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The Marked Man

"Mine is the hand of judgement. Stand aside or be cut down."

0 · 300 views · located in The Sandlot

a character in “Snakes and Ladders: Tales from the Inferno”, as played by Cypher

Description

Image


'Remember, Lord, what the Edomites did on the day Jerusalem fell. “Tear it down,” they cried, “tear it down to its foundations!” Daughter Babylon, doomed to destruction, happy is the one who repays you according to what you have done to us. Happy is the one who seizes your infants and dashes them against the rocks.'

- Holy Bible (New International Version, Psalm 137, Verses 7-9

Basics
Name: "I have no name." If he had one, he doesn't remember, and anyone that might remember it is a bit difficult to contact at the moment, what with all the mystery around him and such.
Aliases: Campfire stories in the Sandlot told of him alternately refer to this ghost of the desert as The Marked Man, The Scarred Man, The Burned One, The Phantom of the Shifting Sands and some other phrases. Some cheeky souls (no pun intended) have taken to calling him 'Crispy'; shortly after accompanied by a suspicious glance over their shoulder.
Gender: Although it has never been determined precisely; witnesses to his actions describe him as being decidedly masculine in figure and voice.
Age/Date of Death: Indeterminate, but his height, voice and style of dress put him anywhere from his late thirties to his early fifties.
Species: Rather shockingly, given his track record, a damned soul.
Voice: A middling baritone, worn with years of use, abuse and smoke inhalation, and a hint of a Southern accent. Well-spoken and usually a man of few words, when he speaks, it's because it's important. He imparts sage advice and occasionally quotes scripture, but in terms of regular conversation you would be hard-pressed to pull more than a few words out of him unless he speaks first. (A/N: I know you're gonna hate me for it, but it's Johnny Cash. I honestly couldn't think of any voice that fit aside from the one that was used for this character's inspiration, and that would basically make him that character with a different personality behind the voice, so the other voice that came to mind was The Man in Black himself. I mean, I know I would shit a brick if I heard this guy coming after me.)
Equipment: He has been known to pull many things. From varied accounts, it can be determined that he is in possession of:
A Tactical Vest, strapped to which is:
-- A handgun, although it has only rarely been fired.
-- A hand-assembled wrist launcher akin to a compact crossbow; fires darts.
-- Two kukri, of differing shape and form, presumably obtained from the dead or cobbled together from scrap and wire.
-- Scriptures of varying age and condition.
-- A crudely assembled crucifix, made from two bent pieces of scrap metal and some bailing twine.
-- A flint and steel.
A Leather Medicine Bag, containing:
-- A pouch of red brick dust.
-- Basil leaves.
-- Mugwort.
-- Sage.
-- Wormwood.
-- Peyote.
(A/N: All of these are ingredients in various hoodoo mythology; with the exception of peyote. Basil and sage are wards against evil spirits, mugwort and wormwood grant safe travel. A line of red brick dust across your doorstep/entrance of your current residence will prevent evil spirits from entering. Peyote is peyote and makes you trip balls. The effectiveness of these elements in Hell is debatable at best - and by that I mean it all depends on the Word of Nannyhap.)
A Belt First Aid Kit, containing:
-- Antiseptic wash.
-- Ace bandages. (Gauze tape, basically)
-- Band-Aids.
-- Gauze pads.
-- Styptic pencil.
-- Sterile needles and thread.


