Hidden 18 days ago 18 days ago Post by Zyx
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The end of the world began not with a whimper, but a slow and insidious infection. One that saw the laws of ordered reality gradually breaking down in the face of overwhelming strangeness as the surreal and nonsensical realm of dreams slowly merged with the waking world, to say nothing of the modern world, the inhabitants of which were utterly helpless before the chaos that followed as nightmares sprung forth and entire cities churned. Still, an intrepid few--be it through pure luck, skill, or sheer power--managed to survive the opening hours of the apocalypse. It is one of these, a former software developer by the name of Maxwell Moore, that finds himself among these lucky few, at least for the time being anyway. But the world is a changing. And should he fail to change along with it, or fail to master the mysterious new control over the world around him he and a few others have been gifted, then he will die, swept away by tide like so many others before him...



Sighing, Moore peeked out the window of the small shack he'd been given. It wasn't the best place in the camp, but it was warm and it was stable, the same of which could not be said for the world just beyond the commune's border. That churned and writhed, flashing iridescently in a way that reminded him of a rave, if it just so happened to be frequented by nightmarish creatures, nonsensical geometry, and people like him. Lucids they were called by some, on account of their control over the dreams that were steadily bleeding into reality, in a manner akin to lucid dreaming - hence the name. But unlike them, he had not yet gained such levels of refined control, nor the confidence and savagery required to wander headfirst into that raging maelstrom. And to tell the truth, a small part of him hoped he never did, just as it hoped the hell he and the rest of the human race had been forced to live in would come to a swift end. That way the world could go back to the way it used to be, even if such an outcome was completely unfeasible. No, their path was determined now. To destruction or, more likely, an even darker end. At least if reports from the wastes were anything to go by. Reports of Lucids staking their domains and warring against all who would dare challenge them, just like the warlords of old...

Turning away from the window, he rose from the cot upon which he'd been laying and made his way over to the door. Grabbing a coat he made his way outside, thankful that the seasons appeared to have remained unchanged in all this mess, not to mention grateful--for what was perhaps the first time in his life--that snow had decided to fall. The camp itself was a small and dingy place, like most these days, being brightened more by the unrelenting nature of its occupants than anything else. It was one of these occupants, a woman by the name of Adeira, that he had set out to find on this dreary day. The two of them had made each other's acquaintance on the road some time ago, if you could call something that felt like walking on taffy a road anyway, and after a few conversations had elected to travel together since they'd both been headed to the same destination. A few minutes of trekking later and he'd finally arrived at Adeira's place of residence. Adjusting his collar he rapped gently against the door and waited.
Hidden 18 days ago 17 days ago Post by Neianna86
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Within the equally small shack things were a little bit more decorated. A gentle fire lit up the room offering its light, warmth and heat as a small pot softly simmered off to the side of it.
The mantle itself held some plates and a couple of mugs she had found during her outings.
The bed, was little more than a couple of bales of hay and a blanket, but again, one should not compare things to what they had once been. Those days were over and it wasn't very likely that they would come back soon.
Adeira was always looking for stuff to collect and use. She practically had found everything that now stood or was used by them.
The dead after all had little use for it, when she had stumbled upon Maxwell she too had thought he had died...well what a surprise it had been that he had opened his eyes.
If Adeira hadn't been scared half to death, she would have screamed and no doubt her fear would have altered the Dreamscape.

Adeira groaned as she lifted her head from the table...wait table...
She had fallen asleep again.
She could curse herself, before shaking herself awake stumbling still half drunk from sleep over to the door.
As she removed the wooden cross beams she quickly opened the door for Maxwell.
"Well what fine hour do you call this?" She greeted with a cheeky smile.
"Well come in...oh and don't mind the wild hair, apparently I needed to catch up on some sleep...you know, after 'the' incident." Adeira ended before she ushered him in and pushed him towards the fire and a bowl of hot stew she had managed to scrounge together.
Adeira herself was considerably smaller, Maxwell was at least a head taller than her, perhaps even a head and a half. Lithe, slender and nimble Adeira was something of a woodnymph, with her misschievous eyes and wild head of hair finishing the picture.
Perhaps is was that natural side of her that saved her when the world went to shit.
Her instincts had helped her survive through the worst of the days and she had come to rely upon them. They had aided her and guided her through some of the most awful horrors those first few days had thrown at her.
She shivered remembering a particular grim day from the early days.
Still she was alive.
Hidden 18 days ago 18 days ago Post by Zyx
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Stuffing his hands into his pockets, Maxwell stepped inside, flashing Adeira a friendly smile as he did so.

