Ryder looked to Finlay as his trainees began to disperse, trying to get a sense for how the senior Hood felt about his presence. Uncertainly was the only emotion Ryder could pick up. The fact that Ryder wore red already meant that Finlay should be able to trust him, but there was a hint of suspicion in the way Finlay looked at him. It was the same look one would give to a strange dog, unsure if it would bite if you attempted to pet it.
The recruits, or rather the Yellow Hoods, who passed did so without many words spoken. To those that were still gathered, Ryder gave a reluctant nod. "It's Shaw, by the way. Ryder Shaw." Finlay gave a comical scoff, unimpressed with the timing of Ryder's introduction.
"Sure," he mocked. "Now tell us who ya are." Ryder glared at Finlay, burning holes into him with his eyes. They were already off to a great start. "You and I have some talkin' to do, Shaw. I'll see you before we feast, ya?" Ryder responded with a subtle nod. Finlay looked at his people once more and suddenly stood up very straight before pounding a fist over his heart with a single audible impact. A sign of respect to the new Hoods. A salute. He then turned to Ryder and did the same, the latter reciprocated but with much less fervor. Finlay then took his leave, heading who knows where within the keep. Once Zeke had handed out all of the cloaks, he disappeared into the shadows as well. Ryder hadn't had a lot of direct contact with Zeke in his time earning the red. He was still curious what the giant looked like under that black hole of a hood.
Ryder took in a big breath and let out a slow, airy sigh. He opened his mouth to start to speak, but then stopped, unsure what to really say. He'd been traveling for weeks, slain his beloved's murderer, and carried news of impending doom to the head of the most elite force the world had ever seen only to be tasked with babysitting. Then, suddenly, the words he wanted to speak came to him.
"I need a drink." He gave his head one violent shake, cracking his neck, before taking his leave of the group and heading toward the keep's tavern.
Ryder's pace was slow and even. Each step brought with it a new, haunting thought. Step. What now? Step. You've completed what you set to accomplish. Step. Why does it still hurt? Step. What am I doing here? Ryder's fists began to involuntarily clench, his fingernails digging into his skin just enough to smart. He forced his thoughts to cease, focusing mainly on the floor, on his feet, on each step. Part of the training, or at least part of his, was to separate emotion from function. If you fight with emotion, you fight without focus. You mess up. You slip. To execute your mission to the best of your ability, you must do so devoid of feelings, of self pity. The mission is to make it to the tavern. The method is walking. There ought not be anything else to it. Stop thinking, Ryder silently told himself. One foot after the other.
The Keep's Tavern was located across the courtyard in a stand alone hovel off the to corner. Crudely etched into some wooden boards above the entryway were the words "The Stumbling Ass". As Ryder opened a door leading toward the courtyard, he continued his journey right to the bar, swinging the door out wide and immediately taking in the smell of smoke and alcohol that flowed through the open passage, escaping and polluting the otherwise fresh air outside.
The bar was small, having been built to serve only a select type of patron, and was surrounded with various wooden tables. Some of the people were playing cards in the corner while others were testing their might with an arm wrestling match. At yet another table, one could bear witness to a red hood so drunk he had fallen passed out, draped over the table as if he were it's cloth. Ryder rolled his eyes and honed in on a barstool, taking a seat right by the tender.
"A shot. I don't care what, as long as it's strong." The barkeep, an elderly, hefty man who looked like he was in the twilight of his life, gave a pleased nod. The man's face was covered in a patchy white beard that had very obvious holes in it, giving him a very scruffy look. His head, however, was as bald as a baby's bum. The light from the torches all around gave a shimmering reflection off the old man's cranium. Ryder wasn't sure what the man's real name was, but everyone who ever came him always just called him "Bud".
"Here y'are!" Bud said with with an eager smile as he placed the shotglass down.
Ryder looked at it at first and could see some remnants of something floating in the liquid. He looked around the room again and resigned to the fact that sanitation was not this place's strong suit. Screw it, he thought as he picked up the glass, tipped it at the barkeep as a sign of appreciation, and slammed it back down after inhaling it. He shook his head and let out a disgusted gag, unable to even stomach his own saliva after that taste. His spit to the wood planks on the ground, wiped his mouth with the back of his arm and looked at Bud with angry eyes. His pupils were fire. He leaned in a little bit and, between bared teeth, he said, "Another."
"Good night! What did you do in there," Finlay blurted out, looking to Kiri and Colin's group. His face was painted with disgust as he covered his nose and mouth with a hand. The smell escaping the room was dreadful. Before an answer came, he quickly did a head count, his eyes bouncing from one initiate to the next. "We're short one," Finlay declared with a softer tone and an heir of disappointment. "The new one."
"Looks like you took some casualties, too," Trent made sure to point out with a slight sneer, the delectability he took in Finlay's shortcomings was lost to no one. Finlay looked at the others as they emerged as well, his head bobbing in a small nod as he met his charge's eyes. Of those who walked out, there was an undeniable sense of pride and esteem coming from Finlay. Of course, he would never admit to it.
"Took ya all long enough," he said finally, his grin subtle and crooked. "But good on ya. You went is as mere dobbers. Amateurs. Ignorant. Stupid. Blind. But now you've emerged as something new. Dobbers with a piss sash. Congratulations. You're yellow hoods." Zeke, the seemingly silent sentinel, slowly moved to each survivor, a pile of folded yellow garments gathered atop his presented arms. A hood for each initiate. A symbol of their status within the organization. "What's mine is now yours," Finlay continued. "Our resources are your resources. But there is a cost. You will train with us on your off time and when you're not training, you will be sent on missions. You will be placed in dangers far less controlled than what you've just faced, against foes who we couldn't catch and contain. It only gets more challenging from here, kiddos." Finlay's crooked smile turned into a full grin as he glanced at them all. "Look around and get familiar with these people because you're gonna be spending a lot more time with 'em. It's all of you and me from here on out."
