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                                  [insert witty quote later]

                                    >Private roleplay between Call Me Magoo and Soviet Titties V.

                                    Deep within an undisturbed corner of the continent Zegion lies the peaceful
                                    village of Melio. Its villagers live sleepily by a gurgling stream and fields and gentle hills lavished in green while bordered by a forest all around. Their happiness is thanks to certain crystals
                                    that protect them from all the dangers attributed from the outside world.

                                    No one comes in, and no one comes out.

                                    For the exception of two villagers: Dudley and Amma.
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Amma couldn't really remember life outside this village, though she knew she hadn't always lived her.

She'd been a small child when she'd been found 'outside', as everywhere beyond the borders of the village was known as, no older than six or seven. Her exact age wasn't known, not even by Amma herself. Somehow, by some miracle, she'd been discovered in the wild lands outside, and taken in by the villagers. It was nearly the entire village that had raised her, and it had taken all to keep an eye on her, as she'd been so precocious and inquisitive as a child- not that the curious side of her had diminished at all, even now, nearly twenty or past twenty.

Amma probably wasn't even her real name, but at that age, it was all she could call herself. Amma. It wasn't even a real name; most likely a nickname. Her real name was probably Amelia or Ameline. Regardless, she had been Amma for as long as she could remember.

Amma had long since forgotten to care about her actual age, as it hardly seemed to matter. She was a grown woman, finally, though her curly blonde hair was just as wild and unruly as it had always been. But she was about to be recognized as an adult within the village, something Amma had been looking forward to for ages. No longer would she have to check in with other 'adults' or have ever careful eyes watching her at all times, no super nosy adults warning her to keep far from the walls of the village, that no one was to leave. She'd be able to make her own decisions, go exploring as she wished without having to worry who was looking after her.

Who would tattle on her for walking along the walls now, looking out into the world beyond? No one, that's who.

As it was, she was at her friend Dudley's home, trying not to simultaneously slump over the kitchen table and run about the house like a mad-person. In only a few hours time, the ceremony would be held to announce her status as adult, and the strange mixture of excitement and nerves was enough to drive Amma insane.

Dudley may have been the one to find her, all those years ago, but that hardly made sense, as he couldn't be that old. Yes, he was older than her (but looked fantastic for his age, really; he looked almost fifteen years younger than what he most likely was), but, no that had to be impossible and her memory playing tricks on her. He'd been simply a constant in her life that she had to have stupidly placed him there in the memory, in that old broken down building that she hated to think about anyway.

"Can't it just be done now?" Amma asked, looking up at him from the cup of tea she wasn't even trying to drink. "I want it to be done and over with; can't I just be an adult without the ceremony. I want to get on exploring."

Exploring, of course, was expressly forbidden. But that didn't keep Amma from trying. There was just so much everywhere to discover and to learn and to see. Dangers lurked outside the walls of the town, but that was what made it so thrilling.
            It was the big day. Preparations had begun weeks ago for Amma's coming of age celebration; everything was headed by Dudley and he resembled more of the mayor than the mayor himself. Musicians practiced, decorations were crafted, food off all kinds prepared, and best of all were the brewed and filtered drinks. Everyone in the village were anxious for this very day, since no one had reached adulthood for a while.

            In fact Dudley himself seemed more excited than Amma seemed. It's as if he himself was going through the entire process once more. He had not been able to sleep the entire night and spent hours imagining drinking and dancing in celebration of Amma, who could look after herself.
            And good riddance, he would joke to himself. He no longer would be bound to overlook her growth and could tend to his own; but alas it was joke as he felt a bit sad that the little girl would be forced to be independent by the rights given by tradition.

            Life for a while had been rhythmic and uninteresting, although it was occasionally interrupted with lone adventures outside the town for certain crystals it was beginning to become dull. Finding the lost and pitiful child returning from the trip the town soon became lively and overjoyed with this girl.

            Despite the few hours of sleep Dudley eagerly awoke early before the sun had risen and began the final preparations for the ceremony. He was too eager to eat breakfast and driven by zeal to accept his exhaustion.

            "W-what? You don't want a ceremony?" Dudley had almost dropped the potatoes he had been peeling. It was only Ammas being a rebellious child and just wanting her independence. "Oh no," Dudley began his lecture while sitting down next to his friend. "We've spent days preparing fer this--just fer ye! And now ye come out that you don't want anything? Ohoho, nope--nope sirree. Trust me, Ammas, yer going to like it, it'll be fun. And besides, you have to have a ceremony celebrating your age--it's just not right."

