Logs:Defense of the Athenaeum
|Defense of the Athenaeum|
"Just let Jesus take the wheel, big guy, don' you worry bout nothin' I'ma get you right make sure you don' get yourself torn up by these folk. Jus hold real still..."
|Dramatis Personae|| |
3 September, 2016
Deckard, having learned of the plot by the Sage to take down the Athenaeum and rule it, gathers together some of the members of the local community interested in protecting and preserving the Underworld. They go down to defend the Athenaeum against the Sage's forces.
The mass of Sin-Eaters, Vampires, Changelings, and Immortals has set off for the Dominion of the Athenaeum in their own separate groups. With each group making their way through different gates and over the rivers, it's a smarter way of traveling to this place, given that a group of fifteen would cause more attention than multiple groups of three to four travelers. As the Athenaeum is typically only found two Rivers down, the groups pass through their Dominions with little fanfare. They're thankfully not as awful as they could be: Boucher's group passes through Dead Man's Hand where Gabriel gives them a nod and allows them to pass without further issue. Freddy's group makes their way through the Grave Dream, and after a bit of conceptual navigation, finds themselves on the next River. Frankie's group makes their way through the Forge of Orcus, and since they've no real business with Orcus, they're allowed to pass without incident. Deckard's group passes through Lowgate Prison, wherein Yama just gives them a wave through. Yama knows the group well enough not have his Judges bother them, and they're not there for any reason other than finding the River of Lamentation, which is currently surrounding the Athenaeum.
They arrive in waves of people, finding Amadeus already at the docks of the Library with a Ferryman standing on a boat nearby. Owl-like psychopomps flit back and forth across the River, headed in various directions and to other Dominions. Some of them seem to be carrying messages in their ghostly talons. The stragglers arrive after them, people who've arrived without splitting into the groups led by the Charonites.
It takes at least three hours for everyone to get assembled due to having to travel through various Dominions to get there, but once the bulk arrives, they stand before the giant basalt gates of the Athenaeum just beyond the threshold of the Dominion.
Everyone has felt the feeling already: they're being watched by someone, but it comes and goes in intervals. The Autochthonous Depths are devoid of any ghostly presence, and the Dominions are strangely muted in activity compared their usual strangeness. The Sage's presence hasn't made itself known in the Athenaeum -- not yet. But it's clear that the other Dominions are being prepared for that very real possibility as the Sage fights with Its fellow Principalities to become Ascendant.
After in the Underworld Blanche needed a minute, looking a bit disoriented. But she quickly recovered from...whatever the hell was wrong with you, and tucked a cloak on. Cloaks and scarves, it's the new look for the season. Honest. But after that? She was cool, moving with Freddy's group and not gawking like this is her first trip to the Underworld. When they end up just in front of the Athenaeum she sighs softly and whispers to whoever is close enough to hear her whispering, "He's gonna squish me one of these days," she mutters before taking a few steps forward then looking for Deckard. She feels the watching, but right now it seems she's doing her absolute best to ignore it. Her voice raises as much as she can, but is still largely unheard as she points to the owlings. "Don't feed them," she warns those who can hear.
Darius lights a cig slowly and even his own addiction and nerves frayed for his first trip into battle down here and his eyes moving over the ground. His pistol is his keystone and leaving his other weapons behind for the moment and he exhales the smoke slowly."Fucking A...."He mutters softly wearing black jeans and a purple t-shirt with his leather jacket over it with a southside logo on the back of it. His bulletproof vest under the shirt and then he looks aroudn for a moment taking it all in for a moment."This is fucked....."
Deckard nods to the vampire. He's never seen him before, but the message was put out all across the Underworld. If he's not attacking them on the spot, there are only two reasons he'd be there. "You with the Sage, or you for the free Underworld?" Deckard asked, ushering his group forward. Mentally he was going through checklist after checklist, ensuring that he had everything as prepared as possible. He didn't stop to converse with the vampire, and only kept walking towards the doors. The feeling of being watched...it was unnerving, but Deckard was ready to cleanse the area. "Quickly. If any of you have any last requests, tell me now. It won't be long." While he awaited their voiced opinions, Deckard made his way to the entrance, hoping to speak with the Sphinxes. He hoped to see Blanche before the fight broke out.
.....and where did that old fossil come from? For he's cheated - Ritter has not traversed the depths as the others have. RAther, he's just .....sort of manifested there at the docks. Near Deckard and Kilo, as they're the ones he knows. Ritter's dressed in a good suit, as if it's only polite to dress up when visiting foreign realms.
Freddy was careful getting down here and had mentioned more than once how barren things looked, empty. She didn't like it. Beside her is that big black dog with glowing red eyes. Her group of of learned it has a name: Ruger. Also told by the collar it wears if anyone has the eyes for such a thing. There was a little chatting from Freddy along the way which consisted of bands, shows that are coming to Boston or Bangor. A lot of criticisms against 'mainstream' shows and big acts. A metalhead hipster in a lot of respects.
Upon reaching the Athenaeum she falls quiet again. Looking up at it and around. Her hand absently petting the top of that Black Dog's head that follows her around everywhere constantly. "I got like.. a Snickers bar, a granola bar and a cherry coke in my bag. They are not getting any of it..." she reassures Blanche, her voice quiet. "Creepy fuckin' owls." she murmurs under her breath. "... are they like Gremlins? Don't feed them after midnight or they pop out like mutant green bats from their back?" she almost sounds hopeful of that more than curious.
Boucher unslings his backpack as they approach the river, flipping open the flap for a moment to make sure he's brought everything that he needs, and to make sure that none of it has reverted due to ingress. After a moment of going through his belongings, and smirking a little at something in the canvas bag, the man flips the flap closed and slings it back over his shoulders. "Eloquent as always," he muses towards Darius's reaction, before making his way towards the guardians with a book in his hand.
The crow psychopomp on Frankie's shoulder eyes the owlings suspiciously. The crow keeps his beak shut, however. He's pretty vastly outnumbered here. "Amazing," murmurs Frankie as they reach the basalt gates, adjusting her grip on her bow.
Travelling with Boucher, Matthew was looking a little less prepared for the general sorts of people here. But he seemed to be mentally ready for all matter of things. A certain degree of serenity lingered on Matthew's face. His hands were firmly placed in his pockets at this point, more than ready to slide out just in case things started going fuzzy.
Amadeus picks at his fangs with one dirty claw, standing on the far edge of the group. He doesn't know these warriors, but he's encountered their kind before, during his wanderings. He assumed that they would have received the same calls for help as he, or similar ones, anyways. He is very still, and his expression is utterly vacant, and corpse-like. No emotion is expressed. "I am here... to serve my kin, the restless dead... If we shall be fighting together, so be it. Give me... a wide berth, Kine." He offers, when questioned by Deckard, crossing his arms. The creature could barely be said to be human at all, and if the sight of him doesn't send a chill down the spine, the inhumanity of his behavior surely would. Something is just... missing. "I will slake my thirst... on the souls of the interlopers."
"Gremlins?" Blanche asks, utterly confused. "And it's just one of the laws here. I don't know what happens if you feed them, but they'll beg. And I've got food in my bag too. Last time I was here I was here for four days." Then there's a Deckard and she makes her way toward him and the entrance. Both places she was heading! When she reaches the man she brushes a hand lightly over his back, but her attention is starting to shift to the sphinxes. Specifically the grump ass. But she does add, in a whisper to Amadeus, "No slaking thirst on anything but mortal drinks." She's helpful!
The travel through the Forge of Orcus definitely brought Damian’s curiosity to the forefront. Pleased he chose to go the route Frankie picked. So many things to see down here. No surprise he’s mostly quiet during the journey and no less quiet when he arrives. Friend or foe though, he doesn’t seem pleased to see a vampire down here, or even Ritter manifest, but he’s often grumpy like that. The fate of the Underworld or not. The Athenaeum, though, that takes his attention quickly away from the non Sin-Eater’s. To marvel at it from the docks, a very curious expression as eyes take it in for the first time. Truth be told, a place of such information. This is a place like only in Damian’s dreams.
Kilo and Vandal have been here before but it's the Underworld and there is never any telling when shit is going to go sideways. And sure as the sky is blue, or usually is blue, shit is going to go sideways tonight. The little gangster stays close to her group, almost protectively as she stands waiting for the go-ahead from Deckard, sticking particularly close to Vandal. If she doesn't bring him home in one piece tonight she'll have Hoax to answer to and that, in her mind, is much worse than Sage or any deathlord she can imagine.
Frankie stares over at the vampire once she catches sight of him. And there's Ritter; her eyebrows go up, and she sighs. Glances over at Damian, watching his profile for a moment as he gazes on the Athenaeum.
The doors to the Athenaeum are not hard to open; in fact, they seem to open based on the intentions toward entering them. Beyond, a large walkway leads to another opened door, beyond which is a spiral staircase leading up and down into the depths of the Athenaeum. Narasimha and Razil sit on their stone diases and stare out at the doors as they open. Razil actually looks a little surprised by the sheer number of different people assembled there.
Narasimha takes a quick stock of everyone there to ensure that no Mages are with them. Satisfied, the large male sphinx falls into its standard state of anger and vitriol toward everything and everyone, read easily on the creature's face.
The Athenaeum is relatively lax on Old Laws by comparison to some other Dominions. They are simply: To Gain Entry, All Must Offer Knowledge, which is where the sphinxes come in; Speak Only Truth Within These Walls, no one is able to lie or hold secrets between one another. Do Not Feed The Owlings, simply as Blanche pointed out: don't feed the owl ghosts. Bring No Violence To This Place, which is exactly what they're doing, but the Librarian may be lax on that given the circumstances. Do Not Feed Dark Hungers, as in do not drink blood, feed on ghosts, or draw Glamour from others here. Make No Sound In The Hall of Silence is a Law that will likely not be important, as they must remain in the center of the Dominion for the Ceremony to work. Take Nothing -- no taking books or artifacts from here. Finally, No Willworking Shall Transpire Within These Halls, meaning no Mages allowed.
Narasimha mutters to Razil, "Look at all these assholes."
Razil responds, "They might have something we need." She tilts her head up to speak to an Owling, "Get the Librarian."
Rory is definitely gawking like it's her first time here, keeping an awkward gait as she steps into the area. The dark-haired teen is wearing her usual attire, a red bomber jacket with a graphic tee, dark jeans, and clunky black boots. She's obviously nervous going by the way her eyes dart from shadow to shadow and never linger too long on the more intimidating denizens of the Underworld. Rory mostly follows near Frankie and Deckard as they make their way through the area. Her Geist passenger, the Corrosive Queen, is shadowing her as usual and looks to be much calmer than her Bound.
Darius drops the cig slowly to the ground waving over to Kilo and Vandal with a wide smile and his jordan crushing it out today it is a purple with a high top style. His keystone already out in his hand now old rusted out pistol from the 40's with a broken handle but the trigger is there and the sight everything almost okay on it. It fits perfectly into his right hand and then he looks at the others. He is quiet for the moment letting them plan it out and he will follow their lead for now.
Vandal has been thwarted again. No Blood River to drink from! He had some empty bottles in his bag and everything, because that stuff is awesome! Still, at least they're here safely, right? Vandal's been here before, so he's not especially taken aback at the sight of the Athenaeum, though it's still pretty cool looking! 'Mom' is out and about today, since they are wandering into the jaws of possible (certain!) death. The waterlogged geist floats along beside the boy, dripping all over everything and looking disapprovingly at the rest of the group. Hey! There's that grumpy old sphinx! Vandal remembers those! The kid doesn't seem particularly bothered by the prospect of imminent death and even bumps Kilo with his hip as he wanders along beside her. He gives Darius a big wave and a double thumbs-up when he spots him.
