With all the excitement around town, it’s been easy to forget the creepy dolls that were delivered. The recipients might have noticed that their dreams were troubled and they were becoming more tired. Of course those miniature likenesses had a tendency to ‘follow’ their owners around. Well, those that weren’t wrapped in sheet metal, did. More concerning – the dolls have started to be active of a night. It wouldn’t be unusual for the ‘owners’ to wake to find their belongings ‘reorganised’ – if that meant strewn across the floor haphazardly.
What’s becoming clear, is they need to delink from them. To do that, they need two components – Demons’ Diamonds and Stygian Iron. The first to be found on the peak of a mountain at certain times of the year and the other to be found molting from the wings of a Stygian Demon.
A message came from Ingerhast not to long ago that a nest of Stygian Demons could be found in a cave system in the foothills of the Appalachians, near a patch where Demon’s Diamonds were said to grow – about this time of year.
Slaine had been roused from her bed to join the others and gather supplies. They’d been travelling since before dawn to get there. The entrance to the cave system is just ahead… looming wide and ominous. They’re going to need their wits about them. Hopefully, they’ve bought the right supplies.
Not that John sleeps much, but he is a bit tired, despite the thermos of coffee he brought with him. Having drank it all before they had traveled more then a few hours, he spent that majority of the time walking thinking. Near silent as always, he wears a white cloak while he walks, his hands in his pockets. His face downcast as he moves, he tries to review in his mind what he knows about stygian demons
Kaji had taken the more compromising approach with his doll, and it had seemed to work for a while in appeasing it with its own set of furniture and things to play with while he went off adventuring. It might have been fine, save for the part where it finally ransacked the room. Ingrate.
It hasn’t helped that Kaji’s nights have already been restless, his dreams already plagued with troubling things, better classified as nightmares. They might have overlapped or compounded with whatever dreams might have been induced by the dolls, and the general weariness has been something that Kaji’s become as accustomed to wearing as his jacket.
But you try being relaxed and have a peaceful night’s rest when you’ve got an overload of souls you’re housing. He’s…still not sure what to do with those, or rather where to put them. ….it’s a long story.
The message from Ingerhast isn’t immediately understood. Breakfast has helped a little, but he still feels like his brain isn’t firing on all cylinders they make their way to the foothills. The necromancer can hardly remember the trip out this far. He’s had enough with his doll, currently bound and tossed in his backpack. Seems he’s lost his patience in dealing with it. But he’d rather focus on keeping his feet one in front of the other than a troublesome doll.
Miss Frizz is travelling on the shoulder of one of her companions, her own creepy mouse-doll likely tied to someone’s belt by its ugly little tail. She’s been beyond fed up with the thing, and being increasingly tired lately hasn’t helped matters.
She’d tried keeping up with the others under her own power, but when she’s running to try and keep up with their walking pace, it’s a recipe for tiring out very quickly. Thus, she relented and is currently a passenger. At least she doesn’t weigh very much?
Having wrapped her tail around and through a convenient buttonhole, Suss struggles to stay awake and alert.
Aiden’s doll is the one wrapped in sheet metal. Several layers of it. He’s pretty sure it hasn’t gone anywhere though he’s also pretty sure it’s not real happy with him. What he’s not sure about is how this rider is interacting with his OTHER rider. Not that he wants to think about either very much.
The cave before them has him checking lights and things of that nature. He’s not worried about weapons. Defenses he has in spades. The biggest danger in caves other than getting stuck and getting lost is not being able to see. “Everyone ready?” And if so… shall they?
It’s a good thing they’ve found a truck to take them and not had to ride out all this way on some mounts. The truck rumbles to a stop at the mouth of the cave and Slaine hops out, looking around as she waits for the others. Notably, she’s been very quiet – the Crown of Command, a beaten metal band with a gem in the center, still settled on her brow. She’s cast Aiden a look or two but not said more than two words to the psychic.
In the truck there’s hard hats with lanterns on top for those who want them. There’s even one small enough for Frizz, go figure. Everything else should be in the packs that they have – or in their own powers as they need them.
John will know that Stygian Demons have wings that drop metal feathers – that when harvested is a useful compound.
As they enter the cave, Slaine mutters something as she gestures and blue energy flickers across the back of her hands. Several small magelights appear and bob above, pushing the darkness back just a little. They’ll need more light, but these help a bit – even if there are shadows. She’ll follow the others as they walk.
