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 (WarioWare, Inc./Wario's Woods) The Ten Plagues of Ash

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PostSubject: (WarioWare, Inc./Wario's Woods) The Ten Plagues of Ash   Mon Sep 29, 2008 8:36 pm

(And Pharaoh said, "Who is the Lord, that I should obey his voice to let Israel go? I know not the Lord, neither will I let Israel go."
Exodus 5:2)

---

Door-to-door salesmen in Diamond City, against their better judgement, always went at one point in their lives to the creepy, abandoned-looking mansion at the edge of town. If no one answered the door, they were lucky in a way they did not know; but if their knocks were answered, they were in for death.

For in that house lived a witch: a bad one. And in the nature of bad witches, she fed on other humans. Rarely did she go out of her way to find prey; she always counted on the hapless salesmen to come her way. For all the sixteen years of her life, travelling salesmen were a staple of her diet.

Using a sociopath's heartless justification, she always figured she was doing society a favor. Travelling salesmen were a hated scourge, always interruping people's dinners to try to hock some cheap encyclopedia set on them. Nobody would miss the ones she cooked in her stews.

...Right?

---

"Whoa. Red, what's the occasion?"

The demon looked up from setting the dinner table. "What do you mean, Ashley?"

The witch stirred the red fluid in her cup with her finger. "This! High white-cell count, type O, filled with adrenaline - this is some top-quality blood! And I thought we were out of this kind, too." She took a long sip of the exquisite fluid.

"But..." Red looked worried. "We are out of it. We don't even have any regular blood. I gave you water."

She set the cup back on the table. "Oh."

"Ashley, do you think-"

"I think not," she answered sharply.

"But-"

"Look here," she told him. "You're being paranoid. I'm sure this is nothing. Heck, maybe it's even a gift. So, just finish setting the table, and let's eat our soup and savor this wonderful type O."

And so he set the table, and they ate; and over the course of that dinner, Red entreated her to consider the implications of that blood, and what was sure to follow; but she wouldn't listen to a word he said.

---

A week passed that way, with all the water turning into that same type-O blood. And at the end of that week, Ashley found a note on her doorstep, that read "Let them go in peace." Let who go? she wondered. But she crumpled up the note and tossed it away, lest it give Red any validation.

Later that night, as they worked on a spell, Red tried to put forth his theory again. "Ashley, that blood was a warning. It's got to be someone mimicking the plagues. Someone wants vengeance on you."

She scoffed over her shoulder at him. "Who, exactly?"

"I'm sure you have lots of enemies."

"At any rate, I won't believe it until..." she paused as she heard a ribbit. Sitting atop her head was a bullfrog, croaking calmly. The room filled with croaking as more frogs came, seating themselves on the counters and jars, and the rim of her cauldron. "Oh," she said calmly.

"You see?!" Red panicked. "Frogs! The second plague!"

"Stop it," she told him firmly, taking the frog off her head. "This is probably just a coincidence. There are frogs around here."

"Not this species. And you know it."

"Just a coincidence," she repeated. "Now, come on. This isn't a bad thing. We can corral the beasts and use them for spells and as garnishes. Help me catch the suckers."

Reluctantly, Red helped her capture all the frogs they could. And Ashley still would not listen to a word he said.

---

Two days passed, during which the mansion was infested by frogs. And at the end of them, Ashley looked for another note; but what she found instead was a plain blue bow tie. This, she was sure, had nothing to do with anything, and so she merely tossed it away.

That evening, she had a terrible itch on her head. When she scratched it, she could feel something large walking around in her hair.

"Ashley!" Red shrieked. "There are giant lice on your head!"

She reached in and closed her fingers around one of the things, and pulled out, as Red had said, a louse three times the normal size, its mandibles snapping. "Oh."

"Now do you believe me?" he begged.

"No. I've always had lice."

"Not like this. Never like this."

She turned the louse over in her hand, then dropped it in pain as the other lice began their next round of biting. "Okay - ow - maybe - ow - you're right - ow - about this - ow! But whoever's beh-h-h-iiind this wants us to give in - ow ow ow! I won't do that - at least - ow - not until I know what the reason for it is."

"Ashley. Hardening your heart is not the right way to deal with this."

"It's fine, Red - ow! I can take it."

"No..."

---

The next day came, and the lice were gone. There was no trinket left on the doorstep.

The news on the decrepit, ancient radio Ashley kept told of a swarm of flies making their way to the edge of the city. At hearing that, she rushed outside. Red followed in a futile attempt to talk sense into her.

