What Makes a King? (Final Breath of the Sanguineous Druid)   Posted by The Calendar of Setesh.Group: 0
The Calendar of Setesh
 GM, 3 posts
 The Black Monarch
 Storyteller
Fri 3 Sep 2021
at 06:07
What Makes a King? (Final Breath of the Sanguineous Druid)
Flesh is flesh. No more sacred than the piss and shit left behind in its wake. It all rots. It all gets devoured by some other life. No more worthy of respect or ritual than that afforded by entropy itself. The exotic Moribund was proof of this. No matter where they went, there was blood and death. Priests begged for it. Nobles paid for it. Peasants experienced it first hand. All of them were in awe of it, and you brought it to them best.

Wandering the White Reaches, the Circus had not seen a human encampment for weeks. It was not like the Red Jester to avoid people for so long, but their path had taken them through the stalking grounds of many wild and strange beasts, always pushing farther, and farther north.

Routine for you has not been that different from the last three years. Every day, another creature to wrestle to the ground, to rip open, and to devour. But where once you ‘performed’ before crowds of people gluttonous for the carnage, since the Red Jester turned northward, the crowd has been the silent, staring faces of the other circus performers, and crew.

Every night you would be invited to dine with the Red Jester, served the finest wines and delicacies from all over Creation, even as everyone else in the Moribund starved. They grew thin and emaciated. Many froze in their beds at night, while you are afforded all the heaviest leathers and furs for your cot.

Each dinner, the Red Jester would urge you to detail that day's kill. The sensation of death in your hands, of the flesh, ripped from its bone by your teeth. The trickle of its blood down your throat. Every, last, gory, detail. And every night the Red Jester would tell you that your progress was highly satisfying. That you were almost ready. That it was just a bit farther. That maybe tomorrow. Maybe the next day.

It is now six weeks since the start of this new journey. The circus is dead. Either frozen at night or put into the ring with you. Last night it was just you and her, the Red Jester. There was no dinner. No wine. No blankets. Only the mass of the Jester’s viscera to keep you warm amidst all the desolation. She had died with a grin on her face, telling you that you were now perfect. Slitting her own throat in worship of the thing that was you.

The morning is clear. The air is still. The tents and wagons are gone. The Jester’s head is clutched in your hand. Her face, still twisted in a morbid grin, dumbly urges you onwards.

—————————

Ahead of you rises a great cavern. Its walls and ceiling are slick with rime. Light reflects off of every surface, becoming more twisted and warped the further into the cavern it travels. Your boots echo with every step, and from somewhere deep within, something sighs.

Your legs move and you stagger forwards, the chill and the hunger rattle your very narrow, and yet you must press on. Hours, maybe days, of lethargically slumping from one stride to the next finally brings you to a massive hall of cascading stairs and altars. Braziers, cold and dark as the mountain peaks flank every feature, and the whole structure flows upwards into the rear of the hall where there rests an enormous throne of black iron. Seated in the king’s haughty height, is a thick, leathery man of hoary skin, and whispers of hair barely clinging to his head.

“The cur is destroyed, then.”

The frozen king’s voice creaks with ancient rust, but next to the void-like silence of the hall, it is as if he was whispering directly into your ear.

“The Circus Moribund… is no more. Good. My imprisonment ends...”

Ice encrusting his frame cracks and crumbles as he brings to stand.

“Speak, thing. Come to worship the rightful tyrant? Or die at his feet?”
Sanguineous Druid, the Savage King
 player, 1 post
 "Nature, Red in Tooth
 and Claw."
Fri 3 Sep 2021
at 06:42
What Makes a King? (Final Breath of the Sanguineous Druid)
The circus had been home, as close to the idea of home that he had ever experienced. His father had never held love for him and there was never a motherly embrace to fall into. And while part of him had no care for the cowards and weaklings who gasped and squealed at his shows, he had missed it. Mostly because the constant travel had provided him a bevy of new, delicious prey to devour. And, in his own twisted way, he considered those who encouraged his show...his savagery, as family. But one thing he had come to realize in his time with the Moribund...the Red Jester always had some plan, some great stroke behind the madness. So he followed, and continued to just do as he always had.

The great, bloody food of his conquests were still as delicious as ever; even if his audience had changed. The dining with the Red Jester had been a bit odd, but he was not one to deny his gluttonous instincts. Even as the rest of the circus died, frozen and starving...or brought to a glorious end in his ring; he only considered it proof that they were weaker than him. Nothing more, nothing less. Truthfully, the only life lost that he felt even the tiniest tinge of sadness about was that of the Red Jester. And even then, that was more at the loss of a kindred spirit; one who could look upon him...look him in the eyes and not flinch...but see something greater.

The cold was new to him, having grown up in warmer climates. But it was just another obstacle to be conquered. And the fur and skin that he clothed himself at least helped a little. He wasn't entirely sure what drove him onward...an animalistic drive to triumph in the task that had been set the Moribund? Maybe, maybe a desire to see this perfection the Red Jester spoke of, and to see whatever plan she had fulfilled. Either way, no amount of cold, snow or beast would slow or stop him...not even if his limbs were to freeze and rot away.

