-1Planet's Purge Chp.9- Chaos Virtue
Though it was not entirely visible, Hyacinth could just make out where the sun was. He noticed its glare on the horizon, saying its final a due to the day, sinking into the vast ocean Hyacinth knew to be there. "Kinda strange to actually see it, especially now," He thought to himself. Ever since the piercing gaze of that eye plastered the sky, the sun was an especially rare find. Gej, who was probably planning in an alcove they had found, didn't seemed too upset about it.
"Guess its lucky I found this hill, and in a place like this!" His thoughts resumed, "I guess its true about our ancestors using these gaint man-made hills as forts against their invaders. They must of given out in the end though."
Trotting down from the hill's crest, Hyacinth darted through the trees of the surrounding forest and came to an abrupt stop when he had reached the little alcove his new comrades had found.
"Where were you?" Gin growled, "Not in plain sight were you?"
"Nah, just taking a look at the sun before night sets in, that's all." Hyacinth replied sheepishly.
"You shouldn't do that…," The feminine voice of Gylndre spoke. "Do you not remember what happened last time?"
Hyacinth tensed up with remembrances of the Taveinn incident. The entire catastrophe was created because they showed themselves so blatantly. At the time, however, Hyacinth, and probably the rest, probably thought that nobody would actually try to cease their journey.
"She is correct," Gej's powerful voice echoed, "Don't make that mistake again…."
Hyacinth felt his stomach lurch. Did Gej think of him as a failure? He then began to ponder what the effects of completely screwing up the pilgrimage would be. Not only would the island's increasing misfortunes grow, but he would also be the shame of the 2nd Kingdom. He clenched his fists, looking around the alcove at his teammates, minus Hayate, who was killed by an enemy's arrow, and Smalzrona, who left the group after that one-armed knight broke her leg. Everybody gave him a few glances, wondering what he was going to say next. Everyone except for Darren, that is, who seemed unjustly absent. If he couldn't leave the alcove, then why could Darren?
"I understand Great Lazuki, but may I ask, where is Darren? Shouldn't he be here as well?" Remarked Hyacinth, carefully choosing his words. The others became a little more attentive after his question, as if wondering the same thing.
"That…," Gej began, "Is to Darren's personal benefit that he not be in this crowded place."
Hyacinth got a vibe from Gej that told him to switch to another subject or shut up. He chose the latter as he sat down, twiddling his thumbs. He got the negative notion that Gej disliked him even more now. His only grace was that perhaps Gej was stressed, and only snapped because they couldn't find a heading ever since Kangu. Hyacinth thought they where just going to the altar nearest the Great Sea to speak with the fates, but it seemed that Gej had other plans. The Great Lazuki liked to keep his plans in secrecy for whatever reason, which usually led to much frustration upon his followers. What does a prophet like him need to do in order to speak to the fates?
Just as the silence tipped the scale from comfortable ambience to awkwardness, Darren crawled into the alcove, his garbs wet and covered in mud. The water had to be freezing cold at this time of day, but Darren seemed, more or less, unaffected by its chill.
"I have located it, just as you asked…." He whispered with an inflection of upper-class that seemed a little forced.
"Found what!?" Gin roared, probably near death from the calmness of the day.
Gej glanced an object Darren had placed into his hand. It was a chocolate scroll at first sight, perhaps due to Hyacinth's history of liking sweets, but upon closer inspection, it appeared to be old , dried blood.
"Eck, what's that for?" Gylndre retorted.
"It reeks of strong magic…no…a ritual?" Epistle remarked slowly, with a glint in his eye as he marveled at the object.
"Indeed, and quite a necessary one too." The Great Lazuki responded, with some malevolence in his voice, "I want us all to head out, immediately, but stay directly behind me, no wandering."
"Finally some action," Gin and Greatzikel spoke in unison.
"Oh, your up?" Hyacinth automatically yelped, surprised by Greazikel sudden incline to engage in conversation. When he had entered the alcove, Greatzikel was completely asleep, or so Hyacinth assumed. Greakzikel, Darren, and Epistle all seemed to have a grave aura surrounding them, like some sort of gray veil that always filtered their behavior.
"Der…what a sec, where we going again?" Gin asked, though in a rather thuggish way.
"Another tomb, well, so-to-speak. Its more like the residence of another great man." Replied Darren.
