[center [pic https://78.media.tumblr.com/30518a0515a8b3ae8a903fd38bc6f241/tumblr_odsb8u3YzP1sqx3fro1_r1_500.gif]] [center [size30 [b SEADARK: AN ELDRITCH TALE]]]
-An expedition turns awry when a violent storm shipwrecks our characters; armed with little more than the soppy clothes on their backs, what little floatsam they can recover from the tides, and (perhaps) the broken weapons of the accompanying mercenaries.
-With the understanding help will not come for months, if at all, they endeavor to find shelter and a supply of water. As days lapse into weeks, the typography of the island morphs, revealing its hellish creatures and existence.
-Ideally, it will operate in an RPG style, as in, we actively keep track of the inventory and skills our characters possess, earning greater gains based on enemy drops and kills.
-Through the documents and journals of recent and previous inhabitants, we begin to understand the preternatural origin of the island, and how, if possible, escape can be achieved.
Think the Witcher meets Dark Souls. Medieval period.
Motivation: Given the unenviable choice of family, honour and inheritance or love, devotion and lineage, the former won out in the end. A forbidden lover left behind, thrust upon the serving masses as their inept leader, he is troubled to find the world at large does not bend the knee to his whim, especially those given charge over him. With a sneer of glee his life is forfeited. He is ordered upon the ill-fated vessel, to traverse the sea to a foreign land, to die for his family, honour and inheritance. Openly mocked by those with brine-blood, he approached the storm with no trepidation, stepping forward to the bow to accept the sweet embrace of the reaper.
Biography: Barokinov is a prosperous port town; when compared to the rest of the Empire. Sitting at the edge of the ice drifts it receives the thick furs of the Barok-ni, the trappers of the northern forests, and prepares them for purchase by the rich elite in the western lands. Not that this truly affected Aleksander. Born the only son of the Duke, he learns from a harsh and stern father how to utilize his power and prestige. Pretty by looks, of an above average intelligence, he took an early interest in the medical profession becoming a physician by a very early age. He is forced to become Captain to a group of misfits, the easiest path possible to ensure he leaves Barokinov for good.
Sin: Love for a slave is common and accepted, should she be a local girl. Love for a slave of eumelanin skin is enough to be a social pariah. Love for a slave, of burned flesh, who shares the same paternal lineage as ones self, becomes forbidden.
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[google-font http://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Montserrat][Montserrat Aleksander was delirious from a night of fragmented and tortured sleep, little sustenance and the last of his energy drained away with the cold water he kneels in, looking upon the brooding beast down the length of his six inch iron barrel. It looks like no man, its hulking figure misshapen if not ethereal. The eyes flash with indignation, the whites dark and irides appear luminous gold in the bleak light of morn. His clothes are mere rags, soiled skin jutting out between the soiled strips, but they aid toward fixing an identity to the biped.
[i Could it be Joachim?]
The two men had spoken little to one another aboard the ship, but in this bewildered state his mind grasps for familiarity, for some semblance of normalcy. Trivial memories begin to knit together in a desperate recollection of the ships hand though in an act of contrition he chastises his eagerness to believe with the more lucid thought; [i is he really there?] What if this is some traumatic disorder of the mind? Some delusional trip?
[i Wait... did it move?]
The trigger is damning in its mechanical click – had he pulled it? He was uncertain – but the hammer is released and strikes the flint in a spray of sparks but there is no accompanying crescendo, nor plume of smoke or flash in the pan. Pupils dilate and heart sinks. He is committed now. He draws back the hammer, levels the pistol, another spark, nothing else. The realisation that the powder is sodden if not outright gone is too late.
The man tears through the river as like a bear chasing salmon, a spray of water kicked up as he is soon upon the younger nobleman. His painful hip remonstrates loudly as he attempts a retreat and can only rise on bent knee to be dispossessed of the useless firearm and struck back down into the fine sediment of the shore. He offers not even scant opposition or retaliation, only casting out an arm in hopes of staying further assault.
[b “Stop! Stop! I yield! I yield!”] He begs in a shrill cry, hand outstretched upward, almost curled into a foetal position. As no attack is forthcoming he hesitates to cast eyes back upon his attacker. Disgust burns in his eyes though it only masks the masculine embarrassment of being taken down so ruthlessly. His lower lip has split and a trickle of diluted claret trickles down his chin. His left cheek is flush and already the beginnings of swelling show below his prominent cheekbones. Dark eyes are unmoving for a time, though they stray to the weapon in his hand.
[i A spearhead? Had he been the one who set upon the man on the beach? If so, could he be trusted not to repeat the act upon himself?]