"And me," Ryder called, his voice devoid of interest or excitement as he stomped heavy-footed down the hallway, his red cloak waving behind him with each stride. His dark, shoulder-length hair flowed back as he moved. His face gave away the fact that he hadn't shaved in quite a while. What wasn't a part of his beard was covered in stubble. He moved with intention and resentment.
"What's that," asked Finlay, bewildered and slightly annoyed for his moment being interrupted.
"Commander says I'm also tasked to this group." Once Ryder was finally standing at Finlay's side, he looked the teams over, soaking them in. The people gathered were certainly eclectic.
"You're not taking this group from me. I've already seen 'em through to the Tria-"
"Not interested," Ryder interrupted. "You're running this. I'm just here until I'm not." His lack of motivation was obvious. He had no intention of being a counselor or a trainer, no desire to water the next crop. It's what he was tasked to do. What he had to do. "I'll admit it's impressive to see this many people walking out through those doors," he said, addressing the teams. "On my day, it was just me. Welcome to the Hoods."
"Right," Finlay said, his voice trailing off slightly as he tried to comprehend this new development. He broke his stare away from Ryder and looked to his pupils once more. "Anyway, the keep is open to you now. The armory, the library, the kitchen, the laboratory, the dining hall, the sparring chambers, the archery yard... hell, I'll even let ya go to the keep's tavern if ya earn your drink during work hours. In the meantime, you're free to get accustomed to this place. I plan on feasting in an hour in the dining hall. You've earned your spots and are welcome to join me, should you have the urge. Otherwise tomorrow morning is Day One. I'm gonna throw ya in the deep water. Ya better learn to swim real quick."
In the first room, Chase, Dragomir, Fendrel and Cohen found themselves up against this creature:
Marrock: You opened the door and entered a dimly lit, cavernous room that's a little more spacious than it appeared on the outside. As the four of you file in, you hear Zeke forcefully slam the door behind you. As your eyes try to adjust, you here a scuttling at the far end of the room. Your eyes begin to adjust to the lack of light and that's when you see it... Your Opponent.
MsMorningstar: As they were shuffled into the room, Eliza found herself gagging on the stench of blood. It filled her nose and mouth, and she wanted nothing more than to spit it out. She didn't dare look at the floor, hearing her opponent before her eyes adjusted and she saw it. Her eyes widened, she had never seen such a foul-looking beast. What she assumed were its ears were giant and sheer, and it had a mouth full of wicked, yellowing fangs. It looked as if it had no meat on its bones, a full rib cage exposed. Its legs had to be extraordinarily long, the way it crouched was completely disgusting to her. And its talons...Eliza didn't dare make a noise, but she wanted to groan. She was going to die, they were all going to die. If the other group of initiates barely made it out alive, how was she supposed to? She was tiny, frail...what would happen to her if that thing attacked? She tried to clear her mind, turning towards her group. They appeared formidable enough, one of them being the vampire who had glared at her like he wanted her dead. She kept that in mind, hoping he would put aside their differences and focus on the task at hand.
"Okay, guys," She began, turning towards her group just slightly. She didn't want to take her eyes off the monster, so she continuously peered at it. "What's the game plan? Do any of you see any obvious weaknesses? It doesn't look like it has many fleshy, stabby parts. What about those giant ears?"
ZAVAZggg: "I don't see any eyes on its head." Vitius said as he carefully dropped into a low crouch and stared at the creature, doing his best not to give into his rising blood lust. "I think it hunts by sound. If we disable its sense of hearing, we'll effectively cripple it."
Inertia: Sadon's hand unconsciously gripped his blade, "What kind of god creates that?" he whispered to himself.
"From first glance, it looks faster than it is strong. Don't get me wrong this thing is likely stronger than the average human, but probably alot more faster." he called out, not letting the beast escape his sight "If I were in your shoes I'd disorient it with a loud noise, see if that works. That or try to cleanly dismember one of it's limbs."
"With that said, do you have a weapon on you, a small dagger is better than nothing."
Duoya: "Definitely doesn't look like a demon I'm used to..." Edwin dips his fingers into the bag of salt at his side. "The ears are the only part that looks real hurtable, yeah. Maybe the torso if one of us can bash in the ribs, but I think only Mr. Dragomir is strong enough to do that..."
ZAVAZggg: "Unfortunately the Hoods didn't see fit to give me a weapon." Vitius whispered as he kept a wary eye on the creature while feeling around on the floor for an object to throw. Feeling his fingers run over a hard, pointy object, that was most likely a rock or pebble of some kind, Vitius picked it up and tossed it towards the other side of the room, hoping the sound would draw the creature in that direction.
Marrock: The creature hears the clank of the object, but immediately turns back to the last voice it heard. Saliva dripped from its mouth as it pounced forth and scurried up to the vampire at an unnaturally fast pace before leaping into the air and bringing his clawed hand down upon Vitius, scratching his cheek. The beast reared back, making clicking sounds as it surveyed the room, preparing for its next attack.
Inertia: Sadon's eyes widened, the creature seemed clever enough to attack Vitius instead of the pointed object he threw. The noises it made seems to have some sort of purpose. He had remembered reading something about this in a book but he couldn't quite place it.
An (albeit risky) idea popped in his head, "If what I try doesn't work, try fire next." he said just loudly enough. He also threw an object across the room like Vitius did.
He gripped his blade and shield, ready to smash the hilt with the shield to produce a loud bang to hopefully disorient the beast when it gets within one and a half arms length.
Marrock: The batlike monstrosity looked to the new distant sound and then back again to the voices before lashing out in a fury of swipes, catching Sadon's ear with one of it's claws, creating a superficial scratch.
Duoya: Edwin reached into his robes, fumbling around the various vials and bottles that were located in them. He was used to being around horrible demonic entities, but they were always bound and posed no risk whatsoever to him - whatever this thing was, it was free and had just tried to attack Mr. Dragomir! Edwin needed to make a barrier and fast if he wanted to give the others some protection.
