The Admiral Comes Call
In the holdfast of Autumn Reign.
The amber-blood of these matured Envoys was foul to the tongue, it’s taste comparable to that of a wild beast’s bile and the texture driven from that of tree sap. As it went down the Admiral’s and Bosun’s throats, it burned the senses, it’s endlessly turbulent chemistry trying it’s damndest to tear into their throat or erupt in horrid flames. However, beyond the horrid taste, there was something inherently… wrong about it. At first, it was a minor thing, like a putrid aftertaste of sulphuric tinge, aching at the back of the throat. Then, it was a spike of pain running sporadically up the spine, a terrible jolting thing. Finally, the pain reached the head, soothing for but a moment… until something ripped into them.
To say their minds were overtaken would be overstating fact, but it was a close thing: from total awareness to a sudden, unfathomable pain, their every sense burning as if immolated. The world around them spun wildly, their minds pulsing with each heartbeat, their psyche roaring in an inferno of which only one source could be sensed… a peering, amber eye, it’s tendriline influence clawing and ripping through their very memories for some leverage to root itself into. It was an almost visible thing, every blink followed by the frenzied spinning of the beast’s eye within them, every breath followed by visions of thorns slithering up and into their mouths. This thing, this outer influence allowed in, was scouring through them, reliving memories in the flash of a second and reading through the visitor’s brains like a book. Whatever it was, it grew and gorged and ripped into them, going deeper and deeper, stabbing inwards with it’s horrid influence. Within the Admiral there was a leverage, something just tight enough for the pain to spike within a single point that the thing could latch upon with some gluttonous grip. It reached, clasped, stabbed ethereal fingers deep into his mind… and froze.
In this brief solace, as pain trickled away, the Admiral and Bosun could feel Her. A great, innately powerful entity staring into their minds, rooted within the Admiral’s and tearing into the Bosun’s. A being who’s influence was so, so close to overtaking them… an eye belonging to a mind that felt nothing but fear.
For it saw what was within them.
She saw the Abyss.
And it stared back.
The next few moments were a blur.
For the Bosun, it was from the sudden delirium; not only was his mind suddenly a battleground as the influence within him battled viciously for survival, it was also far too vivid. Fiery tendrils desperately attempted to wrap around unknowable appendages reaching from deep within him, veritable tidal waves of psychic energy lapping against the invader’s influence… and, in those moments, the Bosun sensed something more. Something within that parasite in his mind that, somehow, felt… human. For, through the feral fear of a hungering beast, he could also feel an intelligence… and so could it feel him. It was terrified. It was… knowable. And, as the real world began to fade around him, his mind drowning in a psychic onslaught, he reached out.
As the Bosun began to collapse to the floor, something else entirely began churning within the Admiral’s brain. The slightest side glance towards the falling Bosun was enough to register immense rage within him: a rage the parasite swiftly used to it’s own will. As the war in his mindscape began, and the roots of the beast began to snap and crack under the strength of waves of deep energy, the anger within the Admiral spiked. A foetid taste filled his mouth, of sulphur and ammonia, of blood and rot… and for a moment, a single terrible moment, the parasite gained control. The Admiral could feel his anger boil and pop, his mindscape overwhelmed with a glow of amber light… and, finally, the frenzy began.
The first swings were as swift as the draw, the blade of the Admiral’s sabre swinging up from his crouched stance to cleave through the bleeding beast’s inverted neck. The sound was horrid, and only to become more prevalent: a scraping sound as the blade found a nook and a horrid crunch and crumble as the blade split through the matured Envoy’s ‘flesh’. The second strike came as the creature’s body was already in death throes, a splitting spin that ripped into the body’s abdomen and careened it’s torso to the side. Flaming amber sprayed, a veritable pool already spewing from the dead. Frenzied eyes stared up, their Ebonborne guard already poised for combat… and the second envoy screeching a banshee’s roar into the air about them. The Admiral’s mind flickered between reality and the vivid visions within him, but whatever frenzy had overtaken his mind was enough to leap his form forward and into his next fight…
The Bosun’s mind was not a stable one. In mere moments had he linked himself with the creature in his mind… no. The woman. The Empyress. Her mindscape was a turbulent hell compared to his own, every crevice swarmed with violently flailing powers that snapped and ripped at him, trying desperately to throw him out. However, something had begun to grasp upon him… a tendriline, golden thing, wrapping it’s influence around his own, pushing him away… but it was fragile. Fragile enough to see straight through, to feel, to touch with his mind’s eye…
He saw a birth.
