The Cleanse

Ja’Deir’s breaths came out raggedly. The Necromancer died with a final lightning flash and a look of intense, inexplicable pain.


One one-thousand…
Two one-thousand…
Three one thousand…

*There’s got to be something wrong with me*, Ja’Deir thought to himself. *My pulse is far too slow, and my airway is restricted.*

One one-thousand…
Two one-thousand…
Three one-thousand…

*Yeah, definitely off. Just let me concentrate…* Ja’Deir cleared his head, and counted his breaths.

Four one-thousand…
Five one-thousand…
Six one-thousand…

The world around him melted away, starting at the edges and falling into darkness like a sandcastle on the beach. With each breath the calm waves slowly destroyed the real world, and emphasized himself, the only truly tangible thing in the world.

Seven one-thousand…
Eight one-thousand…
Nine one-thousand…

Ja’Deir’s consciousness, his inner self, stood on a platform in an endless blackness. Little bit by little bit he built his body in front of him. First, a nearly shapeless blob appeared, and started to rotate. Four tendrils snaked out of the mass, swelling where they bent. They gained definition; the joints forming shoulders, elbows, wrists, hips, knees, and ankles. As they formed, he checked them for swelling, hyperextension, and inflammation.

Ten One-thousand…
Eleven One-thousand…
Twelve One-thousand…

Next the arms and legs formed, muscles twisting and swelling like balloons being filled. Invisible tendons stretched along their elastic trails, hard bone locked the shape of the arm, and cartilage formed to connect them all. As they gained girth and life Ja’Deir’s gaze searched the inscrutable depths of each piece and part.

Thirteen One-thousand…
Fourteen One-thousand…
Fifteen One-thousand…

The trunk elongated and gained definition. The outward appearance changed little compared to the arms and legs, but the sub-dermal changes were in a league of their own. Organs formed, cushioned by fat and viscous filling, contained by ribs and spine and free floating muscle. Ja’Deir’s serene outward expression twisted slightly, as he processed more information. Every organ’s function checked and rechecked, connections verified, physical damage logged and put away for later use.

Sixteen One-thousand…
Seventeen One-thousand…
Eighteen One-thousand…

Last of all came the superficies; flight membranes, fat and skin layers, fur, tail, neck. Each abnormality checked for deeper problems such as infections, toxins, or irreparable damage. Ja’Deir’s homunculus did not get a head. To anyone other than a Mind Mage this makes no sense, but it is an obvious stopping place. There is no point in checking one’s own mind. A measuring stick cannot measure itself. If the measuring stick says “1 foot” then there is nothing that it can do but believe it is correct. For this reason the form remained discombobulated. Ja’Deir’s psyche-projection lifted from its platform and glided toward the form. It shrank so that it could focus better on the pieces of the form, and recheck his previous diagnosis.

*It cannot be,* Ja’Deir thought, *I must have something wrong with me. I have a slow pulse and air constriction.* He scanned the lungs, vasculatures, and airways. *All normal.* He logged everything in his mind, in perfect focus, to be retrieved when he checked himself again in several hours. If there wasn’t anything he could see right now, the change between now and then would reveal the culprit.


Nineteen One-thousand…
Twenty.

Ja’Deir opened his eyes. He saw Overkill’s lifeless form in front of him, lying among the mutilated corpses of the Necromancer’s flunkies. He felt a pang of guilt, seeing the other members of CrIsis labor over his corpse, tryng to coax life back into it. But Ja’Deir did not have anything left to try to resuscitate him. Even before his auto-diagnosis, his psionic reserves would not have allowed for the kind of drain that would have put on him. He turned, and the parts of his fur that had crusted over with the blood from the Necromancer’s Pools cracked and ripped at his skin. A shudder coursed through his body and he had to stop himself from retching.

0.oOo.0

The world dissolved and all he heard was demonic laughing, and a child’s dying cries; he felt the hot, thick blood pouring from his eyes like tears.

