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 The Fruit of Knowledge

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LittleMariko
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PostSubject: The Fruit of Knowledge    Mon Jun 20, 2011 11:52 am

The lake. It wasn't fire, but its depths held limitless infernal secrets the likes of which living mortals could barely hope to glimpse this side of life. Nameless horrors lurked beneath the placid surface, things of dread, evil, and malign intent. Things that hated good and hated the light. Things, that Iskra could learn from.

Indeed, when she sat down near the side of the lake, searching for the cave that she often sought rest in before the lengthy journey ahead, she wasn't completely sure she felt up to visiting the womb of primal chaos again. Once she was there, she did feel strangely at home in the place, but the path there and the entities she met always unsettled her, and the thought of having non-demon company there... well, such was an even more distressing thought. It wasn't his chaos; it wasn't his home. Without her aid, he would die there after all he had survived.

And she found it a burden that not only would her own life rely on her strength, but another. No matter how strong he was, mortal bodies dissolved in the atmosphere of hell as surely as a snowball, no matter how frozen and tightly packed, would melt in the midst of a flame. She was the only barrier.

So she sat, her spotty mane waving in the wind, and waited.

[ EXP: 254 || +1 TEXP (2nd post) ]


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PostSubject: Re: The Fruit of Knowledge    Mon Jun 20, 2011 11:20 pm

It was a place of chaos. A place of evil. A place that spawned the near countless stories on the surface about places of eternal torment and the origin of all evil in his world. It was Barathrum Regnum, known as Hell to him, and it's bleak and rugged landscape lived up to the reputation it had received. For a place that was mostly used to scare children in his village, the sight of it scared him a small degree even as an adult. He was sure that had he not been so confident in his powers, not so confident in everything he had worked for, that he wouldn't have been able to last more than a few minutes here mentally.

The burden of what he was trying to accomplish, that is the ousting of Samael's consciousness, was nearly matched by simply coming to this place. But, he had complete and total trust in Iskra, and if there was anyone he'd trust his life to here or anywhere else, it'd be her. But even so, there was just something about Hell that tugged at him the wrong way, and then there was that burning. It wasn't burning from a fire or anything of that sorts, but a tingling on his skin that seemed to get more and more intense the loner he was here. From here on he would do his best to keep it blocked out of his mind.

Even the breeze felt hot and was thick with a putrid smell. Lethe approached Iskra, who had gone ahead of him a little bit, earlier, and maintained a calm and collected demeanor. "You always take me to the nicest places."

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Other: +1 TEXP (June 20th, earning 250 EXP)

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PostSubject: Re: The Fruit of Knowledge    Mon Jun 20, 2011 11:32 pm

The woman's blue stare settled on the great abyss visible just beneath the surface of the deadly lake. It wasn't a deep lake at all, and the very atmosphere of hell reached out and above the water like the claws of a beast. For her, it was alluring, as an anglerfish drew smaller creatures into its gaping maw, a morning star in the blackness.

No doubt it'd be repellant to her friend, however... the half man, half angel that this trip planned to corrupt. In a way, it was a bit of a tragedy. Iskra bore kamis as a race no ill-will outside of the ancient blood feud. Samael, as she knew him, had been a relatively quiet entity somewhere inside of her friend, and since Lethe never showed the slightest impulse to attack her, she imagined that Samael must be the good sort who only killed in self defense.

It didn't matter anymore, though. It was her objective to help out with this anyways and she really knew very little about what was going on inside of the man.

"It's beautiful in a way, isn't it?"

The blackness was. The baleful reds and the lightless flames.

"Come now..."

She'd take his hand and begin walking forward, towards the black sands of the lake's banks.

The aura of malignancy grew stronger, sicker. The water came up as she pulled until she disappeared beneath the surface.

[ EXP: 265 || +1 TEXP (1st post) ]


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PostSubject: Re: The Fruit of Knowledge    Mon Jun 20, 2011 11:42 pm

Her notion of beauty was apparently much different than his, though he supposed if one was able to remove the terrible foreboding feeling that no doubt plagued any human or kami that came near this place, it wouldn't have been that bad. There was always a standard evil associated with such a mixture of reds and blacks, each of them in their own way representing things that human beings were terrified of. It was no surprise when considering that, that the bandits of his own village often wore black or red. Everything seemed to be a cerebral thing in it's own way.

Lethe would have been lying if he had told her he was completely okay with going in this place. With the amount of anxiety he'd felt just from looking and peering down into it, actually going there was another thing entirely. On the outside Lethe was as calm and collected as he had ever been, but on the inside his emotions were like a turbulent sea under a powerful storm.

It was too late to change his mind, and he knew this. So he took a deep breath, clutched Iskra's hand tighter, and followed her into the nightmarish land.

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PostSubject: Re: The Fruit of Knowledge    Tue Jun 21, 2011 12:54 am

The lake was rather unusual in that it didn't seem to remain a lake, though where the water ended and the air began was up for debate. To any mortal, it'd seem like the water never truly ended, though at one point it seemed like air and was breathable, though it'd be like hot syrup in the lungs... a sickeningly sweet sensation that was a manifest extreme, and if there was anything that a flesh-and-blood body despised, it was extremes.

