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#101 Posted by Satar (2217 posts) - - Show Bio

@tyrus_:

As he'd done before, the Baabda Beast stood silent, saying nothing of the woman's guesses of his plan. The Brahma Bull's machete, Stark's Godsbane Armor... their use to him, their roles in his plan... they were not as the woman or anyone could imagine. His plan was his plan, and the world would see it come to fruition as man and his protectors burned at the World Eater's feet. Stark had fled from him recently, for the man to pursue him, to show himself, would be a change of pace, at least in Satar's mind. Turning round, Satar's cruel eyes gazed upon the barren landscape once more, a dried scar in a lush rainforest. Nothing remained of the temple grounds... he breathed behind his mask and the loud crack of thunder echoed above.

It rained.

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#102 Edited by Cormac (628 posts) - - Show Bio

@satar: @tyrus_: I'm genuinely sorry to be a spoilsport but I did inform Impero almost two weeks ago that I don't want to use Stark anymore. Stealing a piece of his armour would be a huge interaction/have ramifications and Satar is right, Stark would go after him in some shape or form. But to steal the Godsbane is huge and honestly not easily achievable unless work was put in. I don't want to write Stark, on or off panel, as Maverick once said; "There is always a way. But not always one that's written well." and if I were nice and "off-panel" gave you the armour that would completely break Stark's characterisation and consistency. I almost regret blowing up Peak for that same reason. Again sorry to be a spoilsport as you know I enjoy helping stories, but Stark is my best character and I don't feel like using him off panel.

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#103 Posted by Satar (2217 posts) - - Show Bio

@cormac: Tyrus doesn't have to go after the Godsbane now. It can even be two months from now. It doesn't matter to me when.

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#104 Edited by Grimmwald (3291 posts) - - Show Bio

@rosso

It had been weeks since the Horned Saint's limbs'd coiled round Valentina, since his arms wrapped round her mouth and throat, and his legs round her legs and midsection. He'd dragged her to the shadows, made her a prisoner of the Brahma Bull's lost temple, and poisoned her mind with fear toxins again and again and again. He'd stripped her of all weapons, destroyed them before her eyes, and chained her to the temple's cold and blood-smeared walls. Again and again, the shadows nearby'd fold open, and out would walk Grimmwald. He'd pump cocktails of fear toxins in her blood. Chemicals that'd prey on past traumas, eat away at her fears, and give her no peace when she slumbered. Only dread. Only horror.

No Caption Provided

Every day, the fear toxins ran inside her veins, climbed into her lungs, always threatening to corrupt her brain, to twist it's biochemistry till the hallucinations, the nightmare visions grew so profound they feasted on her sense of self. And yet, suddenly, there came peace. Grimmwald had stopped. And though relief was there to wipe the sweat from her brow, so was confusion to whisper paranoia in her ear. Why had he stopped? Had she done something to please him? Unknowingly perhaps? There would be no answers. Only silence. Only a deafening quiet and long and empty days. His interest in her, it seemed, was gone. And in it's place would come questions asked by the fear toxins still lurking in her brain, still whispering and cackling as they commented on what she'd done and what she hadn't done. But as quickly as it'd gone, Grimmwald's interest in her had returned.

Still he said nothing. But he deprived her of sleep, food and water. Taunted her by leaving freshly cooked meals beyond her reach. Her nose would catch the smell of food lingering in the air, the spiced aroma of it's flavor, and her stomach would rumble. Rumble as she'd be made to watch the food spoil, and her nose feel it's smell grow wet and sour as it rotted. He'd waste water in front of her till her mouth dried, and force her to meet his eyes for a reward; just enough food and water for her to stay alive. And she was kept shackled to the wall. Dressed in a rag. Never allowed to walk. And made to expel her body's waste there chained to a wall for the Horned Saint to see or not see should he wish. He wanted her core to start shifting. Her sense of self, her confidence, her identity, start to break as her health and hygiene suffered. 'Pathetic', the fear toxins would say, scoffing in her mind, 'That he has to deal with you'.

But soon, his kindness returned. He fed her more. Gave her more water. And claimed he'd even allow her to bathe if she behaved. And yet, he'd soon grow cold. What had she done to displease him? She would never know. He flayed his captives alive in front of her. Murderers, gang leaders, terrorists, assassins. He flayed their limbs little by little, left the flesh to crack, dry and fester till the pain swarmed so hot through them they begged for their limbs to be severed. And he did so in front of her, injecting her veins with fear toxins as she watched a fate that may one day be hers should she displease him. How? It wasn't for her to know. This was beyond her locus of control. Her brain need only adapt. She need only grow attached to him to survive. Tethered by fear, but tethered nonetheless.

Grimmwald would come and go. He'd be kinder to her, warmer, then cruel, violent, manipulative... then caring and warmer once more. And he'd do so again and again till her brain could take no more, till she blamed herself for everything, grew submissive, lost sight of who she was, and feared him so, sought his approval now and always. The Horned Saint'd torture and torture to break down the barriers of her mind and mold her into a servant so intensely loyal through fear. After all, whose mind is so strong to endure so much torture without yielding? Without breaking?

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#105 Posted by HumansFirst (264 posts) - - Show Bio

@grimmwald: Jesus that's brutal.

Not sure what I was expecting when all this went down but it sure wasn't that. Pretty damn unsettling...

