Village girl hidden bath

2020.11.22 17:50 A_Wise_Mans_Fear Girl hidden bath village

Hey all, I don't know about you, but I'm a sucker for a good cursed object story (and if it's an ancient object? ooooh weeee, gimme). There's a ton out there, but these three might be my favorite (*not counting King Tut's Cursed Tomb, which is my all time fave).
1. The Curse of St. Anne's Well
In 2016, archaeologists uncovered an ancient well near Liverpool. And while the well itself wasn't cursed specifically, there was a curse associated with its ownership. Here's what happened:
To begin, let's start with the cult of St. Anne, a cult that was once widespread in medieval England. See, Anne is apparently the mother of the Virgin Mary, and she has been associated with healing wells often. It was in this particular well in Liverpool that Anne supposedly bathed. And the well then became known for treating skin and eye diseases. For centuries afterward, a nearby priory of 12 monks tended the well.
Then in the 16th century, dispute raged over access to the well. The priory’s Father Delwaney and his landowning neighbor, Hugh Darcy, both claimed ownership. Darcy "predicted" that Delwaney would not have access for much longer. Two days later, King Henry VIII’s men seized the priory and the well.
Delwaney cursed Darcy and, according to legend, fell over dead right after. Within three months, Darcy’s son died of a mysterious illness, and Darcy suffered massive financial loses. A year and a day later, Darcy was found at the bottom of the well with his head crushed in.
2. The cursed tablets in Athens
In 2003, archaeologists unearthed the cremated remains of an ancient Athenian woman. Among her remains, they also found with five lead curse tablets (it's Greek tradition that curse tablets should be deposited underground and if with a body, it's suggested that they wanted to convey the curses to the underworld). The maledictions were dated to the 5th century BC. Four of the tablets were engraved with well-written curses targeting different tavern keepers in Athens and the names of the chthonic gods. The fifth tablet was blank—the words of the curse were probably spoken over it. All of the tablets had been pierced with a nail and folded.
The sophisticated language of the curses suggests professional manufacture. And the writer implores Artemis, who is specifically associated with protecting women and girls.
Now, the researchers that translated the curses suspected commercial rivalry - that one tavern owner was trying to bring curses on some of the others - but that is absolutely NOT where my mind went. I don't know about you, but if these curses specifically called on Artemis's protection, I thought perhaps these tavern owners were trading in human trafficking or were known rapists or something. I don't know, just seems more likely to invoke the wrath of gods for something like that than professional rivalry...
3. The Croesus treasure and its trail of misfortune
In 1965, villagers discovered treasure - 363 silver and gold objects - in a tomb in Western Turkey. It was dubbed the “Croesus Treasure,” after the sixth-century-BC Lydian king. (It's also sometimes referred to as the Karun Treasure.)
Soon, misfortune struck, leading many to believe that the treasure was cursed. One grave robber lost three children to violent deaths. Another was paralyzed. A third went through an ugly divorce, and his son committed suicide. The last thief went insane and spent years telling people of 40 barrels of gold that he’d hidden.
New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art purchased the treasure. They displayed the hoard as “Greek” to cover up its origin. In 1987, three days before the Met would have rightfully owned the haul, the Turkish government took steps to get the treasure back. After a six-year legal battle, the Met admitted that they knew the treasure was stolen. The Croesus Treasure was returned to Turkey. (Sounds like the Met avoided some death...)
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2020.11.13 16:08 BLT_WITH_RANCH Village girl hidden bath

Jazal crosses the bridge and the cloaked men follow. Eli is pinned between Jonah, the bridge, and the sheer cliff face. He could not run, even if he wanted to. He is slower now, blind, and even with the help of the hive, he could never keep pace with them.
“How did you survive?” Jonah asks.
“Don’t hurt me,” Eli says.
Jazal rushes towards him. The old man is keeping one hand firmly on the hilt of his sword, the other on a small wineskin strapped to his belt. The horse follows reluctantly. The two others draw daggers.
“Wait!” Eli says.
Jazal draws the wineskin. Before Eli or Jonah can react, he pops the cork, swinging it in a comically wide arc above his head. Water splashes. It sprays on Jonah’s face, on the horse, on Eli. The two men stop for a heartbeat, and Jazal plunges at them.
In a split-second, all five are dripping and confused.
Jazal laughs.
“No Demon!” he says. He lowers the wineskin and raises his hands, palms outstretched. “No demon. Look. No one is possessed. Look! We would have smoked and burned with water. We’re all safe.”
The two cloaked men are hesitant. They tap their daggers against the side of their belts with a clack of steel on brass. They look towards Jonah. They wait.
“By the gods,” Jonah says. “Eli Sapat. You lucky bastard. What happened to you?”
His gaze drops. He glances between the men, Jazal, the horse. He grips the handle of his cleaver with white knuckles. Then his demeanor softens. His eyes dim slightly. He shakes his head, subtly, but enough that the others to notice.
The two men sheathe their daggers. They pull back their hoods. Their faces are haggard, scarred, weary. There is a deep sinking behind their eyes, a look of worry that wasn’t present before Amon arrived in the village. They look so much older.
Jazal and the hornets are still on edge. Eli knows this through the incessant, droning of their wings. They still cry out in warning.
“Demon. Demon.”
“Stop it.”
“Demon!”
“Are you blind!” Eli is furious. Hive has been nothing but irritant, ever-present, an itch he cannot get rid of, a buzzing in his hears he cannot silence. “Did you not listen to Jazal? There is no demon here. What are you on about! Can’t you just shut up for five minutes?”
A single hornet flies towards Eli. It flies into the curls of his har, nestles itself down, and starts to tickle.
“We are sorry,” Hive says.
Eli giggles.
“Is something funny?” Jonah asks.
