The Wilds of Northwest Ayana

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Danal Church
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Posts: 47
Joined: Sat Jan 22, 2011 7:53 am
Name: Danal Church
Race: Undead

The Wilds of Northwest Ayana

Post by Danal Church » Wed Jan 26, 2011 12:56 am

It was dark, all Church saw was black. He was disoriented, he shook his head hoping to clear his vision. Nothing. Why couldn't he open his eyes? Church was groggy, stiff as if he'd just awoke from a deep sleep. He tryed to shift his body, turn, move, to no avail. Then horror came over Church as he realized his eyes were indeed open, he was surrounded by earth. Buried.

Church panicked giving him enough adrenaline to force his right arm up into the ground as far as it would go, an act of pure desperation as he had no idea which way was up or down. The act payed off as the ground opened up and freed his right hand. With his right hand free he scraped and scraped until his fingers reached his head, weakening the ground around his torso. He shifted until the dirt began to crumble and collapse around him.

As he began to remove the last of the earth from above him Church started trying to piece together what was going on. He recalled a battle, an urgent one, requiring many men, in a town made of stone. He was with a man he knew, a man he loved very much. Carlyle! His brother!...his thoughts were cut short as a ground-rattling slam echoed the earth directly behind where he was laying followed by a deep throat-wrenching roar. Church allowed himself to sink back into the ground, slowly. His head was now uncovered and it was clearly visable that the ground had been tampered with around him, whatever was behind him was clearly huge so running would be futile. Perhaps if he remained very still, whatever was behind him would move on. The creature charged ahead, stepping directly over Church's shallow grave. It had massive feet, stood upright, and was easily twenty feet tall. Church heard a second roar challenging the creature that was charging. Against every instinct, Church allowed himself to sit up just enough so he could see over the section of earth he had disturbed.

What he saw was impossible, he knew it had to be, it was a dragon defending itself from the beast that had charged him. He had heard stories of dragons before, he had even spoken with a few people who had had eyewitness accounts of them, but he never personally believed in such creatures.
When the beast was close enough the dragon swung a brutal blow into the beasts midsection with his tail, causing the beast to keel over and slide on his knees a few yards. Church couldn't identify the beast, it appeared to be a giant walking bear with the horns of a mountain goat. The beast rose and, again, charged. When the dragon swung it's tail for a second time the beast was ready, it caught the dragons tail and threw the dragon into the nearby hillside. The beast gave the dragon no time to reorient itself as it threw it's body onto the dragon, pinned it down, and began to beat it to death. Suddenly the beast reared back and let out a howl of agony, releasing his grip on the dragon and allowing the dragon to stand. Church now saw spikes protruding from the dragons skin which, he assumed, was a defense for the dragon in the event a creature strayed too close. The spikes had obviously dealt a severe wound to the beast because the beast was soon on it's stomach, unable to stand, attempting to crawl away.

As if knowing the beast would soon die, the dragon followed close behind it until the beast no longer moved. After flipping the beast over, and assuring itself that it was dead, the dragon began to feed on the dead beast.
Church was stunned, where in the hell was he?

Church kept himself hidden in the ground until the dragon had finished eating and moved on. Church pulled himself out of the ground realizing, then, how badly his muscles hurt. His armor felt much more heavier than usual. Church glanced into the hole from which he came and was relieved to see that his mace had been lying next to him. He retrieved his mace and snapped it onto his belt. It wasn't until Church attempted to stand that he felt the bad condition his body was in, he grunted in pain and fell back on his knees. Church realized he must be severely injured and did a quick survey of his immediate surroundings, he had to find a place to remove his armor and tend to his wounds.
Church spotted two boulders, roughly eighty feet from him, that were side by side supporting each other creating a small opening in the base between them. It wasn't ideal, and any predator could easily reach in a grab him, but it would keep Church from sight for the time being, he didn't know what else he could do.

Eighty feet turned into, what felt like, miles as Church dragged himself through the dirt and mud trying to make it to the relative saftey of the boulders. He had to stop every-so-often to catch his breath and rest, which he knew was highly dangerous with whatever wildlife was roaming around. Church used the last remains of his strength to pul himself into the crevice and fall face first on the ground, gasping for air. He felt himself fading away, wanting to fall asleep, when he realized he was about to nod-off Church jolted his body and forced himself to sit up.

Church needed rest, so instead of beginning the process of removing his heavy armor he opted to lay his head back on the rock and try to catch up on what was going on. He did remember his brother, Carlyle, fighting with him against an unknown assailant. He remembered the creatures having the ability to jump very high, in fact, they jumped over the stone walls protecting the city and began to kill civilians. Church couldn't remember the name of the city or why he felt soo panicked at the time to get into the city, of course he cared for people and would rush to help any person in distress, but he would've kept a cool head about it. He definently didn't have a cool head at the time. Why? Church
pondered this for a while until he realized that he was after something special at the time. He was panicking because there was something in the city he wanted to save....or rather someone he wanted to save. It started to come back to him now, a woman....his thoughts were, again, interrupted as a sharp pain struck his stomach. Church was hungry, very hungry, he tryed to ignore the hunger. He could focus on food later.

But the pain escalated, the hunger lurched violently in his stomach. Church groaned in pain and toppled over, rocking back and forth gripping the area of pain that the armor was guarding. It felt like a spear had pierced Church's stomach and was being twisted inside. The pain didn't subside and continued to get stronger, Church moaned in agony. The hunger lurched in his stomach again and fluid sprayed out of Church's mouth onto the wall of the rock in front of him. He began to lose consciousness, the pain was too intense to bear, but he didn't dare pass out. Not out here with the giant beasts roaming around. He continued to vomit, over and over, until the pain subsided enough for him to sit up and catch his breath. The pain had not gone away, just calmed down and relaxed a little. Church sneered in disgust at the mess he had made, and turned his back to face the opposite way. What in the hell was wrong with him? He was starving, how long had he been knocked out?

Church began the process of removing his armor, it was a mess, his superior would have a fit when he saw it. He started with his leg plates, detaching the kneecap-foot section from the thigh section of his legplate. As he removed latches and straps Church tryed to recall what he had been thinking about. The woman, yes, the woman that was soo important to him. He now remembered his desperation as one of the invading abominations jumped on top of her. Her face was clear to Church now, she looked at him with terror in her eyes as he ran toward her, Heather. Church wept softly, how could he forget his wife? The woman he loved with all his heart, he had forgotten her name. Church suddenly realized that he missed Heather greatly, he needed to know if she had made it to Europe alive.

Church had unlatched the last of the straps holding the protective armor from his kneecaps down and began to slide them off.
Church froze in absolute horror and stared at his right kneecap. Did he dare touch it to confirm this nightmare he suspected? He actually considered just putting the piece of his armor back on and forgetting about what he had just saw, as if that were an option. He moved his trembling armored hand over his kneecap and tapped it with his finger then let out a muffled scream of terror in the palm of his hand.
There was nothing left of his kneecap except for bone.
Church removed the remaining piece of his lower leg armor to reveal dead, pale skin covering the stalk of his leg, only for the skin to end at his ankles revealing a naked skeleton foot.
Church began to wail in despair, he removed his gloves to reveal the stubs of bone that were once his fingers. But the horror didn't stop there, he polished off the legpiece so he could have some source of reflection. His reflection revealed a face straight out of hell, dear God he had no eyes! His skull was visable through a thin layer of dead skin. Unable to produce tears, Church cried a tearless sob the rest of the night, no longer caring what would happen to him the next morning.

Danal Church
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Name: Danal Church
Race: Undead

Re: The Wilds of Northwest Ayana

Post by Danal Church » Thu Jan 27, 2011 2:48 am

(Note: Church still believes the continent of Ayana is America, you will see him refer to people that are dead)
To his dismay, Church awoke early the next morning to a light red sunrise. He had cried himself into a fitful sleep the night before with the fresh realization of the monster he had turned into. Church slowly turned his head to look at his hand, maybe, just maybe, it had all been a horrible dream. As he began to see the whites of his boney knuckles, Church jerked his head away. He didn't even want to look at himself, in fact, he didn't even want to begin to know how he was able to "look" at anything. Church was at a loss, he had no further plan, maybe if he just sat there long enough he would eventually die off. That's what he wanted most, he decided, he wanted to die, to rid himself of this nightmare.

Wait a second, Church thought. He sat up, a new feeling of hope and elation burned within him. The Astral Plane! Perhaps he could simply use his abilities in magic to heal his body! Church focused his mind, trying to find the connection his mind had that allowed him to tap into the Astral Plane. His attempts came back with nothing, Church could still feel it but felt very far away from it. He tryed again, Church focused as hard as he could. Come on, come on, he thought. His determination granted him a very short vision of static and what appeared to be a warped lightning storm, then he awoke.

Church shook his head in disbelief, his whole world had crashed down around him literally over night. His connection with the Astral Plane had been severed, something was wrong, something had changed. Church suddenly began to feel the hunger rising, and churning in his stomach yet again. "No...no!" he cried aloud. But the pain escalated anyway and began it's agonizing lurching. Church doubled-over and began to spew the nasty fluid from his mouth again. He could bear no more, he began to wonder if he was actually in hell. The torture and horror coincided with all the biblical teachings he had heard, yet, he somehow knew he was alive and still on the planet. His stomach began to settle again, allowing Church to sit up. Church wanted to cry again, but he the sobs wouldn't come to him.

Church thought about his wife, Heather, again. She would be repulsed by him, she would be scared and afraid of him, and how could he blame her? He was scared of himself. Church wondered how she had faired on the pirate ship to Europe, he knew the Captain, Eugene Steelbarrow, but he also knew how the brave pirate was always being hunted at sea by creature and government alike. Church realized that he couldn't die yet, he had a responsibility to make sure that Heather and their unborn child were safe. He now had a plan, he would make sure his wife was okay then, Church decided, he would find a way to end his life.

The armor he currently had on was too much, he would have to strip his armor down to be able to walk around. Church removed his wrist and arm guards, once again petrified at the disgusting condition of his skin. He removed his ankle and leg guards as well, this left his Shoulderguards and Chestguard. Church, with effort, was able to stand for the first time. After cautiously surveying his immediate surroundings Church stepped out of the crevice he had been hiding. He looked around and noticed the massive mountain to the far east that he had come to use as a way-point often. So he was still in America then, but judging from the face and position of the mountain he should be in the city of stone where he had...well...died. Or thought he had died. Well he had obviously died because that was his last memory and no living person gets so old that their skin falls off....he stopped himself right there. He refused to think about that any further.