The grand cavern reminded him greatly of the den of a great beast. And he was eager for fresh meat. The sound of the sigh just confirmed it to him, food and shelter were to be had. Though...the massive hall found him with a moment of curiosity...who could have built such a massive temple and what was it's purpose? The moment passed just as quickly though with the growl of his stomach, a predatory snarl escaping his lips.

By the time he made it to great black throne, his curiosity had long died and become annoyance at the sheer size of this place. And seeing the leathery man sitting there, he clicked his tongue against his teeth. When the man spoke, he let out a low growl, being entirely uninterested in what the man had to say; especially toward the Circus...as dead, even at his own hands, he still liked the frozen head he claimed in his hand more than this man who was nothing more than food. And then the man seemed to think he was in a position of power.

"Thing...hm, I've been called worse. But you seem to be mistaken about something," He smiled and showed his teeth much like a great tyrant lizard, setting the frozen head down, "I bow before no one, and in this moment...the only one of us who will die is you. When I rip your heart from your chest and feast on it." He pulled his coat from his form, showing the thinned but still powerful form underneath, "I'm starving, and old bastard seems a fine meal to me in the moment, I just hope your blood hasn't frozen in those veins of yours...I'm just as thirsty." His muscles began to tense, much like a great cat getting ready to run and pounce prey.
The Calendar of Setesh
 GM, 6 posts
 The Black Monarch
 Storyteller
Fri 10 Sep 2021
at 04:20
What Makes a King? (Final Breath of the Sanguineous Druid)
The leathery man doubles over in a hacking, wheezing laughter. It crashes off every rime-slick surface like frothy waves beating against an unassailable cliff. Each cackle meets the last in a rhythmic, lyrical round, echoes, meeting echoes, meeting echoes.

The robe that graces his shoulders is thick with grease and grime. Once, perhaps, pristine white and blossoming with a bright, yellow peony, it is now grey and black and brown. The stains of sweat thick and evident across its pits and tracing a long, triangular peak down its front and back.

His foot snaps forwards, catching you by surprise in both its speed and strength. Your feet leave the floor, air rushes past your ears, and your back cracks against the base of the stairs. Pain lances down your every limb, and the man, the thing, stalks down the frozen flight towards you.

His hand rolls in a flourish by his ankle and he plucks up the lolling head of the Red Jester. Its weight strains against his iron grip, its mass dangling a half foot below, bound to his claw-like fingers by a clutch of long strands of its hair. The Jester’s neck bounces against every step and landing along the descent until at last it meets your boot, your foot still quivering inside, trying vainly to shift even an inch. Your arms and legs are just as helpless. Something in your back had shattered and while pain still wracked your limbs and the cold still seeped in through every pore, they would not yield to your will, flapping uselessly with every strained attempt.

“Thing, it is. Thing, it will be. Until the Not and Never King calls-”

Hefting back his shoulder, the beastly creature brings down the Jester’s skull to meet your own. Again and again. Your nose sunders first, and then your lips burst open. Your neck cracks along with the ice you lay upon and the back of your skull. The sharp pain suddenly relieves you of the roaring ache through your limbs, but reprieve is horridly brief as the silence of your arms and legs and ribs, like a void, draws in the searing fire lancing across your face and head. That single point shining in endless darkness becomes the brightest and cruelest star.

“-it will lay with Things of before, Things of after. Until the King calls.”

The rime and ice shatter with the final crash of Jester brow meeting yours. You are dead, you are sure, but even this is not relief. Your body sinks backwards, slipping from its perch and diving deep into the inky-black waters beneath. Your eyes still stare in resentful wrath, watching the man slowly shrink above you, so distant now, and unreachable. The Jester’s head sinks past your own and a clack of bone meeting bone tells you it found its final resting place. Your own body and head settling amongst the bones and skulls of hundreds others like yourself. Bearded and wan from decades of aquatic entombment. This underwater sepulchre groans with the wail of generations. Enough, enough. Call us, King. Call us. Call us.


—————————

Ahead of you rises a great cavern. Its walls and ceiling are slick with rime. Light reflects off of every surface, becoming more twisted and warped the further into the cavern it travels. Your boots echo with every step, and from somewhere deep within, something sighs.

Your legs move and you stagger forwards, the chill and the hunger rattle your very marrow, and yet you must press on. Hours, maybe days, of lethargically slumping from one stride to the next finally brings you to a massive hall of cascading stairs and altars. Braziers, cold and dark as the mountain peaks flank every feature, long decayed corpses litter the floor and crunch under your heavy footsteps. The rear of the hall calls to you, and you see an enormous throne of black iron. Seated in the king’s haughty height, is a thin, leathery man of hoary skin, shrivelled and bald.

By the time you make it to the great, black throne, your curiosity has long since perished, and become instead, annoyance. The sheer size of this place. Seeing the leathery man sitting there, you click your tongue against your teeth. He speaks, and you let out a low growl.

