'O, Death. O, Death.
Won't you spare me over 'til another year?
We returned from the Lockjaw assassination. The mission was... A success. A disastrous, bloody, success. Nightscream is making a post detailing what happened, but... I feel the need to give my account as well. I am... Unsure if our accounts will even match up, given the surreal and shifting nature of the location. Lu Bu finally cracked, you see. He told us Lockjaw's location rather early on in the torture. Not that we could risk Lockjaw finding out from this blog. A bit of backstory for you: A few... What is it... Months ago? A few months ago Nightscream was being hunted by a fear called The Plague Doctor. Screamer managed to elude the abomination by manipulating a confrontation between it and our Father in a cult town. This Cult town has since been off-limits to all in our family. Lockjaw for some reason, decided to make her base of operations inside one of the buildings, but we did not know which one. Given the importance of our mission, or perhaps out of a desire to see Nightscream dead, our leaders gave permission for us to enter the Town. We were to bring the entire team, plus Nightscream's specialists.
Well, what is this that I can't see
With ice cold hands takin' hold of me
Well I am death, none can excel
I'll open the door to heaven or hell
I was, and am, still recovering from the ichor infection gained from my screw up in the battle with Lu Bu. I was not at my best, not that I think it would have mattered. The infection may have... Done things to my perceptions of reality. Or perhaps it made me more... Sensitive to these sorts of things. I do not know. The Town looked normal from a distance. Rather small, but with old timey buildings. A large church. Playgrounds. An old mine. But even as I looked on, I felt this... Dull pain behind my eyes. I tried to dismiss it. Ignore it. But it wouldn't go away, no matter how hard I tried. It got worse and worse as we approached the town. This dull ache. Pounding. Pounding. Harder and Harder.
'O, death' someone would pray
'Could you wait to call me another day?'
The children prayed, the preacher preached
Time and mercy is out of your reach
I had a brief reprieve when several figures caught my attention. A Friend of Screamer, and another group. Waxed Robes, Black Hoods and White Bird Masks. All stained blood. Oathbreakers. Their leader seemed familiar with Nightscream and they bantered a bit. Hardly good-natured banter, but at least they were not hostile. God knows we would not have walked out of there at all if we had to fight the Oathbreakers on top of everything else. The Oathbreakers apparently had an interest in removing Lockjaw as well. The enemy of my enemy is my... Uneasy Ally. I really don't see us inviting each other to birthday parties, despite this little bonding session. One chair empty...
I'll fix your feet 'til you can't walk
I'll lock your jaw 'til you can't talk
I'll close your eyes so you can't see
This very hour, come and go with me
With the formalities out of the way, we turned out attention to the Town. We expected Lockjaw to have some traps laid out for security's sake. We were not exactly sure what building she was in either. Headache aside, the town didn't look so bad. Then we entered it, and I think everyone felt it. I cannot quite tell you what "it" was, but it was something. A feeling. One that no amount of words would be able to adequately describe. I noticed Mumbles acting uncharacteristically animated. Eyes darting to every shadow, limbs trembling. I pointed it out to Gleeman, and he went back to try and help Mumbles along.
The first thing we noticed was a child's bicycle laying on the ground. One wheel spinning in place, as if it was freshly abandoned. Ashes and Dust. A child's shadow. Shadows with eyes. Burned into the walls and floors. And my head was aching. The pounding was... Cutting then. Sharp. None of the others saw him, but I did. When Screamer's Butler friend tried to stop the wheel, he paid for it. Didn't die though. A warning maybe. The town was aware of us. And the others were beginning to become aware of it.