Going over what the creature was weak to... sound. Edwin needed either a symbol of silence or something that produced a loud and annoying noise constantly. He had neither of those things, so that was out of the question. Next... it looked pretty feral, so something forged of man and relatively unnatural. Edwin would normally use his dagger for something like that, but thanks to its small size, it'd form a pretty pathetic barrier.
Instead, he pulled out a small canister of fire-liquid - Uncle Jason drank the stuff constantly, and it was plenty flammable. Heck, Edwin's mom yelled at Uncle Jason for having so much of the stuff, so Edwin didn't feel too bad taking some for the road. Forming a generous line with the liquid, Edwin pulled out the firestarter and prepared to pour his power into the line when he needed to - Mr. Fendral wanted to do his idea first, so there was no rush to establish the barrier.
Marrock: The creature instinctively charged at Edwin but, upon smelling the fumes of the liquid he laid down, paused. It almost looked like the creature recognized the odor. It backed up cautiously and hissed before letting out a series of clicks. Its face moved to focus on Eliza and screeched out a blood curdling war cry.
MsMorningstar: Eliza took up Sadon's offer, gripping the dagger he gave her with clumsy hands. She stared down at it, before sheathing it in her belt where it hung awkwardly. She looked at their wounds, superficial but still damage. It was her moment to attack. She stared at the creature, at it's giant, bulging head and even larger ears. Perhaps they were looking at this the wrong way. Unless they could get a stab in the eardrum that took out the brain, they'd just be attacking a part of the body that wasn't completely necessary. She knew what she was going to do.
Rather than use the dagger, she reached into her knapsack and pulled out a bottle charm labeled plainly, 'earth'. Taking it, she cocked back her arm and threw.
In midair, she shouted, "Kemen!" and the bottle broke, becoming a chunk of solid earth with the intent of smashing the creature between the ears and right in the center of it's skull.
Marrock: The demonic looking thing looked up toward Eliza as she shouted the words, but the rock came down hard before it could react, crushing its skull. Blood and brain matter seeped out from under the rock as the creature twitched and clicked. It wasn't long before all motion ceased and the corpse went still.
The initiates were quick to notice that the creature may be susceptible to audible attacks, attempting to distract it by tossing objects afar to mislead the beast as to their location, but the creature seemed to hone in on their voices most of all. Some of the crew took on some minor scratches but they ultimately felled the monster when Chase crushed it's skull with the help of a spell.
In the second, Locksley, Hae, Rivington and Celestina were tasked with defeating this abomination:
Marrock: You opened the door and entered a dimly lit, cavernous room that's a little more spacious than it appeared on the outside. As the four of you file in, you hear Zeke forcefully slam the door behind you. As your eyes try to adjust, you here a scuttling at the far end of the room. Your eyes begin to adjust to the lack of light and that's when you see it...Your Opponent.
Phlegm: Robert looked at the creature and tried to identify it but he was coming up with a blank. He had never seen anything like it before. He drew his sword and shield and held them at the ready, moving in front of the others as he was the one with the most armor.
"Any ideas, guys?"
c3p-0h: Kiri's eyes widened as she watched the bulbous, half-formed thing. Her chest tightened. Her heart thundered in her ears.
Monster. This was a monster. Kiri had never actually seen one up close before. She was so distracted by its grotesque form, the terrible scrabbly sound of it moving closer to them, that she didn't even have time to be annoyed at Robert standing in front of her like a great shield. His voice echoed in the room, bouncing off the stone walls. It was enough to pull Kiri back to herself, though her eyes were still glued to the monster.
The monster they had to kill. This was the challenge. The first trial. Kiri... she could do this. She was meant to do this. Forcing a slow breath in, she drew her sword, the dull sound of metal sliding out of its scabbard acting as an anchor, tying her to the present. Kiri swallowed. Her mind spun, trying to think.
Just another opponent. Observe. Evaluate. Strike. She repeated her uncle's words to herself again and again.
It lived in the dark. Low vision. Probably used hearing or some other sort of vibration detection, like a bat or spider. Vicious claws on malformed arms. Powerful-looking legs. Its body looked... decayed. Like it'd been some humanoid beast that died in a forest, only to be possessed, half-decomposed, by a sentient fungus. There was something near the top of its torso, some fleshy opening like a mouth, under what looked like an armored hood.
The skin of her palms was slick with sweat where she gripped the hilt of her sword. Her knuckles turned white.
Fear. Teamwork. Adaptability. That was what Finlay had told them. An image of Zeke laden with four bloody corpses flashed through her mind. Then there was the man with crimson stumps at the end of his legs instead of feet. Then -- her uncle. Grey and still, a great flower of red and rusty brown staining his ruined shirt where he'd been nearly cut in two.
Kiri squeezed her eyes shut and shook her head. She couldn't think of that now. She was not afraid. She would not be afraid. Kiri stepped carefully to the side, sword held out in front of her, so she was no longer directly behind Robert.
"It probably can't see well," she murmured. Her voice was both too loud and too soft, too sharp and too frail all at once. It bounced against the walls, coming back to her, mocking her. Kiri pressed her lips together, brow furrowing. "Uses sound, smell, or touch for hunting. Could spread out. Give it a wider target range, too many things to focus on." She paused, watching it move in the distance and her stomach flipped. "It's got... some sort of mouth. Vulnerable, if we can get to it."
NorthernKraken: The door slammed, and just like that, they were trapped.
A twisting, gnawing feeling wormed its way through Colin’s gut.
It was dark, too dark to see much except what was illuminated by Loona's soft glow as it glinted off Locksley’s armour and Kiri’s sword. His breath quickened. The image of the limp bodies, floorboards slippery with blood, was burned into his retina, Finlay’s harsh, mocking words rang in his ears. His grip tightened on Nessy, an arrow hung loosely from the fingers of his right hand. Shoulders tense. Ready to draw.
