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A Happy Accident

Discussion in 'Pandora, Year 1 - 7' started by Shere Khan, Sep 2, 2018.

  1. Shere Khan

    Shere Khan The Jungle Book

    Posts:
    139
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Naughty Cub
    Race:
    Tiger
    Alignment:
    True Neutral
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    [​IMG]
    He narrowed his tawny eyes at the grumpy, pale furred human, wondering why she was defending him. She had been rude to him yesterday, belittling his skills. Why was she praising them now? Was this sarcasm? Or part of some cunning plan?

    She got the better of his ego, causing him to smirk and puff out his chest proudly. All suspicion fled him when the big buffalo of a man agreed to let him join their party, not that the Great Shere Khan really needed anybody’s permission. He wandered wherever he wished in this land.

    With his head and tail held high, he prowled at the front of the procession, steered only by Mace’s occasional directions. The tiger found himself approaching a bubble shaped building that had no windows, the big man urging him to go through first. This was so easy. And to think these dimwits had wanted him to stay in the vehicle and cubsit the injured man!

    Smirking smugly, he made to step towards the strange building, but a shrill, buzzing screech caused him to freeze mid-step. An insect, a long, sinewy centipede that was stood upright, scuttled and weaved out of the darkness before them. It had a black head, yellow antennae as sharp as horns, mandibles twitching and drooling a filmy liquid. Its hooked legs wriggled at its hard, segmented sides as it advanced on them, letting out more of its hissing shrieks.

    Shere Khan yelped and tried to duck out of its way, but slipped on a pool of its slimy saliva. He went skidding across the cracked stone path, thumping into a low, fragile wall. An empty flower pot tumbled off the top, landing over his head with a sucking sound.

    The pot obscured his vision, his last image being of the centipede lunging at the humans… ​
     
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  2. Veloce Visrin

    Veloce Visrin Carciphona

    Posts:
    490
    Gender:
    Female
    Occupation:
    Sorceress
    Race:
    Human (Demon-bound)
    Age:
    17 (+1)
    Alignment:
    True Neutral
    Directory:
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    The enormous centipede's cry was interrupted by a loud bang, and then another. The creature swayed unsteadily, viscera scattered out in a messy cone behind it, leaking from the pair of holes blown through its torso. Still the limbs twitched with hungry menace. Its mandibles yawned wide, and the centipede leaned forward, fighting to reach these soft humans who'd intruded on its territory.

    A third and fourth shot rang out, and the beast dropped to the floor with a noise like a felled oak.

    Mace stepped over and put a fifth, final bullet into the centipede's skull, just in case. Jess went to Shere Khan, murmuring gentle words as she lifted the pot off his head. The offending crockery would be tossed off to the side, and then her rifle came back into a ready position, its flashlight sweeping over the lobby to check for more creepy crawlies. Veloce added to the illumination with a silvery magelight of her own, like the one she'd conjured yesterday on the bridge.

    The room seemed clear of enemies. Tall, square archways with no doors pointed deeper into the dark belly of the dome. There was also a staircase that curved around the room's perimeter in both directions, offering passage upstairs or downstairs depending on preference and purpose. As it had been outside, there were no signs or symbols in the room that might tell the group where they were going.

    Veloce stood between the two sets of stairs and raised her arm, letting the magelight pour into the shadows around her. She turned her head to the steps leading down.

    "There's something below us; I can feel it, faintly." Veloce caught Mace's eye. "We should investigate. It might be our treasure."

    "Worth a look." The big man jerked his head at Shere Khan, gesturing with the rifle.

    Lead on.
     
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  3. Shere Khan

    Shere Khan The Jungle Book

    Posts:
    139
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Naughty Cub
    Race:
    Tiger
    Alignment:
    True Neutral
    Directory:
    link
    [​IMG]
    Shere Khan jumped at the loud, sharp sounds of a thunder stick. He wrinkled his nose at the sour stink of breached insectoid guts, wishing the centipede could’ve been something tasty instead.