            Dudley was the stickler for tradition, doing things the right way, upholding olden moral ethics, and such and such that most in the town never remembered anyways. Some joked he should take the place of the mayor, since the mayor never cared for those things as he was expected to.

            "But the best part..." Dudley lowered his voice, pretending as if he were about to tell her the location of some secret treasure, "Ye get to drink. Drink all ye want--without having anybody scold ye."

            He gave her a soft and secretive wink as to prove his reasons were genuine and more the reason to throw the celebration--which would have been thrown anyways without her approval.

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Amma couldn't help but to laugh at the shock that she wanted to skip the ceremony involved in becoming a full-fledged adult. "I want the party, Duds, but I just- I just want it to be official now," she said, and then slumped forward, pushing her tea away. "I hate waiting."

She smiled as he tried to lift her spirits at the prospect of alcohol. "You know I've had tastes of ale and spirits," she giggled. But not having to sneak the drinks on the side would be nice, or waiting for drunken Abram to slip her something when no one else was looking. Better still to not have Miss Vera scold her when caught. Only Miss Vera truly seemed to care.

Such was the way she'd been raised, the whole village taking equal part and measure to bring her up and see to her safety. But then again, she had easily been the youngest of the town; there were no children at all, except for her. Sometimes, it did occur to Amma that this could be strange, but then again, it was just how the town was. And the town had become equal parts family and friends for her.

"You know, Duds, I heard that there's going to be another drawing soon." Amma sat up, brushing her bangs out of her brown eyes. "I overheard Abram talking about how the mayor noticed the crystal needs to be replaced."

The crystal was of utmost importance to the town. The outside world was full of dangers and monsters, more than could be described or known, or so Amma had been told. A crystal was held in the center of town, one that gave off protective magic, to keep said dangers at bay. Every so often it had to be replaced, and a drawing was held to see who would have to take on the task of venturing out to find another crystal. The last time the crystal had to be replaced was how Amma came to be taken in by the town.

And now, as an adult, Amma would be entered into the drawing.

Finally taking a sip of the tea Dudley had graciously prepared for her, Amma said, "I hope my name is picked."

            "Yes yes, I know ye hate waiting and I know ye've drank before--but trust me nothing compares to this day," he rebutted with slight annoyance and went back to what he had been doing before. Honestly, this girl was the only one that gave him trouble. Already independent and able to challenge his wit and will--it was about time she was recognized in the town.

            It was almost time to start the festivities and Dudley was getting more excited by the second. The perfectly good potatoes would be used for chucking at each other once everyone had drank fermented cider, ales, and wines. The dancing would be a frenzy of people unable to stand up correctly and would tumble onto the floor and laughter would erupt. What everyone looked forward to was the food that would be eaten late into the night. After all, it had been a while.

            Dudley smiled to himself as the daydreaming ensued, but was interrupted once Amma spoke up once more. She mentioned the drawing about the crystal and setting out for another. Dudley froze and he felt his throat clog up, making him unable to speak. This was the only thing he feared. Like him, she was not bound to the law of the village and would soon one day set out to discover what was really out there. Nervously he began to fidget and scratched the back of his scruffy brown head.

            He turned around to face her, with a twisted and forced grin of nervousness. "Y-ye hope your name is picked?" he questioned her to see if he had heard her correctly. "Amma, don't ye think maybe you should...wait a bit? I mean, you hardly have any experience fer these kinds of things. Trust me the world out there is nothing like this place. I wouldn't want you to get hurt--and besides ye hardly know how to handle a weapon of any kind!"

            It would be sooner or later that she would find out about everything. Dudley feared and dreaded such a moment that crawled on its belly towards them; slowly and slowly and slithering it crawled, tormenting him whenever it reminded him of itself.

            "Why don't ye take a year off, after all we can't have a fresh new adult go out, can we? Don't think yer going to run away from yer responsibilities, now, he chuckled with new optimism in an effort to shift her mind away from going out.

            How long would this last?

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Of course Dudley was going to discourage her excitement over possibly being the chosen one for such an important task. "But I'm the youngest and strongest here," Amma protested, frowning. Why couldn't he see the thrill of going out into the unknown? "If anyone should go, it's me; I have the best chance of survival. And- I did survive it out there, as a child."

