Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Cthulhu: Flower Mantis

Part 1, Part 2

Before they can enter the temple, they notice that the human the frog monster just skinned is still alive. They hesitate for a moment and Liam makes a move to go back, but stops when Shane votes for continuing on their way. The choice is taken from them when a second human, dressed only in a waist cloth, appears and stabs the skinned man, killing him. He has seen the group and slowly comes towards them, showing neither fear nor aggression. That encourages Ian to call out to the man and to ask him about the Plains of Leng. The man tells them that they have found the Plains and also says that there are living stones here, but not many. The Master doesn't like them and is trying to destroy them. When Ian tells him that they just want to look at the stones because they have never seen living stones, the man becomes suspicious and suggests that they wait here while he goes and asks the Master for permission.

*Wait? Attack?*

Liam agrees, to the surprise of Ian and Shane, only to knock the man out when he turns his back. He's not dead, but Liam has no intention of leaving him merely unconscious. There's no way to hide a body here and they decide to go back to the statues.
Liam asks for Shane's knife and already has it at the man's throat when Shane calls out and warns them that one of the statues has opened an eye. After a moment's wait nothing further happens and Liam cuts the man's throat. Liam drops the knife and stumbles, almost dropping to his knees. He has killed before, but never murdered anyone in cold blood and he can feel his grip on saity slipping.

When they all feel a bit more steady, they continue in the direction of the living stones and find them without problems. The stones stand together, creating corners and forms that are painful to look at, like nothing they have ever seen before. Every stone carries a black flower that seems to move slightly in the breeze, only there is no wind. Ian grabs one of the flowers, but cannot pull it out, not even when he uses his knife. The flower writhes in his grip and suddenly the whole stone moves, turning into an enormous mantis, about as long as Ian's arm. This is the signal for all the other mantises to attack as well, hundreds of them, and for the group to run as fast as they can.

Ian and Liam make it, but Shane is too slow and is attacked by the insects. He fights back with his sword, which is far more effective than a sword has any reason to be against such enemies. The weapon leaves a bright trail of light in the air when he swings it and the insects seem to shy away from it. Liam has stopped to help Shane, picks up a fallen mantis and lights it on fire after ripping off the flower attached to it. With his insect torch, he sets fire to a couple of mantises and the fire spreads through the swarm, but it's not enough to stop them. After several more attacks, the mantises bring Shane down, ripping clothes, skin and flesh to shreds with their sharp arms and mandibles. Liam uses fire again and this time, he manages to destroy the majority of the swarm, the rest moves back towards the stones and settles down again.

Shane is badly hurt and Liam does his best to help him, but at the same time he seriously thinks about killing him because what's the point, really? Even if they can win this battle, there's no way they can ever hope to win the war, to find peace. Better to end it now, quickly.

Ian has run into one of the frog monsters and has killed it with his colt, making the whole thing explode. After finally noticing that he's alone, he runs back towards the stones and finds Shane writhing in pain on the ground, with Liam just watching. He tries to help Shane and stops the worst of the bleeding, but the priest is barely able to stand up, let alone fight. Not that they have a choice.

Liam has walked away a few steps, fighting his own mind and for now, he wins. He drops to his hands and knees, shivering and gasping for breath. When Ian touches him, he blindly lashes out, but regains his composure quickly. It's obvious that he's in trouble, but he refuses to speak about it and just leads the way back towards the temple. Not only because he wants to end this as quickly as possible, but also because he doesn't want the others to have to turn their backs on him.

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