It's a beautiful, bright, sunshiny morning - the kind that laundry commercials try to capture when they introduce new fragrances. The river is sparkling with every movement on the water, and the cheerful morning light is playing delightfully from one wave to the next. Summer is in full bloom, and the scent of the water lapping into fresh grass spills into wildflowers and pollen. The boats bob and weave in the water, most having been recently cleaned for summer fun. Only one houseboat is neglected - tarps and boards covering its windshield and front windows where they had been smashed out and never repaired.
Ahh, summer. And a day that isn't raining! Molly is out and about, not dressed for the beach this time, but wearing a cropped t-shirt and a short skirt above bare legs and sandled feet. She has her knapsack slung over one shoulder, which bounces with the weight of at least one book; she has her iPod plugged into both ears and is joyfully listening to some sort of upbeat music as she walks along, judging by the big grin on her face.
Sunday, and Marcus has a day off. He's here, in the park, lounging near the river and reading a book. He's not far a'tall from the boat sheds. At his side and atop the blanket he's lounging on is a basket, from which he is snacking on, presently, chips of some sort.
Now that she had a job and place to stay since coming to Oxford, Iara had more time to relax and think about the future, whatever that held. The bright, sunny morning made her smile, and while she was mostly a night owl so to speak, it seemed a perfect day to go on a walk in the park.
She's dressed in her usual slightly gothic-lolita style: A red frilly summer dress that falls softly to her knees and a short black shrug. Simple sandals cover her feet as she steps on the warm grass, peering over the docks at the boat houses. It would be nice to be able to ride one of those boats, but they'd probably cost a fortune to rent!
Riley is stretched out in the grass like she's been interrupted while making grass angels. She's wearing a pair of cut-off denim shorts, a faded Boston Celtics tee that rides up just enough to show new ink on the right side of her belly, and her shoes have been discarded...somewhere. Stacks of books sit nearby, along with a heap of notebooks covered in sticky notes and a big tumbler of some virulently green concoction that smells like seaweed. Finally, the redheaded woman props up with her arms behind her, squints into the distance until she can make out faces. She waves to Molly and gives Marcus a nod and a thumb's up of reader's solidarity, then squints out over the water, sighing contently.
Such a beautiful day, and it seems to be lost on the purple haired punk striding down the walk in her biking jacket, kevlar pants and boots. One hand holds tight to a paper sack from the nearby cafe, and she stalks blindly down the walk, looking for a bench to sit on that doesn't have a cute couple, or Mummy and pram, or any some such. Finally, finding a safe one, May-Zee flings herself into it and opens the bag, holding it protectively close to her as she pulls out the breakfast sandwich to take a bite.
Sometimes you just want to get away from it all and take a moment to reset. That seems to be impossible for Jack but he is sans the miniature mischivious verion of him. So tucked under a tree not far from the river bank lounges Jack with a fishing pole. He wasn't out for serious fishing so his bob well bobbed out in the river in front of him. He sipped from a brown long neck bottled and reclined against a tree. He though looks around the tree at somebody sitting on the bench next to it. He blinks several times as he sees the Purple haired woman. "I'll trade you a beer for half that sandwich."
For such a gorgeous day, there were remarkably few people out this morning, at least this close to the river. Even the usual dog-walkers and pram-pushers passed by without stopping or skirted the place altogether, simply missing the place today by some subconscious feeling. The serene, lapping waves grow smaller in size and quicker in frequency, until the water appears to be more vibrating than ebbing. The ground briefly quakes, just half a breath's worth of disturbance before stilling again.
Molly immediately changes course, and moves to approach Riley and her stacks of books. "Hi Riley!" she greets, as she gets closer. "Figure out a day that might be good for you for photography yet?" She flashes a grin, and rests her hands on her hips. "Nice ink, by the way." She looks up, and throws up a wave in greeting to Marcus as well. "Say," she adds, rubbing her chin lightly, "Does it seem odd to you that there's no birds around?"