A cool, clammy breeze slithered free from the darkness, chilling the sweat on his face. He suppressed a shudder. A glance behind him at the locked door. It wasn’t going to be opening anytime soon. He wanted to run, pound on the tired, red painted wood and beg to be let out. He didn’t. He had to stick it out. Had to.
He faced forward. Jaw set. Gripped his bow so tight his short fingernails dug deep into the flesh of his palm.
And then he saw it.
Long, knotted limbs hung loosely from its sides, spindly, twig like legs supported a bulbous, veiny mass - the body. Growths and protrusions sprouted from grey mottled flesh that looked almost like – wood? He’d never seen anything like it. Probably a good thing, given he wouldn’t have survived the encounter.
The clank of armour – Locksley, stepping out in front of them. Well, if he wanted to make himself a target then Colin wasn’t going to stand in his way. Kiri soon followed. Did this pair want to die first?
He listened as she spoke – voice the only sound other than the harsh, grating quiet, and the grinding, snapping sound of the creature itself. It didn’t seem to be attacking them though. Good. They could gather their thoughts. What Kiri said made sense – but that seemed a little… obvious. He mostly agreed though, “Your probably right,” his voice sounded as scared as he felt, slapped up in contrast against the unearthly quiet, “If we can’t get to the… mouth,” he shuddered at the word, “One of yous with a sword could go for the abdomen – it seems fragile as fuck there, I bet you’d be able to hack right through.”
Tenma Tendo: Loona wasn't sure if she even had the vernacular to describe what they were looking at. The creature was enough to block out the sight and smells of what she had come to be acquainted with around them. Getting spooked by something like...that would only waste time. She was use to this, use to creatures of all shapes and sizes around her, some even with the same intent to kill that this one probably had. Although this creature was extremely uncomfortable to look at, she knew that the more mentally aware beings - humans, vampires, werewolves etc. - were even scarier...
Immediately once Robert stood in front of the three to be their shield, Loona focused her attention onto the the other two to see what they had in mind. Kiri wanted to go for the mouth, while Colin suggested aiming for the abdomen as well. Both sounded like decent options if anyone asked her. Hopefully she'd be able to add in some direction. “Maybe Mr. Robert can aim for the mouth? His shield could protect him and us from any oncoming attacks... a-and then Miss Kiri, you could go for the abdomen when the coast looks clear?” She began, looking between both Colin and Kiri for a moment before bringing her attention to the ground. “I...I-I want to get a closer look, maybe even be a distraction o-once we figure out what sense it relies on to be s-spatially aware... And Mr. Colin could support from behind?” Brows furrowed with one hand to her chin, Loona frowned, the silver glow of her fairy dust causing her to shine a bit brighter than prior. Everything they could do sounded pretty risky, but what choice did they have?
Phlegm: Robert nods decidedly and begins his charge at the hulking abomination, sword drawn, pointed at the creature's mouth. Each step hammers down with increased intensity until he is finally at the thing and plunges his sword betwixt what one would assume was it's lips.
Marrock: The creature's mouth is pierced, but the action seems to have enraged the thing more than it's hurt it. The monstrosity swipes Robert away with ease, knocking the wind out of the knight and sending him airborne before the latter fell into a tumble. The creature's body then turns to face Kiri.
c3p-0h: Kiri was already sprinting forward, sword clutched tightly in her hands, when the huge armored man was thrown back. She'd elected to run in an arc, trying to get the monster from a different angle so that maybe it'd be less prepared for her. The shock and fear of Robert being thrown back while in full armor registered in the back of her mind. But she forced her focus to narrow on the monster. Kiri charged at the monster, readying to strike --
And it rounded to directly face her.
Kiri swung her sword at the thinnest, most delicate-looking part of its abdomen.
Marrock: The sword cut through true. The creature's top half fell onto his bottom half and the gross, glistening skin seemed to reform. The tissue that made up the living nightmare almost appeared as it if were in constant flux, forming and reforming like there were multiple entities within its body trying to break free. The foul smell of its body was enough to bring a tear to your eye. In response, one of the monster's nearly skeletal hands raked Kiri across the face as ut uttered out what could only be a scream of rage.
NorthernKraken: Within a matter of seconds, Locksley was thrown across the room with a deafening crash, plates of armour grating against each other, shrieked so loud Colin couldn't help but wince.
A powerful swipe of Kiri's sword, and suddenly blood was dripping, bright and red down her face, gathering at her chin. Colin gagged at the fowl stench, raised an arm to cover his mouth as he squunted at the monster - was it... reforming?
He shot Loona a look, heart pounding. There was no way- no way they were surviving this, not when it recovered from thejr attacks so easily. Any man, any monster would have been defeated at that first hit, this didn't make any sense. There wasn't anything he could do against this thing.
But then... it had looked almost like it was made up of other, smaller creatures. Simply joining up together to create the whole... if that was the case, something had to be controlling them, doing the thinking. And what was it Andi always said when he didn't think things through?
"Use your damn head boy!"
It still seemed focused on Kiri, good. Quick as a flash, he notched an arrow. Aimed it at the monster's head. Released.
It sailed through the air.
Marrock: The arrow stuck in the glossy, bulbous membrane that acted as the monsters head with a sickening splat. One of its limbs grabbed for the arrow and retracted it, a pair green ooze seeping from the wound. The monstrosity then charged at Colin and, with his own arrow, stabbed down at the man. Though it did not land a direct hit, the arrowhead grazed the archer's shoulder, drawing blood.
The abomination roared at several frequencies at once. You could see the odorous fumes coming off of it's disgusting body, creating a small mirage effect that extended off the surface of it's skin as it became more and more temperamental.