"Oh, about three after Wednesday," he said quietly.

'Twas one of the many little jokes he liked to make whenever she asked him that. In a way it was his manner of making light of the shitty situation they'd both ended up in. At the mention of the incident, however, he winced. It wasn't a pleasant memory to say the least, even if it was one link in the chain of events that had led to their eventual meeting. Then again they could have met just as easily at any time before this shitstorm kicked off, which would have saved them all the trouble and trauma...

Shaking his head, Maxwell turned his attention back to Adeira.

"Are you alright?" he asked with quiet concern. "Is it that memory again?"
Hidden 17 days ago Post by Neianna86
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She blinked for a moment, honestly thinking of how to answer him.
"Well, I can't say that. But I shouldn't be the one complaining either." She replied releasing a sigh as she poured him a nettle tea.
"I doubt that memory will leave either of us any time soon, considering..." She felt a fearful shiver run up her spine as she heard herself scream and call out. The dark tendrils lunging at her, wrapping around her ankles and reeling her in like some sort of hooked fish.
Her bright eyes shifted to his again.
"I could ask you the same thing...we both were there." She swallowed as her eyes demanded contact with his.
"Why...you could've just run. I was done for..." The words were soft, troubled and yet curious at the same time.
Her slender hands took hold of one of his, caressing it absentmindedly.
"You could have just ran like so many others, I have watched countless people ignore the pleas of those that were in trouble. Who'd turn their backs to them and run away only to live maybe a few hours more. But you didn't, the look you had...the way you moved...it almost was as if you were in full control of yourself." She uttered before releasing his hand again.
Her eyes shifted to the fire and the window.
"So winter's finally come..." She said as she stood up to look outside.
"The First snow of winter. They used to say it was the purest snow to be found. A white blanket that would announce the coming of the king of winter. The Holly King."
She pulled the shawl a little tighter around her, as she a gentle smile crept on her lips.
"The two brothers...locked in an eternal battle, one cycle after the other, snatching the crown from eachothers head in a neverending bid to rule. I wonder if is a deadly an omen as Winter is a season." She turned to him again.
"Now I can manipulate the Dreamscape to 'not be noticed', but what you did back then was so much more powerful." She threw another log on the fire. "We need to find out what it exactly was that you did, cause hell we both know it was something out of this world. In comparison to what you showed I merely dabble with Lucidity." She pointed out.
To prove a point she stepped back to blend in with the wall behind her, being absorbed by it, before stepping out again.
It was how she had survived for so long. Her hiding skills were good enough to bypass most threats, but she paid a price for it every time she used it. It would suck the energy out of her, thus falling deeper into an unconscious state. She wasn't sure what would happen if someone or something would encounter her in that state, but she could be fairly certain that the part of the dreamscape she warped to cocoon herself in would unfurl and spit her back out. There for all, friends and enemies to see.
She had learned very quickly that the 'bad kind' could be fooled optically, but that Nightmares required a different kind of tactic namely one of stillness. The merest movement, the merest sound would launch them upon you like a hunting dog upon its prey.
"Look we need to face facts, if this Winter is going to be bad... You and I both know we don't have the provisions to make it through. We need to go out there to hunt or at least to scrounge up some food and wood for the fire, currently I have enough to see us through a couple of weeks, but that isn't going to last." She finished bringing up the point on why she had asked him to see her.
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He sighed. It was true, they didn't have enough supplies to survive the winter, though he was loathe to explore the world beyond the camp's borders. Strong he might have been when it came to doing... whatever it was people like him and Adeira could do, that didn't mean he enjoyed navigating the sloshing hellscape that lay beyond, nor avoiding the horrors that stalked its depths. Still, they did need to eat and keep warm. And they couldn't do that with nothing. At least, he didn't think they could anyway. Then again with how crazy the world had become, who was he to say what was impossible or not?

