It has been a little over a month since the fiasco that was the island experiment. Tanase had hypothesized that Dr. Faust was part of some secret network flooding the world with cursed items, and would seek assistance to escape the trap Tanase had set for him. However it did not occur to him that the entity that had come for his ring before had allies capable of freeing demons from sealed items and breaking the contract he had so painstakingly tricked the reaper girl into signing. It was an embarassment to say the least; especially as the agency has now enlisted Dr. Faust, as well as Edward Conners into the project Tanase is part of. Edward Conners more reluctantly than Dr. Faust as the man had been found on a raft by the observation ship hidden off shore from the island; which had barely managed to survive and take down the 200 foot sea serpent the Harvester boardgame had sent after them. The fact it would summon something a direct risk to the only non-players for hundreds of miles and the fact the board is now no longer capable of summoning anything above its level 6 (single minded slasher-horror creature) being the only boon of this escapade.
Tanase does not like the project he is now assigned to, although he himself had proposed it. When he contracted the reaper that they had found in Springwood his intention was to use her supernatural senses to detect threats and hunt them down; it worked, she was the one that clued them into George O'Brian's vault, and the investigation since coming to this point. However while they have uncovered two more items the museum had purchased at the auction, a Ghost Killer Dagger *a simple necromancy item*, and a Blood Bag *a real witch gun that focuses blood poured into it into crystal bullets*; there remains the 100 items listed. Of which they know the statue of Naraki was broken unleashing its demon upon the world and forming a compound of servants in Arizona, the Eye of Cataclysm which had found its way back to the museum in Plenta City, the Harvester Board Game now in their possession, and reason to believe an item Dr. Faust calls the Singularity Orb was destroyed as the entity that stole his ring was the horror sealed inside it.
The other items are out there, causing who knows what strife. They had attempted old fashion scrying and even necromancy to summon the ghost of George O'Brian using his corpse that they secretly exhumed without his family's or anyone else's knowledge. They were able to find the Compass of the Lost this way, with this relic and the man's corpse they have the option, as Tanase knows, and unfortunatly so does Dr. Faust who informed the higher ups of this option, using the corpse, this compass, and summoning back and binding the reaper possessing a living body, they could create a bridge to the Netherworld, to where George O'Brian's soul body is; with the bonus of having Edward Conners as a means to focus such a spell on that type of physiology.
Tanase had argued many times against it, the fact Faust had a witch he could contact actually capable of summoning Emily back...and placing strange glowing green bracers and choker on her to bind her to tell the truth and be forth coming with information. Emily has no been happy about this to say the least, insisting the powers that freed her would bring about their destruction.
Tanase thinks of all of this as they stand in the large room, a robotic four-wheeled drone about to be piloted through a large black portal Emily has summoned before the rotting corpse of George O'Brian. Dr. Faust is there, Edward Conners, the halloween costume looking witch with violet colored hair that no one could have taken seriously if not for her powers, and nearly a dozen soldiers. One of which is piloting the drone into the portal.
"Recieving video feed now," says the captain.
A screen on the wall shows them all, a green field, some large warehouses nearby, large parkinglots. It pans around, up and down.
"We sure she isn't tricking us?" asks the captain.
"She is bound and binded," says the witch, "what you see is indeed a netherworld...a tame looking one though. This man you seek likely wasn't much of a sinner, he is likely chained or hiding in that building there. The contact spell is close but not right next to the target. But the portal should be facing his location."
"Then we head out," says the captain.
"One moment," says the witch, "Emily...Shinigami...tell us what we face in this netherworld with your psychopomp's knowledge."
Emily glares at the group, clinching her scythe and looking at the cuffs on her wrists, feeling the stinging restraint upon her throat, "All...or at least most of you are going to die...horribly most likely. You are going to attract a lot of attention there, the smell of...fresh meat...the noise, being heavily armed, your numbers."
She glares at the witch, "also as I am compelled to the tell the truth and provide additional information that aids you...I will betray you the first and every chance I get that presents its self, for my freedom, or simply by not taking any direct action to assist you...I will stand stoically by as the horrors hidden in this world rip you limb from limb..."
