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 The Twenty Seven Harlots

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Mystic Elder
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PostSubject: The Twenty Seven Harlots   Sun May 29, 2011 7:02 pm

Iskra understood almost nothing about life until it was almost too late.

Sure, the spotty-haired woman thought she had a firm grasp of reality, more intelligence than the hyenas but more practical wisdom than the humans. In her days among the hyena pack they'd rested in a ruin with many ghost-white rocks in a completely unnatural shape. Yuhin (translated: "Kidney"), the clan's storyteller, immediately and with many grand chuckles revealed the tale of the rock. Its white color came about because it was the bones of some strange animal, a weak thing that was one of the Great Hyena's more flawed creations. It was the skeleton of one of the wicked, diseased creatures destroyed at the end of the world, and so useless was this beast that even its singular bone was inedible and thrown down to the earth to be trampled under foot. Thus, this was a rock that still had its original shape, but all rocks were at one point like this one. Iskra challenged Cookie's assertion, saying that the white stone was a human. Its arms were apparent. Its head, though somewhat cracked and deformed, was the same as any other human's. It had feet covered in folds of stone cloth. This threw the entirety of the hyenas gathered into confused mockery. "How this rock be a human?" Kieyu had asked derisively after a long, hard examination of the object that confirmed her initial impression of it as a large stone. "Humans are made out of meat. You may as well call your head a sunflower."

But Iskra understood what a statue was, and it was more than could be said for a bunch of the feral spirits put together.

[ EXP: 360 || +1 TEXP (2nd thread) ]

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PostSubject: Re: The Twenty Seven Harlots   Sun May 29, 2011 7:03 pm

Perhaps the greatest paradox about Iskra's human-like understanding of things was that it did absolutely nothing to improve her life. Her misery compounded with every fresh revelation. She began frequenting human settlements. It alienated her from her pack. She learned to take a human form. She was forced into a lonely, largely meatless existence. She came to hell seeking knowledge. She ended up in the temporary service of a somewhat frightening demon.

Not that it occurred to her to complain until she found herself where she was now. The acute fear of death did that to you. It made you look back over your life and think things over. It made you think of the road west of the dusky sunset that might have carried you to a life of ease and prosperity. Really, that was all she wanted.

But instead, she was chained at the end of a leash by an oddly powerful creature who walked on two legs like some joke in poor taste at the expense of mankind. The entirety of his body was buried in a thick puff of fur, but his arms and elongated, clawed feet were naked. Perhaps if she looked hard enough, she could see his glazed, black eyes staring ahead at the distant black ceiling of the abyss, but she didn't care to. The hyena demon insisted on her innocence, and he only replied in a jittery voice.

"Absolutely, I agree. It's what we all
want to do. Unless by we
I mean Thanatos, but what I just asked,
I do not mean Thanatos. I mean you.

And he laughed and laughed and Iskra frowned and snarled. The creature had an assistant: a much smaller, more timid creature who looked like a giant, naked rat with tattoos and a sharp, dirty spear. He waddled when he walked because his anatomy would, in a more common setting, force him into a quadrupedal gait, but for whatever reason he had a cruelly spiked brace on his back that forced him to move upright, rather like an orangutan walking towards an elevated piece of fruit.

Iskra's arms were chained as well, and behind her back uncomfortably. The waddling beast conveyed to her, through his thick accent and shrieky voice, that she was accused of murder and faced judgment in the name of the Lord of Yavlos. The Lord of Yavlos... what a joke. To think that these demons consented to rule by anyone was ridiculous enough on its own, but to think he would lord over such an unpopulated demain... perhaps the trees submitted to his will, or perhaps the roaches had elected him. The insects were always scuttled along underfoot, seeking some carcass neglected by the carnivorous plants and fungus and generally hateful spite that nature here bore for any living thing, and they made her forced march over the rocky soil that much more difficult with their slippery gore coating the soles of her feet.

The hyena demon's misery only grew. The further they walked, the thicker the roaches got and the rockier the road was until no more of the forest's plants passed them by and they broke into a large clearing in the seeming endless woods.

