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Enter The Soulless (Open)

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Enter The Soulless (Open)

Post by Max Ahlberg Hale on December 9th 2012, 5:26 pm

The Soulless, The Contracted, or Max Ahlberg, whatever you want to call him, woke up a few days ago and learned that his life became a living hell. He already knew that he and his parents died in the destruction of New York City, but being with the strange red man made it seem like it never happened. Was he happy in Hell, learning how to stay alive from the strange demon that gave him a new life? It really didn't matter to him anymore. For the past few days, he was happy to be alive again. His aunt and uncle were ecstatic to see their nephew not in a coma, but alive, happy, and energetic again. Of course, there was no hiding his new appearance from them, his blood red eyes stared into theirs as he explained why he survived. It was a shock to them, but, seeing as this world is full of supers, the shock dies quickly. But today was a special day, a day that he didn't want to come so soon, but was here faster than he could say no. Max Ahlberg found himself visiting his old house, where he used to be a happy, normal teen. The house was now rubble, along with many other houses and blocks and buildings in New York City.

He wasn't dressed for the occasion; he was in a dark green T-Shirt, black basketball shorts, and black sneakers. It would be better to dress for a funeral, rather than a nice summer day, he thought to himself. He wasn't planning to sift through the rubble and find any memories; it would be too much too soon. Maybe even coming here was too much for him as well, but who says when is the right and wrong time for coping. He had to do it eventually, why not now? His second chance just started and he wanted to start his work as a super hero. Of course, none of the fancy costumes or fancy one liner meant anything to him. He wanted to prevent disasters like this from ever happening again, he wanted to stop the sadness in his life from happening to another family. It's not even like anyone knew who he was; he didn't even live in the city. Then again, not many people do, anymore. He would be nice and safe in his family's house, until he moved onto the dorms of the nice university he got accepted to.

The memories came flooding in at that point; he remembered his acceptance letter, which he got so early for rolling admission. His parent's smiling faces as he showed them the letter. He couldn't hold back the tears anymore; he squatted down on the ground and put his head down as the tears poured from his eyes. Why did it have to happen like this? Why couldn't I have just had super powers from the start, to protect people from the beginning, he thought in his head. Anger rose up in his body; he let out an angry scream as he slammed his fist down towards the ground. He ended up slicing the side of his hand open on a large piece of broken glass next to him. He stared in shock as the blood started running down his arm, staining his skin red. He could simply heal it, but he didn't care, it was all too much for him. Right now, he needed to cry, and then he could move on to the healing. He didn't want to hide his emotions anymore, but he hoped that no stranger or fellow super, hero or villain saw him this way, but at this point, he didn't care, he wanted them to come, maybe they would help him snap out of it, to start the coping, to start moving on.


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Re: Enter The Soulless (Open)

Post by Brorschach on December 9th 2012, 11:17 pm

That morning, I felt sick. It was a dreary morning, even though it was only 5'am I could feel it in the air. It was a day much like the one the sixth one died on. Everything felt heavier, as though an invisible hand were pressing down on the earth. I looked out at the street below, it was filled to the brim with activity and yet everyone seemed lost. Like they were all blind mice scurrying around trying to find the end of the maze solely by touch. Maybe that's what people really were, blind mice. The analogy makes sense to me, even if it doesn't to anyone else... or does it. Somehow the comparison of man to mouse didn't seem to fit, as if I was missing some slight detail about my own observation. Something obvious. Then I heard it, a shout that echoed above the others. It was a man yelling at another about some pointless and relatively minor indignation. His anger was obviously disproportionate to whatever the act was, especially given how much he was screaming. If you were to observe and judge based solely on the man's hyperbolic remarks, you might think the target of his rants had murdered everyone the man knew and then slept with their corpses.
I shook my head and realized what I had gotten wrong in my observation. Men weren't mice, they were rats. Seething vicious little monsters that appeared timid until you gave them the slightest reason to bare their fangs. Then they became horrid little beasts ready to tear the flesh from one another. I sighed and fell back into my bed. It was a soft thing, though it only had enough room for one. I don't mind that, the third one's memories have turned me off of most relationships, and the fourth one's thorough... investigations of both the male and female forms with a knife have left me rather unwilling to see the naked flesh of another human being for more than a few moments. It's why I avoid pools and other areas where people like to parade about showing off their skin. In some ways, I suppose I should be sad about that. Never desiring to know the touch of another human being, not wanting the warmth that comes with such physical interactions. I should feel sad, but I don't. In some ways, it's freeing. I don't seek companionship so I can simply be myself, so long as that lasts. Should I die, maybe the eighteenth one will desire companionship. If he does, I wish him luck, for I have no such aspirations. At any rate, it's too early for such thoughts.

I awoke several hours later. It was still cloudy out, though far less so than the morning had been. Great spears of sunlight poked through the cloud layer, as though some child was skipping stones along the surface of the water, interrupting the serene gray with ripples of blue. I looked at the time. My clock -an analogue piece that I recovered from the ruins of the fourteenth one's home- it read 11 and some minutes. I had slept a good six hours. That was enough. I needed to get up and stop moping about. I rose from my bed and dawned an attire that was neither bold nor anonymous. It was a simple T-shirt stamped with a brand I didn't care about covered by a leather jacket. My pants weren't quite jeans but they were close enough. As I moved through the kitchen I grabbed a doughnut -a food I have a strange an unnatural affinity for- and walked out the door.
-----------------------------