Freddy is letting Blanche go to Deckard, instead she hangs back by Kilo and Vandal. More to the fact is that she hides behind them to and to the side. Keeping them between her and Amadeus, "... what the fuck is that thing?" she whispers to them quickly. Her mismatched eyes wide and more than a little worried or scared simply from how Amadeus actually talks, nevermind he looks like a walking freakshow.
Boucher comes to a stop in front of Narasimha and Razil, looking at Deckard, then back at the sphinxes. "Yes, Enoch should be here as well," he agrees. "It'd be best if he were aware of what we are planning, if only to make sure that he doesn't oppose it." He then looks back at the master ceremonialist, as if to let Deckard explain what they're planning. Boucher's part of the plan involves breaking that fourth old law.
Deckard nodded to the vampire. Creepy motherfuckers, but if he's there to lend a sword, Deckard wasn't going to complain. "Yeah. Wide berth." Deckard said that with a serious tone. He'd only known of Vampires before he came to Fallcoast, and knew what they could do. "As he said. Let him do his own thing." And when Deckard spotted Blanche? He moved towards her, and gave her a kiss. "I love you. Don't die on me." That was all he said, before moving to the front however. He didn't need to say anything further to her, since she already knew. Deckard couldn't let his feelings overtake him. He needed to focus.
"Narasimha. Razil." He called to them. "We know about your plight, and I assume you know why we are here. We do not have much time, so I will make this quick. I will inform Enoch once he arrives." Beat. "We wish to ward your vast halls of knowledge against the dark god and his armies. To see the lore of the ages despoiled, is I'm sure you both can agree, greatly upsetting, if not intolerable. We seek access to your great halls solely for this purpose."
Entering the place is only that much better, and Damian is too distracted by the massive hall to pay attention to much else for the first few moments. If they lose today, this might be the last time he has a chance to see this place in his lifetime, might as well take the time. Hearing the Sphinxes though, that causes his attention to go to them. He takes a couple steps closer to Frankie, but keeps his attention on them silently. Just listening for now, nothing else.
Rory catches sight of Kilo in the crowd of people and stretches up on her tippy toes to offer a nervous but friendly wave toward the other woman. She looks a little less worried upon seeing her there but mostly just sticks to being as unobtrusive as possible while waiting to see what apparent guardians of the Athenaeum will say in response to Deckard's request.
Blanche brightens a little when Razil makes with getting the Librarian and she glances to Deckard, then back to the sphinxes. Her head turns and she stares at Boucher for a moment before she gives Deckard her attention. He gets a smile and another brush of her hand against his back. "I won't," she promises him before she whispers to the sphinxes as loudly as possible, "I told the Librarian that I'd do what I could to keep the Athenaeum safe. This is a result of me keeping my promise. They're a formidable bunch."
Amadeus offers one quick nod, and follows the group, staying to the rear. He uncrosses his arms, and each of his 'hands' starts to grow. His fingers extend, becoming longer, and an extra joint is added to each. From the tips, his dirty nails extend into slender, black, eight inch talons, leaving him with claws that are Orlokian, and downright unnerving to behold. Unlike the usual examples of protean, these wicked digits are not animal-like, and neither are they human; they're monstrous. He lets out a slight bellow, and his muscles seem to flex a bit under the surface of the scarred carcass some might call a body, growing taut, gorged on his foul blood.
"I don't think that counts for 'things we don't know, Razil.'" Narasimha points out after Deckard speaks to them.
Razil shakes her head and glances at her companion. "Hush." She looks back to Deckard and then beyond to the others. "We have been waiting for the Sage's forces to arrive for several days now. One of our Owlings indicated that they spotted a large Sacrosanct Krewe traveling across the Underworld with their intent on coming to the Athenaeum, all bearing the Mark of the Sage. Likewise, the West End Watcher Society has made permanent camp in one of the Dominions close to here. You may have more than you've bargained for," she responds to Deckard.
Enoch walks slowly down the stairs leading down from the Hall of Silence above them. The Librarian passes through the two Sphinxes to look upon Deckard, Boucher, and the others. Enoch is disarmingly mousey for a Kerberos, but certainly has a degree of power that's almost impossible to judge. Despite that, he has an air of disarming weakness. The Kerberos turns to look toward Boucher for a moment and nods at him, then takes a moment to concentrate. He steps aside, allowing three other copies of himself to go back up the stairs to monitor the libraries of the Athenaeum.
"We have visitors. You do not appear to have the markings of the Principalities, so I would hazard a guess that you are here for some other reason." Enoch glances over at Amadeus and frowns slightly, then looks to Ritter and Blanche. "And not all of you are Bound. Interesting."
Ritter merely bows to the sphinxes, each in turn. He hasn't said a word, not yet. Can he even speak, in this realm? No sign of it. He seems solid enough, though, for the moment. Amadeus bellowing like a bull who's just caught sight of a particularlyt pretty cow has him glancing over. And as Enoch appears, he bows to him, as well, but offers no explanation.
Freddy picks up the pace, glancing back at Amadeus from time to time. Clearly wanting to put distance between her and... it. SHe remains silent as does that Black Dog beside her that remains closer to her, perhaps sensing her unease and fear. She'd rather deal with the Sphinxes than get anywhere near Amadeus. Muttering under her breath about creepy dead things as fear starts to give way to a sort of festering distate and anger. Still, throughout, she remains near Kilo and Vandal and now Rory by proxy. More bodies between her and that freakshow? The better!
Darius hands on his side now barely moving watch the others chat with the creatures not his place to do so and not his skill. His fingers working on a little tear in the side of those jeans and then he sighs softly quietly. He had the secret and the knowledge given to him by his brother if it was need and a dark secret and something to allow him to enter.
Matthew too had remained silent, but more out of respect for a place with more knowledge than his fool head might even fathom containing at any point in time. His eyes lingered on the Sphinx curiously before towards the owling, and then finally upon the Librarian as he made his appearance. A curious flicker of attention towards the Vampire in their midst but not the only time he'd seen one fortunately.
PEMIT TO VANDAL: You hear a whisper inside of your head, saying softly, "There is no strength but the strength of oneself. There is no fear but those over which you have no control. Society wishes to control us, but we have no reason to listen. Bear witness to the glory of your own self-reliance."
Boucher offers the librarian a nod of respect in return, but remains silent, allowing Deckard to explain his plan. To his credit, the ranger appears unflappable even in the face of a hostile sphinx, a hulked-out vampire, and the spectre of incoming sacrosanct. He still has that battered book in his hand, but is waiting patiently for now. Perhaps Narasimha could take lessons on how a warrior should compose himself.
Deckard moves forward a step and kneels before the Librarian. He isn't sure what sort of nicities are to be observed, but he's going to do his damndest to try and get his people to the safest possible location. "Kerberos of the Dominion, Enoch. It is an honour. We have assembled before your great halls to ward it against the forces of the Sage." Deckard's head turned to look for Blanche. "Come." He beckoned his woman. It was her that brought the Sage upon the Athenaeum. It was only logical she be the one to stand up for herself and present their pleas. "Blanche Abernathy." Deckard said to Enoch as he beckoned her forwards. He hoped she had something good to say.
Frankie bows her head in the presence of the sphinges and Enoch. The psychopomp crow on her shoulder dips its head, too. 'Warrrrrk,' it comments quietly. Frankie looks up again, eyebrows lofted with wonder and curiosity both.
PEMIT TO BLANCHE: "I hear you calling out to me, little priestess. You felt the pledge and you traveled to the place of knowledge. Beyond the gates of knowledge lie the secrets of death and life eternal, at a cost. I wonder," a whisper says in Blanche's mind, "if you have the strength of mind to travel to me." A laugh that sounds like a low crushing of rocks mixed with paper being torn. "Tell the boatman that you wish to parley with the Draftsman. If the Sage does not kill you."
Kilo sees Rory and grins. Waves her over so she can stand with Vandal and Freddy and herself, keeping their little pack safe -- now she has a job within her job to take down the Sage. She's got this though. She gathers them close and won't let them out of her sight. The Vampire? He is an unexpected factor though... HOLY SHIT. It takes all her will and determination to stand there and not run when he comes up. Jesus... "Don't come close...please don't come close... Just... stay back and this should work out." She narrows her eyes at Amadeus.
PEMIT TO FRANKIE: Frankie hears a whisper inside her head: "He is coming. He who knows, he who sees. If you wish, I will give you strength to stand against him. Call out the name of the Rebel and be freed of your shackles. You have very little time."
Once they make their way further in, a ghost that was just lazing about near the entrance makes his way to Amadeus' side. He's in a pair of dark jeans, with a denim button down that's pretty blood spattered, and black wayfarers, His confederate flag belt buckle has, 'Praise Dale & Raise Hell!' emblazoned on it with rhinestones. He also has a bowie knife jammed into his collar bone, and what look to be half a dozen bullet holes in him, as well as a healthy splatter of the red stuff around his mouth, neck, and chest. Whoever he is, he went down fighting, and apparently he knows the vampire. "Well hot damn big guy, looks like you ain't gonna be goin' at it on your lonesome." He says in a thick appalachian accent, and whistles, looking over the group with a broad smile. Blood seeps through his teeth. "I still say you oughta dip, specially since these folks got everything well in hand. Not just cuz you're my meal ticket neither, I just think it'd be a damn cryin' shame to see you get all burnt up and dead over some pile a books, ain't no sense in it, not at all." He continues. Amadeus stares at him for a moment, but seems undeterred. Did he even care about surviving anymore?
PEMIT TO DAMIAN: It could be a strange wind, but Damian is sure there's a voice on the wind, a whisper: "It will not take the Athenaeum. It will fall before you. All you must do is speak my name and I will strengthen and embolden you with the rod of rulership. The Ruler will stand with you and your kind. Speak my name. Answer the whispers."
Damian’s piercing blues lock on Deckard and Enoch in a silent study. It is a library, and considering the one law, it’s probably not a bad thing to be quiet at all times. Damian’s surprisingly good at that. Or maybe not so surprising. Something said, something done in all this, makes one side of his lip quiver, threaten downward and then is stilled. He’s never happy, so why should this be any different, though? He doesn’t fidget, he doesn’t worry about the monstrosity that is Amadeus, or giant Sphinxes. It’s perhaps a little disturbing in and of itself, like some sort of acceptance that what comes will come. Fate’s a bitch like that.
Vandal sort of hangs back with Kilo and Freddy. He's somewhat underwhelmed at the prospect of hanging out in what is effectively a giant library, to be honest, though he definitely read a book...once. Huh, Freddy is way scared of that...weird ass zombie thing with claws over there. Oh, Kilo too! Hmm. Vandal definitely needs to ask what the fuck that is at some point in the future. The boy glances aside at 'Mom', in case maybe she knows and she sort of just stares right back at him, not giving terribly much away. Wow, thanks mom, great time to get all unhelpful! The boy glances up then, as though looking for something. He doesn't seem to find it, but he smiles slightly, dipping his head in a slight nod.
Frankie's eyes widen; she goes very still. "...I just heard..." she starts to say, but then realizes something and clams up. Fuck no, she thinks. Loudly. I won't belong to any of you.
Enoch waves a hand at Deckard and shakes his head. "No need to prostrate yourself before me, Deckard Grimm. I would think that Gnaw would not be pleased." The Kerberos looks at the others once more, then points out, "Blanche Abernathy. We have met before. You were seeking a book on how to bind ghosts. I showed it to you. I suspect you found what you were looking for in the wastelands beyond what Egypt is now?" The Kerberos is either displeased to see Blanche, or simply has no opinion of the woman. He has a neutral expression on his face, standing before the group. There's a brief turn of his head and he narrows his eyes. "Are there others coming?"
"My lord," Razil says, and Narasimha gives a snort of derision. She continues with a side-eye to her companion. "We have heard that the West End Watcher Society and the minions of the Sage are preparing an assault on the library."
"Ah. Well. Speak for yoruself then, Blanche Abernathy, since you brought Its eye on us."
