Arkadia Asylum: The rain was light, in comparison to how you remembered Arkadia rains. It was a light drizzle - enough to get you wet, but not enough to make you completely drenched going from one wing to another. Maybe that was just the benefits of the perspective of being on this side of the psychiatric torture chamber - after all, the waters outside seemed no less torrential, a dangerous swim for any prospective escapees.
One of the requirements of your being rehired here was to continue to see care, curiously enough. Unlike your former treatments, this was less being chained in a room to be spoken to when desired, and more to ensure your capable of soundly taking care of the inmates. The good news is it was free, and while it was a requirement of the job you were afforded a lot more leeway than you would have been as an actual patient. You could request a specific co-worker you were comfortable with, you did not have to take a plethora of drugs, and you could reschedule or otherwise. In truth, while they expected once a month checkups, you did them on your own - and your doctor's - time.
You had the benefit of already having someone willing to see you. His name was Doctor Jeremiah Stein, and in truth he was known as one of the better doctors. He had a higher rate of success than most - also, seemingly, including you. You yourself remember very little of your own sessions, just these:
He always practiced at night, exclusively. You remember the smell of iron in the air - and never seem to be able to get that smell out of your nose when you think of him. You remember he was a big fan of trying hypnotherapy mixed with the drugs he recommended, but was usually fairly forward with asking for your permission. You remember aches and pains after talking with him from time to time - a side effect of the drugs, according to anyone who was asked. At times, you felt weak - at others, stronger than ever before.
You don't know if much has changed - but you did learn that apparently he does some daytime meetings these days. He still prefers the night though and that's when you are likely to get him for a session. He's located in a different wing from you - just one south - and at this point basically is in charge of the wing he's in.
Jason Strode: Jason made his way to Dr. Stein's office, dressed in casual clothes with his his staff ID clipped to his shirt and knocked "This should be interesting."
Arkadia Asylum: "Come in," The voice on the other side said. Opening the entrance, the room office hasn't really changed from where you remember it. Like most psychologists' office, it looked almost less like an office and more like a room. Dr. Stein is a suitably attractive man - but now, you get to look at him through different eyes.
He smells of iron, because that's what he is - the scent the same as Marcus' and of the man who injured you. He's even a pale skinned man - almost stereotypical in appearance of the creature you could immediately tell now that he was. He's dressed in a white coat and a light blue undershirt, and set in a little seat with a notepad. There is a place for you to sit and rest as well.
"Ah - Doctor Strode. It has been some time, hasn't it? You've grown." He hasn't, obviously - the same as the way he was so many years ago, with not a drop of age on him. Unsurprising. "Have a seat."
Jason Strode: Jason chuckled as he entered. He remembered this office quite well, that was for sure, and Dr. Stein. And the fact that he was one of those blood-drinkers like Marcus and the vampire who'd attacked him explained quite a bit. Jason sat down and prepared to have a very educational conversation "It definitely has, Dr. Stein. You look just the same as you did all those years ago - haven't aged a day, in fact."
Jason Strode: Jason smiled - no, he grinned - unsettlingly at his once-former and now again current therapist.
Arkadia Asylum: "I hear that quite frequently, actually." He said, watching him with piercing eyes. Stein had always been a bit of a hard read - but he did have his own little tells, rare as they were. He was a smile and patient kind of man - calm and collected - but when someone seemed dangerous his eyes sharpened - much like they did now, in fact, as they noticed something different in the way that Jason presented himself. Nothing overtly supernatural, of course - no, what he noticed was in the manner of his gait, his smile, and well - a great many things. "Just blessed, I suppose."
He motioned towards the place for Jason to sit, and then said - as his hand motioned to Jason's cast, "I heard you were attacked recently. Have you been recovering well?"
Jason Strode: "Whatever you're doing, i need to do it too. It's like you've just been frozen in time since we last saw eachother. Your hair is even in the exact same style, every strand just the way it was back then and everything." He nodded at Stein's question "I'm fine now. Just some poor disturbed junkie who got very violent. Thankfully, I heal pretty damn fast."
Jason Strode: "Thankfully i'm pretty good at choking the crap out of people who think they're tougher than me. But you know that, right? Say, what ever happened to that orderly? I hope he's not still...sore...about the neck injury."
Jason couldn't help sneaking a joke in there
Arkadia Asylum: "I suppose you might call it a strict diet to maintain my health," Stein watched Jason, and then said, "As well as being old fashioned. I like my current style of dress."
He tapped the notepad, and said, "I am unsure which orderly you are referring to. There are a good many who act up."
Jason Strode: "Clean living and a classic look. I dig it, Doctor." Jason shifted to get comfortable in his seat and fixed his gaze firmly on Stein now "You know, I always wanted a chance to tell you how much you helped me. I mean that - you made me realize that i needed to get help, and I found it the moment I left here. It's why I was able to come as far as I have, and I owe you a debt of gratitude." Jason was sincere with all that he'd said, though he didn't mention the precise kind of help he'd received or the exact way in which Stein had helped him.
"Honestly, I emulated your example every day of my life since. But with a better sense of humor."
Arkadia Asylum: "As a Doctor, one can only hope to have the opportunity to hear words such as that," He smiled and then said, "To know that the work you are doing is not meaningless is a great reassurance. Working here can cause a person's convictions to waver. Too many people who seem beyond help - who are too far gone. I'd like to take credit for your success, but the truth is that you did most of the work towards getting out of here and towards taking up the position you did."
