This is my place. I have a T-shaped hallway, though only the top crossbar and the very bottom of the T are ever meant to be seen. The colors hardly matter, as my vision shows in gray.
The lighting here is predominantly green, save for the comforting red glow of the EXIT sign that hangs overhead.
I'm tucked into an invisible corner, writing by glowstick. I have a minimum of costuming, consisting of a plain, tattered, hooded black robe. This, and simple black-and-white face paint, mark me as an actor.
I have no fancy props, not even a nearby animatron.
"Make it scary," they tell me. "Startle them." So, I do.
The first of the two wholly independent spots they expect me to hold is a simple wooden fence, rather broken - one plank missing entirely, another snapped off at the top and hanging by a single screw. A little demonic bust is impaled on a third, and there's nothing especially un-fence-like about the other four. From my hidden corner, I can see partway up the hallway that comes before me. It is utterly barren, save for a door that can no longer be opened, with a large, flat, styrofoam skull nailed to it, some pipe-work that may or may not still function, and two distressed skeletons, hanging by their arms and resting on their knees.
My area is lovingly misnamed a cemetery, for the skulls and shattered tombstones that litter a cold, cement floor only partially obscured by ragged, twisted, clothy blankets, masquerading for a time as rugs and tripping hazards.
Across from the fence is the centerpiece of my area - a massive stone that reads H. Delbruck, while above it hangs Mr. D. himself, sadly without his legs. Atop his tombstone is an inverted V I have been assured is not a spider's leg, but rather a skeleton's arm, the rest of his body too dark to see.
Beside Mr. Delbruck's stone stands my fellow gravekeeper, a withered old man in a bowler hat and a long, muddy coat. His left hand rests eternally on the topmost of his twin belts, and a cigar droops from his lips, teeth bared in a wide, macabre grin.
The wall behind him is obscured by a ropey net. Though I can barely see the pipes behind the netting, I know they extend into the room itself from the hallway.
To the right of H.D.'s tomb stands a sawed-off tree stump, probably plastic, a skull resting atop it. Behind that stands a much-abused Christmas tree, undecorated. It's easy to miss, probably there only to lend an organic feel to that corner. Anything to hide the fact that it's indoors.
To my right stands a "stone" figure, cowled and holding what appears to be a carving of a corpse. Some kind of Death personification, perhaps.
Down the hallway no one else may travel, a line of gravestones stand on the right, while a massive, rubber rat (rats? I hate rats. They drive me crazy - ) lies curled up on the left.
At the very end of the hallway stands another set of tombs, the names impossible to make out. A demonic bust here, too, is found, this one life-sized as though it were trying to claw its way out of the ground. A "tree" rises behind this bust, while on the floor lies a a chain, next to a sadly-headless skeleton.
Between the rat and the demon are the twin archways. One is open, to the left, and it leads out of the haunted house. Fresh air occasionally blows in from that direction. The other is covered by an opaque, shiny black curtain made from five thick sheets of plastic.
I wait in my hidden corner for my first cue.
Somewhat distantly, I can hear Brain-Guy and Hook-Guy from Mom's spot, their cries almost inaudible for the high dentist-drill whine of the chainsaw.
About five minutes, then.
I hear, during a brief lull in the loud ambiance-fueling music, the old-school video projector sound of some kind of air machine whirring to life.
A moaning wail - just part of the music. Giggles punctuated by shrieks is a different part - the human part.
The Shaking-Man alerts me, with his hydraulic-fueled thrashing.
Two hallways, barely a minute away.
Loud rattles as a group of feet trample a catwalk. It's from the other haunted house; irrelevant to me.
The second high whir of the chainsaw means it's time to stand up, as our fine patrons discuss their most recent experience and just how much they dislike chainsaws.
Their shadows creep across the wall, then the skeletons, until I actually see one.
I've learned to wait to jump out.
The first four dutifully yelp, and dart to the left, through another plastic curtain.
The last two are somewhat more distant, the man holding an obviously intoxicated woman off the ground.
Fun,I think sarcastically.
I do my level best to scare these two, already knowing it's hopeless.