She smiles, "oh and there is no chance this portal isn't attracting some kind of attention."
"its best," says the captain to the witch, "you keep a lid on that monster, we just need it to get there and come back."
"My apologies," says the witch
Beyond the dark portal the group assembles, the 12 soldiers, the witch with Emily close by her side, Edward by the captain, Tanase and Faust forced too close for comfort as the soldier spread out around them.
"Keep your eyes out for anything strange," orders the captain.
"Sir," says one of the soldiers looking up, "I spotted something strange,"
The captain looks up, he and the men realize what he means, there is no sun.
"Eyes sharp people," says the captain,
The captain turns to Edward, "Conners, or do you prefer Edward, they say you escaped from this place. What can you tell us about it?"
Edward looks around nervously, "I didn't escape from here, I was in a forested place, lakes, rivers, mountains, the odd shack, cabin, town...but...suspect everything. A general rule...never enter any place if you don't have to, never open a closed door, never close a door behind you, physics can change randomly, doors can open to random places, closing a door can cut off your only escape as it might not open again, or something else is behind it. Random objects can be traps, food that looks fresh can be anything, don't try to eat anything. You and your men are alive...this place was made for bodies like mine...that can't die."
"and the demons?" asks the captain.
"Different folk," says Edward, "like to make sense of their situation...we always try to catogorize them in some way...but I've never seen any armies, dukes, legions, or any of that. Personally I grouped them in five sets, herders, destroyers, tormenters, administrators, and the rulers. The herders are small things, they try to scare you, attack you, keep you moving, stop you from thinking or getting your bearings; they will take you out if they get the chance though. Destroyers are also herders really, except they will take you out, they arn't just trying to keep you moving, they will destroy your body...for those like me here that means we reform some where else at random, for you...death. the tormenters are what you expect from Hell, they capture you, they torture you, eating bits and pieces of you, raping you, using you as a host for parasitic young, all the above and more..."
Edward is silent looking around the silent save for a steady warm breeze over the grass landscape.
"The other two?" asks the captain.
Edward looks at the far away warehouse, "devils and demon gods...I learned these lands belong to them, and they are in charge, if we meet one of them...its over, we need to find this bastard and leave quickly."
The captain, "Johnson, Phil, Jacobs, you three guard the drone and our exit. Stevens, Berk, and Greg you three other side of the portal. Witch here...and her pet monster are staying at the portal to provide back up and ensure our exit. You other five are coming with us to look for George O'Brian. Everyone keep the channels clear and open."
Tanase looks back, catching Emily's glare as he, Faust, the captain, Edward, and five soldiers head across the field towards the parkinglot and the warehouse.
The six men guarding the portal watch as the others walk away, across the parkinglot and into the warehouse without incident, the door even looks to have not even been locked. A few minutes pass of silence before Johnson raises the alarm, "Movement!".
The six men watch as a pale woman in tattered cloths is dragging herself like a zombie across the grass towards them, moaning, "heeelp meee...heeeelp meeee...pleaaase."
Johnson raises his hand signaling the others to keep an eye on her as he steps foward, "maam I'm private Theodore Johnson of the United State Marine Corp, state your name please?"
The woman looks up, they have no idea how she got so close without them seeing her across such an open space, her eyes are milky white, no iris, no pupils, yet have a thick white mucus on them. "Heeelp meee...I ammm...hunnnggreeee,"
She hisses through gnarled teeth, "Shit!" yells Johnson as he opens fire, blowing her head apart. The body stands there, the remnants of the head explodes with tiny flaing white tendrils shoot up from the neck. The entire body then violently explodes, revealing a phantasmic glowing mass of tentacles. Johnson barely has time to scream as it grabs him, ripping his arms and legs off as its drags his torso screaming into a mist rising around them. The other five are shooting into the mist, only hitting Johnson as the thing vanishes.
"come in!" shouts the captain over their radios, "what is happening out there? We heard gunfire."