Yes, the very air seemed to be attempting to throw the soul into chaos as they transitioned onto the path to hell proper. Specifically, there was an obsidian way marked with darkness, stalactites, and caverns. They had a three hour walk ahead of them. She knew the paths through the winding labyrinths... new how to avoid the dead ends. It was part of her heritage as a demon, oddly enough, though the way would no doubt claim anyone who didn't have that precognition. Of course, she didn't have the way memorized. It was like a call coming from the infernal gates, the same force that drove the migratory birds between the poles or the salmon upstream every season to their own ends.

"How are you feeling?" she asked as they started into the blackness.

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PostSubject: Re: The Fruit of Knowledge    Wed Jun 22, 2011 5:58 am

The entire series of events was unlike anything Lethe had ever experienced in his his entire life. As he was being led into the eerie, foreboding body of water that was supposedly the entrance to hell, he had instinctively held his breath. As his body submerged and his head began it's descent, he closed his eyes. It wasn't anything out of fear. Well, that's what Lethe told himself anyway. In truth anyone who was a human reacted the same way when presented with something so foreign, so new, and thrown to the fire in a literal sense.

A few moments later he could tell they were beneath the lake, and he went to open his eyes. He quickly wish he hadn't as the air stung his delicate optics, and there wasn't much to see anyway. It was dark all around them, no sense of where they were, and the sensation of being trapped in a dark void caused Lethe to grasp tighter to Iskra's hand. The breathing didn't help much, either, as it was hot and painful with each breath he took. It was no wonder the stories about this place were so bad. He hadn't even been sure himself if it'd even existed, and now he was going right down into it.

At first Lethe only grunted in response to her question, quickly gathering himself by using his attunement over the glacial elements to remove the extreme heat that entered his lungs. The element would concentrate in his sinuses, his nostrils, his throat, all the way to his lungs. It was cold, but wasn't painful, much better than the heat, and allowed him to breath.

"As well as I can be ... " he finally managed to response.

EXP: 313
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Other: +1 TEXP (June 21, earning 250 exp)

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PostSubject: Re: The Fruit of Knowledge    Wed Jun 22, 2011 6:34 am

"Good," she answered back stiffly. She wasn't accustomed to showing the sort of tenderness to a grown man that she felt towards Lethe, and her level of concern was observably elevated due to the danger of the circumstances.

He began to channel the elemental cold, however, so there was less to worry about. The demon's hand gripped more tightly around his as they continued forward. "You should get used to the feeling... after awhile..." Her voice remained a grunt from the forced apathy. "If you ever feel like you need to rest, we can."

After half an hour, the caverns opened up to a treacherous expanse of spikes. Iskra stopped, regarding them with curiosity. "This wasn't here before..."

Her gaze traveled further and up. The spikes began as the standard stalagmites, but they began to take on a structure a little further on. They became wider at the base until they looked very much like towers surrounded by a moat of darkness and pointed stones. A few of the stones that jabbed out at the proper angles upheld small, burning embers, their placement suggesting that perhaps someone placed them there as lights.

Her hair began to bristle. This place had a tangible and elemental evil about it.

[ EXP: 245 || +1 TEXP (2nd thread) ]


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PostSubject: Re: The Fruit of Knowledge    Wed Jun 22, 2011 8:54 am

It was a peculiar thing to be walking through an area so hostile with someone that was so attuned to it. Where Lethe winced and felt the ill effects of the environment around him, Iskra seemed to be right at home. You never would have known it by looking at her, but she was powerful, resilient, and as capable as they came. If he was ever to have chosen the correct person to pledge his life to, he had certainly picked that one when it came to the hyena demon.

"I hope so." Lethe responded in a labored manner, a few light coughs interrupting his speech. Even with the cool elements working upon his system, it was still painful. He was glad he'd come here with her. If he'd somehow attempted this on his own he had no doubts he'd be dead within a few days, if that. The people of this place were going to be hostile enough, but the environment was even more so.

He continued following her, all of his trust in her movements, until they stopped. The sight before him was an imposing one; what seemed like a valley of spikes which led to odd looking infrastructure. "What is it?"

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PostSubject: Re: The Fruit of Knowledge    Wed Jun 22, 2011 9:06 am

The demon wouldn't notice at first, but the hair along the edge of her neck began rising in ridges as she looked upon the compound.

"I'm really not sure. Someone must have build it but... it's not been that long since I've come down this way... a week tops." A shape flickered near the black ceiling above. "Whoever built this thing must have done it really fast. It looks like it's been here since before the world was born, though. Look at it."

Indeed, the imposing spires wound as though their maker had established them eons ago instead of a mere few days, but the residual aura of magic, like radiation, still stuck around above the default feel of the path to hell's belly.

"Trespassers. State your business on the land of Lord Haneul."

Iskra jumped forward before she turned, losing her friend's hand in the violence of the surprised gesture. A tall guard stood before her eyes, lost in a suit of armor so black that only his gleaming, red eyes and the glint off of the gold metal of his pike really stood out in the shadows of the landscape. The armored humanoid couldn't have been any less than ten feet tall, and every inch was bulked out beneath the suit.

She composed herself and answered back with relative calm. As a general rule, she tried not to upset people in Barathrum Regnum despite her apathy on the realm above, simply because demons tended to be a stronger, less merciful lot and she could be more easily overwhelmed, especially since she had her friend with her. "We seek only passage. We mean no insult to your Lord."

