DAMNED || LANDEL'S INSTITUTE

A Multifandom Asylum RPG


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Night 50: North of the Institute
[flip of a coin]
girlsandgadgets wrote in damned
[From here.]

Edgar landed heavily, waiting a moment for Gren before starting the trek north. He moved quickly, wanting to get some ground between them and the institute before stopping to consider their direction. He could only guess the distance of Landel's influence: it was likely that if he could control the town, the areas within walking distance of the institute were in his realm as well. They'd be easier targets if they stopped for too long.

"A few nights ago, a voice appeared on the radio," he explained as he walked. "It was a woman- the Jill we just heard of- claiming she was trying to aid us. She sent us directions that night, and again the next, trying to find something or someone. Judging by what we just heard, I'd say the latter."

The ground began to slope upward, growing rockier with each step as the grass died away. What was just outside the walls of the institution? "Until those nights, the devices remained silent and seemingly useless," he said as he pulled the jacket around him to ward off the cold. "I only happened to hear the message a few nights ago because I'd returned to my room to drop off a few items. It was fortunate timing, and while I'm not keen on trusting someone I can't see, I am interested in their motives for their 'help.'"

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The area outside the wall didn't look too hospitable. It was spooky, like the courtyard had been, and rather barren, despite the somewhat blighted looking trees that grew here and there. How long would they have to walk before hitting anything remotely like civilization? Or was there any? If the town they'd visited briefly the night before was in reach of the institute's influence...

He shook those thoughts off for the moment, keeping pace with Edgar and using his shovel was a make-shift walking stick. The terrain didn't seem like it was going to get any easier, and he hoped he'd manage to hold up as well as he had the night before... while hiking in less than favorable conditions wasn't a new experience, he hadn't done it in awhile.

"Seems a little suspicious to me," he replied. "They just happen to be able to tap into the frequency on these radios we just happen to have been given?" It wasn't impossible, of course. Perhaps the voice belonged to former staff, or someone who'd already managed to escape, but it seemed to Gren that it was more likely to be a trick. That, or after two days in this place, he was already becoming paranoid. "I guess finding out more couldn't help, but you're right... I'm not inclined to trust some voice, just because they say they want to help."

Edgar considered what Gren was saying a moment, leaning on his shovel as he walked, his balance as unsteady as the terrain. He had no doubt their first wall crossing had reopened his wound; the bandaging was generous and would have to suffice for the night.

"It does seem to be a strange coincidence that these rebels can conveniently use the radios provided to us by the institute for their own plans," he mused. He could also see the other side of the coin: "Then again, perhaps they are simply taking advantage of what's been offered to them. I have to say that it does seem like Landel provides his prisoners with ample opportunities for-"

The radio in Edgar's pocket screeched loudly, unnaturally so- the noise was deafening, loud enough that Edgar reflexively dropped his shovel to cover his ears. Even though the sound disappeared a moment later, it still hummed dully in his ears afterward. He shook his head, retrieving his shovel. He paused, scanning the nearby hills, so sure the noise would have attracted something.

When nothing emerged immediately, he began walking again, his pace a little slower than before. "While I appreciate their efforts if they truly do have altruistic motivations," he continued, a hint of irritation in his voice, "I'd rather the radios not make a racket while we're trying to sneak through the foothills."

Gren's attention drifted from what Edgar was saying to the static over the radio and the announcement that followed, scoffing at the message being delivered. The sudden screeching that erupted caught him off guard, sending him staggering as it deafened him momentarily. Some half-remembered instinct had him bracing for an impact, though the noise wasn't followed by the explosion of any artillery. It took him a moment to steady himself again, and even then, his heart felt like it was trying to jump out of his chest in a way that made him feel decidedly ill.

His ears were still ringing as he finally started walking again, and though he could tell Edgar was saying something it was sounding like gibberish to him. "What was that?" He didn't like raising his voice, but he didn't know if Edgar was going to be able to hear him, either.

"Hm?" Edgar's pace slowed even more as he looked over his shoulder, trying to ignore the buzzing in his ears for a moment. It was definitely distracting, enough so that he'd not understood a single word Gren had said. He looked as though the noise had rattled him- being a soldier, that wasn't alarming. It was no doubt a reflex to prepare for the worst when surprised, especially when in a situation that was already precarious- always ready for an ambush. He made a mental note to someday ask his roommate more about his experiences. He'd shown quite a bit of bravery and skill in the short time they'd known one another.

As the ground beneath them became rockier still, Edgar leaned even more on his shovel for support. It was a good thing the shaft was fairly sturdy. "I didn't quite catch what it was you said just now," he said, keeping his eyes on Gren.

On a nearby tree past his roommate, a weather-worn sign caught his eye. He took a few steps toward it, but it was no better reading: the language was completely foreign to him. "I'm not sure what this says," he noted, "but I'm fairly certain it can't lead to anything good given Landel's usual tricks." The poor condition of the sign didn't hint at the path leading toward safety, either. He looked away from the sign- the path grew rockier on the other side, but there seemed to be something at the top of the hill. "As much as I hate to avoid a challenge when it's presented to me, we should probably take the other path, given our injuries."

Gren frowned a little as it became obvious Edgar was having more trouble with the terrain. He must have re-injured his shoulder more than Gren had realized going over that first wall, and he felt a little less certain about whether they should be pressing on like they were. Then again, the other option was to go back to the institute, and that was even less appealing.

He shook his head a little when Edgar spoke again--whatever that noise had been, it had either done a real number on his ears, or it had done something to make them incomprehensible to each other. He still wasn't understanding a word of what the blond was saying. He did seem to be indicating the sign, though. "I don't think we want to go that way." He was going to take indications of danger seriously--it could have been a trick, of course, but he wasn't about to risk it.

"I guess we should head off that way." He suspected Edgar wasn't actually getting a word of what he was saying, so he gestured off to the other path.

Edgar rubbed his forehead with the back of his hand- that noise must have really done a number on his hearing. He was having a lot of trouble understanding what Gren was saying, as if he was speaking-

His brow furrowed as he put two and two together in his mind: Gren, the noise from the radios, the communication from the rebel group. He tucked his shovel under his arm, unscrewing the front of his light carefully and pouring the two power cells into his free hand. It was the same with the lettering on them as the sign they'd passed: indecipherable, though he was sure he'd read it when he first saw the script on the cells.

The thought had crossed his mind once or twice since his arrival: how was it that everyone, despite being pulled from different worlds and times, understood one another? It did seem to be a curious coincidence. Surely language changed over time and developed independently in other lands. He now had his answer, and it was one he should have suspected all along: probably some sort of magic by Landel- magic he'd just dispelled, probably in an attempt to keep the rebels from communicating with the patients.

Then why Landel would have enchanted the patients to be able to understand one another from the start? It seemed he was inviting challenges to his doorstep by arranging it so the patients could plot against him with ease; however, when an outside force intervened, he took precautionary steps. It was a strange puzzle.

Edgar fixed his light, wondering if Gren was still able to read the signs. If not, then neither man had any clue of where they were headed.

[To here.]

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