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Futuristic Catacombic Veins Of Incubating Divinity

Sub Genres
  1. Action
  2. Adventure
  3. Magical
  4. Mystery
  5. Supernatural
  6. Zombies


High Priest of Depravity
[SPORE FUNGOID ABANDONED CITY RUINS] 128-1285402_artwork-apocalyptic-destruction-ruins-city-na...jpg

Dry winds swept over the funeral plains of civilization before stopping at the membranous barrier separating human ruin from soulless desolation.​

The wall of transulenct flesh shimmered in the scourging breeze, the shimmering bubble-surface coalescing with foul, festered colours distorting against the breeze. The whisper of currents slipped through its gaps bringing a foreign chill in the temperate if musty, dry domain. It swept against the travelers, prickling against their flesh and digging deeper into the thinking, existing, unearthly existences beneath their skin. As it passed by, swirls of gaseous energy flared into luminescence, a trail of sickly miasma-colours that swept down the spore-choked roads and the fuzz-covered, flaking structures that dotted along the long before them. A thick mist of particles, dust and fertile fragments alike, obscured the dead cityscape into vague outlines - a path forward through the fog remained on a street dotted with the ruins of pre-Birth vehicles and... lumps on the ground that had blossomed into some sort of upwards-reaching, grass like vegetation.

Amidst all of this, they remained beckoned by The Call.

It had not been an easy voyage to the City but they had no choice. Restless nights and lifeless days, mocked and tempted by Its voice and Its thoughts, every waking hour urging them to enter past the wall of ethereal flesh and into its seductive, decomposing depths. There was no respite even when they were hear; the frequency of Its voice diminished but the echoes remained, beckoning forth down the path of funereal moss and ravenous fungal growth.

The city was not silent. The echoes remained melted into the murk of their consciousnesses but other sounds radiated down the long, crowded pathway on the left. Flanging, tunneling drones of gradually altering pitch crept out of a side street further into the distance at the edges of visibility where a long series of partially wrecked walls revealed a detouring path leading deeper into what was once a prosperous commercial district.

If they chose to remain on this pathway, the road simply gave away into bulbous mounds lined with concerte and ripe, bulbous pseudopod-mushroom stalks. It was a crampe and bumpy pathway, one that was akin to a garden made of reeking rot and the foul organisms that fed upon it. Some of them shuddered and twitched as if life crept and swarmed beneath the semi-spherical tips balanced on withered bark-covered fungal stalks.

Another pathway, a rend across the ground to the right tore through a small residential district. A trench made from some massive wound in the ground like a giant claw that had raked its way through, leaving overgrown wires and tangling roots reaching downwards, as if grasping for some sort of salvation not above but beneath. Carcasses long since dried out and reclaimed by detritivore-growth lined it with long, tubular forms and bulbous jellyfish like semi-spherical entities, perhaps slain in some battle over the trench-wound.

The calling voice whispered, waiting for them to enter deeper.


Baron of Bad Boys
Muffling his coughs with one gloved hand, Piotr reached into his shadowed hood and adjusted his ratty scarf, better positioning it around his mouth and nose. The smell of the city irritated him from the inside out, and he tried not to think about what kind of stuff he just inhaled. He had a brief mental image of that fuzzy grime gaining foothold in his lungs and growing until it suffocated him from the inside out. Slowly.

Pushing away that thought and deciding to ignore that particular concern for today, Piotr stepped carefully away from the quivering membrane wall and ducked into a dark and empty-looking crevice between crumbled blocks. This corner of a building had possibly once been cement or stone, but now it was lined with mushroom stalks longer than his arm that provided some additional cover. They drooped wetly, bulbous green heads occasionally releasing a spore that floated off elsewhere in the wind.

Piotr had no idea what was here - or what here, was. So far he hadn’t seen anything that was living, moving, and sentient all at once, just an excess of mold, fungi, and similar rot. The Call was still tangible even with all the other odd noises coming from the city, the beating of his own heart, and the rasp of his breath. Crouching onto one knee so that he could conceal himself better, one hand on his gun just in case, he surveyed the landscape in front of him. Neither side looked hospitable or safe. Both sides looked deserted for now, but there was no telling if that was a sign of safety or of danger.

There was a sudden flash and hint of movement out of the corner of his eye. Piotr pressed back against the prickly wall behind himself, concealing himself in the shadows as he trained his eyes in the direction he saw movement. He knew he saw something, but what was it? If anyone had been staring in the direction of the dark crevice, they may see a few glowing almond-shaped eyes staring back at them - but perhaps that would just blend right in with the mushrooms and he would be unnoticeable.

The desire to call out to the source of the movement gripped him, and he started to open his mouth. What if it was a person? What if they were just like him? Did they hear The Call too? It had been so long since he held a conversation with another person… part of him missed such things, but another part of him knew it was safer this way. Worst case scenario, it was sentient, and deadly. He couldn’t take the chance. He silently shut his mouth, no sound ever leaving him.

For now, he would watch and observe.


Worthless pleb
A tight-laced boot of military makeup crushed the white floss that covered this miserable cityscape. This figure prowled this playground of fungal ruin. His black attire creating an unnecessarily striking contrast, easily spotted if he decided to foolishly expose himself, but this city of mycotic facsimile still held shadows and they beckoned him with safety. So that was how he maneuvered while a pistol pointed the way. But these murky depths could never provide total security, a fact that he reminded himself since the first encounter in this unending hellscape.

He must remain true to his mission. But as his green eyes stalked a mushroom stalk, an uncomfortable thought prodded him. What was the mission? Why was he sent to this mind-shattering realm that few could survive? Let alone remain unscathed physically and mentally. His skin cracked as if it were stone, he could feel the cracks even when the suit and all its' advanced fibers held him together firmly. Fear that if he were to remove it that he would unravel in the manner of wet spaghetti... Or blown into the aethereal winds, nothing more than dust of what once was Mikhail Maccormac.

