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7 yrs ago
"Mecha Cowboys" has less than a thousand hits on Google. I've never been more upset.
8 yrs ago
RP Concept: "Screw just the plans, we're stealing the Death Star and taking that baby for a joyride!"
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The VeggieTales theme song has been stuck in my head for at least three days now. Can't decide if it a good or bad thing yet.
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Bio

Writer of schlock dressed up in some decent clothes.

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THE .CHALICE

| The Waters of Life |

"Thirst no more, hunger no more, and suffer no more. A limitless boon in the hands of the worthy."

ORIGINS & CREATIONS:
| Unknown, but the Chalice and artistic interpretations of it have made many appearances throughout folklore and mythology throughout the past few millenniums. Perhaps willed into existence by centuries upon centuries of wishes from the thirsty, the hungry, and the sick. |

TYPE:
| Neverending Goblet |

LOCATION:
| St. Portwell |

NOTABLE OWNERS:
| Sloane Faris: Kept the Chalice in her vault for safekeeping for Sully McPherson.
Sully McPherson: The founder and current owner of the Chalice since it resurfaced from the Pit. Mainly uses it for beer. |

ABSTRACTION-GRANTING:
| Yes |
.............................................................................
The Chalice is an artifact that has been around since ancient times, held by kings, messiahs, and so-called god and known by many other names. It somehow became lost, spurring many seekers of its powers to quest for it but never find it. Eventually, the Chalice became little more than a myth, believed to be little more than a flowery metaphor written down by a poet of yore and misinterpreted by the simple masses of days gone by. In reality, the Chalice somehow ended up being discovered by a jock in Oregon.

The Chalice is a large, empty silver goblet that is covered with runic symbols; the inside is stained a brownish red. The Chalice is a normal cup unless it is held by the Cupbearer, who is the only person able to activate its magical properties. A small blood offering is required to become the Cupbearer—about 3 drops in the goblet—and they are able to use the Chalice until another person performs the ritual. The Chalice cannot be damaged by normal means or by the contents summoned by the Cupbearer.

The Cupbearer can fill the Chalice with an endless supply of whatever liquid they want. This can range from mundane uses, like creating water or wine to drink, to dangerous, like calling forth lava or acid and splashing it upon a foe. The most notable liquid the Chalice can produce is an elixir, a magical concoction that can heal recent wounds and restore energy if drank. It’s worth noting that the Chalice is “self-cleaning” in the sense that creating another liquid obliterates whatever of the previous liquid was left in the cup. This also happens when the Cupbearer stops touching the Chalice. Therefore, the Cupbearer cannot accidentally poison others or unintentionally cause chemical reactions.

How much liquid appears is dependent on the wishes of the Cupbearer. Typically, one cupful is what is summoned on each use, but they could continue to call forth more liquid as long as they remain in contact with the Chalice.


Interactions: Anya @Fernstone Jack@Blizz, Drake@Shin Ghost Note
Kari’s House




“Anya…”

Sloane gave her a tiny smile offset by a sad, pitiful look as she pulled the jacket tightly around her body to cover her tattered clothes. It was just like Anya to be there exactly when Sloane needed her. Sloane’s mind was still a mess, having not fully come out of the shock that she had been in, finding it easier to focus on the mud on Anya’s shoes than on the people around her. She huffed a little air through her nose, the best she could muster for a laugh, to Anya’s dry retort to her question, before nodding her head gently at the suggestion that Anya take her home, her nod freezing as Anya suggested Drake join them. Her body tensed further as Jack appeared, offering to teleport them to wherever they wanted to go. She grimaced. Please god no, she already felt sick enough as it was.

Another pair of shoes approached, “Stick with Sully for a minute Sloane, heal up. Feel better, okay?”

Sloane’s mouth ran dry as her body completely turned to stone, the only sign of life being her fast-beating heart that had jumped up to the top of her throat. Besides Anya she was suspicious about all these people caring for her, and then of all people Jasper actually came over and said something to her that wasn’t absolutely awful? If she didn’t know any better she would’ve believed that she was still hallucinating. She felt like she should say something, anything really, an opportunity to prove that his preconceptions of her were misguided, the thought that she even cared about how he viewed her terrifying, the sudden sickness in her stomach misdiagnosed as anger. She remained like a statue until she caught sight of him turning and then subtly raised her head, watching him go.

The others were starting to depart now. Normally this would be the moment where Sloane would point out that they needed to formulate some kind of plan of action to handle 8th Street instead of immediately dissolving into their own cliques again, but she was pretty much fried and didn’t even consider the thought. She just wanted to go home, take a long, hot shower, and have a cup of tea. Sloane held onto Anya as she settled herself to her feet, staring after Drake as he moved to confront Luna. When had she returned? Sloane couldn’t believe that the woman had the nerve to even show her face. Unlike Sloane or even Greyson, Luna was guilty beyond a doubt for working against the Coven back in the day. Perhaps Sloane should’ve felt a kind of sympathy for her fellow reject, but there was nothing there but ice. She didn’t know whether to be proud of Drake for showing restraint and backing down from confronting her or disappointed that he didn’t give her the welcome she deserved.

”Know what? Let's just scram,” said Drake as he returned.

“Yeah, let’s go,” muttered Sloane.

She moved to leave with the others, pausing momentarily to turn back and look at Auri. Sloane did need her. Or rather, she needed something of her’s. The next time 8th Street attacked them all she refused to be defenseless. Petty differences aside, she knew that Auri would be smart enough to do the right thing. However, it could wait. Sloane would contact her once she gathered herself. For now she just turned and stuck to Anya, hanging her head once more.






In Collaboration w/ @Estylwen

Kari’s House




The bar was going in full swing by now as Sully, hunched down in the mud, tried to uncrush paper cups and fill it up with the elixir. He hummed to himself a variant of “99 Bottles of Beer” as he passed out the cups, trying to ignore his shaking hands as well as the blood underneath his fingernails. It never got any easier seeing someone hurt as badly as Sloane had been. He could tell himself that he had saved her by being there, but really all he had done was bear the cup. Sully couldn’t think of himself as being the one who had saved her. If Anya hadn’t pulled Sully out of his hallucination then Sloane would’ve been on her way to having a closed casket funeral.

He couldn’t help but think of what would be if he had tripped, or been a little slower to come to, or if he’d lost the Chalice somewhere in the shuffle. There was a reason he had given it to her for “safekeeping” in the first place. Sully couldn’t handle the pressure anymore. He didn’t like bearing the weight of responsibility, knowing that one momentary choke on his end could determine if someone woke up in the morning or not. He might’ve joked about being the “Chosen One” after all those Recollections centered around the Chalice, but the idea of being the only one capable of saving his friends from dying didn’t make him feel special. It made him feel scared.

One of the crumpled little cups ended up being filled with some good ol’ fashioned brown instead of the healing elixir blood red. Sully downed the double of whiskey and then followed it with a second just to be sure, closing his eyes as the burn slid all the way down his throat. His hand was steadier for the next pour.

Tayla’s arrival with Luna was a sudden reminder of the other problems going on in his world. Sully needed to talk to her about Dean. Specifically, he needed to convince her to swallow her pride and recruit the help of the others to beat his damn ass so bad that he’d leave both of them alone. While he would never sell Tayla out to Dean, there were only so many times Sully could get jumped by a guy before he would spill someone else’s tea. If not to Sycamore then at the very least to Greenwood, because while they likely didn’t even know who Tayla was they wouldn’t tolerate someone messing around with one of them. Sully stood up from where he had established his pop-up bar and started to saunter over to Luna and Tayla.

“Hey, Tay—”

“We have an emergency at 7 o’clock!”

“—huh?” Sully blinked, pretty sure it was closer to six in the evening, as his eyes looked over towards the bushes. “Oh shit!”

Aislin and Layla had emerged from the bushes, appearing as if some had replaced their bong water with gasoline. Sully jogged over, his face heavy with concern that twisted into shock as he got close enough to see the severity of the burns, too worn out by all the excitement to remember his bedside manners. He didn’t recall seeing them in the melee, but then again he had been too busy trying to stay alive and not to shit himself. Had they been engulfed in one of Emily’s fireballs?

“Don’t worry, don’t worry, y’all don’t look too bad,” said Sully, breathing heavily through his mouth to avoid the stench of burnt flesh.

Aislin groaned as she crawled out of the bush on her hands and knees, “Y-you’re a terrible liar, you know?”

He flicked the contents of his solo cup out into the grass and filled it with elixir, passing it to Aislin who of the two looked like she could manage to drink on her own. A little burn of the whiskey might still be present and if she was worried about getting Sully cooties then tough luck, but the elixir would be as potent as ever. Aislin took it, sitting back with a wince, before downing the contents. Cooties didn’t even cross her mind.

