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Private The Blighted Cathedral

Discussion in 'Harkinian Ruins' started by Mahvik, Jun 6, 2016.

  1. Mahvik

    Mahvik Guest
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    The peace of the abandoned cathedral was splintered by the echoing tap of stone as a pebble fell from the ceiling, down, patiently tapping along a desecrated great fairy statue, making its way down the collapsed length of its form, askew and inert, to be slowly reclaimed by the blighted vegetation that seemed to cling to and choke every part of the room. Tangled and gnarled root reaching through, flowing over itself around over and under the forgotten hallowed stone of what had been once a place of devotion.

    Devotion hadn't left the cathedral. Not forever. It had simply found a new host of believers. Less soft than the last ones. Stranger, by some standards.

    But the master of the grounds was now Mahvik. As much as anyone was the master of the grounds. Really, among the lizalfos, it was a matter of who won the fights for dominance that day. Mahvik had won enough fights with enough prejudice that most did not think it prudent to contest him.

    He sat, curled into a heavy wooden chair as best it could accommodate his frame. Asleep, breath rose and fell with gentle rhythm, head rested on one armored hand. The other gripped the shaft of his weapon, itself seemingly dormant. The tyrant of the chapel was still, his domain quieted by force of presence.

    His eyes opened. No sudden shock, nor grogginess more familiar to civilized commoners. The man had switched from inert to arisen, like life breathed into a heretofore inanimate construct. Legs slid beneath him, digging into the dirt that powdered the old stone floors, and pushed his form erect.

    The day tried to glint light off the flat of the axe blade, but found no purchase. Instead, it settled to blare lazily off of the dull and tarnished armor that hung from his frame. A hardened body for a land that demanded strength from all. In this place, light itself struggled.

    “Glad you're up boss. I was getting tired of running into walls.”


    The voice was disembodied, echoed as though of the spirit world, but rang as though owned by a carnival barker. The rat scampered up his leg, finding easy purchase in the rough and angular plate marred by combat. Its own sight was rather limited, the vermin it was, and it preferred often to make use of his own. Mahvik hadn't ever questioned how it worked. Mahvik did not question. He answered. And folks answered him before he needed to question. His interrogations, such as they were, were sharp and frequently short. Let the souls of the damned ponder. His was to do and kill.

    Matted fur pressed against his neck as the tail corded around his throat. Tully perched here often enough that it was familiar, rather than worrying. He reached up and ran an ironclad finger along the spine of the rodent.

    “Still not an actual pet, boss. What's plans today?”

    Mahvik's eyes set in dull expectation on the splintered skeleton of the cathedral's door. Outside, clamoring had grown closer and closer. The approach was familiar. Tully could tell battle was coming from the way Mahvik's vision seemed to dull, strange shadows clawing ad the edges. The dark fog of the axe grew thick. Somewhere far off, they heard screaming.

    There were three graves dug in the hills, somewhere, reminders of a time when Mahvik had been misdirected and stolen from his purpose. Tully had watched him dig the graves and set the bodies within, practiced and careful. It had been a bizarre experience. Most things with Mahvik were, though.

    The door was battered open, needlessly broken down in standard form as the lizan warband surged in. The lighter and more nimble crawled along the walls of the cathedral. Their leader, Skigk, was a larger one, striding confident with his head turned to show the impressive scar he'd won from some past battle.

    “Fleshhhh is a blight of these landss, pinkling. We will sshow you.”

    The axe whipped up, bar-handle parallel to the ground. His knees bent as he waited for one of the smaller ones to charge. The smaller ones always came first.

    “I want the blade, men. Bring it to me.” The last word was punctuated as a long tongue flickered out into the air and flicked along Skigk's lower jaw.

    There would be the smell of reptilian flesh burning later that day, oily smoke pouring across the corpse-city as the sun followed its usual course. Tully wished they didn't try this so much.
     
  2. Mahvik

    Mahvik Guest
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    A small one came first, lashing off its uneven perch on one of the splintered pews with a crude obsidian dagger in its hand. Mahvik swung, streaking a black trail through the air as the heel of the axe caught the lesser skirmisher, hooking it through the air and into the rear of the church. It landed with a hollow shout, raspy chords dying as it landed painfully on the ground.

    Another threw a net, stone weights pulling the head of the Despoiler down to the ground before it lunged. The armored juggernaut pushed off the axe, moving below the guard of the skirmisher's raised blade and seizing it by the arm. Feet planted, twisted with a Lizalfos in one hand and the Despoiler in the other, balancing the man in the middle before he released, throwing the creature into a larger warrior. Both tumbled to the ground as Mahvik righted himself, shaking the net loose from his weapon, its rope now more aged and brittle than it had been moments before.

    There was no pause as he leapt, axe head reversed in a heavy overhand swing, coming down with inhuman speed and force on the two downed foes. The cruel spike drove through them, wedging through scale, bone and flesh. Both creatures screamed and flailed helplessly. Mahvik switched his grip on the wiggling haft of the device and turned, placing it between him and another warrior that had come to seize upon the situation.

    The spike pulled free, dripping gore as the length of the blade bit into the newcomer, sapping strength as reptilian blood poured onto the floor. It clutched lamely at the new wound, panic and confusion welling in its dark eyes before it collapsed.

    There were four now. Another small one, two warriors with better gear than the others, and Skigk himself.

    The two warriors approached at the same time, spreading and keeping distance from the blade. One feinted, then the other. Mahvik waited, backing as they attempted to flank him. The left one came first, ducking under a presumed swing. Mahvik pulled his head back then whipped down, his skull driving into the reptile before it had time to guard. The ridges of Lizalfos skulls were thicker in parts than hylian bones, but the attack had stunned it successfully. He turned, switching his grip and pressing the knob of the heft into the other ones' chest. It fell, choking for air as he reached back, seizing the first's jaw and liberating it from the creature itself. The axe rose and fell, rose and fell, leaving two more dead in its wake.