"In these woods?" Gylndre questioned, "who would be crazy enough to do that?"
"Hmm…you don't read much…" Epistle mumbled quickly, almost obsessively. "I think that we're going to the Follower Hismen's retreat, are we not?"
"Correct," Gej spoke confidently, lets go.
They all piled out of the alcove, in a single file line of course, as the alcove's entrance was barely large enough to fit a man's stature, especially Gin's. The sky had gone jet black, except for the eye, it was still partially visible, a sign that night had fallen. The air seemed more damp now, and the ground eerily bare. Taking one wrong step, Hyacinth felt his boot slide on some kind of slick black liquid that came oozing out of a tree trunk.
"What is this crap?!" He shouted noisily as he swooped down to wipe off his boot.
"Darkness," Darren said, a few spots ahead of Hyacinth in the line.
"What?" Hyacinth, who was at the back of the line and who had barely heard Darren, yelled back. However, he received a tap from little Epistle behind him instead of a verbal reply from Darren.
"We're being watched," Epistle said, again with haste in his speech.
With another look of confusion from Hyacinth, Epistle groaned and said to him,
The Eye, which, as of recently, was looking in random locations into the forest, now focused its glare upon the group. "This must be a right step", Hyacinth thought to himself, "the fates are watching, hoping that we succeed."
The new day had turned to night, and no progress had been made. Exert's group had nothing but deceased carcasses of small game for food in the last week, and on top of that, the entire surrounding forest was becoming a sickening shade of gray as the trees died out after contact with the evil residue. They all sat in their abandoned cave, not sure whether traveling out in the dark would be safe or not. Kyubei was giving a few greedy looks at Balor, who had the insight to bring fresh jerky to munch on. Delalith seemed out of his element, slumping over by the cave's wall, getting a fast nap before more dreadful supper. Saio and Exert both sat side by side at the mouth of the cave, probably discussing how the Evil Eye might possibly be defeated. Shylee had left about an hour ago, most likely snatching a dead vulture from its perch.
"Tell me," Saio whispered to Exert, "Where do you think Gej is heading? You don't think he's heading straight for the altar, do you?"
"I'm afraid not," Exert replied, "Or else his little detour into Kangu should not of happened. He must be searching for something….no…perhaps he is preparing for something!"
It was at that moment that the Evil Eye's focus changed from random areas to one definite spot on the forest's canopy. It seemed to follow whatever it was tracking in a line.
"How much you wanna bet that means more crap for us!?" Kyubei scoffed, seeing the spectacle negatively as usual.
"How much longer would you like to keep your tongue?" Saio said gravely to Kyubie.
"I'm just sayin', that probably means Gej's created some kind of doomsday device, and if that's fine with you then perhaps you run along over there and join them."
"Stop this childishness," Exert's authoritative voice rang, silencing any future bickering between the two.
"But the fool does have a point," Balor spoke out, "That probably is of Gej's doing. Whatever its tracking is heading to….?"
Exert's face lit up, as if receiving some sort of revelation. "Follower Hismen, it's the only place worth going to out there, the rest is wilderness, of course! "
"D'wah? Who's that?" Balor asked.
Exert reached into his knapsack and pulled out his copy of the world's history, flipped a few pages, and stopped directly at the picture of a young man with blond hair, his face strikingly bold in appearance. He looked like someone famous enough to belong in that book. Exert flipped the page, revealing information about the man.
"This man," Exert spoke, not actually reading the book, more like reciting it, "was the most influential of all the Followers in exacting justice upon our land's invaders. It was he who led the masses to pray to the Fate's for a solution and on the day of the flood's summoning, he was the Follower who let forth the waters of the fates."
Exert closed the book, and placed it into his knapsack, under a few blankets to protect it from the other objects he had kept, such as coal for his Solstice and candle wick for nighttime lighting.
"Why don't you finish that story," Delalith entered in, yawing a little form his nap.
"I don't think that's quite necessary at this time Delalith, why don't we just focus on why Gej would need to go there?" Exert replied, a little nervous for the first time.
"Then I think its best you finish that story," Delalith spoke once more, not backing down.
"Fine," Exert conceded hesitantly, "After the Fate's flooding , for some reason, Hismen felt a sense of remorse for what he did, or so it is believed. But it is fact that in his later years he built an old house in these woods, and lived in seclusion for the rest of his days."
