[RP Episode] Emergence


#1

All was quiet in the town of Album Mediolanium. Night had fallen, the people were asleep, and the only beings moving in the town were the nightly guardsmen and the occasional stray dog. Occasional earthquakes had been plagueing the town for a few weeks now, but the citizens had learned to disregard the rumbling and quaking from deep under their feet. It had never done any harm.

Until tonight.

The earthquake that hit was the heaviest yet. The ground shook, roof tiles sliding down to smash on the pavement with the sound of breaking pottery. Animals yowled, birds chirped, dogs barked and the wolves howled. The town’s inhabitants rushed out of their homes, as they’d been taught in case of earthquakes lest their dwellings collapse on their head, when the rumbling ceased. One of them, Lucius Trepidius, rubbed the sleep out of his eyes, and rubbed again. This could not be real.

Pushing up from under the tiles of the market’s pavement, had risen the twin prongs of an unknown structure. They curved slightly towards the middle, were made of some kind of stone, and inscribed with sigils that glowed a dim orange in the night.

It took only a few minutes for most of the citizens to gather around this otherworldly sight.

Suddenly, a loud keening sounded, like the death scream of a flayed man, and with a flare so bright it left afterimages in the eyes of the Valkorian citizens, a curtain of fire blazed into life between the two prongs of the structure. It whirled, red and orange and yellow, flame within flame, the fire lazily twirling around the center in a slow, circling motion.

From within their depths within depths emerged a figure. Tall as a Valkorian, if not more, he wore a long robe embroidered with a flame pattern that covered his hairy, inhuman legs. Unearthly muscle bulged under skin that bore a jaguar’s mottling. Eyes blazed bright cyan, ears and nose attuned to the slightest smell, the softest sound. Black hair hung from his head like a curtain, reaching down to the back of his knees. His chest was uncovered, deep blue, bearing some kind of ritual scarring. A vest of sorts covered his shoulders, though this bizarre style of clothing had never been seen in the world before.

In his hand was a tall staff, inscribed in the same script that covered the gate. It was crowned with the inverted image of a bird of prey, culminating into two sharp prongs flanking a crystal that radiated a sickly green.

The creature surveyed the civilians gathered before him, and sniffed. Derisively.


#2

The villagers moved back, edging away from the creature, while the watch, the few dozen ex-soldiers and farmers raised their weapons. Trepidius joined them, having seized his own rifle and sword from their rack on his wall when he hurried out of his collapsing home.

“Who are you?” demanded the commander of the watch, an old-soldier and owner of the local tavern. “You are not welcome here. Begone!”


#3

The creature opened his mouth, and replied in perfect, though very old-fashioned, Latin. “Lowereth thine weapons, mortal warrior, and submit to those above. Not for thee is it to make demands of those beyond thy understanding, or, indeed, any demands entirely. Thou shalt make thyself content with things such as they are, as has been ordained by thy betters.”

With that, he stretched a clawed hand back to the doorway, shining black talons flickering in the radiance of the entryway, and a clamour rose from inside. Within moments, a further row of dark shades emerged in the flame, soon resolving themselves into a row of the creatures, four abreast, pounding rhythmically on drums tanned with the leather of sacrifices. Their skirts were long and green, decorated with embroidered patterns and bits of gold and precious stones. Ears and noses were studded with stone piercings. On their heads were elaborate headdresses, tall and proud, showing the image of a face biting a two-headed snake - the same image formed by the scars carved into each creature’s chest.

Behind them came further ranks of warriors, staffs slung over their right shoulders, stepping to the drum’s beat, their weight and strength such that each synchronized footfall trembled the ground. They marched in perfect lockstep, arms and taloned hands moving back and forth, and once they were in the square their column split to form two ranks. Their headdresses were shorter, and decorated less elaborately. The same insignia, however, was evident on their bodies.

Once all of them had filed into place, some two score of them, they stopped as one. Staffs slammed into the pavement, chipping the stone with their force, as each stood to parade rest, with one arm crossed behind their back, the other holding its staff in place, pointing straight at the sky.


#4

“I answer to only one better, Caesar, and he sure as hell didn’t send you.” The commander shouldered his rifle, and the villagers began moving rapidly away from the scene, melting back into the town and nearby forest as quickly as they could. The watch did not move.

Unfortunately for the civilian-soldiers, not all of them were soldiers. One, a farmer with no actual combat experience, pulled the trigger.