Eli startles. He looks back and realizes that he has ignored the others. Jonah is watching him curiously. Jazal is leading the horse down the path. The others grab their packs from concealed spots in the bushes. They packed light. Eli wonders how much time they had to back what little they could, fleeing from the aberration that was Amon, hearing the other townsfolk burn.
“Eli? You okay?”
Eli shakes his head.
“Let’s get back to camp,” he says nervously, “Then you can talk. Okay? Then we’ll just talk.”
They walk a quarter mile down the trail, away from the cliffside and the bridge, and into the shelter of the forest. Rocks are everywhere. Immense Boulders stand out from the thickets of green. Jonah stops at one the size of a small cabin. He turns down a nearly hidden side trail. They press through. A crow calls. A brook gurgles nearby. In a moment, they reach a clearing.
Three horses stand by the edge of the creek. A set of small lean-to tents squat under the base of an immense oak tree. A small fire pit still smolders in the center of the clearing.
The three survivors look exhausted.
Jazal watches them carefully. He looks back at Eli. He shakes his head.
“You must be hungry,” he says, his voice reserved and monotonous. “I have some salted beef.”
“Yes!” Jonah says.
“Eli, can you help him? I must double back. There is something I need to check, just a feeling, but I need to make sure.”
Eli nods.
“I will return at dawn,” Jazal says.
Then he is off, walking the path. Eli stands by the edge of the clearing and looks at the makeshift beds underneath the lean-to. He is so tired. He would give anything for a solid night of sleep, a warm bath, the soft touch of sheepskin blankets.
Jonah must have noticed.
“I’ll let you sleep as long as you’d like if you give me the salt tack,” he says, nearly begging.
Eli isn’t convinced. They have a limited supply and if the journey is half as long as Jazal plans, they will run out in a matter of days. They must ration. Eli knows this.
“I can’t,” he says.
“Boy, quit actin’ cute,” Jonah’s friend says.
The other grins.
“You can show us, or we can tear those bags apart. Your choice. Only one of those gets you a mattress.”
The hornets bristle in the branches above. His whole hive buzzes nervously. They are ready, eager. Eli wonders if this is their nature. If they would always be untrusting. If they would always beg to—
“Sting?”
“No.”
“Please?”
Eli stops mid-thought. This is the first time they have ever asked, nay, begged for permission. It isn’t in their nature. Is this part of them becoming connected—the hornets becoming more human? The thought terrifies him. Are they draining his humanity?
Eli wonders if he will one day wake up and not recognize himself. Not recognize the face of Jazal, the memories of his family, if he will no longer enjoy the sound of music. If there will only be pollen, and the currents of the air and the inescapable, immutable urge to sting.
Eli reaches for the saddlebags.
“Here.” He is done caring. The men are starving and they dig into the beef with an odd hunger. They eat their fill. Eli sits with them around the still-smoldering campfire, until every scrap of beef is gone. The men still have a hungry look in their eyes. Salted beef is not enough. They need more.
Eli is cautious. The men are twice his age and much stronger. He is out of place. He has never fit in much with the other villagers. They were always focused on work with an almost fanatic passion. But Eli was whimsical. He didn’t find the same joy in his work. He didn’t find the same camaraderie.
He always has been, and always will be alone.
“Not alone,” Hive says. “Not anymore. Alone together.”
“Alone together,” Eli whispers.
This is a small comfort. The other men are watching him, waiting for him to move, to act, to speak. He doesn’t know what to say. What could he possibly tell them? He doesn’t want to be here. He doesn’t want to talk to anyone, he just wants to be alone.
“Listen,” Hive says.
Jonah clears his throat.
Eli has a moment of clarity. He must listen. This is his path. But not just to the whispers, or the directions of Jazal, or the murmurs of the hive. Eli must listen to the people, to the plight of the world. And maybe that’s how he can save it, one story at a time. Alone together.
“Tell me your story,” Eli says.
Jonah talks.
Jonah was hunting when he first heard the screams. There was a small game trail a half-mile south of the butcher’s shop, and he was hunting boar. There were tracks everywhere. He had been hunting this one for the last week and was close. So close.
It was all he needed. Igor’s daughter, Samira, was young and beautiful and they were going to marry. He didn’t have a home. He didn’t come from money. He was fat and ugly and poor but it didn’t matter. When he looked into Samira’s eyes, he felt like the richest man in the world.
“Run away with me,” she told him. “let’s run south, towards the coast, away from all of this.”
But Jonah couldn’t leave in clear conscience. Not yet. Not without paying amends. So he hunted down the boar to give Igor, one last gift. It wasn’t enough. No amount would ever be enough to equal Samira’s worth, but it was a start, a peace offering. Maybe Igor would think kindly of him. And maybe, just maybe, Igor would be kind enough to grant permission to wed.
But Johan heard the screams and started running. He smelled smoke. The whole village seemed to burn. People ran left and right, wide-eyed, carrying bags, jewelry, pets, children. They carried wounds, blood-soaked bandages, burns on their arms and feet.
They fled.
Jonah couldn’t leave.
He ran back towards the village and Igor's shop burned.
“Samira!”
The smoke was thick, and he thought he heard screaming. He burst through the door. Flames licked the counter, roasting the meat hanging from hooks. Flames licked the stone, melted the glass windows, singed his skin and his har.
“Samira! Samira!” he called but no one heard him.
Then he heard laughter. A dark form slithered from the smoke. Piercing yellow eyes. A hiss. A cry. Jonah ran and never looked back.
“I ran,” Jonah says, “Like a cur. A coward.”
“There was nothing you could do,” Eli says.
“What do you know! You’re just a boy. You don’t know anything. You don’t know what it feels like to lose someone like that, or to knot know what happened to them. That’s the worst. Not knowing if Samira is still alive. What the demon has done, is she still human?”
