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Saito Eiji

Pale fingers of light crept their way into the apartment, grasping at anything it could manage to reach. The half-light offered an adequate view of the latest victim in what had become Sendai's worst serial killing since the Izumi-ku killings... Eiji's stomach turned as he approached the pallid body, slumped lazily against the wall. His flashlight would illuminate the corpse enough to make it evident that it was a woman, but... He slipped a glove on before propping her chin up gingerly, revealing her dessicated visage. Pale, dry skin was spread so taut over an almost crumpled skull that she barely looked human anymore. It was as if so much of her vital essence had been forcibly torn from her so quickly that it mummified her.

"It's him again, Inu."

He dropped the light to her chest, inspecting the five peculiar punctures that perforated her blouse. Just behind the cloth, surrounded by a cage of exposed and broken ribs, was a pentacle of ruptured skin and the faintest impression of a shriveled heart. He lined his digits up with the wounds and grimaced... The murderer always seemed to drain their victims by siphoning the very life directly from the source. Eiji rose and retreated from the corpse, flashing his light across the rest of the room. Little sign of a struggle, if you didn't count the five empty Cup Noodles flanking her nightstand. "This makes eight."

Something in the air shifted for the worse, filling with a familiar black that sent an anxious static rolling up his spine. The sensation would settle at the base of his skull, his blossoming pupils hungrily searching for what lied just beyond the average person's perception. Tiny tendrils of shade coalesced like black smoke, writhing forth to vacate the husk. Her atrophied sinews twitched, and the sunken orbs in her skull filled with a false life. The corners of her mouth would tear like aged parchment as the dark force compelled them to utter breathless words that would echo in his mind.

"I see you, vermin."

She lurched forward, paperthin skin shredding against any point of friction. The splinters of her ruined ribs protruded further, curving unnaturally against her posture. Her stomach distended violently, threatening to burst as she pitched herself onto her hands and wretched. From the tattered edges of her jagged maw would come a plume of smoke and brackish tar that, with each following heave, pooled just beneath her, writhing like the darkness that consumed her... She lazily slumped into the putrid bile. A languid sigh punctuated the end of the fit.

Eiji's brow knit together at the spectacle. Whoever this was, had given him a lot of information with this scare tactic... He'd seen things like it employed by demons before, though hardly ever as dramatic. "That rules out a traditional vampire, and definitely points towards a sorcerer; a necromancer, specifically."

The tarry ichor would coat the inside of the short vial he scooped a portion of it into... This was a direct challenge to him, that much was certain. Tiny tendrils of searching malice swirled inside of the glass, greedy for anything it could cling to. It had to be a hint... No mage worth their salt would ever leave behind such a tangible aftereffect, unless they fully intended it to permanently silence their target. This necromancer wanted to be found at this point. Whether bored of innocents that rarely got to struggle, or perhaps merely irritated that his loosely connected web of evil had been treaded, this was bait. He would clench his teeth tightly, disgust filling his mouth with bitter vitriol...

Someone like this needed to be exterminated.

"Inu, can you recognize this scent?"
May 23, 2018 11:53 pm

Gyldi

It’s him again, Inu.

Her ears twitched at his words, though she continued to sniff around the entrance. This place gave her an inexplicable sense of unease; it crept from the top of her head, down the length of her spine and through the tip of her tail, all the way down to each individual paw pad. It started as an uncomfortable feeling that only seemed to grow with urgency, and she was wary of moving further inside.

Dutifully, she made her way to his side, each step a tentative move toward the unknown. Dread hung heavy in the air, the death utterly suffocating as it engrossed her. Gyldi couldn’t bring herself to tear her eyes away from the face, even as that creeping feeling grew stronger.

Being a Grim came with an obvious affinity for Death, and everything that surrounded it. There, in that place, Death was present; she could feel it all around her, the way it called and beckoned, always just beyond reach. Yet, it was as if Death’s hold wasn’t absolute, and it stirred a strange unsettling deep within her.

This wasn’t natural.
This wasn’t the way of things.

To Gyldi’s horror, the body suddenly sprang to life, lurching toward Eiji with a villainous intent. And, to her horror, something rooted her to the spot. Whether it was fear or something else entirely, she couldn’t find the ability to will herself forward. Everything in her existence, everything that she’d ever known was struck down in this place.

Death was final.

Almost as suddenly as it had started, the body slumped unceremoniously onto the ground and moved no further.

Eiji remained unphased, but Gyldi was shaken to her core. This went against everything that she existed for, and fear of the unknown terrified her. Too long she’d spent learning that lot in life, all to have it turned upside down by those sudden events.

He’d told her of this necromancer that he’d been after, but she hadn’t quite understood what that meant. Someone with the ability to toy with Death, as if it was some mere task to be handled… She couldn’t grasp it. At least, not until she was faced with it. That, in her eyes, was power beyond measure, and something that shouldn’t be trifled with.

But she would follow Eiji to the ends of the Earth.