"I'll get some gear together," he said at last, the light from the fire reflecting in his eyes. "I should be ready to go in about an hour or so."

With that he made his way out the door and back to his lodging to start packing all the things they'd need for the trip. Mainly weapons, for what little good they still did, a first-aid kit, extra clothes, camping gear, and what little food and water remained.
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Adeira waited patiently for him, she had gathered all her necessities and had put on her thick coat with attached finger mittens, wrapped up in warmth as she released a white breath upon her exhale.
Her huntingbow swung upon her back and skinning knife strapped to her side she carried a loose shoulderbag for all her findings.
Her boots crunched as they tred upon the soft first snow, leaving a trail behind, that soon would be filled up again if the snow continued falling.
As she watched Malcom approach her again she smiled and asked.
"Ready?"

With his answer they both set off into the direction of the woods. What once had been a lush green forest now was a dark and bleak forest, spreading out before them, their branches long spindly and more like witches boney fingers than actual branches.
There were hardly any sounds in the woods anymore since the shift. The Dreamscape had smothered quite a few things and it certainly had had its effect on the wildlife. They too had fallen prey to the constant potential change or the horrible nightmares that lurked out there.
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No matter how many times they did this, Maxwell just couldn't help but be creeped out by the wasteland. It just felt wrong somehow, as though all life had been leeched from the area, which--in a way--he supposed it had. Clutching his knife tightly, he kept his head on a swivel as they made their way through the darkened woods.
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Following the remains of what once had been a forest road, Adeira adeptly scouted ahead, in hopes of prey or anything substantial.
Her slender frame darted between the trees and accross a fallen tree, that now served as a bridge accross a deep ditch.
She checked upon the few snares she had set out, as she had seen rabbit tracks earlier that week and hoped some would still remain.
But so far the snares were empty. As she moved further she noticed sounds that made her ears perk up.
The snorting and scuttling about made her smile as she spotted its source a little further between the trees.
A freeroaming hog. It must have escaped during the shift and been able to avoid predators until now. Now that could feed them for quite a while. Granted she wasn't a fan of killing animals, but they needed to eat aswell. Meat would see them through the winter.
As she took her bow of and notched and arrow loosely to the bowstring, she slowly crept forward, trying to keep one eye on the hog and one on her feet.
When she dared not move closer she calmly stilled her nerves and relaxed her muscles before drawing her bow. She could see the target as she looked over the shaft, hoping to hit it just right so it wouldn't start squealing.
As she released her breath, her mind calmed down, only to be startled by a sudden distorting of the the area. In her moment of panic she released the arrow missing its target, but burying itself into a tree closeby.
She watched in horror as the animal was picked up by large nightmarish black vines or tentacles or whatever it was.
From off to the side and out of view chuckles of laughter could be heard as well as jeers and cheers.
"Porkchops tonight!"
Adeira wasn't sure what to make of them, but as long as they hadn't seen them they should try to remain hidden.
Not having paid attention to where Maxwell was, made her realize she might have gone too far ahead.
Knowing that she shouldn't linger she called upon her lucidity and put a mirroring effect upon her cloak, hoping it would be enough for now to slip away with.
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Maxwell hadn't lagged too far behind, though he'd not managed to catch up with Adeira fast enough to witness what it was she had seen. He had heard the voices however, and dropped into a crouch as he came upon the place in which his companion had been standing. Scanning the surrounding trees carefully, he cursed as the ground beneath his feet shifted and sloughed, dragging him out to stand face to face with what was perhaps his second worst nightmare...

