Author Topic: The Jar  (Read 5988 times)

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Offline Harlequin

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Re: The Jar
« Reply #15 on: June 03, 2019, 03:13:05 AM »
"Don't--" But Astrid was already back in the room. And clutching her chest. And falling to the floor. Dropping her hammer, Sabrina took a long step forward and caught the other witch before she crumpled, then hefted her limp form into her arms. The thing in the jar shifted, and a low hiss escaped the seal.

Ducking below the lintel, Sabrina hurriedly carried Astrid upstairs, and a vicious growl came from the direction of the burned-out fireplace as she settled the young woman onto the dust-covered couch in the living room. Sabrina turned, and the specter of a large, liver-and-white hound dog shivered into view, slavering and hackles raised.

Sabrina knelt slowly, breathing measured. She moved her white-out gaze to at a point just beyond the dog,  avoiding eye contact. "We don't have time for this," she explained patiently, hoping that whatever the animal had become had the capacity for reason. "I need to get rid of what's hurting this house, and I need you to protect this young woman while I do it." The dog continued to advance, but the growl had receded to a low rumble. Sabrina's eyes moved to its face, "Can you help me? Can you remember what you are?"

Because a dog was a dog was a dog, dead or alive; a friend, a protector.

The ghost sat down, and canted its head to once side. Foamy drool ran in ropes from its flews as it flickered in and out of view, reminding Sabrina of degraded videotape in the way angry ghosts did. Finally, it chuffed once and lay down, watching Astrid.

The struggle in the basement Astrid would experience as a dream.

Ties to its realm severed, Sabrina needed to kill whatever had come through the door Zeus had opened to the Blackness. She could hear it hissing laughter as she descended the stairs, the pull of its darkness a riptide. She picked up her hammer in one hand, stepped through the door, and brought the hammer down on the jar, glowing brick and all.

Absolute darkness exploded outward from beneath the hammer's head, and all the air left the room, leaving Sabrina momentarily choking. When it solidified, the thing in the jar briefly took the form of a black rabbit the size of a puma with eight glowing sodium-yellow eyes, and the rest blurred into brutal, oil-slick horror.

**
When it was over, and the thing lay oozing in the center of the circle that had summoned it, Sabrina cleansed it with fire from the still-burning censer's embers, mixing its ashes with the what remained of the copal and the herb bundle she'd set alight earlier as the Treacle stitched her wounds closed from the inside out. The most prominent of these was a bite to her midsection that slowly leaked too-dark blood, and a set of claw marks across her chest and throat. Scars would remain, but not for long. Her white linen suit, on the other hand, was well and truly ruined -- torn and crusted with blood and salt and other, unnamable substances.

When Astrid awoke, she would find Sabrina in the basement, raspily humming to herself as she sat cross legged on the floor, polishing the head of her hammer with a soft cloth.

Offline The Cedar Witch

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Re: The Jar
« Reply #16 on: June 03, 2019, 08:56:34 AM »
Astrid awoke slowly, aware of a weight on her thigh and the pressure of a headache behind her eyes.  She groaned as she stirred, reeling from what she had seen in the dream and unwilling to open her eyes.  Sleepily she hoped that the entire afternoon had been a dream.

Reality crashed into her awareness, pulling her entirely from the nightmare she had awoken from.

She peered out from under her lashes to investigate the strange pressure on her thigh and jumped when she found the silvery spectral bloodhound. Scrambling reflexively into an upright position, Astrid pulled her legs out from under the large head of the creature.  Her pant leg was soaked with drool.  How did she get on the couch upstairs?  The hound shook its head, sending ghostly spittle into the air, and padded over to where Astrid had collected herself.  It rested its head on the edge of the couch near her, large silvery eyes gazing up at her. 

“Uh, hey.”  She swallowed nervously and reached out her hand.  The hound sniffed it intently before placing two large paws up on the couch as if it meant to climb up on her.  It was a huge thing, and Astrid shrunk away.  There were no malicious feelings that she could detect from the creature, but the sheer size of the apparition was intimidating. 

“H-Hang on!”  Astrid scooted to the side and stood from the couch, backing away from the dog a bit.  The hound moved off the couch and turned toward her, staring. 

Shit.  Sabrina. 

Clarity of what transpired in the dream flooded in, driving away the cobwebs and filling her with concern.  Taking one last look at the hound, she took off at a quick pace to the basement door.  There was a humming coming from downstairs that became louder the closer she approached.  The spectral dog was close behind but came to a stop at the top of the stairs.  She turned to look back, having only descended a couple of steps.  The hound laid down, its huge head perched atop folded paws, and let out a sad whine. 

“I’ll uh, be right back?”  It was weird to explain herself to a ghost-dog, but for some reason, she felt like it wanted to lead her somewhere else.  She had to check on Sabrina first.  Astrid thudded down the stairs, not realizing she had been holding her breath until she reached the bottom and let out a loud exhale.

“Hey!”  semi out of breath, she went to Sabrina’s side.  The first thing she noticed was the hammer, emanating a kind of tired-satisfaction of a won battle.  The next thing she noticed was the wounds, the torn and bloodied clothing.  Her heart leaped to her throat.  Surely this was her fault somehow.  She shouldn't have gone into the room again.

“I am so sorry--are you okay?”  Guilt washed over her.
Anna/Odessa/Sonya || Astrid || Chtahzus'aak/Zeus || Extasis || Fler || Jeremiah || Laurent/Va'tamal || Malakai || Rachel || Vai
Old things have strange hungers. - Catherynne M. Valente

Offline Harlequin

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Re: The Jar
« Reply #17 on: June 03, 2019, 12:01:27 PM »
The lingering scent of the Copal was nearly overwhelmed by the smell of ozone, and more subtly, of fresh blood. Sabrina turned her body as she heard Astrid approach, and a flick of her wrist illuminated the bare bulb hanging from the ceiling, despite the lack of electricity to the house. She smiled warmly with one side of her mouth, and a split in her bottom lip cracked open. If she noticed, she didn't let on.