"I say, bring on the stupid flies!" she replied defiantly. "What could they possibly do?"

The flies came in a swirling mass, engulfing the mansion. Ashley calmly let the tiny animals crawl all over her - until they started stinging.

"Biting flies!" Red screamed.

"Oh," was all she could say.

They ran back into the mansion, but it was useless: the flies had gotten in. Enduring the awful pain, they set to work on a poison to kill the flies in steam form. But it took too long, and they eventually fainted from the blood loss.

When they awoke, the flies were gone. The next day passed with nothing happening. Ashley still would not listen to a word Red said.

---

The day after that, Ashley found a briefcase on the doorstep. In it was another note, which read "Let us go in peace." It seemed clear now, that the retribution was due to her devouring travelling salesmen. But that doesn't make sense, she thought. Who would care enough about them to do this?

She tossed it away and went back in the house. Red was lying still on the floor. "What was the next one, again?" she asked him. "Murrain or something. When all the livestock died. But how would that affect us?"

There was no answer. She nudged him a bit, and he wouldn't get up. "Oh."

She still wasn't worried. "Whoever did this, they don't know what you are. You won't die that easily."

She mixed up a generic medicine and poured it down his throat. And just as she was sure, at dawn he woke up as if it were just a little rest.

She still would not listen to him.

---

That next day, it was Red who found the object on the doorstep: a full encyclopedia set. Ashley would have recognized the meaning, but Red didn't readily connect travelling salesmen with encyclopedias. He more expected cleaning products from them.

He left the set there and went back in the mansion. "Ashley?" he called out. He hadn't actually seen her all evening.

As he walked by the bathroom, he heard a loud snap and the sound of something small splattering on a wall. He heard the same thing a few more times. Then he remembered what the next plague was. "Oh."

"Go ahead and come in, Red," she told him from behind the door.

"I'm not sure I want to."

Snap. Splat. "I woke up with the next plague." Snap. Splat. "You know what it is already, I'm sure." Snap. Splat. "And you know? It's kind of addicting, in a disgusting sort of way." Snap. Splat. "Like bubble wrap, except with your face." Snap. Splat.

That last one was one too many. Red doubled over and lost the breakfast he hadn't yet eaten.

"Red! Did you throw up on the floor?"

"...Maybe."

"Come on now. That's even worse."

"I beg to differ." Then it struck him that he might have to clean up all the splats on the walls, and he tossed another batch of cookies.

When she came out of the bathroom with her face clear, she mercifully had cleaned the walls already. But he did end up having to mop up his vomit.

When he told her about the encyclopedia set, it proved for sure what she had suspected. But she was not about to change her ways.

---

A day passed with nothing happening. The next day, there appeared a set of cleaning products on the doorstep.

The radio told of a hailstorm coming that, curiously, was centered directly over the edge of the city and hadn't moved.

Even if she didn't have the memory of the swarm, Ashley was smarter than to go out in the hailstorm. The chunks of ice came down in an even larger size than the biggest people thought hail could get to be. They caused a tremendous din as they rained down, and they even dented the roof, so much so that some hail made its way into the foyer.

"Oh."

The rain lasted the whole day, and Ashley realized things were getting dire. The travelling salesmen had quit coming to her doorstep since the plagues started. She had been so busy denying the plausibility of the plagues that she hadn't gotten anything to replace them. They were out of food.

So they had to go hungry that day, while they waited the hail out. But she was still adamant.

---

The next day, a set of tacky windchimes and some insect repellents were left on the doorstep.

A fierce wind came from the east, a warning of what was coming. They acted fast, buying what they could to last themselves through this next plague. After a hasty lunch, they set to work trying to barricade the mansion.

The next day, the locusts came, turning the sky dark with their numbers. Like the swarm before them, they engulfed the mansion, looking for a way in.

The pair trapped inside had great faith that the barricades would keep the bugs out this time. But they were wrong. The locusts ate through the wood and poured in through the opening.

"Oh."

The locusts chewed gaping wounds in them that looked like they'd been made by something larger. But aside from that, they let the pair alone and ate all the food they'd just bought.

Bleeding heavily, they went hungry that day too. But Ashley was convinced that the worst was all over, and she would not give in.

---

The next day, the two restocked their pantry again. Nothing had been left on the doorstep.

