The ranger still had his bow readied, staring down at the figure Jace approached as he himself stepped out of the tower entrance. Otherwise he remained quiet, taking a deep breath with Kasna's comment, and listened. Hopeful of a legible response from the fallen man.
With another low groan the simple man continued rising. Closer now, the claymore would discover this soggy looking man to smell as bad as he looked. A mix of salt and rot permeated the air around the man. His form somewhat bloated and skin discolored. Eyes turned up to give Jace an empty stare amidst his grass stained face shimmering puss from various nicks likely gained from the forest whipping him as he ran.
There was no visible sign of hostility in his features, the visage of the zombie remaining rather placid. Its gaze quickly slid off of Jace and settled on Kasna before it started running again. Awkward steps would bring it practically into Jace if the claymore didn't react. Ruben twitched, releasing an arrow that found itself in the zombie's shoulder. It staggered and slowed for a moment, but appeared like it would be resuming its approach.
Post by Rosen Stele on Sept 17, 2015 13:11:04 GMT -7
Jason took a careful step closer as the man rose, crinkling his nose against the smell. Something was off. Jason readied his remaining kukri for an attack, but it didn't come the creature rose, and looked at Jason with a blank stare like one he had never seen before on a living face. It was the look of a dead man. But he didn't lunge at Jason, didn't really seem to notice him. However, seeing kasna set it off into another mad dash. Jace moves to the side as he ran almost through him.
Was it really a Zombie? really? he gave chase as it shambled along. He caught up to it quickly, and when Ruben hit it with an arrow and it stumbled back toward him, Jason took a clean swipe at the back of it's neck, to remove the head. That would just about anything, right?
Last Edit: Sept 17, 2015 13:11:38 GMT -7 by Rosen Stele
More and more, this situation was taking on qualities both absurd and obscene. First one of the thrice-damned spirit-wraiths of the demon-kin was found sealed in the tower by an unknown hand... and then, seemingly, the undead from rumor had chosen to emerge before them. While chasing horses. Kasna's puzzlement at the entire scenario only continued to grow with this latest wrinkle in the tale.
After Ruben's arrow and Jace's blade had done their work Kasna, too, drew steel, though as she approached the body it was less in fear of it assailing her and more with intention to inspect it. These revenants, if such they were, made little enough sense and posed far too many questions. Where had they come from? Ruben's claim not to have encountered any shambling dead in his travels about the area rang in the back of her mind still. Why the interest in the horses... and, she noted, why had this one ignored Jace, right in front of it, to come after her? She felt the horse balk as she began to walk in the direction of its fallen pursuer; with an annoyed huff she turned the beast around and set it on a trot in past the tower gate. Hopefully it would feel safer in there.
"Let us see what we have." The knight walked over, keeping her sword at the ready. She knew demons, Eidolon in particular, were capable of terrible and unnatural powers... but if this was related to the phantasm, what kind of curse had it placed that had survived its end? The further, more unsettling thought that this might not be the creature's work but that of another, perhaps one who had occupied the tower, came to mind as well. It seemed their pursuit of the truth was not over yet. Kasna set about examining the state of the body, doing her best to ignore the detestable odors coming from it.
Last Edit: Sept 20, 2015 15:35:49 GMT -7 by Nascent
Post by The Maven on Sept 19, 2015 10:07:04 GMT -7
The blade cut through with a wet sound, barely catching resistance from the neck bone during the decapitation. The head toppled beside locked in its blank stare as the body took a step with its momentum before crumpling to the ground. A bush rustled lightly nearby with suspicious timing but the only other awkward figure was gaining distance away; chasing the stampede of horses as they left the tower's vicinity.
It seemed they were left alone to investigate the decapitated corpse, Ruben notching another arrow and keeping a general watch while the two poked around. The re-dead man on the ground before them looked like no one special. Simple farmer garb of average quality if one was to imagine it without the recent wear and tear. It was grimy and wet with all sorts of foul fluids, a mix of saltiness hitting the air. There was a sickle at his waist but otherwise no tools or weapons bulged in his pockets or were easily visible.