    The small one leapt on him, legs siezing around his shoulders, and began to claw frantically at his face. Blind, he dropped the Despoiler and reached, pulling its hands away from him and throwing it onto the ground. Warm blood poured down his face as he furiously pummeled the creature into the ground. It shrieked, then died.

    He jumped, looked for his blade. Skigk gave a hissing laugh, the weapon now pulled behind him. Heavy curved sword in hand, the leader of the now dead warband approached, waving the blade back and forth in rhythm. Lizalfos blades in the ruins tended to be duller, meant to chop through armor and bone. Skigk moved in the trademark whirling style, attempting to confuse his opponent by multiple light swings. It was a dueling style meant for Lizalfos armor, unlikely to catch on the strange and irregular tines that adorned such protection. Mahvik's armor was of such a make.

    Mahvik's armor was different, though. Its smith had been mad. Had forged armor too heavy and long for a Lizalfos to wear, less they die of the cooking heat within.

    Skigk lurched sideways lungs pouring air, bringing the blade in an arc along Mahvik's shin, gold sparking as it ran up and tried to bite into his inner thigh, where the battle skirt would regularly be unable to protect. It foundo nly more metal. The warmaster drew back, hissing before trying again, sliding along the contour of his ribcage and up, attempting to rock into the armpit. Meshed links held.

    Back, now a bit shaken, Mahvik watched the obvious dawn on his opponent. His head was unarmored. The blade spun, shirling quickly and flashing light as it danced back and forth between Skigk's hands and around him. A dervish of metal, requiring focus that came only in battle, only after years.

    Blurred blade snapped at the end of a hand, driving down without warning and faster than Mahvik could have reacted on vision. He hadn't needed to, though. Skigk breathed out before each swing.

    The blade bit in with the force, gashing the iron like a primitive can opener. It hadn't been enough, though. Mahvik's eyes peeked over the crossed guard of his forearms, into the seething eyes of his opponent. Skigk hissed, mouth open and tongue coiling behind fangs. Mahvik roared, drove forward. He pushed past the guard of the reptilian assailant and hooked beneath his mouth, lifting him up and across the cathedral before slamming into the side wall. Anger batted away the dazed confusion of colliding with the wall, Skigk's heavy foot talons clawing uselessly against Mahvik's armor.

    “Your effort has come to nothing.” Mahvik started, one hand dropping back while the other pinned his opponent to the wall by its throat. “Your life, though, has come to a magnificent end.”

    Gauntlet plunged upward and inward, past the gut and into the soft viscera beneath. Skigk siezed, deathly still. Grip closed and pulled back. Blood spattered onto the ground, as once again the cathedral fell silent.
     
  3. Mahvik

    Mahvik Guest
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    “Don't wanna cramp your style, boss, but one's still breathing.”

    The first one. Mahvik had not forgotten. The scent of blood had died, and his interest with it. Now there was just the cleanup. A banal act to keep the small cathedral free of the stench of rotting meat and the buzzing of corpseflies. The problem of company was that they required so much tending. It robbed one of their peace. His peace was all he'd demanded, most days. Of course, when the world knew you wanted something it had a habit of trying to take it from you.

    Gore-slick treads stepped firm through the now softened light of the room. It had darkened, as though the light had seen the massacre and itself been scared of the man that had wrought it. Mahvik cleared splintered wood and found the skirmisher, the one that had leapt first, beneath.

    From the shape of the head, a female. Holding its breath as best it could and lying inert. He leaned over, Tully dangling by his tail in interest. Scraped and bruised, but not injured in any major way.

    “What's your name, reptile?”
    Mahvik's voice barely lifted from the guttural bass that was standard. It was less a question. More a demand. Answering was not a choice, and the heavy boot he dug into the Lizalfos' abdomen served to punctuate the inflexibility.

    She groaned a dozen curses in half syllables until it was made clear she was running out of air to answer. Her voice came, dusky and harsh as was common of her kind, “Dask! I am called Dask!”

    Boot removed. She clutched at her ribs and heaved heavy breaths. Tasted air like for the first time in her life. She let her strange tongue lull out the side of her mouth as she filled her lungs.

    “I want only to be left alone, yet Skigk is not the first.”
    He looked to the slumped husk that had been his challenger some moments ago. When the thrill of combat died, he found too often that he was not sated. That the day grew long and he restless. Better he was not bothered by it at all. Such as it ever was, his tranquility was as likely as a smooth lake in a rainstorm.

    “I will go! I will go!”
    She hissed, gave promise she thought was asked for. She punctuated with an earnest nod, scurrying back along the ground and attempting to right herself. His boot fell again, pressed down against her sternum.

    He shook his head and hope died in her eyes, giving way to disappointment and acceptance. No, she would not scurry away. Off to join a new warband, and appear in his doorway again within the fortnight. He had better use of her.

    But of course, before his own designs came the demands of the dark weapon. The Despoiler's demands were of greater import, and The Despoiler demanded always its tribute.

    He stood over her, lifted the axe. Swung down with vicious purpose.
     
