Silence: The Last Laugh?
With no more time to search further, nor to prepare, our heroes are forced to act now, face the monster together, or be cut down one after the other in the dark. Gathered at the Great Cathedral for a ritual pieced together from lost lore, to banish or destroy the demon that has been plaguing their lives.
One way or another, it ends now.
OOC: This event will consist of the people who already participated in previous PrPs. Obviously this will be combat-heavy, so be prepared. Priority will be given to those who previously participated AND were involved in researching the ritual.
Thanks to everyone that joined in for this storyline, and to those that couldn't, my sincere apologies. But never fear, there's already a new storyline in the works!
April 21, 2017, 8:30 p.m.
Arx - Ward of the Compact - The Great Cathedral of the Pantheon
Comments and Log
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Once again, the Great Cathedral is to be the field of a battle between Evil and Good. Yet this time, it is on the heroes' terms. They've gathered at the place where the demon was first encountered, when it first shed the blood of the Compact. Coming back... may trigger some bad memories in some. To others, it may be bringing them full circle, filling their hearts with hope that perhaps this time, this time they will win. Though the Templar presence has been doubled since the attack, there are few faces that were there for the first. Only three. Knight Templar Loreth, Knight Templar Qazir and Knight Templar Terel. All three survivors of the first attack, they give grim nods to the other suvivors that walk in. They volunteered for this. The moment to redeem their own survival, where so many innocents fell. The atmosphere is bleak in this center of Faith. For the past, and what the future holds.
Still, our heroes walk in, and prepare...
When Aleksei strides in, it's in his full leathers of the First Choice and with an expression creased with grimness. He offers short nods to the three Templars who were there that very first night, but he strides rather directly up towards the altar. He reaches inside an inner pocket of his longcoat and pulls out the book the demon sent him after that same first night. He drops it on the ground near the altar.
Armel has been in the Cathedral for about a half-hour at this point, and the /very/ first thing he does? He makes sure every single templar and guard has their visor raised to show their faces and speaks to each one, making sure he gets coherent, natural responses before he lets them lower them again, ordering them to keep their eyes on each other. Then he's just walking about with his staff in one hand, clapping shoulders and reassuring the men. The pie he left goes pointedly ignored.
Aureth moves with a heaviness to his step despite the fact of his general physical recovery from his last encounter with the demon. It's not _entirely_ explainable by how much he is still accustoming himself to the weight of steel of the armor he now wears. If he had a giant skull-shaped target painting on his back before, he has clearly decided to embrace this, gleaming in black and silver steel all marked with spiders with his helm cast in the shape of a skull. He thumps on his way into the Cathedral. It's a decided thump.
The heathen Shaman that she is, Freja has never truly been here for any other purpose than to see Aleksei cursing and fumbling over his words to become Godsworn. Still, the tall (abnormally so) Redrain enters in the full regalia of the North; a monstrous albino bear headdress and a cloak to match, the sylvan scouting leathers riddled with shamanic runes. She is stoic, stubbornly neutral in her expressions. The only signs of any struggle, interior or exterior, is shown on the bite and claw marks on her neck.
Gisele has more memories of this place as it was and is now but the memories of what was are as rich and fully detailed as if it were only a day passed. No wonder then that she steps inside the Cathedral with head bowed. She is pale and small, swallowed by the white and gold tabard worn over simpler navy blue blouse and skirt. Reluctant as she might be to raise her eyes, she makes that effort-- like Armel, every knight, every templar, is studied intently. Maybe she can't discern their private thoughts and loyalties but she can damn sure make certain no one's dead, or a Bringer. Only after that chore is done-- and nods returned-- down she move to place the book she'd carried beside the remnants of rabbit pie.
Freja adds for the ritual's sake, "His cruelty and its example, written in flesh, I will stand for myself. Bait, for lack of a better and more poetic term."
Fortunato has also been here early. Lugging heavy mirrors about, not best left to the last minute. Mirror is along the line set by the pie, but is some distance from the altar. The mocking painting is also some distance from the altar, but on the opposite side of the mirror. Let's not get those two items too close. Artist's pacing between altar and doorway. Still in the usual pale leathers, save, weirdly, dirt-smeared. He marks everyone's entrance with a nod, save for Aureth's. Aureth's entrance gets a long, dubious stare.
Aureth scuffs a spider boot at Fortunato but offers no other sign of shame.
Aleksei also stares at Aureth. It's not /quite/ so dubious, because he's clearly inspecting the make and quality of the armor he wears, but it is -- okay, no, it's a little skeptical. "Well, you know, I guess She likes dramatics." He looks beyond Aureth to Freja, his gaze dropping to her neck with a tightening to his jaw. He looks back to her eyes, his nod stiff.
Armel walks up to Aureth. Looks the man over. Looks him up and down slowly. Grunts. "Sweet Gods," he murmurs, shaking his head as he turns away, his staff thumping on the floor in rhythm as he follows Gisele around in her inspection, dipping a nod to Freja as he passes with a faint smile. "Feeling better, Princess?" He hums to himself, moving along afterward.
Freja's eyes meet for a moment with Aleksei and her hand scratches for a moment against her forearm and the tattoo there, more a habit than anything truly pointed. " As best as one can." she answers to Armel, her voice carrying all the weight of the cold iron of the North.
"You look... very fierce, Aureth," Gisele offers quietly. Ever the generous one! She even manages a properly solemn mien while relaying this compliment. She comes to rest near the altar. Her head dips towards Armel, to Freja, but it's evident her mind is elsewhere. The small twitches and passes of her hands mark fragments of the gestures to come-- at least she isn't moving her lips, to practice words here and there. Best not fire that too early, mm?
"She does," Aureth says. His natural confidence in his sartorial daring does not apparently extend to the weight of armor he is currently wearing around. He is self-conscious. He has not yet acclimatized himself to it enough. He taps his crossbow lightly against the metal-shielded curve of his hip, turning his head to survey the others. He wiggles his fingers at Gisele. The gauntlet clanks. He is not used to this, either. "Thanks," he says. "I'm totally fierce." Totally fierce. Inhaling deeply, he looks across the accumulating detritus of chaos and destruction with a thinning of his mouth.