Marcus lifts his nose out of the book as something or other catches his attention. What it is doesn't seem to be immediately obvious, and he glances around. As realization hits him, Marcus frowns and drops the chips he'd just pulled from the basket back into it. He lays the book aside, and rises to his feet, looking toward the water as he does so. "Chto za...?" The tone is questioning and the words are very soft. He waves an absent greeting to Molly. "Da," he agrees. "Does seem very odd. Were birds, a short while ago." His accent is Russian.
Peering around, Iara realizes she doesn't know many people in this city really, although she does spot Riley, whom she met briefly at the church and she offers her a shy smile and a nod.
She takes a few steps towards the oddly quiet boat, noticing how there dont seem to be any animals or birds in that area. How strange..She frowns a bit, only briefly pulled away from her thoughts when she hears Marcus speak. He sounds..Oddly familiar, but she cant quite place the face.
Still, she steps a little nearer, peering at Marcus curiously. "Huh? You noticed too? How strange.." she murmurs in response to his perception of the oddly quiet area.
"Pardon me for interrupting but, have we met before..?"
Riley grins back at Molly and shows off her new tattoo, a black linework rose formed from cursive lettering. "Thanks! Song of Songs, chapter 2 verse 1. Rose of Sharon. I'm going to have to find more skin if I don't give up this habit of mine. It still stings but it's healing nicely. I'm free this weekend, want to make the appointment?" She seems about to say more, but Marcus' realization draws her attention. "Hey, you're right. Where are the ducks?" She pauses, glances around, and shivers. "Something seems...weird. With a capital W." She puts a little extra emphasis on weird, raising her eyebrows and picking herself up from the grass. "Hey, Iara! That dress is baller, I love it! So, you didn't see any birds either? Does anyone else have the hairs on the back of their neck standing up right now?" She hooks her hand around the back of her neck and looks curiously over to May and Jack. "I wonder if it's the same over by them?"
The purple haired chick starts, then growls. "Mine." One word, and in a lower, slightly more menacing voice than one would expect from the young woman. "Greystorm boys can get their own..." and then she trails off, eyes narrowing even more, if that's possible. She clears her throat, and her tone shifts a tad. "Um. Might want to pull your line out of the water. Or ditch the pole. Don't think you're going to catch anything, anyway." She pushes her sandwich back down into her sack, and rolls down the top. "At least, not anything you want to catch."
Jack frowns, "That's why I offered you a bee..." Then he looks around and notices that things seem different. Then he reels in his line and lays the pole next to the ice chest. Then gets up to move next to May-Zee. He looks around, "Looks like it's not just us. You want to go join up with the rest?"
The lively breezes fall still and the vibrating surface of the river suddenly dips and sloshes furiously, as though someone let the bottom out of the river and patched it back up a moment later. Everything on the water or within 10 feet of it is drenched by the spray and the river water suddenly smells like rotten eggs.
Marcus glances briefly at Iara and nods. "I did. Good to see you again, Iara." He glances to Riley next, and snorts a soft breath. There comes a grin showing a predatory amount of teeth. "When is it not weird along the river here?" He nods soberly as his eyes cut back to the river. "Hairs, da." Marcus' blanket is a bit more than the ten feet of distance back from the water, because Marcus doesn't care much for stray splashes, so he manages to avoid being drenched. He has /no/ problem smelling the rotten egg scent, though. He grimaces. "Ew. That is horrible." He frowns again. "Also familiar." His eyes are practically glued to the water, now.
Iara smiles and nods at Marcus, "Oh! I didnt recognize you, looking like that.." She bites her lip, no that didn't sound quite right. "I mean..It's nice to meet you again, too!" Might as well just let that hang, before it gets too weird. She smiles at Riley, and nods. "Hello..Riley, wasn't it? Nice to see you again.." She smiles and blushes a bit at the comment, "Thanks! Now that its getting so warm, I decided I had to show off some of my summer dresses. The sun feels so good on my feet right now too.."
