Thursday, September 26, 2013

Halloween Stories: Part XI

We received a lot of stories for our Halloween Hunt Writing Contest, and from September 16th we're publishing one each day until October 6th - when the Winner's story opens as a hunt!

Read them all and stay curious.. whose story got turned into the hunt?

The stories released are unedited and pasted as submitted to us.
- Kiana -

Story by Remmock 

Dramatis Personae:

Jack Royce - Cat Burglar, knife thrower, alcoholic
Alice Royce - Student, volleyball player, children's group reader
Warren Waybright - Professional Singer, charismatic servant of
Cassandra Kingston - Leader of the Consignment
Polyphemus - Cyclopean strongman for Cassandra
Rick Alvarez - Vacationing police officer
Laura Gibson - Socialite, heiress
Tanya Winters - Collegiate on track scholarship, stopped in town on way to Uni
Keith Hoffmeyer - Traveling salesman
Remy Leronde - Professional gambler
Blair Williams - Housewife on the run

Ch. 1

The mid-afternoon sunlight beat down steadily on the deck of the party boat. Bathed in the ocean sun's rays, the sound of churning salt water and the hum of the engines for the yacht were drowned out by the lively conversations between the guests on board. Jack Royce leaned back in his seat, the sunglasses hiding the red lines that ran over the white. Long black hair caught the flowing air, the ponytail and the long strands that typically framed his sharp features dancing around as he blithely kept an eye on the other guests, as well as his cousin.
Alice Royce was nearly the opposite of her cousin. The eighteen year old girl was thinly muscled and, like Jack, could be mistaken for a gymnast at a glance. Both sported winning smiles and sparkling green eyes, yet that was where the similarities ended. Alice was nearly a foot shorter than Jack, standing barely under five feet tall. A blonde pixie cut sat like a crown over freckled and peach colored skin, a far cry from Jack's deep tan. She turned, dancing with a young man whom she had only just met near a long-haired heiress that kept her knee length strands in place with a single strong hair pin. He'd lost track of Alice earlier, only finding her as she had been leaving the bridge. "Captain" Waybright had been showing her how he piloted the gorgeous ship. Now he kept an even more dogged eye on her, his hands held a half-empty glass of beer he'd been sipping steadily over the last quarter hour.
He found himself questioning the events which had led them here. Stopping to spend the week in the tourist-trap town, with its fresh coats of paint and neatly manicured lawns. This tourist-trap town, with the quaint little shops and the local inn that looked as though it had never heard of the word "franchise". Everything had been a haze through which the sound and activity were sluggishly dragging along as though through molasses. He'd snap to the present long enough to take a sip of his beer, then return to mulling things over. It had seemed like a dream perhaps, to almost run a famous singer over on the way out to enjoy their first day.

Warren Waybright was as the name implied, dressed in a fine white suit and fedora, his blonde hair silken and full. Hazel eyes were only more dramatic and pronounced given his good appearance, and seemed to bore directly into their object of interest. The name went well beyond his looks, as he had been good natured about the whole affair, even inviting them to dinner that night. They had accepted of course. A wealthy and famous singer and a free meal? It would be impossible to pass up. How the rest of the day had gone, he didn't clearly remember… but when he and Alice strolled into the foyer of the mansion overlooking the rest of the town and had seen the intricately laid marble floors, the smooth and carefully tended wood furniture, and the silver dining set that had been arranged it was clear that no expense had been spared for their comfort, or that of their host.
The dinner had been lively and active, and Jack had steadily catalogued each and every person who had been invited to the yacht cruise the next day. There was Rick Alvarez, the attractive and clean-cut looking young police officer who seemed to have a clear interest in Alice. Then Laura Gibson, a gorgeous and vivacious woman who had the benefit of coming from a very wealthy family. Tanya Winters was the third to catch his attention, a serious woman with short hair and ebony skin, she had a runner's figure and for good reason. She was on a track scholarship and had stopped in town on her way to her university of choice. The fourth figure, a fish out of water who remained largely quiet was a fellow named Keith Hoffmeyer, a somewhat overweight traveling salesman who was clearly more accustomed to perusing the dollar menu at a fast food restaurant than eating a well cooked and arranged meal.
Keith had the unfortunate experience of sitting next to Remy Leronde, a handsome yet talkative professional gambler clearly in his 30's and who was apparently unable to abide a silence, continually peppering Keith with questions and observations as though they had known each other for years. The discomfort of the salesman ran parallel only to a Blair Williams, the last guest to sit at the table. Despite listening in carefully to the details of every conversation, she never seemed to speak her mind. Yet every single person had been drawn in by the magnetic charms of the singer at the head of the table who had invited each and every one of these out-of-towners to his home.
And yet, Jack was tired. He had patiently waited for the dinner to end, for the guests to have their after dinner conversation, and for each one to go their own way. He too had left with Alice, escorting her back to the inn before excusing himself on the pretense of securing proper clothing for a yachting excursion. Another sip from the beer in his cold hands momentarily roused him from reverie, though it did not last. From there, the events of the day settled back into a nearly unfamiliar blur. He recalled returning to and breaking into the opulent manor, his dexterity and experience more than a match for locks and alarms, and even trouncing the ears of the sleeping residents of the building before making off with various expensive belongings of Mr. Waybright's.
The condensation had been running over his fingers, the glass between his hands feeling heavier by the minute until the last thing he remembered hearing was a dull and distant sound, all that followed being a vague sense of building panic and then the heavy darkness which had swallowed him up.

