You have been taken by the Mists

Author Topic: Red Mist Remedy - Victor Kaverin  (Read 164 times)

Haeresis

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Red Mist Remedy - Victor Kaverin
« on: November 10, 2019, 05:23:17 PM »



(Click Image for Portrait)

***

The Invidian was a good candidate for a bar fly.
His shabby clothes looked like they were about to come apart at the seam,
ravaged by small tears and the lingering aroma of last night's whiskey.
 Even his week old facial hair pointed in all directions.
Apparently he did not notice that he made a lousy job of looking after himself.

He must have known he was in a rut, at least on some unconscious level.
The guilt was written in his pinched expression;
an apologetic tension in his eye and lips that affirmed his apparent need to take the edge off.
His other eye was covered by an eye-patch, usually half-veiled by clammy strands of hair.

Victor Kaverin had once been someone respectable; someone who was now buried under layers of regret.

***


« Last Edit: November 21, 2019, 03:32:41 AM by Haeresis »

Haeresis

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Dead Girl
« Reply #1 on: November 10, 2019, 05:28:43 PM »
"It's not me I'm worried about. It's your daughter. You know something's off when your enemy shows itself during the happiest days of your life."

"She is perfectly safe. We all are, as long as we do not leave the camp."

Victor had remembered those words, and in the moment he had believed them. The memory was hammering in his head as he beheld the ravaged body of the young bride. The deep bruises around her throat were a string of amethysts; the savaged flesh which unwrapped her bones resembled a sanguine dress ruffled by hours of dancing. Her glassy eyes were frozen in the moment of death, blind with the helplessness of a child who, in the last moments of her life, could only wonder one thing: 'Why?'

The wailing of the tribe kept him up at night. There was nothing worse than a mother’s grief in a father’s ears. It awoke all kinds of skeletons in the depths of the soul and discomforts long since buried that made pulling the trigger harder on the heart. A budding Seer and her Raunie mother hadn’t seen what his gut had been churning to say. It wasn’t right. It might have said more about him than anyone else. He couldn’t blame her for dismissing his warning, after all. If someone had said such things about his Camelia, he would have punched them in the teeth and perished the thought.

“We are not like you, giorgios. We do not walk around with blood on our hands. We are not murderers.”

The Seer had told him the night before that he would have his future revealed on the next day, and she had been right. In the scattered entrails of the young Vistana, Victor saw for himself what fortune had in store for a father who abandoned his child. In the liquefied bowels of the accursed murderer, he saw what fortune had in mind for men with blood on their hands.
« Last Edit: November 21, 2019, 03:24:29 AM by Haeresis »

Haeresis

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An Eastern Wind on the Devil's Graveyard
« Reply #2 on: November 20, 2019, 02:26:19 AM »

Victor found himself in the Devil's Graveyard. It was a place that he'd visited many times before in his dreams and would likely encounter again. It hadn't changed much since the last time either. It still greeted him with its barren desert, and the occasional withered plant sticking out of the ashen sands here and there. He loathed the place, but with the scorching heat looming over him from the sunless sky, and the wisps of mists seemingly emerging from the sand to slowly converge in his direction, he knew he could do nothing but shut up and let it happen.

Thankfully there was a road stretching forth into other corners of his mind, for the Devil's Graveyard was a place he'd found at the crossroads of strada de viață and drumul morții. The roads of this desert always had a tendency of taking him places he didn't want to be, meeting with past regrets that came in the shape of old friends. He often claimed that he wasn't one to dwell on the past, but now that he was dragging his feet along the road ahead and listening to the sizzling evaporation of sweat that dropped from his forehead and onto the ground, he had to admit that in his waking hours he tended to do the opposite. The man could hardly stop thinking about his past. It was a bit embarrassing, really. Not intentional either. Such things crept on the edge of his consciousness as outsiders looking for a way in. Must have been why he'd been brought to this place again, he figured.

