The Order of Mayhem.

Discussion in 'THREAD ARCHIVES' started by unanun, Jul 28, 2012.

  1. The city of London sprawled before his eyes. It was not the same city. But the change had been gradual enough that it still was familiar to him.

    The decay of the world started off quite innocently. A natural disaster or two, here and there. Perhaps a little more severe than usual - a volcano somewhere had erupted extremely violently, and the resulting ash cloud wiped out all life on the small continent it was situated on. Refugees flooded into other countries, and the cultural and ethnic clashes laid a fertile ground for conflict. There was war, but nothing more than what one had come to expect, having seen most of human history already.

    But he was not ready for nuclear war. The blastwave tore him apart. In the microseconds after the pressure and heat front tore his skin from his bones, he reconstructed himself over and over, drawing from hidden reserves deep within his body. The liquid in his eyes boiled away as he struggled to recapture the vapourized gel that was being broken down into something even more intangible. He faltered in the wake of the blast, falling to one knee, staring straight into the epicenter even as the gamma rays sent his cells haywire. Eventually he recovered from the giant cancerous tumour he had become, but that took a day or two at the very least.

    A grim smile crossed his face as he regarded the wasteland before him. The lore that he treasured for so long was wiped away in an instant. Humanity no longer had any need for crosses, holy water, scriptures, magic, or any holy artifact to hurt him. All it had to do was throw reality in his face, the reality of science negating almost any purpose he had for existing. He burst out into laughter, but it was swallowed completely by the vast emptiness that surrounded him.

    He walked. Only bricks and stones, concrete and pipes, bothered to keep him company. Eventually, he arrived at the city of London.

    It sprawled before his eyes, and it was not the same as he had left it.

    He immediately knew a significant time period had passed. But the sheer amount of it staggered him. He remembered: gazing down at his hands, stripped of skin and muscle, charred tendons flapping off his bones, themselves burned yellow by the blast. Dark circles grew at the edges of his vision and he passed out. For how long?

    The city before him was alive. The buildings themselves were entirely black, but they were covered in all the manner of brilliantly coloured mosses. There were fuzzy and slimy varieties, which crept slowly along the buildings. Neon green and yellow gases hung in fog around the buildings. Iridescent liquid poured from drainage pipes into the sewers. The city was a storehouse of fusion power, the last shepherds of this world marshaling everything this world had left to offer in this city. Massive wires spread from the edge of the city, ten times taller than he was. He could feel the thrum of the energy they carried even out here - a deep hum that resonated in his gut.

    Apparently, he had arrived at just the right time. He glanced around. He did not have to strain his ears, for they already told him all they needed to know: there was nothing left here.


    Day and night passed. Night and day exchanged places. He learned the secrets of the city. What else was there to do?​


    He became god of an empty domain. There wasn't much that needed to be done. The cities took care of themselves. He indulged his madness to the finest, commanding the cities to produce horrible, wild feats of the imagination. Lakes of blood, skies of blood, a sun of blood - you get the idea. He emptied city after city, the moss in them dying, the liquids ceasing their flow, until only London was left.

    Unfortunately, he was not aware that the cities were alive for a reason. Not that he would have cared anyways.

    He finished his latest masterpiece. It was unspeakable.

    He stepped back to admire his work. The sun set. But this sunset was different from the others. As the rays from the sun disappeared, no light came to replace it. No moonlight. No starlight. No fireflies.

    An inky black void.

    Now this was something new. He tested the ground beneath his feet; it was solid. He swung his arms through space and could feel the wind. So far as he could tell, he was here, but there was nothing here.

    "Hahahahaha!" He had not spoken in a long time, and the action of laughing cut his throat, spilling precious drops of blood. "What a dull end!" He sat down on the ground, but not in a meditation posture. Cross legged, he leaned forward, cupping his chin and resting that elbow on his knee, the other laid across his lap.

    He sat like this for at least two years. This he knew, for he counted the seconds: all 60 million of them. It had seemed fun at that time, and after the first 30 million he did another set, just to see what it would be like. His body rusted from the lack of nutrition, mummifying itself. His skin grew parched and leathery, his muscles withered away, and his clothes now hung loosely off his skeletal frame. This he could only infer - there was no light in this place, no matter how much he strained his pupils.

    Some more time passed.

    A glimmer of light, the dullest light, signaled in front of him. It was so bright, so blindingly bright, but he was already rusted into his posture, and could not move. The darkness parted like the surface of water, and a mask slowly emerged from its depths:


    He struggled to move his eyes to watch it as it paced a slow circle around him. A small slit of light opened - from there emerged a small vial of red. Red! It tilted every so slightly, and dribbled the liquid onto his mouth, frozen in rictus. The flesh filled out in his cheeks. Muscles regrew along his fingers, and he flexed them, pulling himself into a standing position. The skin underneath his hand had long since withered away, but the frayed, tattered ends of the skin knit themselves together, muscle and sinew regrowing underneath to cover the exposed canine tooth - still white, still long, still sharp. He had been waiting for this for a very long time.


    "I knew it! Humans gave birth to science, and you must have given birth to us! What else? So there is a god afterall. Or maybe, it was just an alien... my god, I'm just an alien baby!"

    His laughter was grainy and cracked, but it conveyed the same light hearted humour he had expounded all of his life.

    "Not quite. Those may or may not exist, but I'm a different sort of person."


    "I am the long forgotten lord of the world you used to inhabit. It has become unsustainable, so I have briefly placed you in stasis. Do you remember who you are?"

    He threw his head back in laughter, his hands on his hips. "What a damned silly question! Do you think a few years of limbo could have done anything to me? I am him! Rastul! Theodore! Of Malkavian descent, one of the final Elder Kindred to inhabit this mortal world!" He cut his flourish short and frowned. "It was mortal indeed," and giggled to himself.

    "That is good. I have negotiated another plane of existence for you to inhabit - "

    "Don't play games with me!"

    Rastul threw his arm out.

    "That is not the purpose you have been assigned. For a while longer, you will be the subject of my observations."

    "Hahahahahahahahaaaaa!!" He missed laughing like that.

    "I will ruin whatever world you place me in! The structure will crumble in my fist, it will collapse into sand, dust, ground glass! And from these motes of existence I will rebuild the world to my liking. Whatever you do, wherever you put me, I will become king of that world! It will fall to ruin, just as your world did upon my hand. This is just another brief interlude in my aeons of existence: what could you possibly hope to do to me?"

    The mask seemed to smile. "Not that you would have been able to do anything anyways. The transfer will take considerable time. Meanwhile, let me teach you what the meaning of time is." It shrunk back into the black void, the watery darkness covering it. Rastul ran forward, throwing his power at it - but with the absence of the mask there was no light, and his command over the shadows failed.

    It was punishment, it seemed. Time meant nothing to his body: it just reentered hibernation. However, with the many extra years in the dark the voices in his mind grew louder. He tried talking back to them, but after a year or so his vocal chords failed and his lips ground to a halt. He crumbled into a heap on the ground, falling stomach down onto the featureless black ground. By trick of landing, he was just able to keep his head up, and gazed forward defiantly into the darkness with shriveling eyes. In this posture another period of time passed. Even the voices in his head grew quiet. He feared that he was about to be broken.

    A wink of light in the distance. It grew. It was, in fact, the sunrise. The rays of light illuminated an entirely new landscape. A large sign garishly stood in front of him.

