Monday, July 11, 2011

Ch13: All The Pretty Corpses

Azzen woke up, surprised to find Fel in his arms. And even more surprised to find the eight foot, big white Troll sprawled out over the bed.
“Whoa!” he exclaimed in surprise. “Did I miss something?”
Fel purred lightly in his arms, opening her eyes gently. Azzen could feel her vibrations against his chest.
“Eh?” the Troll said, groggily. “Din’n mish mush.”
“What’s going on?” Azzen asked.
“Oh” Fel yawned, looking up at the bed. “Mornin’, Wido,” she said with a smile.
“Huh?” Azzen asked.
“That’s Wido,” Fel said pointing with a yawn.
“You two know each other?”
“Yeh. Kind of,” Fel said. Then the catgirl giggled for no reason.
Azzen looked at her bewildered. The Troll sat up and opened his mouth to explain himself, but the decided he didn’t care and slumped back down, immediately falling back into a snoring sleep.
Fel laughed and muttered, “Wido tyrae somah action lahnyeee?”
“NawwwNehhh,” he snored.
Fel smiled.
“What’s that mean?” Azzen asked.
“Oh!” said Fel looking at him. They were very close together, but Azzen was too confused to appreciate it. The catgirl pecked a kiss on his cheek, confusing him even more.
“Wido came over last night. I let him in. He needed a place to sleep, and I owed him one. Don‘t worry about it, but I have something to talk to you about.”
Fel pulled Azzen up out of the room, down the stairs, and out of the Inn.
“Wido has a proposition for us. He’s got a bounty on his head. He wants us to take him in, collect, and then break out.”
“Wait,” Azzen said. “Hold on. This is happening kinda fast. I’m still half asleep. Who is Wido?”
“The Troll,” Fel said impatiently. “Those guys from the fight last night want him dead, apparently, they’re part of some big gang here and they all got embarrassed last night.”
“How do you know him?”
“I told you, he came over last night,” Fel said with exasperation.
“I know, but how well do you know him? What makes you trust him? And what makes him trust us for that matter? This seems pretty sketchy to me.”
“Look,” Fel said, “we can trust him. Trust me.”
“Trust based off trust,” Azzen muttered.
“You don wan go, fine. This good score. We do with two, less splits. Good for us. Fine,” Fel stated
“Okay, fine. I’ll wait here,” said Azzen.
Fel stared at him blankly, but clearly upset. Azzen stared back at here.
“What?” he asked.
“Noh,” she replied.
“What?” he repeated in a more confused tone.
“You’re supposed to follow me! And be all like, ‘Oh no, it’s fine, I’ll goooo. I wanna make sure you’re safe,’ and stuff like that.”
“Oh I’m sure you’ll be safe,” Azzen said. “That guy’s pretty strong. And you’re fast enough to get away from anything.”
“That’s not the point! It doesn’t work that way!”
“What are you talking about?”
“You have to go. It won’t work with me, Doonkah. They already know me and they wanna kill me. Use your head!”
“But you just said you could do it without me.”
“I was bluffing. Don’t be stupid, just come.”
“Why? Convince me. Why should I help you steal?”
“Oh cut your self-righteous bullshit,” Fel snapped. “Might makes right. What those men have, they took. And now we’re taking it from them. Do you really think they worked for that money? And we owe Wido. Whatever happened to personal integrity? Loyalty between comrades. Isn’t that worth anything?”
“There’s a greater good!” Azzen countered. “There are Rules. Laws. And if you don’t care about Laws, then how about Ideals? We can return the favor, sure. But why help him steal?”
“It’s not really stealing!” Fel said, flustered. “Do you think he deserves that bounty on his head? Is that right? This isn’t an Idyllic world, Azzen. It’s the Real world. The world where good men die and bad men prosper. Do you think those were good men back at the bar?”
“No, but…”
“Do you know what they would have done to me if Wido weren’t there?”