And then what the fuck. Damian frowns deeply now and looks around, defiantly. A glance at Frankie. Did she? Maybe. There’s a whisper that either follows Frankie’s words, or are of their own. “I’d rather die.” Again.@emit And then what the fuck. Damian frowns deeply now and looks around, defiantly. A glance at Frankie. Did she? Maybe. There’s a whisper that either follows Frankie’s words, or are of their own. “I’d rather die.” Again.
PEMIT TO AMADEUS: It seems like there's something around, a kind of whispering voice. It's nigh impossible to understand. Perhaps it has something to do with the state of Amadeus being dead, but the ghost that travels alongside Amadeus seems suitably disturbed by whatever it is. A thousand whispering voices speaking in different languages that make no sense. Or make enough sense to not make sense, which is madness.
Freddy is heard to mutter to those near her, "Blanche's boyfriend's last name is Grimm? That can't be real.. Blanche Grimm. It's worse than Julia Ghoulia.". Of course that probably just sounds like a whisper to anyone but Kilo, Rory and Vandal, who are right near her and all. Otherwise, well, Freddy does her best to remain quiet and not a bitchy, snarky little chatter box. The fact that her Keystone is starting to manifest in the appearance of a plague doctor mask to cover her face? Well, that may help. Even if it does come complete with a little Darth Vader breathing affect that makes her voice sound hollow and empty.
"Oh," says Frankie quietly, turning her head to look at Damian. "You, too?" She swallows heavily, somewhat unnerved. Licks her lips, gathers her bearings.
It seemed like everyone was doing their own thing to get ready for the scenario at hand. Glancing towards Boucher a moment, Matthew's fingers ran over a rust pitted straight razor. Letting a bit of the power of the feral world suffuse him and make him all that much more hardy. Though without any aggressive movements towards anyone that seemed to be part of their group, or their illustrious hosts. Not that he was looking to suck up, but definitely not planning on pissing off people who might be behind them during the battle.
Blanche starts forward to go with Deckard to pause and her head tilts, before she looks around, brow furrowing in confusion. "What..." She doesn't finish that question though, but still, it takes her a minute before she shakes it off and moves up beside Deckard, though she looks a little off.
She inclining her head to Enoch respectfully. "Yes, you have met me before. And I did find many interesting things in Egypt, so I thank you for all that I've learned here. But I made a promise to you when we spoke last, that I'd do what I could to see the library protected. That's why we're here. You warned me that Sage may try to destroy you and the Athenaeum, which was never my intention. I'm fond of this place, and awed by everything it holds." She motions to Deckard, then behind her. "The Bound with me have a plan to do what they can to protect this place. I simply ask that you let us do what we can to see that happen. To make sure that all the information that you protect is kept /safe/ and not destroyed by the Sage. Will you let us do what we can? Please?"
Gnaw indeed wasn't very pleased. But fuck Gnaw. It knew what the bargain entailed. There would be time for wonton bloodshed and gore-drinking later. Now was the time for discretion and respect...as well as focused killing intent. But then again, the Geist knew that too. Deckard simply nodded to Enoch, standing with his shield at the ready. He looked to Razil, and his eyes widened. They would have to hurry. He didn't see what Damian and Frankie were going on about, and thankfully, he didn't hear Freddy. The warrior prince couldn't be blushing at that point in time! After Blanche spoke, Deckard nodded and stood beside her, silent and watching the Librarian.
Damian glances at Frankie and there’s a grim nod to her. Yes. Everything about him says yes, and he’s not happy about it. His eyes linger on Frankie for just a moment before they return to the procession. And then swing around the place. Now, now he’s a little unsettled for some reason. A little shaken.
Rory seems pretty relieved to be standing with Kilo even if she isn't as familiar with the other two with her. "Oh wait, I met you before yeah?," The dark-haired teen notes of Vandal and her gaze flicks over to the waterlogged apparition beside him with some surprise. That definitely wasn't there when she met Vandal. She offers him and Freddy a greeting wave anyway and then shoves her hands in her pocket. It's probably a nervous tic. Rory does snicker lowly at Freddy's comment but, upon noticing Kilo's distress, she reaches out to pat the other woman's shoulder in a comforting gesture.
Darius walks up next slowly towards Deckard stoping on the man's right side and he is with him his weapon now tucked into the back of his jeans and his hands resting at his side. He watches out of the corner of his eyes his other two homies for a moment and then his eyes drop slowly over the group takign them all in as if he is trying to remeber each and everone of them in case it hits the fuckign fan.
Boucher watches Blanche make the plea, turning his head enough to hear her through his good ear, and then turning his head back towards the Librarian and adds, "I can already guess what the sphinx will say, that we're bringing violence to this place. The violence is already coming, Enoch. No one can stop that, but we can protect you if you let us."
PEMIT TO RORY: Rory hears a voice whispering next to her ear: "I feel the awe coming from you, little one. Perhaps you should indulge that awe and speak out to the name of the Magician. I stand against the Sage as well. Ask your companions, ask your comrades. They will agree. You should speak my name and offer yourself to my service. It will aid you in repelling that creature from this place of knowledge."
"I see." Enoch glances up to Razil, then over at Narasimha. There's a brief moment there where the two lock eyes, and the hatred within Narasimha's gaze as he watches the Librarian is as intense an emotion as anything a ghost - or whatever he is - should ever feel. The creature finally turns his head down and the Librarian simply nods at that. He turns back to look at the others. "You all have secrets to give me." The Kerberos looks back to Blanche and that vague, emotionless mask breaks briefly to offer a glimpse of a smile. It fades very quickly.
"So, speak your secrets to Razil, lest Narasimha decide to crush you all. The stones could use a good waxing," Enoch points out. "But I would rather not lose the Dominion."
PEMIT TO FREDDY: Normally there's not much in the way of weather here, but wind seems to breeze through and upon it come voices, whispers. "One needn't fight alone. Wouldn't you rather fight in the embrace of one who loves you? Perhaps you should give in to your baser urges, Frederika Abernathy. You needn't be alone. I would never call you by your first name. And the Lover takes care of her own. Just whisper my name and I will give you the strength to push through this."
Blanche glances, briefly, to Boucher, before she looks back to Enoch. "Will have thought of secrets to give you, yes. But if I might ask...if the Sage's forces /do/ arrive, and we are forced to fight to protect those giving the Athenaeum protection...will we be given a pass for this occasion only, and only because we are trying to act in the library's best interest?" It doesn't hurt to ask, right?
But then she looks to Narasimha and actually /smiles/ at the grumpy sphinx. "I'm not sure what information you have, so...The Sage can apparently see through the eyes of minions who bear his mark. The pyramid in Egypt that I directed to from a book found here contained one, and had a newer tomb atop it, both buried within the sands. We estimated that some of the hieroglyphics found within it were only a decade old, give or take a few years. There were also several gates held within that pyramid." And she watches the sphinx, waiting to see if she needs to share /more/. Greedy protectors.
"Huh?," Rory stiffens and looks over her shoulder in a twitchy motion, her eyes lingering on the empty space next to her. She hesitantly opens her mouth to speak but then shuts it again, her expression dubious and wary. The dark-haired teen looks a little paler now but there's a defiant curl to her lip as she speaks. "Yeah, no thanks. Think I know a bad deal when I hear one," She replies lowly to no one in particular.
"I would hope that even Narasimha would see our actions as a proactive defense," Boucher replies while looking directly at the creature. "We only act to protect the knowledge within." The ranger's metal and composite hand lifts a book, and he fans it open, flipping through the pages. "This is my journal from September 2001 to January 2003. The coalition invasion of Afghanistan through the eyes of a Ranger." Taking the book into his other hand, he tosses it at Razil's feet and waits for her response.
Frankie steps forward and raises her voice. "The West End Watchers, working for the Sage, have stolen a portion of Orcus' fire from his Forge and have set up a forge of their own in a Domain known as the Barrens in a place called the Alabaster City."
The Shroud that surrounds Freddy is ephemeral and twisted, making it difficult to really pinpoint where she may be standing as illusions are conjured up in the form of darker shadows and a vague outline of where she may actually be standing. Lending her an ethereal, phantasmal quality. There is a twitch of her head and the mask she wears turns to look back over her shoulder and up. Like she had heard something. "... give me strength? I don't understand... how? Who... wait.. waaait a minute." comes her hollowed voice from behind her Keystone. Looking back to Kilo, Rory and Vandal. "... did one of you say that? What do you know of my base desires? This is not the time to talk about that sort of shit, for fucks sakes.".
Damian reaches into one of his pockets and pulls out a folded piece of paper. He actually wrote something down rather than printing it off! Will wonders never cease! He’s still looking around as he approaches Razil. He doesn’t even look at Narishma. Not really, he’s aware of the grumpy one, but that’s all. He holds out the paper to Razil, bowing his head slightly. “Probably better here than a lot of places.” He takes one step back and waits, perhaps to see if it’s good enough. What's better than actual written knowledge for a book, right?!
Amadeus begins to lumber forward, paying little heed to the others. The ghost in the denim gets behind him and climbs up his back, to sit on his shoulders, making them a two person tower of terror. When the vampire approaches Razil, he dips his head slightly. "I offer... The Monster's Maw. It is... a unique devotion, of my own creation... a peerless method of hunting and killing... mortal prey. With its use... a Noctuku can exsanguinate a human in six seconds. It is for this very ability... that I am known as Devourer." Up on his shoulders, his ghostly comrade whistles again. "Well then, my bit of show and tell is that I know quite exactly how to cook up some human so it taste just like pork spare ribs, if you'd believe it, got me a whole special recipe." He grins. "Ain't you know who this were anyways? Amadeus? The Devourer? The White Goliath? Or does his popularity not extend to such, uh, lovely sanctums of higher education, or whatever?" He asks, leaning forward.
Deckard narrowed his eyes at Narasimha. Greedy bastard. Deckard quickly slipped his hand into Blanche's as everybody awaited approval, squeezing it lightly. Deckard looked to Razil. "I have the formula for life itself. Take it." Deckard said, tossing a single piece of balled up paper at her feet. It was said so casually, for such a weighty thing. He really didn't want to let go of that information, and he figured Dr. Sinclaire would have his ass if he realized what he gave away. Then again, Blackwell himself was still roaming around. Deckard was giving away so many of his secrets just to allow for passage...he hoped people would realize what he was doing for them.
Rory tilts her head up in response to a mention of secrets and pulls out the piece of paper that Deckard had provided her. She carefully unfolds it and takes a moment to glance over the writing before folding it again. The mechanic clears her throat and steps up to offer the paper up with a slightly trembling hand. Perhaps it really is her first time being here. "These are ciphers and encryption codes for formulas used by Blackwell the Researcher." Even her words sound a little rehearsed, likely exactly what Deckard instructed her to say.
"Well I bring you this.......It was given to me by a dearest friend of mine..."Darius takes out a book slowly with a smile and thne he throws it down slowly towards the sphinx. The book has info on the orient underworlds given to him on the trip by Deckard."I give you this and I will protect this place as best as I can." His tone is cold going into that dark dark place.
Vandal sort of sidles up to Razil...man, he's big up close, huh? Big ol' claws...and maybe teeth, for the biting and the squishing and stuff. Vandal has a secret to buy his way in, but it's not for sharing with all the rest of these guys! He glances up at the sphinx a little nervously before popping up on his tip-toes and whispering something into his ear. That done, he takes a couple of steps back and scurries back over in the direction of his group. Hoping that bit of gossip was sufficiently juicy as to not get eaten.
It seems that the secrets offered have appeased Narasimha and Razil. In fact, Narasimha points out, "I don't understand why they're giving us these sorts of secrets now. Normally it's some bullshit, like 'I fucked my best friend's wife in third grade.' Or something like that."
"Narasimha!" Razil says sharply, then leans in to listen to Vandal. With a slight frown, she nods.
"That doesn't even make sense, either," Enoch points out.
