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Scary Story Quest

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As All Hallows Eve approaches, we all reflect upon times gone by. The Caretakers hereby set forth a quest. A quest to write a story scary enough to shake the bones of the dead in their graves. The story must revolve around Graveyards or creepy Caretakers. The story must be at least 1,000 words minimum. If you use people gone by of MD that is a bonus. These stories must be original, and not taken off other stories. In order to assure that you must set yourself as the main character of the story. Whether you are the hapless victim or the deranged killer performing weird experiments is your choice. Remember the more MD oriented you make your story the better score you will get. I (Phantasm), Assira, and Susan will each read over all the submissions and chose the top 3 we each like. Then we will all sit together, and come up with the best story of them all. This person will then have an opportunity to share the story at a specific time and location within the Eastern Lands with everyone who will listen.

All stories must be submitted by Friday the 30th. ALL STORIES MUST BE SENT IN A PM IN GAME TO PHANTASM. Stories not sent to be will not be accepted in the contest. Find me if you can *evil laugh*. No really though I am usually at the Inn in Loreroot or the bar in the Eastern Lands. The stories will be reviewed and the winner will be contacted. The other top few stories will be posted on the forum. The winning story will also be posted on the forum after the story has been told in the Eastern Lands.

First place will receive a Wish Point and an opportunity to tell their story in front of a crowd.
2nd and 3rd places will receive smaller prizes.

*edit for prizes* Edited by phantasm

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1st place goes to Flamwarrior. Congratulations!!!! Winner of the Wish Point
2nd place goes to Sharazhad. Congratulations!!!! Winner of a 5 credit gift
Honorable mention goes to Mysteria Blue. Congratulations!!! Winner of a gold coin

The remaining stories will be posted here for everyone to enjoy. There were some fantastic stories and the decision was very tough for us. I hope you all enjoy the stories as much as I have.

*edited for spelling* Edited by phantasm

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[size="5"]Awiiya's Story[/size]

She had been getting on her family’s nerves. As soon as the sun would hit the horizon, no matter where she was within her household, she would immediately start shivering and trembling, clinging to the nearest person and say, “They are out to get me, quick please!” She would mutter like this for a long period of time, and then she would stop trembling and say, “You, you need to come with me into the woods to slay the person who is tormenting me! Please, I cannot go alone.” She was crazy, they all said to themselves, and instead of humoring her wishes chose to silence her and place her in a room by herself. Her family began to lock her in a room as soon as the sun started to set, and although the scratches on the wall were unfortunate, the lack of a ranting woman was appreciated.

When morning came, she would be sitting quietly on the bed, waiting for her husband to unlock the door. “Good morning dear,” were always her first words, and she never made any acknowledgement of what had happened the night before. She cooked, did the laundry, and attended to the house as she had her entire life, never once showing any signs of insanity or fear.

Her life had been simple, and in its simplicity they said it had been a beautiful life. Never had she wanted for any material value, but then it was never offered to her either. She did as she was told, without questioning, and was generally regarded as a woman of high integrity.

In her younger days, she used to go into town and visit her friends in the nearby neighborhoods. The house in which she lived with her family was set apart from the others, and surrounded by a small wood and a lake. She would go and say hello, talked of the gossip, as any women in her position at the time did. As she got older, however, the other women drifted away and did not speak to her.

She kept a deep secret locked in her heart, which made her bow her head slightly with the mere thought. The secret pounded on the back of her head incessantly, but far in the countryside she thought she had managed to get away from it. Not here, with her picture perfect life with a square box in which to interact, could her secret come back and harm her. Her husband did not know her history, nor did he ever ask. It was enough that she did as she was told, and that was all he ever asked for. Love, there was not, but security enough there was, and she thought that security was all a soul can ever want.

Her secret, however, knew no bounds. It was not afraid of her square life in her square house, nor did it respect the fact that she now had security. It came in the form of man in a freshly pressed suit, and a tall black hat.

She was walking down the street to a neighbor’s house, carrying a pie, and rounding the corner she saw a car parked in front of the neighbor’s house. He was speaking to the matron of the house, and as she got sight she heard that the man was asking for her house. She approached and told the man, who wore all black and had a large, sickly black mustache, that she was the one whom he was looking for. Looking directly into his eyes her thoughts were at first confused, but like the ring of a bell the secret broke into her heart and mind, and she dropped the pie she was carrying. The dark brown eyes burned into her skull, and all at once the dark corners of her past came back, the silent moments at night when the man before her had whispered, “You cannot escape from me… no one will need to know…”

The day she had escaped he had hear her shut the front door, and from the upper window he called, “You escape now, but I will find you! You cannot run from me forever!” His words, she had not believed then, but now they proved to be true.