Church went back to trying to pinpoint where he was. He looked around, yes the city should've been right where he was standing. Church didn't see any sign that there had ever been a city standing there, but he just knew for a fact that this is where the city used to be. The name of the city suddenly came to Church, Bradshire. So Bradshire was gone, the invading abominations must've completely torn the city apart. Church shuddered as he began to realize that he must've been in that ground for awhile, he silently prayed that Heather wasn't in trouble.

Church took some small comfort in knowing that if the mountain was east, then the west coast was not too far away to the West. Church would go to the port where Captain Steelbarrow docked his ship, convince him he was not a mindless freak, and pay him for transport to Europe. Church checked his pouch and confirmed that he had more than enough notes to cover the cost of the trip, Church knew that Steelbarrow would likely refuse payment, but he would at least offer.

Church began the trek to the west coast, he had to stop every hour or so to rest and catch his breath, but he had been fortunate to avoid being seen by the wildlife. Three hours into the day Church had another episode with his violent hunger, it was getting worse, he would have to eat soon or he feared the hunger would soon kill him. His journey began to get more harrowing as he had to climb down cliffs, wade through rivers, and hide from passing predators. Church was astounded by how big each animal was, had the human race been exterminated here? Had they abandoned this section of the continent? Church hoped not, because if humanity packed up and left the West Coast Pirates would no longer be docking where he was going. When mid-afternoon came Church stumbled across a familiar scene with a few dead animals, the animals were different than the two he had seen the previous day but still huge. Church continued to walk over and around the dead beasts but stopped when he saw a spear protruding from the ground. As he drew nearer to the spear he noticed a body, the body of a human! The human was dead but this meant that humanity had not been completely wiped out. The body was fresh, maybe two or three days old. Church noticed that the mans body did not have much clothing, he assumed it was a tribesman of some sort.

The hunger in Church's stomach surprised him this time as it began to get restless in his stomach yet again. "Damnit," Church said. He got on his knees preparing for the inevitable lurching that he had come to be familiar with. To his surprise the hunger didn't lurch in his stomach, instead, it seemed to be moving up his spine. A sharp pain jabbed Church's mind, Church cried out in agony. This was the worst pain he had felt since he awoke. When the pain subsided Church realized that he was not alone with his thoughts anymore, he felt as if someone was staring at him. Church was frozen in fear, he felt as if someone was standing right behind him. He jumped up and brought his mace up to bear behind him, but noone was there. Church still felt as if someone was behind him, he quickly turned around again, noone.
Church was, again, facing the corpse. He glanced at the corpse and kicked the man to make sure he was dead. Suddenly a deep voice bellowed in his mind causing Church to fall to his knees, trembling. "Feed....," the voice bellowed. Church couldn't move, couldn't believe that had actually just happened. "FEED!.......," the voice repeated, much louder and agitated this time. To his horror, Church now realized what he was hungry for. Flesh. Church threw himself back from the dead man, appalled at his sudden craving. "No!" Church screamed. "I Wont!" The hunger withdrew back into his stomach and began it's violent lurching, obviously angry that Church didn't submit. It was horrible, the sickening presence continued to torture Church until he was on the ground, unable to move. Church panted and moaned in a puddle of his own vomit, the hunger moved back into his thoughts. "Relieve yourself," the hunger growled, "Feed." Church crawled back to the corpse, the hunger beginning to take over. He stared at the corpse. Yes, he thought. He had to relieve his hunger, the man was dead, what could it hurt? The hunger whispered into his thoughts, "Yes, Yes, Yes...," reinforcing his desires. Church began to drool. He was soo terribly hungry, He drew his face closer to the corpse and opened his mouth.

Suddenly he was thrown into the air by a deafening roar, his mace came loose and landed beside him. Church was disoriented, what had just happened? As he looked over, he saw the same beast he had seen die at the hands of the dragon the night before. The beast began to pace around him, Church reached over, grabbed his mace, and jumped to his feet. The hunger retreated from Church's mind, apparently needing him to focus on keeping them both alive. In broad daylight Church now recognized the beast, a Yeti. Church now definently knew something was wrong with the wildlife, Yeti's were only spotted on the plains of high mountaintops, never had a Yeti been spotted on the ground. Church brought his mace up to bear, pretty positive that he had no chance of survival. As if reading that last thought the hunger returned into Church's mind and suddenly released a high pitched scream out of his mouth that echoed across the plains. After the scream was finished the hunger withdrew.

What in Gods name was that? Church thought. The Yeti responded to the scream as a challenge and charged. The Yeti clenched it's massive fist and swung it. Church attempted to parry the attack with a laughably weak result. Church flew into the air and landed on the ground unconscious, only to wake up getting thrown into the Yeti's mouth. The Yeti attempted to chew Church but, instead, bit his hard armored breastplate. Church heard the Yeti lose a tooth and cry out in pain. He fell out of the Yeti's mouth and landed on the dry dirt. Enraged now, the Yeti brought its enormous foot over Church with the intent on squashing him. Church was too weak to move, and although his armor was strong, his armor was not strong enough to withstand a hit like this. He closed his eyes, awaiting death and praying he would die for good this time.

The Yeti reared back in surprise as a small, dark, mangled creature landed on the its face. Followed by five others who latched on to the Yeti and began to bite chunks out of it's flesh. Church realized that the creatures had the form of humans, but had been terribly altered. Just like him. The Yeti staggered backward and scratched and clawed at it's body, but the creatures were too fast and continued to rip the Yeti to pieces. Once the Yeti had fallen and no longer moved the creatures jumped off and ran on all hands and feet to surround Church. None of the creatures had eyes, like him, and they had no clothing or armor. They stood up, in unison, and stared blankly at Church. He was beside himself, he couldn't think of anything to say. They stared at him as if expecting a response. "T-Thank You?" Church asked. But the creatures continued to stare. After another moment of silence the six creatures in unison let out the same screech that the hunger had released from Church's mouth. It scared the absolute shit out him and he fell straight on his ass. After they were finished the creatures burrowed into the ground and just as fast as they had arrived, they were gone. Is that what Church was turning into? It was getting dark and the sun was setting in the horizon. Church saw a likely looking Oak tree and decided he would rest there for the evening.

Another day had passed, and Church's future was getting all the more darker

Danal Church
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Posts: 47
Joined: Sat Jan 22, 2011 7:53 am
Name: Danal Church
Race: Undead

Re: The Wilds of Northwest Ayana

Post by Danal Church » Wed Feb 02, 2011 7:50 am

(NOTE: February 22, 696 BCE)
(NOTE: February 22, 696 BCE)

