2020-03-19 - Run Naga Run


Into the Underworlds to retrieve a locket.

Log Info:

Storyteller: None
Date: Thu Mar 19 05:59:21 2020
Location: Underworld

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It is not commonly known that the Underworlds are not distinct, separate entities. Sure, some of them are pocket dimensions but every proper underworld, every place that seems to draw the shades of the dead, is connected via vast labyrinthine caverns and sluggish rivers. Many of these 'wild lands' are the ruins of underworlds that have been since abandoned by those who used to tend them and this is one such place. It is not clear who this belonged to, only that their fall was great and long ago for strange writing unknown to any soul and crumbling edifices no longer discernable as anything other than stones once worked by hands and minds similar to human dot the paths.

The utterly deserted paths.

They are arriving now close to where the demon of drought and famine is said to make his home and there is some evidence to his presence. The land is drier and bones show up first in little clumps then later in piles. It's all very macabre and disturbing.

They should be nearing the place where the locket is buried. A place described by the Naga as 'A crumbled throne room'. Astryd and Ambrose are walking through what was probably once a grand hall lined with pillars but little of it is left now. Like the tale of Ozymandias, it is a mute testimony to the inevitability of decay and entropy and the futility of all efforts at immortality, even down here in the realms of the eternal soul.

"The decor is positively charming."

This, Ambrose near-whispers as he walks beside Astryd. He's armed to the teeth with daggers in unseen places and revolvers at his belt filled with ammunition variously blessed, courtesy of Kent's wisdom and cunning as a mystical bookworm.

"I am still uncertain as to sensing this locket. Kent thought it might be something similar to a bird knowing which direction is north. This direction does feel right…" Still, the Jackal sounds uncertain in his sotto-voce musings. He abruptly looks over his shoulder, pupils glinting carmine, and the Bane rolls up beneath his skin to linger in radioactive defensiveness. Astryd won't be touched; its Master has mind enough to avoid labeling her target right now.

"Pardon, I thought I sensed something," he says, a tension in his tone even as he walks on.

Astryd has been silent during the walk. Even her reckless nature isn't willing to push Fate too far down here. "This is charming, compared to some places I have seen." She responds absently. "These older, desolate, domains though are normally far more dangerous than the active ones."

She doesn't explain that as her grey eyes scanning the area as they move. "Did you now? Are you sure you did and it wasn't just gas?"

Unerringly, the blonde takes the path as it sweeps gently to the left, ignoring the path to their right as she does. "This way, I assume?"

The path to the left is a bit rougher, a bit more tumbled down. Soon the ground slopes up a bit gently and they see two worn stones that might have at one point been thrones but have succumbed to thousands of years of neglect and erosion. There are remnants of arches in the area. It was clearly a very resplendent chamber at one point, though it is no longer. There's something in the air. Yes. Something is here. Something important. Near the thrones but it is hard to locate precisely.

There's also something… moving near by. A scrape, scrape on the stone that cannot be the wind.

"Your humor is of grand quality as always, Lady Astryd," murmurs the gentleman-thief to Astryd at her question. He gives her a sidelong squint briefly before taking another moment to aim that look behind him once more. The fine hairs on his neck do not lie, he's learned over the years, and along with the Bane's low simmering, he's certain something's aware that both of them are here.

When asked of which direction, Ambrose pauses. He looks right and closes his eyes and then shakes his head. "Yes, to the left. I cannot…to the right is incorrect." Boots move and set as lightly as can be managed to not knock about fallen detritus on the floor of this unsettling place. His hands have gravitated towards his hips, ready to yank aside his coat for the revolvers, even as silence lingers after they've entered the throne room.

"It is here, yes." Quicker, Ambrose's steps, as he approaches one of the thrones. His hands lift and fingers flutter readily. "It is — "

Dead still, the Jackal goes, and he looks in the direction of the sound. Then, ever so slowly, he reaches for his coat pocket and the invisibility ring in its depths. "Astryd!" comes the hiss, probably unnecessary as a warning.

"Who said I was joking?" Astryd asks the masterthief, still distracted as she lets her senses roam. With the Bane so near, it's a little unnerving - she trusts Ambrose, mostly but still.