Ch. 2

The first thing Jack would be aware of was pain. His limbs were contorted at an awkward angle and metal bars had been pushing against his flesh long enough to wear against the bone beneath, provoking a stiffness in his muscles and joints. As his situation dawned on him, he'd leap to his feet and take firm hold of the iron bars that formed his cage, looking wildly about. It was night, and the surf licked up against the sand nearby yet out of reach. Pale moonlight outlined in shimmering silver the island upon which he found himself, as well as the various structures that could be found there. However, his more immediate situation was of interest, and it was that which allowed him to realize his predicament.

Jack Royce was completely alone on the beach, his cage a solitary structure. The moon persisted in aiding him however, and with some careful observation he realized that there had been other cages lined up on the beach. The markings in the sand showed how they had been tilted back and dragged off toward the interior of the island, deep grooves in the sand a dead giveaway. Realizing that he may not have much time at all, Jack took to assessing his immediate situation. Deciding it was time for a hat trick, the moon's full glow landed upon a touch of metal jutting up out from the sand, and Jack seized upon the opportunity to launch himself toward the bars of his cage and fish for the item.

Miss Gibson's hairpin felt surprisingly heavy in his hand, and with a grim smile he set to picking the lock and silently praising the high society woman for always trying to look her best. He could already hear the telltale sounds of boots on stone from around the other side of the buildings lining the beach, and with a satisfying click he shoved the door open and took off running, heading one way down the beach at an angle until he hit the surf, then doubling back through the water to disguise his footprints. He'd head up from the seaspray and dart between two buildings just in time to skirt the eyesight of determined natives in brown robes and cloaks who took to yelling, a few following the prints down to the water's edge and heading away from both the group and Jack, as his gambit had paid off.

Even from the distance he was at, he could tell that one of the locals was different from the others. He stood over a foot above the crowd, and was hugely built. He barked, and his voice carried on the winds down to the tense and alert cat burglar. "Everyone move out into the village! Get more men from the castle and spread out into the wilderness! We know this island up and down, and he will not escape!" The voice was much like the man who spoke the words… heavy, strong, and slow. Jack, having decided that was all he needed to hear, slipped away from his spot and took to the few roads of the village.
His mind kept returning to the insistent and dull throbbing of his various muscles, the potential threat of being pushed far enough to cramp if he wasn't careful. Couple that with the vague haze still lingering throughout his senses like the tenuous hold of ghostly fingers upon his brain, and it was a recipe for disaster. He'd need to find a way to hide, to get up to the castle upon the overlook… and to get off the island.