A desperate howl comes from the thick forest upstream. It is akin to that which the bearded assailant had heard not long ago though had gone unnoticed by the thirsting Captain. Like an easily excited dog his head is at a swivel, trying to catch where it came from though it echoes and rings in his ears and he is soon disillusioned once more to the land around them. His only conclusion is that they were best served by moving away from its general direction.
Looking back on Joachim however he finds the man is pensive, his lips thin beneath unkempt beard.
[b “No!”] It is said in the pleading tone of a child to papa, begging that he not smother the candlelight and leave him alone bathed in darkness.[b “You can't go out there you damn [i ПОДЛЕЦ]!!”] A decision is made – he needed this man. Not least for his size if not just his company.[b “Who or whatever is making that sound, it is either dead or dying.”] His protestations from the ground pause, scurrying backwards, grunting as he props himself onto his knee before stumbling onto his feet, clutching at his hip.
[b “Listen. I am still your Captain, I am still in charge here and I am ordering you to stay.”] He has found his courage, or what he construed as courage from his fathers teachings. It is little more than a tone, the appearance of authority, societal belief in rank and order that had no place outside of civilisation – much as they were now. It held back his fears for now, voice holding firm, trying to assert command and trying to rest control of this situation.
[size10 ПОДЛЕЦ - scumbag/lowlife/commoner]
The crepuscular orchestra might’ve lulled him into an uneasy slumber but the transition between day and night came antagonizing slow and his bloodshot eyes were dry and heavy with sleeplessness. A fist knotted the muscles cradling the spine at the nape of his neck, tugging at the sinew so tightly it constricted the blood vessels in his temple. Perhaps he imagined the hard rustle in the distance, the yowl that reverberated through the canopy of interlocked branches, the unearthly mewl that quietly answered from the very earth?
The violent tug of the ship in the tides came to him first. Sent his blood shifting like aspic. His ribcage felt in a vise, tightened so that his viscera may no longer fit. Is that what woke him?
Memory gelds into the whimsical, distant quality of a dashed dream.
A collection of clumsy limbs summersault towards the bank in a mad, desperate pace. The torn slops could be mistaken for brigand attire were it not for the tarnished insignia on the coat’s wrist cuff. A singular gilded shoulder board indicated an unspecified rank or lineage. His begrudged eyes traveled the almost androgynous features – wide lips and eyes like glass stars, an olive complexion unblemished from scurvy or rickets, the draw of well-shaped brows that softened the jawline—and identified him. Khikov, the disgraced viscount and neophyte Captain.
Anger burned slow in his belly, like the embers of a fire refusing to be extinguished.
[i When men scream, it is to a terrible fate; and none seemed greater than the aberrant storm. The crew was misfit with men of all ilk; unequivocally hardy and experienced, they motored against the cut of the waves and dropped to the leeward side until the wind tore through the second sail. Directives were doled out over the crash and thunder, he amongst those tugging at the ropes to change tack. When the first sail began turning, a cruel fate unfastened its steel mount and snipped its moorings. The canvas fluttered rebellious but was belted from the mast. With it, the rigger Doede Bakker was unceremoniously tossed to the waves.]
[i Foolishly, the men believed dropping the remaining sails against the wind would be a favorable course. The sea was violent; Bakker was mid-aged and a frequent opium smoker and could hardly keep abreast the surface and plead for salvation. The pitiful struggle would last only minutes more when they learned the typhoon was merely a herald.]
[i The whip of wet, salted wind tossed hair into his hooded sight, as Joachim vainly dropped his weight, sliding like subterfuge when a seiche wave floods the deck. Hands and feet grappled for footing. Water overtook his senses. It cocooned him in its embrace and flung him into the mast, robbing the air from lungs. The taste of blood blossomed in his mouth like candy. There was nothing saccharine in its taste. Only the cold plunge and the bitter wave of salt.]
The horror! It stays with him like Winter present in bones.
Joachim’s redden gaze fixates upon Khikov. Even the milieu of the gurgling river stills to reverberate the unfeeling click of a cocked hammer. Just so, it dispelled the fleeting pause of indecision between the men and sharply brought the fatigued Ugin to focus.
[i The uncouth cunt,] he seethes –a practiced man would know wet gun powder wouldn’t ignite.
That burn smoldered and bellowed. How it twists and curls through his stomach.
How it taunts and slithers its displeasure.
Tongue resonant with the chorale of screams that carried him along Charon’s shores.
Suddenly, Joachim found himself viewing himself objectively; fury carried him through the pale emerald tributary. There was uncertainty in the panicked gaze of the captain, and he took several steps to recover the distance the ship hand devoured. With a maddened howl, Joachim wrest the pistol away; the momentum of him whipping the weapon into a tree made a crack that contested the impact of his fist to Khikov’s face.
