Disturbances And The Church part 2

((Later that day))

The sway of the ship did not bother Jeke at all. The pain he suffered still did, throbbing with a dull ache as he passed by Church guards, nodding as he raised a hand. The guard on the right, without changing his stern look, seized his arm and knocked for him. Jeke did not mind at all and stood nonplussed.

"Come in," came the response.

The door was opened and Jeke beheld the fine cabin she had. The Mother of the Church sat brushing her hair with the vacant stare of the unseeing. "Master Kerron," she greeted.

"My lady," he greeted respectfully.

Joseph gave a small bow to the woman before straightening himself, the symbol had thankfully stopped glowing, and besides feeling a bit sea sick, hasn't had an episode for a bit. "It is my honor to meet you, My lady." He swayed a bit, "I apologize for my stance, not a fan of the sea."

The Mother turned to them eyes shrouded by the black cloth. “You do not need to apologize. You could be standing on one leg for all I know. Your formalities are appreciated, but a modicum of the gesture is lost on me.” she paused, thinking for a moment. “Have you met with my chief security officer Belmae Ash yet?” she asked them. “She will be in charge of your orders and watches until we dock.”

Joseph looked over at Jeke, before looking back at the Mother, "Actually, I wanted to speak to you, my lady. I was attacked by the name of a man named Sunder, who told me of my strange behavior to the church and most importantly, the mark."

The Mother crossed her hands over each other on the desk in front of her, a slightly sorrowful look on her face. “I know nothing of this mark you speak of.” she began, “As for your claims of my knight attacking you, I mean no disrespect in saying this. If he had attacked you, you would not be speaking to me.” her head tilted towards her desk a moment, “If he truly saw you as a force of evil rather than one of its victims. I believe you have some misunderstanding as to what actually happened, though I have not spoken with him since his departure to secure a zealot of The Fair Lady. If this issue isn’t pressing we can speak on it together and come to an understanding.”

He looked down, "Apologizes, I came here with Jeke in order to help protect you, but as well to ask help, I was marked by the Iron Queen, the mark of a skeletal ouroboros. Recently the pain has eased, but it's not gone. As if one half of its curse had been broken." He looked at Jeke, "I think we will do our best to protect you."

"With all that I am," Jeke replied with a nod.

“I thank you greatly for that. Times have been troubling to say the very least, my knight is quite capable of protecting me but she is but one person. Without my other here we need all the help we can get. If all goes well and we arrive safely once we are in a place more fitting we can attempt to remove your binding curse.” The Mother suggested. “But for now, please report to Belmae and see if she needs anything from you and to assign your watch duties.”

"There is one other topic I wish to speak with you about," the Weapons Master stated, gently. "It is about the Iron Queen herself. The wife's tales about the land say she is purging humans with abandon, save those with elven blood."

The Mother’s brow furrowed behind the blindfold. “I have only rumors and tales Sunder brings with him of the events you speak of.” she began. “Though if they hold as much truth as they appear to then it is troubling. The Church of the Fair Lady has little power to affect these matters though our most trusted knights seek out bounties placed on those of high rank in the rumored armies she is raising. Trying our best to secretly widdle their numbers. Though, like a hydra each time one is stricken down two more seem to take their place. We do our best to keep tabs on these affairs, but-”

“Your Holiness!” Cried a guard of the church, as he came bursting in through the double doors.

“Yes?” The Mother simply said, showing infinite patience as her conversation was interrupted.

“You are in grave danger Milady! We’ve just found one of our men-”

“Show some manners,” A commanding feminine voice decreed. Striding through the doorway in equal parts grace and malice was the Paladin Belmae Ash, who, even to the capable men in the room, carried with her a great air of force and purpose. Jeke nodded respectfully to her as she glared at the guard.

“Stand up straight and keep your wits about you, The Mother is in danger.”

The young guard, nearly cowering in response, nodded.

The Paladin then turned to The Mother, respectfully dropping to one knee, “We are under attack, and this room is no longer safe. We must relocate to a safer part of the ship.”

The Mother nodded, blindly gazing in the two mercenaries' general direction.

“I suppose our discourse has come to a close.”

“Come with me, I’ll keep you safe.” Belmae said, taking gentle hold of The Mother’s hand. She then looked to the guard, as well as Jeke and Joseph.

“Show them where it happened, and make sure the others are on high alert.”

She then turned to the Cursed Warrior and Weapons Master, “I would fight to my dying breath to protect The Mother, you’d best be willing to do the same.” She said shouldering her massive hammer as if it were made of paper.

"I am a man of my word," Jeke responded gently. "I would not give it if I could not do it."

