When Rivals Meet
The flame of the blazing torch bashfully licked the walls of the damp cathedral ruins, spreading it's light across the long, empty hall; every piece of debris lying around, such as broken seats, columns, walls, vigilant statues, produced currents of dust, clouding the furthest wall engulfed under threatening shadows. Yet, a lone warrior pressed on, seemingly unafraid of his eerily silent surroundings; where most men would have gone mad to hear only their own footsteps ring against the stone ground for more than a half hour of travelling the catacombs beneath these ruins while fighting murderous reanimated skeletons, this warrior seemed impervious to such challenges. With an indomitable will, he kept exploring the depths of the ruins, his armor clattering it's plates, chain-mails against each other, the scabbard of his slender blade clapped against his leather-clad thigh as he took cautious, yet, confident steps forward; his gloved right hand held a sword of magnificent elegance with a slender, long blade, a fancy hilt twirling around the bearer's hand much like a rapier design and a heavy pommel to balance the weapon. His tainted an worn scarlet red surcoat fluttered in protest over the fluted plate armor on his chest, but the red plume protruding from the knightly helm trailed gracefully, endorsing the confidence of this fighter. On his left hip, a black, simple buckler slightly dangled from it's secure straps, ready to parry any incoming hits from smaller targets.
It seemed that his tireless efforts of pushing through these obscenely morbid as he finally reached an opening which lead to what seemed to be the sanctuary of this gods-forsaken place; the torch seemed to have turned powerless in this room as the unnatural darkness seemed to engulf not only any source of light, but life too. His eyes ever vigilant, the warrior decided not to walk straight in the middle of the circular room, instead, he found the idea to walk along the walls much more appropriate and much more safe. With the torch held above his head and his sword ready to gouge any challenger, he turned to the right and started walking... until, at one point, took a terrorized backstep from what he thought to be one of those giant man-eating ghouls, rotten flesh melting down old, yellow bones. He raised his sword, ready to fight the unholy fiend, though it seemed that the skull of the monster did not move from the wall, as, the torch's light barely flickered across the shapes of it's head. From his experience, these monsters do not feign death or pretend to be statues, they attack any living human being, or wretched hollow, on sight; yet, this one remained still. On a closer inspection with the torch held in front of him almost like a shield, the warrior soon found that to his own relief, it was nothing but a decorative statue made of bones and skulls, the apparent rotten flesh was but heavily weaved spider webs. The sight was still chilling for the eye, but he was more than glad he didn't have to fight it here in the pitch black room. At least, not this monster. Although the latest few hours seemed to have been a continuous nightmare for him, he still felt that he was reaching the closure of this terrorizing chapter of his long journey; with a brief flick of his side sword, he cuts some webbing to explore along the walls some more, finding more and more statues shaped from bones only... human bones, he recons. But as he walked on, soon, he started to hear more noises other than his own leathery footsteps pacing against the dirty marble; he took a few furtive glances over his back, but all that he could see were the chilling statues gazing over the ground in a brooding silence... the one that chilled him the most was a statue of a mother, he presumed, holding an obviously defunct infant in her bony grasp, her jaw opened wide. He could hear her shriek of agony and pain as her child dies in her own hands... or it may be that she's the one to consume the infant? Realizing that he was slowly loosing his sanity, the warrior hurried his pace, realizing with a great dismay that this room must be one of those accursed relics he had met before: it is never ending and he was sure that, judging by it's first appearance, he should have completed three laps and a quarter, yet, he did not find the door through which he entered. If this was some fowl trickery, it was a good one as every time he crossed by a statue, it would be extremely different compared to the previous one... no.