Kilo and Vandal confer and then Kilo makes a step forward hoping the rest of her group is with her. "When Hoax and I were in Lowgate prison -- and do you know, by the way, there are a contingency of Crips in there? -- we learned something quite interesting." She too follows Vandal's example and goes up to whisper her secret. "Sorry I can't share that out loud, I'd get put through the wood chipper. I'm serious." she shivers.
ANd the Immortal finally speaks, bringing a folded bit of parchment out of the pocket of his suitjacket. He paces up to the sphinx, and holds it out. It's been sealed with dark wax. "This is the letter by which the defenders of Kerak were deceived and the castle fell," Even his accent's more formal than usual, crisp and careful, rather than his usual broad drawl. As for a secret, he also leans in to murmur.
Ritter whispers, "Godric Ritter is not my true name."
Kilo whispers, "Hoax and I received a magic, golden sword that is guaranteed to kill a kerberos. And we were given instructions to take to to Dead Man's Hand and hand it to Gabriel, you can guess the reason why... Gabriel is going to kill El Diablo there and take over as Kerberos himself."
His words were offered near silently towards Narasimha when others had had turns going forth and offering their secrets. He didn't look particularly pleased sharing such a thing, but Matthew wasn't the sort who kept secrets well anyway, why not share with a horror within the realm of Death?
Freddy steps up and begins to tell a tale concerning a pure life form by the name of Junior. From time to time she glance to Deckard, then back to continue talking about it's birth and eventual death. There is a lot of 'uh' and 'like' thrown in there that could lead them to believe she is some junkie airhead. Freddy has never been a great public speaker or dealing with people, let alone something like this...
Molly brushes back locks of her hair, coming forward from where she has been silent back by Boucher and Matthew up until now. Playing with the chains around her hand with a light rattle, she grins slightly, like a school girl about to offer some gossip. "I have my husbands bones in a bag that I keep under my bed, for the perfect little ceremony...far better than the divorce I asked for. But the real secret is...I also have his fathers, brothers and....that stupid bird of his." Curling fingers around a strand of hair, she winks to him. "Good enough?"
Rory looks back at Freddy in respone to her question and shrugs uncertainly. "Not it. You're not the only one hearing things though. I could swear someone was talking to me too," She says a small frown. "This place is kind of freaking me out."
As the secrets are spoken and Razil nods to each one, Enoch starts to take a few steps back to allow the visitors entrance into the Dominion proper. He folds his hands behind his back and then glances over them toward the River. Beyond, it looks like there are actual ships on the waters of the River of Lamentation. It looks as though they're ancient Chinese junks, square rigging and all, slicing through the River toward the Dominion. Three in total, with figures moving on the decks.
The Kerberos stares off into the distance, then says, "You are all welcome in the Athenaeum. And now that you're allowed here," he pauses for a moment.
There's a sudden rush of energy that hits everyone, as though something is coalescing out of the air and filling them up with a kind of strange purity. "You are now the Dominion's protectors, similar to Narasimha and Razil."
The Kerberos is quiet for a moment, then says, "So it begins."
Blanche gives Deckard a, well, who knows what kind of look it is with her eyes hidden, but she gives him a look at his secret, even as she squeezes his hand. Then Narasimha makes her laugh, a rusty, unpleasant sound, before she whispers to Deckard, "I really do love that guy." When he's not threatening to squish her. Then Enoch speaks and she positively /beams/ at him. "Thank you," she whispers to him, sounding utterly sincere. And that rush of energy? Just makes that smile a little brighter. It's /weird/ to see her smile that happily.
Deckard squeezed Blanche's hand once more as she squeezed his, nodding to Enoch before turning to the warparty. "Everyone! Inside, NOW! Vandal! Once we're inside, drop your Boneyard and ward the Library against the intruders. Kilo, Darius, Frankie, Blanche, loose circle around the ceremonialists, and watch and wait for activity. Damian, Freddy, Molly, Rory, converge with me. Set up every defensive manifestation you have access to, because we won't be moving once this begins. Stand with me, even if you have been struck! Everybody else, you're in the Vanguard! Boucher has command! Let's move let's move let's move!" And with that, Deckard turned and began to jog into the interior.
As things started getting a little closer and orders started to get passed out. Matthew's loose fitting clothing suddenly... wasn't so loose. The Gaunt young man that Kilo had come to know as Bones, bulked up considerably, flesh roiling and swelling, without losing any sort of natural grace. In fact he seemed to be the very essence of the predatorial nature of all things. Vertically slit pupils landed on Boucher, "Point me at what we are doing, and I'll make sure we can do the awesome things like we did with the bear bomb."
Boucher can feel the boats before he sees them, the intent to harm this place like a flare in his mind. His sword materializes in his hand as the others begin moving towards the library, and he points with his other hand. "Matthew, get ready to set up a defense just inside, archers behind. Ugly," he calls out to Amadeus, "Lets get that door closed. You, Matthew, Razil, and Narasimha are the first line of defense." To the grumpier sphinx, he whispers, "Mahdi is telling me he knows what you're thinking. We're all in this together, and I don't want anyone doing anything foolish."
In the distance, one of the Chinese ships stops in the River. It turns to broadsides with the Dominion, and suddenly a ball of flame lights up on the boat. It allows the full crew to be shown, a mixture of Sin-Eaters and the dead, with two of them apparently manning what looks to be ... a trebuchet? One of the ghosts slips around to the side of it while three Sin-Eaters push a wheel to pull the weight back. The group can feel the number of people that are on each boat, and there's a non-person there, too. Something horrid. Something that should not have ever been.
They said in one of the notes next to the gates that the Sage had a Cthonian, and that's somewhere out there. There's a deep, strong roar that resounds out across the River.
The ghosts finish loading the trebuchet back with a taut stretching of its ropes and bindings, heard after that roar.
Freddy looks to Kilo and Vandal but it is just the mask and thus, it is hard to see any expression on her face outside of what can be seen through reddish lenses that cover her eyes. <<Good luck.>> she rattles out but it is in Romanian, not English. So it probably sounds like she was speaking Klingon to the untrained ear. She turns then and starts to make her way forward to where Deckard wants to do this Ceremony. Shrugging her bag off her shoulder to put beside her. She kneels down to pet the Black Dog that has been stalking at her side. "Ruger... I need you to help the others, okay? Keep me safe." she leans to hug the massive, black furred Irish Wolf hound that does nothing 'cute' in return but remain there, staring straight ahead. Did it nod? Nah. After that, Freddy is where she needs to be. Sitting down or standing up, her form looking more like a blackened robe from the ghostly, dark whisps that conceal her form further in illusion and mind (and eye) bending ways. The only thing that seems 'solid' about her is her Keystone mask and even that leaves tracers to the eye when it moves.
How many battles has he fought, how many walls defended? He was there when Kerak fell. This will be the first he really fought in the Underworld. Ritter's expression has sealed over into a kind of distant hauteur. He remains unarmed and unarmored - apparently a tailored suit and good shoes will do for this particular bout. He's eyeing the trebuchet doubtfully, brow furrowed.
Damian’s eyes follow Enoch’s outside. Maybe he can feel the boats moving across the river, too? Likely not. He hears Deckard, gives a brief look to Frankie and a nod, and then then starts walking that way. A mask, with wisps of shadows manifests in his hand, some of it only seen to Sin-Eaters. Face’s flash across it. Plasm seems from his pours, turns to inky shadow and engulfs Damian in it. A shadowy bulwark of ever moving shadows to protect him. A moment later, and then man is gone from sight.
Amadeus nods to Boucher, and uses his formidable strength close the doors. He glances between the sphinxes, and Mason hops off his back. "Punish me... when the battle is through. I will not return... But for this battle, I must feed." With that, his bottom jaw splits into two mandibles, which stretch out, sprouting dozens of jagged fangs, and his tongue hangs down, writhing hungrily. Mason moves off to the side, shaking his head. "I ain't makin' no promises I'ma let you die down here big guy... you may look like a albino avocado hatefucked count orlok, but uh... you're my buddy..." He says, trailing off, and he goes to hide behind a bookshelf.
Vandal dashes into the library and looks around for a good place to hide! Because those ships coming over the river look baaaaad. He spots one pretty quickly, over behind a bookcase, of all things. He settles himself down closes, his eyes and focuses on the tattoo on the palm of his hand. It takes a short while, but before long there's a slight ripple of plasm and boy's boneyard spreads over the entire library. He goes a little limp and floppy as his brain mostly checks out of his body, but he's breathing! So that's a good sign. This achieved, he focuses on warding the front entrance area of the library against ghosts.
Boucher finds a high place near the doorway and kneels down, gripping his sword and channeling through it. A bit of blood oozes through his fingers and runs down the end of the blade, and he waits. The first sacrosanct to come through that door is going to hate his life.
Kilo let's her image flicker invisible then steps inside to wait for instructions on how to proceed. When the Boss says 'Go!', she'll go and do her damage.
Rory scrambled into the library before the doors were to be closed and followed along closely behind Deckard as he went to prepare for the ceremony. She nodded in understanding in response to his advice to activate their defensive manifestations and took a moment to concentrate. Her Geist let out a chilling cackle as the pipes grafted into her back revved to life. Mist rapidly poured out from them to swirl about Rory in a ghostly veil of protection.
Darius is closing his eyes forcing that rage into his body and his keystone pistol glowing and now it is in his hand. His eyes are wide open and then he looks around slowly taking cover behind something to light a cig slowly. He then exhales the smoke watching it all for a moment readying himself for the battle.
Once people were within, Matthew would lift an force a massive table infront of the door, prepared to pretty much ramrod people right back out the door with the massive piece of furnature. Eyes flickering towards Boucher as he got into position. The benefit of course being that he also had a pretty massive shield!
Wrapping one of her chains around the lip of the large stone dias, Molly focuses and pulls, curling plasma through the chain to lift the large monolithic furniture and sands it soaring out into one of ths boats, crashing into it with a cracking thud. Wrinkling her nose, annoyed, she turns and heads in after the others to help with the ceremony.
Narasimha feels the dias lift him up and he gives a loud squawking sound, then flutters down to land on the walkway, glowering at Molly. The defender of knowledge moves to stand back over in its prior spot, thinning his lips with disdain.
Amadeus makes a menacing gurgling sound, tapping his claws together. He's a lot less still now. His pupils have shrunk down to pin pricks, and his neck is twitching, so his head jerks, and shakes a bit every few moments. The vampire stomps one foot, causing the marble beneath to crater slightly. He looks as ready for a fight as one might expect from an Elder of his reputation.
As everybody rallied inside the building, Deckard's eyes began to bleed profusely. With his eyes of blood, he would be able to see the ghosts intentions far better. He was considering making a blood twin so that he could join the fray, but that would only lessen his ability to focus on the ceremony. That was where he was needed. "We will win the day! We will survive, we will prevail! Do not falter! We're gonna show this Sage motherfucker who he's really dealing with!" Deckard screamed, summoning his Keystone to his hand as he charged into the building, hoping his allies would be steadfast with words of encouragement. Once that was finished, Deckard let his mind be free of Gnaw's...and accepted him into his body, turning him to wind, the avatar of Winter. Once his fellow ceremonialists were gathered, he looked to each of them.
"Molly. Freddy. Rory. Damian." He said, looking to each of them. "I will stand towards the door. Hopefully the Sphinxes will pull their fucking weight. We will begin the ceremony after running a little deeper, to give us some room between the fighters and the invaders. If we are compromised, we run deeper and try again. Don't worry about any of the fighters. This is where we stand. This is /our/ priority." Deckard turned to quickly look at each of them once more. "Perfoming is easy. We stand back to back, facing each cardinal direction. Profess your hatred for...Ptah-Sokar the ancient Egyptian crocodile god, for that is the Sage's True Name. At the very end, we call Enoch's name."
The stretching line of the trebuchet pulled tight, those inside the Athenaeum hear a loud SNAP! Then nothing for a few seconds.