The violent burst of color across his Joachim’s fist warmed him. With delight. With comfort.
And he relished in its addictive embrace for it would be his last.
[google-font http://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Montserrat][Montserrat The coastline consisted of coarse and dark aggregate more than fine sand, sourced from the shale hills that fight a perpetual retreat with the grey blue tempest running lateral to it. The wailing calls of gulls sounds from above as they tumble in the battle against the gale that howls in the background, flashes of white against the drab sky. The thick clouds and creeping fog had obscured the sun since arrival and when a hand could be seen before the eyes, or the caterwaul of the unseen beasts in the nearby wood were replaced with other strange sounds like the changing of the watch, only then could one be more certain that night had passed into day.
This is where Aleksander had spent a trembling night, huddled under the exposed roots of a wish tree standing as alone as he. Hickory eyes are puffy, red, framed by high pale cheekbones. Lithe fingers skirr his heavy stubble, dabbled with silt and a darkening welt close to the socket, a hiss and tentative touches skirting the injury to run through short fawn hair. Further investigation finds his hip complains loudly from where he had struck the ship railing, a frigid night adding to the discomfort. Additional grunts of discomfort follow as he crawls from his home, grasping at a sinewy root to aid him in standing. He offered silent blessing to the tree as he leans upon it. Not for its protection from the elements but for hiding him from the unseen things that made the pops, the clicks, the whooping and yelps. Sleep had been sporadic, unable to reach slow-wave sleep, insomnia settling upon his being.
Outside his temporary haven he found no solace but the same dreary landscape he had come upon the day before, though the subtle nuances left him apprehensive to move further. To his right, the beach went some hundred meters before it turned a bend and was lost to sight. It was where he had come upon ashore on hands and knees, where he had first heard the shrieks and moans of something most foul. On that recollection alone, his hand began to tremble, but was not the reason he remained steadfast by his tree. Not far away, some twenty feet from where he stood, he had found a corpse. There had been hope at first; perhaps he could save the man? On his side, back to him, he presented as unconscious as the waves lapped at his bare toes. Crawling across, pulling the man onto his back, he found him far from redemption. Eyes sunken and veiled by a milky film. Skin bleached as white as bone and sitting loose on the muscles. Chest torn from clavicle to pelvis – a precise and perfect incision. Stealing a sodden flintlock from the man's waistband, a subconscious belief that it brought protection despite a lack of powder, Aleksander had retreated toward the nearest place of refuge.
That had been the day before. The cadaver was missing now. Only a trail of displaced scree remained, leading toward the forest and creating a borderline he would not cross.
His remaining choice was left, up the shale hills, skirting the shore battered by heavy swells. His footing was never firm, always lost, casting him forward, scrambling up lest he slip back down. From that elevated position, skirting between coast and wood, he moved cautiously. The snap of brush nearby leaves him with palpitations, hands clammy despite the spray of the sea. Minutes pass with inactivity, halted by indecision, forced to move on by. On trembling feet he progressed along, finding pieces of detritus as he went. Pieces of hand hewn wood, assorted rigging, torn bolts of linen sail and lengths of rope in varying thickness – the latter two he took measures of. The plenitude of this mélange only increased in line with the sound of flowing water.
Stumbling onto the river mouth only then did he realise how tacky his mouth is, how thick his tongue sat or tight his throat had become. His thoughts become one tracked as he hobbles forward, stumbling over himself, delirious in his desire for refreshment. Collapsing into the shallows he forgoes whatever warmth his hands retain and cupping them together they are thrust into the gelid water. The amount he can seize is pitiful, trickling through his fingers, only enough to wet his split and parched lips. He attempts this two more times with diminishing returns before frustration overcomes sensibility and he lowers his head to the water, sucking like a babe to mothers teat.
Gulping down the crisp water, more delicious than any imported wine he had ever tasted, his satisfaction is short lived. His empty stomach contracts sharply against the cold water, pushed to spasm and dry retching before a burnt butterscotch coloured foamy bile was brought up to float away in the current, taste buds revolting and throat burning. Sitting back on his feet he closes his eyes, tilting his head back and up to the sky, cold fingers rising up to wipe away spittle and mucus, sinuses flushed but the smell still lingers.
Resting for a time the passing water begins to numb his finger tips that skirt its surface. His dark eyes flutter open, specks of darkness floating in his vision, unable to focus on anything in the grey abyss above. Head falling forward he focuses upon a new sight, on a foreboding figure across the river, glaring back at him. The beard is unkempt, the hair lashed to his face in wild fiery strands, something is in his bear like hand, held tightly. He looks every bit as feral as this land.