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#106 Posted by Grimmwald (3291 posts) - - Show Bio

@humansfirst: Right? When I wrote that post I couldn't help but think "Someone needs to stop him eventually". I don't know if you've ever watched GoT but Grimm almost reminded me of Ramsay Bolton in that post!

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#107 Posted by HumansFirst (264 posts) - - Show Bio

@grimmwald: I have not watched it, and if it involves characters like these I might never lol

Skin crawling though, straight up

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#108 Edited by Grimmwald (3291 posts) - - Show Bio

@humansfirst: LOL, it does. You might like it though. Game of Thrones is a great series.

Yeah it really is. Whenever I write things like this, like my stuff with Ezra Strix, some of the stuff with Satar, and my past stuff with Brahma Bull, all of whom are extremely brutal villains, I feel weird because I know they're just characters and it's all fictional but it's just uncomfortable sometimes. But thanks! That's what I'm aiming for, LOL.

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#109 Posted by _Dirge_ (3611 posts) - - Show Bio

WTH, you're turning her into reek! What happened to Kellan?

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#110 Posted by Grimmwald (3291 posts) - - Show Bio
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#111 Edited by Yazhun_Sanvun (1226 posts) - - Show Bio

@_dirge_ said:

WTH, you're turning her into reek!

No Caption Provided

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#112 Posted by Rosso (5292 posts) - - Show Bio

@grimmwald:

"Time is fluid here," she'd heard it say, on the first night. The demon who would punish her. She knew it was a demon the instant she laid eyes on it. This was Hell, after all. Rake-thin and naked with leathery, scarred flesh, as though it'd suffered a punishment of its own before being tasked with Valentina. It had no sex and ascetic features. Its eyes were smouldering coals; its gaze, indifferent. No concern, no remorse, nor any malice.

It wasn't what she expected. There was very little contact of any kind, most of the time. She'd have preferred to be struck.

It seldom touched her. That was the confusion. But somehow her punishment was no more lenient - maybe even greater for she suffered no less, and always with the mental strain of wondering what was coming. When it finally did, how bad would it be?

Yet she was left on display, forced to perform for an illusory crowd. There before them, mere existence was an act of shame. A disgusting thing like her didn't deserve to exist, even in that pathetic state. At once magnified in their sight, yet under their Underworldly gaze, she was less important than a fly.

In time she'd ceased counting the moments. Relinquished that Earthly, human habit. For in time, she began to see the demon in herself. Ragged and emaciated, inches from dead. From non-existence, in her own mind. It would've been kinder. She rarely ate even the scraps she was given, never drank until forced.

She could have escaped her bindings. She knew she could. But she didn't. Conditioning forbade it; she knew what would happen if she did.

She'd been through this before. But who...?

That's right.

There was only one man she feared so much.

No Caption Provided

She looked upon him with recognition for the first time, then. "...Oyaji? Daddy?" Now everything made sense. It was passive punishment, but one founded upon precepts she had already been made to understand as a little girl. She'd been broken, back then. Before tasting freedom. When her father disappeared he came here, and here he'd waited for her for all those years. The "reunion" melded fear with resentment but she would never show it. There was one way out. A chance to return to the world. Harsh whispers called out:

"Concede. Give him what he wants."

"Okay," she whimpered through the haze, making herself look into the coals one more time. For salvation."I'll be good."

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#113 Edited by Grimmwald (3291 posts) - - Show Bio

@rosso:

"I'll be good"

The words, her defeated voice, floated to the Horned Saint's ears. And he was pleased. Arms folded behind his back, shadows clinging to the black of his garb, Grimmwald stood before her in silence. All that hung in the air was the sharp crackling of the lit torches around them, burning forever as they hung from the temple's bloodstained walls. Stepping forward, his red eyes catching the lurid glow of the torches around them, the Horned Saint met Valentina's eyes with a devil's gaze. The devil owns your soul, I own you, his eyes almost said. You're mine. Behind him, emerged a corpse - a woman the Voice Unheard once called his sister. A woman he had slain. Skin pallid and with the wet and sour smell of a corpse's, Niko San'Vun stood by the Horned Saint's side, a lifeless thrall bound to his service by the damned secrets in the Brahma Bull's temple.

Pestilence of the Blackdagger
Pestilence of the Blackdagger

"Good girl", Grimmwald rasped, eyes still on Valentina as his deep voice sat cold and dark in the air. The fear toxins were running rampant through her body, changing and stamping everything they could with a soul-shattering fear of him in her heart and mind. "Now let's see how good you are". From the shadows behind him, the rattling of heavy chains being dragged across stone echoed louder and louder. Then came laughter, scratchy and painful. Behind it, emerged a tall skeleton of a man. Pestilence of the Blackdagger. Dagger-like claws scratched away at his diseased flesh, and his heavy breathing swarmed the ears of those around him. "Unchain her", Grimmwald commanded. Stepping forward, his bones creaking like old wood, Pestilence reached forward, "Careful sistuh, got a lil'... condition. Ma teeth an' fingernails got a corruption. No craaazy movements, lest you get scratched an' sick", Pestilence warned, his tone serious but his grin permanent.