The subway was dark and unpleasant as I was squished into the mass of bodies, each carrying their own disgusting scent and particular quirks that I found unpleasant. For example, the man next to me felt the ungodly need to breathe heavily through his mouth when his nostrils appeared to be working perfectly fine. I sighed and made sure keep my face as far away from any other human being as I possibly could. I heard a radio come on, one of those wilderness ones that you crank with your hand. It began blurting out news about how New York was in recovery and other obvious minutia. I wasn't much interested. This city would always have jobs for those who needed them, the recent tragedy had just created more of them in the construction field. The subway slowly skidded to a halt, the whine of the metal and rubber nearly burst my eardrums. I would never get used to that.
Nor would I get used to the mass of bodies all moving at once, as though one mind suddenly consumed all those in the area and replaced them with its own overpowering will. All the people around me suddenly burst forth, each pushing their way off the tram car and into the equally crowded station. I didn't know if this was my stop or not, but I could stomach this press no longer and so burst out in a dead run, intent to escape the oppressive confines of the station. As artificial light gave way to the natural, I smiled. The sun was peeking through more than ever. Maybe this cloudy day wouldn't remain so dreary after all. I was so absorbed for those few moments that I didn't notice where I was. I had escaped into a residential district, rows of houses stretching as far as the eye could see, the monotonous landscape only broken up by the spurts of ruins.
The ruins had probably been created during the disaster that befell the city not long ago. I walked down the sidewalk, as if in a trance. My reverence for the silent neighborhood ended when I heard a sharp scream punctuated by the sound of something soft piercing skin. I looked down and saw him. A boy barely out of his teens was sitting on a set of steps leading to one of the ruins. Maybe it was his old home. I glanced down and saw his hand was bleeding, glass shards flecked with blood covered a small area around his hand. I stared, and that's where I am now. I stare at the boy with focused eyes. He's crying, softly, but he's definitely crying. Something wells up inside me, this boy makes me think of the first one, experiencing intense pain and yet unable to properly voice it. I feel sorrow born of memories that aren't my own, a sharp sense of loss from the third that I wish I could rid myself of. Perhaps I should console him.


"Hello there young man, are you all right?"
The words escape my lips sounding forced and unnatural, perhaps that's because I'm not sure if I truly want to help the young man. The things compelling me to ask him are not from myself, but of other lives that I can see in myself. I stare at the young man, almost hoping he won't answer and yet... some part of me does want to see if I can help him.

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Re: Enter The Soulless (Open)

Post by Max Ahlberg Hale on December 10th 2012, 12:36 am


I didn't see him coming, I honestly didn't expect anyone to be around here, and I thought this place was supposed to be a ruin. Regardless, the man was standing there a small distance away from me, staring at me. It was almost as if he was analyzing me, to try to understand my pain. He asked if I was okay, but it didn't come out right. It almost confused me as much as it confused him. I immediately realized that I was still crying. He was staring at me this whole time! My heart stopped and I could feel my face become hot, I knew it was probably a nice bright red at this point. I quickly stood up and wiped the remaining tears from my eyes. Dammit, I was attempting to start my life as a super on a good note, but that's probably all out of the window now. I moved a little closer towards him, to try to get into a decent talking distance, so we don't have to shout at each other. He was dressed pretty normally, but the leather jacket definitely made him look tough. Nice sharp contrast to me, I probably look like a freak, I mean, come on, if my blood red eyes don't give it away, it's my pointy ears. He's eventually going to notice that I'm different than normal humans, so I can at least try not to piss him off, just in case heís a super.

I felt another flashback coming along, but I instantly pushed it away, I can't deal with this right now, I have to deal with this possible super seeing me cry my eyes out. I truly did not want to tell him everything, so I told him all that I could manage without bursting into tears again. It wasn't much, but at least he can feel as if I noticed him and actually appreciate his help. "I had better days," I said, then sighed. "This was my old house before New York went to shit. In a nutshell, my family died, and this was my first chance to actually see my old house. It's nothing now, but I just felt that I had to come back, to try and find some closure. Obviously I'm having some trouble with that, I mean, you just saw me cry my eyes out a little while ago." I sighed again, it really hurt saying all of that, but I feel as if that was just a part of the grieving process, it's pretty much going to suck, anyway. I can't even imagine what he's thinking, hopefully this guy isn't just sitting there and judging, that would take my horrible day and make it that much worse.


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Re: Enter The Soulless (Open)

Post by Brorschach on December 10th 2012, 3:36 am

Rather to my own distaste, I found myself shifting as the boy explained why he was there and why he was crying. However my more immediate concern was with his hand, the blood still dripping from it was not a comforting sight. Most people can't produce new limbs and I certainly couldn't donate mine. What was most disturbing was how the young man seemed to be oblivious to it. Hmmm. I do recall reading about a neurological disorder where one doesn't feel pain. Perhaps he was afflicted by that. I briefly glanced at the young man's eyes, previously hidden to me by his hair. They were a blood red that seemed to hold an unconscious hunger to them.
A hunger for what I couldn't tell though they reminded me disturbingly of the fifth one's eyes. His had been hungry for death's like the fourth, but he was much more intelligent, and that was what made him dangerous. The same look permeated the young man's eyes, though -as I said- on an unconscious level. Was this boy standing on the precipice of madness, held back only by an unseen force? Perhaps that was why I got off the subway here. Maybe I was meant to bring him back from the edge. The very notion itself was ridiculous. I don't believe in any god nor any other force that would proclaim itself such. If one existed then this world might be the better for the presence of two children. One slain by the second, the other by its own mother. No, no god could exist in such a world. It was pure chance that I stumbled upon this boy.