But at the moment, it seems there is something else a bit ominous in the air, and she nods slowly, glancing towards the off-kilter boat. "Yeah, there's something not quite right over there.." And Iara shivers a bit, hugging her arms. Not like she really wants to go and find out.
Then suddenly the strong stench of sulfur wafts over the area, and she wrinkles her nose, attributing the stench to some sort of pollution. "I think the animals have the right idea, best to stay away from that area maybe.?"
She pauses however, peering back at Marcus, "Familiar? How..?"
Riley quirks a grin at Marcus and chuckles. "Fair point, it's also Oxford. It's always Weird here." She grins back at Iara. "I love sun on my feet, too. And I almost never get to show off my ink. But the dress is gorgeous on you." She spots May and Jack and waves them over. "Hey, the water's being weird. Is anything weird over by you?" Then, Riley is splashed by nasty river water, but mercifully her books and thesis work aren't. She wrinkles her nose at the smell. "Gross, it smells like...eggs. Left over from Easter. Think a pipe burst or something?" She nods at Iara, "The animals are usually on to something. But...part of me thinks this is worth looking into." She looks back to Marcus when Iara asks about the familiarity, curious.
"Join the others?" May-Zee glances over her shoulder at the others, but then there's a gurgling, and she looks out to the water again. "What's that?" she asks, pointing out towards a shimmering something, then, "shite," she mutters, as the water sucks back, and she dives for the bench she'd just been sitting on, her breakfast tucked to her chest and covered with both hands. As the water splashes everywhere, she disappears underneath her former resting place, and doesn't reappear on the other side.
"Trouble." Jack respond as he raises his hands and goes on the defensive. His mind beginning to gather and try to work out some quick magic. There's a gurgle and a pop as he's cover in Sulfuric water. "Fuck. I hate the River in this town." He stays there drenched. He then grumbles, "I hate magic too." He looks around, "May. let me know your safe or something."
As the surface of the river churns, a large, iridescent, serpentine head pops out of the water, and continues to rise as it approaches the shore until enough of the beast is revealed to show two long, spindly clawed arms protruding from its torso. "Sssssssoooo niccccce to ssssssseeee Oxford again," hisses the undulating form of the pearly white sea serpent. "And sssssssome ffffamiliar faccccesssss." The beast hisses menacingly, sulfurous fumes seeping out of its mouth right along with its venomous sarcasm. "My Massssssster Acedia sssssends greetingssss."
Molly is just in the middle of speaking, when she finds herself splashed with water, which in and of itself would be fine, except that the water is horrible. The young student looks for a moment like she's about to be sick, but manages to keep it in. "Good grief, that was awful," she gasps after the moment passes. "Have we smelled that... before..." she trails off, as the serpentine head pops out of the water. Her jaw goes slack with recognition; she backs off a step, and looks a bit weak in the knee, before her resolve finds her once again and she steps forwards. "No!" she shouts. "You have no right to Oxford. You have no right to be here. We defeated you! Go back to Hell where you belong!"
Marcus grins at Iara, though his eyes remain on the water. "I look a bit different," he agrees. He shakes his head a bit. "Seen something like this before. People thought it was Rusalka, but they sang. Rusalka do not sing. Have heard no singing, this time. Maybe it is Rusalka." He grins at Riley. "Yes, exactly. Always Weird here." He pauses. "Rotten eggs." He blinks at the form that rises from the water. "Not Rusalka. definitely not Rusalka," he mutters. There's a flicker of a glance to Molly, and then eyes that are rapidly becoming more silver than grey return to the serpent.
Yes, the animals definitely have the right idea. Iara has a mind to run as far away from this place as possible, afterall, she's not strong or tough or super powerful. Whatever's going on over there is getting worse by the minute.
"Er..Rusalka? Who's that?" Well, she'd rather not stick around to find out! Trouble has a way of finding her, and this park is starting to look pretty ominous now too.
