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Waking Nights, Dreaming Days
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Capistrano
Wolf Like Me
Proven Adventurer
Proven Adventurer


Joined: 12 Feb 2008
Posts: 184

Location: A small apartment near the University of Northeast RhyDin or Clovely
6,135 Silver Nobles


PostPosted: Thu May 22, 2008 1:05 pm    Post subject: Waking Nights, Dreaming Days Reply with quote

((Cross-posted from RDI))

When the Dreamwalker first arrived in RhyDin, it took him a full month just to learn how to get around the city. In a place where just about anything was possible, streets, buildings, even entire districts were mutable things. One day, a boulevard in the Marketplace would be easy to find, located right off of a main road passing through the heart of RhyDin City. The next, that road would require him to walk down several dark, damp, dirty alleyways to access. To some people, this might have been disorienting. To him, though, it was familiar territory. It was almost exactly like journeying through dreams.

His goal during these walks through the city soon shifted, from constructing a coherent map of RhyDin to finding out which pathways and structures were more consistently present. Luckily for him, his current residence, at the Red Dragon Inn, happened to be one of those constants. Even though the number of doors and number of rooms in the Inn seemed to fluctuate constantly, there were always plenty of them to open and enter, safe upstairs from the prying eyes of those who might discover who (or what) he was. There were other places, too, that seemed more or less anchored safely to the realm. The Great Hall, near the Inn itself, which didn't have as many passageways but was also not as busy as the Inn. The Library, full of scholars during the day but empty, quiet, and dark during the evening, save for the countless tomes packed end to end in the stacks. Even with these places in mind as safe havens for his voyages, it took the Dreamwalker a month to screw up the courage to step inside others' psyches again.

The worlds that Rhydinians conjured up when they slumbered were every bit as amazing as the realm of Rhydin itself. It was only years of training, and disillusionment from the countless dreams that he had walked through before, that kept the Dreamwalker from stopping and staring at the fantastic images that lurked in the minds of the city's citizens, though he couldn't help but slow his pace through many of them. He saw elves, living high above the forest floor in trees whose trunks were wider than six men trying to wrap their arms around them, chattering to each other in an utterly foreign yet completely beautiful language. He walked into another dream, and now he was swimming, deep below the surface of an ocean completely unlike any he'd ever seen, watching a mermaid family frolic and play with something that looked like a cross between a narwhal and a orca. He shifted again, and now he was underground, the world pitch black save for the holy light shining off of his baseball bat, watching a group of short, stout, and heavily bearded men fight a futile battle against chittering, black-scaled demons who spat green, foul-smelling, acidic saliva at the unfortunate dwarves.

That was the first lesson the Dreamwalker learned about RhyDin. There was great good here, to be sure, but the capacity for evil was equally great. He learned quickly of those whose sleep brought malevolent, dark thoughts to the surface of their minds, and left those areas quickly, lest he be detected and disposed of. He also learned of those who had suffered great losses, horrific tragedies, far beyond what he thought any person capable of enduring, and he escaped those nightmares as fast as he could as well. There were some things that he was unwilling to endure, without a good reason for doing so.

He also learned quickly that there were others with powers in this realm: some big, some small, and on both sides of the good vs. evil fence. He had only run into a few people in waking life whose dreams he had traveled through, but from the small sample size he had, it seemed that many were open about their abilities. Then again, the ability to fly or summon objects out of thin air was...well, it was cool. At the very least, he imagined it would come in handy at parties. His skill set, though, was a bit more...invasive. Who would be impressed with the fact that he could see and know their deepest thoughts, their most repressed fears, their hidden desires? No one. Which was one of the reasons why the Dreamwalker hadn't made too many friends, or acquaintances even, in his short time in the realm.

He hadn't made too many enemies either, though he hadn't been a stranger to combat. As disturbing as some of the nightmares he'd seen had been, he had only come across a handful of the usual suspects for bad dreams. He had fought night hags on two separate occasions, easy foes once you knew how they operated. And he did. He left the dream as fast as he could, knocked the demon off the sleeper's chest, and beat it to death with his bat before the would-be victim could wake up or his sleep-travel induced migraines could set in. Even after these victories, though, the Dreamwalker couldn't help but feel powerless. There was something big happening here, and he hadn't figured out what it was, or what he was supposed to do. At least, he hoped something big was happening. It was too hard for him to imagine why else they would have sent him to this land.


Last edited by Capistrano on Wed Sep 10, 2008 10:59 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Capistrano
Wolf Like Me
Proven Adventurer
Proven Adventurer


Joined: 12 Feb 2008
Posts: 184

Location: A small apartment near the University of Northeast RhyDin or Clovely
6,135 Silver Nobles


PostPosted: Mon May 26, 2008 4:20 pm    Post subject: The Night Mare Reply with quote

The air around the Dreamwalker was charged with energy from various sources, as he stood in the lightning-ravaged field, staring down a demon-horse made entirely of (he was assuming) hell-fire. The earth was scorched black, partially from the periodic electrical strikes arcing from sky to ground and partially from the pounding of flaming hooves. Little vegetation remained in the area, just packed dirt and the skeletons of thin dead trees, stripped bare of leaves and most of their branches. The sky was a sickly, unnatural grey, pockmarked with fat, black clouds that hovered high in the atmosphere. Here, the usual pleasant aura that surrounded most sleepers' dreams was almost entirely extinguished, replaced by fear, anguish, evil. The odors of ozone, brimstone, decay, and death hung heavy, and would've assaulted his nostrils, had he not been wearing his graffiti mask. The Dreamwalker pushed up the sunglasses on his face, favoring the wicked steed with a piercing ice blue gaze.

“I will give you one chance, Night Mare, and one chance only, to leave this person's dream, before I send you back to where you came from. Will you leave or not?” In response, the horse snorted twin jets of fire from its nostrils, shaking its head as it whinnied. The sound was deeper and more distorted than any thoroughbred in the natural world. He watched carefully as the “nightmare” stamped at the ground, preparing to charge. The Dreamwalker tossed his skateboard behind him, adjusted the sleeves of his grey hoody, and held his baseball bat in both hands. He watched the mare's black, irisless eyes for some sign of motion, studied the haunches of its legs for a twitch of movement that would let him know when it was coming.

A ripple of muscle was all the warning the Dreamwalker had before the horse started galloping full-speed for him, flames dancing and flickering across its bright-orange body. The heat roiled through the air surrounding them, instantly causing him to sweat all over. He prayed quickly and silently to his goddess, then took one hand off the bat to flip the hood back, revealing hair that was now jet black. He stood ramrod straight, defiant of the devilish beast stampeding his way. At the last possible moment, when the two foes were practically face to face and the demon-steed had lifting its forelegs up to pounce on him, the Dreamwalker crouched into a roll to the side of the horse. Not fast enough to entirely dodge the hammer blows, he winced as he felt the crack of a hoove on his right shoulder. He ignored the pain though and swung his bat one-handed at the back legs of the mare. The orange writing on the barrel flared up, brighter than daylight, as it made contact with the flaming horse-flesh, bringing a cloud of black smoke from the mare's haunches and a piercing scream from the beast. Leg broken, the thoroughbred tried to stagger away, but its speed had been greatly reduced by the Dreamwalker's assault. Pitiless, he circled around to the other side of the horse, taking aim and swinging once more at the other leg. The steed collapsed onto its back legs, then rolled onto its side, screeching. Without a word, he strolled towards the demon's head. Big, baleful eyes glared up at the Dreamwalker, as if trying to burn holes through him. In response, he brought his bat over his head and swung downward with all his might. With one final burst of flame and smoke, the horse disappeared, leaving behind a foul sulfurous odor and a black slick of ichor where the head had once been.

It was only when the Night Mare had been banished that the Dreamwalker turned around, to face the dreamer whose dream had been invaded. A little boy - his clothes little more than denim and cotton rags - stood there wild-eyed and shivering, despite the oppressive heat in the air. The Dreamwalker slowly approached him, but instead of shrinking back or standing still, the little boy rushed forward to throw his tiny arms around the black-haired man's legs, clinging as tightly as possible.