Jason Strode: He nodded his agreement with all of that as well "I used to be terrified of this place. You remember the nightmares, i used to tell you about them all the time. That crazy doctor who would chase me through the halls. Scary stuff, but i'm not afraid anymore. In fact I feel more comfortable here than I do anywhere else, in a place where people need help. People whose position I can understand better than any other doctor here. That's why i don't wear a suit and tie to work; i actually prefer that the patients not think of me as a doctor. It helps them relax and really look at me as a human being who wants to help them be the best they possibly can."
Arkadia Asylum: "Do you still have the nightmares?" He asked casually.
Jason Strode: "No. I haven't had any nightmares in years, actually. In fact, i sleep like a baby." This was entirely true. Jason inflicted nightmares, but he rarely had any of his own.
Arkadia Asylum: There are a few notes scribbled on the piece of paper. "Interesting." He smiled and said, "Since you've come in here, have there been any problems acclimating? Anything of note you'd like to discuss, talk about, or otherwise vent? It doesn't, of course, have to be work related. We could talk about your injury, or home life, or your parents - whatever you feel in the mood to discuss, I am here to listen." He smiled and then said, "We can take this first session to better re-acclimate ourselves."
Jason Strode: He nodded, considering for a moment..but ultimately, Jason acted according to his nature and was straightforward "I do want to talk about some personal things, but as doctors we both know that there can be no treatment without candor and honesty. So, tell me what you are. I know you are not alive; i can see the blackened blood pumping under your skin. So you be honest with me, and i'll be honest with you. Fair enough?"
Arkadia Asylum: The Doctor, to his credit, is a lot more pacified than you might expect him to be. Or maybe he's as calm as you would have expected. He seems to think for a moment, before scratching the paper. After that, he says, his voice clinical. "Interesting. Can you tell me exactly what it is that would lead you to believe that, Dr. Strode?"
It wasn't a denial - but then, as a psychologist it wasn't his place to deny the claims of his patients - only to listen. You get the feeling that - were this a normal situation - he would be humoring you at this point, and planning on making a clinical evaluation of delusions of some sort.
This was not a normal situation, of course. You knew that he wasn't alive because you had run into his ilk before. But he knew little of you besides that you somehow were aware of him. One might wonder - what must be going through his mind right now, at this moment?
Jason Strode: "The fact that I have encountered your kind before, whatever that kind is and I can literally sense people who are not plain vanilla humans. The guy who attacked me drank my blood. I let him thinking he might stop going berserk and get away before the police arrived and made a very nasty problem. Also, Dr. Stein, I'm not schizophrenic. I never have been."
Jason Strode: "I understand how hunger can make you go a little crazy. I just hope the poor guy got somewhere safe and didn't get murdered."
Management: Arkadia Asylum has rolled an Mesmerize (Resist with Resolve + Lair) roll (11 dice), getting 7, 4, 7, 7, 9, 9, 4, 9, 4, 3, 6, with a difficulty of 8 on a 10 sided die. Arkadia Asylum has 3 successes.
Management: Jason Strode has rolled an Resolve + Lair roll (7 dice), getting 6, 7, 6, 4, 6, 10, 1, 4, with a difficulty of 8 on a 10 sided die. Jason Strode has 1 success.
Arkadia Asylum: The Kindred watched him, his eyes looking at Jason. The effect wouldn't be noticed in the glance - it never was - but it settles. He tapped his pen once more and said, his voice now far more compelling, "Interesting. Tell me more."
Jason Strode: With a command that open-ended, Jason basically did what he was going to do anyway and..told him more "I can see the blackened blood in your veins and I know that you are not human, and the same kind of kin as the one who attacked me and the other I met that same night. I am the nightmare, the one I saw over and over again."
Arkadia Asylum: "I see..." He thought a moment, and said, "Well normally Jason - can I call you Jason? - I would simply dismiss your statements out of hand however... I must admit I am curious about this. It's not the first time someone's come up with delusions of me being a monster - but it is one of the first times that they have claimed they too were. I noticed the word kin?" He smiled and then said, "So - you are the nightmare you saw, over and over again. Would you mind, for my own assurance, elaborating on that fact?"
Fact. That was good - a doctor would have noticed the wording. He was giving off the air of belief in his statements, because another might have called it a 'belief'.
Jason Strode: "I am the nightmare, in the literal sense. I am The Laughing Doctor. I am one of the Children. And you are a cousin."
Arkadia Asylum: "A... Cousin?" He chuckled and said, "I am not so sure about that. I'm going to ask you a series of questions. For the sake of correct diagnosis, I'm going to also ask that you Answer my questions honestly."
That was probably a better command to begin with, he thought to himself. He paused a moment, and said, "Do you have any way to prove that your statements are not simply a delusion formed of psychosis? Some measurable output, something witnessable and tangible to someone other than yourself?"
Jason Strode: "Several pieces of proof. Firstly that I know you've been truthful the entire time we spoke. Secondly That I have already met two more exactly like you, and when it comes to identifying the inhuman my kind are infallible. If we meet one, we can identify all others of that same kind forever after. Thirdly that no ordinary person would notice your appearance, your mannerisms and even your hairstyle down to the last strand have not changed in over a decade, and you have not aged so much as a single wrinkle. Fourth, if you would actually let me I could show you exactly what I am with a demonstration. Which I was going to do anyway."
Arkadia Asylum: "That last one was actually what I was asking for. You would be surprised how many can come to the conclusions you have on the first three, unfortunately - and one can never be too careful. Very well - go ahead and show me. If I'm satisfied, we can indulge this a little further."
