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RE: (DF) The Hunter

 
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9/7/2020 9:48:25   
NagisaXIkari
Member

Chapter XXVI: Come Now, Sleep

The world around the Hunter flickered in and out of view as they fought the urge to collapse and sleep on the road in an act of defiance against the gods of the Dream Lands.

Scarcely beneath the surface, they knew it was a vain struggle, but there was a sort of feeling of petty satisfaction in the idea that they were possibly irritating the gods of another world. It was a hopeless endeavour, but one they pursued nonetheless.

***

Sasha made her way down the road, looking back and seeing Theo fade from view, hoping he could help those lost to the Tear Collector find peace.

She felt her heart grow lighter at the thought of those lost finding peace and just from having the time to talk to someone who would listen about her experience.

Sasha thought about the Hunter and how closed off they are and wondered if there was someone out there who could do the same for them and if so who?

***

The Hunter continued down the road, the Falconreach Guardian Tower coming into view over the horizon, popping in and out of view as they struggled to keep their eyes open. It was a lengthy walk that only seemed to grow longer as exhaustion attempted to overwhelm them.

How many gods were going to badger them and for what reason?

The Hunter knew they couldn't keep this up longer and thought back to the eccentric apothecary Jackson and his offer. If he had something that'd allow them sleep, perhaps he had something that'd allow them to stay awake.

Of course it was too late to turn back now and what's past is passed or so they liked to tell themselves as they passed through the west entrance of Falconreach.

They knew Falconreach had an alchemist, but they actually knew very little about them and as much as they told themself that they'd never count on or trust anyone again, they knew they could count on Jackson to fulfill any request they had.

Inside the Falconreach inn, the Hunter's vision faded in and out as they fought to keep their eyes open and for a moment visions of a familiar face, a grotesque monster, and a memory of the day that forever changed them and shaped who they are today.

***

The Falconreach Guardian Tower began to appear on the horizon as Sasha continued down the road the extent of the trip being as much of an experience as the events that led up to this moment.

She was reminded of the view of Oaklore Keep on approach to an extent, but Oaklore always grew larger and larger on approach, the Guardian Tower never seemed to grow in size.

Eventually Sasha would enter the western entrance of Falconreach and much like Swordhaven she would be mesmerized by the sights, sounds, and sheer amount of people going about their lives.

For all the horrors she experienced since leaving home, Sasha found the sights of new places all the more soothing and healing even.

***

The Hunter barely found the resolve to remove their belt and hat as they entered their room at the inn, the allure of the bed being far more captivating as they crashed down onto it, sleep coming to them in an instant and with it, the words of another of the Dream Lands many gods.

< Message edited by NagisaXIkari -- 9/15/2020 7:15:08 >
DF  Post #: 26
9/11/2020 10:58:02   
NagisaXIkari
Member

Chapter XXVII: The Cost of Dreams

The Hunter stood in a vast oasis at the base of a white temple that resembled one that might be found in the Sandsea.

There was a sort of strange feeling of comfort in being in the oasis as though it and the very sky above were carefully manufactured and curated to be as comfortable as possible despite the otherwise harsh conditions barely visible through the flora.

But just beneath the surface of that comfort was a sense of danger as the Hunter could feel the gazes of various others staring at and through them.

"So nice of you to make it," came an almost bored sounding voice from the trees. "Your summoner awaits just up ahead."

The voice rolled its r's much like the cat from outside Swordhaven, the Hunter trying not to roll their eyes at the idea of being in a sort of cat realm.

"Best not to linger for too long," the voice began. "Some of those here don't take too kindly to outsiders even if they are special guests."

The Hunter began to walk towards the temple, their hand going to their waist, stopping at the sound of a hiss.

"Don't do that either," another voice said groggily. "At worst you'll be torn apart before you can do anything."

"At best, a single gaze is all it takes," the first voice said.

As if to affirm the warning came a low growl that ceased when the Hunter moved their hand away from their weapon followed by a low rustle as whoever that growl belonged to slowly stalked after them.

Climbing up the steps of the temple, the Hunter could see a number of cats of various sizes basking in what appeared to be the sun. Some were alien in appearance with multi-hued coats and long ears almost like that of a rabbit and some with multiple tails.

Some cats looked at the Hunter curiously while others looked at them dismissively or just ignored them as they continued to bask in the light.

Inside the temple's sanctum more cats lied about, some acknowledging the Hunter, others ignoring them and among them sprawled out on sofa that showed evidence of scratching was a humanoid yet also feline figure in attire that was strange yet sensual like a dancer, watched the Hunter approach with gold cat-like eyes, her ears adorned with gold earrings twitched as she stretched out then arched her back before sitting up, her long, spotted, lion-like tail hanging off the sofa, the tip brushing against the floor.