    Jess murmured softly to the tiger cub, removing the flower pot from his head. He blinked against the harsh glow of their lights, peering around the curved room, shadows flickering against the walls. Unlike these feeble humans, he would’ve been able to see perfectly well in the dark.

    “I… I did that on purpose with the pot,” he told them, trying to cover up the embarrassing moment. “I was going to use it as a helmet while I fought off that disgusting bug.”

    His excuse must’ve been accepted by the group, because they didn’t send him back to the vehicle to cubsit the wounded man, Mace even gesturing at him to take the lead again. Smiling smugly, Shere Khan puffed out his chest and started to crawl down the steps. He found it trickier navigating his way downstairs rather than up, but he’d had a lot of practice from his brief stays with gullible humans in their high dens. One of his hosts had even possessed a wall mounted contraption that you need only sit on and it took you up or down the stairs with a flick of a button!

    Without incident, he reached the bottom of the stairs and found himself in one of those underground man graveyards, stone coffins set up in uniform ranks. He’d seen plenty of “movies” featuring them, thanks to one of his previous hosts. She had done little else except sit on a “sofa”, petting the cub on her lap, the pair of them watching fanged humans biting other humans or rotten ones munching on others with fresh flesh. He’d enjoyed her taste in entertainment.

    He couldn’t see any rotten or fanged humans in this real life man graveyard, but there was something white and rounded pulsating behind one of the stone coffins. More of the thing wriggled out into view, causing his tummy to churn.

    Yuck!” he remarked cantankerously.

    It was a maggot the size and width of an ancient tree trunk, its fat coils throbbing as it squirmed closer to them. With a clumsy, flailing quality, it reared up on its torso like a serpent, its alien face regarding them, green tinged saliva dribbling down its ridged jaws.
     
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  4. Veloce Visrin

    Veloce Visrin Carciphona

    Posts:
    490
    Gender:
    Female
    Occupation:
    Sorceress
    Race:
    Human (Demon-bound)
    Age:
    17 (+1)
    Alignment:
    True Neutral
    Directory:
    link
    The party came to the bottom of the stairs, magelight and flashlight both pushing back the shadows to unveil the room's contents. Veloce did not like what she saw—stone containers lined up along the walls, closed by heavy lids, just the right size for a grown man to occupy. A similar arrangement had been in the basement of the old temple in northern Silverwood, once a house of worship for a god of death, but now broken and abandoned in Pandoran exile. Their trespass upon those sacred grounds woke a remnant of that god, and his skeletal warriors with him. That had been a difficult fight.

    Movement in the alcoves signaled that they would have a fight on their hands here, too. Not against a dead god, though, just a large maggot. Mace and Jess let loose a volley of gunfire, and as before, wounds punched easily into the creature's soft flesh. It toppled over with a hiss, and the treasure hunters continued down between the rows of coffins at a slow, careful pace.

    "Big ass centipede, big ass maggot," Jess remarked from the group's rear. She walked backwards, sweeping her light from side to side. "Way bigger than they should be. There's definitely something weird going on in this building."

    Mace sniffed loudly, face twitching as if trying to suppress a sneeze. Apparently the dust down here didn't agree with him. "Like a magic artifact, maybe. We can only hope."

    The room ended at a large door. Rectangular and smooth, wrought of some thick gray metal. No obvious handles or knobs were in sight, but a pattern of runic-looking engravings ran up and down its face, perhaps instructions, or a warning. Veloce palmed the scored metal, probing carefully with her senses. Foreign energy pressed back at her, its resistance faint and flickering.

    "Old wards," she reported, and drew a steadying breath. "It won't take long to remove them. Keep watch while I work."

    Jess obliged with a sharp nod, keeping her rifle pointed into the coffin-lined darkness they'd just come through. Mace, meanwhile, poked at the walls around them.

    "Gotta be a button somewhere," the big man muttered.
     