Ashley had regained the careless air she'd had during the first four plagues. She stepped outside and dared whoever was bringing the plagues, "Bring on the three days of darkness. Bring it on. I thrive in the dark."

But strangely, there was no darkness. In fact, it stayed light over the mansion all day, even when night fell over the rest of the city. For three days, this eternal light stretched on. There was no escaping it; it shone intensely through the little holes in the mansion and bathed its interior in light.

Her being a creature of the night, the consuming light was as unnerving to Ashley as complete darkness is to a daytime person. It drove her to the brink of madness.

"Oh! The light! It burns us! My precious, make it stop!"

And just when she was about to go careening off the deep end, the night came back.

---

That next day, Ashley didn't even bother to check the doorstep. She was certain that the crisis was over and done with.

Red did not feel the same way. "Ashley, why are you so relaxed? It's not over yet."

"Yes, it is," she replied calmly. "There's only one plague left, and there's no way it can manifest itself on us."

"How's that?"

"Because the last plague is the death of the firstborn. Neither of us has a firstborn. And you're not a firstborn, either. So, we'll be fine."

She doesn't get it! he thought. "But Ashley, that's because whoever's doing this will kill you! You're a firstborn!"

"Oh. No, that was just the sons, right? As it went in the Bible?"

"Whoever's playing Moses isn't sticking to it that much, Ashley. Remember how he did that last plague?"

"Oh." Slowly, the realization began to hit her. "Oh. Oh no. No! Red! What'll we do? I'm too young and popular to die!"

"There's only one thing you have to do. Our Moses says what it is in this note from the doorstep." He handed it to her. When she opened it up, there was only one word in it: "Apologize!"

She tore the note up. "For what?! I haven't done anything wrong!"

"Moses thinks so."

She remembered the first note, and all the other things that had been left on the doorstep. "It's the salesmen. Moses wants me to apologize for and to all the travelling salesmen I've eaten over the years."

"Will you?"

"No!" she snapped. "This is ridiculous! They're just travelling salesmen! I can't think of a single person who wouldn't think that my killing them is a good thing! Who cares? Who cares enough to have gone to all this trouble?!"

"Moses does."

"Well, Moses needs to rewrite his priority list!" She slumped into a chair. "Oh, this is just wrong. I'm going to die for crimes any sane person would commend me for."

"It's that, or just swallow your pride and apologize for them."

"You mean 'lose my dignity'. I can't and I won't."

"Ashley, don't you realize what road you're going down? Hardening your heart, just like the king of Egypt. The only difference is that in the story, God made Pharaoh harden his heart. As for you, you just won't let go of your sense of honor. Please, don't do this. It will cost you your life."

She looked up at him with determined eyes. "Not if I find our Moses and kill him first."


Last edited by Jackalope on Mon Sep 29, 2008 9:33 pm; edited 2 times in total (Reason for editing : Screwed up the title.)
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PostSubject: Re: (WarioWare, Inc./Wario's Woods) The Ten Plagues of Ash   Mon Sep 29, 2008 8:38 pm

It was a slow day in WarioWare, Inc. No ideas were being pitched or made. Nothing was getting done. All the workers lazed around doing whatever they wanted. This was one reason why they liked working there, even though no one ever got paid; loafing, except when there were deadlines to be met, did not just go unpunished, it was nearly encouraged. For you see, the big boss had the same lack of work ethic.

The same rules didn't apply to being absent, however. If you were late or missing, when you finally showed up, you were given a most merciless taunting.

Wario looked up from his newspaper when he heard the ring of the bell on the door. "Well, well, well," he started in. "If it isn't Ms. 'Doesn't-come-into-work-for-like-more-than-half-the-month'. Explain yourself, Doesn't-come-into-work-for-like-more-than-half-the-month."

"I have a good reason," she shot back. "Someone is trying to kill me."

There was a dead silence. Then one of the cabbies, Spitz, spoke up. "No way! You serious? Awesome! 'Bout time!"

She gave him a venomous look. "Gee, thank you for your support. I'll remember that when I'm haunting people."

The cat bristled. "I ain't afraid of youse no more."

"What makes you so sure," Mona asked, "that someone's out to get you? I mean, beyond the obvious reasons why."

"Because..." She counted them on her fingers for effect. "Twenty-one days ago, all the water in my house turned to blood. A week later, frogs infested my mansion. In two days, I had a case of ridiculously huge head lice. The next day, biting flies swarmed the mansion. Does this ring a bell yet?"