In front of them is a pathway that slopes downwards, the walls are damp but there’s no moss here. Not too far along the path empties out into an almost circular chamber with two exits to the left and one to the right. “Which way do we go?” comes the question from the redhead in the back.
Kaji flips the hat around in his hands, locating how to turn it on but not doing so yet as he drops it over his head. He stifles a yawn, checking over his belongings as he starts along with the rest of the group. With his long jacket it’s not easy to see, but his overly long knife is in its usual place strapped at his thigh on his right, but he’s got something else clipped to his belt on his left. It’s not quite cylindrical but slightly flatter and bearing more than a few gradual curves to it, its overall shape resembling a carnivore’s tooth, rounded off at the end.
“Not sure,” he murmurs as they look around, the light from his helmet washing over the walls and towards one direction than the other. He looks down at the ground to see if there are any trails.
Walking over to the left hand path and crouching slightly, John runs his fingers against the dirt momentarily, before murmuring softly “Left. Something is in this direction, their about…” he trails off, frowning slightly before standing up and turning to look towards them, before waiting to see if they start walking this way or not, even as he glances curiously at Kajij. Before he turns back to Slaine and Aiden, then tucks his hands back into his pockets.
With a hard hat that actually fits perched on her head, Miss Frizz makes a visible effort to be more alert. She cranes her neck a little to study that lefthand path as John studies the dirt. <~ I don’t like it. There are noises in there. Like… teeth. Or claws on rocks. ~>
The moment she shares this information she realizes that that means the left hand path is exactly where they need to go. She skitters around to John’s other shoulder to look at the other paths before turning her attention to Slaine.
<~ I don’t hear anything else. ~>
Aiden crouches down near one of the passages and frowns, running his hand along the ground. There are three furrows right in front of him, cut into the stone. He looks up into the darkness, listening but not hearing what the little mouse hears. “There’s marks here. Scuff marks. Something was dragged through here. Or possibly… walked, if they’re claws. They might be.” In Rifts Earth its dangerous to dismiss that possibility.
“What we want will probably be down there…” Which is kind of… unfortunate, really.
It might be Kaji’s lack of sleep that he doesn’t make out the things the others do. Then again, Slaine doesn’t say anything either, just follows along, the gem in the band winking an emerald green every now and then.
The path to the left slopes down steeply and as they move, the walkway grows narrower – just wide enough for a large man or perhaps a Wolfen to pass with out scraping their shoulders on the wall.
The scrape marks that Aiden noticed are now visible to all of them, rising to a good three to four inches above Aiden’s head and down to their thighs. “Looks like something wide an’ big has come through here.” Slaine mutters, blue energy flickering at her fingertips. “Are ye’ thinkin’ what I am, Vargr?” It’s the first time she’s spoken to him directly to him today.
The clicking and clacking that Frizz had heard gets louder, and soon all of them can hear it – like something pacing around. Several somethings in fact.
There’s a corner ahead, they can all see that – and when they peer around, they can see another cavern with several tall and large, winged, obsidian coloured creatures filling it. They can count four from their vantage. Three pacing and one reclining on a patch of purple / white crystals.
“Angel’s Amethyst…” Slaine sighs. “Knew this wasn’ goin’ to be easy.”
He doesn’t say anything, John instead trying to make sure he doesn’t accidentally dislodge his passenger, murmuring to her softly “Frizz, I heard you had a strong ability with telekinesis… Right?” His tone still soft and quiet, like it normally is, before they see… The winged creatures. Not giving the whistle they deserve, he instead stares at them, his eyes going distant. Not that he chooses to intervene as of yet, considering it sounds like Slaine and Aiden are going to sketch out a plan of attack. No need to throw it out the window as of yet.
Suss bobs her head and squeaks to let John know that she does indeed have a bit of skill with telekinesis — she’s worried about speaking telepathically this close to those creatures for fear that she’ll give away their location.
She considers for a moment, then turns on the mage’s shoulder again to squeak at Slaine, then pantomime sneaking before a random little piece of rock lifts just enough off of the floor to not scrape before moving toward the redhead’s ankles and then up to her hand.
She really hopes the Mystic understands what she’s asking.
“I take it they’re not likely to give it up if we ask nicely.” Aiden mutters quietly. “I can make a distraction. I don’t know that I necessarily want to fight in this cave though. God only knows how many more of them are around…”
The psychic peers down a little harder and then glances up on the far side of the cavern. “See that pile of loose scree? Probably make a really nasty distraction for someone like me.” If, say, said pile of rock shards and pebbles were to suddenly explode and start flying around every which way seemingly at random.