The man didn't move much. "Is that so?" he rumbled. His helmet shifted so the red-eyed visor pointed towards Lethe. "A human on the way to hell? Are you on some black pilgrimage? Speak."

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PostSubject: Re: The Fruit of Knowledge    Thu Jun 23, 2011 11:14 am

Lethe's eyes narrowed on the ominous view that had met them. If she had been here just a week earlier and this thing has suddenly sprouted up like it seemingly had, he didn't like the sound of it. The amount of dangerous powers and life threatening areas in this realm were already everywhere he turned to look, and it seemed as if they were going to have to pass through one that had been constructed by some powerful black magic.

For some reason, Iskra's lack of knowledge on the structure after having been here recently was troubling to him, and the sound of an imposing voice didn't help the human sit any better. His gaze drifted to the source, where it met a massive, imposing armored humanoid. It's glowing red eyes were intense, and when it's eyes caught his form he could have sworn the gaze was burning holes in him. It seemed to be interested in why he was here. Lethe wasn't sure who or what this thing was, but since Iskra had shown it a f orm respect he was going to do the same.

"I am here to rid myself of the consciousness of a possession." He responded promptly. Lethe made a point to not show any fear, or even the slightest tinge of intimidation. If need be he'd simply transform and match the humanoid's height, but then that'd expose him as a kami. Yeah, let's not do that.


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Other: +1 TEXP (June 22, earned 250 exp)

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PostSubject: Re: The Fruit of Knowledge    Thu Jun 23, 2011 11:47 am

From where they stood in the black landscape, the guard may as well have been basalt for all his expression apparently changed, though since the twin red lamps that she imagined were eyes continued to remain focused in their direction, he must have been processing what Lethe had to say.

He slowly moved a dark hand to his shadowed chin, apparently stroking it as the warm breeze picked up. "The consciousness of a possession. So that would explain the presence of a half-kami in our domain." His hand fell back down, a fist at his side. "Fortunate for you two. I'm afraid that were your motives wrong, I might have been forced to act, but since you seek knowledge that would rid the three realms of another one of those irksome light-dwellers, my master may be willing to help."

He turned to walk, though oddly, those eyes still seemed to be watching, sensing them despite the turn of his gaze. "You will follow me and be my lord's honored guests. We wish you no ill and will be quite offended at the refusal of our hospitality."

Iskra felt suspicious at first, but she had no reason to not trust the demonic guard... well, there was a reason, and that was in the surety of attack if they didn't comply versus the probability of attack if they did. She was the leader, so she made the decision. "We'll be honored." The woman looked to Lethe and took his hand again as she followed behind the armored figure.

[ EXP: 285 || +1 TEXP (5th post) ]


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PostSubject: Re: The Fruit of Knowledge    Tue Jun 28, 2011 10:09 pm

In his explanation he had actually hoped that the apparition or knight or soldier of hell would simply let them pass. Instead it seemed he'd gained the interest of the hell bound humanoid and had gotten both himself and Iskra a first class invitation into the humble abode of whoever was this thing's master. Seeing as how they were in hell he couldn't imagine that this was anyone he wanted to meet, but considering the circumstances it didn't seem like he had a choice. In his current state he didn't feel like fighting the knight, and Iskra didn't seem to quick to jump on that idea either.

Before Lethe could question Iskra about what they were going to do, she promptly accepted the guard's offer. Following her as she pulled him along, Lethe couldn't help but gaze around at the environment around him. It was definitely intimidating and probably foreboding of the place they were about to go, though if there was a list of things he was going to go to this place as an honored guest was probably one of the best.

Besides, Oni seemed to have a dislike for kamikonjoi, which Samael was. With any luck whoever this guy was would actually help them rid him of Samael's consciousness, and wouldn't try to kill him and rip the spirit out of him in some morbid ritual. Yes, that last part was most unpleasant.

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Other: +1 TEXP (June 28th, earned 250 EXP)

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PostSubject: Re: The Fruit of Knowledge    Wed Jun 29, 2011 10:25 am

The blackness grew even darker as they walked towards the lights of the castle. The entirety of the building was composed of metal and stone spikes, but the metal was only the sootiest sort, like a cast-iron skillet or a blacksmith's forge. The path leading up to the building was marked by taller spikes, each as tall as a man, and the path was composed of ashen grey polygonal tiles all interlocked. For Iskra, the spikes made her feel safer. They were the sort of thing that would prevent a particularly large creature from being able to land and snap her up, if she were still a beast. It was the same sort of security that came from a well-secured den.

They passed beneath an archway that apparently lead underground and the path suddenly lit up. Directly ahead of them there was a lava pit, and beyond that the path became a staircase with spikes spread out ahead of an open-slit aperture that emitted a creamy white light.

As they progressed across the lava bridge and up the stairs, Iskra became vaguely aware of the rocks floating, upheld by nothing, above the pits. No doubt there was powerful magic in this place.

Beyond the light there was a throne room, where a figure sat disinterestedly.

