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The Strong and the Weak
Not a man of the church, then. Such disassociation eliminated many options in Armande's mind regarding Giovanni's purposes. There remained the finite possibility that he truly was a student of sociology as he claimed. Sociology as a science was rooted in the principles of philosophy. Perhaps a discussion about the complicated natures of the discipline would illuminate the truth.

First, Giovanni called him to a marking on the wall. Unlike the previous grafitti that relied on paint, words and design, this was five wicked lines etched into the stone itself.

He came up beside Giovanni and peered close. He said little but laid his own five fingertips into the crevices and drew them down the line of them and so mimicked the gesture that created them.

"They appear to be claw marks, Giovanni. Let us advance. Keep a wary eye out." After briefly checking the flanking wall for additional signs of life, he moved on.

"What school of thought do you apply your interests in this society dark-dwellers you seek?" He asked casually as one philosopher to another. "Symbolic? Functionalist? Or Conflict perspective?" They three terms were naturally academic in nature but formed the basics of dialogue between sociologists. Truthfully, if Giovanni were what he claimed, Armande would sincerely be interested in hearing his answer. He rarely came across someone exposed to the hidden secrets of humanity that was also as well-schooled as himself. After the likes of Father Stone for company, he could use the stimulating conversation.
Armande was digging for answers or was at the least testing Giovanni some way. He clearly thought Giovanni had other reasons for being down here than he stated. Of course Armande was right, but Giovanni still didn't want to reveal his hand.

The man was also learned. The questions he asked were staight to the point, but were still the questions of an interested scholar. The biggest issue being that Giovanni wasn't a sociology expert. He had heard of the philosophies mentioned, but only really recalled one: the functional. Giovanni also thought he could make a believable argument for it.

"My hypothesis is the functional perspective. As you said earlier, the people who inhabited these tunnels were driven here by governments. The flora and fauna is limited - some plants and scavengeing animals. Following Maslow's hierarchy of needs, the first thing they would need to do is establish a way to meet their basic needs - food, shelter, and water."

The duo continued walking, moving from the claw marks. Giovanni kept his eyes open looking for more things that might be out of place. Armande had mimicked the gesture that had created them, but Giovanni had the sense that whatever had created the marks was not human. Thinking of monsters reminded him of the Ijiraq he had come into contact withwhen he met, Aria, Connor, and Jensen. He was surprised to find himself hoping they were well.

Giovanni also listened. Sometimes sound was a better ally than sight -especially in the dark places of the world. Whatever made the makes could be watching them now, waiting to strike. Chances were it was used to its prey relying on eyesight, so listening will be important as well.

Giovanni continued speaking, "The need to survive would bring people together. Each person learning a specific role in order to function as a society and therefore, survive. A religion, could provide a hierarchy that would assist with this. The spiritual leaders would provide guidance and ultimately benefit the group. It could be argued that, especially if it is a cult,that the preisthood of said group could be exploiting them for their own gain,but given the circumstances, I believe survival is the more likely reason."

Giovanni paused a bit to look towards Armande and said, "You seem to be a learned man. I would be interested inyour opinion as well."

Armande's response would not only give him time to think, but would be a persoanl enjoyment to Giovanni as well. Giovanni wasn't much for chit chat, but conversations like this could be enjoyable,and it had been severalyears since Giovanni had one. Regardless of Armande's suspicions, Giovanni found himself liking the man and enjoying his company.

Edited by Giovanni Cavelli, Jun 18 2014, 12:14 PM.
Armande glanced at his companion. The young man was eloquent; his arguments logical. Armande almost felt a swell of relief. He still didn't trust him, but that was only because he trusted nobody, but the cadence of civilized conversation was soothing.

"The instinct to survive is bred into us all. It is as strong in the creature that made those claw marks as it is in you and I. Remember that, Giovanni, if you ever come face to face with such a thing. It will fight to the last breath."

They moved onward. He kept a close eye on their surroundings, but not only for signs of life and death, but also for architecture that hinted at passageways downward. They were only midway through the levels of the Underground and had a long descent still to reach their destination.

"In the beginning, your assessment of functionality of needs was likely the authority by which life was sustained. But given the passage of time, each subsequent generation will forget what their forefathers had striven for. Once survival is sustained, the petty threats, conflicts, and greed for power will ALWAYS return.