"Besides, we're siblins' now", he said, sliding his long fingernails into the locks of her shackles before unlocking them with a twist. "You and I will be working closely", the Horned Saint said, his gaze never breaking from Valentina's. "But first, we need to test that loyalty of yours. This woman", he paused, glancing at Niko to his right, "Is from the Nihonto Khan, and part of the San'Vun Syndicate. She'll let me know if you're lying. Or maybe not. Maybe her rank wasn't of enough importance for her to know. We'll just have to see", Grimmwald bluffed. "Why were you at the Nihonto Khan before we took you?". If she'd truly be good, the Horned Saint would slowly award her certain privileges. He'd allow her to bathe and walk. And soon, he hoped to unleash her on his enemies.

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#114 Posted by Rosso (5292 posts) - - Show Bio

@grimmwald: Valentina sat unmoving, even as she was loosed from her bindings. Leaning against the cold stone wall, her eyes flitted back and to and fro, between the fiendish entities and the illusory demonic crowd behind their leader. She hardly reacted to words or actions, but she understood. Her faded emerald eyes fell on Niko San'Vun without a hint of recognition.

"She wouldn't know," she said, voice flaccid, hardly above a whisper. "She didn't even know I was there. Only Yazhun. Yazhun and the attackers. Why...?" She seemed to search for answers in the floor before dully fixating on a single point. "I don't know. There was a job. I was in on it, but...The innocents. They were careless—No! Deliberate. They couldn't care less. I couldn't abide. He would make me rich. He would make me partner. I warned them. Came to warn them again—and I did."

She seemed to fold self-consciously in on herself as she broached the next part, shrinking into the corner. And yet, she laughed. Arising from deep in her chest and some part of a delirious mind, it echoed off of the walls, continuing for nearly half a minute before silence. That's right. The Devil was big on confession, wasn't he? "I was going...rob him. Get to the vault, bring Hopper in. Stash it all in a secret location. Then I kill Hagen and the rest, and I'm the only one who knows where. Doesn't count because it's not a contract. Because...they were scum for what they did. Win-win for me. Diaz would assume they were killed by the Syndicate. San'Vun would assume they ripped him off but I already established my clout. He'd trust me. Then I...wait for the result. No matter who wins, I don't lose."

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#115 Posted by Grimmwald (3291 posts) - - Show Bio

@rosso:

Still like a statue made from stone, Grimmwald listened as Valentina confessed her sins. He was attentive but silent, catching every word and pulling back to his memories of the attack on the Khan. An attack that had spilled the blood of one faction too many. Too many for him to identify without the aid of his Orochi spy network. But Valentina'd given him names to follow up on. Diaz and Hagen. The Orochi would investigate, search for a Diaz and Hagen involved in the attack on the Khan - and bring them to the Horned Saint. "You were playing both sides", Grimmwald said, a cool curl on both corners of his mouth, 'I can't say I'm surprised', he continued in thought. "In any case, you're mine now. Forever", the Horned Saint paused, unfolding his arms to rest them at his sides.

"So we're going to play a game. Be good and I'll let you roam free, let you do your things - but you always return to here. To me", he stopped, allowing his words to sink deep in her mind. "Don't try to flee. Don't upset me. Because I'll always find you", he warned, his voice as dark and cold as the fear toxins threatening her brain chemistry with permanence. "So our game is simple. We're going to find Yahzun, Diaz, everyone, and torture them, kill them. Scum. And if you're good, you get their money. I just want them. But it doesn't end there. Because we're going to find everyone. All the scum. And make them suffer before executing them. You keep their money, I keep what's left of them".

Turning to Pestilence, Grimmwald issued a command, "Gather the others". The chains rattled, and off walked Pestilence to gather the Blackdagger.

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#116 Posted by HumansFirst (264 posts) - - Show Bio

This can only mean bad things...

(But I love it)

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#117 Posted by Rosso (5292 posts) - - Show Bio

@grimmwald: Valentina's gaze trailed the creature until it was out of sight, then came to rest on the embers of Grimmwald's eyes again. Head tilting slowly, the light of realization in her own eyes.

"I can't," she murmured, plaintively, raising her hands before her face. Brushing her fingers across her cheeks, squeezing them, and then her arms, stomach, ribs, legs. "You did...I can't do anything now. I am weak..." She averted her eyes as she said this, careful not to sound as though she blamed him. Her own fault, that was his message. She caught his attention, and then she got captured. But maybe a compromise. "If you let me go, I'll be good. No more killing. No stealing. I'll help the doctor, that's it."

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#118 Posted by Hawkshade (4935 posts) - - Show Bio

@rosso said:

@grimmwald: Valentina's gaze trailed the creature until it was out of sight, then came to rest on the embers of Grimmwald's eyes again. Head tilting slowly, the light of realization in her own eyes.

"I can't," she murmured, plaintively, raising her hands before her face. Brushing her fingers across her cheeks, squeezing them, and then her arms, stomach, ribs, legs. "You did...I can't do anything now. I am weak..." She averted her eyes as she said this, careful not to sound as though she blamed him. Her own fault, that was his message. She caught his attention, and then she got captured. But maybe a compromise. "If you let me go, I'll be good. No more killing. No stealing. I'll help the doctor, that's it."

You can't trust her brother. She's not a rose she's a serpent.
You can't trust her brother. She's not a rose she's a serpent.