Jonah shakes. He curls his fists and punches the ground. Over and over, dirty divots in the ground. The look in his eyes is that of a dead man. Eli wonders if the demon got to him, after all.
Eli lays down for a nap on the mattress. He sleeps with the thought of Jonah’s soulless eyes watching him.
“The world whispers,” the hornets say, “In the touch of the wind, the turning of stones, the rhythm of the waters. In memories, in dreams, you can hear them. Listen.”
He dreams.
Eli stands in the castle hallway. Water drips from cracks in the ceiling. Thunder booms. A flash of lightning illuminates the walls, the still portraits, the hanging shields.
He has been here before. As he walks, he recognizes the stonework, the vines, the closed door to the room of mirrors. He wants to stop and explore but something calls him downward. The girl. Her voice softly echoes. He puts a hand against the stone and feels the vibrations, the sound of her voice amplified through touch. She sings. It is beautiful.
Her voice starts low. It is a somber notes, notes that speak of a hard life, a treacherous life. Then rising, notes that speak of promise, of change. The tone grows more frantic. It is wild, increasing in volume until it drowns the rhythm of the rain.
Then quiet, low notes again. Something lost that cannot be recovered. Something stolen. Hearts crossed. Then the melody sharpens into one rising high note, clear, crisp, bright and beautiful as the sun!
The song ends as Eli descends.
He stands by the door to her cell. The door is rough to the touch. The hinges squeak. The wood groans in protest as he forces the jamb. Eli steps through.
The woman sits alone with her back to the door. Her long hair falls in tangles down her back, blue and silky, the color of a cloudless sky. She wears a moth-eaten sackcloth. At the sound of the door, she turns.
Eli pauses.
Her eyes are not sunk back, nor hollow, nor is there a gaping paleness to her face like the previous dream. Instead, her face is flushed, and her eyes are a delicate shade of amber. There is a pained expression on her face, nothing more. No hornets. No blackness.
She stares through Eli, her focus on the hallway behind him. It is as if she cannot see him. It is as if she cannot see the open door.
“Anna,” Eli whispers.
This is her name, though he cannot know this. Anna does not respond. Instead, she stands. She walks towards the far side of the room, where a dank pile of hay lies for bedding. She reaches into the pile. Her fingers prod the ground, searching, and her fingers curl around a rusty nail. She eyes it. She rubs it through her fingers. She squeezes and the tip pricks her palm.
“What are you doing!”
Anna squeezes harder until blood drips in gentle plinks on the stone. She starts to shiver. Trembling.
Eli starts towards her, but he is rooted in place. Black wisps of smoke curl around his feet, binding him. Smoke pours out of the cracks in the stone, trails in from the open door, surrounds him. He can’t move. He can only watch.
“I can’t stop it,” she says. She raises the nail to her chest. There are tears in her eyes, falling like raindrops, falling like blood, falling like wisps of smoke. “I can’t stop him.”
“No!”
The nail plunges and Eli screams until his voice gives out.
Eli wakes in the night. The campfire crackles in the distance. There is a sharp smell of liquor and nauseating pine. Glass vials litter the ground, reflecting the flickering orange flame. There is movement behind him.
A hand clamps around his ankle.
Jonah is furious. A sweaty sheen covers his face. His eyes bulge, wet and raw, and he squints as he clamps his pudgy fingers around Eli.
“You did this,” Jonah says, in near hysteria. “She died because of you!”
Jonah tugs and pulls Eli from the lean-to. Eli screams. The other to stand nearby with faces sick of sin. They look at Eli with a strange hunger, faces flushed with hatred. Then the men are on him.
“You rat! You whore!” they scream.
They pin Eli’s arms. One grabs him as he bucks. Eli struggles but they have him in a death grip. A chokehold. Eli’s eyes bulge. They squeeze.
“Hive!” Eli cries out.
The hornets have been silent, but now they stir. They have been dreaming. Watching. Waiting. Eli’s unconscious keeps them at bay but now, like a giant waking from slumber, the hive is ready.
Jonah reaches for his cleaver.
“You’ll pay,” he says, over and over again, as if the words could make reason from madness. “You owe us.”
It isn’t fair. Eli had no choice. He couldn’t have known that Amon would come for him. He can’t change who he is. He can’t take it back. If he could, he would in a heartbeat. He would trade his hive and his dreams for the life he left behind. He would give it all up to be back home in his hammock, listening to his father play the lute, listening to his mother’s laughter.
But he cannot take it back.
He screams and rage fills him. It is red hot, wild, an anger that he has never known before.
“It isn’t fair!” he screams. “It isn’t my fault!”
He wishes them dead. All of them. Jonah, Igor, Jazal. He wishes they would all drop dead at his feet, that the whole world would fall and bend to his will. His face flushes and he stops struggling, for only a moment, suspended in the horror of what he must do. Then the rage of the hive fills him, and he loses control.
“Enough,” he says.
Eli whispers. He screams the word into the mind of the hive, projects his thoughts outward. The men stop, momentarily, as if stung. They blink. They twitch.
“Sting!”
The hive descends. A hundred hornets fly like arrows into the men’s faces. They swarm the eyes. They sting the ears. They cover the nostrils and sting and hammer the temples of the men with reckless abandon.
“Sting,” the hornets chant. “Destroy. Consume. Protect!”
Jonah reels back. He looks at Eli with a savage vengeance. He grips the cleaver tight, but at the onslaught of the hornets, drops it to the ground. The knife lands with a clatter on the rocks.
“Demon,” Jonah says. A look of horror fills him as he stares down at Eli, and the hornets guarding him. “What are you?”
The men hold Eli firm for a moment, but the hornets are overwhelming. They let Eli go. They swat at the insects, covering their eyes with their hands, ripping, squishing and slapping.
“Run!” Hive tells him. “We will give you time.”