Armel grunts, nodding to Freja as he follows after Gisele, making certain she is never more than ten feet from his person at any time, planting himself before her as she comes to a stop, his staff held in both hands. He looks tense and anxious, covering it by placing his helm tightly upon his head and strapping it into place.
There's a yell that cuts through the silence of the Cathedral, muffled from outside, causing the Templars to draw their blades. A tense minute passes, until the door slowly opens. Perhaps out of an instinct of self-preservation, one of the Templars outside does not poke his head in, instead just says "It's nothing, cart broke down before the Cathedral." And the door closes again.
Aureth checked composure at difficulty 15, rolling 1 higher.
Fortunato moves toward the altar, setting a brief hand on Aureth's metal-clad shoulder as he passes. Artist seems to be struggling for the right mien. Usual distance or feverish presence, here. Why not both. He settles himself in a line with Gisele, but not too near. Keep space between every ritualer, ever object. (The yell startles him, the resolution doesn't seem to ease him much.)
Aureth doesn't shoot the wall, or the door, or anything.
Armel checked composure at difficulty 15, rolling 7 lower.
Gisele checked composure at difficulty 15, rolling 10 lower.
Aleksei checked composure at difficulty 15, rolling 6 lower.
Armel is not calm shouting out, "Oh for fuck's sake, we haven't /started/ yet!" toward the door...And seeming about to spit fire even after he is informed that it was just a cart. "And for shit's sake, keep a better watch out there, I don't care if you need to arrest every person on that cart.
Aleksei's hand is on the hilt of his sword at the first sound of trouble outside, the alaricite singing from its sheathe in one, graceful movement. He's all wired tension even after the door opens and word comes from outside. "Fuck," he mutters. He looks to Gisele, who seems to be the one he's deferring to as far as the ritual goes. "Should we -- start?" They're all here, after all.
Gisele has no crossbow, no weapon. That's a fortunate thing. The yell sees her stumbling back, and her heel catches on the hem of her skirt. She teeters, she wobbles, she looks nothing like the dignified composure of her grandfather. Alas. Catching her breath after that scare is harder, and she struggles for it while her cheeks flame red. "I... I..." Her eyes flick to Fortunato. "I... yes? I. Suppose."
Freja turns a glance towards the door, her scarred brow quirk with a detached curiosity as the others react. She takes a place in the dead center, right before the altar, as one preparing for a ceremony that in otherwise jovial circumstances would brings smiles to the congregation's faces.
Fortunato sidesteps, closing the distance to hold Gisele's hand. It's brief. Just while she struggles. "Let's do it now," he supports. "Before anything else can happen."
Fortunato checked perception at difficulty 30, rolling 5 higher.
Gisele checked perception at difficulty 30, rolling 1 higher.
Aureth checked perception at difficulty 30, rolling 11 lower.
Aleksei checked perception at difficulty 30, rolling 29 lower.
Armel checked perception at difficulty 30, rolling 9 lower.
Aleksei checked luck at difficulty 30, rolling 6 lower.
Aleksei rubs a finger against his ear, grimacing a bit. "Once he shows up, it'll just be you three," he says, gaze sweeping between Gisele, Aureth, and Fortunato. "We'll -- keep him off your backs." Hopefully. Presumably.
Armel speaks quietly, firmly, and with utter certainty, "If I'm still breathing, then he won't get to you." He is still planted directly between the ritualers and the door, taking another deep breath and closing his eye for just a moment for a murmured prayer before he's back to it.
"So, we should get started?" Aureth reaches up to try to run his hand through his hair, and his fingertips -- encased in metal -- lightly tink against the curve of his helm, which is also metal. He sighs a little, moving at a sideways mosey up closer to Gisele's side with a sidelong glance past her to Fortunato.
Gisele's hand closes hard on Fortunato's. Enough comfort is taken from that gesture to return some composure. She takes a small hitching breath and nods through the nervous look cast at the doors. "Something's breaking. Glass," she murmurs. And that seems signal enough to give a sense of urgency. Releasing the artist, she looks at both Fortunato and Aureth to time the start of her gestures, and the words, to theirs. "Once we start, there's no stopping. Not once. No matter the provocation. Shall we?"
"I hear it, too." Fortunato, released, takes a step sideways. He marks the distance between Aureth and Gisele and tries to match it. It's the little, fussy things. Three in a row. Evenly spaced. He exhales, watching the door. He raises his hand. "Let's begin."
Freja listens softly, her gaze shifting between those organizing the ritual and its components. Her weight shifts from hip to hip, the scout uneasy and itching for action of any sort at this point.
As the group slowly gathers to perform the ritual... There's a sudden bang on the Cathedral gates. Like something being slammed against the gate. Again. And again. The gates shake, and the Templars within draw their blades at once. The banging continues... until it stops suddenly... just as one of the gates slooowly pushes open. Once it has been pushed enough, the corpse of one of the Templars outside falls, his head completely bashed in. Outside, you can see some kind of grey cloud. And from within that cloud... you hear frenzied grunts, growling, coming closer.
And just as the ritual begins... The Templars outside that were drawn to help the cart move rush in, eyes wide and mad, weapons drawn, and attack their knight brothers and sisters without hesitation, with no concern for themselves.
"Shit." Aureth's pale gaze widens, but he looks between Fortunato and Gisele. He flinches as the battle begins behind them. Inhaling deeply, he goes in a lower, slightly more tremorous voice: "Yes. Let's go."
A silent prayer, a heathen Northern tongue both antiquated and polyphonic, echoes within the Patheon's Cathedral as Freja finds her voice and prays - an old habit that will never die in pressing times. In the midst of that mantra she draws her axes, one for each hand and unsheathed from each hip. The grey air has her eyes widen and under her breath she mutters something, the prayer interrupted by that mutter before the rogation renews again.
"/Go/," Aleksei snaps instantly back to the three noncombatants. He steps forward, his sword still drawn from earlier. "Fucking Abyss--. Bar the door!"
Armel checked dexterity + huge wpn at difficulty 40, rolling 12 higher.
Gisele, once they begin, does not flinch at the clash of steel and snarling sprung up behind them. She doesn't dare-- though she does, ever so briefly, scrunch her eyes shut like a child wanting to keep out the dark. Even through that though, her hands move smoothly and her voice, though quiet, rolls through the words they'd all pieced together. And when her eyes open again, while the ritual unfolds, she looks. She looks up, she looks around, but so far what she's searching for doesn't appear to be there.