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#119 Posted by Grimmwald (3291 posts) - - Show Bio
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#120 Edited by Grimmwald (3291 posts) - - Show Bio

@rosso:

No Caption Provided

For a moment, Grimmwald fell silent, and all that was heard were the crackling of torches. Arms at his sides, and his eyes on Valentina's like the red dot of a sniper, the Horned Saint stepped forward, and behind him crept the faceless silhouettes of the Blackdagger. Lowering himself to a knee, Grimmwald brought his eyes level with Valentina's, and took her chin between his thumb and finger. Holding it with a gloved touch that was neither cold nor warm, neither soft nor harsh, the Horned Saint studied her, glancing at her cheeks and arms, her stomach and ribs, and her legs. "Don't worry. We'll get you ready for the tasks at hand. We have a lot of people to punish", he said, gently turning her face an inch to the side, his eyes following the outline of bone on her face.

"But no. I'll never let you go. You're mine", Grimmwald asserted, his voice cold and almost possessive as he stood back to his full height. "If you're good, do as I say - don't make me angry, in other words - I'll be good to you. But let go?", he shook his head, "You're mine". Turning around, the Horned Saint walked away with Niko following closely. Voices murmured in the darkness, and out stepped Fury of the Blackdagger. A woman. Good height, a face framed by raven hair, a body muscled yet elegant like a panther's, and gloves with vibranium blades sinking back into her knuckles. She, like all Blackdagger members, was to be Valentina's handler in Grimmwald's absence. Nursing but torturing her till she became the Horned Saint's ideal apprentice. 'He doesn't want to see you right now', Fury's eyes said, to plant the seed in Valentina's mind that she'd done something to displease Grimmwald, that she wasn't worthy of being seen by him. That she wasn't worth anything yet.

"Come on", Fury paused, her strong arms there to help Valentina to her feet. Today she'd be allowed to bathe and eat. And if she was good, if she proved loyal enough, the Horned Saint would move forward with his plan to re-purpose Black House and make it Valentina's underground abode. For her to be his hand in Gothic City, dealing brutality to the corrupt, the criminal, and the evil, and claiming the resources of Gothic gangland to destroy the Khan, Diaz, Hagen... and claim Japan's criminal underworld as well. Richard's mother, the Shogun, had shown him the reach of an iron will. No hero could lay claim to building a nation to save a persecuted people. But Ivana could. And like her, Grimmwald would not die until his deed was done.

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#121 Posted by Rosso (5292 posts) - - Show Bio

@grimmwald: "Wait!" Valentina cried. "Wait–wait...wait." Running—stumbling on all fours in effort to chase after him, yet scrambling to avoid the creature-faced woman reaching out to her. "The deal. Favor for a favor. I'll find the League of Shadows. Let me go. I'll find their leader." With that she threw herself face-down on the floor, hair draped along the cold stone, obscuring them from her sight as much as her face from theirs.

That was it. One last, desperate bid to secure her own freedom, hoping beyond hope that the thing which was not her father still wanted to find the fabled guild of assassins. Still wanted them more than he wanted her. She doubted the request could even be satisfied. But, for the sake of freedom...

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#122 Posted by Grimmwald (3291 posts) - - Show Bio

@rosso:

Grimmwald stopped, Fury's claws slid into view with a silver gleam, and the Horned Saint waved it off. 'That won't be necessary', said his hand with a gesture. Fury nodded, her claws retreated back into her knuckles, and Grimmwald turned round to meet Valentina's desperate eyes. The League of Shadows. An enticing offer... or at least, it was. Before the Orochi, before the Blackdagger, before Niko San'Vun, before the forbidden techniques of the Damned Monks from Keijijo scrolls - and before Valentina. He'd wanted the League of Shadows once. But he didn't need them anymore. So there, Grimmwald stood, regarding Valentina with contempt before it faded from his eyes. Behind him, the Blackdagger watched on, never stepping into view, never giving Valentina the security of knowing who and what they were beyond Pestilence and Fury.

Deal. Favor. The words echoed in Grimmwald's mind. And though his head didn't shake, his eyes said it all. Valentina was in no position to negotiate. So he lowered himself to a knee as he had before, and helped her to her knees lest she refuse him. He smoothed her hair, brushed the messy strands from her face, tucked them behind her ears, and held her face between his hands with a kindness, an intimacy that was too good to be true. 'You're mine', his eyes repeated. Red and cold. Truly, he'd become the monster he had always feared he would. Cruel and callous, cold and horribly manipulative. And brutal. Traits he now used to punish, torture and execute all deemed evil and criminal. He was no hero, but an avenger. And it was as good as he'd ever be, because good men - in his mind - are failures. "You disappoint me. We could've started now. Punished them all. Had it all".

Hands pulled back and his brow teasing a scowl, Grimmwald stood to his feet, "You're not ready. I don't want to see your face until you're ready", he almost hissed, the deep rasp in his voice hinting at an anger with her. And she would surely be punished for it. Tortured for it. Until she was ready. Turning round again, the Horned Saint began his walk out her chamber. Yet Fury and the Blackdagger would remain, to torture her, physically and mentally, ruin her will with fear toxins, and condition her. Grimmwald wanted an ideal accomplice. And someone to eventually replace him once the Secret Masters found him. It needed to be Valentina. But not yet. For now, he simply wanted her. Subservient, obedient, and endlessly loyal.

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#123 Posted by Rosso (5292 posts) - - Show Bio

@grimmwald:

Valentina recoiled from his touch, almost doubly so for his verbal lashing, as her last hope to strike a deal evaporated. Words couldn't save her. And no one would be coming. Whatever time had passed, it'd been too long for the possibility that anyone cared, and even if she could be found, the kind of company Rosso the Crimson kept measured concern in utility. As of then, she had none even if she could be free.