  4. Three hours. Three rutting hours. That was the brief span of time in which Sylus Manira, former Centurion of the 113th Century, had been able to enjoy his return to Castle Dragmire. Unlike in Kasuto, where the lizalfos was reviled and seen by most as an intruding monster, here the reptilian man was treated with a measure of respect for his past service. It wasn’t exactly as if a red carpet had been laid out for him, but a warm meal or roast bullbo had been prepared shortly after his presence at the castle had been made known, as well as an invitation from Aldra Iron-Bones to join him at the keep for wine—though of the two, it would only have been the still-living Sylus who would have been drinking. Instead, Sylus found himself trudging through the ruined streets of what was once Castle City, having sent a messenger to the stalfos general to postpone their catching up.

    A pox on Skigk and his entire clan! What the foolish warbands who had broken off from what remained of the main army did should have been of little consequence to the former legionary, but he could not let this be.

    “Captain Manira, sir?” an anxious, young lizalfos had approached his elder back at Castle Dragmire. It only took a glance to judge that this one would never lead a warband himself, nor rise to any particular position of power. He was weak of body, but perhaps less so of mind—a sadly all-too-rare trait in Sylus’ kin—but still saw fit to seek out the old veteran.

    “What is it, boy?” Sylus had returned, directly but not as unkindly as one might expect.

    “It is my band leader, Skigk,” he had continued. “He and Dask and some others have not come back yet. I worry for them.”

    “Come back from what?” Sylus had asked, though it was clear it had been some or other fight. The former legionary would not bother himself with infighting between rival warbands. If those imbeciles thought it fit to kill each other, then they could do so with his blessing. If anything, they would be strengthening the gene pool. But when the young lizalfos spoke again, it was not the answer he had been expecting.

    “From killing the hylian in the shrine-house,” the little one had replied.

    “Hylian? What is a hylian doing there?” He knew the little one must have been referring to an old hylian place of worship. Under the terms of the Crenel Concord, he would have had every technical right to be there—but the Ruins of Harkinian were full of many who refused to acknowledge the official peace, and a hylian stepping foot in their former capital was either a fool or suicidal.

    “I do not know,” the boy squeaked. “But many have challenged him, and all have failed. I fear the same for Skigk!”

    And so Sylus found himself at the entrance to the abandoned cathedral, searching for some evidence to indicate the fate of the boy’s band leader. Clearly, some noble hero of a hylian had decided to take back a small part of what had once belonged to his people. A respectable mission, but Sylus had his own people to be concerned with. He could do nothing about them killing each other, but this was an issue within his power to deal with.

    He wore no mace on his tail, nor an axe on his hip, though his targe was slung over his back as a last resort. The elder lizalfos was a reasonable man, diplomatic even. An oddity among the reptilian race. He knew that this hylian warrior had killed enough of his kind that he—a lone, aged, retiree—had no chance to survive a duel. But if there was one thing Sylus respected about the mammalian races, it was their penchant for diplomacy and reason. Surely the man within would be willing to hear the old lizard out, and the two would be able to come to some form of understanding.

    Surely. And thus he rapped on the cathedral door.
     
  5. Mahvik

    Mahvik Guest
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    The axe slammed down, through scale and flesh and bone, into the wood beneath. Dask screamed, her pinned form thrashed to free itself from the weighted boot that held her. But the deed was already done. Her right arm lay inert on the ground, the flesh on either side of the blade shriveling from the wound. The Lizalfos survived injuries better than Hylians did, usually. Dask would too.

    Mahvik removed his boot, stepped back. The axe was sated, now. It had not hungered for death, merely pain, and it had been given its fill. Looking, realizing that her penance had come already to pass, Dask ceased her thrashing, turning on side to cradle and hide the wound beneath her form.

    "Turn over. Keep it above your head, reptile."


    She looked up, glared. Mahvik was correct, but cattle preferred always the lies of the herder over the truths of the butcher. She turned, blood already beginning to slow as it clotted. He strode past, knowing she was watching him, and ripped a tattered banner from the wall, dropped it at her side. She waited, still ready for some blindside of cruelty, then took it, wrapping it around the wound clumsily.

    "I've taken your ability to hold a blade. You will not need it, little one."


    "Dask, Boss."


    "Ssstupid outsider! I will be torn apart by others for my possessions within the next fortnight." There was a hint of desperation in her voice. As though he had been more cruel for leaving her alive than leaving her to the fate of her warband. She was right, without help she'd be on the recieving end of a blade to the back soon enough. But leaving this world was never as scary as it sounded. Besides, she did not comprehend yet why she'd been left alive.

    Mahvik watched, waited. Dispassionate gaze met the anger burning in her own, until she broke away. She began to back down the main path of the cathedral, keeping him in sight. He shook his head and beckoned her back toward the central altar, sitting down in his seat as he'd been before her warband had disturbed him. Her eyes narrowed. He reached behind the pew and produced a bottle of wine, removing a cork and pouring it into a grime crusted goblet, "Don't be absurd, child. Come. Sit and rest, you need what strength you have left."

    She snarled, but did not move. He sipped from the goblet, waited. He was in her sight, and there was clearly little threat in this room aside from him. Outside ambition threatened her at every turn. She walked, slowly, towards the far end of a pew. Her talons clicked on battered and dirtied stone until she sat, slouching as though ready to fall asleep. Her eye stayed on Mahvik, though, as he drank. Perhaps she was sleeping with her eyes opened. He did not know whether Lizalfos possessed that talent. He would ask, after some of her anger had faded. He sat in silence for a moment, pulling from the goblet in thoughtful sips.

    There was a knock at the door, though it had already been bashed open. Mahvik raised his eyes to see an older lizalfos. Those were rare, of course. At the least it was knocking, rather than charging. He hoped this would be less of a bother. Nonetheless he set his goblet down, crossing his legs and folding his hands. He wouldn't take the blade unless the reptile proved ready to die.

    "The others have left, sorry to say but you missed them. I can take you to them if you want, but I doubt you do."
     