The figure before her might be difficult to describe in certain terms like "humanoid" or "bestial". Rather, he was both. He was bipedal like a human from the way he sat on his throne and the way his ribcage and upper body were shaped, but any semblance to the human race he had was confined largely to his chest area and arms, the hands of which were tipped in thick, brute claws. His lower body was covered in thick, burnt-colored fur, and his legs were curved and tipped in sharp hooves. His head matched the bovine properties of his feet, the look completed by two truly massive horns and a nose ring. Unlike a bull, however, his teeth protruded, sharp and black as onyx and curved outwards like the edges of a particularly large Venus flytrap. His beady, red eyes glinted gently in the soothing light of his chambers, reflecting off of his armor and the oiled rears of a pair of female satyr-like creatures that lay across his lap wearing barely anything at all but chains.

"Sothis," and his voice was somewhere between a hammer coming down on a hot, half-formed sword and a car door slamming. "Why do you bring these beggars to disturb me?"

The large armored man keeled down. "This seed of a kami seeks corruption."

"Is that so?" his gaze shifted and his voice was full of a monstrous curiosity. Iskra was disinclined to correct him on their assumptions. After all, Lethe knew what he wanted and there was something about the strength of magic in this area that made her feel humble. Very humble. The ox-man's heavy arm swept the pair of satyrs off of her lap and they scrambled sheepishly off into an adjacent chamber. "Why do you seek this?"

[ EXP: 578 || +1 TEXP (2nd thread) ]


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PostSubject: Re: The Fruit of Knowledge    Wed Jun 29, 2011 10:48 am

The phrase into the belly of the beast seemed appropriate here, as the farther the duo followed the walking set of armor the darker their surroundings got. Lethe wasn't an excitable or a easily frightened person by any stretch of the imagination, but the darkness made him uneasy. Even in the forest under the shroud of night, the moon and the stars maintained a constant state of light around him. Part of it wasn't even the darkness, though, it was the fact that there was no life around them. Sure, there were the other demons, but everything seemed to be so depraved and devoid of anything he would have considered good. Appropriate for this place, probably.

Keeping a stoic look upon his face, Lethe kept close to Iskra, creeping closer to her than he even had before. The area they were in was not only dark, but had an imposing display of spiked architecture. Somehow he was sure Iskra liked such things, but he wasn't a fan at all, which was evidence by his relief upon coming to the owner of this domain.

After seeing the man he'd wished he'd made a wrong turn and had ended up somewhere else. Human or humanoid fit him about as well as beastly of monstrous did. The only thing that didn't disturb Lethe to some degree were the type female type creatures draped across the thing. At least they seemed more human than him. The one that had brought them there explained the situation to the owner, who responded in turn asking why Lethe sought such a thing. He'd answered turthfully before, so he figured he may as well do the same now. "I wish to maintain the power he gives me, but remove him consciousness from within. He is a cumbersome and annoying thing, and he only hinders what power I could have without his constant input."

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Other: +1 TEXP (June 28th, earned 250 exp)

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PostSubject: Re: The Fruit of Knowledge    Wed Jun 29, 2011 11:46 am

The brute brought his fingers around his hair-draped chin, stroking the dark beard interestedly as he regarded the hybrid before him.

"It is not uncommon for humans to ask favors of demons," he began, standing up from his cushy throne, which may have been called a La-Z-Boy chair before the dawn, but was now encrusted with various skulls and gems and re-purposed into a full-fledged throne capable of upholding such a mass. "Usually they ask for you to perform some trivial task before they give you what you desire. I have no such silly intentions. I only seek knowledge. Sothis, bring me the ceremonial needles and the appropriate scrolls. Come, human, woman, this way."

The throne room led to yet another alcove, and as the minotaur ushered them in the direction, he explained more in his unearthly, rumbling speech. "You could call me a collector of curiosities... of knowledge from the realms. This is my home and my library. I invented a manner of writing after the spell-symbols of the higher demons. Since then, I have been inscribing anecdotes and such. I've come across a ceremony that might be what you need."

Iskra felt uneasy. He was being entirely too helpful for an onikonjou inhabiting this realm. She followed reluctantly, but with every nerve on edge.

"Is this woman your leader, human, or your temptress?"

"Leader." The answer was short and direct from Iskra for a number of reasons that might not be readily apparent. Firstly, if the lord of this manor perceived some romantic relationship between the two, he might seek to exploit it. Secondly, "seductress" implied submission, to some extent, and she wished to make it clear that she was the boss.

The bull exhaled gruffly, something like a half-done snort. "Very well. Then this is your decision to make."

They arrived in a room lit by the perpetually glowing red rocks from deeper in onitoshi, and the pure red-and-black of the room was infinitely disconcerting. The light was the hue of blood, and it covered everything so thoroughly that it would suffer no other colors be visible except itself. In the middle of the red room was a large table, and to either side of the table were bloodstained stone tablets.

The armored man arrived shortly afterwards, carefully unrolling a parchment on the table and setting various instruments carefully around the rest of the surface. Primarily, there was a mortar and pestle set; a few needles of various size, some of them hollow; a small hammer; a large vial of some dark substance that moved just enough to make it look like it was quivering with some unholy life; and a few tubes and siphons.

"This is your choice then, woman. Do you wish your underling free of the kamikonjou? I can see why you would."

Iskra frowned openly at the display before her, though she wasn't outright afraid of it as she was suspicious. Honestly, it wasn't for her. It was to free her friend. Her eyes, colorless in the saturated light, glanced over at Lethe. "I'll allow him to make this decision."