"It got Johnson!" shouts Phil, "Jesus Christ in heaven, it...something...it got him...holy fuck, fuck...his arms...his legs..."
He looks over at Emily, just standing there silently watching them. He aims his gun at her, "permission to shoot this fucking monster captain, the bitch just stood there and watched!"
"Shut it!" shouts back the commander, "calm down and explain."
"This is Stevens, captain Johnson spotted a woman walking across the field. We don't know how we missed her. She clearly wasn't human, and clearly hostile, Johnson took the shot...she...it...exploded into tentacles and torn him apart...it just dragged him into some mist...the damned thing is...cloaked..."
Stevens raises his gun, "men stay alert! That thing could still be here!"
Inside the warehouse Tanase, the captain, and Dr. Faust are outside a room, where George O'Brian is sitting a desk with papers. He had been writing constantly about his life, the things he'd seen in Hell, and the items he had gathered and mailed away.
"Grab it all," says the captain, "we are leaving now."
The warehouse is empty, filled with shelves that are in turn filled with empty boxes. George is oddly silent as he follows the men out of the strangely empty building. However just as they exit the building the team at the portal starts to open fire at swarms of zombies popping out of the ground around them.
"Fuck," says Edward.
The five men and the captain rush to the edge of the parkinglot firing at the creatures, Tanase and the others without weapons notice three things, one the zombies are not coming towards them, only going after the people on the grass, two they arn't so much popping out of the ground as the mud and grass is turning into zombies, and third Emily is just standing there as the witch raises a magic barrier around them, Phil however isn't so lucky as he is dragged screaming into the dirt is mouth filling with mud. With that the zombies melt back into the ground.
"What the fuck?" asks the captain glaring at Edward.
"How the fuck would I know?" growls Edward.
"The barrier cut off their senses," says Dr. Faust, "clearly one of your men set off a demonic trap. Those were some sort of mud golems shaped like zombies."
He strokes his long white split beard, "tell me something my old friend,"
He turns to George O'Brian, "in all your time here did you encounter these?"
"Yes," says George somberly, "They are why I don't leave...sorry captain...I thought your men were...on the pavement...and...I am still not convinced this is some trap to lure me onto the grass...if it is...please stop...just rip me apart...please."
"Now, now, my friend," says Faust, "no need for that, its like they told you...you were right, they do exist, and they need you to find out where all those cursed items are that you mailed away."
George looks out, "if we run...do you..."
The ground shakes and the sky shimmers.
"Anomaly detected," comes a loud woman's voice from above.
Emily smiles as the Witch's barrier is struck by blue lightning, causing her to pass out. The zombies immediatly emerge under their feet, before too many shots can be fired, as Emily walks away, Jacobs, Stevens, Beck, and Greg are torn into and dragged bleeding into the mud by a hoard of zombies; which oddly leave the witch alone.
"Damn that monster!" yells the captain remembering her words before they left.
He and the five men on the pavement fire at her, riddling her body with bullets. As she falls over a blue lightning bolt strikes her. It carries her in the air and sets her down some distance away in the parkinglot.
"Now...we are fucked," says Edward, "run for the portal you fools!"
Its all it takes as a portal appears beside Emily's body. four of the men turn and open fire at a short woman appearing through the portal wearing white robes, long brown hair with fair features. She screams but the bullets are stopped in the air the swirl and orbit around the girl as a blue ferret with horns jumps from her shoulders, the bullets follow as the ferret transforms into a tall gargoyle like demon. A strong woman's body covered in deep blue scales with a light abdominal side, clawed hands, digitride clawed feet with a hook for an angle, a long tail with a triangular bladed tip with a blue flame around it, large bat like wings that bend impossibly like cape. Her eyes are blue glowing orbs, her hair blue flames adorned with a pair of cornucopia shaped horns.
"Run!" screams Edward grabbing Tanase by the wrist, Faust grabs George and the four men book for the slowly shrinking black portal.
