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PostPosted: Fri May 02, 2014 3:51 pm 

Joined: Sep 22, 2013
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Molcru's Mask
by BeastEngine
Status: Private :bmelee:

A mass of long, dark tentacles lashed out from Molcru's fist as he swung his arm in a wide arc. The mass slammed onto one thief, crumpling his body from the skull down with a concussive impact that shook the ground. The tentacles retracted as the planeswalker took stock of the situation.

Many raiders, all around him. Several dozen, more than fifty but less than one hundred. Many of them were engaging the small squad of spawnlings that Molcru had summoned to guard the entrance to his fortress, while many more stood before him, determined to bring him down. This was a difficult proposition, considering that he was over a head taller than all of them and weighed more than three of them put together.

And yet, the numerical advantage was theirs.

Molcru momentarily diverted his attention to the spawnlings, seeing if any of them required medical attention.

They did not, which was to be expected. Little more than walking collections of festering biological refuse, the green-black-brown spawnlings were considered by Molcru to be his most brilliant creation. They were his first successful attempt to create permanent, sapient life. They were a fusion of bacteria, fungus and plant that resulted in durability that rivaled Molcru's own. They could be burnt, stabbed, chopped, beaten, frozen, and blasted, then immediately regrow provided they had access to dirt, water, and air. They were also quite virulent, possessing a limited ability to transmit specific diseases to their attackers. In addition, they shared Molcru's ability to grow tentacles, which were commonly used to puncture their targets from several feet away.

Not only were they effective combatants, but they were sentient. They possessed the capacity to learn, and they had emotions. He could feel them, to a degree. They were scared, yet determined to not give their attackers any ground.

This was the optimal strategic stance for spawnlings: defense. Their lack of speed, high durability, and the danger inherent in approaching one came together to make a nigh-perfect guard that could fight against multiple waves of assailants and not be dislodged or killed while protecting their mark.

Currently, they were heavily damaged, but not in need of any magical rejuvenation on Molcru's part. They constantly repaired their own injuries. Each had four spike-sharp tentacles bared and pointed at the raiders that surrounded them. Behind them was the stone arch that led beneath the earth and into Molcru's sanctuary.

Molcru did not know how these raiders had managed to find him where he lived, but he very much intended to find out.

Taking advantage of the momentary lull while the raiders regrouped, Molcru spoke, his voice booming through the grille on his helmet.

“I do not wish to deal you further harm. Leave me in peace. If you go now, I will not pursue you.”

One of the attackers, a tall, pale man in leather armor, replied with a smirk, “No such luck, monster. We know what you are. We're not leaving until we have your head or we're all dead. The money's just too good.”

Molcru reached to the harnesses on his back with two tentacles, bringing his massive hammer around into his hands. The weapon was too heavy for a human to lift. Certain plates of its flanged, cylindrical head, which was larger than Molcru's helmeted head, glowed a sick and poisonous green, casting slight shadows on the ground before him.

“That is unfortunate. Very well. Attack me at your own peril.”

Multiple raiders rushed him simultaneously, raising swords, axes, and hammers of their own.

Molcru swung his hammer wish astonishing speed, as though it were little more than a dry wooden stick. It struck two raiders at once, smashing them aside and shattering their chests instantly. Molcru spun around once, feeling axes and swords strike his back harmlessly, and whirled around once more, adding the full force of his weight to the swing. Half a dozen raiders were reduced to an unrecognizable bloody mass and blasted aside by the force of the blow, but still more came.

Molcru felt arrows strike his armor. He righted himself from where his spin left off, and saw an orange glow. Fire arrows. Very dangerous to use in the middle of a crowded forest.

The old planeswalker raised his right hand. A single bangpod grew up from the soil beneath the feet of the archer line and promptly exploded, blasting them apart and scattering their rank.

He dispatched several more raiders alongside the spawnlings, who impaled the attackers with their spikes even as they suffered several chops and cuts. Molcru noticed that one spawnling, however, had been cut down. It twitched slightly in a heap on the ground. It would grow back, given several hours, but Molcru did not have hours. On top of its injuries, the spawnling was scared for its life.