These thoughts he banished swiftly, returning to the mission at hand. His sneaking had taken him into an office block of a small building. Once this place would have appeared normal, but now it is overrun by pupating stems of fungus that flaked the walls like sickly, spindly, fingers. Plastic cubicles were either torn down or remained defiantly up right, albeit with holes of various shapes and sizes. The furthest walls of this office floor appeared more organic than he. His hand furtively touched the radio on his left clavicle. "Sable 1, reporting in. Infiltrated Office Complex. Heavy Mycelium Growth Present." There was no answer, as the radio returned crackling static. And yet he still reported in with obsessive adherence. Sometimes he would even detail unprecedented findings. Regardless, his instincts foretell that he should not linger here.

A set of damp, rank, and dark stairs provided an uneasy way to the next floor. A massive hole—where a wall should be—provided an exit for this operator. Likely collapsed after buckling under its' own weight, but the rubble being internally scattered indicated another possibility. Whatever the case, Mikhail holstered his pistol and took a few steps back. His lung drew in air, while the particulates clung against his grey mask. The target was the building just an alleyway away. A brief calculation of his momentum later, the operator fell into a sprint. Just as he reached the edge of the floor, Mikhail jumped with his feet forward as if he kicked the air. His unique curse had kicked in again, carrying his body on the built-up momentum. He looked as if he was sliding on thin air alone! Soon his slide turned into a skim across the roof of the building, staining his black suit with white. No reason to dust himself off, Mikhail peered over the edge.

"Successful gravitation towards new vantage." His eyes could spot one, two, or more people that walked this manifestation of Hades. He'll have to encounter them eventually so he began to move down, though not with the greatest hurry.
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Confirmed Memelord
His vantage from atop a pile of rubble afforded him an excellent view. The flurry of spores drifting past like snow on the wind did nothing to diminish the sight in front of Richard. If anything, the grotesque scenery was enhanced and he could see everything.

Fungal growths carpeted everything in a spongy layer. While the softness was easy on the feet during his hike, Richard still risked stepping on something he'd rather not. The last time it'd been a small, innocuous looking patch of toadstools. They'd screamed like an infant crying in pain, causing Richard's heart to leap out of his chest and his stomach to knot in anxiety. He'd marked the event down as being the first, and only time he'd wished he was scraping dog shit off of his boots.

Crying toadstools aside, his journey past the city limits was not an arduous one. In the far distance, Richard could see the rippling colors of the membranous wall that ensconced the area. Hues swirled on the transparent surface like oil on the surface of a puzzle. He wondered if the colors were living things, too. A massive colony of microscopic spores that danced endlessly for the amusement of a childlike god. It didn't seem to be the case. The barrier hadn't wailed the moment Richard breached it, a concern he wish he hadn't developed.

A city so teeming with living things had never felt so desolate to him. Whatever grew, or pulsated, or slithered and squirmed in the shadows of the skeletal metropolis lived in a way that shouldn't have been possible. And it all lay sprawled at Richard's feet. It was the culmination of an obsession that had haunted him since the sky had been torn open.

"Yep." the man said, his arms folded. "This fuckin' sucks."

If understatements were currency, then Richard would have been the wealthiest man in what remained of the world. Instead, he was, but another wayward traveler led to a slumbering behemoth, intent on poking it just to see what might happen.

A rasping noise suddenly cut through the heavy silence. From beneath Richard's shirt collar, a green viper emerged to stare at him with gold-colored eyes.

"How profound." It hissed drily. "You've done it. You've broken the reality of your existence down to its bare essentials."

Richard side eyed the reptile with a glare. "Keep talking and I'm gonna break your sorry ass down into a new belt." He growled. The viper said nothing and stuck its forked tongue out petulantly.

"You're the one that led me here. What now?" The man pressed, and the snake stared pointedly at him.

"I did not lead you here. I said that what you're looking for has a good chance of being here. The city itself called you here." The viper explained slowly, as if Richard were a moron.

"Well, isn't that ominous?" Richard groused, ignoring the snake's condescending attitude in favor of taking in the hideous scenery again. Richard doubted that what he sought was in the city. The only things that grew in its blighted streets were twisted shades of vegetation. Something fearful and hidden deep in Richard's gut told him that if he were to dig into the ground, he'd find blood and sinew rather than dirt. Cursed didn't even begin to describe the place. It made every other place that Richard had visited look idyllic in comparison. A serious feat since the entire world had gone to hell in a handbasket.

Nothing natural could live in the city. Of that, Richard was certain. Yet whatever was sprinting past his line of sight through the empty streets was dead set on proving him wrong. It was a person from the look of it. But all similarities stopped there. The figure came to a halt at the foot of one of the few remaining buildings that was still standing, and with a kick, sailed upwards through the air.

Richard couldn't quite say that whatever the flying thing was, it wasn't a person. A talking snake grafted to his flesh denied him the right to make that call. The illness that spread across the world had its people in its grip as well.

That didn't mean they were friendly, though. Richard would have to be cautious about going forward. Keeping a tight grip on his gun, he picked his way down the mountain of rubble he'd been standing on. The viper seemed curious about the flitting shadow.

"Do you think it's a human?" The snake asked.

Richard shrugged, his eyes narrowed as he scanned the immediate area for anything that would prove to be a threat.

"Is anyone anymore?" He replied.


Baron of Bad Boys
All six of the almond-shaped eyes visible from under Piotr’s hood, glowing with a soft white light, blinked in confused unison as he watched an unmistakable human-like figure sail vertically up the side of a building kiddy-corner from where he hid. Three eyes squinted in suspicion, and three others widened in a way that suggested whatever eyebrows he may have under that hood were now arched in surprise. The figure kept sailing upwards on thin air, then disappeared from Piotr’s view.

Piotr leaned forward, carefully nudging a mushroom stalk out of the way, to try and get a better view of where the figure went. He’d not yet explored any of the buildings here, so he had no idea if there were other inhabitants. What if people actually lived here - a whole community of survivors? Would any of them be like him, or accept him? Was that why he had been called? Despite the danger, he needed to know - and he needed to follow this man. Not that he’d be gliding on air anytime soon, but he was fast on his feet. With luck, he’d catch up.

After briefly checking that he had all his gear, Piotr slipped out of the crevice. There was not any good cover between this building and the next, or at any other crossing for someone who wanted to get to the other side of the road, so his plan was to sprint his fastest across the street and then duck for cover behind a fallen column. Hopefully from that vantage point he’d then be able to see a way inside the building - and hopefully nothing caught him while he was out in the middle of the street. He really was not fond of open spaces. Taking in a deep breath and gathering his courage, Piotr climbed out of the crevice and took off running - tendrils of some dark shadow trailing along in his wake.

