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Lords of Rock

The Rockaverse

a part of Lords of Rock, by Nulix.

The Land of Plenty

Nulix holds sovereignty over The Rockaverse, giving them the ability to make limited changes.
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The Rockaverse is a part of Lords of Rock.

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A Rock Hard Land for Rock Hard Men.

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Tamil paused, glancing at the several empty plates of pizza M'kama had digested, and then back at the desert punk. "So, according to her... none of you have ill-will towards us but none of you want to stay either," Tamil said, placing his hands on his hips. "So now the question is what should we with you?"

The mystic woman stepped back. Whatever vision she had made them see, as brief as it was, it had a vividness rivalled only by real life. She kept a steady gaze on the group as she stepped back.

Tamil squinted at them. "I could shoot ya?" He offered, followed by a growing laugh from the Cobran crowd. "What do ya'll say, you want a show?" He announced, pulling his revolver out and juggling it hand to hand. Tamil smiled at them and shook his head. "I uh... well look, none of you want to stay, so how about we do each other a little favour?"

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M'Kama shrugs, "Depends on what you'd like us to do, Cobran," he responded. "Your intent doesn't seem ill....for the most part," he stated, drawing put three cards from the pouch on his waist and holding them out before him. "Your seer isn't the only one who can read people's souls, of course..
"

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Tamil squinted. "Our Seer?" A low laugh across the crowd as Tamil hung his head. "Alright then friend," He said with a grin. "Well, as it happens one of our scouting parties is missing... and Seru here is in need of one on her mission." Tamil stuck his tongue in his cheek. "I believe she needs help findin' a witch of the wastes."

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"We have a plan in place. The Caverns will take action. Now I will thank you for delivering the injured pilot but the gun will be dealt with. Right now I have to make sure you all can be trusted. If there is a new gun on the Rock we have to make sure... it doesn't find us."

Injured Pilot? Could that mean someone from the ship survived? A Matran pilot, the only person with any knowledge about that gun... But of course, how much did she really know? Ash knew better than anyone that allegiance doesn't mean awareness. Still, something to keep on his mind. Ash stayed quiet as M'kama spoke, but he took the rest of Tamil's words in and let his mind chew on it a bit.

The gun 'will' be dealt with? Perhaps. But by the Cobrans? That's another question altogether. For now, he'd go along with the test. Though... He had some reservations.

Once he began to witness himself being disemboweled however, his mood drastically changed. "BUGGER!!!" He shouted in a mixture of absolute terror and pain. The horrors he witnessed as well shifted between the indescribable, and the all too familiar, things he wished to forget, things he wish he never saw, and things he wished he wasn't seeing right now.

And almost as quickly as it had started, it had ended.


"They are not here to harm us... But they are not here to stay either..."

'Wonder how she came to that bloody conclusion?' Ash wondered sarcastically to himself.

Ash worked to regain his composure, looking between Otis, Horik, the Voodoo man, and Percy. Had they all seen the same things? At any rate, the Voodoo man and Tamil seemed to be on the verge of negotiating a 'favor'.


"Well, as it happens one of our scouting parties is missing... and Seru here is in need of one on her mission. I believe she needs help findin' a witch of the wastes."

Now Ash was starting to feel pretty peeved. Between the bloody hike in the devil's oven (The Bright) to the freaky hallucinations the 'seer' lady (or whatever she was) gave him, Ash was feeling like this whole ordeal was getting pretty lopsided.

The pizza had been pretty good though.

"And what is it that your Seru wants with this witch? Moreover, what should we want with this witch, if anything?" Ash was curious what the 'favor' Tamil was going to offer was, but for now he wanted to know where this witch hunt was going, and why.

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"We're gonna get those bullets she has, Skylander," Seru answered, her arms crossed beside Tamil, "Gonna get the bullets for that big gun and destroy 'em. That way no one can use it, yeah? We'll fill your packs with supplies 'n once those bullets are gone y'all can be off on your merry way. A pretty generous deal, if you ask me."

