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By the Pricking of My Thumbs (Open)
Posted: Posted October 15th by Pierce Almswell
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He didn't know why he was here. Why he was doing this. Why he couldn't just stash the book away, or even leave it where it laid to begin with. But he did take the book. He took it to his apartment, scanned over the pages, spent hours a night googling whatever didn't make sense within them - and there was a lot of that. The more he researched, the more engrossed he became. It was like a wiki for occult practices: incantations, setups for rituals, ingredients for potions, the properties of gems. What started as morbid curiosity became fascination transformed into fervent delving. Nary a free moment went by that wasn't spent immediately hunkering in his home to read more of this thrilling encyclopedia.

Two weeks had gone by since Pierce had pilfered the mysterious book from his long-lost family's empty manor. Now he was here, in this graveyard not but a short drive away from that estate. As for the why? Well, what orphan wouldn't, to some extent, want to meet their biological parents? Of course, such a wish was certainly made easier when the parents had not reportedly gone missing without rhyme or reason. After 21 years with no trace of them, it was safe to presume they were dead, to boot.

So then, how does one go about talking to the presumably deceased? That was why he was in a graveyard, sitting and staring at the names of parents he'd never known inscribed side by side together on a nice, marbled tombstone. How fortuitous that just enough time had passed for dead in absentia to allow for these empty graves. Luckier still that they were situated down a hill well away from the road, with only the woods bordering nearby. It helped abate the worry that the glow of the candles around Pierce on this night would go unnoticed.

Indeed, five sets of candles were placed near-evenly spaced around the circle etched into the ground. In the middle sat Pierce, an old towel placed under him for his own comfort, and before him was opened the very object of such interest. The tome was leatherback, perhaps once tan but now taking a much darker hue with age, and quite large. Hundreds of pages filled it, the apparent years also leaving their mark with the yellow coloring. Now which page this book, or rather this grimoire, was turned to was of the most interest for this night. It was a spell, the title for which indicating it was one for invocation of the supernatural - ghosts of the deceased surely being counted among them. With this setup, he'd followed the instructions provided as best as he'd been able, sans the 'suggestion' that multiple people be present for the spell. It wasn't as if he knew anyone that was such an expert in this sort of thing and would humor this outing.

And now, as Pierce drew in a deep breath, he allowed himself to temporarily forget all the skepticism and apprehension that plagued him up to this point. The grimoire detailed that the spirit's openness was necessary, and that must have also meant that there was power in belief. Slowly (if even a bit dramatically), the words to the incantation were read allowed. Pierce called upon the forces of the otherworld, to pull what was unnatural to this place, thinking of his mysterious parents as best he could all the while. During the reading, there was for but a moment what seemed to be a shift in the air, the flames of the candles around the caster flickering from a wind he wasn't sure he even felt. That.. sensation was gone just as quick as it'd been felt.

Dead silence came after the incantation's end. Pierce was paused on bated breath, gaze shifting between his father's name and then his mother's on the gravestone, and then drawing away to the area around it. All sights provided nothing of what he'd been seeing up to this point. The breath that had been held was released, a small scoff following suit, as if he was finally acknowledging the joke.

"Right, what did I even expect?"

The suspension gave way to a feeling of vindication for the cynicism regarding this whole thing, mixed so nicely with those emotions of embarrassment, relief... and a twinge of disappointment. Magic, indeed. The "grimoire" was shut with a haphazard fling of the arm, its new owner staring accusingly at the names of the complete strangers he was supposed to call kin etched into the marble in front of him, as if blaming them for making him do something so ridiculous. One last kick in the ass delivered from beyond the grave, he supposed.

If only Pierce had known. But he couldn't have, could he? No formal lessons to instruct him, not enough time for analysis, anything to let him know that the spell he, in his rashness fueled by a healthy amount of faithlessness, had cast, was not exactly as he pictured it. It was an invocation of the supernatural, certainly. But without further material or any casters beyond one neophyte, it had become more of an open invitation, welcoming anything not "natural" to be drawn to this spot. Alas, the young man was too clueless to appreciate the gravitas of the situation he had placed himself in. That naivete was something that was sure to soon change...

ooc: Really rusty, but here's my effort to get the ball rolling on this forum again! Along with being a bit appropriate for the Halloween spirit, hopefully~

There are 7 Replies

The overworld is starving. Humankind was nourished once – by the land, by the animals, and most of all, by each other. Spirits were welcomed in those times, dancing in and out of a free world. But now the sacred trees have been ripped from the earth to build hotels. The bulldozers have disemboweled the graves of ancient beings. The animals have been mutated and forced to live and die within the confines of a barbed fence. Spiritual connection has been monopolized by monolithic, inhuman institutions. Community has been shattered, atomized by narratives of individual grandeur.