“You are going to be all right,” the Dreamwalker said soothingly. “That foul creature will not disturb your sleep any longer.”


Last edited by Capistrano on Tue Jun 03, 2008 11:58 am; edited 1 time in total
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Capistrano
Wolf Like Me
Proven Adventurer
Proven Adventurer


Joined: 12 Feb 2008
Posts: 184

Location: A small apartment near the University of Northeast RhyDin or Clovely
6,135 Silver Nobles


PostPosted: Tue May 27, 2008 4:32 pm    Post subject: Perchance to Dream: The Calm Before the Storm Reply with quote

At the crack of noon (or thereabouts), Jay rolled out of bed, still dressed in the basketball shorts and tank-top he had worn the previous day. Bare feet touched the cool floor of his room, shied away from the wood at first, then slowly returned to the surface. Sitting on the edge of his bed, he reached into his pocket for his pack of smokes and lighter. He came up empty and swore. So much for that morning ritual. Rubbing his weary face and eyes with his hands, he grumbled to himself. Time to find something else to kill the time...

With a grunt, he hauled himself up to his feet, walking the short steps from his messy, unmade bed past the pile of neatly folded clothes near his closet. He opened the closet door, and began to root around inside. He pushed aside baseball bats, his graffiti mask, several pairs of cheap sunglasses, and various leather-bound books until he found what he was looking for, buried under some dirty clothing he hadn't quite gotten around to washing yet.

The object of his search was a rectangular wooden box about a foot long. The top of the box was lidded and lifted up, so that the incense could be placed inside when burning. Both the lid and the sides of the box had patterned holes carved at spaced intervals: five tear drops spaced in a diamond pattern. Inlaid in brass on the side was a leafy vine that traversed the length of the box. The inside of the lid and part of the outside of it had been blackened, both by the heat of the incense burning and by the oils given off when burnt. Near the bottom of the box was a swing-out hatch, inside which was stored several pieces of incense. Jay reached inside the bottom compartment, pulling out several sticks. The only way to differentiate one scent from another was by the color of the thin, balsa-wood sticks at the end of the cylindrical, grey fibrous material that covered the rest of the stick. Unfortunately, he had long thrown the boxes out, and had forgotten which color was which scent. Selecting a celery-colored stick at random, he removed the box and incense from the closet, closed the door, and set the container on his dresser. After digging around through his top drawer for a few moments, he found his Zippo. He placed the stick of incense carefully inside the box burner, then flicked the lighter open and brought forth the flame. He held it there for a good five seconds, then closed the lighter and blew out the flame on the tip of the stick. Glowing orange-red, the incense started to smoke as Jay shut the box, filling the air with a familiar, pleasant aroma. Sandlewood...He spent a minute watching the smoke curl, twist, and dance through the holes in the top of the box, tracing abstract patterns in the otherwise stale air of his Inn room.

That task completed, he hopped back onto his bed, quickly crossing his legs and assuming the lotus position. He clapped his hands together and kept them together, fingertips pointing up and away from his body. Taking deep, steady breathes, Jay slowly shut his eyes, focusing on remembering the prayers he hadn't said in quite some time.

“Let us adore the supremacy of that Divine Sun, the Godhead, who illuminates all, who recreates all, from whom all proceed, to whom all must return, whom we invoke to direct our understanding aright in our progress towards his holy seat.”

Those words were quickly followed by another mantra, spoken slower and more rhythmically.

“Lead Us From the Unreal To Real,
Lead Us From Darkness To Light,
Lead Us From Death To Immortality,
Aum...
Let There Be Peace Peace Peace.”


Once he was done, he returned to humming and deep breathes, seeking to clear his mind of all the turmoil of the past few days. Unfortunately, there were other things in store for the Dreamwalker...

((Prayers are the Gayatri Mantra and Brihadaranyaka Upanishad 1.3.28, respectively.))


Last edited by Capistrano on Tue Jun 03, 2008 11:59 am; edited 1 time in total
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Capistrano
Wolf Like Me
Proven Adventurer
Proven Adventurer


Joined: 12 Feb 2008
Posts: 184

Location: A small apartment near the University of Northeast RhyDin or Clovely
6,135 Silver Nobles


PostPosted: Wed May 28, 2008 9:37 pm    Post subject: PtD: The Calm Before the Storm (Continued) Reply with quote

“Jay...Dreamwalker...I am here.” The goddess' words were further punctuated by a sudden rush of a jasmine and vanilla scent to the sandlewood smoke already curling through the air, and an alabaster light so intense that it shined through Jay's shut eyes. He opened them slowly, and his room was awash in a white, dreamy, hazy aura he was all too familiar and comfortable with. He looked up at the face of his goddess, and smiled wanly.

“Namaste', Swapneshwari,” Jay said, tilting his prayer-clasped hands upwards a little more in greeting. Swapneshwari wore what at first appeared to be a simple, teal blue silk sari. A closer examination of the garment, however, would reveal specks of gold and silver illuminated brightly in the fabric. Her dark tan skin glowed, as if back-lit by a inner light. Straight, jet black hair went down to her back, and was streaked with occasional strands of white. Her face was young and old simultaneously: there were the occasional wrinkles, laugh lines, and crow's feet upon her face, but they seemed to shift in and out of focus as he looked at her. In general, Jay found it hard to look at her for more than a few moments, without being clenched by an overwhelming sense of awe. Thus, Jay only faced in her general direction while he was conversing with her.

“It is good to see you doing well, Dreamwalker,” she said, in a voice that seemed to hover in the air a second longer than it should have; like an echo, without ringing or repetition. “You look healthy, strong. You have given up smoking, as well.” This brought a nervous chuckle from Jay.

“Heh, well, only for a week.”

“Indeed. You are doing well, but you could be doing better.”

“How so?”

“I have seen the assistance you have provided this realm thus far. The night hag, the night mare, teaching that cleric how to lucidly dream and face down her own demons. Good deeds all, but I know you can do better. You have done better. You are distracted.” Jay shifted his posture on the bed, a look of discomfort crossing his face.

“Forgive me, Swapneshwari, but it has been...hard to adjust to living here.” His head lowered, as he murmured his next words. “I miss my friends. I don't really know my way around here.”

“You did not have a choice. You knew the sacrifices you potentially would have to make, when I first offered you this gift, this second chance. Your world did not need your talents, your protection anymore. This realm does. I know you can sense the evil that resides here, both hidden and open.”

“I can,” Jay said, nodding his head. “I'm trying. Really hard.” His words brought a frown to the goddess' face.

“If you are truly trying as hard as you say you are, then why do you waste your time with frivolities? You should not be working at that tavern so much. I would prefer you not work there at all.”

“But-”

“I am not finished, Dreamwalker,” she scolded. “Your peculiar interest in the local blood sport-”

“The duels-”

“Yes, yes, the duels,” she said, waving her hand dismissively. “I realize it is good training for you, but you should not spend so much time there.”

“I-I understand.”

“As for navigating this realm-” Swapneshwari rolled up the fingers of one hand, then unrolled them, revealing two vials containing some kind of black liquid. “use these.” She walked across the room and handed him the containers. Jay stared at them reverently for a second, then looked up.

“Do I...drink these?”

“No,” she said, chuckling a little. “Use them to make a tattoo. I'm sure you can think of a suitable design. Something like a map or a compass. The ink is enchanted. When you are in this world, it will help you discern true north, as well as the path to whatever destination your heart desires. In the dreamscape, it will point you to whichever dreamer you are thinking of, or a dream that is being disturbed, or to a pathway out of the dream world. Use this wisely.” The goddess started to walk toward the door to Jay's room.

“I will.” Right as she was about to open the door, Swapneshwari looked over her shoulder at him.

“Just so you know, someone is dreaming about you.”

“Yeah, yeah, you always tell me that,” Jay replied.

“No, Jay. Not your friends or family back home, though they certainly are. Somebody here. Just remember, Dreamwalker. Do not get too encumbered with your personal relationships. We saw what happened last time you did that. Be friendly, but distant. Your work here is too valuable to be placed at risk by a broken heart or a suspicious lover. Understood?” Jay nodded his head, but before he could reply, she opened the door and stepped out of the room, vanishing in a blinding burst of light.