Sinking back against the wall, her deadened eyes fell on Fury. She knew what was to come. She didn't try to fight it. No point. There were no martyrs down in that place. Only corpses and forgotten souls. She faced them with forlorn resignation. It was her only path to becoming someone again. Compartmentalise if necessary. Just as you always have. Like a really long con.Forget that other girl. She's no one important. Be someone else—No. Put them all away. A sense of self—any sense at all—would damn her. She had to lose her self. As necessary, be what they wanted her to be. They would tell him, and he would reward her—free her.

And all she needed to do...was nothing at all.

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#124 Posted by Grimmwald (3291 posts) - - Show Bio

@rosso: Incoming reply in a few.

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#125 Posted by Grimmwald (3291 posts) - - Show Bio

@rosso:

The Horned Saint waited. Fury's part - as torturer and caretaker - was played. And the silhouettes of the rest of the Blackdagger always loomed near. Grimmwald wanted obedience, loyalty, a desire to please bred through crippling fear, and he would accept nothing less. He'd allow the time to pass by, for dread and despair to draw the desperation from Valentina's heart and break her spirit, and in time, Grimmwald's order was given. "I want to see her". And the Orochi, the Blackdagger, all obliged. Shackled, in rags, and brain chemistry ravaged by fear toxins, Pestilence would guide her to the Horned Saint, his bony fingers wrapped firmly round the chain tethered to the shackle round her neck.

"Sistuh, he says you allowed to see his face again", Pestilence said, his long sharp fingernails grazing the bladed chains bound to his pallid flesh. The walk was a maze, turns here and there in a barren temple of strange symbols and haunting torches. Yet Pestilence knew his way, leading Valentina through the halls while flanked by Orochi. And together, they strode into a chamber empty of windows, with torches of blue fire instead of orange, and a stone throne on which Grimmwald sat. To his right stood Niko San'Vun, reanimated and at his beck and call. His red eyes fell to Valentina's with contempt, and his voice rang cold and dark through the throne room. His question?

"Will you be good?". She knew what he meant, what he wanted. And he waited.

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#126 Posted by Rosso (5292 posts) - - Show Bio

@grimmwald: Dully, her eyes scanned the floors, walls, and ceiling for distinguishing marks; and all the while, in her mind Valentina recited the various turns en route to the Grimmwald's throne room. As before she'd purged herself of any visible reaction to the various members of the Blackdagger, silently following at the greatest length the makeshift leash would allow.

Soon enough she stood before the Fallen Saint himself, dim lighting of the blue flames painting him a ghastly form. Some part of her still ached on the inside, but compelled by circumstance, she gave a slow nod. "I made a mistake. I'm sorry. Will not happen again."

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#127 Posted by Feral Nova (58109 posts) - - Show Bio
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#128 Posted by Grimmwald (3291 posts) - - Show Bio
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#129 Posted by Grimmwald (3291 posts) - - Show Bio

@rosso:

"I made a mistake. I'm sorry. Will not happen again"

His ears caught her words, and his eyes her defeated nod. "Good girl", the Horned Saint answered, those cruel words of mock praise hanging in the air between them. Meeting eyes with Pestilence, Grimmwald said nothing - yet his gaze communicated everything to the Blackdagger member. Long bony fingers cracking at the joints, Pestilence swiped his hand, and his fingernails sliced through Valentina's steel chains like a molten blade. "Now", he paused as Orochi emerged from shadows to flank his throne, "Feed her", he said, eyes flicking to his cronies, "And let her bathe".

Returning his gaze to Valentina's, the Horned Saint gave her his final words. "We'll be returning to Gothic soon". There, her loyalty to him, the grip of fear over her heart and soul, would be tested. It was time to avenge the world's worst city.

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#130 Posted by Rosso (5292 posts) - - Show Bio

@grimmwald: o_O What the flip does that mean!?

I'm already impatient for the next part.

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#131 Posted by Grimmwald (3291 posts) - - Show Bio

@rosso: Twin things!

I'll post the next part soon (as in later today, which you can believe because there are no fights on, LOL).

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#132 Posted by Rosso (5292 posts) - - Show Bio
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#133 Posted by Penalty (172 posts) - - Show Bio

@rosso: @grimmwald:

"We'll be returning to Gothic soon".

"Mistake number one. And that's as high as I can count."

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#134 Posted by Grimmwald (3291 posts) - - Show Bio
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#135 Posted by Rosso (5292 posts) - - Show Bio
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#136 Posted by Penalty (172 posts) - - Show Bio

@rosso: 80s action movies. ^_^

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#137 Posted by Grimmwald (3291 posts) - - Show Bio

I need to edit the OP but I don't have the energy for it right now.

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#138 Posted by Grimmwald (3291 posts) - - Show Bio

@rosso:

It had been days since his confrontation with Richard. What had initially begun as a loyalty test for Valentina, an attempt to claim Black House as their Gothic City stronghold, became a philosophical duel with his brother. A brother he knew would not see the truth as he had. It was a wasted moment. Time he could've spent furthering his goals, capturing and torturing murderers and terrorists till he hung their skin on the walls like bags of flesh. Time he could've spent training and conditioning Valentina. And time he could've spent searching for the Soul and Mind Lavalieres. Yet as he sat on his forefather's throne of cold and black stone, the Horned Saint's disappointment turned to intrigue.