"I'm fine," Sabrina assured her. Her voice scratched and caught as she spoke, and she cleared her throat. The scratches on her throat were clearly more than skin deep. But if Astrid looked closely, she could see filaments of blackness busily knitting the flesh together.

Setting the hammer down in her lap, Sabrina's looked turned stern, "Don't push yourself so hard, you could have been hurt. If we'd had less time --" She clicked her tongue against her teeth, and shook her head, "Promise me you'll listen to your body next time."

Offline The Cedar Witch

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Re: The Jar
« Reply #18 on: June 03, 2019, 12:22:22 PM »
Sabrina didn't look fine, but Astrid would just have to trust her word.  She didn't know anything about the other witch's healing capabilities and fought the urge to openly stare at the stitching shadowy tendrils working away at her flesh.  There was the pull of guilt and worry despite Sabrina's efforts to reassure her.

That stern look caused Astrid's face to turn a deep shade of red that moved to her ears as Sabrina spoke.  She fixed her eyes firmly to the floor.  It was true.  She did push herself, knowingly, in spite of the danger. 

"Promise."  She nodded, still not quite ready to meet Sabrina's eye.  Why was she trying so hard in the first place? Sure, with knowledge so tantalizingly within reach, it was hard to resist charging ahead.  Even though she knew full well that it was dangerous.  But what she did was downright reckless, especially after expending a great deal of her energy on the spirits in the house and setting the barrier.  She knew her limits. 

Stupid, foolish, stubborn...

"I.. I'm sorry I got carried away."  Astrid sighed slowly through her nose and finally lifted her gaze from the floor. 

Noticing her knife laying on its side near where she had plunged it into the cement, she crossed over to pick it off the floor. 

"I saw him before I passed out.  Zeus, the demon."  She began, going over to her pile of Stuff and kneeling to fill her backpack up with her supplies.  Astrid recounted the events of the vision slowly, being careful to include as much detail as possible.  The words spoken.  The metal object.  The blood.  By the time she had finished, all of her things were back in the bag save one of the empty bottles that she gripped in her hand.  She grunted and sat on the floor, back to the wall, and let out an exhale.
Anna/Odessa/Sonya || Astrid || Chtahzus'aak/Zeus || Extasis || Fler || Jeremiah || Laurent/Va'tamal || Malakai || Rachel || Vai
Old things have strange hungers. - Catherynne M. Valente

Offline Harlequin

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Re: The Jar
« Reply #19 on: June 04, 2019, 12:26:35 PM »
Sabrina nodded her approval in response to the promise, and the sorry. If it happened again, there would be A Lecture — but she was satisfied for now.

She listened intently to Astrid’s retelling of the vision.

It told her that whatever Zeus had been trying to do, it wasn’t this. Which was good. But he had been trying to do something that accidentally resulted in this, which was...possibly worse. The Blackness, as Sabrina understood it, was less a world and more a world-eating disease, and this...demon had come a hair’s breadth from infecting theirs. Moreover, he’d left his mistake here for someone else to clean up.

They would have words.

Later.

When Astrid finished speaking, Sabrina’s lips had pressed themselves into a thin line of displeasure, but her expression softened when she finished, clearly still exhausted. Sabrina strapped her hammer back to her pack, and hefted the whole thing onto one shoulder. She stood — a little stiffly — and offered a hand to Astrid.

“I think I’d like a slice of pizza. Or maybe a gyro. What do you think?”

Offline The Cedar Witch

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Re: The Jar
« Reply #20 on: June 04, 2019, 10:49:33 PM »
With a grateful expression, Astrid took Sabrina's hand and was pulled to her feet.  After slipping the small glass bottle into her bag, she slung it over her shoulder.

"That sounds amazing," She stooped to collect her jacket and held it draped over one arm.  "There's just... I didn't finish what I began but I'll have to come back later."  Astrid sighed through her nose, lips pressed firmly together.  It felt like admitting defeat but she wasn't about to suggest that she just push a bit longer to follow through.  Not after passing out like that.  Certainly not after Sabrina had just chided her for pushing herself. 

As Astrid made her way up the stair the hound at the top drew itself into a standing position, tail wagging gently as she approached.  She smiled tiredly at it.

"I'll be back."  she spoke softly.  The creature whined and sat, form flickering, and Astrid felt a pang of guilt.
Anna/Odessa/Sonya || Astrid || Chtahzus'aak/Zeus || Extasis || Fler || Jeremiah || Laurent/Va'tamal || Malakai || Rachel || Vai
Old things have strange hungers. - Catherynne M. Valente

Offline Harlequin

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Re: The Jar
« Reply #21 on: June 05, 2019, 12:21:17 AM »
As Astrid ascended the stairs, a sharp snap of fingers and a bright light followed her as all the all the ichor Sabrina had left spilled and spattered across the basement simultaneously immolated. Her blood was toxic at best, and with a bad witch running around collecting fluids from people, one could never be too careful.

Well, person, so far. Perhaps she was being paranoid.

Sabrina looked down at the ghost dog as she passed, but it only had eyes for Astrid. "You've made a friend," Sabrina said with a smile. She nodded at Astrid's words, "It will keep until tomorrow." Her voice was already less hoarse, though it still scratched slightly.

Astrid might also notice that Sabrina stood at a bit of a distance. The wound on her midsection had stopped leaking thanks to the Treacle, but it was still wise to limit others' exposure to what lived inside her. Especially if the others in question were human.

Exhaustion hit the tall woman like a brick wall, then, and she sagged. "Let's order in."