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Doctor, Hunter, Killer, Prey

#1
Quote:Continued from https://omniverse-rpg.com/showthread.php?tid=5530

Covered in the sweat of plague and the pallor of death, Olivia Callahan shuddered.

The girl of 11 was lying restlessly in his bed, watching the ceiling of the bedroom in a dizzy stupor. The ceiling was once made of fine red oak, but after years of mournful despair, had grown green with mold and decay. Olivia found this interesting, as the floors of her humble home were grey with dust that had been pounded into the floorboards. A small bulb hanging from a thick wire on the ceiling lit the room with a dim glow that strained to shine through the grime and fog that spread over Olivia’s window. The only furniture to speak of was a dinghy cupboard where Olivia put her things, on top of which rested her father’s music box. It creaked out a bitter tune endlessly. Her parents didn’t know, but Olivia could hear their conversation downstairs. Fortunately for them, Olivia was too delirious to really pay attention.

Martha Callahan sat at the table while her husband Stephen ever so slowly paced around the kitchen/living room/dining room. Stephen finally stopped and rested his arm against the one mangled pillar holding the whole house together, causing it to creak out yet another death throe.

Both parents wore their long, gray and straw-like hair in tight braids. Martha, her shallow yet plump cheeks pale with exhaustion, wore a humble green dress, caked with filth and long, dark years. Her face was almost corpse-like in its apathy, her smooth skin as dim as the lightbulb hanging from the ceiling, as pale as the chapped tiles of the floor that mingled with the dusty underlayer. Her right eye was milky, and her left was an empty, deep green.

The considerably taller Stephen had the same expression on his ridged face, his cheeks sharp enough that the skin grew a bit pale around the bone. He looked like an assembly of lanky brooms attached by rusted joints. He wore an even older tunic and some trousers. His boots would have holes in them, but they were protected by a layer of caked mud.

Martha's face finally contorted as she faced the crackling fire under their stewpot.

“We have to do something, Stephen.”

Stephen held his head in his hands, hiding his face from the world in shame. “We’ve talked to all the court physicians. I even had Richard reach out to the mages in Dalaran."

"What'd they say?"

"They won't come. Not after the battle."

"Oh gods..."

"It's a political thing," Stephen snarled, "Fucking cowards."

Martha wailed silently. "I can't just watch her turn, Stephen. Not after everything. Not after my father. Please..."

Stephen sat next to his wife and held her tight. He watched the driftwood dining table in front of them, thinking.

"There is one who could help."

Martha looked up in uneasy expectation. "Who?"

Stephen grit his teeth. "The mad sage."

***

The next day, in an avenue that was grimy and grim even for Darkshire’s standards, Stephen clutched his dying girl in an embrace like he was holding his daughter's soul. The air was damp and biting, and even though Stephen made efforts to not step in any puddles, Stephen and Martha's boots were drenched with the slick and oily filth that constantly drenched Darkshire. The houses around them extended outwards like dying trees, turning the alleyway in between into a grim canyon.

Martha shuddered. "I don't like it here, Stephen."

"We have no choice," Stephen grunted, heaving his daughter up once again in his brittle arms, "He's not failed a patient yet."

"They call him the Mad Sage for a reason. What if he-"

"What can he do," Stephen choked, "that's worse than what's happening to Olivia already?"

Little Olivia, Stephen noted, had stopped breathing. Stephen started marching quicker down the alleyway, resisting the feeling of spiders crawling up his back. Martha pulled her shawl tighter around her and followed.

At the end of the alleyway was the wall of Darkshire. Being on the far side of town from the main gate, the walls were still intact. Nevertheless, the cobblestone of the wall was sundered, having scattered bricks around the alleyway. Where the wall was shattered, the hole had been further enlarged to fit a person. Stephen warily entered.

Inside the hole was a horrible smell. Stephen curled his nose as he ducked under the rubble and further inside. He found himself in a dark hovel. If there were walls or a floor, there were none to be seen anymore. It was all covered in garbage. A single red light from an unknown source flickered and blinked.

"Hello," a voice asked from nowhere, "Do you have a reservation?"

Stephen flinched and spun around. He clenched his teeth nervously.