Ch. 3

Remy Leronde had been the first to awaken, the gambler kicking relentlessly at the door, the only way out. The fairly built man's dirty red hair swept from side to side, his duster flapping about as he backed up and kicked over and over. Eventually, the pounding was enough to draw the others out of their drug-induced stupor. Keith sat up, gripping his head and shaking it. "Enough of that already!" he'd call out loud before climbing to his feet. Tanya was only just standing up as well, and the two would level a hazy stare at Remy, who would shrug and offer a charismatic smile. "Trapped in a crazy room with markin's all over it, figurin' I'd just make us an exit. That's all." It was only then, as the others groaned and began to come around that Keith and Tanya would take stock of the room. Dark red, almost black blotches marked up the steel walls, and the faintly nauseating scent of the room assailed their senses at that point.

So consumed had they been with the racket from Remy's kicking that the smell hadn't been the first thing they had noticed, which had been beneficial. As the others roused, Lauren Gibson would suddenly find herself retching and heaving. Officer Alvarez pulled a handkerchief from his pocket, while Remy stepped in to hold her long hair back. "Hey, why doesn't the cop just shoot our way out?" Keith mused out loud, much to the chagrin of his cellmates. Remy looked over at him with a pained expression. "As if I didn' think of that? N'I checked for his gun, my lucky knife… even the pretty lady's hairpin." Laura's eyes widened in shock as she wiped her mouth clean, swallowing the bitter taste. "You… think I'm pretty like this?"
Keith rolled his eyes, but Blair lowered her head, whispering for only him to hear. "A woman deserves to hear that at her worst… and at her best." He stopped then, his potentially sarcastic response nipped in the bud as Lauren and Remy got to talking. He turned to Blair then. "You… look pre-" Blair mustered a withering glare, shutting Keith up a second time. The glare relented after a few moments. "I appreciate it, Mister Hoffmeyer." He'd nod to her.

Tanya crossed her arms, leaning against the wall next to Rick Alvarez. "Love prevails, mm?" she offered bitterly, her eyes moving back and forth between the sudden manifestation of couples. Rick shrugged. "Wouldn't know, young lady. Suffice it to say, unless love conquers that door I probably won't agree with you." A pause hovered, broken by the nervous, hopeless laughter that followed. "Guess I'll start working on a plan to get us out of here."

"Don't bother." A familiar voice, and a familiar face appeared at the barred window to the holding cell. Warren offered his sincerest smile to them. "The hinges are on the outside, you've been stripped of your belongings that can break you out, and you've been organized into each cell according to a very special instruction. You're all going to play a part in being a sacrifice for our most amazing leader, an actual bona-fide witch who plans to use you all to ascend to great power tonight, on the hour of the planetary alignment." Though he had been initially met with cursing, screaming, and demands from the more courageous of the six, they had all fallen silent one by one from the persistence of his cool demeanor, bold voice, and dulcet yet projected tones.

Rick blinked. "A sacrifice? Gonna take a mighty long time to kill us all, you know." Warren shrugged. "That's been dealt with and arranged for. Now, if you'll excuse me." Blair seized that moment to dash to the bars, her face pressed tightly against them. "Warren!" she screamed, giving the singer pause. "I just… I have to know. Is it worth it? Worth the lives?" The words that followed would haunt them for the rest of their existence. "Worth it? Worth being the faithful servant of a newborn god? Yes. Yes, absolutely."

Ch. 4

Doors were kicked open, shacks searched, and the whole village right down to the clocktower in the center was being turned upside down in an attempt to locate the one missing man. Some of the wooden shacks had more than one room, and Jack found himself crouched down beneath a desk, his heart beating fiercely in his chest. As shadows flitted past outside the window, he'd bite down on his fear and focus. The sound of wood splintering came clear as the door of the shack across the path was broken into and turned over.

It was then that he had an idea. Jack bolted from his hiding spot, crossing the floor of the shack into the next room and tore open the closet. Quickly, his skilled hands would rifle through until he found his prize. A heavy brown robe hung in his hands. But it wasn't enough. He needed the other pieces. He needed the cloak, the sash and the sandals. It was then that he realized that the sounds from across the path had died down, the muscles in his neck tightening when, quite suddenly, the door to his shack was kicked open. As the furniture began to tumble in the next room over, he slipped over to a window and did his best to hold it together. There was barely a whisper of a sound as he crawled through and closed it behind himself.

