Alces


Juno looked out at the scene before him. The ground was covered in ash and blackened trees. The wind didn't blow, nor could any sounds be heard. Juno felt his heart pounding. He knew this was it. He knew that this was his end. He tried to take in a deep breath, though a cloud of smoke stopped him. A quick coughing fit soon followed. His vision began to blur and he tried to wave away the smoke. It began to grow around Juno, pressing on all sides. He stopped waiving and his breaths grew shallower. He tucked his head into his shirt, as he waited for the smoke to pass. He prayed that it wouldn't last long.

His prayers were heard and the air lightened up. He untucked his head and scanned his surroundings. To his left, there was a man. His clothes were ragged and his posture was crooked. The man looked towards Juno, giving him a clear look of his face. It undoubtedly a future version of Juno. Several scars crossed the man's face and bags hung underneath his eyes. Juno watched as the man swayed with each movement. Juno stepped forth, though he stopped himself when he saw something incredible. A single cog was sticking out of the man's back. A smirk passed his face and he was readying his gloating speech to Death.

He would become time. He would become the most powerful being alive. He would outsmart Death.

“Juno!” an all too familiar voice called out. It cut through Juno's thoughts and made him turn to see the antlered man. He slowly approached the center and the future version of Juno hung his head low.

“Juno!” The voice cried again as the skull broke through the smoke. Red eyes glared down towards the man. The man tried to take a step forward, but his lack of balance sent him tumbling to the ground.

Juno felt himself grow sick, as the realization set in.

“Why are you back so soon, I thought you’d want to hold this off?” The antlered creature’s head leaned towards the man. He turned away his hand and a whimper passed through the man.

Juno gripped his stomach and willed himself to keep watching. It wasn't supposed to end this way.

“You knew this was coming…” The man started to turn his head but stopped before he reached Death's eyes.

“As did you Juno, after all, this is your favorite time frame to watch, though, I can’t understand why.”

“I wanted to know.”

“Know what Juno? The whole meeting? You and I’ve talked about this before—many times.” At this, the beast’s eyes scan the outskirts of the field, and Juno realized he wasn't alone.

“I’m not ready to accept my fate.” The figure lowered his head and the skull on the beast tilted left.

“Yet, you’re here Juno. You know what’s coming.” The creature’s skeletal hand rested on the man’s shoulders, and they sunk in defeat. Juno felt the urge to scream at the man. He could win, he would win. He was ready to break the barrier when he heard himself speak.

“Death, I’m not ready for either fate.”

A sharp exhale cut through the fog and the man didn't attempt to get back up. Juno took a step back. His heart sunk further in his chest and Death stepped towards the outskirts. He glanced back to observe the man. Death sighed and once again scanned the crowd.

“Juno, you’ve opted to forget this all before; why come again? You’ve asked to forget this time, and time again. So why return? Is it so that you can find an escape plan? So that you can watch yourself suffer? Or is it the fact that you’re caught in an endless loop. You’re a broken record, repeating time and time again the same lines—hell you’ve all heard this speech before, but you’ve all opted to forget it, so why stay?”

Juno heard soft muttering surround him, though he could not tell from who. Footsteps filled Juno's ears and the soft rush of wind passed by his body. He looked around trying to see the versions of himself, though he could find nothing. Juno looked back to the center, to find that Death had taken to talking to the fallen man.

“Juno, it’s your time, you’ve had this infinity to live—you had this timeline to live, yet you were unable to—that’s why you’re here Juno.”

The man shook his head and more tears scattered across the ground. His hoarse voice cried to Death. He was begging. Juno once again stepped forth, but couldn't find the energy in himself to break the barrier. Soon Death took a seat next to the man. He reached out towards the man, but soon stopped himself. Hours passed by and Juno's soul was slowly being chipped away. At last the man stopped and Death turned to face him.

“Juno, do you know why you chose this time?"

“Because I knew this was the end. I knew I'd be safe.”

“No, no, Juno do you know why the original you—the one who came here first—do you know why he came here.” The man looked at Death before shaking his head.

“Do you remember this place?” The man looked around and shook his head no. Death nodded his head absentmindedly and glanced towards the clouds.

“This was the place where you asked me to become the most powerful beast alive.” Death said, his hands waving in the air. Death stopped, and set his hands towards his sides. He glanced downwards and cleared his throat. After a minute of silence, the man responded.

“I don’t want to become her.”

“I don’t blame you, Time is a terrifying creature, isn’t it?”

He nodded, before tucking his head into his knees. Death once again reached out, but he once again pulled back his hand. Silence settled into the land as Death watched the stars.