But as the water begins to splash more violently, the stench of sulfur growing ever stronger, she cant help but peer curiously towards the river, taking a cautious step towards it.
"What!? What is that thing!?" Ugh, Oxford is starting to look less appealing than when she first came here.
Riley sets her jaw when the serpent speaks, and turns to stare at the sassy snake-thing sitting just off the riverbank. "Well...that would explain the Weird," she quips with a snort. "Molls...what is it? You know this thing?" Her blue eyes narrow at mention of Hell, and she turns to Marcus, nodding. "It doesn't look like the last Rusalka I saw, but that hardly means anything. But I'm with you, I think...this feels like...something else." She takes a step forward to put herself between everyone else and the serpent as she shrugs to Iara. "I don't know, entirely, but if it's from Hell, it's got no business here." She crosses herself and squares off against the serpent. "Yea, though we walk through the Valley of the Shadow of death, we will fear no evil, serpent. Go back where you came from. Hell is big enough, you don't need Oxford. And these people are under the protection of He Who Sent Me."
"Fine," hisses a voice from under the bench in answer to Jack, but that is all that is heard. Curling in on herself, there's a brief rustle of paper, and May-Zee tries to make herself part of the legs as she slowly eats her sandwich. "I'm not here, I'm not here, I'm not here," she repeats the litany in her head over and over as the serpent makes its appearance. Her chewing freezes as it 'greets' them, then continues more slowly.
Jack doesn't move from where he stands instead of moving to join the others where safety in numbers might be. He just eyes the creature quietly . There's nothing to say or see here for the moment. Though he's beginning to wonder why all the supernatural things are wanting Oxford. It's a nice town but surely there were others.
Riley plants her bare feet solidly in the grass and points dead at the white serpent, eyes blazing with righteous anger. "You aren't welcome here, Hellbeast. The Lord cast you and all your ilk down, and that is where you will remain. Retreat now, or we will send you back in His Name. Begone, and go to Hell."
Her eyes wide, May-Zee slowly bites at the sandwich in her hands, her mouth opening to take a bite and chewing are the only motions she makes. She doesn't even try to crane her neck to look up at the face of the serpent. That bit rising in front of her hiding space is enough.
Marcus shakes his head to Riley. "Not Rusalka. Rusalka have human upper body, like Naga. Only Russian." He frowns a bit, thinking. Then he blinks and looks closer over the serpent in the water. "Acedia. Sloth, in Latin," he murmurs to those near him. He backs up several paces more from his blanket and book and basket. Fighter he is not!
Screams of Hell beast from Riley draws Jack causes him to draw his attention. "Great, a Demon." Then he closes his eyes and whispers a few words. Then a shimmery barry of hard air appears between the beast and Riley. The Great Almighty helping out through your friendly Neighborhood Sorceer?
The white serpent Languor hisses and swims in a hypnotic labyrinth of ripples, its languid voice seeping into ear and brain as it hisses, "Be easy, resssssst. It'sssss ssssuch a perfect day to be laaaazzzzzy." A hissing laugh slips out its throat.
Molly sinks to one knee, and puts one hand to her forehead. She sucks in a deep breath, lets it out, and then just... yawns. Loudly. Afterall, today would be an excellent day to just nap on the beach. She sighs softly, and leans forwards, steadying herself with one hand. "No," she gasps, barely above a whisper. "No, I will not. Riley... everyone... be angry. Be loud. Be Zealous." She looks up at the snake from where she's crouching and lifts her voice to shout, "You hear that?! We don't have time for you! We're *busy!* We've got things to do, places to go, and people to see, so get back to being lazy down in hell and leave the rest of us alone! You're nothing but a drag and we do *not* have *Time* to waste on the likes of you!"
Iara takes another step back from the river, grasping her crucifix when Riley mentions it's a creature from hell. Well, she certainly hasnt heard of anything like this, although she's certain it's nothing from this world.
Right now, Iara's doing everything in her power not to be noticed, hoping the whole safety in numbers thing might intimidate the creature a little.
