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  #201  
Unread 9th of December, 2008, 08:33
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People keep streaming past, in dribs and drabs, reminding Paul that each zombie, each moment may represent lives snuffed out to feed whatever Beast is at the end.

"Me too. I'm d-- really glad." He flushes, taking another big bite. "I feel like when I drank too much coffee one time." He does a childish dance, whirling around and jumping off a small boulder. "Let's go!"

Twenty minutes later, he debouches onto a small platform high up in a vast cavern. People trudge past them as they step aside, still ignoring the two pilgrims. They move slowly down catwalks and stairways clinging to the cavern sides, down to the artifical cavern floor.

Beneath them, they can see thousands of people streaming in from many different openings. There is one huge opening that must have been the main mine entrance, and now disgorges walking bodies at a rate of hundreds per minute. The cavern is so vast that it might hold ten thousand without trouble, probably more. It's the size of a sports stadium.

In the center of the floor is a pool of glowing bilious red, a flowing pulsing stuff that seems to emanate inimical radiation. Paul can see the stuff overlapping people, swallowing them one by one. It seems to be growing, very slowly.
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  #202  
Unread 9th of December, 2008, 08:44
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Paul's eyes touch the crowd yearning for some sight of Mesmer, Ash, Hillary, and the rest. A steadying breath escapes his chest, "We're here."

The bilious red pool grabs his attention as innocents are devoured.

No pestilence had ever been so fatal, or so hideous. Blood was it's Avatar and its seal...

"This is the end of the road. I hope Gale's there on the other side," Paul looks down at his unlikely companion. "I'm finishing what I started. You can follow me into the mist or try to find your parents. Choose."

Paul begins walking to the center. As he nears the pulsing cloud he envisions his blue ball of energy expanding outward encircling him and warding off the ill humours.
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  #203  
Unread 9th of December, 2008, 08:59
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"We're like Frodo and Sam. That's the Crack of Doom. Only we got no Ring. What are we s'posed to do?"

As Paul begins walking down - it will take some tens of minutes, perhaps, to reach the floor - Jacob grabs onto Paul's hand. "What will we do?" he repeats.
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  #204  
Unread 9th of December, 2008, 09:08
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Paul stops and blinks, "I was going to go straight in and trust in my Healing to see me through plugging the Crack," His eyes trail back uneasily to the red cloud.

"Pray for a sign, I guess."
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  #205  
Unread 10th of December, 2008, 06:11
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Jacob hangs on to Paul's hand like the child he is. "Don't...not yet." He looks up at Paul, his eyes enormous and unfocused, as they reach the level of the floor. "Something's happening..."

A presence behind Paul makes him turn. Two presences. More.

One is the Indian. Another is Night. Behind them appear one, two, several, a dozen, more figures, to slowly surround Paul and Jacob. All of them look...hungry. Lustful. Yearning, pining, wistful, desperate, thirsty.

The Indian speaks, more self-controlled than the others perhaps. "One man's death is another's life. Your Gift in this place may clothe us again."

"Paul..." rumbles Night. "I cannot live like this, this half-life. You must give us flesh."

"Flesh..." susurrate the horde of ghostly figures behind them. "Fleshhh...."

He feel certain that this really is Night and the Indian standing before him, not some trick of the Enemy...he remembers Lilith's cold touch, demanding flesh, when he first encountered her. His suppositions on the state of the Naked as time went on, their ability to think gradually fading but their spirits lingering on into an animal-like state...
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  #206  
Unread 10th of December, 2008, 06:44
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I can't house them all. My will isn't up to that task. Is it?

Paul stares past the group his eyes fixed on the red death.

It's up to me to do something. This is why I'm here. This thing that I can do is legion. Remember Lilith, though. Good intentions pave the road to hell.

He nods his head looking at down at Jacob's small trembling hand. He grasps it tightly as he remembers the boy's wound freeing bleeding not a half an hour before and his intuition clicks, "Don't be scared. They once walked in the Light. Now they exist between worlds."

Paul looks up, "So be it. Night, I am sorry that my choice led to your death. I will not fail you now."