Her sensibilities ran together, and she shouted at him, “Get away from me! My past is past, leave at once!” Closing her eyes she ran back to her home not once looking back, not caring whether he stayed or whether he left. She never heard from him, and never saw his greasy mustache and dark brown eyes, framed by the tall top hat. From that day forward she would not allow herself to visit her neighbors, for surely the neighbor that she had lost her mind in front of would whisper to the others that she was not well in the head, and the whispers ran around her eyes, whispering her secret. When seeing any of her past friends, she could only think that behind their friendly smiles they were thinking of her secret, of her, and how she was marred how she was not whole. She was broken, and they knew, and each time she imagined their words her heart fell one more step down the eternal flight of stairs to hell.

She went into herself and into her life in the square box. Cleaning a mantle took her mind from the deep recesses of her soul, and the simple rituals of life proved to be a way to avoid the hatred she had for herself. Slowly though, she began to resent, them, he who kept her in this box, the children she cared for, and all the people who forced her into herself. She looked at her husband with fake attentiveness, the fiery passion within her burned, and her secret wrung her brain of all borders, it all began to seem the same.

He could not take it anymore. Her husband gave into her behavior, and decided it was time to show her that there was nothing in the woods, nothing to fear. He grabbed her by the arm and began to take her into the woods. As soon as they passed the door, she fell totally silent, and ranted no more.

Once they were a decent distance into the woods, she stopped walking and locked her eyes on her husband. Her looked at her, and said, “Do you see now? There is nothing here. Nothing for either of us to fear.”

Without moving her eyes she responded, “Yes there is nothing. Nothing can kill, however, and that nothing is me.”

[size="5"]Malaikat Maut's Story[/size]

Scary Story
I took the road from Marble Park
passed the Howling Gates at dark,
and hadn't given any thought
until I felt as being watched
By what? I was afraid to learn
as well to not and so I turned,
and perched upon that demon's scowl
there rest a fragile desert owl.
I felt a fool to be so scared
so mocked that demon's brazen scare
then saw as, much to my alarm,
a darkened mist began to form.
I approached it so unsure
of its power to allure,
and though I bid my feet to rest
they broke its threshold nonetheless.
Inside I heard the desert’s tune
as wind and coyote cursed the moon.
I fast learned to appreciate
the land’s melodious refrain,
then sighed relief, relaxed my stance,
and forged ahead as if entranced.
Through the sand I trod alone,
past a well and twisted growth.
Until the sounds which gave me peace,
disturbed by movement, promptly ceased.
Then straining through the dark I spied
a pair of hungry canine eyes,
and I stopped dead…

…and held my place.
I felt the blood escape my face,
and though I told myself, “be still”,
my body shook against my will.
I prayed the beast was just as scared
and sought to match its deathly stare,
but quickly learned its clever game
as close behind a second bayed.
Then my feet, compelled by fright,
propelled me swift in to the night.
I knew the dogs had given chase,
breathing burned and muscles ached.
Then came its bark, a deafening peal,
I felt its teeth upon my heel,
and fell headlong into the sand.
I spun and raised defensive hands
in time to watch the beasts retreat.
Confused I raised onto my feet,
and saw the reason luck had turned
for in the distance fires burned.
I took some time to catch my breath
and give my weary bones some rest
before I slowly made my way
toward the nomad resting place.
As I started drawing near
sounds of revelry were clear,
I sighed again, “Mur be praised
I’ll join the feast my soul be saved”.
But when I saw the fires at last
black robed figures joined in mass,
and it weren’t a feast the fires cooked
but rather fueled from burning books.
In the shade I stood aghast,
to see the priests in demon masks,
and felt within uncanny fear
that they would find my presence here.
So silently I turned away,
but a sense bid me to stay.
A chill had grabbed me by the spine.
I faced the fires one last time
to see the priests in numbers grown
had fixed their eyes upon my own.
Swift feet again my body bore
fast across the desert floor
past the growth and round the well
through the Howling Gates of hell
Clear through Marind Bell I ran
to the MD Archive lands.
There I leaned against the gate
though my news must not to wait.
So I walked the Splitted Pass
breath came in belabored gasps.
Be it real or trick of mind
I saw a shadow to my side,
and though my feet were tired and sore
I sprinted to the archive door.
With frantic hands I spun the knob
and cursed, the doors had both been locked.
I felt my heartbeat in my fists,
and hoped my eyes had played a trick
but turned to see those priestly masks
approach me slowly up the path.
I blindly pounded on the door
my screams to those within implored.
Then came a hand upon my throat
I made my peace, forgiveness owed
resolved within, “the end is nigh”,
then slowly opening my eyes,
beheld that I was safe inside
the lobby of the old archive.
Behind, the door was shut and latched.
I turned to face the kind dispatch,
and quickly told him all I’d seen
with care he offered, “follow me”.
He led me through the corridors
to rooms that I’ve not seen before.
And then a blow fell to my back
I hit the floor and all went black…

