Hidden 1 mo ago 1 mo ago Post by apathy
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"A few minutes longer and I am not so sure escape would have been possible. You were foolish to risk being captured, habibi." The old man sat, absent-mindedly picking at a cuticle of his wooden prosthesis. A heavy sigh and soft chuckle before he continued. "But here you are, and hundreds owe you their lives. You couldn't make me prouder."

Back turned to him, Najwa washed away the blood and ash of the previous 6 hours. The remains of the Xanathan uniform she'd expropriated earlier lay in a huddled mass by her father and commander's feet. Having completed her report, she stepped away from the alcove artfully hewn into solid rock and entered an adjoining chamber of her quarters.

She returned moments later, now comfortable in her fatigues and ready for further admonishing when her environment subtly shifted. Upon retrospect, she could never determine what exactly occurred. Najwa found herself in a dimly lit hall. Gone were the scents of Kethiwe's cooking. The sounds of tired and grateful villagers adjusting to the sudden upheaval of their lives once more.

Fingertips brushed against the cragged surface of a massive stone tablet, depicting a seated figure draped in many robes. Something... a fire perhaps? A cold gust of air sailed the corridor's length and on it danced the heady perfume of incense and mucidity. There... breathing?

Apprehensive at the alien nature of her arrival and surroundings, Najwa drew her pistol and readied it. Like her namesake, the Lioness silently approached the source of what she was almost certain was breathing, passing through several chambers before reaching the wide arch that gave way to an expansive hall. The mountains that broke through the thick haze beyond narrow carvings in the stone were unlike any she had seen across her homeland.

A few steps further and she was met with the locus of her unease. He... It- had its back to her and sat in the center of a pool of sand, neatly surrounded by the dregs of seeds and... what smelled like sap? The Gwinyai brothers told tales of mtyholi, devils of the jungle, that drew power from terrible places. This thing, that seemed to be both living and dead, must be one of them.

Najwa stood nearly ten yards away, weapon up and pointed at the center of its back. Finger on the trigger and alert for the slightest provocation, she called out in Xhosa.

"Did you bring me here? What is this place?"
Hidden 26 days ago 26 days ago Post by LeeRoy
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An almost imperceptible alteration of the atmosphere flashed across his dry and leathered skin, a dash of ozone and a small amount of pressure as the volume of a human was added to the close universe. The small hairs that still remained in his forearms and neck prickled and rose in alertness, and his mind awoke again for the first time in a long time. By the time he'd fully risen to his senses, Shin was already being questioned by a woman speaking a dialect of Bantu.

This was troublesome, Bantu was not a necessary language he'd relearned recently. He'd only learned it to speak to the Zulu peoples when he fought alongside them against the English. It was very fortunate that the young woman was very direct, otherwise the difference in language would have been problematic.

He opened his eyelid to expose his socket to the cool air and began to slowly rise to his feet, the cracking of long resting bones became the only sound not originating from the woman. The seed shells began to sink into the gentle sand, and bits of bark that had been resting in his lap fell to sink as well. By the time he'd risen, she had been waiting a considerable amount of time.

The ancient smiled a toothy grin to the woman and slowly pieced together the words as he spoke them. For the first time in what seemed to be months, he opened his mouth dryly and spoke to her in plain words. "Sad, no. I did not bring you. You are in a place of death. You are young to be here." He would have squinted at himself if he still could, he thought about the wording and how it might be a provocation.

It probably wouldn't matter. "Come, sit. Tell me of your self." He gestured to the floor and noticed only now how long his fingernails had gotten, looking down upon his own reflection in his glassy infinite mind space.
Hidden 24 days ago Post by apathy
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Gossamer pennons of fragrant smoke rose slowly from the occasional brazier scattered through out the wide chamber. She wonders if these mummified remains surrounding her are the victims of the slowly rising form. Its movements were strained, and its bones cracked like splintering wood. How long had it been there, waiting?

It spoke the language of her southern cousins with a voice like wind passing through gnarled roots. It gestured at the ground at its feet in invitation; to what? The longer she remained in this place, the more unnatural it felt. Not in the same way as Marange, where life flourished in fantastic fashion. This was a place of death.

The mtyholi were known for their treachery and spoke such sweet words to lull so many to their doom. She would not allow this. Two shots ring out and sand erupts at its feet. She makes a mental note of the remaining 8 rounds in her magazine.

