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.....


    Shadows of the Departed

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    Elise Veicht

    Posts : 41
    Join date : 2012-02-20
    Age : 30

    Shadows of the Departed

    Post by Elise Veicht on Mon Feb 20, 2012 8:24 am

    In the halflight of the eternal twilight, the sands of the Great Desert gleamed silver beneath the spirit's feet, shifting only slightly as the ghostly presence passed across them at speed. Running, the man - for he had, in life, been a man, albeit a grotesquely overweight one - spared a moment to glance back his shoulder. That was a mistake, for Hueco Mundo was a treacherous place, ever ready to strike back at those unfortunate enough to find themselves bound there, and the sands shifted beneath his feet the very moment he turned his gaze. Stifling a cry, hoping he hadn't been noticed, he tumbled down to the silvery sands, his hands thrusting deep into their shifting depths. And then the shadow fell upon him.

    Focused upon pulling himself from the sands, the spirit didn't notice the sudden darkness at first. But slowly, surely, he became aware of the dark tinge to the sand and turned, eyes widening as he caught glimpse of the foul form silhouetted against the glare of Hueco Mundo's sun. It was a fell figure, a gaunt, taloned monstrosity held aloft by slowly beating wings of ragged ebon feathers. Liquid, droplets of ichor so tainted and poisoned as to be almost black in colour, fell like teardrops from her corrupted form, splattering against the sands with a muted hiss.

    "I see you," came the creature's cry, a soft, mocking parody of a woman's voice.

    Panic flashed across the spirit's features, and he turned, scrabbling away across the sands, forcing himself from his hands and knees even as he moved. His haste was pointless; the twisted spectre was enjoying her sport, and would have offered the spirit the time to run if he hadn't seized upon it, and now she watched from the heavens, laughing softly to herself as she drank in the heady scent of her prey's terror. It was delicious, and more addictive than the finest opiate that a mortal might savour, yet she knew it would be over all too quickly, for already the hunger gnawed at her insides, reminding her of the needs of her cursed form. It was, she knew, long past time that this farce was brought to a close.

    "I hear the school bell," she whispered softly, more to herself than the doomed soul, "Playtime is coming to a close." With those words, the Hollow closed her eyes beneath her mask, summoning up the darkest memories of her old life, the only memories that constantly remained with her rather than fading in and out of her thoughts. They were the memories of her final moments, of the unimaginable pain of betrayal and the indescribable agony of having her body annihilated by the brutal power of the SPX-15. From the memory of the bone-searing flames, she drew power into herself, before pushing it outward, down to the very ends of her taloned hands. There, in her scarred and bloodied palms, the memories coalesced into something more than mere thought. Flames flicked, scorching already blistered flesh and boiling away blood. The creature barely noticed, and even smiled faintly as she allowed her eyes to snap open and her gaze to fall upon her victim once more. He was still running, still apparently deluding himself into thinking he might escape. Foolish, really. Even if he escaped her, what chance did he have here? Another Hollow would find him before a day had passed.

    No, one way or another, this mortal was doomed.

    Laughing, the Hollow cast the first of its two fireballs. It cut cleanly across the still air of the Desert, sizzling through the air in a beautiful arc before crashing into the spirit's leg with force enough to knock him to the sand even as flames engulfed his form. Tossing the second fireball down to the sand, his hunter swept down from above, savouring the sounds of his screams as she drew back one taloned hand and lunged...

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    Elise Veicht

    Posts : 41
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    Re: Shadows of the Departed

    Post by Elise Veicht on Mon Feb 20, 2012 10:51 am

    After the joy of the hunt, the meal itself was all too brief; for all his mass, the spirit was truly nothing more than a light snack, lacking anything but a glimmer of the raw spiritual power that a Hollow needed to survive. Yet slight as the energy he offered was, it was enough to bring a flash of memory to the creature that had feasted upon him. Reinvigorated by the meal, she let the memories rise up through her, replaying scenes from a life long discarded. A name, her name, floated up through the bile and the hatred that so consumed her. Elise. Yes, that had been her name. Now... now she wasn't so sure. Did she still call herself that? Did it matter? In the end, she supposed it didn't, for there were few enough who might be inclined to call a creature such as she by name.