"And last on the council's agenda involves a pirate by the name of Captain Eugene Steelbarrow."
Commander Bradford motioned for his two officers to hold up a sketch of the pirates face along with his ship.
"This pirate, and his crew of twelve or more subordinates, were witnessed looting a docked Nation Guardian Ship which happened to hold an abundance of Iron and several cases of Black Bile. They also hogtied the two guards assigned to the post that night"
There was chuckling around the room of officers, ship guard duty was a joke and was only reserved for the worst of the Nations soldiers.
"Enough." Bradford said as he held up a diagram of the Black Bile.
"This Black Bile is rumored to be a breakthrough in medicine and was to be used by our doctors as an experimental treatment for specific ailments. Now as you all are aware we, unfortunately, don't have the time or resources to waste on pirates but the theft of this Bile has cost the Nation dearly and our Senator has ordered that we bring this pirate in for questioning and compensation of twenty thousand notes."
The Commander rolled the diagram up and placed it on his podium.
"This," the Commander said, now pointing back at ship sketch. "is the ship that Steelbarrow commands and what holds our cargo. He calls it Liberty Fortune."
Commander Bradford nodded at his two officers and they rolled the sketches up and walked away.
"Captain Eugene Steelbarrow is to be brought in on charges of Trespassing, Theft, Assault, Piracy, Unauthorized Docking, and third degree Invasion as they were reported to be armed. Steelbarrow has been a suspect in several piracy crimes but has never been proven guilty, so this is his first offense and he is to be arrested but unharmed. Who here will answer the council's call to track down and arrest this pirate?"
One officer in the room stood, " Lieutinent Danal Church will answer the council's call."
"Thank you Lieutinent." Commander Bradford said. "How many of your men do you think you'll require?"
"None sir, I can handle this one alone."
The Commander looked at Church for a few seconds then, reluctantly, said, "Very well Lieutinent, he was last seen on the West Coast near Ann Harbor. Begin your investigation there, you leave in three hours."
"Yes sir," Church said.
"Thanks everyone," Bradford said. "this council is adjurned."
Church stood and strode to the rooms exit.
"Getting bored there Danal?" Commander Bradford said now walking alongside Church. "I've never seen you volunteer for something soo quickly."
"Not bored sir, restless. The Nation hasn't had a significant military engagement since the liberation of Stockholm, and that was over a year ago."
"Well that just means we're doing our job Lieutinent."
"Perhaps, or it means we're becoming less and less needed."
"We fight for peace and justice, that's always needed."
"True, but we both know what happens to such morales when politicians gain power."
"And for the sake of Applicable Deniability, I must withdraw myself from this conversation." Bradford said smiling. "My best wishes to you Lieutinent, be safe."
Church smiled and returned the wave to his superior. Church was excited about the job he had volunteered for, he was getting fidgety and claustraphobic sitting around at the Nation Headquarters for his first month of re-deployment. It would be nice to get out and ride to the beaches of the West Coast, his horse could surely use the exercise as well.
Church made his way past the mess hall and into the eastern complex where he then had to make his way down several flights of stairs to get outside to the stables which held his horse. A rather annoying and time consuming walk, and he could never avoid being stopped and questioned by nosey politicians who ran rampant in the eastern complex.
Church disliked politics, politics seemed to corrupt everything it touched and ultimately led to wars, economic issues, and loss of free will. But however much Church hated politics, he couldn't think of another way to run a group of people and keep the quality of life as good as it was now. People needed balance and stability, so being voting into power by the very people who would have to live by your rules seemed fair enough. It's what people did with their power once they received it that aggrivated him.
Church spent the next half hour prepping his horse for the trip to Ann Harbor. The trip would only take about six hours, but there would be no civilization until then and nothing was more embarassing and unprofessional then being stranded somewhere with no supplies. Church left water and food for his horse and began to walk along the path outside of the stables. He had one thing left to do. His brother Carlyle was returning from Bradshire today from a mayors call for assistance in regards to a group of violent protesters. A very odd situation since there had not yet been opposition to the Nations government, and Church was eager to learn the details of it. He was certain Carlyle was alright, although Carlyle was only a Corporal he, in Church's opinion, was the best warrior the Nation had.
The path followed alongside the walls of the Nations HQ and would lead him to the front gates where he would great his brother. Logically, it would've been faster to get to the gates from the inside but Church wanted solitude and was happy to walk down the path alone with his thoughts. When Church arrived at the gates he was happy to see that Carlyles unit had just arrived and was waiting for the gates to open. Carlyle was one of the seven soldiers who responded to Bradshire's call and it appeared that they had all made it back alive.
Church walked up beside Carlyle on his horse and slapped him on the back.
"Danal! I was just asking where I might find you, I was hoping you could use your magic touch to fix up the nick I got on my arm." Carlyle dismounted and removed his right arm guard to reveal his wound.
The "nick" turned out to be a six inch long gaping slash. "Damn Carlyle, how'd you get this?" Church asked as he sat his brother down and began to remove his gloves.
"One of those creepy ass protesters threw a broken bottle at me when my focus was elsewhere."
The wound had already become infected, a faint golden light appeared on Church's hands as he focused his mind and the skin stitched itself within seconds. Healing had become soo natural to Church that he barely had to think about it these days. "So they weren't cooperative then?"
Carlyle's superior walked up behind Church, "That's an understatement." he said as he saluted Church. "Sergeant Maxwell sir."
"Lieutinent Church." Danal said returning the Sergeants salute.
"Corporal be in the debriefing office in ten minutes, you can't be late for this one." Maxwell said.
"Not a problem sir." Carlyle stated with a sarcastic look on his face.
"I'm serious Carlyle, this is the first opposition to the Senator and he is eager to learn the details."
"Yes, I promise I'll be there sir. I wont be late." Carlyle said with a long look on his face.
Maxwell nodded and walked away.
"So what happened?" Church asked.
"We had to kill three of them, there were twelve total."
"You're kidding."
"Nope, we tryed to remove them from the city peacefully until one of them pulled a knife on Maxwell and forced him to protect himself. After Maxwell dropped the first attacker two more tryed to get macho and got themselves killed too. As if the picture wasn't clear enough then, that's when the bottle got thrown at me and sliced my arm."
"Brilliant, why weren't you wearing your arm guard again?" Church asked sarcastically.
"Because they're hot, uncomfortable, itchy, and they mess with the graceful glide of my arm while I'm dismembering body parts." Carlyle answered somehow able to keep a straight face.
"Anyways when the Sergeant saw my wound he gave the order to eliminate them, but then they retreated. Cowards."
"I just can't believe they were so hostile, what was their deal?"
"Well they looked scarey as hell, like they were members of an underground cult or something. They were all wearing matching black robes with black hoods covering their faces, and they were chanting some name I can't remember and demanding that he step into power over our Senator."
"Very odd, anyways It's good to see you before I head out."
"Oh?" Carlyle said as he stood and motioned Church to follow. "Council send you on something?"
"Yup, and you'll never guess who I'm going to arrest."
"Mayor Clarence and his stash of shrooms?"
Church cracked up. "No you idiot, Captain Eugene Steelbarrow."
"Ah." Carlyle said eyeing Church and smiling. "Going this one alone I assume?"
Church nodded. "He screwed up this time and got caught."
"What are you going to do?" Carlyle asked stopping at the entrance to the complex.
"What I must I suppose, hopefully he's still close by. The Senator is demanding to be compensated."
"Heather and the baby healthy when you left?"
"Yes, very." Church replied his face lighting up.
"I wish I had me a hot pregnant girl." Carlyle joked.
"Ha!" Church said patting his brothers shoulder and walking back toward the gate. "what would all the ladies at the tavern do?"
"Get a life I suppose" Carlyle shouted at him."Be safe brother."
Church waved a farewell to Carlyle, exited the main gate and got back on the path toward the stables.
Church missed Heather. He had grown used to having her around before he got re-deployed. Commander Bradford had promised him that he would get a leave of absence to care for their newborn child, but to hang around until the time came. "The time" wouldn't come for at least another five months and Church could already feel the days dragging by.

Church reached the stables far before it was time for him to depart on his mission, but he couldn't stand any more waiting so he decided to leave anyway. He reviewed in his head his main objective, to find Steelbarrow and arrest him. Church smiled, if Captain Steelbarrow was last seen near Ann Harbor he knew exactly where to find the pirate. Church mounted up and began his journey to Ann Harbor. The journey was exactly what Church needed, it was warm, sunny, and the scenery was unmatched. Church passed several farmers who expressed a great appreciation for an officer being present near their homes, and Church responded to each one.

With only a few moments left before sunset Church passed Ann Harbor and continued North. Yes, Steelbarrow was last spotted at Ann Harbor, but few people knew of the secret dock hidden between the massive ancient boulders and the mountains of Canada built by the pirates themselves. Church soon arrived at the path that exited the main road and led into the marshes, the path could not be seen by people just passing by, only people that knew about the path could find it. It took Church two full hours of getting scratched by branches and bit by insects until his horse hit the sandy shores.

Sure enough Church saw the infamous Liberty Fortune along with its crew drinking and laughing around a campfire. Church dismounted, tied his horse to a nearby tree, and made his way to campfire. It was dark and his sudden presence would certainly frighten the pirates, the thought amused Church.
As he came close to the fire Church prepped the most authoritive voice he could muster.
"Good evening gentlemen." Church bellowed, causing the crewmen to jump from their seats and wheel around.
"Who de heller you?" one of the pirates said with a drawl drawing his sword.
"I'm Lieutinent Danal Church from the Nation Military Order and my business is with your Captain, Eugene Steelbarrow." That caused all of the men to draw their swords and begin a slow advance toward Church.
"Never heard of a Steelbarrow," the pirate said mockingly. "and if ya wish ta keep yer head on yer shoulders you'll do yerself a favor and leave, now."
"Whoa whoa." a deep, strong voice came from the darkness. "I will hear what he has to say."
Captain Steelbarrow was now visible close to the fire. "Sorry for the rude welcome Lieutinent, what can I help you with?"
"Captain Eugene Steelbarrow, you are hereby under arrest for invasion in the lands of the Nation with your army of twelve pirates." Church exclaimed.
Steelbarrow and Church stared at each other for a moment, but Church couldn't keep a straight face any longer and burst out laughing. Steelbarrow responded with a loud, obnoxious laugh of his own which caused the pirates to look at each other, confused.
"Church my friend, you nearly had me convinced that time." Steelbarrow said walking over to Church and embracing him. Steelbarrow looked over at his pirates. "This is the best damn youngster you scalawags will ever come across, now get back to your business."
The pirates obeyed and resumed their drinking.
"Walk with me my friend. It has indeed been awhile but I must say, as much of a pleasure it is to see you again, it cannot be a good sign that you have come to me in uniform."
Steelbarrow was a very large and rounded man, his arms were the size of one of Church's thighs and he easily stood seven feet tall.
"Afraid not, you seen a couple hundred cases of Black Bile anywhere?"
"Hmm, I believe I did see some getting sold off just two days ago."
"That's unfortunate, the Senator's demanding compensation this time."
"Agh, very well. I guess it is my own fault for being soo careless. How much?"
"At least twenty thousand in notes Captain."
Steelbarrow released another full-hearted laugh that echoed out into the ocean.
"I'll do better than that, hows about twenty thousand in pure gold?" Steelbarrow asked.
"Eugene how in the hell would you have twenty thousand in gold?"
"Not twenty thousand, try seventy."
Church stopped, staring at Steelbarrow in disbelief.
"I don't believe that for a second!"
"Church my friend, you would be surprised how much these religious groups pay for new medicines that they believe are ' miracle cures' or 'god's relief' and my personal favorite ' holy juice.'" Steelbarrow said laughing at how ridiculous he thought it was. "Your Senator needs to get outside more often. If my name will be cleared for twenty thousand, that's what I'll pay. Come, let's get it for you."
Church followed Steelbarrow as they started back toward the campfire.
"So now that business is over, tell me how life is treating you."
"Very good, I got married about eight months ago." Church said suddenly missing Heather again, he needed to stop thinking of her soo much.
"AAAAAAAAAAAA!!! Congratulations my good friend! That is fantastic news!" Steelbarrow exclaimed slapping Church on the back and causing him to nearly topple over. "I am soo disappointed that I couldn't have come."
"I wish you could've been there too. Heather is her name and I will arrange for us all to get together sometime. We're expecting our first child as well." Church said stepping aside to avoid another impact slap on his back.
"Wow my friend, I am very happy for you. You will need some additional funding once that baby is born yes? Take an additional twenty thousand with you and slip it into your back pocket."
"Captain there is no way I'm taking...."
"Nonsense! You will take it or I will have you thrown in the brig. If not a gift consider it payment for all of the times you've covered for me."
Church smiled, in only two years it seemed as if he and Captain Steelbarrow had had a lifelong friendship. Steelbarrow had a wife and two children of his own in Europe. Church had learned that Steelbarrow was an inspired mathematical genius and had dreams of becoming the worlds best financial advisor. But his dreams were cut short as he was framed for a murder he hadn't committed. Steelbarrow soon found himself with nothing to support his wife and children, so he became desperate. Steelbarrow confided in Church on a few occasions that he hated piracy, he hated doing the things he did but could provide a very wealthy life for his family that he loved very much. That love seemed to drive Steelbarrow because Church had never seen the man not smile or refrain from spreading happiness where ever he went. Who else could keep such a positive outlook on life when they are framed for murder? Captain Steelbarrow's story had touched Church and ever since meeting him he had done everything in his power to cover for him. If he was ever caught Church knew it would be the end of his career, but Church long ago decided that it was worth the risk.
"Thank you very much Captain, it'll really help us alot."
"I know, and I am thrilled to share my wealth with such a great man."