Tenma Tendo: It all went down faster than Loona could even process it. Locksley was thrown away like some kind of rag doll while Kiri was swiped at without hesitation, both of their attacks seem to do nothing to the strange reforming beast. She needed to think, and quickly. A swift look around and her sharp green eyes fell on Colin who was looking right back at her, covering his nose in attempts to keep the foul stench from invading and clouding his senses. Although there wouldn't be enough time to cover his nose in her fairy dust like she had done for herself to alleviate the stench a little, she couldn't afford loosing him in the midst of this.
Floating directly in front of his face, Loona placed a dust covered hand on the center of his forehead before giving him a calm nod.
“Calm down. It won't help if you g-get scared, okay?” She whispered quickly and quietly before pulled away from him and shooting over to Kiri, swinging her arms around to cover her face injury with her fairy dust and heal it. She only looked back over at Colin when she saw the monster they were up against move towards him, using the same arrow he shot to get back at him.
Once making sure that her dust was properly healing Kiri's teared flesh, Loona wiped the blood that got on her hands onto her dress and examined the monster from behind for a moment while it screamed. And of course she noticed the fumes coming from its body, but what was she suppose to make of that? Shaking her head quickly, Loona shot up above the monster and began to spin and shake as quickly as she could, dispelling the dust covering her body and onto the monster. Utilizing her small body, she went in and out of the monster's range in attempts to coat the entire membrane now surrounding the beast with her dust. Both Kiri and Colin's attacks gave him an idea, but whether it would work or not was beyond her.
Loona flew high up into the air once again before pulling out her sword and preparing to swing down. As she made the motion, she used the fairy dust on her sword to enlarge the weapon into a normal sized rapier and aimed to cut the monster straight down the middle.
“Let's keep the parts from reforming! Separate it and cut it into smaller parts until we figure out what's making this thing reform!”
Marrock: The abomination slapped at itself as the dust settled over its skin. As the sword came down upon it, it's flesh was separated by the blade, but it's amalgamous form was quick to repair itself. It was as it physical damage had little to no effect. It's backhand swung, swatting at Loona with great force, knocking her back. The creature was becoming heated and angry as its focus seemed to shift to the armored Locksley.
c3p-0h: Kiri let out a sharp cry at the feel of claws raking down her face, hot blood cutting down her skin, into her eyes, over her cheeks. down her neck. She wanted to gag at the foul stench that assaulted her. Then the small one, Celestina, was fluttering before her, throwing dust in her face. The searing pain of the claws was suddenly gone. All that remained of the injury was the sticky blood, dripping on her skin. Kiri swiped at the blood with her arm, trying to get it out of her eyes. It only smeared the blood across her face.
She opened her eyes in time to see Celestina get swatted across the room like an insect. Nothing was working. Weapons might as well have been useless against the monster, with the way it morphed and reformed around its injuries. The smell, growing stronger by the second, brought tears to Kiri's eyes.
A smell like sulfur.
Kiri sprinted forward, grasping onto the first half-formed idea that entered her mind. As she approached the monster she raised her sword behind her and swung it down in an arc along the floor. There was the angry screeching of metal on stone, the sound making Kiri grit her teeth. Bright yellow sparks shot forward, landing on the monster.
Marrock: The sparks immediately grew to full-on flame as soon as they touched the air around the creature. Before long, the abomination was engulfed, it's regenerative factor unable to keep up with the destructive force of the fire. It didn't go down without a fight, however, and immediately charged at Locksley in a fit of rage. Hot mucus, blood and burning flash seeped over the knight's face as his skin, too, began to burn. Locksley's screams seemed to merge with the creature's in a harmony of torture as the two melted into one in a grotesque flaming heap. Movement slowed to a halt and the cries of agony soon died, along with Lockley and the creature.
After trying to stab, shoot and swipe at the creature, their attacks seemed to have little to no effect as the thing kept regenerating and reforming. It wasn't until Kiri managed to hurl sparks at the fowl smelling thing that it became engulfed in flame. Unfortunately, the flaming monster, in the throws of death, took Locksley down with him. RIP Locksley.
In the last room, O'Shay, Nyssa, Whitlock and Album found themselves up against this friggin thing:
Marrock: You opened the door and entered a dimly lit, cavernous room that's a little more spacious than it appeared on the outside. As the four of you file in, you hear Zeke forcefully slam the door behind you. As your eyes try to adjust, you here a scuttling at the far end of the room. Your eyes begin to adjust to the lack of light and that's when you see it... Your Opponent.
Almalthia: Brighid walks into the room and as her eyes adjust she sees the monster."Okay I'm thinking we are looking at teamwork and or adaptability for this one. Although that just looks wrong...So it was in the dark...so it either has night vision or blind sight. I can either make it brighter in here or outline the creature so you guys can hit it. Which one?"
Damo021: Nyssa had followed Brighid into the dark room, 'Perfect no sunlight' she thought to herself as this could be handy for her as her eyes begin to adjust rather quickly to behold a rather unorthodox sight to say the least, she had certainly not seen anything like it before herself and looked like a cross-breed of something rather than one supernatural creature. Nyssa listened to what the Red head had to say, in fact they were pretty good suggestion and both would not effect her sight. "I have seen anything like that thing before... I agree Either of those can work if it is a creature of the darkness, but it certainly looks agile and fast, possibly other senses could be problematic to other than sight, but eliminating one of them to help us get in close will be good, Maybe attack from multiple angles after?" Nyssa then add's to the idea of Brighid.
Argetlam350: It took a brief moment for Tholo's eyes to adjust, at least one good thing to come out from being cursed as a monster, so he wouldn't be stumbling around the dark. The best way to describe the opponent was as an abomination after having catching site of it once his eyes had adjusted."For the most part it seems we are good on being able to see it, despite the darkened environment. I recommended going with blinding it so at least dampen one of its senses," Tholo threw in his own two cents keeping an eye on the monster ",Nyssa's idea of surrounding it after is a good one as well. Would make it hard for it to focus on all of us at once."
