Northstar Vale And nobody owes you now
Private  September 03, 2018, 12:05 PM
Mou
Yu猫l贸ng
Zh脿nsh矛
Episode two. @Shardik 鈥 he's still underground.


It had been like a great world-ending storm. A mountain losing it's integrity and collapsing inward. A deep and deafening scream that filled the space and rebounded off the walls, disorienting the boy in the darkness as he made his bid for safety; that had been days ago. There was no telling how long now, but Mou could swear his ears were still ringing from the sound of the world ending. He had not thought twice about it 鈥 when that roar came, he knew his life was in immediate danger, and he had scrambled deeper in to the cavern, and he had run so hard he thought his lungs and heart would burst.

With the darkness and the calm around him now, and no discernable way out of the blackness that engulfed him, Mou thought that surely he had died in that moment.

He didn't know what happened, what chased after him with such violent urges, and in a way it didn't matter. The boy was trapped and he knew it. The creature 鈥 the force, whatever it was 鈥 likely knew it too. If he wasn't dead yet, it was only a matter of time. The hunger was one thing, but the thirst 鈥 his throat felt as if it were filled with pine needles and his mind was pounding with every beat of his heart, every blink of his eye, every terrified step.聽

Was this it? Was this the end?
September 03, 2018, 12:19 PM
Shardik
Approved Members

it was true a dark and malevolent thing trailed after mou in that unseen tunnel -- a terrible and swarming malice that seemed to block out what little light the caverns afforded, and walked with the tread of one accustomed to fell darkness. for shardik was made and fashioned in the might of foul blackness; these tunnels were his kingdom, and the shadows his court. he was a beast wrought by some baleful yarn, and sewn to the brim with raw, hostile purpose.

he hunted, scraping along the narrowing corridors like some terrible arachnid, eyes glittering and mouth frothed with foul rime.

he hungered, he thirsted; yet the deeper they drove into those twisting tunnels the more certain shardik was that this wretch was close to its final end; one more twist, one more turn, and the dog's chapter would be closed forever.
September 03, 2018, 12:32 PM
Mou
Yu猫l贸ng
Zh脿nsh矛

On more than one occasion he thought he was imagining all of it. The flight from Undersea, the cave so spontaneously discovered, the beast within it. Sometimes he thought he smelled water 鈥 salty like the sea, or at least the taste of minerals 鈥 but the boy was too frightened to explore the corridors. He yearned for the sight of the open sky. Visits from Maegi. He wanted to play with Seelie's children, run along the beach, no longer nervous of the thought of the water.

The sea would've been favorable to this 鈥 this unending blackness, this void, which had swallowed him up. Mou mourned the loss of his life; he couldn't focus for long on anything anymore, not with the migraine and the weakness set within him, but he was pitiful indeed.

The one constant reminder that he wasn't dreaming was the sound of claws upon the stone behind him. Sometimes it felt like there were eyes on him, or the heavy breath of something foul and otherworldly ready to pluck the life from him. The darkness wasn't so frightening when he lived half his life within it; rather, the indications that he聽wasn't alone聽were bone-chilling.

As he slipped along, he came upon a gap in the earth and without thinking, wedged himself against it. The corridor narrowed and began to grow steep as it ascended, and he was stuck awkwardly hoisting himself upon narrow shelf after narrow shelf. He thought the ground had grown damp suddenly, and paused to sniff the shadows.
September 03, 2018, 12:46 PM
Shardik
Approved Members

shardik's piggish eyes gazed ever ahead, piercing through the dark film with predatory intrepidity. in front of him the brittle form of a dog soldiered on; sometimes held full-bore in his hateful sights, other times, disappearing round the gentle curve of rock-strewn tunnel.

it was the dog's scent that shardik followed with tethered intensity, up until a ream appeared in the earth and he detected mou's passage through it. these shelves were stacked close and the ceiling of the tunnel closer; the great bear lifted his muzzle to the hardened ceiling and sniffed it in a long, disappointed draught. the narrow chasm was just wide enough for him to somehow snake his way through, but his progress was greatly halted and his quarry would doubtless gain double the ground shardik did during this time.

