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Orwell's Point, Docks, Location of a cultist den,

Evelyn paused in her tracks and crouched down low as she followed the trail of magic that matched the other cultists' locations the soldiers had unrevealed. The smell of rotting wood and fish wafted up from the rows and rows of tied up river barges lashed together against the docks.

She nimbly climbed over the top of one of the barges and leopard crawled her way to the edge of the roof and peeked at the barge next to the one she was hiding on.

A flicker of candle flame could be seen through the warped timbers of the river barge and Evelyn smiled, knowing that she had tracked the target. She slowly rolled over and waved to the soldiers hidden at the edge of the docks who were waiting for her signal.

Seeing her wave, the soldiers advanced up, keeping low and moving as silently as they could with all that gear that they were carrying. Evelyn eyed the passable stealth movements of the soldiers with a wary eye under the glow of the twin moons in the night sky before turning back to keep watch on the cultists' hideout.

It had taken her two days to track and find the traces of demonic magic that the cultists were desperately trying to hide. A gentle breeze carried the scent of blood and death to her nostrils as she waited for the soldiers to surround the barge.

A soft rustle and a body crawled up next to her. She could smell the sweat and dirt from the soldier who was her guard and watcher. "In there?" The soldier asked as he pulled himself next to her prone form.

She nodded, her gesture barely seen under the moonlit night.

The soldier spoke something into that strange device of theirs that did not use magic. He seemed to nod and replied to whatever that was said before he turned to her and said, "Now, we sit tight and watch the show!"

Several dark figures emerged and advanced in a line towards the barge, their soft footsteps seemingly sounding loud to Evelyn's sensitive ears.

The team of soldiers silently climbed their way into the barge and gathered at the hatch that led into the barge's hold. Knowing that there would be magical traps and tripwires, the entry team pasted blocks of explosive against the hold, and hunkered down.

A flash of eye searing light blew up, causing a large white spot in Evelyn's sight. The blast wave hit her almost immediately and the loud roar deafened her even as the soldier next to her pressed her down with his arms over her head protectively.

A second later, several loud pops and flashes of light erupted within the hold followed by screams and panicked cries. Evelyn blinked and rubbed her eyes as her night vision was affected by the explosion.

She watched the troop of soldiers jumped into the gaping hole on the barge yelling. Other soldiers swarmed out from their hidden positions and surrounded the boat while another team climbed onboard.

Shortly later, several hooded figures with their arms restrained behind their backs were dragged out by soldiers one by one. Evelyn saw her old companion and ex party member, Liz being escorted by another soldier entered the barge as she was in charge of checking for any magical or arcane items or traps.

Another awhile a soldier emerged out and waved at the soldiers waiting outside who entered to deal with whatever that they have to inside the barge.

"Well, that was easy," The soldier next to her said. "Let's go back.

"Wait, I need to go into that barge..." Evelyn suddenly said to the surprised soldier.

"Why?" He asked curiously.

"I can sense and track the cultists easier," She replied. "It will be easier to do it with a location that wasn't destroyed like the others."

"I see," the soldier nodded, "Makes sense, alright let's go down then!"

They climbed down the roof of the barge before entering the hideout of the cultists. The other soldiers barely gave them an eye as they walked into the brightly magical lit interior of the barge's hold.

The scent of blood and death grew thicker as Evelyn entered the hold. Magic circles of unknown purposes were drawn all over the decks and even the bulkheads. The timber decks and bulkheads at many places were stained dark reddish black from god knows how many sacrificial rituals that were made here.

Thick yellowed candles stubs made out of the victims' fat were placed almost everywhere. Thankfully they all had been snuffed out, or Evelyn won't be able to endure the stench. An altar sat in the middle of a magic circle with skulls, idols and more candles laid on it.

Liz was hunched over at one of the magic circles, holding her nose as she tried to make sense of the usage of the circles. Evelyn ignored her and walked around the hold, making sure not to step on any of the circles.

She saw a large trail of dried blood leading out of the hold to one of the side hatches where a couple of soldiers shook their heads at the contents of the room before they closed the hatch.

Liz stood up from the circle where the altar was and said to the soldier next to her, "I am not sure what the purpose is for this magic circle... But it seems inert, it probably needs some form of catalyst for it to work, as long we don't provide the catalyst, it shouldn't activate at all."

The soldier nodded, "Any ideas what the catalyst would be? I don't want the Crime Scene Investigation team to accidentally activate it..."

Liz sighed and glared at the soldier, "Make a guess?"

"Erm... blood?" The soldier replied back.

"Good job!" Liz laughed sarcastically and patted him on his shoulder which she had to tiptoe to do it considering her height. "You're halfway to being a great mage!"

"Ha..." The soldier rolled his eyes before turning to another and telling him to send in the CSI team to document everything.

"Hey Eve!" Liz greeted Evelyn when she saw her looking over the items on the altar. "Nice work as usual!"