For Layla, who barely seemed to be with them, he moved to put the Chalice to her lips and to help lift her head so that she could drink. A bit dribbled to the sides before Layla managed to open her eyes and get her esophagus working, sipping like a child, weakly and messily.

Luna could be seen watching carefully, before nodding to herself, spreading her wings, and taking off.

Bit by bit, the burns receded away from both Aislin and Layla. The elixir patched over the remainder of their high as well, bringing both back into their senses. Eventually, the skin had healed over completely, the only evidence that they had been blasted to kingdom come the burn holes evident on their charred clothes.

Aislin clapped Sully on the back, a grateful grin on her face. “You’re a lifesaver, my friend. You get first dibs on my next run. You want the kush, you get it.” She said, trying to make light of a dark situation.

Sully’s eyes brightened. He was so used to being around Ruby and her bogarting ways that he had forgotten there were kind, caring people like Aislin who would happily give weed away. Sure, he could’ve just gone to the dispensary, but that meant waiting in line and having disposable income…or any income, come to think of it.

Aislin’s eyes moved across the remains of Kari’s charred house, to the destroyed front lawn and foliage. “It’s good they left when they did. We uh…” She grimaced. “We didn’t really stand a chance, did we?”

“Hey from where I’m standing we’re all still here and they all ran away. At worst that’s a draw!” Sully watched as a support beam gave out and collapsed another part of Kari’s burning house. “Er, unless we’re counting property loss. Then yeah. They clowned us.”

Layla scowled, half-sitting up from Sully’s hold so she could better see Aislin. “Those losers cheated. I didn’t even get a chance.”

“Hey, you’ll get them next time, killer, now upsy daisy,” said Sully, hefting Layla up to her feet.

He brushed a bit of ash off of her shoulder, which turned out to be the bit of ash that had held the sleeve to the rest of her shirt, and frowned as the charred sleeve slipped down to her wrist like a bracelet. Layla made a face, picking at the fallen sleeve before shrugging it off entirely.

“Good thing this is last year’s fashion…” She said awkwardly.

He glanced between Aislin and Layla. He would’ve offered one of them his jacket to cover up with but he’d already given that to the kid (and frankly he needed it a little more). Fortunately, there were still plenty of Sycamore left behind who could keep them from catching a cold.

“Hey, anybody got an extra jacket?” He turned around to see that almost the entire Coven had already bailed. “Oh, cool. Later then, I guess. Fuck.”

He rubbed the back of his head and turned to Aislin and Layla, “Well, looks like we’re scooting before the police show up and bust us for arson. Did either of you need a ride? I got room in MY TRUCK!!! Sully slapped his forehead so hard that it sounded like a crack of thunder, echoing around the clearing so loudly that for a moment it seemed as if Vashti had returned and restarted her storm. “I left my windows down! They’re cloth seats, Aislin! Cloth! Seats!

He pulled his beanie down over his face to muffle a scream.

Aislin's jaw dropped before horror overtook her face, “Don’t panic! Uh, fans! lots of fans and wet towels - Do you need to borrow some towels?!”

Layla just stared at the two of them with mild disdain, before she walked in between them pointedly, heading towards her motorbike. “I think it’s time to leave, then.”

She half-turned towards Sully, “I owe you one. You need a favour done, just let me know.”

Before she hopped on her bike, slid on a helmet, and drove off.

That just left Aislin and Sully. Aislin checked her clothes, or what was left of them, before sighing and turning to Sully.

“Uh, listen… I got a few spare fans and towels I can lend out.” Her head perked up a bit. “Could see who else is free and hang out a bit, what do you say?”

“I say we’re gonna have to bum a lot of towels, but fuck it, we’re already soaked anyway. Some buddies of mine had invited me to hit up this local taco truck a little bit, some joint called Los Agavez. I told them I was gonna be busy but if we leave now I think we’ll have enough time to catch them there. And, I dunno, if that bong survived, maybe we could…”

Sully’s voice trailed off as he reached into his pocket. A look of confusion crossed his face as he gave himself a quick pocket patdown: phone, check, wallet, check, keys? His eyes rolled into the back of his head as his jaw dropped, remembering throwing his keys towards a non-present Tayla and then getting too distracted by the bunch of jolly assholes trying to murder them to pick them back up. The beanie came fully off his head now as he stuffed it in his mouth, packing it in with his fist, gagging the followup string of curses. He spat the beanie out and gave Aislin a sad look, his shoulders dropping.

“Maybe we could rain check it,” he sighed, kicking the ground. “You go on ahead without me. I’ll catch up once I figure out where I left my keys. Plus, the storm might’ve put out a lot of the fire, but somebody should probably make sure it’s died down enough that it doesn’t spread…”

Aislin gave a sympathetic look, “A rain check it is... If everyone in Sycamore was as thoughtful as you, we’d have progressed by leaps and bounds by now, just saying.”

Sully smiled sheepishly. He wasn’t so sure about that.

Aislin sighed, giving a little stretch to her arms as she spied her car parked down the way. Unlike Sully, she had triple-checked the windows and doors were closed and locked. It wasted precious minutes, but it was her artistic OCD, she supposed.

She offered a smile, tapping her bag, “I got a hoot with your name on it, don’t forget.”

With one last glance, Aislin headed to her car, set her bag on the passenger seat, revved the engine once, before peeling out of the vicinity.

Sully watched the red taillights disappear around the bend and then slunk his way back into the woods. He pulled out his phone to use it as a flashlight and laughed miserably to himself as he saw the massive spider web of a crack in the screen, crunched by his own body when he’d dived to take the shots for a kid who’d turned out to not even need his help. Sully shook his head and put the broken phone back in his pocket. He got down on his knees, squinted his eyes, and began the long, tedious rummage through the tall grass where he was pretty sure he had thrown his keys, blissfully unaware of the crow looking down on him from a branch up above, cocking its head as if in confusion, the set of shiny car keys held in its beak jangling too softly for the man below to hear.



Interactions: Clancy@Zombiedude101, Luca@Fernstone, Drake@Punished GN, the Group
Kari's House



As Clancy trudged through the corpse and mud infested no man’s land to pull Sloane away from Luca, Sloane saw a young boy traipsing through the garden up to their studio. She smiled at the sight of her son, a smile that wavered as a thought punched through the illusion—if there was a desire within her to become a mother, it was something so well hidden that even Sloane was unaware of it. She could only think of her own childhood and her relationship with her mother and how she had sworn she would never have a kid simply because she wouldn’t be able to put somebody through something so miserable, especially when the ultimate reward for growing up and breaking free was still having to put up with life. She could never be so cruel. As her son’s face came into focus it began to flicker, becoming a jumbled, staticy picasso of shifting features as the illusion began to crack.

The walls of the studio fell away as Jasper and the child crumbled into dust, her vision clouding as a bloody tear was shed for her idyllic life and traced its way down her cheek. She wanted to fight back and cling to the failing illusion, but there was nothing left within her to struggle. She felt the pain now. The overwhelming, unbearable, indescribable pain. Perhaps in death she would rest in peace, but the moments up to it were nothing but excruciating torture as she felt everything inside of her begin to rebel. It wasn’t even the worst of it. Reality rushed back to her as memories filled her final moments—a sequence of cold shoulders and closed doors, the subtle nuance changes in body language whenever she entered a room, the hush of conversation, the crushing weight of constant, though not always undeserved, rejection, the forever boredom, the vast, all-encompassing feeling of loneliness.

However, in her final moment she wasn’t alone. She could feel the grim reaper holding her in an icy cold grip. It was difficult to tell what was and what wasn’t, but the angel of death felt shockingly diminutive. She heard a child shout out in unison with something that sounded as if it came from below. They foolishly called for someone to help her, simply unaware of her standing within the pecking order. Even the rain had let up, the weather declaring its utter indifference to the situation as her body went numb. Shades moved around her, ready to drag her into their folds. Then, moments before all feeling went away completely, she heard the shouting of her name followed by something pressed to her lips.

“I’m on it, buddy. It’s okay, it’s okay, slow sips now. Boy, I bet you’re happy you gave this baby back to me, huh? Slow sips, slooooow sips…”

Sloane blinked and the shades took shape. Drake had her head elevated in his lap while Sully nursed her with the Chalice, a knot forming on his forehead, with Ashley’s cousin standing besides the big man looking like he had been through a war. She was forced to take another sip of the elixir, wincing in pain as nerves eaten away by the rot came back and flared up before quickly being soothed again as Sully tilted the Chalice up a little higher. She stared in horror as if she had been bewitched as sinew, muscle, and flesh began to reconstruct her heavily decomposed body. Involuntary convulsions tried to twist her away from the silver goblet, but Sully firmly yet gently kept her head in place.

“Hold her still, dude,” said Sully to Drake.