Church smiled and looked ahead. The campfire was gone, no one was around it anymore either. How strange, he had seen it just a second ago. That's when Church noticed that Liberty Fortune was gone too.
"Captain your ship....." Church began but stopped when he looked next to him and saw Steelbarrow had disappeared as well. What was going on.
"Danal.." a soft voice spoke behind him.
Church spun around, startled. It was very dark now and all he saw was a female figure standing at arms reach from him. Church couldn't make out her face. "Yes maam? Are you in trouble? What are you doing way out here?" The figure just stood there, her hair flowing from the ocean breeze.
"Danal.. you must leave." it said.
"What do you mean? I don't understand."
The female looked up and quickly advanced to Church causing him to stumble backward and fall. "Danal...please understand..." she said.
Church recognized her face now. "Heather!?" Church said, frightened."Sweetheart, what are you doing here? What's wrong?"
But she didn't seem to hear him she just continued to repeat the same phrases with terror and urgency in her eyes. She put her hand on his chest. "Danal....you must leave....please understand.....turn back!"
"Heather." Church said beginning to sob, he could feel her pain in his heart. "it's going to be okay, I'm here."
"No!" she said, her face etched with fear. "Turn back Danal! It's too late, turn back now!"
"Baby, let me help you. We can.."
"You must leave! It's too late!" She exclaimed beginning to scream.
"Heather!" Church yelled, sobbing in desperation.
"RUN!" she screamed.

Church awoke next to the Oak tree crying and disoriented. Church looked around and saw the wastes, he began to remember where he was. It had all been a dream. A very vivid dream. Church was soo disappointed. How badly he wanted this to be the nightmare and his dream to be real! Church tryed to close his eyes and get back into the dream, it was unsuccessful. As the sun began to rise in the horizon Church heard Heathers plea still echoing in his mind, Run...Turn Back....Too Late....Please understand.....

Danal Church
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Re: The Wilds of Northwest Ayana

Post by Danal Church » Tue Feb 22, 2011 2:24 am

Church stood and allowed the morning breeze a tousle his hair. He could not feel it. Church tryed to suppress the thoughts of the nightmare he had just had, it was soo vivid and he could still smell the scent of his wife. Church never believed in spirits or ghosts, but he couldn't help but feel like his wife was trying to call out to him. Church figured that if Heather was, in fact, warning him to turn back, then she must be in trouble. Church would never give up or stop until he was sure his wife and their child were safe.
Church felt the hunger growl in his stomach, he could sense the amusement it felt from his desires to save Heather, that caused Church to momentarily lose it.

"That's right you mother fucker!" Church screamed aloud, rage suddenly overwhelming him. "I'm going to find her then I'm going to kill us both!" Church ripped his mace off his belt and slammed it into the Oak Tree that he had taken shelter in. Bark burst from to point of impact and left gaping hole in the trees side. Church let his mace fall from his hand, he couldn't believe the damage he had caused. How had he smashed a hole in the side of a perfectly healthy Oak? He heard a deep chuckle come from the depths of his mind.
"That is just a sample of the power I can give you" The hunger bellowed.
Church was infuriated that he didn't even have the privacy of his own thoughts anymore. A new feeling of hate washed over Church, a feeling he had never felt before. "I only hope that I get the satisfaction of looking at you directly when I kill you." Church said through his gritted teeth. The hunger began to twist and twirl in his stomach yet again, Church groaned and began to vomit but he remained on his feet this time. It was obvious Church was going to have to live with this intruder for the time being, so he would have to learn to fight and resist it.

Suddenly an arrow whizzed past Churchs head and impaled into the Oak tree, the hunger stopped tormenting him with the arrival of this new threat. "Wait!" Church yelled throwing his hands up in the air. "I'm alive, I'm sentient!" But whoever was shooting wasn't buying it and fired another arrow that impaled his leg plates in the area protecting his thighs. Church couldn't tell if it went into his thigh, he couldn't feel anything, but the impact was strong enough send Church directly on his back. "Stop! I surrender! I'm not hostile!" Church yelled at his attacker.
"I got him, move up!" he heard a voice say a few yards away. A moment later Church saw two men dressed in the same garments as dead man he had seen the day before. As they got closer Church saw that they wore leather skirts that stopped just before their knees and both had long black hair that was wrapped up into a ponytail, they each had a bone pierced through their nose. "Was it yelling at us just a moment ago?" One of the men said to the other.
"Yes!" Church said, stunning his attackers. "I know it's hard to believe but I'm.."
"Silence" One of them said raising a spear and pointing it at Churchs' head. "You're trespassing on our lands and I see no good reason to let you live."
"Wait," the other man interrupted. He took a step forward and examined Church more closely. "never has one of these creatures spoken, much less surrendered."
"It's because I'm not a creature!" Church insisted. "I'm..."
"I told you to silence yourself." The first man commanded. "Even if you are different you are obviously still a walking dead and you must be put down, Ayana is crawling with enough of you abominations already."
"Ayana?.." Church asked. "Who is that?"
The two men looked at each other puzzled but more angry now, as if Church was trying to play dumb. "Alright I've played this game with you long enough," the first man stated. "goodbye, whatever you are."

The man reeled his arm back getting ready to thrust his spear. Church started to get frustrated and figured diplomacy would not work so he tryed a different approach.
"I am Lieutinent Danal Church of the Nation Military Order," Church stated, causing the first man to stall his attack. " you will lay down your weapons and allow me to speak with your superior. Immediately." Church was surprised at his increasingly short temper, what had gotten into him? Just a few moments ago he nearly destroyed an Oak tree with nothing but the strength of his arm which shouldn't have been much considering the fact that his arm was nothing but rotting skin and bone.
The tribesman dropped his spear and knelt down to yank Church by his arm, obviously angered that Church attempted to give him an order."Look, I don't know what planet you came from but we run this sector of Ayana and we decide what passes through here and what doesn't. We decide who lives and who dies, and we certainly don't take orders from some rotting, worthless, man eating zombie. I mean look at you," the tribesman began laughing at Church."even if you do have some brains left, what possible reason could YOU have for wanting to live?" the tribesman got in Church's face. "Nothing is worth letting you live."

Church was greatly offended by that statement and felt fury beginning to rise within him. Heather was worth living through this nightmare and this man had just degraded the value of the woman he loved. The man kept laughing in Church's face while the other tribesman stood idly by and watched. The smell of the mans flesh began to seep into Church's nostrils, and Church found the smell of living flesh to be much more appealing to his hunger as opposed to that of a dead man. Church felt his will beginning to break, starvation and hate began to corrupt his good judgement. The evil hunger frenzied in his stomach at the smell of living flesh and, again, Church was forced to remember just how hungry he really was. Church groaned aloud and rolled to one side, which caused the man to laugh at him even more. Church tryed to fight off the thoughts of feeding on the man, but the tribesman's persistent laughing and scoffing caused Church to entertain himself with the thoughts of the man dying from his hands. Suddenly it wasn't just about hunger anymore, visions played through Church's mind of the man trying to run from him, trying to fight him off, trying to beg for mercy. Church felt exhilaration as vision after vision played this man running from him as he hunted him, he felt as if he were a lion chasing down his prey. Church became too lost in his emotions to realize his thoughts were being directed by the evil hunger itself. The hunger succeeded in deceiving Church in believing these were his own desires, that this was his own hate, that this was his own hunger. The parasite now had Church in its grasp and it took the rare opportunity to push Church past his own mental control. "Silence his laughing." the hunger said into Church's scrambling mind, knowing Church would not be able to comprehend that he was not actually thinking that. "If he thinks you're a monster, show him a monster." the hunger continued to plant seeds of evil in Church's mind. "Your wife and child will never see you again, because this man will stop you."

That was it, the hunger had finally succeeded.
"Never." Church bellowed aloud.
The tribesman stopped laughing. "Pfft.... What?" he asked.
The parasite had broken Church's will. Centuries of successfully taking over human bodies had taught the parasite just how naturally evil a human mind really was. Other sentients were too mentally strong to overtake, thats why the undead parasites targeted humans. The human mind was laughably fragile and could be corrupted with the smallest seeds of desire, power and hatred. Much to the parasites irritation, Church had fought with surprising resilience against the three evil virtues and the parasite had to bombard Church with all three at once to get him to break. But all good things eventually come to an end and the parasite was eager finish Church's transformation.
The parasite surged Church with the adrenaline that only an undead monster could possess and then fell back to the backseat of Church's mind to view the inevitable slaughter of these two tribesmen.
The parasite watched in fascination as Church vaulted high into the sky and landing on the man who had been laughing at them. The tribesman's partner grabbed Church by the hair with the intent of ripping him off his friend, and Church responded with a brutal swing of his left arm across the mans skull sending him flying into the air and onto the ground. The remaining tribesman grabbed his spear and started backing away in a defense position.
"I knew you were a freak!" the tribesman yelled.
But the parasite knew Church was beyond hearing anything at this point and took pleasure in noticing Church was still following the false predator instincts that it had installed in Church's mind.
Church drooled and frothed as he began walking toward the tribesman with a vengeance. The man assumed a combat position and brought his spear to bear in front of him. The parasite watched as Church threw his body at the man, which the man countered by rolling backwards in the direction of the force and kicking Church off of him in the opposite direction. The lost Church let out a roar of irritation at the failed attack and took off running, with blinding speed, at the man. Unprepared for Church's burst of speed, the tribesman stumbled backwards and attempted to made jabs with his spear with the hopes of getting a lucky stab. Church evaded every attack and eventually grabbed the spear and snapped it in half, he then proceeded to yank the man on his feet, smash his fists into the mans midsection and follow it up with a brutal uppercut to the mans chin. The man landed a few feet away from Church and, surprisingly, was still able to attempt to crawl away.

The parasite marveled at how efficiently Church had used the power, but was more excited that it was finally about to completely take over this host. One bite, that's all it would take to push the parasite into complete control.
Church vaulted several feet into the air and landed on top of the man pinning him down with his knee pressing into his back. Church planted the mans face into the dirt with his skeleton hand and moved his own face close to get a good whiff of the meal he was about to partake in. The parasite was amused at the mans pathetic blathering and fear, the parasite would be sure to make this mans death long and painful.

