The world has changed. Five Hundred years have come and gone and the battles of old have fallen into myth and legend. Now something is stirring beyond the veil, something that has not awoken in a millennia past. The world has changed.....


    Through a glass, darkly (Development/Solo)

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    Elise Veicht

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    Through a glass, darkly (Development/Solo)

    Post by Elise Veicht on Wed Feb 29, 2012 11:10 am

    Once, many hundreds of years ago, a wise man born of a long line of wise men commented that there were only a finite number of souls in the world, a number far fewer than the actual number of people that trod the earth. Those people, he claimed, were little more than reflections or echoes, small facets of true souls that never took form. His words had been unpopular, even in a time when so-called wise men had been free to speak whichever words they wished, and before another winter had passed the old man had vanished from the world, his life claimed by an agent of the deepest shadows. Denied their orator, his words had faded from memory, their subtle truths disappearing from the mortal world.

    Had Elise lived during that ancient time, she would assuredly have been amongst those who decried the wise man's heretical truths. To her mind, the implication that she might be little more than a poor imitation would have been unthinkable, and even before her descent into the madness that lingered within the mortal soul she might gladly have taken the role of that assassin lurking in the autumn night. But she had not been alive in that time, and had never heard whisper of the long forgotten words. Even if she had heard them, they would have meant nothing; what cared a creature such as she for the ramblings of some long dead mortal? And yet, for all her disdain and disregard, the vagaries of fate were not content to allow her to exist in ignorance...


    * * *

    Silence reigned over Hueco Mundo, the changeless realm of the Hollows. The desert was still, not even the grains of sand shifting as the baleful glare of the sun fell upon the dunes. There was nothing living here. No, more than that; there was nothing even attempting the futile parody of life that so many souls enacted in the days immediately following their journey to the bleak lands beyond death. In truth, there was nothing surprising in this desolation for little bar Hollows survived long in the endless desert, and many of the greatest Hollows lingered elsewhere, on the fringes of Las Noches or the Forest of Menos, or in those places within the desert where the barrier between worlds was weak enough to allow the gargata to be created, while their weaker kin concealed themselves for fear of consumption by the Gillians and Adjunchas, all the whilst keeping their furtive gazes flickering about in hopes of discovering lost souls stumbling through the gargata or being forgotten by stronger Hollows.

    None of them came here, to the depths of the desert. Or so it had seemed.

    Now, a shadow fell across the dunes as a dark form passed before the sun, wings of torn and singed black feathers beating mightily against the still air. The creature was gaunt, taller and thinner than it had any right to be, and tainted ichor dripped from its twisted form to sizzle against the sands below with every beat of its ragged wings. Eyes glowing with the light of the furnaces of hell studied the sands from behind the cold, emotionless facade of a bloodstained white mask.

    And she saw... nothing. This was a dead place, even by the standards of a dead world.

    It was perfect.

    Gliding almost lazily down from the skies above, Elise landed almost gracefully atop one of the taller dunes, her feet and taloned hands sinking slightly into the sand as she dropped to a crouch, instinctively surveying the land for anything she had missed. After all, in Hueco Mundo, it didn't pay to leave anything to chance, and there was every possibility that at least one Hollow out of the millions in the desert had developed the ability to appear invisible to airborne observers. It was better to play safe, to watch and wait a moment longer, than risk consumption and annihilation.

    After all, if she were to die the final death in such a foolish way, how would Ahriman be able to carry out his fateful threat?


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    Elise Veicht

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    Re: Through a glass, darkly (Development/Solo)

    Post by Elise Veicht on Fri Mar 02, 2012 7:53 am

    Even here, in this silent place so very distant from those Hollows with delusions of an ascension fueled by the consumption of their peers, Elise could not relax her guard for a single heartbeat. No, Heuco Mundo itself was every bit as dark and twisted as those creatures who inhabited it, and would assuredly claim the life of one foolish enough to underestimate it.

    And so it was that even when the Hollow allowed her eyes to close behind the bloodstained mask that had formed over her distorted features, she remained alert, ever aware of the slight shifts in the spiritual energy that lingered in the air. But the desert was still, the residual energy just a faint echo of souls that had passed through the area long ago, and Elise was able to turn her thoughts back to her encounter with the Vasto Lorde, Ahriman. The memory of the ancient Hollow was enough to send a shudder through her gaunt form, a motion that sprayed black ichor across the sands. She still ached from the encounter, yet knew in truth that she had been fortunate; a single touch from the Vasto Lorde had been enough to smash her through a dune, and anything more would surely have been enough to shatter her bones. Ahriman could have killed her in an instant had he so desired.