Appearance
Image Physical Description: The first thing that usually strikes those who encounter the Marked Man is his incredible height. He stands at about 6'7" tall; although some accounts place him a bit shorter (6'3" - 6'5") or a bit taller (6'9" - 7'). His build is well-portioned, leaned not towards extreme agility or extreme strength; more a sort of balance. A good estimate of his weight would be around 140 to 160 pounds. Any other detail is obscured by the thick layers of bandages that cover most of his body. At one point they may have been pristine, sterile, white hospital bandages, but the wear and tear of life in the Sandlot has sullied their once immaculate appearance. Emerald green irises set in stark white sclera peer hawk-like from between the wrappings on his face. The skin around them appears to be heavily scarred, possibly burned, evidence also given credence by the scars on his open palms. The remains of what may have been intricate tattoos snake out from beneath the ends of the gauze wraps on his arms.
Mannerisms: He strides with a purpose, this one. His every movement is slow, deliberate, practiced. His body language screams "Don't mess, or you'll be disemboweled", and he can back it up. Even when completely at rest his body is tense, on edge, poised to strike. When he speaks, he makes small gestures with his hands and head, almost unnoticeable to anyone but an astute observer. The only times he seems to truly relax are the rare occasions when he sleeps, and even them he seems like a time bomb, or a crouched tiger. On the rare occasion when he does not perceive a threat in the immediate area, he will relax a bit, maybe even close his eyes.
Wardrobe: Simple and pragmatic. He wears a white button-down shirt adorned with some ornate stitching over a light-gray turtleneck, with a tactical chest rig worn over that. His waist is covered by worn out flared blue jeans and a leather belt with an ornate novelty buckle in the shape of a bull's-head. His feet are covered by snakeskin cowboy boots. This appears to be the only clothing he owns, and over time the wear and tear has shown through in many places; mostly the jeans. It's not a stretch of the imagination to assume that he would merely pick new clothes off the dead. He doesn't seem to be the picky sort.
Strengths:
-- Wisdom of the Wasteland: Looking at this guy, you can tell he's been around the block a few times. He knows the Sandlot somewhat well for a damned soul, and this knowledge isn't something to be passed up lightly.
-- Guide Figure: If you look new enough, he's more than happy to help you out and will stick by you until he thinks you can handle yourself.
-- Herbal Supplements: That medicine pouch isn't for show. As long as he can keep it full, he has ready access to a supply of herbs that can potentially be used as temporary wards against demons, depending on how weak the new demon is and how potent the ward is (it varies day to day; this is Hell, after all, wards can't be consistently powerful on a Demon's home turf).
Weaknesses:
-- Generalist: Not being skilled in any one area of the martial arts is a good and bad thing. He's a fairly proficient melee fighter and a good shot when he has to be, but he isn't highly skilled in either one. There are better swordsmen and marksmen out there, without a doubt. Which leads to...
-- 'Strategic Covert Retreats': Otherwise known as ducking the person he's traveling with. He has no qualms with leaving someone to die in favor of his own life if the fight gets to be too tough or if the situation is hopeless. Actually...
-- Mysterious: He tends to drift... A lot. One can wake up in the morning to find him gone and wander for hours or days at a time, only to go to bed and find him back the next morning. This can be problematic for the intervening hours.
Other: To be filled in later.

Personality*
Demeanor: He isn't very open to others; although he understands the concept of team play he doesn't so much understand the one called 'friendship'. Everyone is equal in that everyone is a weapon to be trained and unleashed on the Sandlot; no-one is treated differently regardless of age, sex, race, creed or any other defining traits - he survives, and he helps others to do so, nothing more, nothing less. He doesn't speak often, and usually imparts cryptic advice akin to some sort of shaman or spirit guide. He doesn't have moods; rather he seems to be in a consistent state of tranquility, even when in combat he is level-headed, cool-hearted and calm. He never raises his voice, never seems to become annoyed; although he has been known to have something of a sarcastic wit at times. He doesn't share information about himself, ever - when questioned he casually deflects the inquiry or just flat-out doesn't speak until the point is made that now is not the time for show and tell, nor will there ever be a time for it. And when it comes to demons, he'll humor them to a point - but when manipulation starts to come into play on their end, he will gladly cast the first stone, either by ritual or by steel.
Attitudes: What you see is pretty much exactly what you get. He doesn't really express any sides other than the one he shows to the world. He has no desire for advancement, nor power - he just wanders.
Likes: Either he doesn't like anything or isn't telling.
Dislikes: See above. Although he has a distaste for demons or especially aggressive/questioning people.
Quirks: He will occasionally pick at the loose edges of his bandages.
Flaws: He tends to abandon people a lot, regardless of how long they have traveled with him. He has an incredible distaste for succubi. Also, strangely, he doesn't partake of the hearts of those he kills. He either removes and discards them or gives them to those around him. Unless in dire straits he won't eat another heart.

Life Before Hell
The Marked Man... Who knows anything but him? Theories abound as to how he's arrived; from a firefighter who formed a pact with the devil to a manic assassin to a spirit born of the hopes and dreams of the damned souls to some sort of spirit guide sent by the Lord on High.

How You Ended Up Here
"I was not, then I was." This statement is followed up by a narrowing of the eyes and a slight shrug. "Is that not how you arrived? The details of are little importance. But we waste time and energy standing here asking useless questions; we have to move before our enemies are upon us."

General History
What is known is that he has been here, in the Sandlot, a long time.. He has no one home; encounters with him are primarily at random, although tales of him have been circulating for many, many years with no definitive origin date - not even a specific year. It is also known that he is heavily burned, hence the bandages - but the source of this scarring remains unknown. He has traveled with many a man and woman, acting as a guide until they have consumed enough hearts to pass the barriers around the Sandlot, then leaving in the night to find another person in need of his guidance.