Unfortunately as the monster strikes against her mind this time, she cries out in pain, staggering to her knees and clutching her head. She grasps blindly at her crucifix, echoing Riley's prayer but her mind goes blank, stumbling over her words. It's as if her brain has turned to mush!
Nervously, she glances around, grasping a nearby tree for support..Can she just..Slip away, in this crowd..?
Riley reels under the Hellserpent's words and collapses to the ground, holding her head as her entire body sinks into the grass, almost as if it's suddenly made of lead. "No..." she protests even as the grass becomes the most comfortable bed in the world..."No, we have to get up...there are things to DO...like send this Hellspawn back where it came from..." Her face contorts angrily as she watches her companions suffer under the serpents silvery slothful tongue, and she drags herself up to standing and gathers up all the Fire and Brimstone 12 years of catholic school has left her. "Unclean spirit, you big, snakey ASSHOLE...how DARE you invade the sanctity of our minds! This is the day the LORD has made, and we are Temples of His Holy Spirit! You have no power here, and you will be crushed beneath the woman's heel! Guess what?! You've gotta bunch of PISSED OFF WOMEN here, and a couple of really unhappy dudes, too! Get thee behind me, Satan, and go back to Hell where you belong!"
There are some aspects of being a cat that are really... prone to this sort of thing. Their tendency to lounge, especially in the sunshine. Marcus has already laid down and stretched out when Molly's words penetrate his fog filled brain. He shakes his head and climbs to his feet again. He frowns and looks between those here, standing up to the snakey monstrosity. He lifts a hand to the cross at his neck and murmurs a prayer in Russian. Then he turns eyes that are almost entirely silver on the snake. He stares at the snake, and at the water, and his eyes widen of a sudden. "Someone bless the water," he says loudly, boisterously. "And be passionate, that should help counter this thing."
The wave of Sloth goes out among the area, and Jack standing his ground with all the determination and hard work eithic of an American Mid-Westerner. He draws in a deep breath and appears to be ready to go on the offensive. Then he hears a snore from behind him and quickly figures out May-zee is asleep from the lazy ray. Then going against his better nature, he gathers up his charge and makes a run for it with her.
YT is out and about, just enjoying the sun and normalness of everything... and so of COURSE one of her previous delusions is asaulting people on the river. (If you react baddly to denial, don't read that too carefuly, your brain might explode.) The androgynous woman picks up a hefty rock and hucks it (poorly) at the giant serpent. "And what the fuck are YOU doing here? You slimy snake shit I left you in that last delussion to burn up in the acid and fire. And now you show up and don't even have half the decency to wait for me to be here before you show up... how the hell am I suppose to confront my delusions if they won't even wait for me before they start doing shit?"
YT (for those who know her) is now sporting a big black sharpie X on the back of her right hand.
Molly has something, and it's for the serpent's eyes only. She unslings her knapsack from her back, and flips up the top; reaching inside, she withdraws an old, black powder dueling pistol, which she points at Languor while doing her best to keep it shielded from the possibility of prying eyes -- Not that there really seem to be any. Everyone else seems to have decided not tot be around. "Listen," she states, calmly and with an almsot chilling quiet to her voice. "I don't want to fire this thing off. It'll probably get me thrown in jail. But if you think that I'm going to let you hurt one single person in this city, you are sadly mistaken, and putting a bullet hole right in your face would be entirely worth it. So get back where you belong, serpent." The student pushes up her glasses with her free hand, as she tucks the pistol away in the knapsack once more, "Before I entirely lose my patience and blow you back to hell the hard way."
Iara sinks against a nearby tree, too tired and confused to know which way is up or down...Hmmm, maybe she'll just rest here a little bit..It's so warm...So tired..Her eyelids grow heavy, almost forgetting that there's a battle raging nearby in her confusion.
But it's still dangerous here, and her animal instincts take over. She's got to get as far away from here as possible..Yes!