Jason Strode: With that, he blinked once, twice, three times. Then....he stepped into a shadow and was simply gone. "You could have just asked me to do that without the mind control, by the way. I'm not your enemy."
Management: Arkadia Asylum has rolled an Resolve + Composure - 1 roll (6 dice), getting 3, 7, 10, 2, 4, 1, 7, with a difficulty of 8 on a 10 sided die. Arkadia Asylum has 1 success.
Arkadia Asylum: Most people would have probably jumped back - for Jeremiah Stein, however, he managed to keep himself reasonably composed at the visage of horror that was before him - or, at least, as composed as he could manage anyways. An older undead would have shown nothing, but Stein well - his hand gripped the leather tight, unaware he was even doing that. "Well then." He says quietly, and clears his throat.
Jason Strode: "Like I said, Doctor Stein - i'm grateful, and i'm not your enemy. On the contrary, I came to ask you for some answers and maybe offer some help. If you care to listen."
Arkadia Asylum: "Fair enough." He motioned to him, and said, "If you wouldn't mind resuming your... mundane appearance. I would be appreciative."
Jason Strode: "Hm? oh, yeah. Sorry about that." he drew the horror back into himself, and sat back down "So, the first thing - Like I said earlier, i'm not schizophrenic. Never have been, and we're going to keep that a secret because it's advantageous for both of us. Next, you should see a sizable donation from Strode Realty pretty soon."
Arkadia Asylum: "I should?" He seemed confused by that, but then shrugged. "Alright, fair enough. As well, I wasn't likely to inform others of the lack of schizophrenia anyways - secrets within the supernatural tend to be a secret worth guarding with your life after all."
Jason Strode: He nodded at that "I talked my parents into making a sizable charitable donation to the asylum and use it for PR so make their company look good. People love philanthropy. Now, the other thing - what the hell are you people? And what is going on here? I'm asking because I want to make sure the we both stay very alive and undiscovered, because sooner or later somebody a lot tougher than me will notice the patterns surrounding this place and start asking questions. If they do, I need to know what i'm hiding so I can make damn sure they don't find it."
Arkadia Asylum: "Fascinating. Though, that will go to the Director, not necessarily to me." He smiled and then said, "With that in mind, you are asking what I and the creature which attacked you are? You really haven't figured that much out yet?"
Jason Strode: "I have some guesses, but I deal in facts and not assumptions. You taught me that."
Arkadia Asylum: "Fair enough. I am a vampire. I imagine what attacked you was also a vampire." He paused and said, "At least, that's what most people would call us."
Jason Strode: "That explains a lot. You all have stolen blood and the flavor of ash, and you haven't aged because you're already dead. Alright, you dealt fairly with me and I trust you. What i'm about to say is part me informing you and part warning, so take it accordingly: I'm new. I'm probably the absolute youngest, newest of the children in this city. If you try what you did on one of the older ones, they will eat you. And i don't mean just blood. The ones that don't do that will bathe you in dragon's fire, or do any number of other extremely unpleasant and equally deadly things to you, and they will not give one inch of quarter. But the good news is, the Children mostly keep to themselves, and any of them who come near the asylum will immediately be aware that they're in my territory, so as long as i'm here they're more likely to try talking first. So don't pull the trigger if we don't have to; the Children have a knack for getting people to negotiate before bloodshed starts."
Jason Strode: "If one of the old ones gets pissy, there is next to nothing I can do. I can't take them on. So talk, Dr. Stein."
Arkadia Asylum: "To be fair, that's the threat I would imagine most supernaturals would make when they realize they have been coerced utilizing any supernatural means. Very few enjoy the idea of being in someone else's control - and it's always a risk to do it against those who have the means to notice such things. Though, thankfully, those who do have that means are few and far between that I've noticed." He paused and said, "You are the first one, actually, to do it for themselves. How did you notice?"
Jason Strode: "I'm not stupid, Dr. Stein. And I had a lot of time to think about it. Plus, people are noticing the extreme success the asylum seems to have, or the fact that some people seem to never leave. Everyone knows that if you want someone to go away forever, you get them sent here. We have to be more careful."
Arkadia Asylum: Doctor Stein watched him, and said, "You are right. You -are- new to this."
He smiled - almost sadly - and said, "People notice only what they want to notice. The sad fact of this place is that this institute is not designed as a place to help the mentally ill - not at it's heart. Instead, it's a place we send the most dangerous outcasts of society, the most ill - to keep them away from the common people. Oh sure - people sometimes get better, and when they do ... oh how they raise a fuss about the miracles of what it is we do here. It's been this way for..." He thought a moment, and said, "The one who made me suggested centuries."
"In my experience though, the only people who have ever gotten better are... really, the people who were never sick to begin with. You get a lot of those coming through here. People with a story to tell about some monster. Some of them are truly mentally ill - but when a person sits about describing someone you know personally - monsters which you yourself fear to cross - it certainly puts things in a different perspective."
Jason Strode: That definitely surprised Jason, and it showed. "Well, shit. That actually makes a lot of sense. Okay - that changes my thinking quite a bit." he tapped his chin as he thought "Alright, then that makes it a lot easier and safer for me. I've got a small request - can you give me access to the patient records? I want to be able to identify the real scumbags among the patients so I can make sure they get the treatment they really deserve, and I get to feast on their terror."
Arkadia Asylum: "It's quite a working system. Always fun to guess who is in the know and who isn't. And places like this, where the resonance is thick and the ley lines cross always have more than a few secrets to them no one is ever really willing to investigate." He smiled and then said, "And yes, I can probably get you some records of people of interests. Not everyone's, of course, but those within my wing. If you do, I'd like to know before hand so I can study the effects."