At his request, she dipped her nose carefully toward the sludge that had come forth from the reanimated corpse, her eyes never leaving the body. Just in case…

After committing the scent to memory, she lifted her muzzle and followed the extremely dim remnants of the odor in the air. Once outside, she turned herself this way and that until she finally had a good bearing of direction. With a quick glance behind at her counterpart, Gyldi set off at a brisk pace.

They traveled in silence, and she couldn't help but dwell on what had happened back there. Whatever had caused her sudden body-lock, she had simply watched as Eiji faced potential danger head on. His death still weighed heavily on her mind, as it still hung from him like a shadow. But she’d also never known anyone to last this long, after having laid eyes on her. Perhaps he was someone who just had a close relationship with the concept…

Unsure of how long they’d been trekking, she only stopped when she came to the edge of what appeared to be a bog. Sniffing around, there was no denying it; the scent was strong here. Turning to look over her shoulder, she let out a soft sound of acknowledgment, almost like a whisper on the wind.
May 24, 2018 10:51 pm

Saito Eiji

"Good girl."

The bog opened up ahead of them through a decrepit veil of gangly trees that all twisted themselves unnaturally, fighting their arboreal brethren for purchase of the Sun's touch. His worn knuckles would hover just above his waist, eager to reach for the pistol tucked into his jacket. It was a rarity that an acolyte of entropy would make themselves known... Eiji could only recall one other time. Only a child then, he could remember the frantic way his Father prepared to hunt him. He could remember him coming home without an arm, shamed and broken.

"I'll take point, watch my feet," he ordered, sifting into the brush. There were no footholds of humanity here, no well-beaten paths to travel. His eyes would flit between every branch they passed, searching for something out place, something leading... This necromancer was vain enough to leave them a calling card; he couldn't imagine that he'd lay his trap somewhere obscure. Convincing himself that this wasn't a ploy to throw him off while another innocent was defiled wasn't the easiest task after an hour had passed. The bogwater had risen to his calves now.

As soon as he could turn the glow of his flashlight onto the murk below, his suspicions were dashed. Several sets of eyes were staring up at him, their glassy stares trained on his every step. He flashed the light further out... His stomach turned and threatened to retch as an almost innumerable amount of severed, half-living heads bobbed just beneath the water's surface. Each of them were in a varying state of animated decay, but only seemed to stare until your ankles nudged them; he could see the couple nearest to the path's entrance, greedily gnashing their shattered teeth towards his leathers.

"Careful." He'd whisper, glancing back at his companion. She'd been a constant for him, throughout everything else in this time. So despite her incorporeal state being immune to the biting dead beneath them, he would reassure her with a small smile. When he'd been so close to collapse, she had been there to comfort him in what small ways she could afford... It made him grateful enough to let a warmer part of himself exist amongst the burnt out cinders of his will, ever smoldering. His ability to press on was only afforded by her presence.

The starving pond stretched ahead of them, the foreground to the faint dancing of lights, beacons leading them into a snare they would willingly walk into. Anything tangible could bring them closer to their quarry. He prodded the waterlogged domes away from him as he crept further in, until finally the Sun would be entirely swallowed by the canopy.

One head didn't budge. His flashed his light onto it and drew a hefty knife from his thigh, barely in time for the impact... An intact corpse sprung into him, its cheeks rotted away to expose every jagged knife within it's oozing maw. He jerked, jamming the knife into its braincase. A foot drew back to brace himself, but found no traction on the bog's floor...

The water devoured them, a limp corpse loosely clinging to his frame, forcing him beneath the surface where its still writhing brethren bared their tenacity with clashing teeth.
June 07, 2018 11:37 pm

Gyldi

Their entry into the bog was eerie at best, and the sense of dread she’d felt back in the shack only seemed to increase tenfold. She fell back at his orders, constantly feeling something watching and casting jolted glances over her shoulder. There was no life there, but something far, far more sinister hung in the air, sending it’s lilting fingers brushing through her fur. There was a constant unrest, a state of ruin and decay, and it was heavy.

The light beaming from the contraption in Eiji’s hand caught the harsh stare of something in the water. Gyldi couldn’t quite make it out, thus she lowered her head near the bog… Only to be face to face with a corpse-less head with an intense glare. For a moment, she couldn’t pull herself out of its gaze, and it was only her companion’s whispered words of caution that brought her back from the brink.

In Eiji’s gaze, she found the courage to keep moving forward, if only for his sake. Gyldi had seen him at his lowest, cradling the dead body of one that meant the world to him. While she didn’t encroach on that moment, letting him mourn without intrusion, she’d done her best to let him know he wasn’t alone. It was the only comfort she could offer.

Pressing forward, the heads bumped against her corporeal form, a muted touch that set her soul aquiver. Their teeth clacked up at her, admittedly harmless but obtrusively unsettling.

Just ahead, she heard the disturbance and bolted through the craniums, closing the distance between them just as he collapsed into the bog with the corpse. A yip of terror burst from her maw as her head darted forward, breaking the surface of the water and colliding with disembodied skulls and cheeks and mouths. Unable to open her eyes to the onslaught of terror, she drove herself forward with sheer panic and desperation. However Eiji had to die, it couldn’t be here, not in this way.

