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Wonderland, Scene III (Daphne, Erin, Underwood)

   
Underwood scratched the back of his neck and looked away for a moment, a bit awkwardly. This was something he actually had to think about, and it was managing to distract him from the fact that a giant LSD flashback was asking the question.

“Oof. Tougher question. Used to be human; not anymore. Best answer? The chassis’s a 1948 Underwood Standard typewriter, jury-rigged for size and layout – plus they swapped out all the iron and added a nervous system and some other things. I can go into those if you need, later. Head, arms and legs: now, those are film projections that have extra substance thrown in most of the time, except when they don’t.” He rapped his chest twice, causing a brief flicker.

“Other than that? The suit’s Alan David, the hat’s DelMonico, and the shoes are Kenneth Cole – not that they’re literally part of me, but they’re on me now, so there you go. You sum it all up, and what I am is a thing that doesn’t make a lick of sense, but fills out a jacket okay and tries to be a good guy.” Underwood was smiling slightly by the end of the description, somewhat apologetically.

“That work for you? ‘Cause if it does, and if you're not going to stand aside like the lady says, I’ve got a couple follow-up questions. What do you do? And what do you want us to do?”

"And I'm a bloody talking tree," Daphne said with arms crossed.

There was no point in elaborating. And anyway, she was keeping her ground as best she could in front of a terrifying, leaking, gigantic bug.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Erin
"I am a servant of this castle," she said, the words coming out smoother and quieter than she'd thought she'd be able to speak them. She hated herself, just a little, for how easy it was to say. "Please stand aside, sir, for I have business I must attend to."
The creature looked at Erin, and so did Sergei. Their appearance was, for that one moment, oddly identical. Disbelieving and disturbed, the many eyes of the horror blinking rapidly, and Sergei frowning. But then the creature shuddered, and moved its great, bulky body to one side.

"Paaaaaaassssssssssss." The beast whispered in its sybilant voice, allowing Erin and her friends free entry.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Underwood
“That work for you? ‘Cause if it does, and if you're not going to stand aside like the lady says, I’ve got a couple follow-up questions. What do you do? And what do you want us to do?”
"Iiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii." The Worm said, and it suddenly rose up above Underwood, tall and hideous. Too much flesh, too much muscle, too much weight. It rose up, even higher, reaching out to the sky. It was as tall as a tree, and its dozens of limbs splayed out in every direction. "Aaaaaaaaaaaammmmm."

"DEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEAAAAAAAAAAAAADDDDDDD." The beast screamed to the sky, and a gush of blood came forth from its torn-out throat. Then it toppled, like a treetrunk, directly at you.

You take 2 Willpower points of damage.
Roll the highest of Manipulation, Wits, or Dexterity + Athletics; For each success, reduce your WP damage by 1. So if you get 2 successes, you take no damage.

Dice Roll: 6d10s8e
d10 Results: 7, 6, 2, 10, 8, 2, 4 (Total Successes = 2)


Erin shrieked as the massive worm toppled towards them, her wizened reflexes letting her dart away before she was crushed. She gasped as she landed lightly on the path above. She was up in a flash, running to Sergei, putting her hands on his face, desperately seeing if he was hurt. He was fine, of course. He was probably more capable than the rest of them. But she clung to him, cradling him to her.

"I... have to see..." she said, brokenly. The castle was calling to her, like a Siren's song. It took a forcible effort of will not to run to it, to turn away, and look to see if Daphne and Underwood were alright.

There was a sound like several hundred pounds of snake meat falling on top of a home office. It was a surprisingly apt sound.

You couldn’t see Underwood anymore. However, after five seconds or so, you could hear something. It was an alternating series of sounds, to be precise: two components in sequence, repeating one after the other. The first component was a variable, mildly unintelligible grumbling noise. The second was something akin to a bowling ball being fired into a cauldron of blood pudding.

The sounds were also getting progressively louder.

“…last time I give…”

—SQUELCH—

“…doctor’s report…”

—SQUELCH—

“…giant crazy metaphor…”

—SQUELCH—

“…didn’t even answer…”

—SQUELCH—

“…QUESTION.”

This last was accompanied by a far less pleasant noise, as a metal-enrobed fist punched straight out of the Worm’s gut, followed by a series of unfortunate squishing sounds as Underwood brought himself up for air after it. Twenty seconds or so of extraordinarily unpleasant visuals later, the reporter was on his feet, looking exactly as irritated as one might expect.

“Yeah. We’re never talking about this again. To the castle, and we do it carefully.”

Flubbed my roll hooray!

Dice Roll: 3d10s8e10
d10 Results: 8, 10, 1, 1 (Total Successes = 2)
These dice were omitted, altered, or moved: 3d10s8e10
Original Dice: 3d10s8e10 3d10s8e10
ohgod

Daphne was not pleased to be covered in bug goo, even in a dream. Luckily, it missed her by a hair (leaf?).