"Your cults were likely to have been about sincere leadership and survival once, but a hundred years later, they are likely to be festering with every Cardinal Sin as what exists on the surface, exponentially worse, down here, an inescapable festering of pressure, a volcano that is near to erupt.

"That is my opinion. If they are not dangerous yet, they will be soon given enough time."

The same could be said of the gods.
The man's response made several good points. After basic needs were ensured, there would always be those who would take advantage of lesser beings. It was only natural to do so. Armande had unknowingly stated Giovanni's entire plan.

"A good and well informed hypothesis,"
Giovanni said. "You have mentioned a couple of times that they may be dangerous and I do not disagree, but what then is our duty to do? Should they be rehabilitated and brought back into..."

Giovanni drifted off as something caught his eye to his right. The moment was accompanied by a scratching sound that reminded Giovanni of the old adage "nails on a chalkboard." Another sound, a sort of scuffling, caught his ear as well. Giovanni turned the light to face the wall and what he saw horrified him.

A humanoid type of creature stood before them. It wore a heavy coat and was hunched over. As Giovanni's light crossed it, if lifted a clawed hand to shield it's eyes from the light, giving an angry hiss as the light went past it's eyes. The eyes of the creature were distinctive - almost completely dilated and it's skin was translucent.

Giovanni's words were reactive, "What the hell is that!?"

The creature turned and screamed rage at the two men as it got used to the light. It flexed it's clawed fingers and began to move towards them.
There was a scuffling sound. Armande froze in place and lowered his lamp. As he stared into the darkness of the tunnel, he could feel his pupils stretch wider to drink in what little light there was: reflections off bits of metal or drips of water. Eyes were insights into the soul, so taught the Church, and Armande's glowed with knowledge as he searched the surroundings.

Giovanni waved his light back and forth. Armande used its beam rather than his own. He wanted to preserve the dilation of his eyes to better see. Finally, the beam struck something solid and a hiss of pain followed.

Armande knew the light-induced pain. The shape that made it was on two legs but hunched and draped as though freezing cold. When it dashed away from the light, they could tell how thin its skin was stretched on its face. The bright blue lines of veins crawled beneath. Its eyes were black rocks jabbed into its sockets. It screamed rage at the light, but fueled by a hunger to dive through it, it came forward. When it threw up its hands, claws curled away from its fingertips. A dreyken, sickly and weak though it was, would be a formidable foe as even a physically disadvantaged dreyken was still clever. Their minds were as sharp as their claws.

Armande drew a wand from his back pocket and stepped into a defensive stance. With a flick of his wrist, the wand telescoped into a blade, the steel interlocked like a series of overlaid arrowheads stuck end to end. The graze of his fingertips activated an electrical current that aligned quantum spin of the metal and sealed the metal into a single blade.

As the closer of the two men, the dreyken came for Armande first. Perhaps the creature thought the one with gray coiled through his hair and lines set to his face would be the easier of the two prey. Little did it anticipate that Armande lashed into a series of strikes to divert the dreyken. A keen observer might note his moves were purely defensive. As he was not trying to actually kill the creature, merely warn it that he was not the easiest prey. When the tip of the blade met that papery skin, the dreyken hissed in pain and recoiled its arm. It snarled at them, and turned on Giovanni instead.

Content, Armande stepped away to let the dreyken have at its prey. After feeding, dreyken must crawl away to sleep. The warmth of fresh blood drove them into short hibernation and that was always the easiest time to slaughter one, or more, if it led them back to a nest. With the state this one was in, it seemed it had not fed in some time, perhaps it was cast out of a nest for one reason or another. It would be a shame to lose his conversational companion, but Armande would always choose the greater good when necessary. One less dreyken in the world was always the greater good.

He lowered his defenses and watched as the Dreyken lunged after Giovanni, and made no move to interfere. He assumed the student would not survive the encounter.
Giovanni stood frozen. He was a god and was terrified. The idea didn't seem right to him. He watched unmoving as Armande pulled out a wand that materialized into a sword as the creature attacked him. The creature must have thought the older man weaker. The blade hit the thing and it hissed in pain. Cowed that Armande was not the easier target, it turned towards Giovanni.