“I wouldn’t have…”
“Noh. Chut up. You full of shit because you not from here. You act like bad thing never ‘appen. There only one true ‘Law’ in this world. And dat’s dat Might makes right. And to the victor go the spoils. No matter where you go. That’s the only ‘Law,’” the catgirl spat the word “Law” with such disdain that Azzen had nothing left to say.
She was right. Not in the way she meant. But she was right about him not thinking about consequences. He didn’t take this world seriously. Terrible things could have happened last night, but he didn’t bother to think about them because things had worked out. Things wouldn’t always work out. He realized that just because this was a fantasy world, didn’t mean it was a fantasy. He’d remember to be more careful.
“In that case, we shouldn’t be putting ourselves in that sort of situation,” he finally muttered.
“What about Ideals,” Fel replied.
“What about your ideals now? Those are bad men. Aren’t we good? Don’t they deserve punishment?” Fel asked.
“Now you’re just confusing me,” Azzen replied.
“Then just shut up and do what I say.”
Azzen sighed. He was tired of arguing at this point. He put up one more feeble attempt. “How do you know you can trust Wido?”
“He’s Troll. I’m Pria,” Fel stated, as though that settled the matter.
Azzen didn’t say anything, but the look on his face didn’t budge.
“We’re non-Humans,” Fel indulged. “Non-Elf. Non-Goblin. Scattered races. No real home. Our homeland is owned. They call us Lesser Races. There’s a camaraderie. There’s a bond. We look out for each other. He won’t betray us.”

“God I make a good argument,” I say out loud. I’m tired of being quiet. It’s stupid. “No more reading my mind for a while.”
“Fine,” Azzen says. “What’s up?”
“Nothing. Just feel like talking.”
He doesn’t argue, but doesn’t respond either.
“What are we looking for?” I ask. We’ve been traveling more than an hour. It’s muggy and I’m sweaty. If it’s not worth it, he’s taking me home.
“Can’t you just wait and see?”
“Noh,” I say, stopping and not traveling any farther.
“Fine,” he says. “We’ll go home.”
“I said no more-”
Black mist swirls around us and we’re back in my living room.
“I wasn’t reading your mind,” Azzen says. “I just know how you think.”
“Well that was completely pointless,” I state.
“Come on. How many girls have seen the Amazon?” Azzen asks. “And you’ve got a new pet.” He points to the chameleon on my shoulder.
“Oh yeah,” I exclaim with a light laugh. “I forgot about him.”
“What do you want to name him?” Azzen asks.
“Let’s call him, ‘I need a shower,’” I respond, handing him to Azzen and heading upstairs to the bathroom.
When I turned the shower on, I left it cool, and enjoyed feeling the fresh water cleansing my skin. The frigid sensation washed over me and purified my skin from all the sticky sweaty stuffiness that had built up. It was nice for a while, but like always, I eventually started to turn the heat up.
I set it to how hot I usually go and I think about Azzen’s story, my past Life. Had I really done all that stuff? As he tells it, I remember event with even more details than he mentions.
Celeste’s eyes were green and she mentioned she had a younger sister. Wido was incredibly handsome. High Priest Mathews had made a comment that out of all the “Chosen Ones” he’d sent out, their group was the youngest. And I remember that one time, Fel, I mean… One time, I picked a talisman out of a passing priest’s pocket. Azzen had given me a stern look and told me to give it back, so I slipped it back in the guy’s robe without being noticed. That’s why I brought it up at dinner that night.
Just trivial stuff, not big details. Stuff that Azzen might forget or not even think about. But it’s definitely weird for me.
The shower doesn’t seem as hot as usual, so I turn it up a bit.
And there’s more to it too. My emotions. How I felt in certain situations. Azzen doesn’t always get them right. I think I’m going to have to go back and add some notes to the story when I’m done. Or when he’s done, I mean. Sometimes, he’s just way completely off in regards to how he thinks I felt, but it’s not really his fault. I remember I used to hide a lot from him back then. Stuff that comes back to my memory now, as he grazes over them without even realizing what was going on.