"What was once great is reduced to rubble …" the Valkyrie says as they enter what seems to be a throne room. "Look around, I will protect …." She hears that scrape and reaches up to take her hair pin out.

In a moment she is armed with a sword and shield, turning slowly towards that sound. "I hear it. Worry not."

At the far end of the chamber appears a wolf. A pale grey wolf with empty black voids where the eyes should be. It pauses in the doorway to stare at them - both of them, it seems unbothered by Ambrose' invisibility - for a long moment, watching, before it continues, stepping out of the doorway and vanishing from sight.

The next moment the sound of scraping gets louder. A creeping mist starts to filter in from outside the chamber and a moment later a creature that is best described as a naga with horns appears, dragging a very, very large sword behind it so that the tip scrapes across the ground.

"Whoooooooooooo…" It rumbles in a hollow voice.

Indeed, that ring slips onto Ambrose's hand as soon as he feels its roundeur with the tip of his finger. He disappears from view and, for once, he remains completely still as the wolf with void-black eyes pins him to the spot. His throat moves in a swallow.

"«Damn thing — a portent of nothing but trouble — »" His susurrus of angry Farsi stops when the encroaching mist begins to filter in. A quick few backsteps and the Jackal agilely makes his way up a fallen pillar and onto the risen pedestal beside it, a good four feet off the ground itself. Crouching down, he then draws one revolver and a dagger, this a silvery kris of wavy blade and with an odd off-gleam to it, perhaps a relic he hid so many decades back in order to find again at great need.

Astryd gets a silent, nervous look: no giving away where he perches with speech after all. The Bane now coruscates around its host like spectral shredded wind in blood-red.

"That … wolf?" Astryd sees the grey wolf and recognises it from before now. "I don't think it's a portent for trouble." She says thoughtfully. "A portent however, without a doubt. We must mention him to Fenris when we return." What is the connection, she wonders?

Not for long though, that naga-demon appears and … speaks. "Greetings, old-one. We did not mean to disturb thy rest but have come to collect something that belongs to us."

It might surprise Ambrose that Astryd actually bows to the creature. "I am Astryd, Valkyrie, sent on a mission for my Lord. Will you permit us to pass."

Hopefully Ambrose will move and find the locket, so they can get the hell out of here.

"Loooooord…" Despite looking like a snake it speaks in that hollow way that sounds ponderous or cadaverous. "Noooo looooorrrrd here." There's another short pause. "Hunnnnnnnnnnnnngry…" It starts to slowly slither forward, blade dragging behind it.

"I… smellllll…. deaaaaaaaaaaath." That could well be Astryd, she is a valkyrie after all. But it could equally well be, er, NOT Astryd.

Ambrose, as always, is absolutely impressed by the Valkyrie's sangfroid in the face of this…horror. He remains as still as he can manage on his perch, still not tall enough to break the height of this creature's head in his crouch, and tries not to let his heart slam its way through his rib cage. Patiently, while seconds fall like boulders in a giant hourglass, he waits for the creature to move beyond him and then —

Quickly, the Jackal launches himself from the pedestal like a startled frog. Through the air, he flies, and he lands as quietly as he can manage behind one of the many thrones debauched by time and decay. It's not the right one; somehow, he knows, and he grimaces, intending to fleet over to the next one, where it feels more correct.

"My Lord is not the Lord of here." Astryd murmurs, stepping back to give the creature room. "Hungry. What do you hunger for?" She asks ever so carefully, There's the faintest of whispers as Ambrose launches himself and the blonde circles - slowly - in the opposite direction trying to keep the creatures attention on her.

"Death? Well yes, I'm a Valkyrie. Something that can't be avoided. Then again, you're also in an Underworld, you must get that smell a lot."

"No deaaath here. No liiiife here. There just is… here." The demon says. It's head sways a bit toward where Ambrose is but then it looks back to Astryd as she keeps talking. It takes a moment to sniff.

"I hunger… for breath. For waaaater. Forrrrrrrrr…" It chuckles, a dry unpleasant sound like stones in a riverbed. "Liiiiiife. Did your looooorrrrrd sennnnd you with giiifts?"