[ EXP: 613 ]


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PostSubject: Re: The Fruit of Knowledge    Thu Jun 30, 2011 2:31 am

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PostSubject: Re: The Fruit of Knowledge    Thu Jun 30, 2011 3:13 am

Needles. Lots and lots of needles. The hue that the room was bathed in didn't help the atmosphere of the place, as in unison with the blood stained stone slabs it seemed that the entire area had been bathed in blood. It was mostly the affect of the lighting and the fact that Lethe was in an area he was none too comfortable in, but he had trouble understanding why ridding himself of Samael's consciousness required such measures. What were the needles for? Were they going to poke him in the head and draw him out that way? There were very few scenarios he could come up with where he didn't die from this beast's measures.

"With all due respect, I want to make myself clear. I only want to be rid of his consciousness, not his soul or the power it grants me. If you're going to remove him completely, then I have no interests in your services. I trust you're able to do that? Furthermore, what is the meaning of all these tools? I'm aware that you're probably well versed on what you're doing, but how well they'll work on a human .... do you know? These tools look like they'd more readily kill me than help me in any sense of the word." Lethe spoke with distrust in a powerful tone. He didn't want these oni to believe him to be intimidated by them, and considering where they were he realized they may have been led into a trap. "So, I simply wish to know more of this procedure before I agree to it."

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Other: +1 TEXP (June 29th, earned 250 exp)

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PostSubject: Re: The Fruit of Knowledge    Thu Jun 30, 2011 10:36 pm

The minotaur once again stroked his chin, seeming perplexed by the curiosity of this being before him. Like all demons, he held far-reaching, negative stereotypes about humans, but since Lethe was half-kami as far as he knew, he also invoked all of the ancient, instinctive prejudices that he held against kamikind.

"...services, human?"

Iskra stepped in for the moment. "He didn't mean that."

The stroking stopped.

"He doesn't mean that, my liege," the suit of armor started.

"Silence." The statement seemed directed at the armored entity behind him. "It will put a simple tattoo on your flesh and soul... a mere few days of pain. I understand that humans are easily frightened." Something not unlike a grin stretched his toothed maw. "It is an excusable weakness in your breed. I thought perhaps you might be different since you were down here, after all." With a hearty laugh, he began to retreat back to the throne room. "I'm old and curious about things as well. Don't tarry too long."

[ EXP: 204 || +1 TEXP (2nd thread) ]


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PostSubject: Re: The Fruit of Knowledge    Fri Jul 01, 2011 12:05 am

It hadn't occured to Lethe that using a word like 'services' when referring to something a demon was going to do wouldn't be the smartest thing to do. Humans weren't ones to take offense to such a question since there was hardly any usage of the word that they would take as someone serving another. For instance, he could provide the service of protection to a smaller village with his troops, but he wouldn't consider that servitude or taking away from his power. Demons, on the other hand, plainly did considering the reaction from the minotaur looking creature and the quickly issued retraction by Iskra. He'd have to be more mindful of what he said in the future, that was for sure.

Weakness. Now there was a word Lethe didn't like being associated with himself. He could admit that most humans, especially the average human, were weak spineless cowards. But he was anything but normal, and he certainly wasn't going to stand for being cast down in such a way. He wasn't going to fight this creature or anything like that, and there was only one course of action he saw that could remedy such an opinion. "Very well, I'll submit to the procedure."

Lethe approached Iskra, patting her shoulder. "Watch over me?" He wasn't sure what else to say. For all he knew this thing could kill him.

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PostSubject: Re: The Fruit of Knowledge    Sat Jul 02, 2011 11:10 am

Iskra looked into Lethe's amber eyes... such a more beastly color than her own. Honestly, she didn't know that whatever this demon was planning wouldn't kill him, but if it didn't, then he'd be free from the oppressiveness of the kami (for in her mind all kami were oppressive and sought to restrict the free expression of life).

Perhaps he wouldn't know, but this first human visage she had donned was a reflection of him. The hair was white because of his. The skin was dark because of his. When she felt friendless in the world, he had been a friend... no... more than a friend.

Gently, she took his head in her hands and licked him gently on the cheek. Words of affection escaped her, but she hoped to convey with the gesture the immensity of emotion that she felt and how broken she would be if anything ever happened to him. "We are strong. He can't hurt us."

The minotaur had turned when the hybrid expressed a willingness to proceed with the procedure, and his jaggedly-toothed face lit up with a calm delight. "Excellent. I knew you had the testicles somewhere." The monster snapped his fingers.

And it seemed the stones from the very floor reacted with a freakish speed. In a moment, two stones, of similar composition to the spikes outside, had grabbed hold of the two foreign entities and with much rumbling and noise, fastened them to the bloodied twin slabs adjacent the table.

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PostSubject: Re: The Fruit of Knowledge    Sat Jul 02, 2011 12:26 pm

Up until this point Iskra's mere presence had relieved Lethe gradually of the apprehension he had of coming to this place. There would always be some degree of apprehension present regardless, of course, but just her being around made him feel as confident in his odds at living as he possibly could. Even now, when he was about to undergo a procedure that for all he knew would rend him into different pieces (Oni weren't exactly known for playing nice with kami, after all), Iskra had the unique ability to make his nerves feel at ease. He was surprised when she grabbed his face, but even more surprised when she licked him. It was an odd gesture by human standards, but it didn't take him but a couple seconds to realize it was a hyena gesture, and he assumed it was something between a hug and a kiss. Whatever it was, it was nice and it evoked a brief smile.