Almost immediately after exiting his hiding spot, Piotr heard a voice nearby - too close for comfort. Glancing up the street, he realized his error in an instant - his view of this direction had been blocked, and he hadn’t seen the lone man making his way down a massive heap of rubble - armed and alert.

“Shit!” Piotr hissed, all eyes wide and focused at the man from under his otherwise dark hood.

Piotr knew he wouldn’t stand a chance if he was stuck out in the open like this, so he sprinted as hard as he could before diving behind the toppled column at the base of the building the gliding man had ascended. This was perhaps a terribly stupid idea, but now he was in the thick of it. There was no way that the man hadn’t seen him, and knew exactly where he was. If the man was intent on shooting at him, the cover the column provided would last for a time, but didn’t afford him any opportunity to hightail it out of here without standing up and exposing himself again.

So, it was time to extend an olive branch. Maybe the man, if it was still a man, would still talk.

“Don’t shoot! I mean no harm!” Piotr called out, staying hidden behind the column. It was the truth - he didn’t come here to hunt anyone down - but it didn’t mean he could not be dangerous when cornered. Balling his fists up at his side, Piotr started to gather a small whirling circle of darkness at his hands just in case he needed to defend himself.


Flightless Bird
The wall of shimmering molded, fibrinous flesh of the outer world had allowed Lethe entry to this ghastly place. She had passed through backwards, outstretched arms and back arched like a bow. Taking it like a baptism. For, this holy mission, this Call she felt, must be in some way ordained. She fell serenely. The city sprawled out. A body which contained a world. Reflective. She moved frenetically, and the scarlet fabrics which clothed her jumped and swayed - stained at the ends with various viscera and that funky, technicolor breeze. She breathed deep. Open lungs.

How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb

Even then, on the places of her body which had gone transparent and smooth at her fingertips and temples, she had smeared some herbal salve. Perhaps some kind of effort to stop the spread. Perhaps tempering a sacred space, preserving the touch of the Chasm. It was unclear, perhaps even to Lethe, how deep the Love of the Bomb really went. Performance or no performance, her face and feet were bare.

The fertile sound of the city warmed her. She was singing a little. A little jilty tune under her breath. She was crouched behind a toppled column at the base of a building, her back to the outside world and her face to the structure. Her clothes and her large mass of gnarled, curly hair hid her personhood entirely from the back. Lethe looked not so different from any other organic mass.

She clasped a large empty jar in one hand, and the lid in the other. Slowly, with the non-threatening grace of an animal tamer, she coaxed at a spore bigger than her fist, humming at the back of her throat. The spore bubbled black, oozing maroon. Shifting yellow ocher. It made little sounds of its own. Small, warbling coos of an infant. It floated closer and closer to the ground, nearing her jar.

Suddenly, the drum beat sound of scurrying. Breath.

“Don’t shoot! I mean no harm!”

The strained yell from right behind her made her jump, but not cry out. She watched with wide, disappointed black eyes as the spore shuddered and screeched, floating away. “No!” She let out a dismayed whisper.

Dark brow set, she turned to see a figure in black just behind her. Remaining crouched, she peered at the figure. Its back was to her, and it was trembling a little with the past exertion of clambering behind the pillar. She slipped her jar back into her pouch, the glasses clinking a little in their shared room.

“My spore!” She cried. “Apologize!” She pointed an odd, worn hand at the figure’s back.


Worthless pleb
The building that he found himself after using his 'curse,' did not have a traditional method of descent. A mushroom, pale as death, had grown through the brittle roof of this abandoned building. Peering over the edge revealed a darkness so thick that a man could suffocate in its' umbral grasp. Mycelia sprouted from the sides of the stalk, then payed downwards. Disappearing into the aforementioned darkness. A gloved hand reached out to touch the threads. Mikhail would best describe it as dried leather, soaked in a soapy solution. The special forces operator counted his blessing that the mycelia wasn't mucus-covered.

His hands coiled around the organic threads then jumped at the large fungus. His legs wrapped around the filament, making sure to have his feet pointed downwards. Slowly, he rappelled. Once the light of the outside could no longer feed into Mikhail's green orbs, his hand instinctively reached for the quadruple goggled device on his head. Flicking them down activated them, granting the jade eyes of Mikhail an equally jade screen. Digital flakes zoomed wildly left to right, up and down, but the darkness was no longer hindering to the man. His head swiveled gingerly, trying not to startle an unknown factor in this place.

Thankfully, nothing decided to make a meal out of Mikhail as his feet soon touched a squishy floor. A floor made of intestines... Each step that Mikhail took made it squelch and squish. If he accidentally punctured this revolting surface, who knows what might pop out. Could be lunch, could be flesh-eating micro-insects, or even... Shit. So Mikhail moved the faintest that he had ever done in his career. Not even glass could be broken with how slow and light he ambled.

A wooden door provided an exist for him which he happily took. Once open, the light flooded in and scorched the room! Mikhail jumped forward into a barrel-roll as the intestinal flooring caught fire in an instant. For the briefest of moments, Mikhail thought he heard a cry.

"Organic environ prematurely terminated." He mouthed off to his radio.

He nudged the door close, then stepped away. Hopefully, this would not come to punish him later.

His next target was the people that he spotted from the vantage point. He maneuvered as well as he could through the white field in a black getup, but thanks to his expertise he had found an appropriate spot. He saw one cowering behind a pillar, while another pointed... A hand? Clearly hostile, but Mikhail did not want to needlessly waste ammunition so a diplomatic approach could save him some headache here.

A swift switch to his Steiner AGU rifle, custom chambered into 300 BLK ammunition, pointed down the lane of the two people. He called out: "Personages, stand down or be preemptively terminated." Not quite a yell, but just loud enough for both of them to hear him. From this distance, he can't miss... Unless they have some tricks up their sleeves.
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Confirmed Memelord
The sound of a panicked voice cut through the silence and forced Richard to an immediate halt. Whipping his head around to scan the area revealed nothing. There was nothing living to be seen, and Richard grew nervous. The chances of the voice being a trick birthed by the twisted environment around him were high. Richard didn't believe for a second that the cursed city wouldn't be capable of such a thing. But just as sure as he was that the City was fucking with him, he knew he was neither the first nor the last person to fall prey to its foul siren song.