Evelyn smiled and gestured to the items on the table. "What are these?"

"Well, if I am to make a guess," Liz pointed to the gold idols on the table that looked like some kind of leaf with a wiggly worm underneath it. "It should be the representation of whatever evil or demon they are worshipping."

"That knife should be used for sacrifices while the skulls used to hold the blood?" Liz said. "You have to ask Magister Thorn if you want more details. I only know some from his explanations."

Evelyn nodded and she stared at the small palm sized gold idols sitting on the altar with deep fascination. She felt a strange tingling sensation on her scalp as she stared at the strange idol.

"Well, don't touch it," Liz said as one of the soldiers called for her to look at something. "We don't know what kind of pagan god or demon these idols represent, so its better be careful!"

Evelyn nodded and she straightened up before glancing around her surroundings. Seeing her handle gawking around the hold and not paying her any attention, while the rest of the soldiers were also not looking her way. She rapidly fitched one of the smaller idols and slipped it into her pockets in one smooth motion before she walked away to join Liz at looking at another magic circle.

A small smile grew on the corner of her lips as she felt the comforting warmth of the idol that was radiating out from her pockets before she rubbed the smile away and joined Liz.

"Soon... very soon..."

-----

Uncharted Forest

"There!" Drake cried out loudly next to Sergeant Sath's ear. Luckily Sath was wearing protective headgear and ear mufflers if not he would have flinched from Drake's excited yell.

For the past two days, they finally found the Orcs campsite. "Looks too quiet to me!" Sath said as he activated the zoom of the view screens. "Seems like they had run off already!"

"Damn!" Drake cursed. "Hold here, me and Slow will take a look at the site."

"Got it!" Sath ordered the driver to halt and Drake climbed out from the top hatch and joined Slow on the ground who was waiting for him next to his ASAG.

"Let's go recce on foot," Drake said and the two of them advanced into the abandoned Orc camp.

Fifteen minutes later, they found nothing of usefulness and the two Marines stood at the last tent which was the largest and the flaps of the tent still had a couple of bullet holes that Drake fired, days before.

They entered the tent warily but found it empty except for a small folding table with an amulet acting as a paperweight on the note underneath it.

Drake stopped Slow from approaching and he carefully checked the table for any tripwires before gently pulling the note out from underneath the strange gold amulet. He carefully unfolded the note and cursed.

<< When you have read this, I would have been long gone! You fuckers tried to kill me but failed! Don't worry, what doesn't kills me only makes me stronger! Your ex - Aaron >>

<<PS. Have fun with the gift I left you! =D >>

"What the fuck?" Drake reread the note again. "Gift?"

He looked down at the amulet with the strange worm like wigglies and frowned. "I am so not touching that..."

Slow bend over and gave a sniff of the amulet and growled, "Bad magic!"

"What the hell? Are you a dog now?" Drake pulled Slow back. "Better not touch it, it is probably a trap! Let's get the hell out of here!"

As he said that, the amulet seemed to glow and move. "Oh fuck..."

A hiss came from the worm that was actually a tiny snake which started to grow larger and larger by the second. "FUCK THIS! Get out!" Drake cried and he pushed Slow out of the tent.

The two Marines stumbled out to the open as a giant snake grew and ripped the tent pegs off the ground. Luckily for them, the tent snared the head of the snake, preventing it from seeing. It shook its mightly head left and right, trying to shook loose the tent, giving the duo precious time to get clear.

The campsite was situated at a small clearing within the forest, Drake pondered should they take cover in the trees when the snake finally managed to wrestle off the tent. "Hide among the tents!" He cried softly to Slow who nodded and the two ducked behind one of the empty Orc tents.

"What the fuck is that?" Drake hissed to Slow who returned a shrug. "Damn it!" He activated his comms, "Zero Two, do you copy? Did you see that thing?"

"I see it, what the fuck is that?"

"A fucking giant snake!" Drake growled into his comms, "And its gonna eat us if you don't do something about it!"

"Roger that, standby!"

Drake peeked over the side of the tent and saw the snake sniffing the air, before whipping its head and staring right at where Drake and Slow were hiding. "Oh, noes... fuck... it's coming!"

The snake snarled and darted forward while Drake and Slow split up into two different directions. The tent collapsed from the weight of the snake and it turned left and right, as it wondered who should it catch first.

In the end, it chose Drake and slithered after him. "Why the fuck... are... you chasing... me!"

"Go... chase... Slow!" Drake panted as he ran with all his might, trying to outrun the giant snake that was looming up behind him. "Mother... fucking... snake!"

Suddenly a continuous roar of a machine gun burst out from behind and a line of tracers hammered against the snake, making it cried out in anger as it whipped its head back to see who was hurting it.

Slow growled as he hefted his MG 1 and fired again at the pissed off snake.

"Come to daddy!"

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A note from neo Koh

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Snakes on my pla-, I meant snakes everywhere!


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