The wall nearest the door explodes into fragments at the top, and flaming debris flies through the new opening in the walls of the library, falling down to the floor and burning out. The walls still stand, more or less, but there's a large enough hole in them that anyone can get through with a high enough ladder or enough rope.
Before the doors close, the group can see one of the ships - the one that Molly hit - trying to push toward shore quicker, as it took a sixty-foot stone disk straight in the side of it. The ship with the trebuchet hangs back, and the other with the Cthonian keeps on pushing forward, slower than the others. This is the least populated ship, with only five or six Sin-Eaters and that Cthonic monster.
Not that anyone can really see Damian, being invisible at all, even to the other Sin-Eater’s, but he doesn’t precisely seem moved by Deckard’s words. He’s straight faced, expressionless. Normal, even in such an intense and important situation. He listens though, nods and save for that, his eyes drift back to where the battle will occur. Watching and waiting in silence. Stillness, just like the Shroud the protects him. it's not so hard to see why his Geist chose Damian, if someone could see him, that is.
Darius runs now with the others all of his rage out in his body in his action eyes drifting over it and then he laughs softly as the wall is slamed into with a manic cackle."Time for the violence and time for what I do best..."The pistol is griped tightly in his hand and then he exhales the smoke from the cig clenched in his mouth almost tight enough to bite through it and then it is droped to the ground one jordan coming to bar on it and he is standing no more cover now waiting watching.
The boat carrying the Cthonian and the ship with the trebuchet start to push in closer to the Dominion. They're still far enough out that it'll be hard for them to affect anyone inside. Several of the Sin-Eaters on the ship start firing at the walls with what sounds like automatic weapons fire, which seems odd, given the Laws of Ingress. But then Frankie did say that they had a semi-forge set up in their Dominion.
They're about twenty yards out now; those boats are pretty fast for what they are. Given that there's no real wind to push the sails, they're likely buffeted along by plasm and Essence.
Kilo can see them coming but makes one final decision. She looks over at Ritter who... she isn't quite sure if he's ready for combat down here and runs to him. "Doctor Ritter. If you can handle -not- being able to touch things for a bit, I am going to throw this... thing over you. It saved Hoax's life last time, it will save yours this time." She summons her shroud and the power of the Underworld and all the cursed, corrupt plasm inside her throught the Pit and bestows it upon Ritter, creating a barrier that suddenly has his image flicker out to nothing. He can no longer be touched by anything, nor can he touch anything.
He vanishes from the others' sight, without flinch or protest, does the doctor. "Understood, hija," Ritter says. "I won't need to. I can do my work this way."
As the boats bring the Sin-Eaters of the West End Watcher Society closer, four of them begin to spend the Plasm to power their Cauls. What's oddest about this for those assembled to defend the Athenaeum is that they can actually feel the Plasm being used; they can sense the Cauls being pulled out of the ether and feel someone's Geist burst through into a physical form. They can sense the violence inherent to these actions, allowing them to know that every one of those Sin-Eaters have broken the Laws. If the giant flaming rock thrown at the wall wasn't enough of a reason to bring them to heel, this would be.
In fact, that the Laws have been broken fills each defender with a justified anger, as though they, themselves, were Kerberoi defending their territory.
There's a sudden snapping sound as one of the hinges on the doors cracks apart. The door starts to slump forward, now much easier to open than it was before.
First lines of defense didn't move, they didn't wander off and press the attack. Instead Matthew was calmly waiting... all to naturally calmly as he worked the table up closer to the wall that had been partially blown open to become a less easy opening for any to start pouring in on. His eyes tracking over those as they started moving forward. Seeking out which of the approaching Sin Eaters were the best targets for iminent demise. As they came onto land with their threat of violence and ignorance of the iminent domain that belonged to those who were protect this locale, the righteous flame built up in Matthew's heart and the spiked collar around his throat all but sung. "Time to Burn."
The final boat moves toward the Dominion while Charles Sutherford takes a burning blast of plasm-fueled pseudoflame directly to his body. It should be expected that he would catch fire, but the ghost locked in Matthew's Fetter can only simulate its personal arsonist tendencies.
The boats are now close enough that they will be able to drop anchor and get everyone into the main part of the docks. Beyond the cracked door, the Ferryman that was hurriedly trying to get away is raised up off of its boat and twisted around within the air.
The Ferryman's body snaps in half, and then slowly starts to change and shift, its eyes beginning to glow, the robes falling apart, spurs of bone bursting out of pale flesh, rows of teeth forming along the interior of a mouth that is now a maw. It's dropped back down to the boat and crashes through it with its weight, emerging from the water by walking up the bank.
Where is Vandal? Oh! There he is! Zonked out on the floor by the bookcase over there! Is he sleeping through the great battle for the Athenaeum...hopefully not. Actually, it's just that his mind is sort of checked out from his body, his awareness centered on what he can only describe as the 'big skerry monster on the boat' AKA the Cthonian. There's a slight shudder of twisted, tainted plasm about the boy as he directs the energies of the pit at the creature, warping it's mind in ways most unpleasant, though hopefully useful!
Darius looks out at the creature and the world is focused now and his weapon in hand and a with a wide smile one his face and his fingers tracing the gun with a little chuckle. His eyes locked down on the creature ofr a moment and then he exhales the smoke into the air from the cig. His finger works the trigger quickly and then he laughs softly as he fires.
There's a high and loud cracking sound as the boat the Cthonian's on has its keel ripped out from underneath it. The ship starts to take on water, and fast, causing the ship to slump into the water and start to sink down into the depths. The Sin-Eaters aboard and the Cthonian manage to get off the ship in time, but now they're twenty yards away and have to swim.
The Cthonian that was recently hit by Vandal's Manifestation comes into clearer view now. The thing has to be at least fifty feet tall, with half of its body shaped like that of a man, muscled and with arms tipped with wicked scything claws, its head that of a wasp. Tendrils slither out from its throat that look like spider legs, twisting and moving against the air. Its lower body is a segmented carapace like a centipede's, with a hundred legs pushing it through the slow-moving water.
Meanwhile, two of the Sin-Eaters on the boat hold their position and find a place they can stand, activating their Shrouds.
Norbert is not made for fighting. He is little and made for guiding people to the Underworld, not stomping shit up. So the ghost crow flaps away from Frankie and finds a high shelf to tuck himself away on top of. Where he can supervise.
Frankie, in the meantime, has knocked an arrow and raised her bow. Narrowing her eyes, she raises her bow up higher and sends one black-fletched broadhead arrow sailing up through the gigantic hole in the wall and arcing down toward Johnathan Collins. Why him? Because he's the first one she gets a bead on. THWOK! Johnathan gets a stunning new accessory in the form of an arrow to the shoulder.
The boat that Molly hit earlier is moving forward, but it's damaged and doesn't move as quickly as the others. It's managing to gain speed enough to get to the docks, and turning the Ferryman to the side of the Sage has only emboldened those on the ship. An arrow slams into the shoulder of the navigator, but beyond that they seem relatively prepared for battle.
This is when Doctor Invisible earns his pay. Ritter can't be seen....but there's an odd, silvery ripple of light from somewhere, like moonlight on water. The gleam of it touches the trebuchet.....and the counterweight promptly drops right off it, into the water. Fix that, engineers.
Amadeus just seems to look hungrier, and hungrier every second. He eyes Matthew for a moment, and Boucher nearby, maybe a little bit longer than is comfortable. But he just flexes his long, alien claws a few times, and seems to - barely - keep a grip on things. For now.
Boucher sees the door hinges start to buckle, and watches the shots flying out the door, grateful that people aren't missing just yet. He crouches down behind the battered door, just out of reach if it would fly open, and waits to give /someone/ an unpleasant surprise. Here's hoping that the one who comes through has one of those rifles. He'd love to have one of those.
Oh dear... Christy Harmon... you are the closest thing to ping on the Black Dog's senses. The closest thing to Freddy and that is who it stalks towards. Silent as the grave, it's head down and ears back. Unearthly red glowing eyes flaring brighter. It's black fur bristles before it finally does make noise. The sound is haunting and horrible. A howl that pulls forth the fear of death right from the reptilian brain and pushes it into the mind like a bull in a china shop. A keening wail that is every bit a song. The dirge itself makes no effect but once it reaches the ears of one Christy Harmon to immediately begin to scream. Eyes wide as she staggers back and drops any desire to stand and fight whatever this Dog may bring upon her. Running the opposite direction, back towards the River.
After coming to a halt, Deckard said a single prayer. "Nous sommes die paar arrach a ven vera en mors, Ezer ra wissian tariqina baina ipsa anima nostra." It was the prayer he said every time before he entered through an Avernian Gate, but in that moment in time, he felt like it was completely neccessary to utter it a second time. In his mind, he pictured Blanche, and mentally wished she would be okay before casting those thoughts aside. It was time for justified anger. After nodding to each ceremonialist, simply /knowing/ where his fellow protectors were since he couldn't see some of them, he turned his back to them and brought his Memorabilia up to protect his front, should anything get past his wispy form. The shield was far more durable than it looked, holding almost as much strength within its form as a bank vault's reinforced door, his black-veined crimson scarf-robe as steely as a dump-truck. "Ptah-Sokar, you unruly bastard. We know your name. We know your plans. You will fail to lay your hands on this library for the rest of eternity."
Gnaw even began to join in, uttering in every language known to humankind, its burning hunger released, its desire to devour the receeding resources of the Sage evident. It wanted the mighty god to know that it would fall before the small god. "You are trespasssing, and you and your forces will know our fiery vengeance..." Deckard muttered under his breath, his eyes focused on everything at once that he could see. He could sense the battle going on outside, the Watchers trying to gain ground. Expectation was in is other hand, its power seeping into Deckard's words, its turquoise light coalescing around the ceremonialists. The Underworld was the domain of the Earth. Deckard was the Earth. The power of the Dread Wolf's Hunger would boost the power of the Ceremony, the cold fires of their impromptu circle spiking outwards with every word of hatred that could be uttered against the Sage's name.
At the sound of the Sage being named, there's an immediate sense of dread that falls upon the entire group assembled in the Athenaeum. Razil and Narasimha shift uncomfortably. The Sage has brought Its full attention on the place, and the Athenaeum starts to twist, but very subtly. The walls seem to change, bending in toward one another, and corners begin to crease along parts of it, with bits of the floor rising up and twisting into tendrils that push toward the ceiling, creating a kind of stalagmite out of marble.
Beyond, there's another howl from the Cthonian as it lumbers its way along with its centipede legs to the door and attempts to smash its way through it. Despite the curse levied upon the creature by Vandal, it manages to put its entire weight on the door and collapse it forward. It slides into the area and howls once more with that wasp head, shaking the walls and sending dust and dirt to fall down from the ceiling. Owlings are starting to shuffle the books from the library out of the place, flying down from upstairs and up from downstairs, carrying ancient scrolls, tomes, and tablets, slipping out of little boltholes in the ceiling.
Boucher jumps from his perch onto the Cthonian's 'back', as soon as it enters the room, but without his sword in hand. Instead, he laces his fingers into the armor plating, clinging to its back, and focuses. The cthonian howls in pain, blood leaking from its eye sockets. Also, Boucher now has an epic mount.
Blanche is surrounded by sin-eaters, but she? She's an Autumn. She can't beat the Cthnonian into the ground, she can't ward the place. But she can do what her court do! She stands her ground from a few feet from Deckard, facing the Cthonian. Her lips move, but only the powerful being by the doors can hear the sinister whispering that emerges. "You will leave this place, leave my presence, or you /will/ die here. In utter agony and terror. The Athenaeum has no place for the likes of you. GO!"
Amadeus bellows wildly when the creature storms through the doors. Food. FOOD! He lunges at it recklessly, biting into its carapace and immediately draining it of a significant amount of corpus, gorging himself as he does. But he doesn't latch on with the bite, he steps back, preparing for another lunge.