Juno's mouth felt dry and his knees felt far too weak. This wasn't supposed to be his end. He was supposed to become a part of Time. He was supposed to be powerful and glorious just like her. He shut his eyes and thought back to his encounters with Time, to remember her power, her greatness, her strength — though all he could remember was his horror

Time was terrible. Its skin was scarred and torn in two. Cogs ripped through its flesh as they spun. Claws tore through space and through his soul. A million eyes were hanging all around Juno, watching him. Her voice was made up of a thousand, and every word she said was lost to them.

Juno's heart began to break. He didn't want to be her. He didn't want to win. He wanted to rot. He felt himself fall into the earth, readying himself to lay there until it was his time to go as well.

“You know, I was once offered to become an amalgamation, but I refused, Time, on the other hand, didn’t… and well, you saw how that went, didn’t you, Juno?”

The man in the center once again nodded this time pulling his head from his knees to look at Death.

“I-I didn’t ask to become that thing.” He whined.

“Juno, yes you did. I’ve given you everything you’ve asked for.”

The man curled up in a ball and shook his head.

“Juno, I’ve wiped your mind, I gave you a new life, hell, I set you on the path to become the most powerful thing alive, yet, here you are, accusing me of doing none of that.”

“You’ve tortured me with this scene.”

“Juno, I didn’t force you to come here, I didn’t tell you about this place until you asked. You choose to come here Juno, time and time again, so stop accusing me of doing something I never did.” Death stopped and turned away from the man. His shoulders sagged and he waited for the man's response.

“Death?”

“Yes, Juno?”

“Why did I ask you to become the most powerful thing.”

“It's the same reason as to why you killed your father and brother—though I doubt you chose to remember that.”

Juno cringed as another memory of his past flashed by his eyes. Blurry images and voices cut through a haze. Each was begging, though Juno didn't know what they were begging for. He tried to think of other things, though all he was able to think of was his short-lived power. He tried to remember more, though it all was slipping through his mind, bit by bit. He closed his eyes tighter trying to remember his past life, though there was nothing. He opened his eyes only to see the man in the center, shaking before Death. Tears coated his face and snot dripped from his nose. Death still sat by him, waiting.

“…Death?”

“Yes, Juno?”

“Will I go to hell?” The man's voices cracked and faltered near the end of the question.

Death paused and watched the man take in several deep breaths before responding

“In any other life, yes, you would’ve went to hell Juno. Though, this life is not like any other Juno; This life is one that I helped make, and fates are far different for beasts influenced by me.”

Death set his hand on Juno’s shoulder and forced Juno to look him in the eyes.

“Juno, you know what comes next, don't you?”

“I do.”

“So why are you holding off?”

Several seconds of silence past and the man offered Death his hand. Death nodded and it. A flash of white light filled the field and Juno turned his head the other way.

Juno opened his eyes to find the scene in front of him was gone. The man from before was now a pile of ash, and Death was nowhere to be seen. Slowly sickness set in and Juno laid still. His breathing was still ragged. His eyes closed and he tried to calm his pounding heart. Everything felt wrong.

“Juno,” a familiar voice cut through his thoughts and Juno sat up. He saw the antlered man approach him and Juno raced backward. He coward before Death and began to beg for his life.

“Juno… I'm not here to take your life. You choose when that happens.”

Juno took a few more deep breaths in before looking back up at Death.

“Death?”

“Yes Juno?”

“Can you clear my mind?”

“I can, but I don't think you should.”

“I…I can't live with that kind of memory.” Juno admitted. Death nodded and watched the ground. He began to reach into his pocket when Juno stopped him.

“Death, what happens to me when I die?”

Death paused and his shoulders tensed.

“Juno, you've asked me this question a thousand times before, are you sure you want to know the answer?”

Juno stopped and pondered Death's words before giving into his curiosity.

“I'm going to forget anyway, so why don't you just tell me?”

Death sighed and shook his head.

"You'll be in Limbo, with me," Death began, his voice soft and careful, "It's a lonely place Juno, and you will be roaming it, for the most part, alone. This may sound fine for a few hundred years, this is fine, though after that, you'll get bored and your soul will crumble and fall until it is left in its primordial parts. That is when I will take your soul Juno, and make it a part of mine. You as a concept will perish to the universe and nothing will remain of you Juno."

Death paused and glanced at Juno. Softly offering his hand to him. Juno turned away from Death and wrote more down on the paper.

"If it makes you feel any better, I will miss you when you're gone, Juno."