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Otis frowned and didn't mention that was what he had wanted to do all along.

"I agree," Otis said. "I'll help as much as I'm able, in return for your hospitality and generosity this day."

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"Good," Tamil smiled at Otis, his hands on his hips. "You're not exactly Cobranites, but you may be of use yet." The man had an odd cirular way of speaking, taking a long time to get around to his original point. His gaze shifted to Horik and M'kama. "And you two?" He asked before squinting at Ash. "And you... Sorillian?"

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Ash looked between the members of the group gathered. Evidently Otis was going to want to play a part in the safe keeping of the planet, he didn't even have to answer to make that clear. As for the others, Ash wasn't sure how dedicated they would be to it, but truthfully, none of that mattered to him. The Captain lightly chewed on his lip as he contemplated what really bothered him...

Ash finally gave a nod to Tamil, trying to ignore the annoyance he felt at the 'S' word. "Oh I'll certainly join the fight, you have nothing to worry about there. However, I do not think this is going to go the way you think it will Cobranite." Ash said grimly.

He turned his gaze now towards the woman who explained the plan, Seru. "The path to peace is a red one."

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"I agree as well," M'Kama nodded at the others after a moment. "Those bullets need to be destroyed and that gun dismantled. This much we can all agree on. The fate of the Rock lies on a murky path. And even in visions, you can spot the coming storm through the heavy fog. This is a task that must he done."

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Syra pulled herself into a sitting position and rested her forehead in her scrapped up palm, "With Theory?" she repeated with a small chuckle, "I'd sooner see the bastard die than be with him by choice." She gestured to her tattered clothes, "I'm nothing more than an object to that sad excuse of a man."

She blinked her tired eyes slowly a few times, trying to make the world around her stop spinning before she vomited, but her efforts were in vain, she turned her head to the side and let the measly contents of her stomach spill out onto the sunbaked wreckage of the two Sorillian ships. "S-sorry," she stammered, wiping her mouth on the back of her hand. She felt like death but feared a fate worse than the Grim Reaper would await her if she allowed herself to simply close her eyes.

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"...You a thrall, girl?" a voice drawled out, from the carriage. A man stepped out, the first thing Syra saw of him was a black gambler's hat that he held to keep from blowing off his head in the desert winds. He wore a black trenchcoat as well and tan slacks. Each button on the coat looked to be made of gold, appearing more expensive and exubrant than anything Syra had seen upon the Rock before. The woman in the wide-brimmed hat and the hooded man quickly roleld out a carpet for the man to step on, the reason quickly apparent to the former thrall; they didn't want him to scuff up his shoes, appearing only slightly less expensive than the buttons on his coat.

"What's a thrall doin' fallin' from the sky in a Sorillian ship?" the drawling man asked, kneeling over and holding something in his hands before Syra. A canteen of water.

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Syra reached out and took the offered silver canteen before nodding slowly. She savored the water, taking slow, small sips, "Its a long story..." she started, wiping her mouth as she handed the rich man back his silver canteen. "Crashing the ship was the only option I had to stop Theory..." She muttered with a sigh.



****

The battle at the dig site raged, Zambob's soldiers proving the better warriors, as bodies of Remnants littered the battlefield.

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The man nodded as Syra handed him his canteen back and smiled, revealing a face of a man about five or so years older than she. With his free hand he motioned at Syra, while turning to face his two cohorts. "There, y'see? There it is...I can just tell by this girl's voice. She ain't even of the Rock!" he stood up, dusting himself off slightly. "And she's already learned it's most important lesson!"

He turned back towards Syra and smiled, "A very simple lesson, yet most only barely struggle to grasp it. See...I was a thrall at one time, myself. But, look at me now. I wasn't...content with crawling around in the sand feeling empty and alone. I found out long ago, that the Rock ain't nothin' but fair. You fight every challenge it throws your way and it rewards you...with somethin' special. Freedom, land...if you don't have it by birthright you rise up to claim your own. If'n you got the gumption, that is."