"I... no. I'm loo- I'm looking for the Mad Sage."

"Well," the voice sighed, "I know that's what they call me, but calling me mad isn't going to get you any points."

Stephen stammered. "Points?"

"We need a physician," Martha said, her voice cracking slightly in her fear, "Our daughter, she... She... She was bit."

The couple searched the hovel wildly in search of the mysterious speaker.

"Bit?" the Mad Sage continued, "By what?"

Stephen lowered his gaze momentarily. "One of the beasts in the Moors."

"Well, all that really rules out is people, so what he has could be something like rabies or just a mild infection. I'm sure the other doctors in Darkshire could help you with that. I know an excellent pediatrician named Dr. Brightleaf-"

"By a vampire," Martha interrupted.

There was a pregnant pause. Then, one of the mounds of dead leaves and garbage suddenly erupted as a man stood up very suddenly. The two others yelped and jumped back, Stephen clutching Olivia even tighter and spinning her around. The man in front of them was covered in a shawl made seemingly of dead leaves, garbage and discarded coats. It covered his physical traits entirely. The only identifiable elements of his appearance were the hilt of a thin sword protruding from behind him and a black facemask that covered everything but the man's feral and bloodshot blue eyes. He watched the family steadily, eyes twitching unnervingly. After a few seconds of glaring, he finally spoke one word.

"When?"

Alarmed, Stephen eventually answered. "I-I don't know, she had been gone for some time when she got bit, we're not quite-"

"WHEN?!"

Stephen cried out before stammering, "Uh, it must have been about a week ago."

"And you only come now?"

Martha gripped tightly onto Stephen. "We talked to the other physicians, but they could not help us. We weren't sure if you were even real-"

"Breathing?"

Stephen gulped. "Just stopped."

The Mad Sage sighed, lowering his gaze. For a brief moment, though he stood still, he seemed to vanish into the shadows of his hovel. Then he reappeared with frenzied eyes, a single hand reaching out from beneath the shawl, gripping a wooden stake.

Stephen jumped back. "NO!"

The Sage walked briskly forward, his cape bristling as he approached. "You bring that thing into my home! I'll kill all of you!"

Stephen spun around, exposing his back to the Sage. Martha stepped forward, covering both of them. The Mad Sage stabbed forward with the stake.

"Martha, no!" Stephen shouted.

The Sage stopped inches away from Olivia.

"Martha?"

The couple stared at him quizzically.

"Why would you say that name?" the Sage murmured.

"I'm sorry?" Stephen responded.

"WHY WOULD YOU SAY THAT NAME!?" the Sage roared.

"It's my name! I'm Martha! I'm Martha!" the frantic mother screamed, squeezing her eyes shut.

The Sage glared feverishly at Martha, before withdrawing his arm back under his garbage cape. He glanced quickly between her and Stephen, who both glared at him defiantly.

"Okay, yeah, that means nothing to me. Still, you're still here, which means despite me being super freaky and crazy, you still want your daughter treated."

The Sage threw off his cloak and shook his body like a dog, brushing off the twigs and leaves sticking to his body. Under the cloak, he was wearing a somehow still white and crisp physician's coat over a shirt and black tie, a stethoscope slung around his neck.

"So, enough of all that, I guess! I'm Dr. McNinja. I can try and treat your daughter, but I can't make any guarantees I can save her. Pretty experimental stuff, to be honest, but I'm excited to try it."

Stephen and Martha looked at each other in confusion, before turning back to the doctor in front of them. He was still wearing his facemask and his sword, but otherwise he looked like a friendly doctor. Doc rolled his eyes before shrugging.

"And no, I'm not gonna try and euthanize your daughter without parent approval. I mean, can you imagine?"
[Image: 665000_mcninja_by_cavenglok-dch0qt5.jpg]
Odd hours. Call for appointment.
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#2
"Yeeeahp," Dr. McNinja mumbled, flashing a light into Olivia's unresponsive eyes, "That's... well, it's pretty bad."