The smile was brief because before he could continue he was abruptly taken down and strapped to a piece of rock. He guessed it was rock, anyway. From what he could see it looked to be similar to the spikes outside of the area when they were entering, and the realization that he was no strapped down to the same material caused Lethe's face to scrunch in disgust. Surely something bad was going to happen ...

Oh well, he couldn't do anything about it now. As the demon put it, he'd have to show him he had some balls. Whatever was coming, he was ready. In fact, he was more concerned with Iskra than himself, "Why does she need to be strapped down as well?"

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PostSubject: Re: The Fruit of Knowledge    Sun Jul 03, 2011 2:07 am

The immense demon didn't answer immediately. He simply picked up one of the larger, hollow needles and experimentally poked the edge to ensure its sharpness. "Because we need her blood for the ritual."

Iskra blinked, not sure whether to be openly frightened or dignified. She had a notable fear of confinement... of being held down, but such a thing was common to many creatures. That fear, though she reflexively struggled against her bonds, failed to overcome her innate need to keep face in front of her lackey.

In the end, she decided on dignified fright, craning her neck to attempt to see what was going on, but her chin and jaw were held firmly in place by the now-shiftless stone arches beneath them. Her body was stretched out, spread-eagle, this much she could tell before the suit of armor quietly knocked her unconscious.

The gesture wouldn't be immediately apparent to Lethe because of the darkness of the room and the distance between the pair.

With a grunt, the minotaur marched over to her and unceremoniously jabbed the needle into her heart. When it was firmly in place, he attached it to a tube that led to one of the large mortars laid out. When a sufficient amount of blood had been pumped out of her chest, he closed it off crudely with a clasp and carefully put a drop of the black substance from the vial into the bowl. Upon combining with the blood, it sparked , and when he began grinding the fluids together it gradually began to give off a steady glow.

Satisfied with this, he picked up one of the smaller needles and dipped it in the mixture. Separated from the rest of the bowl, it turned a dark blue color that looked black in the sanguine half-light and remained this color until the bull-man began carefully making thin slices in the hybrid's flesh with the tainted, sharp-edged needle.

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PostSubject: Re: The Fruit of Knowledge    Sun Jul 03, 2011 11:13 am

Lethe didn't like the darkness. Usually he loved it, but not here. On the surface the darkness was met with the vision of the stars and the other heavenly sights that came along with it. It was like a bright, living painting. Here, on the other hand, the darkness to absolute and overbearing. The only source of light being a red glow didn't help, and neither did being tied down. For a brief moment he felt the urge to call out to Iskra, more than anything to see if she was alright with the idea still. But he couldn't imagine her backing out now, not with how that'd look to him in her point of view.

She was knocked unconscious though unbeknownst to him, and it would have been a good thing in the end that he hadn't seen it. In addition to her being knocked out, the brutal methods the demon went about extracting blood would have sent the possessed human into a rage; who knows what would've happened. Unleashing Samael at this point would be a terrible, terrible idea.

Soon the demon came over. Lethe couldn't see him, but he noticed the weight of his steps and the stench the beast carried with him. He couldn't even see what he was doing, but it became apparent that the tattoo process was to be none too pleasant as soon as he cut into Lethe's flesh. The gesture brought about a wince, but the human gathered as much of himself as he good to maintain a stoic expression. He would show no fear, no weakness in the presence of this beast as he finished the rest of the ritual.

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PostSubject: Re: The Fruit of Knowledge    Mon Jul 04, 2011 6:52 am

An odd landscape existed behind the hyena's eyelids, known to very few but herself. This place was a land of wraiths and feelings like colors floating as glyphs and shades, forming and unforming, half alive in her own spirit. This was the land that she drew her powers from, and as a born-spirit, her soul was a chamber unto itself as a mortal's is.

Unlike most people's mental landscapes, however, hers was a land of color and substance. Namely, it was a vast and beautiful savannah trimmed on all sides by woods and lakes.

Here, she could converse with her old clan, who passively observed all that went on in an odd way. They'd told her before that they were only "awake" in this landscape when she was physically there. The rest of the time they simply experienced whatever she was experiencing while awake, though they shared her consciousness and had no way to talk to her or influence her actions. Indeed, they were only themselves when she was asleep.

Occasionally she saw others, but only when they wished to manifest. Sometimes she saw Lethe's father, though he was usually taking a nap. Often she saw random spirit mice or demon toads that she'd eaten and hardly remembered.

But most frequently she saw a snow leopard.

He existed on the mountains of her apparent imagination, and she could never quite talk to him. He'd always disappear into a cave or a nook or a crack or the space between sheets of ice without a single word. Even now he appeared and promptly disappeared below the lone lake of her soul-place.

Hey, she shouted in her mind as usual come back...

For she'd never eaten a snow leopard and for the life of her she couldn't remember where this one had come from.

But Iskra woke shortly afterwards, it seemed. The ritual had taken some hours, and she felt very drained, though she found she still couldn't move.

"It is finished."

The announcement came from the gruff voice of the beast as he finished the final cuts. "It will bleed for awhile. I suggest you not move much."