Freja checked dexterity + medium wpn at difficulty 40, rolling 4 higher.
Aleksei checked dexterity + medium wpn at difficulty 40, rolling 16 higher.
Gisele checked mana + occult at difficulty 1, rolling 68 higher.
Fortunato checked mana + occult at difficulty 1, rolling 69 higher.
Aureth checked mana + occult at difficulty 1, rolling 53 higher.
Armel checked dexterity + huge wpn at difficulty 60, rolling 5 lower.
Aleksei checked dexterity + medium wpn at difficulty 60, rolling 20 lower.
Freja takes minor damage.
Aleksei takes minor damage.
Armel rushes forward, shouting out, "Kill them! Do not hesitate, for they will not!" And he swings his rubicund-shod staff in great, sweeping arcs that tangle with the templar before him, slamming down hard on the thing's helmet, not killing it, but hopefully pushing it back. He raises his weapon to parry the counterattack, but he isn't quite swift enough, the edge biting into his armor and causing a harsh grunt/yelp of pain, but not slowing him.
Armel takes minor damage.
Watching Gisele and Aureth from the corner of his eye, Fortunato eases into the gestures and words, his voice conversational volume, if a bit remote. Like calling through a tunnel. His attention is fixed, can't afford distraction, and after that initial flash of templar and air, he's breathing, moving the ritual. That his eyes are half-closed may help.
Freja had steeled herself against the inevitable onslaught and wounds to be inflicted, so when the Templar comes at her the axes the Redrain dual-wields sing true through the air. An upwards arc of one, the other angling down to meet at the cross between to cut him mid-torso. It connects, but it isn't enough. His armor is heavy, tried and true. His riposte catches her on the forearm, biting through the leather quite well.
Aureth matches Fortunato and Gisele with a quiet intensity behind the words. There's a shudder that works his way through him as he puts mind and words and hands to the unholy work, a crawling that seems almost to be his spine trying to inch its way out of his skin, through the layers of cloth and armor that protect him from hazards without. The three of them chant. He doesn't stop. He doesn't hesitate. He plunges recklessly onward.
Aleksei's sword sings swift and light through the air, slicing deep between the plates of one of the attacking Templars and twisting out a moment later. The crazed Templar slips his blade past Aleksei's defenses in turn, but for only a glancing cut that the priest dances easily away from.
Gisele's gaze is tugged to the books, the painting, the mirror. She has found her focus, enough of it that her movements continue on, and the words, alien and thick on her tongue. It would be easy to think her untouched by the chaos of the fight and the effects their ritual is conjuring. But she's grown pale, and there is more dart to her eyes, flicking here and there-- though always returning to the other ritualists, marking their place, tracking her own.
The Templars still unaffected rush on to hold the tide of their mad brothers and sisters, though pushed on the defensive in the face of the wild abandon exhibited by their afflicted brethren. Still, they manage to hold on, though neither side is able to push the other back in any significant way. The grey cloud drifts ever closer, reaching the steps of the Cathedral's entrance...
Deeper inside, the books have flipped open, the pages moving on their own accord. The painting has shifted, the people within it now staring at the three ritualists. The mirror itself has stopped reflecting anything. Instead, it is an endless void, Oblivion beckoning.
And while every warrior's attention is to hold back the tide, the sound of breaking glass is heard... as if something, or someone, had just crashed through it. And nigh immediately, deafening cries can be heard, men, women and children begging for mercy, crying out in agony, reaching for someone, anyone, to save them. It is horror. It is terror.
Fortunato's whole body tightens. His eyes find the mirror and then tear away to settle on the painting instead. Anywhere but the mirror. But he stays in rhythm, the direction of his gaze recovers back to his partners. His voice completely loses its remoteness, though, and settles fervid, near anger.
Gisele checked dexterity + dodge at difficulty 1, rolling 8 higher.
Freja is still locked with her Templar, hacking away as the demon will appear or make is presence known. She is fodder, pure and simple, for either his servants that need deliverance into that final slumber or for a mere distraction as the souls conducting the ritual finish their godly works.
Armel has rolled a critical success!
Armel checked strength + athletics at difficulty 30, rolling 55 higher.
Aleksei checked dexterity + medium wpn at difficulty 40, rolling 5 higher.
Armel checked dexterity + huge wpn at difficulty 40, rolling 31 higher.
Mathias has rolled a critical success!
Mathias checked dexterity + huge wpn at difficulty 9, rolling 81 higher.
Freja checked dexterity + medium wpn at difficulty 40, rolling 11 higher.
All but one see nothing as the window is broken, yet all can see Gisele being lifted up, and then thrown violently towards the opposing wall.
Aureth checked mana + occult at difficulty 1, rolling 78 higher.
Fortunato checked mana + occult at difficulty 1, rolling 42 higher.
Armel is a man who knows how to hustle when required. He manages to smash aside the templar he is facing for long enough to slam the door shut and bar it. He intercepts the pursuing templar and sweeps his staff in a brutal arc that crushes the former colleague's helm asunder and brings the manic templar to the dirt, finally unmoving....Just in time to see Gisele tossed aside. He howls in anger and fear and begins to rush toward the spot she was tossed from. Then the dark reflection steps out. Welp.
Gisele shouldn't have said the thing about letting nothing interrupt the ritual. That was just inviting /this/. Her scream travels with her and just as abruptly ends as she hits the wall with a thud and a crunch. Crumpled at its base, there is at least some twitching, some low whimpers. She's not dead! Just really, really hurt.
Gisele takes serious damage.
Fortunato winces, hard. His body twitches. He can't stop. Not for Gisele, not for fragments emerging from that wretched mirror, not for the high chance he or Aureth will be flung or lacerated next. Fervidity and focus little less, but he keeps. He holds.
Aleksei's blade slices home even deeper this time, leaving the Templar who was attacking him fallen to the ground. He twists around just in time to see Gisele lifted from the ground, and he watches in horror as she's thrown against the wall. "Gisele--!" He strides forward, and then his gaze locks on that reflected image of the demon. He only hesitates a moment before trying to drive his sword straight through it.