    "WELCOME," it said,

    "to IWAKU."

    Another joke in a long line of jokes. Rastul waited patiently until a rat crossed his passage. He drank from it and stood up, body swaying with the wind. The joke had ceased to be funny a long time ago - but it was a still a joke, and it still had to be carried out. He set out. To ruin the world. To make it his. The voices in his head woke up - whispering hesitantly, slowly resuming their constant conversation. Much needed cacophony.

    "Welcome," he muttered, for the world to hear,

    "Welcome to the Order of Mayhem."

  2. Establishing dominance over a realm is no easy task. Only a few, the immortal, the strong, were even aware in the first place that the world they inhabited was one plane of existence among many. He had plenty of time to establish the theory, the method, of destroying a realm, but even a general only ascends to his rank with the help of experience and cunning.

    He would need a base of operations.

    The sign was the first thing to go. It was repainted with a blood cross, the fresh blood tracing rivulets down the neat, metal sign. The words IWAKU were dyed red, the neat stenciled letters overrun with chaos and life. A good start.

    For good measure, he bent the pole the sign was fixed to by fourty-five degrees. Because why not?

    Such small acts of vandalism brought joy and stability to his awakening. Too long had he been concerned with the grandiose. It was easy to lose oneself in dreams of conquest, easy to lose a sense of self and lose the core of one's being. But the time in Purgatory had taught him the tenets of mental stability. He was able to balance the danger of his self diluting over time with small, personal acts.

    He pissed on the ground. Pissed all over a small patch of the world. He was not really able to urinate, but he commanded his body to do so anyway. Yet another side effect of spending entirely too much time with oneself. He pursed his lips as he finished his business, pulling the zipper back up. What was it again? The .. his memory was fuzzy. Yes, the fictional Bene Gesserit. Something like that.

    His jokes quickly dulled without an audience. The voices in his minds clapped for him, but he needed an audience. Better yet, he needed to throw despair onto the world. But not utter despair. There was no fun in watching a human's hope be extinguished. Even as his fangs would sink into their neck, their eyes gasped in place of their voice. They struggled against his monstrous strength. Even while they lost consciousness, they hoped, against all hope, that they would still be saved. Yes, that desperation, that desperation to survive against all odds, was what he needed.

    So he started small. The world of IWAKU, it seemed, was split into distinct sections. At the center was the capital - powerful, indescribable, run by those nobles who had clearly discovered advanced forms of energy production. In one area lay the highly technological cities. Slums - likely powered by 'magic', lay at the edges of the world. A dull red light hovered over a perpetually dark place. He could feel the sex oozing from there.

    Perhaps that would be his first destination.

    It took an inordinate amount of time to travel there. The distance seemed to lengthen by two steps with every step he took. It took him about a month of walking before he clued in, and when he did he stood and laughed for a long time. At least an hour.

    Such a simple, absurd trick. He placed both hands against the air and pushed. The reality field warped, gave way to his insisting advances, and he slid into the red light district.

    There wasn't much to do here. Most of the people he saw around here were the same as the ones he encountered very often in his world. They willingly fell into his arms with but a simple glance, a chance of touch on the neck, a hand sliding nonchalantly against the waist. He left bodies left and right. Most of them weren't virgins, and this solved the problem with dealing with progeny. Better yet, they rose and went about their own business. Curiously enough, this latest flesh-eating craze was met with delight by a (small) sub population of the sector. He didn't have a problem with that.

    A few thousand bodies later, he emerged from the area. It wasn't quite a disaster zone, and a few of the more cognizant inhabitants had finally clued in, but they would be embroiled in chaos for weeks.


    Armed with the (weak) essence of a small army, Rastul trod onwards. Certainly preparations had to be made if he wanted to seat himself on the throne of the capital. Likely, they had atomic disruptor weapons at their disposal. Such weapons, powered by the same science of atom splitting and fusing that gave nearly limitless energy, could easily subdue him by dispersing him into a fine mist, spread out over kilometers by the lightest of winds. In this form he could take years to decades to reform himself. This was not a setback he was prepared to make. Patience was not quite a virtue yet.

    So he set out on easy pickings. He passed into the realm of Fantasy - a pagan, backwards land where people still believed in things like magic, sorcery, wizardry, and incantation. Most of these people did not realize that they were psionics, using cheap mnemonics and other meditations techniques to focus the mind, allowing them to bend reality toward their will.


    The city of Gothenheim rose in front of him. That was what the poor sap told him, anyways.

    The Siege took a while. They were somewhat prepared to deal with creatures such as him. Getting them to fall apart and distrust each other was child's play though. A few were all too willing to give themselves up his power. Religion was so easy - all he had to do was give himself a glow, grow a pair of breasts, and one of them was easily duped. A few shadows in their hearts gave them the illusion of ability, and they carried out his psychological warfare - poor backward peasents, without the benefit of modern science - and tore their fragile group apart. How easy!​


    One by one the defenders fell. The onslaught was relentless. The guardsmen fell under the never ending waves, crashing with foam and fury against their weak barriers. As they died they were consumed by the tide of shadows, their forms corrupting into bodies with sharp protrusions, crooked, massive teeth, hunched backs and long, ape-like arms. They wielded massive clubs made from trees and rocks, using them to break the giant stones that made up the wall. As it breached Rastul allowed himself the honour of first entry.

    Arrows. Such old fashioned technology. He even allowed a few the luxury of piercing his skin, relishing in the feeling as the metal head tried, feebly, to lance through his gut and destroy his heart. The arrow sloughed away from his chest, and he reached into the open lips of the wound, working his fingers deep inside to remove the arrow head. With a whip of his arm, the pointy device embedded itself into the forehead of the archer. She fell, frost billowing from her figure where she slammed into the ground.

    One down. He loomed over her; the arrow had barely lodged itself into her skull, and was just tickling her brain. Reaching around, he slid an arm around her waist and pulled her up, close so they could stare into each other's eyes. All her insecurity, her questioning, all of her 'why's, flooded, asking, wondering what twist of fate had thrown her the snake eyes.

    He closed her eyes with his fingers; she didn't seem to resist. Perhaps it was release for her. A bite to the neck, and he drained her dry, her body arching against his arm as she went limp. The blood was cold, and Rastul shivered from the new sensation as liquid ice fell into his stomach.


    Another one charged him. A pair. One clad in suit of armour (it was kingly, like a Regalia), the other taller than his dark Giants. He could feel the vestiges of power within them. Perhaps they were great men unto themselves, but they still lived in the shadow of the ancestors. Failures to the end, never able to go beyond their limitations.

    He punched a hole straight through the armoured warrior's chest. It was a clean, neat circle, such as a cannonball would make. As he drew his arm back, the frayed metal on the armour gouged deep trenches in his arms, but that was inconsequential. This warrior was brave. He drank amply of such strong blood.

    "Poor man. This was your fate, your destiny, since your inception as a splatter in your mother's womb. How could you have not seen the end, fighting night after night against tireless foes? This city was doomed to die from the start, an ill attempt by humans at moving beyond their boundaries without the knowledge, but only the courage."

    He closed the eyes of the fallen knight with an iota of respect.​

    "Your time to land on the Moon is not for another thousand years."