  6. With the door battered down, presumably by Skigk’s party, Sylus could have simply walked into the cathedral, but he had little desire to needlessly provoke the squatter without purpose for doing so. Perhaps knocking on a broken door had been a touch silly, in retrospect, but it seemed like the best mannered thing to do regardless. The figure that approached was tall, and admittedly quite intimidating in stature. In his warrior days, this man would have been exactly the sort of opponent Sylus would have relished facing on the battlefield—if appearance was any indication of skill, that is. But the former legionary was far beyond those years, and there was no question which of the two would be victorious if there was to be a fight. Silently, the elder lizalfos went over his potential escape options—the best would be to scale the cathedral wall as quickly as he could. The clawed lizalfos still held the advantage in vertical movement over the human, regardless of his years.

    The figure’s words confirmed what Sylus had unfortunately suspected. “Oh, no, thank you,” he said, a drop of anxiety filtering into his words despite his best efforts to maintain his composure. Mammals usually found reptilian faces difficult to read, so he could only hope this one wouldn’t notice. “This one is not so old that he would care to join them just yet. Not for another decade, perhaps, if he remains fortunate.” Life in Midoro was certainly less harsh for his kin than in the ruined city—gang warfare with the zora population aside—and he had a good chance of dying peacefully in his sleep if this visit to Harkinian didn’t kill him first. The Harkinianites were another breed altogether—or so he preferred to think—wrapped up in pointless bickering and warband disputes. His race’s historical reputation as raiders and bandits was not unearned, but at least those in Midoro were less apt to kill each other.

    “He had hoped to inquire about the well-being of Skigk, Dask, and the others, but you have already made that clear enough,” he continued. The reptillian man’s tongue flicked out from his maw, tasting the air. Blood of his kin, and no small amount of it—it drowned the other scents of the musty, old cathedral. He could not see very far into the cathedral entrance either, and was left to wonder if there were any possible survivors. A large, yellow orb gazed into the the other’s smaller, hazel ones. Nothing about this man suggested to Sylus that he was a devotee of the Hylian Goddesses, at least outwardly, but it still seemed the most believable reason for his being here to Sylus. What else would possess a hylian to encroach on near-forbidden territory but a mission he believed given to him by his gods? Though it appeared he had done quite well in securing the cathedral, at the very least, so Sylus wouldn’t quite peg him as suicidal.

    “Oh, but where are my manners,” the lizalfos said, trying to maintain as conversational a tone as possible. “This one is called Sylus, if it pleases you.” He refrained from giving out a hand in greeting, a traditional mammalian greeting that he somehow doubted would serve him very well here. “I had heard that a strong, hylian warrior had taken up residence in this former house of worship, and I thought ‘I really mustn’t be rude, so I shall go and introduce myself to this stranger forthwith!’ And so here this one stands, at your doorstep, albeit without food to offer so he must pray his company is offering enough.” Demise’s boiling blood, Sylus was rambling! Coming here had been a stupid, stupid idea! He hastened to conclude his rambling with the most pressing question on his mind: “What brings you all the way to the Ruins of Harkinian, my friend?” And do you intend to stay, or are you just visiting? He would have liked to have asked that second question, but found his throat suddenly unbearably dry.
     
  7. Mahvik

    Mahvik Guest
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    Folded, the creature appeared smaller than it likely was. This was common among the lizalfos, it seemed, the change in posture obscuring just how big one was. But it was older, and had seen death often enough. It was to be treated less casually than the whelps that had come before.

    Which made it all the more perplexing that it had not yet drawn a blade, nor did it seem intent on combat at all. Mahvik's nostrils flared for just a moment, the blood spilled mixing with the wine still fresh on his tongue. When it spoke, words lacking of threat that Mahvik had expected, the hylian strolled back to the goblet and siezed before they continued. The peculiarity of the old lizard's speech nibbled at him, "Boss I doubt this guy is from here any more than I am," offered Tully as he scurried along the collar of Mahvik's armor. Mahvik's mind passed over such information, discarding it to mull and bathe again in the memory of blood. He sipped the wine, and waited.

    It was here for Skigk. It was strange that any being would tend to the well-being of such vermin. Perhaps the upstart had once been part of the old lizard's warband, and taken them off to win glory against the crazed hylian in the cathedral. It was a likely enough story. Those given to virtue and heroism often failed to respect their betters. When The Despoiler spoke, it was known that the cost of insuboordination was too grave to be overruled. The failures of hylian commonfolk were not that different from the failures of any other race, it seemed.

    It didn't seem to have seen Dask, slumped on the pew. Eyes clouded by the passing of years could take much from a man. Sylus, as he introduced himself, was no exception. It was yet to be seen if time had performed some alchemy and left his scales brittle, or whether it had turned them to iron. All the same, when he offered his hand Mahvik made no effort to return the gesture. It seemed whatever business Sylus had, it had concluded well before he arrived.

    "I wouldn't do that, elder,"
    came a rasping and tired voice, "the monkey is not given to much courtesy," Mahvik turned as Dask finished the sentence, propped against the back of the pew for support and panting from the effort of walking over. Her wrapping had held, and no fresh blood seemed to have soaked the cloth further.

    Mahvik finished the wine, the last dregs settling in the goblet as Tully skittered down his arm, claws scrabbling against the edge of the goblet. Head dipped in and searched out what drops remained. The axe whispered to him, and Mahvik spoke calmly in turn, "I am bidden here in service of masters that have names older than squabbles between the mortal races. No offering is needed, so long as you do not intend to trespass as the ones that preceded you."

    Or the ones that would come later.
     
