I got back to the hotel after setting out with the group that was to take the fight to the Thief. I knew the distraction team was set up in the lobby, so I headed there. It was completely wrecked. Bodies were strewn about everywhere. Some were broken, some were charred, some were in pieces or just filled with stab wounds or shotgun shells. The walls were bowed outward and the ceiling was trashed. Arkady and Setoth were nowhere to be seen. Alan and Dante were lying in a circle of furniture in the middle of the room, both bloody and unconscious. I got them to a room and managed to wake Alan, though Dante was still out.
These are the final words and memories of Alan Hartford, given to me before he died:
"The group set up shop in the lobby of the hotel, just as planned. We had a little circle of furniture in the middle for a makeshift gun emplacement as well as a place to fall back to if needed. The idea was to distract the proxies to allow your Assault Group to stick it to Slendy. Apparently, Setoth or Damien or whatever he is - was - called was going to use some magick to draw them here. I don't pretend to understand and I don't think I need to. But whatever he did, it worked. Maybe a little too well. All I really know is after some chanting mumbo jumbo, it wasn't long before they started showing up. It wasn't too bad at first. We'd boarded up the parts of the hotel that we wouldn't be using. Fewer entrance points, easier to fight. I think that was Dante's idea, the only one of us with the sense to really bring a weapon. Arkady grumbled about it when it was first suggested, but it's what let us fight as long as we did.
The first one went down easy. He popped in through an open door and Arkady, hiding just inside, smashed his head open with his blunt sword. I couldn't believe it at first but as the fight went on, I saw just how good a fighter he was. A bit of a talker, a bunch of book references I imagine, but damn could he fight. Probably had the highest kill count in our whole group. Though to be fair, we were keeping Dante's gun in reserve for a while until it became really necessary.
This wasn't my first fight, but it was without a doubt the worst, and probably my last. The first one I killed was a little jarring. He was mindless, unlike any of the others I've gone against. But he was strong, quick - faster than me. I think what saved me was the fact that I had a knife and brass knuckles to his fists and teeth. There were more just like him too. Vacant eyes and slack faces that felt no pain and didn't tire. I just thank God they fucking died like normal. A few stabs to the right places, a punch to break some important bones and they'd go down. The most disturbing thing about them though was that they were completely silent. No grunts, no yelling, not even heavy breath. Just the sound of our own voices and the sound of combat - wood and flesh on flesh, blood hitting the floor. I think I preferred them to the screamers though.
These were the ones who were clever. They could think and you could see it in their eyes. They weren't automatons out just to kill, but thinkers who tried to fuck your nerves to kill you quicker. When they came is when the fighting got really intense. It's when I heard the first shotgun blasts go off. I heard Setoth chanting and sometimes a man would go down without being touched, or he'd become confused enough for one of us to take him down with ease. The good thing about fighting against the mindful as opposed to the mindless is that you can fuck with them right back. The sound of the gun must have scared them because for a few minutes they became cautious - until they realized it was just Dante and the rest of us were still melee. She became a big target after that. Especially when they began bringing their own weapons. That's when everything went straight to Hell.
The barricades we'd set up around the place were meant to stop people with fists and feet. So for a while, there were only two fronts to really fight on. The front door and the back door of the lobby. There were two or three side doors though that led on to the first floor rooms. Knives and baseball bats in the hands of the proxies were scary, but not too bad. Sure, we got more knicks and scratches - and at the end, real stabs - than we had, but they were nothing to sound of a chainsaw ripping through a solid wood door. When the door was finally busted down and the big burly sonuvabitch came lumbering out with that machine of his, we all paused and took notice. Which gave just enough time and quiet for a gunshot to ring out - much quieter than Dante's. Arkady went down in the corner of my eye, yelling in some mix of rage and pain. Javert and his gang were here. Chainsaw-man was getting closer and I was forced to retreat back. From behind me I heard the sound of wood connecting solidly with bone and turned to see Setoth smacking Javert in the face with his paddle - or beatstick as he called it. Dante fired more rounds into the approaching crowd and it was impressive - but just not enough. They kept coming. I couldn't begin to tell you how many there were or how many we took out, but there were too many for us and there were bodies scattered everywhere. And on our side, Dante was the only one who hadn't really been hurt at this point.
As I got into our little furniture circle, I saw Arkady on top of Javert, beating the holy Hell out of him while Setoth flung magick around like it was candy and layed people out with his paddle. I saw people burst into flame, randomly break bones or choke. Figuring they had it covered, I turned to take the side I'd been on and got Dante to help me out. Chainsaw-man was even closer now, almost within range of a knife-throw. I heard and saw three shotgun shells get pumped into him. All they did was slow his advance. My knife stuck in his neck, but he didn't seem to mind and I was left with the brass knuckles to fend off the lesser proxies who were willing to dart by him. I remember hearing Dante call for Setoth's help and in a few moments the guy, covered in sweat and blood was next to us, shouting some weird words and throwing things into the air. Then chainsaw-man was burning, screaming, but still walking at us.
Behind me, I could still hear Arkady raging at Javert and punching into his body - the sound of a hammer hitting wet meat - until Setoth told him he was dead, finally, and to help him with the others. But the inexorable flow of killers had slowed. With Javert dead and chainsaw-man burning, I think we had scared them. Dante was still putting rounds into him, and his face was a mash of blood and charred skin, his legs didn't seem to be working quite right, but he was still swinging his chainsaw around and Dante had to back up to keep from being wrecked to Hell. I think he still managed to knick her somewhere though because I saw a spray of blood and heard her yell as she fell to the ground. Then Arkady came from behind and jumped at the man, a knife in one hand and a pistol in the other. He knocked him over and stabbed over and over into the man's kneck while emptying the clip into his head. All while the flames began to take him too. Setoth and I pulled him back into the circle and patted the flames out. The rest of the proxies, perhaps twenty or thirty now that it was all calm, got into a circle around us. Dante had gotten back to her feet and was reloading her gun as quick as she could. I caught Setoth and Arkady exchange a glance before they began yelling all sorts of shit to piss these people off - and it worked because they all charged at once. I tried to turn to fight them off but... I was too slow. Too tired. By the time I'd gotten myself turned around, a knife was plunging into my stomach. It happened so fast I could barely tell I was falling until I hit the ground. Dante saved me from being killed right there, getting a shell into the man's head. But I was still out of the battle, down behind the furniture, and all I could do was watch. Setoth had a knife in his hand, but didn't seem as though he going to use it. Arkady was standing next to him in the middle of a circle Setoth had drawn when were setting up. Blood dripped down his scarred face and his right leg seemed nearly useless. I watched as Arkady put his hands around Setoth's. The knife began to... I don't want to say glow, but that's what it looked like. Together, they looked as though they were going to plunge the blade into Arkady. Suicide. Iwanted to stop them. But I couldn't speak. I couldn't move.
As if in slow motion, Setoth's blade punctured Arkady's chest, the two of them moving the knife together. Barely seeable against the already red-stained shirt he was wearing, small rivulets of blood began to trickle out. And then everything stopped for just a moment. Arkady was smiling - crazed and excited as if he were a kid finally going to Disney World. Setoth looked... content. The first drops of Arkady's blood hit the ground. The circle on the ground flashed brightly and then... Then it all went white and a huge noise, as though a great explosion were taking place in a small cave surrounded by waterfalls, drowned everything. When the light finally faded, the duo was gone. Dante and I were on the ground - she was breathing but knocked out and I was bleeding slowly from my side, the knife still in me. But the greatest thing... they were all dead. The whole crowd."