Regaining senses, I returned
surveyed the room though sight was blurred,
and watched the document dispatch
don a hideous priestly mask.
He pulled a dagger from his vest
I felt it bite into my chest.
Before he drove that fatal blow
he stilled his hand and pulled me close.
Whispered words so calm and clear
to echo in my dying ear
“Who controls the present writes the past,
and molds the future there within his hands”.

[size="5"]Shemhazaj's Story[/size]

Pain. Blunt, sickening pain coming from the base of your skull. Taste of blood in your mouth.
Ringing in your ears. Ohh and this pain...
“Where am I ? “ You are trying to recall. You remember walking the road from Gazebo of Equilibrium towards Loreroot carrying a thing of a great value. What was it ? Oh no, the pain
is getting unbearable making you feel even worse than a while ago. Attempting to stand up you realize that heavy chains round your wrists and legs make it impossible to move. You open eyes slowly and notice nothing but a tiny ray of light sneaking through a small, barred window.
A dungeon, they put you in a dungeon! Smell of decay and excrements rises from every corner of the cell making you feel nauseous. You are struggle to regain control over your body by closing your eyes and trying to calm down. Finally the pain is gone and you fall asleep.
“Here he is! Hurry up or else we will get the beating too.” You hear voices from behind the door which burst open and two men rush into your cell, release you from the cold clutches of the iron chains and start dragging you outside.
“What the hell are you ...” You can’t finish the sentence as a blow of brass knuckles lands on your face finishes it for yourself. You are being dragged through a corridor, then up a flight of stairs.
You struggle to catch a glimpse of the area but another blow on your neck stops you from doing so. Whoever imprisoned you must know his trade very well... You realize you must have been unconscious for a long time. You want to jump at the guards in blind rage and tear them to pieces but in your miserable condition you aren’t even able to walk on your own. Your other powers are gone too.
You are eventually pushed into a dark chamber, stumble across a doorstep and land on the floor.
The guards leave without saying a word. Strange …
You raise from the floor slowly and start looking around, inspecting the room. It looks like an office of the prison warden. There is a bookshelf to the left whereas to the right side there are heaps of animal skins lying on the floor and a number of swords hanging on the wall. Your sight is drawn by a large chandelier-lit tapestry at the opposite end of the room. It portrays an unknown king sitting in a throne in a royal chamber. Actually, everything around you looks peculiar and unknown. Suddenly you became aware that you are neither in Necrovion, nor in the infamous dungeons of Gollemus Golemicarum or the cellars of Marind Bell...
Something inside tells you that you are nowhere in MD. The feeling of agitation rises as you notice
a small object lying among heaps of documents on a large table in the middle of the room … The crystal ! You immediately recognize it.
“This is the precious thing I was carrying to Loreroot when I was assaulted. Yes ! This must be why they abducted me ! It must be more valuable than I ever thought it was !”
Your stream of thoughts is interrupted by a new one. There is someone else here, someone quietly inspecting your reactions. You suddenly spot a figure standing in the darkness of the room corner. Damn it! You should have noticed him earlier instead of ruminating about the reasons of your capture! All of a sudden it comes to you that your instincts have failed you and this adventure may not have a happy ending...
The figure slowly emerges from the shadow and you start distinguishing its features. He is a man of
long blonde hair, dressed in a leather coat and wearing high horse-riding boots.
His long sword is attached to his back. He looks strangely familiar though... Yes, without a doubt it is him!
“Shem ! What on earth is going on ?”
A punch on your stomach so strong that you land on the knees gasping air is the only answer you get.
“Don’t you dare to call me by my first name you treacherous dog, never !”
His voice is saturated with hatred. The words followed by a kick on your face leave you landing on the floor and sending you into the abyss of unconsciousness before you manage to make any sense of what he has just told you.