Juno nodded, unable to do much else. He glanced back up at Death and handed him the paper. Death took it. Juno turned away once more and heard a soft hum fill the air. He found himself swaying to the tune. Slowly it began to crescendo getting louder and louder. Weightlessness filled Juno's body and he closed his eyes. At last, the humming stopped and a familiar voice called out and into the void.

"I'll see you in a week Juno."

Floormapbetter.PNG Floor plan of Atlas Marrow's home, dated June 28th, 1974.

Eight days prior to investigation, Mr. Marrow's returned from a three-week-long trip in the Northernmost forest of the Hollowick territories. During the three-week-long trip, all communication was cut from Mr. Marrow's and his team. Any and all forms of attempted communication failed and various watch members were unable to locate Mr. Marrows until the 20th of June. On the 20th Mr. Marrows was located on the Eastern outskirts of Allec's Run, in a daze. He was returned home and all attempts to question him about his whereabouts have resulted in seizure and loss of consciousness. On the 28th, loud banging and screaming was reported from Mr. Marrow's apartment and an Iris team was sent in to investigate. All objects related to Mr. Marrow's trip and objects that may be useful for locating him were collected.

The whereabouts of Mr. Marrow is still unknown and a description of him as he was last seen was released to the public. Below is a summary of the description.

Name: Atlas Marrow
Age: 28
Height: 5'10''
Eye Color: Blue
Hair Color: Brown
Race: Caucasian
Unique Traits/Symbols: A tattoo on his left shoulder of a bird, believed to be a raven. A scar on his left hand. Has a slight limp that requires a walking stick.
Clothes He Last Wore: A striped brown sweater, white trousers, and black dress shoes.
What To Do If Found: Please do not approach Atlas Marrows. Call your local Iris group and inform them of his whereabouts; they will take care of him.


"You're getting better Alex, though, there's still a few things you need to work on," Charlie said while hanging over his lesser's shoulder. They tried to meet his eyes, only for the glare from the screen to block their vision.

"What needs work?" Alex asked attempting to wriggle their shoulder from his grasp.

"Well, it's just that the "m" it's too large, you can make it smaller, preferably less wide. The compass is slightly off-kilter and the letters in "hidden" could be better-arranged."

Alex scribbled down each flaw Charlie mentioned and glanced up at him when he had finally stopped writing. Charlie nodded and Alex began to start-up work. Though it didn't last long, red markings filled the screen and the mouse moved on it's own accord to make each thing. A few grunts escaped Alex as they tried to drag the mouse back to the place where it was needed.

"You alright there?" Charlie asked in a childish tone.

"Well, I would be, if it wasn't for this stupid mouse."

"Oh come on now, don't blame… hm!" Charlie stared at the screen and watched as Alex wrestled the mouse back to a decent area, "That's new."

Charlie's hand began to scratch his chin as he watched the red marked various positions in the home.

"What should I do?"

"Oh, erm, write a thing on there, Julius won't mind," Charlie said with a wave of his hand.

"Wait, but- hey where are you going?"

"We have other things to file for this case. We can't really waste time with a malfunction like that. Also, Julius won't mind, he understands this kinda shit happens, no harm, no foul."

"But, won't we need to fix it later?"

"Probably not. Now, are you going to help me file Marrow's shit, or are you gonna sit there until Julius gets here?" Charlie snapped, giving Alex a glare before leaving the room.

Sighing, Alex mumbled "coming" under his breath and finished writing the note.


"Super rough ending"
Hey Charlie?

Yeah kid?

Why is Julius back?

Huh, that, might be him, his illusions kinda shit

What do you mean?

He's just being lazy, his left eye is blue, they're typically brown like the right.

Oh. alright? Do you need me at all?

Huh, nah yer good kid, you can head off for the night, I'll handle the talk with Julius, anyways, it's not good for a young one like you to think about these kinds of critters

Right, night charlie

Night kiddo

—-
Julius, long time no see, haha

Julius what's up with you, is this like some eldritch ritual to not speak or what?

No, to be quite frank with you Charlie, I don't know any of those. I'm only keeping quite for the kid's sake and I suggest you do the same.

Julius? Dude what's up with you, you don't sound like yourself and you know you can drop your illusion when your with me

Really, you really are this dull or does he really have you brainwashed that much?

What are you talking about?

It doesn't matter— do you think right here is a good spot Charlie?

For what?

Just do you think it is?

I guess

Well, I guess that's good enough

Wait what-



They really to train their keepers better… Ela, please do grab him, I fear I have to get the child.

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