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Unread postPosted: Sun Jan 21, 2018 2:23 am
  

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6 years. 6 freaking years. I cannot believe it has been that long since I was last able to access the Shadowboard. So much has happened. I’ll be honest, I am not the same person as I was since I last posted. I have seen things that you would not (hell I cannot) believe. I’ve met allies that I could not dare imagine, lost brothers and sisters that took parts of me away each time they died. I have fought the good fight, remained true to the cause and have done the best I could to fight the Nightlords.

The main reason I was gone so long was that I had called that number, and contacted a librarian of the Nocturne…who turned out to be a Nightbane. After quite the palaver, he convinced me that the answers to my questions did not lay on earth but on the “Astral plane!” >Insert spooky sound here<

I thought the guy was 2 jokers short of a full deck. I was seriously WRONG.

So, in case you don’t have the talent to access it, the Astral Plane is basically the conduit to other planes of existence. Yeah no kidding.

Want to access an earth where the Cubs win every World Series? Well, I am sure it is out there. More reasonable areas would be worlds where the Nightbane were held in check by the worlds governments, maybe where self aware machines named Skynet took control of the world and fought off the Nightlords (and killed all the humans in the process). Nevertheless, there is some crazy crap out there in the nether.

However, after years of world travelling I can tell you there is no place like home. I’m not sure if it is “dimensional resonance” like my friends in an alternate reality explained or what, but my earth, “Earth prime” as I like to refer to it as, seems “more real.” It seems more solid and the actions I take seem to actually matter. Yeah, its crazy, I cannot explain it and I will leave it at that but it is the truth.

Well, I’m back, and I will fill you in with what I have found out.

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Unread postPosted: Tue Jan 23, 2018 1:52 am
  

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viewtopic.php?f=6&t=114409&hilit=lupus
Here is a link to Part I of the Shadowboard posts made by LUPUS

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Last edited by Archmichael on Thu Jul 14, 2022 11:26 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Unread postPosted: Tue Jan 23, 2018 2:15 am
  

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A small digression.....
So to really understand me, you need to know that throughout my early years I was a role-player. Yeah, not the kind that dresses up as the bad cop or the naughty sailor, but with books and pencils and multi-sided dice. I know this sounds dorky and for a very VERY long time I never told anyone that I played the most evil of evil games: Sorcery and Swords! I grew up the the 1980’s in a small town. If you admitted that you were a S&S player you immediately got a visit from one of the many local pastors who would try their hardest to save your soul. I still remember my mom barging into my room, (as a friend of hers told her it was all about Satan worship thanks to the 777 Club television show) demanding to see my Swordmaster’s Guide book. As she flipped through the pages she exclaimed…”Huh, this looks like a bunch of math.” She snapped shut the book and laughed. “I thought you hated math….this game seems ok to me.” And that was that! ….Sorry. A trip down memory lane. I so miss my mom, but that is neither here nor there.
Long story short…I have always thought outside the norm. Fantastical beasts, scary monsters, terminator robots….ok I will deal with that and move on.
No kidding, I have watched trained men and women freeze at the sight of an advancing robot, blades spinning, red eyes glowing, intent on their murder. (Granted it was in another world but that is besides the point).
In our reality….the very screwed up here and now where actual monsters run the government….(Ok, I once visited a reality where Donald Trump was president and the Nighbane didn’t exit…how crazy is that!) You have to be prepared to see some really crazy stuff. I mean immensely, drive a nail in your head crazy stuff!!!.
I’ll be honest I was lucky. I had filled my melon with so much BS mythology, and stats from the Beast Guide and video games that the possibility of supernatural beings did not surprise me at all.
BAM. I’m a super strong armored Werewolf…LETS DO THIS. That was pretty much my reaction at first.
It is the nuances, the differences that make things extremely tricky. I will NEVER forget when I first clawed a “federal agent” and he exploded into a mass of tentacles and teeth. Dude! That will mess you up for a bit! My point is be ready for the unexpected.
Alright Shadowboard. My time is over. I need to meet a guy about a depleted uranium RPG. I will type to you later.

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Last edited by Archmichael on Thu Jul 14, 2022 11:58 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Unread postPosted: Mon Jan 29, 2018 1:55 am
  

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Great reading, both this and the original. I hope to catch more.

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Unread postPosted: Mon Jul 11, 2022 3:26 pm
  

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Snap. Now it has been ten years. I am going to try and provide an overview of my time in the Astral, but I need to be honest about something: While it may disappoint many of the other Nightbane on this forum, but I basically took a vacation. I didn't really intend to, as I was lost in the Astral Plane, but I didn't fight it either. I will be perfectly honest: I was tired, so tired of the constant fighting, the looking over my shoulder, the trauma of seeing your siblings torn apart by monsters. I needed a break. During my time in the Astral I saw worlds without conflict, without the Night lords and I wanted that peace. I was tired of fighting tentacled monstrosities and praying that some evil infused god like ancient being would not find me and kill me. More than that, I was tired of the killing. It was not the Nightlord minions, I mean they either inhuman monsters or robot-like constructs. It was the regular people, the Ohio state trooper who caught me shifting in a rest stop, the narco gang enforcer in Tijuana who was just doing his boss’s bidding, hell, even the corrupt city officials in the Chicago area, who absolutely knew what was going on, but were just trying to survive and protect their families from a horror they could barely understand…all those and more weighed heavy on my conscience.
So, I travelled into the deep nether, found a personal Astral domain and crawled into a bottle.
For…years.
Finally, the guilt started stacking up and broke through the haze of the alcohol. Had I been mortal I would have easily killed three livers. Eventually however, the memories of injustice started breaking through, and the realization that my life was a pale imitation of what it was to be living. It was a façade, and quite meaningless. I mean hedonism is enjoyable, but has no direction, no constructive end point, just a circle leading to the same point over and over.
So I have returned to the Earth I consider “Earth Prime” and was absolutely shocked. No time had passed. I had been to worlds where cell phones were mini-computers the size of a deck of cards! Where the internet allowed everyone to have video phone calls and electric cars were everywhere. Dial up internet, flip cell phones (if and when either worked with the unreliable telecommunications grid) it was like walking back in time.
I do not understand the metaphysics of it, but no time had passed since I had entered the Astral Plane. Perhaps it was because I was so far from “Prime Earth” or perhaps because I was within an Astral domain, but the people I knew were still there, the situation was still the same and the war was just as I left it. Crazy but true. The only thing different was me. I had grown and matured since being gone. BUT I DIGRESS, let's talk about my time in the Astral plane.