The water just won’t get hot enough. I turn it all the way up.
Some of the stuff I don’t even want to talk about… Azzen was right. I was an actress. And he didn’t even know the half of it. But I guess that every girl is that way. We’re allowed to, right? Guys get to pee standing up and girls get to wear make-up.
The sweltering water fogs up my view, misting in the shower like a dense fog. It reminds me that I’m still washing up, and I shouldn’t leave Azzen waiting. I have a tendency to dawdle in the shower. The heat is turned all the way up, but it’s still not high enough for my taste. Which is weird, because usually at this heat, I’d be yelping in pain. I wonder if the heater’s broken, but the rising steam tells me it’s not. Weird.
I get out and start to towel off. I wipe my hand across the mirror in just a small swipe, clearing the fog in just enough area to see my face. I’ve done this before to see how my hair would look if it was cut short. I still think it would look good. Maybe I won’t grow it out after all, despite the fact that it would please Azzen. I don’t know why I like frustrating him. I just naturally do. Maybe because it’s difficult to accomplish.
But no reason depriving myself of something I want, just to mess with him. That’s still a form of him winning… or something… I think…
As a fun thought, I draw two triangles in the mirror, above my head, like cat ears. It makes me smile. Then giggle. I don’t care if it’s stupid. I think I look cute. It makes me feel like a kid again.
After a moment of making different smiles and stupid faces, I wipe away the image so Azzen won’t see it. Then I go to my room and dress. I notice that Azzen’s added a new piece of furniture. The Chameleon is sitting in a small natural habitat, complete with heat lamp and humidifier. Damn that guy can work fast. I wonder if he teleported and bought it or made it out of magic.
Stickied onto the cage, Azzen left a note. It reads:
“Hey Fel, I went back to the Amazon to keep searching for a while. Sorry for not explaining what I’m searching for, but if you think really hard about our story, you might figure it out. I’ll be back.
P.S. I named the Chameleon ‘Speedy.’ Love you.”
I look watch the Chameleon as he takes an incredibly slow step with his weird little Chameleon feet. The step takes about twenty seconds and I almost get bored of watching before he finishes. Yes. Speedy is definitely the right name.
I wasn’t worried about Azzen. He’d be back. It would actually be nice to have some alone time and relax. But I won’t write about all of that here. This journal is mostly for the story.

Azzen get’s back around dinnertime and he’s covered in dirt. I’m in a my comfiest sweats and had just finished making spaghettios.
“You’re nice and dirty,” I say. “Find what you were looking for?”
“Noh,” Azzen replies gruffly. He seems offset and wrinkles his nose at my dinner. “And no way. That won‘t do.”
He grabs my hand and the black mist swirls. I wonder where he’s taking me this time.
We appear at the table of an extremely fancy restaurant. It’s high in a skyscraper and we’re next to a wide window with an amazing view of the city. Naturally, it’s a city that I don’t recognize.
Everyone else in the dimly lit room looks rich and important in fine suits and classy dresses. They sip wine and dine on prime meats and pasta. The food smells delicious. Much better than spaghettios.
“Italy?” I guess.
“You got it,” Azzen replies.
I look around some more, taking in the new culture. Couples gaze dreamily into each other’s eyes and businessmen make toasts to their triumphs. Waiters carry trays with brisk purpose and everyone includes hand motions with their speech. Everyone is beautiful and happy. The place is glamorous, like the kind of place where a man would propose. But I’m still in sweats and Azzen’s still wearing dirt.
He pulls my chair out for me and then seats himself across the small table. There’s already a menu laid out, and he picks it up to examine.
“Umm,” I say. “I think we’re a little underdressed.”
“Hmm?” he mutters, furrowing his brow. He still seems preoccupied in his thoughts. “Oh yeh,” he says and gives a casual wave of his hand.
Casual and magical.