"So what happened to him?" Balor asked.
"Well….though I suppose some could dispute it, he off'ed himself with a noose. Other followers found him hanging outside his front window."
"Gee, they didn't tell us that in history," Kyubei chuckled, "Guess the Fates weren't so kind to him after all."
"What does that tidbit have to do with Gej?" Saio asked, keeping things on track.
"They say that his home was closed by powerful magic, Hismen's own. Ritual magic perhaps…"
"Gah, you serious? Ain't that the crap that awakened the Eye?" Kyubei snorted.
"Then we have no time, we must get there before Gej does!" Saio declared, whipping his dark cloak around himself in preparation.
"No," Exert said, placing his palm in front of Saio. "I don't think that would be wise. In such a small place, it is equally likely that we get ambushed by Gej's men instead of our own. I think that we should set up further south, attacking them as they leave."
"But if we just let him go, who knows what he could summon!?" squawked Kyubei.
"Lets not forget how I was part of the ingredient last time, Kyubei…"
A moment of tense silence pressed on. To leave for Hismen's place or to ambush further south were their only viable options. Then, with quite a clatter, Shylee ran in with a freshly killed deer, arrow wound and all. The others had almost forgotten that she had left to gather dinner with all the recent going-ons in their mission.
"I caught something fresh! I went further down into the forest than usual! I could barely see, but I was able to get this guy as he ran through the night's foliage. I think it was just south of here when I shot it…"
After finishing her words, everyone else's face seemed to put a little all-knowing smile.
"Heh, forget old men's houses and devilish rituals…I'd rather go where food is fresh anyway…" Kyubei said with a gluttonous glare in his eyes.
"It seems that the fates have chosen for us…let's go," Exert said calmly, glad to get away from the cave.
"More like our stomachs, come Balor," Delalith remarked, issuing Balor to head out.
"Er…I did I miss something?" Shylee said in deep confusion.
"Tell ya later, gimme that deer!" Kyubei roared.
"I gotta skin and cook it first fool!"
"Shaddup I'll eat its eyes!"
Exert led the group into the night, heading south for the ambush.
Gej's march lasted forever. It was pitch black and the various wildlife noises kept everyone on full alert, in case something really nasty decided to make a meal out of them. But what irked Hyacinth the most was not the darkness of the night or the disturbances of the forest's natural inhabitants, for it was the dripping sound of the Eye's residue that gave him the most unrest. It was then that he swore he could hear the trees around him howl in defeat as their branches rotted upon contact with the black substance. Had Darren been out in all this earlier? He wondered how Darren got that scroll in his possession. Certainly you wouldn't find something like that just lying around. Had he already been to Hisman's final resting place?
His questions were soon answered when alas, before all of them, lay a great two-story house made of ancient lumber, its front doors apparently left ajar, and something hanged loose from its front window. It must have been quite the view, he thought to himself. Gej ushered them through its front courtyard, completely free of trees, but, to Hyacinth's wonder, little traps that seemed to of already been engaged. Had Darren set them off? Some of them looked really deadly, like one that looked as though a giant spike popped out and impaled you for getting too close. However, with Gej leading the way, they soon reached the front door step.
Up close, Hyacinth could now tell that something was definitely hanging from the front window. It looked almost like a man with a cloak wrapped around his head.
"Stand back," Gej grumbled; his followers complying immediately.
A purple line gashed the space where the great oak doors stood, and soon they where cut in half, wooden splinters flying through the air with them. Gej's face seemed a little cut up from the splinters, but non-the-less he continued into the house, his group right on his heels.
The foyer was very spacious, but cluttered with useless things such as desks and cabinets, all made of rotted wood. A grand stair case stood to their northeast, partially covered by a wall that appeared to be made of moth-infested robes. As they walked towards the staircase, the wooden floor creaked as if about to break after years of abandon.
"Better stay outside Gin, we don't want any accidents," Greatzikel replied coyly.
Gin gave a moan of dissatisfaction but consented anyway, seeing the logic in Greatzikel's words.
As Gin headed back to the front porch of the house, a floor board gave way, collapsing a greater portion of the foyer's foundation.
"Whoops," Gin said purposely, shrugging his massive shoulders.