"What's your name?" he asked of Syra.

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Horik could feel eyes turn to her as M'Kama said his piece. All the others were on board and she sighed as though it were a great burden they were placing on her.

"Look I'll help but don't expect me to stay the whole way," Horik started as she rubbed the back of her neck. "I only got dragged down here cuz I was in trouble in the first place with ya'll. I don't want to be tied down to all this nonsense if it gets life threatening again..."

At that, a low rumble filled the cavern. Slight tremors could be felt by all but considering the size of the area where they stood, Horik knew whatever had caused it had to have been huge.

"Is that, uh, is that common?" she asked, turning to the dark skinned woman of before. Before the woman could answer however, the rumbling grew. People whispered and scrambled, yelled and ran, as debris began to fall through the sky. It was the ground. The ground had risen and chunks of it flew in the air as a writhing body emerged. It was covered in a clear liquid and what appeared out of the ground first was a part that looked much like a head, the tip of the long body a little wider with a slight impression in the middle of it. There were no eyes or mouth but it was seeking something out.

As people ran, the worm rushed forward, darting around the men and wrapping its thin body around Horik, Seru, and the other woman.

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Tamil grinned. "Alright, then we have our new scouting party. Do this for Seru, follow her orders..." Tamil squinted at the assembled team. "And we'll be square. And maybe... delay a few wars in the process."

The woman breathed in behind Tamil, her form seeming to raise in pride. There was a slight shake in floors of the Cobran Caverns, but the citizens seemed unfazed. The woman turned her face to Horik. "Do not worry... you have nothing-"

Before her words could finish a portion of the forum's mosaic floor tiles began to shift, a creature breaking through the cracks. Piece of ceramics flew through the air as a slimy, writhing creature emerged- eyeless and blind from it's life in the depths of the Rock. It was attracted by Horik's cooked pizza flesh, as it slithered forward at lightening speed, circling around Horik and capturing her like a python before moving onto it's other prey.

"Woohwee!" Percy exclaimed, pulling out his short-sword and defaulting back to his guardsman duties. "Haven't fought a cave-dweller in a fortnight!"

As the worm launched itself forward toward the dark skinned woman she rose her arms. "Ahul umurca, ka daian daian, motsawa da sakcalan," She exhaled the words as suddenly from beneath her robes her white-robes a serpent head emerged, her body beginning to collapse into the form of a giant snake. From out the robes a thick rope of a body curled endlessly, and rising high into the sky was it's head. The citizens of Cobran witnessing the event fell to their knees, so as to not to look upon the god.

The snake looked down at the worm, who had paused it's advance. "Ba Sakcalan," The Snake whispered, it's voice that of the woman. The slimy worm slowly untangled itself from Horik and drifted beside her, subserviently.

From beside the snake Tamil stepped forward, strolling toward the group. "You are always safe in Cobran," He said, placing a piece of tobacco on his tongue and beginning to chew. He offered the downed Horik an open hand. "Even if you don't know it."

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Ash looked over towards Horik as she spoke, couldn't help but smirk a little at her words. He definitely couldn't blame her, but the idea of avoiding threats to life on The Rock did seem a little... Idealistic.

As the ground shook, Ash found his grip around his pistol again. This was why he hated caves. The mysterious woman tried to calm them all, right up until a giant worm burst through the ground. Ash was knocked to the ground by the force of the worm's entrance, but managed to pull the pistol out and get an aim on it. Not before it had already wrapped itself around Horik though.


"Woohwee! Haven't fought a cave-dweller in a fortnight!" Percy shouted.

Ash had considerably less enthusiasm than Percy, his finger tensed around the trigger. But the moment didn't last too long, as the mysterious woman turned into an enormous snake, towering over everyone gathered. The worm loosened its grip on Horik, seemingly mesmerized by the strange snake.

Quickly picking himself up, Ash made his way to Horik and pulled her away from the slimy creature, and towards the rest of the group that was near safety. "You alright miss?" He asked quickly before looking at M'kama. "This that friend of yours?" He said nodding towards the giant snake.