“Kill him!” one of the men shouts.
Eli reaches for the cleaver. He fumbles blindly for a moment, fingers trailing over roots and twigs and dirt. Then Eli finds the handle, grabs the heavy knife, and stumbles into the woods.
The lights in his mind start blinking out.
Eli hurries towards the patch but the men have regained their composure. Their eyelids are swollen, lips puffed, nostrils flared. Their ears are bloody and raw from the hornets.
Their eyes are full of lust and rage.
They rush at Eli.
“Swing!” the hornets command.
Eli has no time to think. There is only the weight of the knife, the space in the air around him, the sounds of the men crashing through the brush. He cannot see the knife cut a swatch through the air, and for this he is grateful. Eli swings.
The cleaver bites. His arm shakes from the impact and he nearly drops the knife. The blade slicks through flesh with a sickening squelch. Eli’s stomach curdles. He wretches, the taste of bile on his lips, but there is no time.
“Behind you!” Hive is frantic.
Eli pulls the blade free and turns, but he is too slow. Jonah is on him. Eli falls to the ground and fat fingers wrap around his hand. They struggle for control of the blade. They punch. Jonah is twice Eli’s age, but Eli is quicker, more nimble. Eli pushes Jonah free, wins control of the knife, and stands.
There is a movement to his right.
A sword grates on steel as it is unsheathed. Jazal grunts. Steel flashes. Blood spatters. The third man falls dead on the ground, and the old hunter approaches carefully.
“Are you hurt?” Jazal asks.
Eli is shaking too much to respond. He grips the cleaver with white, bruised and bloody knuckles. He looms over Jonah.
“Do it,” Jonah says. “And damn you. Curse you! I hope the demon finds you and makes you his whore!” I hope you die slowly, for what you did. I hope he makes you—”
Eli stings.
Jonah slumps silently to the forest floor. Eli is bruised, weak, afraid. Tears start in his eyes and he doesn’t want any of this. He wants to be at home. He wants to be alone. “Why?” is all Eli can say. “Why would they. How could they…”
The words never come. Eli stammers and leans against the base of an oak and sobs. The hive was right, after all.
“Demon,” they say softly, “Run.”
And Eli knows now that there are demons inside everyone, some worse even than those from beyond the veil. Amon did not need to possess them to destroy them. The memories were enough. And he always wins. Eli knows this, staring down at the bodies of the men he once called friends. Amon always wins.
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2020.11.13 16:05 BLT_WITH_RANCH [Whisper Child] - Part 8

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Synopsis:
“Can you hear the whispers?”
Eli Sapat has never spoken to a hive of hornets. He’s never ridden on the back of a jaguar, stolen a sword from a specter, or lost a duel with a demon. All Eli knows is a quiet life on his father’s farm. His room is a tiny closet on the hall, and he finds comfort in making music with a lute.
But all that is about to change when a demon descends on his hometown of Springbrook. In an instant, Eli loses everything: his home, his eyesight, and his family. Thrust blindly into a world of magic, intrigue, and prophesy, he must find the strength to achieve the great destiny that awaits him… If Eli can survive the journey.
EIGHT Jazal crosses the bridge and the cloaked men follow. Eli is pinned between Jonah, the bridge, and the sheer cliff face. He could not run, even if he wanted to. He is slower now, blind, and even with the help of the hive, he could never keep pace with them.
“How did you survive?” Jonah asks.
“Don’t hurt me,” Eli says.
Jazal rushes towards him. The old man is keeping one hand firmly on the hilt of his sword, the other on a small wineskin strapped to his belt. The horse follows reluctantly. The two others draw daggers.
“Wait!” Eli says.
Jazal draws the wineskin. Before Eli or Jonah can react, he pops the cork, swinging it in a comically wide arc above his head. Water splashes. It sprays on Jonah’s face, on the horse, on Eli. The two men stop for a heartbeat, and Jazal plunges at them.
In a split-second, all five are dripping and confused.
Jazal laughs.
“No Demon!” he says. He lowers the wineskin and raises his hands, palms outstretched. “No demon. Look. No one is possessed. Look! We would have smoked and burned with water. We’re all safe.”
The two cloaked men are hesitant. They tap their daggers against the side of their belts with a clack of steel on brass. They look towards Jonah. They wait.
“By the gods,” Jonah says. “Eli Sapat. You lucky bastard. What happened to you?”
His gaze drops. He glances between the men, Jazal, the horse. He grips the handle of his cleaver with white knuckles. Then his demeanor softens. His eyes dim slightly. He shakes his head, subtly, but enough that the others to notice.
The two men sheathe their daggers. They pull back their hoods. Their faces are haggard, scarred, weary. There is a deep sinking behind their eyes, a look of worry that wasn’t present before Amon arrived in the village. They look so much older.
Jazal and the hornets are still on edge. Eli knows this through the incessant, droning of their wings. They still cry out in warning.
“Demon. Demon.”
“Stop it.”
“Demon!”
“Are you blind!” Eli is furious. Hive has been nothing but irritant, ever-present, an itch he cannot get rid of, a buzzing in his hears he cannot silence. “Did you not listen to Jazal? There is no demon here. What are you on about! Can’t you just shut up for five minutes?”
A single hornet flies towards Eli. It flies into the curls of his har, nestles itself down, and starts to tickle.
“We are sorry,” Hive says.
Eli giggles.
“Is something funny?” Jonah asks.
Eli startles. He looks back and realizes that he has ignored the others. Jonah is watching him curiously. Jazal is leading the horse down the path. The others grab their packs from concealed spots in the bushes. They packed light. Eli wonders how much time they had to back what little they could, fleeing from the aberration that was Amon, hearing the other townsfolk burn.
“Eli? You okay?”
Eli shakes his head.