Bang!

The bullet whizzed past the foreign speaker and off into the night.

“Oh hell…” whispered the commander. “FIRE!” A real volley broke out with a cracking sound, lead smacking into the strangers.


#5

The creature looked down, idly plucking one of the mortals’ crude metal projectiles from his skin where it had slammed into his endoskeleton and got stuck in the bone. Idly flicking the deformed ball of metal from his hands, he sighed, and spoke again.

“I say again, mortal warrior, acquisce! Faceth thine fate like a man, If thee should fail to see reason-” he looked behind him. Tthe front rank had kneeled, those creatures and the ones behind them holding their war staffs at a perfect 45 degree ready stance to project a fearsome double row of forked heads. “-Thou shalt be suitably chastised!”

He reached behind his back, and withdrew his hand to show he now held a long, rectangular, flat club of wood. The wood had been richly decorated with carved sigils and a depiction of a face, and the edges of the weapon were lined with sharp blades of enhanced obsidian. At the bottom of the blade, just above the grip, a green gem shone brightly. He lifted his weapon, and the two ranks of soldiers pointed their staffs at the soldiers. 'May Míctlan judge thee justly.", he intoned, before dropping his weapon in a universally understood gesture. As one, arcs of green lightning issued forth from the staffs to strike the armed Valkorian citizens, carving great craters into their bodies. The edges were charred black, and the smell of roasted flesh spread as the men flew backwards as if struck by a hammer.


#6

Those of the watch who were not soldiers but merely villagers and farmers, craftsmen and the like, broke and ran. The wounded screamed, their burned and pain-wracked bodies a horror for the other villagers, who panicked and began to flee in all directions. Trepibius lay on the ground, his eyes staring lifelessly at the night sky.

The centurion and the other soldiers drew their swords. Long shimmering blades, razor sharp and with deadly points.

“This is how a man dies, creature.” he said. He looked at his companions. “I say we take this bastard with this.” The small group, 8 of them, rushed forward, blades drawn.

CAESAR!"

Without shields, there was no disciplined wall of men attacking, but a few enraged Valkorians with well-trained swordsmanship skills, and blood lust. The Centurion jumped, dodging the green staff, and stabbed at the eyes of the foe.


#7

Lightning-fast, the creature dodged. It whirled around, its left hand reaching to tear the throat from one of the warriors open, while the other took the centurion’s outstretched arm, locked it under his armpit, and in an instant snapped it at the elbow. The centurion fell, sword falling from limp fingers, as the creature proceeded to wheel and twirl a lethal dance of death that tore open Valkorian bodies at every turn. The flesh parted like tissue paper to the creature’s claws. When it kicked its leg at the last survivor, talons propelled by powerful muscles ripping open even the man’s metal armour and the gut beneath, all fell quiet. The other Valkorians had all fled, not realising that the woods surrounding the town had already been secured by several Chichi units and groups of hunters.

Turning back to the centurion who lay on the ground, panting with pain, the creature kneeled to dip its white loincloth in the blood of the men it had slain. It looked at the centurion, no emotion in the glowing cyan eyes, before speaking again. “If only thee had acquiesced. These men would yet live. I wil permit thee to carry a message to thy lord. Thou shalt speak of what thee hath seen here. Thy tribe must bow akin a reed before the coming storm, or thee shalt snap, and there shall be none left to sing the songs of Atzintli. And thou shalt tell thy lord naught but wrath awaits those who deal with apostates.”


#8

The centurion closed his eyes, and hoped the creature could see his left hand, which was closed in a specific gesture.

All around them, the village burned, as lamps and hearths spilled everywhere by the earthquake set the thatch and wood ablaze, roofs collapsing into rubble, and animals racing about, their fear running rampant. A crash foretold the doom of another house, and the ruin of the family that had sheltered within. Screams rose up to the moon, only to fall silent amidst the embers.

The village elder, stood silent in front of his house, near the common ground, watching the flames. His old and wizened visage was wracked with pain, and his eyes betrayed a deep sadness.


#9

But the creature stood, raising its clawed hands to the sky, and invoked its gods. 'Be beseeched, almighty Tlaloc, Lord of the Rains. Bestow upon these mortals Thy mercy, that they may understand Thy benevolence and the blessing of their fate; to serve Thee!"