I'm death I come to take the soul
Leave the body and leave it cold
To draw the flesh off of the frame
Dirt and worm both have a claim
This place was a wound. Black Leaves upon the branches of a twisted tree, roots tearing into a white house. Children's Swing Set swaying back and forth. The air was so still. All was Ash and Shadow. Black Leaves and Shattered Stone. Sulfur was in the air, and blood. The streets were soaked with fluids from a source I do not dare think of. Always Red. The Sewer Grates were no help. Occupied by something. Twitching and writhing. Staring into oblivion. The corners of my eyes were haunted by shapes without form. My ears strained were filled with the sounds of our footsteps, our breathing. Heartbeats. Blood Flowing eager to dampen the street. The others had eyes forward, minds didn't want to see the Town. The Town wanted us to see. Wanted us to join the Shadows painted on the walls. The Ash in the air. But worse yet was what was real. Looping forever in the instance before they ceased to be. Phone Ringing inside a house, never stopping. Music was static. Televisions speaking with the voices of Shadows. That GODDAMN BELL. Making my head want to explode. Made it stop. Didn't help though. Town didn't like it.
O, Death. O, Death.
Won't you spare me over til another year?
When I shot the bell, a shift happened. Not unlike being forced on the Path. Arrived in some basement. Eyes everywhere. Watching from every Shadow. They were every shadow. The others finally saw them. Reminded me of my birth. Darkness. Only the breathing of my kin to keep me company. Wanted to sleep. Could not. I had a mission. There were gunshots. I radioed in to ask what was happening. Caesar, Nightscream, Recluse and Screamer's Friend nearly killed each other by accident. I left the basement and my kin behind. Rocking Chair still rocking, forever. We met up in the street. Nightscream blamed me. Threw birdseed. Made me feel better. Wonder if the seed is still laying there. Or is it caught in a loop too? The streets were clean now. Black Leaves floated through the air on a breathless wind.
My mother came to my bed
Placed a cold towel upon my head
My head is warm my feet are cold
Death is a-movin' upon my soul
As we went deeper into the town, I could hear the whispers. Mumbles heard them too. Stopped... Jack... Goddamn it Jack... Why him? Why? Stopped Jack from going inside. That door was death. The Gate to Hell. Mumbles knew. I had a feeling. It hurt to be near it. I wanted to leave. Could not. Made Jack get away from the door. Not long after, another shift. Caesar tripped an explosive. Probably from Lockjaw. Angered The Town. Nightscream grabbed me and arrived in a theater. Faces on the screen watching. Pleading. Shadows cheering forever at the screen. Silent applause. The others checked in. Most of them anyway.
Oh, death how you're treatin' me
You've close my eyes so I can't see
Moving on and on. Ever forward, never backward. Except when we were. With the shifts, directions had little meaning. The Shadows followed closely. Like lost and confused children. The Morning Star was once used by sailors to guide their way. I wonder if they could see the light from the flashlight. A Light in the Darkness. Maybe. Nightscream thinks I was using it to keep them away. Pointless. They would not interfere. Knew what was to come. Maybe why they did not take Lockjaw with them into darkness. Knew her part in all this, small though it might have been. Scrambler contacted us and told us he had spotted Lockjaw. Didn't last long. Joined the shadows like Caesar. An eternal purgatory. Still, we knew were Lockjaw was now. Screamer had an... Idea. Backdoor into Lockjaw's hideout. Beneath the shattered stone of the Town. The Church concealed the path, but we found it rather easily. Small Tunnels, damp and dark. The Shadows would not follow us here. Too much of their loved ones blood had been spilled in the depths, on the altar to our Father.