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  5. Shere Khan

    Shere Khan The Jungle Book

    Posts:
    139
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Naughty Cub
    Race:
    Tiger
    Alignment:
    True Neutral
    Directory:
    link
    [​IMG]
    The fresh burst of cracks and booms sent Shere Khan diving behind Veloce like she was an unusually large and sullen rock, ears flattened to his skull. He would have picked Mace or Jess to use as cover over this insolent human, but they were the ones setting off their thunder sticks.

    Silence descended thickly over the man graveyard, the tiger cub’s ears throbbing from the blasts. It felt as though somebody had plugged them up with sheep wool.

    “Ahem,” Shere Khan brushed off his cowardly display, scuttling out from behind his pale hiding spot. He grimaced and stuck out his tongue at the slaughtered maggot, its fat, hole riddled body stretched out across the ground, viscous green blood soaking into the stone and dirt.

    He padded after the human herd, a metal door with strange markings blocking their way. The cub promptly grew bored and impatient and skulked off on his own, discovering that the chamber crumbled to ruins at the back, the stone walls giving way to rubble and hard, compacted banks of soil. A snakelike tangle of tree roots protruded out of the ceiling, which was so low that a man like Mace would have to stoop to avoid caving in his skull. Heh, heh, heh...

    A thick green substance trickled out of the cracks in one of the broken stone walls, luminescent in the dark and stinking of runny, rotten eggs. Shere Khan took great effort to leap nimbly over the puddle of slime that had spilled out across his path, not wishing to get any of that foul smelling stuff on him. Ugh. He’d rather lick Veloce clean than lick that gloop off his paws or nice fur coat!

    The sound of shrill distressed twittering caught his attention and he followed it to a hairy, knotted mass of roots. He bared his teeth in a wicked grin at the sight of a tiny, bald bird nestled among them, twitching its narrow head about and trilling fretfully. Oh boy! He was going to enjoy playing with it while Veloce and the others did their boring little errand!

    Without a second thought, he snatched the small squeaking bird up between his jaws, careful not to pierce its fragile body with his fangs. He couldn’t allow it to bleed out and die so soon!

    The cub scampered back to the small herd of humans, crying out triumphantly around a mouth full of gangly limbs and rubbery flesh: “Look! Look! What I found!”
     
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  6. Veloce Visrin

    Veloce Visrin Carciphona

    Posts:
    490
    Gender:
    Female
    Occupation:
    Sorceress
    Race:
    Human (Demon-bound)
    Age:
    17 (+1)
    Alignment:
    True Neutral
    Directory:
    link
    Veloce and Mace both ignored Shere Khan for different reasons—Veloce because she was concentrating on removing the door's wards, and Mace because he didn't give a damn. Jess, though, was happy as ever to indulge in the cub's whims, and sidestepped over to him as he came bounding back.

    "What've you got there, fella?" she said, kneeling and smiling kindly. "Is that a...? Oh, no." Her face fell. "Aw, Khanny, no." She shook her head, reaching out to try and confiscate the baby bird. "Why don't you put that poor thing back where-"

    She'd knelt. Interrupted her watch, took her rifle and its clipped light off the darkness behind them so that she could talk to the cub.

    A whisper of movement came from the unobserved shadows, unnoticed by Jess until large footfalls were already shaking the ground, gaining in distance and volume. She rose swiftly, bringing her gun up with her as she turned, and squeezed the trigger. The bullet cracked off a stone tile in the distance, and the points of two enormous talons raked across her chest and arm, peeling open clothes and flesh with the ease of a knife sinking into an overripe peach. She didn't scream; the impact of the blow knocked her breathless even as it threw her backwards. Jess bounced once, rolled, and then didn't move again.

    Mace shouted her name, swinging his own rifle around into the darkness. The cone of his flashlight landed on an avian beast, its shape and coloring closely resembling that of a rooster, but its size was that of a bull—with a weight and apparent temper to match.

    The creature bellowed, eyes glinting golden in the reflected light, claws stained a red so dark it was almost black. Its wings flapped open, throwing dust and debris all about. The beast's head tipped groundward, its great beak trying to snatch up Shere Khan like he was an insect.
     