    He turned to face the giant.​


    The giant's mace bore down upon him, and he casually stopped it with a raised hand. It was strong enough to send him skidding ten meters to the right. A single punch to the giant's chest sent him staggering. Two, and he fell to the ground. Rastul leapt into the air and landed on the giant's chest. He placed one hand on the gargantuan's pectorals, gently, almost caressing, the fingers splayed out over the rippling muscle. The other balled into a fist, shivering in the air with his might.

    Bam. Bam. BAM. The ribs gave way under repeated blows. The skin turned purple, black, orange with bruising. The ribs turned into powder. The heart underneath ruptured, and leaked blood into the bodily cavity, filling it up within minutes as its panicked pumping slowly died away into nothingness. The giant's eyes went glassy and unfocused. Rastul grabbed the man by his ears and shook him, bellowing in his face.



    The giant's eyes came back into focus. Rastul could see the understanding form in his eyes just as the life faded away. He threw his head back as the emotions gripped him, shivering with the force of them. What a feeling to die with! What torment to grip the soul in its passing!! He tore off the ears from the corpse and moved on.

    The last man - the commander? Stood there. Yeeeees. Rastul passed a tongue over his blood stained lips.

    There it was.

    He could see the world crumbling in that man's eyes. He raised his hands and moved onwards to the castle.

    Corben - was it? He was buried underneath a swarm of demons. To his credit, he never screamed - but the fountain of blood that rose from the wriggling pile of black that pounced him was a spectacle enough. He didn't want to give Corben the luxury of knowing what had happened to him. The invasion was swift and brutal. He wanted him to see his world crumble, fall into dust around his eyes, but Rastul also wanted it to happen quickly enough to leave the subject dumbfounded. Comprehension was dull, boring, because it took away from the stupefaction and helplessness.

    Three were missing. A priest. A torturer. The boy he killed already. As he ripped him apart limb from limb, after casually throwing off the black carapace on his body, his mouth an open laugh of delight, he thought he felt something strange from him. Nostalgic, long lost, something that tugged at his heart.

    It annoyed him greatly, and he buried the boy's face in a torrent of blood until he drowned.


    He sat on the throne of the place. It wasn't such a great throne, but he had jammed random trinkets into it - bones, skulls, wrapped in intestines, and of course, the finest rugs in the palace. It was an affront to aesthetics, yet at the same time beautiful in its own right. All around him, preparations were made for the next step. Crude trebuchets were assembled, cat gut was strung on the bony handles of a rib-crossbow, and deep in the bowels of the castle the secrets to gunpowder were being (re)discovered.

    A skeleton army for a f(b)ony war! The laugh Rastul let out was long and deep, resonating throughout the empty castle. He would invade the middle class areas next. They were in the same technological era as he was once in, wielding crude fire sticks, driving massive metal boxes and launching exploding rockets.

    This was nice. He could not stop smiling as he rested his head on a hand, leaning against a side of his throne. There was logic to his conquest. It was a good plan. Sometimes, it was nice to check things off a list.
  3. Rastul. Was in a bad mood.

    The stupid minions underneath his influence certainly took their time carrying out preparations for the invasion. And after a while, there was only so much head punting he could do to pass the time. It was actually quite an interesting sport. What he did was take dead bodies and lined them up, then gave the heads a mighty kick. The farther they went, the more points he got (all subjectively assigned, of course). The additional challenge, the unknown element, was how strongly the neck was connected to the body. Sometimes he misjudged entirely, and only cracked the vertebrae. That sucked. Other times he gave it enough force to rip the skin, exposing the muscles and bone underneath as the head comically elongated from the body. If he was really lucky, the spine would flow out of the body. In situations like these he would loudly yell


    So here he was, in a bad mood, and standing in front of a pile of corpses. The skeletons, monsters, shadows, ogres, and trolls toiled away in the background of Gothenheim. It had been transformed into a macabre fortress. Rivers, torrents of blood flowed past giant wheels constructed from bones, hollowed out skulls scooped by the flowing red liquid to mechanically power machinery inside. They rhythmically hammered giant steel beams, rolling them into mighty cylinders that would house the crude artillery shells being fashioned deep in the caves below. When one of the "scientists" messed up below, the ensuing explosion would usually seal that small section of the cave off, serving to prevent it from contaminating the other pockets with his stupid.


    Back to him being in a bad mood.

    He lined his foot up on the next corpse, and ran forward at a leisurely place.


    Rastul stamped his feet into the ground, grinding to a halt and nearly losing his balance. He tumbled forward, comically, overdoing it just a bit to make it awkward, and righted himself to peer closely at the corpse he should have been punting.

    Oho! This one was alive and kicking! Rastul's eyes widened in a mixture of surprise and admiration. It was not a small feat to have survived thus far. Well, it wouldn't hurt to give that person a bit of a reward. With a small grunt of effort, he grabbed the person and pulled them into a standing position, supporting them against his waist. First things first. He propped their head up so he could stare deeply into the eyes:



    Yes. This is what he wanted. Young, easily impressionable. Noble, born with a heritage to uphold. Prideful, with a reputation to keep.

    And broken. Broken by his playground of death and hopelessness. Good.

    "I would like to preface our interaction by telling you this. You are free to do whatever you wish. But you have zero purpose in life as it stands now. I leave it to you to find something to do. Revenge will yield absolutely no results."

    That said, he spent another period of time nursing her back to health. Given whatever magical properties lay in her trinkets, she made a remarkably fast recovery. But the body mirrored the mind. It was broken. It was easy to deduce the way her psyche worked. She had taken, for as long as she was alive, for granted that Gothenheim would always persist. That despite how dark the night would get, twilight would always arrive to save them from disaster. Without an absolute assurance her perception of the world crumbled. And this was not the same as dying in battle. This was living to see the result. Quite good.

    She was living a dream now. She was living a life that was impossible for her mind to comprehend.

    One day.

    "You're probably wondering, well, maybe you were wondering, hehe, before I laid waste to your little village, why I would do this. No, that thought may have never crossed your mind. Perhaps you were born into adversary. You never had to question it, all you had to do was save us from them."

    Rastul paused. He did a slow circuit of the room he was in. It was another room constructed entirely of bone and sinew. It was pretty smelly, really. Actually, it wasn't even his decision to decorate the castle in this stupid, overdone style. The skeletons he had negotiated the contract with had insisted on it. Part of their nature, Rastul supposed. Honestly, he would have preferred something in 21st century, maybe a fireplace ..

    "See, that's the problem. You never thought about why you were doing this." Rastul placed a finger under her chin and tilted it upwards. She was laying on the floor, a bit of a crumpled mess, functioning but dead on the inside. Well, perhaps he saw a flicker of life in the pupils. He continued to stare into them as he talked. "Many people go about their lives doing this. They take a singular purpose and devote themselves to it. Never once has it crossed them to question this absolute - of course, why would they? It's an absolute! You probably never figured that this town would actually fall."

    "Well. I have. I have had plenty - too much time." He released her chin and fall backwards onto the floor as well. The bones in the floor deformed and raised into a chair that he could lean back in. The girl had the good grace to look slightly disgusted. Encouraging.

    "I'll spare you the boring details. But the point is, I've had a long time to think about this. Do you even know what a ...

    long ...

    time ...

    means .. ?"

    The force of his stare bore into her eyes. A never ending, infinitely wound spiral in his iris that poured endlessly into the black pupils. He stared at her for a while, letting himself lapse back to the time he spent in the Void, Limbo. His body slumped with age, dark circles grew under his eyes, and he took on the appearance of age

    "You probably do. I can imagine you being bored. Just imagine being bored for a long time. But that's not so bad."