Well you're hurtin' my body
You make me cold
You run my life right outta my soul
My Head cleared as we went down... Down into the Bowels of the Earth. We saw light at the end of the tunnel, and walked into a strange setting. White everywhere, carved with the devotion of a Cultist craftsman... Or with fear and anguish from a captured architect. Perhaps both. It showed and felt. But there was something new, something that did not belong. Cheap furniture. Tasteless. Electronics, computers. I half expected to see a shark pit, or a death laser somewhere around. Lockjaw was there, but she was not the one that had my attention. She was speaking to a Masked Man on a Laptop. The Laptop was in the possession of another Man, clad in blood red hooded robes. Within this hood was a Blank White Mask. From behind the mask, two sky blue eyes. At his hip, a Sword. Screamer and I were about to attack when Lockjaw spoke to us. I didn't pay attention to what she said, as my attention was focused on her companion. Something about him was... Familiar. Extremely familiar. His eyes were upon me as mine were on him. I could see the hatred he had for me. Feel it even. I don't know why. Nightscream began to move, and that snapped me out of my hesitation. Lockjaw was speaking
Oh death please consider my age
Please don't take me at this stage
My wealth is all at your command
If you will move your icy hand
The fool was trying to make a deal with us. Report her death and she will give us all sorts of fun little information. It was not worth paying attention to. She was going to die here, hopefully along with the Masked Man. She identified him as "Iblis." Probably the same one who hijacked my account. We said No, and triggered a bloodbath. Lockjaw had people, more traitors it seems, with her. Our group and theirs fought. Iblis killed Fairy and Mordred. No big loss. Lockjaw managed to kill Yellowbeard. Plumber died in the melee. But they lost more than we did. Lockjaw was fighting with Screamer. Winning, until Jack... Poor Jack... Charged Lockjaw, intending I think to cut her open and she... THAT FUCKING MISERABLE BITCH I WILL SEE HER IN HELL AND... She shot him... In the head. I don't quite remember what happened after that, myself. But when it was over, Lockjaw was dead. Tiger, Recluse, Gleeman and I standing over Jack, with Lockjaw's blood on our hands. Once I recovered myself, I remembered Iblis. He fled down one of the tunnels and I went after him, as he needed to pay for his part in this. For Jack.
The old, the young, the rich or poor
All alike to me, you know
No wealth, no land, no silver no gold
Nothing satisfies me but your soul
His costume slowed him down significantly, as did his briefcase. I tackled him, hoping he would go down quickly. He did not. He was wearing metallic shoes... A light metal, but it still hurt when he kicked my head. I recovered, and so did he. I attacked him with my knives, but he had a sword. Much as it pains my ego to admit it, he was much better than I. Furthermore, he was wearing some sort of armor beneath the robes. My knives were useless. I managed to hold him off, but it was useless. Screamer arrived just in time for me to get nearly... Cut open. I thought I was going to die. Join Jack. Join the Shadows of this town. I awoke in the vehicle, speeding back to a safehouse. Iblis managed to beat Nightscream, and got away. Bastard... But Tiger managed to carry me out, and the Oathbreakers patched me up. And the others. Everyone was wounded in some way. But Lockjaw was dead, the mission complete. The Town was satisfied. Since then, I've been here... Recovering from the various traumas. Mental from the Town. Psychological from Jack. Physical from Iblis. Had an Old Dirge from around the place Morningstar grew up. Stuck in my head. Seems fitting. The Funeral is tomorrow. Another piece of my old life... Gone. Gone. Gone. Jack was a... A homicidal lunatic, completely insane. But Goddammit all... He was my friend. He was hilarious. He was adorably stupid. He was... Gleeman, Tiger and Recluse are not taking it well. Especially Gleeman. I wish we could have taken Lockjaw alive. She didn't suffer enough, I would have made her agony last for weeks. I would make her beg for death, but I wouldn't grant it. Oh no. I would break her. I would break her so utterly, she wouldn't even remember what death is. I would have unmade her. But I can't. Instead I must take solace in the fact that she now suffers an eternal purgatory. Perhaps locked in that town with the others. Perhaps in the cold embrace of the Father she turned her back on. It will have to be enough.
O, Death. O, Death.
Won't you spare me over 'til another year?
Addendum: Here is Screamer's Account of what happened. Might be a bit more coherent than mine or something. I didn't bother reading it myself. No need to remind myself of the Town. That Rotting Wound of the landscape...