Some of the people in the room started to chuckle at that. "Okay, Little Miss Conspiracy Theory," Wario said, "we see what you're getting at."

"It's not a theory! These line up too perfectly with the plagues in the Bible! It's got to be orchestrated!"

"Look here," the resident doctor interrupted. "As a man of science, I'm from whichever is the Show Me state. Do you have any proof of a modern-day Moses persecuting you, aside from the 'plagues'?"

"Yes! He left notes and demented little presents!"

"Like?"

"Well, one of them was an encyclopedia set-" she was cut off as the room filled with mocking laughter.

"Priceless, just priceless. Child, all it is is that you're hilariously unlucky."

"But-"

Wario got up. "You're obviously delirious. Here, take a week of sick leave off. Unpaid, of course."

"But-"

"You just go on home and take a nice, long Rip-Van-Winkle-type rest. And if you don't wake up, we'll admit you were right."

"Good lord, I thought you guys would be more sensitive than this!"

"Why, hello!" Mona piped up. "You must be new in town. I'm Mona. Welcome to WarioWare, Inc."

"You can all go to Hell!" she snapped as she left the building.

"Already there, sweetie-pie!" everyone yelled after her.

Outside, she stretched out on the sidewalk. "I really should have expected all of that."

"It was worth a shot anyway," Red reassured her.

She stayed on the sidewalk as the dusk faded into complete darkness. "Well, this is uncomfortable," she complained finally.

"Then... Why won't you get up?"

"Because it hurts to move. Not even that - it's like I just can't move at all."

Red managed to carry her back to the mansion. He never left her side all night, thinking that this would be her last day alive.

The mysterious illness kept her from eating. Eventually it cut out her voice. There was nothing to do but lie there and sleep while awaiting her inevitable death.

---

She had a dream of what seemed to be a totally unimportant memory.

It took place just a year ago. As usual, a salesman was at the door trying to sell his encyclopedias. She invited him in, as she always did. There was but one thing different about this one.

Normally, she would knock the salesmen out, or otherwise kill them before they could tell what was happening. It was the closest to humane she got. But this night, she was starving. It would have felt like an eternity while the soup cooked.

She knew the dangers, but tonight, she ate this one raw.

He didn't suspect a thing until it was too late. "Nice place you got here," he went on with petty small talk. "Hey, a cauldron! You wouldn't happen to be a--"

She cut him off, grabbing his shirt by the lapels. "Hey... What are you..." he asked as he saw her lean in on him. "H-hey! Stop that, I'm married!"

He didn't realize that she wasn't forcing herself on him as a woman, but as a predator.

Suddenly her teeth clamped around his neck, sinking in to the throat. He screamed and tried to pull away, but it only made things worse. She tore a chunk out of his throat, taking part of the voice box with it.

The salesman fell to the floor, the wound on his neck spurting blood. He stared up at her in shock, then raised an accusing finger at her. "Y-you're a monster!" he choked out with what little voice he had left. "I thought witches were good!"

She calmly wiped the blood off her mouth and spat out the neck cartilage. "Now, what made you think that?" she asked. But he was already dead.

---

She woke up to the sound of knocking on the door. As she came out of the dream, it struck her that the salesman in the dream wore a plain blue bow tie... just like the one that had been placed on her doorstep.

Red was lying next to her on the bed, asleep. The knock persisted. Without thinking of it, she slid out of bed, and she was able to stand. The illness had passed, and she was still alive.

"Red. Red." She watched him stir and open his eyes, then sit straight up in surprise "That's right," she told him. "I'm alive."

The knock at the door got louder and more annoying. They went to the door, expecting, at last, a travelling salesman. But what they found was a clear sign that this wasn't over yet.

On the doorstep lay a piece of wool, and a trail of lamb's blood that stretched out into the forest. They looked to each other knowingly, and followed the trail. Wherever it led, they were sure they would find their Moses there.

The trail led deep in the forest, along a river. It cut out at a spot where the water ran red. When they got there, they heard a voice quoting scripture: "'...About midnight will I go out into the midst of Egypt: and all the firstborn in the land of Egypt shall die, from the firstborn of Pharaoh that sitteth upon his throne, even unto the firstborn of the maidservant that is behind the mill; and all the firstborn of beasts."

"Come out!" Ashley yelled.

"'And there shall be a great cry throughout all the land of Egypt, such as there was none like it...'" Up to the river came a woman: another witch like Ashley. She had green hair that curled around her neck in a braid, and she wore the blue color of nighttime. In her right hand she held a staff, which she raised as she said: "'...nor shall be like it any more'!"

