explosion. She made a mental note not to use the gun. But she'd not throw the broken tools away, her hope was that they could be fixed.

    However she still had her wrenches. Solid metal tools. She was thankful there was no way they could be ruined. She set everything out to dry, looking over the ruins as she sat on her knees. That's when she didn't even hear the hum of hover cars. No engines, jets or even birds. What kind of place didn't even have birds? But a voice broke her of all her thoughts.

    A gasp jumped from her throat as her head jerked to the voice. Her hand instinctively grabbing the foot long wrench she had as a means to defend herself. But it was a man. Strangely dressed and with a walking stick. She wasn't sure which struck her as more odd, his clothing or someone so young walking with a stick. "You scared the crap out of me! I almost threw my wrench at you!" She scolded. She dropped the wrench and her hand to her side and sighed. "I'm fine... Cut, bruised and... really confused but... I'm fine." She said looking up at him again as she slowly stood up. Her body aching slightly from the events she'd just been through.

    She looked up at him. Realizing he was the first person she'd seen here. "Actually maybe you can help me... I'm a little... No scratch that, I'm really confused. And probably very lost. Can you tell me where I am?" She said taking a couple of steps towards him, looking no more frightening than a wet and frightened woman.
  5. Lawrence sighed in relief as he pushed himself the rest of the way through the gate, stumbling as he came free of the thick bushes. The woman was definitely not a soldier from what he could see, and she didn't seem to think she had any reason to attack him, either. Unfortunately she was equally lacking in information.

    "I was hoping you would be able to tell me, m'lady" he said, unable to hide his disappointment. "But perhaps we can still come to an answer together; how long have you been here, and what force brought you?"

    His words seemed loud in the dead courtyard, though he spoke at his usual volume. The moss and bracken on the ground acted as sponges, preventing even an echo from livening the silent city

    Noticing this, Lawrence felt a brief moment of relief at having found another living person. He felt that even if she had behaved aggressively toward him, he would still have been a little glad not to be alone here.
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