"Look," the man exclaims. "He wants a kiss!" It isn't very obvious in this dress, but I really am a natural female, boobs and all.
The man drags the woman over, presumably for her kiss.
I growl out, voice already ragged, "No touching!" Naturally, she grabs for me, pouting when I dodge away, still growling.
Eventually they turn away, and inaudibly, I mutter a curse. I don't even like drunks at parties. That's part of why I rarely attend parties.
Time passes, as does another, less obnoxious group.
"Chainsaw, chainsaw!" echoes from the exit, as a group from the other house finishes their trek.
No, really? I think, still a bit annoyed. The man at the exit has a chainsaw that runs on gas, and an angry roar escapes it.
Delighted screams of fear follow.
I hear another roar, then, followed by the a slightly different tempo to the battering, a slightly different tin wall. Yelling, indistinct at this distance, accompanies it. Minute and a half.
A handful of seconds later, there's a bang, and the Shaking-Man begins his inarticulate rant.
You see, I am incapable of teleporting. Even if I could, I can't be two places at once ... and now I need to be. Fifteen feet. I can cross it in five steps, about two seconds.
First scare's more important. Barren hallway. Doll Chick doesn't really have the talent either - there's a reason I didn't mention her earlier; she never does anything. She creeps me out, but for reasons that have nothing to do with actually doing her damn job.
It's a split-second decision, which place I choose, and I lunge out a little early. Still scare them though. It's a group of maybe ten, so I back up a bit, lunge again.
Demonic roar, metal on bone on metal.
In my rush to be there now, I trip over the cloth and nearly faceplant on the rat. I have time, only barely.
I yell something incoherent at the person pushing through the plastic curtain, and he jumps. I lean to the right a bit, so he and his can pass.
Drunk Chick is now behind Tall Guy, and it's satisfying to see her cringe away now.
Half of them tripped on the slight drop, so as they ascend the staircase to freedom, I growl a loud, vindictive, "Watch your step!"
It's a kind of haven, a sanctuary. It is framed by two countertops. I'd guess each of them is about six feet long, and across from me is a shelving unit. I'd guess that to be maybe three or four feet across. To my left, I see a line of three heads - one of them still has flesh attached, and has been nailed to the counter.
Beyond that stands a man, his face cloaked in shadow, the proportions seeming wrong. I can't see his eyes - he has no eyes. He is dressed casually, with a flannel shirt and a pair of jeans.
Beside him sits a cooler filled with loose body parts, all wrapped in plastic, many of them identifiably human. Across the front of the cooler is scrawled, in big, friendly letters, "Cannibal's Meat Market."
To my right, the counter is more sparse.
I can see a human head, hair still attached, rests on a meat scale, while a skeleton partially obscures a fire extinguisher I have been warned not to use, "unless [I] see flames shooting out of something."
Outside the confines of my small lair, two other figures rest. A man whose brain lies exposed sits naked, save for his briefs, the copious blood that runs down his shoulders and chest, and some medical implements still clinging to his opened scalp.
To Brain Guy's right looms an open archway, covered by shiny black sheets of plastic, and further to Brain Guy's right - my left - a man hangs from a set of three vertical bars by hooks shoved through his back. This man is dressed in greenish rags, cut through and showing bloody wounds. When the flashing strobe light illuminates him properly, I can see that the right side of his face has been pulverized.
In front of the shelving unit hangs another, crimson skeleton, clothed in an apron just like mine - a myriad of faces sewn together. Behind him - or her, is it a her? - are body parts, too ill-lit to see in detail.
Everything is spattered with blood. I'm spattered with blood. Even the chainsaw across my lap was bloodied, until I came and scrubbed the handle at least off.
I sit on a barstool, waiting on my first prey, and behind me, in my corner, stands a special horror just for me: a wildly deformed lunch-lady no one else could possibly notice. I try to ignore her, but it takes some effort.
The "music" in this place is eerie and disorienting, false screems warring with true terror for my attention.
Three raps against a tin wall, and a chorus of gleeful, panicked cries.