Molcru began to grow angry with these intruders. He began to emit a noxious gas whose effects were targeted against humans. It was a potent psychedelic, and would cause terrible hallucinations. In addition, it activated pain receptors in the skin, resulting in intense pain across the surface of the body. The pain combined with the unstable mental state caused by the psychedelic effects normally resulted in the victim being terrified beyond reason. Molcru had used this cocktail against groups larger than this one in the past, and it had been enough to send them into a delirious retreat without blood. Molcru did not want to kill these men. They were stupid and greedy, but he had no legitimate reason to continue ending their lives.

He replaced his hammer into the harness on his back, and simply stood in the middle of the battlefield. The raiders continued to strike him with their weapons, but none of their blows had any effect on him. His armor would not have been out of place reinforcing a castle battlement, and as such was entirely immune to most melee weapons. After several minutes, their symptoms began to manifest. They began to swing their weapons at things that weren't there, screaming and shouting while fighting amongst themselves. Many simply ran, terrified by what they were shown by their own minds.

Once they had all fled, Molcru raised his right hand, aiming at the fallen bodies of the raiders he had smashed. Silvery-green liquid light splattered on all of them. The forest air was then full of cracking and snapping as the dead raiders' bodies repaired themselves. Blood was replenished and organs slipped of their own accord back into chest cavities, gaping wounds in flesh simply sealed over. They did not rise. Their bodies had been restored, but the life was still gone from them. However, their brains were intact, and they had not been dead long. Molcru clapped his two metal hands together, producing a ringing clang.

There were eight flashes of light as the fallen raiders awoke, resurrected. They patted themselves, amazed. Some appeared to remember where they were, and attempted to run.

Molcru rumbled, “Stop.”

They did so, some in mid-step. They were confused in their freshly-resurrected state.

“Come to me, all eight of you. I will not harm you. I simply wish to talk.”

They did, with bewildered and scared looks upon their faces. Molcru did not blame them; they had been dead for several minutes. They formed a semicircle around him and looked up at his helmet.

“I killed you. You may remember this. It was most likely painful.”

Several of the erstwhile attackers shuddered. The others appeared to simply be confused as to why they were still here.

“But I brought you back. Several more minutes, and you would have been lost. You were all minutes from oblivion, and I saved you, perhaps against my better judgment. In a cosmic sense... you all belong to me. You owe me your lives. I could enslave you all, if I wished. Would it be wrong of me? You.”

He looked directly at one of the raiders, who jumped. Fear entered his features. He was young, with brown hair and green eyes.

“What say you? Would it be wrong of me to enslave you all? Or perhaps devour you? You attacked me, in my home. You harmed my children.” He waved a hand toward the spawnlings, who were milling about, searching for grubs now that their work was concluded. “If I attacked you in your home and hurt your children... what would you do?”

The man stammered, “I... I g-guess I would want v-vengeance?”

“Would it be wrong of me to take it now?”

“I don't want to die! P-please spare me!”


“I promise I'll never come near you again! I'll do whatever you want, just please don't eat me!”

The raiders began to fall to their knees, giving various apologies and pleading for their lives. Some wept.

“Quiet.” Silence was instantaneous, save several sniffling noises. “I will not eat you. And I will not enslave you. But I will have from you a promise.” The raiders wailed their assent, eager to do anything that would ensure their safety. “You will swear to me that you will abandon your current lives of terror and vice. You will acquire honest work. You will harm no one. You will behave like normal, good citizens. And if you slip, just... once,” twin yellow lights flashed beneath his helmet's bar-shaped sight opening, “... I will know. And I will take what you owe me. Do you swear it?”

The raiders all did, emphatically.

“Then go. Except you,” he pointed at the pale man from before, the one that had called him 'monster'.

For emphasis, Molcru stepped toward the man, towering high above him. He cowered on his knees, sure that he would not live.

“I am not a monster. You were a monster. But no longer. It is... ironic, is it not?”

The man was incapable of responding.

“Who hired you?”

“I-I do not know. It was an all-paper contract, we w-were contacted via letters. We never s-saw his face.”

“Do not lie to me. If I must, I will tear the information from your skull. It will be unpleasant.”