The presence of demons certainly explain the scrapes on the walls – with their wings they’re very wide indeed. Might make negotiating this tunnel or another one difficult if the group has to run. But sneaking certainly seems like the key.
As the winged demons pace the group see a feather drop from one their wings. And then another. They not only need the Amethyst crystals the one is nesting on, they need those iron quills to complete the ritual. Further observation notes there are several scattered across the floor of the cave. Someone … just has to recover three or four.
“Looks like it’s comfortable over there.” Slaine agrees with Aiden as she peers under his arm, around the corner. “Sounds like a plan. If ye create the distraction, I’ll provide cover and Frizz, John and Kaji can sneak in and grab the feathers and a crystal or two.” It’s risky but Aiden’s right, they don’t know how many there are and they don’t want to be fighting in the cave.
There has to be water around here somewhere, the walls are damp and if they hear it dripping in the back of the cave.
“Are ye all ready? Make what preparations ye all need.” The blue energy that had been dancing between fingers slowly covers the back of the Mystics hands. If she doesn’t call to Earth, this deep in the cave, she’s a few other tricks to keep them safe.
“When ye’re ready …”
Murmuring for a moment, and then flicking his fingers at himself and Kaji, they both… Vanish from sight as he weaves the spell. Invisible, however, doesn’t mean silent, even as he goes to enter the chamber slowly. Distractions might be helpful, but he doesn’t seem overly concerned by the creatures, as he reaches up to put a hand slightly over miss Frizz, assuming that giving her the cover of his hand might help her make it out of this alive.
Fights are better off avoided if possible, Kaji won’t disagree to that. He’s not sure how well he’d hold up in one at current, but it at least helps that the obvious signs of the demons further within have his focus sharpening a little more, or at least help to kick him more awake.
Noting what they need to grab, Kaji nods at Slaine. “Ready as I’ll ever be,” he murmurs. John’s words are about the only warning he has that the mage is attempting something, but it doesn’t occur to him that he’s cast anything upon himself. He’s not even really sure what’s been done, but as John moves in, the necromancer follows, treading as carefully as he can. Even if he knew he were invisible, he’d still try to keep low as he’s doing now, a hand slipping to his side to hold the hilt dangling from his belt so it won’t go knocking against anything.
Suss stays still as John does something and she suddenly is unable to see Kaji. But, she can still hear him. Very strange. With that done, she hooks her claws into the fabric of John’s cloak to hopefully avoid falling off, and turns her attention to the creatures. She spots the feathers they’re shedding and concentrates on trying to pick up just one feather to pull closer. If she can manage it, she’s going to keep it as close to the floor as possible.
There’s no words, no gestures, no visible thing that accompanies the exercise of Aiden’s power. The pile of scree simply explodes as if the pebbles and rocks had been suddenly possessed by a swarm of angry hornets. They zip around in seemingly random directions, clattering off walls, off gems, off anyone unfortunate enough to be standing in the room. The grey eyed psychic warrior has to concentrate on the act, but it should make a fine distraction provided everyone else moves quickly.
Of course it might hit friendlies. Sorry. Occupational hazard.
As the debris starts flying, the four demons in the cavern shriek and turn in circles. The one on the nest jumping up to join them. There’s metallic pings as the rocks hit their wings and the demons do their best to shield themselves with those. It’s to no avail as the scree continues to fly indiscriminently.
There’s an opening if the others take it.
The feathers seem to be concentrated by an exit on the other side of the cavern. The crystals are in clump in the middle – it’s going to take some force or some other tool to extract the piece that they need.
The Stygians start to keen out, long and loud, the sound reverberating off the walls the cavern. It’s painful to the ears, possibly even more so for Miss Frizz – and everyone starts to feel a crushing pressure of their minds. Like … bands of iron closing around them.
Wincing slightly, John moves gently but swiftly towards the center of the room, turning his head slightly and barely breathing out to frizz ‘Can you extract the crystals?’ He could do it himself, but its liable to be… Noisy. Even still, he moves as quietly as he can.
Kaji ducks his head once things begin to fly. He can hear it pinging off his helmet, doubly thankful he’d thought to don one, but all the same he keeps his head down and a hand over his face. At least it seems the demons are too preoccupied with the debris storm themselves, otherwise it might not be too difficult to notice the odd area where bits of rocks and things seem to bounce off of without hitting the wall.