“Let’s get back to camp,” he says nervously, “Then you can talk. Okay? Then we’ll just talk.”
They walk a quarter mile down the trail, away from the cliffside and the bridge, and into the shelter of the forest. Rocks are everywhere. Immense Boulders stand out from the thickets of green. Jonah stops at one the size of a small cabin. He turns down a nearly hidden side trail. They press through. A crow calls. A brook gurgles nearby. In a moment, they reach a clearing.
Three horses stand by the edge of the creek. A set of small lean-to tents squat under the base of an immense oak tree. A small fire pit still smolders in the center of the clearing.
The three survivors look exhausted.
Jazal watches them carefully. He looks back at Eli. He shakes his head.
“You must be hungry,” he says, his voice reserved and monotonous. “I have some salted beef.”
“Yes!” Jonah says.
“Eli, can you help him? I must double back. There is something I need to check, just a feeling, but I need to make sure.”
Eli nods.
“I will return at dawn,” Jazal says.
Then he is off, walking the path. Eli stands by the edge of the clearing and looks at the makeshift beds underneath the lean-to. He is so tired. He would give anything for a solid night of sleep, a warm bath, the soft touch of sheepskin blankets.
Jonah must have noticed.
“I’ll let you sleep as long as you’d like if you give me the salt tack,” he says, nearly begging.
Eli isn’t convinced. They have a limited supply and if the journey is half as long as Jazal plans, they will run out in a matter of days. They must ration. Eli knows this.
“I can’t,” he says.
“Boy, quit actin’ cute,” Jonah’s friend says.
The other grins.
“You can show us, or we can tear those bags apart. Your choice. Only one of those gets you a mattress.”
The hornets bristle in the branches above. His whole hive buzzes nervously. They are ready, eager. Eli wonders if this is their nature. If they would always be untrusting. If they would always beg to—
“Sting?”
“No.”
“Please?”
Eli stops mid-thought. This is the first time they have ever asked, nay, begged for permission. It isn’t in their nature. Is this part of them becoming connected—the hornets becoming more human? The thought terrifies him. Are they draining his humanity?
Eli wonders if he will one day wake up and not recognize himself. Not recognize the face of Jazal, the memories of his family, if he will no longer enjoy the sound of music. If there will only be pollen, and the currents of the air and the inescapable, immutable urge to sting.
Eli reaches for the saddlebags.
“Here.” He is done caring. The men are starving and they dig into the beef with an odd hunger. They eat their fill. Eli sits with them around the still-smoldering campfire, until every scrap of beef is gone. The men still have a hungry look in their eyes. Salted beef is not enough. They need more.
Eli is cautious. The men are twice his age and much stronger. He is out of place. He has never fit in much with the other villagers. They were always focused on work with an almost fanatic passion. But Eli was whimsical. He didn’t find the same joy in his work. He didn’t find the same camaraderie.
He always has been, and always will be alone.
“Not alone,” Hive says. “Not anymore. Alone together.”
“Alone together,” Eli whispers.
This is a small comfort. The other men are watching him, waiting for him to move, to act, to speak. He doesn’t know what to say. What could he possibly tell them? He doesn’t want to be here. He doesn’t want to talk to anyone, he just wants to be alone.
“Listen,” Hive says.
Jonah clears his throat.
Eli has a moment of clarity. He must listen. This is his path. But not just to the whispers, or the directions of Jazal, or the murmurs of the hive. Eli must listen to the people, to the plight of the world. And maybe that’s how he can save it, one story at a time. Alone together.
“Tell me your story,” Eli says.
Jonah talks.
Jonah was hunting when he first heard the screams. There was a small game trail a half-mile south of the butcher’s shop, and he was hunting boar. There were tracks everywhere. He had been hunting this one for the last week and was close. So close.
It was all he needed. Igor’s daughter, Samira, was young and beautiful and they were going to marry. He didn’t have a home. He didn’t come from money. He was fat and ugly and poor but it didn’t matter. When he looked into Samira’s eyes, he felt like the richest man in the world.
“Run away with me,” she told him. “let’s run south, towards the coast, away from all of this.”
But Jonah couldn’t leave in clear conscience. Not yet. Not without paying amends. So he hunted down the boar to give Igor, one last gift. It wasn’t enough. No amount would ever be enough to equal Samira’s worth, but it was a start, a peace offering. Maybe Igor would think kindly of him. And maybe, just maybe, Igor would be kind enough to grant permission to wed.
But Johan heard the screams and started running. He smelled smoke. The whole village seemed to burn. People ran left and right, wide-eyed, carrying bags, jewelry, pets, children. They carried wounds, blood-soaked bandages, burns on their arms and feet.
They fled.
Jonah couldn’t leave.
He ran back towards the village and Igor's shop burned.
“Samira!”
The smoke was thick, and he thought he heard screaming. He burst through the door. Flames licked the counter, roasting the meat hanging from hooks. Flames licked the stone, melted the glass windows, singed his skin and his har.
“Samira! Samira!” he called but no one heard him.
Then he heard laughter. A dark form slithered from the smoke. Piercing yellow eyes. A hiss. A cry. Jonah ran and never looked back.
“I ran,” Jonah says, “Like a cur. A coward.”
“There was nothing you could do,” Eli says.
“What do you know! You’re just a boy. You don’t know anything. You don’t know what it feels like to lose someone like that, or to knot know what happened to them. That’s the worst. Not knowing if Samira is still alive. What the demon has done, is she still human?”
Jonah shakes. He curls his fists and punches the ground. Over and over, dirty divots in the ground. The look in his eyes is that of a dead man. Eli wonders if the demon got to him, after all.
Eli lays down for a nap on the mattress. He sleeps with the thought of Jonah’s soulless eyes watching him.
“The world whispers,” the hornets say, “In the touch of the wind, the turning of stones, the rhythm of the waters. In memories, in dreams, you can hear them. Listen.”