Joseph nodded. Jeke looked to him and rolled his neck a bit. "And so we go…" The group exited the room in a hurried fashion, the guard quickly waving and guiding both men to the forecastle.

"The man you found… you just found him?" Jeke asked as they came up to the door.

"Yes, sir. I was changing the guard when I found him," replied the guard, still rather shaken. He grasped the knob and turned. Joseph flinched at the sight. Within the room laid a body, blood still pooling beneath it. It was a fresh kill, could not have been any more than a minute ago.

"I didn't even hear it happen. I just came in and it was as it is now, " The young guard spared the two a worried glance as he held the door open.

Jeke motioned for the door to be closed as he crouched down. "Laceration. Single stroke to the neck…" he noted out loud. He reached over and nodded to Joseph. The two rolled the body and Jeke saw through all the blood the tiny dribble still oozing out of the rent in his back. Jeke slid his fingers inside.

"What is it?" The guard asked.

"He was dead before his throat was slit." Jeke replied.

Still clutching the doorknob, the guard looked around the room himself. The dread he seemed to feel was ever present on his face, and he proceeded to grip his blade with his free left hand.

"Why do I get the feeling we're being watched?"

He eyed a nearby closet with wooden shutters as opposed to a door, giving the two an apologetic look as he wordlessly acknowledged his own cowardice.

Joseph pulled out his weapon, even though he wasn't a mage, he could feel their magic. "We aren't alone, there is a mage here. Look for anything out of place, such as footsteps without a person or an animal that doesn't appear the same as the others." He stepped forward, the mark began to pulse a faint glow. He looked around the room, surveying the area. The magic he sensed felt faint at first, it was something he had felt before, and though the eerie sense of not yet perceivable danger was not exactly comforting, the cursed warrior took solace in the fact that this particular mage didn't seem to be all that powerful. That was, however, until the very next moment, as the sense of magic changed and morphed into something strange, illogical and unfamiliar. What Joseph was feeling now was utter chaos, and it did well to unnerve him.

"Wait, what's-" Was all the cursed warrior managed before he spotted the cowardly guard, who had shed his white quilted armor of The Mother to reveal blackened leather combat attire and a head of wild snow-white hair. In a lightning fast motion, the assailant quite literally fired a bolt of lightning at Joseph, sending the man flying backwards into the wall behind him, before unsheathing his colorless blade.

Jeke fell to the side to avoid a potential blast, turning on the ground. He stared a bit wide eyed at the man before him. His hand slid a bit into his cloak beneath him, grasping the hilt of another dagger as the man spoke.

Ponce glared at the two, the unnatural crimson color of his eyes doing well to add to the initial shock his reveal produced, not considering the bolt of lightning, that is.

"You were on point, considering any out of place animals. If only you'd considered yourselves amongst them."

Joseph groaned, haggardly rising to his feet as Jeke responded back, calmly, "I knew it was not us. What should have been my tip off was how you entered into The Mother's cabin. No paladin would burst in like that."

Joseph coughed a bit, "The cursed mark also pulsed when you first showed up, I thought it was Draken acting up at first, I should have listened to it."

The sorcerer shrugged, pointing his blade at the two warriors.

"You two are formidable, just as I predicted. That is usually the case with outside help."

He braced, as if ready to charge, but hesitated before a step was taken, reaching forward with his right hand, grasping at something that was not there, and pulling. As he did, the shutters of the unchecked closet ripped open, revealing two of The Mother's paladins, gripping swords, with strange, twisted expressions on their faces.

"Here they are!" The Sorcerer shouted. The men in the closet reacted with shouts of their own.

"You will not hurt, The Mother! You'll die before you lay a finger on her!" They exclaimed before charging Jeke and Joseph, swords at the ready.

Joseph quickly reacted by blocking the attack. Upon blocking the attack, his eyes flashed gold for a moment, however a deep voice spoke to him, "No, invoke my purpose." To the voice Joseph kicked the guard across the room, his eyes flashing a purplish blue before returning to their normal color, "That was new."

Jeke flung his dagger at the white-haired sorcerer. The man merely tilted his head to avoid it as Jeke sprung to his feet. His left hand reached down once more, this time grasping the shortsword there. He reverse drew and parried with a swipe. The second guard riposted and swung again; The Weapons Master ducked the blow and stepped into his personal space, preventing him from swinging effectively.

Ponce took a step forward, crimson eyes glowing with malice as he drew his hand out, unnaturally forcing the guard that had been blown away by Joseph's magic back into action. He came at Joseph with a particularly ferocious swing, but the warrior deftly parried, sending the man flying as his momentum carried him past.

"You are considering these men's lives, right?" Ponce added, "I'm sure they have families to get back to, " pools of red flickering back and forth between the warriors.