  8. Sylus hesitated for a moment at the arched portal into the cathedral. The man hadn’t invited him in, nor given him a name to call him by, but he hadn’t exactly tried to chase the elder Lizalfos away either. That was as good a sign as any, he supposed. It was unnerving that the Axeman—for lack of a given name, that would suffice for Sylus’ mind—was so calmly sipping on wine in the midst of such carnage. Most mammals would balk at such a sight, from the old lizard’s understanding. Sylus had seen enough death during the Thirty Years’ War to not feel ill at the sight himself, though he found such a waste of life distasteful. Alas, the hotheaded youngsters born in the twilight years of the War were too keen to feed that natural bloodlust they felt deep in their genes—and this ‘trespasser’ as they saw him evidently made for a good target to test themselves against.

    The rat crawling about the Axeman’s armoured collar was a curious thing. It reminded Sylus of the squirrel familiar that was kept by the Order mage he had encountered in Kasuto. Was the Axeman some sort of magic user then? It would explain how he had managed to quell the invasions against ‘his’ home, but Sylus lacked any of the skills necessary to sense whether the other possessed any arcane power. He wasn’t certain it would be more of a comfort if he did either—whether or not his strength was backed by magic, this man was clearly a powerful fighter regardless.

    A voice he had not yet heard sounded, drawing his attention to the wounded lizalfos who had called him elder. Her right arm was missing, but more curious were the wrapping preventing her from bleeding out. “Do not exert yourself, child,” Sylus warned. The pungent scent of the blood had overwhelmed his nostrils and tongue, and her appearance was somewhat surprising to him. He had not expected a survivor, but was pleased to find one. “You treated her arm,” Sylus remarked, scaled head turning to face the Axeman again. Perhaps he could be reasoned with after all. “The wound is still young, and our kind recover better than yours from such maimings. If you would allow this one to take her to healers at the castle, it is wholly possible that her arm could be reattached.” They would have to act quickly, however. The necromantic healing abilities of stalfos mages were nothing to be scoffed at, but they still had their limits.

    “This one knows these masters of whom you speak, and Nayru in particular espouses mercy towards a hylian’s enemies once they are no longer a threat,” Sylus said. It seemed so plainly obvious to him: the Axeman had claimed a cathedral once governed by the Hylian goddesses, and he guarded it against trespassers. There could be no other explanation, surely. “The young one is no longer any threat to you, and this old one certainly never was. I do not believe your masters would take pleasure in any more needless death.”

    “I can respect your attempt to reclaim this place—foolish though it may be,” he continued. “But it serves no one to try holding it. Under terms of the Peace, I would offer safe passage for pilgrimage and worship if I could, but few of these warbands will allow for such things any time soon. In time, another group will come and try to take this from you, and another after that. Eventually, even you will meet your match in battle and fall. I caution you to leave before this. It brings more dishonor to your masters to spill blood within the walls of a house of reverence than to leave it to those you view as heathens, no?”
     
  9. Mahvik

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    "Yes, yes it would be good. Mercy is mark of great warriors, yes?" Dask spoke with a tinge of excitement and hope in her voice. Mahvik looked between them. Beggars, both, but they wouldn't try anything. The old lizard seemed too worried for the well-being of the younger. Mercy and pity for the weak. He felt the contempt darken the room as The Blasphemy began to snarl, rage at the two who had proven so heretical to its own message. Mahvik could hear it rumbling, calling for him. It had been paid its tribute, though, and both blade and man were not to overstep their time with such mortal concerns.

    "Can they just do that? Reattach it and call it a day? Must be nice, don't have to worry about fights with the wife so much." Tully chittered in his good natured way, laughter giving off a strange echo. It was nonsense. A bold faced heresy to try and reverse the penance she had paid. Whispers of invitation to the slaughter teased after him, blood soaked hands caressing his abdomen. An imaginary lover, invisible to the world but so very real to him. The Blasphemy did this, offered cruelties to its bearer, garbed them in the guise of a lover so that the bearer would be tempted to indulge. Mahvik had outlasted his predecessors by controlling against these urges. His gaze became cold, and the axe relented, its apparition dissolving with a carnal gasp.

    Nayru. The name flickered, grasped into the deep parts of his memory for hold of things forgotten so long ago. A hand cast into unknowable darkness, though, often fell into black and was seen no more. Memories of times before the dark woods, before the voice of the axe, did not come easy. Some god of the lizalfos, then. Or a trick. They didn't have names, not really. Mahvik was not aware of any Naryu. He did not let it worry him. "I care not for your platitudes, nor your fanciful spirits."

    She would not die, not yet, and her death would be no more needless than any other. Death had no needs. Or wants. It simply was. Though so many feared it, they feared only what they did not know. Dask would survive the wound.

    "If you must tell your kin, tell them that Mahvik, that The Despoiler," the axe had an older name, from a word that no longer was, but the new name sufficed, "has claimed these grounds. I will leave in time, but not before I am called. If they still must come to die, I will take them as any good shepherd guides his flock."

    The rat squeaked, "Hey I don't want to interrupt your shtick boss, but the hour is getting a little late and I doubt the little missy wouldn't take the opportunity to stick you in the neck. Maybe let them give it a farmhand's try, and we go find them after dinner?" It was correct, enough. The rat spoke in its own bizarre way, but that didn't mean nothing it said had merit. He looked out, to the day as it began to wane.

    Mahvik produced a blade. Small, jagged, and without use in almost any other context, it served his one purpose. It ran along the inside of his palm, opening the flesh and allowing the blood beneath passage. He replaced the knife and allowed the blood to drip to his other hand, coating his palm. Before his audience could react to the peculiar sight, he placed his crimson-stained palm on the head of the younger lizard. Left his mark upon her that others would be warned. She trembled beneath his sudden touch, fearing him still for a man with cruelty far more unchecked than his own.