Martha and Stephen leaned on the nearby counter uncomfortably. It was the only surface that the couple figured they could really lean on that wouldn't completely collapse. This Dr. McNinja had sat the unconscious Olivia on the counter, after all, and he had somehow convinced them that he was indeed a professional. Not that it took much convincing, anyhow. They were too desperate to really think about why Dr. McNinja would be in a place like this.

"Did you see what bit him?" Doc asked, putting the light away.

"No, sir," Stephen replied, "But we noticed the two pricks on her neck and... well... we hoped it wasn't what we imagined."

"Yeah, they're 26 millimeters wide. Rules out spiders, snakes and imps. Well, it's alright. Most forms of onset vampirism are curable. Here's the sitch."

Doc pulled out two surprisingly clean plastic chairs seemingly from nowhere. He gestured for the couple to sit. When they did, Doc leapt into the air and pulled an odd-looking diagram from a shelf. It displayed various sketches of different kinds of what was evidently vampires. The diagrams were covered in notes and areas which the doctor clearly disagreed with.

He continued, "There are lots of different kinds of vampirism. There's SFV, better known as Standard Feral Vampirism. It's the kind most people get. Has she been craving raw meat? Showing any extra signs of violence?"

"Not so much, no," Martha responded.

"Alright... How's her posture been?"

Stephen frowned. "She was slouching a bit more before she collapsed, but I think she was just tired."

Doc squinted, then pulled out a small wooden stick. He opened Olivia's mouth and pressed her tongue down, observing it closely. "Her tongue's not swollen. Maybe she really was just tired."

Stephen cleared his throat. "Beg your pardon, wise physician, but what does that have to-"

"Changes in posture, especially slouching, and swollen tongues are common symptoms of NFV - sorry, Nosferatic Feral Vamprism. Not too many patients are treated for this, as the patient usually gets vaporized by the sun before proper treatment. Sunlight is the cure, but the patient requires a gentle process of infrared radiation vaccination-"

"Vaporized by the sun?" Martha exclaimed.

"Unfortunately, yes. Patients of NFV immediately become very vulnerable to infrared radiation, like sunlight. Vampiric viruses tend to pull apart melanin in the skin, which is why they're so pale and weak to sunlight. The NFV virus is especially destructive to melanin, which means that patients can be burned alive by sunlight even before they fully turn."

Martha frowned. "But Olivia was out in the sun, helping me with chores."

Doc scowled. "Okay. Well, if it's not a variant of feral vampirism, this gets a bit tricky. Noble Vampirism is pretty tough to crack. Did you invite anyone suspicious in?"

"No, sir," Martha said, "Only Stephen's brother."

"When was the last time you saw your brother? Before that, I mean?"

Stephen rubbed his wrinkled eyes. "Well, Richard came as soon as he heard that Olivia was sick. Before that... Gods, I don't remember the last time I saw Richard before that. It must have been two winter solstices ago-"

"Did you invite him in verbally, or did he let himself in?"

Stephen frowned. "I... I don't remember."

"It's very important that you do," Doc said, gesturing at the worried father, "Remember exactly what you said. Did you tell him to come in?"

Stephen gripped his temples with his fingers as he squeezed his eyes shut in thought.

"I... I remember opening the door, hugging him, asking how his journey was... I..."

Stephen shrugged. "I don't remember. But if you're thinking he's a vampire, you're wrong. He's not."

"What makes you say that?"

Stephen tightened his jaw. "He's not. Let's leave it there."

"It's best we stay honest here, Mr. Callahan. What does your brother do?"

The couple looked at each other for a moment. Stephen sighed.

"He's a wanderer."

Doc shrugged. "Alright, so he could have been bit?"

Martha winced at Stephen, who clenched the counter with a noticeably tight grip. Doc shrugged again.

"Alright, I'll drop it if you're sure. Nobody else came in the house?"

"No, sir," Martha said, "And he wasn't even inside when he was bitten."

Doc scratched his chin. "That actually eliminates most of the Noble mutations... Of course, you have to account for the thousands of different kinds of vampires out there... the Omniverse is theoretically infinite in possibilities... Just looking at conventional strands, though..."