Kaji goes to try retrieving the crystals now that the nesting demon has left them. He’s pulled free his knife with its lengthy handle, holding the blade backwards against his forearm. If those things come too close, he’s going to shank one- but didn’t they need blood or something from them anyway?
His attempt to remember their shopping list is abruptly cut off by the sound, and then the pressure that comes with it. It causes the necromancer to stumble, cringing as he hunches over, a small cry escaping him before he can clamp his mouth shut.
Miss Frizz pulls that one feather along gently until suddenly the room is filled with flying debris, and she immediately slings the feather toward Slaine and Mr. Vargr, hoping she doesn’t hit either of them with it. She promptly snares at least six more and lifts them to fling toward Slaine again when the winged creatures start shrieking. She recoils immediately, squeaking in distress at the noise, and then telepathically lashing out in response to the crushing pressure, basically trying to shove the bands of iron sensation back at the creatures creating it.
She’s been a bit over-reactive about mental attacks since the Rat King.
Crap. Psychic attacks. Aiden slams a mind block into place around his allies. That will keep them out at least so long as his will holds. The bad news is that its a two way block and he can’t keep the telekinetic storm up while also keeping the telepathic shield up. It’s one or the other. He can’t do both.
“Hurry up.” He calls, drawing the heavy ion gun at his side and aiming it down into the scum. The longer this goes on the greater the chance that something else will show up and trapped in a cave is a bad place to fight.
Being invisible doesn’t mean that they’re soundless as Kaji finds out when he cries out. A large, iron clawed foot comes crashing down, just missing him. He’s about to be in serious trouble if he doesn’t do something.
Slaine catches the quills as they’re ‘tossed’ in her direction, putting them in the pack that she carries. The flying feathers though, draw the attention of one of the creatures. Aiden’s going to need that ion gun as it lumbers towards them, right over Miss Frizz where she stands – her telepathic response being deadened by Aiden’s shield.
The good news? There’s no answering screams from other demons … yet.
“John. Get the crystal…” Slaine mutters but knows the dilemma they’re faced with. As the scree storm fails the small Mystic mutters, her eyes and the gem in headpiece glow a brilliant emerald as blue arcane symbols form. The Earth responds, rumbling and rolling keeping the demons off balance – although Kaji and John will be caught in it. What it does do, is cause a crack in that crystalline structure, loosening a chunk in the process.
Eyes go wide as that claw comes down. That’s way too close a call. Kaji lifts his head slightly, realizing that the pressure’s abated. He’ll thank Aiden later. One less thing to worry about now, and he needs no further urging. He’s pushing to his feet again, which takes a bit more effort given that the ground suddenly jerks beneath his feet, and he’s dancing a bit just to keep his balance. Still too close to the demons than he’d like.
Maybe being tired and mentally worn out’s taking a toll on his patience, but technically he doesn’t think this counts for a fight. His other hand unclips the hilt on his belt, and as he slides his knife back into its sheathe, he steps closer to the clawed foot that had attempted to step on him, thumbing a switch.
There’s a satisfying thrum as a blade of blue-white light appears. It slashes at the leg as Kaji brings his other hand upon the plasma blade to steady it. He’s not stopping there, and even though he’s still unaware that he’s invisible, he intends to strike at the closest demons while they’re still distracted to incapacitate them before they can call for friends.
Crouching invisibly in the middle of the room, right over the hunk of crystal, John… Feels the pressure dissipate. He has no idea why, but that doesn’t stop him from reaching to grab and pull the loose chunk. Standing up and looking about, he turns and then starts moving as swiftly and silently as he can back to the entrance, before seeing… A glowing blade attacking a demon. He has no idea where the hell that came from.
Miss Frizz is surprised when the mental attack suddenly stops, but then she recognizes it as Mr. Vargr’s work. The shrieking is still almost debilitating, though, and as much as she wishes she could help John with that chunk of crystal, it’s taking all of what little concentration she can muster to ‘scoop’ up another few of those metallic feathers.
Just in case.
“Oh come on…” Aiden mutters as one of the things in the room makes a beeline for him. He focuses entirely on that one thing, letting everything else in the room fall away, raises the ion pistol in his hand and takes aim.
Breathe in. Breathe out. Shoot between the heartbeats.