    "Do as you must. Know she is under my sovereign eye. If I find her stripped and dead in the street tomorrow, I will bury her beneath a mountain of your kin. Then I will find you, Sylus," his words brooked no argument. Whether the healing would take at all was a dim prospect. Mahvik kept the small dagger that he'd not need know the bite of The Blasphemy himself. He turned to Dask, speaking in a knowing tone that offered no comfort, "Return when you're ready."
     
  10. Sylus watched curiously as the Axeman looked between him and the wounded one. Mammalian faces were difficult to read—particularly those of males, since the former legionary had spent enough time among gerudo to grow more accustomed to them—but it was especially difficult to make sense of this one. Most of all, though, it was the Axeman’s comment which left Sylus bewildered. His fanciful spirits? He had invoked the name of a hylian goddess, one he had reasonably assumed to be one of the objects of worship to this man, this ‘Mahvik the Despoiler’ as he called himself. It was clear now that the being before him was no holy warrior come to reclaim the lost cathedral of his goddesses, but served some other master entirely. The revelation unearthed no small amount of curiosity in the elder lizalfos’ mind.

    Curiosity was tempered with caution when Mahvik marked Dask with blood on her brow. Some peculiar magic, almost certainly, but alas Sylus was too slow to react—nor could he have stopped it in any case, the difference between the two men’s age and strength quite apparent. The lizalfos wished Yogratz was present. The moblin shaman would know what to make of the mark, if anything.

    “Begone child,” Sylus said to the other, though not unkindly. “Tell the stalfos at the gates that the elder Sylus Manira has sent you, and you will be permitted entry into the Castle for a time. Time enough to seek whatever healing may take.” Though the presumed blood magic gave Sylus doubts he left unvoiced. He was thoroughly unnerved by the Axeman now, in a new manner unlike he had been before. Still, curiosity had not been totally sated.

    “How have you marked her?” Sylus asked pointedly, though not accusingly, even as one of his eyes scanned the cathedral. One pillar stood out as relatively well-preserved throughout the years, and he would be able to climb up into the rafters of the building if his questions came to a need for flight. It would be difficult for any mammal to follow that path with the same speed as his reptilian counterpart. “This one is not particularly difficult to find when you know his name,” he continued with a confidence he did not entirely feel. “But he surmises he is to take your words as a threat. Know then that you threaten Sylus Manira, once Captain and then Centurion within the Legion of King Dragmire.” He did not raise his voice as he spoke, tone remaining nothing less than cordial. Even so, he was reminded of the power he held in his younger days. “This one is no whelp sired into a petty warband. There is yet respect given in tandem with his name. His absence would be noted and the Despoiler would find himself with greater enemies than headstrong children at his doorstep.”

    Did Sylus have the upper hand now? He knew not, but was willing to risk it for the time being. “This one will allow your continued squatting on a simple condition,” he said, never wavering in his paradoxically genial tone as he drew nearer to his conclusion. “Identify these masters of yours—if it is not the hylian gods that you serve, who then?”
     
  11. Mahvik

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    Dask felt a strange flutter. A whispering compulsion that promised to slake desires unknown, quiet and dark, like giants in the guise of mountains. The world spun, dizzied her. Then she was back, free of whatever it was and again her mind screamed with the pain of her missing arm. Now a stump that oozed blood and pain. The smell of human blood, fresh on her face, washed over her in waves as she drew deep and panicked gasps. The young lizard dragged her tail on the ground, focused on the sensation of earth beneath her scales. Drew focus and determination from nothing. She'd been smaller her whole life, she'd been forced to choke down scraps and the last bits of meat on bones discarded by other warriors. She'd scavenge herself from this too, by the aid of the elder Sylus. When he dismissed her, she did not hesitate. She skittered across the room, nabbing Skigk's blade with her tail before she departed.

    Mahvik remained quiet. Confident the newfound girl would return and acolyte when she was ready. Or more likely when she felt the call, as he had in time. Whether his blood carried any magic was debatable. But the mark was meant as a warning to anyone who would harass her passage. He'd gone to the trouble of sparing her life for now. If somebody else were to kill her, it'd be most bothersome.

    The old lizard proved himself more willful than he'd yet shown as he offered violence in turn for violence, were he harmed. Admirable, but unnecessary. Mahvik had no use for wanton slaughter. Death came for all, and little would be gained to send the old lizard on his way any sooner. "He ain't hurting us none, doubt you need to give his insides the scenic treatment," concurred the rat. Mahvik shook his head slowly and shrugged dismissively. If Sylus was civil and held to his word, there was no need for bloodshed. Besides, if Mahvik angered the lizard enough, he'd be in a fair bit of trouble shortly. Less a matter of fear than proper caution, but he held his tongue all the same.

    Sylus continued. Again firmer. A shame, he could have been a good messenger if they'd not overlooked him. Mahvik did not question the reason, as there was no reason to question. The old soldier nonetheless prodded after They. Tasked Mahvik to identify Them. It would have been a less arduous task to have Mahvik remove his own beating heart. To count the grains of sand in the desert. They were three and yet one and yet without number. They were Wrong, a profound lie that cackled in the face of what was. He set his gaze on the horizon, shoulders slouched and thoughts approaching that dark place that was Theirs, close enough that he may see, but not so near the edge that he would plummet down into what was Theirs. Mahvik spoke, slowly. "They were old before age had a name: Dead, sharp and ancient things. Their name is anathema. Heard only in the space between whispered ravings of the dying and the mad," his voice came at a low drone, absent whatever authority he usually spoke with. These were not words any man should claim. They were fact, rather than a man's testimony. Stated, rather than given.