She looked away, at the hangings in the kitchen, a frown forming over her face. "Do you think I wouldn't be able to do it?" she asked, looking back to him. "You know- you know I can do anything, Duds, once I set to it. You know that."

Of course Amma knew the world outside was dangerous. She'd heard it was so, from everyone who found her straying near the wall- or worse, trying to climb it. Each person had a different tale of the monsters out there, of the evils that lurked for the sole purpose of torture and killing and feeding.

But that wasn't the only thing out there: out, beyond the wall, were the secrets of her past. She wasn't a fool; she knew she hadn't just appeared from nowhere in the world beyond. At one point, she had to have had a mother, a father. Even if she had no memory of them, of what had happened, the answers had to be out there.

"If my name is picked, I'm going," Amma said, a final sort of tone in her voice. She knew others could volunteer, and probably would, if she were to be picked. Everyone was so protective of her, so caring here. She wouldn't find it hard to believe if several stepped forward to take the task from her...if she was given it. It was a miracle she hadn't grown to be spoiled, from all the attention and love she received.

            Dudley chuckled a bit sadly as Amma reasoned on her own. She always had a way with rhetoric. Her questions would sink in and stir up pity for her. It's not that Dudley didn't believe in her...he simply was worried. There was no one in the world for her--except for the entire village. Their entire existence was blasphemy.

            "If my name is picked, I'm going," Amma said.

            Dudley sighed and said nothing for a moment. "It's not...that I don't believe in ye--I'm just...worried, ye know. You're important to all of us." Dudley had finished the potatoes they would chuck at each other in the after-ceremonies. There was no way Ammas could go outside, but she would have to eventually, it was part of growing up after all. Dudley was torn between protecting her and allowing her to break free as they all did.

            "Just...don't do anything stupid, okay? Now you better wash up and get ready, everyone's expecting ye soon," Dudley said and walked out briskly with the basket of peeled and boiled potatoes. She couldn't be allowed to leave just yet.

            * * * *

            Dudley had made his way to the mayor's house, entering quickly without knocking. The mayor was startled and gave his usual hearty laugh and stroked the massive beard that grew out from his chin majestically. "Ah, Dudley, I suppose everythin' is comin' along nicely, ain't it?"

            "Yes, I suppose it is...sir, I have to do something. The lottery--we can't let Amma out yet. It's to dangerous!" The mayor sat down gently in his chair, stroking his beard as always and nodding in response to Dudley's request: rig the lottery so that Ammas would not be chosen for sure to venture out.

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Yes, yes, she was important, she knew that. But she was an adult; she could make adult decisions! But, when Dudley suggested she get ready for the day, Amma relented and stood, rolling her eyes but agreeing.

She did not live with Dudley, but with a woman named Eleanor; she was a seamstress and a tailor, and had spent the past month on a dress for Amma, simply for this occasion. The dress was beautiful, truly; a pale shade of blue with a white sash under the bust and subtle floral embroidery along the sleeves and down the floor length skirt. Eleanor helped her dress, and somehow managed to calm down her ridiculous and untamed curls into an elegant sort of up-do.

Amma hardly recognized herself, but Eleanor said that was the point, and only lamented that there were no fellas her age to fawn over her.

By the time Eleanor deemed her to be presentable, nearly everyone had gathered in the town square for the coming of age ritual, one that had been explained to Amma several times, and still Amma found the whole thing to be rather silly. She was given milk to drink, and had to take a sip, but then spit it into a ceramic basin, before being offered wine, which she drank. There were cheers after she'd swallowed, and then the mayor presented her with a silver ring, with two words carved into it: Treasured Forever. It was a gift from the entire town, he'd explained.

And then, the partying began.

Abram had been the first to offer her a glass of wine (not including the one she'd been given for the ceremony), and the feast was laid out over several tables for everyone to help themselves to. Amma had hardly a chance to eat anything at all, only to steal a bite here and there, as there was music and it seemed that most of the men were leaping at a chance to dance with her and twirl her and feed her more wine.

Amma was all too eager to take part in everything, though; every dance, every stolen bite of food and sip of wine, every conversation and joke. She was a part of the town, a true equal to everyone now. She could feel it.

Day was turning into evening before the music calmed, and a break was taken- which, in all honesty, Amma was grateful for. Her head felt warm and funny from the wine, her cheeks so warm, and the chance to sit and drink some water before returning to the celebrating was very much needed.

