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Zeitgeist Blue

Jungle Memories: Walking the Daydream

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GM

 

Girl? That was a bit low, even for Neil, who clearly had no problems sinking his standards. 

 

Cassie fell back into a relaxed Ginga manuever, crouching low. 

 

"Your stronger than you look Neil. Faster, too. Did the Foundry do some work on you?" she asked. "Maybe you arent so clean as you think"

 

She moved in the same relaxed posture. 

 

"But I don't think you will be strong enough. And I dont think you will be fast enough. Even if you do know judo..."

 

She moved close, twisted to one side in a graceful feint and turned into a Escorpiao, the scorpion kick, which slammed effectively into his face. 

 

She span away fluidly and this time went for a follow up straight kick to the chest. Well timed, well executed, and powerful, but Neil had staggered a few steps back from the first blow, and now fortune favoured him, for Cassie's well timed attack was too short...

Edited by Supercape

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GM

 

Neil regained his footing and he spat a glob of blood to the ground before raising his arms to enter into a classic boxer's stance. That was close, too close to being knocked around and put out in one go like an amateur.

 

He felt woozy, like a drunk after too many bottles and too little sleep. His vision blurred between the moving Snakebite and a creeping blackness, but he gritted his teeth and pushed past it.

 

"Look at you, judging me from your high throne, as if you could understand what it is like to be a normal person, looking in from your world without understanding."

 

He circled you as he spoke, watching for an opening, watching as Snakebite danced, barely following her moves.

 

"You know you'd destroy anyone normal with your Lemurian blood. So, yeah, I accepted the treatments to keep up with metahumans like you."

 

Then he steps into reach, punching experimentally to prod an opening.

 

"As if you'd understand." Left jab. "The means you'd take to accomplish an end." Right straight. "As if you weren't fed through a silver platter your whole life." A hook to your trunk. "As if you didn't have the riches and the genes to be the Snakebite!"

Edited by Zeitgeist Blue

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Snakebite

 

Cassie felt herself stagger back, her nose broken and blood on her lips. She had walked into that jab, and the follow up. She barely felt the hook. 

 

"A silver spoon and every curse in England" she said, defiantly. "As if you would understand that. Even before I was snakebite, I had hauled myself through Jungles and desert and books...." she grunted. 

 

She felt as if she was going to spit out a tooth. She wondered if she was going to grow snake teeth as a replacement. 

 

"You...don't sound exactly normal yourself, Neil. It's not me being the hypocrit. Its you..."

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GM

 

"Bearing this?" He finishes your sentence and digs in his pocket and slips the ring into his ring finger, showing it to you.

 

You see it glow a warm red as your the ring on your hand has done before, but it seems to not give Neil any discomfort.

 

"I feel better than I have in years but... increased aggressiveness." He wraps you in a bear hug. "You feel the blood pumping in your veins."

 

"I don't pretend to know about curses and wealth but I know fights, Snakebite." He grunts almost teethering over with the effort. "And you lose."

Edited by Zeitgeist Blue

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GM

 

"I don't know. You bruised your knuckles pretty bad on my face" spat Cassie. 

 

She was spitting blood. And yes, a tooth. And her nose was broken. 

 

Not that she minded right now. She needed to survive and that was all. 

 

She wriggled free of his grasp with an elbow to his face, then turned around to face him, body low, guard raised. No tricks or feints. No flashy kicks. She just kept her guard up and backed off a step or two. Perhaps he would have his own broken nose to contend with...

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GM

 

For a moment or two he stands there, his arms even raised in a sort of stance, but as he takes a step forward to pursue you he wobbles before his leg gives way. He falls to his knees, unable to support his own weight. You see him struggle to stand up, to get his legs moving again. Then suddenly his body goes limp, as if he had gone to sleep, and he collapses face first to the ground.

 

Though he still breathes, he moves no more.

 

There is a rustle as Isa comes out of her hiding place, hosltering her own pistol. She walks up to you but you see her wince in pain with every step. She is covered in cuts and dirt from the tumble downhill and her clothes are in a similar state, ripped by branches and rocks. But a smile graces her lips as she looks down at the unconscious Neil, then back up at you.

 

<Serves him right after how he used us.> Another wince. <But you don't look so good yourself either, Archaeologist. I'd ask you if you need help but...>

 

And she turns towards the rest of the clearing, to the bodies of the Paruma and Kayara. <But there are questions that need answering before we leave this cursed place.>

Edited by Zeitgeist Blue

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Snakebite

 

The pain of a broken nose and a lost tooth started hitting Cassie. She was a tough old bird, but she found herself thinking about the morphine in the medical kit. If there was any left. If not, maybe some native herbs or mushrooms...

 

That was her dazed head speaking. She picked up her tranq gun and, to make sure, fired all remaining five darts into Neil. "<Even if he wakes up from that, he will be groggy as hell>" she said, with some satisfaction. 

 

She slid the gun back into her hip holter and brushed her hair back, feeling the sun on her skin. 