Image

So begins...

The Marked Man's Story

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Ezra Morrow Character Portrait: The Marked Man
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#, as written by Cypher
[Posted in the wrong place; DAMNDAMNDAMN]

Setting

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Character Portrait: Ezra Morrow Character Portrait: Maya Character Portrait: Nasir Character Portrait: The Marked Man
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He ran his fingers along the edge of the blade, scraping the grooves along the back with his long, sharp thumbnail to free them of the mud and dust recent endeavors had caused them to accumulate. The knife was going to fail him soon, he could tell by the jagged feeling that ripping into his most recent victim had caused. In some places, it couldn't even cut skin, let alone the thick, tough tissue of muscle that connected an individual's heart to the rest of his body. In the Sandlot, you lost a lot of knives, not that Nasir was counting (thirty-seven, and this one would make thirty-eight), some stolen, some dulled, some broken, and others left to rot when their owners abandoned them in a hasty retreat. He wasn't looking forward to finding another, but there was little to sharpen them on, and no Infernal magic would touch their blades.

Counter-intuitive, yes, but one had to assume it was to keep the games as fair as Hell could ever possibly allow. Damned souls, after all, could rely on no such things.

Not that it was necessary to use a knife in order to remove a man's heart, but it had something of a nostalgic quality to it.

He then cleaned the undersides of his nails with the tips of his blade, flinging the muck to the dusty ground irreverently. There had to be a word for that substance, that thick, warm mixture that could no more be mud without water than the Wastelands beyond might have been deserts with it. Of course, there was a word for everything in Infernal, but Nasir considered that to be cheating. He hadn't spoken Infernal in something like twenty years, and he wasn't intending to start up again now.

He wiped the blood from his mouth, and for a moment, thought about savoring the sweet, metallic taste the way a child might strongly consider sampling some strange and unknown substance that had suddenly found its way to his mouth. He thought better of it, though; the blood, as far as Nasir was concerned, was the worst part of the corpse, and there was always so much of it.

Nasir had devoured only the heart of the damned soul lying on the ground before him, leaving enough for a fellow demon to come along and make a quick meal of it, if he could catch it before the rot set in. A young enough demon might even take the chance, ignoring the distinct scratch patterns on the man's arms and stomach—Infernal sigils that would, once the meat was consumed, slowly kill the scavenger and ensure that his death was attributed to Nasir.

He'd baited many of these traps before, but so far, no one had bitten. Perhaps it was time to choose a new hobby.



Ezra blanched.

He had been in Hell for a total of perhaps a week, although by now each day was beginning to fade into the next, but surely his luck could not have already worn out. Somewhere above him, a slippery voice that most likely belonged to one of the natives rang out loud and clear, its texture—and a palpable texture it was—evoking images he wasn't sure he wanted to see. Dead men, as far as he was concerned, didn't have pulses for a reason, and at the moment, he was fighting to keep it that way. He didn't have glands anymore, in any sense of the word, but adrenaline or something like it was beginning to pump its way through his veins. His eyes scanned the rafters just overhead for the voice's origin, and spotted a figure in repose, looking almost like a cadaver, but more languid, and arguably more animated.

And then he remembered the object he'd been playing with only moments ago, and though apprehension and fear still coursed through his veins, it gave him some comfort. Perhaps his luck wasn't quite as bad as he'd thought. He thumbed the small knife in his pocket, just in case.

And then, as if the day couldn't get any worse, there was suddenly another voice in the room, attached to another entity—and this one looked far more like he was prepared to tussle than the woman roosted above him. His muscles tensed, the echo of a once-physical parasympathetic nervous system that had never gotten much use in life, but was going to be damned sure it didn't end up anywhere worse than here. Fight or flight.

But Ezra had never been a fighter. In the last years of his life (God, was he calling them that already?), he'd spent every other afternoon in the gym, trying (unsuccessfully) to bulk up his slender frame. He'd never actually had to use those muscles before, however. Once, in middle school, he'd taken a swing at a boy who'd slung some fairly choice slurs at him, for an eleven year old. One swing was all he'd gotten in; the boy, two years his senior, had “defended” himself, and Ezra had found himself suspended for a week, three days of which were spent nursing a recurring nosebleed.

Trapped. The masked man was standing between Ezra and the door—directly next to the door frame, to be exact, and his actions thereupon had left the usually neat and cleanly Ezra wondering if he'd encountered a madman. They were common in the Sandlot, he'd heard, the sanity driven from their heads by either guilt or power, and being stuck between a madman and a demon, he was rather certain he'd take the demon.