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Last edited by Archmichael on Thu Jul 14, 2022 12:04 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Unread postPosted: Mon Jul 11, 2022 10:57 pm
  

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After the instruction from the librarian, I was put in touch with a Nightbane who taught me how to travel to the Astral Plane. It took a bit of practice but eventually I was able to do it without much effort. In hindsight it is insane I didn't get killed! But I will admit, I have always been lucky. Not the “Pick a number” or win the lottery lucky. Nah, I always lost at door prizes and stuff like that. However, when it came to big life issues, missing getting T boned in the car, not falling into the bottomless pit, not getting decapitated by the avatar of a Nightlord……well I admit I have that luck in spades.
So, that luck must have guided my completely untrained and naïve attempts at astral travel, since I landed square into the fold of a group known as the Gray Ghost Society. I will be completely honest; I was smitten with their mysticism. As a Boy Scout and an Order of the Arrow Vigil, not to mention my complete love of the movie “Dances with Wolves” I listened to them and revered their opinions as if God himself had instructed me. Much later (incidentally) I discovered that they were actually correct with their mapping of the Astral, but at the time I was just very happy to connect with a like minded group who was accepting and encouraging to a misfit such as me.
So, it was pure luck that guided me to the most knowledgeable group to ply the Astral Plane. It absolutely fascinated me. I soaked it in like a never-ending sponge. The Astral Plane fulfilled every fantasy and desire I had ever had. However, I instinctively knew that I needed to be prepared and knowledgeable of the threat I faced.
I do not know why they put up with me. I was full of questions, full of doubt, and to be honest full of rage. But they did and they were always kind and gentle. I cannot even articulate how much I owe them.
I learned of the Astral plane, Inner, outer, and most important: THE VOID. Yes, the void. The dangerous, never speak of and pretend it does not exist …. VOID. (this will become important later)
Under the Tutelage of the Gray Ghost Society, I travelled the Dragon Roads.
So, as FATE would have it, I also met the Astral Lord known as Lord Peter O’Toole.

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Last edited by Archmichael on Thu Jul 14, 2022 12:08 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Unread postPosted: Mon Jul 11, 2022 11:12 pm
  

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So, at one time I considered myself a party animal. I did a ridiculous number of straight shots, I did keg stands, I once had a friend of mine carry me and throw me on the fire truck because I was absolutely wasted. This pales in comparison to the feeling I had traversing the Inner plane while hanging with Lord Peter O’Toole.

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Unread postPosted: Tue Jul 12, 2022 2:51 pm
  

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Comment: J.V. Adams
Great stuff! Glad you're writing again. Looking forward to more.

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Unread postPosted: Tue Jul 12, 2022 9:40 pm
  

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When I met Lord O’Toole, it was within the Grey Ghost Society Astral domain standing at in the main lodge at the bar sipping a martini. He was a combination of Lawrence of Arabia, Alan Quartermain sprinkled with a bit of James Bond. Confident, cerebral yet with a fierce dangerous physicality that belied his cultured exterior. He apparently had actually been an English noble in the real world a long time ago. He also claimed he had been an explorer who charted the course of the Nile river, fought cannibal apes in the deep Congo, seduced Amazonian women, freed slaves from some otherworldly horror named “Splugorth” and had been an actor who had actually portrayed Lawrence of Arabia in a movie. (I called total BS on that). He was however a powerful spellcaster, psychic and a total badass in hand-to-hand combat. Being around him was like pure adrenaline and magic and sex all rolled into one. I could not explain it but he made everyone around him feel fantastic. I assumed that he was “buffing” you know, like Clerics or Bards in D&D. I was so very very wrong. But I digress.

“My young friend! I need your help.” Lord O’Toole was ever persuasive. I was eager to please because I thought he was nothing but a badass great guy! “My Lord, how can I help?” Lord O’Toole flipped out an ancient scroll that fell to the floor of the wooden lodge floor. “We need supplies from the Land of Caves” I had studied the maps of the Astral and realized that this would be the domain of the Tarantuloids! I’ll admit I was excited at the prospect of visiting such an alien species in my full Morphus form. So, Lord O’Toole gathered a group together to traverse the Dragon roads in safety. The caravan consisted of myself, Lord O’Toole, Sheri LaFlamangue a Pyrotechnic, and Sir Reginald (who I seriously thought was a legitimate knight from the middle ages!) not to mention an number of people I would call….sherpas? They carried large packs on their backs, that is all I know.
We travelled for more than a week on the Dragon Roads towards the Land of the Caves. As we progressed I started to notice my mental reserves were constantly being drained. It started to become the effects of the Astral plane, and as soon as we reached our destination it would subside. I believed him wholeheartedly. He was just a great guy…or so I thought.
The trip from the Lodge to the Land of Caves was travelled completely on the Dragon Roads, but as we found out, that was not without risk.
So let me tell you a story: back when I played roleplaying games, I loved Dwarves. Lord of the Rings really started it and I always thought they were pretty cool. So when I was doing a supply run with a group from the Gray Ghost Society, I will be honest, I probably hesitated when we rounded a corner of a Dragon Road and came upon a clearing with a few dwarves rummaging through what looked like a covered wagon of some sort. Again, I am lucky as my “danger sense” kicked off hard core and what looked like a mini “Predator” from the 1980’s movie about three feet from me pointed a giant blunderbuss in my direction. I tried to roll out of the way but the impact of the shotgun pellets cut through my exoskeleton on my back like tissue paper. A freaking magic shotgun?! Well getting shot always makes me furious. I used my forward momentum to bowl the now visible dwarf over and bit deep into his shoulder. It crushed his iron shoulder pauldron and he yelped in panic. By now his compatriots started shooting at us and I had to laugh as they had absolutely no care for their buddy, (since he took most of the shrapnel from the blackpowder monstrosities they were firing.) Given the fact that he was a little fella, I threw him bodily into two of the other dwarves, who were drawing hand axes and what looked like pirate cutlasses from sheathes. I remember laughing out loud at the fact we were being attacked by pirate dwarves. By that time a tiny magical sun sprang into being over the dwarves and they all shrieked in pain and literally started to smolder. I got nervous at that because I had never fought freaking magic-gun-using-partially-invisible-vampire-pirate-dwarves before!
I thew myself into them clawing and biting until nothing moved. I was covered in blue green blood as the rest of my friends called to me with words of encouragement and congratulations at dispensing the threat of the dwarves. Sir Reginald walked past the Sherpas and picked up a number of blunderbusses which were still there, even though their owners had long dissipated into the astral.
“These might come in handy” He said.