Luckily for the rest, a few small boards that where closest to the walls remained. Taking very small steps, they crept their way around the void that now consumed the foyer. Looking down, Hyacinth noticed that the boards that broke had fallen a good 10-feet, into a large water hole.
"Okay, I really don't want to know what else is in there," He thought to himself. He could of sworn he saw a body-like shape floating aimlessly with the boards.
"Alright," Gej said with finality as they reached the staircase , "lets get this started once we get to the upstairs veranda . You do know what to do, right Epistle?"
"Yes, I am sure it will work," Epistle replied quickly.
Creaking up the stairs made more nerves rattle, but nothing was broken like before, and they quickly scuttled to the veranda that overlooked the front window. A thick rope was holstered around of the veranda's railings, and it fell strait down from there.
"Bring him up," Gej commanded Hyacinth, who immediately grabbed the rope and pulled upwards. It was not easy task, and Hyacinth wondered what Gej meant by "him" when referring to what was tied to the end of the rope. Whatever it was, it must weigh about 230 pounds by his rough calculations.
Pulling with a steady pace, the top of the object appeared to Hyacinth. It really did look like a man with a cloth over his head. He kept grabbing for rope, but could not find any. Feeling around for more, he discovered that the rope was tied off between the end he had just pulled up and the much larger second half. Wouldn't it of been wiser to tie it around the middle?
"Let me see him boy," hounded Gej, grabbing the rope from Hyacinth's hands and bringing the rest up with one massive heave.
"Slice it open Epistle," Commanded Gej once more as Epistle obeyed, taking a long dagger of his own and ripping it into the rest of the object. It tore as though it were a bag. To everyone surprise, nothing spilled out of the bag, but a singular thump sounded on the veranda's deck. To Hyacinth's horror, it was the corpse of a blond, brave-looking man, his face paler than Gej's and wearing a deep scar in his neck where the rope had been.
"What? Shouldn't this guy be less than a skeleton by now?" Greatzikel sputtered into the night's now foul air.
"Such things as permanent body perseverance aren't impossible," Darren said wickedly
Gej took the rope off of the corpse's neck and placed it around his own.
"What are you doing?!" shrieked Glyndre.
Ignoring her, Gej stood on the ledge of the veranda, poised to jump. "You are ready, correct?" He asked Epistle.
"Yesh…" Responded Epistle, with two glowing rings appearing in his hands. Quickly but yet very carefully, he placed one around Gej's ear and the other around the corpse's. "Ready, do as you will."
On that remark, Gej leapt, eyes closed in deep concentration, and fell downwards quickly. The rope unraveled itself, only to come to an abrupt stop, followed by a loud snap! from below. Gej could hear gasps and shrieks from above as the scene around him faded into darkness.
Gej felt…distant from his body. He thought he could hear the buzzing of his surrounding, but he figured out that the sound was coming from the glowing ring Epistle had placed on his ear. The rope was still tied tightly around his neck, but other than that, everything else was completely dark or invisible. Though he could not physically move, for some odd reason a persistent thought urged him to try, but by using his mental talents. Sure enough, he felt as though he was exploring, shifting throughout the empty landscape, though his body was visibly still. He soon felt the compulsion to create a vorpal blade across the darkness, and as he did so, the surroundings broke apart, leaving his mental self to view a scene of the past.
He was inside the old house, but it looked new, and definitely more organized. Except for the foyer. His conscious floated above it, and gazed into a deep man-made pit. Looking down, he saw Hismen, stuck in the pit, burying drowned corpses. To his surprise, the bodies looked human only in shape, as they all had distorted faces and mangled appendages. Hismen wiped his brow and climbed out of the pit, only to stared at Gej's conscious existence.
"This is for my own good," Hismen told Gej, or at least it appeared as so. Hismen walked to one of his many closets and unrolled a long rope. Mumbling some inaudible language, the rope sprang to life and then fell lifeless again. Hismen looked at Gej's existence and then resumed his business, climbing the stairs and onto the veranda. Gej did not need to follow him to know what was to take place. A deafening crack! ripped through the air, but then something peculiar happened. Gej no longer felt separated from his body, but rather, consumed by it. The scene went pitch black again, and he could feel his consciousness become trapped within himself. The ring in his physical self was burning as if it where on fire and caused him great discomfort.
"Everything," He thought to himself, "is working out nicely…"