Sunday, May 9, 2010

Of role-playing.

There has been no artsiness, due to massive amounts of reading and a Friday hike with Mina (three hours of delightful up-and-downing on the slopes, picture included.)

However, there –was- story-telling. A past-time of mine (one that I became sadly addicted to throughout college) has recently crept up, courtesy of a guy we’ll call Serke, and a girl we’ll call Dove. I find this particular past-time entertaining, challenging, and not a little time-wasting.

This particular log is an example of a free-form roleplaying session through AIM. The people (Serke and I) took turns typing up what basically amounts to a story.


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The crickets chirped. The frogs, at least, the ones not currently dead of the Great Purple Plague, wisely stayed silent. The plague itself shifted soundlessly above the bogs, a faint violet mist that hung around the edges of the reeds in a pansy-pink glow, and suffocated all the vertebrate life it touched.

From somewhere up in the deadwoods, which studded the landscape like something out of a horror story (which this, in essence, was), someone added their voice to the soundtrack of insects. It went something like this:

"Ohshit."

"..."

In the dead of an enchanted dusk, a pale light cut through the withered and twisted trees, sending rivets into the heavy and foreboding fog. It was torchlight, of kinds. Planted partway into the deadened earth, a gnarled piece of wood raised, clutched in a firm and unyielding grip. Such a grip belonged to such a thing, this male frame, which loomed at a slight tilt this night.

Perhaps a hermit of the bog, running as well from the fog, his tattered burlap ropes lilting over his features near in full. What cloth and thread that frayed from it's seams seemed to simply hang, in the windless air.

There was nothing but an oddly bittered smell, and a coiled and low voice

Matching the passive bravado of the pale green flame, which hung on staves end.

"..Good evening." A flat line, from a figure who had startled the other in such a way.
The mist around the tree's base churned, akin to the movement of the waves, yet so subtly different. It lapped over the humps of bodies, caught in its gentle trap; and what bodies. Humans and beasts in the prime of their life, belonging to two equally stubborn sides which have extended their conflict a bit too far into the night.

From a top the one tree, a child called a naive question to the bog walker.
"Mister, are you a ghost, or a madman?"

"..hm." Was all he gave, short and sweet, the deep and hollowed hood tilting up to the more diminuitive thing. The bitter smell which may touch little nostrils registering with some familiarity or so.
Iron, and ashes.
"Perhaps some, may call me mad, child.."
He paused, a tinge of amusement ringing in that otherwise grave raising tone..
"Though, to I, I am neither."
"But if you are neither, then why do you stand when so many others have fallen?" Accusing, but not fearful, never hysterical, as the plague's tendrils lapped ever higher.

The child dangled its legs over the forbidden ground, squinting down to the fuzziness of the mostly-dead men, and the horses, the latter as familiar as the former, maybe more so. Her shape was a smear against the moonless sky, and could be mistaken for a cancerous growth on the body of the tree itself.

"This light you carry, does it banish that which is in the night?" "That" wasn't quite capitalized, and it should've been, in the world where people hid behind stone walls and heavy shutters, warding against that which happened when sun failed.
Do you save, or do you damn?- was the real question, one which she knew better than to ask outright.
As the head craned, what starlight that did fall eluded to an ashen visage, under the shadow which otherwise caressed an unseen face. From the tip, wired and fastened hairs entangled the end of a pointed chin. Though paled lips were tied tight.. it was as if a smile could simply be felt.
The same sort of thing, given from predator to prey.
At sudden, the man seemed ever separated from what carnage did wrack the bog. Above, despite his grounded state.
"-dearest child. light is a fickle thing." It was for sure, now, that that mouth gained it's jilted edges.
"For where light is cast, the shadows grow only more apparent." The last word, spoken in that level tone, would feel as if he had joined her in that treetop, and muttered it into her ear.
Though he stood all the same, at ground, the incandescent lighting giving no more of the mans features- seeming to lap at only the dead and dying alike.

That was as much of an answer as one needed to rise, clinging to the trunk, and, with some effort, relocate on the branch directly above the previous. A twig and some lose bark spiraled towards the earth, as the truth-laden little tales, reality which was once superstition, were presently remembered and made her footing unsure.
"Shadows can't be without light."
The contradiction was made in tune with the hopeless turning of the head, towards the eastern horizons, silent as they were dark.
Louder, now. "Light can be without shadows.. the Emperor's trumped your kind many times before!" Before, when the last fiefdoms were not crumbling into weed-choked obscurity. Before, when changelings didn't eat small children in their cradles and big bad wolves didn't scratch nightly at the door.

The figure hung still in pause, seeming to take the childs caution in. A bittersweet ichor, for the wanderer in the bog. A shadow even in shadows. "And the brighter the light, the thicker the shadow it casts." Those last words were made into a near seductive whisper, his tone snapping back and forth.

"You speak of light bringers. Hunters. Men of the unchanging sun." The thing took a step forward, head craning even further, leaving the hood somehow still impossibly lilting.
"Then, child, of whose artifice was this destruction cast? What kind of a man, do you believe, would it take to make...-this-?" A gloved hand, which was nary staff clutching, gestured casually to the damnation in it's wake.
It's wake? There was a terrifyingly personal inference to the utter and whole destruction which had shaken these lands to their bones.