Exit: In the cloudy haze left by adrenaline flooding his veins, Nick hadn't realized that he'd taken a step back. He'd seen all manner of beasts. Traveled enough that a wayward stalker in the night no longer gave him a jump, but never in his wild dreams had he imagined being trapped in a room with... whatever that was.
The Eyes. There were too many and none of them were placed anywhere that made any sense. Rather, they had been peppered on like salt on meat and it's head? It was as if someone had taken both sides and stretched it apart, the ends of which seemed to come to a rather sharp point. These appendages waved about wildly in the air around it making approach rather dangerous. Not that he wanted to get close.
Range was preferred and anything to make his job easier was appreciated.
"Light this fucking room up Brighid."
Marrock: The creatures eyes blinked, but all out of sync, as its cranial tendrils moved about it like independent snakes that ended in knives. The pupils suddenly all focused on a single point. They all stared directly at Brighid before the monster shrieked out a battle cry and charged forward as it whipped it's head around, sending the biological blades whirring through the air. One caught Brighid on the cheek, drawing a very small amount of blood. The creature looked at what he'd done and let out a cackle.
Damo021: Nyssa had almost instinctively reacted to the sudden attack of the beast before them, it's quickness almost surprising, it charged her ally and wiped it's head to throw those blades, again another surprise and she knew at this point it was going to be tough, but the actions of the creature actually did help, it seemed the injury to the redhead was minor but opened the opportunity to play through her suggestion as she readied her weapon, still in it's attached form. "This is our chance to put our plan into motion." she spoke up to the others as she quick went to flank the creature, beginning to surround it hopefully.
Marrok: The creature screeched out aggressively before slinging one of it's bladed tendrils at Tholo, catching him on the cheek and drawing blood. It's many eyes surrounding it's head all shifted to focus on one person. Nicholas.
Exit: Even in the dark Nick could see the eyes of the creature turn to find him. All five, bloodshot and staring in his direction, drinking in their prey from afar. All five waiting behind tendrils still slick with the blood of Brighid and now Tholo. He wasn't going to be next.
The grip in his hand almost seemed to buck on it's own as he pulled the thing out from a sling under his shoulder. He'd meant to save this for later. Use it when it really mattered at a time when no one else knew what he was carrying. The element of surprise and the effectiveness of the weapon being his ticket out of any dangerous situation he should find himself in. He also knew that he didn't want that thing anywhere near him. So he squeezed out a few pounds of pressure, ignited the powder inside the gun and discharged a single iron ball intending to bury it into the largest bead staring at him.
Two things happened that Nick had conveniently failed to consider and account for. The first was the flash. It was impossibly bright within the dark space and within a tenth of a second, Nick's world went from a fuzzy grey to a bleach white... and stayed that way. The second was the sound. The hard walls of the chamber they were all in did nothing to hinder the crack of thunder.
Those facing away from the muzzle were spared their eyes, which was everyone save for Nick himself and the creature staring at him. Everyone's sense of sound however was forfeit, the cries of the beast and the shouting from one another replaced with an incessant ringing that easily drowned everything else out.
Marrock: The creature screamed out in agony, the the iron ball cratering its eye as it passed through before ricocheting to and fro within the monster's skull, tearing up and nearly liquefying it's brain. When the crew got their senses back, they'd be able to see that the corpse of the monster was lying on the ground in a pool of blood and ooze, motionless.
The crew made quick work of their opponent, immediately drawn to its eyes. To the surprise of many, Nick revealed that he had a bit of an emergency weapon: a firearm which he used to shoot the creature right in its biggest eyeball. Save for a few scratches, the team came out relatively unharmed.
Between Zeke, Trent and Finlay, all the doors opened once more and the light from the outside hall shined in. The Yellow Hood Trial is complete.
Congratulations to all, the trials are over! All challenges have been conquered! Was planning on getting official posts out tonight, but that will be delayed until tomorrow morning. Thanks for bearing with me on this. I think the changes that took place leading up are for the better and I look forward to the rest of the RP!
Drake looked to Cleo and her wound and reality began to set in, his adrenaline offering some clarity of thought. "Dude did you just really quote Dragon Ball Z?" Drake's answer was just a crooked, uncomfortable smile. People were getting hurt. The inebriation was taking a turn from jovial to aggressive.
"Has anyone seen where she is? We need to wake her up!" Nik's concern was real. The bloodshed was real.
Drake blinked for a moment. "She left with the vampire..." Drake offered, his voice a little faint as he tried to reanalyze the situation he found himself in. His gaze went from the demonic looking entity to the back door. His eyes squinted forcefully as he demanded his will to focus. No more time for games. Though his mind was forcefully trying to regain composure, his body was still at the mercy of the chemicals he ingested as well as the sleep deprivation. His vision was blurred and his balance was lacking. If Nik was right, there was no killing this thing. Not really. The only end to it was through Uná.
"We gotta..." He swayed as he tried to stand still, his eyes still bouncing from the back door to the creature. "...split up. Gotta go get Uná. Gotta distract the Big Ugly. Take Cleo. Get her out of here. I can be distragen... distratcher... I can keep It busy." With that, his fists went flame on once more, his glassy bloodshot eyes narrowed at the Thing, as his brows jutted forward. His jaw lowered, exposing his lower teeth in a silent snarl. There wasn't a lot left in the tank, but enough to go out with a bang, if it came to that.
In an attempt to issue an intimidating challenge, Drake called out to the creature. "Fucks with me."
The chilling wind whispered through the trees that swayed blissfully in the moonlight. The grass was lightly covered in snow and every breath Ryder took came out as a small vaporous cloud. He tried to breathe as little as possible as he remained perched high in one of the trees, his body eclipsed in shadow as his eyes remained glued to the ground below. He was waiting for his prey. The cold temperature didn't even faze him as he remained still, finding comfort in his stewing hatred.
It was only a year ago that she was taken from him. His fiance, Alice, was a good and generous woman. She was kind to a fault and it costed her everything. There was once a time when Ryder was a simple tradesman. That time had passed. And all of this, everything, came to a halt because of one man... one thing.