The rock columns immediately released their pair of prisoners, though the hyena devil still felt too weary to move. He plucked the needle from her chest and she couldn't suppress a brief yelp.

It bled, however, so her immediate impulse was to lick it and thus start the healing process. "You..." she began between awkward strokes of her tongue as it dawned on her that the weakness she felt might be anemia. "You stabbed me?"

Then again, it was a ritual. Such measures could be expected.

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PostSubject: Re: The Fruit of Knowledge    Thu Jul 07, 2011 10:03 am

Whether or not he had noticed it or not, Iskra had remained unconscious for the entire duration of the process. Lethe was less fortunate, however, and he'd remained awake throughout the entire ordeal. There were plenty of times he could have allowed himself to fall into an unconscious state, succumbing to the pain of it all and allowing his world to blacken until the procedure was over, but he couldn't allow that. It was a source of pride for him, as well as honor. If he'd given in to the pain and shown weakness to the demon, he would have lost his honor and performed an act not worthy of one that keeps pride.

So with end incision, with each puncture, with each slice he stayed awake. He didn't allow himself to cry out, or even grunt. Instead a simple expression change - most often a gritting of the teeth - was all he ever responded with to the brutal tactics of the ritual. To make matters worse it was a ritual that took a long time to complete, this particular one taking several hours. Minutes bled to hours and the hours felt like days. He was sure he was reaching his limit when it all finally ended. The gruff demon announced that the ritual was complete, and Lethe was released from his metallic shackles.

At first he couldn't move. His entire body burned as if a fiery flame had been bast into half his screen. Since they were tattoos there was bleeding but nothing he couldn't handle. it seemed the demon had in fact used heat in some parts, and this had expedited the clotting process. Lethe found himself naked as he sat up, looking along his body to see that tattoos now ran down the entire length of one half of his body. They didn't burn in a general area like a regular burn, but instead hurt in the exact spots he was tattooed. It was an odd sensation, and he could make out the designs on his body just by closing his eyes.

Running his finger lightly across the tattoos on his face, his gaze shifted to Iskra who was still on the table bleeding. "Is she going to be okay?" He asked upon seeing her out of reaction.

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PostSubject: Re: The Fruit of Knowledge    Thu Jul 07, 2011 10:34 am

The woman actually healed rather quickly from the puncture wound. It was an odd property of her spirit that she could... hold things... knowledge.... feelings... even souls. Every creature she ate, she did so without diminishing the life in them. Rather, they lived on in her, and their lives contributed to her own vitality in the way a lake's ability to survive a dry spell was only enhanced by the addition of more water. The nexus of this power was her mouth and her saliva, so naturally this gave her spittle healing properties, though they weren't nearly as robust when she employed them on herself.

It was sufficient to aid her recovery, however. "Of course I'll be fine," she grumbled aloud, rather sourly at her concerned lackey. It wasn't necessarily any intentional malice she had towards him as it was annoyance at the nature of the previous procedure and how helpless she'd been just moments prior.

The minotaur appeared satisfied with his work, though he didn't move to intervene or flinch at all when the demon shoved her nude servant back on the table and began licking all over his form. The wounds were bleeding. Perhaps she was a little grouchy or hungry, but her goal was to convey the healing effects of her tongue on the wounds that the primitive tattooing process had inflicted.

He watched for a moment with an emotionless stare that might have been creepy to any normal people before he turned. "I am satisfied. You two were the only ones to survive the process. I will look further into this."

Soon the bull-man had left the room, and his loyal suit of armor after him.

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PostSubject: Re: The Fruit of Knowledge    Sat Jul 09, 2011 12:08 pm

So moist. So warm. So soothing. So ... nice.

Laying on his back, Iskra above him, it seemed for the first few moments Lethe didn't even realize what Iskra was attempting to do with what she was doing. He just had a typical instinctual reaction to it and took it at face value: an attractive woman licking all over his are body. A goofy grin plastered his face in those beginning moments, in fact, painfully obvious to all around the way he was taking it. Furthermore even if it hadn't had healing properties he probably wouldn't have noticed since the tingling sensation that accompanied her healing passes could have easily been mistaken for something else.

It was then he realized that he was naked. And she was licking him. And his body was reacting oh so differently than he should have been. Sitting up, Lethe pushed Iskra away from his body. It wasn't forceful or anything that could be taken aggressively, but would have seemed more a gesture of a surprised man. With a nervous laugh Lethe spun around on the table, his head darting around for his clothes. "Uh..." His white hair flapped back and forth in the air as his head pivoted from side to side.

Ah, there they were!

Hopping off the table Lethe quickly traversed over to his clothes, which had been messily thrown to the ground. "Thank you, Iskra, but I think I'll be fine. I appreciate your help, though." He said as he began to put them on. His wounds still burned, but he blocked any pain from his mind and simply pushed through it.

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PostSubject: Re: The Fruit of Knowledge    Sat Jul 09, 2011 9:30 pm

Iskra found herself lightly pushed off of her lackey, which might have been offensive if it weren't for 2 obvious signs of submission: a laugh and stiffened genitals. Those were signs of submission in her native culture, anyhow, and on an instinctive level, it didn't occur to her to interpret them as anything different.