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  7. Shere Khan

    Shere Khan The Jungle Book

    Posts:
    139
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Naughty Cub
    Race:
    Tiger
    Alignment:
    True Neutral
    Directory:
    link
    [​IMG]
    Shere Khan tensed up when Jess reached out to try and take his living toy from him. He narrowed his tawny eyes and backed up from her outstretched hand, giving a warning swipe of his front paw.

    Hey!” he mumbled around the warm bird. “Get your own toy!”

    But before he could catch her with his claws, something else did first, peeling open her flesh. Their huge talons made his look like cocktail sticks, reminding him of his sucky, helpless size and youth. When was he going to get big? Any normal tiger would’ve been an adult by now!

    Shere Khan didn’t have long to sulk over his endless cubhood before the giant bird came bearing down upon him, aiming to peck at him with its wickedly curving beak. He let out a shrill yelp, dropping his bald, squawking plaything and darting out of the way. There was a cold whoosh behind him, the feel of air ruffling the striped fur on his lower back.

    The oversized chicken chased after him, its talon tipped feet scraping against the hard ground, the crack of its wings as loud as a thunder stick. He went hurtling towards Veloce and the hulking man mountain, figuring Jess couldn’t save him now she was wounded or even dead. That was a pity, because he disliked her the least out of the three humans.

    He gave the door with the strange symbols a proper look, noticing that there was a small, ragged hole in the wall above as though through natural degradation. Hmm

    Without altering his gait, he sprang at the man mountain, scrambling up the straight line of his back with his claws, then launching himself off the top of his head at the door as nimbly as a flying squirrel. He smacked into the worn, weakened rock, causing it and a few of its neighbors to cave in with a low groan of protest. Boy! He hadn’t expected that to really work!

    Shere Khan cried out as he tumbled into the chamber beyond, blinded by a sharp and icy white light. The giant bird was left to vent out its rage on the remaining humans.
     
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  8. Veloce Visrin

    Veloce Visrin Carciphona

    Posts:
    490
    Gender:
    Female
    Occupation:
    Sorceress
    Race:
    Human (Demon-bound)
    Age:
    17 (+1)
    Alignment:
    True Neutral
    Directory:
    link
    Veloce took her hands off the doors and whirled around, swallowing a curse. She wasn't finished with the wards. And wouldn't have the chance now, not properly at least, not with the cockatrice so noisily demanding their attention.

    She took quick stock of the room. Jess down. Shere Khan's striped tail disappearing into a hole above them. Mace patting his head, visibly confused even as his other arm braced his rifle in the beast's direction. The cockatrice roared as it lumbered towards them, eyes wild. Every monstrous footfall shook loose another cloud of dust from above.

    "Grab her!" Veloce called, and Mace hastened to comply.

    Magic crackling down her arms, she thrust her palms forward. Twin missiles of turquoise and black erupted, throwing a pulse of murky light across the chamber before they caught the cockatrice full in the chest. The creature tumbled backwards with a surprised shriek, talons flailing, shadows swallowing it once more as the magic faded.

    Mace pulled up alongside Veloce. A dark stain was spreading over his shoulder where he'd tucked Jess. The woman was limp, her rifle gripped alongside his own in his free hand. Mace's brow flattened as he jerked his head at the doors.

    "You get them open yet?"

    "Yeah, about that," she started to say, but the cockatrice's voice was louder, echoing out of the darkness, its thumping steps once again shaking the room. Veloce winced, turned, and touched her fingers to the cold, etched surface. "Be ready to run."

    She pressed her weight into the door and sent a sharp burst of energy into the wards. If before her efforts had been akin to a thief working pin tumblers with patience and caution, this was now the act of a musclebound warrior swinging her hammer into the doors themselves. They heaved open with a reluctant scream of metal and stone, light fizzing outward in a scintillating web as the wards shattered.

    The ceiling immediately began to tremble; a crack sounded overhead, and the first shower of pebbles fell.

    "Move!" Veloce said as she rushed into the room beyond, Mace close on her heels. "Shere Khan, move!"

    She really, really hoped for all their sakes that the cub hadn't found anything worse than the cockatrice in here.
     