The dirt lifts off him and disappears into the air and a sparkling swirl starts at his feet and wraps around him, replacing his simple garments with fancy duds as it passes around him, spiraling upwards and even styling his hair at the end. He looks great in a classic, but jacketless, tuxedo. Just as point my finger to mention the missing detail, it appears behind him, already casually hung on the back of his chair.
The boy continues to scan the menu nonchalantly. The word I would use to describe him would be, dashing.
But what about me? Again, I raise my finger to get his attention and then I notice a strange detail. My nails are done. Quite nicely too. They’re filed smooth and glossed over with a simple red glitter swirl painted on each one. I get the feeling Azzen likes swirls.
I’m wearing a thin elegant watch laced around my wrist with a black ribbon and a bow.
The ribbon matches my dress, which is sleek and black. Form fitting with thin straps. It has a build in bra, which is a nice touch, but I wonder what happened to my old one. My shoulders are covered with a translucent red stole. I touch my hair and feel that it’s been done up fancy plait.
Everything is chic and classy. Even though we’re young, I feel like we fit in.
Azzen orders for me in Italian. Very sexy. Then without me even asking, he breaks into his story.

Fel convinced Azzen he should follow her.
Azzen watched her closely while she spoke. After a moment, he agreed to help her.
“But I don’t like it,” he said.
“It’ll be fine,” she said.
“I’ve got a bad feeling…”
Fel leaned forward and kissed him on the cheek again.
“Noh worry Azzo. Things will be fine.”
The young boy let his doubts slip away as the two returned inside for breakfast.

Wido slept until noon and ate lunch for breakfast. He had a lot of money and was very nice for a Troll.
“Ayy Azzohn. You gonna got me back yoh?”
“Uh. Yoh,” Azzen replied.
“Yoh, yah. Yah yah, good, neh. No problem yah? I hear you big strong guy, yah?”
“Yah,” Azzen said. “It’s no problem.”
“Okaykay Azzoh, I heard you beat up two Trolls, yah?”
“I DIDN’T DO THAT!” Azzen exclaimed. “Fel did that!” he shouted, pointing to the girl, who immediately found some other place to be. “I gotta go wash up,” she called.
The Troll laughed.
“Ay, it’s okay tho. I heard she say you pull big tree out the ground!”
“Well, yeah. I did that.”
“How big was it?” White Wido asked, holding his hand about six feet off the ground, slowly raising and lowering it, gauging an estimation.
“It was HUGE!” Azzen said.
“HUGE?!” White Wido asked.
“Well, Huger than that. I bet you couldn’t have done it!”
White Wido laughed heartily and his broad chest bounced with ripples of muscle. Azzen wondered if maybe the Troll could have torn down the giant tree after all.
“So what’s the plan then? Are we expecting trouble?” Azzen asked.
“Yah yay, of course trouble. Always trouble, neh? But ayyy, no worries, Azzohn,” Wido said, “This be easy.”
Azzen tried to get more information out of the Troll, but Wido was being decidedly vague. He seemed more interested in trying to determine what the extent of Azzen’s relationship with Fel was. Finally Azzen gave up and went to find the girl, who was taking entirely too long back in the room.
Azzen knocked on the door and Fel said to come in. He caught the girl drying her hair and wearing nothing but lacey underwear. He had never seen her so unclothed.
“Oh! Sorry,” the boy said, averting his gaze. “Why did you tell me to come in?!”
Fel snorted. “Don’t be stupid,” she said, leaving it at that. “What do you want?”
“Nothing, I uh…” Azzen seemed to have forgotten why he’d come up here. “What if I was Wido?? You didn’t even ask who it was!”
“Pff, like that matters.”
Azzen was embarrassed and told her to hurry up. “And can somebody please tell me what the plan is?”
“No plan, Azzen. We’re just gonna wing it, like you say.”
“What? That doesn’t seem very safe for Wido.”
“Hey, he’s the one who said to do it that way. There’s really no way to plan this out properly. Worst comes to worst, we can take the money and run.”