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Unread postPosted: Tue Jul 12, 2022 10:10 pm
  

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Listen, you have to understand that I completely trusted Lord Peter O’Toole. (I cannot even shorten his name even now). He was my friend and my confidant. I had never met someone as smart and good looking as he was. I was not interested in him romantically ( I don’t swing that way) but his charisma was overwhelming. I trusted him implicitly. I shared with him the most intimate details of my past life on earth. He was a rock. He was one of my best friends.
I was incorrect.
We continued along the Dragon Road. Now armed with magical Blunderbusses.
The Dragon Roads course along what is called the “Inner Plane” of the Astral. The inner plane appears as mist covered flatlands but that does not mean it is a featureless expanse. There are rocky outcroppings and scrub like foliage of questionable origin. It certainly isn’t featureless.
However, we trudged along. The glowing blue light obviously pointed our way towards what our Gray Ghost Scholars informed us was the crossroads portal to the Land of Caves

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Unread postPosted: Wed Jul 13, 2022 12:13 pm
  

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As we neared the location of the crossroads portal it was obvious that a small battle had occurred recently. In my morphus form I could smell the blood and the reek of death before I could see the bodies strewn across the sparse landscape. As we cautiously approached, I recognized that many of the bodies were the remains of the characteristic armor of Night land Hounds. As you can imagine, my paranoia and adrenaline went into hyperdrive. The Hound bodies had been burned and melted in concentrated areas, almost like what I would expect a laser to do. There were a nearly two dozen of these bodies that surrounded a shallow crater, the center of which seethed a bubbling tar like bubble suspended just above the crater. Lord O’Toole chuckled as he worked some complex arcane magical motions with his hands. “Well, well, well my friends. It would appear that we are viewing the decaying remains of a Nightlord Astral Avatar. You would do well not to approach it. I would highly suggest that we made haste and leave this area before anyone comes to investigate further.” Sir Reginald bent to retrieve the razor-sharp weapons of the Hounds but was interrupted, “Stop. Leave them. We cannot risk connection to this massacre.” Lord O’Toole had a stern look that brooked no disobedience. We gathered ourselves together and continued towards the blue shining Dragon Road crossroads just a few hundred feet away. As we approached, I could feel something akin to static electricity. Through my limited training I knew this to be the side effect of a convergence of powerful magic. The center of the crossroads blazed brightly in comparison to the twilight of the Inner plane, as we stepped through into another world.

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Unread postPosted: Wed Jul 13, 2022 5:06 pm
  

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As we stepped through the light we entered a completely different world. We stood upon a cliff looking out toward irregularly shaped mountains of inhuman massiveness. The sheer size of these skyscraping jutting stone edifices threatened to overwhelm my senses. I suddenly felt extremely small. “Aye lad, You never forget the first time you see this” Sir Reginald noted, rolling his R’s under a thick Scottish accent. All I could do was stare at the sheer alien majesty of this world and I was taken so I nearly failed to notice the rapidly approaching band of human sized spider people carrying a lethal combination of weaponry in their many arms. As they skittered towards our party, I could not contain a primal growl which escaped my wolfen throat. I mean, no one likes bugs, especially those as large as a person! These bugs however, called out in broken English “You stop! Questions from us!” Lord O’Toole stepped forward and waved his hands in a friendly manner. He started speaking what appeared to be English but the vocal sound was chittering gibberish. Whatever he said seemed to relax the group of spider people and one drew forward and clasped his had in a parody of a handshake and seemed “Happy?” to welcome us. Our trading caravan got underway and a single member of the spider people group stayed with us and talked with Lord O’Toole extensively. We walked across the broad plateau we arrived to an organic structure that extended into off the side of the cliff. That structure was the anchor point for a narrow footbridge seemingly made from tree trunk thick translucent webbing. The bridge extended outward from the cliff and disappeared into the mists of floating clouds. “OH, HELL NO!” I said out loud. I absolutely hate heights. I could barely stand next to the edge without wanting to vomit. While my companions laughed…… I did not. “Seriously, I cannot do this. I’ll have to wait here. But that’s ok!” I spat out as quickly as I could. Sir Reginald laughed “Its not as bad as it looks like from here.” At that I realized that we were actually much farther away from the structure than I realized. As we got closer it hit me that I had misunderstood the size of the bridge. The bridge actually spanned approximately 10 feet across, which still seemed tiny when compared to the rest of the landscape. Still….the translucent quality of the webbing made my stomach lurch as I stepped upon it and started walking over what appeared to be and endless fall….and let’s be honest, in the Astral Plane it very well could have been an endless fall! We hiked across the bridge until just before the sun was dropping behind the mountains. We made camp on the web bridge (which I was extremely unhappy with.) and reluctantly I shifted into my façade form, as sleeping in my morphus was nearly impossible to do with spikes poking and snarling everything and my armored exoskeleton wasn’t exactly bed friendly. I fitfully fell asleep.

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Unread postPosted: Wed Jul 13, 2022 9:05 pm
  

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I awoke when an armored hand was suddenly clamped over my mouth. I panicked and tried to squirm and push it aside before I realized it was Sir Reginald. His other hand was in a “Hush” gesture over his mouth, and he then pointed two fingers towards his eyes and then away…. we had company. I quietly rolled over. Sir Reginald whispered, “Don’t shift just yet.” Fear flooded my mind. I was a pretty stout mortal when in my façade form, but I was just that: mortal. “Dammit.” I whispered. I knew why Reginald wanted me to wait. When I first shifted, I was anything but subtle. The Rage. That is what I have always called it. Once some time passed, I was even keeled, even thoughtful, but those first moments after shifting, I was an elemental predator. Fortunately, even in façade form I had more advantages than a normal human. A few talents and the ability to see perfectly in the dark were some. I stayed low and looked out over the translucent bridge. Even in the darkness I could see a group of spider people (I had since been informed that they were called “Tarantuloids” approaching about 50 yards away. They seemed to be trying to not make noise as they approached. But I wasn’t sure what the problem was. I thought we were friends with the Tarantuloids? (I was a bit naïve about Astral politics at this point) I held to the ground of the sticky translucent bridge. I watched as the new group of Tarantuloids approached and started yelling the same chittering gibberish towards Lord O’Keefe (who was awake and intervening at this point). The Tarantuloids who accompanied us was very twitchy. If he was a human, I would say he nervous. I crawled forward and asked, “You OK buddy”?
I will be honest, for the love of God I saw fear in that Spider person’s eyes as he said “Slavers. They are slavers!”
As I looked up, I saw the lead Tarantuloids overpower Lord O’Toole and pull a glowing (I assumed) magical collar over his head. They rushed forward, leaping upon other members of our caravan and fitting glowing collars on each of them. As I lay prostate on the bridge, I saw Sir Reginald leapt forward and he cut a few of them apart with his magical sword. I rolled to the right and our own Tarantuloid thrust a wicked blade into the thorax of the nearest slaver.
And…I was done. I distinctly remembering thinking “F*ck this Sh*t” And I shifted.
Muscles, Fur, Armor and Spikes erupted from my body as THE RAGE erupted from my mind. Pure white hot Rage. I didn’t even realize that I had activated a talent when I leapt up and bit and clawed the Tarantuloids slaver in front of me to death. I will be honest the next few minutes were a blur of blood and biting and clawing and pure rage. I cannot even tell you how many minutes passed as I tore into things that were spider like and I bit into anything else. I admit that I killed and killed and killed. To the point I finally stood panting out of breath. Because I knew I had killed them all.