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  9. Shere Khan

    Shere Khan The Jungle Book

    Posts:
    139
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Naughty Cub
    Race:
    Tiger
    Alignment:
    True Neutral
    Directory:
    link
    [​IMG]
    Oof!” Shere Khan landed on his fuzzy butt, squinting against the blinding white light in the room. Muffled thumps and crashes and booms drifted through the glowing walls, but there were no shrill, agonized screams yet.

    It was only a matter of time before he heard flesh ripping and bones splintering like twigs, which was why he had to rely on himself to escape the overgrown chicken. Ugh. Why had he insisted on tagging along with these fools? Dead fools now.

    He explored the shining room, finding that it was sealed up tight. Hmph. The only thing that hinted at a potential exit was a rust speckled lever sticking out of the far wall. Perhaps if he gave it a big enough yank, a secret door would open up into a chamber full of comfy pillows and fresh raw steak.

    Licking his lips, he clambered up on top of a glass cabinet to reach the control, but it was a few inches out of his reach. Dang. He sprang up on his hind legs, groaning with effort as he stretched out a front paw. Still too short.

    Shere Khan got the idea to extend his claws, the tips of them scraping against the iron of the lever when he lost his balance and fell off the cabinet. He twisted around skilfully to land on all four paws, the cabinet crashing down behind him, whoops, at the same time as the door burst open with a mangled shriek of stone and steel, the bright celestial light draining from the room.

    “You aren’t dead,” Shere Khan remarked when he glimpsed Veloce and the man mountain, his bland, detached tone suggesting that he didn’t care either way.

    A sharp hissing sound drew his attention to the ruins of the cabinet. There was a round stone rolling about among the jagged shards of glass and wood, a pale light spilling out of a crack in the top. A butterfly was carved into one side of the ugly rock, a hairy worm on the other much to his squinty eyed bemusement.

    The stone lurched over to him, spitting and crackling like cooking meat. He slapped a paw on the butterfly side out of irritation, yelping out when something like electricity shot through every part of his body. The pale light gathered around his outline and he began to grow, the once tiny paw enlarging to engulf the rock.
     
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  10. Veloce Visrin

    Veloce Visrin Carciphona

    Posts:
    490
    Gender:
    Female
    Occupation:
    Sorceress
    Race:
    Human (Demon-bound)
    Age:
    17 (+1)
    Alignment:
    True Neutral
    Directory:
    link
    Veloce paid Shere Khan no mind at first, too occupied with the thought of the cockatrice tearing after them into the rear chamber. The ceiling continued its violent trembles, rubble crashing down into the room where they'd just been, throwing dust into the new, near-blinding white light. Veloce squinted against it as she wheeled about. One hand curled around her swords; the other was tense and ready with magic. Mace's heavy breathing came from somewhere behind her.

    The chaos settled, as did the dust. The entrance was swollen with rock, thankfully not all the way to the ceiling, but enough that leaving this place would require some climbing. Veloce waited another few seconds, and when no noise or movement came, she was convinced that the cockatrice had either been buried, or slunk away to lick its wounds.

    Now she turned to regard the cub.

    Veloce had time to note the damaged artifact on the floor moments before Shere Khan touched it.

    The pulse of power that followed seemed to crackle against her skin. A burst of static, twisting with life energy, swallowing Shere Khan in its eager embrace. Veloce froze, as did Mace, who had been midway through putting the still-limp Jess onto the ground. The mental note that the woman's wounds needed attention hummed only at the back of Veloce's mind, drowned out by the shock of what was happening in front of her.

    The relic. He'd activated the relic.

    And where there had once been a small tiger was now one fully-grown, all muscle and claw. Veloce held her ground, still touching a weapon, uncertain if the relic's power had altered Shere Khan's personality in addition to his physical form.

    (Though, given his personality, it could be argued that any change was an improvement.)

    "Uh, cub?" Mace ventured, hovering protectively by Jess, one rifle on the ground, the other in his grip. For what it was worth, the business end of the gun was tipped downward. "You okay?"
     
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