Ryder's eyes blinked rapidly, his attention sharpening, as his ears heard the sound of crunching snow below. In the distance, he could see the silhouette. It was massive...
As a man, Ryder learned, he went by Godwin Thomas. Now, however, he was known only as the Wendigo. Many, many moons ago, while Ryder was out on a hunt, a withered looking Godwin came knocking on the door of Ryder's cabin. Alice, being the sweetheart she was, quickly brought the man in to warm up by the fire. Godwin thanked her for the hospitality and mentioned that he was ravenous. She offered him a place at their dinner table to dine of whatever game Ryder brought back with him. Little did she know that Godwin preferred a different kind of meat.
Perched in the tree, Ryder stopped breathing altogether as the hulking creature came closer, it's haunting yellow eyes staring straight forward. Ryder wasn't entirely sure of the best way to kill this thing, but he imagined his sword would be a good place to start. He just needed it to get closer...
When Ryder had returned from the hunt, he walked back to his cabin and immediately noticed the door was open. "Alice?" His voice was laced with concern. His fears turned to reality as he made his way to the doorway and peered inside. There she was... in pieces. Her flesh was ripped, her musculature was torn. Eaten. Blood covered the floor and within it were footprints. Shoe prints. This was not the work of an animal, this horrific scene was orchestrated by a man. Ryder wasted no time in trying to track the man down, but he had no leads other than his target was a cannibalistic drifter. The trail went cold until he heard whispers of a man that was possessed with a demon who stalked the woods and hungered for flesh. Ryder managed to find him and nearly died in doing so. He was not equipped for the task, so he found an outfit who could teach him, train him. He became a red hood and, tonight, he would have his long awaited vengeance.
The Wendigo was directly under him now. It was time. Ryder swiftly pulled out his sword and leapt down, his blade positioned like a nail that drove down into the creature's head with a sickening CRACK. The beast roared and bucked, but Ryder's grip on the embedded blade held true. Eventually, the thing fell to the ground, completely off balance. Ryder, with rage in his eyes, planted a foot on its horned skull and withdrew his sword, crimson fluid springing out of the wound like a geyser, covering the man's face and torso in blood splatter. He raised the blade and began hacking away at the Wendigo's head, screaming at the top of his lungs as he did so. Small craters to the skull soon grew into one big cavernous opening, flesh and brain matter flying as the Red Hood's passion hit a climax. The Wendigo stopped moving long ago and eventually Ryder ran out of steam and collapsed in the red snow. All he could do now was stare at the corpse and weep. Softly at first, but it soon grew. She was still gone. He finally destroyed her murderer, but it changed very little. He then looked up at the moonlight and screamed out a challenge, as if to God.
His teary eyes drifted back down to earth as he stared passed the giant corpse off into the far distance of the woods, his mind unable to ease itself. Suddenly he noticed some movement that looked like a group of men slowly approaching.
"Ho there," He called, forcing himself to swallow his sorrow and regain composure. "I have to warn you, you're in for a sight. I've just slain the-" His voice trailed off as the group of men walked under the light of the moon, their faces illuminated.. their lipless, dead-eyed faces. More of them began to appear, coming in from another direction. In the dark, Ryder couldn't really tell how many there were in total, but they were certainly still coming. Too many, for sure. He looked to the corpse of the Wendigo and spat upon it before running off in the direction of his horse, whom he had left at the nearest town over. This was something that would need to be reported. It was time to go back to the keep.
Commander Rouge was sitting at her desk in her private chambers when she heard the knock at her door. As she got up, she grabbed hold of a rather large knife before answering. She prided herself in always being prepared for a fight. As the door opened, she found herself face to face with Ryder Shaw who looked older than he actually was, his face weathered. The man looked as though he had never known sleep in his life.
"What is it, Shaw?"
"There's something you ought to know." Ryder proceeded to tell her about the undead and how their numbers had grown to what appeared to be the size of a small army.
"Why were you there? Who was with you?" Commander Rouge's face was nearly impossible to read, but Ryder already knew where this was going. His mission was not a sanctioned one.
"I was handling some personal matters."
"The Wendigo." She stated it as a matter of fact. She clearly knew the answer before even asking the question. "And you did it alone, violating our law." Ryder just stood there. A response at this point would just be a gesture of obedience. They both already knew what went down. "We make these laws, Shaw, to protect our people and our investment in them. If you were killed, that's a year of dedication to you and your craft that would have been for nothing. Vengeance is a dangerous thing. Taking on a creature of that magnitude by yourself is a stupid thing. I don't employ stupid people, Shaw. Is that understood?"
Ryder bit his lip and nodded, forcing himself to remain silent lest he say the wrong thing. Commander Rouge was not one you wanted to anger.
"You've forgotten how to work with people. You need to be retrained."
Ryder scoffed and was about to object but suddenly Commander Rouge's hand was around his throat and he found himself up against the wall. He barely registered the move, she was so fast.
"This is not up for debate. If you want to keep wearing that hood, you're going to play by my rules." She hesitantly let go of his throat before continuing. "The trials are underway. Finlay and Trent have their groups going through them now. The groups are big, or at least they were before the trials. You're going to go over there and help mentor them on working as a team. You're going to show them how to act as a unit and hopefully it will serve as a reminder to you as well." Ryder's face contorted with disappointment, but he dared not speak on it. "If you have a problem with that, you can take it up with Zeke. In the meantime, your pupils are in the trial hall. You best go meet them."
With a snide leer, Ryder took his leave and began heading to the trials, his frustration growing with every step.
Sex: Male Age: 30 Height: 6'1" Species: Human Volunteered or Sentenced: Volunteered, Red Hood Extra: His body is covered with battle scars, a birthmark on his left shin that looks like a thumb-sized bruise that never heals. No tattoos. He is a fully commissioned Red Hood.