The bullet fly from their orbit killing the four men who fired. The captain and one remaining man take off after the others. A loud horrifying roar causes them all to stop as a massive red portal appears in the air. Something, a giant armor plated scorpion with crab like legs, and a black armor plated woman's torso sticking up from where the head of the scorpion should be appears. It has curved horn like crests where hair should be like a crown, claw covered tendrils hanging down the back of its head. Its human arms are armored as well with claw like fingers. They freeze in horror as its the size of a building, standing as tall as a skyscraper.
"Dear God," says the captain.
Faust glares at it whispering, "Arachne Empress...so they are demons of Hell."
He tugs on George's arm, "snap out of it, we have to leave!"
George runs through the portal but a force, following a "come here" gesture from the blue demon pulls Faust over the grass to fall on the pavement. The Witch comes too, seeing the beast she leaps into the portal with Tanase beside her. The portal closes leaving the captain, one of his men, and Faust at the mercy of the beings there.
"Where are we?" asks the girl, "and why did you people shoot at me? and..."
She *gasps* as she sees the girl at her feet, she steps back as green flames erupt from Emily's body and rise up, not burning it. The flames take the form of a black haired pale girl wearing black robes and holding a Scythe. The reaper *blinks* at the girl in robes, "How..."
She looks down at the body, "Man...time is weird across worlds but...why are you here...in your next incarnation?"
"What?" asks the girl.
The blue demon speaks, "My summoner, the body at our feet is yours from a past life. Your soul was forced to exit it even while still alive due to unfortunat circumstances. Your soul spent time here in Hell before the great mother sent it backwards in time to be reborn on Midgardia, causing the overlap...and this unfortunat anomaly."
"As I suspected," roars the giant creature, "her possessive nature, her trickery, how clever...of her."
"Mewmew," says the girl, "I see...I...wait...so this was me like..."
"Only a few years," says the reaper, "your soul was sent back through time to a connected world."
"This then...is a hell?" asks the girl, "So...this is what the above ground looks like then where Albia and Luke are?"
"Possibly," says the blue demon, "searching,"
Her eyes glow different colors, "Yes, they are not in this region though, but the underground of this False Earth region is where their domain dwells."
"What the fuck is going on here?" demands the captain.
"Are these men then...sinful souls?" asks the girl.
"Listen kid," starts the captain, cut off as his head is cut off by a simple gesture by the blue demon. The man beside him *screams* and runs only for the mud zombies to rise up again and tear into him, the girl hides her face.
"Come Mirai," says the blue demon, "this world only called you here due to your body of a past life being touched by death and alive in hell without your soul...an anomaly."
"Then tell me...Demon of Stars," says the giant being, "then why was I dragged here?"
"Because," says the Star Demon, "you bound your soul to hers as well."
"I see," says the giant being, her body erupts into a massive cyclone of blue flames that spirals back into a red portal.
"I knew her," says the girl, "in my past life?"
The reaper is casting a healing spell on the body, the bullets leaving, she looks up between the girl and the demon, "yes...I wouldn't even had been forced out of this body...which I need to walk about and interact with the physical world...if it weren't for that blast grabbing him...speaking of though..."
She grabs the green cuffs and choke and breaks them, "rather not be forced into servitude again. Going to have to tell the boss about this."
With that she walks into the body and sinks in through green flames, Emily stands up and takes a deep breath as she summons her scythe, "sorry to bother you oh great Architect of Hell,"
She bows and vanishes in green flames.
"What is going on here?" asks the girl, "what kind of person was my last life...to be spiritual bound to the Arachne Empress?"
"I was not with you then," answers the demon, "you will need to ask my mother."
"Mewmew," says the girl, "Rhulan."
"Um...excuse me," says Faust sitting by a parked car, "I don't mean to interrupt, but may I ask what you intend to do with me?"
"Who are you?" asks the girl
"No one of relevence," says the demon as she opens a portal and they both vanish.
"Architect of Hell," says Faust stroking his beard, "an Arachne Empress...and...I'm trapped in Hell...shit!"