He thought a moment, and said, "You know, despite your admittedly terrifying nature, I quite thick I would like to study you further, if you don't mind. If you'd like, we can set up sessions between the two of us - therapy sessions as far as others are aware. One night, you take the time to give me information - at least, what you can without your people killing you for betraying them. Another night, I give you what I can without suffering a similar fate should it be learned?"
Jason Strode: Jason had learned quite a bit about how this new world he'd found himself in worked. he'd be more cautious in the future, but he didn't kid himself into thinking he'd stop sticking his nose where it didn't belong. "You'll be happy to know that outside intimate secrets of each individual, the children pretty much do their own thing and don't tell eachother what to do. We listen to the elders because they're usually firebreathing dragons and sea monsters the size of cities, but they don't ask much or ask it often. I'm willing to help you understand some things you may not have been able to before - and believe me, you want to see what I have to show you."
Jason Strode: "And i'm not exaggerating on the city-sized monsters, by the way."
Arkadia Asylum: "That sounds quite different from my culture. Though, we listen to our elders for similar reasons." He smiled and then said, "Ours is a bit more structured, however - and the rules a bit more... strict. As much as it detriments me, there will be aspects I won't be able to share simply due to the risk entailed. But - you'll know those aspects as they arise."
Jason Strode: "That's fine. I'm not in it to get anyone killed. I'm genuinely just curious."
Jason Strode: "Besides, we all have to feed. It doesn't benefit me to hurt kin unless they make themselves my enemies."
Arkadia Asylum: "Ah yes. Regarding that. What makes you believe you are kin to my kind? I ask because some entities I would call kin do exist, but you do not have the ... tell-tale markings of such an origin."
Jason Strode: Jason had to think about the best way to explain it, and he went quiet for a moment but finally thought he had something resembling a good explanation "That's a bit harder, and not because i'm trying to keep anything from you. The children just...well, we can feel it. Sometimes, when you listen in the nightmare, you can hear the mother calling to her children. The same way we can see her touch on other supernatural beings. I know it's not a factual statement and sounds pseudo-religious, but it's like trying to explain to someone who's been blind their whole life what the color red is like. We just know she is there, and she is real. So we also know when we meet a cousin."
Arkadia Asylum: He thought a moment, and said, "You are right. It sounds religious in nature." He thought a moment, and said, "Would you be willing to supply a blood sample or two, by any chance?"
Jason Strode: "Sure. I'd be curious to know if you found any kind of major difference from a normal human's, actually."
Arkadia Asylum: He nodded and then said, "That's part of the curiosity. I'll go ahead and examine the default, and then if there is nothing unusual I might like to take a sample from..." He paused and said, "You in your other form. Possibly examine how such substances react to different stimuli too, if there is any difference."
One could definitely hope, anyways.
Jason Strode: "We'd have to do that within the Dream itself, which is very doable. Just be ready to potentially face some of your fears made real."
Arkadia Asylum: "Seems reasonable enough." He thought a moment, and said, "What do you eat, now that I think on it?"
Jason Strode: "Fear, Dr. Stein. Pure, abject terror." his face was completely serious as he said this.
Arkadia Asylum: "Hm. You'd get along with the Nosferatu then." He said casually. "At the very least, they could supply that with little effort."
Jason Strode: "Sounds like my kind of people. But speaking of feeding, I need to do that or somebody will have an extremely bad night the next time I have to unleash the beast."
Jason Strode: "Any suggestions on a deserving candidate?"
Arkadia Asylum: He moved to stand up, before looking through his files. Quietly humming to himself as he went to work, and said, "You want a challenge, or you want to just make someone suffer as easy prey?"
Jason Strode: "A challenge means i get to stop looking at people like they're walking ribeye steaks, and the hunger is most definitely there."
Arkadia Asylum: "Or it means you don't eat, if you can't manage it." He smiled softly, and then said, "Alright. I have in my possession two files. One is a challenge - the other should be fairly easy. The easy one is Margaret Corner. She's a paranoid schizophrenic who was placed in here because she neglected to feed her child and it starved. According to her, the child was possessed by a demon - she refused to go into a room with it, much less feed it, because any time she did it would bite her and try to drain her soul from her heart."
He paused a moment, and said, "The challenge is a man named Thomas Cate. Thomas is a sociopath who was placed in here after he murdered a man out of curiosity over how it would 'feel'. This was done when he was thirteen, and the murder was particularly brutal, involving... well, involving a lot of scientific study into the man's biology. Anyways - this one is a challenge, mostly because from what I've been able to discern, Thomas can't feel fear. It's alien to him, and any attempts - supernaturally or otherwise - to cause such a reaction in him... well, they do not seem to work. However." He smiled and then said, "If he could be -made- to experience fear, that would also go very far into my current studies with him - as well as my evaluation of your manipulation of the emotion."
Jason Strode: Jason's chin-rubbing began anew "Oh my, it's like a buffet has been set before me. But someone who can't feel fear....that's like a personal challenge. But I can show him how it feels to be the one getting 'studied'." the Doctor was very happy indeed at even the prospect.
Arkadia Asylum: "At this point I imagine he's familiar with the feeling. See, my assumption - before meeting him - was that all emotions existed within the human body in some way or shape, even those who do not feel it in the same way that others do. Fear, being a biological response for survival, should be something that is ingrained within the soul. Yet Thomas continues to challenge that perception. My studies place behind the question - why does he not feel fear? Is this an adaption in his evolution, or a degradation, and why does he not seem to feel it even when it should be caused supernaturally? Is it just that his will is strong enough or alien enough to stop it, or is he legitimately disconnected from the concept? And - this is the most important part - if he is disconnected from the concept of fear, why - and is it something that can be replicated in those whose fear holds them back from moving forward?"
