Death, And Demons

-

"Is he always.."

"Yeah."

"Why?"

"I've no idea. He's always been like that, detached from the living world unless you can say the right words. I think he was cursed in his
youth, or something. The Demons don't pay him any mind because he looks.."

"Dead?"

"Yeah."

Sen and Uunagari fell silent after that, not quite sure what else there was to say. Since leaving the Bog Kat a few minutes ago the two had
felt ill at ease. It sounded like the living corpse of a Raveen had just been shouting out a warning. Informing them of some kind of twisted
vision full of death and, well, masks. Neither one of them knew what to make of it.

"How old is he?"

"Old enough that one of these days he's just going to keel over and die."

"Ah."

The two continued to retrace their steps, with the occasional awkward try at conversation. It was only nearing mid-afternoon, but the two
had felt as if they had traveled for a full day. It was best to return now then to risk running in to any crazed Demons.

...*...*...*...

"I see. So he could be the one we're looking for." Morgalis nodded his approval at this information. Tarvuulf had been the first to return,
and to Morgalis' relief the bleached Raveen actually had something useful to report. "Anything else?"

Tarvuulf lightly shook his head from side to side, showing that he had not found anything else that would prove useful. Morgalis accepted
the silent answer, fully accustomed to the other Raveen's ways. He was the type that would only speak when he needed to, only fight when
he needed to, and he was one of the best hunters Morgalis had ever seen.

Hours ago he had been disappointed by the other Raveen's lack of information, but this more than made up for it.

They now had a suspect.

"We should begin to find him immediately."


...*...*...*...


When Uunagari and Senbotsuusha had finally made it back to the compromised sanctuary, they had obviously meant the end of a
conversation between the other two Raveens currently inside. They entered the cavern to find Morgalis and Tarvuulf falling silent and
looking over their way. Morgalis had a brow raised questioningly at the two, while Tarvuulf was regarding them with a frosty gaze.

It was nothing Uunagari wasn't used to. He made his way around the cerulean pool's edge and made himself comfortable on a flat rock
near the two. Sen followed suit after a moment of hesitation.

"And what of the two of you? Does your arrival mean you have found something useful to share?" Morgalis enquired, his brow still raised.

"We just came back from a little chat with the High One." Uunagari replied smoothly.

"And?" Morgalis pressed.

"It was a little odd-"

"Meetings with him are always odd." Tarvuulf muttered.

"-He started out normal enough." The bleached Raveen paused for a moment, reflecting Tarvuulf's frosty gaze right back at him. "He says
many died last night. When I had him close in on Louunza he started acting... Stranger than usual. Afraid."

"Afraid?" The leader of the group's interest had just been tempted, and his ears flicked forward to best hear the rest of this report.

"Yeah. Odd isn't it?"

"Very." Morgalis replied with a nod. "What was he afraid of?"

"I can't really be sure. He was saying something about masks and death, and finishing the job." Bleached shoulders shrugged.

"This is very.. out of character, for him. To be afraid of something."

"Yeah, and that has me worried."

"Perhaps his fear is placed with the Doomcry." Morgalis pondered aloud, looking at the stone floor in front of his bone limb.

"Hrm? The Doomcry?"

Morgalis' dull red eyes shifted back to Uunagari, and the Raveen nodded uncertainly. "Tarvuulf returned with information on a Raveen who
could be our killer. He has the claws of a Demon, and-"

Whatever else Morgalis was going to say was cut off by the abrupt entrance of a frazzled looking Hatuu. The Smoke Raveen's silvery mane
was in complete disarray, and he was breathing heavily. He looked as if any moment he could fall in to unconsciousness without any
amount of struggle.

"Morg.. Tauur's.. dead. He's freaking dead!"

...*...*...*...

If anyone had told Sen he would be back at the muddy lake for a second time in one day, he wouldn't have believed them. He was grateful
for getting away from the place the first time, and the lake itself didn't hold anything worth seeing for the second time. Coming back for
another visit was definitely something he wouldn't have done.

If someone had told him that the Bog Kat had died next to the lake.. Well, he could have believed that just fine. The Raveen was looking
dead the last time he had seen him anyway.