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He could feel it. Vibrations in the air. His dermal senses latched onto the faraway footsteps causing them, and he waited, his Orochi had returned. And like a sea of red, they flowed into the temple's throne room and bowed before him, their master. Soon they parted to the sides, giving way for the walk of a reanimated Niko San'Vun down the middle. And with her, was Valentina, brought to the throne room with a corpse's cold dead hand holding her by the arm. An Orochi spy strode up the steps to Grimmwald's throne, whispered secrets in his master's ear, and the Horned Saint was simultaneously pleased... and horrified. Though his face held like stone, his mind understood. His Orochi spy network had located the Soul Lavaliere. It rested in the hands of a nightmare monster; Ezra Strix. What the monster would ask of him in return for the stone... he didn't know. But it didn't matter. He owed this to himself and the world.

To the Orochi, to Niko, he said nothing. He merely waved them off. Instead, his cold voice floated to Valentina's ears as the others took their leave. "Why you?", he began, slowly standing from his throne, his eyes locked on Valentina's. All the fear toxins he'd pumped into her, all the torture he'd subjected her to, it sat heavy in his mind. "You said it yourself. We're one in the same. And as I told you before, we're working closely now. An apprentice", he said, "You're mine. And no one gives a shit about you. No one except for me. Because we're one in the same". And those who dared come to her rescue? He'd butcher them and make her wear their skin like a raincoat. "This will only end in one way. With you and I at the helm of something new. And it starts now. You're coming with me to retrieve the first key to the change we are going to bring".

"Now", Grimmwald said, walking down the steps from his throne, "We'll see if you'll be good". The consequences of betrayal - of not being good - hung thick in the air as he gestured that she follow him instead of dragging her as is usual. Together, they would leave the temple with the Orochi in tow, and venture out to where his spy network had discovered a portal to the abode of the Soul Lavaliere; the Black Hallows.

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#139 Posted by Rosso (5292 posts) - - Show Bio

@grimmwald:

She sat cross-legged on the floor and did not look at him. Staring, instead, into her lap where her hands fidgeted with one another, her every move was an absent, dawdling one. By her expression, his words might well have gone in one ear and right out of the other without any cognitive register, but her heart told, pacing just a bit quicker. Her own words. Not what she meant. Not even close. This wasn't the outcome she sought. But what could she do?

It was almost childlike, the way she shrugged, absent-minded and still staring into her lap, but it was the only answer she could provide. As always Valentina knew he was setting her up for failure. Telling her nothing, and giving her virtually the same. But there was nothing she could do, except go along and take whatever came. So she stood, moving on lethargic legs to wherever the Devil and his cronies would usher her.

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#140 Posted by Grimmwald (3291 posts) - - Show Bio

@rosso:

Spat out of a portal after their harrowing experience in the Black Hallows, the Horned Saint walked, feeling Valentina's grip on his arm - and ignoring the red sea of Orochi parting at his stride. There, in his right hand, he held a stone of power, the Soul Lavaliere. One of two stones he needed to enact his plan. The other? The Mind Lavaliere. But the first had cost him his soul, and in the hands of the Mad Strix... he wondered what would become of his spirit. So what then, would the second cost him? Grimmwald could only wonder as he strode through the temple's courtyard and his mind pulled back to Valentina helping him to his feet in the Black Hallows instead of fleeing. Was she loyal or simply clever? The Horned Saint knew not what to make of it, so he stopped thinking. It didn't matter.

Inside the bloodstained halls of his forefather's stronghold, he felt the stone hum low and deep, like a stomach rumbling in hunger for the souls of all who'd perished in the Temple of Brahma. Once in his throne room, the Horned Saint broke from Valentina's grip and strode up the steps to the Brahma Bull's throne. He sat and felt his pale face catch the warm glow of lit torches crackling on the wall. Holding the stone at eye level, Grimmwald examined it, his red eyes drawn to it's lurid orange glow. He could feel it... he needed to master the stone first. With no soul, it was all he could feel. All but his ambition and his obsession. So his eyes dropped to Valentina's, and the Orochi - everyone - strode inside his throne room, beckoned there by a light tug on their souls.

Whether or not he had Valentina's loyalty or fear, truly, he didn't know. And there was only one way he'd know. "I chose you", he said, calm and measured, knowing full well that he could simply tether her soul to him, but he didn't want a tool, he wanted an apprentice, a partner, someone to wield the stone and continue his work once he died and fell to oblivion. "Because we're one in the same", he paused, prepared to see how true that was. "You know what I want from you, and what I don't want from you", Grimmwald continued, "So you're free to go. Food, water, weapons, transport, the Orochi'll take care of that for you", he said, voice deep and unfeeling, eyes returning to the stone as though Valentina were no longer his greatest priority.

"You're free to go". A mind game? The truth? He'd never tell.

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#141 Posted by Rosso (5292 posts) - - Show Bio
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#142 Posted by Grimmwald (3291 posts) - - Show Bio
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#143 Posted by Rosso (5292 posts) - - Show Bio
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#144 Posted by Yazhun_Sanvun (1226 posts) - - Show Bio

Someone's making a run at the stones huh...