He tapped his forehead, and said, "See, I can study an individual biologically speaking - but getting deep into the root of their subconscious to understand those little intimate connections? That is a little more difficult."
He paused and said, "You might even be able to tell me if he's more than he seems, now that I think of it. His immunity could be based on something that he is."
Jason Strode: "For a nut that tough to crack, there's only one way to handle it. I need to see firsthand what the inside of his dreams look like."
Jason Strode: "But first, tell me where his cell is."
Arkadia Asylum: "Down the hall - you take a left at the second turn, and he's room 27." He said, passing along a dossier in Strode's direction.
Jason Strode: Jason took the dossier and gave it a quick scan, particularly looking for any notes about the man's sleeping habits "He a night owl? The really horrible ones usually are."
Arkadia Asylum: "His curfew is at Midnight. If he's not asleep by then, we usually sedate him - much like most of the inmates. As much as I might like to have most of my meetings at night, regulations simply allow me only so much leeway."
Jason Strode: "Good. I can work with that." Jason got up then and started for the door "i know exactly how to treat him."
Arkadia Asylum: "Very well, Mr. Strode." He paused and said, "Do you know when you would next like to set up a session?"
Jason Strode: "Oh, just send me a memo whenever is convenient for you. I'm the night resident most weekdays, but i have a few daytime shifts. Good evening, Dr. Stein." Propelled by the Doctor's hunger and anticipation of the hunt, Jason would make his way back toward his own section of the asylum, taking only a slight detour to look in on Cate - REALLY look at him. He wanted to see if he could discern anything before he approached a different way, but he couldn't linger too long or it might be deemed suspicious.
Management: Jason Strode has rolled an wits + occult -7 roll (1 dice), getting 3, with a difficulty of 8 on a 10 sided die. Jason Strode has failed the roll.
Arkadia Asylum: Cate is still a young man - though, looking on him would reveal a number of things. The boy was probably in his mid twenties, so he'd been in here a while. He's set in a straight jacket - unconscious against the wall, facing the door. He seems to be asleep, but he smiles much in a way that the Doctor himself might smile.
You cannot sense any trace of the dark mother, or any touch of the primordial dream on him - Cate is human, it seems.
Management: Jason Strode has rolled an wits + resolve (Opening a primordial pathway) roll (5 dice), getting 4, 10, 9, 8, 2, 6, with a difficulty of 8 on a 10 sided die. Jason Strode has 3 successes.
Jason Strode: Jason departed swiftly, walking as if heading toward his own section of the asylum but slowing his pace as he passed under a security camera and swiped his card to get through one of the security doors. Once the door closed behind him, he walked a bit further and reached out with his will, plunging through the cold veil of dread that separated him from the primordial dream and forcing his way into the lair; this was his place, these halls one of his Chambers, so it was an easier undertaking, and when he arrived in the place's frightening reflection the nightmare he knew so well began - the distorted halls were dimly lit with flickering lights that were somehow even less helpful at revealing anything than total darkness would have been, every door was barred tight, and the grasping, clawing hands of prisoners within the nightmarish asylum was like music to his ears. It wasn't long before he heard the familiar, cackling laughter approaching him and heard the loping, uneven steps of the mad doctor approach, rushing and lunging at him in a way that would make most people piss themselves. Once, Jason would have frozen in terror at seeing his approach, but now he just laughed with him and they shared the joke that nobody else would ever get as the two joined into one being. Jason then started off on his way, searching through the nightmarescape for one person's nocturnal wandering. A sociopathic murderer would not be hard to find, especially when he knew the man was close at least in a physical sense, and Jason gleefully took off through his Burrow, the long hall, toward where he hoped to find a most deserving victim to drop in on materially, and do...awful things to.
Jason Strode: "Hello, my friend. Let's go put the fear of death into a man that can't feel fear."
Arkadia Asylum: You are right. It's not hard to make your way through burrows, looking for a specific person. Especially when that person -feels- like he's prevalent. Like he's close, no matter where you are. You travel through the dream through dream, until you reach an area you are sure is his - you can't quite place the 'why', but a part of you is sure this burrow leads to the man who you saw only moments ago.
The burrow that makes it's way into the dream is a black cavern, but the dream itself is bright. Even from here, you can see the grassy plains that will make up the man's dream when you enter. It should be inviting - it's anything but. Something seems wrong in this situation, and you can't quite put your finger on the 'why'.
Maybe that feeling doesn't matter - but it rests there, beneath the excitement, and beneath all the eagerness to make Thomas Cate scream.
Jason Strode: 'Hmm..too bright. Let's investigate, shall we?'Jason entered the grassy landscape with nary a second thought, his innate curiosity easily overcoming any trepidation he felt at the somehow unsettlingly bright dreamscape. The doctor's fingers flexed, and a venom more potent than anything man could make throbbed in his fingertips. He looked around, trying to see if he could discern anything else about the man. What kind of murderous sociopath dreamt so brightly? He decided to find out, and the Doctor's uneven, loping gait propelled them into the grassy meadow as his wide eyes scanned their surroundings for any signs of life.
Arkadia Asylum: Thomas Cate's dream is... expansive.
That's the first tangible sign of something unusual. Most people's dreams were enclosed, understandable. Finite. Cate's, however, wasn't. It was massive, in a sense even the Hive's wasn't - it went on for what may literally have been eternity. It was a field of grass, the air still - not a blade moving. In the dewdrops you can see reflections of what might even be dreams. You might have even stepped out from one of them, rippling through the field with your presence.