Church's teeth were touching the mans skin when suddenly a figure appeared in Church's mind that the parasite had not intended. It was that blasted woman he kept thinking about! The parasite frantically tryed to purge the vision, to no avail. The parasite felt itself being pushed back into the subconscious. "Finish him." the parasite said. "Or you and the female will be forever separated."
Church began to realize what he was doing and, worst of all, he saw Heather looking at him in disbelief. That image of Heather's disappointment crushed Church to the core and he instantly lost all other desires. Church released his grip on the man and allowed him to scramble away and onto his feet. Heather had seen what he had done, Church knew it, and he soon found his face in his hands crying out in shame and regret.
The tribesman stood and observed Church.
"Braun!" the other bloodied tribesman yelled running up beside his partner and looking down at Church confused. "Did you get him?" he asked.
"No." Braun said. "He stopped and let me go." Braun observed his partners wounds."Will you be okay?"
The tribesman nodded. "Well, what will we do with him?"
Church could feel the two men looking at him, and he didn't care. His only desire was forgiveness from his wife for what he had done.
"Surely you see now that you are completely lost." Braun said. "You are a monster and your own self control is obviously degrading."

Church knew Braun was right, he did seem to be slowly losing more and more control over himself with each passing day. He did have a responsibility to his wife and child, but if he couldn't control his lusts against two men how could he ever maintain control in a city full of people? That's were Heather would be if she were safe and he would never forgive himself if Heather witnessed him feed on another human. Church had seen the creatures that looked like him before. He had seen the violence and power that they possessed and Church seemed to be morphing into one. Like hell, he thought.
"It's time to do the world and yourself a favor." Braun commanded. "You need to.."
"Ya okay save it." Church interrupted, putting his hand up to silence the man. "End it. Quickly. I wont try to stop you."
Braun was outwardly pleased with Church's decision. "Good decision, you..."
Church interrupted Braun again. "You're either going to kill me, or lecture me. But you're not going to do both. Decide quickly, before I force you to."
Church could tell his defiance pissed Braun off and got a certain measure of satisfaction out of it. Braun jerked his partners spear out of his hand and cocked himself backward in preparation of a lunge.
"So long freak." Braun said and lunged his arm violently forward hoping that the attack wouldn't just kill Church, but take his head off.

Danal Church
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Re: The Wilds of Northwest Ayana

Post by Danal Church » Sat Mar 05, 2011 5:11 am

(Flashback: April 18, 695 BCE)

Church slowly walked into his house and quietly shut the door behind him. He could hear shuffling in his kitchen, obviously someone was unprepared for him to be back home this early. He tip-toed all the way to the kitchen entrance and peaked his head around the corner to see the woman inside. She had dark hair that fell down to her shoulder blades and was wearing a white tang-top with black shorts, her right leg was scuffed with dirt probably from her working in the garden all morning. She was beautiful and Church nearly forgot that she was not aware he was there. The smell of meat and vegetables mesmerized Church for a short time, this woman obviously knew how to cook. Church silently entered the kitchen and ever so gently creeped up behind the woman and prepared a deep, loud voice, but then stopped. He didn't want to give the poor girl a heart attack, but he couldn't just walk in the house and announce he was home either, what was the fun in that? Church's more devious side got the best of him, the girl was young and had a strong heart, Church reasoned. She would be alright.

"Wooo Weee! That smells GOOOOOD GIRL!" Church belted aloud. Heather shreaked, lost balance and began to fall to one side. Church caught her while he was laughing himself to tears, he sort of felt bad, but not really. Church saw Heather's face mix from anger to surprise to happiness.
"Danal you jerk!" Heather said swinging her fist into Church's arm. Heather's slim figure contradicted how strong she really was, so the punch actually did hurt but Church couldn't let Heather know that.
"You know what they say about punching a brick wall." Church teased. "You only hurt yourself."
Heather let out a scoffing laugh. "A brick wall? Really?"
"That's right." Church said twiddling his fingers toward him telling Heather to 'Bring it on'
Church ran to the Living Room with Heather chasing him close behind. Heather swung her right leg toward Church's side which Church caught mid-swing. Church held on to her leg and allowed Heather to hop around the living room for a couple of minutes.
"Let me go right now or you'll be going hungry tonight." Heather said.
"Of course dear," Church teased. "just as soon as you make one more lap around the living room."
Church allowed Heather to struggle a bit more before gently tossing her onto the floor. Church leaned over Heather and said. "Brick wall baby. Brick wall." As Church turned to walk away Heather brought both of her legs up to clamp against Church's own left leg. Heather twisted her body so that she was laying on her stomach and brought Church to the ground on his stomach. She quickly sat up and onto Church's back with his left leg in her grasp, then proceeded to perform a submission maneuver.
"Ow! Okay Okay I give!" Church exclaimed in pain patting his hand against the floor. "Please! Let me go, I'm sorry!"
"Of course dear," Heather said mockingly. "just as soon as you tell me how pathetic you are and how superior I am."
Church told her whatever she wanted to hear until she released him and turned around to lay on him. "So much for the 'Brick Wall'," she said smiling
"Where in the world did you learn how to do that?" Church asked
"What do you think us women do when our men go off to the military for months at a time?" Heather replied. "Eventually we get bored."
"You? bored?" Church joked. "That's a scary thought."
Heather laughed and put her face closer to his. "Well maybe you can be a little more entertaining to me now that you're finally home." She whispered.
"A little more?" Church whispered back. "You must not have a very good memory."
"Perhaps you should remind me." Heather replied and allowed her lips to touch his.
It had been six months since Church had kissed his wife and he had missed it so. The days in his second deployment had dragged by as his thoughts were consumed with Heather and when he was going to see her again. Church noticed that when he was deployed he would look at a calender two maybe three times a day hoping it was a week later then what he had thought. Church had forgotten how soft Heather was which made this kiss all the better. They had been married eleven months now and there was yet to be a dull moment, unless they were apart. Church had fallen in love with Heather from the moment he had laid eyes on her in her tailoring shop during his first deployment. He remembered how they had talked for hours only thinking minutes had passed. Church had a natural love for all of humanity which, he believed, was the reason for his healing powers, but since his marriage to Heather Church had noticed his powers greatly increase and he could feel that the love in his heart was complete.
The smell of burnt meat began to fill the house and Heather noticed the smell right when Church did. Heather leaned her head up and smiled at Church. "I have missed you soo much." She said as they both looked deep into each others eyes. "Stay." She said breaking eye contact and standing up. "I'll be right back." She then quickly strode into the kitchen.

Church sat up and looked around at the walls of his house. Heather was the main source of his happiness but he was also very happy just to be home. They had an average size house in the suburbs of Bradshire completely paid for by the Nation Military, which Heather loved to decorate and rearrange as often as possible. It always seemed to Church that Heather would rearrange things in the house just to rearrange them back the following weekend. Church didn't understand the motivations of women sometimes. The house was also conveniently located just a few moments from Bradshire's marketplace which held Heather's tailoring shop making it stress-free for Heather to get to work and back. Church had noticed over time that the perks of life that he and Heather had was not given to many people, apparently being the only "magic medic" in the military had its advantages because not only did they get a free house close to one of the most productive marketplaces in America, but they also got free groceries and Heather had a personal driver of a decent sized wagon that took her to work and actually waited on her to get off work to take her home. It doesn't get much better than that. Church had heard a private rumor from his Commander that the Nation's Senator was just trying to keep him happy so that he would never have the desire to leave the military, which made Church happy but it also scared Church slightly because it made him wonder what the Senator might do if Church did decide to retire. As Church looked around the room he noticed a frame above the doorway that had not been there when he had left. Church stood, walked over to the frame and read it. It read:
Other men said they have seen angels. But I have seen thee, and thou art enough.
Church heard Heather walking up behind him but continued looking at the frame.
"Of all the notes I sent you," Church said in a soft tone. "this is the one you framed?"
Heather put her arms around Church and looked up at the frame as well. "Of all the notes you sent me," she said with a tone just as soft. "that was the sweetest one of all."
Church and Heather looked at each other again with deep eye contact. "I missed you too." Church said breaking the silence.
A big smile came over Heathers face as she looked away and walked toward the stairs.
"I do have one question though." Church stated turning around to face her. "How would you know to cook my favorite meal when you had no idea I was going to be home?" Church asked giving her a smile.
Heather turned around to look at him. "Well," Heather replied. "as you know us women get bored when our men go off to the military. So we have to get us a non-military man to cook for." Heather joked.
"Treachery!" Church yelled aloud and ran after Heather.
Heather let out a playful scream and ran up the stairs to the bedroom with Church close behind.

There, in the bedroom, Church and Heather spent the rest of the day together making up on the time between them that had been lost.

Danal Church
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Re: The Wilds of Northwest Ayana

Post by Danal Church » Wed May 11, 2011 5:46 pm

As Church sat on his knees he thought of Heather and prepared for death, there was no other option. Church desperately wanted to see Heather again, but the most responsible decision he could make right now was making sure she would never see him in such a horrible state of body and mind.
"So long freak." Braun said smiling as the spear left his hand. As it hurdled toward Church suddenly three arrows impacted the spear and broke it to pieces.