Holding his rifle gave him a sense of security, and the means to defend himself, of course. Richard was ready and willing to pull the trigger if things got weird, which they almost always did. So, sucking in a breath, Richard shouted out.

"I don't mean any harm, either. And it can stay like that so long as you don't try anything."

The viper remained ever alert, flicking its tongue out to taste the spore filled air. Even if what they faced wasn't fully human, it to leave some trace of itself behind.

"From behind the pillar. Just there." Hissed the viper as it stared pointedly at the crumbling structure. Richard eyed it warily. Who or whatever that was taking refuge behind it had the right idea at least. Richard would not risk taking a peek and putting himself in harm's way. So he settled for glaring at a hunk of rock.

"Who are you, and what do you want?" He growled. Richard wasn't the type to put on the 'tough guy' act when first meeting people and was rather diplomatic. But that was when he wasn't in some nameless flesh city talking to shadows. He hoped that a weapon and a no nonsense attitude would make the other person compliant, but he never got the chance to find out.

Another voice, shriller than the first, came from nowhere, so loud that it made Richard wince. Now that was the voice of someone that didn't seem at all friendly.

Richard wanted to laugh at the ludicrous idea of apologizing when he didn’t know what the hell was going on. Much less to a person who may as well slit his throat before he even knew what was happening. He was definitely in the weeds with the addition of a second player. Were the voices working together? Were they enemies? There were too many things that Richard didn't know and he was growing irate. He needed to gain control of the situation fast.

"Look, I don't know anything about this spore you're screamin' about, but there's a million of the things growing out here. Just pick a new one."

Hunting for spores among crying toadstools was the last thing Richard wanted to do, so he damn sure didn't offer to help. That, and the idea of keeping one of the things, made him shudder. There were some people who, instead of taking issue with the state of the world, embraced it. It was a level of crazy that Richard wanted no part of, and so he avoided such people like the plague.

But of course, that didn't seem to stop them from gravitating towards him because a third voice piped up and made its own demands. Richard had finally had enough.

"Listen, I'm about to start shootin' if somebody here doesn't tell me what the hell is goin' on." He bellowed.

Hefting his rifle, Richard stared down the sights and shuffled sideways, eyes locked on the pillar that the voices emanated from.

"Cover me." He muttered and the viper silently slipped under Richard's shirt before reemerging soon after, and holding a hunting knife in its mouth. Its gold eyes were vigilant as it glared at everything behind Richard so that he'd not come under an ambush.

"Listen up. I've got a full clip, a snake with a knife, and no patience. And that second thing is exactly what I said it was."

The viper was positively giddy at the thought of stabbing yet another person, because a talking snake with violent tendencies had its uses, even if it was utterly absurd. Richard felt better knowing that the little bastard would shank anybody that got too close for comfort.

"So come on out and let's chat. No need to get crazy."


Baron of Bad Boys
So this day could be better.

Piotr flinched first at the odd sounding screech and the woman’s order, not expecting another person to be hiding near the broken remains of the pillar. Whipping his head around toward the voice, he wound up staring first at a worn hand with a single angry finger pointing at him - then at the woman herself, clad in red with her own fair share of stains from survival. Six softly glowing white eyes, arranged a bit lopsided in the dark space within his hood, stared out at her in confusion. Remembering this may look quite unnerving, he closed four of them - a bit too late to hide that, however. What didn’t connect was why she would be upset about a spore; there were billions of the things around them. Not really getting it, Piotr carefully scooted to one side and looked down, wondering if he sat in something.

Not really - just old broken cement. A little weed of some kind grew between the cracks but it was too short to emerge above the stone. It was shaped something like a miniature cactus, but without the spines. So far.

“I apologize?” There was clear confusion as his voice raised a little at the end. “I didn’t-” Piotr was cut off as he heard another voice above them, and behind them.

Shit. He was surrounded.

Piotr could feel his heart and mind starting to race. He had definitely found the man that sailed up the building, though he was now calling him a ‘personage’, whatever that was, and threatening termination. The second man on the hill of rubble that Piotr had only gotten a brief glance of was also aware of them and spouting out about starting shooting. And something about a snake with a knife. That did not exactly make sense, but then again, what did?

He didn’t have a clear shot of the man above them or to the side, and he was not about to get into a scuffle with the woman if he could help it. Anyone who claimed ownership over any of these mushroom spores was suspect to begin with, so maybe it was best to put some distance between himself and her.

Peering in the opposite direction of the snake-man's voice, around the corner of the building, Piotr didn’t see a clear way out of this. Snake-man could likely shoot him from that angle if Sailing-man couldn’t. The only way out of this was with diplomacy and luck. Piotr realized that he could get killed doing this, but maybe that’s what The Call wanted. Maybe that was okay, even to Piotr.

“I’m coming out with my hands up. I’m human. My weapons are not in my hands. The woman here is not with me but she also looks human.” He decided to leave off the ‘-ish’ from both instances of ‘human’.

Piotr raised both hands, gloved in black leather, above the pillar first. Wisps of something dark fell from them, moving like smoke rolling off a surface before dissipating when it hit the column. He was indeed unarmed with any traditional weapon. When his hands were not shot at, the rest of him followed - slowly, carefully. His hooded head emerged, no face visible in the unnatural blackness inside. He’d taken care to close his extra eyes so only two were visible, approximately in the correct place for an acceptable human face. He couldn’t stop the glow, but he could at least not look so much like a monster. The compound bow strapped over a shoulder, next to his backpack, poked above his shoulder. His long black leather jacket was smudged with gray and green along the opposite shoulder from where he’d been leaning against the musty pillar.

“I’m just going to hop over this.” Piotr felt like he’d be safer if he announced his movements first. Lowering one hand to steady himself, he planted a foot in a chipped crevice in the pillar, and easily vaulted over it. His black motorcycle boots clunked against the old road as he landed. Those same gray and green smudges were on the knees of his dark pants. His jacket was unzipped and the length used to cinch it at his waist hung unutilized. He did have a holster at his side with some kind of handgun in it, and a knife at his side, but he did not make any move to reach for either of them.