As I listened to the young man explain, he seemed nervous, as if his explanation was not enough. His cheeks were still red and glistened in the pale light of the cloudy day, the marks of the tears that had coated them were still present and fresh. I couldn't help but wonder why he would subject himself to such torment. He was obviously of legal age. Was he running away from something? I put my hand up to my chin and examined the boy, unaware -at the time- that my gaze had become a solid stare. Though I wouldn't realize it until later, a look of deep thought had planted itself firmly on my face.

"You are aware your hand is bleeding, correct?" was the first thing I asked. His emotional health could wait for the few seconds it might take to point out a far more pressing injury. However, before he could answer I found myself inquiring once more.

"Why would you come to such a painful place? It can't be good for you to see this. Why not stay as far away as possible" I said, unaware of the unconscious parallel I was drawing between the boy and the second. The second's home had been burned down, though it was by extremists rather than metahumans. He had left his home to go fight those same extremists. He never returned, though the eleventh one did come near it once.
I myself have no desire to see that place. The first's home is long gone as well, now that, that I would see if only to sleep near where he did. Maybe I could grasp some of the serenity that he had. Perhaps I could come closer to knowing him through more than these still images and short snippets of times that comprise his memories.

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________
I.N.S.A.N.E.
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Blackwing
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Blame Jack

"A man who barely maintains an armistice with himself has no business poking about in a foreign soul"
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Re: Enter The Soulless (Open)

Post by Max Ahlberg Hale on December 10th 2012, 7:59 am

I stood there, in front of him, thinking over his questions. Well, if I wanted to hide the fact that I have powers, that plan went out the window. I probably look like a psychopath to him, seeing as I am totally ignoring my hand. I can tell that he already saw my eyes, he was practically staring at them. So my options are either tell him I have powers, which can happen, then. Or, I can be an ass, just stare back at him and look like a psychopath... I guess I have nothing to lose with telling him. I took a deep breath, this was the start of my new life. Am I prepared? Hell no. But, it was going to happen some day, I was going to tell everyone eventually. It would be best to talk about my hand first, get him warmed up and a chance to run away if I scare him. I doubt I would make him run away screaming, but who knows? It could happen.

"My hand will be fine, I mean, I've had worse happen to me, on top of that, I can heal myself, so it's no big deal." I touched my cut on my hand and it started to heal, it wasn't the fastest healing, but it was good enough for
me. I kept healing my hand as I started on the other questions. "Why would I run way? I needed a reminder of what I left behind and what I'm fighting for. My family is dead, and I don't want to see anyone else be like me, coming out to this godforsaken city and cry in front of their houses. They probably can't defend themselves. I suppose I was lucky to learn my spells, in case something happens, I just feel as if I need to stop something like this from happening again." I felt resolve in my voice, that I was confident in my words. Whether he was a super or not, he heard every word. I can only now wait and see what he says back, if he does anything. I can only hope that even if he is not a super, I showed him that I am one of the good guys... I just hope that he isn't a villain, because that would suck.

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Re: Enter The Soulless (Open)

Post by Brorschach on December 10th 2012, 2:06 pm

I watched calmly as he healed his hand, the wound slowly sealing itself up as he spoke. There appeared to be a look of pain on his face as he told me of why he was here, though the pain was not born of his bleeding hand, rather, it seemed to come from a heart that had stopped working long ago and was now being forced to operate once again. The young man spoke of how his family died and how he didn't want this to happen to anyone else. Then he started in on something about spells. He was magical? He could heal. Perhaps he is like the first, no longer a single existence, but one to be passed down when one dies. It's a heavy burden to bear. Maybe he's the first of his life, or possibly the second. He couldn't be any higher than that, he didn't have the robust confidence of one who has been born of many lives prior to his own, the wealth of experience gained through seeing the black abyss and passing on your knowledge to the next one in line.
I found myself experiencing a certain unspoken kinship with this boy, as though I might be able to mentor him. I was lucky. Despite being alone I had the sixth's meditations to aid me, but from the way he stands, this boy lacks such a thing. His red eyes are looking at me. I've been caught staring again, once more unaware of my own actions as I allowed myself to fall deep into thought. I mentally shook my head and allowed a soft smile to appear on my face. It was a calculated gesture that conveyed only a little of the joy I felt to meet someone similar to the first -to myself- tempered with the obvious sorrow he was experiencing. Experiences in the first and second one's lives could be the most important, they set the example for the rest to live by. Had the fourth and fifth been the guides for all that came after, I shudder to think on what sort of monster I would have turned out as. I moved forward and sat down on the steps the boy had occupied only moments earlier.

"I hope you don't mind if I sit down. I get the feeling that we've got a lot to talk about my young friend. You see, you are like me in a way, though you are far higher in line than I" I said, being somewhat vague.

I wanted to reveal everything to him, to give him the full benefit of all my knowledge, if only to let him know he wasn't alone. However, what I wanted was not what was required here. I needed to grip his attention. If he was interested, I would attempt to help. To try and teach an unwilling mind was a futile endeavor for both parties involved and tended to cause a rather unpleasant backlash towards the teacher. It reminded me of the sixth one, when he visited the monastery seeking inner peace. Much like those people petitioning for a free Tibet, he wanted a quick fix, not understanding exactly how impossible that was. The monk who tried to teach him just kept spouting flowery statement about life and nirvana, giving the sixth nothing tangible to aid him. Finally, the monk directed him to speak to another pilgrim. The man was large and pale and smelled of lavender. He looked like the type to crush you underfoot if you so much as looked to him, and yet when the sixth spoke to him as instructed, the pair easily fell into conversation. The behemoth had done with a simple conversation what a thousand wise sayings could not: He had opened the sixth one's mind. The sixth one returned to the monk, now eager to learn in earnest. I did not know if this young man required the same thing or not, but it was an approach through which I could gauge the necessary method.