Both Braun and Church looked up in surprise and saw three other tribesmen reloading arrows into their bows.
"What in the hell is going on?!" Braun exclaimed, obviously furious. When none of the men answered Braun began stomping toward them. "How dare you fire live arrows at your superior! I swear you will all hang by the cliff sides by the end of the..."
Braun never got to finish as a much older man appeared from behind the three other tribesmen. He wore a brownish-gold robe and had a mustache that fell down to his chin only to be trumped by his long beard that fell down to his waistline. The old man had weak posture with a hunched back which made it look as if he'd need a cane just to walk, and a slow, shuffled step. He had a wrinkled face and squinted eyes that made it difficult to actually see them.
It was then that Church noticed the beast walking up beside the old man. It stood roughly six feet tall and had big feet with sharp talons protruding from its pudgy toes. The beast did have arms but they were tiny and bent back like a dog sitting up. It had small eyes on either side of it's lizard-like head and moved with the speed and precision of a bird. A Raptor.
Church had a run-in with a Raptor once before and it was anything but pleasant. Luckily Church had had four of his men with him at the time, because as soon as the Raptor saw them it attacked. After six broken ribs and a concussion amongst his men they had finally brought the Raptor down. It was that memory that made it very stunning to Church that this Raptor was standing soo close to another person soo peacefully.
When Braun saw the old man his eyes grew wide and he dropped to one knee out of respect. "High Elder sir," Braun said staring at the ground avoiding eye contact. "With all due respect, what are you doing out here?" Fear and concern began to become apparent in Braun's voice. "You know the dangers that roam out here, we must get you back to the tribe at once."
The old man just looked at Braun with a blank look on his face. "Indeed," he finally said with a weak, scratchy voice. It sounded to Church as if he had a sore throat. "And it appears that you bring some of these dangers upon yourself."
Braun continued to stare at the ground in embarrassment and shame slowly began to creep into his face.
"I have taught you far better understanding then what you have shown me here today." The old man finished as his gaze slowly shifted to Church.
When Church made eye contact with the old man he felt a warmth inside of him that he had not felt for a long time. Somehow Church felt a connection with this "Elder" and knew he was in safe hands. Wisdom seemed to almost pulse from the eyes of this old man, just by looking at him Church knew this man had seen many things and had many answers. The warmth that Church felt was a feeling that he had nearly forgotten, it was compassion, love. The feeling was relieving and fresh, until the warmth began to get hot inside of him, then it began to burn, then to scorch. Church could sense the hunger becoming nausiated and the pain gave Church no choice but to break eye contact and roll onto his side in a fetal position. The usual feeling of rage and nausia overwhelmed Church and he found himself once again spewing the liquid evil from his mouth. Church could still feel the old man looking down upon him and Church was overcome with embarrassment, how pathetic he must've looked!
As if sensing Church's shame the Elder shifted his gaze back to Braun who was still on one knee. "Help him up." the Elder softly, but firmly commanded.
Braun looked up at the Elder with his mouth hanging open and then quickly rose to his feet, "But Sir!" he said pointing at Church. "He, or....IT! rather are the very creatures we fight to keep our lands safe! Whether I provoked him or not you saw what he is capable of! Look at him! These things have no soul, it is their nature to kill!"
Church was still on his knees fighting against evil that was wrenching his stomach, but the Elder did not move his eyes off of Braun. Braun continued to point at Church staring at his Elder with plea in his eyes.
Finally the Elder moved and made a motion behind his back. A few seconds later another Raptor appeared much more pale than the other and when it saw Braun it attempted to run toward him until the Elder stopped it with a commanding motion. "Do you know who this is Braun?" the Elder said looking intently into Braun's eyes.
Braun had been looking at his Raptor since it had appeared and seemed to snap out of a dream when he heard the question. "Of course," Braun replied. "it's my Raptor."
"And how did it become yours?" the Elder asked.
Braun looked at his Elder confused,"It was crying out for help, came to me, and we were bonded."
The Elder began to pace and hung his head looking at the ground, "Hmm...it came to you....and cryed out for help. Did you save him?"
Braun's face showed even more confusion along with a look that begged the Elder to make a point, but he continued to answer obediently."Of course sir, you know this."
"And why did you save him?"
Braun paused and studdered, not knowing what to say."Sir....I...He...We bonded, I wanted to save him."
The Elder stopped, looked up at Braun and began walking toward him. "Why Braun? Why would you want to save him?"
Braun took a step back, looked at his Raptor who remained in place and then back at the Elder."Sir, why are you asking me these things? The answer is obvious."
Church finally suppressed the evil hunger and stood to his feet. All of the tribesmen looked at him, except for the Elder who continued to stare and walk toward Braun.
"Obvious?", the Elder said beginning to raise his voice. "What do you suppose would've happened Braun if it was YOU who was crying out in the jungle? If it was YOU who went to the Raptor for help?"
Braun raised both of his hands up surrendering the conversation not wanting to make his leader angry, or not wanting to answer the question. Church couldn't tell. But the Elder pressed the issue.
"Answer me Braun, what would've happened?"
"Sir," Braun replied. " please, this is a pointless..."
"I want an answer Braun, tell me what would've happened."
"I don't know sir! It probably would have..."
"There are no probables! What would've happened?"
"It would've killed me!" Braun finally blurted out. "Killed me." he repeated.
The Elder's serious demeanor softened and he spoke in almost a whisper. "So would you say that it is in your Raptors nature to kill?"
A moment of silence passed as Braun began to realize the point. "Yes," Braun said. "it is the Raptors nature to kill."
When Braun said this his Raptor squawked as if the words had harmed it.
"Very well then," the Elder said allowing Braun's Raptor to go to him. "Kill your Raptor."
"Wha..!?" Braun said as panic danced in his eyes. "I can't sir, you know that if my Raptor dies I die too!"
"I will save you," the Elder replied. "your reasoning for killing this man is that it is in his nature to kill. Since your Raptor has the same nature it is only logical that you kill him too, after you do this I will allow you to kill this man."
Church realized that Braun must've had a strong hatred for him because Church could see him actually weighing out his options. Church didn't know but appeared that these tribesmen had a magical ability to control Raptor's, perhaps that's what this "bond" thing meant.
Braun eventually hung his head and put his mand on his Raptor's nose. "I can't," he said. "I will let Church live." the words appeared to be like vinegar coming out of his mouth.
The Elder smiled, "You have learned a great lesson today Braun, your wisdom continues to grow. Church will have the protection of our tribe for the evening, let us venture back there now. Braun you will walk by Church's side."
"Yes sir." Braun replied.
The three other tribesmen and Braun's friend surrounded the Elder and his Raptor as they began to walk into the jungle, Church and Braun picked up their belongings that had been scattered during the earlier conflict. Church had gathered all of his things before Braun did and began to walk into the jungle himself until Braun grabbed his shoulder and stopped him. "Your not leaving my sight," Braun said. "my Elder may have been right about you, but if he is you are only one exception of the thousands of monstrosities that we have killed. I will never trust you and if you so must as twitch the wrong way when we reach the camp your ass is mine."
Church didn't respond, he somewhat understood where Braun was coming from but he still didn't appreciate his disrespectful attitude.
"Let's go." Braun said.
Church followed Braun into the jungle with hopes of being able to directly speak to the Elder. Somehow, in the midst of all this chaos things were starting to look up for Church.

Danal Church
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Re: The Wilds of Northwest Ayana

Post by Danal Church » Thu May 19, 2011 6:15 pm

During the last few days Church had felt a small portion of his strength and stamina return, but not near enough energy to keep up with the tribesmen who worked their way through the overgrowth of the jungle. Even the old Elder seemed to walk through the jungle with no trouble. Church was soo ashamed and embarrassed of his frail, feeble state that he wanted to just turn back so the other men wouldn't see him struggling. Church decided, however, that he would not ask or make it obvious that he needed a break, he had been stripped of a lot of things since the day of his rising, but not his pride.
Through all this chaos it was hard for Church to express his feelings of fear and sadness for the many people who were lost to him. Church was scared to death for his wife Heather and wondered if she was in trouble, or even still alive. And what of his brother, Carlyle? Church was sure Carlyle had died in battle, he had seen the jumping monstrosities land on him and begin ripping his flesh. Church and Carlyle had never expressed feelings for one another, even though Church had loved his brother very much. When a small bit of compassion was expressed between them it was always Church who initiated it, and Carlyle always responded with something like, "Ya, I always did worry you would end up loving men some day.", which they would then both laugh about. That had been their relationship, jokes and sarcasm, which Church was okay with, but made Church wish he could've had one last chance to tell Carlyle what an amazing brother he had been and how much he loved him. Church reminisced on memories of his brother for awhile.
Church was also worried about his mother and father, they had lived in Eastern America in the town of Walton but if that part of America had fallen apart like this region had then they were surely dead or in trouble as well. His father was a strong man but when Church last saw them he could see age begin to creep into his fathers face, a gray hair here a wrinkle there, the color in his eyes had begun to gray out slightly. Church began to wonder if Eastern America was under attack right now, possibly from the same army that annihilated Bradshire? Church banished that thought, such assumptions served no purpose to him.
The city of Bradshire, however, remained in Church's thoughts. So many citizens, friends and fellow soldiers of the Nation, all dead. A familiar feeling of loneliness came over Church once more, he literally had no one at the moment that he could turn to for help or information. How could this have happened? Who could've had the resources and sheer power to level a city, kill its citizens and leave no trace of evidence. Even more baffling, where had these jumping, zombie-like monsters come from? And what was their motive for mass-murdering so many innocent people? The attack had been planned, obviously, because they had attacked together and by surprise. Church recalled his brother, Carlyle, responding to a small threat in Bradshire a few months prior to the attack. Carlyle had said that the protesters were violent and wore cult-like clothes. Maybe this was a result of necromancy. Church knew that the skill existed in some people and the act was severely illegal, but even so, once the act was accomplished and the dead had risen they could not be controlled. From the stories Church had heard all necromancers died shortly after rising a corpse because the dead, rightly so, became angry and violent. Maybe a group of necromancers had a breakthrough and discovered how to control the dead, if that was the case the world as a whole would be in grave danger.
Church, again, felt fury begin to rise within him. He would find out exactly who was responsible for the death of so many innocent lives and he would have his vengeance. With that thought Church felt the parasite begin to get restless inside of him, Church quickly calmed down but the hunger had already begun to move into his mind. "With your vengeance would come my victory," the parasite bellowed.
Church stopped and allowed the tribesmen to advance ahead of him so he could not be heard. "Alright," Church said. "What do you want from me?"
"Control." it replied
"Why?"
"To feed."
Church shuddered, he literally had a monster inside of him.
"You say to yourself that I'm a monster." the parasite stated as if to verify Church's own thoughts.
"Are you seriously going to say you're not?" Church replied. "You are trying to steal my body so you can feed on my own kind."
"My hunger is your hunger."
Church allowed that statement to simmer with him for a few seconds, it was true.
"Are we so different?" the evil hunger continued. "Let me in, I can give you answers, I can give you vengeance."
"But it can never give you the truth." said the Elder who was suddenly at Church's side. The Elder's sudden appearance frightened Church, he could even sense the parasite was caught off guard. "You have a great evil inside of you," the Elder continued looking into Church's eyes. "you are beginning to forget who you truly are. Focus, look past the evil that is blinding you, and you will remember."
Church just looked at the old man, he had so many questions for this Elder but the words simply wouldn't come to him. All Church could do was nod.
The silence was broken as the voices of panicked men got louder and closer to them. "High Elder Sir!!!", "Elder Skytalon, where are you?", "High Elder Skytalon, are you out there?"
Five tribesmen burst through the overgrowth where the Elder and Church were standing, Braun was one of them. Braun gave Church a look like he was about to attack him, but the Elder put a hand up to calm him.
Braun spoke with the most authority Church had heard yet." High Elder, sir, these jungles are extremely dangerous, you have given me command over all of the jungles surrounding our camp. I must insist that you stay within our protection."
"Of course Braun," Elder Skytalon replied. "lead the way."
Braun shot a glare at Church and continued through the jungle shaking his head, obviously aggravated that his superior wasn't taking his safety seriously.