The head, should anyone want to take a harder look into the dead eyes of the zombie, was scratched and puffed with a bit of decay at his temples. The teeth were almost all knocked out, allowing one to gaze into the slimy maw of the dead man. There was something that was particularly shiny and darker though, at the roof of its mouth. Conveniently in line with a large hole in the line of teeth in the top row with the bottom row obviously chipped and jagged.
Post by Rosen Stele on Sept 19, 2015 10:28:13 GMT -7
Jason wrinkled his nose as he drew beside the body to inspect the corpse, being sure to ready his weapon should it still be animate.
The man had no distinguishing marks nor any arcane or witchly attire, so witchcraft seemed unlikely. "Well at the very least we know how to kill them." He said with mock hopefulness. "Wait what-"
Jace made a face as he saw something glinting inside the deceased man's mouth. "Damn." He swore, reaching his gloved fingers into the man's mouth tentatively, while watching the dead eyes carefully for any sign of a reaction. He yelped as the disembodied head chomped down on his hand. The eyes never twitched, it was like a reflex. Jason, with his free hand, quickly ran his kukri in between the man's jaws and, with obvious physical effort, wrenched the bottom jaw from the Zombie, clearly exposing the inside of the mouth of the dead man. The sight did not sit well with Jason. He had killed humanoid creatures before. Beheaded vampires and shape shifters, but never had he been made to desecrate a corpse in this fashion. Never one that seemed so benign. Even though the bite had not made it through his glove, Jason grasped his hand as if to inspect it for damage.
"What the heck..." He said, exasperated, before driving his kukri into the creature's skull. Hoping it would now cease it's movement, he tried to see what had been glittering in it's mouth.
Last Edit: Sept 19, 2015 13:40:08 GMT -7 by Rosen Stele
"I wouldn't advise trying that again." Kasna remarked as Jace pried the corpse's bite loose and extracted his hand, along with whatever he had sought to remove. While he had been poking about with the head she had likewise been inspecting the body, carefully parting rancid clothes with the tip of her blade so she could keep her distance. Who knew what putrescence festered in this pitiable creature?
A farmer, she noted -- or he had been, before being turned into this. By the look of the sickle at his belt it was a decent bet he had been... changed... while up and at work, meaning that whatever seized his body from him had done so while he was conscious, likely alert, and at least nominally armed. That spoke volumes about what the source of this zombie was capable of. It, whatever it was, had taken him swiftly and by surprise, with little or no struggle -- the zombie hadn't seemed cognizant enough to use that sickle when threatened so there was a good chance it hadn't had the awareness to arm itself, meaning it likely had already had the hand scythe at its belt to begin with. Kasna pondered as she examined the body closer, ignoring signs of rot and decay for clues about wounds or injuries before its encounter with their group. It was possible, but not terribly likely, that the farmer had been assailed and turned by another zombie like he now was... yet it didn't fit the evidence especially well. The Adhara couldn't shake the suspicion of some other force at work.
An Eidolon, and now undead. Her expression soured -- her training told her that such matters were likely connected, the result of someone experimenting in things forbidden and largely forgotten. The Eidolon alone she could have attributed to a self-inflicted ritual, but with this new development that explanation somehow felt... unsure.
"What have you found?" Kasna's gaze turned again to Jace.
Post by The Maven on Sept 24, 2015 11:48:55 GMT -7
The further mutilation of the dead man's head Jace was able to safely peer into the top of the zombie's mouth and confirm there was something odd stuck in there. Between the groves of tissue was a black stone of some sort. Looked to be about two inches at its widest point and just as rough and jagged as the teeth the claymore had just had the pleasure of meeting.
Should Jace brave another venture into the re-dead's maw there was no longer a risk of the jaw coming up to hug his hand; being that it was removed. Clamping fingers down and pulling on the dark object required a bit of effort but with enough elbow grease it would pop right out. Bringing it into the fading light of day the stone glistened with the red and yellow fluids of the dead man. Luckily it was black, so it wasn't like that distorted much. If one didn't know any better, it looked like a raw quint. Any courageous individual willing to try and activate the thing would find... nothing. Nothing happened at all. But there was definitely an energy about it.