The Ferryman charges through the opened door, its oar twisted into a wicked looking scythe that's dripping a kind of black ichor. It brings the blade down against Amadeus, but bounces off of the armored body of the vampire, sidling backwards and attempting to regain control over the weapon. It growls in a low, feral tone at the assembled defenders.
Mason peeks out through a gap in the bookshelf, and does a long whistle. "Aw hell, fuckin'.... Lordy." He mutters.
Still invisible, Kilo uses her shrouded plasm and with Lucky's help summons it with the Rage she's built inside her, throwing all she has at the Cthonian, and doing as much damage as she can, hoping for the best. It's not flashy; after all, it's his insides that are imploding right now...
The Sin-Eaters from the boats start to disembark and flood into the Athenaeum. The ghosts have also emerged from the closest boat, but are repulsed by the ward, creating a wall of ghostly corpus and flesh that presses in against the Boneyard. The three split off and one of them, a woman with a large machete, swings the weapon at Boucher's head, but misses completely. One of the others rushes where she assumes Kilo to be and brings her arms down in a massive haymaker at Kilo, striking her across the face and lacerating the flesh there. The third, Jonathan, angry at the fact that he got shot with a fucking arrow - an arrow - charges Frankie seeing as she's the only one with a bow, and rips into her with his claws, slicing at her collarbone.
Blanche has had a friend with her the whole time. Just...hidden. Then again, he's small. He skitters out of Blanche's hair and moves over to Frankie, just long enough to touch the woman and work his mojo on her. Better than a rabbit's foot!
Well well well! Now the thing, the thing was in here! Goddamn it was a big... well something. Matthew was trying not to look at it too hard, because there were just some things that the minds of mankind were not meant to procss. For everything else, there was fire. Lots and lots of fire, fake though it was, that thing had a carapace thicker than the trundling load of hate that was drug behind him for the entirety of his life. "Hi there! I'm gonna fuck your day up now, son." His body sliding across the table he slammed more firmly against the hole in the wall as he focused the power of Spike on the ancient evil. Hopefully he'd be able to bring the sweet sweet pain, in the form of burning away whatever feelings the thing had, and not just when he peed. "Oh look Mate, The Calvary's here." His attention drifting from the Cthonian as fire licked at it for a moment as the other Sin-Eaters started filtering in.
Charles is in charge and pushes through the throng of ghosts, screaming a battle cry as he empties about twenty rounds from his assault rifle into the general area where the ranged defenders are. He manages to hit a few of them, hitting Blanche and Frankie with a couple rounds. He also blasts into Vandal pretty heavily, which is bulwarked away; the bullets slide out of Vandal's body and collapse to the ground, but he still loses control over the Boneyard. Some other bullets slam into Johnathan's back, causing him to buckle forward.
More ghosts mash themselves up against the ward that's been created by Vandal's Boneyard. Despite his loss of control over it due to the bullets disrupting him; the ghosts charge past the group and try to make their way to the back where the ceremony is taking place.
A voice resonates out throughout the Athenaeum hall: "STOP THEM. THEY WISH TO TAKE OUR KNOWLEDGE."
Lora stands at the edge of the throng of ghosts and reaches into a pocket, drawing forth a ring. She clutches it in her hand and concentrates, sending the Rage into Matthew, forcing him to feel like he's being slowly crushed by a weight that's so intense that it saps his willpower.
Darius and Vandal work in concert, with them both attacking the Sin-Eaters that have just stepped off their boats but having yet entered into the room. Darius reaches into Marguerite's mind with the Passion Rage and forces her into a frenzy of fear and terror, freezing her in place. Meanwhile, Vandal stretches his concentration over the nature of the Underworld out to Elizabeth Mullins, ripping away her ability to stand and tearing her immune system to shreds. She collapses to her knees and tries to keep her balance.
Razil leaps forward and flies with her massive stone wings. She slams down on the ghosts in the doorway, crushing one and flapping her wings to buffet them with strong winds. They start to tear at her stone flesh, and she lets out a loud, vicious cat-yowl -- both in pain and anger.
That's new. Frankie's never been shot before. That's a new experience; she cries out involuntarily. Plasm flexes, and misty white plasm fills in exciting new bullet holes in Frankie's person. Scowling, Frankie balls one hand up into a fist and slams it at Johnathan's gut. A little spider's help is good enough for that!
Norbert no longer regrets not trying to eat the spider.
Narasimha flies up and drops down in front of the entrance to where Deckard is leading the ceremony, stretching his wings out and creating an artificial barrier to prevent the ghosts from charging through him to attack the Ceremonialists. The ghosts mash themselves against him, with more breaking off from the wall to get inside, rushing forward like the fast kind of zombies. They slash and tear at his hide, and he accepts the punishment gracefully, tilting his head up and bearing it. Blood sprays out of the wounds and the guardian closes his eyes against the force of it.
Freddy continues to participate in the ceremony, another voice in the background. The imagery of a plague doctor very much alive in how her Shroud twists and distorts her hair and clothes to look darker, more robe-like that lends an even greater eerie appearance to that pale, bone-like mask she wears. The darkness licks away from her hair like feathers along with the darkness that has been summoned by her Shroud that causes a duality to occur at times should anyone look directly at her. Arms out, palms up in supplication as she follows Deckards lead. Trying to block out whatever horrible sounds she is hearing over the ceremonial chanting. Throwing all her focus on completing it.
Deckard's eyes went wide at the sight of the shadowy tendrils of the Sage. "Your forces will be devoured." Deckard said, his eyes slowly narrowing. As the Cthonian burst through the door, his focus was redoubled, his teeth gritted. "You fucking coward, subverting the rivermen. You are just a slaver. A little bitch who couldn't build his own pyramid." Goosebumps rippled across his body, the very dread he felt when the Sage first laid eyes up on him trying to crush him. He would resist. Fear was acceptable, only because courage was there to stand atop it. "We're going to drive you out here. We will rout your weak-willed forces you brainwashed into fighting for you. How pathetic is it that you can't gain followers without forcing your will upon them? What kind of a leader are you? Not one fit to be a god, that's for sure. The only throne you deserve is the shitter in my outhouse back home."
The cold fires that began to bleed from Deckard's Keystone wreathed the ceremonialists in its embrace, /forcing/ the ground upon which they stood to remain stable, to remain pure and untouched by the strange geometries of the Sage. "Whiney little baby can't handle a few harsh words? Did the big Egyptian boys pick on you in sand-school? I bet your mother never loved you. You probably came out of her womb with more than a few sand granules scrubbing your skin hey? I hear desert herpies is a bitch..." Rub it in Deckard, rub it in as deep as it can go.
Boucher was already heading for Charles, but when the man throws down his rifle, he almost seems to speed up. He snatches it up with a grin, then whirls around, checking the magazine and reseating it like an old pro - which he really is. Leveling the rifle at Bonnie, he pumps three rounds into her chest, the muzzle flash illuminating his face and prosthetic arm and making the ranger look like a Terminator.
Maybe he designed it like that, his back touching the rest of those gathered in the ceremony like one corner of a star. Damian chose, perhaps, to take the exact spot facing most of the fighting. Helpless to assist, but watching, silent save for what is required of them for the ceremony. The few words needing to be uttered. The Deathlords True Name. Silent and invisible and still. His presence is felt, but only by the evidence of him against his fellow ritualists. Eyes hidden by the shadow flicker to and fro on the battleground. There’s no words, no pomp or vitriol fired out towards the Sage. Silent defiance that seems to make so much sense for any that know him.
Amadeus acknowledges the ferryman-thing that struck him with what might be wicked glee, if his mouth were capable of a smile in its bifurcated state. Instead he leaps at it, biting onto what looks kind of like its face(?) and clenches those fangs hard. In a matter of seconds he consumes the entire corpus of the being, and its cloak is left an empty pile, and the scythe drops to the floor with a clang. Amadeus rises to his feet, leering at the remaining foes.
The Cthonian, properly cowed by Blanche, stares down at the small woman. With a wasp-like face, it's impossible to say if it's actually frightened or what its real expression is. The creature then begins to turn and lumber out of the place as fast as it can. It shoves through some of the ghosts and tries to push its Pit-drained bulk into the waters. It drops down into the depths of the River as far as it can go. Likely that will make the others think twice about entering one of the Underworld Rivers in the future.
The baying of the Black Dog is a common folklore mythology in the United Kingdom but heard in the states? Not so much. In New England there are, however, such mythologies and this Black Dog certain fits the bill. Though this time it does not bay or howl, it barks and barks loudly with a ferocity that sends a shock through one of the ghosts that had penetrated ward. The Black Beast of Hanging Hills is in no mood to let anything near Freddy which is also handy because it at least adds buffer to the Ceremony so it may have a chance to complete without interruption... maybe.
Dammit! Blanche got hurt last night, wasn't that enough for the week? She doesn't cry out, she can't, ut she does make a sound of pain that probably /should/ be a cry. Her hand moves to cover one of the bullet wounds, and she hisses in a sharp breath, her eyes narrowing behind her sunglasses. That hurt! And dammit, the guy who hurt her is gone. But his friends are still here! Her hand grips the hilt of her knife and draws it, before flinging it toward Kristina, hitting the woman. She's too close to Blanche's man! And her face is stupid.
Kilo again summons all the raging plasm she's got as she leans heavily on LUcky and even begins to take on some of his aspects, her face getting bonier and more skeletal, her body getting lankier... She throws the plasmic energy toward that horrible Latina girl that seems to have it in for her, immolating her insides and scrambling them beyond repair. It was over before it even began for poor Kristina. Kilo watches with dispassion as the other girl falls the the ground, screaming in pain.
Kristina's Geist bursts out from her body as it slumps to the ground and it grabs at the prone form of the West End Watcher and begins to usher her through the Dominion and past the ghosts beyond, fleeing over the River toward the nearest Gate.
Meanwhile, the ghosts at the front of the entrance continue to slash at Razil's hide and bleed her. She takes the wounds as best she can, but the ancient guardian is starting to look a little haggard, being attacked by so many different opponents at once in the swarm.
Bonnie, still stunned from the vicious assault from Boucher's stolen assault rifle, staggers around the room, and Johnathan throws a weak clawed hand at Frankie, missing horribly. He's bleeding profusely, and the mark of the Sage burns bright on his forehead as he attempts to regain his composure.
His throat felt like it was closing up as the weight of the world slammed down onto his person. Feet breaking into the ground of the library as his eyes narrowed. Tracking tracking, there she was, the little blonde harlot forcing her will upon him and trying to take him out of the fight. "Fine, you'll do." The salacious and absolutely disgusting tone in Matthew's voice as his tongue ran along his teeth. Only the thin veneer of panic from the weight of being potentially barried alive. He couldn't let her stop him, not when the others were working so hard on destroying the Cthonian beast. Matthew's body lunged, towards Lora, dropping to all fours to do so, her fucking about with his mind not slowing down the power of his musculature and the ferocity the Primeval key instilled within him. His mouth yawing open as he howled towards the woman and a gout of flame suddenly fully wreathed her in a bit of Spike's particular Hellfire.
The spider? Is not your average spider. Kilo? Yeah, she clearly doesn't need help. But Razil over there? Playing shield and fightin' ghosts. Skitter skitter skitter TOUCH! May the blessings of arachne be upon you!
Lora takes that blast in stride and she steps through the throng of ghosts, ignoring Razil. As Matthew just attacked her, she conjures up a collection of shadows that form into an image of Matthew's Geist. He sees it tearing Idina apart right in front of him, though the illusion is weak enough that it doesn't cause as much fright as it could.
Meanwhile, Deckard is able to see that Narasimha is badly injured, and probably won't last with another couple salvos of attacks from the ghost pirates.
