Description: Lord Dohma's meditation by the River of Blood is interrupted by an unusual ally, who may provide the key to one bothersome little problem he's been having.
Parts of Metro City may only have been in Majigen for a short time, but the River of Blood has been here almost since its creation. As far as Majigen is concerned, the river is eternal -- the one feature running throughout all of the demonic dimension.
The name is not a fanciful metaphor. The lifeforce of countless entities is blended together here, the souls of living beings from several millennia churns about here. It is never allowed to stop or decay -- always in motion, the metallic scent of rust is ever present upon its banks.
But what's more -- the souls. For those sensitive to such things, this would be the equivalent of looking directly into the sun. The souls that have been here the longest have been torn into shreds through the constant churning, their spectral voices melded into one chorus. The newer souls have an Italian background -- their wills are still strong and resilient, as they have not yet learned that resistance is ultimately wasted effort.
Lord Dohma folds his arms behind him upon the eastern, closing his eyes as he drinks in the seething mass, feeling every exquisite howl of pain, delighting in the distorted effect as the sounds bubble to the surface. Their torment is intoxicating -- it can never be enough for the Blood Weaver.
And yet, something disturbs his tranquility. He is wary for now, but makes no particular move. Why should the Black Messiah be afraid in a realm that obeys his every wish?
Like most things, the disturbance starts out small. A tentative tap on reality. Little ripples roll outward from the tap, tickling the senses of those who are aware.
The second tap is more forceful. A metaphysical palm pressing against the realm to test its resistance.
The third disturbance is a hammer blow. The barrier separating space and realm is blown inward, a jagged tear forming in reality itself.
Perhaps 10 meters above the center of the blood river, orange fire explodes into existence. The swirling mass of flames boils through the tear, forcing itself rudely into Jedah's domain. As the flames pour in, the pressure on reality builds, growing ever stronger until the flames suddenly part to form a blazing circle 2 meters across. In the center of the ring of flames hangs a rippling forest-green portal.
A sudden flash of brilliant white light bursts through the portal and hangs fog-like in the air, before flowing abruptly in on itself to coalesce in the form of a darkly-clad humanoid. The newcomer hovers in the air in a cloud of lime green energy, with similarly colored gems glowing brightly on its forehead, belt, elbows and knees. As the unknown figure tilts its head to gaze down at Jedah with burning green eyes, the portal behind it loses all power, and reality banishes it with a sharp crack.
Lord Dohma fully expects visitors to his dimension -- the passageways are open to those who know them. There's the obvious entrance, within the massive pit in the center of the former Metro City, of course, but the numerous fissures in Majigen's boundaries have proven useful over the years: useful to Jedah, and useful for those seeking him.
The schedule of the Black Messiah is remarkably full, these days. Which makes him treasure his time by the revitalizing River of Blood all the more poignant.
And there... is the answer, the solution to the growing anxiety that had begun to form. There -is- someone making a mark on his domain. Someone... unlike any other.
The razor-sharp wings at his back spread wide. His eyelids part, red irises scanning the horizon. He doesn't need to look for long before his vision is filled with light, forcing his eyelid shut once more.
He should walk over and introduce himself.
He does not. He flies.
As he crosses his arms, his wings spread to either side. They are not involved in the process of flight, nor can they be -- they're not aerodynamic at all. But it scarcely matters in Lord Dohma's own domain.
The messianic figure descends to a hover, one foot off the ground, some ten feet away from the visitor.
"Welcome to Majigen, stranger." He does not uncross his arms. He does not exude friendliness or warmth. It is a simple, cynical, cold statement, with only an arched eyebrow to indicate that there's any personality at all to this tall demonic lord. "I am Jedah Dohma. And you..."
He pauses. And the start of a frown begins to form, his eyebrow arching further. "... Defy a simple description."
The stranger shows no outward reaction at Jedah's approach, but that is likely to be expected of someone brave enough to enter Majigen uninvited. Or, some Thing brave enough, as seems to be the case here. The figure's glowing eyes remain focused on the demon lord as it slowly drifts downward through the air, descending until its cloth-wrapped feet are just inches above the tormented surface of the blood lake.
Now having to look up slightly to meet the red-eyed gaze of Jedah, Ermac lifts his gloved hands, green energy gathered between his fingers, and lifts his legs so that he sits cross-legged in the air with his palms directed idly out to either side. His numerous tattered draping's drift around him in an unseen breeze, tattered cloth weaving complex patterns through the glowing mist that surrounds him. occasionally a face seems to form in that mist and gaze out mournfully at the world of the living.
"We have been sent by the sorcerer Shang Tsung to obtain souls from the master of this realm." States the figure. Though one unseen mouth seems to move beneath his wrappings, a hoard of voices speak the words. Thousands of tones, depths and cadences roll out atop one another in a monotone chant. Every soul contained in the flesh vessel floating before Jedah has a distinct voice, and Ermac is legion.
Too bad that having thousands of voices doesn't equate to having thousands of words. Because after his simple statement has been made, the soul construct falls silent. There is only the faint background hum of far off voices emanating from the fog around him and mixing with the energy of the river below.
As he hovers over the churning surface of the ever-flowing river, Jedah keeps his eyes focused upon what he can only regard as the soul construct's face.
It would appear that the bloodlord has overexaggerated -- a point which is made clear as the creature opens its mouth to speak. And favors the first-person plural. Jedah can appreciate the existence of such a being -- which is why he finds the arrival of such a being to be such an interesting point of curiosity at the moment.