    But why hadn't he killed her? That was the question, wasn't it? What use could a creature such as he have for one such as her? Oh, it was true that he had given reasons, and perhaps there was some small sliver of truth in them, but did he truly expect her to believe that his interest in her stemmed simply from the cause of her demise? Or was it that, powerful as he was, the ancient Hollow simply didn't care what she believed? Yes, ego crushing though the thought was, Elise couldn't deny that there was likely more than a fragment of truth in it; Ahriman was so far beyond her that he would surely know that, regardless of what she believed, she would do as he instructed. After all, what was her choice? To obey, to evolve as he had demanded, or to die?

    That was no choice at all.


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    Elise Veicht

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    Re: Through a glass, darkly (Development/Solo)

    Post by Elise Veicht on Sat Mar 03, 2012 8:19 am

    Evolution, then. That was where her path into the mists of time would lead, but how to take the first steps along that ascendant path? There were few enough options - only the consumption of enough suitably powerful souls, most often others Hollow, was enough to push a Hollow beyond the boundaries of its initial form - but within those limited choices, myriad smaller decisions awaited. Decisions such as where to hunt those souls, and whether to go for a cluster of lesser souls or one potent creature that might allow her to push beyond her limits after a single intense battle. They were difficult decisions, and it was perhaps a mercy that they were stolen from her grasp as a blast of ebon lightning flashed through the air, searing the silvery sand to glass even as the winged Hollow, warned by the fluctuating spiritual pressure, launched herself skyward. Quick as she was, it wasn't quite fast enough, and pain flashed up her legs as the crackling blast boiled blood and blistered flesh.

    Snarling in pain and anger, Elise glared down at the desert, scarlet eyes sweeping across the sands for a glimpse of creature who had dared disturb her solitude. It took but a few moments to hide, for it made not the slightest concession toward concealment as it shambled across the sands, sparks of lightning dancing between its outstretched hands. Even by the standards of a Hollow, it was a foul beast; a mass of scorched, grimy rags enshrouded its bloated form, with glimpses of pallid grey fresh just visible beneath its filthy garb. Its mask, what little of it could be glimpsed beneath the ragged remnants of its hood, was narrow and elongated, almost equine in form and streaked with blood, dirt and dust.

    And in its eyes, there was only madness.

    It was a look the winged Hollow had seen just once before, several centuries previously; the look of a Hollow that had forgotten everything it had once been, a Hollow that had devolved into something that was little more than a murderous beast.

    It was, in fact, something that Elise could very easily have become.

    Still, there was little time for such contemplations now; already latticeworks of lightning were forming around the other Hollow's hands, and it could surely be only a matter of moments before the bolts of black energy seared the heavens once more.

    Perhaps wisely, Elise didn't intend to grant it those moments.


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    Re: Through a glass, darkly (Development/Solo)

    Post by Elise Veicht on Sat Mar 03, 2012 10:26 pm

    Drawing fuel from the never-fading memories of the annihilating flames that had engulfed her mortal form, the Hollow summoned forth twin spheres of hellfire, roaring orbs of searing flames that hovered mere inches above her already blistering palms. The first she cast offhand, an almost casual lob that pitched the fireball against the sands before the other Hollow's feet. It was a simple tactic; the flames were enough to melt the surface of the dune into a thin film of molten glass, and the shambling creature paused, its hateful eyes flickering from its airborne foe to the molten mass at its feet. Its hesitation lasted but a heartbeat, but that was time enough for Elise; with a flick of her wrist, she tossed the second fireball skyward, before a flap of her ragged wings launched her past it so that she might bring her clasped hands crashing down upon it, spiking the blazing orb down toward her addled foe.

    Moving almost faster than the eye could follow, the fireball flashed through the air. The shrouded Hollow unleashed another bolt of black lightning, perhaps intending to intercept the strike, but its aim was off and the ebon bolt blasted only air, narrowly missing Elise's wing in the process. There wasn't time for another strike; the fireball struck home in a shower of sparks, exploding in a flash of blinding light. The ragged remnants of the Hollow's robes ignited, and an inhuman shriek cut through the air as the creature stumbled back, clawing wildly at flesh and rags with blistering, blackened skin. It was futile, wasted effort; the flames were too hot, and too much of its form was engulfed. It couldn't survive. It couldn't.