The leathery man doubles over in a hacking, wheezing cough. It crashes off every rime-slick surface like frothy waves beating against an unassailable cliff. Each snort meets the last in a rhythmic, lyrical round, echoes, meeting echoes, meeting echoes.

The scraps of cloth that grace his shoulders end barely an inch from the collar. Whatever it may have been, now long since atrophied in the cold and dark cavern, leaving him bereft of even the simplest modesty. He slumps back into his throne, appearing all the world like an ornery thistle defiantly clinging to the stallion’s flank. He moans weakly, words barely forming.

“So… the cur… Moribund… cave… no escape… The Lover… I… I… resist…?”

If it lacks the strength, or will, you are not sure, but it lies before you, defenceless and weak, but with a pounding heart of black sludge. Your stomach growls, a beast all its own, it demands to be fed and your hand already reaches out to clutch the thrumming twist of meat with your fist.

—————

… Isolation… A death most ignoble. Lacking glory, lacking purpose, lacking meaning. Alone in the darkness. So far removed, it hangs in a void. But in isolation, like the void, even the faintest anything is… exceptional.

“Who… eats… who…?” You strain to be heard, but your words never mattered. Not to the man with his hand upon your heart, not to anyone, not to Her. A useless man, lord of his domain, but Tyrant of nothing.

She is there, then, at that moment. The woman from your dreams, your lonely hallucinations. Beautiful, but serene and cold. Her Raiment clings tightly to her body and leaves nothing to the imagination. A veil alights her face, pitch black lips and the stark wells of her eyes the only discernible features. You had received all you asked for and more, but it was still, ultimately, nothing. And she stands there, behind your assailant, the latest in seven centuries of hunters come to devour your power. And she weeps for you. Only dry tears, eyes long since turned to glass with nothing left to shed, reveling in the moment of epiphany, but pained to her core that it had to be this way. This awful way. How else could you see? How else could anyone, see?

But here, now, a change. She holds out her hand towards you. Would you accept the Oblivion she offered? And end to the suffering, but for only one… small… task… first…
Sanguineous Druid, the Savage King
 player, 2 posts
 "Nature, Red in Tooth
 and Claw."
Fri 10 Sep 2021
at 21:38
What Makes a King? (Final Breath of the Sanguineous Druid)
The only thing he felt was disgust looking down at the thin, bare and barely alive man. A king of not and nothing, such a pathetic existence. Even as he felt his hand reach down for the mans throat, his other already moving with a predatory move to that blackened lump of flesh, he couldn't help wonder...what was he talking about? The Lover? Resist? He wasn't sure what the man thought he was resisting, but he was a fool. Looking around at the state of the man and this place, it was already obvious that this was a cage...a prison of ice and iron. Only a fool would willingly stay in this place, bereft of prey and challenge.

Still, he could feel...something...tickling the back of his neck. It was the same sensation he had when a great predator was watching him from some unseen perch. The feel of being prey, of being hunted...but this was darker, more palpable. Like the hands of death were running along his spine. It was thrilling, he hadn't felt his heart skip a beat in years.

But more than that feeling, his stomach demanded satisfaction. One problem at a time, one issue at a time...one step at a time, that is how he would survive, how he would triumph over this place. As the broken man before him spoke, he lifted him by the neck to be face to face with him. "The strong eat the weak, simple as that," He said lowly, it was the core of his being, his one driving principle, "And while I normally prefer to challenge the strongest for my meals, rather than culling the weak or injured...well, trying times require putting ones pride to the side. Be grateful, your weakness is at an end to fuel my strength."

It was oddly personal and gently brutal, the giant of a man stared into the withered mans eyes. His other hand slowly pushed through the weak skin, up under the ribs. He could feel the lump of flesh in his hands beating their last, and then with a firm, quick yank...the black heart was in one hand and the limp body of the withered man hung in his other. He had a moment of questioning whether he was really going to eat something that looked like the heart did...but his hunger overrode other cautions. Starving to death was neither pleasant nor something he ever wanted to do.

In an easy, calm motion he brought the heart to his mouth and ripped a chunk of meat from it. Coughing a bit at the sputter of blood as he swallowed it down closer to a wild animal than a person. Manners were for civilization and times of feast, not famine. Though as he did so, he placed the man down next to the throne, oddly respectful of the corpse. He would take his time picking the corpse clean of meat in time. And then he turned as sat on the throne, looking out over the place, taking another bite of the heart.

"Now that I have food to sate my hunger, and liquid to quench the ache of my dry throat," He said, eyes scanning the room like a hunter, "What manner of predator is watching me?" His voice was loud enough to carry off the empty halls and ice. After all, if it was an enemy, it probably would have attacked; if it was a protector of his meal, it would have attacked. So instinct and reason pointed to a neutral party, or maybe a potential ally to get out of this frozen wasteland. But he would see, if he didn't like what was said, a second meal was just as welcome.