“See? Human. Not fighting.” He raised his hands again as he took a few careful steps away from the pillar and stood in the middle of the road. With his hands raised high enough, a bit of the skin of his wrists was visible. Caucasian of some kind, a light color. A very human color.

If the trio could just ignore the smoldering dark tendrils of black shadows that seemed to slowly dance around his body and take his word for it that he was human, he’d be golden. Safe. Maybe. At least until they saw his eyes.

“Do you all hear it too?”


High Priest of Depravity
The spore-choked city was a quiet place. It was not that it was dead in spite of the heavy presence of fungi but that it had a reason to be. Sound travelled far and the calls, the shouts, the argument almost waiting to happen, echoed outwards as if every word was shouted louder than it had been spoken. The grass-like false vegetation quivered in the wake of their voices, shriveling and curling, even retracting back into whatever surface it had found itself anchored to. Perhaps as agitated by the shattering of the droning ambience that passed for silence, the bulbous spore that Lethe had touched drifted away, leaving the world of mundane human concerns and human echoes behind.

At least, it did so in theory.

The leisurely drift towards the foggy skies came to slow crawl, not as if the air was thinning but as if its attention had turned. Not to the bickering or some predator but the man standing and talking loudly and firmly, rifle in its hand.

It had passed just mere 20 or so feet above him as it moved, slowing suddenly as if it was not some mindless pseudo-plant but a living, thinking organism peering with eyeless vision at a strange phenomena of sorts. It did not need eyes; perception was possible beyond the physical sense but its perception was felt against Mikhail's skin, as if it was looking at at but through his own body.

It was an awkward sight, paused and pulsing like a jellyfish but one that watched with a rude, voyeur-esque curiosity. Something about these little corporeal bipeds and their-


Piotr's sight blurred and his words did not seem to exit his mouth. They did, for all physical intents and purposes, but as if attempting to interrupt him a subtle pain pinched at his head and the words seemed to distort as if filtered through software. The apin seemingly clamped down on the soft matter contained within, a hint of a headache, distorting his vision but not the colours coalescing around the hand he raised.

No they weren't colours they were... strands reddish and shaped, like the veins and arches of blood vessels and other such connective and fluid-transporting structures within a body, partially phased into reality so not entirely corporeal.

They were long and curving, as if outlining a bent arm, leading back to hole in the space. A black, human shaped, cross-like wound in the flesh of physical being, one that seemed black if full of little squirming, winking, stars and-

No, that wasn't it. Lethe was still there standing with pointed accusation.

Richard, with his gun, his serpent, and what looked like the red coils arching out from above his body, towards the concealed Mikahil... at least, for a blink of a moment before the veins vanished with hallucinatory speed and clarity.

The spore however, could be heard. Long sighs; gas expulsing from its body, trailing tendrils jerking about - it had stayed for too long. Yet even sighs travelled in this hollow domain.

An echo answered the confused meeting and the gaseous expulsion; a deep and resonant tone at first from a thousand different holes, tunnels, and crevices but soon it coalesced into a singular voice. A drone that was wet, that rumbled, yawned, awakened. Spore-pods shuddered, shrunk before the call and even the grass-weed growths stilled their waving motions.

Something scraped loudly against concrete and mulch and a shadowy form moved in the building opposite of Piotr, hidden behind splotched-green windows with a long, wiry body that slid and dragged itself towards a hole on the farthest side of the structure.

Red threads pulsed in the air between them, squirming worm like as if attempting topull them together. This time, it was no hallucination but almost a wordless plea.

The three paths before them beckoned, the veins thrashing their way, tugging on air and the chittering echoes of The Call, amplifying in the back of their heads yet not even slightly vibrating eardrums.

It was a deep river not of fluids but tumbling sewage and churning dirt, almost demanding they venture in and be swallowed by its vile depths. Apparently, a better fate than staying arond for whatever the awakened creature was.


Flightless Bird
All of Lethe, most often, was bathed in some undue distance. She was delayed in one sense, as if her attention elsewhere. As if she were listening for other voices. Less corporeal tones. She was filtering differently. Tuned into a fugue frequency. Not so that she had no care for the other individuals, only that she thought all better served by her othered attentions. A higher calling.

When the figure in black turned to her cry, blinking, blinking, blinking at her with six fog-fume eyes, some clarity touched her dark, wide gaze. Some interest entered her sight. A lovely bug. This touch spark diminished almost immediately, and her attention was elsewhere. Her outstretched hand formed a fist, and she gently touched the center of her forehead with it. Listening. Listening.

A hum at the back of her throat.

Still, she did not respond to the authoritative warning from above, nor the evolving dialogue between the black bug and the outsider it had fled from, save to herself.

“Look, I don’t know anything about this spore you’re screamin’ about, but there’s a million of the things growing out here. Just pick a new one.”

Lethe gave a slight, frenzied shake of her head. As if the idea was distasteful to her.

“Not so like her, not so like her, not-”

She whispered, and stilled. For as if on cue or summons, that downy, infant’s presence returned again.

Lethe’s face turned upwards sharply, the whites of her eyes too visible. Stark against the dusk tones of the rest of her. She waved her hand in front of her line of sight, as if trying to clear the air. There was something here, and yet there wasn’t. She felt a sensation against her waving hand, like she was flipping pages or brushing stacked images aside. This frenzy, too, stilled. She felt tension in her chest, filling to bursting. Something shook. Her spore was sighing. She sighed back.

Pinpricks at the back of her neck. An awesome droning elsewhere. Close. The echo was a harbinger.

Lethe let out a smooth whooping sound. She stood up suddenly stock straight, reaching her full five feet of height. Her arm raised, palm outstretched to the sugar-sour sky.

“Come, come!” Lethe beckoned the spore, though the others too, she waved for.

“E Calls!” A tad sing song.

The shirking scrape sounded from the other building, and her body shuddered. The body, the dragging mass sent her shivering. She grasped fistfulls of her hair in her hands, pulling them gently in the directions of the red, pulsing threads which littered the air. She pulled on her hair as if to alleviate the thunderous drum at the base of her skull. Hushed, small hurt sounds left her as if she were weeping, though her freckled face was dry.