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#145 Posted by Grimmwald (3291 posts) - - Show Bio
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#146 Posted by Grimmwald (3291 posts) - - Show Bio

The Dead of Night

It'd been weeks. Weeks since his journey to the Black Hallows. Since he'd set Valentina free. And since he'd lost his soul - but claimed the Soul Lavaliere. He'd sacrificed everything. Given himself to his ambition, made the tough choice no hero ever had the nerve to, he'd lost his soul, the love - the feelings - he had for Ashley, Richard and Tessa, but gained the key, the solution to the problem of evil. While the heroes made their promises and clung stubbornly to their dated ideals of not killing, of not taking the difficult decisions, Grimmwald had given himself to true self-sacrifice. So as he sat on his throne of dark stone, his ears catching nothing but the crackling chorus of the lit torches on the wall, he eyed the lavaliere, bringing it to eye level as he held it between his fingers.

It glowed. Orange. Lurid. Haunting. And he could feel it. The stone's hunger. It was ravenous, demanding. And more than once it has tried to replace what was lost and become his soul. It wanted to take over. To claim him. Every time he practiced, every time he meditated with the stone, absorbed and maimed the souls of the terrorists and madmen he imprisoned in the temple, the lavaliere fought him. Grimmwald had no soul, and it wanted to become his. To walk in his skin and become the scourge of the world. It was a battle of wills that the Horned Saint was ready for. All his years of Strigidae training were poured into taming the Soul Lavaliere. He may never master it, but perhaps he wouldn't need to. He need only get used to it, get good with it, and establish his culture of fear by torturing - and by monitoring and devouring the souls of all who dared engage in evil.

There would be no peace in death for the criminals of the world. Only damnation in a foul ocean of drowned and tortured souls imprisoned inside the Soul Lavaliere. And man would think twice before doing evil in his world. The Horned Saint need only learn to use the power he now held. A power he intended to pass on to Valentina.

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#147 Edited by Grimmwald (3291 posts) - - Show Bio

@tessa_callahan@legacy_

--Continued from Valor

The Horned Saint had dragged her into the shadows, into a darkness that overwhelmed the senses. There was no sound, yet it was deafening. No light, yet it was blinding. The journey was fleeting - but astonishing and terrifying all the same. The otherness faded, and from it the sound of rustling trees and whistling winds arose. They'd arrived in the temple of Kellan's forefather, صفر - Strigidae Zero to the initiated, and Brahma Bull to the ignorant. Tessa lay in his arms, far from the peak of her powers, and her every faculty in great need. Kellan had visited her, time and time again, stalking the shadows of her hospital room awaiting the day she'd regain the mind and body that'd taken leave of her. It had been months.

Finally, she had returned to the land of the living.

"There's a lot to explain, Tessa", he answered, calmness rolling from his voice like a chill. Turning round for her to face their legendary abode, Kellan eyed the cold temple walls that'd been his home since he'd abandoned the Shadow Knights. Here, he had trained. And since losing the Soul Lavaliere, he had evolved and unearthed skills and genetic relics left to him by his ancestor. He was not the Kellan she would remember. He was not even the Kellan who'd brought purged Gothic of evil. He'd become something else entirely. A machine with every skill and power fine-tuned to the art of killing - and one of blasphemy. "I'm going to kill a Secret Master of the Strigidae, or fail and be killed". To fight a Strigidae was to fight a nightmare. And one after another, they become less mutant and more monster till all who remained were the Seven Secret Masters, and the reality that death has come for someone.

The Blackdagger
The Blackdagger

"I haven't seen Richard in a while. I believe he's been abducted by the Secret Masters. If true, whatever they're doing to him, I'd rather he be dead". There was a low thrum in his voice, not of anger - but something alien. "They'll come after all of us if I stand idle. And I'm tired of fleeing and hiding. But you're out of the loop, no idea of all the things that've happened. Or the horrible things I've done". A glint of remorse? For the Purge spiraling out of control, battling Richard, and for hurting Ashley, but nothing more. He was right, and Gothic was better for it. From the temple doors, the Blackdagger sans Pestilence, strode out. They'd cleaned the temple's walls, furnished it's spaces, and made a haven from a place of death. "You were out for a couple of months. And in that time, I learned a lot about myself".

"Get her a wheelchair", Kellan ordered, voice whipping War of the Blackdagger into action. "I never knew my parents, but this temple", he smiled, "Belongs to my ancestor", his smile vanished, "Strigidae Zero. But you know him as the Brahma Bull".

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#148 Posted by Tessa_Callahan (1665 posts) - - Show Bio

@grimmwald:

His voice scraped over her like a whisper through a graveyard, leaving chills and goosebumps in its wake. He was cool, calm, collected. Cold. There was a menace to his voice that hadn’t been there before.

Tessa leaned against him, her knees having trouble holding her weight. Where normally she would have allowed herself to fully collapse against Kellan, this time she held something in reserve, with the inherent knowledge that this was a tenuous situation. All of her instincts now treated him as a potential threat instead of one of her two most-trusted confidants, instead of as her brother.

“You’re going to what?” she asked quietly, as she stepped away from him. Whispers of the secret masters had been nothing more than myth whispered amongst the Strigidae, or so she had thought. Did Kellan have a death wish that she hadn’t been aware of?

Her head was spinning, and instead of getting a handle on it, he hit her with one verbal punch of information after another. “Why don’t you know what happened to Richard? Why haven’t you seen him in so long?” What the f/ck had happened to the Shadow Knights while she was out?