The warrior came to a full halt, his throat released a gasp under the shocking realization he had come to: the statues were following him when he was not looking, taking different poses as he progressed. He clutched to his sword tightly, leather on leather groaned as his leather clad fingers tightened their grip on the elegant handle of his side sword. He furtively turned his head over his right shoulder, the blue eyes hidden safely under the helmet peered wide open over the statue with the infant, standing right there, behind him, but the child was not in her grasp anymore: it's head was stuck and crushed by the strong, rock-like jaw of the statue, the eyes of the mother watching the warrior closely and betraying her intentions. The warrior swiftly clamped the torch on a holder near him and drew his buckler instead while pointing the needle-like tip of the sword straight at the statue, taking a defensive stance in order to prepare for the worst; yet, the statue did not move, his frustration growing while his patience ran short. Knowing that a swing at it would most likely chip the edge of his sword, he found it should be best to impale the statue, as it looked vulnerable enough to be gouged; with all of the courage he still had left in him, the warrior took a leap forward and with a strong yank of his whole arm, he trusted the weapon straight in between the statue's eyes... and finally he obtained a reaction. He quickly pulled his weapon back out and swiftly rolled away from the two skeleton hands trying to grasp at him, clattering sounds filling the chamber as the statue was now moving towards him with a single goal in it's ghoulish mind. The warrior then started his graceful battle dance by effectively sidestepping from the statue's attempts to hurt him and threw pokes at it when he found a perfect window; while he wasn't doing a lot of destruction on the statue, this warrior's true weapon was patience as he took his time to defeat the statue effectively without suffering much, save for a gash made on his left leg, but 'tis but a scratch. A bleeding one. But after a painfully long display of dexterity, the warrior finally took grip of his sword with both of his hands and with a considerate momentum, he charged forward with all his might, delivering a horizontal sweep of his weapon strong enough to section through the statue and cut the spine nearly in half, but the rather strong bone marrow of the vertebra clutched the sword tightly, leaving the warrior stuck; he realized that this could be his doom, as the statue only had to clutch it's hands unto him and tear his flesh apart. But to his relief, the statue exploded violently, sending shattered bones everywhere in the room, a black, pulpy mass fell from the marrows of the skeleton, it's pitiful attempts to drag itself away from the victor ended in a noisy splatter as the warrior crushed the ooze with the heel of his armored boot.
He took a moment to feast upon the milky, sweet taste of his victory as he noticed that the room seemed to have returned to it's former size, which wasn't all that large, it seemed actually much smaller than anticipated since his torch was now able to light up the entire room. But in the middle of it, as if the statues were not a gruesome sight already, stood a torture device in the shape of a pyramid: a Judas Cradle. The warrior realized now what kind of "sanctuary" he accessed as he could feel the taste of bile in the back of his throat at the sight of the dirty object laying on a pedestal as if it was some statue of a great hero; but once he approached it, he realized that the material the torture apparatus was made of was platinum bedrock. He quickly reached for one of the pouches at his waist and pulled out a piece of a charcoal-like object with which he quickly drew a cross on the stone; once he'd done so, several other similar marks appeared, denoting that other Shades like him had passed through here. So, he took himself a moment to tend to his wound by chomping down a fruit of sorts, which immediately closed the wound and numbed any lingering pain and when he felt ready, the warrior then explored the room a little more, until he discovered a lever that opened up a passage behind one of the statues. He did not need to carry the torch with him, as the narrow corridor was filled with the light of the other end leading to the exterior of this mad hole. He pushed himself out and promptly slid down a rope ladder leading to a narrow valley; once his feet touched the dirt below, he took one more look over his head at the morbid cathedral before he took off with his next chapter of the journey... or maybe not. The warrior, not being cautious to his surroundings, took a wrong step and tripped over, causing him to fall down to his death below.
"Oh, for the love of-!" yelled a voice peaked with pure frustration.
The warrior reappears in front of the Judas Cradle, the latest checkpoint.
"So he kills The Tickler in one run, but he gets beaten by the map!" claimed another voice, barely concealing his laughter.
"Grr, shut up, Silas, you're the one who got the 'Idiot' achievement one hour in the game!"
And as to mock the player even more, a box appeared on the top right corner of his screen, writing:
<<ACHIEVEMENT UNLOCKED: IDIOT
Description: Fall five times to your own death. 20P>>
"Oh, great. Thanks, Nightmare Days, thanks a lot." the other voice was now laughing loudly. The young man with large glasses on his nose rubbed his forehead in exasperation while his roommate with long blonde hair and slightly pointy ears covered his whole face out of sheer amusement. The former took the controller back up from his lap and made his warrior character sit down in front of the torture apparatus and placed it on the rug, so he could grab a slice of lukewarm pizza to munch down. Once his friend finally controlled his outburst, he leaned in and placed a hand on the player's shoulder:
"Tell me, Ray." he called "How come no one ever beats you in Pee-Vee-Pee, yet, you fail at everything else in this game? You sure you don't cheat?"