By the time he'd hopped off the table, hardly flopping, and recovered his clothes, she considered the task done anyways. The mystically-imbued saliva would soak into his skin and travel throughout his bloodstream, reviving cells and mending the torn tissue. Soon there wouldn't be any pain at all.

Rather ironic, considering that she had so much pain locked up inside her soul that she could release it at any given time. She was a sponge, of sorts, for these things.

But she nodded at her underling and looked towards the door. "I think we'd better get out of here." Concern laced her voice. The atmosphere here still wasn't good for the ice warrior.

"Come on..." she started off for the door, wondering if there was any way out that wouldn't involve having to pass by the minotaur again. After all, it wasn't normal for a demon to just do an "experiment" on someone and let them go.

The suit of armor appeared as she peeked around the doorway. "I will escort you out."

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PostSubject: Re: The Fruit of Knowledge    Tue Jul 12, 2011 2:14 pm

Ah, finally that was over. It seemed that no matter how many times the warrior from the northern forests fought in battles and suffered through immeasurable amounts of pain at the hands of demons, he still couldn't prevent himself from becoming embarrassed at his body's reactions to Iskra's attempt to heal him. He quickly put on all of his clothes and made sure that he had everything. Not only would it be awkward for him to have to return to this place to get anything he left behind, but he couldn't imagine it'd be pleasant for him, especially if Iskra wasn't to come along.

Even after a short amount of time had passed between the licking and him being fully clothes, the healing properties of the hyena's saliva was incredible to say the least. Where an intense, almost painful burning once danced across his body, it had subsided into almost nothing besides a faint tingling. He momentarily found himself touching the tattoos to make sure they were still there, and was thoroughly surprised when it didn't hurt to the touch in the least.

Lethe did follow the directions he was told from Iskra, and quickly fell in line behind her as they were led out. "Nothing like being led out by tall, dark, and gruesome." He mumbled to his leader as they followed the armored brute. He made sure to keep his voice down as to avoid it being audible to their guide "Who was that guy?" He asked, referring to the minotaur looking creature.

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PostSubject: Re: The Fruit of Knowledge    Tue Jul 12, 2011 11:50 pm

Iskra took a good look around at the entire structure. There were probably lots of secrets and knowledge locked up in this structure. She'd definitely have to come back at some point.

"I don't really know," she replied honestly. This structure must have simply popped up overnight or in the course of a few weeks.

"He's the lord of this area," the suit replied as though they'd been talking aloud. "It is his ambition to become a gatekeeper of sorts. He does not want the soft influence of the human world to leech into this place. He wishes for the demons to remain pure and for the kamikonjou and surface-world demons to be weakened by interbreeding so that he can lead an army to conquer the realm with ease."

Well, if that wasn't awkward, it was certainly confusing.

"Well, I'm a surface-world demon and he's a mixed kamikonjou, so if your intent was not to offend or challenge us, why do you tell us this?"

"Because," the armor replied apathetically, gently putting them on the other side of the door. "You can't really do anything about it."

The massive castle entrance shut in their faces.

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PostSubject: Re: The Fruit of Knowledge    Wed Jul 13, 2011 10:42 pm

There was something about being challenged that just set Lethe in a particular mood. This mood usually brought about intense feelings of competition, and the intense urge to rip the throat out of whoever had challenged him. In this case it was a hulking talking suit of armor, one that Lethe wasn't even sure if he had a throat within that tin can shell of his.

As the door slammed in their face, Lethe growled deeply in defiance at the assertion, more to himself than anything since the giant door was now separating him from the offender. "We'll see about that ..." The young warrior mumbled to himself, his eyes narrowing upon the area from which they'd just came.

In all the excitement of their trip down within, it would seem that Lethe had completely forgotten about the toll this realm was taking on his body. Of course it wasn't just on his regular body either, it seemed to be affecting his mind as well, even though that was in the form of a light headache. Something about the air in this realm wasn't right. Lethe took a stop forward, lost his balance, and fell to one knee. His entire body burned, not just from the tattoo but from the environment he was in. It seemed that he was so built up on adrenaline and other attention drawing spectacles that he hadn't properly shielded himself from the unforgiving environment he was in.

Pushing himself back to his feet, legs burning, Lethe motioned at Iskra, "Let's get out of here, yeah?"

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PostSubject: Re: The Fruit of Knowledge    Thu Jul 14, 2011 9:23 am

Iskra raised a bone-colored brow at her lackey's perturbation. Honestly, she was accustomed to such displays of ego from demons, but unlike the Barathrum Regnum natives, she had been raised in a more practical realm. On the surface world, animals and their spirit representatives seldom locked themselves into mortal combat, simply because such fighting would cost too much energy in a land of limited resources and might even leave the injured victor vulnerable to attacks by scavenging aggressors.

Yes, she always avoided unnecessary conflict unless it was against a weak and timid creature like a human or a person that followed her, one that she had to establish dominance over in a bid to save energy arguing with and subjugating them in the future.

It seems, however, that the entire ordeal had left Lethe drained a bit.

The woman frowned for a moment. Lethe was family to her... a lover, practically. When he stood up, she didn't allow him to object. She simply slung him over her back with her unusual strength and began to quietly carry him away from the castle.

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PostSubject: Re: The Fruit of Knowledge    Thu Jul 21, 2011 11:10 am

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