“It's the truth! I can bring you the documents, I have them at my home! We were never given his name, only money! To kill you!”

“He told you where to find me and what I am?”

“Y-yes! It was all there in the letters!”

Molcru made a sound like a sigh. “Very well. Go. And remember your promise.”

The raider fled without a word.

This news was slightly unsettling to Molcru. As far as he was aware, no one on Krathia knew of his true self. Yet someone had paid a party of headhunters to eliminate him. Worse, the client knew the location of his sanctuary and had given it to dozens of raiders. He could no longer depend on secrecy to keep him safe. He would require increased physical defenses to keep out those that were sure to return.

Molcru thought about investigating this mysterious client, but decided that it was almost invariably a fluke of some kind. Someone must have followed him back from Razorbend without him realizing, perhaps resulting from his last visit when he eliminated another party of raiders. He admitted it was possible; his sense of smell was affected by whether or not he actively chose to use it. Ultimately, however, it would be useless. Even if a planeswalker were behind these machinations, they would have to be absurdly, unreasonably powerful to penetrate the defenses Molcru had erected around his home for the past several decades, and security would only be increased as a result of today's events. The nature of any external threats hardly mattered. His life thus far had been an ongoing exercise in how durable he could become, and he was not going to be rattled by a gang of humans knocking at his door. He only hoped that those he had saved would turn from their previous lives, for their sakes rather than his.

Under his direction, this part of the forest, his part, would have to become inhospitable to all but himself. He would have to take daily walks through the area and lay down beds of mana throughout the area to ensure that the trees and underbrush would grow thick and strong, barring entry. Bangpod traps would have to be grown to discourage insistent invaders, and warning signs would need to be erected as his land's edge to prevent innocents from wandering into a place that would quickly kill them. Molcru remembered the terrible jungles of Zendikar, and how they devoured their intruders with no hesitation. His forest would have to be worse than them in order to ensure his privacy. It would be an extensive project, but Molcru was curious to see if such defenses could be raised efficiently and effectively.

Molcru wondered if the time would ever come, on this plane or any other, where he would be able to remove his helmet and armor and simply breathe the air in the open without fear of starting a small, personal war. He had never attacked anyone. He had only defended the innocent, time and time again, from those that would manipulate, consume, or destroy them. And time after time his payment was ostracism and revulsion. He had never been to a plane where his kind were accepted rather than treated as monsters or abominations against nature. He was tired of pretending. Sick of hiding himself out of necessity.

Molcru had hope for Razorbend. He hoped that one day, after years of helping the people of that small town, that he could reveal himself to them, and they would not run or attack, because they knew him for who he was rather than what he was. It would take more time, but until the time was right, he hoped that one day they would accept him as no other society ever had. He hoped every day.

The earth rattled slightly as Molcru thundered as quickly as he could down the hill toward Razorbend. The sun had risen and began its daily march toward the other end of the sky, which was bright and clear today, as it normally was.

There was no rush, but Molcru ran anyway. He occasionally felt the need to remind himself that he could run at all, something that he had done when he was younger. Molcru had never been a speed demon, but he occasionally envied those that were small and agile. He occasionally considered reducing his size to become faster and more mobile, then remembered why he had chosen his shape to begin with.

The green razorgrass shimmered in the sun as Molcru walked across them. The planeswalker always had mixed feelings concerning the fields. Walking across them made him feel exposed. The forest had a roof; it was contained and its limits were easily definable. The plains did not. They stretched on for many miles, to the horizon and beyond. There was no shelter here. And yet, there was great beauty. The stark, glittering expanse, while unsettling, mesmerized Molcru on occasion. He had caught himself staring out across it for hours at a time, simply contemplating the distance, the light, and the earth. He had never seen an ocean, but he imagined that it would be something like this. It was disturbing, yet also, in its own way, fascinating.

As he approached Razorbend, he saw a little human girl running through the cleared parts of the fields that would not cut her. She wore a blue dress today. Fala, the one that he had saved one week ago from the band of marauders that had attacked the town. From far away, she saw him, and ran at full speed toward him, as she always did.

She approached him and brightly said with a smile that was missing a tooth, “Hello Mr. Molcru!”