The psychic lets a steady stream of ion loose. One aimed bolt after another heads right for the other creature’s center of mass.
It’s pandemonium. Rampaging iron-winged demons are everywhere. How there can only be four with this much confusion is a good question. But there are only four and one of them just lost a leg to that energy sword that’s appeared out of nowhere.
Kaji makes space to move through the room as Slaine’s manipulation of earth keeps the floor moving. It’ll make it difficult for the others to get out, but they’ll do it.
“Come on, Miss Frizz.” Slaine calls out, willing the small mouse to her and holding her hand out so she run up it.
Aiden’s pistol fire is slightly wide, catching the demon in the shoulder but it’s not trying to dodge, so intent on its prey. “Kaji, John. We got to go …” she calls out. When the other two reach them, the small mystic has another spell ready, the words spoken quickly and confidently. Arcane symbols form and a wall of rocks pokes up between the Stygian demons and the group. “Run …” she says quietly. She’ll follow.
The invisible man doesn’t run, instead choosing to walk swiftly and keep glancing over his shoulder. John doesn’t seem too worried, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t smart enough to be cautious. Raising his hands and staring over his shoulder as he walks, he mumbles several spells, causing large amounts of thick, tough ice to form over the rocks, to make it more resilient… Or to have a backup wall. One of the two. And he recasts the spell on the ice, so that even more forms, as he continues walking away, trying to make as much ice as he can as in short a time as possible
Suss makes a mad dash toward Slaine, the last few metallic feathers she’s ‘grabbed’ following her. She almost doesn’t slow down when she clambers onto the redhead’s hand and up onto her sleeve. She does finally stop when she’s tucked up close to the Mystic’s neck, where she hunkers down with her claws in the fabric of Slaine’s shirt in case running ends up happening.
Did they get everything? Kaji’d gotten a bit distracted, so he can only hope someone else had decided to take care of whatever it was they needed to gather. He turns to head back towards the others, plasma blade humming brightly as he strikes at the one that Aiden had shot at while he keeps his feet moving along the rumbling floor.
It’s probably good he’s invisible for the moment. There’s kind of a manic grin on his face. Nope, still not over geeking out about his new weapon, it seems. But as he runs after the others, he shuts the blade off, still gripping the hilt tightly in hand.
Aiden starts to back away still firing but when that does not dissuade the incoming demon he snarls. “Hell with this!”
Gae Bolg comes over his shoulder – simply winking into existance the moment it’s wanted – and goes right at the damn demon’s chest. The spear’s runes along the side are glowing.
“Slaine, get out! The other redhead will be very cross with me if you don’t.” He means Moira right? Totally means Moira…
Johns ice adds to Slaine impromptu stone barricade, slowly the demons considerably.
They can hear the bellows of the creatures as they move up the pathway.
“Kaji… what the hell…” is all that Slaine says as Frizz settles against her neck. There’s a spear heading over her shoulder to the demon that’s nearly on them. A demon that stops … dead. “Vargr, where’d ye get that?” He doesn’t have to tell twice though as she turns and runs after the others.
It takes a bit longer to reach the entrance – it’s all uphill after all. “In the truck, we’re getting out of here.”
Having to go up an incline certainly does the trick of wiping the grin from his face. Kaji just hopes his adrenaline boost can hold up until they get to the truck. He’s panting as he runs, keeping close to the walls in case he needs to steady himself. Maybe if he passes out in the truck at least he can catch some sleep before the nightmares creep up into his conscious again.
“I’ve been…busy,” he says, forcing a smile at Slaine. And then he stumbles, barely catching himself before he can fall on his face, planting his feet solidly against the ground to push himself back in the right direction.
Suss hangs on as Slaine runs. <~ Did we get everything we needed? ~> She can ask, she’s not doing the running, after all. She doesn’t ask about what Vargr just did, or Kaji’s light-sword, mostly because she missed seeing both.
If no one answers her, that’s okay. She figures they’ll start saying angry words if they didn’t get everything.
“From the other redhead!” Aiden snaps, as the spear stabs something else. He backs out of the cave last but certainly not by much. He’s not going to stay and play heroic last stand. The truck is a good place to be when it rolls out and he means to be on it.
As indeed he will be.
Thar be Stygian demons in them thar mountains! Circumstances align in which certain components for dispelling an unusual doll problem becomes available.
April 22, 2411
Foothills, Appalachian Mountains