The walk through the jungle continued for several more hours, Church found that he was able to ignore his exhaustion by just diving deep into his own thoughts and memories. Surprisingly, the long walk through the jungle was very therapeutic for Church and, although his loneliness and depression had not been quelled, he was more content with his situation.
After several more hours of walking silently the group stopped and the Elder turned to Church. "Wait here a moment," he said. "We are here, I need to address my people before they see you."
Church nodded and remained where he was. As the Elder and five tribesmen disappeared from sight Church could still hear what was being said, he heard Braun speak first.
"Brothers of The Call," he heard Braun yell. "Our Elder wishes to address you all, please be silent and listen."
A few moments of silence passed which Church could only guess was because of people gathering around to hear.
"My Friends, Family and Loved Ones," he heard the Elder say." many many years ago a Raptor came to me for help out of desperation, and I provided it. Many of you offered the same assistance, it is because of those decisions that we are here today. This morning our warriors stumbled across a soul in great distress in the middle of Ayana and we are providing aid for him. I want everyone to remember everything you have learned over the past few years, the most obvious rule is that looks can be deceiving. Be smart, be compassionate and, above all, be wise."
Church heard movement in the jungles in front of him again and saw the Elder appear before him. He offered his hand to Church who hesitated. Church was about to show himself to a large group of people for the first time, they would surely be appalled and angry with his presence.
"Do not fear," the Elder said as if reading his mind. "you will be safe here."
Church took the Elder's hand and walked into the village. Church was surprised at how open and roomy the village was, it was beautiful. Several houses made from tree's and bamboo sat on the either side of an evenly leveled road which veered off to the right and continued a few hundred yards away. Church's appearance in the village was met with the exact response he was expecting. Church heard several gasps and a lot of murmuring. Church hung his head low avoiding eye contact with anyone, he was so embarrassed.
One tribal woman yelled out, "Is this for real Braun?" But Braun was already walking the other direction, not wanting to be associated with any of it.
Church suddenly began to smell the flesh of all of the living people around him and was overcome with hunger, the parasite began to churn inside his stomach. No!, Church thought. Not here in front of everyone. But the sickening hunger was becoming too painful to bear. Just when Church was about to double-over the Elder put a firm hand on his back.
"Look past the evil that is blinding you," the Elder said. "remember who you are."
Church did as the Elder said and focused on overcoming his hunger. It was tough but, much to Church's amazement, with extreme focus he took control and suppressed the evil hunger's movement. Church was so happy he could've danced, he had finally gathered some control over his body once more. Church could sense the anger and frustration of the parasite but, with effort, that sense was also banished from his awareness.
As he and the Elder continued through the tribe Church could feel every eye staring at him. Some of the tribal warriors followed them which, Church guessed, was out of fear for their Elder's safety.
Church didn't feel right about asking the Elder anything, he had already done so much for him, but he wanted to know where they were going. "Elder sir," Church began with as much respect as possible. "may I inquire as to where we are going?"
High Elder Skytalon pointed to a much larger building coming into view. This building was different from all the others, the most distinguishing feature was that this building was made of brick, looked like a temple and was obviously a lot more sturdy. Two clay statues of Raptors greeted people at the bottom of the steps that led to the top.
High Elder Skytalon turned to the tribesmen who had followed them, "Leave us," he ordered. "He and I have much to discuss." The tribesmen hesitated and reluctantly turned and walked away. "Follow me young Church." the Elder said as he began up the steps.
That statement baffled Church as he followed the Elder. Church was obviously anything but young. If it wasn't for Church's strong desire to speak with the High Elder, he would've never had the energy to make it up those steps.
Church had a strong feeling that in a few moments his world was going to change.

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Re: The Wilds of Northwest Ayana

Post by Danal Church » Sat May 21, 2011 3:22 am

Every step of those stairs up to the temple felt like slow motion to Church as he followed the Elder. The Elder's words spoken a few seconds ago seemed to echo in Church's mind, "We have much to discuss." When they had finally reached the top it appeared to Church that this was where the Elder lived. It was completely open on all sides with only a bamboo roof covering them. There were two rugs laid out on the middle of the floor adjacent to each other and High Elder Skytalon sat on one of them. There were no words said but Church thought it was obvious that he was to sit on the other rug. Church slowly walked to the rug across from the High Elder and sat. Church wasn't scared, just very anxious and curious. How had this man known of the evil inside of him? Perhaps he would soon find out.

A jar filled with a golden-brown liquid sat between them along with two cups. The Elder took the jar and filled both cups with the liquid, "Drink," he said.
The thought of drinking or eating anything then what the parasite was hungry for was sickening to Church so he politely refused.
High Elder Skytalon looked up at Church as he swallowed his first sip of the liquid. "I know," he said. "It will be better than it looks. Try it." he said pushing the cup closer to him.
The last thing Church wanted to do was be rude so he took the cup, mustered up the small amount of tolerance in his stomach and took a sip. Church was in awe not of the flavor, but of the light, cleansing effect it had on his stomach. It wasn't until that sip that Church realized how much weight the parasite in his stomach was causing him to carry.
"This is....amazing! Spectacular...I..." Church babbled.
But the Elder was already looking down at his cup and preparing his next sip as if knowing Church would respond like that.
"What is it?" Church asked.
The Elder looked up and smiled, "Baldo Tea, but perhaps we can talk about that another time." he said continuing to sip his tea.
"A..alright," Church said taking another gulp of the tea.
Another moment of silence passed, Church looked up every so often to see if the Elder was looking back at him expecting for him to say something, but he never did. After finishing his cup the Elder finally spoke. "Tell me about her." the Elder said pouring more of the tea into his cup.
Church immediately thought of Heather, but how could this man know Heather? Church thought. That uncertainty caused Church to make a dumb reply, "Who?" he asked.
The Elder glanced at Church with an obvious look, not wanting to waste his words on obvious answers.
Church was astonished, there was something special about this man. Maybe he was a fortune teller of sorts, or perhaps a witch doctor. But he seemed too wise and loving for any of those titles. Church compromised with his own skeptical self that this man somehow knew Church like he had known him his whole life, Church decided he would answer every question with no more skepticism.
"She is my life," Church began. "The mother of my child, the essence of my soul. She's funny, witty...I knew she was perfect for me the moment I laid eyes on her. We have never had a fight, we are always interested in hearing each others thoughts. We always want to learn more about each other." Church continued talking, for several minutes, of stories and experiences he had with Heather. Without the Elder asking, Church went on the tell him about dreams he had for him and her and all the places he wanted them to go. Church began to sob as he spoke of his brother, friends and family who he was certain were dead, and the desperation he felt of not having anyone left in the world.
The Elder listened to each word Church spoke and nodded sympathetically when it was appropriate.
"And now," the Elder replied. "you are here, and you seek answers."
Church realized that this Elder knew so much already, did he know what was going on? Could he give him answers? Church didn't want to be rude, especially to this man. But he just had to know what was going on. "Sir," Church began. "Do you know what has happened to me? Do you know what happened to Bradshire?"
The Elder sat his cup aside and closed his eyes, as if not wanting to respond.
"Sir," Church pleaded. "If you know anything please tell me."
The Elder suddenly looked seriously into Church's eyes, with more energy than what he had before. "Our time is short my dear friend, I will tell you what I can but some questions will be answered when they are ready."
Church nodded and listened closely as High Elder Skytalon stood, walked to the edge of the temple, looked out over the village and began to speak.
"A destiny is born with every person, every soul on this planet. It is what assists the world in one day achieving the goal it set forth for itself from the beginning. What we would call war, poverty, disease and genocide the world would call balance, this is what I believe." The Elder said continuing to stare intently at the sunset. "Many lessons can be learned from this destiny, but I have time only to teach you one." The Elder turned and retook his spot on the rug in front of Church. "You have a great evil inside of you my friend."
The words made Church shudder in fear, almost to the point where he didn't want to hear any more. But he knew he had to.
"The rage, anger and vengeance that this evil is trying to impress upon you will serve no purpose in your life at any point, this I know, this I've seen. You must fight it with all you have, for if you submit your destiny will be altered to a path of emptiness and darkness, this I also know."
Church was in awe, he had so many questions, but he just had to ask one. "What will happen to me? Will I submit or will I succeed?"
"That I don't know."
Church wanted an answer so bad that he had forgotten how careful he was about not wanting to sound rude. "What do you mean? How can you not know?"
"You have many choices and challenges ahead of you that I cannot make for you, I cannot see what you have not decided."
"But what about destiny? If it is true then my decisions should already be laid for me. I shouldn't have the freedom of making my own decisions."
"But you do, your destiny will be fulfilled no matter what path you take and then the world will have to be balanced, like I mentioned before."
Church hated considering the fact that he was not in control of his fate, that some higher being was prepared to balance out whatever decision he makes.
"You do not believe what I have told you?" the Elder asked pouring himself another cup of tea.
Church was silent a moment before he spoke again. "I do, it's just hard for me to accept."
"You are young Church, faith can only come with time and experience. And you will have a lot of both."
Church's mind was so caught up in figuring out the destiny thing, that he had nearly forgotten about the questions he had sincerely wanted to ask. "High Elder, sir..."
"I consider you my friend, Church, titles are not required. Speak to me as casually as you would like." the Elder said taking another sip of tea.
Church appreciated the honor of not having to refer to him by title, but Church had too much respect for the man to acknowledge him otherwise. "Sir, do you know what happened to me? Why am I....." Church tried to find the words," dead?"
The Elder looked up at Church and squinted at him. "You are anything but dead, my friend."
"Then why did I awake from death? It's obvious I had died."
"You did."
"So why am I here? The dead stay dead, it's not natural."
"Church, you are the result of the world trying to balance itself out."
The words seemed to float down and rest atop Church's head. Nothing had made sense since the day of his rising, but this did. Church was speechless.
"I have seen your life in my dreams, Lieutinent Danal Church right?"
Church smiled and nodded.
"I have seen your beloved wife, your pirate friend, your parents, your brother. I have seen your connection to the Astral Plane and the love and compassion that allowed you to heal others."
Church saw the Elder's expression change from happiness to darkness. "What else did you see, sir?" Church asked.
"I saw the city you were defending that was attacked by the undead, I have seen the flag of your Nation fall, and all of its citizens with it."
Church had subconsciously already known that was true, but hearing it from the Elder was haunting and weighed heavy on Church's heart. He didn't understand, why did this have to happen? Church had to know. "Why sir? Why did my Nation have to fall? Why did everyone I know have to die?"
The Elder looked up at Church then stood and looked out over his village again. The sun had set by now and fires began to light up the village. "Church there are things we, as humans, will never have answers to but I can tell you this. The world today is dangerously on the verge of collapse, it is severely imbalanced and I have seen desperate attempts by the world to balance itself out. This desperation has created things. Horrible things, creatures that I have never dreamed possible."
Church solemnly interrupted. "Is that what I am then? A horrible attempt at a desperate world that wants balance?"
"I believe you are a result of that desperation," the Elder replied. "but you are anything but horrible."
"What do you mean?" Church asked, confused.
Church saw another dark look come over the Elder's face. "The world you once knew is lost, my friend, it perished with most of the good souls with it. Your unnatural love and compassion is a trait the world is in desperate need of. This world is in need of your love and compassion."
This was more than Church had expected, he had wanted answers but instead he received an overwhelming purpose that he was nowhere near prepared for.
"Our paths have crossed so that I could give you this information and I only give you the truth." The Elder said, again as if he was reading Church's mind.
"What am I suppose to do?" Church asked.
"That I cannot answer for you either my friend, your destiny will be revealed to you when the time comes. But there is one other thing I have seen that you must know." the Elder said as he sat at his original spot on the rug. "I have seen your wife, Heather."
Horror came over Church as he played thousands of things in his mind that the Elder could've seen, he wasn't sure if he was prepared to hear this but figured he had no choice. He had to know, it was his responsibility to his wife. "Is she alright?" Church gathered the courage to ask.
"I don't know." the Elder replied. "I saw her take the hand of your pirate friend, and I saw them sail away to the west."
A new feeling of hope washed over Church, she had made it to Captain Steelbarrow! This was great news to Church, he was so eager and excited to get going that he jumped to his feet. "Then I will go west as well, I have to find her."
The Elder smiled and nodded. "Of course, but first rest, drink and plan. You will need all the energy you can get and I have more information you might want to know."
Church wanted to leave now, but the Elder's logic was sound. He would need to go to Europe as prepared as possible.
So Church rested and listened to the Elder speak more as the night progressed and the tribes fires burnt out.