Upon opening your eyes you realize you are in the cell again however this time not all alone.
There is another prisoner chained to the stone wall. His condition is appalling: blood flowing from numerous wounds all over his body, broken and deformed limbs, his eyeless lid is clogged by both blood and pus still dripping on the filthy floor. He opens his swollen, toothless mouth trying to speak to you however nothing but nothing but incomprehensible wheeze comes out. Looking at him brings up a mixture of disgust and compassion in you. Suddenly to your increasing horror both of these feelings disappear as you grasp that you are looking at yourself if matters continue this way! “How long will it take till I take his place ?” Not being able to stand on your own legs anymore you will be chained to this wall so that they will be able to torture you until you die. No! You turn your eyes from this massacred but still alive corpse.
“I must find at least a spark of hope...”
Suddenly the door swings open and two butchers walk in followed by Shemhazaj. The look in his icy-cold eyes starts drilling you.
“Take him first!”
You smile as the finger points at the dying man on chained to the wall feeling relief and gratitude. However just few moments later you feel ashamed and angry with yourself.
As the butchers start dragging the wretch out of the dungeon he makes extreme effort to look at you and his maltreated lips shout out.
“Forgive me Tobias!!!”
Hearing this Shemhazaj spits on the floor and leaves the cell all alone again. No other sound is heard. Not for long...
Just after a while you start hearing inhuman screams coming from behind the closed door and making you tremble. You cannot give in to panic. “Think, think !”
“Why did he call me Tobias ? What happened to Shem? Where the hell am I ?”
You cannot pull yourself together and concentrate, nothing can silence the screams of the tortured man. You became aware that you were placed in the cell so close to the torture chamber intentionally as just a mere expectation of your turn in the upcoming torture and eventually death is worse than the torture itself. Hours pass but the horrible screams do not cease...
Footsteps. You can hear the inevitability closing on to you as they become louder and louder approaching the door. They are coming! No, you can’t start panicking now. Dignity is about the only thing they can’t take away from you. Soon it will be over. You are tough and they will not break your spirit. Suddenly you hear a woman’s voice whispering from behind the door.
“There is a knife hidden underneath the left side of the cross. Use it when the chance comes, don’t give them pleasure in watching you suffer.”
“Wait ! Who are you? What is happening here?”
You scream but only silence answers you, she has gone.
“ Knife, there is a hidden knife here.”
Finally there is a spark of hope, not for survival but for revenge. You will not make it easy for them to take you away. He will not drink of your blood. Eventually they come for you. You do not struggle but let them take you away. As long as there is the knife – there is hope.
The hope leaves you as you are pushed into the torture chamber. Many of the instruments are unknown to your eye but the ones that you know chill your soul: Confession Chair, long sharp iron spikes sticking out from every inch of it dig into your flesh with every move you make. Rack Torture to which they tie up man’s arms and legs to slowly severe him. The slower, the more painful. An Iron-Maiden, even though closed you know what grim torture it hides inside. Strappado used for severing arms off the body, hearth and a cauldron, spiked pear used for tearing apart the orifices of a human body, a smaller one for mouth and a bigger one you don’t even want to know what for and dozens of different sized knives.
“The knife !”
The thought returns to you when you look at the cross on the floor as they are leading you towards it. You can’t grab it right now as your hands are tied but the hope returns.
Two men leave the torture chamber and you turn your eyes to Shemhazaj who approaches you, sits by your side and starts cutting your clothes with a large knife leaving you almost completely naked. You are trying to turn away your thoughts from approaching, terrifying inevitability.
“You know Toby, I never wanted it to come to this. You shouldn’t have betrayed our lord.
You should have realized better that we would eventually find out. As you already know he is not a forgiving man, but I am. So tell me everything you know, tell me all the names hidden there in your head and I will assure a swift and painless death for you.”