Loathe to waste what time was allotted, or to reject the call of a beloved, Lethe pressed forward with slightly shaky steps. For the ground itself was unstable and that flickering picture book before her eyes confessed many changeable natures. An acrid smell burned in her nose.

“Bug, bug, bug! Coming! Coming! All!”

She called out to them. She had no names yet for the others, as they were still formless voices in a sea of formless voices. Still, Lethe wanted not one of them to suffer. The flesh of the city had accepted them, too, to permeate, and so this too must be their Call.


Confirmed Memelord
It occurred to him just then that maybe he wasn't even alive. That perhaps he'd died long ago, and that he was really in hell. If that was the case, then there was a lot less fire than he'd expected, but it would explain everything that'd happen from the moment he stepped into the city.

Richard had always believed that hell was just a place for bad people. So logic dictated that everything in Hell was bad, too. It didn't need to be all fire and sulfur. All that mattered past the gates of Hell was that suffering was in abundance. Had Richard not suffered? In the meagre existence he'd eked out after the lows of nature fell apart. During his dread march towards a city with no name, because things that shouldn't exist didn't get names. Would a good man, a godly man, have three talking snakes for an arm? The viper had been an icon of sin since time immemorial. It lied. It cheated. It was the viper that tricked Eve into bearing the world's first sin.

And here Richard was, in a city unnamed, surrounded by strangers who seemed less human with each passing moment. Here he was in search of a tree that only a talking snake believed existed. What difference, then, was there between him and the mother of the first true sin? Or perhaps Richard would find his own Eve waiting beneath a flowering dogwood. What then? Richard knew that should she offer him that accursed fruit, he wouldn't have the strength to resist it.

The apple, too, was in its own way an icon of sin. Containing knowledge fit to lead men down ever darkening paths. Richard felt he wouldn't survive the terrible enlightenment that the city most assuredly had in store for him. But he would seek the tree and take the fruit, anyway. Because in the end every person, every sin, was the same. Searching for a tree that didn't exist and hoping it bore a fruit that would give purpose to their existence.

So when the hooded man in front of him spoke again, Richard listened, and he listened close.

And the city spoke.

And Richard learned the truest definition of terror

Oh, it did not speak in the way a man would be used to. Words familiar to the ear would be a comfort. But there would be no such thing. There was a sigh, carried by the stale wind, and not long after, a chorus of voices answered. They cried out, keening as one in something that sounded uncomfortably like fear to Richard. The twisted vegetation withered and draw away. It all died before his very eyes, but still the crying went on.

A sharp drumming began at the base of his skull. Richard would have chalked it up to all the noise in another time and place. But the city existed in a time only measured by things he could not name. It forced him into a timeframe that was not of his own choosing. Nor was the pain lancing through his skull. It was a warning, thrust upon him not by his own body's natural defenses. It was laid upon him by something that demanded he listen.

How could Richard not listen when a wet and sickly sounding breeze rose from somewhere in that fungal infested necropolis? A breath drawn. Weak, yet growing ever stronger. The city had finally woken up. It had drawn its first breath and found them all to be lacking. This Richard knew. He broke out into a cold sweat. Because it occurred to him he was not standing in Hell. He was standing upon the Devil's very back.

The woman shrieked, and for a second Richard thought that something had attacked her. But when he looked at her, he could see both her hands raised to the sky and her face twisted in the throes of ecstasy.

Richard didn't share in her exultations. Not when the city breathed and moved. Not when the air between them all erupted into a swarm of pulsating tendrils of flesh, and blood, and light.

"Oh God damn it." He muttered.

The ropes that crisscrossed the air were alive of their own volition. Born undoubtedly to tether them all to a grim reality. There would be no escape from the city, not when they were all caught amidst the wriggling mass like mice caught in the coils of a-

Richard's head snapped over so that he could glare heatedly at the viper. "You know somethin' about this?" He barked.

The snake could really answer while wielding a knife in its jaws. But it had the great fortune of being a snake with two extra heads. Which, in its own mind, made it three times smarter than everyone else.

"Oh, so if something snake like appears and starts causing trouble, I know all about it? What an ignorant thing to ask." The viper said in an accusatory tone. Richard said nothing, his eyes narrowing dangerously. The little snake scoffed at him.

"What is this? You don't recognize your own threads of fate when you see them?" The snake asked mockingly.

Richard shook his head in disbelief, his mouth falling open. "But I thought-" He whispered before the viper interrupted him.

"You thought what? That ribbons of pretty silk would drift from the sky to embrace you as if you were the most precious thing in existence? Don't be such a fool." The green snake chided before it too began staring at the crimson threads.

"Fate is a living thing, hideous and impersonal. It lives and breathes only to bind all men to its whims. It cannot be escaped, and it can never be stopped. Fate is a parasite. And it feeds only on what little time allotted to you on this earth." The viper hissed.

Richard hated to think that the viper was right. But his eyes would not lie to him, no matter how hard he wished for them to. They showed him in obscene clarity the living chains that had shackled him from the very moment he'd been born. Fate truly was unavoidable, because each decision that Richard made only granted the beast feeding on his time a different meal.

The hooded man's body language spoke of discomfort and fear. The woman though, she was stoked to be gain such an intimate understanding of the chains she'd never escape. Perhaps there was certain freedom to be had in knowing the true face of your captor.

Whatever the case, the bitch was fucking nuts and if Richard knew one thing; it was that crazy women were fun only in theory.

The city shuddered and something heavy and foul dragged itself across the rubble just behind him. An emissary of the life given city. Or just a predator that happened to set up shop in the area. From the sound of its movements, Richard guessed it was too sturdy for him to grapple with. He damn sure wouldn't turn around to look at it and confirm that theory.

The threads tugged at them almost insistently. They no longer undulated at random, hinting to the infinite ways in which a man might live and one day die. No, their goal for everyone present was singular. And it was with a rapidly mounting dread that Richard realized if even Fate did not want it, the thing in the ruins existed outside of all theoretical and spiritual order. It defied concepts given breath. An impossibility that governed unwritten laws with its mere presence. Richard was neither a fan of philosophy nor deep introspection. So that both had plagued him from the moment of his arrival meant that he was in serious trouble.