"Of the kind that break rules laid by the wise men," She spat back at him, holding onto the ever-so-slightly swaying trunk with one arm, reaching out to pluck a long-dried cone from the skeletal bough with the other. Lanky frame- bent in in a shape of a question mark against faint stars.

"Kind of demon summoners, dead-wakers, enslavers of all that is pure and good in the world!"

The spruce cone flew towards the talking shadow below, ineffectual gesture of rage against the purple fog, and nature. "Go back wherever the hell you came from!"
As the cone fell, the figures head seemed to pivot, watching it clunk unceremoniously into the ground before him. There was a long pause, which not even the chirping insects dare show their reprisal. A deathly stillness, as the robed figure leaned down, that same free hand plucking the cone from the ground in a sure and unhastened motion.

"...-Interesting..~." The now split wide smile could be heard true in his tone. A thing separated apart from hunger, and anger alike. Much unakin to the more bestial things which did stalk in distances unmeasured.
"I do wonder, fledgling.. How far this courage of yours goes."
In a sure motion, the hand on the stave left it's grip- the thing standing on it's own as if driven into the ground, by workers now long since deceased. Fingers clutched around the borders, pulling the thickened cloth back-

To a full and unhidden face, of an ashen features so laden with permanent and unbiased rancor. looking eye to eye with the child, neonic iris' seemed to flicker with their own flame, on a night such as this.

A night so laden with suffering.

It was the sort of stare, entwined with ancient history the face betraying the age of the hellion who claimed the title of 'architect'.
"Dear child, would the light fade from those eyes, should I consume you whole?" Not a hint of intention was given away, nor any doubt to the gravity behind his words.

"Demon!"

The living thing above the dying gave off a startled squeak, clinging to the trunk with both hands now. As if in malicious response, the branch beneath her creaked precariously. But there was no further movement from the man-creature below, and, in a minute, the grip on the deceased fir eased, the stranded one- looking around frantically for something to use as a weapon. Never had the ground, virtually coated in steel, seemed so far away..

No cones, no branch large enough to swing, no squirrel's nest.. no nothing. Back to the shade's question it is!
"Probably, as you'd choke." Replied the child through chattering teeth.
"And if you don't, it's false light, and you'd end up being skewered by one of the militias of the lowlands before the next day's out!"
The devil looked into that tree still, lips already thatched into a small and unrevealing smile. The kind a man could love, or kill with. The kind which, with an undying thing, was all the more dangerous. Those eyes would play tricks on her, seeing flickerings of a thing twisted with a wide and fanged grin - nothing but amusement on his face.
"Of all I have watched die, you are the most intriguing." The smile settled some, the bristling and unseen bitterness releasing their grip from the girls senses.
"Hear me then, as these words of mine are honest. By rite and writ, I swear thus." The sing-song tone of that violating tone was hard read, though there seemed a great deal of weight behind archaic and long unused words.
"I, am Dareth. I bear no surname. I bear no heritage."
"-I am the one responsible, for those who you have seen die. I have ground your people, your mother, your father, and all you have loved to the ashes we stand upon, this night."
"I do not seek forgiveness, for something I so enjoyed." As those lips anunciated, pearled and edged teeth could be seen moving there-under.
"The lowlands, too, have fallen. And will continue to fall, with little resistance."

"And should you die, here, I suspect your land is mine.. to do with what I wish."
A purposefully languid gesture brought the glove around that stave, pulling it from it's rooted soil.
"Know these things, and survive. Perhaps, you will become interesting. ...Or perish as unceremoniously as so many before you." He turned then, looking away only to start on the path he had been on before, down the grayed and desecrated earth.
"-Though should you live, to be interesting..perhaps we will meet again."
"Perhaps," He sounded, as his figure grew distant, "-You will stop me." Intrigue and interest rang hearty and true, in a coy way only managable by centuries of calculation and awareness. He would still be in earshot, though the hand of death seemed to move away from the frightened creature in the branches.

"will stop me.." The stunned echo of his last words was no louder than a whisper, almost overshadowed by the continuing song of crickets. A pair of pale eyes, wet with angry tears, trailed the departing evil, following its every step with growing certainty that he had not lied, this wolf of the bogs, about either his name or his purpose... or the impending fall of the region in which she was born and raised.

There could be no contesting with the one that trod upon the plague as though it was regular, long-since-absent mist of the morning. Not now. Not, perhaps, ever. Scraping together the last of her fourteen-year-old wits, and dreading calling the 'thing's attention to herself once again, the servant called out the one question presently needing an answer. "Are there others like you!?"

A mere silhouette, dotted by the evoked light, paused, head craning some. Too far to address without volume, and too far for an expression to read. The only light, apart from which shone so close, was the slit of green which pierced from an eye turned sidelong. Though, like before, it seemed to peer into her very soul.

Without any generous warning, there was a sound again, as if he was speaking from next to her, perhaps on a pairing branch. His tone was calmer now, as if he had already dismissed the fact altogether. Though, the ancient spoken pact still stood.

"There once were, though now, they are with the void. I am their sole successor."
With the answer clear, there was a final and parting thing, spoken from his own blackened soul.
"Do not disappoint me, lowland child."

There was a rush of air, as the light in the distance flickered out. In adjustment to human eyes, it was entirely dark. Though, despite its mysteries, the young one may feel suddenly - assuredly alone.