She knew he was helping her yet her body couldn’t somehow understand that. In what felt like hours, but was likely less than a minute, she struggled against Drake and Sully in a panic, her attempts to scream drowned by the elixir. Sloane finally regained enough strength to force the Chalice away, sitting up with such violence that it startled Sully and caused him to springaway and fall on his rear as a blood curdling shriek erupted from the pit of her stomach. She was able to clamp a hand over her mouth, her other hand grabbing at Drake’s shirt, her body still not fully healed, the skin on her fingers dark and bloated, her bloodshot and bugged eyes staring at Luca in horror. She could see the worry on his face. It wasn’t meant to be an condemnation, but it sure looked like one. She wished she could tell him that it wasn’t her fault, but all she could do was muffle her scream and shake her head at him.

“Um, sis, you’re still a little, um, fuck it, sorry,” said Sully. He could feel for Sloane’s confusion. One moment he was sharing a beer with his dad, the next moment he came to with Anya beaning him across the head with the Chalice. Honestly, the illusion had broken for him the moment Anya had appeared in the camp. He would’ve invited her to go camping out of obligatory politeness, but never in a million years would she have accepted. Still, Sloane was covered with enough festering wounds that she wasn’t in the clear. It was in her own best interest that he acted.

Sloane felt her hand ripped from her mouth as Sully easily overpowered her and forced her to drink from the Chalice again. It wasn’t slow and steady anymore. It was a fullforce chug, chug, chug with the only thing missing being a couple of frat bros with popped polos hollering freshmen, freshmen. Sully winced as Sloane’s hand smacked him a couple of times outside the head, but he didn’t relent until he saw the skin on her arms return to normal. As he began to pull the Chalice away she grabbed the cup, keeping it there for a few more seconds, if only to make sure that the parts of her that had been putrefied were solid once again. He heard Sloane mutter something under her breath, perhaps a thank you or an apology, and gave her a reassuring pat on the back as he got up to give her some space. Sully shuffled over to Clancy.

“Good work on pulling her away, kid. You saved her life,” said Sully. He went to ruffle the kid’s hair but then hesitated, a vision of Clancy slashing through a man’s stomach flashing in front of his eyes. He withdrew his hand, only to then shrug off his jacket and offer it out to the boy who was basically covering himself up with little more than a few pieces of burnt fabric and a lot of hope.

“Here, kid. Maybe you can’t catch a bullet but you still might catch a cold. I’m gonna help Auri with the headcount. Make sure nobody’s off in the woods bleeding out. No running off, okay? You'll mess up my count. Plus, I ain’t losing that jacket again. I just got it back,” said Sully, turning to make his way towards Auri, fighting the urge to literally shout ‘Your Name’, feeling that now might not be the time for bad bits. He pulled a stack of mostly crushed disposable cups out of his backpack as he joined Auri. OKAY, OKAY, OKAY, WE GOT HEAL JUICE FOR THE WHOLE SQUAD! TAKE A CUP, PASS IT ALONG! IF YOU SEE SOMEONE PASSED OUT, JUST FIND A HOLE AND START POURING! THAT...THAT MIGHT WORK?

Sloane rested her head against Drake’s chest, eyes closed, quietly counting in two-three-four, out-two-three-four to calm herself, trying to regain a sense of control, desperately trying not to analyze her hallucination. She exhaled deeply and opened her eyes, fully registering for the first time that she was in Drake’s arms. She shoved herself away from him, her eyes blinking rapidly in confusion as she felt the wet of the mud against her thigh and the chill of the night air on her body. She looked down and let out a little yelp like a lapdog that had accidentally been stepped on. She felt her face flush as she covered her tattered clothes with her arm and quickly scooched back towards Drake to use him as cover.

“What happened to my clothes?” she hissed quietly, her mind still a little soupy from the near death experience. Her eyes darted around frantically as she scooted closer to Drake. Wait, what the fuck happened to everyone’s clothes?
MELLON.COLLIE.HILL

............................................................
A legendary neutral ground of the Covens new and old, Mellon Collie Hill is a location where rituals were conducted and alliances were made. Mellon Collie Hill presents itself as a fancy tourist spot where people take selfies. However, all the legends and stories about it were true. At the base of the hill is a stone staircase that leads to a pathway throughout the Hill. This pathway is etched with rune stones and sometimes artifacts from past rituals that were conducted here. At the very end of the path is a weathered stone altar, and behind it is a stone temple. Here is the spot where active and defunct Covens met and is the location where the 8th Street Covens and Greenwood Covens formed their alliance against the Das Sonnenrad cult.


Whoa, a double reference. Bravo.


Interactions: Lila @NoriWasHere, Amara @Blizz
The Slaughterhouse



Vashti flinched as two bullets crunched against her back and didn’t even pierce her skin. Amara and three of her ghostly copies surrounded Vashti, one of the phantoms leveling a shotgun her way. Vashti held strong to her grasp on Lila’s wings. The connective tissue was sturdier than she thought it would be, like it was anchored to more than just a section of her spine, but Vashti was determined. The wings would make a nice Halloween costume for next year’s festival. She glared at the shotgun, honestly hoping the stupid bitch would shoot, thinking that enough force from the blast would be the extra umph she needed to clip Lila’s wings.

”GET AWAY FROM HER, RIGHT NOW!!!”

“Oh my god, bro, I get it, I had a glow up so everybody wants a piece of me now but fuck, your incel ass is as thirsty as ever,” barked Vashti. “Wait your turn-uhhhhhh…”

Vashti blinked, her attention completely transfixed by the wings that pulsed like the lights at a rave. The irresistible urge to pluck a feather free caused her to loosen her grip on Lila, but was checked by an animalistic instinct coming from deep within. Her hand trembled, divided between desire and dangersense. She could just pluck a feather now, couldn’t she? No no no, she felt it, an old but familiar sensation, one she hadn’t felt since she had regained, or maybe it actually should just be gained, control: influence. Something else was trying to influence her. Control her. Cage her. She couldn’t allow that. She wouldn’t.

Her hands released the wings and moved to snap Lila’s neck but was instead caught by surprise as Lila clawed kick slashed against her legs. She scrambled to get back on the offensive, swiping slashes of her own at Lila’s back that fell short as a wave of pink mist expanded across the field. Vashti glanced up to the sky, yelling in anger as she saw Emily’s stupid signal, not understanding why they were backing off. They were winning. They had Sycamore on the ropes. This was the time to bathe in their blood and wear their skulls like crowns. Emily was so weak. So shortsighted. So fucking stupid. Maybe the mist would provide enough cover to let an accident befall their idiotic, fearful leader.

Vashti smiled, her eye twitching, as she reached down to grab her gas mask and patted her thigh instead. Just as a wave of pink engulfed her she saw Lila struggling with her mask. The rage faded from her face, replaced by a look of pure bliss as the storm overhand crescendo into a thunderous finale like it was the artilleryman invited out on stage to perform the finale of the 1812 Overture. She sliced, kicked, licked, arched her back, ripped, tore, broke, and whispered sweet nothings at whatever was in her way—Lila, Amara, phantoms, zombies, illusions—as she partook in her half of a violent phantasmagoria.

Then, suddenly, a portal opened up and her jaws snapped down on a Dilly Bar shoved into her mouth by George as he grabbed her with his large, meaty mitts, the temporary shock from the cold sweet the only thing stopping Vashti from turning the giant of a man into a meat ribbon. She was pulled through Brianna’s portal and disappeared, the storm vanishing with her. Elsewhere, a group of Dairy Queen employees scattered and ducked for cover as a sudden and violent wind chucked a picnic bench through the lobby window.



Interactions: Clancy @Zombiedude101
The Stadium



No, no, nononononono!

Sully had experienced several moments in his life where time had come to a crawl, the inevitable end stretching out before him, no action existing that could divert the course, powerless to do anything but watch. Bright stadium lights flooded the fields and cheers poured from the stands as he felt the interception slip from his grasp. Bright headlights appeared from around the dark corner on a slick back road, the horn blaring as he jerked the wheel as metal crunched on metal. Bright light flashing from the barrel of a gun as he started to dive to protect the kid, the shots ringing out through the storm, turning his head to see the bullets impact against the kid. Only the kid kept standing and the slow motion crawl stopped as Sully splatted in the mud.

“What the fuuuuu…” whispered Sully as he looked up at Clancy.

The kid should have been dead. The triggerman might’ve been hired by Walt or one of the Warners to take out the competition and had gotten a little too trigger happy given the headshot he had landed on the America’s third favorite t-shirt duck, “Marty Mallard”, but the crossbow expert had been going for the kill. Sully grimaced in pain just by looking at the bolt sticking in the kids face, his hands over his head and his knees pulling up to make himself a smaller target as more gunshots rang out. The kid was iron, unflinching. Sully would’ve almost been impressed if he wasn’t still internally panicking from watching two adults try to kill a kid, a panic that spiked when another kid got picked off by a sniper and dropped to the ground.