he growled his displeasure; a wicked, harrowing noise that thundered up the shelves and reverberated along the stony cavern in sharp report. "don't you want to rest, dog?" he heaved himself atop the first shelf, his swollen belly scraping obscenely along the protrusion of ancient stone. "i could show you sleep," a bellow of laughter gurgled from his vulgar muzzle, and leapt up the shelves in repugnant bounds, settling around the cave in shrill echoes unwilling to fade.聽
September 03, 2018, 12:55 PM
Mou
Yu猫l贸ng
Zh脿nsh矛

It was difficult to find purchase with each step. He could see some vague outlines of things, and if he was lucky then the grainy grey of distant light would catch in his retinas for a while; but as he scrambled along, Mou found the darkness to be more of an obstacle than it should've been. He, as a canine, might've been adapted to low-light, but this was something his body could not adapt to. So he did his best to climb, but on a more consistent basis his steps caught air or his paws caught the sharp edge of broken stone. The wetness he had felt before 鈥 with the mineral scent 鈥 was his own blood. No wonder the beast could track him so well.

He didn't care. The shelf proved to be quite an obstacle but he could climb it faster than the force that pursued him; and then, as if to confirm its frustrations, that voice boomed through the earth. It was like listening to a deity 鈥 he felt the voice through the earthen steps more than he heard it at first, and then it was everywhere. A grim voice tempting him with freedom.

Mou couldn't help but pause and shrink against the wall when it came upon him. A rapture of malevolent promises.

I could show you sleep,
the voice promised; he could not reply of course, could not even whimper or weep as his fear spiked in to adrenaline, but he could climb faster. His reaching forepaws were slick with blood from all the climbing and hoisting, but soon his trail wasn't just bloody but warm and laced with ammonia 鈥 he'd thoughtlessly wet himself in fright.
September 03, 2018, 01:10 PM
Shardik
Approved Members

the pair toiled onwards, upwards. shardik admired mou's persistence -- rarely was it that wounded things went uphill. more than once his flat paws landed on the slick pool of blood left in mou's wake; a grim promise in dark red that the dog's end was simply eventual.

the beast paused on the lip of one such shelf, feeling his rank breath spill along the promontory and encircle about him. it was tight, ever tight -- his blackwater eyes watched the constricting darkness, watched mou's bent form struggle ahead.

at last the grim peals of shardik's unwelcome laughter faded and a new silence shepherded about them. in that small space the beast fancied he caught wind of urine; his loose lips pulled back and conical teeth bared in a delighted and malevolent grin. "scared, dog?" his voice rumbled and he found ambition anew. he rose carefully, his rounded shoulders brushing the ceiling as he mounted the next step with a grunting heave. "don't fight it," he quibbled, his teeth chattering in bellicose delight: "let me help you sleep." he heaved again, ignoring the slick puddles his body pressed against. he reached one arm above him, claws curling around the stony lip with a crackle of brittle stone as he hoisted his immense girth upwards, pursuing the form of the pale ghost that was now well ahead of him.
September 03, 2018, 01:21 PM
Mou
Yu猫l贸ng
Zh脿nsh矛

He was fleeing as fast as he could, rummaging through the dark without any semblance of hope; he knew, just as the beast knew, that this wasn't going to end well. Perhaps it never would end. Thoughts of being dead resurfaced 鈥 perhaps this was not hell, but purgatory? A place where he was meant to suffer for crimes he could not recall, until there wasn't even the smallest spark of life left inside of him.

He realized suddenly that there was silence. Only silence.

The creature had stopped chasing after him. Was it tired? Was it gone? His own scrambling stopped then, and he looked haphazardly over his shoulder for the first time since being driven deep in to the earth. He saw nothingness; he saw darkness and the glint of grey light on distant teeth, and knew he couldn't stop.

Thankfully the earth came to his rescue. As Mou climbed one more flight of irregular slabs, he felt the earth at his paws crumbling. He found himself lodged in a narrow passage that was barely higher than his shoulders, and it forced him to crawl like a worm in the dirt; but the platform beneath him wasn't secure enough for his pursuer.

For now, he was safe.