Last edited by Capistrano on Tue Jun 03, 2008 11:59 am; edited 1 time in total
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Capistrano
Wolf Like Me
Proven Adventurer
Proven Adventurer


Joined: 12 Feb 2008
Posts: 184

Location: A small apartment near the University of Northeast RhyDin or Clovely
6,135 Silver Nobles


PostPosted: Sun Jun 01, 2008 6:42 pm    Post subject: Perchance to Dream: The Rising Tide Reply with quote

“Dream blonde.” Candy had no way of knowing, but that might have been the worst way she could have said goodbye to Jay. Not the blonde part, oh no. He could care less about whatever that might imply. It was the dream part that bothered him. Anytime anyone said anything along the lines of “Sweet dreams” or “Dream well,” it made him shudder a little inside. He could not “sleep tight,” despite the well-meaning wishes of everyone who'd said that to him.

Jay never slept well. There was a reason he would wake up at all hours of the day, still looking tired and disheveled and unrested. It didn't matter if he went to bed at 10 p.m. or midnight or 2 a.m. or 6 a.m., he still wouldn't get enough sleep. The time he slept didn't matter, either. A two hour nap was just as recuperative as crashing for four hours or passing out for ten. Some might blame his sleeping problems on his snoring, the end result of nasal passages ruined by countless broken noses suffered at the hands (elbows, and shoulders) of other mosh pit participants at the all-ages hardcore shows he attended as a teenager. Others might say it was caused by his smoking habit, which had only been exacerbated by his recent arrival in RhyDin. The truth, however, was more complicated than that.

When Jay went to sleep, it was like falling into a black hole. Time didn't seem to pass while he rested, and he woke up feeling nearly as exhausted as he had when his head first hit the pillow. Most of the time, his was a dark, dreamless, and easily disturbed slumber, a dreaded (if crucial) part of his life. It was a cruel twist of fate, that all too often, the man who walked and defended the dreams of countless others could not dream himself.

Sometimes, though, he would dream. And that was worse. He never knew when it was going to happen, or why. He would wake up afterwards in a cold sweat, sometimes screaming. Shivering and shaking, he would reach for the pen and notepad he placed on his night-stand, and scribble a note on what he had seen in his nightmares. Later, he would smoke a cigarette and flip through a dream dictionary, interpreting images. Sinks full of bloody, rotten teeth, spat out of a diseased mouth. Worms and snakes crawling through the eye sockets of long-dead and decaying human skulls. Tumbling end over end through the sky until he hit the ocean, then sinking like lead to the bottom of the blue, unable to swim or even flail at the water. He felt the flames of hell, smelled the hot, sour breath of demons and devils, and heard the tortured howls of the damned. He wrote down the details dutifully, even though the memories of what he'd seen usually made him feel sick to his stomach.

Most nights, he was spared the horrors of his own dreamscape. Tonight, though, was different...


Last edited by Capistrano on Tue Jun 03, 2008 11:59 am; edited 1 time in total
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Capistrano
Wolf Like Me
Proven Adventurer
Proven Adventurer


Joined: 12 Feb 2008
Posts: 184

Location: A small apartment near the University of Northeast RhyDin or Clovely
6,135 Silver Nobles


PostPosted: Mon Jun 02, 2008 4:41 pm    Post subject: PtD: The Rising Tide (Continued) Reply with quote

Jay's world was the plaster mask in front of him. It was all he could see. Lips painted ruby, cheeks shaded rose, eyes invisible beneath the holes in the mask cut for them. He leaned forward, trying into those eyes, and he found himself kissing the mask. Except it was no longer a mask. Warm lips pressed against his, softly at first, then more insistently. He closed his eyes, snapping them open at steady intervals like a camera shutter. Click. Yellow-blonde hair, deep blue eyes. Click. Platinum locks, electric blue irises. Click. Green/browns, brunette...? Before he could keep the image in focus, his eyes snapped shut again. Click. He recoiled, as the softness and warmth suddenly turned cold and sharp. Eyelids flew open, and he pulled back, repulsed. He saw a skull, flesh long gone, grinning uselessly at him. He felt something drip into his hair, wet and warm. A look up. Was it blood or wax? A look down. The red liquid splattered off of the slope of the skull's forehead, then started to flow over the bone, twitching and alive. Muscles were painted on first, then blood vessels. He saw them twitch and throb, powered by an unseen heart, and as sick as it made him, he couldn't turn away. A pair of eyes soon followed, blood-shot, black-brown, and far too large for a face without skin. Without features, the half-formed head seemed a rictus of pain- or was that anger? The skin was poured on next, sunken, darkened, jaundiced yellow. The thick, full lips were painted black (or was that decay? He couldn't really tell...). Finally, long eyelashes, eyebrows, and stringy dark hair completed the face. As soon as it was done, she spoke to him, half-hissing, half-purring into the absolute darkness that surrounded the pair.

“You're going to die, Jay. You know that, right? They're going to kill you, and you're going to die alone. You have no family. You have no friends. They will find your broken, bloody body and bury it in an unmarked grave, and they will never find you. You will die alone.”

“That's-that's not true!” Jay cried out, the fear and panic causing his voice to stick in his throat.

“Oh no? Where's your family now? Where has your family been? What of your old friends, back home? Where are they now? Where are you?”

“I have friends here. I'll make new friends.” Jay glared straight into the black eyes of the woman's head.

“Friends?” she cackled, twisting her lips into a mockery of a grin. “Do you plan on telling these so-called 'friends' about your other life?” Jay sat there silent, still staring at her. “I didn't think so. Then they aren't really your friends. And if they are-” The head was suddenly beside his ear, breathing hot, foul breath upon him. She whispered into his ear, emphasizing each word as she spoke it. “I'll...kill...them.”

Furious, Jay summoned a baseball bat into his hands and swung down at the head, a guttural shout accompanying his attack. Before it could strike true, though, she had disappeared, leaving her laughter echoing through the air. Soft words drifted through the darkness. “You have no idea what's coming, Dreamwalker, and that will be the end of you.”


With a loud gasp, Jay bolted upright in bed, cold sweat soaking his clothing and bed sheets. He steadied his breathing, measuring his breath into regular intervals to regain control of the situation. He reached to his right, towards his nightstand, and pulled a college-ruled notebook and a see-through blue Bic pen off. He flipped it open to the last page with his handwriting on it, and stared at the red lines, trying to will his hand to set pen to paper.

((Continued in "Howl of Misfortune."))
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Capistrano
Wolf Like Me
Proven Adventurer
Proven Adventurer


Joined: 12 Feb 2008
Posts: 184

Location: A small apartment near the University of Northeast RhyDin or Clovely
6,135 Silver Nobles


PostPosted: Fri Jun 20, 2008 11:20 pm    Post subject: Perchance to Dream: Wolves at the Door Reply with quote

((Author's note: Violent content present.))

June 12

The smell of cigarette smoke and jasmine mixed, intertwined in the air until Jay's nostrils were unable to differentiate the difference between the two. He had finished a cigarette a couple of minutes ago, around the same time that the stick of incense he'd burned had died out. His preparations complete, he now sat shirtless and sockless on his bed, the only article of clothing on his body a pair of baggy khaki cargo shorts. He folded his legs into the lotus position, took deep, measured breaths, and started to chant his prayer to his goddess. Eyes closed, he felt the familiar rush of nervous energy that flooded his body as he prepared to come in contact with the divine. He needed this. He needed her. The guidance of his goddess, her warm words, her holy aura. Rarely did he pray with the specific intent of bringing her into his presence, but desperate times called for desperate measures.

"My salutations to You, Swapneshwari, O Goddess of Dreams,
Who bestows the respective results and fruits upon the seekers!
Please show me in my dream whether I am awarded perfection or not."