    The next look her gave her nearly caused the girl to faint. He could see the shiver pass along her even as she sat on the floor.

    "Time, you see. Time passes the longest ..

    When you have nothing to do. When you only have yourself."​

    He was reminded of a story he once read. Teleportation technology that required the subject to be asleep during the transition. One person held his breath when the sleeping gas mask was placed on his face.

    It turned out that although the body makes the trip instantaneously, the mind takes billions of years to pass. He babbled upon passing through the exit, then clawed his eyes out and bit his tongue off. 'I can see,' he said. 'I can see billions and billions ..' Certainly had a long time to think about how to commit suicide!

    "I thought about it. I thought about why I existed. Why am I who I am? Why did I not die when my world died. Then I hit it!!" He lunged forward, grabbing her shoulders.

    "There is no point!" He was laughing now, his fangs gleaming at both edges of his smile. "Meaning is what is given to us when we interact with reality, and we also give back to it."

    "It's a bit of a copout, but the upshot is just do whatever you do. I could tell you about what it means to be 'you', and I have devoted a lot of thought to this, but that's best left for another time. Now, you're probably wondering why I told you this. If you need a purpose - and I won't force this on you - carry on my message outside this world, if you eventually become capable of it. You now need a new purpose. Without it, you will wither and die. But you are technically already dead, or just waiting to die. I wonder if you can fight past this. You have my best wishes."

    His smile was sad, as if he did not wish for this. As if it was something he did because the core of his being commanded him to do, that he did this because it was what he was. He left her in the room, and returned to his game.


    thwock. (a quiet echo sounds off the walls the girl is in.) "GIRAFFFFFFFE!"
  4. A trip was in order. A vacation.

    In doing so Rastul also desired to give this girl - Erilyn? (He had to probe her mind a bit to get that. It's a nasty process, all things considered, and the details will be omitted here) a bit of a shortcut to enlightenment. In fact, he considered it cheating. Perhaps she would not appreciate the real magnitude of what it meant to transcend. The god damned Buddha was right all along. There really was meaning to finding the true self. There really was nirvana.

    Whatever. Vacation.

    She was plopped on a small chair at the peak of a tower, unceremoniously dropped after being carried by the scruff of her armour. Rastul leaped down from the spire, landing heavily on the ground with bent knees. The force of his landing buckled the stones underneath his feet, and he could also feel the creak in his bones as they cracked from the impulse. They healed quite soon afterwards, though.

    He made sure she was watching. Tendrils of shadows gently, but firmly oriented her head. They snuck into her eyes, piercing the muscles and twisting them towards his path, contracting the iris to an optimal diameter for the light levels. Just doing a favour.

    With the observer firmly rooted in place, he moved towards the edge of the bubble. Crossing such a boundary was tricky, for they were temperamental things. They did not like being trifled with, they did not like to be asked to do things. They only existed as a line that separated in from out. Bungled attempts, often by people with poorly tuned time machines or teleporters, usually led to a no fuss, no hassle, no do-over dissemination of the unfortunate adventurer. They were simply dissolved in the smooth flow of space-time that they were unlucky enough to run against. It wasn't something as simple to understand as atomic disintegration. No, the boundary rejected their right to exist, and removed them from existence. In this way, conservation of energy could be violated. Hehe.

    As seen from Rastul's eyes, moving between bubbles - and universes, was easy, but the execution was difficult. He closed his eyes.

    feel the attachment to your true self

    feel the tug of the you beyond this sub-plane


    He opened his eyes and was back in the void again. Complete emptiness. But he was more than prepared for it. He tested the ground, it was solid. He took a deep breath (normally vampires did not need to breath, but he needed to do so for talking, and to keep people around him relaxed), blinked (yet another useless human detail), and took ten perfectly measured, even steps forward.

    The line between bubbles is infinitely thin. One step is more than enough. If you want your ass shaved off, that is. It really hurts. So ten is just a good safety margin.

    He closed his eyes. It helped a bit with the shock. And opened them.

    He stood in the nexus of IWAKU.

    A place that surely only a few knew. It was a blinding kaleidoscope of imagery. He was surrounded by panes (up, down, left, right, all around) depicting the various bubbles. They shuffled, jostled one another, pushing each other like real soap bubbles in an emulsion - always three points of contact at the corners. He used a finger to swirl a few of them. Obviously they resisted the mixing immediately and simply snapped back to their old, scintillating positions.

    With a bit of jiggering he was able to get the names of the bubbles. Ah, yes. This one looked good.


    To enter the realm, all he had to do was walk towards it. The window pane grew larger and larger. It was still a flat, 2D plane, but it seemed to gain dimension as he moved into it, wrapped around him from front to back. There was a subtle mirage effect, a bit of static as the bubble adjusted itself to a new entrant. He could feel his body warp slightly, his self pushing back against the restrictions the domain attempted to place on it. Ugh. A bit of a namby-pamby place. Apparently, violence was not allowed.

    That wasn't necessarily a bad thing. Contrary to the death curses of nearly everyone he had met so far, Rastul was not all about killing. Sometimes, he enjoyed relaxing.

    Until he met him.

    Theodore. He shivered. What was going on? The same feeling - the same feeling he got when he took apart that boy in Gothenheim, it hit him like a train. He felt like ..

    He knew that this person was him
    (But not him at the same time)
    The paradox hit him deep in his soul
    (Doubles are not allowed to exist it said)
    One of you must die
    (To preserve continuity)
    Or else
    (Chaos will erupt not just here, but everywhere)
    Angry, betrayal
    (Filled every pore of his being)
    One second passed
    Two seconds

    Get a grip! Rastul lay in the center of town, collapsed on his knees. He clutched his heart. His breath (and instinctive reaction from fear) came in short gasps. He sweated, sweated drops of blood that rained down as a fine mist onto the ground below. His avatar, his simulacrum that inhabited this world, stared at him. All Theodore felt was a strange sense of deja vu. Maybe, maybe, he was in tune with himself enough to feel something was wrong on another abstraction, but probably not.

    Rastul ripped Theodore's heart out, quick as lightning.

    He took it quite well, all things considered. They stared at each other, for as long as it took for Theodore to die. Around them, panic reached a tipping point. Sirens sounded in the distance.​



    No. He could not have known. No.

    Rastul clutched his head, the mental agony nearly blinding him. What .. how .. how did copies of himself arrive before he did? If they did ..

    Was he even the true self? He threw his head back and stared into the sky.
    "Heh. Hehehehe."

    There was nothing to be angry about. He was him! He is him! Decades of isolation had convinced him. No, the logic was irrefutable. Prior to this he was the only one left in the Order of Mayhem. This he was absolutely sure of. Him! It must have been him! That MASK. That damnable lord of whatever. Playing tricks with him. Ha! Him, being the butt of the joke??

    "S-Sir. I'm going to have to ask you to place your hands on your head. NOW."

    The police officer - a whole squadron of them - thumbed the hammers back on their snub nosed revolvers.

    Rastul stood up. A quiet giggle purred from his lips. His head was limp, hanging down, hair obscuring his face.

    "Sir. SIR. Final warning." Ready.

    He took a step towards them.