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Unread postPosted: Thu Jul 14, 2022 2:50 pm
  

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I am going to take a moment to digress from my diary of my Astral Travels and talk about something that always lies in the back of my head, but I rarely talk about and that is combat and killing.
I have talked to older Nightbane who have told me that “Shell-shock or PTSD” doesn’t affect us as much as it does regular humans. For whatever reason we are more resistant to the lingering effects of this trauma. I know that when I get into a fight as a human, I have to think about it. Granted, I have trained and learned how to box and some basics of a number of martial arts but defending myself doesn’t come naturally. In my Morphus form, as an 8-foot tall armored and spiked werewolf, it all flows naturally. I don’t have to think or analyze, I just KNOW what to do. I also realize that I don’t feel pain like I do in my human form, I mean I do feel it, it is just more that I know I am hurt, I just don’t care, and it doesn't seem to slow me down very much. I suspect part of this is a result of the rage I feel when transformed. When I fight and am hit and wounded, it compounds the anger, and the contempt I feel for my enemy. I remember fighting the Tarantuloid slavers thinking “How Dare they try to cut me! Who do they think they are!”
I say this with the caveat that I am fairly certain I have come close to death a number of times, I have just been lucky.
So, Ohio 2006. Ted Strickland was running unopposed for Governor as the the Preserver Party candidate. Intel found out that he was a Nightlord minion, and my cell was tasked with his elimination. His campaign was arriving in Akron via the Akron-Canton Airport and travelling to the John S. Knight convention center for the rally. The most expeditious route would take the motorcade just past a U-Haul business just after they left Interstate 77N. That’s where we planned on hitting them. As the motorcade slowed for the turn, our two heavy gunners would strike with LAW rocket launchers from within U haul rental #1 disabling the SUV’s. The rest of our team would be stationed in the area surrounding, including U-Haul #2 and would mop up the rest. I-77 would be the egress. The information that we had was that he was most likely a Hound master, with a supernatural support squad of 6-10 entities (a mix of hound and hunters), possibly including Ashmedai bodyguards. Should have been 1-2 SUV’s max.
Intel was wrong.
Apparently, Lord Magog had taken an interest in expanding his Night land territory into Ohio and had replaced the Hound master with one of his Night Princes, and increased security drastically. Our spotter at the airport missed their arrival, with he Night Prince I imagine he had changed their appearance with illusions so they could have been anyone. The first inkling we had a problem was when 4 identical commercial vans approached and touched off our supernatural detection. We should have probably aborted but the brass had been really putting pressure on our cell to complete this one.
However, we were good at adaptation: the motorcade stopped at the red light and the heavy gunners hit the front and back vehicles. The team then converged on the center two for the elimination attack: and that is when all hell broke loose. The center two vehicles seemed to explode on their own as if they were both filled to the brim with gasoline. A mushroom cloud erupted over the entire area, engulfing the entire motorcade in a firestorm, the heat and the sound were stupendous. As a reflex I covered my head and looked away briefly…and noticed that all of the windshields of the rental trucks were undamaged.
“Its an Illusion! It’s all an illusion!” I screamed to the team. I concentrated on enhancing my smell and there they were: dozens of Hounds, Hunters and Masters, ripping their way out of the destroyed vans no worse for wear, and the completely undamaged center vans were open and black suited men with submachine guns were piling out, all under the cover of the illusion of the firestorm. Most of the other team members saw through the conflagration but some still hesitated, and they were swarmed by the Hounds. Those of us left fought a desperate battle against overwhelming odds. We had not prepared for this many enemies.
If you have not fought Ashmedai, count yourself very lucky. Of all the Nightlord Minions I think I dislike them the most. Normally they are sneaky, shape shifting bast*rds that you won’t recognize till they strike, but if you fight them in anything like their true form, they look like giant lamprey worms with tentacles all over them….and the smell! It is the like the combination of rotting flesh and industrial pollutants all wrapped up in one. I was jumped by them just before I made it to the motorcade vans as the two dudes in black suits sprung tentacles, wrapped me up in them and attempted to play tug-a-war and rip me apart.

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Unread postPosted: Thu Jul 14, 2022 3:58 pm
  

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I felt my exoskeleton start to crack like a lobster. The pain was something else and one of those tentacles tried to find it’s way down my throat and a couple of others were probing for my eyes. Well, I had a few things going for me: One: I am covered with extremely sharp spikes. Thrashing around does some pretty gruesome damage to whoever is trying to grapple me, and Two: I bite. AND I BITE HARD.
Ashmedai taste the way they smell which is beyond horrible, but their bodily fluids are not quite as bad. I was able to reinforce my exoskeleton to shrug off the worst of the damage and basically chewed my way through one of them. Yeah. Its as gross as it sounds. The other one was still trying to crush me in his tentacles and managed to get my entire left arm down his gullet. The crack of the exoskeleton and bone underneath were audible and the pain took my breath away. It was pure luck that let me escape his grasp, as I had become super slick in his buddy’s juices and popped out and away from his grasp. I cradled my left arm. I could feel that it was knitting back together but was literally hanging by threads of tissue. I knew I needed a reprieve and desperately had to get inside the van to whatever was throwing out the illusions. So, I dropped onto the ground into my shadow, just as the Ashmedai leaped through the space I had just been in.
Moving in a two-dimensional space is quite frankly super weird. It also tends to make me throw up. Consequently I don’t like using the talent known as Shadowslide, but it does absolutely come in handy. I slid as quickly as I could across the asphalt towards the van. Somehow I could see behind me at the Ashmedai, looking back and forth to where I had been, trying to find out where I had gone. I slipped up into the third van, and slid over the cowering forms of what I guessed were Doppleganger and human turncoat functionaries (soliciting a scream from one of the human men in horn-rimmed glasses) and out the other side. I glanced back at the fight and realized it was not going well for us at all. A handful of smoking Hunter bodies were fizzling on the ground, I wasn’t surprised, Stormstrike was brutal in the air, but laying, scattered between them and the parts of other Hounds were the dismembered remains of my teammates and brothers in arms. The anger sparked by this sight pushed me into the second van through the back door up into the rear seat. And there he was…the Night Prince had dropped his personal illusions and looked like a normal guy (well a normal guy in jet black spiked armor with a spiked crest instead of a head). He held his hand up as if he was conducting an orchestra of destruction and had a slight smirk on his face as if he was just enjoying a show, as my friends outside were being torn apart. That smirk leaving his face was the last thing I saw of him when I transformed back into my normal size and eviscerated his torso from neck to groin, leaving a blackened pile of black steaming sludge.
You see, I have never fought a Night Lord. I have heard the horror stories from the older ‘Bane, that they essentially control reality, that matter and energy are their playthings and they make Dark Vader and the Emperor from Star Wars look like b*tches. But Night Princes manipulate illusion. This makes them stupid tough don’t get me wrong, but if you can get past that power, and you get really lucky like I did, they seem to be especially vulnerable to ‘Bane claws and teeth, and boy……. mine are sharp.
I ripped my way out of the van, tearing apart the doors in the process. You see I thought we had won. And that the rest of the bad guys would retreat, they would run away. I thought that just long enough for the Houndmaster’s thrown spear to hit me the ribs. I grabbed it and realized the barbed head wouldn’t come out very easy when the remaining Ashmedai (who was apparently still looking for me) whipped a tentacle out and ripped the spear out, taking a couple of ribs and part of a lung with it. The pain was insane. The rage was there, but my roars of anger were gurgling with my lifeblood. The Houndmaster came in cautiously and the Ashmedai cracked his tentacles like a whip as a distraction from the opposite direction. I knew that I was probably not going to walk away from this one. The Houndmaster rushed me, but he was unarmed. I dodged to the side as a bundle to tentacles swung through, one slamming into my ankle and spinning me to the ground. A searing pain erupted at my shoulder pain. A Hound I had not seen had run up and stabbed me with his Darkblade spear. I attempted to get to my feet and a supernaturally strong tentacle swept both my legs sending me back to the ground. They knew they had me and were keeping their distance, attacking, feinting, and playing with me. The Hound got too close, and I was able to slash him pretty good on his leading arm making him drop his spear momentarily but then I paid for that by a tentacle across the back. My vision was swimming and was having a hard time moving when a deafening crack of a lightning strike blew the lid off a nearby manhole cover and sent it spinning in the air hitting the Ashmedai in the chest. Just as quickly another strike grounded the tentacled nasty and he started to burn from the inside as he collapsed. I looked into the sky and saw Stormstrike pointing to the hole in the asphalt as she yelled “GO!” Through the haze of my intense pain I didn’t realize what she meant until she dove into it. I used the last of the strength to leap towards the hole as the Darkblades followed me in. They managed to get one more hit in until I collapsed into a shadow and slid as quickly as I could towards our egress point.