He dreams.
Eli stands in the castle hallway. Water drips from cracks in the ceiling. Thunder booms. A flash of lightning illuminates the walls, the still portraits, the hanging shields.
He has been here before. As he walks, he recognizes the stonework, the vines, the closed door to the room of mirrors. He wants to stop and explore but something calls him downward. The girl. Her voice softly echoes. He puts a hand against the stone and feels the vibrations, the sound of her voice amplified through touch. She sings. It is beautiful.
Her voice starts low. It is a somber notes, notes that speak of a hard life, a treacherous life. Then rising, notes that speak of promise, of change. The tone grows more frantic. It is wild, increasing in volume until it drowns the rhythm of the rain.
Then quiet, low notes again. Something lost that cannot be recovered. Something stolen. Hearts crossed. Then the melody sharpens into one rising high note, clear, crisp, bright and beautiful as the sun!
The song ends as Eli descends.
He stands by the door to her cell. The door is rough to the touch. The hinges squeak. The wood groans in protest as he forces the jamb. Eli steps through.
The woman sits alone with her back to the door. Her long hair falls in tangles down her back, blue and silky, the color of a cloudless sky. She wears a moth-eaten sackcloth. At the sound of the door, she turns.
Eli pauses.
Her eyes are not sunk back, nor hollow, nor is there a gaping paleness to her face like the previous dream. Instead, her face is flushed, and her eyes are a delicate shade of amber. There is a pained expression on her face, nothing more. No hornets. No blackness.
She stares through Eli, her focus on the hallway behind him. It is as if she cannot see him. It is as if she cannot see the open door.
“Anna,” Eli whispers.
This is her name, though he cannot know this. Anna does not respond. Instead, she stands. She walks towards the far side of the room, where a dank pile of hay lies for bedding. She reaches into the pile. Her fingers prod the ground, searching, and her fingers curl around a rusty nail. She eyes it. She rubs it through her fingers. She squeezes and the tip pricks her palm.
“What are you doing!”
Anna squeezes harder until blood drips in gentle plinks on the stone. She starts to shiver. Trembling.
Eli starts towards her, but he is rooted in place. Black wisps of smoke curl around his feet, binding him. Smoke pours out of the cracks in the stone, trails in from the open door, surrounds him. He can’t move. He can only watch.
“I can’t stop it,” she says. She raises the nail to her chest. There are tears in her eyes, falling like raindrops, falling like blood, falling like wisps of smoke. “I can’t stop him.”
“No!”
The nail plunges and Eli screams until his voice gives out.
Eli wakes in the night. The campfire crackles in the distance. There is a sharp smell of liquor and nauseating pine. Glass vials litter the ground, reflecting the flickering orange flame. There is movement behind him.
A hand clamps around his ankle.
Jonah is furious. A sweaty sheen covers his face. His eyes bulge, wet and raw, and he squints as he clamps his pudgy fingers around Eli.
“You did this,” Jonah says, in near hysteria. “She died because of you!”
Jonah tugs and pulls Eli from the lean-to. Eli screams. The other to stand nearby with faces sick of sin. They look at Eli with a strange hunger, faces flushed with hatred. Then the men are on him.
“You rat! You whore!” they scream.
They pin Eli’s arms. One grabs him as he bucks. Eli struggles but they have him in a death grip. A chokehold. Eli’s eyes bulge. They squeeze.
“Hive!” Eli cries out.
The hornets have been silent, but now they stir. They have been dreaming. Watching. Waiting. Eli’s unconscious keeps them at bay but now, like a giant waking from slumber, the hive is ready.
Jonah reaches for his cleaver.
“You’ll pay,” he says, over and over again, as if the words could make reason from madness. “You owe us.”
It isn’t fair. Eli had no choice. He couldn’t have known that Amon would come for him. He can’t change who he is. He can’t take it back. If he could, he would in a heartbeat. He would trade his hive and his dreams for the life he left behind. He would give it all up to be back home in his hammock, listening to his father play the lute, listening to his mother’s laughter.
But he cannot take it back.
He screams and rage fills him. It is red hot, wild, an anger that he has never known before.
“It isn’t fair!” he screams. “It isn’t my fault!”
He wishes them dead. All of them. Jonah, Igor, Jazal. He wishes they would all drop dead at his feet, that the whole world would fall and bend to his will. His face flushes and he stops struggling, for only a moment, suspended in the horror of what he must do. Then the rage of the hive fills him, and he loses control.
“Enough,” he says.
Eli whispers. He screams the word into the mind of the hive, projects his thoughts outward. The men stop, momentarily, as if stung. They blink. They twitch.
“Sting!”
The hive descends. A hundred hornets fly like arrows into the men’s faces. They swarm the eyes. They sting the ears. They cover the nostrils and sting and hammer the temples of the men with reckless abandon.
“Sting,” the hornets chant. “Destroy. Consume. Protect!”
Jonah reels back. He looks at Eli with a savage vengeance. He grips the cleaver tight, but at the onslaught of the hornets, drops it to the ground. The knife lands with a clatter on the rocks.
“Demon,” Jonah says. A look of horror fills him as he stares down at Eli, and the hornets guarding him. “What are you?”
The men hold Eli firm for a moment, but the hornets are overwhelming. They let Eli go. They swat at the insects, covering their eyes with their hands, ripping, squishing and slapping.
“Run!” Hive tells him. “We will give you time.”
“Kill him!” one of the men shouts.
Eli reaches for the cleaver. He fumbles blindly for a moment, fingers trailing over roots and twigs and dirt. Then Eli finds the handle, grabs the heavy knife, and stumbles into the woods.
The lights in his mind start blinking out.
Eli hurries towards the patch but the men have regained their composure. Their eyelids are swollen, lips puffed, nostrils flared. Their ears are bloody and raw from the hornets.