It's a small group, four people. I wait for their passing to trigger Brain Guy's agonized, gurgling roar, as, pained, he pulls himself upright and looks around.
Then, I strike.
It doesn't take much - I barely rev the chainsaw up before the group catapults forward through the curtain. Long after they're gone, Hook-Guy is still roaring impotently, thrashing against his restraints. Staccato hydraulic pumping is clearly audible - almost annoying - as I wait for my next cue.
Looking up, I can see something I'd missed before - a shrunken head in a little birdcage. Turning my head to the left, behind the counter of heads I can make out two hanging barrels, spewing odorless smoke and red light.
My next cue comes in the form of a startled yelp hidden almost entirely by panicked thrashing and roaring. The cracks of air come at an even more frantic pace as a man assaults a tin wall.
I see the light from the group leader's bright orange glow stick long before I see him. I stand, legs spread for balance, heavy chainsaw held firmly in my hands. A gap between the shelves and the counter of heads lets me get in close - uncomfortably so, but never touching, not if I can help it. All four of them flee back up the hall, so I wait for them until I can strike again. It's the same group from before, just come a different way, so it's my job even as I play with these poor souls to stay on high alert for a rapping invasion of Brain Guy and Hook Guy's room. It's slow tonight, so no one comes before, one by one, I let my playthings pass.
I can hear their passing through a good deal more of our treacherous maze, but beyond here they become meaningless racket to me, as I wait for my next cue.
All the better to abduct small children with, I guess.
Bit of a cop-out today, albeit early. On the plus side I found a notebook I wrote in to stave off boredom at the haunted house last year, which is epic since I've had two entries I've wanted to post since I even started this blog.
Edit: So, should I be unnerved that this doodle comes out with fucking distortion on it then?
Humans are such frighteningly fragile, warlike creatures.
The average person, it seems, has never actually been deliberately harmed by another human being, which is comforting, to realize, in its way. But no one is immune to the hardship of injury.
From a child's skinned knees to my Mom's fabulously bruised hands (she got special boffer-sword fighting training this last Saturday, I gather), everyone has been hurt at least a little bit, on occasion. In fact, not feeling pain is treated as a grave medical condition: if you don't feel pain, you don't realize when you're grinding your poor, fragile body into dust.
The games I play tend to treat injury and even death as nothing particularly noteworthy. Of course, having your hit points fall to 0 is generally treated as being "knocked out," rather than dead. But still. I had a character get turned to stone in my last D&D campaign, and she pretty much just dusted herself off, no worse for the wear. A shiny red potion later, and most injuries are rather suddenly nonissues ... then again, the point is to have fun. It's very, very hard to have fun if you're too busy contemplating how much pain your character is going to be in, or how even a minor head wound can lead to a major concussion or lifetime debilitation if not cared for properly.
I've got a scar on my leg from running carelessly through a friend's house. There was a radio with a busted antenna just lying on the floor. It cut through skin and muscle, so that there was "white stuff" showing underneath all of the blood.
Oh, dammit - I'm bleeding again.
I keep picking at scabs, without really thinking about it.
Really wasn't going anywhere with that, though - just realized I needed to post something.
Hell, why not, this is why people keep journals, right?
Tonight is Saturday night. I leave work the same as I always do, a little later than most everyone else, but not terribly so. There's a woman waiting for a ride, so I briefly chat with her. I've been given a kind of honorary ... thing which grants me better parking spaces than most of my coworkers, so I look for the allotted parking space before I leave.
As I reach my car, I am nearly overwhelmed with the sense that I should not take the Interstate. As I mentioned, I tend to listen to my instincts, even if they make no sense. The weather isn't bad; there's no reason to take the other route, but I feel like I should. Pulling out, I turn right, and am torn between two options. For no discernable reason, I turn right, taking the slightly longer path out of the lot, past a stand of trees. Everything looks like the stray limbs of some eldritch horror, but if something was watching me, I could not say. Night driving takes a toll on me, not because it is so dark, but because of the brief flashes of intense light.
There is something off. I am on edge the entire trip home.