Aureth's voice continues high and fierce and sharp. If anything, it is almost as though he draws on the solid core of hot rage at the center of his core, gathering it from the very center of his self, cools it, and then /uses/ it. His gestures seem to grow more focused, his words clearer and more distinct, and the blaze of his eyes is a pale gray storm as he stares back toward the image of the demon that has stepped out before them. He doesn't stop. He powers on.
While the ritual continues Freja presses on, ever vigilant in the visceral desideratum that the past few weeks have instilled in her. Its foundatin weeks in the making, the woman's axes turn focus to the demon in coalescing in corporeal form. Her Templar she had been fighting falls; the blue-eyes that have haunted her for sleepless nights act has herald to action and it is towards them that she goes, reflection or no. A personal vendetta or no, the demon will meet her rubicund if it is the last thing she does - if she ever sees such wishes to come to fruitition. A one track mind, or brazen and foolhardy courage, the Redrain sprints towards whatever fragment of the Pale Man has appeared.
It's foundation weeks*, the demon that is coalescing*
The fact that it entered without speaking, without taunts or dramatic speeches, says much about the progress made by the group. Yet it also makes the creature more focused, more determined to see them all dead. Though the demon himself remains unseen, the fragment that stepped out of the mirror turns to face Aleksei, his hands ending in claws, and leaps to face the priest. Another fragment steps out of the painting, visible to the naked eye yet... strangely only two-dimensional. Until it is joined by the shadows rising from the books, giving it depth and true form. That fragment turns to look at Gisele, stepping forth with the obvious intent to finish what the original started, yet it pauses when it sees Freja charge towards the first reflection, and instead moves to intercept, claws flashing.
"Is that blood?" The first words spoken by the fiend, ones of amusement. Words spoken from three locations at once. And still the begging, the screaming, the echoes of souls now devoured, fills the Cathedral.
Gisele checked mana + occult at difficulty 1, rolling 44 higher.
Aureth checked dexterity + dodge at difficulty 1, rolling 11 higher.
Fortunato checked mana + occult at difficulty 1, rolling 37 higher.
Armel checked dexterity + huge wpn at difficulty 1, rolling 76 higher.
Aleksei checked dexterity + medium wpn at difficulty 1, rolling 40 higher.
Freja checked dexterity + medium wpn at difficulty 1, rolling 58 higher.
Mathias GM Roll checked dexterity(6) + brawl(6) at difficulty 70, rolling 12 higher.
Gisele is still twitching, still whimpering, as she rolls to her knees. It's a struggle but she fights to right herself... mostly. Favouring one side and choking on the pain, she resumes. Just as it was: the right gestures, the right words, the broken patterns seized again after looking to Fortunato and Aureth to mark their place. Her eyes track the demon, its pieces first and then, blinking back tears, scrying for the original near the mirror.
Aureth takes moderate damage.
Mathias GM Roll checked dexterity(6) + dodge(6) at difficulty 40, rolling 53 higher.
Mathias GM Roll checked dexterity(6) + dodge(6) at difficulty 58, rolling 3 lower.
Mathias GM Roll checked dexterity(6) + brawl(6) at difficulty 1, rolling 57 higher.
Mathias GM Roll checked dexterity(6) + brawl(6) at difficulty 1, rolling 74 higher.
Aleksei checked dexterity + dodge at difficulty 57, rolling 11 lower.
Freja checked dexterity + dodge at difficulty 74, rolling 46 lower.
Armel aims for the spot where gisele was tossed from, bodily throwing himself into the way and sweeping with his staff. "I am the one that can kill you, hit me you monster!" As he struggles to fight something he cannot even see, looking more and more furious as he goes.
Aleksei takes minor damage.
Aureth loses his breath with the impact, which is enough to send him cracking to one knee in a ringing clang of steel to the ground. He loses the word mid-sentence, choking on pain. He snarls and rasps, gauntleted hand forced to stop mid-gesture because he needs it to try to get back into position. His nostrils flare like he's trying to breathe fire, but that is not his talent.
Aureth's choke provokes another shuttered wince from Fortunato, but his brother keeps snarling, keeps growling, if not ritual-useful growls, and the artist persists, tight-backed, briefly restless-eyed, marking the painting fragment gathering weight and substance, marking battle, marking Gisele. He still has the rhythm, the words, his voice is quieter. He knows he's next.
Aleksei curses sharp under his breath when the fragment slips past his blow. He tries to step in tandem with Freja, working together with her to attack the fragment as one, but still he takes a glancing but solid blow of the fragment's claws before twisting back in.
Freja takes moderate damage.
Freja's axes find the fragment, but not enough to make it bleed. It is moving to strike back and a sharp pivot of heel moves the scout to dodge, narrowly missing the claws that would have connected with that face of hers - instead it finds her neck, digging deep enough to draw a sharp cry from her as she peddles backward in stance.
"Much like a rabid dog, you just refuse to be put down, don't you Armel?" the demon, for once, actually sounds annoyed. "Time to cut your strings, puppet.".
Its fragments, however, are very much visible, and currently occupied with Freja and Aleksei. As the two try to work in tandem, the fragments work as one, shifting their attacks unexpectedly, moving with the same mind. As the ritual progresses, they grow faster and stronger, closer to their true self...
And yet, the ritual has progressed. So far, despite the fact that the Templars are still occupied with taking care of the last of their frenzied brethren, the heroes are proving successful....
Aureth checked mana + occult at difficulty 1, rolling 47 higher.
Gisele checked mana + occult at difficulty 1, rolling 37 higher.
Fortunato checked mana + occult at difficulty 1, rolling 56 higher.
Aleksei has rolled a critical success!
Aleksei checked dexterity + medium wpn at difficulty 1, rolling 168 higher.
Armel checked dexterity + huge wpn at difficulty 1, rolling 43 higher.
Mathias GM Roll checked dexterity(6) + brawl(6) at difficulty 43, rolling 7 lower.
Freja checked dexterity + medium wpn at difficulty 1, rolling 30 higher.
Mathias GM Roll checked dexterity(6) + dodge(6) at difficulty 30, rolling 29 higher.
Mathias GM Roll checked dexterity(6) + brawl(6) at difficulty 1, rolling 84 higher.