    The town was ablaze. This time, he lacked motivation for destruction. He simply wrecked whatever got in his way. The hail of bullets did a bit of good, for he was too distracted to reconstruct the pulverized joints and organs, although at times he would have to, to continue moving. He spent about two hours taking apart a building, brick by brick, his nails bleeding and chipped. He snapped wooden beams in half, bent steel girders, and disassembled the HVAC system screw by screw.

    A trail of bodies laid in his wake. He wasn't sure who he killed.

    Eventually he reached a glade. The police had given up on pursuing him. Apparently, the army was coming. In the glade, sat a rose.

    He stepped on it. Ground it into the dirt.

    Behind him, the wheeeee of a turret being leveled on him. The kinetic energy of it was enough to sheer his body in half. He pulled himself together and flipped the tank, crushing a few soldiers with RPGs behind it. The resulting conflagration allowed him plenty of time to step back into the nexus.


    Erilyn saw nothing. One moment, he was walking into the distance (although, for a while, he stopped getting small, and seemed to walk on the spot). The next moment, he was flipped instantly and was walking back towards Gothenheim. He did not even bother with her, and disappeared into the throne room. She might have died had he not remembered her a few days later, and released her from the bondage.

    There he sat, in the shadows of the throne room. The skeletons did not protest, sensing the strength of a deity like being exerting his will over the place. The bones were deconstructed, the throne was reconstructed of smooth black onyx, and bright, bright, bright torches were hung everywhere. Except they threw shadows. The hall itself was filled with blinding light, but the torch flames were black, and threw geometrically perfect triangles of shadows all over the place. At the focal point Rastul sat in his throne. He leaned back into it, hands laid across his lap. Only the bright white of his eye, the red iris, and the black pupil shone through the darkness.

    Thoughts swirled around in his mind. How many more of him existed in other bubbles, waiting to be discovered? Would pandemonium be unleashed only if he saw them, would he be safe as long as he never contacted them? He believed that he was the one true being to ascend from the singular plane of reality that was Order of Mayhem. Under what circumstances could copies of him have been distributed .. did his consciousness fragment while spending time in the void?

    In such a position, he grimly waited for the rest of the preparations to complete.

    No more messing about. IWAKU would fall.


    "Was that not a good joke?"

  5. The days dragged on. It was starting to feel like a trend. The last stragglers in Gothenheim had yet to be rounded up. At first he participated in the hunt himself, with a certain amount of enthusiasm. He even took the care to dress up in safari gear, with a hat and a massive spear to match. But it was a half-hearted exercise. The real problem skittered in the back of his mind, ran to and fro, that furry bastard, gnawing, incessently gnawing ...

    From his throne, he snapped his fingers. The shadows thrown by the torches receded, save for a small black circle on the floor in front of him. It took on the consistency of treacle, gurgling, warping, until it finally threw up the girl, Erilyn, from wherever she was and whatever she had been doing. The castle was entirely his domain. The shadows, extensions of himself, permeated the stones of the giant fortress, seeped into the mortar of the building, became the wooden beams and stone columns supporting the great gothic roofs.

    "Have you found your mind yet?" He leaned forward, eyes inquisitive. "Are you capable of conversation yet?"


    The task that Erilyn had, at the current time, been applying herself to was a tedious one that primarily involved writing letters to those with some importance on matters that she herself could barely muster the energy to care about, let alone write an impassioned note upon their subject. Still, despite the uninspiring nature of her previous task, she was never truly keen on being summoned forth with the shadows. It always seemed to have a certain implied tone of demand to it that she mistrusted.

    Still soaked in shadow, with the viscous pool not having receded due to the torches, Erilyn raised her chin slightly to look up into the face of the one who had summoned her. Her expression was not one of fear, nor even one of defiance; she was instead clearly smiling. She might not appreciate the method of being called for the conversation, but the opportunity for discourse was an appealing one at least. She felt stifled by the lackluster nature of her letter writing and a diversion was more than welcome.

    "My mind has been long trapped in the confines of monotony and I can think of nothing but conversation that I would be fit for now, with it finally breaking free."


    "Great!" He rolled his eyes, indicating the near mindless automatons around the place. "I talk to them, but they don't really talk back! The ones in my head are even worse's worse than talking to yourself."

    He steepled his hands, pursed his lips. It was a short period until he next spoke, as he gathered his thoughts. To others it was an irritating habit, the time spend in Void somewhat warping his perception of time. Despite this, when he did speak the words came out fast and free.

    "I want to remind you that I have completely erased .." He paused again.

    ".. To preface that, what were you doing just now?"


    A roll of his eyes and a glib comment about the lack of conversation to be found - these were things Erilyn had not been expecting. Though his words were innocuous, the mention of the alternative, the voices within his head, still chilled Erilyn slightly. She was resolute, however, and did not lower her gaze even slightly. He was not a figure to be feared but not one to understand either... he seemed to have lost something of his ability to be empathized with in the Void, among other things furtively whispered about.

    The words he spoke after a long pause were almost rushed in delivery, spilling from his mouth as he tried to guide them into a single path. As a result, he came out seeming torn on what he was about to say and the former sentence interested Erilyn much more than the latter. She'd rather forget the task still incomplete and know instead what it was that he had erased. Her curiosity caused her smile to lessen slightly and she shifted her weight from one foot to the other.

    "I was writing letters. It must be done but I am in no great rush to apply myself to the task. Important, perhaps, but not enthralling by any stretch" she lifted her eyebrows, still not shifting her gaze. "What did you erase?"


    "You." Rastul seemed surprised and leaned back in his throne. This was not quite what he had been expecting. But if he was expecting her to be distraught, that was also a failure in himself - had he become so boring in his actions? That elucidated a brief grimace of displeasure.

    He spread his arms to indicate the throne room, the castle, what little area beyond this city she had known. Even the king's room should have seemed foreign to her; it should have scared her at the very least. The throne was an imposing black monolith, situated in the center of a wild assortment of polygons. Massive metal pillars (for decoration only, as he could not trust the idiots downstairs to forge actual structural steel yet) rose up at regular intervals around the edge of the room, which had been expanded outwards into a somewhat smooth circle, starting and ending with deeply intricate gothic embellishments and the black torches. The stone ceiling had been polished away, thinner than gold leaf. It was so thin that the stars dimly shone through it; of course, the winds that would have caused such a roof to crumple had been long since banished by a massive array of shadows that emanated from the base of the castle. The only source of the light in the room seemed to come from the throne, which was a paradox given how black it was. It did not drown out the stars above, for the black torches seemed to beat the light down into a dim halo at the height of the throne.

    "There is nothing here anymore that held a connection to your life. Your family, your friends, maybe even a man who you might have shared a budding romance with, are all dead." He wagged a finger. "Without these people, your morals, your goals, your ethics, were all removed. There is no one left to live for. The world that gave your life meaning is gone." He had not spoken in a long time, but slowly he was remembering.

    Puzzled, he rubbed the nape of his neck. Was she not aware of what had happened? Or perhaps she had dissociated her past self (remarkable!) from the present? Maybe she was just in a schizophrenic type denial? He directed his eyes to her again, impassive, imperial. They were the eyes of a tiger, certainly a killer to the core, an animal who, even when sated with a bellyful of meat, could casually reach out and carve inch-deep furrows in anything nearby if it so wished.