Danal Church
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Re: The Wilds of Northwest Ayana

Post by Danal Church » Wed May 25, 2011 1:34 am

As the sun rose the next morning Church was more than ready to embark on the journey to Europe, or "Eyropa" as the Elder had informed him the night before. The Elder had informed Church that the populated world, or what was left of it, was extremely dangerous and would not take kindly to visitors, especially visitors that looked like Church. Church was still not certain how he would initiate contact with someone in Eyropa without them fleeing in fear or attacking him, but he decided to just figure that out when the time came. His first focus was getting there, which High Elder Skytalon had also helped him with. It just so happened that the Elder knew of a lone pirate that still stopped by Ayana every now-and-again on the old western shores. Skytalon had provided Church with a note asking the pirate to provide transport for him, free of charge. Which meant that the Elder had a very positive relationship with this pirate because very rarely did a pirate do anything for free. "But getting to him before he shoots at you will be up to you." the Elder had told him.
Church was eternally grateful to High Elder Skytalon, he would never forget that he was the first person who had ever shown him kindness. As Church began down the steps of the temple he turned and looked at the Elder once more, "Will we meet again?" Church asked.
The Elder looked at him and smiled. "That will depend on the path your decisions take you, but I suspect so." he said.
Church nodded and turned to continue down the steps. That's when the sadness hit him, the same sadness one would feel by having to leave a loved one knowing you wouldn't see them for awhile. Church now had one person in the world he felt he could turn to for help, which made him happier than he ever could've hoped for.
As Church continued down the steps a disturbing screaming noise was approaching from the left side of the street, it was definently not a human noise, it sounded like the screaming of an injured animal. The noise got louder, causing High Elder Skytalon to look over the edge of the temple with Church, and a few seconds later the source of the noise was visible.
Three of the tribesmen had detained a Raptor by its foot, head and tail and were carrying it in a hurry somewhere, making the Raptor scream in panic. The Raptor was dark green and looked slightly younger then the two he had seen the day before.
"Stop." Skytalon ordered making the tribesmen stop in their tracks. "What is the problem?"
The Raptor continued to squirm and lash about attempting to break free, but the tribesmen would not loosen their grip. "This Raptor is insane, sir," one of the tribesmen replied. "It started attacking the other Raptors for no reason and it might've killed one, it wont stop, we have to put it down."
The Elder did not respond immediately and the tribesmen remained still obediently awaiting orders.
Church felt compassion for the poor thing, it looked scared and looked prepared to do whatever it took to save itself. Strangely, Church felt drawn to the creature. He felt slightly drowsy and felt himself being pulled, or was he just lightheaded? Church didn't know what was happening to him, he just knew that he couldn't take his eyes off of the Raptor. Church already felt like several minutes had passed, was the Elder ever going to issue and order? It was then that the Raptor looked at Church and got very still. As Church looked into the creatures eyes his own vision narrowed and seemed to zoom closer to the creatures face. Church began to panic, he tried desperately to take his gaze from the Raptor until he felt a hand grab his shoulder and voice speak. "Remain calm," the voice said as if speaking to him from the other end of a cave. Church could tell it was High Elder Skytalon, so he calmed and let whatever was happening to him continue. All Church could see was the Raptors eyes staring back at him. Church's stomach jolted, he felt the parasite going into a frenzy. Church screamed in agony as he felt his stomach burn like fire, the evil hunger was in great pain so it made sure Church was feeling it to. Soon, however, the gaze of the Raptor took over his full awareness and Church began to see pictures and visions, that were not his, play through his mind. The visions seemed to always involve more Raptors and Church realized that the experiences of the Raptor looking back at him were being burned into his memory.
Hours seemed to pass as every thought or memory that the Raptor had had so far was being embedded into Church's mind. When the visions ended Church regained his full sight and fell backward, along with the Raptor who had somehow gotten so close to Church that their noses were touching. A small moment of disorientation passed before Church felt an overwhelming surge of energy course through him. It felt fantastic! The evil hunger inside of him seemed to shrink to nothing and Church felt his strength come back to him dramatically. Church looked back at the Raptor that he had stared at for so long and immediately felt the connection and the compassion. By now Church felt as if he had been with the animal his entire life, he knew everything the creature had ever been through and sympathized with the hard experiences it had encountered. Church felt the Raptor return the sympathy, Church felt the Raptor's sorrow for Church's current life situation. Suddenly, Church felt the sickening presence of the parasite force it's way into Church's mind once again. "Take heed," it said. "I will never leave you, I WILL break you." After it finished, Church felt the parasite wilt away within him and his energy return.
Church looked at the Raptor and walked toward him. He felt a kinship with the animal that he could not explain, what in the world had happened?
"It called out to you, Church." Elder Skytalon said snapping Church back into reality.
"What?" Church said, confused.
"You have bonded with this Raptor and helped him regain his sanity, just like all of us have bonded."
Church couldn't believe what he was hearing, all of the "bonding" and "world balance" was true.
"Impossible." he heard Braun Sharpeye say behind him. When Church looked back at Braun he realized that he had attracted an audience, apparently things like Church weren't suppose to bond with animals.
Church looked back at the Elder in bliss.
"It has regained its sanity," High Elder Skytalon said pointing at Church's Raptor. "You, my friend, have regained something much more. A power you once had has been returned to you."
Church immediately realized that it was not energy he was feeling, but his connection to the Astral Plain! The power coursing through Church was so immense that his skeleton hands were beginning to glow.
"Do it," Elder Skytalon said.
Church closed his eyes and focused on his feet first. He stuck out his hands and felt the light rush through his fingers.

All of the tribesmen shielded their eyes as light overtook the village, everyone but High Elder Skytalon who sang praises to his friend who was finally going to be restored. The light surged through the village and darkness seemed to surrender to its overwhelming power. As the light subsided and the sun regained dominance the tribesmen looked back to the source of the light. But what they saw was not a zombie, not a skeleton, not a corpse. But a man, fully restored as if nothing had ever happened to him. The Call of the Raptor stood in silence, flabbergasted at what had just happened.
"From tragedy rises a man much stronger for what he has experienced." High Elder Skytalon announced which was followed up with applause and cheering.

Church looked around at all of the people, including Braun, cheering and clapping for him. He looked at his hands, which were fully restored, fell to his knees and began to sob. Church felt tears run down his face for the first time. He was relieved beyond words, he had thought surely that his future was to be a mindless monster. Church stood and saw the Elder smiling at him. Church embraced the Elder and repeated the only heart-felt phrase he could think of, over and over. "Thank you." he said.
"As I said young Church, balance must be restored. I believe this is the beginning of a much larger destiny for you."
Church nodded.
"But let there be no doubt, Eyropa will be no less dangerous to you. Be safe and be smart." the Elder concluded shaking Church's hand.
Church looked around and noticed his Raptor looking at him with a cocked head. "Where are we going?" he heard a child-like voice speak through his head. Church walked over and stroked his Raptor's nose. He would have to leave him behind. The thought was harder to accept than Church had expected and every step Church took away from his Raptor felt harder and harder. Church looked back to Elder Skytalon. "Take care of him." Church said and entered the jungles of Ayana.

With no physical obstructions to hamper his efforts Church made contact with the pirate on the western shore and sailed away with his crew to Eyropa. As Church sailed away he still heard the parasite's words in his mind. "I will never leave you, I WILL break you."
For now Church had defeated the evil inside of him, and he was more determined than ever to find his wife and, if necessary, help her if she was in danger.

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