Stormstrike and I were the only two who made it out that day.

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Last edited by Archmichael on Thu Jul 14, 2022 5:40 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Unread postPosted: Thu Jul 14, 2022 5:38 pm
  

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Anyway. Sorry about that. Too many memories of losing too many good people.
Back to the Astral plane and that God forsaken spider bridge.
When I meant I killed them all, unfortunately that included our poor Tarantuloid guide. In the heat of the battle, in the close confines of the bridge I had accidentally clawed through him. The caravan members stared down at the bodies. Other than some red bead-like ornaments worn by the slavers it would have been impossible for us to determine who was who in the mess. I felt an emptiness inside and tremendous guilt. I had never before killed someone by accident. Sir Reginald came up and placed an armored hand on my shoulder in support. “Lad, friendly fire accidents happen in the heat of battle. Its not good and its not something one is proud of, but it happens. I still cannno’ tell these Lads apart as it is. When your blood is up and your life is on the line….well it wasn’t on purpose.” He patted my shoulder in camaraderie. Lord O’Toole walked up addressed the group “We very well owe our freedom to the fighting prowess of Sir Reginald and Mr. Lupus, and I daresay even our lives. I for one appreciate all you did for us today to protect us from harm. Huzzah!” The caravan’s lackluster response wasn’t particularly supportive, but it was in the middle of the night and we were surrounded by the dead, so there was that.
We threw the slaver dead over the side of the bridge and wrapped our guide in a canvas tarp. Lord O’Toole stated that he would inform his people that he had died a hero protecting us, which was technically not a lie. We moved camp further away from the site of the battle but none of us slept till the sun rose to light the bridge enough for safe travelling. We walked in silence for most of a day, entirely “uphill” due to the arc of the footbridge before we spotted the end of our journey in mid-air, attached firmly to another cliff. As we neared, we tensed up as there were a number of Tarantuloids manning the exit. However, as we go much closer, we noticed they did not wear the telltale red beads of slavers and chittered in a “friendly?” manner when we approached. Lord O’Toole addressed them in their chittering speech, and they humbly took the body of their compatriot away. They expressed appreciation of our efforts and offered to take us to their city, a trade hub and the home of the Crossroads Temple. We travelled along the edge of the massive cliff until we reached a village of sorts carved into the very rock of the mountain. Webbing stretched across most structures in a sort of tent like structure, but more impressively, huge ant-like creatures larger than elephants grazed purple leafed trees in large fields surrounding the village. On their backs were structures similar to Howdah’s I had seen fitted upon elephants. “These fine beasts will take us the rest of the way” Lord “O’Toole informed us. Given that I calculated we had already walked nearly 30 miles I was happy, even given my supernatural endurance in morphus form. The next day we boarded the Howdah, which was nicely appointed with comfortable chairs and web hammocks for sleeping. The creature (known as an “Al”Kkeah”) Lurched upward and forward and we were off! The creatures legs were impossibly long and we climbed upon mountain and thick webs with unbelievable celerity. Lord O’Toole explained that these beasts were sacred to the Tarantuloids as they had nearly been driven extinct in the past during brutal wars between the different cities. Now they were sacrosanct, even to the slavers so we would be safe during the journey. The rest of the journey, which we were told would be the equivalent of 1,500 of our miles only took 4 days. As we crested an impossibly high mountain ridge (apparently this entire Astral Kingdom stayed the same temperature, otherwise we would have been frozen due to elevation), we were greeted with a sight of splendor: Gold and silver minarets the size of skyscrapers festooned a mountaintop even more impressive that those we had already seen. A ring of claw like mountains ringed the central peak and multi-colored lightning crackled between them. “The Crossroads Temple and the City of Splendor my friends.” Lord O’Toole announced. Even Sir Reginald cracked an awestruck smile.

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Unread postPosted: Fri Jul 15, 2022 2:09 pm
  

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The Al’Kkeah strode across two parallel webs towards the beautiful city. I made the mistake of looking down and my stomach lurched. There were miles of open space below us until the mist obscured the ground below (I assumed that there was ground below!). Our ant-like conveyance finally reached a rocky outcropping which had all the hallmarks of an ancient port. Finely worked stone piers jutted out from the mountain, except lined on one side with what looked like a stone horse trough taller than a man. As we departed our Al’Kkeah retraced its legs and sat upon the pier, then leaned over the trough and dipped it’s head and began to slurp up a green like slime that had the potent fragrance of cut grass and mint. I certainly appreciated the Al’Kkeah, as I couldn’t imagine the mountain climbing trek that would have been required to reach this city. As I climbed down to the pier I patted the silky smooth thorax lightly in appreciation, and was rewarded by a massive lick drenching me in green grass slime. “Oi! Wolf-Guy! That rare! He like you!” laughed our Howdah Tarantuloids driver Ha’sheem. The entire caravan chuckled and laughed as I fruitlessly attempted to wipe the slime from my back and sides. I even shook like a dog but to no avail. “Come, Lupus. You will find a bath in the city.” Instructed Lord O’Toole.
The many stone piers formed a bizarre, crossed support structure that ended in a beautiful arched entrance to the city, inlaid with an amazing geometric mosaic of copper, silver and gold hues. We entered and I couldn’t help but notice there were guard stations and the arched entrance was flanked by giant stone gates nearly 5 feet thick with reinforcements made from a weird organic looking metal. We passed through the archway and the temperature of the air dropped a few degrees. Apparently the construction and the depth of the stone cooled the city and made it the lower levels cool enough to preserve and store food and made it a perfect humidity to cultivate the main foodstuff of the Tarantuloids: a spongy fibrous lichen. In it’s natural form the lichen really didn’t taste like anything, (sort of like chewing tasteless packing peanuts), but prepared by their chefs, the lichen transformed into some amazing dishes. We journeyed deeper into the city and arrived to the market district and to a warehouse within which Lord O’Toole instructed the porters to set down the crates they had been carrying for weeks. From and second story opening a heavily ornamented Tarantuloids scurried down the wall and welcomed Lord O’Toole in very good English and broad friendly gestures. In response, he slowly opened a medium sized case that had been engraved with arcane runes. Whisps of cold vapor leaked from the sides and setting inside wrapped in green paper were over a dozen perfectly preserved Florida Oranges. Our host chittered with excitement and clapped a number of hands. The other case were taken by workers who checked them over and tallied the contents: organic produce, spices and a case of handwritten books, all originating from the Gray Ghost Society Astral Kingdom. Our caravan’s mission was complete.