I can extend my Gift to others. The Naked lack the energy to cloth themselves. Perhaps, if I extend outward rather than allow them to come in, I can bring them to Life if for a short time by boosting their own regenerative abilities.

"I am ready to begin," Paul closes his eyes and envisions his Gift expanding outward.
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  #207  
Unread 10th of December, 2008, 07:45
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There are moments, such as when flying an airplane, when all the right intentions in the world help not a whit, when executed wrongly.

Then there are moments when it doesn't matter - when only the intent matters, when the guiding hand of Fate or God or the Universe intervenes, that transforms purity of heart into perfect action. These moments are more common than most realize, but are seldom celebrated. Most are hidden, still, small. The rejuvenation of a soul by the perfect Word. The healing of one hanging on to life by the laying on of human hands. The turning away of wrath that would lead to murder.



For this moment...not every one, but some, Not all, but enough. Not his body, but those that lay scattered about, fallen in exhaustion, thirst, brain fever, ill health, chronic conditions...those fortunate few among the many that died an almost-natural death on the doorstep of demonic consumption, whose souls even now were far from this evil place, awaiting whatever judgment that comes after life.

Bodies, newly-expired, take breath again, hearts begin to beat, eyes open. The Naked leap upon these new clothes with eager jostling, fitting themselves as well as they may to the flesh they crave. Night is almost the last, watching. He takes for himself the body of a large man, old, perhaps, flabby, but not decrepit. Not black as Night, but the creamy milk-chocolate color of Creole, with bad yellow teeth showing in a smile that splits his face.

The Indian makes his final selection, rising in the body of a boy of perhaps thirteen, tall already and wiry, long Amerind hair unbound and wild.

"Wow," gasps Jacob. "That was mighty...!" He can't seem to find himself an adjective. "'Mazing!" he finally comes up with.

The Indian youth smiles and whoops. "I breathe again! I will ride the wind and be with my brothers again!" He leaps at Paul, hugging him and lifting him briefly off his feet.

Night - the new Night, it seems - reaches out also to embrace Paul in a crushing bear-hug. "I knew you would give me life again, Paul Hunting! I always knew."

Last edited by Wired*Nun; 10th of December, 2008 at 07:47.
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  #208  
Unread 10th of December, 2008, 09:04
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Paul smiles despite the evil haze when he opens his eyes and surveys his handiwork. Almost surprised at the results Paul gets wedged, "An' that I found you earlier, I would have gladly born you on my back, my friend. I regret our reunion takes place under a bad bloody moon.

"It took me this long to determine the true use of my Gift. It never crossed my mind that I'm a Healer like Joan. Could have spared alot of folks grief, myself included, if I'd figured it out before now, but I guess I just wasn't ready. Now, no Naked will be forced to suffer ever again.

"So, Night. it's time to go hunting again," Paul looks down at the new Indian, "I turned down the Walking Man's deal. We're on our own. Good thing you brought an army with you," he bows to the newly re-assembled group.

Last edited by TreyKincaide; 10th of December, 2008 at 14:42.
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  #209  
Unread 11th of December, 2008, 01:35
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"Your Gift goes beyond Healing, Paul Hunting. You brought these bodies back to life. That is the power of resurrection! But without souls, they would just be bodies, ripe for posession by any malevolent spirit."

"Aiee, and not all these Naked are on the side of Light," the young warrior interjects. "As soon as they come to themselves, we may have a battle. This is not the time or place for a battle. But for a little while, they will take our commands, soul-stunned as they are."

"But that thing will devour us just as it does mortals. Even now..." Night points across the floor at the glowing pool. It is lapping upward, rising against gravity, reaching slowly in their direction. "It sees us as food. We must not feed it further."

"We gotta stop all the people going there...they're dying!" Jacob cries. "Paul, tell these guys to push the people back, or..."

Night laughs with delight. "I can stop some," he says, turning to a nearby stream of zombies. He spreads his arms, shoving them back to the opening from whence they come, plugging the small tunnel mouth with his vast strength.