Then I realized my faux pas. A grand mistake that might stunt any further development if I did not correct it immediately.

"I'm sorry, I never introduced myself. I am the seventeenth of Abel. What's your name?" I said. I had struggled with the phrasing initially. I knew who I was. I was the seventeenth one to take the name Abel, just as my predecessor had been the sixteenth. It was not my name, but I do not believe the first would mind me using it.

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________
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Blackwing
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Blame Jack

"A man who barely maintains an armistice with himself has no business poking about in a foreign soul"
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Re: Enter The Soulless (Open)

Post by Max Ahlberg Hale on December 10th 2012, 4:47 pm

As I watched a smile appear on his face, he came closer to me. What he did next wasn't what I expected, he sat down. I didn't see that coming. I noticed that he asked if I minded whether he sat down or not, of course I didn't. He was very polite; I guess that everyone has a surprise to them. He then went on to say that we had a lot to talk about, that I was similar to him, and that I was on a higher line than him, whatever the hell that meant... Wait... What does that even mean? He is more than likely a super, I can figure that now, but does he have magic too? Does he not have a soul either? Many emotions swirled in my head. I was happy that there was someone out there who was like me, but, then again, was that a good thing? What pain did he experience in his life? There is obviously a connection I am making with him, but I have no idea what it was.

I then noticed a realization in his face. I was going to ask him if something was wrong, but he then apologized and told me that he hasn't introduced himself to me. He called himself the Seventeenth of Abel, whatever that means. I then realized that I haven't introduced myself either. Well, I feel like a prick, here this stranger is apologizing to me for not introducing himself, and I didn't even say my name, either. But what the hell does the seventeenth mean? I suppose there are juniors and thirds in a family line, but seventeenth? That's pretty damn classy. It was kind of a weird way in how he said it, though, like it was not what I thought it meant. Regardless, I started to introduce myself as well. "Don't worry about apologizing, I could have introduced myself, too. My name is Max. Not to sound rude, but what do you mean we are similar, and what's this higher in line stuff that you are talking about? I think it's safe to assume that you have powers as well, but do you have magic, too? I enjoyed the fact that he was acting so kindly towards me, but I honestly had no clue who this guy is/was. Is he even human? Granted, I am technically not 100% human, but it still is such a weird concept to me, to meet someone who looks and talks like a human, but isn't one. The questions kept coming, so I figured I should just get some answers while I am talking to him. Giving up my secrets is not as bad of a trade as I thought. If this guy wasn't so friendly, I probably wouldn't have even shown him my magic at all. "How about this, let's make it easier, you tell me your story, I'll tell you mine, maybe we can understand each other a little better. A nice exchange, don't you think?"


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Re: Enter The Soulless (Open)

Post by Brorschach on December 10th 2012, 6:05 pm

The smile remained on my face, though it grew imperceptibly wider. I had baited the hook correctly, at least well enough that he wanted to know more. That showed a desire for knowledge. I liked that. Then he asked me a question of his own. Do I have magic? Not as far as I know. I suppose there was more to him than I had originally assumed. I guess it's my own fault for not even considering such a possibility. As I started to answer his question, I realized it might not be so clear cut. The first was only the first because of magic, as was the second and the third and all of us that came after. So did that mean it was my magic as well? Or was it still his and I was just being allowed to use it in the same way I used his name. I pondered this for a moment. My answer would undoubtedly affect the young man, Max's opinion of me. I decided it might be best to tell the truth.

"I do have magic, of a sort. Nothing glamorous, but it has served my predecessors well. It's also the only reason why I'm here, truth be told" I said, careful not to explain too much at once. This was a delicate time, made all the more so by the location and the emotional state it brought out in the young man. I would ease him into it. I would start by elaborating on my earlier statement.

"I suppose if you don't know about the line then you must be one of the early ones. Let me try to make this simple" I said, pointing to my forehead. More specifically I was pointing to the spot where the bullet that caused my birth was dislodged. Though that place held a special significance to me, the general region had significance as well.

"This, is you" I said, tapping my head."This contains all that you are and ever have been. It always will, even when the next one in line takes your place. Now, you may have heard of something called regeneration" I quipped, my gaze shifting to his hand briefly before returning to his face.

"When you lose this, you die" I continued, once more indicating my head. "I've heard of some fairly famous people with powers like ours coming back after being decapitated, shot in the head, or simply mutilated beyond repair, but they're living in denial of the truth. They believe they're immortal. They're wrong" I added, shaking my head slowly. I really did feel sorry for those people. Each and every one of them was living a lie and they didn't even know it. Perhaps some did and simply didn't care. "Especially the ones who run into battles with no regard for their safety. They're constantly dying, over and over, unaware of the truth. When the human brain ceases to function, the body dies. The person dies. That is an undeniable and unalterable fact of the universe that people with powers like ours are so keen to forget" I finished, sighing and looking up at the sky. The cloud covered had partially returned, though the sun was still fighting to get through. The day seemed to reflect my mood. Optimism restrained by a blanket of logic, yet refusing to give up. I'm sure there's a lesson in that somewhere, but for now I was playing the part of a teacher and would save such life lessons for another time.

I slumped and adjusted my head. My gaze once more fell upon Max. The young man had stood there patiently despite my ramblings. In retrospect, what I was saying was incredibly depressing. Perhaps the young man, whose family had been taken from him so recently, didn't truly need to know the truth. Maybe he was better off living in a hopeful lie rather than a brutal truth. Maybe, or maybe the tragedy had extinguished the boy's desire for any more lies. I couldn't be sure, so I would tell the story of the first. I would observe his reactions, I would decide whether he should know the truth or not. His eyes still held that look that belonged more at home in the fourth's eyes than an innocent, but I would ignore that. Those eyes weren't his fault. That much I knew.