    Darkness roared, like the din of a massive tide approaching. His axe began to sing.

    "They are outside the cycle."
     
  12. ((I apologize for my tardiness. I’m withdrawing for now because I haven’t been able to write very much lately and don’t want to hold you up any longer than I already have, but I look forward to RPing again in the future!))

    Dask departed, Sylus watching her exit through his peripheral vision as his attention remained focussed on the one who called himself the Despoiler. Names had meaning, and such a title was not to be taken lightly. It was fortunate then, that Sylus’ words did not seem to provoke the man into an attack. Instead, Mahvik actually deigned to answer the question that the elder Lizalfos posed—at least to an extent. It was a vague and amorphous answer that nonetheless brought a frown to the reptiles face—insofar as he was capable of making a frown.

    “You do not speak of of the Demon King, source of all of this one’s kinsmen and many other races designated by yours as ‘monsters’ to be slaughtered,” Sylus said simply. He was not the most religious of men, but it still appeared that Mahvik was speaking of something else entirely. But it was not unheard of for lesser demons to meddle in the affairs of mortals. It appeared as if one such being—or more than one—had gone and convinced the Despoiler that it was a god or deity of some sort. It was most likely the source of whatever blood magic Mahvik wielded as well, though Sylus lacked the means to identify such things and was making only educated assumptions.

    Whatever the case, Mahvik and his masters were no friends to the denizens of former Castle City. A danger, even. Sylus would keep an eye on this one, lest he cause greater damages than he already had.

    “Enough of an answer,” Sylus conceded. Mahvik was a strange one, and it didn’t appear as if he’d get anything clearer out of the man from simply asking. “Keep this cathedral then, but mind your actions. You are known now to greater forces than scattered warbands.” This last was spoken with a conviction which indicated the conversation was over without a need for formal goodbyes. Watching the Despoiler out of the corner of his eyes, Sylus made to exit the building.
     
  13. Mahvik

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    The lizard departed, leaving vague threat in its wizened wake. Mahvik turned, felt purpose swelling in the place behind his ears. The place that he did not go until summoned. The axe continued its song, a dirge filled with sick glee and untold perversions. A symphony in the key of atrocity filled the cathedral, then decided it wasn't large enough and made the room larger. Mahvik stood, waited still as the room grew around him.

    The windows and the doors burst inward, and darkness began to pour in, a pitch fluid that crept around corners and along cracks like water's sinister cousin. Mahvik walked now, feet trudging through midnight that did not wash away as water was supposed to. He made his way to the blade. Though the world was melting away, the ground around The Despoiler remained untouched. Throne and floor swam as the sole island in a sea of nothing.

    Mahvik siezed the blade, and was gone.

    Tully skittered along the floor of the church, eyesight now dimmed as he couldn't utilize Mahvik's own. Rat eyes saw the distant blur of the ending day, and rat paws felt the cold stone floor as he made his way to the hulking man, now unconscious on the floor. He clambered onto the armor, poked his nose against Mahvik's face. The strange, dark man was breathing softly, shallowly, his eyes flickering at a rapid rate as they rolled disconcertingly in the back of his head.

    "Good luck in there, big guy."


    ---

    Mahvik was in a room, the one he had been in, but the room had never been as it now was. The humble stone was replaced by cracked warm obsidian, minute razor sharp splits in the stone quietly biting into his bare feet. Darkness buzzed about the periphery of vision like the antithesis of a firebug. The smell of something dead and festering mixed with iron mortality. In the distance, the dirge continued.
    He stepped forward, found himself between three thrones.

    "Falling dark streaks inwardly pressing anxious and curious birds that are not and wood available through under violent reminiscence." Mahvik knew the painter it spoke of. As though he'd ever and always known. His eyes moved without moving, fixed on the throne as it began to spin in his vision. All That Rots sat there, hands clasping the cruel and rusted greatsword. Sight pushed forward, till all he saw was the head. The festering, sweating mass of chaotic flesh that bloomed like a sinister flower above a face with no eyes or nose, just sickly flesh stretched over hollow sockets.

    Vision swam, everything screamed. He remembered agony and watched a wife die that he'd never had, but she had been his love. "He dies. He dies. He dies. No more dreams," said The giant Raven, seated to the right. Viscera dripped from its beak. The voice was not shrill. It was Mahvik's own voice, and it would be when he no longer had a voice.

    "A man touches fire and sees himself. Cuts deeper and deeper that the wound may be mended. The simplest evil is the brightest flame." Go find the painter, the artist, and end him. Destroy his work. Better that it never be, said Man of Stars.

    Mahvik tried to scream. But They had only just begun.
     
  14. Mahvik

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    It was not that Mahvik didn't fear them. He did. Anything sentient felt it. A crushing fear, a primal and unreasonable thing yelling pleading and wanting nothing more than to get out. But he didn't know that fear, he didn't remember it. It was gone. They had taken it from him. Taken it away and placed it somewhere far from him. Condemned to endless dark, a blind man screaming in a doorless room for reasons he'd long forgotten.

    The reason you wanted to scream was because, somehow even without fear, the rest of you knew something was wrong, enough so that it remembered, even not knowing why, to scream.

    Mahvik's eyes tried to focus on the sword, even as the three drew his gaze to them without effort. When they desired it, all he saw was them. They filled his view, though he did not move; the space between them simply fled, and left them close to the blighted champion.
    "Towards another like him, stumbling through dark the blind one goes. Washes clean the crime with blood, his and theirs. To find freedom, he drowns." Your service has not been forgotten. You may find us here always. But first, the dreaming man dies. Take the acolyte, mused Man of Stars.