His grip on the pocketknife tightened momentarily, but there was something about the tense set in the man's shoulders that betrayed the hopelessness of the situation, should it come to blows. It was time for a new plan, and perhaps the man would listen to reason. Ezra straightened his shoulders and tried very hard not to smile.

“Ezra Morrow,” he said, almost mechanically, fulfilling the first of the man's requests. “I made the mistake of wandering into this place looking for shelter, same as you. Looks like we're probably both in something of a pickle now.” At this, he glanced pointedly at the woman perched above them, and hoped against hope that something about all this was going to work out.

Setting

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Character Portrait: Ezra Morrow Character Portrait: Maya Character Portrait: The Marked Man Character Portrait: Ephraim
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Something was going to happen today. Ephraim wasn’t entirely sure what it was, but it was something he was fairly certain was relatively important, and unfortunately that meant he had to get out of the house.

Probably. He was fairly certain that’s what that meant.

Muttering to himself, he slid on the only pair of shoes he’d found, the cracked leather worn and shiny with age. The rough soles felt cool against his feet, and he frowned as he stepped across the creaking whitewashed floorboards. He grunted and kicked off the offending objects before grabbing the worn rucksack he kept by the door. The frayed canvas was of an indiscriminate color, dye faded and dirty beyond recognition. With little ceremony he turned the thing upside down, shaking out its contents before zipping it up sliding it, empty, onto his back. Pausing a moment to ensure he forgot nothing, Ephraim scrambled through planks of the boarded up bay window, paying the glass that crunched beneath his bare feet little heed as he hoisted himself through the threshold. On the other side, his feet padded softly against hard-packed red dirt.

After an hour or so of wandering he found himself in what appeared to have once been a small cluster of decrepit outbuildings, much like those found on farms. Farms that had been uninhabited for thirty years. Places like this were ideal for scavenging—Hell was kind enough to provide some materials to its inhabitants, though the condition you found them in always left something to be desired. Already his bag lay heavy against his back, pieces of scrap metal and a ragged men’s work shirt taking up a fair amount of room. He could find uses for the the scrap later, he imagined, or he could trade it, and the shirt’s shoulders looked narrow enough that he might be able to wear it. The holes made him pause, though—perhaps it would make better bedding. He’d just taken off his backpack to add a hairbrush (the soft bristles were bent and dusty and the embossed silver of the handle was tarnished, but he thought it was nice) when he heard the running of feet. A huge dust cloud was quickly descending upon the area, and at its head he saw, to his horror, what almost certainly had to be a Raker. Someone else, too, but he doubted they would last long.

Scrambling, he tried to close the zipper on his bag, growling in frustration as it snagged on the fraying threads. Panic was already setting in and he left it, taking off in a sprint. Normally in a situation such as this he would spread his wings and try to get to higher ground, but he doubted any of the surrounding buildings’ roofs would hold his weight and his wings badly needed maintenance—he highly doubted to amount of dirty and damaged feathers would allow him to consistently keep both out of reach and moving fast enough that the Raker would tire before he would. His animal instincts kicked in and he started for the nearest building, a small, drab affair with a collapsed roof. He figured it would do in a pinch, and the sooner he could get into shelter, the sooner he could hide. Hide, and hope that the other poor soul was enough to satisfy.

He had nearly made it to the shed when he realized the noise of the chase had ended; not only that, there were also no sounds of organs being ripped violently from anyone’s chest. Unfortunately, in his moment of hesitation he faltered just enough that when his foot caught on one of the many pieces of garbage littering the uneven terrain he felt to the ground, immediately regretting the shout of surprise accompanying the tumble.

From somewhere behind the very same structure he’d been running for came a screech that made his blood run cold. Cursing, he scooted around enough to see what had tripped him. The darkly finished chair leg appeared to have some heft to it, and even if it didn’t, the bent nails sticking from the top looked as if they were sharp. Makeshift weapon in hand he clambered to his feet, making a mad dash for a squat building not too far from where he stood. What had become of the Raker’s previous prey was beyond him, but, as he approached the building and (presumed) safety, he found he really didn’t care. It wasn’t until he was upon the building and scrabbling over what broken planks remained of a back door that he wondered what in the world had possessed him, thinking that enclosing himself in an unfamiliar building was the best way to shake this thing.