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"Ah," M'Kama noted as the woman peeled her flesh back and took upon her true form. The Serpent deity that protected the Cobran from harm. Explains the laughter from earlier. He folded his arms and observed the creature. She protected her charges, that was certain. Any and all potential dangers were rooted out with prejudice. Perhaps she knew of what he sought. Perhaps the snake kept to itself. It was hard to say with creatures such as this.

He turned to one of the Sorillians. The one who had accompanied the guardian. He had inquired if the Snake was his friend. "Yeah," M'Kama nodded. "I threw a small rock to determine if she was real, and she immediately tried to drown me," he explained, not sounding particularly concerned about the murder attempted upon him by a supernatural reptile. "That's how I ended up shooting through the geyser and meeting Otis and yourself."

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Syra hesitated to answer the man, she was unsure she could truly believe his story of rags to riches. While she had never seen much of The Rock, she knew life was difficult everywhere for nearly everyone. "Syra, Syra Onnet. I am not from here, my team and I were attacked, and I crashed our ship here as the only survivor, that was 12 years ago, I've been a thrall ever since. You offer freedom, and I'm willing to do what needs to be done to leave this place and take back my life."

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"So, you want to leave now? the man asked incredulously. "The Rock is at the cusp of change...real change for the first time in a very long time...and if you've served under Theory...than you might just be aware of what I speak." He sighed, adjusting his sunglasses. "You know...I ain't gonna ask much from ya, but I will ask for a favor...whether you take it up or not ain't no skin off my back. But if you do..there may be a reward in your future."

The man turned and took a step back towards his carriage, his two cohorts opening the doors for him. "If yer game, I suggest you hop aboard. We'll get you out of here and where you need to go. Of course I don't blame you if you don't trust us, but I assure you, we don't mean any harm."

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Horik tried to wipe away as much of the slime as she could in disgust. She looked up at Ash and nodded in response to his question.

"Yeah, thing didn't grab me with too much force thankfully. It's just the fact it did grab me," Horik shuddered in disgust and stepped a bit closer to Ash. Her face was a mix of disgust and slight fear. "I don't know if I want to go through that again."

The worm swayed slightly back and forth, seeming in control of the snake.

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The snake deity swayed over them, watching over with glistening eyes. "There is a life here where you could be happy," She spoke. "But it is not this one."

***

Tamil marched down the side of stone stairway. Seru, Horik, M'kama, Otis & Ash followed. The Worm, the slobbering imbecile, followed. Percy too marched along with another guard behind them. "Time is of the essence," Tamil said as he led them lower into the city. Now they stood but a few levels above the base of the caverns. The city of Cobran crisscrossed above them.

They reached the bottom of a limestone staircase to find themselves at a river bed at the base of Cobran. Several guards seemed stationed here at the bottom level- chairs and crates beneath bridges, though they all stood to attention as Tamil walked through. They wore matching leather armour and bug helmets as Percy did, the Sorillian giving them a quick nod as Tamil led the group through the guard camp along the dark river. There was the smell of brine in the air and rowboats hung off the river bank,

Tamil turned to the assembled team. "Well, it's as the Lady said," Tamil muttered in reference to the snake. "Time is of the essence. You're all going to listen to Seru's word on the dot, is that clear?" Tamil blinked. "You're gonna destroy that gun... destroy those bullets, then get back here." Tamil blinked. "And you can decide... if here you stay, once we seal our doors, or if out there you'll die."

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"Yeah, thing didn't grab me with too much force thankfully. It's just the fact it did grab me. I don't know if I want to go through that again."

Ash stepped around and in front of Horik once she was back up on her feet, standing between her and the nasty beasty. "No, I rather think we should prevent that." He said as he leveled his pistol to waist height, aimed in the direction of the worm.

"Yeah, I threw a small rock to determine if she was real, and she immediately tried to drown me. That's how I ended up shooting through the geyser and meeting Otis and yourself."