When I cross the train tracks, near to my work, I am confronted with a red light, and there is a man in the center of it all, directing traffic. This is unusual. To my right, along the side of the road, there is a vehicle with lights flashing, though I can see no cause for this disruption. It does not hinder me terribly.
It is hard not to see the Tall Man in the many stands of trees, though truly I doubt He was there.
He is after all so busy elsewhere, is He not?
When I enter town proper, there are more flashing lights, and a siren. As I pull up to a red light, a fire truck speeds through, going from right to left across my field of vision.
There is not much else to report; my sense of dread seems to have been unfounded.
Of course, when I finally arrived home, there was a wild, swinging party going on at my neighbor's house, and no parking to be found the entire block. This was unusual only in that their gathering made any noise at all; in months prior, it had been deathly silent in the house located at the epicenter of the lost parking, and only the leaving visitors were any indication of where to lay blame. Tonight I had to use a back alley, and come through the back fence. Every shape seemed ominous until identified. Even the large tree was vaguely threatening.
I have no tolerance for gatherings, even at the best of times. I am not invited to such parties because I have no interest in such parties. I must confess I do not like people very much, and I have grown very tired of having to solve their problems over the course of my employment. Except that I am still in need of revenue, I cannot say that I will be displeased to become free from my tether.
Every day I am forced to think because another person refuses to, I find the façade cracks a little bit more, and I care a little bit less.
The Oblivion Gate was massive, standing even taller than the walls around it.
It towered where the entrance to Kvatch used to be, a doorway into Oblivion itself, swirling with ominous, reddish light and scribed with runes of power. What Lyssi could make out of the land beyond it didn't really look habitable. If there was any way to avoid walking into the depths of Hell itself, she would have taken it.
She didn't have much choice though.
As it stood, she had a list of goals and a time limit.
She had to get out of the city to make her way to Anvil. That was where the next Dead Drop would be, that was where she'd intercept the traitor. She'd catch him red-handed, and then kill him. That took precedence, was what made the other goals so pressing: she just didn't have time for an apocalypse.
In order to get out of the city, she needed to bring down this Gate. Once the Gate was down, Martin Septim could go with his Blades, and the fate of the Empire would rest in their capable hands, not hers. The less the heir had to interact with a murderer like her, the better for everyone.
His blood had been so rich, so powerful.
She knew she couldn't resist it, even if she hadn't been starved and injured.
Next time she might not be able to stop at just a taste.
Taking in a breath she didn't really need, she reached out to hold her hand in the center of the swirling vortex.
My head is spinning. My head is spinning and I feel ... guilty. I think I did right but ... Maker, Jowan. Forgive me.
I have never been so far from the Tower in my life, or at least, that I remember. They tell me I was from the Alienage in Denerim, but that can't have been anything like ... like this.
And I ... I betrayed my friend. But - but Irving already knew!Irving knows everything. And I - I tried to plead Jowan's case but even the First Enchanter couldn't do anything for him ... let me back up, make myself clear.
Jowan said he had evidence that they were going to make him Tranquil - strip away his emotions and his gift for magic. They thought he was a Blood Mage ... and it turns out, he was. I ... I don't know how I feel about that. It gets worse though. Jowan was dallying with a ... a harlot from the Chantry, and ... and he was in love with her. She went to Aeonar, the mage's prison, for her crimes. Aiding and abetting a Blood Mage.
The power he wielded. You could do a lot of good work with that power. Or, well, or evil. Like the Chantry says - like everyone says.
I shudder to think ... I don't know, I can't think.
I'm to be a Gray Warden now, and there's another test in store for me: I have to do some kind of Joining ritual.
Sounds harmless enough, I guess.
Where are the other recruits?
Think I'll go looking for them.
Daveth - shifty human. Also kind of funny.
Ser Jory - Stuck-up human. Coward.
Alistair - funny human. Doesn't like mages? Not very bright.
Duncan - good, strong human. Owe him.
Wynne - good mage, human.
Teyrn Loghain - human lord?
King Cailan - eager human king.
Morrigan - Chasind? Apostate human. I like her.
Flemeth - Morrigan's mother. Mad? Powerful. I can feel it.