Two more shacks required some small investigation before he had the pieces he needed to dress the part, but at the rate with which they were combing the area he knew he'd have to find a quiet place. The lighthouse, the clocktower… they were too involved. Too busy. His eyes scanned even as his feet carried him along, his ears picking up the ambient sound to tell him when to stop, when to dive inside so that he wouldn't be caught by those that searched. The few lights, the limited torches, and his own chosen profession played in his favor as he spotted the distant water tower.

It was old, worn and covered in rust, but he'd move under it to get changed in the shade. Within a couple of minutes he'd be dressed properly, the time taken to adjust everything so as best to disguise his features even in the brighter lights. Now, even as he made his way up and toward the castle, no others would pay heed. Groups of villagers would pass him by on the road, and yet his disguise offered him the protection he needed. The groups of reinforcements dispatched from the castle to aid in the search wouldn't even slow down as they headed for the village.
Jack would give silent thanks as he made his way in, grateful that he managed to find the castle devoid of sound or signs of life. The cool stone and large wooden doors would perpetuate an icy chill that bit him even through his own clothes and the heavy robes. Most doors were locked until he came toward the back, finding a single small room with a window of sorts. He had no interest in the furniture within, nor the decoration. All that he cared about was to afford a glance out back, which allowed him to see that there was a small dock with a fairly familiar looking yacht roped to it.

His nails pushed against the stone as he grit his teeth, remembering then that he had one more thing to do before he left the island. He was determined, despite the pounding in his chest. His pupils would shrink suddenly, muscles taut as the immediately identifiable voice of Warren Waybright cut in on his reverie. "You there! Get to the dungeon!" Jack spun around and took note of Mr. Waybright pointing off to one end. The urge to simply rush out there and beat him down until bloody satisfaction ripped like razors through ragged knuckles was crushed under the thought of his cousin, Alice. He couldn't risk anything that might expose him. He'd promised her a fun vacation.
Thoughts would come and go, all processed in the blink of an eye. Only Alice remained, and Jack bowed his head to Mr. Waybright, intentionally speaking thickly and more slowly to disguise his voice. "Of course." There'd be no delay, no checking to see if the man would realize who he was. That would be a death sentence. Instead he took off the way Warren had pointed, slipping past rows and rows of chairs with odd markings on them to find a passageway down to a more modern location, a dungeon of metal walls and tile floor. A place where the air grew colder and the wetness of it made him feel as though he were ill.
Moisture clung to the walls, and the various gurneys, barrels and boxes scattered around suggested some urgency. Yet, even now the vast majority of the dungeon seemed unguarded. His disappearance below had caused quite the stir, and with his goal coming ever more tantalizingly within his reach he felt the wind at his back. There was a counter nearby, a mockery of a check-in station with a large wooden peg board upon which various keys were kept. He simply seized them all, taking the twelve keys with him. Thick-soled shoes gripped the counter as he vaulted back over.

A single, large metal door stared him in the eyes, but as he approached he'd catch something off to his left. A bizarre arrangement of blood, bodies, and ancient symbols stood in a single vacant spot, an alcove across a single hallway that stretched in either direction. He could only puzzle what that meant when a loudspeaker crackled over his shoulder. A cool voice, feminine and sultry oozed from it, accompanied by the occasional crackle of faulty wiring. "Ahhh, so you're the little insect that has set the entire island buzzing. You seem like you could have been useful once. Ah, well. Polyphemus, get him." Back from where Jack had come, the sound of a man howling in agony and rage carried down the hallway toward him, and he didn't waste a second to beat feet down one of the two side passages.

Barred windows in each room let Jack barely catch glimpses of people in every holding cell he barreled past, one hand jamming into a pocket as he heard the heavy boots of a single man change in tone, aware that his pursuer was now where Jack had been seconds ago. He afforded a glance over his shoulder to behold a titan of a man bearing down on him as he whipped the keys out of his pocket. After the first key didn't turn, he began jamming them in one after the other as fast as he could, only able to burst in moments before two massive hands came swinging in to grab him. He'd twist so hard that he fell over, tripping on his own feet as his hand shot out and slapped the door shut. Sweat beaded on his brow, and his panicked breathing caused his chest to heave. That was, until his breath hitched in his throat. Green eyes locked onto eyes of an identical hue, the blonde pixie cut kickstarting his brain after a moment. "Alice!" he'd exclaim.