It wasn’t as if they couldn’t use doors, and now he was going to be cornered. Stuck between a wall and painful, agonizing death. There were few ways that this could have been a poorer strategic decision. In fact, the only way he could feasibly imagine it being much worse was to have walked in on a meeting between three other demons. Well—he noted with relief—one demon and two meatsacks. A little easier to handle, but still more than Ephraim could possibly hope to overtake on his own. For a glimmer of a second he considered trying to jump out the back door again, but he tightened his grip on his chair leg.

He coughed, nervously eying what felt like a very open entryway into the building. He inched away from the way he had come through. “Safe passage?” he asked hesitantly, coughing on the dust he’d raised. He surveyed the three and bit his lip, not expecting stellar results.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Ezra Morrow Character Portrait: Maya Character Portrait: The Marked Man Character Portrait: Ephraim
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#, as written by Cypher
[Posted in the wrong location again]

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Ezra Morrow Character Portrait: Maya Character Portrait: The Marked Man Character Portrait: Ephraim
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#, as written by Cypher
Somewhere, deep inside the annals of his faded, time-ravaged memory, a phrase dug its way to the surface of the Marked Man's mind - 'Trouble always travels in threes.'

The first two had been there prior to his arrival. It was more than obvious that the first was the young man who stood before him, the nervous-looking one in the suit, with his hands obscured from view. Ezra, his name was - a Biblical name, an Old Testament one, although passages from the chapter didn't come to him at the time. He spoke well enough, keeping himself calm and composed, although obviously nervous.

Perhaps it was the two foot long kukri staring him in the face.

The Marked One had just begun to return his kukri to its sheath when he suddenly realized that Ezra was pointing. The knife went back to Ezra's throat as the man followed his hand upwards, into the ruined rafters of the building. Bloodshot eyes traced across the interlocked wooden girders, pupils darting from one place to the next, searching for the subject of Ezra's observations. Eventualy, his eyes settled upon the disturbance. There, nestled in the rafters, looking for all the world like the picture of earthly beauty and sloth, was a woman. Her red hair dangled low, through the ceiling, like...

Old Man's Beard in the sunset -

The man, however, wasn't about to be fooled by her physical charms. His eyes narrowed, and he wrapped his hand around his second kukri, keeping it holstered for now. "You, consort of the dark one." His voice had taken on a certain authority now; not otherworldly, by any measure, rather that of a practiced orator. Booming, enunciated, almost threatening - even to those it wasn't directed at. "You will leave this place and cause no disturbance, or it will not be the flesh of the damned you pleasure yourself with this night, but the final sleep of cold steel upon your throat."

At that precise moment, a dustpile blew into the room through an unseen back door. The man released a wordless cry of surprise and rage, his free hand raising over his shoulder and hurling the unsheathed kukri in his direction. There was a dull thwom-thwom-thwom sound as the heavy knife somersaulted lazily through the air, then a decisive qwop sound as it embedded in the remains of the back doorframe, close enough to the dustpile's body to be threatening but not enough to actually hit him - rather, it had been designed to buy him time.

Time enough to draw the low-slung pistol on his belt.

Which was now pointed at the dustpile. The other kukri was facing the succubus.

The Marked Man's eyes - his most dangerous weapon - were glaring into Ezra's, daring him to make a move. Without averting his gaze, he shouted purposefully: "Every armed being in this building will cease to be so immediately, lest they want to try their hands at single combat. And I make a promise here - only one of us will be walking away." He scowled, slightly.

"Everyone. Drop them. Now. And you, Jezebel. Down from the rafters. Stand with us a while, let us have a friendly conversation."

The tone of his voice implied anything but friendliness.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Ezra Morrow Character Portrait: Nova Character Portrait: Maya Character Portrait: The Marked Man Character Portrait: Ephraim
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A heart. It wasn't like any heart he had ever seen. This one was black and twisted, oozing treacly blood. It's one-time host lay at the Fallen's feet, it's head a couple of feet away from it's body. The sand around the Fallen was wet with the black blood of the demon, and even his cloths was splotched in the vile liquid. A large spot situated under his eye, yet the Fallen didn't seem to notice, nor care. He was too busy examining his prize. Turning the heart over in his hand, he remembered something he was told in heaven a long, long time ago. Demon's had to eat the hearts of their brethren to rise in the ranks of Hell. His lips curled in disgust and he spit in defiance. Was he really going to have to eat this cursed thing?

The Fallen sighed and his shoulders dropped. However much he hated it, was disgusted by it, he would have to do it. That was a rule of Hell, and which of he was now a citizen of. He might as well become a good citizen and display some sort of ambition. He sighed and brought the heart up to his mouth. Hesitating for a moment, he bit into the organ like one would bite into an apple. The black blood further smeared on his face and lips, with what liquid still remained in the organ dripping down onto his monochrome clothing.