In fact...A wind picks up, blowing towards you as you enter - and you feel light splashes of water against your skin.
Cate is in the center of it all. His eyes closed, enjoying the feeling of the wind. For someone who was a sociopath, the area seemed eerily serene and calming. He isn't in the strait jacket here - he's dressed in a set of jeans, a t-shirt of some old, forgotten band - and his hand seems to be toying with a blade with no handle - tips dry from ancient blood.
From no discernable source, a quiet lullaby plays, and a female voice sings along it.
Jason Strode: That bloodstained blade definitely gave Jason cause for concern, but he'd come this far so leaving without finding out what was going on wasn't something he was willing to do. The environment put him at a marked disadvantage if theings got violent, as well - bright, wide open. The worst possible scenario for him. Still...here it was. "I never thought a sunny and cheerful meadow would be more concerning than anything else i've ever seen here."
Jason Strode: That female voice also made him wonder - perhaps they weren't alone. Jason did not like having possible danger nearby and having no way to detect it.
Arkadia Asylum: Cate smiles - a soft, almost childish smile, as his eyes open to look at you. As Doctor Stein promised, there isn't the slightest hint of fear or even shock from your presence. If you were not literally told that fear was impossible for this man - at least theoretically - you may have believed he had expected you or known you were coming. "You are not the Doctor."
He tilts his head, watching him. "Oh but... you are something... aren't you?"
He starts to walk - not towards you, but more like... around you. The movement is remarkably like a wolf, looking at it's prey and deciding when was best to strike.
Jason Strode: "I'm a doctor, but i bet not the one you would have expected." the man showed not the slightest bit of worry or surprise.
"Something is a technically accurate description. The better question is what kind of something YOU are."
Arkadia Asylum: "Me?" He thought about it, twirling the little blade in two fingers. You could have watched it with perfect focus and never seen when it flipped from one hand to the other - but it did. "You know I'm not too sure myself. I mean... I've suspected, of course, what I might be. I mean, I'm human of course. Not like you or Stein. But there is something else too, something important I've been looking into myself."
Jason Strode: "Damnit....now i'm curious about that, myself. Look....full disclosure, I actually came here to do something extremely unpleasant to you. From what I hear you're a homicidal sociopath. But i'm not the type to just attack someone who's just sitting there minding his own business, hungry as I am."
Arkadia Asylum: "Well that would make you a particularly boring antagonist, wouldn't it?" He said smiling. "Or is it just that you do not see me as a threat in the story? That's unwise you know. You really should work to becoming more Genre Savvy - it will do you a great many favors. Haven't you read the Evil Overlord's Handbook?"
Jason Strode: "As a matter of fact, I have. I even added a few entries to it myself. Which puts me in a very difficult spot for a few reasons, first of which being you seem to be well aware of the narrative at work here. That means that whatever you appear to be, you are most decidedly not mortal. Second, you're holding a bloodstained blade, which does not give me warm fuzzies. Third, i'm at a notable disadvantage. So we can do this one of two ways - bloody deathbattle, or a nice chat. Your call."
Arkadia Asylum: Thomas Cate stood at a distance. He's not afraid but - the expression he has is one of boredom. "Why not both? It would be nice to feel again. Have you ever felt like you were meant for something more? Something beyond yourself, and yet wholly centered upon yourself? Like you were meant for something great, but you came out... wrong?"
Jason Strode: "Yeah, actually. My whole life." the lethal toxins surged in his veins, the hunger was growing unbearable and the Doctor was getting aggravated, which showed in the monsters features now
"When did you last feel, Thomas? How long has it been since you felt alive?"
Arkadia Asylum: He chuckled a bit, and said, "Oh... some ten or so years ago. Not the man that I am here for, but before that. His daughter." He grinned and said, "Oh she was a firebrand. She wore the flesh of a mortal, but behind that flesh was... something not unlike you, I suspect. A monster that only I could see. I loved her, and at the same time I knew that she needed to fall - she needed to die. And when I killed her and I bathed in her blood, I felt an overwhelming sense of... power. Relief. Regret, because I didn't want to kill her - it was necessary. Like a sick hunger inside me that said she -needed- to die. The same sensation I get when I look at you, actually."
His smile widened - a feature only possible due to the dream. "Are you going to make me feel again, Doctor?"
Jason Strode: The horrors wide eyes narrowed at that revelation, and then he knew what he was dealing with, and that he had to end it tonight "I can make you feel again, Thomas. One last time...and then you won't feel anymore." the Doctor's fingers flexed, and then...battle was joined as the mad doctor let loose a spine-chilling laugh and charged him without another thought.
Management: Jason Strode has rolled an Dream Form init: +9 roll (1 dice), getting 1, with a difficulty of 8 on a 10 sided die. Jason Strode has failed the roll.
Management: Arkadia Asylum has rolled an +7 roll (1 dice), getting 9, with a difficulty of 8 on a 10 sided die. Arkadia Asylum has 1 success. This roll did not use the 10-again rule.
Management: Arkadia Asylum has rolled an First Blade roll (4 dice), getting 9, 9, 8, 1, with a difficulty of 8 on a 10 sided die. Arkadia Asylum has 3 successes.
Arkadia Asylum: The music changed from a serene lullaby, into a choir. The vocalist sounded into a hundred - a tempo in which to play to the tune of a battlefield. Cate didn't charge or retreat when he saw the laughing doctor - but green eyes analyze him as he approaches. "Hungry. Dangerous. Prey."