In the interest of keeping things moving, and because these PMs only require short responses (though you can do a detailed response if you want), the monster is going to start attacking stagnant players. If its your turn to act and you haven't after 3 days, ya might get attacked and skipped. If it's Person A's turn but they chose to deliberate and are waiting on your response for 3 days, ya might get attacked and skipped. If the gas pedal on your car is shaped like a bare foot, ya might get attacked and skipped. If your idea of a 7 course meal is a bucket of KFC and a sixpack, ya might get attacked and skipped.
As Finlay walked the group down a series of corridors, they found themselves in one that came to a dead end. At the end of the corridor were three great red doors and a small assortment of people standing outside. Zeke stood still, a grim sentinel, looking onward at the doors as if anticipating them to do something. Another younger man clad in leather armor with a red cloak draped about him was leaning up against one of the walls with three people that looked like they had been through war. Their earth toned clothing was riddled with blood spatter, tears and one of them even looked like they had a close encounter with fire, his shirt singed and tattered. The group slowly moved in and expanded into a pool of people as they stood a safe distance from the three doors.
"Finlay," said the other red hood, a whisper of a mustache on his pail face with a small patch of hair on his chin that looked better suited to be located in his nether regions. He pushed himself up off the wall to regard his brother in arms.
"Trent." Finlay's response was devoid of emotion. Someone listening in would not mistake these two for having much love for one another.
"This is your crew?" Trent looked at the people Finlay came with, seemingly unimpressed.
"Aye, and that mangy lot must be what's left o' yers." Finlay looked to the four again. A blond woman with a very muscular physique who skin was a mix of black, blue and red as she clearly took a beating and was littered with open wounds. One of the men had long brown hair, a broken and bloody nose, and a cloth wardrobe that had taken a lot of damage. This was the man who seemed to have tasted licks of flame on his arm. The third man was suited up in light armor. No doubt the armor looked pristine when he walked into the trial. Now the metal was tarnished, dented and, in some places, pierced. The short cropped hair did nothing to hide his swollen right eye and bloody lips.
"I've still got two more groups. Only one casualty so far. I'm sure the rest will come though on top." Trent didn't look as confident as he tried to sound.
"No doubt," Finlay said, humoring him, before returning his attention to his own crew.
"Alright, you dobbers, listen up! While we wait for them to pull out the corpses of Trent's group o' idiots, let's go over some things. There are several challenges that you're all going to be faced with at the same time. You'll be split into groups of four. Your bunkmates are also your teammates. The first challenge is Fear. You must overcome fear in all instances. You'll be facing a number of beasts and malicious individuals in your career as a Hood. You're no good ta me if your cowering in the corner or making rash decisions. Fear. Get tha fook over it!
"The other challenge is teamwork. Most Hoods, Red or Yellow, work in groups. If you try to take on the monsters of the wold solo, the odds are going ta be stacked against you. Ever try exterminatin' a pack o' werewolves by your lonesome? Don't! It's a deathwish. Learn to work with your brothers n' sisters of the Hood.
"Third is Adaptability. You've got to adjust to your opponent, to the situation you're in, to your surroundings. Techniques that might fell one beast may be absolutely useless against another and if you can't adapt, yer gonna be paintin' the floor red with yer own blood.
"Behind these doors are 3 different, notoriously hard to kill baddies. You and your mates will be entering these rooms at the same time and we are not opening those doors until the creatures are felled. You might not make it, but don't give up. If you lose your right arm, pick up your fookin blade with you left and get back in there!"
Just then there came a loud, slow knock on the middle door. Zeke went to it and opened it up. A half naked man, covered in crimson from head to... shins, pulled himself out of the room. His feet were gone. In their places was exposed, splintered bone and torn flesh. As he advanced, he left a trail of red like a morbid snail as he dug into the group with his finger nails, determined to inch himself forward.
"Jonathan?" Trent asked the shell of a man on the ground. "Where are the others?"
Through labored weeps, Jonathan answered, "G-gone... oh god, they're all gone!" A smirk began to form on Finlay's lips as he pointed his thumb at the bloody thing.
"See that? That's fightin' spirit! His fookin' feet are off and he's still goin'!" Jonathan's body fell limp on the ground. The two Red Hoods and Zeke all stared at him for a moment. "Well, he was. And that's the type o' attitude I want from you lot!" Trent hesitantly pulled Jonathan's body out of the doorway while Zeke sealed the red door afterward. There was still one group battling it out in the third door.
"These creatures can be extremely difficult or extremely easy depending on how well you strategize with yer team. They all of a fatal weakness, but that weakness is not universal to all of them. You hit 'em where and how it hurts and they will fall. You muck about too much, hacking and slashing randomly as you please and you won't come out of this thing alive." Finlay turned back to the door. "How long has the last crew been in there, anyway?"
Trent looked to Zeke with a worried expression. That was an answer in and of itself. It had been too long. Zeke opened the red door and entered, shutting it behind himself.
"Oh... I hope that beast isn't still in there. He's about to get introduced to the-" But before Finlay could finish his sentence, the red door opened back up and out came Zeke with four limp and bloodied bodies carrying two under each arm. He hurled them all at Trent as if to say 'Here's your trash. Clean it up'. "Huh. Well, Trent, three outta twelve ain't so bad, eh?" Finlay couldn't hide his malicious grin before returning his attention to Team Dobbers.
"Right, well they're gonna reset tha challenge, so to speak. And by that, I mean they're gonna replace the slain opponents. Won't take long. Meantime, let me repeat the groups to ya...
Group One: Dragomir, Cohen, Chase and Fendrel. Group Two: Album, Devout, O'Shay and Whitlock. Group Three: Celestina, Hae, Locksley, and Rivington.
"Does anyone have any questions?" Just as someone's mouth moved, ready to ask, Finlay interrupted. "No? Good! I got faith in ya! Work together, conquer your fears, and adapt. I'll see ya on the other side. Now all that's left to do is to pick a door and...
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