The taste was... Not unpleasant. While indescribable, it wasn't disgusting. If ventured a guess, the Fallen would say that it tasted like... Power. Only a taste though, as the owner of the heart was a worthless peon who believed he could take a Fallen on in combat. While his powers may have been depleted he was not weak in the slightest. But the heart. The Fallen found himself wondering if the more powerful demon hearts had a more potent taste. As he swallowed the infernal tissue, he could feel the strength enter his limbs. It wasn't much strength, much like itch in his veins, and soon the feeling was gone. But the memory of the feeling was still there and it felt good.

Greedily, he finished the heart in mere seconds, desperately searching for the same itch, trying to wring every last ounce of strength out of the petty little organ. The only thing that remained was the blood smeared on his lips and his clothes. There were nothing else to be gained from it, and it made the Fallen irritated. He needed more hearts. He needed power, he needed the strength. He gave his sword a hard jerk, expelling the blood that still lingered on his blade, and left. Searching for more hearts to devour to satiate his own greedy heart.




After wandering what felt like hours without a single other demon in sight, the Fallen was becoming agitated. Hell was supposed to be crawling with evil men and terrible demons and the only one he had met was that one unfortunate to have his head separated from his body. His eyelids were beginning to drop, and his now clean lips (Some inherent infernal magic apparently) was set in a deep scowl. The fact that he had managed to be caught in a forsaken sandstorm didn't help matters. The Fallen's eyes drifted up, and noticed that the dusty clouds had shifted enough for him to catch a glimpse of the sun. A blood red thing just hanging in the sky. It was... Intoxicating, and to the Fallen angel, the most beautiful thing in this cesspool of Hell. He didn't see the buildings in the near distance. But he did manage to find the ground.

Suddenly, the Fallen went from looking to the sky and blood sun, to the dusty ground in seconds. He pulled his face out of the sand, his eyebrows furrowed in irritation. He had tripped on something. He rolled over and looked to his feet. It was a... Backpack? What was a backpack doing in the middle of nowhere? Curiosity took hold, much like her did the bag. It was still partially open and inside he could see scraps of iron and clothing in the bag. He wondered who would have left it. Either way, it was of some value, for it was in a backpack. The Fallen fiddled with the zipper himself, and zipped it completely. He may need to trade it for something later down the line. He slipped it on his back, he heard a piercing scream. A scream that only meant one thing.

A demon.

A wicked grin curled his lips. Another heart. His pace quickened and his sword rested on his shoulder, hunting for the owner of the screech. It was near the cluster of houses he had glanced over earlier. As he approached the house, the owner seemed to all but had disappeared. The fallen stopped and surveyed the area in front of him as the dust cloud began to settle. Nothing but houses. He didn't even hear anything. At least not at first.

Another screech pierced the infernal air, and this time it was closer... Too close. The Fallen's wings went taut and flapped, sending the man forward and out of the sharp talons of the demon. Then, one wing went stiff as the other flapped, bringing the fallen about face. Finally, the Fallen had a good view of his prey. And what a view it was. A large creature, almost humanoid in nature. Barring the impressive amounts of sharp objects studding it, anyway. It almost made the Fallen's black blade look silly in comparison.

He sighed, this wasn't going to be as easy as the last demon he fought.. But the creature's delicious heart ought to make up for that. He grinned and licked his lips in anticipation. The Fallen angled his blade at the beast and awaited it's next move.

He didn't have to wait long, as the Raker lunged, all of it's sharp talons and blades looking to pincushion the former angel. His eyes widened in surprise at the sudden intensity and angled his blade to guard against some of the blades, and used what little infernal magic he had to throw up a black shield in front of him. While the blades did not penetrate, the force was still there and viciously threw the Fallen backward and through a nearby house. The weak wall collapsed under his weight and he didn't stop until he was in what was once the living room.

His head was spinning, but he got to his feet anyway and started forward. That was when he noticed he wasn't alone in the house. Others were there too, in various stages of distrust. He even saw a gun being pointed at another winged being. But these were not his prey. He was outside. The Fallen strode forward and said, "Do not interfere," in a low melodic, almost musical and foreboding voice, "For it's bleeding heart is mine."

With that, he strode out of the house in the same hole he had entered in and faced off with the Raker. His wings began to beat, cleaning the dust off of himself as he approached the infernal being. His sword was pointing menacingly at the beast, and his other hand was enveloped in a black flame. He said only one word to the being before they charged each other.