Post by Rosen Stele on Sept 25, 2015 3:41:23 GMT -7
Jason was tense as he withdrew the stone. The sickening "pop" didn't help matters. Was this what his job would be now? Desecrating corpses? He shook his head and examined the piece. It looked like a quintessence. Jason wiped the fluids off in the grass as best he could so he could examine it more closely.
With kasna's question he finally stirred. "Looks like our boy had an unbalanced diet." He replied, flashing the stone at her. "Doesn't seem to be doing anything now though. Maybe it only works if you're a corpse?" He shook the stone, as if that would trigger something.
"Think fast" he announced as he tossed the stone to Kasna. "Did you find anything?" He asked as he stood to his feet, glad to be standing and not hunched over a rotting corpse.
She caught the tossed stone without significant effort, taking a moment to look it over. It did appear to be a Quint, or something very much like one, yet held no likeness to any of the Quint varieties she had been trained to identify. Kasna scowled in annoyance -- two seemingly undiscovered types of Quint in one day did not sit well with her. She could only hope that a demonic cloud wouldn't burst from this one any time soon. She tucked it away; if nothing else, bringing it back to the Order for identification and containment seemed a sound idea... though, after how wrong she'd been earlier, it wouldn't hurt to know more about the object before bringing it into the holy refuge and sanctum of her knight-sisters.
"Farmer. Taken by surprise, most likely." Kasna pointed to the sickle still tucked at the corpse's belt. "Never defended himself, which speaks to either an ambush by whatever turned him into this... or familiarity." The Adhara clearly wasn't a fan of either notion. "If he was ambushed then these undead may have a single common source, a fiend perhaps of some skill or power. If he wasn't... then it's likely that this rotting state is something spread to him by someone he knew or at least didn't suspect of harming him." She leveled a very serious look at Jace, then shifted it to Ruben. "We need to find out which of these is the case, and we should do so fast. I am loathe to leave this tower while my duty here is unfinished, but this cursed condition could be spreading. Finding out what we're dealing with is paramount."
"Ruben, you know this area. How close is the nearest farmstead?"
Post by The Maven on Sept 30, 2015 14:14:31 GMT -7
The black quintessence remained quiet as it was tossed between the two; as a normal quint should do in an adhara's hand. The ranger quietly released held breath he'd unknowingly been keeping when no black spirit burst from it. With the forest seeming to return to its eerie silence around the tower all there was to listen to was the unsettling deductions of the Silver Knight. Ruben was still at the ready but had turned his attention in on the group and their finding rather than watching the still bushes.
"Would be 'bout two hours ride south-southwest," he replied after a quick look to the canopy surrounding them. "Getting through the forest and heading out would get us there at dusk." His tone wavered ever so slightly at the end as he considered the prospect of investigating something akin to the magnitude they'd just hurdled at night. But he knew Kasna was right. While he didn't recognize the corpse at their feet he'd hate to leave those he did know to such a fate due to fear.
"Karschtuk's farm. Got himself quite a few acres of field. Three boys and a wife and daughter," Ruben added. After a brief pause he gave a nod toward the forest, "Tethered my horse further in 'round south. Hopefully he's still there."
Post by Rosen Stele on Sept 30, 2015 16:42:13 GMT -7
Jason sighed as looked down at the corpse. As if on impulse he suddenly kicked the head far enough away that it disappeared into the treeline. "If you don't mind my saying, Kasna, this-" and he pointed to the formerly walking dead "is our unfinished business. Rumors of the walkind dead are what brought all of us here." He replied easily, shifting his hands to his hips.
"Though I need to go back inside and grab my other weapon if we are to head out to Old Karschtuk's place. What a cheapskate. He once tried to pay me 3 copper pieces to kill a Dire Bear that was killing off his horses. Three Copper pieces, can you believe it?" He mumbled as he strode swiftly through the field to the tower. There was still dust filtering out through the window. "damn this place." He scoffed as he entered, ascending the steps.
