The Shenandoah Reports

Down the Rabbit Hole - Echoes of Insanity

Trapped in the shadow of a dead world, how is escape possible?

With the sudden disappearance of their quarry, the sorcerer Gersic, and their companions Alucard and Kassandra, Hugo, Nickodemus, and Soup attempted to work out how they might follow them.

Nickodemus immediately tried to sense the echo of the rift- even if Gersic was able to completely seal the rift, there should have be some remnants of the initial tear he reasoned from his studies. He was able to find it, sure enough, though it was faint enough that he knew that if they didn’t go at that moment, he wouldn’t be able to hold onto it. As a result, his first world walking experience was a harrowing one. He summoned the power of spirit to outline the location of the rift, then gradually increasing the power he put into it, he was able to hopefully tear a rift to the exact same location- the only way to know was to try it, as he was having a hard time keeping it open for some inexplicable reason. So they jumped into the rift, throwing caution to the wind…

…and fell into open air, the ground rushing up towards them. Soup hit the ground, hard. Hugo was only a little more fortunate, having the relatively softer surface of a car cushion his fall. He bounced from it to the ground, taking stock of his pains. A shadow screamed from the sky towards the still dazed Hugo, and Soup tackled him, taking the hit instead.

He found that the impact was not solid, as the shadow passed through him. It was a strange sensation- cold and chilling. But that wasn’t the worst part- he knew that he was missing something, but wasn’t sure what it was! As the shadow came for a second pass, the pair got down- Soup not so sure anymore that his changeling nature could actually protect him against these… beings. As they stayed closer to the ground, trying to hide from the attacks, the wailing of the shadows began to fade, and they were able to hear a whispering.

Gotta stay quiet. Gotta stay down.

Something was familiar about the whispering. It was hard to place but…

Stay down. Come this way. Gotta get under cover before they come back.

…it was Kassandra! Her clothes were rags, her modesty only intact by the barest of margins. But she didn’t seem so much aware of that, as she was of the shadows and of survival. After talking to her, they came to realize that though only moments had passed for them, she’d been here for a longer time. And she’d gone through a lot in the meantime.

Not wanting to stay here any longer than they needed, they wanted to pierce the veil and try to return home- but in addition to not knowing where Alucard was, Nickodemus hadn’t made the transition with them. In her time here, she’d tried to venture out as little as possible, but they decided that they needed to try to find Gersic, since they knew he was here. He might be able to shed some light on where they were/how they could get back. Kassandra had her doubts about him being alive, but led them to him anyway. It was a harrowing trek through the empty streets. Though they only saw the shadows overhead, they knew that they were diving and attacking them. Small touches, and the forgetting of little things. Nothing as bad as the hit that Soup had taken, but the theft of the memories that made them who they were was a disconcerting thing.

Finally making it to the cab, they saw the remnants of Gersic’s bindings in the vehicle, but no sign of the sorcerer. Searching the immediate vicinity, they did see that the door to one of the high rise offices in the area was ajar, and saw that there was a scrap of cloth that matched the ripped remainder of Kassandra’s clothes – the scrap that she’d used to blindfold or gag him, most likely.

Heading into the building, Soup heard someone whispering. He tried to call the others’ attention to it, but they heard nothing, so they forged on into the building, finding that someone had apparently toppled something glass from one of the tables, and there was blood mingled in with it- footprints it seemed. The bloody footprints led further into the building, towards the elevator bank and stairwell. Following it, they noted that one of the elevator doors was open. Checking it out, it seemed that the door wasn’t open, but that part of it was just missing, as if it had been cut off. And the darkness beyond wasn’t a lack of light, but something else.

At that point, Soup again heard whispering, and tried to call the others’ attention to it. But again nothing. It was disconcerting as it seemed to come from right next to him, but further away, and closer- as if in his head. He shook his head to clear it, and tried to open the door. As his hand approached it, he heard the voice again- this time calling his name. He pulled his hand back as if it had been burned, and looked around wildly. The others questioned his actions, but saying nothing, he tried again. This time, as his hand approached the bar to open the door, time itself seemed to slow down, making it impossible for his hand to open the door. Looking around again, he told the others that the voice had called his name, and he wasn’t able to touch the door handle. Hugo offered to open the door, but Soup vehemently said no, and that he could do it. Kassandra offered her opinion that it might be George or the Shadows, delivered with gravitas and a grim expression. Soup laughed hysterically, and turned and plunged his hand towards the bar, expecting resistance, or a voice, or something to try to stop him.

But there was nothing, and as he touched the bar, a loud gong sounded and reverberated. He panicked, and turned to run, and saw the others staring at him questioningly. He asked if they’d heard it- but neither of them had. Soup finally relented and let Hugo open the door… which he did, with no problems, looking askance at Soup as he did so. Soup had no response, so brushed past Hugo, heading down the stairwell.

Stopping at the next landing, they listened at the door, and heard the sound of a chair creaking, and someone muttering. Preparing for an attack, they yanked open the door- but no one was there. There was, however, a chair facing the door, and as Hugo checked, they found that the seat of the chair was warm. Soup crept down the hall, expecting something at any time. The floor looked to be the maintenance area- one that would fit the large building above them. But they wondered what was in the lower levels if that was the case. Putting that aside, Soup looked around the corner at the t-intersection, and was rewarded with the sight of a ball of sizzling light headed his way. Dodging back, he saw that the ball was lightning as it streaked past- and it looked very similar to the ball that had been thrown at Nickodemus at the hospital. Ready now, he ran around the corner in the direction that the ball had come from, and saw Gersic, bedraggled and wide-eyed, preparing to cast again. Soup leapt for him, and was hit with a lesser bolt of lightning. It singed as it sizzled off of his skin, but his faerie nature ground out most of it, and he was able to absorb the rest. Tackling Gersic to the ground, he winced as Kassandra- who had followed Soup’s charge- kicked Gersic soundly in the head, bouncing his head off the ground. This put the sorcerer out, once again. But this had the unfortunate effect that they couldn’t use nor question him until he came around. And in his fragile state there was no telling when this would happen, so they decided to continue their search of the level.