    "What are you, then? What are you, without anything to define you?" His interest in her response was so great that he slightly learned forward, lips lightly pressed into a thin, thoughtful line, eyebrows furrowed with concentration. He seemed more interested in how her response would apply to him than anything else. Hairline fractures spread as white lightning from where his fingers gripped the black onyx throne.


    He stretched before her, dark as a shadow himself to her eyes, reaching hands that his arms might attempt to span the whole of the chamber and press it before her eyes. The room had been well-lit, hence the wonder of his shadows, and she had given it a glance before settling her eyes upon him, it was true, but these things did not interest her. A room was a room, no matter how impressive one attempted to make it. By making a room vast, its architects were merely warring with the great emptiness of the world outside, which would always win, and still they tried to rival it with their pillars and their designs. It was true that this throne was impressive in its own right, that the ceiling polished so thin was a feat, but she had seen the stars shining through. Even in a place such as this, it could not compare its works with the beauty of the sky above and jealously tried to capture it as its own.

    For the first time since being summoned, she could not fight her reflexive reaction to the words that he spoke. They were soft and quiet, but the reminders that flooded her, memories of a life that could not be her own. She squeezed her eyes tightly shut, her head turned sharply to the left, affording her some privacy from his eyes with the silken sheet of auburn shielding her expression. She had no reason to trust in his words and no distinct recollection of the lives whom she was being reminded. All the same, she could feel the sharp pain between her ribs with the faces and names that suddenly became a deluge, a torrential flood beating down on her consciousness. She was drowning, this she knew, and she needed to break free of the insubstantial prison. Where had her easy confidence gone, faded like the timid shadows beneath the light? She lifted her chin once more turning back to face him, her eyes open and expression set once more.

    He was questioning her identity, based on these lost memories and people. It was enough to strengthen her resolve and her words, seeming opposite his own, were growing sharper and more rapid as they tumbled forth. This pain had not settled wholly, but she was not going to allow insidious thoughts to give him the right to dismiss her existence.

    "I am not defined by others. I form my own identity through my thoughts and my desires, my fears and my joys. There will never be another whose mind is the same. This is my defining feature, what separates me from any other. Friends, family, even you are just a tool for my expression of self. Using you, I can imprint my personality clearly, by interacting. In the same, I am a tool to you and to any other I have met. But I do not need these tools. Alone with myself, I would still be me. You are yourself, even when you are alone." Erilyn had spoken with an almost impassive steadiness, despite how quickly the words flowed. Now, however, her head tilted slightly and she took on some of the warmth she had been lacking the entire time with her detached imperiousness filling the space of sincerity.

    "Why do you ask me these questions? Do you think that you are defined by the darkness that you surround yourself with?"


    The force of her words physically pushed him back against the seat. He covered the ugly grimace that ran across his face with an outstretched hand, his eyes peeking between the fingers.

    "Your desires .. " he began hesitantly, as if he doubted the words before they even left his mouth. "have meaning through the world. The same .. for your emotions. If I placed you within a room devoid of light, smell, and sound for a decade, you would be nothing, if not insane! What then, would you be?!"

    He pushed himself off the throne, walking forward unsteadily. His hair, itself somewhat a shadow, writhed in torment. He stooped in front of her and grasped her chin, using his thumb to gently wipe away the shadow that still clung to her cheek - like mud.

    "Or could it be .. " he began softly, sadly, "That deep in your heart, you were prepared for such an fate?"


    It was unanswered, the questions that she posed to him, but she could feel his uncertainty, nearly palpable in the closed room with so much silence and so little room to breathe. In here, she felt nearly oppressed by the walls surrounding her, pressed upon by the pillars that worked so hard to loom over her head.

    He stood, then, and his walk was halting, as graceless as the shadows in comparison to the gently flickering light. She knew that he was in motion, was aware of him walking, and she even watched him do so but his hand cupping her chin still somehow managed to startle her, perhaps because he was so easy to allow to fade into the background. With his thumb, he wiped away the shadow and she nearly smiled at the irony. She would be clean of him, they would both make sure of it, this gesture seemed to echo.

    "Complete isolation from all things is a torment beyond that which I could imagine, but if it is to be my fate, the end result for refusing to change myself, then it must be. A fate of such purgatory for a life lived in brightness. It changes nothing. Even if I were cast into a dark without light, a void without scent or sound, I would not cease to be myself. Were you and I placed in the same fate, bound separately into our own darkness, we would still not emerge the same person. Even in madness, I would be myself, because the essence of who I am cannot be distilled through separation. Even in madness, you and I would be different people. I would be mad in my own way and you in yours."

    With him so close to her face, she examined his features for the spark, for the glimmer of self that each person possessed. She still did not fear him, did not fear the king of towers erected to defy the nature outside its walls. She searched in herself and only found curiosity and confusion. Was this a man who did not know himself at all, that he should need to ask another about definition of self?


    It shone, deep within his eyes, buried underneath spirals of age and time. The sun, his soul, his brilliance, had dulled to a white dwarf. Tears flowed from them, a thick, viscous stream, red, large drops forming at the bottom of his cheeks where they fell with loud splats onto the floor.

    He tried to remember, to think back thousands of years. Were humans this strong? Perhaps. So he allowed himself to cry for her pain, to mirror surely what she must be feeling. And he leaned forward, kissing her.


    There were no words returned, no retort to Erilyn's firm assertion. The truth of her words, the power with which she felt them, rang through her and she felt oddly determined, if grim. The exchange had left her with a sense of foreboding, of the rising chance that these hypotheticals of which he spoke would come to pass, that she would be cast into an expanse of nothingness. It seemed almost as though it was the foreshadowing to her convictions being tested, but that was not what first came to pass.

    Instead, his face so close to hers that she finally recognized that glimmer, he began to cry. His tears were unexpected, as everything had been now, but she was neither alarmed nor surprised by them. There was a correctness in the tears that she could not argue and that denying only be a tragedy the likes of which she could not commit herself to creating. His tears flowed thick down his cheeks and without knowing why, mirroring the tears from the wounded part of her that could not remember the faces she saw, Erilyn began to cry as well. The tears were silent, flowing quick and bright as they were illuminated in the firelight and then dropping as shimmering gems to be broken apart on impact with the floor.

    He seemed so distraught in that moment, so utterly lost... and then he pressed his lips to hers. She kissed him back for a moment, a second of their time that could very well have been the span of eternities as the room stood deathly silent, devoid of enough the noise of falling fear as they instead fell across her collar bone and shoulders. She encircled him, her arms in the dancing light seeming more secure than his, and she was ever the unyielding defender.

    With her cheek pressed to his, looking over the room without thinking, she finally brought herself to ask a question of her own, to phrase thoughts that had been half-formed until now. She glanced around the room as she did so, trying to remember anything that might answer her question for her.

    "Where are we? Is this the end of days, the collapse into that void?"


    "No." Rastul's voice rang out strongly next to her, cheek-to-cheek. "I am someone .. a creature that you perhaps would call a demon or an angel, that your foolish human arrogance called down." Well, that was a bit of a lie. But there was no way he could explain what an universe was to her.

    It was the long time in Nothing that did this to him. It made him for long for things that he would have thrown away in the breath of the wind, that he could have casually thrown into the abyss. It inflicted the largest wound, the worst wound, upon the fiber of his being. He experienced what it was like to die for the first time, instead of merely the pain upon being taken apart; the feeling of plunging into the endless deep, what it felt like to be almost extinguished. He tried to tear it out, this new found sensation of empathy, but it was not something that removing a heart or other organs would fix. Empathy made it painful, supremely painful, to speak his next words to the girl on the floor. He pulled away from her and stood up, face stoic.