“This is so not a good idea.”
“I don‘t see a problem with it.”
Fel had her top on and was pulling up her skirt.
“I never knew you wore lacey panties,” Azzen said, “I always figured you for a simple whites kinda girl.”
“Shows how much you know,” Fel huffed. “I figured you’d like the show. What’s up with you? Yooosoh timid right now.”
She walked up to Azzen in the doorway and smiled, pressing closer to him than usual.
“What’s up with you?” Azzen rebutted. “You aint usually so forward.”
Fel brushed her cheek against his to whisper in his ear. “Well just feel lucky when I am.”
Azzen didn’t know why he was acting so defensive either, but something just felt wrong. “You’re in my bubble,” he stated.
“Ugh,” Fel groaned, slumping forward. “Then get out of the way!”
~Sometimes girls get horny. Why is that so hard for guys to understand?~
Azzen stepped aside and Fel brushed by him roughly.
“You’re such an idiot,” she said as she passed.
Azzen grabbed her arm and pulled her back to face him. He snaked one arm around her waist and wrapped the other through her hair, pulling her close. “You’re right,” he said calmly. “What was I thinking.”
The boy drew the girl in for a kiss, and she let it linger for just a moment before she pulled away.
Fel closed her eyes and pursed her lips as though she was determined to be upset and not smile. “Idiot,” was all she could mutter before she turned around and marched away. But Azzen had caught a glimpse of a grin before she was able to hide her face. ~Too little a little too late. He could have had so much more~
“Let’s go make this money,” she called back to him. “No sense in making me wait.”
“You’re the one I was waiting on,” Azzen muttered, following the girl out. ~What a moron.~

Wido let Azzen tie him up, but when he was done, Fel inspected the knots and scolded him for his sloppy work.
“Where you learn to tie knot?” she asked irritatedly.
“I was a cub scout,” Azzen said mildly. He had asked Fel if she’d like to tie the knots in the first place, and wasn’t too upset that she was redoing his work. It had looked shoddy to him as well.
“Oohyoo callin Scout, Cub?” Fel replied. It took Azzen a moment to realize Fel had misunderstood him, but he resolved to call her “Scout” again later, just to piss her off.
When Fel was done, she slipped Wido a small knife that he’d be able to cut himself free with, if he needed to. The gist of the plan was to refuse to hand Wido over until the money was presented, and then just take it and run. Fel was certain she could outrun them and Wido was sure he could beat them in a fight again. Azzen was the only one with any doubts.
The group traveled down a side road that led a little away from the city. Wido had told them this was where the gang camped out. He said they were wandering mercenaries. Azzen imagined the many things that could go wrong.
“How are they supposed to believe that I was able to capture you? Azzen asked as they traveled into a more foresty area. The trees were small and sparse at first, but grew thicker farther down the road.
“Ay, you could be a big wizard,” Wido said. “just ack like you in charge, Yah? Talk lyka boss, yanaw?”
“Maybe this isn’t such a good idea after all…” Fel said.
“Yeah. Maybe I should just say that I knocked you out with sleeping powder or something,” Azzen said.
“Whatevah you say, Boss,” said Wido.
“Don’t worry, I’ll be in the trees if you get in trouble,” Fel said.
“Alright,” Azzen said. He felt reassured, knowing Fel would be safe and out of sight.
The catgirl scrambled up a tree without a word as the woods became thicker. “Good luck,” she murmured to Azzen as she disappeared into the foliage. The boy didn’t reply, he was already wary of an ambush. What if the mercenaries decided to just kill him instead of paying up?
The boys wandered on and came to a clearing with a campfire in the middle. But the area was deserted.
Azzen felt foolish tugging Wido in by a short leash, but mustered his courage and spoke boldly to nobody.
“I’ve come for the bounty!” he stated loudly, certain that the men were hiding just out of site. He waited on the edge of the clearing expectantly.
Laughter rang out from everywhere. All around him. Some of it was high pitched giggling, some was hoarse and snarling, and some of it was raucous and shrieking. This was not the reaction Azzen had expected.