His lips were dry from the heat and his shabby clothes were damp from profuse sweating. He could feel the grains of salt that collected in the creases of his face once the water steamed away. The thirst was nauseating, and he wondered if he might turn into one of those ugly shrubs that were naught but greying wood and shriveled leaves. Just as he was thinking that, he saw the mists thin far ahead. They teased him with a shape closely resembling some sort of building. The closer he moved, the more recognizable the place became, and by the time he was only a few yards away from the construction, he realized where the Devil's Graveyard had taken him. The bar was two stories high and the missing tiles on the roof gave it the air of an old man with a receding hairline. The porch was composed of crooked planks and one of the front windows was broken. The place was just how he remembered it, warts and all. Victor looked up to the sign atop which read 'The Blue Agave' as he pushed the bat-wing doors open and stepped inside the dim-lit bar. There was barely anyone inside. Just a few tables scattered around with some chairs left to collect dust. The counter was manned by a man with too much hair on his upper lip for him to come across as anything but sleazy.

"Oh don't drag in all that sand, I just mopped the floor," the bartender complained while shaking his head, yet his hands were already reaching for a bottle and a short glass.

"Don't start, Teodor. None of this is even real." Victor sat at the counter and glanced into the wall-mounted mirror to notice both of his eyes were intact. Nice mug, he thought to himself.

"Yeah, yeah. What are you doing here anyhow?"

"No idea, but reckon if I sit here long enough, I'll find out."

"Lucky day for you then, I've a new batch of my homebrew."

"Oh?" Victor rubbed the left side of his face, idly remembering what it was like to have it that way. Before he knew it, the eager bartender poured a drink and pushed it his way. It was a little foamy, a dark yellow that made him think it at least hadn't been diluted with water. As he was about to drink a sip before the snickering bartender, he heard a familiar voice nearby. "Don't drink that."

"What?"

"It's piss."

"Sure looks like it."

"Tastes like it too. Everybody knows Teodor's homebrew is just piss."

The bartender jumped in, offended by the insinuation, "It ain't piss. Just an acquired taste, yeah?"

Victor turned to see the woman who had just joined them. She looked young, with a necklace of violet gems around her throat. Her sanguine dress granted her a regal air and she used the full force of it to stare the bartender down, who threw up his hands in defeat and poured Victor a glass of whiskey. The dreamer watched them fondly. He'd never spoken much to Teodor but he'd always remember the Blue Agave as the place his old self died. The place where everything changed. In the real world, the bar was a rickety old place outside Curriculo and it usually was full of shady characters and bloodshot drifters. The girl nodded approvingly when a proper drink was served and she snapped her fingers at Teodor to remind him she needed serving too. She then received a glass of liquor as well that she left untouched regardless.

"You look better than last time, Simza," Victor offered her way after the bartender had gone further down the counter to clean some dirty glasses away from them.

"It's a thing with memories, they usually are either embellished or vilified. But that is not why you are here."

"No? Why then?"

"To meet someone. He's coming."

The Invidian didn't like the sound of that one bit. As though on cue, he raised his glass in the hopes of finding some strength at the bottom of it to prepare him for whatever was about to occur. Yet something odd happened. He paused to think on this action that had never required thought before.

"What, you don't like your whiskey?" Teodor butted in from afar.

"Shouldn't be drinking, it's forbidden for this phase of my training."

"Yeah well some say intent to sin is sin committed. Too late to turn back now, isn't it?"

Victor groaned and felt Simza put a hand on his shoulder, "He's got a point. You might as well go all in."

He shrugged off the phantom touch and pushed away the glass, a little peeved that these conjurations were encouraging him, "Go noose yourselves. I don't need this right now."

"Shh, something's coming. You hear that?" Teodor looked up and around searchingly, and Simza glanced toward the entrance, "It's him."

Outside, Victor saw the dust rising to ride the wind. It whistled a shrill note that made the walls of the bar feel paper thin; the heat of the place soothed by the cold of an eastern wind. All three of them watched the entrance and surely enough, a shape emerged from the mists and sands outside. They recognized him instantly by the mummy wrappings that covered his entire body beneath rotten clothes. Upon the linen of his face was a sort of death mask painted in an amalgam of colors. The whites of his pictured eyes sober and piercing. Even the sky had cleared for his arrival and a rainbow shone down upon the porch to cast colorful lights upon the man who stood there with recurve bow in hand, and a quiver at his hip that housed two golden arrows the size of bolts made for siege weapons. The Golden Archer had entered the Blue Agave; Xyprenekh the Eastern Wind. For a long moment, no one said anything and no one moved a muscle, until Xyprenekh broke the tense silence by casually removing his anachronistic wide-brimmed hat, "Wow. You're all chatty."