    "I will soon leave your world for another, so that I can lay waste to it. And when I do this one will wither and die, along with you. For your indulgence, I can grant you one of two choices: you can die with the world, or you can live on inside of me ..

    ... in death."
    He laughed, childish, genuinely enjoying the joke, though it died quickly back to his serious expression. She would not be able to leave with him, poor little creature, because she was not aware of how to cross the bubble. He raised his hands and dragged them down his cheeks, smearing four vertical red stripes of war paint on each side. Still, tears flowed, though abated. He tried to smile, laugh, but hiccuped instead. This pathetic creature on the ground, living her life as an avatar of someone else. Yet despite her unwitting role as the thinnest of fibers in the thread of destiny, she still bravely played her character, lived her life true to her creation.


    And so it was, at least, that the end of days had come. She was to die either way, Erilyn thought, and she was surprised to find that she was no so afraid. A chill resignation instead filled her, consuming even the pain. What purpose was there in mourning one's loss when it had come to the end of their life as well?

    The tears that had been running thickly down the cheeks of the man before all but stopped flowing and he swiped them into stripes along his cheeks, brighter than even blood and reflecting the light to give them an unnatural shine. He had pulled away from her now and she was aware, dimly, that she was still crying even though she could not place why this was. He was giving her a decision, now, and she considered it for the briefest of moments. To die here, to be drained of life in the same as her world was destroyed, or to join her soul, combine her essence, to live inside of death?

    Bowing her head, Erilyn looked at the pattern of tears across the floor, his forming viscid puddles like the shadows that had brought her and hers thin and already drying into nothingness. She lifted her head again, her decision made, and she smiled for him. The tears had not stopped and she could taste them on her lips, something that she was strangely glad for. She was alive, for now, and she had the opportunity to choose her path. He seemed lost still, searching, and she did not fear him either. She lifted her hand and placed it on his cheek now, reaching above her own head to do so.

    "I will not lose myself, I will not become a part of any other, not even you. I am a vessel for my memories and thoughts, I will not willingly be swallowed by another, to let them have these things that belong only to me. I will remain with my world, while you seek another to destroy. I hope, though, that you find what you're looking for."


    It was the second time of the day for Rastul to be shocked, his eyes comically widening. Finally, he smiled. It was a genuine one, and he followed it with a laugh of mirth and grudging admiration. So that was her choice, as a human. He too, as a vampire, would need to play his role as well.


    "You are a great person." He reached down, placing one hand around her neck and raising her to level of his mouth, fangs bared. Why, again, were vampires so nightmarish? It was simply their capacity for violence, the strength with which they could casually rip apart a human with. "You must have descended from someone who was the paragon of honesty."

    "I'm sure of it." The eulogy concluded, he slid his fangs into her neck.

    May you find your home, avatar.


    Erilyn lowered her lashes over her eyes, making it so that she could only see a sliver of light beneath them and the motions of the man, the prelude to her death. She inhaled deeply, taking in every scent and sound, though there were not many, but the smell of burning was present and that was at least comforting. She was familiar with the scent of a fire burning and if she would die, this was certainly not the worst to die knowing.

    The touch of his hand on her neck sent chills through her and she realized that she had expected him, illogically, to be warm. His skin was not in the slightest, cold and unyielding instead. She swept her hair to the side with one hand, hiding the opposite side of her face with it. She was a little nervous now, a little uneasy, but she did not flinch from him and retained the confident smile from before. She was not crying any longer, steeling herself instead for the path of her choice.

    It was almost beautiful, this scene, and a small part of her hated it. She was a warrior and to die in anything but battle was less than ideal, but she did not fight back. She could tell from the hint of strength in his grasp that it would do her no good even if she were to try and to break such a scene with struggling would be somehow worse.

    He complimented her then, calling her honest, and she did not understand, but she yielded and she felt the rush of pain as fangs pierced her skin. She closed her eyes fully and exhaled a last breath of air, taking solace in the darkness behind her eyelids as the last thing she saw. This was the void, and she would keep herself. She had not lost her identity.


    Ah .. her hair was indeed the beautiful colour of fall, her blood wistfully sweet. He held her in the air as he drank, his arm trembling not from the effort of keeping her suspended, but still from the role of predator that he played with all the expertise he could muster. Not all feedings were emotional, but as he drank her blood, the Gold of the Will, Silver of the Soul, Bronze of the Mind, he was awash with the emotions and memories she had experienced. It was almost too much, but he had already sated himself on the blood of the rest of the FateGuard, and it did not overwhelm him.

    He felt her arteries close, from the feet through the legs past the chest and finally the heart, as her blood obeyed his insistent summons and ran down his gullet. Finally, she was bled dry, and he slid his fingers into her chest, the tips parting the flesh as butter, and removed her heart before she could transform.

    He released her back into the writhing black ichor, the viscous shadows slowly consuming her body like quicksand. He watched Erilyn's body descend, and his fingers twitched as they hung by his side, a repressed urge to grab her, to revive her, pass his fingers through her auburn hair one last time. He smiled, to no one, for she was the last - to his knowledge - living creature in this realm. Soon, he would be embedded in another Void, another Nothing, waiting, perhaps forever, until he had enough might to move to the next bubble.

    Rastul gazed sadly as her face was swallowed by the black mud. "Never," a full grin spread across his lips, "Never trust a monster." She would live on inside him, a piece of the puzzle that balanced the rest of the the souls that spun within. This was in fact his gift to her; in this form she would be able to cross the boundary, given a chance to see who she really was. Maybe he would even give birth to a new life! The idea brought a wry grin to his face - childbirth was certainly something he had not experienced yet. For he was unlike her; humans had given birth to creatures such as him, and he was only defined through their continued acknowledgement of the terror of his existence. He existed at the crossroads of every human emotion, fantasy, and myth ..

    The vampire!

    He clenched his fists until the fingernails drew blood from the palm of his hands. His laugh sent hairline cracks through the roof above. Finally, he had rediscovered who he was! He was, after all, just another Malkavian. That was all.

    She deserved a standing ovation, and he obliged, his rapid claps ringing through the empty hall. Each time he brought his hands together, a fine mist of blood sprayed his face, his toothy grin, and the floor. The blood warmed his cold skin.
  6. Reality was vomitting. Existence had grown sick of itself. Self loathing at what it could produce in dark moments of desperation. Time only made the pain fester and grow with all the exponential potential of a tumor. Dreams were the only bastion of sanity and hope left to grant any light. Life had turned to nothing more than a writhing mass of hideous flesh. Desperation led to the wars that purged the world an almighty purging dose of chemotherapy. All of it meant to purge the world. But all was in folly. Corruption had spread so far and entrenched itself beyond a depth capable of salvation.

    The physical world could do nothing for itself.

    Essence was another matter altogether.

    Matter beyond matter.

    Spark of light that bent and shifted to escape.

    Not life, but light.

    Light that let shadows escape from the blackness of their own void.

    Antithesis of the all consuming black hole.