The structure ruling the field reached with a vileness majestic in proportions to the dark ceiling of the sky, its composition the very red rocks of the ground where one could see a glimpse of the building beneath the hardened, live shell of ten thousand thousand crawling vermin and accompanying vines creeping across the redstone surface. To all appearances, it was a castle-sized insect mound, and the closer she got to it, the more squeamishly vile it would appear to the person whose nightmares this structure was ostensibly out of. Live maggots littered the surface, feeding from some red, snot like substance and bleeding from wounds as their parent horde sampled them while they still wiggled. The parent horde, in turn, found themselves eaten by the black, bestivorous plants that clung to the mound as a dark cloud of foliage. The snot-like substance was a combination of some weird sap oozing from the plants where the maggots had damaged it in their feeding and the waste of the adult insects. Where the snot had the opportunity to harden, it formed a shell over the hill. A self-consuming building. It seemed odd enough. Too odd for the human world.

It belonged in hell, she decided at length, walking underneath the cannibalistic structure. Red stalactites of filth hung over her head like Damocles swords as the two strange monsters shoved her into the darkness.

[ EXP: 918 ]

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PostSubject: Re: The Twenty Seven Harlots   Sun May 29, 2011 7:10 pm

Within the palace was just as abominable as without, though within might be considered worse for the proximity of the simple, claustrophobic, inescapably filthy corridors and floors. The overwhelmingly powerful stench of rot wafted through the darkness of the corridors, and Iskra found she could navigate by just sound and smell alone. It was an important ability, as her guides only prodded her ahead with no mind to the carpet of worms or the location of walls or anything else. The larger continued to chortle out demented stanzas and the smaller continued to inanely accuse her of breaking various laws.

At several points, she noticed hills in the areas where the red light of the abyss broke through to highlight a corpse. Now it didn't look like a corpse to the normal eye. It looked like an elevated section of the crawling floor, but Iskra knew a corpse when she was near one. The maggots had simply concealed it beneath themselves in their eagerness to get fresh meat. The hyena demon wasn't even sure she could get any nutriment out of such a body. It was unnatural to have so much rot in one location.

Eventually, they came to a massive door, wooden beneath the termites and worms. The waddling beast called out grandly with his half-strangled voice, seeking the audience of Lord Maulwürfe.

The door creaked open, as though propelled by the thousands of fibrous worms embedded in its hinges, and the surprising light from the chamber made Iskra squint.

Twenty-seven silver chandeliers hung from white-gold plated chains from a grey stone ceiling. The fire that burned in them was oddly blue, a result of copper chloride or magic of some sort integrated into the fire's fuel. The walls of the vast area were stone as well with blue grouting, scones of the blue fire placed at regular intervals furthering the illumination of the area. Many beautiful columns adorned the sides of the walls, and various statues of naked women stood before the pillars, their bodies as diverse as the very demons of hell themselves, yet their poses all different and conveying personality. One of the statues was clearly a kami female, oddly enough, though how Iskra was aware of that fact, she didn't know. The floor was composed of cobalt blue circular stones with glassy grouting like some sort of melted and reformed emeralds that only enhanced the ethereal beauty of the chamber.

Interestingly enough, the entire room was completely free of the mind-warpingly advanced rot outside of the door, save in one area. On a throne, a creature sat like a prince, and the hyena demon wasn't sure what to make of him. He wore flowing silk garments from the waist down, but his exposed flesh showed him to be some sort of decaying beast. His torso was human enough as far as she could tell through the mangy coat of fur that covered it. His arms were tipped in freakishly large paws, the length of the appendages doubled by long, blunt claws that appeared designed by some warped and sadistic deity for digging. They rested gently on a finely appointed chair crafted artfully from pearls and bones with a plush, fuzzy seat. The lord leaned forward, interested, and though his eyes were theoretically exposed, an odd sort of darkness covered them. All other areas of his face and shoulders were covered in a thick layer of bandages. The portions of his head that were not revealed fuzzy, short hair and an elongated nose tipped by 6 writhing protrusions not unlike the maggots on the walls outside.

His voice was perhaps the most bizarre element of the entire situation. It reminded her of silk, or perhaps honey. Smooth and sweet... seductive and playful. Charming and noble despite the monster that it belonged to. "Why hello, darling. I see that my kind servants have brought me a guest?"

For a moment, the female demon just stared, for a warm tingle had arisen in her lower belly and she felt that if she closed her eyes for even an instant she would fall under some sort of spell or trickery.

The nervous, twitching little one who was at least sane enough to speak in sentences instead of voices spoke, a harsh sound like claws down stone, or so it seemed after listening to the beautiful voice of Maulwurfe. "S-she killed Zucker, my lord."

The captive woman turned for a moment to narrow her eyes at the little rat-thing in its brace, mentally comparing fantasies of punting him into an open lava pit or simply tearing his meat from his bones piece by piece, wondering which would be more gratifying.