"A nice exchange indeed. Understanding is what separates the rats from the mice" I said, recalling my earlier observation about humanity. A little joke to myself that I didn't feel the need to explain. It was time to change the subject, if only slightly.

"Though I suppose what you're asking for is not my story. Mine is short and unpleasant. I was born nearly two years ago in a puddle of the sixteenth's blood. I killed the man who had done it and I've lived my life as normally as a man can in this crazy world. No, what you want is the first's story. His is far more interesting" I said, half jokingly. I would tell him the first's story as much for myself as for him. I needed to hear it again, lest what little I have of him disappear beneath the waves of time.

"The first was born somewhere in Europe, though the exact country escapes me. He was a kind man, always had been. He would never hurt a fly and abhorred the thought of hurting another human being. I believe him to be the closest thing to godhood humans will ever achieve. There was a group so unlike him, violent, cruel. They terrorized the town for reasons that I never knew and I don't think I ever will. Perhaps they got some sick thrill out of it. One day, the first stood up to them, asking them to leave and never return. So they dragged him to a cave and proceeded to viciously pummel him. Looking back on it, I wish I could have been there." I growled, feeling the anger of man forced to watch an injustice, yet incapable of stopping it.

"I'm far less saintly than he and would have killed them for their transgressions. At any rate, they left him in that cave on the verge of death. He crawled as far as he good, chasing an imaginary light that not even I can see. He struggled long and hard, collapsing in near absolute darkness. I don't remember how, but he fell. He fell into some deep, dark pit which only existed as a place for those unfortunates who lost their way to fall in and die. Next I can see nothing, just vague remembrances of touch, a strangely smooth object, not unlike a marble, a flash of light. Then the first was truly born. Up until then he had been an only. Now he was the first. There are many more after the first that I could tell you, but they are not to be discussed now. Suffice it to say, I am the seventeenth. The name I gave you is the first's, I'm simply borrowing it. So Max. Tell me your story" I finished, letting out a contented sigh before closing my eyes and leaning back against the steps. It was good to tell the first's story.

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Re: Enter The Soulless (Open)

Post by Max Ahlberg Hale on December 10th 2012, 9:24 pm

After he finished, I stood there and took it all in. He lived a sad amount of lives, it seems, I felt as if I could relate, but not by much. I didn't pity him, it just seemed like he had so much of a burden to bear, that I could feel the weight of it as he was telling me the story of his first life. It definitely was interesting, but depressing at the same time. Maybe I'm not the only super with a messed up past. I was sad about dying once, but he died so many times! The only difference is, he still had a soul, and I donít. Even if he feels as if he doesn't have one, it does not even come close to not having one at all. I felt a deep sympathy for him, but there were still so many questions. He told me that he had magic of a kind, I guess multiple lives can be considered a kind of magic, who knows? Another question was why he couldn't stay dead. Was it stubbornness? That's at least how it was for me. I need to stop analyzing this so much, but it feels like I just have to. Now it was my turn to spill my guts, to tell him about my shitty life. His was definitely shittier, but, I guess he knew that already. I went over and sat next to him on the steps, he was still leaning back, his eyes were still closed, but I could tell that his ears were all open for my story. I took a deep breath and began.

"My life was normal, for eighteen great years, I had a great time at school, I had the best parents in the world, hell, I had the best time in the world, at least, it was great to me. It all changed with the assault on NYC. I was relaxing at home, when the shit hit the fan and my life ended, not just my family's that I've mentioned earlier. I figured that the house collapsed on me, crushing me and my entire family. I don't know the exact details. The next thing I knew, I was in a land of all black, no color, no sounds, just me and the strange red man. He never told me his name, but he did have an offer to make me. He told me I could come back to life, to get a second chance, he would even teach me magic, to defend myself against any future problems. There was only one cost, my soul, and nothing more. He continued to say that I would get it back when I died again, and then go to heaven or hell, depending on how I lived my new life. Of course I took the deal. My lack of a soul turned my eyes blood red and made my ears pointy. He congratulated me on becoming a ghoul, or a human whose soul is detached from their body. He immediately began teaching me magic; all the while I was in a coma in a city on the outskirts of NYC, in the care of my relatives. I woke up a few days ago and decided that I needed to accept my fate, to embrace my second chance at life. Then I met you. That's my story. Hope I didn't bore you to death."

I felt as if a weight was lifted off of my shoulders. But even more questions filled my head. Did this man honestly care about my life? Did I truly care about his? Did we make a connection so quickly, with these few moments with each other? It seemed unlikely, but then again, I'm not human anymore, and he has had sixteen other lives, so I guess even the relationships have an odd shape that they take. I'm not going to lie, I do care about his problems, and he seems to care about mine. Maybe being a super with friends is something that normal humans don't get to experience, a great experience that I wouldn't mind having again and again. It seems like losing my soul has more and more benefits as life goes on, maybe it wasn't such a bad idea after all, I could get used to this.