    Vampires as a whole ceased to exist in Order of Mayhem's end save for a single entity. The ultimate destroyer. So many inferior immortal creatures were dependent on the blood to keep their parasitic existence continued that the lack of sustainable food left most of them to die within a matter of time. Those that survived killed one another in a bid to rule what would remain in the wake of the global chemotherapy. Purging themselves through pure ambition let natural selection and habitual deception run a ruthless course. In the end only one would remain alive in the corporeal realm was one whose molecules could survive atomic vaporization.

    One that the Lord of a world left in ruins saw fit to observe.

    But it had set another, a different entity free.

    Light that had escaped the unsuspecting Malkavaian on that last sunset.

    Dreams were unfettered by time or even the laws of reality in their nature alone. Surreal landscapes and creatures granted life in the REM of a mind's subconscious. Or something like that. Just as every night could turn out different. . . there also existed a chance for the reoccurring dream. A dream that would not go away no matter how fantastical or nightmarish. It would not bend to the will of the dreamer. This was a plane of existence with a reality immune to the plagues of another reality. Pure of all physical corruption. Unfettered by the boundaries of bubbles that seperated sections of existence from one another. All that mattered was the strength of the mind that carried this stubborn dream.

    But some dreams feel more real than others.

    Some dreams feel as though one has peered into another reality altogether and glimpsed an alternate dimension.

    Those are the ones which lengthen the imaginary passage of time. Hours turn to months or even years. Nights spent looking through what feel like the eyes of another yet still through one's own. An odd feeling that gnaws at the conscious mind after waking. Doubt are those seeds planted in the back of the mind and leave the dreamer questioning the true reality. Glimpses of worlds at different points on a timeline. Viewfinders with snippets censored out to give the story intrigue. This was no mere missing piece when this happened. Puzzle pieces that were missing could be dealt with if the number remained small. More importantly this only applied to one image rather than several. It was the comparable difference of a series of images with snippets missing from each image. . . or whole images completely removed from the series as a whole and leaving it utterly incomplete.

    Which was better to endure?

    Which has less a chance to drive a mortal man to the brink of madness?

    Closed eyelids that opened portals to a strange yet familiar world that all are led to believe is just a shadowy world of deception. Bubbles thin enough for trespassers were also just thick enough to keep suspending disbelief. Enough to shake any faith in taking too serious a world of dreams subject to the whims of subconscious. Yet not all who could breach the barriers were in fact trespassers. A select few had permission to cross the boundaries with care. Lords of ruined worlds knew where to hide things and used messengers accordingly. Where to store them away from ruinous planes filled with nothing but madness and corruption. Hope had to take root somewhere. But putting all the seeds in one basket would not suffice and so they were scattered across several bubbles.

    Even if it was in the dreams of those with flesh marred by each being's reality.

    Roots spread out beneath the limits of corporeal soil would connect them all.


    Eyes of pristine blue shot open from a dreamworld left it ruins beyond salvation. Not for the first time either. Year after year of his real life these dreams of strange places persisted without much relent. Visions of a place where he was a he that he was but was not. Only horrors from his own life might replace them on occasion. Hellish fires nipping at his once flawless skin that now found itself concealed with shame and vanity. Bandaged hands reached out to grab hold of anything close by to pull himself up. Cold stone came as the first sensation of reality even through all the layers of crisp white cloth. Soon enough he found a solid and sturdy piece of furniture which allowed the bandaged knight to rise up shakily onto two feet. Dim light in the darkness granted him just enough sight to find a door.

    Covered in chains and locks.

    "Corben. . . why did you lose your faith in me?"

    Squinting as blurry vision adjusted to the candlelit surroundings he catches the glint of silver's luster that revealed his trusty Combat Crucifix in the room with him. An heirloom that held a significance beyond polished silver covered in ornate carvings of a holy nature. What his eyes could not see was the presence that hung in the air all around him. Long ago it melded with his own aura to the point he himself could barely distinguish it's existence from his own. But now something had changed in the world beyond the man's tortured dreams as a consequence of blind ambition and wanton whimsy. Bubbles burst by these actions of an entity both foreign and familiar had rewritten rules restricting a presence that had infiltrated Iwaku long before the mad vampire.

    Now it could act with impunity in Iwaku.

    Unaware of the entity which remained his constant companion, the man took up his weapon in hand and started to slam it against the locks holding several chains in place. Minutes passed? Hours perhaps? No matter how long it took to break free he had to escape. Even though he remembered the orders of the Marshall. . . a sense of duty urged him onward. Something compelled him to escape the confinements placed upon him. Outside that door he could feel something beckoning for him to rise up and confront it. Challenge the presence which tainted the air all around him. Bandages tore with the force which he moved but not a single care was given to this fact.

    All the while the presence watched and waited for him to succeed in the first of what it knew would be many endeavors. But beyond escaping this room, what goal did the bandaged knight have? Nothing but despair and death awaited him outside the door that had shielded him for the entire siege. And now he was determined to destroy that barrier without fail. Metallic clanks rang through the air one after another in an unrelenting assault. No doubt this caught the attention of the unspeakable horrors inhabiting the city. Soon they would start to gather outside the door in anticipation of the fresh meat they had somehow passed over in their bloody conquest.

    At last, freedom.

    Splinters of wood exploded outward into the small crowd of skeletons and otherwordly underlings that had assembled before revealing the source of the disturbance. One of them managed to get crushed into dust when the door fell forward. Right in front of their eyeless sockets stood a man garbed in white robes with torn bandages, messy golden hair, and a rather large silver cross readied in one hand as a weapon of retribution. Gutteral hisses escaped from hellish creatures with no actual guts to speak of at all. Taunts to try avenging the fallen members of his order came forth freely. Anger seethed from the man's blue eyes in a righteous fury. . . for he knew what it meant for such unholy terrors to await him within the city walls.


    Bellowing loud enough for all the damned to hear that one last resiliant vessel of hope remained defiant: a dreamer called Leonardo Saint.
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  7. Deep within the bowels of the city, his city, Rastul thought he heard a challenge emanate forth. His hearing had dulled, loud ringing obscuring many noises after he had spent so much time in Nothing. Most likely, it was simply a defect with the current brain that inhabited his skull - he was looking forward to it being pulverized once he stepped into a more technologically advanced era. For he was a bit of a coward; unlike many other people, he did not particularly enjoy pulverizing bits of himself for fun.

    "Come!" His grin was predatory, his voice rang out in the throne room to no one. "Come!"

    "I have lived a thousand and more, I have seen the endless cycle of history and human drama and intrigue repeat itself ten score. What new experiences can you bring to me, pious Priest?" He stood up from his throne and walked down the steps to the base, waiting patiently for the door to be blown open. The skeletons moved downwards to intercept the still living Priest. They were animated corpses of the dead in Gothenheim, flesh still hanging loosely off their bones, a spider's web of tissue in their ribs trapping the odd organ here and there. The shadows abstained from following, continuing their work deep in the caverns and other things. Preparing for the war effort was more important than taking care of remaining stragglers.

    "If you can push through the endless tide without being polished away to the bone, perhaps I'll give you an audience."

    In his hands Rastul hefted a thin metal cylinder, fused shut at one end. Into the opening he trickled a fine black powder, then paper, a round metal ball, then some more paper that he rammed down the gullet with a metal rod. In a tiny opening at the welded shut end of the cylinder he inserted a smoldering length of rope.

    "Come!!" His laughter boomed down the hallways, into the basement, answering the Priest's challenge.

    "Come and let me show you the march of history!"