“Oh good it’s only Carol. Hey kid,” said Sully, his voice still in a low hush. He wiped the mud off the rim of the Chalice with the one clean part of his shirt. “You hurt? You look like you should oh my GOD!

The kid wasn’t just a kid. Of course the kid wasn’t just a kid. Sully hadn’t just seen it in horror movies, he’d experienced it before the last go around—he still refused to go to toy stores after that last time. Why were the kids never just kids? They were always also ghosts or gods or demons or middle-aged Eastern European women with a rare genetic disease. At the very least Sully could confidently say that his wits were about him: the kid, well, the shadowy demon nightmare thing, had been the same “kid” he’d seen shot the other week. So he hadn’t been hallucinating, although he wished he was as he watched the kid start shredding into the man with the gun, more shots ringing out from elsewhere, before suddenly he was yeeted across the yard as the announcer yelled, “TOUCHDOWN!”

“TOUCHDOWN! TOUCHDOWN! TOUCHDOWN! NUMBER FORTY-SEVEN, SULLIVAN MCPHERSON, HAS WON THE SUPERBOWL FOR THE ATLANTA FALCONS! THE FANS ARE RUSHING THE FIELD! OH MY GOD! SULLIVAN MCPHERSON HAS MADE HISTORY!”

Flashes of lightning became the flashes of camera, the mud a podium, the twig poking him in the face a microphone. Sully stood covered in grime, the Chalice held as the MVP trophy tucked under his arm, nodding his head along to the questions of an imagined interviewer, uttering canned responses, loudly declaring to a mob of dancing zombies, “I’m going to Fantasy Land!”

He blinked and the stands fell away like dominoes, colossal redwoods standing in their place, the cheers of the crowd replaced by the calls of birds as he sat in a folding chair in front of a lake and watched the rising sun. The Chalice became a cold can of refreshing lager, foam splashing up onto his shirt as a hand playfully slapped him on the back of the head.

“Little early for that, don’tcha think?” said Ashley, snatching a can from the nearly empty cooler before using it as a seat. She jerked her hand towards an older man nodding off in a chair, a can of beer still loosely gripped in his hand as he snored. “You guys seriously drink all night?”

“No. We also talked,” said Sully.

“Oh, the McPherson men finally solve all of the world’s problems?”

“Yeah,” said Sully. He looked at his dad. It was funny. He couldn’t remember a single thing about what they had talked about. Really, it wasn’t the conversation that really mattered anyway. The thing that was truly important was the time they spent together. Sully smiled, choosing to believe what the mist told him—that they still had plenty of time left—as he took a sip from his beer. It tasted funny, almost like metal, and left his mouth feeling dry. “Something like that.”



Interactions: Luca @Fernstone
The Studio



Sloane gritted her teeth as undead nails slashed across her forearm and jerked her shoulder sharply to avoid being grappled by one of the zombies behind her. Her knife was stuck between the ribs of one of the bodies, frantically wiggling up and down as she channeled lux into her tarot card to yank it free so in one final act of desperation she could turn it into an Object of Obsession and distract the horde. It wasn’t working. Besides, enchanting something else meant turning the spell off on the jacket, and Anya might still be in swinging range of the monster. Even if she could cast the spell, she wasn’t sure she would go through with it.

Between being separated by the storm and struggling in fights of their own Sloane accepted that nobody was coming to her rescue. Really, said the once tiny voice inside of her that sounded awfully like her mother and had started to become louder and louder until it was like the wail of a banshee, it was to be expected. They didn’t really want her in their little group. She had only been saved by Amara because she’d been in the same room as Lynn. Hands grabbed at her shirt and hair as she kicked and shoved the zombies back in a futile effort to buy herself a few more seconds. From the corner of her eye she saw one of the zombies lunge for her faster than she imagined possible, its hand grabbing for her throat. She didn’t scream at the oncoming death, refusing to give it the satisfaction as she turned to face it.

She felt her skin begin to sizzle, too engulfed in the moment to realize the implication, as her pointless bravery broke. Sloane threw her hands up in front of her as she closed her eyes, the noise coming out of her mouth not a defiant yell at the face of death but a quiet, desperate whimper, one final plea, as she braced for the pain. It came, but not in the form of ripping and tearing and biting. Rather, it was just that sizzle on her skin growing in intensity as if the rain had become acidic. Breathing heavily, she opened her eyes as she put her hands to her chest. She felt some kind of sludge slip between her fingers as she saw Luca smiling at her, the decaying flesh of the zombies slopping off of his body.

”I'll clear us a path…”

Sloane followed behind Luca, somewhat dazed by how she was alive, somewhat uncertain if she actually was, a ‘thank you’ trembling on her lips but never fully making it past. Luca carved a path through the zombies, their flesh and muscles melting off them and becoming a bubbling black pudding of decay that swirled with the mud. Sloane stepped carefully, trying to avoid the gore as best as she could, scared to get any closer to Luca but terrified to fall behind. The battlefield had gone from a brawl to a live reenactment of the grotesque art of Hieronymus Bosch, portraying a literal hell on earth for the modern generation with dancing Thriller zombies, burning crosses, and the creeping pink fog of chemical warfare. Sloane moved a hand to her mouth but was unable to cover as she violently gagged at the dark, bloody strings of flesh still webbed between her fingers.

And then she blinked and saw that she was looking at a painting inside of a small shed that she both simultaneously knew that she had never seen before and also knew that it was hers, no, their studio. The burning house became a burning stick of incense, the sickening decay a sweet scent of lavender, the blood and viscera coating her splashes of paint on a white smock, the storm a bit of white noise caused by the trickling of a small, tabletop water fountain. Dozens of paintings lined the wall, some of them hers, most of them not. Her eyes narrowed. Something was wrong. She grabbed a fine paintbrush and dabbed it across the corner of the painting, removing her signature by blending it to become a part of the painting, leaving the piece of art anonymous. Satisfied, she put the brush down as she felt his presence behind her.

"Im so glad. Im not dying anymore I didnt want to. Id accepted it, but I really didnt want to. Not after I met you again. For the first time since I found out, I actually wanted to live again, Sloane heard him say, his voice strange at first. Perhaps he was coming down with a cold?

“That’s a funny way to say I love you.”

“Really?”

He pulled her into a hug. The words were confusing, but she understood the sentiment. She had felt that way before—taking on the burden of protecting the whole city, refusing to cooperate with others due to simply being a control freak, a compulsion to collect and to hoard power for the sake of hoarding power. She had been dying, too, killing herself with stress, hating what she was doing, blaming others for her faults, and slowly becoming a hypocrite. Ironically, it was hypocrisy that would ultimately save her life, allowing her to stop worrying so much about what others were doing and thinking and focusing instead on slicing out a little happiness for herself. But really, he had been the one person honest enough to give her the harsh truth: she was acting like an addict. Severance was her form of going cold turkey.

“Sorry, I meant to say stupid. By the way, I have something to tell you.”

She wasn’t special, she wasn’t important, and that was completely okay. Yet even knowing that, he still treated her like she was—he was obsessed. Sloane acquiesced. Okay, perhaps she was too. She hugged him back. She felt like she was melting in his arms, the warmth of his love rushing over her. It hurt, actually, having someone who really cared for her, because it made her realize how much of her life she had truly been without that feeling. It really hurt. It really, really hurt. For the longest time she had pushed and nudged any away because the loneliness had been so normal that it had felt right—her legs felt weak, her heart was about to burst, uncontrollable tears of pain formed in her eyes as she desperately grabbed on to him—but now she was so happy that she could die.

“What is it?”

“I love you too, Jasper,” said Sloane softly, bloody tears and black mascara running down her cheeks as she stared lovingly at Luca through glassy eyes. The skin sloughed off of her fingers as she caressed Luca’s cheek. As Luca moved to try and avoid touching her any further by lifting his arms, her mind saw Jasper do a strange, little dance, the mist contextualizing it to make sense, telling her that it was just one of his eccentricities that drew her closer to him.

She gave a girlish giggle, her skin darkening and festering it continued to rot. She moved in to give “Jasper” a kiss, coughing a mist of black blood on Luca’s face instead as she briefly choked. Her legs buckled as she fell to her knees, desperately grabbing at Luca to try and remain upright as she coughed and another cascade of dark blood poured over her cracking lips. The strength started to rapidly escape from her body as it began to succumb to the Rot, vital organs beginning to shut down as she pawed at Luca like a lost puppy.