"Go back," Aleksei snarls, blade snapping aside one attack from the fragment, "to the Abyss--" His sword lifts in a high arc in the air. "--where you /came from/!" It slices down, embedding in and then /through/ the fragment, from shoulder to sternum, until it /shatters/. And just as quickly as it does, the pieces disappear, just as the painting and the books suddenly burst into flames.
It would look comical, except for the situation. Armel is seeming to be dancing on the raised flooring by himself, thrashing around with his staff, listening intently and his eye actually closed (it's useless at the moment anyway). He suddenly lunges backward, lifting his staff, which vibrates and rattles like something massive rakes across it just in front of his face, prompting a growl and a muttered, "Is that all? And here I was actually worried." Is he taunting? Maybe a bit.
Freja takes moderate damage.
There is one thing to be said about Redrain's; the old motto rings true, 'Until the Last'. Stubborn as hell and fighting in spite of the multiple claw marks and blood that wells up through her armor, staining the stones below, Freja continues to face off against the fragment in front of her. It isn't vanquished, but it is at the very least distracted?
Gisele's eyes still follow the monster which plagues them. Tears run down her face, they shatter her vision, but she tracks him. Her murmuring continues unabated. Her gestures, dampened by pain, still reach their crescendo. And then they stop, both words and movements both. She takes a shuddering breath and gathers herself. With a look to the others, she collects herself to begin the next phase. Now the work begins.
Fortunato stays tight, anticipatory, but the blow never comes. The invisible foe tangles with Armel. Struggle for the artist not to laugh as he catches flame flickers, the shattering demise of a fragment. He doesn't laugh. He's easing over the last bits of the foul part, and his voice gathers more confidence. He doesn't relax, exactly, but tension starts to mingle with relief. He marks Aureth, he marks Gisele, he's pale but steady. Ready.
Aureth nods to Gisele with crisp determination. His breath huffs out of him, his pale gaze wise as he takes it in the fairly glorious shattering of one of the pieces. He clears his throat, raises his eyes, and makes ready to join them for the next gasp.
There is a roar of fury from the remaining fragment and the demon itself, one that grows louder as the fragment suddenly dissipates into a darkened fog, one much alike the one that accompanied the demon's entrance during the attack on the Cathedral. It spreads, filling the entire Cathedral, blocking light and sounds from the outside, trapping the group with the endless voices crying out for help.
"I will rip you apart. I will tear you to pieces. I will mount your heads over the Thinnest Point, and make them watch as Brand rips it wide open." A laugh then, furious, mocking, eager for blood. "Oh yes, I pieced it together, dearest."
Suddenly, a deafening sound fills the room, drowning even the voices. A sound so loud it brings... silence. Nothing can be heard, nothing can be seen.
Not even when he next strikes.
Gisele checked mana + occult at difficulty 1, rolling 33 higher.
Fortunato checked mana + occult at difficulty 1, rolling 43 higher.
Aureth checked mana + occult at difficulty 15, rolling 20 higher.
Aureth checked mana + occult at difficulty 1, rolling 36 higher.
Aleksei checked luck at difficulty 50, rolling 26 lower.
Armel checked dexterity + huge wpn at difficulty 15, rolling 29 higher.
Armel checked perception at difficulty 30, rolling 18 lower.
Aleksei checked dexterity + dodge at difficulty 1, rolling 32 higher.
Fortunato takes serious damage.
Mathias GM Roll checked dexterity(6) + brawl(6) at difficulty 32, rolling 73 higher.
Aleksei takes serious damage.
Armel has his eye open after the Silence falls, and in panic he lashes out viciously,..Only to connect with Fortunato. Well, it's definitely hitting something, just not the right target. At least the staff isn't sharp? He looks mortified, howling in silent rage as he spins around on the spot, seeking a target.
Gisele is unaccustomed to /no/ senses at all. Her voice trembles-- or it feel as if it does, weak in her throat-- as it lifts to carry the next lines and she has only the echo in her own mind to mark where she is. But in this, at least, the pain is her friend. She knows she moves because it hurts, and so the gestures begin again.
The Silence is stifling, choking whatever fragments of sound that had dared to form on Freja's tongue. The title of 'dearest' rings in her head louder ever than the chorus that accompanied the demon. Her eyes widen, turning towards the source of the sound as the forearm of her right arm is brought protectively against her abdomen - even if its skin is hidden beneath the armor there. Her face twists, lips drawn tight as her jaw clenches at the pain of the deafening silence. Oh, how it rings in the ears and brings her to a stagger and almost to her knees.
Aureth chants into the blackness and silence with defiance in every etched line of his body language, in every gesture. His breath shudders through the words but he does not stop. He can hear nothing, but forces the shape of the words on his tongue, the gestures they've studied. Despite this ghostly isolation, he has to continue, so he does.
Aleksei slips through the darkness, trying to spot -- or maybe /sense/ -- the enemy. He bumps into Gisele at one point, but recognizes her slim frame and twists back around -- right in time to get slammed straight back into the wall. He slides back to the ground with a groan, picking himself up slowly and trying to drag himself blindly back towards where he thinks the three chanters are.
Fortunato takes a deep breath, and as the Silence descends, the darkness overtakes all, he begins. It's like speaking underwater, gesturing under the pressure of a mute, unreadable weight. But if perception can be distracting as well as enlightening, perhaps utter bleak isolation can have its own kind of resonance. Artist starts building to a brighter, if terribly inward crescendo when a weight descends heavily on his head and he wheels dizzily to his hands and knees. One sense is clearly still working, isn't it. He tries to hold the point of the ritual in his mind as he tries to hasten recovery. Past a sharp-pounding skull.
Armel checked dexterity + dodge at difficulty 15, rolling 1 higher.
Armel takes minor damage.
Well, even the best of scouts is BOUND to have a shitty day. Except, that shitty day is now Armel on the receiving end of Freja's rubicund as she attempts to sneak up on what appears in all proper senses to be demon - but in reality is Armel. He always was a smarmy looking bastard. The blow of the axe isn't a coup de gras, but it isn't a love tap either. Whoops.