The fiery passageway coughed, and a thin cloud of whitish vapour appeared that rose to the clouds above until, mere moments later, it began raining.

The flames died down, slowly, as the light drizzle swelled into a deluge that swept away the blood and carnage of the market square into the gutters. Amidst the rainfall, the first hunting parties began to return. Small groups of warriors, holding chains tied to the chichi’s carven collars, herded groups of Valkorian civilians into the square. They stood, a growing, soaked huddle, surrounded by warriors and their staffs and baying packs of chichi that strained at their handlers’ arms, eager to sink their teeth into the flesh of the civilians.

The creature looked down at the centurion and spoke, sadness in its voice. “Thou hath wasted the lives of thy men and thy people with futile resistance. Thy punishment shall be to live with the weight of thy sins, until thy time cometh to perish and be judged before the heavens for this folly.”

Then it walked away, leaving another warrior to stand guard over the fallen soldier, towards where two warriors had seized the village elder by his arms and had half-dragged half-carried him forward. One of them spoke, voice like a knife scraping over brass. “Tiachcahuan, this man appears to be their main religious figure.”. Said religious figure was dropped unceremoniously at the creature’s feet, who knelt to look the man straight in the eye. “Is this true? Art thou a priest of thy people?”


#10

“I am.” The old man looked confused, and sad. “Why are you doing this? What…who are you, to slaughter us without cause? Are you some spawn of Danheim runes, to butcher children?”


#11

The creature tilted his head, hair falling to the side. “Slaughter thee without purpose? Nay, cleric. We would not stoop to such. Thy purpose is grand, and thy fate joyful. Any death wreaked upon thy village was courtesy of thy countrymen.” At this, the creature pointed a taloned finger at the still-prone figure of the centurion. “Thou should know to blame only him for thy miseries. It is by the grace of the heavens that thy community hath been spared the wrath of the Hosts. It is not the ordained time for such.”

The creature stood to its full height of two and a half meters, and beckoned two warriors. They carried with them a carven stone table, which they set down in the middle of the water-logged square. The huddle of civilians watched fearfully, wondering what the demons were about.
.
“Now, thy people will move on to the next world for the fullfilment of their grand destiny in view of the Gods. As for thee, however, it will not do to pollute the holy nation with the tainted footsteps of a heathen cleric.” He gestured sharply towards the men holding the priest down, who proceeded to pick the man up and carry him bodily to the table. By now, two braziers had been set up next to it, and thick bellowing smoke, and the smell of incense, filled the square. The priest was laid on the table, stretched out, one warrior gripping each of the man’s limbs while the creature draw a thin obsidian knife from a hidden scabbard. In the civilian crowd, mothers grabbed their children and covered their eyes, fearful of what would happen.

The creature drew a line of blood over his own arm, intoning. “Thy flesh and thy blood shall be the sustenance of the heavens. Thy death shall be the fuel for new life. Thy unmaking lies at the root of creation. Now, hath thee any last words?”


#12

”Ave Caesare, morituri te salutant, Neptunus est rex deorum!”


#13

The centurion watched as the creatures, who had formed up in rows facing the altar, broke into a sonorous chant. It depth rolled and echoed off the stone and wood of the village. The nasal tones rang, going up and then down, as the warriors sang their praises to the Gods. In the middle, the creature spoke again, saying. “So be it, priest of false gods. From flesh, flesh. From blood, blood. From death, life. From life, light.”

Upon finishing his exhortation, the knife flashed down in an obsidian blur, carving open the man’s chest as he screamed. The creature tore the heart free from the ruins of the priest’s ribdage, leaving him to convulse and die gurgling on blood, and lifted the organ to the skies.

Blood squirted as ivory teeth, filed to unnaturally sharp points, bit into it, and with visible relish the creature chewed and swallowed.

After its gruesome meal, it directed two warriors to skin the corpse with their sharp talons, directing a bloody grin at one of the Valkorian civilians. 'Drum covers.", it spoke, before turning away with finality. It lifted a hand, the drummers stood to and warriors put their staffs to their shoulders in unison, before bellowing an order and the whole column set in motion back towards the fiery gate. The Valkorian citizens stood motionless, watching the strange spectacle, when the chichi began to bark and bay and snap at exposed ankles. The civilians were herded through the gate, disappearing off the face of the earth to heavens knew what fate, and the lone, broken figure of the centurion rested his head back on the pavement and wept.

@staff, you can close this one.


#14