The break, of course, was for the lottery to see who would go out to find a new crystal. It had to be done in daylight, as tradition stated, and as the mayor walked up to the small podium that had been set up, silence fell over the crowd. A large bowl held all the names of those who were able to fulfill the journey, and in there, was Amma's.

She looked over to Dudley, crossing her fingers. Let it be her. She needed this chance, this opportunity-

The mayor called out Dudley's name, and Amma felt her heart sink. She wanted this- Dudley knew she wanted this. Would he let her go, in his place? No. No, he had been against it. But- and perhaps it was the wine- but he might, just might change her mind now.

"I'll do it," Amma said, standing up straight, nearly knocking over her glass of water. All eyes were on her, and unlike earlier, when she hadn't been concerned, it now bothered her. "I'll- I can do the task. Let me go in your place, Duds."

How could he say no?
            Dudley began to feel much better. Preparations had been made and everything was set. It was time to to celebrate since the longest time. At first everyone awaited Amma's arrival. Anxiously they whispered amongst themselves to pass the time until at last she arrived. Dressed in a custom garb they cheered joyfully for her and everything began at once.

            Amma quickly completed the rite of passage (they had quickly) established after forgetting their true traditions in their old memories. The musicians began to play as people danced with drinks in their hands. Fresh meat was prepared in a number of marinades and grilled constantly, cakes and pies of all sorts were baked and brought out onto the tables of the outside, salted and smoked pork was eagerly chewed on when people had their fill, fish was fried as soon as they were caught and cleaned from the nearby river, extremely greasy potato patties were fried (for the hangovers), sausage was hastily cut up after being placed in an open fire for cooking, baked and stuffed chickens were eaten by hand by the fattest people, and bread was dipped in all kinds of warm broths along with aged cheeses. Fruits were harvested and chilled and served alongside celebratory chocolate that was usually eaten during the New Year’s celebration. They had brewed large barrels of Summer Ale for two weeks as the town prepared for this night. Along side they brewed large quantities of sweetened tea, frothy and warm milk for when the night would be at its coolest, and a juice of special berries from the nearby woods.

            With flushed cheeks and a tainted mind Dudley danced with a few of the village women and drank heartily to their own health and to Amma's. After what seemed hours the reserves of food were exhausted and everyone wished to sit down as the elders smoked their pipes. It was time for the lottery, and Dudley still felt fine. Dandy as a dandied--er, candied apple. He gave a few hicks.

            The mayor had called out his name and everyone clapped solemnly. Leaving the village for a crystal was an important and dangerous job. With a bit of pride (as this was his fourth year in a row) Dudley waved with a drunken smile to the village. For another year Amma would live in bliss-

            "I'll do it," Amma said, standing up straight, nearly knocking over her glass of water. All eyes were on her, and unlike earlier, when she hadn't been concerned, it now bothered her. "I'll- I can do the task. Let me go in your place, Duds."

            Dudley's smile faded, and he squinted as he struggled to see her with a blurring vision. He licked his mouth a few times before speaking. "Duds? Who ye collin' Duds?" his words were horribly slurred. "Dun't tell me ye gunna try 'n do this job, huh? Amma, ye know the rule," he paused for a second, making sure he was balanced. "Ye gotta get picked in lottery, yer not doin' nothin'. Besides, I'm feelin' fine. Right mayer?"

            The mayor nodded happily.

            "Just enjoy yer self, alrighty lass? Thars nuthin' better than enjoyin' dis. Maybe next year."

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He'd said no. It felt as if she was being crushed. Amma had convinced herself that she'd be picked, that she'd be able to convince Dudley to let her take on the task, but it hadn't happened.

Just enjoy yer self, alrighty lass? Thars nuthin' better than enjoyin' dis. Maybe next year.

The words stung, as if he was taunting her, and it must have shown clearly on her face how she felt, for there was Abram at her side, convincing her to take a moment, to step away and drink a little more wine.

"Don' look so upset, Amma dear," Abram said, pushing a glass of wine into her hand as soon as she was well away from the crowd and from Dudley. "Yer lookin' too pretty for tears."

Amma nearly downed the glass in one gulp. "I thought he'd- he'd let me go in his place," she explained. "We talked earlier- I told him how I want to go."

"Of course he didn't let you go," Abram said with a shake of his head. "E'ryone here wants to keep you safe, keep you close, includin' Dudley. So long as it's in his control, yer never gonna get beyond the walls."