"Come."

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Character Portrait: Nova Character Portrait: Maya Character Portrait: The Marked Man Character Portrait: Ephraim
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"You, consort of the dark one."

"You flatter me, dear thing."

Unless the banker whose life she drained the previous week counted as a "dark one" (he did have a remarkable mass of stubble on his jaw, come to think of it), she was sure this... mummy man was mistaking her for a creature of higher importance. What a silly, flighty little creature, storming the place with glinting weapons and a terribly unsociable attitude. The response from her was a low mutter--potentially unheard, as she had turned her nose again into her arms. It seemed as if she would remain stagnant then, and she very well may have, had there not been one more intruder to her temporary domain.

"Safe passage?" he had coughed.

Noise, noise, NOISE. How very irritating. The hungriest of demons must have been heavily sick in the nostrils to let all these lost morsels wander into this far. "Four is such a crowd... but I am nothing, I suppose, if not an entertainer."
True to her word, Maya slipped from her haughty spot above their heads, as the mummy had demanded. Had she not already been identified as a demonic temptress, the silent landing would likely have betrayed her. The faint smell of blood perked her interest, and she preened as she searched carefully for the source, scooping what must have been buckets of hair over her shoulders. While she did, she noted one in their company was equipped with funny instruments on his back... ah. One of those ones formerly from the upper-upper world. Nonetheless, she situated herself nearest to Mister Safe Passage, oooh, that was a double entendre of a sort, wasn't it? perhaps with hopes to leap onto him for a piggyback out of the situation that, in all probability, could turn very sour, very fast.

Which was good, because the spot on which she stood for just a moment was victim to the grinding from the buttocks of yet another visitor, barreling backwards through the walls and departing just as quickly.

... She puckered her lips a little, then continued speaking as if she had no reason to cease: "Though that one--" she paused to look directly, demurely at the Marked Man; sparing what would have been a gentle smile, were it between cheeks better speckled with a living woman's blush-- "will draw even more of a less friendly ilk if he doesn't see to that wound on his chest. Wouldn't you, love?"

There is at least one benefit to being a regular in hell's maws; one tends to get quite used to surprises.

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Character Portrait: Ezra Morrow Character Portrait: Nova Character Portrait: Maya Character Portrait: The Marked Man Character Portrait: Ephraim
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He had to admit, although "unpleasant" and "confusing" were both adjectives that had applied to his existence since his arrival, one adjective that Ezra could not apply to this wretched place was "boring." He'd never been a man for entertainment accompanied by the word "thrill," unless the word "cheap" had been scrawled in front of it, but that was exactly what he was getting here. Why, in the last five minutes, he'd gone from perfectly obscure and grateful about it (a thought that had come a trifle too soon) to surrounded by possible foes. Stumbling into one had been bad enough--the two that had fallen into his lap since his entrance into the shack were far too much, and Ezra could not believe his luck.

He was getting a feel for what had and had not ever been human, though, and that was giving him some measure of confidence. Although the woman's gaunt features and taut, sallow skin betrayed her, the former moneylender was surprised to find that he was quite sure the newcomer was a demon as well. Something about the way he held himself, hunched and guarded, like a bird...it didn't feel human, and Ezra was well aware that it was safer to assume he wasn't.

And then the madman had drawn a pistol to point at the demon who'd entered, and the woman had attempted to banter with him, and there was still a knife at his throat, all things which did not, as far as Ezra was concerned, lend to a pleasant and peaceful day in Hell.

As if that hadn't been enough, shortly thereafter, the wall behind him caved in. Oh, happy day!

Had Ezra commanded half the sense as a dead man that he had in life, he might have used the tumbling wall as a distraction to remove himself from the situation. Trapped between a mad man, one known demon, one prospective demon, and a battle between a winged beast and a bladed ball of death, escape would have been the best course of action. He had not, however, gotten a feel for just how this "sense" thing worked here in Hell, and making himself easy pray for the...thing engaged in combat outside did not exactly sound like the hallmark of keen survival instinct.

Had Ezra commanded less than half the glands controlling his bodily functions, he might have been a much less fortunate individual altogether. Warm, for a moment, but certainly not a scent for sore noses. He was glad this wasn't the case.

Hysterically, he wondered if it might have meant a demon could not cross the front of his lower half, remembering what the madman had done earlier. He clutched the switchblade in his pocket as though it was a safety blanket, his thumb on the mechanism in case it became prudent to use it. Not for the first time, he found himself spitting curses under his breath; how had he ended up here? This wasn't fair. What had he done to deserve this?

