Description: Summoned by a dark voodoo priest, the chaos witch Sorcha finds herself presented with an extremely unusual request.
Deep in the hills of Haiti, the forest grows dead and crows gather in numbers, their murders hanging about in squawking number amid the stench of mold. The rotten ground gives way to a cemetary, old tombstones of the restless dead and mausoleums of voodoo saints lining the path. Angels, ankhs, crosses, skulls, these all sit atop the six feet under, and past this, is a small shanty town, known to the islanders as Voodoo Town. Here, one can purchases fetishes (talismen for summons of faith), engage in rituals to draw forth the spirit, or even consult a witch doctor for a pathway into Guinee to see one's past, present, and future. The clairvoyants of voodoo town, priestly avengers of the poor and their servants, the sorcerors, cluster here, the priestesses drawing those that the world needs to this humble place of tarpaper shacks and strange bazaars.
One of the greatest bokors (sorcerors) of his era, Benezet Desire (Ben-eh-zay Dez-er-ray), lodges here, sitting at the edge of the village beneath a totem of skulls with a snake's head atop it, golden eyes staring out across the village and down the path below. He holds a long cigar in his left hand, and a bottle of rum in his right, the plastic wrap on the rum from its smuggling across the sea still present. As customary for one sitting beneath the serpent king, the rum is golden, for possessions.
Ominous seems to be the word of the day around this strange little village, forgotten and tucked away in the recesses of the modern world. The crows gather in their numbers, hundreds if not thousands of the flying beasts of ill omen perching in the skeletal branches like members of an audience taking their seats for a show at the local theatre. In noisy and rude protest at the wait, they watch and caw, calling out to whatever forces of nature drew them here to deliver upon the promised entertainment.
As it turns out, their wait is not a long one.
With sudden and menacing intent, the sky begins to grow dark. The thick blanket of grey clouds which had hung threateningly overhead for most of the morning swirl with inexplicable life into a dense black concotion as if some great and terrible witch had reached down to swirl her foul brew into the very air itself. Peals of thunder roar without warning, blasting the ramshackle homes below with ear-splitting waves of force punctuated by searing lances of white-hot lightning. Within moments a storm has engulfed the area in full force, a maelstrom of raw primal energy lashing out at everything nearby.
As the torrent of driving rain and flashing thunder batters the ground below, chasing those caught unprepared into the safety of their homes, something stirs within the cold earth of the cemetery. The freshly packed soil over one of the newest graves begins to grow dark and blotchy as if someone had stabbed the land itself and it was now bleeding out lifeblood into the earth. Whatever wound was lanced, however, was clearly infected and rotten for the thick tar-like substance that bubbles to the surface carries with it the scent of foul rot and twisted decay.
A sudden impact from below drives the surface of the grave upwards, tossing a vase of fresh flowers to the side with its force. A second and then a third thud hammers into the quickly rising dome of packed earth. Finally, a slender blacked hand explodes from ground. Three long fingers tipped with curved talon-like nails wiggle in the open air for a few seconds before the arm vanishes beneath the ground once more. With a mighty heave, the rest of the soil atop the grave violently pitches upwards, revealing the robed form of a young woman in bright orange attire.
"Ugh. Next time, I'm flying American Express! At least they serve peanuts!"
Glancing back and forth at her surroundings, Sorcha only now notices that her unfortunately placed teleport has saddled her with a bit of fresh baggage. The half-decomposed remains of whoever used to be buried beneath this plot of land hangs loosely off her shoulders, the corpses boney arms clinging to her like a needy child. With a grunt, she grabs the cadaver and tosses it aside.
"Shove off, gramps! I ain't that kinda girl!"
The indelicate handling of the corpse causes yet another mishap as one of the former owner's hands snaps off in her grip, leaving her holding the rotten apendage. She makes as it to toss it away then seems to think better of it and sniffs at the twisted paw experimentally.
"Hmm. Bit on the musty side but I'm not one to turn down free finger foods."
Pulling away the bandana which had been masking the lower half of her face, Sorcha reveals a face that only a mother could love, provided that mother was wearing shark-proof body armor. Sinking her jagged teeth into the old flesh, the mutant easily chomps the digit off in one bite, munching noisily as she turns to make her way towards the only signs of civilization - the shanty town.