0.oOo.0

Ja’Deir gulped air. He pulled out some of the rags in his bag, and started to scrub away the blood before it hardened too much. Halfway through the job he realized he will have to cross the pool again. But no! He wouldn’t! He could leap the distance, especially with the deific help he’d strapped to his arm. He finished scrubbing every last part of himself that felt touched by blood. Satisfied with the job, Ja’Deir threw the rags on top of the pile of corpses, and prepared his leap.

Step
Shuffle
Step
Le-aa-AAhugh!!

Ja’Deir’s foot slipped on loose muscle tissue, most likely cleaved from Tezcat by Overkill’s overzealous ‘stabby action.’ His leap did not get enough height, so regardless of his flight membranes, he didn’t quite make it to the other side of the pool of blood, and landed wholly in the two-foot deep pool of blood. The smell was bad enough before he got a bloodbath. He spluttered as he clambored out of the pool, scraping for his lifeon the rocks to pull him out of the red muck.

He pulled himself onto the bank, shivering, not from cold, but to keep him from emptying his stomach or screaming. He grabbed his bloody backpack, and reached inside for a rag to at least clear his face. ¬- Squelch – All of his rags were useless now. In a fit of rage, he ripped them all out of his pack and threw them into the pool. They landed with a wet smack and sank to the bottom.

Ja’Deir rubbed against the rough rock walls to get all of the blood off, sliding across to find a bare spot he hadn’t gotten to yet. As he slid, pieces of skin and tufts of hair stuck to the wall, or got caught in snags. Fresh blood mixed with the filth from the pool, and the cavern walls. He could still the layers of filth, with every movement, touch, or breeze across his fur. It became too much for the Ashada. He cried out in frustration and collapsed in a sobbing heap. His vision blurred with blood, sweat and tears.

A large hand touched his shoulder, and he recoiled before he realized it wasn’t more filth, but a real person – Xerx’ses.

“Mmmm…. Jah’Deeeer. Is everything ahl right? Mwhut’s wrong?” The deep bovine voice reassuring, like a strong, vibrant grandfather.

“I am covered in filth. I can’t get clean! Nothing I do seems to help!” Xerx’ses followed Ja’Deir’s eyes as they looked at the walls and floor where he had tried to clean off.

“Ohhh…. Here, little wahn…” the Minotaur’s hands felt heavy against Ja’Deir’s head, but as he muttered a prayer, or maybe a spell, the Ashada felt the dirt and grime leave his fur, “there yoOou go. That should help.”

“Oh, Xerx’ses…” Ja’Deir wrapped his arms around the Minotaur’s calf. ”Thank you so much! I owe you. o’ṃ a ra ba sha nō sowaka” He stood and bowed with his hands in the Mudra of Zen to Xerx’ses as he said this. Then he addressed the rest of the group, “I think we should rest where we were before, where Asher hid us from prying eyes. What do you think?”

The general assent followed, as well as Indaris’ suggestion they bring the poor wretches chained like goats for a slaughter. Once in the alcove, the mystic did his magic, assisted by the warlock’s infusion of magical energies, and the newly released Ley Line energies. Several hours later, after everyone had rested and regained their health, CrIsis made their way through the eerily empty caverns. Upon reaching the hallway of gemstone, the adventurers halted.

“Hey, we should take some of these gems with us!” echoed from several mouths at once. Ja’Deir wanted to give a large gemstone to Rogtilda. He’s a much larger being than he was before, so the pitiful stones CrIsis has given him until now must have been like grains of sand. He wanted to give him something he could truly cherish and enjoy.

A new Gina.

My heart broke when Gina died, and was lost to the little earth warlock.

Now, they had to come up with a plan to remove the gems. How Indeed?

>>Letter written in a cavern in the Yin Sloth Jungles on Grekar 12th, in the 3rd year of CrIsis.. Entry by Ja’Deir, Ashada Mind Mage, disciple of Apis.<<

First Picture Credit: UK 420
Second Picture Credit: Flickr
Third Picture Credit: All Posters
Fourth Picture Credit: Visualize US
Fifth Picture Credit: China Culture Tour

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