Awakening after a sudden unconsciousness is disconcerting in the best of times. So Alucard didn’t feel charitable awakening blind, deaf, and with the uncomfortable feeling of being surrounded by squishy softness. And what was that sucking sensation?!? So he did what he knew best… he struggled, he squirmed, and he pulled and pressed, and didn’t give up. It seemed like it took forever- whatever was holding him didn’t seem to want to let him go, and as he pulled, it pushed. As he struggled it soothed, trying to seemingly caress his skin. But he continued to struggle, finally with a hand breaking free, followed by the arm, his supernatural strength winning out over whatever held him. But such pain! His arm felt like it had been stripped of skin as he felt the cold air run over it. But that was the point; the pain fueled his rage at being trapped and let him know that he was alive! Straining with renewed fervor, he ripped from that fleshy embrace, naked, and covered in blood, more violently than any child had ever come into this world.

Alucard saw tendrils withdrawing from his skin, and though they left behind only puckered traces of where they were connected to him, the intrusion stoked the fires of his rage once again and he looked around for anything to strike back at his captor. He noticed that he was in what looked like a janitor’s closet, lit only by faint luminescence that seemed to come from everywhere and nowhere- just barely enough to see by. But he did find what he was looking for… grabbing the broom from the corner, he charged the fleshy wall, driving the wooden end of the broom deeply into his former captor. Though it felt as if he hit flesh, and the wall undulated, there was no sound nor resistance. That lack of response didn’t stop him, as he continued to thrust the broom into the flesh of the wall, ignoring the ichor and blood that flowed over his bare flesh. He stopped only when he began to feel faint, and realized that there was a miasma of smoke rising from the bloody floor; the ichor had mixed with chemicals and created some sort of noxious cloud. He flipped the light switch on and off with no effect, then when no more light was forthcoming, he tried to open the door, but found it locked. Realizing that he was fast losing his fight with unconsciousness, he looked around feverishly, his eyes settling on a janitor’s coveralls hanging on the far wall. He took the shirt and ripped it into strips, covering his mouth, and buying him a little time as the dirty fabric feebly filtered the air. Grabbing the coveralls, he ran at the door, careening into it with all the speed he could muster in the enclosed space. He hit solidly, and felt the door buckle, if not break. He backed up and repeated the action- feeling the door move fractionally more. He felt a breeze on his face, and took a deep breath of fresh air, restoring his strength enough to apply all of his considerable might to the task, breaking through the door into the hall.

Soup had the idea of calling for help- and found out inexplicably that he had a cell signal. He called Lumin, and talked to him momentarily, explaining the situation. Lumin assured him that he’d look into it. They arranged to call back as they explored the hallway more.

As the group walked down the hall, they were plunged into darkness. The light came back on- then the darkness came again. It was as if some cosmic force was turning the lights on and off- each time plunging them into pitch black. Before they could respond to that event, the light came on and stayed on. Then they began to hear an ominous sound- crashing of some seemingly irresistible force into some immovable object with a resounding crash of metal and the screaming of over-stressed metal.

As they made their way down the hall, they saw a door crash open, and some lumbering nude hulk covered in gore and greenish red blood. It turned towards them, and they prepared for an attack- but found out that it was Alucard! After some measure of catching up (and clothing Alucard) they decided to continue down the hallway, Alucard shouldering the weight of Gersic’s unconscious form. They continued down the corridor, coming to another door that looked very similar to the first that they encountered on the level. Opening the door, they saw that it led into a void- one that seemed to totally devour anything tossed into it!

At this point, out of options, they called Lumin back, but again, had no signal on the cell phone. Remembering what Alucard said about flipping a switch, they decided that this must be what caused the signal to disappear, but soon found out that this was not only not the case, but the mix of viscous fluids from the janitor’s closet had created a noxious cloud barring them from the stairway they had originally entered from. They protected themselves from exposure the best they could, and ran through the cloud- though it was a close call, they made it successfully! But they had forgotten about Gersic, who seemed to be on the verge of expiring from his exposure!

As he gasped for breath, the building began to shake and go out of focus- it was then that Hugo put together that his mental state was somehow driving this whole demented world. As they reached the stairs, Hugo stretched his senses downward and outward, trying to find out what was going on… he found himself walking through the world, seeing his friends and himself, pulling the strings and manipulating the world. He also saw another dark presence fighting him- and the fact that he was losing! There was also a section of himself that was walled off- and when he regained his own body, that’s where he raced.

Down the group went, finally coming to a locked and barred door that Hugo opened with a thought- his own abilities were somehow transformed in this mindscape. Keeping hold of this knowledge and belief, when they walked through the door into what he could only describe as emptiness- a complete white with no features other than another locked door- he thrust forward again with his mind, splintering that obstacle as he had the first.

As they walked through, they found themselves in an even stranger location… a civil war battle scene. It was at this point that Hugo began to figure out exactly what had happened… and what they had to do to break free…!


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