"...In his control?" Amma looked up to Abram, confused; he brushed a tear away with his thumb.

"Aye; you think it twas luck that allowed his name to be pulled? No. He wanted to make sure our dear precious Amma wouldn't be given the chance to go beyond our walls."

Amma stared at Abram, her brow furrowing. "You aren't telling me- it was fixed?"

Abram nodded solemnly. "Some in this town will go to any length to keep you safe. Is best interests at heart, I'm certain. And safe is good, but I say safe isn't everything. You deserve to grow, little Amma. You deserve to know the secrets of the world around you, even if the secrets are dark. You want this too, I can see it in yer eyes."

"Abram, you can't be- oh, truly Abram, you want me to go?" Her heart lightened, and she smiled, and it drew a smile from Abram.

"I want you to do whatever it is you want. You can never truly be an adult if you never lived. You can follow Dudley out tomorrow, if yer careful. Hardly anyone sees the seeker off when they leave." He wiped away the remnant of a tear. "Go an' see the world, little Amma."

--- --- --- --- --- --- ---- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- -- -- ---

Amma did as Abram instructed, so determined was she to even take a single step beyond the walls. It was the next morning when Dudley was to leave, and Amma was ready. Abram had recommended she only drink water for the rest of the night, which she did, and felt all the better for it. She'd seen Abram with a hangover; it wasn't a pretty sight, and she was thankful to have avoided that.

As Abram promised, no one saw Dudley off, and the gates were left unguarded after Dudley passed through them. Amma waited as long as she could bear to, hiding in a tree by the gate, not wanting to follow behind too closely, not just yet when he could still demand she return to the town. When she couldn't stand it any longer, she dashed out, beyond the wall, and out into the world.

Just beyond the gate, everything looked very much like the town; green and trees, it was only missing homes and buildings. Far and beyond, into the horizon, the earth went from green to brown to gray.

That had to be where the monsters lurked. Amma was at once thankful for the small knife she had on her. Hopefully she would not need to use it before catching up to Dudley. His trail was easy enough to follow, and she hoped she was quiet enough to keep herself hidden from him, for a long enough amount of time.
            Dudley never saw Amma after that. He could tell she was disappointed with the injured look on her face after telling her she'd be chosen for next year. But Dudley knew what was best for that girl--only the best. The festivities soon died down and whatever remained of the food and drinks were quickly picked up by the townsfolk like mice and they scurried back into their homes to rest.

            The morning came and Dudley's head pounded with pressure and regret. He moaned slightly and forced himself out of bed to drink a bit f milk and wash his face at least. Meditating he remained still and silent in preparation for the travel ahead. It was harder to relax with his headache but he managed and at once fear was struck into his heart as memories swirled back into his head. In truth he hated whenever he had to go out--which was always. Outside was terrifying and uncomfortable.

            The land itself was grotesque and creatures crawled on their bellies in agony and pain; blasphemous creatures tormented and twisted from years of forced adaptation. There was no hope in sight anywhere for miles around, just empty and barren wasteland filled with people and creatures that should no longer be alive.

            He quickly prepared his packs with food, drinks, and supplies he would need. From under his bed he pulled out a long forgotten sword covered in dust, along with a few books and rolled up papers. At long last he dressed himself properly in a traveling shirt, well-patched pants, boots, a stained brown vest, a cap that was relatively flat, and of course he would never leave without a walking stick. He spent the last few minutes sitting on the edge of the bed, hoping Amma would realize this was the best for her, and took a few medical salts to ease the pounding of the headache. With a morose expression he lifted himself and began his journey at once.

            * * * *

            He never looked back when traveling out of the village and reminded himself to abandon all hope as he entered the wilderness. He was alone now and secluded, the most vulnerable being in the entire cosmos which cared nothing for him. Making sure the crystal around his neck was firmly secured he forced a smile upon himself and walked upon the dead grass and miles of dirt all around him. It was so unhappy unlike the village.

            To pass the time as he walked he sang quietly to himself and every minute jerked his head to the left or right to make sure everything was fine. This was all for Ammas; everything anyone ever did was for her.

            Ammas followed quietly a short distance off, slouching over as close as possible to the ground to make sure she had not exposed herself too much. This position however strained her back with aches and she took whatever chance to hide behind a dead tree or a tall patch of dying wheat or grass. She followed Dudley for what seemed hours until at last he sat down close to a dirt road that suddenly came as if from nowhere in the distant east and curved to the north.