The bartender blurted out a yellow laugh and hurriedly poured a drink for the mummy who took a seat at the bar. Simza, Victor, and him side by side from left to right.

"Took you long enough," Simza remarked to the mummy over Victor's shoulder.

"Got delayed on the road that led to Kaverin's garbage marriage. Nasty place, that."

"Right?" She puffed out a weary breath.

Victor cringed and looked between the two dead souls sitting on either side of him. He never liked folk talking about him as though he wasn't there, "Alright, that's unnecessary. What the hell do you want? Here to take back your Golden Arrow?"

"Hold your horse, Vic. First off, keep the arrow. You completed the trials fair and square - It'll remind you of the Abyss. Second, that's why I'm here. To tell you what it all means."

Sighing, Victor let go of his frustration, "Ah yeah, always wanted to dream of an old bag of bones to teach me a lesson," he paused and turned to face the mummy, "The Abyss, you mean the chasm of the Third Trial?"

By the time any of them had blinked, the bar area of the Blue Agave had been transported into a dark cavern. The counter, the drinks, and the four fools gathered around were now on the edge of a cliff beneath which were bottomless shadowy depths. It was the chasm that Victor and others had found in the tomb of the Neureni horse archer in Barovia. Further away from the edge stood a circular platform upon which five statues held a silent vigil. Xyprenekh stood up after finishing his drink of Teodor's homebrew - which indeed was warm piss - picked up his bow and stepped right off the edge of the cliff. Somehow, he did not fall, nor did he ever look down. He appeared to be floating above the void and, unperturbed by it, turned around to face the bar. "No way to cross the Abyss but by walking on the bridge; a bridge no one can see but he who overcomes fear and has faith, yeah?"

The mummy's gravelly voice resonated in the hollow acoustics of the tomb, and the rest watched him pensively. Victor stood up and approached the edge to look down into the black depths, "I did sort of toss my holy symbol first to test the waters. I would never have known there was an invisible bridge there if the symbol hadn't landed exactly on it. Isn't that basically cheating?"

"And what were the odds of that landing 'exactly' on the slim bridge? Faith doesn't have to be pretty, mate. Who in their right mind would see a chasm and simply walk off the edge hoping their God would give them wings? Only idiots. Idiots and heretics."

"Amen!" Proclaimed Teodor.

Simza shook her head at the outburst but otherwise maintained her silence. Xyprenekh carried on, "Point is, the unknown has all kinds of dark things in it. The Abyss is always around the corner, waiting to catch folks off-guard with its temptations and its Legionnaires, but you'll pull through if you just remember one thing."

"What's that?"

"Your soul's in the right hands. You are already saved, brother. You have been, from the moment you accepted Her into your heart."

Those words rung true. If the ancient mummy had fired them with his bow, Teodor likely would have applauded the bullseye. All of this was just extra, wasn't it? He'd already sojourned on the fringe of aliveness; on the cusp of the ever after. And he'd found faith that had allowed him to fly over the Abyss without looking down, without doubting his footing. The path he wished to walk would be difficult, but not impossible, as long he did not rely on himself but instead surrendered to Her. Least that's what the nuns would have told him if he'd stayed in Karina. There was only blackness now, he vaguely realized, the chasm and the bar and those fools were all gone. It took Victor's mind some time to slowly drift upwards to a state of consciousness, as though an air bubble that sought to reach the surface of a lake. In that increasingly shallow space between sleep and awareness, he heard a whisper of Xyprenekh's voice one last time:

"He who dwells in the dark shall be damned, forever beyond the reach of Her guidance. And those with the light shall never be harmed. The Mists shall facilitate their work, with sword and burning shield... Know thy Fate, Initiate. You already know how it ends."

Yeah, and all that remained was staying the course.


Spoiler: The Tomb of Xyprenekh • show
« Last Edit: November 21, 2019, 04:32:03 AM by Haeresis »