The Captain's face contorted into a look of sarcastic surprise. "Is that so!" He said in a high pitched tone that signaled displeasure, his gaze turning to look back towards Tamil. "Always safe in Cobran is it?" Ash's words may as well have been snakes for all the bite they had in them.

Before anything else could be said, the snake spoke once more.


"There is a life here where you could be happy. But it is not this one."

_________________________________________________________________________


Ash, Otis, Horik, Voodoo man, Seru, and Percy had all been lead away by Tamil shortly after. The group descended deeper into the depths of Cobran, far below what Ash thought even existed. Cobran was certainly full of surprises, though that probably wasn't always a good thing.

Once the group reached their destination, Tamil spoke again.


"Well, it's as the Lady said. Time is of the essence. You're all going to listen to Seru's word on the dot, is that clear? You're gonna destroy that gun... destroy those bullets, then get back here. And you can decide... if here you stay, once we seal our doors, or if out there you'll die."

The Captain was silent for a moment as he contemplated it all. He'd essentially committed himself to this when he joined up with Otis, but there was still a lot he was uncertain on, The Gun in particular.

"As I've already said, I'll happily go along with this, but I will repeat, for everyone's sake; I don't think this is going to go the way you hope. Perhaps it will, perhaps I will be wrong, but I assure you, there will be a cost, and it will be a bloody one."

"And as for dying..." He said looking to Tamil again. "That's something I have very little intention of doing, in Cobran or the wastes."

He turned to face the rest of the group. "Assuming everyone here is in agreement on this mission, then I am prepared to leave when necessary. Though I must ask, is this our entire group? I thought one of you mentioned that pilot, or some caravans?" He gave a slight shrug. "Not that I doubt our assembled groups' skill, but many hands make light work."

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The worm cocked its wide head, seeming to watch the small group deliberate on their future. It curled up and while sightless, kept its tip facing whoever spoke.

"Death doesnt scare me but like i said, if something comes over the horizon, I'm out," Horik reiterated once more. She then pointed at Ash, "Like he said. Things could go sour but I.. I dont plan on sticking around if they do."

She paused as though done but remembered how Ash had stood in front of her. A small smile came on her face and she rubbed the back of her neck, adding with a sheepish grin, "But I uh, i dont mind helping out and doing some good on the way there."

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Otis hated snakes. He didn't really know why. Maybe it was their eyes, or the way they moved. Looking into the snake eyes of Cobran's god, Otis really hated them. Watching the slimy worm creature undulate next to the snake god, Otis wondered things, thoughts he dared not share, but questions he felt obliged to ask himself.

Deception is the basis of any cult - make someone believe something that gives you power, subdue their will to your own, and show the pretense of guidance, leadership, or protection. Give the people a light to blind themselves with. They'll stare at it willingly, while you control their steps from the shadows.

The worm undulated, and Otis couldn't help but question that the worm, under control of the snake god, hadn't been under its control when the attack began. That the attack, in truth, was nothing more than an illusion, a show designed to prove the god's power to the others.

But Otis said nothing, and did less. Perhaps, one day, someone with more power than him would come and find out the truth. But he dared not challenge the snake, not here, not now.

***

Otis watched the other members of the ragtag group and tried to shake off the uneasy feelings that he had been burdened with since entering Cobran. They were leaving easily enough, and they all needed to get along in order to cooperate.

"That's the right attitude... Horik, was it?" Otis said, smiling and spreading his hands. "No one's perfect, after all. I'm Otis, by the way. A... well, never mind. I'm in this to win it, wherever it takes us. And even though I'm probably not the best one for the job, I'll do my best to make sure you all make it through as well, even if it means my own life is lost."

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Horik gave a slight smile to Otis and held out her hand, "its nice to meet you Otis. Well hopefully you wont require sacrificing but you definitely strike me as a commitment type of guy. Not too common from what I see of those that live long out here but my knowledge is limited and maybe I'll rub off on ya."