But where could he go from here?
September 03, 2018, 01:39 PM
Shardik
Approved Members

indeed, the wisp of a wolf was safe for now; well out of the reach of shardik's scrabbling claws -- yet not entirely hidden from the prying of his slavering, hungry gaze. the monster worked the brittle slabs, crumbling stone and earth beneath his weight as he struggled to mount the last embankment. the last embankment refused each of his advances; with each heavy thud of his body more stone gave way -- until at last the chattering of loose stone tumbling down the natural stair ended, and all that remained was the settling cloud of choking dust.

shardik snarled into that blackness, placing one immense paw against the wall in which mou had slipped. he unfurled his great form and rose, peering in the gap he could not climb to. shardik pressed his massive head against the slit, his malevolent eye searching that impenetrable darkness until at last it rested with profound avarice on the wounded, ragged form of the dog.

a dog kenneled; trapped as beast and stone closed about him.

a small victory, but not one that meant much to the slavering demon. if mou died beyond his reach, he was hardly triumphant in his chase. he withdrew for a moment and darkness crept in where his piggish eye had been.

shardik considered his options. he would not be able to fit in the gap mou weasled into, but there were other tunnels nearby. at the same time, shardik was aware mou could slip away if he turned his attention elsewhere. which would it be? a waiting game, two beasts hunkered down battling for their survival? or would he crawl down some other tunnel, taking the hunt into his own claws in the hopes there was a different egress that might cross paths with the slit mou holed himself in?

another grumble of displeasure slipped from his fluttering lips and he reared again, one long arm pressed through the slit; his claws groping blindly in the darkness for mou's form.


September 03, 2018, 02:02 PM
Mou
Yu猫l贸ng
Zh脿nsh矛

There was the sound of grumbling, of frustration as the creature clambored forth, and it was with a rising sense of triumph that Mou watched the dirt give way. He could not make out where the creature ended and the earth began, but he saw the rising plume of dirt and felt a deep satisfaction when things began to settle. He closed his eye against the fog of particles, burrowed his snout against the crook of his forelimbs and waited out the cloud.

When things settled, he knew he was safe. It was temporary 鈥 a stale victory when one was trapped underground.

There was more shuddering from the dirt when the creature began to investigate the soil, the walls, the place where Mou had escaped to 鈥 and the boy realized there was a little more ambient light. Small shafts of light were making their way through somewhere, and it was enough for him to get a look at the creature.

He wished afterwards that he hadn't looked. The bear balanced with its massive paws against the stone wall and rose up to its immense height, putting it so close to Mou that he thought he could feel the warmth of it's breath upon him. He scrurried like a rat through a maze to get away, and missed the reaching arm of the bear as it probed the darkness.

Mou continued like this, because there was nothing else he could do. The earth was all around him and he felt the squeeze of odd angles, tasted the foulness of his own making in the air, and knew deep in his gut that this could become his grave. He felt a stabbing sensation in his haunches that startled him in to pulling forwards with his forelimbs and realized after a shocked moment that the bear had caught him.

Perhaps the creature was just as startled 鈥 or maybe Mou was moving faster than he could recognize, because he was soon free of the bear's grabbing fists and clattering like a discarded doll in to an expanse. He was briefly winded, having landed on his chest, but he looked around wildly in case the creature had followed after him.

This place was a death trap, and it took everything he had to stay alive.
September 03, 2018, 07:28 PM
Shardik
Approved Members


shardik leaned against the stone wall, his shoulder pressed up against the crack and his claws blindly fumbling. stone, dust, pebbles; their feedback clambered up his claws and through his pads - stone, dust, pebbles -- flesh.

with a squeal of rage he felt mou's hips slip from him, and a sudden plop that suggested he was now well beyond the beast's reach. furiously, shardik withdrew his arm and a hateful, round eye appeared in its place, searching rapidly in that dark corridor for any sign of his prey's form.

there was nothing -- just shadows, and disturbed, swirling dust. another snarl rippled in the demon's throat and with newfound fury, he romped down the slab, stone splintering as he shouldered his way through brittle earth and wearied stone, forcing his immense frame into a nearby tunnel with the fierce burrowing of some rabid cavebeast.