You remain silent, no word comes from your mouth. What is it that he wants to know? You don’t even know why they call you Tobias ! Not obtaining any answers to his questions Shemhazaj sighs. At this very moment you could believe that his offer of finishing you with one blow of a sword was honest but you don’t have any more time for thinking when you see him reaching for an iron rod stuck in a heap of burning coal. You can feel its flesh-scorching heat even though it is still far from your face.
“ What I’m about to do is not because of anger. Pain will free your mind from the shackles of self-obedience. It will free you from loyalty towards those you are trying to protect.”
You would gladly spit on his face but your head has been immobilized as much as your limbs.
Your teeth clench and you flex every muscle in your body awaiting for the pain. And it comes...
The rod slowly moves towards your chest and bites into your nipple. Smell of burning flesh starts filling the air.
“Those people will not escape punishment.” you hear struggling not to faint.
The rod goes back into the furnace.
“Your resistance may save them hours maybe even a couple of days of life. Your silence will not save anyone whilst your confession will save you.”
A portion of boiling oil is spilled onto your foot drawing an uncontrollable scream from your mouth. Your torturer tears off the scalded and deformed skin off your foot and pours another portion of hot oil onto the flesh wound. You start praying for loss of consciousness, sweet dark void where time and pain have no place. Whenever your mind is close to slipping off, the ruthless hands of your tormenter near a small flask of ammonia to your nose bringing you back to reality. Oh no... you think as you see him reaching for the rod once again and this time slowly nearing it to your eye.
“Are they really worth it ? Don’t you know that your stubbornness endangers your own family? What if my lord orders me to bring them all here for questioning ?“
Even though you do not know any family of Tobias, your horror reaches its climax when the rod touches the eye causing its fluids to boil and flow alongside blood down your cheek. Shemhazaj puts the rod away and starts caressing your other cheek.
“ Please give in, don’t struggle anymore, both of us know you will eventually break. You’ve made a mistake, lost your way. It is not me but you who can help to make this world a better place.” Looking as if through the mist at his face with your remaining eye you know he is telling the truth, he really believes in every word he is saying. You want to tell him: truth or lie, anything, but you stay silent... Shemhazaj sighs again and sounds a gong. After a short while the door opens and another one of his butchers rush into the chamber.
“Toca, Stork”
You recognize the names of upcoming tortures. Shemhazaj gives you the last look, then to your surprise kisses you on the forehead and starts walking towards the door.
“I will return later. Think about what I have told you.”
With these last words he shuts the door closed behind him. The newly arrived man starts releasing you from the chains in order to move you to another torture tool.
Now is the moment ! The fool didn’t know about the knife you think to yourself with grim satisfaction watching his blood dripping from the blade onto your fingers. Newly regained hope helps you forget about the pain and concentrates your mind on a new thing: What to do now ? Where to run? Where to seek shelter and help? Should you wait until this monster Shem returns to finish him off? No, in your current state you wouldn’t stand a chance against him even given the element of surprise. The crystal! Whatever the situation you are in the crystal may give you answers and perhaps help. Maybe even buy your way out! You start hobbling towards the exit nervously. You remember the way. First to your cell, then left and up the stairs and towards the door at the end of the corridor. Yes! Thanks god you weren’t blindfolded that time they brought you to Shem’s chamber. You enter the room and scan it nervously recognizing the person on the tapestry.
“It is our lord.” Shem’s words return to you.
You spit on the floor remembering the last time here, then hobble towards the table with adrenaline powered strength and reach for the crystal. Then you turn around quickly to run away from this cursed place and...
You notice a handle of a knife sticking out from your chest, in your last seconds of life you look at the murderer’s face but can’t see it through the eternal mist quickly taking away your sight. However you notice long, golden hair which help you identify him. Your old friend and recent torturer. You feel blood filling your mouth and the crystal slipping off your weakening fingers to the ground just to explode in a thousand pieces a second later.