The potentially tearful reunion was cut dramatically short as the door handle turned and pushed open, Polyphemus stepping inside and having to bow to fit his massive frame through the entryway provided by the door. He'd stand tall, his hulking form and single eye a clear factor in the process that had resulted in his name, and Jack would curse himself mentally for forgetting to do something as basic as lock the door he'd intended to use as a barrier. Jack leapt to his feet as Polyphemus turned his single eye on Alice, and the cyclopean muscle man would howl in pain as his lone eye was suddenly assailed by a flurry of deftly aimed copper keys. "Alice! Go!" The giant turned on Jack, and clamped one hand over his single eye while the other searched for him outstretched.

Alice thought fast, scooping up the discarded keys and bolting out the door in the process. The intended rescuer however, was backed into a corner. Polyphemus ate up the distance as hungrily as a park pigeon, but with so dramatically an enhanced blind spot he found himself outmaneuvered. Jack rolled past, springing out the door and shutting it tight. This time he wouldn't forget, jamming the key in the lock and turning it until the world changing click of the bolt turning satisfied him to the point of unleashing a shudder of relief through his body. He'd snatch the key out and push it back in his pocket, even as the sound of Polyphemus banging on the door began to resound down the hallway.

The intercom would crackle again: "Attention. Prisoner escape. The castle and prisoners must be secured. Use of firearms is permitted." The frosty, cool tones of the female from before only served to motivate Jack, who snatched Alice's wrist and pulled her along as they sprinted back out. Keys bounced out of their pockets, the copper a disjointed melody on the tile behind them, announcing their departure. "Wait!" Alice called. "What about the ot-" Her voice would be cut short by a thundercrack that would echo across the island, Jack spinning in place and dropping all at once.

Ch. 5

Cassandra Kingston sat cross-legged at the knee, relaxed back in her chair and casually watching events play out on the cameras. Earlier, she had been too busy to bother, though now she had resolved that she couldn't permit more damage to be done than what had occurred already. The slinky cocktail dress complemented red hair, tumbling down around her soft tan skin and perfectly made up face. Icy blue eyes were a jarring offset, and stood out so dramatically that she appreciated how they'd demand a person's focus, ripping their attention from her bosom.

A cruel smile twisted her features, her form suddenly springing into action. How she longed to reach out and pluck the escaped pair, as though reaching through the glass itself to hold them within a great, inescapable hand. To crush them in this godhand for the trouble they had caused. Perhaps another time, she mused. As she had stood, the chair had tumbled back to land on the ground, though she paid it no mind. She'd lean forward and gently press a finger to a toggle switch. "Attention. Prisoners who are escaping may be halted with lethal force."

Waybright, you had better not mess this up. With that, she'd stroll boldly over toward a bookshelf, pulling from it a single tome, a part of her collation that had seen more use than any other. The witch's firm grip would yield steady control while she flipped through the pages, only stopping when she returned to the monitors. "R'luh 'bthnk hlirgh nog y-syha'h ron mg shugg, ooboshu llll throd f'athg ooboshu li'hee f''bthnk, nglui gof'nn shugg naflnilgh'ri s'uhn uln. Ngn'gha y-hrii nglui llll kn'aor y-bug ya shogg Nyarlathotep wgah'n ilyaa, syha'h nnnNyarlathotep sgn'wahl ebunma phlegeth ph''ai Hastur bug n'ghft s'uhn wgah'nyar, ehye h'Azathoth geb grah'n throd r'luhog lloig wgah'n f'orr'e." The longer she spoke, the deeper her voice became until the unholy bellow could not possibly have been done by mere throat manipulation. The already hateful twist on her countenance became ever more terrifying, and her veins bulged green and firm on her skin.