Very serious trouble if something as impartial as destiny would all but attempt to drag them towards a river than Richard knew for a fact, wasn't full of water.

"Please let it be sewage. Please tell me I'm going to be taking a swim in piss." Richard pleaded aloud to a God that had forgotten him a long time ago. A dip in what looked to be raw sewage that had been fermenting for God knows how long should not have been the preferred activity of Richard's day. It shouldn't have been on the list at all. But something not far from them was on the move and Richard knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that it would be their end if they stayed any longer.

"We've got.." Richard wheezed, breathless as if he'd run a mile despite not having moved for some time. He should have worn a mask because breathing in spores was surely bad for his health.

"Listen, I don't know what y’all want or what y’all are doin' here. But my gut is telling me we need to leave. Now." Richard said. "I'm not interested in finding how bulletproof that thing is, and I don't think it is either."


Baron of Bad Boys
Piotr had so many questions for these people, he wanted to ask everything at once. Just blurt it all out and pray to whatever God or Gods might still be out there that they didn’t shoot him on sight just for being annoying. He started to open his mouth once more to ask about The Call, but was immediately cut short.

“Did-” He stopped, a pain in his head preventing him from speaking further. It was a strange pain, something he’d not experienced before. It was not just another headache, or even a migraine, it felt different. In a bad way. It felt like his mind itself was just popped into a vice, and something was turning the crank. It was going to keep turning until he popped.

Blinking the two eyes that were open in the direction of the Snake-Man, his vision started to blur. The rock pile expanded and blurred together, losing detail of individual pieces of rubble, and Snake-Man became Snake-Men as Piotr saw a double image. Strange words and phrases that were not his own echoed in his mind, pinging around like lead weight in a tin can. Piotr let out a breathy groan, forgetting for a moment his situation and putting his hand on his forehead - hand disappearing from view as it went under his hood.

Taking an unsteady step backwards, other eyes opened up under his hood, as a sort of test. Witnesses to his freakish nature be damned - was his vision doubled with all of them? Everything was blurred, so it wasn’t just those two eyes, it was him.

Bringing the other hand he had raised down to eye level, all of his eyes widened at once at what he saw. With his blurred vision, all he could see were red veins stretching from his hand to… to where?

Was it his own blood vessels that were leaving him? Had he actually been shot and this was what it was like to die?

Horrified, Piotr visually followed this strangely pulsating lifeline from his hand along its bends and curves through the air until his malfunctioning eyes saw it. Where the red-clad woman had been crouched before, accusing him of some wrongdoing he was unaware of, something about spores, there was now a black hole hovering there in space and time, unexplainable. A wound in the fabric of reality.

The longer Piotr stared at it in horror, the more it changed. Still a wound, still black, but now it was on something other than reality itself. It was on a person now - or something at least human-shaped. Was it still moving? Who was it? Piotr suddenly had the sinking sensation it was someone he knew. Knew and loved, and it was dying, and this was the most horrible thing he had ever witnessed. He could not help, though he wanted to. It, whoever it was, was angry he was not helping, reminding him of how he was a pathetic waste of flesh and a freak.

“No, no, no, NO! What are you doing?!” Piotr exclaimed - at the red-clad girl, at the wounded writhing figure, at the hate-filled words filling his head and the air around him, at The Call that brought him here, at all of it. Had they done this to them? Was it the fault of the woman? He debated pulling away from the red strands and running - what if they snapped and he bled to death? But what if it was the only way he’d ever get away from those words?

Piotr decided to take the risk and move as soon as he heard an unidentified thing moving in the opposite building. All eyes opened as he turned his attention to the source of the noise, scraping and sliding. Piotr saw shadows, but that was nothing new. That didn’t mean he trusted it, though. Reflexively, he tried to focus on it harder, hoping to pierce through the veil of shadow to see what, exactly, was in there.

That didn’t mean he stood still. Not trusting the woman in red, he craned his head up to try and see the armed man on top of the building. Thinking he’s spotted him, Piotr motions for him to come and shouts up, cupping his hands around a mouth that isn’t even visible.

“Come down from there! It's not safe - something’s coming!”

Piotr was left with Snake-Man being the closest to him, who was the first to vocalize some actual wisdom: They needed to get out. Now.

Noticing Snake-Man wheezed and struggled to catch his breath, Piotr quickly moved to the pile of rubble the man was standing on - hands not held up anymore so he could run. He was still clearly unarmed, and he was not reaching for any weapons. He was reaching for Snake-Man instead, scrambling up the rubble a few steps before offering one gloved hand outstretched to the stranger. Despite all the dangers, and the existence of the viper-arm, this one seemed safest to Piotr so he was going to offer his help down the rubble. If this man felt anything like Piotr did, there was a chance he’d simply tumble down the pile and injure himself.

“Come on, let’s go! Lead the way!” His outstretched hand looked entirely human-shaped under that glove. Five fingers, which included an opposable thumb, just large enough to be probably-male, but not a brutish build. Safe to take. The shadows ever-present around his body retracted as he got close to Snake-Man, as if he had consciously gathered it up close and tucked it away for the other man’s comfort. He glanced at the viper with the knife in its mouth wearily, keeping an eye on it in case it lashed out. It looked to Piotr as if the vipers were protruding right from the man’s sleeve, but was that a trick of his eyes? Was the arm missing, or was this simply the way the viper and man liked to travel? Too many questions - too many personal questions - for the time being. The olive branch would be extended to the reptile all the same, as if either had the choice to leave one behind.

“Bring your snake-friend too!”


Worthless pleb
This cacophonic squabbling between the pair of airheads below did not do well for Mikhail's dwindling sanity, but not dull his infinite patience. They did have the benefit of no longer being in the rifle's sights, except that was all the benefit as Mikhail still did not wish to abscond down to their level. Of elevation and sanity. His jade jewels observed for the moment, knee digging into the white tuffs of sporulate. His brow furrowed as he absorbed the details of their exchange. The gossamer hag that had languidly pointed a black meat hook seemed incredibly aloof of the situation. Obviously not paying attention to the exchange between the hooded man and deep-voiced individual who echoed an aura of dour joylessness, instead she seemed transfixed, irreparably serenaded by an entity.