Jay felt the bed beneath him give way, and instantly knew something was wrong. She was supposed to come to him, not take him to her. The bed was replaced by a cold metal seat, and suddenly, he felt worn leather across his arms and legs. His icy blue eyes opened, not to the pure white glow of Swapneshwari, but to the glaring, hot yellow bulb of an overhead light. Jay couldn't see past the shadows that the light couldn't illuminate. His world was a harsh circle of brightness, a tall-backed steel chair with restraining straps pinning him in. There was something acrid in the air, that cut through even his diminished sense of smell; an oder of ozone, staleness, sulfur perhaps? It was cold too, and not just because he was still shirtless. It was the kind of chill that sank deep into your blood, made the hair on the back of your neck stand up. It was...unholy. The electrical hum of the light was soon overpowered by a cackle. He heard the slow clicking of heels, smelled the odor of decay and brimstone that couldn't be covered by the rose-scented perfume she wore. One black shoe stepped into the light, followed by a jaundiced knee and the edge of a crimson dress. The other soon followed, and she was in full view, grinning maliciously. Jay strained against the bindings, but it was no use. She sauntered in front of the chair, then behind, leaning over to whisper in his ear. Her breath was hot and sickly sweet on his cheek.

“What have we here?”

“Where's Swapneshwari?” At Jay's words, the woman reached a bony finger over to tap his nose, in rhythm with the words she spoke.

“Jay, Jay, Jay. Jesse...James...Michael...Capistrano. You truly have no idea where you are?”

“No,” Jay responded, gritting his teeth. “I don't.” With that, the woman lifted both of her hands high into the air, and the room was flooded with fluorescent light from fixtures that had previously gone hidden. Most of the wall space on the three sides that he wasn't facing was taken up by giant plate-glass windows; the bottom of the walls and the ceilings were painted a subdued hue of green, with flecks of paint starting to fall off. Oddly enough, there seemed to be no door out, just a solid green wall in front of him.

“Look carefully, Jay.” Her hand forcefully pinched his cheeks and jaw, turning it towards the windows on his left and right. “Do you recognize anything?”

Behind the glass lurked every manner of horrifying creature. The horse with skin of flames and eyes of coal. The black-winged incubus, naked with putrid decayed flesh, licking his lips at Jay and the woman with him. Several night hags - or their dirty, filthy hands, anyways - beating restlessly on the glass, smearing dirty hand prints on it.

“My...dreams...”

“No, Dreamwalker...your nightmares. Look again.” She twisted his head in the other direction. In the other window was a recreation of that fateful evening, where everything got turned upside down. He saw himself fighting Poppy, saw Soerl transform into a werewolf. The fights concluded, the women licked their wounds, and Jay's doppelganger turned on Soerl. Jay winced as he saw the claw draw blood, tried once again to break his bonds and scratch the scar on his cheek. A bright blue light flashed suddenly, and the scene had shifted. Jay's light blue eyes widened in horror.

“God...no...”

Jay saw himself again, in Candy's apartment. She was crawling backwards on the floor, petrified and wide-eyed. There was a piercing howl from Jay's double, then the sickening snap of bones shifting positions, muscles tightening and enlarging, skin bulging and growing furrier by the moment. Candy reached for her handgun and with one swift motion, flipped the safety off and fired three rounds into the werewolf's chest. It didn't faze him in the least. He swiped at her arm, knocking the gun aside and carving red lines into her arm. She reached for the injury, instinctively, and that was her downfall. Jay cried out, but the werewolf either couldn't hear him, or didn't care. Jay flinched in his seat as blood arced and spattered against the glass.

“A preview of things to come, Dreamwalker,” the woman said, gesturing with an outstretched arm to the windows. “They're all going to come, from your head to the world of the waking. And you...won't be able to stop them. They will kill innocents, kill your friends, kill your girlfriend-” she thumbed towards the blood-smeared window. “and there won't be a damn thing you can do to stop them. And if they are unable to finish the job?” She leaned in close to his ear once more. “I will. They are but dreams. I...am so much more. Sweet dreams, Jay.” She planted a wet kiss on his cheek, then clapped her hands. The lights turned off, blanketing the Dreamwalker in darkness.

The softness of the sheets on his bare legs was the first sign that Jay was back in his room. He gasped suddenly as he was returned to the world of the waking, hands clutching the covers like a lifeline. He glanced down at his wrists, past the black Xs tattooed on each one. There were red, belt-wide welts spanning his forearms still.
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Capistrano
Wolf Like Me
Proven Adventurer
Proven Adventurer


Joined: 12 Feb 2008
Posts: 184

Location: A small apartment near the University of Northeast RhyDin or Clovely
6,135 Silver Nobles


PostPosted: Sun Jun 29, 2008 9:52 pm    Post subject: Perchance to Dream: Girding for War Reply with quote

June 19

He had woken up groggy, the day after the full moon, thanks to the large dosage of tranquilizers administered to him by Candy. After the usual pleasantries between the pair, Jay had left her studio apartment and started the long walk through the marketplace towards Dockside. A long walk, accompanied by one or two cigarettes smoked, that gave him some time to think. He had a little more contemplation left to do, and then it was time to go to war. To fight the nightmares that had come to claim this city. To fight the succubus that had been stuck in his head. Had been stuck. If the wild, feverish dreams he'd had the night before were any indication, that problem was something entirely different now. As he made his way down cobblestoned streets and the occasional crumbling sidewalk, he glanced down at the fresh ink on his forearms. On the opposite side of the black Xs that had been tattooed near the tops of his hands, the left arm had the cardinal directions tattooed on it in black ink, with a red line pointing just shy of true north, up towards his palm. The right forearm had an eye tattooed on it, everything but the iris colored black. Where the eye's color was, the artist had tattooed it very close to the same hue as Jay's.

“You want me to do what?” The man with the clean-shaven head and sleeve tattoos on his arms had asked Jay, when the blue-haired boy had pulled the vials of ink out of his pocket.

“I want you to use these for my tats, dude. Can you do that?”

“They clean?”

“I never opened them, man. I promise you, I won't sue if I get sick or something.”

“Alright...” The tattoo artist took the vials out of Jay's hands, looking them over carefully. “Something special about this?”

“Yeah. Something.”


Jay crossed the western-most bridge out of the Marketplace and into the Old Temple district, making swift progress through the city. At this time of day, most of the citizens were working, although there still plenty of kids out in the streets. Jay recognized some of the games they were playing as slight variations on Tag and Hide-and-Seek, but there were several other forms of entertainment that he'd never seen before. A large group of boys were in the process of drawing two large chalk circles, having marched out the distance between the two of them quite deliberately. Another pair of lads appeared to be using broomsticks with the bristles hacked off as makeshift staves for practice dueling, the rhythmic clacking of wood on wood keeping paces with Jay's footsteps. The closer to the WestEnd Jay traveled, the shoddier the clothing on the kids he saw, the more sullen their expressions, and the more numerous they became. Unlike the kids in the Old Temple District, who would occasionally wave or smile at him as he passed by, the kids in the WestEnd either glared at Jay, like he was some sort of interloper, or ignored him entirely. Subconsciously, Jay's footsteps picked up speed as he walked through the neighborhood, past one of the stores he had visited last weekend.

“So you want ta sell me some Earther band t-shirts, an electric guitar and amp, and...what's this?” The short, balding dwarf at the pawn shop turned the black spherical device over in his hands, the white bud earphones still attached to it.

“Discman, dude. And some CDs. Earth CDs.” Sitting on the cluttered glass display case full of various handguns and knives were a box full of CDs and t-shirts, the electric guitar and amp laying close by. Behind the dwarf, rickety-looking wooden shelves were full of various knick-knacks, screws, nails, coils and wires. Apparently, the shop was one part pawn, one part repair.

“I think...I can find some Earthers who might buy these things.” He opened the ancient, brass-buttoned cash register with a chime, grabbed a small bag off one of the back shelves, and shoveled a few gold coins into it. “There you go.” Jay looked about ready to complain about the relatively paltry sum he'd just been paid for his most treasured possessions, then sighed softly under his breath. He wasn't even sure how much those coins were worth, anyways.