Vandal reaches out with his connection to the Underworld to Lora, but the other Sin-Eater is just as powerful as he is and shrugs off the mental assault. Darius, on the other hand, strikes terror into her in the way he did with Bonnie, forcing her to curl up in a ball and cover her head with her hands, terrified of something that the others can't see.
Razil, bolstered by the spider from Blanche, begins to slice her talons through some of the ghosts near the door, forcing them back and causing some of them to retreat. Their Sin-Eaters are starting to fall, and the damage inflicted against the enemy Sin-Eaters is minimal at best.
Meanwhile, the ceremony continues.
Deckard's eyes were alight with bloody fire. He observed the battlefield, and was surprised when Narasimha came down to shield them. He could only see Narasimha. He had to profess his hatred for the Sage...but he had to warn the others the Sphinx was going to fall to the onslaught. Sure, he was an asshole, but he was protecting the ceremonialists. Deckard could stand against the remaining forces, but he wasn't so sure about the others if the stone creature fell. Time to put Mad Dog's training to use. Screaming as loudly as he could, in the hopes he could catch one of the others' attention, Deckard used his quick wits to wind some words together.
"You fucking /prick/! You think maiming Narasimha is gonna get you street cred in the afterlife!? Command your ghosts to /FIGHT/ one of the warriors you little bitch, and stop attacking the defenseless like a little cowardly whore-monger that you are! I bet your little lizard brain isn't too fond of the mighty guardians, what with them being more evolved than your scaly rat-bastard ass! You really gonna kill Narasimha!? FIGHT THE FIGHTERS, COWARD!"
The Sage can see through that sigil on Johnathan's forehead, right? The Sage gets to see Frankie's fist. She's wearing a couple of rings. One's a pretty silver thing with a turquoise stone that the Sage gets to admire right up until it slams into Johnathan's face - right in the sigil - and he goes down like a sack of potatos.
Norbert announces, "CAW." Maybe he's proud.
Rory cringes in response to the sounds of battle, screaming, and wailing of hostile apparitions that have consumed the whole of the Athenaeum. She glances worriedly in Narasimha's direction as the ghosts tear at the sphinx, wavering slightly in her stance as she feels a desire to aid him when he's so close. However, Rory sees the resolve of the other ceremonialists in keeping their attention on finishing the ritual and it hardens her own determination to keep focused on maintaining the ceremony to it's end. This is why they came, so they need to get it done.
Narasimha announces, "GUARDIANS OF THE ATHENAEUM! DO NOT LOOK AT ME!" And with that, it stretches its wings up over its head and causes an explosion of essence to burst from him, sending terror into the hearts of several of the Sin-Eaters that have transgressed on the Athenaeum's soil, forcing Bonnie and Lora to run back to their ships. They can be seen leaping over the River, attempting to enter the next Dominion over. This takes a decent amount of the guardian ghost and it finds itself being pulled down on the ground by the ghosts.
The ghosts leap on top of Narasimha and begin to tear at his flesh; the sphinx starts to writhe and shake beneath the onslaught, doing everything he can to prevent himself from discorporating.
Damian’s been watching the battle and Narasimha the whole time. The whole time until the thing bounds into the air and tells him not too. Then he closes his eyes at the things command. His invisibility only gets better. Everyone knows if you can’t see them, they can’t see you. They stay closed for a long time behind that cloak of shadows. Not wanting to take a chance, continuing with the cues from Deckard when needed. Calm, though it goes unseen. The horror of battle seeming to have no effect on the man. The terrible wounds and injuries, the sheer chaos. Perhaps to some, the death and the bargain killed more than just the flesh, if temporarily.
Boucher isn't concerned with the two downed sin-eaters right now, but the fact that Narasimha had to resort to such an attack bothers him a bit. Slinging the rifle over his shoulder, the man takes off running, sword materializing in his hand, and shows those ghosts what a scimitar is for. Namely, he slices one of them clean off of the guardian sphinx, causing it to disencorporate.
Oh dear. It happens. Those pupils which were pin pricks suddenly expand out to almost fill his eyes, and his fangs begin to drip blood. His posture changes, and Amadeus hunches over a bit more with his arms out, fingers jerking and fidgeting with the itch of a hungry animal. The first sack of blood he sees is Marguerite, and the beast leaps onto her, biting into her neck. The sheer force of it breaks her spine and neck, and he drinks from her corpse for a moment. The Beast is Unleashed... and they're running out of non-friendly food.
The black dog, Ruger, seeing that Narasimha needs help and having been a Psychopomp for some time, realizes what it must do. As the ghosts finish tearing into Narasimha, Enoch appears in front of the creature. Narasimha looks up to the Librarian, wincing at the feeling of the ghosts digging through his intestines and pulling them free to eat them and replenish their own reserves of Essence. Enoch reaches a hand down to touch the creature on the head and murmurs, "I release you from my service, Narasimha."
"Thank you, Librarian," whispers the large Sphinx.
Ruger charges forward into the mass of ghosts as Narasimha discorporates into mist, bursting through them and biting and snapping at them with its powerful jaws.
Enoch reaches a hand forward and touches Ruger on the flank and murmurs, "Protect the knowledge of mankind, from before the aeons brought ruin to civilizations past, to the future aeons that will drive that knowledge into the lands of the dead."
After the words are spoken, there's a shockwave of energy that fills the room nearly knocking the Sin-Eaters and others over. The Ceremony is still able to continue. However, where the ghosts and Ruger were is now something else.
A creature with the head of a black dog and the body of a humanoid creature standing nearly twelve feet tall remains. Its heavily muscled torso is lined with blood and ichor from the ghosts, and the gestalt Ruger's paws have transformed into hands. He holds up an ankh in one hand and crosses it over his chest, turning to the Librarian. "I will guard this place by the spirit and letter of the Old Laws of the Athenaeum, in the way of the one who came before me."
Enoch nods, but there's a bit of emotion in the old librarian's eyes. He stares up at the giant Anubis-like creature and reaches a hand out to brush his fingers against the new guardian's arm, then lowers his head. He walks over to join the Ceremony in place, moving alongside the Sin-Eaters.
Blanche starts to turn toward Nashimha when she hears Deckard talk about the poor sphinx, but pauses at the warning that follows. Then she turns to try and help the sphinx except...other things happen and she ends up looking at the dog that isn't just a dog anymore. "Just don't be as grumpy," she whispers as she backs up toward the ceremonialists. Juuuuust in case someone else shows up to start shit. But there are still ghosts attacking Razil? Hell nah. She's not losing two sphinxes in one night! Pluck, pluck, pluck, pluck. More bone knives are drawn out, and she actually holds multiples like it's just a thang. Which is good since she throws the damn things at the ghosts, and they sink into the ghosts, thunk thunk thunk thunk thunk!
All that remains of Narasimha is a collection of stones that have shattered off the creature. They lie in a pile where the sphinx was before. While not powerful in themselves, the shards of stone could be used for something as an ingredient, given that Narasimha was the guardian of knowledge for millennia. It's unclear how long he served Enoch, but parts of his body remain, enough for everyone here.
Freddy has had her eyes closed, concentrating on the ceremony at hand. She hears the screaming, the howling, the roaring, Deckard cursing. "Dammit, Dick-hard! Focus!" she snaps as she continues her supplications to her chosen direction. Just happens to be South. Somewhere someone is blasting out Slayer's South of Heaven just as all this shit hit the fan.
Now there are ghosts -- a ton of them. maybe too many to handle if they all start going crazy and helter skelter on them. So Kilo has an idea and confers with the rest of the group quickly. After a little brainstorming they come to a conclusion and she uses her stigmata pit to control the ghosts; summoning them to a makeshift anchor about 50 feet away from the door, keeping them in one place and keeping the group safer than if they were running loose and wild. Now to let the rest of the group finish up.
He wasn't particularly cinematic about it, the large behemoth that was Matthew, not recognizing that Asmodeus was in a Frency walked calmly towards Elizabeth in her cowering and really useless state. "You shouldn't have tried to do this. For your own folly." His head shook and his claws placed towards the base of her neck. Head gripped firmly by the other hand, and he shoved the claws into her skull, nice and smooth.
As Matthew shoves his claws through the skull of the incapacitated Sin-Eater, the Geist is jettisoned outside of the body and, unable to get to its Bound, given that Matthew is still holding her, it remains there, waiting and watching him. It does attempt to pull Elizabeth away from Matthew, but the Geist has very little strength in this form, tugging helplessly with frustration. The Geist is a little girl dressed in a black nun's habit with golden curls and scars and slash marks that perpetually bleed over her face.
The ghosts are herded to the area that Kilo specified, unable to pull away from the Anchor that's been temporarily forged for them. It's odd, given that ghosts with anchors can't be in the Underworld, but this is an anchor made from the stuff of the Underworld. The ghosts continue to try to pull against it, but can't reach Razil from their position. Meanwhile, Vandal stands up to his feet and walks over toward the ghosts. He falls into a Boneyard trance now, creating walls that push the ghosts in, herding them closer and closer together as he creates a ward directly around them, forcing them to press together in a mass of corpus, writhing against the walls.
Darius raises his pistol toward the Geist and says, "That's right, motherfucker." He shoots the pistol. "Die you fucking death thing." And continues to fire at it. The little girl in the nun's habit screams as the hail of Keystone pistol bullets fly her way, punching through her Corpus as she attempts to pull against Matthew's grip.
Razil, now no longer having to deal with the ghosts, picks herself up from the ground and starts to walk into the Athenaeum. She looks up to Enoch and the others, then over at the large Anubis creature that Ruger became and says in a slightly panicked voice, "Where's Narasimha?" She looks to the Sin-Eaters and others assembled, then glances in Amadeus' direction, before turning to look back at Enoch.
It is a sad moment. The death of a guardian, even one Damian didn’t know like some. Had no time to like or hate. Safe to open his eyes eventually, he sees the life force of Narasihma drain, but it brings no more emotion than the rest of this battle. Behind that invisibility piercing blues eyes watch the fall of one, and the promotion of another without blinking. Continuing in silence, the defiance started minutes ago against the Sage, against all the Principalities, really. Unmoved. By the nasty death of the last Sin-Eater who opposed them, but Razil’s sudden desperation at the loss of the other Sphinx. It’s duty. A bargain to fulfill.
He failed to save the first sphinx. But this one, Ritter does a better job on. Still swathed in the invisibility Kilo's granted him, he starts rebuilding Razil's wounded corpus.
Things are clearing out; the Sacrosanct have been rousted, the Cthonian is long gone, and that hulking vampire thing has done all kinds of fucked up shit. A noble guardian has died, and another has taken its place. Frankie has no time to really mull any of these things over; she just knows there are targets left, so she raises her bow again, sets another black-fletched arrow to the string, draws, and aims at the roiling mass of ghosts. THWOK! An arrow goes punching through two mashed-together ghosts.
Norbert, curious, has flapped down from his shelf and is now hovering over the pile of rubble that was Narasimha. The smudgey-ink psychopomp lands, ducking its head in acknowledgement.
Boucher is a bit surprised by everything that just happened next to him, and perhaps a bit ashamed that he wasn't able to show up in time to prevent Narasimha from meeting his demise. Once Enoch has appointed a new guardian, the ranger turns around, checking his magazine, and then walks away from Anewbis, towards the doorway. As he passes Razil, he frowns slightly, but doesn't say a word. He has a duty to perform. The gathering of ghosts at the doorway draws his attention, and he certainly doesn't need any explanation to know what he needs to do with that. The ranger levels the rifle and pulls the trigger 'til it goes 'click'.
The Devourer's eyes fall on Matthew first, and he leaps forward, slashing down in a wicked arc with one of those razor-sharp claws. They glance off of Matt's armored exterior, however, and he draws his arm back, bellowing hungrily. It's quite clear that the Beast has taken over, for those privy to such things. This cannot end well. Probably.