A gentle smile, or rather, a gentle tightening of the bandages and draw of the snout that hinted at a smile, stretched across the lord's face. "Well, now, she's come all of this way to explain herself I'm sure. We should give her a chance."

There lay something very magnetic in that voice, and Iskra felt an alien warmth in her cheeks that almost made her want to snarl. Almost. She felt greater wants that she was forced to ignore as she began to speak in her simple way. "Was he about half as tall as me and rat-looking?"

The lord answered gently. "Why yes! That's our Zucker. So you have seen him? We have been missing his company and he took some of my finest cheeses with him."

Iskra suppressed a shudder. "Oh. Yes, that was him. He traded me some cheese for a woman. He came back later wanting another woman and he said he'd give me more cheese. I didn't have a woman, so I just wanted to take the cheese. He objected, so I killed and ate him and his cheese." Despite everything, she found herself distraught at the idea of making this guy like her less, despite the fact that she'd never given much thought to how much a male liked her in the past, especially one that seemed as though he shouldn't be alive talking to her.

"I see," Maulwurfe began, his worm-whiskers twitching inquisitively. "Well, now. You've put us in a challenging position." He rose off of the seat, flies in his wake and nowhere else. He began to pace as he continued speaking. "A long time ago... perhaps five years since the world awoke, I had established a quaint little castle out in the woods away from my unpleasant fellow demons. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy a good joust as much as any spirit, but I have more pleasant and more important hobbies. I deliver women from this hellish plane in the most pleasant way possible."

"By that I mean, I brought many women here to pleasure before I end their spiritual lives. It is my personal belief that they become reincarnated as humans, but I have very little evidence to back me on that point other than my personal experiences. I take frequent excursions to Terra to buy finery to line my coffers with... mingle... see the sights... activities such as those, and humans are so much more civilized. Their ways have not caught on here, you see."

"Yes, I enjoyed humans so much that I imagine I was fated to fall for one. Oh, my sweet Ianna..." his voice conveyed a wistfulness and reminiscing sadness that his face could not. "Ianna of the Witches, they called her. Breathtaking beauty... full of virtue and honor. I wanted her as my Lady of Yavlos. We could rule forever, her and I, and eventually expand our domain to the city where we could bring peace and a better life for all of the commoners. If only, but I was forced to refrain."

"Oh, I charmed her, but she wasn't a demon. I couldn't take her to be mine. My very body would poison her, for down to my bones I am cursed. I satisfied myself with bringing her expensive gifts from my wide domain and beyond. Meals and jewelry and relics... lesser spirits served her under my orders... her family became very wealthy."

"But it is my curse to invoke want in women. She approached me one day and demanded commitment. Children were on her sweet mind and a home and family. I had to refuse and revealed then that I was a handsome demon, the bane of her clan."

"She grew so angry that she struck me on the face and left in quite a rage. I thought nothing of it initially, but when I came back to my castle, I'd found a small rot had crumbled the outer wall. No amount of extermination could remove it. Fine, I'd thought. We'll simply replace the brick. Oh, if it was that simple. I replaced the brick and the next day not only was that brick in the same condition as its predecessor, but its neighbor came under the influence of the ugly crumbling as well. Months passed by and the rot passed on to my servants, then eventually me. I am not completely taken, though. The device above you..." he pointed one of his monstrous claws to a device above the door. The two toadies allowed Iskra the chance to move and see the strange mechanism. It was much like the chandeliers in that it was coated with white gold. Its face was in a rippling disc about 15 feet in diameter in a pattern not unlike the waves of a still body of water when a rock falls into it. It had no hands or numbers, simply a multitude of embedded stones like the sapphire grouting in the floor. At the peak of the waves, the gems were arranged in four concentric rings ostensibly representing seconds, hours, minutes, days, and seasons. The current time, was marked by the lighting up of each gem. The outer rings completed the longest circle and moved the most frequently, and when it completed its circle, the next gem on the circle further in lit up, while the former faded to black. Notably, on the "season" sphere, the final gem was an odd shape... perhaps a skeletal hand or five worms. Indeed, when Iskra looked at it and looked away it seemed to shift in shape and color. If she could read, she might have noted the cryptic inscription at the bottom.