Dark figures materialized all around the two companions. They didn’t come from behind trees or shrubs, they literally materialized out of thin air. Swirly black mist condensed and coalesced into evil smiles and spiny armor draped in ragged black robes. Azzen could feel terrabilities emanating from each of the many men.
He glanced around, carefully. He counted about twenty. And these were definitely not the stooges from the rowdy bar.
The man directly in front of him stepped forward with a wickedly superior smile as the laughter died down into chuckles. Wido flexed and bulged his muscles. His tight bindings snapped easily and fell to the dirt floor.
“Eheheyy,” he chuckled as well. “Soh sorry, Azzohn. We all gotta make a livin, yah?”
The lead man in black wordlessly tossed Wido a sack that jangled when the Troll caught it. Wido weighed it in his hand and seemed satisfied.
“Girl is in da trees if ya still need ‘er,” the Troll said as he backed away.
“No need,” the point man said as some of his companions searched the branches with their eyes. “As long as we get one of each group, the prophecy will be averted.”
Wido was sinking into the background while Azzen was dumbfounded.
The boy found a voice and forced out the first words on his mind. “Who are you?” he asked the man in black.
“Soldiers,” the man said. “Warriors of darkness. That is all you need to know.”
He drew a jagged kris out of his sleeve and advanced slowly on Azzen. He moved cautiously, but with a purpose, as did the rest of the men that were encircling Azzen.
“I only tell you this, because you should know who’s sending you into the afterlife.”
“Agents of Pyureival,” muttered Azzen.
The man curled the corner of his lip into a smile. “Our Goddess shall enjoy your sacrifice.” As he said it, he lunged forward with his dangerous weapon.
“I don’t think so!” shouted Fel as she dropped down from the sky. The catgirl landed on the man’s chest and pushed off with powerful legs, shoving him backwards. Azzen saw a splash of blood as the man sprawled onto his back. Before the boy had time to think, Fel grabbed his arm and yanked him out of his daze.
“Wido! You bastard!” she shouted.
Azzen caught a glimpse of the Troll’s sheepish smile as he faded into the woods. Azzen drew out his knife and ran with Fel. The circle of enemies was closing in quickly now. Fel chose the direction where the point man had fallen because the formation there was a little less tight.
The two rushed forward, surprising a large man in black armor who was brandishing an axe. He swung wide at the youngsters and they both ducked down. As though choreographed, the two each grabbed a leg and lifted up, toppling the man to the ground. Fel jumped over him and Azzen followed.
The two were extremely fast as they ran for their lives, but the soldiers of darkness had powers that they couldn‘t outrun. One of the evil men had the sense of mind to react quickly. He materialized in front of them, but Fel’s veins were glowing with the heat of battle and she slashed her knife three ways across his chest. The man’s armor protected him, but the ferocity of her attacks startled him and left him open to Azzen’s heavy fist. The boy planted a hard punch into the man’s chest and knocked him into a tree.
The two didn’t worry about finishing him off. Fel changed her direction and Azzen followed. Unfortunately, two more men materialized in front of them on either side of their path. They held up their fingers towards each other and dark mist shot out, unraveling into a net that they held between them.
Azzen and Fel couldn’t stop their momentum in time and they tumbled into the ethereal net. They fell to the ground, tangled and tried to stand up, but the net was tightening around them. The two men quickly closed in to finish them off.
“NOH!” Fel shouted with frantic desperation. Her whole body burst into flames. Azzen felt the heat wash over him. It was intense but over quickly. The flames of the girl’s rage ate through the darkness of the net.
Unfortunately, Azzen could see the young girl visibly wobble after that exertion. He grabbed her and half dragged her over his shoulder as he took off, carrying her away from the two surprised men. The boy worried about the fact that her veins were no longer glowing, as though her energy had been completely drained.
After a moment, she seemed to be able to carry her own weight again, but by that time the original leader of the black-robed men had appeared again.