The tenements and brownstones of the WestEnd soon gave way to the warehouses and piers of the docks. Jay turned down one of the side streets, then another almost immediately after that. After a couple hundred yards of walking, he came upon his destination. He wasn't quite certain what the lot's previous purpose was, but if he had to guess, he would've said salvage yard or auto repair shop. The fence was barbed wire, even though the gate to the interior of the lot was wide open and inviting. There was plenty of gravel on the ground, and faint oil stains from long ago were still present on the rocks. There was also some debris, some chunks of old whitewashed wood, probably from the previous building that had been here. The lot now consisted of several large corrugated steel sheds, with a base coat of white and stripes of orange painted on. At evenly spaced intervals, there were large shed doors, painted red, with a number on them in white. Jay's feet crunched through the lot as he searched for his storage locker. Number 12. He walked to the back of the lot before he finally found it, digging through his pockets for his keys. Once they were removed, he find the proper one and unlocked the door, lifting it up with a heave. Inside were the meager possessions he had chosen to keep. A suitcase, an empty backpack, several aluminum and wooden baseball bats, and his old skateboard. There were also some new things present. A black tent (still in its nylon bag), a rolled-up sleeping bag, a gas mask, a paper bag with the sleeve of a black and red checked flannel sticking out, and a bag of ratty looking golf clubs with a hockey stick incongruously thrown in. Jay slowly stepped inside, onto the poured concrete floor, and gathered up his things. The flannel shirt was removed from the bag, then he slipped his arms through the sleeves and buttoned it up. He stepped over to where the bats had been leaning against the metal walls, and grabbed a wooden one, the barrel painted bright orange and in Sanskrit. He tossed it outside the shed, where it rolled briefly before stopping. He dug into the bag of clothing once again, pulling out a black beanie hat, which he immediately put on, covering up his dark blue hair. Finally, he plucked the gas mask off of the ground, and secured it over his face. Once he was done with that, he stepped back outside, pulled the door down, and locked it up. He picked the bat up, then took a few practice swings with it, before nodding. He was ready for battle.
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Capistrano
Wolf Like Me
Proven Adventurer
Proven Adventurer


Joined: 12 Feb 2008
Posts: 184

Location: A small apartment near the University of Northeast RhyDin or Clovely
6,135 Silver Nobles


PostPosted: Thu Jul 17, 2008 6:32 pm    Post subject: Perchance to Dream: Interlude Reply with quote

July 8
Java Hell, WestEnd

Jay didn't want to dream, but he didn't have a choice. He didn't want to sleep, either, but he didn't have a choice in that matter as well. The mind was willing, but the flesh was exhausted. Bruised, battered, cut. His grey hooded sweatshirt was stained with grass, mud, his blood, and the blood of others. Some of it was reddish-brown, like humans. Some of it he only knew was blood because he'd seen it spilled from the various nightmarish beasts he had slain. There were holes in places, where acid had burned through fabric, and additional tears where bladed weapons had slashed a little too close for comfort. The cargo pants he wore were similarly distressed, and the boots he wore were scuffed and stained as well. Somehow, even with the gas mask and beanie on his head, he managed to sleep.

He was in his bedroom back home, and “he” was also there. A doppelganger, a twin, except for the fact that this version of him looked a little bit stronger, a little bit younger. And didn't have the scars across his face that he did now.

“Jesus, this is cliché.”

“Yeah, it is. But what are you going to do about it?”


“Dunno. Talk to you.”


“About what, Jay?”


“Whatever. Stuff.”


“You really need to get a journal, Jay. So you aren't talking to yourself in your dreams. Let's take a look, shall we?”

The room shimmered as if roiled by unseen flames, though Jay could not feel any heat. The room faded, and flashes of other places rippled into view. Candy's apartment, his rabbit sitting in the closet in the front, himself sleeping on the bed, on top of the sheets. Another fade, and he saw the crimson haired man, himself, and the two women they had nearly attacked on the glen. Everyone was berating Jay for littering, for throwing his cigarette butt on the ground. One woman was protecting the other from him. The scene was lost in the flames of a campfire, replaced by the Annex, wooden floors coated in sawdust, various rings filled with sweating and grunting combatants. He was in the ring, against a taller, stronger man. Jay's opponent punched him, again and again, in the shoulder, until he cried out in pain. The stitches popped, the blood flowed freely, and Poppy came over to tut-tut him for not going to the healer.

“Jay...Jay...”

“Hey...hey!” At the sound of a voice near his head, Jay sprung up off the worn brown couch, causing the teenaged girl who'd been calling to him to scurry backwards nervously.

“Uh...?”


“You can't sleep here. Sorry.”

“No, no. It's cool. I'm sorry. I'll-I'll go.” Jay leaned over the edge of the couch and grabbed his baseball bat, then pulled himself up into a seated position. Even with the mask covering his face, the way his shoulders sagged and his posture slumped were clear indicators of his exhaustion. The girl walked away from Jay and went behind the counter, fiddling with the coffee maker for a few moments. After a couple of slaps and profanities muttered under her breath, the machine turned on with a loud hiccup and lurch. She grabbed a styrofoam cup with the red devil logo emblazoned on it, and poured a tall cup of the black brew into it. A minute later, she returned to the couch and handed it to him.

“How much?”


“On the house. You look like you could use it.”

“Yeah...thanks.” Jay stood up and headed for the door, turning around just in time to hear the girl's words before he left.

“Welcome...be safe out there.” Jay nodded his head, then ducked outside into the early morning darkness.
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Capistrano
Wolf Like Me
Proven Adventurer
Proven Adventurer


Joined: 12 Feb 2008
Posts: 184

Location: A small apartment near the University of Northeast RhyDin or Clovely
6,135 Silver Nobles


PostPosted: Fri Jul 25, 2008 8:14 pm    Post subject: Perchance to Dream: The (Anti)-Climax, Part 1 Reply with quote

July 16
Dockside


It was just after midday, but an impermeable layer of grey clouds kept much of the sunlight from falling on the city, although it did little to cool the air. It was hot, muggy, and there was little in the way of breeze to bring relief to those unfortunate enough to be outside that day. Those such as Jay.

He had woken up an hour earlier, when the heat of the day finally became too much to sweat out in his tent. He had tried wearing his sweatshirt, jeans, gas mask, and beanie, but after a few sweltering minutes around the glen, he shed them for a white t-shirt and brown cargo shorts that dropped below his knees. Instead of boots, he wore his well-worn chocolate brown skater shoes, sans socks. A sigh escaped his lips as he trudged out of the glen into the city, a normal wooden baseball bat in his hands.

Truth be told, he wasn't sure why he was walking through the city again. Especially without his usual disguise on. It had been almost a week since he'd seen the notice from the city guards. The dream and nightmare menace was over, more or less. Less in their eyes, I bet. More in mine. Jay knew it was a feeble cover; the notice had almost said as much. They were still working on fixing whatever it was that had gone wrong. Or sweeping it under the rug. They were counting on most citizens not recognizing dreams when they saw them, and not accidentally stumbling across nightmares. Unlike those people, though, Jay was fairly adept at telling the difference between dreams and reality. Or nightmares, at the very least. Their negative energy clouded his vision, blurred around them when he focused his eyes on them. So what if the city guard had forbidden citizens from killing dreams? So what if they'd said that the authorities should be contacted first? Legal consequences hadn't stopped him on Earth, and they sure as hell wouldn't stop him here, especially since he had quickly learned that the rules were very unevenly applied in RhyDin. Still, he hadn't seen nearly as many nightmares as he had when he'd started his citizen's crusade. He would be happy when it was finally over, and he could return to a normal life. Normal, he thought, then laughed out loud. When's life ever been normal for me, since this? I'll never get it back.

A deafening roar from behind interrupted Jay's thoughts, and instinct drove him to spin around to see what had made the noise. All he saw, though, was a giant hair-lined claw coming for his face. He tried to duck out of the way, but he was too slow, and he instantly felt hot pain as his left cheek was slashed to ribbons yet again. The blood poured down the left side of his face, quickly ruining the shoulder and chest of his white t-shirt, then dripping down onto his shorts and shoes. He was staggered for a moment, blinking back pain and surprise, but returned to reality quickly when the beast roared again. The monster tried another swipe with his clawed hand, but Jay was ready for it, bringing his bat up quickly to block the strike. Bellowing its dismay, the creature hopped back, giving Jay his first clear look at what it was.