"Out of my way, priest." the demon growls, the deafening noise abating for a moment when he speaks, before it returns again. The blow that sent Aleksei flying not stopping the Pale Man as he steps closer to Gisele, dark blue eyes blazing with fury, for those able to see him. Chaos reigns elsewhere, friends mistaken for enemies, and the ritual, for now, prevented from proceeding.
"You will die first, little bird." he growls, and once again, the silence is broken... only to return again when he stops speaking. Still, those brief moments are enough to find where he is... and who he's about to attack.
Gisele checked dexterity + dodge at difficulty 1, rolling 11 higher.
Aleksei checked mana + theology at difficulty 40, rolling 18 lower.
Armel checked mana + theology at difficulty 40, rolling 15 lower.
Aureth checked mana + occult at difficulty 1, rolling 58 higher.
Fortunato checked mana + occult at difficulty 1, rolling 34 higher.
Aleksei checked dexterity + medium wpn at difficulty 1, rolling 61 higher.
Armel checked dexterity + huge wpn at difficulty 1, rolling 57 higher.
Mathias GM Roll checked dexterity(6) + dodge(6) at difficulty 61, rolling 3 higher.
"Sentinel, please grant us your sight so that we can see the evil that seeks to corrupt -- /there you are you fucker/--" Aleksei's prayer doesn't even really finish, because the demon is revealed for that moment, and he's lunging forward with his swordarm ready to slice down directly on the arm lifting Gisele.
Lip curling back from his teeth, Aureth senses, somehow, the lack of 'taking'. His breath hffts past his teeth. He resumes the work of the ritual with a bleary focus. He shouts the chanted words into the deafening void. Defying the silence with every gesture, every fiber of what he is -- but then, he's been doing that for months.
Armel mouths the words that nobody can see or hear, perhaps trying to beseech the Gods for /something/, some miracle or divine blessing..But there is nothing. No glow, no last-moment relief. He scowls, and there is a moment where he just murmurs a small set of words, spitting them out. And then he's running toward where he heard the voice, probably praying that he's hitting the right thing as he swings his staff with all his might..And connects!
There's more to be done, more to be said. Gisele doesn't do them and doesn't speak them. She is lifted bodily from the ground, feet flailing and hands clutching wrists above the hands which have closed on her throat. For a moment, nothing-- and then with a wheezing gasp she crumples against the floor, clutching her /own/ throat as the beast is struck.
Whatever prayers Freja murmurs to herself are blotted out, swallowed by the Cathedral and she manages to move closer to the Pale Man only on account of its occupation and distraction of Armel and Aleksei. Still, she stalks forward - forever stubborn until the last breath.
Fortunato struggles back to his feet, shaking his head. If the fog of pain doesn't clear, his mind is working. At least well enough for a couple things. First, he hears the demon's growl of little bird, which provokes a jag in that direction, but, second, as silence redescends, he's cognizant of his ability to actually . . . protect, and third, he has the words, he starts again. Somehow timed with Aureth, he starts again, a little bleary, but matched. Even in the bleak and the pain, he's breathing easier this time.
For the first time in all encounters, the demon is heard hissing in pain as not only the alaricite sword cuts at him, but the staff... That staff even the shadow hands flee, banished from where it hits. The creature stumbles back, dropping Gisele in the process, before turning to face Armel, Aleksei and Freja. He's visible now, and the darkness has lessened, the deafness too, somewhat. It can be seen that the deafening sound was akin to the one used by the Bringers, his mouth open to reveal a black void where Silence is cast upon the world. Still, the efforts of those accomplishing the ritual are paying off, and for the first time... he's wounded!
Aureth checked mana + occult at difficulty 1, rolling 69 higher.
Fortunato checked mana + occult at difficulty 1, rolling 42 higher.
Gisele checked mana + occult at difficulty 1, rolling 41 higher.
Aleksei checked dexterity + medium wpn at difficulty 1, rolling 52 higher.
Armel checked mana + theology at difficulty 50, rolling 6 lower.
Armel has rolled a critical success!
Armel checked dexterity + huge wpn at difficulty 1, rolling 135 higher.
Freja checked dexterity + medium wpn at difficulty 1, rolling 34 higher.
Aleksei checked mana + theology at difficulty 40, rolling 4 lower.
Armel sees how the shadowy hands of the fiend's armor retreat. He hears the demon hiss in pain. And his eye lights up, a dark pleasure of his own as he advances on the demon, mouthing words of prayer that go unheard and unheeded. But the prey has shown weakness, and the knight is energized, his arms empowered as he swings his staff in swift, brutal sweeps to hammer into the demon again and again, driving him away from Gisele as he screams incoherant, silent rage at the demon, the demon hands recoiling and fading as he switches to brutal fury, hammering the thing like a smith on the anvil, his words...Probably best they are silenced.
Mathias GM Roll checked dexterity(4) + dodge(4) at difficulty 52, rolling 6 lower.
"--guide my blade through the face of this /fucking demon monster/--" Aleksei's prayers really aren't focused, but his sword is. The alaricite gleams in what little light there is as he slices and stabs through the monster, slipping past its one-supernatural defenses to find purchase in abyssal flesh.
Ah, ah. Instead of that implacable bleak, ritualers, fighters, and demon alike are all now shadows on a dark canvas. Fortunato almost imagines he imagines it, pain in his head drilled-ache enough that he's blinking back tears. But he's not performing quite so alone now. Can catch fragments of what Gisele and Aureth are doing, can almost reinforce where he is, what he's saying. His breathing is now relaxed and steady. When did he get relaxed and certain? Should he be relaxed? Should he be certain?
His voice chanting in time with the snatches he hears of Fortunato's, his hands moving in time to the ritual, Aureth turns pale, wide eyes to track Gisele's progress without breaking his vocal stride. His lips turn up as she moves to join them again, and her tenacity lends fuel to his. His ferocity only seems fueled by the growing confidence, the surge of brilliance inside him, the sense that his words are slicing through the fog, beating back against the impossible power of the Abyss. His taut, tense stance is basically a whole body 'fuck you' at this point, like he's a human exclamation point.
Gisele's voice is a froggy croak and her body a mutinous chorus. She doesn't even try to right herself this time, not even to climb to her knees. Lying there, she can speak the lines, lying there she can curl her hands into the required shapes and move them as it's called for. Distant voices are heard, well-known tones that she matches hers to. Her recitation blends with theirs, three voices made one rising to a peak.