(Assuming, he supposed, that the church choir boy in the tenth grade didn't count. He didn't think that warranted having one's heart ripped out and eaten by monsters that, when they deigned, wore human faces.)

But he tried his best to look composed, doing a decent job. "I think," he said quietly, his face stony white, "that your little magic trick on the door may be somewhat moot." This might have been a smooth comment, had his voice not broken in the middle. Oh God. He was going to die here, again, in the Sandlot, surrounded by a harlot, a madman, and--whatever the man...thing...at his side was.



It cannot be said that the common Raker is most cowardly of beasts known to demonkind, if only because Hell is full to the brim with cowards, making that title something of a weighty contest. However, the Raker now face to face with the Fallen angel was especially ineligible for the title, being of a proud and healthy make. It had not been the firstborn son of its clan, but it had been stronger when it came to the Sandlot than the child its mother sought to raise. For one silent second, the creature lowered its revoltingly stretched torso low to the ground, tightly shut eyes pointed up at the former angel, drinking him in.

There was pain in this one, as there was in any angel freshly Felled, although this was the first the Raker had encountered. He drank in the sensation, a burning emptiness like no pain any creature could inflict--physically, anyway. He felt it, and tasted it, and breathed it, and finally, consumed it, allowing it to wash over the darkest places of his heart before stowing it away for later use. Or present use. Perhaps the angel would like a taste of home before he died.

The flying creature before him issued just one warning. "Come."

The ensuing shriek rattled the paper-thin tops of settled glass panes. Not far, he could hear the pained shudder of new blood. A damned soul--the Raker tasted the pain that washed over him, and shivered in delight. That would flavor his attack on the angel nicely.

The standoff could not last forever, though, and the fresh blood a ways off smelled delicious. The Raker had never tasted an angel's heart before, either; perhaps today would be full of pleasant surprises. With a concerted effort, he dredged up the pain that he'd swallowed a moment before, and transferred it to the forefront of the angel's mind--the pain of a Fall.

Confident that would be enough to slow his opponent, he lunged.

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Character Portrait: Ezra Morrow Character Portrait: Maya Character Portrait: The Marked Man Character Portrait: Ephraim
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#, as written by Cypher
The pressure-cooker of a shack was rapidly coming to a head. No sooner had the Marked Man loosed his kukri than the wall next to it came crashing inward in a whirlwind of dust and bodies. Another Fallen was in the room for a split second, then gone again. Outside was a Raker; no doubt the same one that had followed the Marked Man across the dunes. He supposed he should be grateful for the distraction. He wasn't; at best the beast would be distracted only for a moment before it retreated, tried to run from this new combatant, possibly its superior in this realm.

The Marked Man realized, with sudden certainty, that if he wanted to continue his meager existence it was time to go. He cast his eyes at the succubus, squinting, then very slowly dropped the machete pointed at the Gregori. He sidestepped to the doorframe and retrieved his kukri, which had been jarred loose when the Fallen smashed through the wall nearby. "Although I am loath to admit it," he intoned, sheathing both of the kukri on his back and lowering the pistol to his side, "the bitch is correct. If I remain here with this wound, I will only draw more attention."

He looked suddenly at the newcomer to the realm, Ezra. He was green enough that the dust hadn't even had time to settle into his funeral garb yet. A few moments of scrutiny passed, then: "I am going." Stepping towards the front doorframe, the Marked Man withdrew from his medicine pouch a small bundle of wormwood and a slightly larger one of basil leaves. He selected a few leaves of each, wrapping the small bundle in a rag and jamming it into a censer he produced from another pocket. Carefully poking his head outside, he searched for another building. The amount of herbs in the censer would be sufficient protection for a matter of minutes - two, perhaps three if he was incredibly quick and/or lucky - but past that he would be stranded in the open Sandlot, with an angry Raker nearby.

Hopefully he wouldn't have to deal with that situation.

The sounds of battle out back were growing more fierce, and the man feared if he waited any longer. He pointed out the window and then selected the building closest to the one his finger stopped upon. He threw a glance over his shoulder, straight at Ezra, and then at the others. A quick, jagged edge of pain shot down his chest wound, focusing him. "I will not remain any longer. Accompany me if you wish."

A lighter was raised, then, and the censer started to smoke, smelling of burning herbs. Twirling the censer before him like a medieval flail, the Marked Man took off at a diligent pace down the road, his head low, the smoke engulfing him. He said nothing, but his mind reeled with chants and silent prayers to whomever was listening that his journey, however short, would end at his preferred destination.