Her open jaw finally found purchase in what was the unmistakable feeling of cloth, and she pulled with a might she was sure she’d never possessed. She didn’t stop pulling until her feet hit solid ground, and she dragged him up the side of a weakened embankment, slipping and sliding the whole way, but determined to get him out of the bog. Her grip only slackened once she was sure he was out of harm’s way, and as he coughed and sputtered and regained his bearings, she faced the water in a defensive stance, daring anything to come out after them. Her whole body shook with fear, but there was a strange electric feeling coming off of her in droves.
June 12, 2018 02:03 pm

Saito Eiji

Time slipped away from him in those fleeting moments, caught beneath the tepid waters, snapping jaws gleefully descending upon him. A misshapen stone protruded from the floor of the pool, robbing him of his senses. He could feel the muted pressure of teeth grinding against the fabric of his clothing, but couldn't manage to wrest his focus long enough to shake them away.

"Eiji!"

A weathered face stared down at him, hard lines defining the deep scowl that dominated his jawline. His eyes were like black steel, lacking in warmth, but comforting in the resolve they displayed. Eiji would retch, sputtering up whatever water he had managed to aspirate. It would only be a brief moment after he could finally catch his breath that a set of calloused fingers would drag him to his feet by his collar. "What have you been told about playing near the river? You're lucky Ota is a quick runner, or I might not have made it in time... What would your Mother do?"

He looked up to his father with his eyes, full of shame. Eiji fought to stammer out a response to him, pointing towards the enbankment where he'd lost his footing. Small points of light danced along the water, shimmering an unearthly assortment of greens and blues that only he could see.

"It was the kodama, t-they pulled me!"

The weathered vindicator's features softened. But only a bit.

Eiji scrambled to his feet, hungrily gasping to replace the tepid ichor in his lungs with air. The sleeves of his jacket were ragged and torn, but he had been spared anything worse than a few bruises. Relief swirled through his muddied consciousness; a bite from something that rotten would have undoubtedly lead to serious infection... There were three of his compatriots in Umbra that he knew had lost limbs to zombie-rot, and half a dozen more that had died. A glance fell to his left arm, and he winced. People often mentioned his likeness to his father, but he was none too keen on furthering that resemblence.

"Thanks, Inu..." He trained his sight onto her, just in time to feel a numbing charge crawl up his toes. Tines of static seemed to spring towards her, tiny arcs streaking across the foliage. Instinct drove him to take a step back. All this time, he'd been referring to her as if she were an inugami, but it was clear to him now...

"...Raiju?"
June 28, 2018 10:55 pm

Gyldi

Before she could react to his whispered reverie, a hand lurched up out of the bog water and clawed at the bank ominously. The skin that still clung to the bone was a sickly green color, somewhat bloated and entirely ghastly. Instantly, the electric current died, and as more hands appeared, groping for purchase in the wet ground, Gyldi instinctively took a step backward. A grotesque sort of shock fogged her mind as she tried to process what she was seeing, which made her entirely unprepared for the familiar voice that broke the eerie silence.

”Oh, sweet sister, how long it’s been…”

The language in which he spoke was but an echo of a time long-since buried, but never truly forgotten. Had it been spoken by any other voice, it might have been a welcome occurrence, but the deeper undertones that whispered forebodingly beneath the accustomed cadence of Arvid’s voice were off-putting. As he came more into view, she was greeted with the lingering effects of her own wounds upon him, prominent even in the lurking decay of his corpse. A smile pulled at his decrepit mouth, but his eyes were unrecognizable and entirely blacked out.

”You are a disgrace, and no kin of mine…”

The deeper bass of her father broke the air around them, effectively tearing her gaze from her brother. It didn’t take long to register what was happening, and as her family broke the water’s edge, she felt herself cowering back against Eiji, a soft whine emanating from within her. Too focused on her own struggles, she missed entirely the unfamiliar bodies whose attentions were centered entirely on her companion.

It was when her mother appeared that she collapsed at Eiji’s feet. Her eyes, the same blacked-out abyss as the rest of the corpses, held no warmth or love, and Gyldi was forcibly reminded of the night she cursed her to Odin’s will. There was no denying it; she had failed her family.

But they suffered no fate as bad as her own.

”Tell me, Gyldi, does your companion know of your shortcomings? Does he know how you betrayed your village and left us all to die? Does he know what curses you to your existence?”

No, she thought, closing her eyes to the onslaught, and if he did, he’d probably abandon me for it…

Something in her mind snapped, and her grasp on the physical world weakened noticeably. Her form, once thick and dark, now appeared significantly less opaque, and with it, her surroundings seemed to fade into a soft mist. A void encompassed her, even as she tried to call out to Eiji with a muted yelp and before she knew it, she was alone with the beings that tormented her.
July 09, 2018 08:14 pm
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