This time there was no disclosure. Azzen could see a deep diagonal gash that Fel had left across the man’s snarling face as he angrily plunged his kris towards Azzen’s throat. The boy pushed Fel away and instinctively whipped his knife around to parry the shot. The man pulled back and jabbed three more times, but Azzen’s reactions were good and he managed to deflect every blow.
The young boy found an opening and twisted his body to plant a side kick into his opponent’s chest. The man flew back, but simply puffed into dark smoke, rather than hitting the ground. And now, two more men, or a man and a woman rather, were advancing.
The woman carried a twin daggers that she swung at him viciously. Azzen leaned back to dodge and swung his own blade up at her arm. He thought his blow was so powerful that it would cut clean through her bone, but instead, as soon as the blade grazed her, she too puffed into smoke, avoiding the heavy damage.
The man had a sabre and shield, and covered himself efficiently while swiping inexpertly at Azzen. Easily avoidable, but unfortunately impenetrable. The boy could only block and dodge while three more dark figures emerged into the action. One carried a spear and managed to dig it into Azzen’s shoulder before he was aware of the attack. The boy’s cry of pain snapped Fel out of her groggy state.
As the spear pulled back and went to thrust at its target again, Fel leapt up and caught it, just below the head of the weapon. Her jump continued to carry her feet forward and her body wrapped around the length of the shaft. She plunged her feet into the chest and face of the wielder with three steady kicks and the man fell back in surprise, relinquishing his weapon to the catgirl.
Fel twirled to spear magnificently to keep the other enemies at bay and reassert her grip. After she did, there was a moment of study between the two groups as Fel and Azzen stood back to back, realizing they were being surrounded by more and more enemies.
The bloody-faced leader appeared once more, snarled a command in a language of pure hatred. His words seemed to possess the minds of his followers, and all hell broke lose.
Every enemy rushed forward at the same time, with no regard to their own safety.
Fel swung her spear wide, but an enemy stepped into its wake, getting too close for comfort, so the catgirl pulled it down and flipped the butt end into the aggressor’s face, crushing his nose in.
Azzen dodged a thrust by the shielded man and rammed forward shoving his shoulder into the shield and knocking the man off kilter. He then grabbed the man’s arm and used it to ram the sword up into the neck of an incoming enemy before lacerating an artery in the man’s elbow with his knife.
Fel spun her spear in a full circle while twisting her body expertly to deflect three blows and dodge two more. She then halted the spear and shoved it hard into the chest of a tall woman. The spear-head went clean through her and to yank it out, Fel had to jump up like she had to the spear’s original owner and pump her feet into the woman’s chest. When she yanked it out, she immediately thrust the butt end the other way, allowing the shaft to slide through her fingers and crunch into the face of another enemy. The girl caught her grip right at the neck of the blade and landed on the ground, without delay, she thrust the blade up into the gut of a man in dark armor, sliding the blade under the crevice of his chest plate and quickly yanking it back out before he staggered backwards.
Azzen stepped under the blade of a falling double-edged axe and brought his body in close to the man for safety. His knife’s edge ran all the way up the man’s armor before it found the neckline and dug in. He left it there and wrested the axe away from it’s owner. He swung it at another enemy, hitting him square in the chest with so much force that it dug entirely into his metal breastplate. A sword grazed Azzen’s ribs, scratching against the bone, but the pain didn’t bother the boy, he swung the heavy axe again, this time removing the offender’s arm and smashing into his side. Another enemy scored a hit across Azzen’s cheek with a heavy mace. Azzen felt his bones chip, but ignored the scrape, and swung his axe back for another kill.
Then he saw Fel get hit.
The girl twirled her spear, but since they were both using such broad weapons, her back had been left open. A light sabre sliced across her back and she screamed in surprise.