            She was glad for this break and spent her time observing this man off in the distance. Dudley was focused on an old book, lifting his head every other second nervously to check his surroundings. Ammas had no idea why he acted sporadically, this outside was nothing but an empty land, dead and--

            Dudley jerked upwards with wide open eyes as there was a scream so suddenly in the air. He rose to his feet quickly and looked around like some anguished soul. Was there a monster out there? There was the scream again. It sounded familiar--no, it couldn't be. She was there out in the distance. Amma had followed him out. He let out a soft curse and he himself yelped a bit when he saw what was around.

            It was an unholy and grotesque beast that crawled on the dead plains. Letting out tormented moans it would chase its victims to the ends of the earth, plagued by eternal hunger by a curse placed on it decades ago. Dudley had only seen this orgy of festering flesh and mouths wounded by ancient weapons once years ago.

            He drew out his sword and yelled out after Amma. "A-Amma! This way, run this way! Get away from it!" There was desperation in his voice that cracked his dry throat. This was bad.

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Nothing, not all the stories and tales and warnings, could have prepared Amma for the monster that stumbled upon her path. The many limbs- of man and beast, more than would ever be necessary to move about!- the half covered skeletons, how weapons seemed to be a part of this monster's very body, it was more horrible than anything Amma had ever seen in her nightmares.

She'd screamed, a stupid move on her part- how could she not have, at the sight of it- for it was then that the creature noticed her. And as it started lumbering toward her, moving much too fast on all those limbs that it should have been tripping over, Amma yelped in fear, and took off running in the direction Dudley was it.

Let him scold her. Let him yell at her for coming out here; she would welcome any words of his if he could just save her.

She could see him in the distance, barely could hear his voice over the pounding of hooves and boots behind her, and she pushed herself to run faster, she had to, she'd die otherwise, Dudley had a sword drawn, it shined in the sunlight, and she was almost there, almost to him-

Amma was jerked back as a hand grabbed hold of her coat, and she couldn't help but to scream again. She was pulled backwards, despite how she flailed and fought and she wriggled, somehow accidentally pulling one arm out of the sleeve of her coat- and that was it, the way she'd get free and in seconds she was again, running for her life to Dudley. She fumbled with her pack, to pull her knife out and had it in had as she reached him- and raced past him.

Like hell was she going to be caught again.
            Dudley felt like falling apart the moment he saw Amma get caught by one of the limbs. He was afraid and it paralyzed him. No matter how much he wished he couldn't move. Despite the years of experience under his belt, this always happened. Dudley kept on swallowing air, trying desperately to assuage his dry throat as it tried to croak out for her at least once more.


            She was able to get free, leaving behind her coat and she ran towards where he was. His paralysis was cured and he ran toward her too, crying out for her to get to him faster. Preparing for her impact Dudley embraced Amma as she came into his arms and he wrapped himself tightly around her for a second, just to assure her she had gotten away for now. "Get behind me...and run when I tell you to!" he commanded her, pushing her a bit hastily behind him and he took a few steps towards the rotting mass of flesh and limbs.

            It walked towards them like a limping crab, moaning slightly in muddled cries as its unsatisfied hunger drove it to madness. With a sudden gust of wind it picked up speed and Dudley prepared himself as the orgy of flesh flung itself forward. Dudley was not a swordsmen, nor any kind of a fighter and swung the blade wildly as he cried out as if he himself was being cut.

            The rotting beast cried out as the blade sliced open the thin membranes along its body and it flinched backwards. Dudley took advantage of the moment and stepped forward with a thrust of the sword and drove it deep into the beast and it wailed once more with limbs outstretching to catch Dudley. He took out the blade and stepped back, his emerald eyes still wide open with rage and fear. How dare this thing touch that which he cared most about. Dudley stepped backwards once more and meditated on these thoughts. The rage within him began to overflow and drown the fear. How dare this slobbering blasphemy of festering flesh crawl upon the cursed earth just to feast on their tender flesh. How dare it!

            Dudley stepped forward quickly, his arms raised to his side gripping the blade with both hands. He drove the blade in random areas of the beast with great staccato. It wailed out as it limped back as if asking for mercy; its multiple limbs flailed outwards trying to stop the blade but were only brushed to the side with fresh blood. Dudley...began to enjoy causing this creature pain, the creature that wished pain upon them. His terrorized face began to soften and a smirk of enjoyment appeared instead until at last the beast fell back, gasping for air until it seemed to sink into the ground in peace. Blood was vomited from the wounds and the stench made Dudley sick.