More and more with each generation, humankind has imposed codes and hierarchy over reality, over nature, over their kin. In doing so, they've placed a barrier between their souls and the source that lights them. And the spirits have been closed out. Everyday, hollow, starving people search for some semblance of meaning in their lives.

Something was calling from the overworld. How rare in these times. Yet it was predictable, nonetheless; hungry people soon grow desperate. Whoever was calling was not in touch with the ways of the old world, not the way his ancestors would have been. His incantation was careless. His ritual, insincere. Even still, it stirred something — something that had been growing restless on the other side of the veil.

The first name it had been given was in Latin, Cellarium, though it had gone by many others. It didn't show itself at first, though its arrival sent a stir of wind past the young man and his five, flickering candles. The entity inhaled a silent breath of the earth's familiar air and watched the human that had invited it back, lurking – invisible still – about six feet to the side of him. The man was staring intently at names over empty graves.

The lone human exhaled, and then scoffed. Cellarium mimicked that sneering sound – audibly – into the noiseless air around them, and then began to take form. Emerging from wispy, dark tendrils that swirled in the air, the shape of some spectral animal loomed forward. It had the appearance of a coyote, though it was standing upright and was preternaturally tall – about six-and-a-half feet in height – as the strange mists faded away. It's body was sickly thin, with fur-coated skin stretching tautly over the ribcage and spine. The fur was predominantly golden-red, and mangey, while the extent of the animal's underside faded into white. The animal wore a loincloth, and around its neck hung a tiny box on a collar. A sly smile spread across its visage, revealing sharp teeth, as it looked down at the human with a pair of pupil-less, glinting green eyes.

It addressed the human in a sandy voice; "Salutations, witch."

Edited October 16th by Cetasaurus
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Cetasaurus
Formerly KM8

He knew that the lone night had the mischievous habit of playing tricks on the mind, that simple sounds and paranoia danced frantically in the cloak of darkness. He knew that there was such a thing as an echo, especially when near the company of trees that could deliver his voice back to him. And yet, he also knew that sound did not originate from himself. What he did not know was that the darkness could offer more than an imagination run wild.

What began as a confused look burst into an expression of horrified shock as the creature manifested before him. With a startled swear Pierce tried to turn towards the beast in his seated position, but in his haste simply just ended up falling back onto his elbows and shuffling back a bit. Heat against the brisk air met his arm, the young man jerking his head towards the source for but a moment to remember he'd surrounded himself with candles.

There was an instinctive move to grab for the candle, with the intention of having anything to wield against this nightmare. Yet Pierce paused mid-reach. Some sense had managed to return to him in these few moments of panic - the book had been clear to keep the circle and its candles in tact to maintain a strong ritual. Though such a thing had clearly done far more harm than good at this point... he somehow did not want to see what any deviation would lead to.

The process of regathering his senses also allowed him another thought beyond 'oh god help me I'm gonna die': the creature had spoken. It was a greetings, to boot. While Pierce was very deadset on maintaining his terrified gawk, his eyes squinted ever-so-slightly, brow furrowing a twinge.

"I.. what? I'm.. uh, I'm not... s-sorry?" Not the smoothest response he had ever given, but then some slack could be afforded to someone who was trying not to hyperventilate.

Edited October 17th by Pierce Almswell
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The young man's reaction was to be expected, Cellarium supposed. The coyote-like creature had known, from the way his ritual had been cast, that this witch was new to his craft, and worse – doubtful. Cellarium smiled to itself as it watched the human shuffle backwards over the earth, only stopping when the tongues of his own little flames licked at his skin.

The coyote-spirit was fond of inexperienced witches, and traces of that fondness showed in its passive grin. The inexperienced ones weren't savvy enough to bind any of Cellarium's type to their will. In fact, sometimes an inexperienced witch was vulnerable enough for the otherworldly to enact their wills through him.

Cellarium's smile faded as its eyes flicked toward the motion of the human reaching for the candle, preparing to attack. But the young man stopped without completing the action, gaping up at the creature, and instead stuttered out a reply.

With a gravelly chuckle, Cellarium nodded down at the human. "Not what? Not a witch?" The spirit-creature sat down crosslegged in front of the man, putting them on more even ground. Little shimmers from the candles danced between them. "Tell me then, how did you acquire such a tome?" It lifted a forepaw and pointed toward the grimoire that had been haphazardly laid shut on the ground.