Joseph flinched as he spoke, however his reply wasn't his own voice; it sounded like a thousand voices speaking at once, "Their existence will join my grand order." Joseph vomited, "Who the hell is going through my mind now?" He looked at Ponce, "They are still people, not tools, I'm talking to the both of you, chaos mage and strange voice."

Ponce glared at Joseph as he spoke, who was clearly shifting in and out of some sort of struggle within his mind. Ponce squinted, and pressed a thought forth into the cursed warrior's mind.

'You are weak. Your grasp is slipping. Do you wish to be an afterthought forever?'

"I am eternal, little chaos. I have taken many worlds before this one. My agents are working at this very moment. Your Chaos Lord has failed, this world will soon be mine. The voice was like thousands of different voices speaking, some becoming stronger than others, some just whispers that echoed its words. Joseph shook his head, "Both of you, get out!"

Ponce grimaced, backing out of the man's head. What he had going on in there was way more than the sorcerer needed to be bothered with right now.

Jeke meanwhile reverse-parried the other controlled guard, deflecting a poorly aimed swing as Jeke brought the pommel upwards. The guards head reared back, to which Jeke pirouetted around the back of him to slam the possessed guard into the wall. The guard lay slumped and stunned as Jeke made sure he stayed there.

He paused a second as he drew the second shortsword. Jeke swung the flat of the blade against the head of the guard, laying him back upon the deck. Jeke held his master's swords by his sides, looking to the sorcerer. "I don't want to do this," Jeke spoke to him, firm voice slightly echoing in the space. "Don't make me do this, surrender."

A purple blue light spilled from Joseph, it was worm like in appearance. It slithered to the unconscious guard. Joseph shouted, "Jeke! Glow worm!"

Ponce looked to the body, then to Jeke, and the others as he evaluated the situation.

"Alright, I've seen enough."

With a gesture of his hand, one of his blades slid from its slit on his chest and raised into the air. The blades were tiny things, blackened razors about 3 centimeters in length and two in width. It was sharp on both ends of the rectangular razor-like disk, and the middle was simply flat. After hardly giving it much of a thought, Ponce whipped his hand forward, sending it flying in Jeke's direction. But he was not the target. In what must have been less than a split second, the blade had sliced into the unconscious guard’s neck, cutting into his trachea with surgical precision, before hitting the nearby wall and clattering to the ground.

Ponce stood and observed for just a moment as the man awoke and gripped Jeke, bloodshot eyes wide as blood began to run from his neck and the corners of his mouth. He gripped his neck with his free hand, pulling Jeke in a delirious craze as he fought to speak his last words.

"I-it was you! H-how could y-you?!" He grunted, gasping for air as the pain of asphyxiation brought tears to his eyes.

Before the weapons master could fully react, Ponce blasted him with a wave of telekinetic force, letting out an annoyed exhale as he moved forward.

"Might I suggest that if you two would just back down, no more blood would have to be shed?"

Pulling with his hand, the blade whipped across the room, stopping to float in the air just in front of him. Casting his face down for a moment, he eyed the dying guard.

"Apologies." Was all he said, before returning his attention to Jeke, and as he did, he whipped the blade downward, embedding the razor into the man's skull, ultimately ending his misery. Deciding that whatever sorcery that the worm had put into play was sufficiently quelled, Ponce pointed his blade at the Weapons Master.

The glow worm slithered towards the corpse of the recently slaughtered guard. It jumped into the corpse's wound. Then the fallen paladin slowly got on its feet, Joseph ripped the knives out of the wall. The corpse turned to leave, but Joseph threw a knife at it's back. It stopped and turned around. Joseph grimaced, "That ain't right."

Meanwhile, the Weapons Master was distracted by all that was happening. The newest development told him that Joseph's curse was necromantic and that secondly, this assassin was capable of more magic than his battle magic. Jeke picked himself up, looking to the men that Ponce had disposed of. His grimace was that of anger as a slow scowl crawled onto his face. "Joseph, I need you to deal with that," Jeke said with an edge. "I will deal with him."

He stepped over the guard, eyes locked on Ponce. "Innocent men just died. You will pay for that," he said to him.

"Taking the moral high ground now, are we? A fighter like you sharpens his blades with flesh. Are you sure all of the men you've killed are as innocent as you think?"

"Silence... I do not kill without need or out of want. I kill when I have no choice. They," he pointed to the bodies with a slight tilt of his head. "They were innocent of this." Jeke gripped his weapons firmly, turning his blades edge on as he sprang into action. Ponce let out a final exhale, preparing a spell in his right hand and tightening his left as he lurched forth.

((joint post with myself, Enderslayer, Thaen, and T4HJ3R1U5))

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