“I’ve seen what wars can do, but this…”
The battered frame of James Cradavin looks out to the streets of Chaser Island for the first time in merely two days and between the blood, fire and devastation barely accepts this to be the same town.
“twenty-eight years as a solider, fifteen of them as a mercenary and six of those as the worst of the worst…This isn’t war it’s madness.”
Sasha appears to be reflecting on that time with her father realizing she has been under his tutelage for twelve of those years. She managed to maintain a smile, she endured the tragedies, the horrors and the corruption until it finally reached her. Until she forced herself to choose between her heart or her family. This shouldn’t have been the moment, she knew that it couldn’t have been a worse time. Scraggs words burned her, more than they should have, her skin quivered and her mind stressed on the brink of snapping it was as if all her years as a mercenary were charging in with a vengeance to be heard for once in her life.
Scraggs looked to Cradavin and then to Sasha before whispering ’We’ve one hour to make it to Havershaw. We’ve behind schedule. very behind. We’ve a trek ahead of us, activate that thing and we might as well just shout ‘kill us please’… understand?" Cradavin took a long deep breath and pulled in strength before nodding.
Sasha looked to them all realizing she had only heard the smallest fragments of the conversation. She knew the way and she had no mechanika the rest hadn’t seemed vital. Before she could take point James placed a hand on Sasha’s shoulder. She looked to her father and then immediately away from the pain he endured. With a firm tug he pulled her to him.
“You think it’s any easier for me to know you’ll carry those scars the rest of your life because of me? Whatever else it is, your my lead fox, act like it Sasha they’ll hunt us if you let them.”
Her father had never spoke to her with such concern, it made her unnervingly aware how much he cared for her. His eyes were glistened with tears as he smiled his pervasive smirk and pushed her forward letting her enjoy the privacy of looking away “If anyone’s dying…” She forced out “It’s them.”
“Atta girl.” he said with a smile, Scraggs rolled his eyes keeping an eye out as they began their treacherous advance toward The Confectionery…
Knock Knock Knock
Only silence responds to the trio, battered and bleeding they silently look to one another. Each of the drew weapons slowly creeping inside the dark scenery of the Confectionary, dapper mannqiuns in tight vests holding display taffy or alchemical treats for young children seem ominous in the silence of the shop. not a single soul is found up front.
”…we shouldn’t stay.” Sasha whispered looking to Samuel who glances backward to her nodding before countering the logic. “We didn’t exactly craft a contingency… odds are staying put here is the safest.” Cradavin glanced out of windows trying to move very little. “Question is though… why didn’t your boys hold to that thinking too?” Scraggs replied “Precisely…” A sudden rustle is heard in the back as Sasha pointed to scraggs to guard Cradavin.
Creeping inward she spotted him, a man in chains thrashing and babbling “N-n-No! Not Sleeeping! Pl- p. p please!” Sasha heard Atticus speak of Veido an alchemist who helped engineer this whole disaster. He was harmless, just insane from a lack of sleep and synthesizing his own dietary needs from powders and chemicals. She debating one talking to him about what happened but he’d likely only make matters worse by starting to shout. This man annoyed her, he had ample time to sleep why didn’t he? Without his input on these chemicals he was likely useless to Atticus now. She had more pressing matters to review like evidence of blood or a struggle.
A muffled scream was heard further down the building perhaps in the basement of the store. The sound drew Scraggs and Cradavin from the front as they silently questioned if she knew. She only responded no by shaking her head. The desperate gaze of Veido and his shaking told them everything the trio needed on instinct alone at that moment. They were far too late, Harlequins descended from the rafters blades drawn four of them a fifth figure stood in the rafters watching from above cloaked in shadow.
A screech of steel and sparks roared out as Cradavin activated the runeplate of “Grit” as his greatsword ignited into life illuminating their worst fears in the swirling melee. The Alabaster Mask of the Marionette herself watched as Sasha, Samuel and James fought for theirs lives verses the unerringly nimble pawns of her madness. Slicing, slash and thrusting faster then a master swordsman in each hand these terrors chipped away at the fortitude of trio as they fought back to back.
Scraggs hooked one knife with his own blade using the hilt to lock it in place before snatching up their wrist turning this acrobat into a still target just long enough for Cradvin to carve “Grit” into it before Thrashing the edge into another aggressor carving them both in half. Sasha ducked and weaved finding her concentration hyper focused as each blade faced off against a pair of poison dripping blades. Using her reactions, experience and blade length all to their fullest she kept them at bay before finding an opening and slicing the wrist off of one cackling jester who merely looked down to his bleeding stumple cackling before rushing in to create an opening for it’s partner using the stump of it’s arm as a shield fo Sasha to carve into and slow her speed enough to capitalize. The opportunist somersaulted over the group and with a flurry of thrusts while overhead overwhelmed her focus dropping her to a kneeling position because her original attacker plunged a blade into her lower gut between the straps of her armor. Before she could react he executed the closest Harlequin via decapitation before being unable to react in time to defend against another quick barrage of swift slices and slashes. Before they came, A thunk was heard as Scrags stood confidently between Sasha and the Harlequin plunging his dagger squarely into the face of the enemy who toppled to the ground dead.
He turned to pick up Sasha who regained her breath and footing quickly fighting off the poison as best she could. Before a word could spoken a violet burst of light rained down upon Samuel Scraggs snuffing out his image. Both Sasha and James recoiled from the light as if instinct demanded it before such malevolence. Though a brief moment had only passed the charred remains of Scraggs collapsed before them both. The Miasma of purple mist coalesced toward the rafters with a screeching ember of white flickered and smoldered as if drawn toward her, the Marionette Killer. She stood motionlessly holding out her palm at the pure light befouled to a sickly emerald green before been crushed into her palm snuffing out the wailing voice of Scraggs into nothing for eternity, forced to become nothing more than a small node of her strength for the battle to come.