 

"<I'm sorry this ended in blood, Isa. But I am glad it has ended>" she said, honestly. "<I hope thats the last we see of Panuna and Kayara. But like you, I think there are some questions that need answering....>"

 

Reaching back into the past, she tried to focus on what Neil had done before Isa and Cassie had arrived...

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GM

 

<Paruma.> Isa corrects you off-handedly. <I see Uncle Doji has been telling you his stories.>

 

She leaves you, moving to the bodies, and her absence leaves you free to open your senses. At first you see yourself and Isa in the present, then you move back watching your struggle against Neil. Again, moving back, your vision turning into phantom figures who play your fight in reverse. The moon rises from the west to hang high in the sky and the world darkens in turn.

 

And underneath the night sky, the clearing is empty, the bodies of the Paruma and Kayara gone, Neil and Isa gone, the churning of the soil from your fight gone, the broken branches and impromptu path you came from gone. It is as if the clearing had laid undisturbed for a very, very long time.

 

From afar, you can see the very top of smoke from the village.

 

But a nearby rustling brings your attention back to the clearing and you see Neil emerge from the trees, machete in hand, which he quickly sheathes once he sees where he is and that nothing awaits him here.

 

His boots crunch on the ground as he moves to the altar-like stone and you see him take in the smoke you have seen. For a few seconds he watches the smoke waft then he turns his back to it and sits on the stone, hands clasped together as if waiting for something.

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Snakebite

 

The visions of the past seemed more clear. More focussed. Probably, because they were so recent. So full of emotional gravity. Maybe the pain of her broken nose focussed her. 

 

But it still hurt. 

 

The clock spun and Cassie moved through time with her eyes and ears. She started replaying the events slowly, attending to the details. This was not without some trepidation; she had a fear that this was black and strange sorcery, and looking through time to view it was not without risk to her psyche. 

 

So, Neil had come here, intent on...

 

...well, no point speculating. Not now. 

 

Let us see what he did!

 

She started forwarding the events....

 

 

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GM

 

You will your sense of hours past to come closer to the present, and it obeys you as easily moving your eyes from one object to another. Yet here you move through time.

 

Neil turns into a blur, a silhouette with no distinguishable features. He stays there for some time, barely budging in his seat. Then he is joined by another figure and you see them square-off against each other, but they do not fight. They seem to converse and at the end come to an agreement, exchanging words into actions and objects.

 

And then your vision clears and you see Neil, holding between his hands the knife you had found in the temple's catacombs a week ago. Its blade faces upward and his face is bent towards it, the tip of his nose almost touching the blade while he reads from the book he had taken from Doji. It is placed on the foot of the stone bed and he takes the book, moving to pace around the stone as he continues.

 

Even though he mutters it, you hear the story he reads, the myth whose ending you had heard coming up to this clearing. He begins about the Moon, about how she was there in the creation of her children.

 

On the flat stone lies Kayara, her hands clasped on her stomach, her hair silver in the moonlight, and graceful even lying down on stone. At first you think her asleep, but her eyes flutter open a little as Neil passes by.

 

A bowl lies empty beside her head. He wears a ring on his finger.

 

He completes a trip around the stone and continues. And then another time. And another. The smoke from the village only begins to disperse across the area.

 

In the present, Isa looks at you quizzically from where she stands near the Paruma, but she does not approach you.

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Snakebite

 

What was this? Neil was in collusion with somebody? Who was he meeting???

 

"<Isa, I am trying to see what happened here...>" she half-explained. "<Sorcery, you might call it. But this I can see. He met with somebody right before he performed the ceremony. I can't say who. But it is suspicious....is there anyone in the village who he mighht know?>"

 

Curse the fogged vision of the past!

 

Where did that ring come from? When did he put it on?

 

She tried to move back and forth through the arrow of time, to see when he put it on. Or perhaps the stranger had given it to him?

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GM

 

<Yes...> she says hesitantly. <I can tell this isn't normal. Your eyes are... but you don't seem anymore different than usual.>

 

Then she shakes her head. <Aside from me escorting the two of you to Uncle Doji I haven't been tracking where he went. And I doubt Doji would care much for this man.> And she points dismissively at Neil's prone form.

 

Back, to before the ceremony, but forward, after he arrives. You trace the images, visions blurry until you reach one where Neil's blurry figure holds something in its palm.

 

The vision resolves itself, becomes clearer, and you see Neil grasp an iron ring, a red jewel like blood set into its frame. Then he wears it and looks up to say to Kayara, "Yes. This will do nicely. Thank you."

 

Kayara gestures with a wave of her hand. "Of course, explorer, I do not keep tell falsehoods. But remember, what is essily given could be as easily taken back. Hakan's ring--"

 

"Because there must always be a partner," Neil interrupts.

 

But Kayara continues as if he had not said anything. "Has the potential to hold much of what the female explorer's ring holds. However it is tinged with his sins, tainting this work he had created, like all things he had touched after my death."

 

"Beware the power of the Beast within."

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Snakebite

 

Interesting. 