All Hours Wound, The Last Kills
For This World Passes Away, and the Lusts Thereof

[ EXP: 2016 ]

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PostSubject: Re: The Twenty Seven Harlots   Sun May 29, 2011 7:19 pm

What really stood out about the clock and ultimately made it a representation of the situation as a whole, however, was the sculpture of a black, wide-mouthed, sharp-toothed, half-rusted metal insect that looked like some locust out of a nightmare. It was no smaller than a dog, and moved its mouth steadily, appearing to eat up the seconds as they passed, occasionally blinking in seeming satisfaction. The creature's constant motion produced an eerie grinding sound that suited its task. It was settled on top of the opulent clock, and its motions as it crawled forward, chasing and gulping the invisible seconds from the air, turned the gearwheel that progressed the clock. The top of the hour hit, and the entire mound seemed to groan. A fearsome toll shook the room, and the two cursed servants of the rotting lord shrieked and rolled on the ground.

One of the chandeliers fell, broke, and shattered into ten thousand roaches that rapidly crawled out of the room, seeking the darkness of the castle outside of the royal chambers.

The creature still seated on the throne appeared to have reacted very little to the cacophonous clanging that so pained his servants. "...appeared after I returned home to find the rot. It grows more profound over my possessions each hour. I do fear for what will happen when all of the symbols are aligned at the top there."

"Fortunately, I have a solution. True, your murder of my unoffensive underling who so nobly took it upon himself to complete this quest for me has delayed my relief, but it is something I am willing to overlook. It will help neither of us if I cry over spilled milk, as it were."

"I met a particularly powerful dragon who was the king of a mountain in the Deep as I journeyed for a cure, and he offered to revoke the curse for a simple offering of six hundred and forty nubile women free of any odious diseases. He's a rather lonely old creature, but because of his size he goes through women dreadfully fast. It makes sense that he would want his physical needs taken care of as well. As you may be able to judge by the fact that you're still standing there and not straddling my lap, my powers of seduction have diminished, so it is more difficult for me to do the particular task. Zucker had made some excellent progress, but since you have left me in such a spot, I'm afraid you will have to finish the task for me."

Iskra's bone-colored brow furrowed. Honestly, this business seemed only half believable, and either way it would profit her nothing to actually complete a task for this random demon. What did she care if this whole useless castle collapsed on his head? There were things she had to do, and he was sufficiently ugly that she could resist the effects of his voice. "I'm sorry, but I'm busy."

She couldn't discern the facial expression of the hairy lord, but she imagined it might be disappointment. "I suppose I haven't given you sufficient motivation. That makes sense enough. I wouldn't put much worth in a fellow demon who would labor for free. Come, dear. I can offer you any amount of treasures, and I'm willing to not count you among the twenty-seven that must fund my cure. Surely there is something you want?"

Of course there was something she wanted. "I want power. Knowledge. Can you give me this?"

The lord leaned back on his opulent throne, a torso-sized claw coming against his chin as he thought. "Predictable. Of course, my dear. You are a woman, and I imagine most of your enemies will be male. I can teach you the language of the blood... the lust that turns humans and higher-order demons into mere beasts with no sense of self-preservation, only passion. After all, if you possess the mind, you also possess the body. This will be immensely useful to you."

Iskra grinned at the thought of payment. "How many females are there left for me to find?"

The sweet voice of the male picked up an almost tangible cheer. "Oh, Zucker did an excellent job. He found six-hundred and thirteen, so there are only twenty-seven left for you to find."

The woman grinned carnivorously, happy to be once again on the trail of greater powers. "I won't be long."

"Please do hurry back. Every hour that clock spends I fear that the wickedness outside will encroach more. This is my last stronghold. They have me barricaded in here with their filth, you know."

Indeed, it seemed that with the last tolling of the clock, a worm was starting to work its way through the door. She frowned, realizing that she had a time limit before she quickly made her way back outside, unaccompanied by the two servants still writing on the floor. Jack's little quest could wait. That child she was supposed to find was getting no younger. She imagined she might be able to find twenty-seven women in rather short order.

The rest of the world seemed rather dark compared to the opulent brightness of that chamber. In an odd way, she wondered if perhaps the man in the castle was some sort of fallen kami who replaced the light in his soul with the light of his material possessions. It was an unusually deep thought for her, but she often speculated on the nature of her employers these days. No doubt he represented materialism and lusts of some sort. Perhaps the curse was appropriate for him, as the worms worked their way through everything he owned and gradually, he himself. Time was not kind.

But her thoughts had to turn to more productive matters. Where to find a woman who wasn't excessively used, especially in hell?

[ EXP: 1156 || +1 TEXP (5th post) ]

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PostSubject: Re: The Twenty Seven Harlots   Wed Jun 01, 2011 10:36 am

> 4,450 EXP
> +2 TEXP
> 4,450 PWC (Paramour)

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