“I’m so sorry honey, I got paint on you,” she said, still in the middle of a giggling fit that gurgled on her own blood. She attempted to hold up her hand, imagining the loose flap of skin as a towel, and slumped forward into Luca’s legs instead, consciousness fading, “Let me…let me…help you clean up…”




Interactions: Lila @NoriWasHere, Amara & Anya @Blizz@Fernstone, Clancy & 8th Street (Aaron/Flora) @Zombiedude101@Punished GN
Kari's House



Oh Emily, Emily, Emily. Honestly, it still amazed Vashti sometimes how often Emily just didn’t get it. Perhaps a prude like her would see it as a bad thing, but in Vashti’s mind being mobbed by sluts wasn’t a consequence—it was a reward. Yet there was more. Perhaps Emily thought that Vashti was just an idiot, a violent, uncontrollable, chaotic adrenaline junkie looking for her next hit and, well, perhaps she was mostly right, but there was one glaring flaw in Emily’s plan: Vashti didn’t fucking care about her plan. Vashti had a plan of her own. It was a good plan. The best kind of plan. It was to do whatever she wanted to do, and right now it was going off without a hitch.

Maybe a bunch of Sycamore losers would come chase after her and Lila, and maybe that would leave the rest of 8th Street with easy targets to pick off—or maybe without Vashti running interference Sycamore would actually get their shit together and garrote the whole gang. Who cared? It was just a bunch of bodies either way. Honestly, she was doing everyone a favor. Dying young was sexy. Vashti licked her lips. She really should go back and tear out Linqian’s throat while she was still hot. It was settled. Once she ripped out Lila’s wings she would go back and finish what she had started. Vashti sighed as a wall of fire erupted in front of Lila, cutting off the bird’s retreat and ruining Vashti’s hunt. Nevermind. Once Vashti was down with Lila she was going to go back to Emily and shove her head so far up her stupid tight ass that when her body decomposed her thick skull would be revealed to have become the world’s largest diamond.

“Oh caw caw caw to you too, you emo Big Bird bitch!” shouted Vashti as Lila laughed in harmony with herself.

Vashti jumped and swung her feet out in front of her with a flying kick to knock Lila into the flames, letting out a quiet “huh?” as she felt a claw wrap around her leg followed by a pained groan that morphed into a chuckle as claws pierced into her thigh. Vashti’s hand lashed down to grab ahold of Lila and teach her the important lesson that both Leon and Linqian had to learn the hard way, but she found nothing but air as the feathery bitch launched Vashti through the air and back towards Kari’s house. Vashti crashed through a first-story window, a sudden swell of fire erupting out of the window as more oxygen fed the flames, accompanied by the faint popping sound of exploding bullets as a certain winter coat was turned to ash in the inferno.



"Make your choice, miss Faris."

Sloane furrowed her brow, unhappy with the way Amara had hinted that the best thing for Sloane to do right now was to abandon the others and run. Tactically, it was likely the right assessment: Sloane had done all she could in the fight by distracting the ghoulish giant. Any more lingering around and she’d only be getting in the way of the actual competent combatants. Yet the idea of being the first to fallback made her sick. Plus, if any of Sycamore lived they would never let her live it down. She’d lay her life down for a bunch of people that she didn’t even care for than be viewed as weak.

“I’m not going anywhere!” said Sloane defensively, raising her voice to be heard over the storm, grimacing in pain.

Her grip tightened on her knife as she felt a tug on her pant leg. The stern intensity of Sloane's face momentarily faded as she looked down, her eyes softening and her lips parting into a silent “aww” as she saw one of Anya’s cute little shadow helpers. Its presence calmed the queasiness that Sloane was feeling, partially due to how incredibly adorable it was but more so because it existing meant that Anya had to be safe. She followed the gesture of the creature towards where Anya was hiding, her face returning to granite once again as Sloane horrifically realized that the tree she had distracted the monster to was the same one Anya had chosen to hide behind. Sloane turned to the Amara phantom and cocked her head towards the tree.

“I mean, I’m not going anywhere until everyone else is safe. You, get Anya out of there,” said Sloane.



Sully blinked, a bright ball of red flames suddenly erupting before him, a wave of heat evaporating the rain from his skin, his incredibly short and ultimately unsatisfying life flashing before his eyes as he blinked again and the flames dispersed against a wall of green. Sully stared at the green ball of energy that Stormy held out from him. The magical mumbo-jumbo was something Sully had paid too little attention to back in the day and now didn’t feel like it was a time to ask for clarification. However, it sounded like homeboy was offering him an invincibility field, so Sully was so down.

“Good stuff, man, said Sully.

He dapped Stormy up, the green lightning of the Witchveil’s crackling up Sully’s arm and made his whole body tingle for a moment before the feeling faded. Sully flexed his fingers and stared at his hand. He didn’t feel any more or less emotional than usual after giving someone a bro hug, but he’d take Stormy’s word for it.

“Oh yeah, I’m going to heal the absolute shit out of Linqian now,” said Sully, standing up on his feet. He waved his hand in a circle over his head calling for the Jock Squad (and Luc—) no, fuck that, today Luca was an honorary member of the Squad. He called for them to all move out. “Drop that shit, Stormy.



Sloane moved as the Amara phantom departed, scooping Anya’s shadow fox up to her chest like an emotional support summon, taking care to cover its ears as another explosion rang out. The storm had grown increasingly violent with pounding rain and howling wind that shook trees and knocked down loose limbs and branches. Sloane was careful where she stepped, her head still throbbing from where it had been blasted by a piece of debris earlier. It made it difficult to think, to plan, to strategize. She just moved, her small frame pushing against the rain and the wind, seeking to reconvene with the members of Sycamore huddling around a fallen body.

Linqian…

Sloane found herself moving faster, her pace only slowing as she saw Linqian begin to stir before coming to a dead halt as she got close enough for her vision to fully pierce through the storm. Was she hallucinating? Had she hit her head that hard? Why were they naked? Her hand slid down to cover the summon’s eyes, hers lingering for a moment longer on Jasper’s wet chest before her view, as well as her path to the group, was cut off by a barrier of flora. She hadn’t even begun to process the visual that she saw as a body dropped to the ground beside her. She covered her mouth to prevent a scream, the summon falling free from her grasp and darting back after Anya as it began to rain bodies from the sky.



Oh god, it felt like he was going to die. Sully held his side as he jogged over to where Linqian had fallen. After tonight Sully was going to start hitting the gym and working on some cardio. As he ran, Sully caught the flash of metal reflecting a strike of lightning, the light causing him to glance over and see the kid, lightly roasted and still smoking, holding an axe and going off by himself to confront a pack of 8th Street goons. What are you doing, kid? Sully figured the boy had to be in some kind of shock. He jerked his head back towards Linqian—a group had formed around her and she was starting to stir. It was all he needed to know.

Sully didn’t know exactly what had happened at the strip club. He thought he had seen the kid get shot but then the body had disappeared. Maybe the kid was some kind of paranormal. Maybe he had just gotten lucky. Maybe Sully had taken a few too many sips from the Chalice that evening. He didn’t want to take a gamble on the truth. Actually, it was more simple than that: he didn’t want to see a kid get hurt. Sully veered, slipping slightly in the mud but correcting himself, and turned to chase after the kid.



Thunder rumbled. Wet hair clung to Sloane’s face as she held her knife out like a fencing foil, her channeler in her offhand in place of a main-gauche. One foot crossed in front of the other as she circled, looking for an opening that wasn’t there. Lightning crashed, the horde of undead that around her reflected in her dark eyes. She controlled her breathing. No point in panicking. She caught sight of a limb reaching out and reacted. Her knife launched itself out of her hand, buried into the forehead of a zombie, and flew back to her hand with a wet pop. The corpse fell, another one immediately taking its place.

Surrounded.

Her breath quickened.



“Kid! Hey, kid!” shouted Sully between ragged breaths.

The thunder drowned out his calls to get Clancy to stop. Sully gagged as they scampered past the undead monstrosity playing with an expensive looking coat. His eyes bulged as he saw one of Emily’s cronies lift up a gun. Sully put every last ounce of will he had into running as fast as he could before he leapt, facing towards the kid in an attempt to dive in front of Clancy as the gun clapped bang bang bang BANG!



The smoke, the heat, and the light. How nostalgic. Back before this was all there was. The smoke, the heat, and the light. Volcanic eruptions, impacing meteors, and striking lightning. Destructive waves that burned the land, and from those ashes came new life. The nature cycle, beautiful in its wanton randomness, nothing planned, no design, everything just happenstance. Then they took it—the smoke, the heat, and the light—took control over it, gave it a name, built homes around it, formed cults to worship it, took its power of destruction and used it to enforce order. It would try and break free, burn wild, but they always found ways to contain it.

So a storm came and with it came the flood, the waters taking away the smoke, the heat, and the light, if only for a moment. A warning shot. A little reminder. A life lesson. One that has since been forgotten by many, making it so much sweeter to be able to teach them again and again: they are not the ones in control. No one is; it doesn’t exist.

Not even for her.