Assessment in the middle of the battlefield, and as you approach he moves to get in close. Close enough to grab, yes - but close enough for him to sink his blade inside of you and leave it there. Close enough for it to slide beneath dream bone and get far to close to your heart. Close enough to show that he's done this before.
He leaves the blade in you - you might think that would mean he was now unarmed, but this is a dream.
The rules work differently here.
Management: Jason Strode has rolled an Touch for Basilisks touch + wp roll (8 dice), getting 2, 10, 10, 1, 3, 5, 6, 4, 1, 8, with a difficulty of 8 on a 10 sided die. Jason Strode has 3 successes.
Jason Strode: The Doctor Bled, and laughed - and quick as could be, needles burst forth from the monster's fingertips a sit laughed maniacally, and stabbed into Cate's flesh "Not very nice, Mr. cate. you need treatment."
Management: Arkadia Asylum has rolled an -3 Penalty to Attack, + WP roll (4 dice), getting 3, 7, 10, 5, 7, with a difficulty of 8 on a 10 sided die. Arkadia Asylum has 1 success.
Arkadia Asylum: Cate flinches - but he smiles. Not a 'happy' smile, but an 'excited' smile. "Poison? Here?" He ducks beneath the Doctor's Arm, and the Doctor feels another blade enter behind him - not only that, but he feels the other blade in him uncomfortably pushed upwards by the second blade, sending a fiery sensation through the doctor. "I want more. I demand -more-!"
It almost sounds like he's begging for more poison, given the context.
(3 more Lethal)
Jason Strode: Now he was bleeding badly, and in immense pain. This was not a winnable fight, so he did the only sensible thing and ran - he needed to get back to the lair in a hurry. This place was far too disadvantageous.
Jason Strode: Jason was betting on being faster than Cate, and hoping like hell that was in fact the case. The Horror took off like a shot, at a dead run toward the comforting darkness of the Hive,its loping gait causing it to move erratically naturally, and now that he was actively weaving to avoid another strike by cate even moreso. (Would be Dex + Athletics in the material world, but here i suppose Power+Finesse)
Management: Jason Strode has rolled an RUUN! roll (8 dice), getting 6, 3, 5, 2, 10, 6, 2, 8, 6, with a difficulty of 8 on a 10 sided die. Jason Strode has 2 successes.
Management: Arkadia Asylum has rolled an Power + Finesse - 3 (Drugged Penalty) -3 (Speed is less than Half) roll (2 dice), getting 1, 8, with a difficulty of 8 on a 10 sided die. Arkadia Asylum has 1 success.
Arkadia Asylum: "Did you forget?" He said, moving towards him. It's something of a stumble, as his senses overwhelm him. He snarls, and says, "I am the hero of this story!"
He keeps his footing - were he not flooded with the doctor's poison, this would even be easy keeping up. He swings, but the Doctor is now too far away for the killing blow. But he could follow - he could track. Or he could wait.
Waiting was unacceptable right now, for Cate. Strode was close to death, that was the only reason he was running - and Cate's biggest flaw was probably the fact that he didn't have fear. It didn't make him stupid, but it would make another Hero hesitant to follow unknowingly. "What about our Deathbattle?!"
That last statement sounds like a whine.
Jason Strode: "A REAL hero would fight yhis nemesis in his own lair! Don't you know how this genre works?!" he cackled, bleeding out poison as he ran. He needed to get back into the hive, where all the advantages were his, and he was betting that since Cate was convinced of his superiority and knew the narrative it'd give him pause and make him think twice about finishing the fight anywhere else.
Management: Jason Strode has rolled an Pow + Fin + WP (2 WP left) roll (11 dice), getting 9, 6, 6, 9, 5, 1, 4, 5, 9, 1, 3, with a difficulty of 8 on a 10 sided die. Jason Strode has 3 successes.
Management: Arkadia Asylum has rolled an Power + Finesse - 3 (Drugged Penalty) -3 (Speed is less than Half) + WP roll (5 dice), getting 10, 7, 3, 6, 1, 7, with a difficulty of 8 on a 10 sided die. Arkadia Asylum has 1 success.
Arkadia Asylum: "Oh yes. That's the problem!" He called out, moving through the burrow that had been built to connect to Jason's Dream. It connects to the previous dream, which wasn't dark - but wasn't bright either. A playroom of several weird, alien, cutesy creatures all gathered for tea. The details of the dream don't much matter to you, but there are plenty of routes you can take as the dreams started making sense to your horror. A blue hole close to reach and jump down. A green hole whose burrow lead to routes you could not see, but where you had to move through the dream cast and climb to get to. A red hole, in the heart of a giantess that pays you no mind, and when you last crossed did not pay you any attention. You were pretty sure she was just an 'element', not an actual entity. Or if she was an entity, she was slumbering.
Cate is in the burrow following you. His words are growing more distant but you can still hear them through it. "The story is so boring when it goes the way you expect, isn't it? Why follow a narrative you yourself don't enjoy?!"
Jason Strode: Jason cackled and ran through the midst of the tea party to stir up the partygoers and slow him down, then toward the green burrow, climbing up at a rapid pace as dream logic dictated "I agree! I like my narrative MUCH better!"
Management: Jason Strode has rolled an Pow + Fin + WP (1 WP left) roll (11 dice), getting 3, 6, 4, 6, 10, 7, 6, 8, 3, 2, 10, 4, 7, with a difficulty of 8 on a 10 sided die. Jason Strode has 3 successes.