There was a smirk lining the creature's words, an indication that it knew something it was letting go unsaid, for now.

Edited October 18th by Cetasaurus
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Cetasaurus
Formerly KM8

The creature sat down as a clear attempt to appear disarming, but sadly did very little to put the human at ease. Pierce responded to the action by slowly, as if afraid any sudden movements would shatter the veneer of calm, sitting himself up, legs folded under him. His eyes flickered only very briefly over to the book when attention was brought to it. A nervous gulp preceded his response.

"I, well... I found it." He was terrified, certainly, but that wasn't the reason for such a vague response. Whatever this thing was, it had taken interest in him and that damned spell book, which had now proven itself to be the genuine article. Giving the coyote spectre an edge by feeding it all the knowledge it craved did not bode well with the young man it was inquiring to. Still, if they were having an exchange of information...

"What are you? Did I.. summon you here?"

Posted October 20th by Pierce Almswell
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The specter scoffed. "You found it?" Its solid-green eyes blinked slowly, and then looked the human up and down. "That's a disappointing story."

When Pierce asked the coyote what it was, and whether it had been summoned, the entity tilted its head to one side. It let a silence form between them before replying, "Let's just say you found me." The words lingered in the air for a moment, a breeze tousling the spirit's thinning coat of fur. "Though I suspect you were looking for someone else." The creature turned its gaze toward the names on the gravestones with a subtle nod in their direction.

Turning back to the human, Cellarium cracked another toothy grin. "I knew them, once. Though it's been an awful while."

A wispy tail stroked the grass with a rhythmic swish. "But don't worry, boy," the specter said. "We're allies, as far as I'm concerned. You can have my name, if you tell me yours." Its eyes moved back towards the closed grimoire. "That book can tell you the power of a name, I'm sure."

Posted October 22nd by Cetasaurus
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Cetasaurus
Formerly KM8

Pierce most likely would have blushed, had the color not still been drained from his face. Somehow, the fact that a spirit manifested itself only to ridicule him for such a shoddy 'start to power' felt worse than accidentally invoking it to begin with. He supposed selling his soul to the Devil or retrieving the magical tome from a viking zombie-filled crypt would have been a more captivating tale.

Worse still was that the creature was meeting vague answers with cryptic ones of its own. The silence it commanded so skillfully weighed heavily. Pierce dared only to take another nervous gulp. He had no idea what 'finding' this entity entailed, but it was clear who was in command of this encounter. This was made all the clearer as attention was brought to the grave still standing prominently beside them. Again, the apprehensive human's gaze barely flickered in its direction, him being even more tense the more his motives were being accurately surmised.

At least, that was until the coyote revealed itself to be familiar with the allegedly dearly departed. "Wait, what?" Terror forgot itself for a moment and gave way to an immediate, aching curiosity - a force that often overshadowed all others for the young man. "You knew them?"

If it was bait then Pierce had taken it hook, line, and sinker. The metaphorical wall constructed for the sake of being carefully guarded was crumbling with but that single remark. Again the creature directed conversation towards the grimoire (something that, in the back of Pierce's mind, he made note of) which proved this time to yield results. The human reached, still with some caution, to grab the tome and set it by his side.

"Oh uh, well, my name's Pierce. Pierce Almswell... or maybe 'Pembrooke'?" It was apparent now that the latter surname held far more weight. Speaking of which... "And it's nice to meet you..? But.. how did you know my parents?"

Posted October 23rd by Pierce Almswell
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The coyote lowered its snout beneath a forepaw to stifle a snicker. "That's right," it said. "I knew them." It straightened up and peered down at the witch. "Not very well, I'm afraid. Though I've often wondered what became of them."

The specter watched the youthful human pull the large book closer to him. "Pierce Almswell/Pembrooke," the coyote repeated to itself, lifting its head slightly to observe the owner of the name. "I take it there's relation?" The creature turned its head toward the gravestones again, then back to the man. It continued in its scratchy manner of speaking, "A name for a name. You can call me Cellarium, if it pleases you."

The entity nodded contemplatively as Pierce asked about his parents, then answered, "I worked with them for a spell. We struck up a deal, they and I." The specter nodded briefly at the grave. "Though I knew not their end-game, nor they mine." Its voice rose and fell in a complete cadence, resembling something like melody. "And what about us? Are we to exchange favors as well?"

Posted October 24th by Cetasaurus
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Cetasaurus
Formerly KM8
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