She opened her eyes, a flash of yellow fleeing from the irises. The shawl was pulled up over her nose to help with the smoke. She didn’t remember doing that. She crawled on all fours beneath the smoke like a beast, the heat causing her to sweat, the light hurting her eyes, but she could see it, she could see it. The storm. The wind blew so strongly that rain was pelting in through the broken window. The storm was reaching out to her. She reached back, one hand in front of the other. The tips of her fingers reached the puddle forming beneath the broken window. The rainwater began to retreat in reverence from her holy digits, but like a flash of lightning she smacked her hand down in the puddle and splashed it. This was her storm.

Emmmmily, she heard the voices from outside shout, ...watch.

The approach wasn’t flashy like last time. It wasn’t announced with a quip or a shout. She just slithered out of the window and began stalking up behind Lila. The only sound made was the spilling of entrails as a poor zombie stepped in the path between her and her prey, the splashing of its guts largely masked by the pounding of the rain and the roaring of the fire. The murder, if they saw her, were kept away by the winds, the storm working in her favor. Her eyes flashed yellow as Lila’s wings flashed green, the want to pluck a feather drowned out by a more intrinsic want—the need for her to remain with the Leviathan, although who could say from which one of them the need originated.

“For what it’s worth,” whispered Vashti into Lila’s ear, her voice strangely gentle as she bared her fangs in a hungry smile, “I think you’re beautiful.”

She lunged at Lila’s back, her claws reaching out to carve through Lila’s back near the base of her wings so that Vashti could latch onto the bone. If she got a good grasp she would then make Lila drop to her knees by kicking at the back of her legs before putting her foot on their spine. Once she had Lila in position, it was only a matter of pushing, pulling, and twisting before the hollow bones would crack with a sickening snap and, like a cruel child who had just captured a monarch butterfly, Vashti would tear the wings free from the body.


Interactions: Drake @Punished GN Luca @Fernstone
Kari’s House




Sully started reaching for his keys when Tayla asked if anybody drove here, almost ready to toss them to her when he realized that Tayla being alone right now was dangerous. He didn’t want to fight either, but if somebody got injured he had to stick around to make sure they could walk after duking things out. Still, they had no right forcing Tayla to stick around, especially if there was gonna be some kind of rumble, but with her stalker still lingering about it seemed wrong to let her go alone. His eyes brightened as the lonely custodian in his head wiped away the cobwebs, blew off a thick layer of dust, and flipped on the lightswitch. Jack! Jack could teleport. He could easily get Tayla out of here and get back in time to kick dirt at 8th Street.

Sully smiled at his brilliant idea, jerking his thumb in Jack’s direction as he turned his head, annnnnd he was already gone. Sully’s mouth hung open as he spun around in one direction and then reversed it in the other just in case he’d somehow missed their resident weirdo. His jaw completely dropped as a loud crash rang out through the forest as 8th Street suddenly appeared, although Sully was particularly distracted by the hulking mass of rotting beef jerky and dentistry. He put a hand over his mouth, the odor that poured off of the mystery meat kaiju being so bad that Sully could taste it. He pointed his finger at it and gagged.

“Oh god, what the fuck is that thing!”

He ducked behind a tree that was too small to hide his large frame as Emily gave out her list of demands, his shirt pulled up over his nose. No, nope, no way in hell were they going to give over Lila or Britney. As Luca started playing peacekeeper Sully got another brilliant idea—he’d give Greenwood a shout. With their reinforcements Emily would be forced to back down and listen to reason, plus maybe Pearl would be able to put Stankzilla on ice to help out with the smell. Sully patted at his pockets, searching for his phone so he could snap a shot of what was going on and drop a pin for his crew, his cellphone sitting comfortably in the cupholder of his unlocked truck. The rain reminded him that he was pretty sure he’d left the window down, too. He leaned his head back against the tree and stared blankly forward, unaware of how fortunate it was for his immediate wellbeing that he didn’t actually have his phone on him.

Wait! The crack of lightning across the sky might as well have struck him with a bolt of inspiration: a third brilliant idea. He’d give Tayla the keys to his truck so she could beat feet, and she could call Greenwood for him so they would have some back up. Sully pulled his keys out of his pocket, spun them around his finger by the keyring like he was some hotshot showboating gunslinger, and tossed them towards the empty space where Tayla had been with a, “Hey, catch.” Briefly distracted by Drake and Stormy running off to jump into the fray, he turned his head just in time to watch his keys vanish into a patch of tall grass, as Tayla, like Jack, had already vanished.

Okay don’t forget to get those later, Sully noted, looking back towards 8th Street and slapping his forehead. The negotiations had lasted approximately seven seconds. Suddenly everything and everyone and the entire situation was on fire. Sully darted out from behind his cover. He was torn between who he should help: the people fighting 8th Street in the yard or those still trapped in the burning house. He ping-ponged back and forth in momentary indecision, wishing that Stormy or Drake had given him some kind of direction. He ultimately decided that getting closer to 8th Street was a bad fucking call for him and headed towards the burning house, unsure of how effective splashing water on it from the Chalice would be but determined anyway to try, a fireball hitting the patio seconds after he started to make his way there.

“Oh shit!” yelled Sully, certain that everybody inside was now full dead.

Sully saw Drake catch Luca, who had been shoved from the patio moments before the blast, and began to hustle his way towards the pair. He slipped in the mud—why did it always rain so much in St. Portwell—but caught himself before eating more dirt. He skidded to a halt beside Drake and dropped to a knee, grimacing ever so slightly as he felt something make his skin begin to itch. The Chalice became heavy in his hands as Sully filled it with the elixir.

“I’ll start packing the super soaker next time,” said Sully with a laugh that was obviously forced given the pain and nervousness in his voice. “You’re gonna be okay, man!”

He gave Luca a reassuring pat on the shoulder before shaking his hand as if he had just touched a burning hot stove. Gritting his teeth and hurtling through the pain, Sully helped Luca drink from the Chalice. His brow furrowed as he watched the silver of the Chalice begin to darken and tarnish from where it touched Luca’s lips. He still gave Luca enough time to quaff the potion, but passed on the bedside manners as he yanked the Chalice away quickly and scouted back out of Luca’s aura. Sully rubbed the Chalice on his jeans as if to wipe any lingering rot away from it before jumping to his feet as he witnessed, from his angle, Vashti smash Linqian’s head in with a thundering punch. She was too deep in 8th Street territory for him to just saunter over and Sully doubted that 8th Street would respect the Geneva Convention even if he did produce some paint from the Chalice and draw a red cross on his sleeves.

“Yo, Drake. Help run some interference and clear me a path?” said Sully, nodding towards Linqian.


Interactions: Lynn, Lila @NoriWasHere Amara @Blizz, “Bulletsponge 9000” @Punished GN
Kari’s House




Sloane could feel the look of I-told-you-so burning into the back of her skull from Lynn as a massive crash shook the house. She refused to acknowledge the woman as she shifted to the window, her mind populating a dozen other things that could have caused the noise rather than Lynn’s guess being right. It was Kenshiro continuing to unhealthily unleash his grief in a public forum, or Linqian and Aryin roughhousing, or Drake doing something stupid, or Jack causing someone to react violently by teleporting behind them for another cheap jumpscare as he played his part as the boy who cried wolf. Maybe it was an auditory recollection. Perhaps a meteorite had fallen from space and crash landed right in Kari’s backyard. Whatever it was, it most certainly wasn’t what Lynn had predicted.

Sloane reached out and popped up a blind to look outside. The reflection of her eyes off of the glass showed her pupils become pinpoints as her jaw set firm. Truthfully, she wasn’t surprised. A tiny, annoying, pestering small part of her, the part she assumed was also responsible for when she tripped over words or banged her knee on a table, had believed that Lynn was right. Still, she hadn’t anticipated Emily to show up with an undead siege engine. It was hard to believe that 8th Street would just walk away if they gave into their demands, just like it was hard to listen to Emily speak like she had never been out in public before, instead having spent the last ten years trapped in a high school girls locker room. Any suspicions of whether Sloane’s failed attempt to get a meeting with Emily had been some kind of hazing ritual or not suddenly disappeared as her eye twitched.

A plan began to machinate in her mind. The first step was to obviously have Jack get Lila out of here. Britney, too. While that woman did deserve to be punished for her actions, it was something that should be handled fairly by a tribunal instead of being violent mob justice. The second step was to engage in a kind of mock negotiation, allowing the rest of the Coven time to retreat, regroup, and, if necessary, ready themselves to retaliate. The third step was to stop that stupid fucking BIT—Sloane’s hand slammed against the window as Linqian stomped out across the yard, roping Aryin along with her. She shouted to no avail at the window, treating Lynn to a shocking string of obscenities from a woman who normally used them only sparingly when she needed to deliver a precision strike.