The raging storm dies out almost as quickly as it had come and with the same suddeness, its energy expended by the energies that brought the tiny witch to this place. By the time she's made her way up the long winding road towards the edge of the town the rains have faded away leaving naught but the faint grey overcast of quietly grumbling clouds to mark its passage. The crows, however, prove more resilient nuisances, squawking loudly in amusement as if the sudden downpour was akin to the front-row getting splashed at Sea-World; all just part of the show. Their interest is now firmly fixed upon the strange little mage and they make their way alongside her as she moves towards Voodoo Central Station, some flying overhead in lazy circles while others scamper happily along behind her like a sea of evil little ducklings following their gruesome mother.
Sorcha pauses at the edge of town, suddenly sniffing the air like a bloodhound. Her eyes narrow, the left one aglow with crimson energy as she slowly tilts her nose towards the small ledge where Benezet's strange totem rests.
"Oohooohoo! Doth I smell... magick?!"
Grinning broadly behind her mask, Sorcha places one of her hands atop her pointy hat, of which she has twice the usual alotted amount for humans, and scampers at a full dash towards the origin of the tingling sense of power. She's not an expert on everything magical and mystical but she knows the smell of the occult when she finds it! Perhaps there will be some interesting bits of loot to swipe!
Bonfires suddenly burst into the air as Sorcha enters the village, chants from voodoo sorcerors and the lay people of the islands alike ringing out in dischordantly harmonious choruses, rising and falling around each other in undulating intersections of pitch. Benezet merely smiles, sipping his rum as he watches Sorcha out of the corner of his eye as he quaffs from the side.
Benezet hops down from his perch, dressed in a valentine purple mortician's outfit, bareheaded and with long, slick hair, from the Caucasian side of his heritage. He puffs his cigar until she's before him, then he performs a long and language bow with his left hand at his perilously gaunt stomach.
"Sorcha, I presume? The Lwa have summoned you here today, and at their orders I greet you. My name is Benezet Desire, I'm a magician. A paranormalist, you'd call me, in New Orleans. But on this island, you may call me a guide."
The chants rise in volume.
"Sorcha, witch of the chaos winds, I have use of you. You have been drawn here by temptation, the temptation of Haitian idols, and around these stones and houses and trees, magic flickers."
There is an unnatural hush that hits the ear, the illusion created by a barometric pressure drop, as Benezet's eyes glimmer like black obsidians in the moonlight and an oppressive feeling of supernatural misery takes over. People left to die homeless, those consigned to the life of a contact, people trapped in their head maddened, even the victims of murder and foreign wars and abusive spouses, all these dead men and women speaking through from Guinee, a particular niche of the afterlife for those enslaved by Earth's injustices.
"Can you feel them, Sorcha? These people offering the chance to do justice, before you join them?"
"Woah. Do you guys choreograph that or something?"
Sorcha comes to a halt some distance away from the voodoo priest, glancing back and forth with wide eyes as the entire village seems to launch in a creepy chant all at once. This is certainly not her first time to get summoned to the ass end of no where by some pretentious sorcerer who thought she'd serve their purposes but last time she wound up buck naked in the middle of an ancient battle field. That was pretty cool but it didn't come with a complementary welcoming party breaking out into song upon her arrival.
"It's just like a Disney movie! Oh man, I don't know if I'm ready for this level of corporate sponsorship. My soul might need to get a few more shades darker first, hahaha!"
Cackling at her own joke, the witch allows Benezet to lay out his offer before she goes through the effort of setting him on fire. I mean, that's what these things always turn into, isn't it? Some dweeb calls her out, asks her to do some ridiculous task for vague compensation, then she tells them to get bent and starts fiddling like Nero as Rome burns. At least the scenery is new. She's never been to a voodoo village before. Join Chaos, kids, see the world one smelly armpit at a time!
"Mmm, ya got me there, I /do/ tempt pretty easy..."
The strange sense that sudden assails her mind, as if the bottom just dropped out of her stomach and everything went all wobbly, causes the witch to stagger backwards a couple of steps. Covering her mouth, Sorcha quickly turns and pulls her mask aside before emptying the contents of her stomach onto the ground, creating a small pool of sizzling black ichor that fills the air with a noxious stench.