Doc pulled a red pen from his jacket and started crossing out various pictures on the vampire diagram, eliminating many of the pictures. Secretly, the doctor decided to leave Vampiria Fraternia on the table. Stephen was definitely hiding something about his brother, and that was the most likely theory for now. Still, four other possibilities remained when he was finished. Doc scowled deeply.

"Okay, so that leaves Noble Sanguimancy, Cullenic Venom, and Ancient and New Dhampirism." Doc nodded approvingly. "The good news is that these five strands of vampirism are treatable. Difficult, and expensive, but treatable."

"We..." Martha winced, "We don’t have any money."

"Yeah, nobody does," Doc sighed, "But that's not what I meant by expensive anyway. I'm guessing your fathers are buried in this town as well?"

"You never know these days," Stephen sighed, "With all the undead rising out of the graves..."

"That's fair. Why don't you both check, then let me know?"

"Can I ask why?" Stephen said, "I'd like to not defile the graves of my ancestors if it's not necessary."

"It's fairly necessary. To cure Noble Vampirisms, I need some remains from whatever vampire bit her, ideally fresh blood, and the bones of her forefathers. Can't take your bones, obviously. I can make a serum pretty easily once I get those."

"What if you can't find the one who bit her?" Martha asked.

Doc flinched, then licked his lips under the mask.

"...I'd need... I'd need his blood."

"Whose?" Stephen asked. His face knew the answer already.

Dr. McNinja's eyes darkened as he gave the couple a silent glare. They shuffled uncomfortably as his eyes quivered slightly.

Doc's demeanor changed just as suddenly to cheerful as he rolled up the chart.

"Anyway, while you go check your graveyard, you can leave Olivia here. I'll restrain her and run some more tests on her, and hopefully, I can figure out how to get the blood of whoever bit her. Go, go."

Dr. McNinja shooed the couple away, pulling out a tray of test tubes with variously colored liquids. Stephen grabbed Martha's shoulders and gently guided her to the opening to Doc's hovel. The good doctor grabbed a complex-looking blood drawing pump and swabbed at Olivia's arms with a cloth damp with alcohol. He gently pushed the needle in, and turned a knob on the pump. Blood began coursing through the tube into a small glass case. It sputtered all over the inside of the case. Meanwhile, Doc pushed Olivia's lips up again, noting the young girl's quickly growing canines.

"It would seem, Doctor, we have a common enemy."

McNinja flinched and tumbled backwards in a martial somersault, drawing his blade in one swift motion. He gripped his blade tight, drawing a small harmonica from inside his jacket and placing it at his mouth over the mask. He scanned the hovel wildly, blade swinging. He gasped as he heard that chilling voice again.

"If you would remember the Redeads."

He heard that shrill scream again, and Doc couldn't move his body at all. His arms quivered in horror and his eyes flitted back and forth wildly.

"Let's not play games, Doctor."

McNinja screamed, but his mouth wouldn't move. Even his throat seemed to stay silent as his lungs struggled to breathe. Sweat dampened his mask as his heart galloped at lightspeed. This time, a different voice spoke.

"You would think that with all of you Primes around, someone would kill the bastard."

In a surge of stifling panic, Dr. McNinja felt his body move again. He's not here. He collapsed against the wall and curled up into a fetal position, tempted to just tear off his mask and rub his face against something cold. He can't be here! He clawed at the wall behind to find something to hold onto, maybe stop the feeling of falling. He started counting, counting, counting, what comes after seven?! He's not here, he's not here, he's not here, he's NOT HERE

After 19 seconds of panicking, Doc could feel his lungs steadying and his breathing calmed down. He tried looking around, but he couldn't see through the smoke bombs he didn't remember throwing. Doc cleared some of the smoke by waving at the air, coughing slightly. He looked at the blood pump, which had drawn way more blood than Doc needed and was practically overflowing. McNinja cursed loudly and rushed over, switching the pump off.

"I'll put it back when I'm done. Not like you're using it, anyway," Doc muttered to Olivia, drawing some of the blood sample with a syringe and dropping it in a Petri dish.

"He's not here," Doc repeated to himself, rubbing his stomach instinctively.
[Image: 665000_mcninja_by_cavenglok-dch0qt5.jpg]
Odd hours. Call for appointment.
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