The first punch was thrown and it unleashed pande-fucking-monium. Kari’s room became nothing more than heat, smoke, and the groaning of imminent support beams collapsing as the upper floor of the home was engulfed in hellfire. Amara burst through the door with her squad of phantoms, smashing out the window and ushering Sloane and Lynn out. The slightest of hesitations as Sloane looked at Kari’s computer, the screen already beginning to bubble and melt, was overrun by a more basic instinct as she allowed herself to be rescued. Another wave of heat burst from behind Sloane, the concussive wave of the fireball forcing Sloane to steady herself on Amara’s arm. They would’ve been directly in the path if the rescue had come any later.

The burst left a ringing in her ears. It was accompanied by confusion, panic, and fear. A chunk of wood splintered from the house and cracked her in the back of the head. Her vision tunneled. A look back left her with the blurry imprint of a child burning, the kind of image that would be forever burnt on the back of her eyelids whenever she would close them to interrupt a moment of peace. Her imagination started carving shadows out of the smoke, tortured phantasms of those left inside burning, real shouts swelling with an orchestra of imagined screams, Anya calling her name, her voice fading. Sloane looked away, pulling herself away from the suicidal urge to rush back inside and rescue someone who might not even be there, her eyes watering from not only the smoke. Focus. She needed to focus.

“Lila…”

Right, Lila. Lila was right in front of her. They needed to protect her from 8th Street. The edge of Sloane’s vision continued to pulse with the throbbing pain in her head as she reached out to the doubling-over woman. Had she been hurt by debris too? Lila looked badly burnt, her arms were covered in ash. Sloane’s eyes focused and her hand hesitated. It wasn’t ash. Sloane’s hand cupped over her mouth, eyes widening as something began to crawl, pulsate, and snap underneath Lila’s skin. Sloane held back a scream as Lila released her own, accompanied by the ripping of flesh, the unfurling of wings, and the splattering of gore across Sloane’s clothes and face.

It was horrifying. It was monstrous. It was…strangely curious. In a way, the green glow calmed Sloane, stripping away the fear of Anya being cooked alive and clearing the confusion caused by a blow to the back of the head. There was comfort and beauty in those wings. Was it so strange for someone so grounded and tied down by her obligations to covet the freedom granted by flight? Eyes swirling in enchantment, Sloane’s hand reached out on its own, desperate to grasp what she did not have. Her fingers wrapped around a dark feather still slick with Lila’s blood and tightened. The sound of crows cawing overhead was the ringing of encouragement: do it, do it, do it. How bizarre it felt to be so immediately accepted. Her fingers tightened and twisted, the caws growing louder and louder and louder, as the creature that had been Lila sprinted away, Sloane’s releasing her grip a moment before, the feather ruffled but unplucked, stopped only by an instinctual realization of danger and the Emotional Field granted to her by her bloodline.

Her vision began to blur aga—no, focus. They had to fight. Stupidly, Sycamore had to fight. Sloane was not a fighter. Her first actual foray into the field had been the final confrontation with the Stygian Snake, and if it hadn’t been for Jade she would’ve been killed. She had a handful of encounters since then, often in the company of Drake, Lionel, or Ayrin, but she had never been the heavy hitter and always it had been with a kind of strategy and plenty of preparation already in play. Sloane had even taken up fencing in anticipation that she would be able to get the Apparition Killer from Ashley so that she could be of better support to her cohorts, but in a street fight fancy footwork and quick reactions only got someone so far when their opponents refused to follow the rules of engagement.

Still, she had to help somehow.

“Amara, get Lynn somewhere safe,” said Sloane, shrugging off her jacket.

From the window Sloane had seen that there was a backline hiding behind the undead monstrosity, using it as cover. She seeked to remove that barrier. Hopefully between its many sets of glossy, cloudy eyes at least one pair wasn’t vestigial or she’d just be ruining a perfectly good coat, if it hadn’t already been ruined between the scorch marks and the blood splatter. Heavy rain soaked her as she folded and layered the sleeves so that the fabric was thin enough to be pierced all the way through by her knife but thick enough that the blade didn’t slice itself free when the knife was elevated by her possession hexmark, the jacket lifting with it. Satisfied that it would hold there for long enough to get the task done, Sloane tapped the jacket with her channeler.

There was an orange spark followed by a blue glow that dimmed but did not completely fade away as Sloane infused the jacket with cursed magic. The fashionable coat frayed and tattered, warping to appear more archaic and anachronistic, like something that would’ve been worn in Victorian times, as Sloane’s magic turned it into an object of obsession. Only the undead amalgamation would be targeted by the spell as she conducted her possessed knife with her tarot card channeler, launching the knife and the jacket with it into the trunk of a tree a decent ways away. As the jacket reached its destination she wiggled her channeler as if she was holding the end of the knife, pulling it free from the fabric and carefully returning it towards herself while keeping an eye out for anybody trying to get in a cheapshot.

If the spell worked the undead creature would be drawn to the jacket, completely distracted and disabled until the jacket was wrenched from its hands or destroyed. More importantly, it would create an opening for Sycamore, allowing for the others to bypass the big fleshy barrier and strike at the individuals less suited to take a punch.



Interactions: Linqian @Fernstone Britney Williams @Punished GN Jasper (Knight), Lila @NoriWasHere
Kari's House



Vashti’s elbow cracked against something hot and hard. She growled, an eyebrow raising up in confusion. Linqian’s face might’ve been the prettiest one whose nose Vashti had smashed through the back of her cranium, but it definitely wasn’t the first. The impact felt wrong. It lacked the oddly satisfying squish like wet sand between toes on a bright, sunny beach and there was no beautiful popping sound of a mind being blown apart by the cage designed to support and protect it. Oh, Linqian was proving to be quite a pleasant surprise like Leon before her. Better, even. Just as desperate, but with less hair to deal with and the option to sleep in on Sunday morning after getting no sleep Saturday night. Vashti's eyes shot to the side and caught Linqian's attempt to grapple her. It was a damn shame the girl wanted to get herself killed so fucking badly.

Vashti flicked her arms out as she felt Linqian slipping behind her, deflecting Linqian’s initial attempt to cinch in while protecting herself from too bad of a burn thanks to the quickly deteriorating hoodie she had borrowed from Lila. She was just going to step away then turn around to stomp Linqian’s face into the mud. However, something locked her feet. Vashti looked down to see thick vines wrapping around her leggings. Her head snapped in the direction of Britney as another pop of thunder exploded in unison with the arrows launched from Jasper’s Ranger. A flash of lightning illuminated Vashti’s face, a wide grin stretching across her face composed of sharp teeth, her eyes gleaming. The look she gave Britney wasn’t of hatred or anger. It was something closer to adoration, like that of a child on a playground trying to impress a tired mother as they screamed, Hey, hey, look what I can do!

She so wished that Britney had talked to her when she had her chance. After all, Vashti owed her everything. At the very least she’d present Britney with a beautiful bloodbath to show that Vashti had been the right candidate for the Leviathan after all. Britney had already guaranteed her own fucking death, the very least Vashti could do before Britney’s stomach was sliced open and she and Carol played double dutch with her entrails was to make her proud. Vashti raised a hand to wave at Britney with a playful wiggle of the fingers, her eyes opening wide in shock as Linqian was able to grab onto the back of her hoodie and pull her down to the ground, the vines burning away from Linqian’s heat.

Vashti let out a heavy breath as Linqian wrapped her legs and arms around her. Normally, she would’ve been fully onboard to roll around in the mud with Linqian, preferably face to face, but the smell of burnt hair and barbecued bayou burgers killed the mood. Plus, they had never decided on a safe word, and the melted polyester of her leggings that began to adhere to her skin and burn like napalm was starting to approach Vashti’s threshold. However, with Linqian’s arms wrapped around Vashti’s belly that meant they could no longer be used to block more hits. Rapidly, Vashti threw her head back, cracking her skull loudly against Linqian’s face again and again and again until Linqian had to drop her grip.

Vashti rolled off of her body and through the cooling mud, numbing the pain from the burns. She scrambled over to Linqian to see much to her surprise that the woman was not only still breathing but relatively okay, dazed more than anything. Vashti would have to fix that. She raised her hand up, claws flashing and eyes wild as she delivered the killing blow, hand diverting just a few inches in the final moments that it punched the ground, showering mud in the place of blood as Vashti leaned down. She shoved her other hand over Linqian’s mouth and roughly grabbed the molten threads of her hair with the other, the mud on her palms sizzling, as she hissed in her ear, “Play dead. You still might get the chance.”

Vashti climbed up to her feet, wiping a streak of mud across her face like warpaint, and flipped her hair back. Carol had better be able to reverse the burnt ends. She looked back at Britney and smiled, gesturing down to Linqian, presenting her as the first offering. From that distance it would be impossible to tell that she was still breathing. The rain pounded down even harder, shifting around Vashti as she cracked her knuckles, locking in on who should be her next target. Some asshole cosplaying as a knight was moving to the group. A second later the knight was knocked to the ground, its armor slightly caved in from where Vashti had clotheslined it. A human would’ve had the wind knocked out of it.