The culmination of it all, the ritual in its current crescendo coupled with the correlation of the current careening cut of Freja's rubicund, each strike adamant in meeting against the demon's flesh. Her eyes go distant, unfocused and glazed over as the pupils dwindle and fade into the somber brown of her gaze. There is a soft and distant roar, centered around the demon for a small few moments that linger for those that are around the demona s Freja strike's. It isn't all too overt, but there is a stir of something far more antiquated than the Patheon stirring in the Cathedral as Freja makes her move. Distraction it may be, her axes get close to the mark, teasingly so, but never hit home. The demon dodges his one and only.
Again, the demon is cut by the alaricite blade, his flesh sizzling and burning like all Bringer flesh. Yet it's the staff that once again proves the most damaging. Something about it, something in its nature, repels the shadow hands, repels the demon himself, damaging him even as he is weakened by the ritual... The ritual that will soon come to a close. Yet the demon isn't done, and his claws reach out for the one that has harmed him so much, even as the darkness around him fades, and the silence, likewise, ends with the creature's mouth closed. But the shadowed hands reach out anew, away from the staff... but towards Freja and Aleksei. To rip and tear and devour, and empower him with their souls...
Aureth checked mana + occult at difficulty 1, rolling 76 higher.
Gisele checked mana + occult at difficulty 1, rolling 52 higher.
Fortunato checked mana + occult at difficulty 1, rolling 50 higher.
Aleksei checked dexterity + dodge at difficulty 1, rolling 25 higher.
Armel checked dexterity + dodge at difficulty 1, rolling 30 higher.
Mathias GM Roll checked dexterity(4) + brawl(4) at difficulty 1, rolling 37 higher.
Mathias GM Roll checked dexterity(4) + brawl(4) at difficulty 1, rolling 59 higher.
Mathias GM Roll has rolled a critical success!
Mathias GM Roll checked dexterity(4) + brawl(4) at difficulty 1, rolling 112 higher.
Freja checked dexterity + dodge at difficulty 1, rolling 49 higher.
Aleksei takes moderate damage.
Armel takes serious damage.
Armel is in the middle of a rage, but as he sees the shadowy hands reach for Freja, he leaps --as much as a man /can/ leap in heavy plate-- to try and stop the fiend, intercepting not all of the shadowy hands, but enough...And then he suffers for it. He is lifted up off his feet, thrashing and spitting curses at the foul demon...Before he is brought crashing down, his armored back colliding with the demon's knee with a loud, sudden 'CRACK'. He slumps to the floor, a scream pulled forth from him and utterly limp for the moment, screams quickly smothered to harsh gasps.
The three fighters try to protect each other, but one of the shadow hands slips past to grab at Aleksei. He pulls back, straining against the grip as it tries to drag him forward, snarling and gasping as his limbs crack and strain against the grip. "Armel--!"
Aureth finishes the final words and gesture of the ritual, hands lifting as though to help throw the final burst of inner light toward the Demon Knight. He gasps, lips shaping words that don't come out in the wake of that. He watches in a heartbeat of transfixed horror. Then what can he do but begin to focus inward again to begin to pray?
Any crescendo is followed by decrescendo. Rituals end. Fortunato's ease allows him through the last of the words, last of the gestures, lets light evaporate from him to descend on the demon. And gives him opportunity to refocus on the creature, flailing with a thousand hands, dragging and breaking. And like the incredibly sensible person he is, Fortunato ends all those gestures by unstrapping his staff from his back and loping forward, beginning the prayer to Lagoma Gisele had him intone all those weeks ago.
There is something to be said about the annoying, vexingly adamant death wish intent of Redrain's in their pursuit of pugilistic and pulverizing pursuit of anything and everything DEATH related. The demon is no different; Freja rushes forward with wild abandon, trying to protect Aleksei, only to be found in the countless hand grip of the Pale Man. She is lifted, weakening and groaning and trying to kick against the demon as she murmurs something quietly to him - she is tossed aside, a ragdoll again, as it moves for Armel. PEACE. Good luck, bro!
The last word is spoken and with it, there is a great rush. Maybe the breath that leaves Gisele's lungs, or the roar of her pulse in her ears. Or something else, which leaves her teary eyes starry as she rolls onto her side and thrusts her hand towards the demon. When she speaks again, it isn't to pour out prayer. That might be expected but instead she wails-- broken, soft, hardly a proper cry at all-- "Now! Now, now..."
Armel is discarded like, as the demon promised, a puppet without strings. Left to gasp in pain, the demon's attention shifts to the ones in the grasp of the shadowed hands. "Neither your Spirits, nor your Gods, will save you." he growls, bringing their struggling bodies closer, closer to the void of his armor... until the light gathered by Gisele, Aureth and Fortunato shines forth and bathes the whole of the Cathedral in its holy light. The demon screams in pain, and the shadowed hands' hold on Freja and Aleksei weaken, though they do not drop them. Something struggles against the light, something beyond the Pale Man himself, the shadow of his armor fighting back, refusing to give up its prey. Yet the power of the Gods, in this holiest of places, cannot be denied. And with a furious roar that does not come from the Pale Man himself, the shadow is banished. Both Freja and Aleksei are dropped upon the ground, while the Pale Man himself.... looks weakened. Terribly so. The shadowed hands are no more, and though his armor is dark, it is no longer so unnaturally so. "You... You cast it away." it... he murmurs. He looks at Freja, dully. "They took the voices away." Something twists in his face then, and his gaze turn to Fortunato, Aureth and Gisele. "YOU TOOK MY CHORUS!" And with his claws, he goes on a frenzy, lashing out at all that are near, wild, primal, an animal struck with a mortal blow, but who now intends to bring as many as he can to his death.
Armel checked mana + theology at difficulty 30, rolling 7 lower.
Aleksei checked dexterity + medium wpn at difficulty 1, rolling 52 higher.
Freja checked dexterity + medium wpn at difficulty 1, rolling 52 higher.
Fortunato checked mana + theology at difficulty 30, rolling 9 higher.
Aureth checked dexterity + archery at difficulty 1, rolling 17 higher.