    And yet... slowly, the flames began to die. Scorched claws tore aware burning robes and flesh alike, casting them down against the dunes, until eventually not a single flame flickered on the creature's form. Despite all probability, the other Hollow still stood, albeit unsteadily, whilst smoke coiled slowly upward from its charred flesh.

    "Impossible!" Elise hissed, her crimson eyes widening in horror as she beheld her foe. That it had withstood her attack was inconceivable; the fires of hell had been enough to annihilate Hollows of equal power in the past. But withstand them it had, and though blackened flesh sloughed from its scorched form, it seemed barely concerned by the harm she had inflicted. A foul, gurgling laugh issued from its throat as it gazed up at her, and then it thrust its hands toward her, letting twin blasts of lightning rend the heavens. With a curse escaping her lips, Elise dived beneath the crackling bolts, her talons flexing as she swept down toward the other Hollow.

    It seemed as though she would be forced to finish this encounter the hard way.


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    Re: Through a glass, darkly (Development/Solo)

    Post by Elise Veicht on Sun Mar 04, 2012 10:26 pm

    The creature's scent, a noxious combination of burnt and rotting flesh, assailed Elise, and had she still been human the putrid smell would surely have been enough to draw bile to her throat. As it was, however, she merely snarled in disgust as she hurtled down from the heavens, twisting in the air to avoid another blast of lightning, before lashing out with one rending talon. It was a vicious blow, a blow intended to cleave her foe's mask in twain, yet the creature moved with a speed that belied its decaying form, darting aside with unnerving speed even as it lashed out with one clublike hand. Blind though the strike had been, it hit home, catching Elise's mask and smashing her down against the dune with brutal force.

    Sand and feathers sprayed across the dune with the force of impact, and the Hollow shrieked as she felt something snap within her gaunt frame. Yet before she could recover, Elise felt a hand wrap about her ankle, and suddenly the sand disappeared from beneath her as the other creature tore her into the air. Alas, it was but a moment before it appeared again; after holding her aloft for but a single beat of mortal's heart, the Hollow brought her crushing down against the dune once more. Pain lanced through Elise's form with the impact, but painful though the blow had been, it lacked the surprise factor which had accompanied the first impact and thus failed to deaded her senses so. Thus, when the creature moved to tear her from the sands again, she was ready; squirming in its grip, she twisted around, lashing out blindly with one clawed hand. Her reward was a shriek, an echo of the one which had escaped her own lips mere moments prior, and abruptly the grip around her ankle slackened.

    Freed, she launched herself away from her foe and scrabbled painfully to her feet. Whirling to face the other Hollow as she rose, Elise found her malevolent gaze falling upon a piteous sight; the wretched creature was wailing, clublike left hand clamped around the severed stump of its right. Yet the winged Hollow felt not a moment's remorse; this creature was surely a menos, a cannibal, and would have consumed her had she not managed to free herself from its grasp. And now... now she would take great pleasure in returning the favour.

    Darting forward, she feinted left, then twisted light and lashed out. Her bladelike talons struck tainted flesh, plunging deep through the chest of the wounded Hollow. Ichor, foul and polluted, sprayed from the creature's back, painting the sands black as Elise drew her claws back and, almost as an afterthought, brought her other hand around in a backhand swipe that tore through the creature's leg. Still wailing, the creature toppled, crashing down into the groove Elise had left in the sand seconds prior. "Pathetic," the winged Hollow whispered, glaring coldly down at her helpless foe, "You're just a mindless beast."

    Just a... mindless beast. Just a creature that had forgotten itself. Just... exactly what she herself had been on the verge of becoming before Ahriman intervened.

    Had this been his work, then? Had Vasto Lorde arranged for this creature, this mirror of her own potential fate, to attack her in this supposedly lifeless place? Or had it been coincidence, a mere quirk of fate? There was no way of telling, but Elise was grateful for the occurrence nonetheless; without this encounter, this glimpse of what she might have become, she might still have lost her path. But now... now her mind was steeled. She knew what she had to do.

    Without another word, she descended upon the defeated creature and began to feed.


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    Re: Through a glass, darkly (Development/Solo)

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