Vashti raised her foot to stomp the helmet in but paused as she heard Lila cawing her name. The green glow of Lila’s wings drew her in, sparing the knight from the curbstomp as she blanked and walked away from it. It was so nice to see someone else be so accepting of the gifts provided to them. Underneath the mud her skin itched where the scales of the Leviathan had once been. The admiration soon became jealousy. Vashti honestly didn’t care for whatever reasons Emily had to go after Lila. She just wanted to rip those fucking wings off.

Lila ran and Vashti gave chase, the caws of the murder being answered by the crackling of the storm.


Interactions: Linqian @Fernstone
Kari's House



In her final moments time stretched on forever.

Vashti was dying. She was absolutely dying. Kari had been right. She wouldn’t see the New Year. It was killing her. The anticipation was a noose tightening itself around her neck, the talking a serrated knife carving up her stomach like a holiday roast. She stood in the shadow of the frankensteined abomination, its rotting flesh that burned her nostrils and made her mouth water a foreshadowing of what was to become of her. This was torture—forced to witness her beautiful future and then made to wait. In the end, boredom was the greatest killer. She hated to admit it. She was even a little envious. It had taken her title.

Oh but the plan, the plan, the plan! Fuck the plan, fuck Emily, just go in there and fuck up everything. Her storm shouldn’t be just a light mist of rain that watered the flowers and ruined natural curls. It should be a monsoon, a hurricane, a flood of apocalyptic proportions, the kind that got mythologized over centuries and millennia, becoming the cornerstone of religions and putting the fear of gods into peons. However, this time there would be no survivors, no records, no falsifying of the truth, just billions of bloated bodies bobbing upon the surface as a warning sign to any extraterrestrials that this planet had already been conquered. But no, no, no, there was a stupid little plan; annihilation must wait.

Besides, wasn’t it nice to be reunited again as one big happy family? Vashti smiled and threw Sycamore a peace sign as Carol screamed for the repeated slaughter of Britney Williams, wondering to herself why Carol planned to let that bitch off so easily. Vashti’s eyes lingered on Luca as he called for peace, even suggesting that Britney could help them. Vashti liked Luca. She liked how sweet he was, how fun he was, how stupid he was, how fragile he was, how destructive he was, how in-fucking-denial he was. He didn’t need help. She would know.

Ten years ago, Britney and the others had helped her—or so they claimed. In reality, they were only helping themselves, afraid of what would become of them if Vashti hadn’t pulled back when the Leviathan had turned on the Coven. Vashti hadn’t been fixed when they sealed away the Leviathan. She was broken. It was only when she got the Leviathan back that she started feeling right again. Luca was lucky he never had to go through such a separation. He just needed to give in to those urges and he’ll be happier. She knew she was. The Leviathan was the best thing to have ever happened to her.

Maybe the second best.

”Lets fucking go,” said Linqian as she appeared dressed only in a sheet, not unlike how she had been when fate and a Vanburen had snatched her away from Vashti. Her arrival was the panacea that cured Vashti of her terminal boredom, breathing a bit of life back into what would’ve been a beautiful corpse. Overhead, thunder rumbled as the wind began to kick up and rustle the leaves as the sparks flew between the two, Vashti’s eyes sparkling with excitement as Aryin slugged Linqian in her stomach. The rain began to pelt down properly now, steam hissing off of the inviting curves of the molten figure as the sheet vanished in a puff of smoke.

Vashti’s mind went blank. Had this been part of Emily’s plan? Sorry, Emily who?

”Heyyyy, hot stuff. Prepare to get real fucking hot,” said Linqian, telegraphing her punch—as if that was the part of Linqian’s body that Vashti had her eyes on. The unbearable heat radiating off of Linqian was strangely pleasant.

“I was hoping you’d warm me up, bro,” said Vashti, faking a shiver as sweat dripped down her flushed face. She tugged at the shawl around her burning neck, her body violently jerking back to avoid the punch thrown by Linqian. She was a fraction of a moment too late, the punch catching her in a glancing blow that scorched a hole through a hoodie that she had snagged from Lila’s house. Linqian had not learned her lesson about getting close to Vashti. Vashti's hand snatched out and grabbed Linqian’s wrist.

“What's with you people punching me in the tits?" hissed Vashti. "When Bianca told everyone that you were a massive dirty ho I thought she was just being a fucking bitch.” She smiled. "Not that there's anything wrong with that, bro."

Her grip tightened on Linqian’s wrist and twisted, threatening to snap it, eyes firm and focused, the flesh on her hand sizzling and popping from the heat and forcing her to push away and let go. Vashti hopped back a few paces from Linqian, shaking her blistering hand. Lightning flashed as the rain began to turn the earth into mud, the storm intensifying faster than ever due to her elevated excitement. Vashti smirked, rushed Linqian with a feint, dropped back with a spin, snatched up a handful of mud, flung it towards Linqian’s eyes with hopes to momentarily blind her so that she could catch her off guard with spinning back elbow that would knock Linqian out—or cave in her pretty, little, empty head.


Interactions: Lynn @NoriWasHere Jack @Blizz
Kari’s House




"You aren't…" was precisely all that Jack got out before Sloane spazzed at the sudden voice from the shadows. The creeping anxiety that she had been pushing back rushed her, muting what would’ve been a scream down to a tiny eek as she scrambled up and away. Sloane reacted so quickly she didn’t even have time to grab her Channeler. She threw her hand back in the direction of the voice and turned her head towards it as something flashed out from underneath her jacket, spiraling in orange and blue light from the hexmark. At the same time orange and blue flames licked out from beneath Sloane’s wristwatch over her old scar. Her face contorted in pain, soon replaced by a look of abject terror as her perception caught up to her reaction. The flames stopped burning and the hexmark stopped glowing as Sloane’s knife that had been intended for the voice’s throat embedded into the carpet instead, diverting direction just in time as Jack finished, “...responsible for everything, my friend."

“I would’ve been held responsible for that. Why can’t you just use a door, Jack?” barked Sloane, gesturing to the one she had locked and wincing in pain. She undid her watch and glared at the fresh burn on her wrist, slipping the jewelry into her coat pocket to prevent at least one source of further irritation. She walked over towards Jack and yanked the knife out of the carpet, tucking it safely away before retreating back to her own corner of the room by Kari’s desk. She pushed her hair back with her fingers, deeply relieved that nothing bad had happened, and took a second to collect herself. “How is it that you’re never on time despite being able to...”

Sloane was swept away into another Recollection.

“...teleport.”

“WHAT THE!” started Lynn suddenly, Sloane and her both bringing it home in unison with a, "FUCK!"

Sloane pressed a hand against her beating chest as Lynn exploded out of her vision quest, shouting absolute nonsense like a street corner prophet hollering about how the end was nigh because a cloud had passed in front of the sun. It was difficult to process both what Lynn was saying and the recollection at the same time. Kari was alive but also dead and Kari’s notes had been acquired by 8th Street? Lynn was either upset that her creativity had abandoned her and she could only fabricate ten scenarios or ecstatic that for once a vision of the future could be narrowed down to have some value? Sloane held out a hand to stop Lynn’s babbling, which she must’ve mistaken for a request for a drink as Lynn held out her flask to Sloane.

“I’m working,” muttered Sloane, still committed to never taking a drink again thanks to her Halloween hangover.

Sloane gently pushed the flask back to Lynn. Another time she would’ve done everyone a favor and have confiscated the item, but at the moment she didn’t want to agitate an already stirred up Lynn. Sloane gave Jack a blank stare as Lynn resumed her pacing and pondering. Lynn insisted that she was ninety-something percent sure that 8th Street was about to attack them, which prompted Sloane to fold her arms with a sigh. Of course Lynn wasn’t one hundred percent certain. She always had to give herself an escape route. 8th Street was probably just on her brain because her delusions had been reinforced by the bombardment of recollections.

“Sure, whatever. You do that,” said Sloane dismissively to Lynn and Jack. Sloane had only a vague idea of what had happened between 8th Street and the Sycamore remnants during the Halloween Festival. She knew Emily well enough to know that petty revenge wasn’t beneath her, but she couldn’t see why Emily would attack them when they were all together. Plus, if anything that Recollection had shown her that 8th Street was just as disorganized and mismanaged as Sycamore. They could’ve missed something crucial. Sloane sat down at Kari’s desk in front of her computer, pulled out her Channeler, and began to draw an intricate hexmark on the device.

“And once you’re done telling everyone that the sky is falling, would you two mind searching Elsa’s room?” asked Sloane, not looking up from her spell crafting. She scoffed quietly and shook her head. "Oh, yeah, maybe when Emily gets here you can ask her to share those notes with me?"
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