Fortunato checked dexterity + huge wpn at difficulty 1, rolling 37 higher.
Mathias GM Roll checked mana(3) + occult(3) at difficulty 39, rolling 19 lower.
Mathias GM Roll checked dexterity(3) + dodge(3) at difficulty 52, rolling 23 lower.
Mathias GM Roll checked dexterity(3) + dodge(3) at difficulty 52, rolling 8 lower.
Mathias GM Roll checked dexterity(3) + dodge(3) at difficulty 37, rolling 6 higher.
"I'm sorry." Freja chokes back a sob, though to whom her apology was directed remains a mystery as her axes both sing downwards and meet in the middle, harsly at the juncture where neck meets shoulder to render a deep, ghastly gash before Aleksie alongside her delivers the death blow.
Mathias GM Roll has rolled a critical success!
Mathias GM Roll checked dexterity(3) + dodge(3) at difficulty 17, rolling 105 higher.
Armel checked dexterity + huge wpn at difficulty 1, rolling 55 higher.
Mathias GM Roll checked dexterity(3) + dodge(3) at difficulty 55, rolling 16 lower.
Mathias GM Roll checked dexterity(3) + brawl(3) at difficulty 1, rolling 33 higher.
Mathias GM Roll checked dexterity(3) + brawl(3) at difficulty 1, rolling 15 higher.
Mathias GM Roll checked dexterity(3) + brawl(3) at difficulty 1, rolling 23 higher.
Mathias GM Roll checked dexterity(3) + brawl(3) at difficulty 1, rolling 37 higher.
Aleksei checked dexterity + medium wpn at difficulty 1, rolling 82 higher.
Armel has rolled a critical success!
Armel checked dexterity + dodge at difficulty 1, rolling 84 higher.
Fortunato checked dexterity + huge wpn at difficulty 1, rolling 8 higher.
Fortunato takes moderate damage.
Armel lays there, mouthing gasping, whispering words that barely register. "Gild..Help me..Help me to finish this, I need to..If I was ever yours, /please/..." And there is no visible light. No fancy show of force. His breathing slowly recovers, and he growls under his breath as he plants a hand on the ground, slowly rising toward his feet as he grasps the staff tightly in the other. "No." All he says, a quiet denial of his injuries, of the situation, of the whole damn world as he flicks out his staff, the shadowy hand dissipating in a mist before he rams it, with all the effort he has left, straight into the demon's gut. Maybe he isn't going to be the one to kill it, but he's going to /hurt/ it.
"Yeah," Aleksei says, worn and beat but not /beaten/, as he drags himself forward again. "We fucking did, you fucking abyssal /monster/--" He parries the demon's claws aside like they're /nothing/, a snarl on his face as his blade twists in the air and then drives home in the demon's body. "/Die/, godsdamn you!"
"We're going to finish this for you, Lady," Aureth is murmuring in a low prayer that asks for nothing and accomplishes less. He startles at the onslaught, and whatever else he was going to say is lost as he brings up his crossbow and fires. The bolt soars through the air to shatter pointlessly against a wall. Or maybe the ceiling.
Gisele has no weapons and no attack to aim at the thing. She's barely able to roll over and wedge her back against the wall, her breathing coming thick and broken in her chest as barely healed lungs labour to sustain her. Now, she has prayers and they spill from her, a ragged stream as she watches the harvest of the ritual in the gods' own light.
Fortunato's charge, in itself, is not very effective. It may be the strongest swing the artist's ever managed, but it doesn't connect. What does connect, as he finishes with a rapid, ". . . cycle of this life," is a sudden flash of flame, flaring past his stroke and past his strength to briefly envelop the demon. Then the claws find his center, sink through his leathers, and knock him back, bleeding.
The holy flames bathe the Pale Man, and though he lifts a hand to counter the divine fury, it is too little, his own magic lessened in this holy place. Though he's able to retaliate by hitting Fortunato, he pays for it in blood as Aleksei stab him through. "You will be like me..." he says with a raspy voice. "Alone, without a chorus of your own. And no one to hear the song of the dead you left in your wake..." he tells Freja, even as her axes sink into him. Bring him to his knees. "I will--" But whatever he was going to say, it is silenced when Armel drives his staff into his gut. And for a final time, the staff's magic awakens, and the Pale Man... falls.
And he doesn't get up.
"You...Will...Die..." Armel harshly croaks out. He sinks to his knees, mumbling quietly, "Thank you." He doesn't say to what, or to who, but there is a little, tiny chuckle...And then he falls backwards, thumping himself solidly against a pew and staying right there for a while, thank you very much. He just stares at the body, that little smile on his face as he just concentrates on breathing for now.
It's done. It's over. Aleksei falls to his knees, staring at the Pale Man -- or his body. His expression is ragged. "Burn it," he whispers. "With the Eternal Flame. Burn it until it's ash."
Aureth stands, stock still, for a moment. He clanks sideways to offer Gisele the ladder of his cobwebby gauntlet in aid, his breath huffing voicelessly past his lips as he turns wide eyes toward the battle-bloodied beleaguerment of his more soldierly comrades-at-arms. "Yeah," he says, his voice low. A shudder ripples down his spine. "We'll burn the fuck out of it."
"Blessed Lagoma," is Gisele's last word on the matter, whispered words so rich with gratitude one can almost overlook the way she too croaks now. Her eyes linger on Fortunato, then sweeps over the others-- the living and those who fell too-- before Aureth's hand enters her line of sight. That hand is taken, and the help up to her feet. She's left swaying and clutching... well, everything. It all hurts.
Fortunato eases the staff beneath him, then uses it as a brace to get back to his feet. He touches the dark damp under the fall of his coat, and shakes his head. Time for focus done, he's completely scattered, his pupils a bit mismatched. Manages to meet Gisele's eyes a moment, all the same, and smile.
Armel calls out hoarsely, "Templars? You useless bastards, get over here and help everyone!" He sighs, trying to get up..And failing miserably, even with the help of the staff. "Oh for the love of.." He waves them toward Gisele and then toward the body. "Watch that. Get some fire from Lagoma's shrine and burn it. I'm just gonna...Give me a hand too," he grumbles, looking over Gisele mostly and frowning at her condition as he struggles to rise. But he can take his time..The threat is over.
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