"About time you arrived, Hunter," she said, rolling her r's as the cats did. "You would be wise to not keep the divine waiting."

"Perhaps, those who feel the need to summon me should explain why."

The goddess yawned, revealing her fangs and waved a hand dismissively.

"I was operating under the idea that someone had already done so, if not Nodens then perhaps Hypnos," she said. "Or someone else for that matter."

"I've not spoken directly to Nodens."

"He must still be standing watch over that old asylum in your world then," she began. "Then maybe his envoy or whatever it is her position or role is then. And if not, it's not my fault the others can't be bothered to communicate with you despite wanting you to..."

The goddess trailed off as she let out another yawn.

"Wanting me to what exactly? What could the gods of another realm want with a mortal that they can't do themselves?"

"Personally, I'm curious about that myself which is why I've called you. As for the others, if I had to guess, Hypnos is as unsure as you are as to why you've been summoned to this world, but they probably hope to use you to their own ends and those ends can't be good for me," the goddess explained.

"And Nodens? What is it they want?"

"Well, you've placed your faith in them much like all these darling felines placed their faith in me," she began. "And so you've been brought over to this world. Or perhaps you always could traverse the borders between sleep and this world. For what purpose though...I bet it has something to do with the one they've been hunting for a very, very long time."

"And who might that be?"

The goddesses ears twitch and flatten as she shrinks back into the sofa.

"I would not dare speak any of their names and should you ever learn them, neither should you," she said, shivering. "What I want is to not be dragged into this millenia old conflict and should you agree to assist, I will assist you to the best of my abilities."

"How can a goddess be so unsure of her own abilities?"

"I'm not going to traverse into your world that's chaotic enough as is without the appearance of those from other worlds. It wasn't that long ago before it almost came to an end because of such an incident," she said. "I will assist you the same way I summoned you, but I can't guarantee they'll always be so compliant."

The Hunter tried to suppress their irritation. The goddess was more helpful than either Hypnos or the mysterious woman, but there were still more questions.

"For some, the ability to dream is free and welcoming," she began. "Unfortunately, you're not in that group and have to bear the cost of that ability. It might even seem like a curse and for that, I'm so sorry," she said sadly.

"You didn't start any of this, you have nothing to apo-"

***

The Hunter awoke in their room, the moon's light shining in through the window and with it the temptation to take to the streets for reasons they did not understand.

Looking out the window, they basked in the luminescent light feeling a sort of warmth like what the cats who pledged their faith to the goddess may have felt while basking in the light of what could have been a sun.

If basking in the sun's light was something typical of cats, what did it make them who basked in the moon's light?

They thought about their meeting with the goddess and she had said about the summonings to the Dream Land, Nodens, and the cost of dreams.

What was the reason they were being called? Was there even a reason or was it indeed a curse?

***

Sasha sat up in her bed having abruptly woken up. She did not recall having a dream, but she found herself unable to fall back to sleep.

As she gazed about the room only partially illuminated by the moon shining in through her window, she thought about the Hunter in the Great Lake of Mud and how they were captivated by it for reasons that continue to be unclear to her.

Were they in Falconreach right now entranced by the moon's light or were they somewhere beyond the town's walls?

Sasha got out of bed and walked to the window, the view of the moon shining high above the Guardian Tower was a sight to behold as though it too watched over the town alongside the home of its defenders.

She was reminded of seeing the moon over Oaklore Keep which was similar, but also lesser than the sight she currently gazed upon.

Still feeling as though she is unable to return to sleep, Sasha dressed and departed from her room.

***

The Hunter departed from their room, Sasha having left her room at the same time, the two meeting in the hallway.

"Do you insist on continuing this journey?" The Hunter asked.

"Yes," Sasha said firmly.

"Very well," the Hunter began. "We're going to find a place called Moon Lake."
DF  Post #: 27
10/14/2020 2:29:06   
NagisaXIkari
Member

Chapter XXVIII: Wandering Under the Moonlight

The streets of Falconreach during the nighttime hours were lively unlike those of Swordhaven during the same time, but nowhere near as bustling as they were during the daytime making it seem like they had come to an entirely different town.

"May I ask what made you change your mind?" Sasha asked.

"You have potential, but need refinement," the Hunter began. "Don't think of it as anything other than me offering tutelage until I believe you're capable of honing your abilities the rest of the way yourself."

"That's...fair, I suppose."

The two wandered the streets of Falconreach, despite the Hunter's apparent change of heart of allowing Sasha to accompany them, she felt even further away from them than when they had first met.

During their wanderings, Sasha watched the Hunter who even under their attire that largely concealed their appearance, could see they were gazing up at the moon, fixated on it just like in the Great Lake of Mud.

What is it about the moon that captivates you so much? She wondered.