She slowly climbs to her feet, practically dragging herself out of her on pure willpower alone..Trying to make a dash for it while the creature is still preoccupied.
Languor, the giant white Sin Serpent, is reeling from the unexpected barrage of zealous intimidation. "Mortalssssss...you presssssume...you DARE!?" It hisses furiously, stirring up a frenzy in the river's shallows that agitates the nearby boats and threatens to tip some over. "You fight...but why? When you could sssssleeeep...just ressssst..." The silvery words slipping out the serpent's mouth in a last ditch effort to sssedate its adversssariesss.
Riley wavers under the serpent's seductive promise of lazy indolence...but maybe she's more prepared for it, or maybe the demon is well and truly shaken. She pushes up to her feet, and sees the beast reeling. She nods to Marcus and dashes for the water. "I can do that...leave it to me!" Scooping up a handful of water, she makes the sign of the cross over it, murmuring "In nomine Patris, et Filis, et Spiritu Sancti..." and then she hurls it upwards right into Languor's eyes. "How's Righteousness look now, Huh?! Bet going back to Hell with your tail between your legs is looking much better!"
Marcus starts to sink down again as the urge to relax hits him again. He growls and forces himself back to his feet. He grasps his cross harder, and starts speaking a prayer again, another in Russian. There's more than a hint of the growl to the words. He stalks closer to the water, and though he's not a priest, he prays at the serpent anyway.
YT keeps picking up rocks, of course these are smaller and even less effectual than the first rock, but she keeps slinging stones at the Serpent. "Get out of here, thou Satan's ass, and rejoin the Friar's in their flocking." Chuck a rock "Crawl back to where you came from you sniviling serpent of Sin!" small rock goes whizzing. "In the immortal words of Minor 'mother fucking' Threat, 'I've got the straight edge. I'm a person just like you, but I've got better things to do, than sit arround and smoke dope. Cause I know I can cope. Always gonna keep in touch, never wanna use a crutch." she throws a handfull of pea gravel still advancing on the serpent like a rightous fury set loose to scourge the sinners.
Languor is cowed and bewildered by these mad humans who refuse to be frightened or manipulated. Dodging tiny rocks, holy water, prayer, and the threat of bullets, he slips silently and speedily back into the water. A moment later, the earth quakes, and a puff of sulfur escapes and then is blown away on the breeze, the fresh, warm scent of summer in the green grass returning. A single duck appears from around the riverbend, followed by a small hoard of them, who all approach the riverbank sitters with urgent quacks for food.
Riley exhales a heavy sigh of relief and then flops backwards into the grass, after tripping over her discarded shoes. "Well, that was...awesome, actually. I think we handled that pretty well, don't you all?" She picks up her head and grins at her companions. "Let's have a quick nap in the sun and then go get sorbet!"
Marcus lets out a breath and flops back down onto his blanket. "I agree," he says. "It is nice when something evil is driven off without the use of violence." He lays back and waves a hand languidly at the basket on the blanket. "Feel free to help yourselves. There's some fruit juice, sandwiches, and chips in there." His hand drops back to his side and a soft snore emits from him a few moments later.
Molly makes sure her knapsack is good and buttoned up tight, so that pistol she was discretely showing off a moment ago is absolutely nowhere to be seen. At all! She stands up, and scratches the back of her head, uttering a loud sigh, "I think... I think I need a bit more than a nap and sorbet can accomplish," she mumbles, blushing softly. "All this hell stuff and everything else is starting to get to me, I think." She shakes her head, "But a nap and sorbet certainly isn't going to hurt, so let's do that!"
YT throws a few more rocks into the river "That's right you stupid snake, can't fool me, I know you're in my head... perhaps a spot of mustard or a crumb of undigested cheese!" she shouts after the disapearing demon thing. Then she turns and grins a bit when she spots Molly heading over and draping and arm around the girls shoulders. "Hey look... had a fucking delusion by the river and I'm not half drowned and naked on your floor trying to shovel cake into my mouth."