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Re: Enter The Soulless (Open)

Post by Brorschach on December 10th 2012, 9:58 pm

I kept my eyes closed as the young man regaled me with his tragic story.
To have your whole life -and a good one at that- destroyed in a single instant, and to not even be aware of the blow that caused it. That was one of the most tragic things I could think of. The poor boy had died and he could only guess at how. In many ways, this reminded me of the third, how he had come back one day and found his hard built life in shambles. Then again, he'd ended his own life, he went out on his terms, even if they were extremely unpleasant ones. Though I don't think my face showed it, I was honestly shocked when he told me of how a red man who -when I pieced the descriptions together with the rest of his statement- was obviously some creature pretending to be Satan... Pretending? How could I say whether or not it was real.
My lack of belief in a god is not something shared by all, even the eighth one briefly considered that a god might exist. Then again, the eighth's existence was less than twenty minutes long. Mortar fire kills fairly quickly after all, especially when the projectile itself strikes you. Even after listening to Max finish speaking, telling me of how the would-be Satan promised him his soul back when he died again, I couldn't quite believe it. Perhaps it was some other being playing a cruel joke on the boy. Perhaps it had whisked him away an instant before death and just put on a grand show, or maybe it was all a thing of illusion, some sort of dream the boy suffered while his healing powers awakened that had turned into a full blown hallucination once he awoke. Though that didn't explain the red eyes or pointy ears... Oh well, there's nothing for it. I won't try and explain away something until I have witnessed it with my own eyes. Every time one of my predecessors died, I heard nothing about the stereotypical 'light at the end of the tunnel' or 'hellfire'. I recall thinking about heaven as a pocket of psychic energy belonging to those who believe in its existence. Perhaps hell was the same way.

Maybe those who believed deep down that they deserved punishment naturally drifted towards the pocket most likely to deliver it. I sighed, this was quite a bit. Either way, the young man had powers, -healing being one of them- and he was here, on the destroyed ruins of what had once been his beloved home. I opened my eyes and looked up at the wreckage behind me.

"Did you hope to find something here? Something you lost on that day? If you did, I could help you search for it" I said nonchalantly. I got the feeling that if he was looking for something, it wasn't a trinket that could be dug out of the rubble. The poor boy, all alone in this world. Surrounded by family members who probably didn't understand -or care- how he was alive. They would try and console him, try and help him move on, but this was a burden he would carry every day. He would always be painfully aware of his condition, just as I am of mine. I am a finite thing, lucky to be alive each day. I glance up at the sky. Still cloudy, but the sun was now streaming steadily rather than fading in or out.

I looked over at my new friend. I realized what it was I had truly seen in his eyes. He wasn't standing on the edge of the abyss, just a few wrong steps from becoming like the fourth. He was much more like the third, so close to despair. I wouldn't allow that to happen. My own brief life augmented by the memories of the others would be spent at least partly on making sure Max didn't fall into that void that his eyes showed me he still sat on.

"Even if I can't help you find what you're looking for, You're not alone. I can't honestly say I believe in a god, nor in a devil for that mattter, but whatever you saw, whatever you experienced that brought you back to this world, it did it for a reason. Don't let yourself despair until you've found that reason. After all, a man has only two things to keep him going in this world: His memories, and his reason for living. So many people have the former, but few ever find the latter. I myself have not. But someday I will, and I intend to survive long enough to do so"

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Re: Enter The Soulless (Open)

Post by Max Ahlberg Hale on December 10th 2012, 10:32 pm

"..." I sat there speechless. Did he really want to help me? I suppose he did, because he suggested helping me find a memory in the rubble. It wasn't what I came here for, but it meant a lot that he was so willing to help me. I thought about the last few words he said to me, about finding memories and a reason to live. I wanted to help him find that, too. I looked back at him and saw that he was serious on helping me find my reason to live. I tried to give him a look that said that I would help him out as well; hopefully he caught it, because I really wanted to help him as well. But first things first, he wanted to help me find something, so I might as well have him help me out, I mean, what are friends for?

"To tell you the truth, I really didn't come here looking for a memory, but I suppose that I can look for one, now that I know that there is someone to help me with the search." Then I did something that I haven't done all day. I smiled. It was nice and wide, with the right amount of toothiness to it, not too much gum, and not too little tooth. Maybe coping isn't so bad when I have someone to help me out; it helps even more when the person helping me has a similar problem. I felt as if this problem could be overcome, now, like there was hope in the entire struggle that came with it. I felt confident that I could solve any problem that was thrown at me.

I then noticed that there was someone I could give this hope to as well. He has been sitting next to me for a little while, now. Maybe we could work together and solve our problems together. I started talking again, trying to be as sincere as possible, and hoping that my feelings matched the tone of my voice. "You know, maybe I could help you out with your reason. I know that you could probably find one yourself, but it would be much more exciting and joyful to do so if you have a friend to help you out. Let's help each other out from now on. How about it?" I sprung up from my sitting position, turned towards him, and stuck my hand out to him. With another big smile on my face, I said to him, Now let's go find me a memory and go find a reason for you to live! Are you up for it?" I could only feel as if this was the start of a great relationship, that I wasn't alone anymore and neither was he. Maybe I could protect this world and help him find a reason, it seems like a stretch, and it would be one hell of a tough time to actually pull both off, but I didn't care, I was happy and I would be damned if I couldn't make him happy as well.


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Re: Enter The Soulless (Open)

Post by Brorschach on December 10th 2012, 11:54 pm

The first thing I noticed was his smile.
It was a beautiful thing trapped deep inside the cave of Max's mind that had somehow made its way to the surface. Much like the first when he finally stepped out of the cave, his smile was one of real joy. A joy not containing any malice or other negative connotations. It was one that I sensed hadn't been seen on his face for quite some time. Then he said something that threw me off balance. He had offered to help me find a reason for living... he really had just said that. The young man over a decade my junior was offering to help me find my purpose in life. It sounded just a tad ridiculous coming from one such as him.
Then again, was I really going to discard him out of hand simply because of his age. He had died once already and had seen -as well as experienced- things that were far beyond what someone only eighteen years old could be expected to cope with. I suppose he was worth giving the benefit of the doubt. He seemed eager enough to help at any rate. Still sitting there on those steps, I looked up at the sky as I had done so many times that day. The clouds, once black and ominous appeared to be lightening, as if the sun that touched their upper surface was finally pushing through their dark tears and peeking out the other side. Maybe my mood really was affecting the weather, or perhaps it was the other way around. Perhaps I was unconsciously taking in the warmth of the sun and allowing it to elevate me. I smiled and rose from the steps. I looked down at him -a young man who was only a few inches shorter than myself- and took his hand. I would help him, and he would help me in return. It sounded so mundane and yet it was something far greater. There were no dark machinations here, no hidden evils, just a promise from one friend to another spoken in front of a sacred place.