A Lucid. One who wasn't alone at that from the looks of things, as a small group of people armed with a variety of weapons revealed themselves soon after, all of them staring down at him with what Maxwell could only describe as malicious intent.
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Three figures formed half a circle around him, encroaching on his personal space as the barrel of a hunting rifle as aiming steadily at his forehead.
From left to right this ecclectic group seemed a strange mix of individuals, which if it hadn't been for the shift, probably never would have crossed paths.
From left to right to left:



There remained an awkward silence for a couple of moments as the group sized the stranger up. The tallest of them a strangely painted fellow (was it paint?") put his axe lazily across his shoulder, before the woman amongst them let out a soft laugh as she noticed the 'threat' Maxwell would pose.
"Looks like we stumbled upon a little babe lost in the woods."
With her nonchalant remark the other two eased up as well, though the distrustin their eyes did not waver.
The two men at her side glanced at one another, before one decided to lift Maxwell's chin up with the barrel of the hunting rifle, took take a better look at him.
"Nother scrounger, Val." He spoke with a hoarse voice to the fourth figure of their group.
He had remained off to the side, focussed on his prey. The panicking hog and busy suffocating it, so it could not draw more unwanted onlookers.
Aside from the whole coldheartedness of the deed, it was how he did it that was most terrifying.
He was using his Lucid powers.
And did so in an almost lackadaisical manner.
The tendrils he called forth acted like so serpentine and constrictorlike that he might aswell be. His face however remained a porcelain emotionless mask.
He cast a large shadow despite his smaller stature in comparison to the two other men, who clearly seemed to designate him as their leader. And considering the feats the youngman was able to pull off...it was no wonder.
When the hog was finally quiet and slumped in the grasping tendrils he turned to focus on what the others had found."



As he walked over, his clinical, cold stare practically froze the air in front of him.
"If he is as hopeless as you say he is we might as well snap his neck right here and be done with it. Can't deal with another mouth to feed. Wasted space, after all, is wasted space." He spoke softly before glancing over to the woman that was with them.
She hardly seemed impressed, clearly not putting up with whatever the youngman insinuated and raised an eyebrow.
"Try that shit on me and you'll regret it." She snarled in dark promise, before she smiling wickedly.
"Besides, you'll never find anyone as good as me."
Implying they were more than just associates, the world had grown rather dangerous, so it was no wonder that the powerful would seek out those they could respect or rely on, if only to deal with larger groups of 'undesirables'.
The man didn't bother to reply, instead he focussed on Maxwell again, gesturing for him to stand up.
When he didn't move quickly enough the weird painted brute literally yanked him off the ground.
"How is it you survived up until now?" The soft voice of Val started as he began his inquiries.
"Considering all that creeps around in the dark, surviving on your very lonesome must have been hard, if nearly impossible. It would almost make me believe that there is some value to keeping you around." He stated as he crossed his arms in front of his chest.
"Are you like me and Pharangese? Capable of set the Dreamscape to your own hand?" He asked as brought his hand up to Maxwell's face, showing the slight distortion as the shadows that lept from his fingertips coiled forwards, towards him. The intent stare watched him closely, almost as if he was digging through his soul, finding out his darkest secrets and picking up the slightest of facial cues.
"Why don't I give you the opportunity to try to convince me to 'spare' your miserable life, hmm?" He suggested.
The larger of his brutes immediately objected.
"I wouldn't bother Val, he's a scrounger, just like all the others. We have enough wimps to do the heavy lifting for us, we don't need another."
"Hmm, Priest does bring up a good point." He stated watching Maxwell. "Jericho, what say you?" The man with the hunting rifle merely grimaced as he sucked on his cigarette, as he had taken a break. He figured this Val had got things handled allowing him to take in a good wiff of nicotine.
"If it was me..." He replied before exhaling the smoke. "I'd use him. A good hunter always needs a good distraction."
Valdemar smirked at that remark, a malicious smirk at that.
"Case in point." He agreed before glancing at Pharangese again.
"Your thoughts."
"I could always use another 'playmate'." She grinned, making Val shake his head in amusing disbelief.
"What else did you expect from her? Everyone knows her reputation. She is thinking with her...."
"Don't get your knickers in a twist Priestly. It ain't helping here." Jericho replied cutting the big guy off as he saw Val's anger flicker up for a moment. A moment the other two seemed to miss.
During this Val had remained silent, but the silent rage that lay in his eyes was palpable. Luckily for the other two Jericho had noticed, because the stare Val had shared absentmindedly with Maxwell had been utterly terrifying. Focussing on him now that he was calmed down again he finished.
"You'd best start to impress us with your story, if you value your life at all."
Hidden 14 days ago 11 days ago Post by Zyx
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Several thoughts flashed through Maxwell's mind. It was people like this that made him regret going outside, both now and in the Old World. Still, he'd been through hell in these last few months, and would not be intimidated so easily. Besides, he knew something about the woods that these thugs clearly didn't. Namely that it was absolutely crawling with nightmares, the slightest provocation of which would see the entire forest come alive with hostile life.