Dream Diver’s Crystal – the keyhole of the door to consciousness. Shattered on the floor.
“Hey, are you up to no good again?“
You hear a familiar voice coming from behind the bar at Root of the Matter Inn. You are back in Loreroot! As you raise your head your eyes meet with Shemhazaj’s eyes and you can see anger on his face but at the same time his eyes are filled with tears.
“Next time when you decide to dive into my nightmares”
His voice is as cold as the northern winds but trembling with feelings.
“ Next time you do it” He repeats.
“You better make sure you don’t loose control.”
With these last words the druid stands up and leaves the tavern slamming the door behind him.
As you are left alone at the table with everyone looking at you firmly, something deep inside tells you that you will never forget this evening

[size="5"]Kamisha's Story[/size]

The wind blew menacingly through the headstones the only thing that showed its presence was the sound of it finding its twisted path and the leaves not flying but tumbling like stones down a mountain face under its force. It was a grave yard all right decrepit and hidden so far behind the Loreroot inn I had to wonder if I could still consider it behind it. It was almost as if I was in a still life looking into the active true world. I took a step forward out of the wooded area and into the clearing. It felt almost as if the wind had paused on my entry. It wouldn't stop for me would it? I still found it hard to dismiss the thought.
As I entered I felt the souls of the creatures that where bound with me to suddenly feel at unrest. Their feelings where almost so strong that it sent me turning back but I beat down the restlessness though I could feel that for the first time in a long while they felt the same way I did. The two years I had spent in the MD archives would not be in vain. This location had been closed off to the people by its shrouded mystery of a legendary ancient war between the creatures that we now possess today. Without masters they led themselves to war against each other. When humans stumbled upon the scene in they found that the only sensible thing they could do was to bury their bodies where they lay as the death toll was so massive that attempting to move them somewhere else would take a life time. The effort they had put in had kept them there long enough that they stumbled upon the gift to enslave the souls of the fallen into themselves. Now almost a thousand years later I was standing upon that ground. The monument in the center should commemorate there founding’s here I thought suddenly excited enough that my warning subsided. This was the very beginning of current life as we knew it. I made it to the stone tablet and wiped the earth from the etched surface. I started to read the inscription. Puzzled I stepped back for a second then once again stepped forward to read it again. “Now that can’t be right” I muttered to myself. Lost in translation maybe; it was after all a very old language one that was familiar to few. “Maybe just a little light so I can just make sure” I said a little louder than I felt I should have. I cast a flare in my right hand raising it to the stone face. I read it aloud to reassure myself. “A price payed in blood for all who come to this stone with the power of the souls the souls who died to protect their land. For they may be returned to their mortal bodies. ” I stumbled back suddenly understanding.
This wasn’t the beginning of man understanding the creatures; it was man who killed them siphoned their power to themselves. This tablet was created by those creatures who still survived and infused themselves with it to create there curse. I looked at the hand s the flare still alight in it casting eerie shadows. The grit was thousand year old blood of those stupid enough to touch this curse. People like me. “Oh shit” I said looking at the shadow cast by the stone; it was laughing at me now. I wiped the old blood away from my hands just in time to see the stone start to glow a dark light. I looked back at my hand it was replaced by new blood, my blood!
I was finally able to get to my feet and tried to run away. I couldn’t run away though it was almost as if my feet where rooted. “Damn” I shouted realizing the reason for my new disability. The souls of the creatures bound to me understood every word I had translated or maybe they already knew. This was their birth place the one way they could re enter this world as themselves again. The one way they could once again become flesh and blood and they would do it by stealing mine. I almost vomited at the thought of being ripped apart into six pieces and then being redistributed into six different beings. The tablet stopped for a second silent then exploded into a radiant white light that seemed to shroud and suffocate me. My creatures that I had actually cared for where now betraying me they where howling for blood now. I wouldn’t dare beg for them to stop I taught myself and them better than that. Instead I would rob them of their right to live as they had robbed me of mine. I had to make sure I was going to be able to do this too quick for them to react. I dropped the shield from my left hand as their attention was diverted to my left I quickly reached for my sword in my right and drove it through my gut. All seven of us cried out in pain. I fell and saw the light that was enveloping me fade. The blood on my hand faded. I brought my hand now down to my gut and then looked at it. The blood that had faded was now replaced. I almost laughed before I felt the pain again. “That’s right” I said painfully “The seven of us are bound you will feel my pain you will follow me to the grave as well.” My last thoughts where that of my soul leaving my body along with my six prior friends.

[size="5"]Tarquinus's Story[/size]

The Caretaker

Amoran tried to warn him. “It’s more than just a game,” she said in a YIM chat window. “I don’t know what they’re up to, but something’s… odd.”

Seb frowned at his monitor, his features washed in the pale light of the screen. “What’s that supposed to mean?” he typed.

“Dunno,” she responded. “I heard somebody actually died.”

Seb snorted. Internet rumors are always hilarious. Ammo had a hyperactive imagination and a paranoid streak that would’ve made Stalin proud. Seb logged into MagicDuel as Tarquinus, intent on pursuing this roleplayed thread about the Tribunal and its relationship to the proposed Necropolis region.

Tarquinus was a strong character, and sometimes seemed to act of his own volition, doing things Seb himself would never do. He had lately seemed to gravitate toward his deep backstory, the liche lord he had been as an NPC in a D&D game, where Seb had killed him off in 2006. Despite its flimsy grounding in MagicDuel, however, the backstory seemed to be an organic progression of the character, and Seb had fun playing it up.

The message chime sounded, and Seb clicked it to see what it was. The sender was “Marind”, the message untitled (much to Seb’s annoyance, for he hated untitled messages), and the message read simply “MEN WITHOUT CHESTS”. Seb laughed to himself – some prank of Mur’s, he guessed, though a C.S. Lewis reference seemed odd. The Abolition of Man. Where was Mur going with that?

He didn’t give the message much further thought, letting Tarquinus perform his usual rounds of hand-kissing and chest-thumping salutes before heading eastward to his meeting.

Tarquinus settled in the Tribunal public house across a table from phantasm, his dark eyes glittering in the torchlight. He sat in silence for a time before speaking: “The Necropolis requires a guardian.”

“Not an observation I’d expect from one devoted to the Moon.”

“The Goddess is sometime cloaked in darkness.”

The mausoleum stood imposing and dark in the necropolis clinging to half a dozen hills outside the center of the town, a bleak mount amid a forest of monuments and shrines. The boy approached it, fear and desperation etched in his features, advancing in furtive strides, his eyes ranging warily as he moved.

The disordered state of the building’s interior surprised him: broken statuary, a wrecked table of stone, debris and bones strewn around the chamber. A sole pedestal seemed intact, topped only by a skull resting in a mound of dust.