Her mind was whirling. Her head felt like it was floating off of her body. She felt like she was in a fever dream. Maybe she was. Maybe she was still in a coma and this was just her subconscious really trying to f/ck with her. She shook her head, as if to shake some sense and reason into it. “What is the date?” Tessa growled. She had seen her hair in a mirror in her room at the hospital or wherever the hell that place was. The amount of silvery platinum blonde that had grown in was more than a couple months’ worth. It was closer to six. So why was he softening the blow?

What the hell had happened?

A hulking man, who looked as if he had steel-plated skin pushed a wheelchair behind her just as her knees were collapsing. Menace emanated off of every inch of him, and Tessa fought the thrum under her skin calling her to fight, even as her knees were collapsing and her eyes narrowed on her brother. At one point in time he would have taken her into his arms and carried her until there was somewhere safe to put her down, just as he did after retrieving her from the streets of Gothic after fighting Dog and coming out the worse for the wear for it. By every second she was beginning to feel less and less saved, and more and more trapped.

“And what did you learn, Kellan?" she asked, some menace slipping into her voice as she tried to still the panic rising in her chest. "What have you done?”

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#149 Posted by Grimmwald (3291 posts) - - Show Bio

@tessa_callahan:

"You're going to what?"

Those words - her words - echoed too quietly for messengers of the shock in her eyes. But he understood her confusion and the whirlwind of emotions she felt. So he met her eyes with sympathy, or something just similar enough for him to masquerade with. "Hmm", he paused, his dermal senses noting the jittery vibrations from her, the panicked thrum of her heart, "Maybe it was a mistake finding and bringing you here. You're scared". By his master's will, War stopped and the ground no longer quaked in his wake, yet his steel hands still gripped her wheelchair firm. Turning back as the light danced along his metal skin, War awaited his master's command, yet Kellan - the Shadow King - spoke only to Tessa.

"I freed them"

He was calm. More poised than usual. More certain than any man had any right to be. Whatever secret he'd learned, whatever the genetic boons he'd unearthed, they instilled in him a confidence colder than the ice water running in his veins. A confidence that left him with an ominous truth. Either he or the Secret Masters will die. "While you were comatose, I'd found something called the Soul Lavaliere. A stone of power older than damn near anything. To gain it, I had to trade my soul. I did, and with it, I held dominion over all souls in the universe. But without me having a soul, the Soul Lavaliere was... difficult to control, to master. It's sentient, and everyday it tried to take residence in the hollow space left by my soul. It tried to become me, to take over".

"If any good came from being raised a Strigidae, it's that my will is unbreakable. So while I couldn't master it, I could still use people as conduits for the stone's power. So I did. I found the Orochi, once led by Richard's mother, and bent them to my will. I freed these warriors", Kellan paused, eyes moving to hold every Blackdagger in sight, "The Blackdagger. Rogue Strigidae who went rogue like Richard and I did. But they were captured before they could escape. Most of the Strigidae believe them to be dead, but the Blackdagger's souls and minds were made slaves to command words known only by their warden and the Secret Masters who used them in covert roles. I skinned their warden alive, stole the command words, and freed them".

"They're loyal to me by their own will, of their own accord. And with them, the Orochi, and the Soul Lavaliere, I had everything I needed to solve the problem of evil. What keeps men from committing evil? Committing crimes? Consequences. People don't kill their bosses because they'll go to jail. Countries don't invade whoever they like because the international community'll bite back. And the good Christian is only good because he's scared of going to Hell. The threat of punishment works well, and mine was going to work better. Anyone who committed evil, I'd punish. I could read their souls, know their intentions, and punish them accordingly. I went on a purge. Taking the souls of men and women evil now, and those who'd have turned into the Satars and Charlemagnes of the future".

"My punishment was clear. Commit evil, and lose your soul to me. But I needed a successor. An assassin who tried to kill me once was the perfect candidate. Rosso. I chose her. She had "it". Or so I thought. I had to condition her, torture her so she could lose her individuality and become a tool for the cause. I didn't care", he shrugged, apathetic, "Still don't. But the experiment failed. Then I went too far with my purge of evil, and fought Richard, Rosso, and Ashley as I lost control of the stone and it took over me. I was defeated, luckily. And lost the stone. Richard and I spoke afterwards, he forgave me, and my intention became - and still is - to find all Lavalieres, and destroy them. There's more than one, each one holding dominion over a different aspect of reality. If one falls into hands worse than mine, this world could end".

"But Richard's since gone missing. I haven't heard from him since asking him to help me destroy all the Lavalieres. And I haven't been able to find him anywhere. Only the Strigidae, the Secret Masters have the capability of hiding someone from me. I'm sure he's with them. And I need to find him and kill the Secret Masters. Because if I don't, they'll find you, and the others. What I've learned? I'm not who I pretended to be. I'm not a hero. I'm an avenger, a punisher. A good monster", he almost laughed, head shaking. "And the Brahma Bull's descendant. As for the date, it's the nineteenth of March. But it was a mistake bringing you hear. You don't feel safe, so I'll take you to Ashley. You'll stay with her".

Nearing her side, he sat a hand on her shoulder, and barring any protest that she stay, he'd pull her into the nearest shadow and teleport her to the hospital Ashley'd built over the ruins of Black House. "I may or may not die soon. So this is goodbye".