Their eyes are full of lust and rage.
They rush at Eli.
“Swing!” the hornets command.
Eli has no time to think. There is only the weight of the knife, the space in the air around him, the sounds of the men crashing through the brush. He cannot see the knife cut a swatch through the air, and for this he is grateful. Eli swings.
The cleaver bites. His arm shakes from the impact and he nearly drops the knife. The blade slicks through flesh with a sickening squelch. Eli’s stomach curdles. He wretches, the taste of bile on his lips, but there is no time.
“Behind you!” Hive is frantic.
Eli pulls the blade free and turns, but he is too slow. Jonah is on him. Eli falls to the ground and fat fingers wrap around his hand. They struggle for control of the blade. They punch. Jonah is twice Eli’s age, but Eli is quicker, more nimble. Eli pushes Jonah free, wins control of the knife, and stands.
There is a movement to his right.
A sword grates on steel as it is unsheathed. Jazal grunts. Steel flashes. Blood spatters. The third man falls dead on the ground, and the old hunter approaches carefully.
“Are you hurt?” Jazal asks.
Eli is shaking too much to respond. He grips the cleaver with white, bruised and bloody knuckles. He looms over Jonah.
“Do it,” Jonah says. “And damn you. Curse you! I hope the demon finds you and makes you his whore!” I hope you die slowly, for what you did. I hope he makes you—”
Eli stings.
Jonah slumps silently to the forest floor. Eli is bruised, weak, afraid. Tears start in his eyes and he doesn’t want any of this. He wants to be at home. He wants to be alone. “Why?” is all Eli can say. “Why would they. How could they…”
The words never come. Eli stammers and leans against the base of an oak and sobs. The hive was right, after all.
“Demon,” they say softly, “Run.”
And Eli knows now that there are demons inside everyone, some worse even than those from beyond the veil. Amon did not need to possess them to destroy them. The memories were enough. And he always wins. Eli knows this, staring down at the bodies of the men he once called friends. Amon always wins.
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2020.11.10 20:50 No_Shopping_9789 Village girl hidden bath

Disfruten puercos (son muchos codigos)
229144 253687 238577 236509 ‌227675 229085 233245 266177 254351 265855 239842 219847 239749 230566 253104 230185 251974 253091 251489 238030 260614 245023 232887 233547 262158 262870 239312 255129 244530 246963 256050 215459 243725 233770 250704 261819 261830 215658 256404 260028 261789 241254 268580 262407 262252 201814 250193 236036 262889 243933 245697 239750 128983 95364 223815 225080 110332 225767 97247 231139 266116 217037 160657 182439 205089 176495 199121 199425 184068 186615 224644 129479 251524 153374 146499 258212 163532 255244 269825 235914 247103 138365 124624 219718 168941 265918 205995 191390 ‌225496 259137 231681 161688 ‌199613 259260 260433 235532 ‌88323 272117 170213 256613 ‌258382 224942 /g/181556/ - Fudeoro Sisters /g/152456/ - Mou Teitoku No Soba /g/167936/ - Inma Mo Mikata /g/139048/ - shojo soushitsu /g/185592/ - Gensoukyou Rakuenka Keikaku 11 /g/191427/ - Kousei Iinkai /g/175015/ - Sister Breeder /g/142825/ - A Certain Village /g/182290/ - A hero taken prisoner /g/192845/ - Toaru Natsu /g/192849/ - Toaru Fuyu /g/183099/ - Adolescent calculation /g/192143/ - Blonde no koigokoro /g/142825/ - Toaru mura no Fudeoroshi Jijou /g/153856/ - Tenryuu Onee-chan fo naisho no Yasen Enshuu!! /g/158404/ - Kusogaki /g/136026/ - Megaflower x flower /g/188918/ Kodomo no Ecchi /g/193876/ - Razoku no Yoru /g/193984/ - Houkago Rendezvous /g/76119/ - Broadcast Girlfriend /g/192874/ - Koyomi Fechi /g/107180/ - Harem Bukai no Boku /g/110900/ - Kiniro /gBRING FORTH THY HOLY CODES!!! Just wanna share some of my stocks... ...... 167466 165684 254048 175015 174016 142825 129128 171417 129128 95809 239567 247021 46579 123580 171417 173543 197422 187835 217832 206573 169546 193107 190805 220309 211112 132768 97945 164783 206446 251608 90182 256018 138470 110826 175494 134764 145647 212562 179166 214784 176977 191434 191434 239536 236342 227702 204425 205079 85333 254935 232837 232385 232341 254087 50535 235202 94159 52365 255034 153045 159457 173235 96270 196020 191774 230332 95298 89514 73649 203027 217404 65573 255457 199874 233133 205367 233693 50046 234191 209455 206366 253799 39249 172197 243552 223998221050 217456 225019 234165 258245 247696 258212 258465 86493 258133 244327 260640 261171 244996 202634 165950 220967 120977 204746 142850 99439 232439 246032 200948 265804 25913 262861 196077 155489 257528 267270 177044 267502 184840 144714 228575 268002 267980 227439 267980 268015 89502 228575 220893 160609 261107 110747 235532 248196 228948 259361 235032 139512 257528 260369 261650 234174 116174 239732 213835 146913 216227 182290 117013 259600 139512 258479 173101 235532 258488 264551 263661 242668 154884 150096 265842 259137 781573 234734 244436 265841 265837 255337 110955 265842 266301 928040 122557 135420 209519 265756 136489 242517 266965 134035 266613 183469 244996 255662 267352 208797 267270 267043 213560 261868 267352 186938 267369 263516 266942 111292 233513 262069 172807 263960 184840 266495 252548 267617 193770 2217119Before silencing myself for a few days because of my hate posts I will bring thy holy codes! 