    Still... "Elise." She spoke the name almost experimentally, feeling her mouth twist beneath her bloodstained mask to pronounce the now unfamiliar syllables. It felt odd, yet somehow strangely liberating. Like the very act of speaking her name allowed her to cast off some previously unnoticed burden that had been weighing down upon her. Again she spoke the name, and then again as she rose from the stained sands to stand at her full, impressive height. With a thought, she flexed her ragged wings, sending clouds of sand spiraling across the dunes with the zephyrs the act conjured, before glancing down at the talons that had grown from her fused and mutilated fingers. Elise. A strange name, perhaps, but was she not a strange creature? Yes, Elise she was, and Elise she would remain. At least, until time marched on and the memory of her name submerged itself in the mire of her mind once more, as it surely had done so many times before in the last four centuries of her existence.

    "How long, do you think?" The voice was a whisper on the still desert air, but the Hollow could feel the power behind it. Every syllable was laced with potency, every word with the suggestion of imminent destruction. Whirling, already reaching for the memory of the flames deep within herself, Elise let her gaze sweep across the surroundings, searching for the source. But there was nothing, not a soul nor a shadow in sight. She was alone. "How long before your memories are once more consumed by your hunger? Before you once again become a mindless beast?" Again they came, whispers like a dry desert breeze, and again the Hollow found herself vainly seeking the source.

    "Show yourself," she hissed, letting the memories of death and destruction form themselves into fireballs beneath her bloody talons.

    "As you wish," came the response, dry as ever but now dripping with amusement. Her words, or perhaps her actions, had obviously gifted the speaker with some small amount of mirth, and Elise found herself snarling at that. Snarling, and promising herself she would blast the humour out of the wretched creature's body the moment it showed itself. Alas, that was an oath doomed to be left unfulfilled, for Elise suddenly felt a presence behind her and, before she could even think of turning, felt a single digit press against her spine.

    A heartbeat later, she was pulling herself out of the dune, crimson eyes flashing beneath her mask as she stared across at the figure, taking in its lithe, humanoid form and the elaborate, horned mask that covered its features. She could feel the power radiating from it, hells, she was in danger of being overwhelmed by it. Even just standing there, apparently holding its powers in check, the creature was far beyond anything she had ever seen.

    "Now," came the whisper again, echoing slightly against the horned mask, "Will you answer my question?"

    "Question...?" she whispered, dragging herself up from the sands, "What question..." As she spoke, she remembered. Remembered the impertinent words, the way they had demanded answers she hadn't even wanted to give to herself. And now this... this nightmare stood there and called for her to put voice to them? It was unthinkable, and yet... what choice did she have but to answer or be destroyed? "I don't know," she muttered, glaring hatefully across at the other Hollow.

    "A week." He - yes, it was most assuredly a male, as much as such things mattered amongst Hollows - spoke the words confidently, his tone allowing no argument. "In a week, you will have forgotten again. You will be mindless again. I know this because I have seen the same scene played out a hundred times." A pause, the merest of heartbeats in a place utterly devoid of hearts, and then he continued, "Pathetic. That is what you are. It is not what you were. It is not what you might become. But it is, as I say, what you are."

    Mere words, but the force behind them was unquestionable, and Elise found herself flexing her talons, ready to strike at the creature who stood before her. And perhaps the creature understood her thoughts, for he raised one hand almost complacently, studying it idly as he spoke again, "I am Ahriman, of the Vasto Lorde. I have watched you for centuries, Elise Veicht, and I am ever disappointed."
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    Elise Veicht

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    Re: Shadows of the Departed

    Post by Elise Veicht on Tue Feb 21, 2012 7:18 am

    The Vasto Lorde. Elise had heard of them. What Hollow hadn't? They were legends amongst the souls who trod the dark path, creatures who had embraced the darkness so fully as to become near godly in power. There were, if the tales were to be believed, but a handful of the fell creatures in existance, and for one to be here boded ill for the lesser Hollow. "What do you want?" she hissed, flexing her wings as thoughts of flight flickered through her mind.