Giovanni couldn't see Armande's reaction as the thing turned towards him, his vision becoming tunneled and focused only on the thing moving towards him. Giovanni finally shook his head getting out of his frozen state as the thing leaped towards him.

The creature had either expected Giovanni to tense up or was unexperienced - maybe it was a younger one. Giovanni wasn't relaxed but since he had just come out of his daze, he hadn't quite prepared to grapple the creature. The creature hit Giovanni full speed and a sharp pain hit Giovanni as his shoulder was punctured by the claws. The creatures momentum carried it forward. and it slammed against the wall. It quickly got up and turned to face Giovanni. The creature wasn't phased at all by the blow.

It hissed and Giovanni shuddered as the thing licked his own blood off of its hand and spoke, "I've tasted your blood human. I can smell more. I'm hungry and will feed."

Giovanni hadn't wanted to show his hand. He wanted as little people as possible to know that he was a god, but his own survival was on the line. The thing was stronger than anything he had faced before and it was insanely fast. He had no physical weapon, but that didn't mean he was unarmed.

Giovanni tried to seize the power, but his focus wasn't there. He could do nothing but focus on the creature coming closer towards him. Every time he tried to seize the power, it would slip right through his fingers.

The creature was moving towards him and Giovanni side rolled to avoid its attack. He winced in pain as he landed, the pain shooting through his shoulder once more and began to look for a weapon - or anything that could be used as one. Giovanni had no idea if he would survive the encounter, but he would fight the thing to the last.

Edited by Giovanni Cavelli, Jun 21 2014, 10:26 PM.
Three days and still no sign of Sato. Three days of searching, and lurking in the shadows and still no sign of any of her clan. Akantha had wandered the tunnels, but so far, all her efforts were fruitless. If nothing turned up here, she knew she’d have go deeper in the tunnels. She had a sinking feeling that if she found any trace of her people, it would be of little help. Unfortunately, while dead bodies told some stories, they didn’t tell all the living liked to know.

She was nearing the end of a passageway when the noises ahead caught her attention. By the time the Naga reached a point where sight caught up with hearing, what she found was disconcerting. Two humans were fighting one of the many monsters that lurked in the shadows of the underground. Well, only one of them was actively engaged with the creature. The older fellow appeared to handle himself well enough, and thus, Akantha did not interfere.

That, however, did not mean she was willing to simply walk right past them. She slipped her pack off her shoulders and sat it on the ground at her feet. Fixing the scarf about her head and face, the Naga ensured that her features were securely covered. It was about that time that the situation in front of her became rather peculiar.

It honestly looked as if the old man was simply going to let the beast have its fill of his young companion. Humans… That single thought was heavily loaded with disdain. She doubted that she would ever understand their kind. Few seemed to have any loyalty, and by the way things ahead of her escalated, she figured she could chuck this particular incident to such a trait as well.

The thing spoke, the voice almost too faint for her to hear at that distance. The words, however, made her muscles tense beneath her scales. Without thinking more about it, she moved forward. The dark material of her clothes made her near invisible without any light. The speed with which she moved turned her into a blur that leapt at the dreyken’s back just before the thing went for the younger man again.

Akantha’s grip was strong. Grasping the dreyken by the shoulders, she used her momentum to roll them both between the men and flung the beast as far as she could. Quickly coming back on her feet, she crouched and kept a careful reptilian eye on the beast as it screamed furiously and regained its footing.

While she couldn’t quite turn her full attention to the two men, Akantha tried to keep track of them as the dreyken crouched low and forced both her and it to circle each other in the cramped space, hands gripping two venom tainted knives she'd drawn out from within her clothes. “You won’t feed tonight, beasssst.”

Armande kept the blade at the ready, aimed downward at his side, as the Dreyken slammed Giovanni to a wall. A cry of pain followed and the dreyken taunted his prey.

"I've tasted your blood human. I can smell more. I'm hungry and will feed."

Armande stepped lightly away. While the creature rounded on the younger man, his gaze continuously swept the tunnel for more. Dreyken had tendencies to travel together, but they given how weak this one was, Armande continued to guess it was alone.

But letting down his guard was not in his nature.

A near silent whisk of air rushed by him. Armande spun to meet it, but he was moments too late. Slender darkness slithered by and descended upon the Dreyken. Armande danced away from the two shapes, but made no additional move to intervene when the dreyken was flung to the ground. Its attacker crouched low and defensive. Edged blades caught the light of their lamps, but it was the hissed speech that gave it away.