"You'd best lower that gun," he said, his voice a calm whisper. "If you don't want this place to eat you alive. Or didn't you think to question why I wasn't carrying any firearms on me?"

He shifted his gaze to and from each of them in turn as he formulated a plan in his mind. If he could just keep them talking long enough for Adeira to get the drop on 'em, then perhaps they could end the whole situation without further conflict. Not that he wouldn't fight if forced to mind, it was simply that he couldn't reliably use his power. Not like most other Lucids, at least not at the moment anyway, since they were still unrefined. Lacking control, utterly attached to his emotional state, and unpredictable to the nth degree. As such, he hoped to end this as quickly as possible, preferably without having to fall back on his abilities.

"As for my story, what's there to say? Your friend there has the right of it. I'm just a scrounger trying to survive like everyone else."
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Val smirked at the answer.
"The tramp has some bark, but does he bite aswell?" He uttered softly before nodding to Jericho to lower the gun.
"I know of the Nightmares that haunt this place. Still they're not much of a threat, the one that came through the Veil a week ago was far more formidable. I watched it tear a lesser Nightmare to shreds as if it was a paper doll." He turned away from him, he relaxed his hand, allowing the darkness that spread from it to ease as well.
"I am going to offer you a choice scrounger..." He said as he carefully weighed his words before he spoke them aloud.
"We both know you'll not survive alone out here...this winter will kill a lot of straggling survivors and then there's the issue with different individuals who attempt to claim certain safe spaces for themselves. I'll let you live, giving you the opportunity to join us provided you'll intend to pull your weight." He offered as he turned back around to face him, noticing the arrow before he looked at what probably had been the intended target, the hog.
"We'll even feed you, how's that?"

Adeira watched in silent horror what transpired before her eyes.
She cursed herself for not being able to do anything for Maxwell yet as even if she were to fire, the other three would be upon her in seconds, especially from the looks of that gunman they had.
Not to mention the creepy Lucid kid.
The vibe he gave off was terrifying, as if the world bent and twisted to be out of his way.
It seriously freaked her out.
Deciding that they would be better off if they knew where their enemy lived, there could maybe be a way to get Maxwell out from this horrible situation.
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Maxwell glanced between each of his attackers in turn, before slowly nodding his head. This wasn't an ideal situation by any means, but as the realization that Adeira would not be able to help him at the moment gradually sunk in, he recognized that it was the only choice he really had. That or try and fight, an act he was certain would see them both dead in all likelihood.

"A-all right. Fine, I'll join you."

He offered a nervous chuckle as he gestured at the forest around them.

"It can't be any worse than this, right?"
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As Priest and Jericho pushed Maxwell forward Valdemar nodded to Pharangese to go ahead. He’d make up the rear. After which Priest picked up the hog and slung it over his shoulder, he followed Jericho and hummed contently.
“Porkchops tonight!” He chuckled as he petted the dead beast’s side.
Adeira had to watch in horror how Valdemar seemed to investigate the arrow. As he looked around, he stopped staring straight ahead at her, or so it appeared.
She tried to keep her composure, which she almost lost when he started chuckling.
“Very well…” With that he turned around and followed the rest as they ventured deeper into the forest.
Adeira waited for a few moments longer, wanting to be sure she couldn’t be detected, before she stealthily made her way after them.
Continuously on the edge she could feel the forest twist and bend to the new reality. She wondered what kind of place they would lead them to.
They walked for a good hour more when finally Pharangese stopped and looked at Valdemar.
“Would you mind darling? Lifting the veil is such a tiring thing to do…” She fussed, at which a cold smile was her reply as Valdemar stepped forward as well.
Together they raised their hands and made a lifting motion, almost as if they were literally dealing with a set of heavy curtains blocking their way and obscuring their entrance.

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