He saw a child, thrown into an abyss.
He saw something desperate wrapping white limbs around a toddler…
He saw a promise.
A promise for change.
A promise to right the wrongs done to them.
And he saw a sapling, plucked from the rotting corpse of a dying god.
He saw Her.
And she was horrified.
Two spiked halberds sparked wildly against a flailing onslaught, the Admiral’s swordsmanship just as prolific in a trance as in awareness. The screams of the Envoy brought a flurry of attention, the eyes of dozens of middling creatures alighting from the dark oncemore. As the second Envoy began to slowly uproot itself, it’s form sliding and retreating away from the assailant, Guards rushed to draw blades and beasts of black skin and insectoid form leaped from their tasks and skittered wildly towards the Admiral’s position. One moment, a swing to the guard before him. Another, a sideward riposte, and the terrible slicing of Enek flesh against his blade. Another, the leaping form of whatever abomination slithered from the piles of mush and muck next. Their forms were a blur, as was everything… but, with each swing, each cut, each stab, his mind began to return to control, the vague inner battle for his mind forcing the beast within him to a deathly final stand. HE was swinging now, not out of instinct or feral anger but out of his own will.
The Bosun’s mind was still, however, very much enraptured. More visions had come to him, one by one… more sights that brought increased resistance from that which wished to push him out so forcefully.
He saw the rise of a religion, and the planting of a white tree.
He saw a masquerade of morals, a hidden agenda of a prophet covered in amber blood.
He saw machines of marble and a wall that reached the heavens.
He saw… a revolt.
A grown tree, with amber blood covering it’s base…
And a woman, praying alone.
A swarm that grabbed her, and pinned her to the tree’s roots…
A swarm that rejoiced, and celebrated…
A women that feared…
And one final prayer.
His mind was separated from this odd spree of visions for but a moment, the violent mindscape about him returning to view… one that seemed not only to be fighting him anymore. For the terrible tendrils ripped and tore into the golden silk dragging him gently away, grasping onto the man’s mental form, grasping opposite limbs and prepared to rip him apart. Only one final vision began to inch through, flickering in the back of the Bosun’s mind as pressure built around his midrim and tendrils pulled him in twain…
A locked door.
A screaming mob.
A glowing amber light, shining from Her eyes.
A stabbing thrust from an upturned vine, piercing the body of a man.
A fire that burned across Her body, but felt only as an embrace.
And now, HE felt something. A new emotion, as fear began to be ripped and buried;
And then he awoke.
The Admiral’s blade was within the chest of his target, the guard that had led them through the Ebonkairn’s unkempt roots. Spiked fingers tried desperately to claw outwards, stopped only as the man’s blade sparked within his now imploding body. Shattering and crumbling, another corpse fell, the man’s body covered in burning amber blood and shimmering in the light of the popping corpse beneath him. His companions began to rise, heads once aching and spiking ever so suddenly dissipating into the aether, weapons being drawn and readied… However, nothing more came to face him or his now able company. The faceless eyes in the darkness were keeping a distance, frothing mouths only noticeable by their glowing eyes illuminating protruding mandibles and hungering jaws. Everything simply… stopped. Until, with a crackling boom from across the room, the grand eyed door began to inch itself open. Vines crackled and snapped, it’s wax-held seal melted away within moments into a mush that seeped down the stairs. And, from within, a voice rang. No longer was it within their minds, an intruding thing… it was audible, and booming, and authoritative, and feminine, and… tender. Mired with a clicking undertone and flickered with the sounds of mushy adjustments, yes, but still undeniably calm and motherly, given the circumstances.
”Enough. Come, free men of the Fleet… let us talk, as promised.”