"Agh, dude! How bout a little /warning/ before you go summoning the spirits of the damned!?"
Digging around in her pockets with her lower arms, the witch tosses several bits of random junk onto the floor, including the half-eaten hand she'd absconded from the cemetery with, before she finds what she's looking for. Holding up a small medical allergy inhaler, she shakes the can a few times before squirting a couple of puffs into her mouth and huffing strongly, her unnaturally thin torso expanding with each deep breath.
"Freakin' allergies," she says, exhaling a long sigh of relief. "That shit's gonna be the death of me, kyHahaha!"
Tossing the inhaler over her shoulder like it no longer matters, Sorcha eyes the voodoo priest with a sidelong glance, her upper arms crossing over her chest while the lower pair rest on her hips, giving him a double dose of female scrutiny via body language.
"Justice ain't usually my gig, Benny. And I got plans for a loooong life before I go kicking the bucket. Well, technically I've died at least once already but... hmm, how would you put it?" She grins, leaning in conspiratorily to whisper in a singsong voice. "I gooot friends on the ooooth-er siiiide~!"
Benezet's expressive, uncanny valley mouth quirks into a frown. "Culturally exploitive Disney movies for wealthy children to toy with the poor do not amuse me, child."
That long and dangerous subject aside, Benezet extends his forefinger. "Shadaloo has been kidnapping rare bloodlines around the world, starting in Mexico. The individual bloodlines do not concern me. These rare genetic abilities are but the veil's tapestry. I care for the minds of those behind it, dearest spider. And that's why I need the aid of an Arachne."
As the winds pick up, the blazing bonfires trailing sparks past them and off into the leafless trees, Benezet takes a step forward. "I am not a thief, I am not an extortionist, and I do not cheat without just cause. I have no just cause to cheat you, but I need you for my just cause."
Benezet stiffens his back, puffing his cigar. "That, is why I will help you cheat, if you cast your sorcery against those stealing children for study."
"Fascinating," Sorcha says, in a voice that goes out of it's way to indicate the opposite sentiment.
She couldn't really care less what the villains of the world are getting up to. Blood's only useful to her for the odd ritual here and there, genetics and DNA and all that sciency stuff is way over her head and out of her league. Nor does she particularly feel upset about people being kidnapped, especially in Mexico. That's like being upset about crocodiles eating people who went swimming in the Nile. A legitimate problem, true, but not one that anyone should find surprising given the history of the place.
"Well, look here Benny."
Sorcha moves with surprising speed, shuffling sideways to meet the aggressive approach by latching onto the priest's side. She wraps a couple of her arms around him, draping one over his shoulder while the other coils about his waist like the two of them are old pals.
"Stealing, extorting, and cheating are like... some of my favorite things! I'm pretty good at that sorcery thing too. So if you're lookin for a dastardly villain to pull of some black ops shit on the sly, well... you should probably find someone else because my stealth score is like -5. BUT, if you want a whooooole lotta stuff to be super on fire - I'm talking like /turbo/ flames here, hahaha - then you done summoned the right gal!"
Benezet smiles, placing his cigar in the side of his mouth and biting it, to leave him a free hand as Sorcha latches onto him.
"Very good, Sorcha. I do not expect perfection, victory, or even progress. Merely hope for the people aggrieved."
A woman approaches with a necklace made of whale bones, pierced through by an ancient fishing line pulled from the bottom centuries before. She lays it around Sorcha's neck, and retreats, as Benezet lays a hand over Sorcha's brow.
"Now, we will go through the veil, Sorcha, by pulling you into blackest slumber, to see what your legend is."
Benezet's long fingers are icy cold, as if a barrow wight has stricken Sorcha with its touch. Her soul slips deep into the recesses of the mortal coil, pushing just past eternity to see into the Majigen. This is not Sorcha's magic, nor Sorcha's story, but the contributions of ancestors to the world's monsters and fiends and strange faeries, those residing in Majigen created by mankind.
"Look deep into the past of all your histories, and bind them in this whalebone necklace, the guide along your way through your journey. They are your power now, Sorcha."
"That's me, spreading hope one giant fireball at a time!"