    It was a futile gesture; before the rustle of her tattered feathers had faded into the desert air, the Lorde was behind her. A hand pressed down against her shoulder, forcing her down against the sand. "You were born of the greatest atrocity mortal man has ever committed ," the fell being continued, apparently not distracted in the slightest but her actions, "An atrocity a thousand times worse than the one which birthed me. In your bones, the screams of a hundred million dying souls echo. In your blood, the memories of a hundred million betrayed souls scream. You are a creature born of murder, a creature with naught but death in your past and future." Momentarily, the fiend increased the pressure upon Elise's shoulder, before whirling her about with but a flicker of his fingers. "You," he added, glaring into her masked visage, "Have wasted that potential. For four hundred years, you have cowered in the desert, eschewing your destiny, fighting against the destiny which beckons to you."

    Abruptly, the pressure he was exerting increased once more. Beneath his pale fingers, the bones of Elise's shoulder creaked and protested, sending shards of agony spearing through her gaunt form. Beneath the weeping facade of her mask, she screamed, letting her agony ring out across the desert as the Lorde crushed her down against the bloodstained sands. But the pain was fleeting, and the Hollow seen realised her tormentor was merely toying with her. If he hadn't been, she would surely have been dust upon the sands within moments. "What do you care?" she managed to gasp through the lingering pain, "Your power..."

    "Isn't enough!" the Lorde snarled, "A war is coming. A war between our kind and the Shinigami, with the mortal realm as the spoils. And in such a war, all of our kind shall be required to play a part. And a single shred of weakness shall be enough to damn us all." Again Ahriman paused, his crimson gaze boring into into Elise's blackened soul, before he finished, "And so the choice I give you is this; evolve... or die."

    With that pronouncement, the Lorde released his grip upon Elise, allowing her to sink slowly to the floor. By the time she raised her gaze again, he was gone, vanished into the depths of the desert, and she was left alone the consider the words he had spoken.
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    Elise Veicht

    Posts : 41
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    Re: Shadows of the Departed

    Post by Elise Veicht on Tue Feb 21, 2012 8:39 am

    Evolve or die.

    It seemed a strange turn of phrase, yet who could deny the Vasto Lorde had the power to carry out the threat implicit in his words? Not Elise, that much was certain, for even as his parting words faded into memory, the pain Ahriman had inflicted upon her with but a prod of his finger or a flick of his wrist lingered on, a potent reminder of just what the mighty Hollow was capable of. Yet even the threat of destruction paled in the lesser Hollow's mind as another memory, dredged from the abyss of her soul by the Lorde's words, burst into her thoughts, dragging her back to that day centuries ago when she had first encountered a Shinigami. In the still, stagnant calm of the desert, she felt the ghost of the breeze that had blown across the mortal world so many years previously. Shuddering, she felt the caress of the wind upon her ichor stained form, and saw in her mind's eye the pitying expression that had graced the Shinigami's face as he promised her a swift demise.

    Pitying.

    The memory sent a surge of anger racing through Elise, and flames of hatred, fanned by the recollection, blazed stronger than ever before. Suddenly, Ahriman's talk of war, of bloody carnage being visited upon the self righteous denizens of the Soul Society, seemed infinitely more appetizing. And if Elise wanted to survive to see that war, to have her opportunity to hunt down that arrogant Shinigami and flay his flesh from his bloody carcass, then there was but one thing she had to do. She had to prove herself to the Vasto Lorde. She had to embrace the darkness. She had to evolve.

    Yet such things were far easier said than done. In all of Hueco Mundo there were countless millions of Hollows such as she, and only the smallest fraction had managed to push themselves beyond the limits of their forms. To follow in their footsteps along the darkn path would require focus unlike anything she had possessed in the centuries that had passed since her demise and rebirth, but now... now Elise had something to focus upon. A goal, a bloody future which she hoped to drag screaming from the realm of fantasy into reality. That, she knew, would be the key to unlocking the power of the Menos Grande, of the Gillians. But focus alone wouldn't be enough. She would need more power, more spiritual energy, and not just those faint trickles the souls of mortals offered.

    No, for what she had planned only the souls of her kin would suffice.

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    Re: Shadows of the Departed

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