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Unread postPosted: Fri Jul 15, 2022 2:51 pm
  

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Our caravan was scheduled to stay in the City of Splendor for a week and then return home. I was excited and a bit fearful of exploring a hive city of man-sized spider people, but that quickly faded as I realized that while these being appeared very alien, they were in fact open and friendly people. I quickly became a focus of a group of school children (the city favored a communal style of parenting) and after they realized I wasn’t a spider eating monster they were enthralled by my “tricks” as their favorite game was a version of hide-and-go-seek and between my abilities to become a two-dimensional shadow, teleport and smell exactly where each of them were I quickly became the game celebrity and “First pick” of each team. I believe that this rapport with the school children and their teachers that brought me to the attention of the Doorkeepers, the monks who guarded and lived in the Crossroads Temple.
The third evening that we were in the city, I was invited to share the evening meal with the educational web headmistress: Ze-hanra, and her family group. I had become something of a friend to her two children during the games. Lord O’Toole had warned us to be wary of the Tarantulas as they could be duplicitous and had demanded that each of us return to our inn each night. I had found that strange as they struck me as good “people.” That evening I arrived to the home with a small gaggle of kids following me. It made me laugh as it looked like I was being followed by a bunch of beach ball sized fuzzballs, who bounced and climbed over every surface. Entering into the home I was greeted by Ze-Hanra and a Tarantula in very distinctive tannish brown raiment (not really clothes, not really scarves, something in between). She introduced him as someone she wanted me to meet: Master Sho-Fai of the Doorkeepers. As we dined, he probed me with many questions, some of which were about me and my history, but most were parable-like moral word problems: Your father’s wife is hanging by a web and on the other side is a travel basket of innocent children: who would you save? A powerful ghost offers you eternal life if you betray a friend, do you accept? You can go anywhere in the multiverse, where do you go and why? You are a taster for a wicked king and know the food is poison: do you let him eat it? At the end of dinner my head was spinning. The headmistress acted like this was some sort of normal activity shared at dinner between friends, but I had a strong suspicion there was something behind it. At the end of Dinner I thanked the family profusely and started to return to the Inn when Master Sho-Fai was suddenly beside me. “Would you like to visit the Crossroads Temple?” he asked. I did in fact want to, it was the very reason that I had journeyed to the City of Splendor. I affirmed my desire and he instructed me to meet him at dawn here at this house and tell no one of my upcoming visit. With that he disappeared into the darkness of the streets (a neat trick since I see through darkness).
I was a bit nervous but excited.

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Unread postPosted: Fri Jul 15, 2022 5:41 pm
  

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The blackened sky of the Nightlands cracked with red lightning. Across the basin that would correspond to Lake Michigan stood orderly ranks of tens of thousands of Hounds, Hound masters and punctuated by the tall titan-like Greyhounds straining to charge. In the center astride a massive floating war chariot was Lord Magog, veritably shining with magical energy He of course was surrounded by and entourage of human sized minions of questionable nature.
“It not him.” Those words were spat with venom out of the mouth of the finest mixed force commander I had ever met. Master Strategist, Master politician General Webb was a renaissance man and our leader. “Its an avatar. Magog won’t engage directly. He will teleport in with elites against what he assesses is the critical command position.”
The avatar roared loudly enough that even across the field we could hear it. In front of us our army seemed hopelessly outmatched. The thunderous beat of the now charging minions nearly drowned out our communication.
“Magog fights a war from antiquity…..let’s introduce him to the future.” The General’s grim smile was unnerving to say the least. “Engage tracer battery” the radio crackled. From opposite sides of the field of battle, remote machine gun emplacements opened up with tracer fire. The Hunters in the air couldn’t resist and peeled off the destroy them. The mass of troops continued charging faster than a horse forward. “Gun Trucks NOW.” Dirt covered tarps were pulled off the concealed line of gun trucks holding quad .50 caliber machine guns. The trucks started forward as the guns opened up. Each quad system was crewed by a Nightbane specialist trained in heavy weapons and more importantly using the “Gunslinger” talent. Even while traveling at full speed these weapons would have pinpoint accuracy. In addition, each gun held ammunition created by spook squad that combined uranium and a cocktail of other chemicals. Those rounds swept across the front lines of the charging army and cut through their black armored carapaces like normal human flesh. The ranks behind were devastated. From upon high it looked like a firehose destroying an army of black mud.
From behind us arose a rhythmic thumping sound followed by the swoosh of enchanted air-to-air missiles fired from multiple armed Huey helicopters that somehow the Spook squad had been able to translate into the Nightlands. Beams of multi-colored energy shot from the “door gunner” Guardians, burning through any Hunter that got too close.
At the sight of the helicopters and the rapidly dying front lines, Magog’s hovering chariot leaped forward and raced towards our front line. The avatar raised magical stone walls from the ground between his front lines and the gun trucks to provide cover for their charge. A clever tactic but not unexpected. As the chariot closed approximately half the distance to our emplacements a dull thump exploded behind it. A carefully concealed and magically shielded launch module fired the “Hellbomb” weapon into the air. Hundreds of hours had gone into its crafting by magical artisans and engineers alike. To the avatar’s credit he hit it with his power, I assume to turn it into water or cover it with concrete from the appearance, but the Nega-magic runes which were incorporated into its structure would not allow his Nightlord’s power to make purchase. As the Hellbomb rose, pressurized noxious gas filled the entire area surrounding the center of the army and the heavily enchanted thermobaric explosive detonated.
A miniature sun came into being just outside of the city of Typhoon in the Nightlands. A small mushroom cloud many stories tall followed as the heat from the channeled magical and mechanical energy turned Darksteel armor to vapor and obliterated the center of the army, the floating chariot and most importantly, the Nightlord Avatar and his entourage.
A bellowing howl of primal pain erupted behind us, a younger Nightbane soldier was hemorrhaging black blood from his eyes and mouth and his form and the form of a few other Nightbane surrounding him wavered and momentarily became nightmares with black spiked armor.
The General screamed into the radio “THE TARGET IS IN-FIELD AT COMMAND STATION BRAVO!”
You never know what someone will do when faced with certain death, especially when dealing with horrors that would make most humans insane. But Sarah didn’t hesitate, she was a powerful Anti-magic Nightbane Seeker. She sprinted directly towards one of the most powerful entities in existence without a thought of self-preservation. She reached the real Lord Magog just as he stretched out his hand and a beam of blacker than black energy erupted from his palm into her face and….the energy dissipated into a spray of grey dust.
That is when the real Battle of Typhoon began….
I woke up from the dream? Premonition? Wishful thinking? Back in the Astral Kingdom of the Land of Caves drenched with sweat. The contents of my stomach were all over the side of my bed and there was black electricity arcing across half-digested lichen.