            Dudley turned around to Amma with a twisted expression. Blood was splattered upon his clothes and briefly upon his face. He would console her but at the moment he had forgotten about the Goddess and at once he felt twisted inside for even felling a blasphemous creature. Laying the sword to the side he approached the sack of men and beasts and kneeled before it. The form of these twisted souls were not their own decision, but of another.

            "O great Goddess, cleanse me from this judgement. O wicked souls lost in limbo, repent for ye--"

            Dudley was knocked over as the beast sprung back into life. It had feigned death! Dudley struggled on his belly to get away but was dragged back by a limb. He was dragged underneath the bleeding body and it moaned. And so suddenly limbs and mouths were upon him, threatening to tear his body in two and feast on the spilled entrails that would slip and plop out onto the ground as he screamed for death.

            "Amma, run!"

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The wind was nearly knocked out of her when Dudley caught her in her attempt to keep running. They should be running, not standing here- though the brief embrace was very much appreciated, but it wasn't the time, not now, not with such a beast just behind her!

She was shoved behind him, and though her voice seemed to have left her in her fear, she nodded to Dudley. It was difficult not to run just yet, not to flee as the horrible monster come upon them.

And then, Dudley fought it. She could only watch, half out of fear, dumbfounded, for she never would have imagined Dudley able to do such things. He'd always been so kind, so sweet, her friend. Now, he was some sort of awesome and terrible swordsman, wounding and killing the creature.

Amma could only whisper his name as Dudley knelt down, to say a prayer of sorts; she was still in shock, her voice wasn't working yet. She wanted to thank him, wanted to cry, to hug him tightly, to clean him up, to do a thousand different things for him.

Only the monster wasn't dead and was on Dudley in a second, and he was unarmed, screaming at her to run- he would surely die now, her best friend in the world-


His sword was on the ground. Amma grabbed it, and leapt at the beast, pushing aside her fear to strike the monster, to save Dudley. She barely hit the monster with her first strike, not enough to wound it, but to distract it. Before she could aim another blow, she was knocked away and sent rolling over the rocks and stones. Her clothes tore on the sharp rocks, scratches forming over her arms and cheeks and legs, but filled with the urgency to save Dudley, she hardly noticed. In an instant, she was on her feet again, running back, swinging her sword wildly.

It was by sheer luck that she managed to hit her target, let alone in the neck- or at least, a neck. Somehow, by the grace of the gods, it had been the one that mattered. A horrible shriek erupted from the creature; it dropped Dudley, stumbling back and about, horrific gasping noises coming from it until it slowed and stopped and collapsed.

Amma did not move. She stared at the monsters, blood staining her clothes and hands and face, holding tight to the sword, waiting for it to move again. She was trembling.
            The limbs scratched all over his body blindly, trying to find something to grab a hold of to rip him apart. Dudley heard no response from Amma and he figured she had already fled. Foolish girl, if only she had listened and stayed back in the village. Amma would be forced to roam this land by herself.

            One of the mouths snapped forward towards his face. Dudley shielded himself with his arm and cried out as it bit down hard and pulled. He felt the teeth connect under his skin and pull out until they broke away.His entire left arm was sloppy and doused with blood. This was it. This is where it would end. Dudley at least hoped his best friend--Amma, who he cared for so much had gotten away and would be safe--

            The beast shrieked and it's putrid body flung back, allowing Dudley to scramble onto his feet. Everything happened quickly with the sudden relief. He found the beast retreating slowly, less distinguishable than ever with open and sore wounds littering all over the putrid flesh as the bones and limbs stuck out without order and the mouths opened and closed on their own.

            There she stood, trembling like a child but standing her ground. Her clothes were ripped and the sword was outstretched timidly as a threat to the retreating monster if it should come near. Dudley knew it would not leave them alone until it was dead, but they had done enough damage to keep it away for now. Assuring her it was safe for now he stretched out his arms and gently took the weapon from her.

            "C'mon, we need to put as much distance between us--I hope you can run, Amma," he said and grabbed her hand after sheathing the blade in the scabbard. Making sure he didn't touch her with the bleeding one he ran dragging her along with him.

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