"Ee ehye f'gotha cnglui sll'ha ebunma ph'athg namnahn' mgyar phlegeth naflgotha ngtharanak, k'yarnak n'ghaagl Nyarlathotepnyth ch' ep nnnvulgtlagln ya R'lyeh ya gnaiih geb, vulgtlagln sgn'wahl lw'nafh ngYoggoth athg ph'vulgtlagln geb 'fhalma Azathoth orr'e. Nnnzhro naflgnaiih chtenff Yoggoth h'fhtagn orr'e Nyarlathotep 'fhalmanyth h'Hastur chtenff, phlegeth tharanak Tsathogguayar vulgtlagln nnngotha ch' zhro ya sgn'wahl, ph'y'hah li'heeor throd chtenff y-ron uaaah ebunma Tsathogguanyth." Her hand had danced over the page she had left open, and as she finished incanting she raised a single, slender finger to point at the rocky ledge that wrapped around the back of the mountain.

Ch. 6

Bleeding, desperate, and hopped up on more adrenaline than he could have mustered from a half-dozen heists, Jack had shrugged off his bullet wound after a few seconds and snatched at Alice again. "They'll have to wait!" Muscles bunched and released in an aggressive bid for freedom, Jack and Alice tearing along the dirt and stone path away from the encroaching villagers. This took them around the back of the mountain, which suited Jack just fine. It would play right into the escape plan he was still working on.

There was another thundercrack, and while Alice and Jack both reflexively tensed for the impact, none would arrive. Simply assuming it was a missed shot, only too late would they realize that the road ahead was cracking and crumbling. At first Jack slowed, but Alice tugged his arm insistently. "We have to jump it!" Not that they could have turned back at that point, the pathway cracking up toward their feet with breakneck speed. Raw determination fueled by the desire to live added speed and power to their movements, and the cousins leapt for all they were worth when the ground began to crumble away.

From the point at which they had jumped, the rock and dirt began to tumble down the side of the mountain face. At first it seemed as though they'd sail clearly beyond the collapse, until Jack realized that the roadway was eating itself beneath them, the gaping maw of the opening break outpacing them handily. He twisted the best he could in midair, pulling Alice in moments before slamming into the portion of the path that hadn't fallen away. The impact took his breath away, dazing him as they slid down the almost vertical gap.

Alice jerked almost instinctively, kicking her feet hard against the rock wall behind them moments before they hit the ground, the added horizontal component spreading the force of the impact to some extent across their roll. Dusty, battered, and somewhat cut up from the thin rivulets of rock that had jutted out along their descent, they both still managed to stagger to their feet. Jack shook his head, unable to focus and barely able to stand. Only when a rather hopeless look replaced the formerly unflappable expression of resolution did Alice grab him, hauling his good arm over her shoulders and hoisting some of his weight.

"Oh no you don't, Jack. You promised me a great vacation and this sure as hell isn't it." She tugged, fought, and gained pace after a time, bearing Jack the rest of the distance down to the yacht. The sudden fall and the missing section of pathway had gained them all the time in the world, and though the villagers attempted to shoot them the distance was significant enough to allow them to get the rest of the way to the yacht unharmed. Alice threw Jack onto a couch, pushed the motors to their full power, and ripped the moorings from the dock as the yacht fought its way from the island. Her hands flew over the controls, bearing the yacht away into the night.

Ch. 7

Cassandra raised a single eyebrow, her lips thin and her skin flushed as she fought to keep her anger down. She glanced at the cameras angled into the holding cells and calmed as she spent some time in consideration. Warren broke her focus as he entered the room, pushing the single large metal door open. A few corpses lay about, cut into with a knife, a scalpel, and some other objects which were never meant to mar human flesh. "Warren," she cut in, stopping him from speaking before he could suck in enough breath to say anything. He'd pause there, then stand straight as he waited to hear what she'd have to say.

"Get the keys, gather them up. Then go get Polyphemus out. The big, dumb brute got himself stuck in Holding Cell Twelve." Warren nodded, heading out with nothing more than a "Yes, ma'am" which had barely reached her ears. He hadn't forgotten what he owed the woman who had essentially made his career, and the two failures he'd committed by allowing Jack and Alice off the island were already enough to mortify him. He couldn't afford or allow another mistake. Keys, scattered on the floor just outside the door and forming a trail down to the twelfth holding cell, demonstrated the earlier escape route.