"Okay," she said. "Okay..." She looked Erin's way, eyes narrowed. "Is this going to be linear? As in, do we have to go to your castle there?"

She gingerly stepped over the remains of the threshold guardian (bug), because damned if it wasn't a linear hero's journey. And she wagered it was Erin's, not Sergei's now.

Daphne turned her gaze from the castle to the carnage. "Is Underwood in there? Eh?"

And then she saw his fist.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Underwood
“Yeah. We’re never talking about this again. To the castle, and we do it carefully.”
"Fine," she sighed.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Erin
"I... have to see..." she said, brokenly.
"You will. But with us, my angel." Sergei whispered, holding Erin tight and not letting go. He had only an incomplete, limited understanding of what this meant, what this place was, but he knew it hurt Erin. He knew it hurt her badly. And he worried.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Daphne
"Okay," she said. "Okay..." She looked Erin's way, eyes narrowed. "Is this going to be linear? As in, do we have to go to your castle there?"
"Dreams are never linear." Sergei said, his voice firm. "This is a dream of prophecy, pulling building blocks out of the future. The castle, it is a building block. It cannot be otherwise. And the bloody worm, that is another one, I wager. That's two. We have two clues... we may find more. What they mean, I do not know."

Quote:
Originally Posted by Underwood
“Yeah. We’re never talking about this again. To the castle, and we do it carefully.”
Quote:
Originally Posted by Daphne
"Fine," she sighed.
But you were no longer on the path to the castle. It had changed, and you had changed with it. You stood on an ornate walkway, hanging above some infinite chasm, suspended by silvery threads that reached upward, into a distant oblivion. The walkway was narrow, slender, only a few yards across, and one could look over the side to see an endless darkness.

One one side of the walkway, just barely reachable, was a wall, and it was covered with shelves of books, that stretched as far as the eye could see. They stretched above, and below, and to every side, and they had queer and alien titles.
  • An examination of the adolescent dreams of Martin Suggs, mechanic, West Woolwich.
  • The movements of aphids in the garden of Theresa West, Brynmill, Swansea.
  • Exegesis of a domestic contretemps between Mr. and Mrs. A. Scott, High Street, Durham.
  • Reader-response criticism of the book Iris Page (Pennycross, Plymouth) never managed to write.
  • The dreams of pop idoldom of Jade Wright, nine year old, Selly Oak, Birmingham.

And many others just like them, spiralling off into infinity. The rest was darkness. A living darkness, hungry, waiting, watching. There were things in the darkness. You knew it, you just couldn't see them. Then something fluttered close.

It was a girl, a short, chubby girl with round cheeks and glossy black skin (shiny, and hard, like a carapace), with brownish hair. She was dressed in black, a black surgeon's uniform, and she had semi-transparent wings like those of a cockroach or beetle, which buzzed fiercely. Then she landed on the path before you. She had in her hands a book, and then she opened the book to where she had marked a page, using a glittering golden knife as a bookmark.

"There was once a Keeper who never left his estate. The only time anyone ever visited him was when mortals brought gifts and offerings, but they never came inside his estate." The girl recited in a calm, clear voice. "Then, one storm night when an icy gale was blowing, the Keeper went strange. He went upstairs, and turned off all the lights, and left his estate as black as the belly of a bat. And the next morning, he had caused the deaths of twelve-score mortals. How?"

Erin stared at this girl, this scarab-woman. Their commonality, their shared "lineage", it was unmistakable. And so was the recognition in Erin's eyes. They must have worked together, slaved together, under the same Master. But there was no warmth, no camaraderie, no acknowledgement, even. There was nothing but cold professionalism in Erin's demeanor, and when she spoke, there was nothing but cold professionalism in her voice.

"The Keeper owned a lighthouse," she answered. "And when he turned out the beacon, a ship crashed and sank in the stormy seas."

She imagined, in this simulacrum of her home, the taste of salt water pouring through frostbitten lips, and black waves pulling men under.


"You..." The scarab-girl said, her voice as calm as Erin's. She snapped the book shut with an audible click of clockwork mechanisms, and then her black wings unfolded. They beat once, twice, and then began to buzz like that of a bettle. "...are right."

Then she took three steps to her left, and fell into the darkness, flying away out of sight. She disappeared far too soon, as though the darkness was more than just darkness but a living thing. Even the sound was swallowed up.

"Angel... what happened?" Sergei said, putting an arm on Erin's shoulder. For comfort, and for restraint, in case it proved necessary. "What did that mean?"

Daphne watched the proceedings grimly.

She, too, would not have welcomed a reunion with her Sisters.

"It means she's right," Daphne eyed Sergei with her mouth set as flat as the wooden bed of a coffin.




 

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