There is something. There is something two over. Not that one. No. Yes. There. That one. It's here. It's right here. But where is it? The floor is bare stone and… wait. That's an odd looking raised rock.

Keeping talking, Astryd, the master-thief thinks to himself as he moves in that quick flit between and behind the fallen monuments of thrones. Gloved hands reach for this stone — pause, pull back, a grimace, no — this one? Nope, that wasn't it either, and the Jackal swallows down the sour taste of pennies. Every motion of the creature out of sight drags that sword-tip along rock with a wretched grind sure to haunt his less cogent moments.

Feeling around on the barren chamber floor, Ambrose scowls. "Bloody fucking stupid blighters," he forms as silent words, not a breath of air escaping past his vocal cords in the process. His hand strays over the raised rock and this he grips with the intent of manipulating it. Shove - tug - pull - push - depress, he tries all.

Did her Lord send her with gifts? Astryd sighs and considers. She's not really going to sacrifice any living thing - no matter how small to this demon - she could have packed a mouse or a rat in her bag. "Unfortunately, no. He just sent me…" The blonde answers amiably, still dragging the creatures away from Ambrose. Raising her voice, only slightly - hoping that Ambrose gets the import of her message. "He did say I should not tarry though…"

The blade is still held down, but anyone watching her will know she's anticipating a fight any moment … now.

"If heeee sennnnt youuuu… then perrrrrhaps you willl do…" The creature stares at Astryd and sniffs again, looking… disturbed. "You smmmmelll of nagaaaaa." Well. She's been one recently.

And then quick as anything he swings the blade, but not AT Astryd. No he heaves the ironing board sized thing around and THROWS it in Ambrose's direction. Just as Ambrose gets the rock to move and sees that there's something under it, the blade shatters the throne he's hiding behind, exploding some of the rock and sticking out of what's left like the proverbial sword in the stone. The tip of it has come through the whole thing and stops inches from Ambrose's chest.

Aaaaand it's on.

Faster, faster, fasterfaster, MOVE, ROCK.

It's eerie how when the sword flies through the stagnant air of the chamber, the air displaced seems to wail. Ambrose jerks back-flat against the wall behind him as the sword erupts through the throne's backing. That chest almost pierced heaves as he stares down at the rust-coated point in abject terror.

"FUCK," the thief breathes audibly this time. Then, he lifts the rock in order to snatch at the familiar length of steel chain and golden amulet he sees hanging from it. Yanking it over his head and then tucking it into his shirt, the Jackal again pulls the kris dagger from his sleeve. Somebody wants to come to blows with blades? So be it.

Nobody ever claimed bravery exists without fear.

Out he slinks, yet invisible, and makes to dart in at the naga-creature's exposed back, that rippled blade held cocked back and ready to drive HARD into giving flesh.

"Yes, I rather do at the moment. Do you like it?" Astryd asks flippantly, wincing when the blade is thrown in Ambroses direction. "I hope you've got it." Is all she says as she launches herself at the demon, blade flashing.

The demon is unarmed and she's not - this might be hurt but they'll get out of there, right?

It's her shield that connects with the creature first - knocking him fair in the chest and likely backwards.

The demon is also a snake and when Astryd launches herself at him he responds by trying to wind her up. Her blade cuts and that means she gets bled on. And…

Transforms. Into, well. Ambrose has seen it. Astryd spent some time moving about but, er, she's never spent any time fighting like this. It's going to be interesting, that's for sure.

That does mean that Ambrose has a reprieve and that reprieve is long enough to drive that dagger between the scales deep enough to bite and draw blood. He does not transform but then he hasn't drank naga venom recently, has he?

This is probably for the best, really.

There's a grunt from somewhere behind the snake-demon's back as Astryd's forward rush pushes it more into the kris-dagger than the weapon itself breaking through the tough scales. Once it sinks to the hilt, Ambrose can be heard to grit out a sharper sound again, this one almost like someone torquing a joint the wrong way briefly.