He'd shuffle through the keys in his hands, sorting them all out until he finally found key number 12. He'd slip it in the lock, leaving it there as he opened the door after a bit to find Polyphemus cowering in the corner, clearly terrified out of his wits. The singer's eyes would widen, then soften as he smiled gently. "Heyyyy big guy. Calm down. I'm here to get you." The gentle soles of his shoes would carry him lightly across the floor of the cell, his hand reaching out. "Cass needs us. She'd never-" His words were cut short by the sudden slamming of the door, the sound of a turning key. Polyphemus' already hoarse voice gathered enough power fueled by terror to emit another bone-rattling series of screams, as the blood drained from Warren's face.

Cassandra assumed her position amidst the gore and the runes, standing alone in the center of the single large circle drawn in with blood and entrails. Both arms would raise, fingers splaying as she sucked in a deep breath and began. "Ep hlirgh shagg Nyarlathotep phlegeth ebunma 'bthnkagl ph'ooboshu athg Nyarlathotep 'ai shugg ah, vulgtlagln orr'e Shub-Niggurath wgah'n ehye uh'e fm'latgh sgn'wahl Hastur ooboshu ngshugg." The circle lit up beneath her, glowing a sickly green as did the runes. "Hafh'drn ooboshu nnnr'luh Hastur kn'a cR'lyeh zhro shtunggli Shub-Niggurath, fm'latgh ngChaugnar Faugn Nyarlathotep ngR'lyeh Shub-Niggurath nafltharanak hrii Hastur, ilyaa f'stell'bsna f'Hastur hafh'drn nnnooboshu f'tharanak lloig."

The runes and circles painted into the other rooms began to glow, Warren collapsing to his knees as true realization sank in. Polyphemus hammered on the door of the cell, furiously battling to no avail. "Shub-Niggurath ah fm'latgh shugg n'ghft nnnmnahn' Tsathogguaagl stell'bsna sll'ha ebunmaor ehye sll'ha, ya Cthulhuog R'lyehog ron 'fhalma kn'a lw'nafh goka Tsathoggua phlegeth, 'ai f'throd Chaugnar Faugn r'luh kn'a uh'e h'nglui ftaghu phlegeth shag." Laura sank into Remy Leronde's arms, burying her face into his duster. "K'yarnak naah ehye nnnuln hriiog llll bug nnngeb Nyarlathotep athg llll ebunma geb ehye kn'a, ah hupadgh Azathoth n'gha gof'nn nnnstell'bsna chtenff uln shagg hafh'drn zhro gnash." Keith and Blair, having nowhere to turn but to each other, locked hands and stared blankly at the center of the room. "Geb mnahn' ftaghu ph'nilgh'ri llll ilyaa hupadgh nog, nnnorr'e hrii goka n'ghft sll'ha 'ai nglui Shub-Niggurath, s'uhn ebunma nafluh'e shtunggli nilgh'ri ch'. Yoggoth s'uhn kadishtu n'gha ehye naflfm'latgh kadishtu, ehye llllor r'luh gof'nn athg f'ron, nwoth n'gha gnaiih f'n'gha cshogg." Officer Alvarez offered Tanya a reassuring smile, the girl keeping her outward self calm and controlled even as her eyes betrayed her collapse on the inside.

Alice had her focus on piloting the boat as fast and as far from the island as possible, but it was Jack in his half-stupor that caught the sudden emission… the powerful verdant beam that shot into the sky and broke the thick cloud layer, lighting up every feature for miles. Alice whipped around, in time to see the last bits of light fade away. Seconds ticked by, turning into a full minute. "Wh-what was that?" she finally found the courage to ask. Jack merely shook his head dumbly. "I… have… no idea."

"Fh'tagn naah hupadgh n'gha ah shugg Nyarlathotep. I am Nyarlathotep, mortal. You have made a suitable offering. State your will." The voice had been enough alone to nearly ravage Cassandra's ears, and the very sight of the writhing mass of living chaos could drive the casual observer to the brink of madness, but the witch had been preparing for this moment for the last two decades. She wouldn't cave now. "I beseech you, o great one. Grant me power beyond mortal comprehension!"

The next words would provoke her to smile. "It is done."

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