%tSorcha lifts her massive hat up with one hand as the woman moves to put the necklace on her, leaving the old priestess to contend with the remaining obstacle of her wide braided pigtails. It's almost like her head was designed to be as difficult as possible to put necklaces on. But, after a couple moments of shifting and adjusting, the thick cord of old bones settles around her collar.
"Aww, for me? And I didn't get you anything!"
The witch's eyes cross to stare at the hand that rests across her forehead, her diabolically glowing left peeper casting an eldritch light upon Benezet's dark skin in such close proximity. As he speaks, her expression shifts to one of sudden panic at the realization of what he's about to do.
"Uh?! Hey, can we talk about thi-?! Nnnraaakkgh?!"
Sorcha's body goes stiff as her soul, or what's left of it, is wrenched from its seating and forced into the deep cracks of reality where past and future skirt the present. She sees the realm created by the shift of paradigms as ancient monsters faded into myth and legend, retreating to a place beyond mortal sight and reach. The twisted landscapes and nightmarish creatures send a thrill of excitement running through her senses as she looks on, reveling in the unnatural power that seems to seep into everything. It reminds her a great deal of the place called Outworld and that place was all sorts of fun.
"So, uh, what am I looking for here?"
Sorcha's ghostly voice rings out in the emptiness. She's not actually sure there's anyone there to answer but if she was sent here to find something important she'd rather not have to make a return trip. There's a better than average chance she's going to ruin Benezet's shoes when she snaps back to her body. Out-of-body experiences are never kind to her stomach.
"I mean, other than some sweet vacation spots. Is that lake on /fire/?! I am totally building a summer cottage over there!"
"These things you see are the legends created by your bloodline, witch. They were not real until you dreamt them into being real, to place them here, in this Limbo. I may have human form, but my mind is from this place. This is the source of all sorcery, this is the forge of dreams, told to terrified children to frighten them into obeying the laws of humanity. This place, Majigen, is the realm of the lawgiver."
He slowly lifts his hand, tepidly and carefully, leaving his forefinger.
"Take these things that have placed you here, and use it to give order to your Chaos Magick. Let the necklace be your guide, it was taken from a Leviathan, the Gatekeeper to the Abyss."
He removes his hand, adjusting Sorcha back to her feet.
The bonfires snuff out of existance, the dancers and chanters gone. A lone, quiet wind whistles through the breeze, Benezet having disappeared. A steady rain patter falls from above, with murmurs and the smell of red beans being cooked throughout the village. Oily windows and crooked doors hide those inside, except for a single cracked pane, Benezet visible eating a rat on a stick.
"Wait, my dreams are real now? Even that one about being naked in school?! It's a good thing I set that place on fire or that'd be pretty embarassing."
Benezet's claims about the source of magic being this weird dream just sort of get ignored. It /could/ be true, it's not like she's an expert on that sort of thing. But she's got no reason to believe him. Wouldn't much matter even if it was true, she's still go about business as usual just with a little more care to watch out for those odd tentacle monsters that pop up in her nightmares from time to time. Eldritch gods in your head always lead to unpleasant things.
The integrity of her lucid dream-walk, or whatever it is, wavers as the voodoo priest draws his power back, leaving her with a final bit of advice. Her jaw clenches at the very idea of being bound by something with structure. Chaos is the core of her strength, the pillar about which she swings wildly in the maelstrom of randomness and uncertainty. To try and give order to its eddies and flows is ridiculous! But, eh, whatever it's probably just more voodoo hoodoo. She'll take whatever magic was put into this trinket and use it as she sees fit.
When the hand is withdrawn, Sorcha's consciousness slams back into her skull like a physical blow, knocking her clean off her feet. She accepts the priest's help to stand up, only to find him gone by the time her vision stops swimming. Neat trick. Adjusting her hat to a jaunty angle, the witch turns and saunters off back down the windy dusty road, humming some American pop tune to herself as she goes.
Maybe she'll actually wind up in Mexico and throw a wrench in the plans of the people Benezet warned her about. Maybe she'll go pawn this weird necklace and buy some burittos instead. Only time will tell if an agent of Chaos can truly be turned into a directed weapon.
Spoilers: Totally buying those burittos.
Log created on 10:59:42 11/16/2018 by Sorcha, and last modified on 21:31:14 11/22/2018.