Gross.

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Unread postPosted: Mon Jul 18, 2022 5:05 pm
  

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I arrived at the headmistresses’ domicile early, but Sho-Fai was already there.
“Let us walk.” He instructed, and I followed. We didn’t just walk, we hiked! Up convoluted mountain roads, through incomprehensible doorways and over crazy weblike structures. I lost count how many turns and overhangs and things I had to jump over.
After what seemed days, we came to the edge of a seemingly bottomless pit. Sho-Fai was there next to it. “The next step requires absolute trust. It is the final test. Choose your destiny” I focused they talents I had against the situation at hand, but Sho-Fai remained a trustworthy source. After a deep breath and a small prayer, I stepped off.
An eternity passed as I fell. I lived. I died. I was reborn. And suddenly….it went black…
WHAM. The impact jarred me awake. I pushed myself up into a sitting position. I was within a small stone room. The walls appeared to be made of solid sandstone, and there was a large ceramic basin, a cot woven from spider silk, and a closed door. Also sitting in a lotus position in front of the door was Sho-Fai.
“Welcome to the Crossroads Temple.” His six eyes seemed to bore into my soul as I sat up. I was in my facade form so felt a bit vulnerable. “I have a question for you? Did you know that your Lord O’Toole is not a human?” I was confused. “What do you mean, I am sure he is.” Sho-Fai leaned forward, “In the weeks of travelling, did you ever see him eat? Or defecate? Did he sleep?” My head started to pound in reconciling those questions. “I mean, I didn’t follow him to the bathroom or anything!” But as I started to concentrate a cotton ball feeling in my head started to clear, and I realized that I had not noticed any of that, in addition I suddenly felt a hollowness in my chest, as if something had been taken. Sho-Fai nodded when I clutched at my chest and reached behind him and pulled forward a small wooden lattice tray with a tiny steaming clay pot and a cup. He poured the hot water into the cup and dropped a small sachet into it, gently stirring it with a wooden spoon. He gingerly handed it to me. Careful, this tincture is beyond rare. I will help you regain the psychic energy that had been stolen from you. With shaking hands, I carefully took and sipped the herbal remedy. As soon as the hot water touched my tongue, I could feel the magic start to work.
“Your Lord O’Toole is a unique creature unlike any other I have seen in my long life. He is an energy parasite of some arcane nature. A sort of vampire, but not what you are used to on Earth. We have known of his existence in our city, and he has never been a problem. In fact, he has been an honest merchant of rare goods. However, unlike some of our brethren, we do not condone slavery. I suspect your relationship with him was closer to that than of friendship, or more accurately, that of an addict.” Sho-Fai stood up in one quick motion. I scarcely noticed. The tea had cooled to the point I was drinking the foul-tasting concoction in as quickly as I was able.
“I apologize but the next few days will be extremely hard for you. The tea only works while fasting, and you need it for at least three days to recover. We will keep you in this domicile for your own safety. Please take this time to meditate. I will be awaiting your recovery. He turned and opened the stone door behind him and left, allowing the door to close and a distinctive click alerted me that I had been locked in. Suddenly a fierce pain shot through my abdomen. My first thought was that he had poisoned me. My veins seemed to turn a purplish black through my skin. I knew I had to escape! I harnessed my anger and started to shift…and I could not. I pushed harder and harder, threw all my concentration into the effort, sweating profusely, but it just would not happen. Neither could I harness my talents. I was just a human. I leapt up and slammed into the door, but it did not move at all. I screamed and beat at it, but it was solid stone and as immovable as the mountain I was in.

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Unread postPosted: Tue Jul 19, 2022 12:26 am
  

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I was eight years old. I had watched Poltergeist when my parents were gone and after the babysitter went into the guest bedroom with her boyfriend. The scene where the clown was under the bed always scared me terribly. Weeks later, late one night I heard scratching from under by bed on the hardwood floors. I screamed and my parents came in. My dad had his gun and checked under the bed, in the closet, in my toy box. Nothing. They went back to bed. I laid there under the covers. I thought maybe I had imagined things. That the sounds were just my imagination. I started the slowly drift off…and I heard a scratch, FELT a scratch vibrate the side rail of my bed. I looked over at my window and could see an elongated grey arm stretching out nearly a yard from the bottom of my bed and then bent at an unnatural angle, it ended in a clawed hand that was making the noise. I rolled off the other side of the bed and got to the bedroom door and looked back. I just made out the hand slithering back under the bed. As quietly as I could I got into the garage. There hanging on a pegboard hook was my grandfather’s axe. I grabbed it and crept back to my bedroom. I waited till I heard the scratching again and quietly stood up on the bed. The inhuman hand reached over the side of my bed. Two hands on the axe, just like my grandpa had taught me. I brought it down as hard as I could. An inhuman screech erupted, and blue-green blood sprayed. I hit it again and again before it got back under the bed. My bedroom door was flung open, and there I stood drenched in goo holding an axe. “I got him!” I cried! My parents came in with concern. “What are you doing?!” yelled my mom. She grabbed away the axe and looked down. A grape juice box was cut in half below me. Juice leaked all over my bed and on the floor. My dad looked hard at me and said “Really?” He walked out and grabbed a towel from the bathroom and wiped up the floor. “You need to go to bed!” Both of them walked out. As soon as they closed the door the juice box turned into the severed hand of the elongated limb. I reached over and pulled my Louisville slugger baseball bat to my chest. I stayed awake the rest of the night but the underbed monster never returned.
After that day I have never slept on a bed without a platform. Usually on the floor.