Blanche spots the stones where Narasimha fell, and she bends, scooping one up, and into her pocket. Then the ghosts are all in one place and her eyes narrow. But there are still so many things going on! Razil and Amadeus attacking friendlies, and she focuses on the vampire. She doesn't know what's going on, just that this is a Bad Thing, and she takes a step closer, and she hisses at him, shaking her head slowly. "Back the fuck off. You do /not/ attack the people we just fought beside. Back off or get a knife in the face!" Any sane person'd back off, but alas.
"Aw hell, fox is in the henhouse again, sonofamotherfucker!" Mason calls out from behind the bookshelf, and he scrambles out, taking cowboy stance to the side of the altercation happening between Amadeus and Matthew. "Just let Jesus take the wheel, big guy, don' you worry bout nothin' I'ma get you right make sure you don' get yourself torn up by these folk. Jus hold real still..." With that, he disperses into a red mist, and flows quickly right at the Devourer, into his nostrils, mouth, ears, and eye sockets. The creature reels back, staggered, and its bifurcated jaw retracts, shrinks, and connects along the chin, becoming, 'normal' again. His eyes are scrunched shut, and his head jerks a couple of times, making cracking noises. When those eyes open, though? Bright blue, smoldering a bit, and a smile crosses his face for the first time in weeks. His posture relaxes, and his arms do a wide stretch. "Whoo lordy, what a nice ride, like one of them Rolls Royce." He gives Matthew an upnod. "Sorry bout that fella, the big man can be a real handful when he gets a taste of the red stuff, tell you what."
"No, you're done too, you guided her this far, and you will share her fate." Matthew seemed to not notice at first that Asmodeus had planned to assault him. Instead, he utilized the Vampire's strength to shove him forward towards the the little nun girl with her religious little hat. Claws lancing forward with a degree of hate and vitriol that normally wasn't present within the celebrant's usual display. "You die now, I will add you to my power so that you might attone appropriately." His words slurred through vicious teeth even as the bladed Uppercut saw fit to raise the little dead girl up and out of her shoes.
Now that they are all rounded up and in one place, the group has an advantage! Kilo plans an attack... fire. She works her pyre flame rage, summoning the plasm and willing it to the encompass the closest ghost in deadly horrific flames that immediately engulf him and ignite the shreds of clothing on his back. But something happens... the others' clothing, the ghosts all being shoved into this small little radius, all their clothes begin to catch on fire as well, and soon it's a bonfire of ghosts and they have no way to escape. Kilo would be lying if she admitted this didn't touch her in some way. She looks away from the raging pyre and keeps her body turned from the incredible heat it's now producing.
As.... Mason/Amadeus spoke to him, Matthew shook his head clear of some of his own feral thoughts as his eyes narrowed and returned towards the Geist as it began the process of whatever happened when they stopped...unliving. "I didn't even notice you had attacked, I thought you were giving me a roughshod shove into not pussy footing around with the Nun-child." Frowning a moment.... "Did you tear my hoodie? Roy hates having to replace the things.
The ghosts scream as they catch fire and begin to burn up quickly, their corpus smelled throughout the area like the burnt flesh it resembles. Screams eminate from that trap that Vandal constructed and Boucher shot into, that Blanche threw knives into, that Frankie sent arrows into, and that Kilo finally set fire to, and the ghosts are quickly discorporated, leaving the place empty and devoid of servants of the Sage. In the distance, more boats can be seen on the horizon, but far enough away that they won't make it in time for the Ceremony's conclusion.
The Geist falls apart into ash, leaving behind a Deathmask showing the face of a child hooded by a nun's habit. It looks to be made out of plaster, and pure white. Surprisingly, the mark of the Sage is not on the Deathmask, despite the West End Watcher Society member clearly having some connection to the Deathlord.
So much energy and concentration was spent in trying to keep the Ceremony going. Near the end Freddy was chanting loud as she can. Her arms and pale hands making motions that felt like she was being moved by something unseen. To the point that when it was done? She dropped to her knees. Pulling off her Keystone plague doctor mask to let it rattle to the side of her. Panting softly, looking up and around. To see what all had happened.
"Ruger?" she asks, concern in his voice. Worry. It drives her up off her hands and knees to start walking around. So focused she is. "Ruger?!" she calls out again. Her mask starting to fade away into a white mist that flows back into one of her feet before she gets too far away.
She looks at the new Guardian and she feels a tug in her heart. Her mismatched, crazy eyes sort of get shimmery a bit. "... oh Ruger poops.", her lower lip starts to wibble as she walks over to it. Stepping over corpses of Sin-Eaters and splatters of blood without a care in the world. They may as well be rubble for all she cares.
Matthew dropped to a crouch to collect the plaster mask and tucked it gingerly into his hoodie pocket. Another hand reached out to lift up a piece of Narasimha and that was pushed into one of his pants pockets. His head shook lightly. "Once the ritual is finished we're all done here right?" His eyes drifting towards the five as he waited, somewhat impatiently, now.
Deckard's emotions were running cool. Cold, really. In fact, it was very unlike his previous outbursts. He was no less angry. No, he was livid. His fury was building into a storm. The Winter itself knew no mercy, but it's wrath was cold. The stone floor beneath Deckard's feet, even if he was hovering above it, was starting to build frost. Tiny stalagmites of solid ice were working their way to meet the soles of his feet, the air beginning to swirl around the perimeter of the Ceremony. The light spiking out from the Ceremony was literally whipping the strange geometries and the static tendrils of the Sage into non-existance, striking them like lightning. Deckard's eyes began to crackle with electricity as the energy of the Ceremony filled his being. One step closer to defeating the Sage. If there were any enemies still standing within the borders of the Athenaeum, no dark god would save them. "Bend your knee to our wills Ptah-Sokar. Feel the shame of knowing you've lost to mere mortals."
The light smashed the static into nothingness, chasing the tendrils down into where they came from, as if the light was alive. A juggernaught of holy energies expanded outwards in a flash, coating the Dominion in a purifying aura. Once the Dominion is clear, Deckard teleported to the shore, not bothering to wait for the others. He saw the boats in the distance. They would not escape. While Deckard was still under the influence of the Kerberos, winds began to blow with hurrican force. Ice began to form in the air, whipped around by the sheer force of the winds, electricity crackling and lightning jumping from ice block to ice block.
"I am Ice. I am Death."
None of the Sage's enemies in the distance would survive. All of them would instantaneously flash-freeze, and then be blown into tiny ice-shards as lightning showered down upon the vessels. Once they were dealt with, Deckard dropped all of his manifestations, and walked calmly back up the shore and into the Library. "Razil...I am truly sorry for your loss."
As the Ceremony concludes, Enoch gives a slight nod and waves his hands in the air. The power that's currently suffused within the guardians of the library subsides, and the Kerberos says, "I release you from service to the Athenaeum. You are no longer protectors of the knowledge."
The anubis-like creature turns its head to look over at Freddy as she calls out his former name. There's a quiet look of contemplation on the dog's face and it gives a slow nod to the Sin-Eater. Its tail wags twice, and then it turns to look back over at the place where Narasimha used to sit. Razil is silent as Ruger takes the former guardian's place. She stews in a mixture of anger and sorrow, and Ruger simply sits down, folding his now-human legs underneath of him.
Enoch watches the guardians, then turns to look back at the others. "Thank you for performing this service for me." The Kerberos is addressing the room. "All of you are welcome here at any time, given that you obey the Laws."
That feeling that was so pressing before, that the eyes of the Sage were turned upon the group, is gone. The whispers that some of the others felt are also gone, and the place feels strangely peaceful, a bastion of knowledge once more rather than a contested location in the war for the free Underworld. If the Sage were to be Ascendant, it would not start with the Athenaeum.
Once Deckard returns, Razil looks up to him with sorrowful eyes and shakes her head, then looks back down at her cat-like paws. She remains silent and still in her sadness, drawing herself into a stone-like state. She'll have to ride this one out on her own.
Meanwhile, Molly is able to grab one of those boats that the servants of the Sage traveled in and get it moving again. This would allow her to psychopomp the whole group back across the Rivers and to the Autocthonous Depths, now cleared of any potential threats.
The pale behemoth's long, wicked claws shrink back to their usual length, which is still abnormal given the size of those massive claws. He crosses his arms, craning his neck a bit to look around the group. "That it huh? You finished your uh, ritual, or whatever else?" He asks sort of tentatively, and then laces his fingers together on top of his head, in a sort of casual posture that's very out of character for Amadeus. His voice is a mix of both of theirs, but the appalachian accent is very dominant, and his eyes are glowing a bit brighter, and blue vapor seems to waft up from around them. "Well uh, ya'll are some decent folk. Glad none of you got splattered too bad, and that the big man didn't get too frisky an' take a bite. We both got this appetite, see, anyhow... Uh, lovely makin' ya'lls acquaintance. If ya'll are in need of our services in the near future what with this Death Lord business, he ain't as hard to find as you'd think. All the ghosts know bout him, name is Amadeus The Devourer. I'm Mason Woodall, aka the Rosman Reaper." He introduces with a proud grin, puffing up his chest a little. Just tell a few that you're lookin for him, and he'll know inside of a day, for damn sure. Then he'll drop a line, yeah? Anyways, I think we're bout ready to head home, sit on some bones, listen to Diana Ross an' unwind, if ya don't mind." With that, he walks over to a nearby archway, and extends a hand, turning it into an underworld gate by which once can exit into the surface world. In this case, what looks to be one of the abandoned mines outside of town. The Noctuku strolls through, and the portal closes behind him.
Blanche turns back to Freddy when she hears her cousin and sympathy flickers over her face. "I'm so sorry, Freddy. And you, Razil," she whispers to them before looking to Enoch, then Deckard. Her head tilts for a moment as she pushes the hood of her cloak back. "I need to stay for a little bit, before heading back," she says, seeming to tell both Freddy and Deckard, before looking to Enoch. "I won't be long, though." She hopes. Weird time in the library. But first? She does...something...and the bleeding stops from where she was shot, and she heads deeper into the library, rather than out, like all the sane(ish) people are doing.
Freddy approaches the Guardian, coming to a still pause when it had looked to her. The wagging of the tail. That look on her face shows her eyes are full of unshed tears. She walks over to it when it sits, putting a hand on it's knee. "... this is what Fate had in store for you. Thank you, for everything. Protect this place and Enoch as well as you have protected me." she waits a moment.
Then she climbs up, trying to get to the cheek of the massive guardian to give it a kiss. "I'll never forget you. I'll visit." she tells it, like she may hope or know that in there, somewhere, there is a dead dog that has saved her narrow ass many times in the short time they were companions.
She climbs back down, picking up a piece of the former. As if that is payment and equal balance of losing her own guardian in defense of the Athenaeum. Holding it to her chest, she smiles at Blanche but she doesn't say anything. Too choked up she lost a friend, a sort of sorrowful look given towards Razil. Her mouth opens like she wants to say something but words fail her. So she just shuts her mouth and goes to do her job: seeing if anyone needs healing. Throwing herself into that role than her own fleeting bit of sorrow.
The final words of the Ceremony spoken. So much emotion in the room. The cold anger of Deckard, the sorrow of Razil, and others. When he is certain though, the invisible form of Damian moves, knowing the Ceremony to be complete, the eyes of the Sage no longer able to pierce this veil. He is not seen, not really, but the stoic form of Damian lifts one of the pieces of the old guardian, it looks oddly floating, though certainly most know the Sin-Eater is there. He studies it a moment and then crouches by the remains. Something is whispered above them, barely even a sound and the Reaper rises again. The shadows of invisibility uncoiling from him, though the armor stays put. One never knows, and it pays to be careful. He glances around, a more thorough look at the destruction, the new guardian, all of it. A faint nod to himself. The books, the books get a long pause. How he might like to look through a few, spend days in here, but perhaps, not today. The piece of Narishihma is pocketed and then the man starts for the exit, the trek home. It is done, but there is still more to be done. The bargain never fulfilled.