It was similar to Soerl, when the minstrel had flipped out and attacked Lydia, then him. Black fur covered his body, with only the remnants of blue jeans covering him and making him decent. His feet were massive paws, his hands a pair of claws, one of them now dripping with Jay's blood. The nose and mouth had combined to form a snout, and his eyes were yellow, slitted, and feral-looking. Most stunning of all to Jay, though, was the shock of dark blue hair that topped its head. The werewolf snorted once, then charged Jay again. He tried to line up a home-run swing for the incoming attacker, but with inhuman speed, the werewolf hopped out of the way of Jay's attack, then locked its hands together and swung a hammer blow down on Jay's right shoulder. Unable to dodge, Jay had little time to cry out before the beast took a baseball swing of its own, sending the blue-haired boy flying through the air into a rough landing onto the cobblestoned road.

He could feel himself bleeding from the countless cuts, scrapes, and injuries the werewolf had inflicted on him. The left side of his face felt warm and wet, while his knees, shins, and elbows were on fire with the various small wounds the jutting stones of the road had inflicted on him. Worst of all was the dead feeling in his right arm. Prostrate, he tried to push himself up to his feet, but the shooting pain in his right shoulder brought tears to his eyes and sent him crumpling back to the ground. All he could do was look over his body and watch the monster lick the blood off its razor sharp nails. It figures. Dead at the hands of my own nightmare.

“Halt! City Guard!” Jay looked up, and the werewolf turned around, to face the unexpected intrusion on their fight.
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Capistrano
Wolf Like Me
Proven Adventurer
Proven Adventurer


Joined: 12 Feb 2008
Posts: 184

Location: A small apartment near the University of Northeast RhyDin or Clovely
6,135 Silver Nobles


PostPosted: Fri Aug 01, 2008 9:16 pm    Post subject: Perchance to Dream: The (Anti)-Climax, Part 2 Reply with quote

((Author's Note: This post contains violence that might be considered graphic.))

The guardsman's outfit was an odd mish-mash of modern and medieval. He wore simple leather armor and breeches, with a silver badge that identified him as a member of the guard. On one hip was a scabbard for what appeared to be a short sword, but on the other side was a holster for a handgun, as well as smaller slots for what appeared to be a baton and pepper spray. His skin was brown, his hair black and buzz-cut, and a quick look at his face revealed how young the guardsman was. There was a slight fleshiness to his cheeks, a brightness in his almost hazel colored eyes, a lack of wrinkles or laugh lines or even scars, that stamped his youth across his face. Jay couldn't help but see in this man's face the faces of countless soldiers, white, black, Hispanic, and Asian, that he'd seen on television back home. But this wasn't home. This was RhyDin, and right now, this man had no idea what he had gotten himself into.

“Dude! No!” Jay's cry was punctuated by another roar from the beast, as he started charging for the guardsman. With one fluid motion, the man unholstered his sidearm and emptied his clip into the werewolf's chest. The monster staggered back, clutching at the wounds as blackish-red blood poured out of them. The man dropped the empty clip and switched in another one. “Dude, that ain't gonna work! You need silver bullets!”

“Silver?” The man paused, eyes darting warily between the bloody, prone figures of both Jay and the werewolf.

“Dude, it's a werewolf!” He pointed at the furry thing in front of him, just as he heard a plinking sound. Unsteadily, their opponent rose to its furry feet, the spent slugs falling out of what had been a multitude of bullet holes in its body. “See?”

The guardsman double-pumped the trigger, sending the werewolf tottering back again, before yelling at Jay. “How am I supposed to kill it?”

“Silver bullets! Silver somethings! Or wolfsbane! Get outta here and get that. I'll hold him off.”

“Need this?” The pistol was held up high, so that Jay could see it. In response, Jay held up his bat.

“I'll be cool.” The guard nodded, then sprinted off in the opposite direction, leaving Jay alone with nothing but the road, a handful of empty warehouses, and a very angry werewolf in his wake. While the beast was pulling bullets out of its flesh and fur, Jay slowly rose to his feet, then sprung forward, swing the bat viciously toward his foe's head. At the last moment, the werewolf turned its body slightly and deflected the blow with its forearm, before swinging the other arm towards Jay's chest. Unable to block, the attack sent him flying back first into the walls of one of the warehouses. Before he could recover, the werewolf jumped up and tackled him. There was a loud shriek and crack, similar to gunshots, as the decrepit, moldering wood that formed the wall of the building Jay had been leaning against gave way under the weight of the two combatants.

The blue-haired boy's shoulder and back took most of the brunt of the fall onto the hard concrete inside, and his cry of pain echoed through the large, empty, high-ceiling room. The meat hooks hanging at the end opposite of where they made their abrupt entrance, and the occasional streaks of faded red that mottled the floor and walls in places, seemed to suggest that this “warehouse” had been a butchery in a past life. Now, though, it was the arena for a life and death battle, between Jay and one of his nightmares. He bit his tongue, hard, until he could feel a splash of blood in his mouth, as he fended off the werewolf's assault one-armed with his bat. Already slower than the monster in peak condition, and having been reduced to far less than that by previous attacks, his defense was full of holes that were easily exploited. He'd been able to prevent the killing blow, but his torso bled freely from several claw swipes he hadn't been fast enough to block. He could feel himself slipping, fading. Failing. No, NOT GOOD ENOUGH! With a shout of inarticulate rage, he thrust the bat upwards, into the gaping maw of his nemesis. Sharp teeth crunched the bat into so many splinters, but it bought Jay enough time to launch a swift kick at the werewolf's nether regions. It had the desired effect of putting some space between the two, which Jay gladly used to roll further away from the howling (and sobbing) werewolf. It also gave him a chance to pop up to his feet, spit some of the blood out of his mouth, and start to circle his opponent with a sawed-off ball bat in tow.

“C'mon, @#$%! Let's do this!” He pointed the shattered barrel at the werewolf, who screamed in response and thrust forward towards Jay with nearly impossible speed. Adrenaline pumping and blood flowing from multiple wounds, he stepped out the way of the claw strike with equal quickness and jabbed the broken barrel into his opponent's eye, removing it with a sickening squelch. Furry hands reached up to the ruined socket, but Jay spared no pity for the beast. The bat was soon stained black and red as the blue-haired boy stabbed repeatedly at the injured beast, paying no mind to its piteous shrieks. Finally, though, his burst of energy ran out, and the brunt of his own wounds kicked in. His vision grew foggy, swimming, as his bat fell out of his grasp. The weapon was soon followed by Jay's body, sinking first to his knees, then rolling and collapsing to his side. I did my best. Guess I died with honor or something. The last thing he heard before he passed blissfully into unconsciousness was the report of a 9MM, followed by the clinking of a shell to the ground and a rustling sound like a sack of potatoes spilling. Something warm and wet fell onto his clothes and hair, and the echo of the gunshot sounded like church bells chiming, signaling salvation...
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Capistrano
Wolf Like Me
Proven Adventurer
Proven Adventurer


Joined: 12 Feb 2008
Posts: 184

Location: A small apartment near the University of Northeast RhyDin or Clovely
6,135 Silver Nobles


PostPosted: Tue Aug 05, 2008 8:10 pm    Post subject: Perchance to Dream: The Aftermath Reply with quote

July 18, early morning
Redmond Clinic


The sound of rhythmically beeping machines and the random clicking of some other, unknown device was what woke Jay up from his long sleep. It didn't seem to throw him in the slightest. He didn't cry out, didn't look around rapidly in a panic, didn't even start a little bit. Instead, he started to stretch, until he felt a pair of tugs at his arms that quickly told him he shouldn't stretch so much. He glanced over at the right arm, where, near his wrist, a piece of translucent tape held down a plastic tube. On the left side, he saw that his hand was cuffed to the bed. One ring of the hand cuffs was attached to the bed railing, the other to his left hand, which appeared red and slightly irritated by the metal. Silver. They must be silver. Today must be the full moon. They must've figured it out when they brought me in and did blood work. It was a futile effort, but Jay still tugged upwards on the cuffs, but all that accomplished was the clanging sound of metal on metal. He cursed silently, then continued to take inventory of his body.