Without a word, Molcru knelt and placed his right hand upon the ground, palm up. Fala stepped onto it, a metal platform easily large enough to accommodate her. Molcru brought her up to his left shoulder, where she scrambled up his neck and onto the very top of his head, where she sat cross-legged upon his roughly cylindrical helmet, gripping the metal crests for support.

She said, “Your armor is dirty, Mr. Molcru. You should clean it.”

Molcru gave a laughing “Mmm,” walking toward the town gate.

“Mommy says you saved me from those bad men. I don't remember it, though. It was like sleeping. Did you save me, Mr. Molcru?”

“Yes. I did.”

“Was I going to die?”

“Yes, you were.”

“Then it's good that you saved me. I don't want to die. I have stuff to do. Thank you, Mr. Molcru.”

The planeswalker heard a noise that, for a moment, he found difficult to place. He then realized that she had kissed him on the helmet. He could not remember the last time anyone had kissed him.

“You are welcome.”

They were silent for a moment, the only sounds reaching their ears were the grasshoppers, the wind in the grass, and the thud of Molcru's footsteps.

Fala then said, “Mr. Molcru, how come you wear all this stuff all the time?”

“To protect me from getting hurt.”

“Did you get hurt a lot?”

Molcru chuckled again. “Yes. A long time ago.”

“How old are you?”

“Older than you.”

“How do you know that? I'm seven. I guess you're older than seven?”


Another pause. Then, “How come no one ever gets to see you?”

“Everyone can see me.”

“No, I mean you. Your face. You always wear this armor, no one can see you. How come? You said you wear it so you don't get hurt, but no one here is going to hurt you. I'm not going to hurt you; Mommy's not going to either. So how come?”

Molcru said after a moment, “I do not want to scare them.”

“What? You're not scary. You're nice.”

“I do not look nice.”

“Can I see?”


“Why not?”

“Because I do not want to scare you, either.”

“I won't be scared, I promise! Why would I be scared? You're not scary. C'mon, let me see!”

“No, little one.”

“Please please please! I won't be scared! I promise!”

“I cannot. Your mommy would be upset with me.”


“It is hard to explain. You will understand when you are older, perhaps.”

“Everyone always says that whenever I want to know something.”

“Sometimes you have to wait before you can understand. It happens to grown-ups, too.”

“Even you?”

“Even me.”

There was another pause. Molcru could almost hear the gears turning in Fala's head.

“How do you make the plants grow, Mr. Molcru?”


“Mommy says magic is bad. She says only bad people use it to hurt other people.”

“Have you seen me hurt anyone with my magic?”

“No. You make things grow and you can make people better, like a doctor but really fast.”

“So. Is magic bad?”

“Mommy says it is.”

“What do you think?”

“It doesn't look bad to me. I mean, not when you do it.”

“Maybe your mother was wrong.”

“Maybe. Hm.”

“Where are the rest of your friends?”

“Inside. They didn't want to play today.”


“Can you play with me, Mr. Molcru?”

“Not today, little one. I have to talk to some grown-ups.”

“That doesn't sound like fun.”

“No. But sometimes we have to do things that aren't fun.”


“Because they are the right thing to do.”


“Because that is how we stay good. If we do not do the right thing, we do the wrong thing. And we become bad. The bad men that hurt you did the wrong thing. Do you want to be like them?”


“Then you must do the right thing.”

“How do I know what it is?”

“It would take more time than we have for me to teach you that. It is something that you have to learn as you grow. Take lessons from everything that you do. Listen to the grown-ups. Read many books. Learn everything that you can, and you will know what the right thing is, and how to do it.”

“That sounds hard.”

“It is hard. But it is always hard. Being bad is easy. Being good is hard. But as hard as it is, being good and doing the right thing will make you happier, and it will make everyone around you happier. You will have a good life. That is worth the effort.”

They came upon the heavy wooden gate that led into Razorbend. The gate guard saw them and called out, “Welcome back, Fala! Who'd you bring back with you?”

Fala, from atop Molcru's head, said, “You're silly, Mr. Corlei.”