While the Hunter watched the moon, they had the same thought as Sasha.

What was it about the moon that captivated them in the way it did? What strange being drew their gaze to it?

"Excuse us," Sasha said to a Guardian on watch. "May we ask you a question?"

The Guardian looked at the two, a pair of strangers in Falconreach not being an unusual sight in most cases, but one staring off into the sky was a peculiar sight.

"Yes, but may I ask what your companion here is doing?"

"Oh, they're um..." Sasha began before giving the Hunter a nudge, bringing them back to reality.

"Are you all right?"

"Yes, I'm fine," the Hunter began as though they had not been brought out of a strange, otherworldly trance. "Who might you be?"

"Guardian Logress," the Guardian said. "Your companion wanted to ask me something."

"We're looking for a place called Moon Lake," the Hunter began. "Do you know anything about it or know someone who might?"

"I can't say I've heard of it, but there are plenty of people coming and going who might," Guardian Logress said.

"Very well," the Hunter said. "Thank you."

***

"Where did you hear about this Moon Lake?" Sasha asked as the two continued their wandering of the Falconreach streets.

"A rain damaged notice on the board in Swordhaven. I already inquired with someone there who I believed to be the most informative and they couldn't answer."

"That was just one person though. There could've been others who might have an answer," Sasha said.

"Countless people pass through Falconreach regularly," the Hunter began. "And with those people comes information. There is bound to be someone with an idea of where to find this Moon Lake or what it even is."

Sasha looked at the Hunter in confusion at their investment in a place they only heard of from a rain damaged posting. For all either of them knew, the posting never said Moon Lake originally, but there was a lot about the Hunter she didn't understand.

She thought back to the day they met and the awe and wonder she felt when speaking to them and also the sadness she felt when they said they don't feel anything when it comes to hunting.

"What makes this place so interesting that you backtracked so far out of the way to find a lead on it? Do you think it's a significant hunt or is there something else to it?"

"My reasons are mine alone," the Hunter began. "I didn't relent on you joining me because I wanted someone to open up to."

"Yes, I understand."

Sasha stepped back from the Hunter, their voice being eerily similar to the one they spoke in during that day in the woods with their gun drawn and pointed in her direction.

"I think it would be best if we made separate inquiries around town."

Without waiting for an answer, Sasha made her way further into the moonlit town and away from the Hunter who in what seemed like ages ago was someone she could look up to and would've been ecstatic about learning from like a dream come true.

Looking over her shoulder towards the Hunter, she wasn't sure what to think about them now.

***

The Hunter wandered the moonlit streets of Falconreach, their thoughts a haze as their gaze was fixed on the moon.

The Dream Lands and its gods who sought them out for reasons not known to the Hunter seemed forgotten as if by some spell cast by the moon itself or whatever presence inhabits it.

As the Hunter continued to gaze upon the night sky, their focus was broken not by the actions of another, but by the presence of another, the Hunter instinctively reaching for their firearm.

"Steady yer hand, Hunter," a raspy voice said from the darkness between a building and a tree. "I don't come to do ye or the woman harm."

"Identify yourself."

"Hmm," the voice began. "Let us say...Hiram. Hiram of Kingsport."

"What do you want?"

The name Kingsport wasn't unfamiliar to the Hunter, but they couldn't say they had ever been so far up north. And what did Hiram of Kingsport want with them and why did they seek them out?

"Ye seek Moon Lake, is that right?" Hiram began. "Moon Lake and the prey that calls it home."

"What is Moon Lake and what is this prey you speak of?"

Hiram chuckled, their raspy voice sounding like an object being dragged across gravel.

"The Ghost Dogs of Moon Lake," Hiram said with a smile, their teeth glowing an almost supernatural white in the moon's light.

"Where is this Moon Lake?"

"Deep in the Greenguard Forest on the approach to the hidden glass adorned town of Ashen Rose," Hiram began. "It will be quite a trip, but ye've become accustomed to that, haven't ye?"

***

Maybe it's just how one has to be to live this life, Sasha wondered. Leaving no room for attachments 'cause everything can end in an instant.

Unlike the Hunter, Sasha did not gaze upon the moon in some sort of trance-like state, but rather at the ground below not wanting to show her face to the few people milling around the streets, nor did she want to see them.

Despite what she said to the Hunter, Sasha began to make her return to the inn, drained by her interactions with them and her mind too clouded by thoughts of what it could mean to walk the path she desired.

She thought of Theo and his words to her in Swordhaven about respecting the lives of the things whose life she will take so that they may find peace and of the Hunter who closed themselves off from the world and focused only on the hunt.

Can one close themselves off while respecting the lives they bring to an end? Would she need to close herself off from the world to be able to succeed or was it only a choice the Hunter made themself?
DF  Post #: 28
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