"Yes, I cheat." he replied, sarcasm flowing out of his claim like honey oozing from a honeycomb "I borrowed your hacked save to get me everything I need so that I can win, Silas."
The blonde-haired roommate shrugged, a devious grin painting his face "Hey, not everyone can handle Nightmare Days like you do, dude." he replied with the same amount of sarcasm in his tone. Ray waved him off before going to the disastrous kitchen of their dorm so he could get something to drink from the depressingly empty refrigerator; grabbing himself a can of soft drink, he noticed the utter mess the kitchen was, clearly a sign that Silas once again had the intention to cook something for the two. Ray sighed deeply and shook his head in dismay, knowing that he's supposed to clean the cluttered counter and wash the messy dishes; with great reluctance, he folds the sleeves of his comfortable hoodie, puts his can away and starts to wash every dirty dish, one by one. They were lucky enough to have warm water, really. Somewhere midway through the whole process, Ray realized he wasn't thinking of anything... how odd, was he really so worked up over a game? Sure it may be a challenge, but it wasn't difficult: life is difficult. College, study, cook, clean the damn house, pass exams, keep up with the latest discoveries regarding to astronomy... yet, here he was, doing all of these with no one's help or to count on, save for himself. And Silas. Occasionally. On his good days. Which are fairly rare.
Speaking of the devil, he pops up in the kitchen clad in his good leather jacket, a white shirt and some sharp-looking denims; he also sported an apologetic grin when he saw Ray cleaning up the dishes.
"Where do you think you're going?" asked Ray when he noticed his roommate's presence, giving him a frowned glare. Unaffected, he shrugged.
"Astounding. Out with Angelica, I suppose. And yes, I know, I shouldn't expect to see you 'till Sunday." he replied, pretty much reading Silas's mind out without much effort. "Do be careful not to spawn mini-yous." to this, his friend could only chuckle and pat Ray's shoulder.
"Dude, chill. I'm always thinking of you when we-"
"DUDE! FOR THE LOVE OF-"
The blonde roommate could only laugh out and give Ray a final pat on the shoulder before making himself disappear... but not without leaving him a considerable amount of money, like he always did. Ray peered over the money and smirked with the corner of his mouth and sighed to himself and once he finished, he reluctantly took the money and buried them into his pocket; he took his drink and re-entered the "gaming" room and took back his place, a cushion in the middle of the room in front of the large TV. The walls were decorated with posters from various other video games, shelves filled with video games and Silas's collection of figurines; Ray's absolute favorite was of a character with long, silvery hair, malicious green eyes with cat-like slits instead of pupils, clad in a black leather jacket and a shoulder pad on his left shoulder while grasping a ridiculously long Ōdachi. Without further ado, Ray picks up the console and resumes his game by teleporting his character with the help of the in-game warping system into a totally different area of the game, a clearing of a forest of sorts; knowing that he won't go out tonight for a beer or with any girl of his liking, which at the current time is virtually none, he decided he will spend it in online multiplayer on the lands of Lethean. With the use of an item, the character marks his presence on a stone similar in material to the Judas Cradle checkpoint and waited. He leaned back into a more comfortable position, his eyes darting across the screen to check if he himself wasn't invaded by another player... but, no, soon enough, a message written on a parchment of sorts appeared at the bottom of the screen.
Slipping in as a Shade of Vengeance.
As he waited, his mind wandered off once more, thinking of Silas and Angelica this time... lucky bastard, he got his hands on that amazing brunette; true, they were pretty much made for each other, since they are so very similar in behavior. Honestly, though, Angelica was always the one with her feet touching the ground, while Silas is floating somewhere in interstellar space. And then, he thought, how come he can't find someone to his liking in his own class like Silas did?
Then again, his class was full of males. He shook his head when the loading screen faded to show instead his character step out of the shadow of a tree, this time he was tinted in a dark hue as opposed to a few moments ago when he was in his own world. He managed invaded the world of someone else, but enver picked up the username of the player, as he was too busy to pluck off a piece of salami from the rug. Seeing that he wasn't spawn-killed by the host, he immediately started to lurk around the world, prepared to confront another player. Enough idling, time to go to work he told himself bitterly, still thinking that, maybe he should start searching for someone too... but was he so desperate, in the end?