"Sounds like a plan my young friend" I said, knowing that nothing else was needed. The rest of it was unspoken, a feeling that could not be put into words. It was camaraderie, friendship, something intangible that bound us together. I felt proud to call him my friend.

I shook his hand and then looked up at the ruins of the house. Much like the clouds overhead, they seemed lighter somehow. Perhaps it was the sunbeam that seemed to slowly open up in the clouds above the house, bathing it in a soft and somewhat ethereal glow. It was as though whatever spirits still lingering there were being exercised by the boy's pact with me, a bit of closure after a sudden and unexpected separation. If they were, I was happy to help. The dead should rest in peace. The first taught me that. Regardless of whether there was a heaven or hell or something else entirely, I hoped they found the peace they deserve. I released Max's hand and walked up the steps until I was staring directly at what remained of the door. The house had mostly caved in but the remains of an entryway still stood. It was an unassuming thing, yet its presence was significant.
It was the gate to both my new friend's past and my own future. I looked around, almost able to hear the quiet chirping of cicadas. The normally overbearing noise could be heard in the background, as if they too were in reverence of this place. A mausoleum to a single family that would one day be reunited, if only in death. Closing my eyes, I slowly lowered myself to one knee and held out my hand. This place had that effect, as if a quiet prayer was required before you could enter.
I scoured my memories, searching for a prayer that would be suitable given my rather rocky relationship with any existing church.
They all seemed inappropriate or overly formal... except one.

The one that kept popping up.

A single word that had been heard by the sixth nearly every day for most of his existence.

It meant so many things to so many people and yet only one was truly important.

Here, in this place, a single word was all that necessary.

"Namaste"

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Re: Enter The Soulless (Open)

Post by Max Ahlberg Hale on December 11th 2012, 9:16 am

Namaste? I wonder what that meant. I looked to see Abel crouching down, as if he was saying a prayer. It sounded like a prayer, at least, it did to me. It sounded so beautiful, coming from his voice, since he probably meant it. My heart skipped a beat thinking about my family, someone was praying for them. People who lived and died so fast, there were probably so many others he could pray for instead, but my family was at the top of the list. He isn't even that religious and he was praying! How about that? I felt as if I should have said a prayer as well, but, then again, I don't have a soul, what the point of a man with no soul to pray? I did say something to my parents, though. I wished for their happiness and hoped that they were watching over me.

I wanted to tell Abel that I was going to start looking in the ruins, but the words wouldn't come out. I was happy that I had a friend who woul help me with this, but at the same time, the whole situations was kind of messed up. My parents are still dead, nothing can change that. I suppose miracles can only happen so often and it was pretty weird for even myself to come back to life, whether I paid a price for it or not. Maybe I should stop thinking this way, it wasn't making anything better. So, with my conflicted head, I started for the ruins that were known as my house.

My house was a mess, of course it was, it was kind of destroyed. I remember how my parents were so uptight about how clean their house was. They always yelled at my for having a shitty looking room, but I suppose there's no taking care of that now. The whole house caved in, so I don't even know where to start. I ended up just looking in the first pile of rubble I saw. I was a man obsessed, nothing mattered to me anymore except the task at hand. Some of the rubble was heavy, some was light. The demon guy/red man made me a little stronger, so I can probably pick up a lot of this shit with ease. I'm probably stronger than the average person, now. That was pretty cool. I then realized that I've been so concentrated on picking up all of the rubble, that I had no idea what Abel was even doing, I just totally ignored him. I quickly turned around and said to him, "Wow, I'm a dick... Sorry, I'm usually not this much of an ass, but it just hurts, you know?" I am just so obsessed with finding something, that I forgot that you were here..." I cast my gaze down, I did truly feel horrible about it, I need to make sure I stop doing that, who knows if I could offend someone by doing that someday.


Last edited by Max Ahlberg on December 11th 2012, 5:09 pm; edited 2 times in total

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Re: Enter The Soulless (Open)

Post by Brorschach on December 11th 2012, 4:47 pm

I rose from the floor and nodded once, hoping that whatever spirits were there had accepted my tithe.
It was a small one but I think that the intent was what mattered. I moved forward slowly, I didn't trust the floorboards not to give way. They looked structurally sound enough to hold me but appearances can be deceiving. My new friend was an example of such a thing, his blood red eyes had given me the wrong impression and to one less willing to take a second glance they might be construed as hostile or even murderous. People do weird things when they feel threatened. Much like a rat when backed into a corner, they bare their fangs and become incredibly hard to bring back into a state of ease.
As if some dark instinct not yet bred out kept them on alert for the rest of the day. I hate it when people become like that. I hate dealing with angry people most of all, often times because their anger is misplaced and simply being taken out on the source least likely to fight back. The other day I found a job at construction yard, there were plenty available given the city's recent state of disrepair. The first day was pleasant enough but since then I can't seem to go an hour without someone yelling at me over some piece of trivial minutia. If I actually cared about the opinions of the tiny man doling out the abuse I might have been angry, but as it stood all I ever felt was irritated. Not because he was insulting me, or even accusing me, but because he was slowing down the rest of my tasks with his incessant babbling. As I ducked under a beam, I thought of how surprisingly intact this place was. Most of the roof still existed, even if it was collapsed almost entirely on one side.
I inched my way into a room where the roof had collapsed, the sun peaking through the large hole to provide the area with natural illumination.
I appeared to have walked into a living room, a place where you might sit down with your family and watch the latest episode of your favorite show, or even just lay by a fireplace and relax.