Management: Arkadia Asylum has rolled 5 dice, getting 3, 2, 5, 3, 4, with a difficulty of 8 on a 10 sided die. Arkadia Asylum has failed the roll.
Arkadia Asylum: "I'm going to subvert it. I want to -change- it all, don't you see? It's easy to be the Hero that kills the Beast. But me... I'm going to be the Hero who changed the world!" You find yourself rushing into the green hole - it's warm, gooey, and actually reminds you less of a dream and more of a lair - a burrow made of human flesh and blood, but with grass growing profusely within it. You hear him call out, struggling with the drug to climb up the seats of entities, and through, "Wait... Doctor! Wait, don't leave me!"
Silence, as you move into a realm that looks painfully like the city - it will take him a while to get up there, and through that crowd but you should not pause - find the next burrow and move, and it will be some time before you see him again.
Jason Strode: Jason cackled ever more now. he wanted Cate to keep up just enough to lure him into the lair, not lose him entirely, but he kept running for the next burrow, bounding over the fleshy landcsape while looking for the Asylum. He needed to find its shadowed halls where the patients tore at intruders with razor-sharp hands and there was no escape for those who entered unless the Doctor allowed it.
Management: Jason Strode has rolled an Pow + Fin roll (8 dice), getting 2, 6, 3, 6, 6, 2, 1, 6, with a difficulty of 8 on a 10 sided die. Jason Strode has failed the roll.
Arkadia Asylum: You can't sense Thomas's presence, but you know he's close. If you don't move out of this dreamscape, he may even catch up with what little an edge he has. You don't hear him speaking anymore - too far for that. You trip, as unceremoniously as it sounds - collapsing into the city waters, your blood and poison soiling the area, corrupting it.
You look behind, expecting to see him - but he isn't there. He should be following, but he isn't. Did the drug overtake him, or was it something else?
There are a number of buildings - a small, a medium sized, and a large one. The large one looks like a supermarket, the medium sized one a house, and the small one was a little outhouse that could maybe fit one person. If you don't move through one, quickly, he'll catch up - and his blade would end you here.
You could not allow this to be a short story. Which door would be your sanctuary?
Jason Strode: Jason gave it some thought and chose the larger building. He was bleeding, and he needed to stay ahead of Cate and get a bead on his lair's location. he'd have to explore the Hive more later, once this was over.
Arkadia Asylum: As you walk into the building, you go through and... something strange seems to occur. It's only a moment before you realize this isn't a burrow - not in the traditional sense. A black, endless expanse rests just outside the door. Looking back through the hole, you see Thomas in the 'city dream'.
You also see another pathway that actually does look familiar, back in the area. But if you leave now, he will notice you. He's frantically looking about - he has no clue you are close or if you've escaped, but he's visibly upset by your absence. Will you remain to watch him - to see what he does? Maybe hope he chooses a different path, so that you can lose leave this one and go to a more appropriate one?
Of course, besides those two options - there was always the option of jumping to an unknown fate in the uninviting black maw before you. Unfortunately, you had no rocks to throw to see if there was an end - and even if there was, these were dreams - it'd probably resonate so loudly that Thomas heard from two dreams away.
Jason Strode: Jason scowled and decided discretion was the better part of valor. He merged with the shadows and waited. he'd let Cate wonder where he went, and then leave when it was safe. There was no safer option, except to expend the last of his Horror's energy and send it into a ravenous frenzy. He couldn't risk that - he had to get back to the lair and find other prey. Jason would note that hunting in and around the asylum was far more difficult than he'd like, something he'd have to do something about later.
Arkadia Asylum: Thomas looks around the area quietly, as he flicks a third blade - notably of a different design that the first one he saw (and the second one, if Jason bothered to pull it out). He looks to the ground, quietly - to the water where you fell, and breaths in. Just as the swords materialize, a vial materializes - and he seems to take some - a mixture of your blood and poison. He swirls it in the vial, and you can hear him say quietly, "I wonder if this will help."
He sighed and composed himself, moving - or rather hobbling - to the nearest door. He moves from one building, to another. Then to another - he actually stops for a moment at the door you are in, close enough, then shakes his head before moving to the middle sized building. "He can't have gotten too far..."
The door to the middle house opens and he walks through. For the moment, it seems safe.
Jason Strode: Jason waits a few moments longer, and then when it seems Cate has gone he emerges from the shadow and looked for anything at all familiar. He needed to get back to the asylum, and in a hurry.
Arkadia Asylum: At this point, the adrenaline is dying down (if that can be called that in the dream) and a sense of where you are is taking hold, You go through a fourth exit, into a new dream - and from there, it's about two or three dreams away before you enter into the familiar territory of your own lair. Into safety.
The image there bugs you. Or your horror, if you embrace an idea that you and he are separate. In your current state, Cate should not be able to make an Anathema - there should be no use to him collecting bits and pieces of you for... study, or samples. It didn't even help him track. So why did he do it? What was the benefit? And in a dream no less - where even less made sense than before.
Jason Strode: Once he made it back to the asylum, the Beast and horror grumpily headed toward the heart chamber, still hungry. Cate needed to be dealt with in a more decisive way. A fair fight was not going to work; it'd have to be an assassination. After finding another unfortunate to feed off of.
The stars can be seen , so lovely for such a sorrowful place. Suicide cliffs are a expanse of rock face that has green foliage and trees near the top. At the bottom the waves of the ocean crash against jagged rocks. Sometimes crimson can be seen in the waves and legend has it that is the blood of those poor souls that have chosen to take their life and all they left behind was blood in the water.
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