“Search the corner to your right,” an echoing voice advised him. He started and then froze, waiting for the speaker to reveal himself. Silence. Seeing no movement after long, awful moments, the boy crept to the corner, where a gleam of metal winked in the light of his lantern. He stooped and found a thick gold coin amid the detritus, and stood looking at it in awe and puzzlement.

“It is enough,” the voice continued. “Go.” The boy shot frantic glances into the darkness, swallowing, and nodded, clutching the coin and hurrying out of the tomb. The flickering circle of his lantern illuminated a corpse, newly dead, of an armored man whose chest yawned vacant, a bloody hole. The boy shuddered and broke into a run, extinguishing his lantern in his haste, pelting past five open, empty graves, reaching the iron gates of the necropolis without pausing.

A knot of people bearing lanterns of their own wandered through the gates some time later. “It is a thing of limitless power,” a tall man among them said, “in comparison to which the Summoned Army of Necrovion is a child’s toy.”

“And you have the means of controlling it?” said one of his companions, a short, dark-haired woman with avid, searching eyes.

The tall man merely tightened his grip around the book he carried and smiled.

“A vengeful spirit is said to stalk this place,” another man muttered. “Let us be quick about our business here.”

“Very well, if you are frightened,” the tall man replied. “We must fan out… look for the glyphs I showed you. Some marker or monument conceals the entrance.”

“Does it ever bother you,” Amoran asked, popping up in a YIM window, “…that, like, Dracula was from Romania?”

Seb scowled and replied with an ellipsis: “…” He shook his head and then typed, “No.”

“Ho’kie,” Ammo replied.

Seb stood up and walked to the thermostat. He could hear the heater running. So why was it so damned cold in here?

When he sat back down, an add request was pending in YIM: Marind_2009. Seb barked a short laugh and accepted it: why not? The user Marind_2009 slid into view, online. Seb typed: “Who are you?”

The user replied, “You know who I am. What you do not know is what I can do. Do not turn around.”

Seb reflexively looked over his shoulder in time to see a dark shape slip past his window. He turned back to the screen with narrowed eyes.

“What the hell?” he typed. “Do I need to call the cops?”

YIM showed Marind_2009 was typing; paused; then typing again.

“I told you not to turn around.”

In the necropolis, the dark-haired woman crouched beside a tombstone, peering intently at its markings. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw the lantern that had bobbed a few rows away from her suddenly grow dark.

“Who’s there?” a man’s voice sounded in the gloom, panicked.
The woman straightened and stood. “Alvar?” she called. A scream tore into the night, horrified, agonized. “Alvar!” the woman shouted. She backed away, trembling, noticing too late the deliberate, dreadful failure of her own lantern’s flame.

Jan whirled around, shocked at the piercing shriek from further up the hill. He moved toward it, calling: “Lili? Lili!” He stumbled through rows of tombstones and monuments, nearly falling into an open grave. A body landed in the earth with a heavy thud. Jan glimpsed Lili’s glassy eyes for just a moment, noting the gaping, bloody hole in the middle of her thorax, only empty space where her heart should have been, before the light in his hand was crisply snuffed out.

The tall man cowered beside the wall of the mausoleum, listening in perspiration and dread as he heard the death cries of his companions. He extinguished his lantern, hoping for safety in the darkness. A chill wind blew the hair back from his face, and he watched in helpless fear as a twisting column of dust spun toward him and began to coalesce as the frame of a large, broad-shouldered man beneath a floating skull that leered with a sickly green luminescence from somewhere in its recesses.

“You will not disturb what lies here,” an echoing voice told him. “It is not yours to command.”

The tall man dropped the book and fell to his knees.

“Forgive me,” he whispered. “Please… forgive my presumption.”

“Forgiveness is not mine to dispense,” the voice replied, and the thing of dust and shadows plunged an icy hand into the man’s chest, closing on his heart, crushing it, drawing his life force away.

“A successful audition,” phantasm said, stepping into the moonlight as the thing tossed the tall man’s body into the remaining open grave. “You will do.”

The skull-headed creature of swirling dust and twisting shadows condensed into the muscular form of Tarquinus, his chest heaving from exertion. He nodded to phantasm. “Of course I will.”

Amoran dropped offline: she must have lost her internet again. Damn her phone for being down! Seb noticed in horror that text was still being entered in his chat frame on MagicDuel, though his fingers did not touch the keyboard. Tarquinus… was still talking?

Marind_2009’s chat window flashed. “A good role, well played,” the message read. “You will do.”

Seb clutched his chest as pain lanced into him, flooding his veins with ice; darkness engulfed his senses, and he died in the night before the soft glow of his laptop’s screen.