The man in the water remains still for a time, neither seems willing to make the opening action, though the younger, more foolish, more inexperienced man casts aside this wise caution. The pistol at his belt is drawn forth and levelled on the other man, hammer drawn back with thumb in the same action, pock-marked barrel swaying in his weary hand as the weight is immediately made so apparent. Then.. the stillness returns. His move.
A thick fog settles on the shoreline of the shallow river, thickening by the creeping minutes. The poorly constructed wall of firewood makes the whistling wind no jot less cruel as the marooned boatswain shivers violently from his feeble attempt to sleep. Time holds no measure except the slow crawl of dark clouds trekking across the moon. It casts the damp canyon in an umbrage from which the stars above could not dispel. Joachim's fogged breaths came more troubled as his sleep grew more discomforted.
He lies in bed with his last lover, a dark woman from the Caribbean who speaks very little of his language. Gaze slanted and brooding so to recall an owl, and ever watchful-she clawed constantly at her beaded dreads as if shaking some dreadful knowledge from her mind. She weren't gentle; cruel were her hissed dialect -and this, he heard only in the dead of night while she knelt naked on a pelt of wolf, voice but a rhythmic hum to the rattling of bones in the dish she split her palms open upon. She were of old magic; breathed it as dragons do fire.. A single candle wanes in the breath of her intonation, palms shaking with the constant drip, drip of bloodletting. His eyes grow heavy, watching the siege of shadows congeal into a tangible mass – then, she peers o'er her shoulder towards him. In his stupor between drunkenness and drowsiness, his conscious barely registered the nonsensical exchange: her wheezing excitedly to the dark and afore long, the answering roar that dredged him from the vestiges of sleep into complete affright.
A bellow of distant thunder brings him stuttering to his senses. The East promised to be auspicious even as the looming ambivalence gave him misgivings. He maintained an amiable air with his fellows and worked hard days. He derived no pleasure and no pain, busying his mind with the fickle sea and coin for port. When he saw the storm, he felt a deep and true chill strike his heart. In his squandered years on this earth, he had been overcome wit what he could only elieve] to have been dread, stalking him from his youth until now in the aftermath of a tragic failure. But this was numbing. The miasma weighed the air, stringing his lungs like infinitesimal needles, while the waves kicking wildly beneath the groaning ship sent his stomach lurching. He never know the depths of dread until he heard the approaching gallop of Death that night. The truth of it cut to his bones as readily as the icy wind, which wailed eerily like the collective groan of many drowned men. Salt spray assaulted his eyes but still he could not look away, lest he be swept from this life without witnessing himself.
He slept like a frightened child, curled into the fetal position, and his body aggrieved him for it. Tired, tense, he crawled to the riverbank. Wearied, his reflection accounts the displeasure in the lines surrounding his mouth and the ever haunted look a hooded gray stare. Spittle clung to the coarse hairs of his reddened beard-seaweed clung to the russet strands of sodden hair curling at the collar-something resembling the trawl he ate hours agone stained his linen shirt. The stink of ale soured his operose breath. Broad in height and stature, Joachim did not resemble the ilk confined to seafaring; he toiled for the honesty it granted. He held no other estimable qualities. No wonder he dreamed of a woman he hadn't seen in ten years. Drinking of the cool stream did nothing to alleviate the pain radiating through his skull but it parched his throat, and starved off despair for minutes more. The cry of a loon brings no consolation to the silence.
Were it that he was the sole survivor, verily? The hollowed shipwrecks and split crates ashore suggested they were flotsam but there were the remnants of harried human heels left in the sand, thus he questioned if they were systemically divested, and if so, whether the island were inhabitable. His memory recollected the map of the Eastern route as if displayed beneath his fingertips. They were to sail to Abyssinian whereto an excavation of a quarry of gold would leave its men wealthy; he could recall no Atlantic island south of the dark continent. Regardless, he now wished greed had not bade him to go thither.
A lazy examination of the ridge leaves no comfort in its suitability for shelter. The loam of the bank is imprinted from a mixed canvas of hooves and paws in varying size. Were a bear or coyote to discover his recess, his death would surely follow armed with naught more than a spearhead. His thumb dug its point. As the spearhead drank of the bead of blood its spouted, another cry volleyed from the forest. Only it weren't the thrill of an avian resident. No, it were a shrill, panicked, distaff cry.
Though Joachim rose to his feet, hand so tightly wound around the shaft it drained of color, he could only stare into the forest. Though his skin felt like caoutchouc beneath the wet clothe, he felt feverish with indecision.
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