    "Breach of filth's calling taking for hobbled undulations of the lamb that speaks to sunless night from brutality of altruism." Away. Travel for some time. Duty. There was a sickening noise as pus, blood and flesh burst, dripping down and coagulating again. The spindly fingers played along the sword. Mahvik felt something run along the nape of his neck for just a moment.

    The Raven flapped it's massive wings, feathers molting into the void. Its head flicked, as thorugh it were a real bird, slopping warm blood and wet viscera onto Mahvik. Eyes that weren't there looked to the ceiling, and it cawed noisily in the silence, "All Rise. All Rise! ALL RISE! ALL RIIIIIIIII-"

    He awoke, tasting blood and pain as if for the first time. The axe lay nearby. Tully nuzzled him as Desjant stared into the wooden rafters of the cathedral. His body ached. He ached.
     
  15. Mahvik

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    The sun was set to rise, it could be heard in the nervous conversations of bugs outside. With sunrise, his new dark crusade would begin. Mahvik righted himself and drug the dead weight of his own body toward the throne-seat of the cathedral. It would not be long, but it would be enough time to rest, that his unholy strength may pool yet again. A creature such as he in such vulnerable state, perhaps a few may have snickered. Conquerors did not protest indignities once they stood atop the corpses of their slain foes. He would not complain, either.

    He settled, Tully chittering nervously with a standard flurry of promised aid. He always did, once the dark visitations ended. Curious little rodent. Mahvik's head lay against the backboard as he waited, allowed sleep to take him. Exhaustion dulled the pain of his joints, where the plate had cut his body. The dark visitations were never pleasant. Often, they were worse than they had been this time. He heard the axe, in the distance, offering some melancholic reprise.

    No dreams came. They had been certain he'd not dream again. The hope of it would distract him from his purpose. If he were to dream, it would be only to instruct in some new dark purpose. When he was done, finished with his task, then he would dream freely for a while.

    Until then, his was but to do and kill, as always it was.

    "This one will have you awake, that it might see your eyes as you die monkey!"


    Awake. A change in state. A cup of wine before sun would arise, in guessed time. Awoken instead by more guests in his cathedral. Mahvik's eyes scanned over his company.

    "The medicine keepers and spirit healers pushed me from the room,"
    Dask had returned, eyes alight with unfocused rage. She'd not slept, it seemed. The wound was uncovered, now, revealing the eerie webbing of blighted flesh beneath, "the wound is not the kind that is cleansed, they say! Elder healer says it will consume my spirit!" She blinked away grief and fear, recalling the bundled flesh that had been her arm. How it had wriggled free, misshapen and scrabbling along the ground. How it had seized a warrior and dragged him- "Dask does not die unavenged, monkey!" She ended the sentence, drawing a dagger and wielding it with obvious difficulty.

    Mahvik sighed, tried to stand but couldn't. His arms, his legs, they rebelled for the moment. Tully squeaked a note of concern. He needn't have bothered. "Come, then, little one. Show me your vengeance. I hope for your sake it's enough," he managed a single pointed finger. Beyond that, he was likely to lose in a challenge of flesh.

    Mahvik, however, had opted for a challenge of wills. On that battleground, at least, he won. Dask collapsed to the ground, dagger clattering away and forgotten. She clutched the wound and cooed a pitiful lament of her fate.

    "Come here, little one. Allow me to see the wound."


    She looked at him, shrank, then approached. Her talons scraped against the floor as she walked, incapable of even a hunters canter as she approached. Resigned, she offered him the stump. Mahvik smiled. He had been correct.

    "Your wound is fine. As your spirit will be. You are not dying. Merely changed."


    He lifted his arm, placed it upon her brow.

    "Still your fear. You will not need for it. Not now."


    Mahvik's palm slid away, and he looked upon the reptile's face. She looked back, her rage forgotten for confusion. Her fear gone, not to be needed until later, once she began to truly see. Now, though, was not that time. Mahvik offered a nod to Dask.

    To the first of his congregation.
     
  16. Mahvik

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    After a small eternity, Dask sighed, holstered her dagger and looked to the corpses adorning the cathedral. It would be long work, unpleasant and painful with every pulse of blood thudding into the stump that was her arm. The phantom limb trading offered blood for pain. Still, it would be easier were she not forced to look upon the rotting bodies as they began to bloat in death. She would have time to rob the corpses as well, selecting better equipment than generally afforded to a scurrying harrier such as herself.

    So used to picking through the remains of bodies after the larger of Skigk's warband had taken their share, the satchels of each seemed to reward incredible treasure now. While shining treasure was pocketed, she found herself wolfing down whatever dried rations she discovered, feeling a growing sense of fulfillment as she took each bite. Some of the dried meat was still rather foul, she suspected a couple dried morsels of monkey to be among them. Humans. That was the word. All the same, the meat was food.

    The frenzy carried her to Skigk's own satchel before she knew it, mouth drooling as a yet more incredible bounty was found among his possessions. She looked on his ruined corpse. Several flies had begun to flit about the viscera that hung from his torn belly. She had suffered under him. For a time too long. She hissed and plucked one of his eyes, crushing it within her hand. "May the crow man take the other, warleader."

    The Crow Man was a little known figure. Said to be blind, he healed the damned in exchange for one of their eyes, which he would wear until it rotted. Those with no eyes were said to wander the realm in eternal unrest.

    She'd begun dragging the bodies to the pyre she'd arranged outside when she heard a strange scraping from within the cathedral.

    Mahvik was gone.
     

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