More that it's the Bane channeled like water down a funnel into the center cavity of the creature's body and rapidly expanding through it like a glowing fungus might tendril through a rotted tree. It means the Jackal goes near-rictus with the sudden influx of life-force into him, but his grip on the dagger's rough hilt doesn't seem to wish to break for this in the process, even if he stumbles over the lashing lower lash of the demon.

Damn. Astryd grimaces as the blood hits her and grimaces again as she starts to move … sinuously. Not having trained like this, she's not as effect but she's still got some skill.

The sword flashes again and again as she tries to hack the thing apart.

Maybe they should … run.

Maybe they should. Ambrose gets… an odd result when he channels the Bane. He gets… sand. The creature starts to 'bleed' sand and dust instead of blood. It coughs and starts to fall apart as Astryd hacks at it. After a moment, a really surprisingly short period of time, it just disintegrates leaving Ambrose and Naga-Astryd. Again.

And for a blessed three seconds it is quiet. Then a blast of wind howls through the caverns like an angry roar. Is it, oh, at all possible that killing it that quickly was a biiiiit too easy?

It's after the second moment of realization that the life-force he's tasting is gritty and dry, ashy and devoid of true life, that Ambrose makes to yank the kris-dagger from the creature's back. He stumbles away from the collapsing figure as it dissolves away into nothingness and stares first at its absence before towards Astryd. Of course, he's still invisible, down to the dagger he holds off to one side, its blade dry and still gleaming.

"Maybe we should go n — " he tries to croak, voice gone echoed upon itself and raspy in an uncomfortable mimicry of the naga-demon's earlier speech. Then comes the side-swipe of wind that has him tucking his shoulder up against the smack of it. "RUN!!!" Whether or not Astryd hears the shout over the sudden gale is uncertain. Regardless, he tries to yank at her arm in passing, even if the Bane also tries nipping like a disobedient puppy.

Astryd is covered in sand and dirt by the time the creature disintegrates. Her tail flails wildly in her battle frenzy. In the silence that falls, the blonde breathes heavily, opening her mouth to ask if Ambrose has what they came for and is ok …

The words that come out though, as the wind whips up echo Ambroses instead. "RUN!" The Naga-Valkyr turns and slithers back down the path they just came. "Just keep running. There'll be an exit somewhere up ahead that I can use to get us out."

Where that will take them, she has no idea.

There's the sound now of what sounds like stone rolling on stone. It takes them a moment to realize it's a sand storm and it is howling down the passages toward them. Up ahead there's one of the many rivers they crossed. If they can… just… make it…

The exit. There it is. On the far banks of the river. The sand storm is almost on their heels though. Like a bad special effect from an awful pulp movie the two of them can see a snarling face form briefly as the storm surges one final time to try to catch them…

And then they're through. Out. Back in the world of the living.

Somewhere with sheep. Lots of sheep.

How the Valkyr-Naga can slither as fast as the master-thief can sprint is a thing of wonder, but Ambrose dedicates no focus on it at the moment. He's too busy running for his demi-immortal life as what sounds like imminent doom roars and rages hot on their trail. That arched open way has never been such a source of relief in the Jackal's life thus far.

He leaves the temple's boundaries with a resounding yelp and attempt to not bowl over the sheep suddenly appearing in front of him. He fails: the ovine goes bleating in shock off to one side and there's the sound of an "OOF" and tumbling to follow with a few muted clanks of hidden weaponry jouncing about. Then, from an Ambrose-shaped divot on the ground, a long, drawn-out, relieved whistling of a sigh.

"…I need a drink," opines the Brit tiredly.

At least Astryd's slithering escape isn't distracting the master-thief this time. She can move though, that's for certain.

As they burst through the portal, they find themselves in shadow - just where the light and dark meet.



The naga looks around and lets out sigh. "I hope my Lord is listening for me. He can retrieve us - I hope."

"A drink sounds like a splendid idea."

"Oy!" Someone calls from up the hillside that they're on, staring down at them. "Ya need a pint o' heavy?"

Scotland. They're in Scotland. Fenris should show up soon. Astryd can sense his surprise. He'll just be a little bit while he stuffs Ganesh somewhere and then makes his way over through the Ways.

And in the meantime… there's drinks.

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