But Paul can see that this is only a temporary solution. There are many streams of the doomed, and blocking the entrances will immobilize the newly Clothed for the slowly questing pool of Chemosh, or whatever it is. And even though it seems fat and slow right now, he remembers the tendrils that seized others, directing their actions. There has to be another way, another strategy or method.

Last edited by Wired*Nun; 11th of December, 2008 at 04:11.
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  #210  
Unread 11th of December, 2008, 03:39
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In that midst of chaos Paul's ordered mind grasps for a solution. As he comes to terms with the true nature of his Gift his self-awareness grows again for power over life carries with it power over death, "Do not worry about the Narcs. If they choose to follow their darker nature, then what was done can be undone with no hope of resurrection.

"Soon our interference will be noticed if it hasn't already, and then these people will swarm over us like ants to carry us to oblivion.

"We need to break Chemosh's hold over these people. Fight back the tendrils of his influence or redirect them. I might be able to fool Chemosh momentarily by reviving those he's already devoured and sate his appetite. Somehow we need to close the maw," Paul shakes his head.

"I need to stop thinking in terms of 'I.' Our greatest ability is to lend others our Gifts. Night can make everyone as strong. Jacob can lend his ability to Pull. I don't know what the rest of you can do. There's an answer there. I just need the Insight to See it."
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  #211  
Unread 24th of December, 2008, 03:14
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"You are the key to this somehow," intones Night. "Elohim has led you to this place. He has placed His hand upon you and given you a task, though you know it not yet. But we will help. Let it be soon. How can we stop these people from being consumed?"

"I could...I could Pull them away, if there was a place to put them. If you made me strong," Jacob says brightly.

"Five fingers form one fist," invokes the Indian. "We must combine our Gifts. Mine is the Gift of Vision," he declares, spreading his arms wide.

Paul's perceptions expand. He now can see in all directions, and matter seems no obstacle - he preceives the insides of the rock walls, the veins of coal, the sparkle of tiny crystals, the beating hearts of the mortals and Nephilim around him. It staggers him with information for a moment, as he strives to master it."

"And I can lend strength, of course." Night's blue aura flares, spreading to encompass those around him. "But we cannot sustain these gifts for long...without you, Paul. You must give us Endurance."
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  #212  
Unread 24th of December, 2008, 05:53
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Paul bends over resting his hands on his knees until his expanded senses reach equilibrium. He looks up at Jacob, "Not the people, but you're going to Pull. We all are."

He stokes the blue fire in his belly extending out to encircle the lot with his Gift of Endurance as he had done before, "I have an idea, and it's because you, Jacob." He smiles and reaches out to squeeze the young boy's hand. "Because of you, we can save all these people. You're the real hero today."

"If we Pull all these people away, they'd still keep coming. We'd only buy ourselves time. Instead, we Pull the maw back in on itself like the Ouroboros--the serpent eating itself. Turn our enemy's power against him, so that Chemosh's Hunger is its own undoing.

"This is the plan. We have the recently arisen hold back the tide of people while we work. We, the four of us, take a cardinal direction surrounding the maw and Pull a pocket as it expands right back into it's center."

Last edited by TreyKincaide; 28th of December, 2008 at 16:03.
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  #213  
Unread 1st of January, 2009, 02:58
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"I don't get it..." says Paul confusedly. "If we Pull it, it's gonna eat us!"

"I do not understand, either, Paul Hunting. What is this Pulling?"

The Indian remarks, "The godling is endlessly hungry, is nothing but a lust for dying life. So it has been remade by the mad adversaries. It is a hole that can never be filled, a wound that bleeds even as it eats.
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  #214  
Unread 1st of January, 2009, 03:19
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"Jacob. You just said that you could Pull all these people away. I thought that meant you could Push these people away while staying here. Have you ever tried something like that before--sending something away? I want us to Push it back in on itself."

"Night, Jacob's Gift that he's extending to us is the ability to apport objects, animals, and people. He creates small gates in space that he reaches through. That's why I believe that if we each use his Gift standing at the four corners we can transport Chemosh's hunger back on itself. As the Indian says it can't be filled and it can't be healed. Instead I propose that we let it's lust for dying life to destroy it.

"I see no better option unless any of you have suggestions."
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