The guard laughed. He opened the gate, allowing them inside. Once within, Molcru said to Fala, “Time to come down, little one. Mr. Corlei and I have to talk alone for now.”

Fala gave a disappointed “Awww,” as she climbed down and off Molcru's back. She said goodbye and walked back toward her home.

Corlei turned to Molcru and said, “She's a sweet one, isn't she.”

“Yes, she is. Corlei, I need you to fetch the council. There is something I wish to discuss with them. It is important.”

Corlei replied, “I'll get them right away.”

“Right here will be fine, it will not take long.”

“Will do, won't take a minute.” He bustled off.

After several moments Corlei returned with the five town elders, who were responsible for the administrative affairs of Razorbend. Four men and one woman, all with gray hair or hair that was becoming so. They were in fair shape, however, as most people in Razorbend were. Being on the elderly side did not always preclude a person from working.

One of them, a tall, hook-nosed man with salt-and-pepper hair and a grim demeanor, nodded to him and said as they approached, “Molcru. What can we do for you?”

Molcru rumbled, “I will be brief. I realize that you are all busy. I have visited your town for many years, and I have helped you in many ways. However, I wish to become more directly involved.”

The female council member, a rotund woman with a strong face, said, “In what capacity? As you say, you have done so much for us already. Several of our harvests would have been almost entirely dry were it not for your help. We very well may have starved. What do you propose?”

“I wish to show you a path through the forest that leads to my home. This will serve two purposes. First, I will construct a pipe system that will allow runners to deliver messages to me, so you may contact me if ever you require assistance. Second, I extend to you the right to come to me if ever you are displaced. If Razorbend, for whatever reason, falls, and you must leave, you may come to me, and I will shelter you. All of you. My home can accommodate hundreds of people simultaneously, with food and running water.”

The councilwoman raised an eyebrow. “For nothing?”

A slightly puzzled tone entered the giant's voice. “What do you mean?”

The woman replied, “How would you have us repay you for such services? You are lending your considerable powers to us for what seems to be an indefinite amount of time. Am I right in saying that this would be a permanent arrangement?”

“Yes. I do not foresee leaving my home any time soon.”

“In that case, how can we reimburse you for this insurance you offer?”

“I do not understand.”

A third councilman, this one rotund, with a ruddy, jovial complexion and bulbous nose, chimed in, “Molcru, this is a town of traders and merchants. We are not accustomed to receiving something without giving something up in exchange. What would you ask of us? Even if we disregard all your past services, which would be criminal, this offer alone would place us enormously in your debt. Is there a way in which we can repay you?”

Molcru's helmet grated back and forth. “That will not be necessary. You are all good people. Good people deserve to be protected by those that have great power. All I ask is that you continue to be the way that you are. Take good care of your children, make sure they are safe. Treat one another with respect. Make no corrupt deals. Do this, and I will consider your debt resolved.”

The round councilman replied, “That is incredibly generous of you, Molcru. I must say that as a financier, I find this deal to be considerably weighed in our direction, but I believe I speak for the council when I say that you are welcome to the utmost in Razorbend. You always have been, and as far as I'm concerned, you always will be, no matter what. All you must do is ask, and we shall leap at the chance to fulfill any of your needs or wants while you are here. While this town stands, you shall have a place to call home. This much, we owe you, at the very least.”

The other four council members voiced their agreement to this.

Molcru was silent for a moment, as though thinking. He then said, “Thank you all. My heart is warmed by your words. For now, I must go. If ever you are in need, all you must do is follow the trail of black flowers. They will take you to a place where I can be contacted safely. However, I must warn you: Do not stray from the flowers' path. My part of the forest is extremely dangerous, and is filled with beasts and plants that can kill in an instant. You will be safe so long as you stay near the flowers, but I cannot protect you if you move away from them. Bear this in mind. Goodbye. Thank you again.”

“No, Molcru, it is we that should be thanking you. Farewell.”

Molcru turned, and departed from Razorbend. He considered the councilman's words. He would always be welcome in Razorbend. He had a home there. Perhaps, one day, he would be able to reveal himself to them. One day, he may be able to cast off his armor and hide no longer, and be accepted for who he was. Perhaps, one day.

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