"Return me now! I warn you, there will be consequences!" Her tone remains even as she takes a slight step to her left, repositioning herself so that she was provided partial cover by one of the mummies.
Hidden 24 days ago Post by LeeRoy
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Two billows of dust erupted in paired shockwaves of dislodged sand, the rough titter of its particulate against his bare feet turned his face down towards the sand that was now pooled over them. His foot shifted and he wiggled his dry toes through the sand as he weeded out the bullet closest to his right foot. It took a moment but his toes found the piece of lead buried a few inches in the sand and raised it up, he turned his head and inspected them. "Forty five."

He cleared his throat and saliva began to dribble from his tongue again, his body finally processing that it's alive and active. He pursed his lips and licked at the corners before he spoke. "Girl, please. Peace is my first, war is my second. A time when this was not true has passed me by." He reared back and fully extended his leg like a soccer player, the bullet clenched tightly between his big toe and its nearest neighbor. It actually deformed at the clutch of his toes.

Like the crack of a whip, his foot rocketed forward and he spun at the hip, fully matching the rotation of his leg with his torso. The maximum amount of angular momentum was achieved and for a brief moment the tip of his foot broke the sound barrier. The bullet was launched from his toes into the stonemasonry nearest her head, by a few inches. Sinking the piece of lead into the wall a quarter of an inch. "Do not presume that you can enforce consequence on me."
Hidden 23 days ago 22 days ago Post by apathy
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As the archway above and behind her bursts with the sudden impact of crushed lead, her resolve strengthens with the explosive confirmation of her suspicions. If not a demon, it was still a creature of immense power in the husk of a man. Najwa wondered- how much power?

She recalled one particular lesson during her training with Asad. As a human in a rapidly changing world where geomancy or telekinesis were becoming the norm, his wits were his greatest weapon.

For now, she wouldn't reveal the extent of her own capabilities. Her movements carry her laterally while the first pebbles behind her strike the ground; she double-taps the trigger once more and aims for its center mass. The shots are timed just before she bounds behind a robed mummy. Her goal is to reach the creature's left flank while steadily closing the distance between them, using the myriad shrines as cover.

All of these motions had the appearance of a highly trained operative moving with tactical efficiency and a bit of good timing.
Hidden 12 days ago Post by LeeRoy
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Firearms were a hassle when he was younger, no beast on Earth can even compete with it from a logistical standpoint. It's hot death sprayed from a barrel, faster than by wing, and hitting with more force than even the mighty elephant. This was not a problem for Shin anymore, and his body whipped up and spun back the opposite direction and whipped his right arm across at his midriff into the path of the two short distance bullets. One caught into the crook of his elbow and the other into the palm of his hand, from there he carried the two bullets still in motion outwards and away from himself. Once his torso had made a full halfcircle the bullets flew off behind him, leaving only two red tracts where the skin had been gouged away by the spinning of the bullets.

As well, the half circle of his upper body tracked her motions and put him face to face with her at where his left flank had been previously. His right arm was extended all the way around himself, almost as though he were giving himself a hug with just one arm. So he left it there like a coiled spring, ready to spin back out to strike once again. "Come now! Fight like you mean to, not like you wish only to survive!"
Hidden 9 days ago Post by apathy
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The gap between them had closed during her advance and Najwa now found herself nearing the tiered ring's raised edge. In that time, her mind had begun to assess the principles of her opponent's motions and capabilities. She made note of the furrows carved by her previous shots; the momentum with which her first shots had been returned and the speed necessary to intercept rounds traveling at nearly 1,140 ft/sec. Postulating that the two were of comparable speeds, her next course of action was determined at the exact moment she leapt off the edge.

The platform gave way with a brutal crack as a winding trench split down the epicenter of where she'd pushed off from. Those desiccated husks nearest her had toppled over while others began to fall into the collapsing structure, plumes of disturbed dust and smoke rising towards the high windows.

Poised to strike with a retracted left fist, Najwa soared through the air at a descending 30 degree angle. Wary of her opponent's withdrawn appendage, she would be mindful to clear her own speeding profile with her firearm by tucking in her right elbow as her left arm began to shoot forward to complete a powerful straight punch. If left unimpeded the prismatic alloy of her reinforced knuckles would make a solid connection with the mtyholi's jaw.
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