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Unread postPosted: Tue Jul 19, 2022 12:56 pm
  

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The next three days consisted of flashes of memory (which I will share below) coupled with flashes of hallucinations and visions. I was apparently detoxifying from the effects of the psychic vampire and from what I have read, if I had been a normal human I would have died from the withdrawal. I sweated profusely, and my body was ejecting all of it’s other bodily fluids as well. It felt worse than the flu. After 24 hours Sho-Fai returned with the same tray, the same herbal tea. I screamed at him that I needed more water, I needed food. He calmly fixed the tea and delicately handed it to me. I drank it like a shot of whiskey. The temperature of the water burned my mouth and throat raising blisters. I drank anyway. I was beyond thirsty. As soon as the tea was down, I started feeling much better. I gently handed the cup back. I pleaded with Sho-Fai “Please let me go. I didn’t do anything to you!” He shook what passed for a Tarantuloids head and said “Trust me. We are doing something good for you.” And he left. Again my stomach clenched and cramped and I nearly passed out from the pain.
The second day was not so pleasant. I had dismantled the cot enough to craft a makeshift club out of hardened webbing. I was behind the door when it opened and tried to attack Sho-Fai to escape. With a flick of his hand black energy wrapped around my torso and legs and I fell to the ground, a cocooned package. He lifted me effortlessly as I screamed profanities at him. He again prepared the tea, held me down, waited for it to cool and poured it into my gaping mouth. I will not lie: I cried I wanted to die.
At least I thought I wanted to die. The third day I am sure that if I had the means or the energy I would have committed suicide. However, I had neither. I lay prostrate upon the broken remains of the web bed too weak to stand or even move much. Reality and hallucinations were indistinguishable. I saw my dead parents being tortured by minions of the Nightlords, my friends being killed in a variety of horrible ways, I revisited the vampire lair we raided in Philadelphia that was the charnel house, I was again an eight-year-old boy running from monsters. I also discovered that my fever dreams were real when I awoke with injuries I had sustained running from amorphous monsters. When Sho-Fai finally returned with the tea. I could barely raise my head to look at him. He examined the bruises on my legs and cuts on my arms. “Were these self-inflicted?” he asked. “It was the dream monsters. I am going to die.”
“You might. But I think not today.” He poured the warm tea down my throat, and I fell unconscious.

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Unread postPosted: Tue Jul 19, 2022 12:56 pm
  

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Location: Southern Illinois
I opened my eyes and realized that I was back at my grade school, so some dark parody of it. The walls were damaged and leaned at impossible angles. Behind me I heard a metal-on-metal scraping. There was a teacher wearing a barbed cage on his head, holding what looked like a paddle, but made of rusted metal and sharpened on all sides. The handle cut his hand and blood dripped to the ground but he paid not attention to it, he just laughed insanely and pointed the paddle at me. I stood and ran, trying to put as much distance as possible between us. As I rounded a corner, at the far end of the corridor by the external door stood a gigantic dog-like creature with swirling chainsaw like teeth. It growled and barked and started running towards me. Sparks struck from the floor as his rusted bladed feet scraped furrows into the floor. I turned and ran towards the gymnasium. The air burning in my lungs and my legs cramping with pain. As I entered the gym I tripped and fell over orange cones covered with razor wire, cutting my hands as I tried to catch myself. I tried to get up but somehow jump ropes made of loose metal cabling had snared my feet. I managed to pull myself to the center court line when the “teacher” and “dog” reached the gym. Lightning flashed over the broken skylights in the ceiling illuminating the floor and showing me what had happened to the rest of the children in the school as their bodies surrounded me. I knew that somehow this was real. These things were predators who hunted in dreams, and I was about to become their next victim. They slowly approached as if they savored my fear.
As they stepped nearly within arms-reach my breathe caught in my throat. Not from them, although they certainly were scary, but when the lightning flashed again it revealed a gigantic monstrous form of a much greater predator. Rising nearly 20 feet tall, this nightmarish being looked something like a dragon, but with multiple wings, multiple red glowing eyes, tentacles writhing around a maw containing shining silver, sword like teeth. Articulated and animated bone chains ending in spikes moved above it like Dr. Octopuses robotic arms. Shadows clung to its body like cobwebs. As I lay there preparing myself to die I looked past the closer monsters and into the nightmare dragon’s glowing eyes…… and felt…..a connection?.....he was…..a Nightbane? The teacher was the first to react. He must have realized I was looking past him. He turned his head and started to spin around when the first bone chain ripped through his chest and wrapped around him. The others followed suit and grabbed his limp body and shredded it into gore. The dog turned and bit into one of the six large legs of the dragon. What resulted was a shower of sparks and a tooth-jarring screech as the chainsaw teeth met the black metal armor on the dragon. That leg raised and smashed down, grinding the dog into a pulpy smear.
The dragon looked down at me. I was petrified with fear. If a nightmare dragon could smile, it did.
And then I woke up.

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Unread postPosted: Tue Jul 19, 2022 10:40 pm
  

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Wanderer

Joined: Fri Sep 17, 2004 2:28 pm
Posts: 68
Location: Southern Illinois
I woke up unscathed from the dream monsters. Standing in my cell was Sho-Fai. I rubbed the sleep from my eyes and shakily set up. He quickly moved next to me and held me up and leaned me against the wall. “Be careful. You will be very weak.” He held a canvas bag in two of his arms, and reached in with a third and produced no less than a fruit punch Gatorade. He twisted the top and held it for me to drink: “Sip. Do not gulp. This will make you feel much better.” It was hard not to drain it, but I remembered the stomach cramps from the tea. I looked up at him and asked “Was that real? The dream?” He looked down and then back to me, “Unfortunately, yes. That intensity of pain and distress is a beacon to dream predators. Especially the pain and distress of a vulnerable supernatural creature within the Astral plane.” I took a larger sip of the Gatorade. It was pure heaven. “Who or what was the nightmare dragon? He saved me.” Sho-Fai wheezed out a laugh. “That Lupus is a question for another time. You have survived that which many have not. It is time to make something of the life that has been spared.” He stood and reached out two of his hands. I grasped them and uneasily stood. My knees nearly went but Sho-Fai was there to support me. “Come young one. Let us get you some broth to eat. We have much to discuss and very much more to do.”

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Unread postPosted: Thu Jul 21, 2022 11:06 pm
  

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Wanderer

Joined: Fri Sep 17, 2004 2:28 pm
Posts: 68
Location: Southern Illinois
A week had passed since the three days in the cell.
The time in the cell however had seemed more like three years.
However…
My training had begun. Sho-Fai stood before me and started the lecture I would never forget:
“You are not human. Stop acting like one” I didn’t really understand what he was saying. “YOU ARE A NIGHTBANE NOT A HUMAN!” He yelled into my face.
I had thought the two-a-day Football practices in high school were tough. They were a joke. My training with Sho-Fai started at what I thought was 5:00 a.m. I ran. I lifted weights. I was in my Façade and in my Morphus…and that was the easy parts.
Sho-Fai pushed me past my limits both physically and mentally.
I spent all my potential psychic energy, down to nothing. I fought everything from a feral pig to a Nightlord Hunter. I thought I had done well. Until we sparred. The fight was no holds barred. I knew I was tougher than most Nightbane I had met, but Sho-Fai was on a completely different level. Every attack he blocked, I threw my entire primeval rage into my attacks. This had defeated each and every opponent I had ever face and Sho-Fai turned them aside like as wave crashing on the shore. And when I was completely spent, he took off my left arm at the shoulder and I thought I would die. I didn’t. It eventually (after weeks I might add) grew back. While I was recovering Sho-Fai sat me down and handed me a softback book. It was “Old Man’s War” by John Scalzi.
He looked at me hard and said: “You are the special forces of Earth. Just like this book. Read it. At least twice. “I did read it. The lesson was learned. This was not a permanent loss. I could recover. I grew back the arm. And I understood what he was talking about. I was able to lose a limb and live.

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