alsoquin As Varanim and the recently rescued mass of tribal ghosts back away from the amphiskopolis, the forces that drew them here in the first place rise up from their deadly slumber: vast quantities of strange spectres, their ectoplasmic forms fluid and inhuman, (...)
alsoquin are drawn like a magnet to the escaping ghosts, and now advance menacingly on their position in the dark, unhallowed city of the damned. (...)
alsoquin Yes, all things considered, things are definitely looking up for our heroine.
Varanim "Step lively, if you can remember what that feels like," Varanim advises the White Moon Elks as she drops further back.
Varanim "And maybe scream like little girls if anything worse shows up in front."
JaggedRock , instinctively taking on the same leadership role he held in life, directs the ghosts. "This way! There's a passageway here," he says, and makes a gesture that flares briefly with ghostflame to drive home the point. (...)
JaggedRock At his word, the tribal ghosts, with Piercing Ivory at their head and Jagged Rock guarding the rear, begin advancing quite swiftly towards the indicated exit.
Varanim "This is a great time to mention anything you left out before--secret weaknesses, maybe, or the real reason they scooped you up," Varanim says to Jagged rock as they move.
JaggedRock glares incredulously at the Solar's statement. "We can't even understand their language! How am I supposed to know something like that?" (...)
JaggedRock They run while speaking, and Piercing Ivory just reaches the edge of the tunnel in question. The vast majority of the spectres are still menacingly -- but safely -- far away, but a few who crawled from the nearby wall have positioned themselves ahead of the group's potential egress. (...)
JaggedRock "Little help here!," Piercing Ivory shouts.
Varanim grunts in disappointment at Jagged Rock, as if suggesting that was HIS business to think of, not hers. Then she puts on some speed to move ahead to Piercing Ivory.
JaggedRock Two of the creatures stand at the ready to stop the departure of the merry little band. The leftmost one is perhaps a little larger, a little more fearsome -- it raises its arms up, and they seem to slide and shift into the shape of innumerable vicious, fluidly curved blades, ready to strike.
Varanim moves forward through the barbarian warriors with a slippery deftness, leaving a cool breeze smelling of incense behind her. She swings her staff around in a smooth, sharp arc as she reaches the left spectre, cutting high and then low as the caste mark burns on her brow and the colors of sunset begin to tatter the air.
JaggedRock Varanim's blows flash past the spectre's weak defenses in blazing glowing arcs, sending clouds of ectoplasm fluttering off in every direction.
JaggedRock The other spectre rounds upon her with its vicious claws, ducking down in a smoothly mutable fashion to strike beneath where she holds her staff.
JaggedRock As Varanim deflects the blows with her staff, Piercing Ivory takes the opportunity created by her incapacitation of the first spectre to begin forcing the ghosts quickly through the left-hand side of the passage. Behind him, the much larger force of spectres is growing quite a bit nearer.
Varanim Wanting to finish this fast before the others catch up, Varanim turns her last deflection of the claws into a step forward, using one end of the staff to interfere with the spectre's right arm and slamming the other end at its neck in a series of strikes.
JaggedRock The spectre's head is neatly knocked free, flying off before shattering into a mess of ectoplasmic ooze on one of the corridor walls.
Varanim "Huh," says Varanim, reaching out with one hand to smear a bit of the plasm on her fingers for inspection as she runs after the ghosts.
JaggedRock As Varanim reaches the group, they continue to plunge into the tunnel, the light grows fainter and fainter, though Varanim's brilliant anima holds back the darkness at least around herself. Back at the entrance, the crowd of spectres have reached the tunnel, and they begin to crawl in, many crawling rapidly across the walls and ceiling so that more can fit in at once.
JaggedRock The group manages to advance for some distance, as the walls slowly shift from the polished black rock most emblematic of the labyrinth towards something altogether more unfortunate: pulsating, throbbing flesh.
Varanim Red, gold, and violet streamers trail behind Varanim as she moves, keeping an eye on the rear and almost as close a watch on the walls. "How does your tribe feel about dying gloriously twice?" she asks one of the ghosts beside her, by way of noting that the spectres don't seem to be losing any ground. She trails her fingers along the wall, with a curious grimace.
PiercingIvory "I don't think any of us enjoyed it very much the first time," Piercing Ivory shouts from a few feet away.
Varanim "Good, let's try something else." Varanim calls louder, "Grab a ghost buddy!" and then swings her staff against the throbbing wall, as hard as she can.
PiercingIvory The strike reverberates through the undulating, fleshy walls of the tunnel, cracking the skin and causing the unprepared spectres to stumble for a moment. (...)
PiercingIvory looks over at the wall and says, a little shocked: "...it's... bleeding." And indeed it is: a rivulet of blood is flowing out from the walll where the Solar struck it, and the skin around that spot seems to be slowly tearing even further back as it does so.
Varanim "I might find myself apologizing for this later," Varanim says. She skids to a halt, thrusts one end of her staff into the tear, and throws her weight against it to rip the wound wider.
PiercingIvory A shockingly intense stench of sickly-sweet gore fills the hallway as Varanim's staff tears the wound wide open -- and a veritable torrent of blood rushes out. The force of the flow tears open the walls in other places, and enough blood to fill a river begins, (...)
PiercingIvory somehow, to pour from the depths of the walls -- directly down the hallway towards the assembled crowd of the evil dead, who are taken quite by surprise and flushed back out into the city.
PiercingIvory wonders silently to himself, with a shiver, what possibly could have produced this much blood.
JaggedRock , however, has a different reaction: "The hallway is buckling! RUN!" he commands, and the ghosts begin to hightail it away from where -- as he correctly observes -- the splitting wounds are spreading and growing.
Varanim runs too, as the tunnel behind them fills with gore and the floor trembles.
Varanim As she goes, she considers and regretfully discards a number of pleasingly trite and inflammatory exit lines.
JaggedRock Varanim runs, at the tail of the ghosts, as the very halls of the labyrinth split and break behind her. Piercing Ivory is just beginning to point something out -- his tone of voice seems to indicate at least a wary positivity -- when suddenly the floor beneath the Twilight gives way, and she finds herself falling unrestrainedly into another inky blackness.
JaggedRock It is an uncertain amount of time before Varanim finds herself slowly but surely awakening. At first, she is surprised at just how much light there is -- the room she is in is actually illuminated by something besides herself. (...)
JaggedRock As she looks around, she sees that the room she is in is lit by pale blue torches -- a sure sign that she is still in Netheos -- and though fine tapestries hang on the wall, it is clearly a prison: for two others (and three bodies in various stages of composition) are chained to the walls -- as, indeed, she is as well. (...)
JaggedRock To one side, a broad (but barred) opens out onto a vast visage: the south of the Underworld, as seen from a vantage point perhaps a mile up. A plasmic bird flies by, serenely.
Varanim "Now, THIS is worth my time."