It was at this point that Mikhail noticed the spore that she harvested had begun floating. With leaden motion, he drew his pistol from his holster and pointed the weapon at the floating object. It erred him with its' levitation over him. Did it believe itself superior to him? His fissured cutis felt the scalding criticism from this mocking ball of fungal matter. Despite the impressions impressed upon his mind, Mikhail retained composure and rejected the urge to fill it full of lead He doubts that this ephemeral entity would even suffer at his hands, let alone his bullets.

But a gnawing, ravaging sensation had overpowered the operator's auditory and mental faculties. His ears buzzed with the chittering, drowning sounds of sighs! Tentaclean imagery filled his mind's eye as the city ebbed and flowed with the code of insanity inscribed on its' very conceptual existence. Effectual in its' intellectual deconstruction. His will suffered a shrill stab, threatening to kill his mind and leave nothing for an anthill. A spawn of devilry to inflict evil and primeval torture on all who are caught in its' grasp. His breath grew heavier as lungs vainly struggled to siphon the polluted air.

His jade-stained eyes shot up to see crimson lyncean tendrils writhing their way towards the black-flacked agent. A shot won't do, he thought as his hand swiped his kukri and acutely slashed at his monstrous attackers. But his blade bit into nothing, struck nothing, found nothing as the tendrils evaporated with mercurial speed. This is becoming dangerous, his mind refocused on the task at hand. He needs to link up with the fellows on the lower grounds. Safety in numbers.

With haste, he shimmied down but not panicked as his training and muscle memory carried him.

He met the snake man and the man who called his name, a ghostly man, a man of darkness. His seasoned eye pierced this façade of darkness. Mikhail's mouth remained tight-lipped beneath his balaclava when he met them. But soon spoke up when the umbral man asked the snake whisperer. "10-4, evacuation paramount." The message was clear, WHO GIVES A SHIT, RUN!


Flightless Bird
Lethe was no athlete. Diminutive. Thin. Meant for kneeling at an altar; not for violence. She was born frail and premature. Her father’s own hands tearing her from that silky womb before the red of it could suffocate her - before she was left forever sleeping there and turning the cradle of her mother to rot. She hardly had the strength to wail, even after her father’s fingers swabbed the clot from her throat. Weak, little disparate cries. Buried against her mother’s breast while her father sewed the tear in her body closed. Wet, curly head. Soft enough to be bent by a careless thumb.

She looked premature still, fully grown. An infected world was no ripe breast for nurturing. It was too busy transforming, going through its own growing pains. Caught up in its own hormonal youth. She stayed small. Ineffectual in muscle. Still, it was her world. How could she know any different? If she couldn’t fight it, not in body or in fortitude, she would find some other way to live. She would grow different, bending whichever way was closer to light.

At times, even still, she was often discouraged to know so little. This world, body, entity did not follow a known pattern. When trying to discern it with a calculating eye, there were no traces or lines. It was a feeling thing. Something to be intuited. Interpreted from caught chills or symbols in the dreaming hours. If this was the way of it, then it would be Lethe’s way. She would start listening less to her own voice, and more for those deeper voices which crowed from farther below.

Her parents had been creatures of the old world. Overeducated. The things they knew were too precious to discard. So they, in turn, were discarded. Many nights, Lethe was kept awake with this fear. She at once loathed, loved, feared the human in her. The parts of her which were innate. Previously natural. If she let those parts best her, then she too would be left behind. She kept them like precious pets, horrible secrets. Sins. Forbidden lovers. Only letting them out in the dark. In the moments where the presence of that hideous, enormous, wet eye wasn’t so heavy against her back. When the breath of the world came quieter.

Though she had been among the first to react to the shuddering push forward, Lethe was quick to fall behind. She saw the gash in the earth. She looked to the others as they went on, suppressing a frightened cry as she heard the mass behind them grasp the ground and drag itself closer behind the green, clotted glass. The red threads which wove between them pulsed in time with her racing heart. Hardly thinking, hardly knowing, her hands were reaching beneath her robes. She found E’s dagger, secured at her hip, tight to her thigh. Drawing it out as she had countless times, she trembled. The air was so thick. She had never known a proper breath.

Lethe started speaking rhythmically. Words she once recited as one among a crowd of echoed voices.

“An eye for E,

To dine for thee.

An open mouth,

A fertile tree.

If I’ve killed you

Then I’ve killed me.

I carry E-”

Her voice faltered only a fraction of a moment as she drew the blade close to her scarred forearm. Her lips quivered. She gritted her teeth.

“E carries me.”

The blade drew a scarlet line through fine, brown flesh. Too much fluid sprang forth. Not blood. Something darker. Something more tangible. Lethe’s body crumpled to the ground. A little heap. Yet, not for long. Below her, the substance spread and then gained form.

Lethe was carried on the back of a beast, resting there with her fingers curled in the grooves of its thin shoulders. It was not so large, and not so fearsome a thing as its birth may have suggested. Its closest approximation of an animal local to the planet was a stag. For it was lean and graceful in silhouette, with three horns which branched and intertwined from the peak of its brow. Its eyes were not empty, yet somehow akin to the dark shine Lethe’s carried. Something about the creature’s body seemed temporary, shifting. As if it took effort to remain in one shape. A spell with an expiration date. A body which couldn’t last long outside its home.

Lethe secured E’s dagger back in its holster beneath her clothes. The wound on her arm remained open, yet no longer bled. Her complexion had paled, her eyes dimmed. She pressed her cheek to the neck of the beast. It sped forward, approaching the crevice with an animal’s skill and twitchy single-mindedness. It leapt, Lethe clinging to its back. Her robes and hair streamed behind her. A river of motion. The creature caught the edge of the other side with its false hooves, frantically skittering to avoid plummeting below. Finding purchase, it cleared the crevice, nervous tremors warbling through its thin, strong legs. Lethe’s chest heaved.

“Oh…love. Oh, thank you.” A strange breathlessness was in her voice. There was nearly no tone nor rhythm. It seemed she hardly lived. She petted at the top of its head, between its horns. The space she caressed rippled like the surface of a pond. The creature blinked false lids. A dreamed thing.

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