The sky is lit purple as I grip the wheel tightly, all of my senses on edge. Every few seconds, lightning splits the sky all around me, briefly illuminating a world made dark.
The highway is soaked, rain whipping at my car with its punishing lash as the wind threatens to push me off the road. I have taken a different route than normal, tonight: I felt when leaving work that I simply shouldn't take the Interstate, and I listen to my instincts when faced with the very real possibility of death.
I can barely hear the radio over the roar of the elements outside, but the high, mechanical shrill catches my attention: three short beeps, and then a fourth, longer tone. I turn the radio up, and I can make out the words now: deadly lightning ... destructive hail ... tornado warning continues until 1AM ....
The windows have all fogged up, protesting the sudden cold shower compared to the relatively mild temperatures we've been seeing these last few weeks. I turn the defrost up, keeping my eyes firmly locked ahead. I can make out the center line mostly by its reflection in my headlights - it's slightly different than the rest of the shiny water. I can still barely see.
I am relieved when I finally pull up to my house and park. Mom's car is already here, and she's climbing out of it. I dart ahead, opening the door and turning off the alarm so she doesn't have to worry. The light doesn't turn on immediately, but that's okay; I unplugged it last night because it wasn't cooperating.
On the news, we learn that tornadoes have touched down all across the area, demolishing buildings and devastating several cities - one town will not allow any traffic inside beyond emergency vehicles.
And one of many storms is inbound, with slight rotation already started.
My first night in the Circle Tower as a full mage. I finally understand why my - no, our - confinement is deemed necessary.
I still feel it. As though the demon hovers over me, waiting to seize control again no - not again, it was never ... my thoughts are my own, my mind is my own. I cannot sleep at all - worry I may never sleep again. In the darkness of my bath this evening, I imagined I could see its eyes above me, watching ... waiting. Waiting for my guard to slip even an inch.
Jowan was there, when I woke from my Harrowing. He wanted to know what it was like. He's been on edge for days now, and I suspect this didn't help any. He said he wanted to speak with me, said it was important. I can't imagine why, truly. He knows I cannot tell him of the Harrowing. Maybe it's his "secret lover." Ha. Jowan is my friend, but sometimes I think he gets jealous of me. How easily I take to magic, how the First Enchanter himself has taken an interest in my learning. I never knew my parents. Sometimes, I suspect Irving thinks of me as the daughter he never had. I'd like that, I think. He is like the father that I never had, as well.
Oh! Two odd things happened today, besides my Harrowing, that is. I nearly forgot.
There is a Gray Warden staying here at the Circle, a man named Duncan. He seems like a good and upright fellow. I think I expected him to be ... bigger.
Astride a Griffon, perhaps?
Also, there is a Templar here who seems to have taken a shine to me. Edgar ... Edwin? Cullen, anyway. A Templar and a mage ... how silly.
So ... I remember why I quit Farmville. And Vampire Wars, and all of those Facebook timewasters, actually. Plainly speaking, I hate being told I have to do something.
Employment aside, of course.
Now, what this means is, I like games that offer me branching paths, and choices and such, because even the illusion of free will is better than nothing. And I hate games that basically devolve into a routine of "plant twenty dickberries and come back in ten hours."
Which ... is one of the unfortunate side-effects of daily quests in the old standby, World of Warcraft.
What's even more frustrating?
Starting back over at the beginning, through anything other than my own volition.
So, what relevance does this have to anything whatsoever?
Apparently when you perform a faction transfer, you lose your status with a neutral faction (The Argent Crusade) and have to build your way back up from scratch. Now, this is almost understandable since the faction that actually 0's out is the Sunreavers/Silver Covenant, not The Argent Crusade. Except ... none of the other factions, like, at all, do that. Even the ones that, like the Silver Covenant or Sunreavers, are just equivalents, not truly neutral.
And you lose all your achievements, and your titles, and access to the special crusader vendor.
Which means 28 days - at least, assuming you miss nothing - of building your way back up from the very bottom rank for ... apparently no reason.
It's not even current content, but it's important to my character's RP.