“How boring, you all lived.”
Her voice sounded impish and light hearted as she committed the ultimate atrocity of creation before them both. James looked to Sasha and calmly stated “Sasha… go.” the hot blaze of “Grit” flared ready to defend its master’s wishes. She tried to speak and he shouted at her as though demanding her to stand at attention “WE ARE FOXES! WE WILL BE HUNTED! WE WILL BE WOUNDED! WE WILL BE BETRAYED! BUT WE WILL GIVE YOU THE HARDEST CHASE OF YOUR LIFE!”
Sasha was frozen she knew this was her only chance. Her mind screamed it was the only course, he heart wanted nothing more than to fight with her father at that moment but it was in that moment she heard the heavy sound of an explosion come crashing through the wall of the Confectionary tearing apart brick and mortar racing faster than lightning and exploding as loud as thunder. Dust and smoke swirled into the area as Sasha realized it crashed right into her father. James Cradavin, the once mighty leader of the Iron Fox lay dead against the wall of this shop his body crushed under the weight a royal weight cannon shot with a trail of green smoke drifting from where it had come from.Grit dropped to the ground in a loud clang as it petered out and died inches from him.
Sasha looked out to what caused it and saw something that could barely be called a Steamjack anymore. The outter chasis of this jack was fractured, marred and pitted by the ebbing power of souls and magic circulating through it. It’s structure warped and twisted into something more akin to a fractal nightmare of steel and iron tempered to resembled emerald slow thrumming with power. It lowered an amalgamation of steel that might have once been seen as an Ordic Royal weight cannon before it was incorporated it into it’s poorly conceived shell. It’s opposite arm appeared to caked int tumorous soulglass in the rough shape of a sword with an undeniably deadly looking edge capable of cleaving through whatever it desired. It’s eroded optics carrying a disembodied light as the semblance of a boil seems to have been shed by this monster yet a large conglomerate of fire floats behind it’s back like a well of souls as it locks it eyes with the warrior it jerks it’s body somehow reloading the shot inside itself somehow.
Sasha knew she wouldn’t survive running, she glared to her Father’s murderer and ran toward the basement. “You want me? Come and get me!” The Alabaster abomination watched silently as she fled toward the basement tilting her head to the side before giggling
“Oh my, How fun. He has such interesting friends!” She deftly lept to the floor and the shivering mutterings of Veido reminded her she would need to have a word with him after this was over. “Oh my little Veido, Have you been being naughty and telling secrets?” She turned to face him as he trembled in a level of fear many minds might never truly experience as what was left of his sanity unraveled on the spot before his mistress. She giggled strolling casually away from him after Sasha humming an odd tune that clearly wasn’t Ordic while caressing a knife with her palm and fingernails playfully knowing she’d have nowhere to hide.
The Marionette stepped toward the basement seeing she opened the basement door, evidence of struggle and blood was slapped against the floor as was a dead Sweetling Gangster. Pushing open the door a full display of immaculate carnage was before her. dozens of ravenous crazed mad men were killed either by themselves or Sasha, the aching need to know which was palpable to her as she slowly continued her tune taking her time to casually examine an interesting corpse or two for the answer. Most had done themselves in thanks to the “Truth of Lukas” but a few signs of fresh blood also showed her Red Little Foxed had to bear it’s fangs again. The truth of this place brought a decadent bliss over her as she spoke out.
“It’s a dead end you know…” She stepped over one body after the other as she stepped confidently further into the dark. She stepped into the entrance of the next wing and continued. ”It’s normally around now…” The darkness didn’t respond to her she could hear the held breath ”they start to wonder how I knew…” She giggled stepping into the pitch black.
“They never once consider how until it’s far, far too late…” After a few steps she looks to her left and continues “Up until they just keep wondering…” From her right came movement as she looked it square in the face proclaiming “WHY!?” she thrusts a knife confidently forward somehow bypassing the the steel of her plate armor completely in this darkness. Sasha tumbles backward holding a hand against her shoulder something burned terribly, far worse than the Harelquin’s poison as she retreated toward the lanterns of the basement where the slaughter had been.
”Or Who!” The Marionette lunges out of the darkness and Sasha manages a Parry, but in the light of the room begins to seem creeping hand of porcelain crawl along her mask as though they were part of it from the very beginning, the laughter of children fill this place as a young man says distantly. _“Who here wants a little treat huh?” _ it’s accompanied by the gleeful screams of children. She looks around confused inside the grizzly scene around her before suddenly the floor begins to rumble and she sees the blood of this place grows dark like pits and consumes the ground around her as she begins to plummet into the abyss. She looks to the Marionette who stands motionlessly before her in the unholy terror each movement or twitch sending her in a gibbering madness as she watches her flawlessly maintain composure among the madness around her.
“It is said that enlightenment is the acceptance of ignorance, But I say that ignorance is the attempt at enlightenment at all… The World creeps and crawls with the unknowable truth and the very act of certainty is an impossibility. Instead embrace freedom.”
“You mean Insanity!” Sasha grimaced at that, she glared at her enemy before her and pulled her blade backward. She would at least go out as a Proud Fox, she refused to be like Veido. She plunged one of her blades into her foot as hard as she could punching through the greave into the floor. The Spiraling pain reeled her mind back from the surreal nightmare she was experience though the visions of Lukas still chewed at the edges of her mind she cried out in a rage pulling back her blade focusing on the pain before preparing a stance. “Then you have no idea how this will end do you?”
The genuine unnerving laughter of The Marionette echoed in the Confectionery as Veido cracked open a small compartment from his belt swallowing a pill with complete abandon and fear as the sound of clashing steel clanged in the distance….