As I gazed at it, the light seemed to come alive, showing me phantoms of days past. I watched as woman sat knitting something while a young boy ran around the room, an older man who was likely his father tailing him, a large smile sat on all their faces. I tried to make out more details, but I blinked and the ghostly scene had disappeared, returning to whatever memory had spawned it. I looked out the hole where a wall had collapsed, there were several houses damaged much like this one, some crushed completely while others remained entirely intact. Were there ghosts roaming their rooms too? Specters of a happier time before so many lives were abruptly ended. I didn't know, to try and grasp such things was not my desire. I looked down and began sifting through debris, hoping to find something that might be meaningful to Max.
The kinship I felt with the young man was stronger than what you might expect from two strangers who had just met not twenty minutes prior. He reminded me of the third, someone who had found true happiness only to have it yanked away. I sighed and shook my head. Then I heard something. Max had spoken. He was apologizing? For what? I had been off in my own little world. I listened closer. It sounded like an apology for not paying attention to me. I actually had to work not to laugh. So we'd both been off somewhere else. Him in his memories, and I in the phantasms of a life that was not my own. Straining, I yanked more debris -the remains of a fireplace, it seemed- and found something. It was small and rectangular, covered in soot and small pieces of rubble. I called back to Max.

"It's fine, This can't be easy for you" I sighed, feeling somewhat tired. This place was a grave, and even though I was sure whatever lurked here wouldn't mind the object being taken, I felt a little guilty.

"At any rate, I think I might have found something" I said as I blew on the object I had found. It was a framed photograph. The glass was cracked and had shattered in a few places, but I could still make out the picture beneath. A man and a woman both standing up in formal attire, a young man who couldn't have been more than fifteen sat between them. A soft smile adorned their faces, much like the phantoms I had seen in the room.

One detail struck me, the boy's eyes weren't red. I couldn't make out their color, the photo was still dirty where soot had managed to get beneath the glass, but they definitely weren't the deep crimson that occupied the space now. I hopped over the shattered wall to where Max was still digging.

"This something you want?" I asked tentatively. The picture was likely to make him sad, but in this place, this might be the only thing of his family that remained.

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Re: Enter The Soulless (Open)

Post by Max Ahlberg Hale on December 11th 2012, 5:49 pm

I looked over towards Abel to see what it was. As I walked/struggled over towards him, many possibilities ran through my head: What could it be? A picture? A cell phone? I had no idea. I was worried and excited at the same time. I met this man just today and he now found a memory in my ruin of a house. Who knew something like this would happen. I wouldn't even be here right now if it wasn't for him. I figured that it is going to hurt once I see whatever he found, so I tried to brace myself for it. Then again, what was the point; he has seen me cry, if it happens again, I suppose it is not really a big deal. I inched closer and it seemed like he was holding a picture frame. Dammit, this will be emotional, not like it wasn't going to be anyway. Was I prepared to see myself before everything went wrong? I had to be, there was no turning back now. "I'm sure it will be, thanks." I couldn't afford to get all mushy with his finding, not yet, at least.

It was a picture of me and my family. I remember it very well. It was taken the day before I started high school, little fourteen year old me, sitting between my two parents, smiling. I remember how uncomfortable the suit was, the tons of hairspray in my hair, the hours that it took to get the right picture. That cameraman had to have been blind; he could not get a decent picture to save his soul. In the end, he was able to get this one, this perfect, beautiful picture of my family. It was too much, I had to break down again, and I couldn't take it anymore. Tears started rolling down my blood red eyes and onto my face; they started hitting the picture frame and would splash, sending little droplets onto other parts of the picture and onto the floor. Was this all taken away from me? Was I dreaming? How could I go from a nice, happy family, to a torn apart, destroyed one so fast? Did it all happen that suddenly? I suppose it did, the reflection of my face on the picture showed my blood red eyes again. They were much different from the previous color. I stared at my old eyes, my old ears. Were they really mine at one point in time? More tears came rushing down my face. Yes, they were mine at one point, but they were not anymore. My old life is gone; there is no going back to it. My aunt and my uncle were nice, my cousin was awesome, but they couldn't fill the void. That is probably why they didn't question me coming here all by myself. It was probably because I was 18 as well; they kind of don't have any authority on that, either.

I realized that Abel was standing there, waiting for me to say something. It was obvious that he saw me crying again, but I suppose it isn't new to him. I looked into his eyes and started talking. Abel... Thanks. I have no idea what could have happened today if you didn't show up. You really changed my life in the little time I knew you. I owe you a lot for that. I promise you I will help you find your reason to live, just like you've helped me find mine. You are probably the best thing to happen to my life. Well, my new life." I smiled again; I am glad that it was him that found me crying there. I couldn't have asked for anyone else.

That was when I noticed something odd about today. I don't know why and how he found me, why was he even here? I never got the chance to ask him, curiosity got the best of me, my face was still wet, but I wasn't crying anymore when I asked him. Hey, Abel? What were you doing today in my old neighborhood, do you live around here? I mean, how could you? There is nothing here. Do you work around here? Are there even any jobs available around here?" I realize that there are a lot of things that I didn't know about Abel, and I kind of really wanted to know how all of this came to be. How he just came by and changed my life forever.


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Max Ahlberg Hale

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