 

Things become clearer. 

 

Darkness remains. 

 

She shook herself out of the haiku of thought. What had transpired? And what consequences would they live with? Neil had been deceptive, and, thought Cassie, had manipulated Kayara (although what Kayara was thinking or intended was open to speculation). 

 

He had gathered a second, tainted ring. Linked to the hot band on her own finger. And how had it ended up on her finger, she wondered?

 

The Beast within. Was the beast linked to the tainted ring? Was it in the tainted ring? Was the beast some force from the dark corners of the soul?

 

Perhaps more of the past would reveal. She mulled all this and more, then started playing forward again, from the current position...

 

 

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GM

 

"And will I be able to control this Beast?" Neil asked.

 

Kayara did not immediately respond, turning her gaze towards the billowing smoke. Then, face still turned, she spoke. "Hakan dabbled in magic he did not understand, a narrative between the comforting light given to mortals and that which lurked beyond the fringes of that light. I have said this many times and perhaps this would be the last."

 

She turns her gaze back, somehow managing to look down at Neil even if he stood a head higher than her. "The Beast is me and I am the Beast. Yet we are not one and the person."

 

"Like two sides of the same coin, you mean." Neil interrupted her, looking down at his ring.

 

This time, Kayara paused, considering his words. "Yes, a crude analogy but one that holds value. I hold a measure of control over the coin but the foul brute is its own being and the ring on your finger shows the side where the beast dominates, though a little bit of me is present just as the situation is reversed in your partner grave-robber's ring."

 

She gestured at Neil's ring with a wave of her hand. "We control the rings for now for that band of iron is as much our bodies as your own limbs and beating heart are yours. So all those visions you and her had witnessed, I had willed you to see. It was my life, that temple and one I hoped would still be remembered after all these centuries."

 

"But if you were to die? If it were to die..." Neil replied.

 

"You cannot kill it. Just as mice cannot kill a jungle lion. It would rise up again and again to hunt its prey. But if the ceremony, my sacrifice to return to the greater whole of myself, is completed then the lines would be cut, the once-owners of the rings gone from this plane."

 

"Only then could you begin to wrest control over their promises wrought in iron."

 

There was a lull in the conversation as Neil pondered over Kayara's words. Then he looked up and grinned, the white of his teeth showing.

 

"Alright, let's do this."

 

At that Kayara gave Neil a smile that showed she had him in the palm of her hand.

Edited by Zeitgeist Blue

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Snakebite

 

Cassie was not sure whether to admire Neils Cunning or Lament his stupidity. Did he really think he could safely master that beast? Tempting, surely, but that kind of wild fury would never be tamed. 

 

There was some horrible pact here; the Goddess sacrificing herself to make whole what had been sundered, and Neil attempting to master the power. 

 

She looked down at her own ring, and Neil's. Two sides of a coin. And no simple dichotomy either, it seemed. A bit of one in the other. 

 

She would happily throw both rings into some pit of lava. But first she had to take them off. 

 

She gave an experimental tug on her own, and on Neils. 

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GM

 

They come off, easily, as if the rings were each fitted into your fingers.

 

Without fanfare or the expected effects of the supernatural stirring, you hold them on the palm of your hand. They are twin rings, made of dark iron and each bejeweled by a blood red ruby.

 

Then suddenly there is a feeling deep within your chest, a lifting of your spirits. You feel as if you could fly, as if the whole world was yours to look upon from above. Your palms, the stage of nature giving and taking, where you play the giving hand.

 

It flutters then fades almost as suddenly as it had appeared.

 

It was a good feeling.

 

Then you look and, still, those two rings to do with as you please.

 

***

 

Soon Isa ties up Neil's hands with a short length of rope from her equipment. You discover then that he had already regained consciousness and was fighting the poisons from your dart, but Isa's pistol shoved under his nose gets him to cooperate.

 

He kneels under the watchful eye of Isa and the threat of her pistol. Smartly, he keeps his eyes down and mouth shut.

 

Isa throws a sidelong glance at you.

 

<Ready, Archaeologist? You have any plans for the bodies over there?> And with a shrug of her shoulder she motions at the Paruma and Kayara's bodies.

 

The priestess lies peacefully, seemingly unaware of the fight after her death. Blood stains around the stab wound under her heart, but a smile graces her lips nonetheless.

 

<Those aren't my concern but this,> and she digs her boot on Neil's side who doesn't do more than wince. <This is mine. We'll see how the village decides to deal with him.>

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Snakebite

 

"<Fine>"

 

She was not totally happy with the rough justice of the village, but it was justice. And better than none at all. This was the jungle. What other authority was there?

 

But there was something still unknown. Who was his collaborator?

 

"I saw it all Neil. We both know you are a greedy opportunist. Maybe you did want to get out. But you crawled your way out over the dead bodies you left in your wake. I know why you did it. I even understand why you did it. But now you live with the consequences" she told him. 

 

"But one thing I don't get. Who helped you?" she said. "You may as well tell me...."

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