First, he raised his right arm, pleasantly surprised by the fact that he could actually do so. It appeared that, other than some residual stiffness, they had somehow managed to heal the shoulder injury the dream werewolf had inflicted on him. Magic? Then, he glanced down his chest. His t-shirt, which had most likely been bloody and in ribbons, had been replaced by a large amount of white bandaging that covered almost the entirety of his pectoral muscles and the upper part of his stomach. He glanced further down his body. Please let me be wearing pants...Phew. They were flimsy cotton and white, but they had, in fact, put pajama pants on him. Unfortunately, though, they had also put in catheters. Better waking up with that than not waking up at all, dude.

His anatomy lesson completed, Jay turned his attention to the rest of the room. Streams of wires ran into and out of various machines near his bed, sometimes crossing and criss-crossing each other. The IV stand was close to his bed, a thin metal pole jutting out of a gray box with a keypad and a small digital readout on the front. Hanging from the other end of the pole were two bags, one larger and one smaller, both full of some clear liquid. He squinted, trying to read the whatever was scribbled on the small piece of tape on the larger bag, but the letters were too small and messy. Various other boxy, blocky machines were also present in the room, some of them unplugged and shunted off to the sides, others seemingly working their mechanical magic on Jay. There was one that dominated the room, bigger than the rest, that seemed to be doing the brunt of the work. One of the wires that came out of it ended in a clip on Jay's left right index finger nail. Periodically, the machine would beep, a line on a green digital readout would jump and fall, and a pair of numbers in the upper right corner would shift and adjust. Close by his bed – on a plastic shield over the metal rail, in fact – was a series of red buttons, with various images drawn on them. Two of them were a pair of arrows. Pressing them seemed to raise and lower the bed. Another pair seemed to control the brightness of the lights in his room. One was a face, grimacing with what Jay guessed was pain. Pressing that sent a numbing rush through his bloodstream, that spread out from his limbs to his torso. Morphine. The final button had a drawing of a nurse on it. He only paused briefly, before he pushed it. It was time to let them know he was awake.
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Capistrano
Wolf Like Me
Proven Adventurer
Proven Adventurer


Joined: 12 Feb 2008
Posts: 184

Location: A small apartment near the University of Northeast RhyDin or Clovely
6,135 Silver Nobles


PostPosted: Wed Sep 10, 2008 10:58 pm    Post subject: Eyes on the Prize Reply with quote

The trio of orderlies weaved their way through the empty and quiet Redmond Clinic to the back loading dock. Antiseptic white walls, unused medical equipment, and bright fluorescent lights soon gave way to the darkness of early morning. Jay sat down first, at the edge of the concrete cantilevering out over the asphalt below, quickly finding his lighter and smokes in the pockets of his dark blue scrub bottoms. His co-workers flanked him on either side: the shorter, stockier dwarf on his left, the taller and leaner human on the right.

“Jay, you got some cigs for me?” Jay grunted in response, making sure his own cigarette was lit before he passed his pack and lighter up and to the right. He heard the murmured “thanks,” but his attention was solely on the pavement well beneath his feet. So intent was he on his study, that his companions didn't bother to lower their voices.

“He's at it again, Njork.”

“Och!” the dwarf explained, looking over at his partner while tugging his long, light brown , and beaded beard, no longer encased in the hair net those with long hair were forced to wear. “Why do you care, Max? What a man does on his free time is his own damn business.” Njork reached up, to pull on his top knot, before he pulled out his own pack and Zippo and got to work on smoking his own cigarette.

“Yeah, dude,” Jay added, though he didn't look up. “I gotta reason for it.”

“A reason for spacing out? For being so weird?” Max stepped closer to Jay, trying to get in his peripheral vision. Jay's gaze, however, was unwavering.

“It's meditation, dude. And there's a reason for the other stuff.”

“Yeah?”

In reply, Jay looked up at one of the moldering old brownstone tenements that towered over this section of the WestEnd, a couple blocks away from their clinic. Without looking back at either of them, he pointed upwards, towards the roof of one of those buildings. “Someone's watching me from there.”

“Great, paranoid too,” Max said, rolling his eyes. Jay just shrugged his shoulders, took off his baby blue hat with the Redmond Clinic logo emblazoned on the front, and scratched his head.

“I got some binoculars one day and looked over there. And someone was looking over here, too.”

“Why?” Njork twirled his beard around his index finger.

“Because I used to be a vigilante,” Jay said, with a hint of annoyance in his voice. “You know that. I think everyone here does. I mean, that's how I ended up here – doing this.” He pulled on the front of his scrubs, for emphasis.

“But you're not doing it anymore, Jay.” From his tone of voice, it was clear, however, that Max didn't quite believe it. And Jay's answer seemed to confirm the man's suspicions.

“That you know of.” There was a brief pause, before he laughed and continued. “Nah, dude, I ain't doing that anymore. Because of that.” He pointed again at the rooftops, where the spy presumably was. “The guard here watches me like a hawk.” That prompted a snort from Njork.

“They may watch like hawks, but they're blind like bats. You'd think they'd have something better to do with their time.”

“Yeah.” Jay's response was half-distracted, though, as he suddenly hopped down onto the alley that ran behind the clinic. He turned and sprinted to the right, out of sight of the other two behind the corner of a building. Moments later, he walked back into sight, wheezing a bit from the exertion.

“Jumping at shadows?”


“Nah,” Jay said, panting with his hands on his knees. “I thought I heard something. Nevermind. Break's over?”

“Aye, break's over. Need a hand up?” Njork crouched and looked down at Jay as he approached the loading dock. Jay just shook his head, reached for the edge of the concrete, and pulled himself up and over. He brushed off his pants, then looked to the door back inside. “Let's go.”
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Wolf Like Me
Proven Adventurer
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Joined: 12 Feb 2008
Posts: 184

Location: A small apartment near the University of Northeast RhyDin or Clovely
6,135 Silver Nobles


PostPosted: Thu Oct 02, 2008 8:03 pm    Post subject: Circuitry of the Wolf Reply with quote

This...this wasn't good. Usually, failed attempts to contact his Goddess through meditation ended with Jay's eyes fluttering open, much later than it felt like, back where he started at. Hours would pass like minutes, he'd come to, and go about his day. This-this was obviously a failure. But why wasn't he awake...?

He was standing just outside a copse filled with trees stripped bare of leaves by the cruel whims of winter. They bent, swayed in the brittle breeze that eddied and whirled around him, cut through the too-thin black t-shirt and cargo shorts he was wearing. Instinctively, he stuck his hands under his armpits, then rubbed his hands across his forearms, gooseflesh and raised hairs peppering his skin. He looked up to the sky, blanketed in thick, grey clouds that made it nearly impossible to discern what time of day it truly was. His gaze then drifted to the horizon, to the silhouette of a figure approaching over undulating hills. The shape seemed to be walking, but covered the ground between the two much faster than was physically possibly. Fuzzy features soon became clear to Jay: the figure was male, human, dressed in a grey suit that seemed to radiate an unnatural brightness in spite its dull color. The face was hidden, the shadows that fell on it both natural - from the wide-brimmed fedora he wore - and unnatural.

“Who-what are you doing here?” Jay straightened up, trying to ignore the cold and encroaching dread.
This isn't supposed to happen, he thought. Not again, not like the Dream Eater...Another?

“I'm here for you.” The man lifted a hand to his head, pulling at the brim and tossing the hat aside. His hair was long, lustrous, and white, but that was the only feature of his that was even remotely attractive. The scars criss-crossing his face indicated that it had been put together piecemeal, as if it had once been torn apart and reattached later. The eyes were red, but not like the watery, red eyes of a druggie or an insomniac. They were clear and focused, the whites pure white, the irises like burning rubies. The man reached forward to poke Jay in the chest. He took a step back, just barely dodging it.