“You won’t feed tonight, beasssst.”

Naga. Feminine by the tone of its voice.

Armande's lip curled disgust. He inwardly hoped Giovanni would not lift his light to show its full form.

He remained peripheral. Naga were formidable foes, but they were easier to combat than the dreyken. Let them war with one another; let them weaken and tire in their beastly rage. Armande was a patient man. He would take on the victor.
Giovanni scrambled around looking for a weapon when a dark form moved quickly and attacked the creature.

"You won't feed tonight beassst."

The mysterious stranger's voice was feminine, but had an odd hissing timbre to it. Giovanni moved to the floor, halfway sitting and halfway falling, to catch his thoughts. He would help the stranger soon, but then remembered Armande. The man hadn't moved since the creature had attacked. Giovanni thought that this was significant, but his unfocused mind couldn't grasp what the meaning of it was.

Giovanni's hand moved across his wound, and the pain shot through him again. His hand came back stained with his scarlet blood and his heart rate increase.

Gods don't bleed. Gods don't feel pain.
Giovanni thought.

He moved to cover the wound, tearing off his black shirt and tying it around the wound the best he could. Giovanni hoped that it would stop or slow down the bleeding. Giovanni then search the ground and came across an iron pipe. It was covered in rust, but would be sufficient for beating the crap out of whatever that thing was.

Giovanni crawled to it quickly and picked it up. Giovanni stood, but a combination of blood loss and the quickness of the motion caused vertigo. The room spun, and Giovanni teetered backwards until his back touched the wall. He leaned on it to balance.

As the room began to even out, his eyes fell on the creature and the mystery stranger just as they moved to attack each other.

Edited by Giovanni Cavelli, Jun 24 2014, 04:04 PM.
The beast snarled and Akantha simply smiled beneath her scarf. The two sized each other up and unlike the Naga, the dreyken was furious at having its meal disrupted. Part of her wasn’t sure exactly why she was involving herself, these were not the humans she had promised to protect, but the idea of letting anything become food for these creatures made her stomach turn.

As things were, she even doubted the pair she’d stumbled upon would be grateful for her intervention. For all she knew they could even turn on her. Humans, she’d come to find out, had a tendency for hysteria. Should that be the case, Akantha was willing to deal with that when the moment presented itself. There was little sense in focusing all her attention on a threat that had yet to take full form.

Just then, her most immediate concern moved in for the kill. As the creature threw itself at her, Akantha stepped out of the way, spinning her body as she came back around to plant a powerful kick onto its back. The creature was sent staggering, and with inhuman speed, the Naga was upon it. She didn’t have time to waste. Both of her blades sank down into unnatural flesh. Her hold of the left knife was lost as she tried to wrap her arm around the creature’s neck while continuously stabbing at the joint of shoulder and neck with the right.

Dark blood sprouted from the cuts, splattering Akantha, but she simply couldn’t stop. It was a pity that her venom had no effect on this particular beast. It made her have to work harder, but after the weeks of worry she’d had, the Naga welcomed the challenge.

In its rage and thirst for retribution, the dreyken reached back to try and pull her off him, succeeding on a few scratches and pulling off her head covering; exposing the strangely beautiful mixture of human and reptilian traits to the two men. She held on anyways, fangs exposed as she hissed and continued digging and slashing deeper and deeper with her knife, pulling at its head with her arm. They spun. The weakening creature no longer intent on killing but on ridding itself of her, threw its body back towards the wall near the two men.

The hit was enough to knock some of the wind out of her, making her loose the grasp on the dreyken with a hiss. That moment of freedom was all the beast needed turn and reach for Akantha; ready to tear her apart. The knife that shot up beneath its jaw and pushed its head back, however, was an unpleasant and unexpected surprise.

She spun, twisting the knife as she went. Her hands moved from knife to dreyken, as she grasped and pushed back, stepping off to the side and pulling the creature forward over her shoulder. As it went down, she twisted, producing a sickening sound as the remaining flesh and bone that held him together came lose. The body fell limply to the ground, the grotesque sphere of the dreyken’s head remaining in her grasp while she stood.
Edited by Akantha, Jun 28 2014, 01:59 AM.

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