[size="5"]Sharazhad's Story[/size]

My memory and all my belongings were stolen from me by a Drow and who had somehow locked it away in house of liquid dust...What I remember, comes back to me in bits and pieces...
There is an incident however that sticks to my mind... I cant recall whether it was dream or not but here it is:

I found myself walking alone along a path. There are no trees just battle armour scattered amongst the plains, and hidden amongst them, the skulls of rotted soldiers who lay forgotten on this field. I stepped gingerly through the rusted armour and weaponary, being very careful not disturb the scene.

A cool chill blew through the evening air, and I wrapped my arms around myself to warm up.
"That's odd" I thought, "Ive never been sensitive to the change in weather before".
Brushing the odd feeling I got as my own fears ,after all I was in cemetry of sorts, I continued walking through this Road of Battles. Half Buried in the dirt, something silver and shiny caught my attention. It didnt look like armour or weaponary, no this looked different. I knelt closer to the object, and dug around it and after much effort I pulled out an old leather logbook.

Propped up against an old beat-up wagon wheel I opened it, reading the pages carefully. It was the journal of one of the warriors. His story was one of sorrow, and tragedy, the last page told of his fear of a thing he called Shades, and of only one man he knew that could fight them who he heard lived somewhere close to this road.
I wondered what happened there...I may have said that aloud, I cant remember - only the feeling that a hook had grabbed me from the inside and pulled me towards a now spiraling dark mist.

Suddenly pain wracked through my body, and I heard the screams of fear; of men who not only felt afraid but who knew fear,and could not escape it. My eyes shut tightly as the pain coursed through my nerves and I held my head between my hands blocking my ears trying to shut out the blood curdling screams that filled the air, half daring to open my eyes to see what is happening - and when I did a cold chill crept up my spine.

I was still sitting against the wagon wheel, which was now part of a complete wagon. Next to me lay a dead solidier who held some thing green and oozing in his hand. The stench of it made me gag and dancing diabolically in the clear air, there were pockets of black mist which swooped in and out of the soldiers' bodies.

I watched one man who had been rapidly attacked by the black mist. His eyes rolled back into his sockets, spewing white foam at the corners of his mouth, falling to the ground, clutching his temples he yelled. He yelled for home wherever it was, for a lady, then out of pain or desparation for this torment to end, he dug at his flesh near his heart and tore it open. Bit by bit,etching his fingernails, fingers, palm - digging his now bloody hands in deeper into his chest, he yanked his flesh out, seemingly oblivious to the pain he might be causing to himself. He delved his hand into the selfmade crevice and pulled something red, shiny and wet out of his chest. For a moment his eyes met mine and for those brief seconds the realisation of what he had done hit us both. His eyes widened with fear, revelation and disgust as he died. I screamed and then sobbed begging some-one or something to end this nightmare. I looked around for help but the only other life were ripping out their own flesh to end their anguish.

The pain around my head ebbed to a nauseating ache and I wanted nothing more than to leave. I stood up weakly and steadied myself against the wagon wheel. Unable to take this scene in anymore, tears streaming down my face, I wept. "please stop, take me back, please" The black mist loomed towards me, and I felt fear, knew fear. It swooped at me, and I felt something cold, sharp and icy suddenly push at my heart. I shut my eyes for a moment and heard the cold steel laughter of something menacing. Suddenly I felt something moving on my arm, I looked down at my hand and screamed. It was round, about the size of large hailstone and was moving rapidly, up my arm towards my neck, underneath my skin.

"Get it out!!" I yelled, half crying clawing at the skin on my upper arm desparately. I felt it move up my neck and wept thinking: "Its gonna go in my head and Im gonna die!" I dug my nails deeper into my neck trying to stop the ball from moving. I felt my blood ooze down my skin and I thought suddenly:" Wait this isnt real...this is all in my head there was nothing moving in those soldiers' bodies"
I stopped for a minute, and breathed out slowly:
"I'm not afraid...you cant get me to kill me!"

Suddenly I was brought down to my knees, and wretched up something green and disgusting, it was alive and wormlike, and I watched it slither away before passing out.

When I came to, the scenary was as I had first seen it, quiet and still. The screams had vanished and the pain around my head had disappeared.
"Was that all a dream?" I thought and instinctively looked at my arms and felt the back of my neck. There were no finger marks or a hint that I had attempted to mutilate myself. I looked down and noticed that the book was open and fluttering on a page I hadn't read before.
The writing read: "Close the book, this is all true, none of it is real" I shut the book quickly and noticed there were blood stains underneath my nails. I glanced quickly at the book again and saw something with a black tail disappear into the covers. Shivering and in a cold sweat, I got up and left the field... Edited by phantasm

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