“Wh-what?”

“Don't give me that ***. You know what I am. And that you can't stop me. You can't fight me. The harder you fight, the more I get you.” A wicked grin crossed his face, as he licked his lips and showed off his elongated canines.

“That's...” Jay took another step back, his footsteps crunching on frost-frozen earth.

“You know what I am. You know what I can do. Why won't you just give in? It'll be easier that way. Give in, and you can take whatever you want. I know what you want. I know what She won't let you have. What you've denied yourself.” An unexpected flash of lightning traveled through the sky, lighting up the two men for a second. The man in grey's features became wolf-like for a second: the suit became fur, the nose became a snout, the ears shorter and pointed. It was only a moment, though, before he resumed his prior appearance. Jay clenched a fist, gritted his teeth, and took a step forward. Then, he stepped back. He relaxed his hands, then sat on the ground, ignoring the frigid sensation on his legs and backside. He folded his feet under his knees, rested his elbows on his legs, and closed his eyes.

“What the hell is this?”

“I'm not gonna fight it,"
Jay said, eyes still shut. "If you want me, you got me.”

Jay's passiveness had the desired effect. The “wolf” tried to come closer, but something held him back. Something invisible, but powerful nonetheless. His eyes shut, Jay could only hear his foe snarl, then howl at the sky. Nothing broke the spell...


The gasp that escaped Jay's mouth when he dropped out of his trance seemed to well up from the tips of his toes and crest like a wave through his body, until it finally escaped his lips as a startled cry. His head snapped forward, nearly toppling him from his lotus position, before he finally regained his composure. He took slow, deep breaths, readjusting to the scene in his room. Everything was as it should be: the dingy white walls, the messy bed, the pile of laundry next to the bed and night stand. With legs that felt rubbery and newly born, he rose to his feet and headed for his dresser. It had been an unusually warm day, but for some reason, he felt cold, and the t-shirt he had on just wasn't cutting it...
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Capistrano
Wolf Like Me
Proven Adventurer
Proven Adventurer


Joined: 12 Feb 2008
Posts: 184

Location: A small apartment near the University of Northeast RhyDin or Clovely
6,135 Silver Nobles


PostPosted: Sat Nov 08, 2008 1:50 pm    Post subject: The Girl at the Rock Show, Part 1 Reply with quote

Jay was very thankful for the extra pair of earplugs Njork had given him before they'd gotten to the show. Normally, Jay was able to go concerts and listen to the music just fine without protections. There was a time or two when his ears would ring for the next day or so, but he never seemed to suffer any noticeable damage. This show, however, was quite different.

The two opening bands would've been considered standard fare, even on Earth. One had three guitar players, the other had two, and one of the vocalists could scream at a slightly higher octave than the other. Otherwise, it was oddly reminiscent of metal on Earth, and Jay felt a wave of both nostalgia and revulsion. He missed home, but he didn't miss this kind of music. It was tedious, boring, and repetitive to him. Plus, the venue, a converted warehouse in the Dockside district, seemed to swallow sound. That, or the sound man wasn't doing his job properly. Probably both, Jay thought, as the vocals briefly dropped out of the mix. The crowd in front of the stage stood motionless, while other members of the audience milled aimlessly around a makeshift bar, trying to talk and flirt over the din of chugging guitars.

Once the openers had finished, and the headliners stepped on stage, it quickly became a different story. Jay watched in confusion as they took most of the monitors and amps off the stage, replacing them with just about every piece of percussion he could think of (and some he'd never seen before). The drum set stayed on stage, but they added extra cymbals and a bass drum pedal to it. They also wheeled and carried out a half-dozen differently sized timpani drums, a set of marimbas, bongos and congas, and what appeared to be a massive brake drum. Among all these drums, there was nary a guitar or bass to be found. Jay was about to murmur something to Njork about it, when six dwarfs and a tall, skinny human made their way on stage, to raucous cheering from the crowd. The dwarfs headed for their respective instruments, while the man stepped to the front of the stage and grasped the microphone. He introduced the band in Common as “Tearing Down Mountains With Our Bare Hands,” spoke again in dwarvish, then barked a count-down. Once he hit four, the the sound of the audience was drowned out by a ferocious blast-beat that felt like it might cave in Jay's rib cage.

Quite simply, it was unlike any music Jay had ever heard, on Earth or in RhyDin. It was focused almost entirely around the mixing, swirling, polyrhythmic beats the countless drummers brought forth. There was very little melody to be found; a xylophone or marimba line here, a timpani roll or steel drum line there, almost entirely buried in the wave of percussion. Even the lead singer was as much a tool of rhythm as he was melody. Sometimes he sang, in a voice that ventured from keening falsetto to guttural, gut-punching baritone, but more often he would scat along in time with the playing. Jay tried to say something to Njork, but his speech was swallowed up by the sound on stage. Instead, he alternated glances to the antics of the drummers on stage with the actions of the rest of the crowd. Somehow, despite the herky-jerky beat coming from the band, a mosh pit had formed, writhing in and out of time with the music. Shirtless and muscled, the warriors circled each other warily, before careening into each other, elbows and shoulders flying wildly. When a song ended, the men gave each other quick slaps on the shoulder, friendly gestures seemingly at odds with their violent behavior just seconds ago. While the band members switched instruments and re-tuned the heads of the timpanis to different pitches, Jay glanced back towards the front of the club. And promptly double-taked.

She was wearing a completely different outfit than she usually did, but there was no denying it was her. The brown, nearly black eyes, slightly bloodshot and bulging. Hair that was equally dark, flowing half-way down the back of the gray hooded sweatshirt she was wearing. Dark eyeliner around her eyes and deep red lipstick on lips, looking almost like the color of congealed blood. She was thin, too thin, and Jay knew when he saw her in better light her skin would have a yellowish cast to it. What the hell is she doing here? She seemed to be lingering around the merchandise table, hands brushing against the t-shirts, hoodies, CDs and buttons laid out before her. She gave a final pat to the wooden surface, before she headed for the entrance. The bouncer stopped her briefly, and she held her hand out to him. He stamped her wrist, then she went outside. Jay tapped Njork on the shoulder, pulled out a pack of cigarettes and pointed to them, then gestured to the door. Njork nodded, and Jay picked his way through the crowd to head out as well.

Even outside, Jay could hear the music, thudding off of the walls and rooftops of the nearby apartments and warehouses, just slightly off tempo from the sound inside. He flipped up the hood of his navy blue sweatshirt, to prevent the drizzle from falling on his head, then fired up a cigarette and glanced around. She wasn't up front; there were only a couple of guys in tight black jeans and raglan long sleeved shirts smoking cigarettes and looking bored. Jay looked left, then right. There were alleys on either side of the warehouse club. Which way did she go? He slipped to the side, away from the smokers, and rolled up his right shirt sleeve. He closed his eyes and pressed his forearm against his forehead. The eye tattooed on the underside of his right wrist sprung to life, blinking, then rolling in a circle. It looked this way and that, distracted and unable to pinpoint what Jay was looking for. He took a deep breath, sliding down the wall a little bit, and refocused his efforts. Her. Moments later, he felt an itching sensation on his left arm. He stood, then pushed up the sleeve on his left arm. He flipped his hand, glancing first at his palm, then his wrist. The compass tattooed there started to spin, calibrating itself, before the needle pointed to the alley on his right. He rolled his sleeves back up, then tossed the cigarette to the ground and crushed it beneath his boot, before heading into the alley.

She stood in the center of the alley, smoking a cigarette, looking straight at him expectantly. “Well, well, well. To what do I owe the pleasure of this visit?” Jay sprung forward and grabbed her by the wrists, too fast for her to react. Before she could struggle, he swung her against the warehouse wall. Her body crashed against the wood, and she wheezed briefly at the impact as her cigarette fell out of her hands and to the wet ground, hissing and sputtering as it went out. She tried to pull away, but he just tightened his grip on her hands.

“What the *** are you doing here?”


Last edited by Capistrano on Thu Nov 13, 2008 1:15 pm; edited 1 time in total
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