But if someone had said he'd be back at this lake, and the Bog Kat had died, he wouldn't have believed them when they told him the cause
of death. Because to have believed that the Bog Kat was going to be killed rather than dying of natural causes was something he hadn't
even considered. But seeing those three large holes in the corpse's skull were enough to tell him for sure -- the living corpse was no living
corpse anymore.

"I don't believe this." Uunagari had commented after examining the wounds. "It's exactly the same."

"Whoever killed Louunza, killed Tauur as well." Tarvuulf observed.

"Murderer's been getting around, huh? I didn't believe it myself when I found him like that. Who would've thought anyone would kill Tauur..
The High One's never been one to insult anyone." Hatuu had managed to gather enough strength to lead them all back here, and was now
part of a small group which was circled around the corpse. "Two bodies in less than twenty-four hours. Whoever it is, they're racking up the
kills."

"We should start looking for the Doomcry." Morgalis commented off to his left, only loud enough for Tarvuulf to hear.

"Let the hunt begin." Tarvuulf responded.

...*...*...*...

The coast was covered in a thick layer of fog which wafted up from the waters below the Cliffside. It was a cold and shadowed place,
detached from the rest of the land by it's border of rocks and trees. The forest nearby had long ago died, but the trees somehow managed
to stay upright through all the storms and onslaughts that were thrown at them. Shimmering orbs of white were hung over the dead
branches, decorating the entire coastline in an eerie shimmer of white.

From afar the orbs looked like spheres of light, reflecting the light of Yein and the Moons at all times of the day. Upon a closer look,
however, the gentle look of the objects was lost. They were not orbs, not spheres of light. Rather they were heavily polished skulls, Raveen
to be exact.

They had hung along the border for months now. A marker of the Demon's victory over the South. The skulls of the best warriors were
hung from the high branches, while the weaker of the fighters barely graced the lowest of the branches. Their killers had taken great pride
in beheading all of these Kats, some still living at the time, and later removing the fur and flesh that clung to the marbled white bone. It was
a time-consuming process, but the end result was well worth it.

At least, all the Demons thought so.

Neiarishta in particular was pleased by the coastline. Her followers had made the once peaceful atmosphere cold and comforting to the
Great Evil herself. But alas, the smirk the sight once brought to her sandy features was long lost. She couldn't feel magnificent in this land
anymore, knowing full well that her victory of months ago was no longer as grand as it once was. She had been dealt defeat in another
Land, and no amount of death on Orcle's Isle would bring her comfort anymore.

She now stood upon the edge of the Cliffside, watching the moonlit waters crash against the rocks below with disinterest. Her glowing
forelegs traced over the jagged ledge, longing to once again break bone beneath their touch. It had been too long since her last
massacre, and even that one had been a mild defeat. She hadn't captured Thunder, and now the bloody Valley was protected by Harp's
influence. She wouldn't be able to try again.

"It won't be long now, Shura." Neiarishta spoke, her cyan on red eyes glancing back at the shadowed form just outside her peripheral
vision. "In only a few short nights I will be able to correct all of this. I will have my revenge and my servants back."

Will it work? Shura, the Corrupted Mage and long-time servant of the Great Evil, spoke through mind speech. She was wearing her metallic
black mask, and that didn't allow for spoken speech.

"It had better." Neiarishta replied harshly. "I am already losing my followers, Shura. I'm sure you have seen them - mindless, free and rabid.
They won't follow my influence anymore. Without my primary form I cannot handle my full power, and my other forms are free to wander as
they please. Even when I had been sealed in that God Forsaken Temple, I still had every one of my forms under control. To be detached
from them...."

You are not used to being enemies with your own? Shura asked, her head tilting to the side.

"Of course not. Do I look the type to lose control of my own? Not even my own Daughter has ever suffered such an embarrassment. I am a
Power, a Goddess above all others. I do not simply lose control like this. No one does this to me. No one gets away with it."

Then you will kill the Shades?

"I will obliterate them. Completely wipe out their species in one attack. They will discover that messing with me was their greatest mistake."

And then you will claim this Land for your own?

"There will be nothing in my way to stop me, will there? This Land is to be mine."

Nlaruune will be pleased. He had thought you changed your mind.

"I change my mind on very little, Shura. Things just get in my way too many times."

This time will be different?

"Yes. This time nothing will get in the way."
.The Downward Spiral.