"Wh-- who are you?"

"Moses, as you've called me; but my name is Sarissa. Born under the waxing crescent."

"So you're the one..." Ashley sunk to the ground as the illness began to return. "You're the one who's been plaguing me over the salesmen."

"That's right."

"What is wrong with you?!" she snapped. "They're just travelling salesmen! Nobody cares if they die! In fact, people would be glad to see them dead!"

A flash of hate swept over the good witch's eyes. "That's what you've always thought. But it's not true. Travelling salesmen aren't your livestock to be eaten at your will. Believe it or not, there are people who will miss them: their families. But I guess as long as no one would come after you for all the murders you've commited, that made it okay."

Ashley stared at the ground. "Okay. I'll give you that. But why do you care so much about them, anyway?"

"Because," - Sarissa threw a plain blue bow tie over to her - "you killed my brother."

"But I couldn't have known he was your brother!"

"You shouldn't have had to! I know better than to get you to stop eating salesmen - it's your nature as a bad witch to be a cannibal, after all. But you prey solely on them, and the only reason for that is because you think you're doing society a favor by getting them off the streets."

"Okay, okay," Ashley begged weakly. "You've taught me the lesson nine times over. There's no need to make it ten, right?"

"That depends."

"On what?"

"If you'll apologize for treating salesmen like trash."

"No! Never!"

"Very well, then." Sarissa walked off. "I'll give you until noon to think about it. And if you haven't apologized by then, the Angel of Death will come knocking."

Red, who had also been struck by the illness, wriggled over to Ashley. "Ashley, please. All you have to do is say you're sorry. If we're lucky, you might not even have to mean it. It's not worth keeping your pride and losing your life."

She was too torn to reply.

The illness lifted, and they made their way back to the mansion. And Red tried one last time to talk sense into her. But she wouldn't listen to a word he said.

Then came two minutes to noon. A knock sounded at the door. "Will you apologize?" Sarissa asked.

"I will not," came the adamant reply.

"Very well."

The illness struck Ashley one last time, and she collapsed on the floor. It didn't kill her, but it struck much worse than the times before it.

She started to cough. Blood came into her mouth, blood that strangely wasn't hers: it was more of the type O that marked the first plague. She kept coughing, and tried to swallow it, but more blood flowed to replace that which she got rid of.

Red, who hadn't been struck, rushed to the door. "Don't do this! Please!" he begged Sarissa helplessly. "She's learned her lesson! This is enough!"

"Not unless she apologizes."

"But she's too proud to apologize!"

"Exactly."

One minute to noon. Sarissa began to enter the mansion. Red pushed on the door to keep her out, but she struck him with the illness, and then with the door. "Out of my way, Sparky."

She went up to Ashley, who was struggling to breathe through the blood. "You know, I'm actually being merciful," she told her, "and giving you one last taste of that blood you love so much. Type O, high white count, full of adrenaline. I know you like that kind the best, because you thought my brother was the best salesman you've ever eaten." With that, she rose her staff, preparing to stab Ashley through her heart.

The clock struck noon, and she brought the staff down...

"I'm sorry," Ashley choked through the liquid. Sarissa stopped, the point of her staff a mere two inches from Ashley's heart. "I'm sorry for acting as if salesmen aren't cherished lives. They are. I realize that now."

A minute passed. Then the flow of blood stopped, and the illness was lifted. Sarissa took her leave, saying "Thank you. That's all I wanted."

Ashley lay still, breathing in some well-earned air. Red dragged himself next to her. "You see? Was that really that hard?"

She spat out the last of the blood, having lost her taste for it. "Yes, as a matter of fact, it was." She scrunched up, upset over something.

"What is it, Ashley?"

"That wasn't the last we've seen of 'Moses'. This little fight was only the beginning."

Red sat up. "Why? You think she's not through avenging the salesmen?"

"She probably is. But now that we've fought once, we'll keep on fighting. She's my foil now, and she's started a feud that will last our lives. It's a witch law."

"Ashley..." He slumped on the ground. "Can't you just let it go?"

"I said it's a law! What are you, deaf?" She stood up. "I don't like it any more than you do; but that's how things are going to be." With that, she went to leave.

Red got up and went after her. "Where are you going now?"

"To say 'I told you so' to a choice few of my coworkers. And by 'choice few', I mean the whole dumb lot."

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