As he reached the third floor he covered his mouth against any lingering dust. He sought first his bag, which had been laid near the stairs, and then his Kukri, which had been thrown to the other side at the Eidolon.
Kasna found herself in agreement with her companions, both of them -- Ruben's dislike of the idea of facing more undead under night's shadow, first, and Jace's notion that addressing the walking corpses was, indeed, their responsibility. Certainly, her duty as a knight and oath-bound defender made such things her business, and tales of shambling revenants had been part of what had drawn the Silver Flame to take an interest in the tower in the first place.
"Fetch your horse, Ruben. We'll join you shortly."
Without waiting for a response Kasna headed back to the tower's gates as well, some steps behind the young Claymore. Her horse whinnied at her approach, clearly still a bit spooked; an apple from one of the saddle bags seemed to reassure it, though the scent coming up from the unexplored below clearly sat ill with it. Kasna hadn't forgotten that putrid stench, even as it now mingled with the scent of drifting ash from higher in the tower. She would return here when matters elsewhere were laid to rest, explore this place fully and sanctify it as best she was able for use by her Order. The place still held secrets... she could feel it.
When Jace had gathered his belongings and returned he would find Kasna awaiting him near the large double doors, horse reins in hand. Her eyes were on the treeline, watching. She waved him over. "There was more than one cadaver chasing the horses. We should proceed carefully." Her eyes turned to him. "Have you a mount, or...?" Somehow, she suspected he didn't.
"Sounds like him," Ruben commented in tangent agreement with Jace before the old ranger gave a nod to the woman and jogged off into the forest for his horse. He slipped his bow away in favor for his sword before the forest enveloped his form as he made his way through, leaving the other two to gather their things at the tower. The silent sentinel continued to settle with ash though there was less of it floating around. The stoneware that lay broken and scattered from the fallen cabinets, shards of the creature's container, splinters from what was once tables, all looked as if they had been resting in place for ages. The thin kukri amidst all the mess was a bit of a challenge to spot but luckily the dull layer of ash hadn't quite managed to cover the shine of its blade.
If there was one positive thing that could be said of the tower now it would be that it no longer literally chilled its guests to the bone. Now the abandoned tower only had broken wares, an odd and useless collection of items, and a horrible smell to offer at a glance. That and a rotting body outside its door. But that would be cleared up by predators stalking the woods soon enough. Once the stampede of horses fully left the vicinity this area might begin to see a normal stalking of animals. For now though the thundering hooves were still echoing in the distance, likely still chased by at least one undead like the one recently felled.
Post by Rosen Stele on Oct 15, 2015 10:00:13 GMT -7
Jason coughed out a curse as he stumbled around fishing for his blade in the dark. Once recovered, he slid the weapon back into it's sheath and grabbed up his pack which had been left there by the stairs. (If he hasn't already grabbed it. I can't remember.)
When he reached the bottom of the stairs he found Kasna there waiting. A mount? Crap of course they both had these things. "No." Jason admitted sourly. "Garland never really thought me to ride." He made a face as he examined the horse she reined with a hand. He reached out to per the beast's neck, ready to recoil I it found him wanting. If he was honest, Jace never really like horses much. He had never been in a big enough hurry to need one.
Kasna interrupted Jace just as he was about to touch the horse, pulling an apple from her steed's saddlebags and tossing it to him. She nodded towards the horse's head. "Apple first. Let her know you mean well. Then pet the top of her head to let her know you're a friend."
She could tell that the Claymore wasn't particularly accustomed to horses; the apple was more for his sake than the steed, but it wouldn't do to have either flinching at the other. "Levene is a warhorse -- well trained, but not keen on strangers. Or the undead, it seems." With a single fluid motion Kasna was up and in the saddle; she waited until Jace and the horse had finished getting acquainted before reaching down a hand to help him up. "No sense leaving you behind... mind where you put your hands, though, if you want to keep them."