At the sight of her spilt blood, Azzen instantly hated everything in the world. Wido. These dark warriors. The unfairness. The greed. All of it. Fel didn’t deserve this. He roared so mightily that even the most daring beasts of the forest skulked into hiding. The battle paused for a moment as the dark soldiers of Pyureival realized something had changed.
Instantly, the man who had hurt Fel was killed. His body blew apart into three pieces before anyone could think to move. Then the next closest foe dropped headless before anyone realized Azzen had killed them. After three more men died in the span of a thought, the enemies began to realize their danger.
They saw how Azzen’s eyes were glazed over. They saw his muscles bulging to the point that they threatened to rip out of his skin. They saw his jaw gnash and twist into arrogant snarls and vicious howls. This was dark magic that they were intimately familiar with. And this was much more powerful than anything they were prepared to take on.
The blood-faced leader shouted another command in their language of darkness and instantly, all of the remaining enemies poofed out of existence.
Leaving only Azzen, facing Fel.
The catgirl immediately knew the danger she was in. Berserkers were notorious in history. Undefeatable in battle. It would take an army to face him in fair combat. And he would never stop. Not for anything. Not even for the purpose or thought that had initiated his violent rampage. Entire civilizations had fallen to the bare hands of a single Berserker.
Her hand dug into the pouch of magic sleep powder, but she was too late. Azzen was already on her. His body pressed against hers. His arms wrapped around her, embracing her like he had the Dendroid Sentry. She was immobilized. Her arms were pressed to her sides. There was nothing she could do. And Azzen began to squeeze as his milky eyes stared into hers.
He squeezed and then he stopped. Holding her firmly… but gently. The catgirl stared back, uncomprehendingly. What was his purpose? Azzen continued to hold her in place, solidly, but simply staring. And then, something changed. His lip curled and his brow furrowed. He jerked his head down, sideways, and then straight up and then down again. He glared at her. And then he clamped his eyes shut and set his jaw rigid and took a deep breath through flaring nostrils.
And when he breathed out, his grip slackened. The boy’s eyes struggled open just a slit and Fel could make out his irises. Those eyes had never looked so beautiful and pure before. And it wasn’t because she was relieved that they weren‘t glazed over, it was because of the emotion she could feel behind them.
Azzen slipped to his knees, but Fel caught him under his arms and held him, cradling him down to the ground gently. She came to her own knees and set his head in her lap as he rapidly fell into a slumber.
He seemed so simple and peaceful now. Breathing steadily and sleeping silently. Though he was covered in splashes of blood from their enemies and decorated in the cuts and bruises of the fight, there was still something innocent and beautiful about him.
Fel had never heard of a Berserker pulling himself out of the rage. In fact, she had heard the exact opposite: that it was impossible. It was said that the magical rage was so powerful because it was all consuming. It took your soul away. It took your mind away. Berserkers weren’t the same beings as their cognitive counterparts, they were Pure Evil. But here was Azzen, sleeping on his own by some choice he had been able to make.
There must be something special about him, Fel thought. There must be something greater than the evil. Something he cares about even more, right down to the core of his being… She thought about it. He must care so much… He must really… Really…
Azzen abruptly let out a loud throaty snore and grinned foolishly with his eyes closed as though he were having some silly dream. Fel snorted derisively.
He must really really be stupid, she thought. Too dumb to even go berserk right. That had to be it.
She stood up and let Azzen’s head clonk on the ground dispassionately. The girl folded her arms to protect her feelings and gazed around at the carnage. She wondered if Azzen had ever killed anybody before, or if this had been his first time. She wondered what on earth it was that could have really stopped him from killing her. She didn’t want to think about where her previous train of thought had been leading. She didn’t ever want to complete it. Because she was sure that if Azzen only knew her better, he would have killed her before anybody else.
The catgirl tried to quell thoughts of her past that were creeping up as she looked around at all the dead and torn bodies. She saw the pointlessness of it. All of it. A reminder of the continuing worthlessness of her own life. She raised her throat up to the sky and let out a shrill scream into the silent dead air.

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bleed by E.A. Skanchy is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.