He does not, however, receive the single statement well. His eyes narrow to slits. Souls... that's what he's been collecting. And he's got a very different purpose in mind for them. "My... what a -bold- declaration for a messenger to make."
Jedah withdraws one hand from his crossed arms, the red nail of one hand scraping across his chin. His stance is standoffish -- his tone is laced with deadly silver. "To what end? The master of this realm is not yet -done- with them."
"We are not made privy to every plan of our master. Our task is to obtain souls." Ermac chants, neither his tones nor his body language giving any hint to how he feels about these facts. Perhaps he feels nothing. It's unlikely anyone has ever asked him.
Contrasting sharply with Jedah's aggressive posturing and icy tone, Ermac seems utterly un phased by the proceedings thus far. His posture is loose yet precise, muscles slack in their cross-legged position. He doesn't even seem to be breathing. Does he not respect the sort of power Jedah can wield here? Sure Ermac is a powerful being, but he would be no match for Jedah if he turned the entire realm against him.
Jedah Dohma is charismatic. He can respond to people: individual people. Collectives are troublesome. He can win a fight through fear, or charm... but when there is a complete lack of emotion, the situation becomes more difficult.
"The word 'obtain' is used regarding a material of high value." Jedah draws in his breath -- the breath itself is unnecessary, but it's a need he has not yet outgrown. "My friends..." he states, mindful of the pronouns, "... without a counteroffer of material worth, the master of this realm finds this -negotiation- tenuous at best."
Jedah's hands drop to his sides. His nostrils flare -- the irritation is plain on his face.
And the blood beneath him begins to bubble.
"Our concern is with the value of your souls to Shang Tsung. We give them no value of our own." Chorus's the construct,tattered wrappings swirling slowly about his lean form. Still his posture remains set, tone impassive. His eyes have yet to blink since focusing on Jedah's imposing form.
"Our offer is one of temporary alliance. We will serve you in gathering more souls. Once this is done, we will take a large portion of the collected life force and return to Earthrealm." His head slowly inclining, green energy swirling about him, Ermac's many voices add bluntly, "We have been given no alternatives. You decide our path, corrupt one."
If Ermac notices the bubbling blood beneath Jedah he makes no move to engage him. Internally he is chaos. A riot of thoughts and feelings. But externally he is a statue. A flesh puppet for the forces raging within.
Lord Dohma is not churning the river out of a need to intimidate. He is churning the river as an alternative to finding out whether the tattered garments can hold the soul construct together when they are sliced into ribbons.
Jedah is no fool. He understands the risk inherent with bartering with an entity that can capture, transport, and utilize souls. He knows full well -- and he has made several agreements in the past. But this... gestalt, this amalgamation of souls presents a unique challenge. It displays no emotions of its own. No wants, no desires to play off. And it comes from a world altogether foreign to Jedah -- one whispered by his disciples, but otherwise wholly unknown.
He also understands the adage 'keep one's friends close, and one's enemies closer.'
The scion of Majigen's demeanor cools, as does the roiling river beneath him. "Your offer... presents merit." A temporary alliance... The possibility of this outsider's presence in his realm may have some additional benefits, come to think of it. He continues to stare at the outsider, contemplating for a moment.
Finally: "Conditionally. The transfer of souls shall only be performed with my explicit approval. And under mutually aggreable terms. If at -any- point you or another representative of Shang Tsung conducts an inappropriate transfer, then the agreement will henceforth be dissolved, and may Fate have mercy upon thee."
Arching his eyebrow once more, he asks coldly, "Are these conditions acceptable?"
"We agree to this contract on Shang Tsung's behalf, but you must know. if If you do not become agreeable and do not allow us to take the souls, your soul will be forfeit. We will not tolerate trickery. Do not toy with us. We have no patience for games." Ermac's voices chorus bluntly. As he speaks, the construct drifts upward away from the river and unfolds from his cross-legged position, hands lowering to rest at his sides. Still yet he does not blink, but the aura of power around him seems to pull back into his body, taking with it the far off murmur of countless voices.
Devoid of the green mist, Ermac's draping's submit to local physics and flutter down to hang about his lean form. There is obviously something solid and man-shaped beneath the cloth. Continuing to hover, The enforcer bows his head forward in respect to Jedah.
Words spoken and abasement formally shown, the Ermac fall utterly still. Hovering upright with his head bowed, the construct stares silently off into space, impassive.
Lord Dohma had been relatively controlled -- by his measures -- up until that point. But the notion that Jedah would play games or try to wriggle out of a contract is an insult, a mockery. Perhaps the soul construct does not understand these terms -- more likely, it does not care.
"Servant of Shang Tsung," he continues with icy control, "I obey my contracts. But trust is -vital- to a working arrangement. And without it, there is only the cold steel of empty threats and the fiery passion of anger -- nothing of bartering merit remains."
The Blood Weaver stares back at the soul construct as it... agrees. And stands down.
With a low rumble of displeasure from the back of his throat, he turns a haughty eye towards the construct. "We have a deal then."
With a bristle of finality, he dispenses with the irritation... and dons a razor-thin smile once more. "I have much planning to conduct. As my esteemed guest, either you may accompany me as an honored guest, or return at some later time." But as Jedah is already starting to move, it seems the discussion may be over.
Lifting his head slightly, Ermac allows Jedah to move off a short ways before he drifts into line behind him, seeming to fall naturally into place at the demonic figure's left hand. Silent and idly watchful, there is the sense that this isn't the construct's first time standing in the shadow of a lord.
Log created on 20:19:54 04/13/2015 by Jedah, and last modified on 18:32:29 04/14/2015.