312167 314836 234366 266942 298288 250647 268293 314536 314565 114977 302610 314902 261648 121910 23469 308986 305564 305909 260217 307239 242530 /g/181556/ - Fudeoro Sisters /g/152456/ - Mou Teitoku No Soba /g/167936/ - Inma Mo Mikata /g/139048/ - shojo soushitsu /g/185592/ - Gensoukyou Rakuenka Keikaku 11 /g/191427/ - Kousei Iinkai /g/175015/ - Sister Breeder /g/142825/ - A Certain Village /g/182290/ - A hero taken prisoner /g/192845/ - Toaru Natsu /g/192849/ - Toaru Fuyu /g/183099/ - Adolescent calculation /g/192143/ - Blonde no koigokoro /g/142825/ - Toaru mura no Fudeoroshi Jijou /g/153856/ - Tenryuu Onee-chan fo naisho no Yasen Enshuu!! /g/158404/ - Kusogaki /g/136026/ - Megaflower x flower /g/188918/ Kodomo no Ecchi /g/193876/ - Razoku no Yoru /g/193984/ - Houkago Rendezvous /g/76119/ - Broadcast Girlfriend /g/192874/ - Koyomi Fechi /g/107180/ - Harem Bukai no Boku /g/110900/ - Kiniro /g/135193/ - It's my win! /g/161488/ - Shota Teitoku to Nyuukyo Time /g/65433/ - Jirettai no Yo! /g/182327/ - Sakeno Seiton /g/78651/ - Harem Time /g/190230/ - Boku no Bimama /g/191880/ - Sanae Hamaru /g/180600/ - Sakaki-san Satisfaction /g/105465/ - Sakaki-san Franchise /g/173023/ - Tiny Evil /g/191049/ - Kono Suba 1 /g/191851/ - Kono Suba 2 /g/167112/ - i'll be your cat /g/177754/ - Sloppy Sister /g/187016/ - Nanyou no Vacances Sakusen /g/165961/ - Love-ridden /g/165962/ - Pandemoniucodes for you :)) 198964 Countryside 104436 Mismatched Thoughts 213681 Cultivating Bigger Pleasure 242460 Bokujou: Happy End 255869 Today, Surely 116018 Kahanshin No Otsukiai 165310 Suki Suki! Okaa-san 187047 Shirasaka Koume To No Kankei 116272 Akiko-san To Issho 274000 Hame Kama 93335 Henkano 165961 Love-Ridden 250500 Koishi-chan No Bitch Na Hon 264061 Idol Refle Sex 110896 Uchi No Imouto Ga Sukoshi Kawaii 187095 Nuki & Koki 32591 Kosu Tora 151436 FuckBuddy Collection 231188 Minatsu's Fault 275485 Nurunuru Deriheru 275306 Sweet Whispers 205199 Most Distant Neighbor 274796 The Drunk Mouth Of My Neighbor 274412 Kyousei Zecchou Batsu Game 71646 Otonashi Kotorisan 273719 Oshiri Ai 273849 Strength and III 120744 PuniKano 172759 Dogful Days 273337 I Will Serve You Tonight 273132 Watanabe's Day Off 273222 Koukando Analyze! 272129 Dog & Cat Roleplay 271958 Enemy Girl 271892 Poolside Reward 217727 Uruka-chan To Ichaicha Shitai! 271431 Toshoshitsu O Shimete Kara 271282 Hidden Quest 270752 Natsu Ni Tabetai Ecchi Na Oniku 268920 Kirino Senpai's Secret Bath 209986 Secret Bathhouse-san 157640 Secret Bath 159099 Swap On The Beach!! 267615 Mezase! Rakuen Keikaku 241790 Sex Intersect 267975 Sobaya No Harusan 266826 A Dark Elf's Pregnancy Petri Dish 267372 Kissing In The House 215018 Teletari Military 122697 Hame Pero 274494 Dendenden Bu 241018 The Archangel Of Love, Love Mary 270184 The Three Older, Mature Sisters 37475 Marshmallow Nyan Nyan Whip 177286 Akujo Kousatsu 222579 Sacred Immersi(154089 245473 257867 239159 239820 4039 254903 1241 124919 63207 100287 222359 154951 28061 67226 28359 125838 42751 86322 93125 260151 49189 28018 242166 98771 259880 38827 81971 164946 252067 118261 141699 103454 102317 78392 52038 92888 146170 140437 76281 56047 257486 121132 12709 187334 232255 232255 76273 131406 173289 55907 135440 178640 48680 247587 70178 39487 84663 213693 121009 249935 189774 186729 117046 164345 202735 162075 51212 4295 218436 145303 205437 223438 146105 23933 38886 73936 237026 205427 104036 248318 146843 3743 121136 114634 168501 116602 229151 45689 237889 117435 242163 142422 27027 25940 61748 153284 236393 230775 168 35 254152 132572 132572 205856 87639 175124 267949 104619 1158 144726 97984 114619 247970 248800 95558 37030 43621 238547 236283 136018 163398 92050 96999 137191 74648 70475 247229 168175 234921 88347 117957 35962 136088 98879 259201 87152 181235 42912 201358 114790 38691 236481 200631 257164 267987 147751 77146 183191 159852 224514 32380 208152 123768 199489 62529 122161 90791 73206 152299 90641 105671 268803 72737 118565 128142 182543 259739 162377 92414 108371 200629 158150 72345 9138 114118 5944 78100 222995 138839 8189 165888 102016 196044 208863 134460 86152 15752 142440 36590 71710 248618 186139 63675 10002 210268 241043 170027 220041 193448 213624 42460 241296 93008 72953 60624 35634 43525 183414 84531 80199 221306 225945 9037 56185 13176 166411 185184 11350 78525 180027 164869 43742 84686 166817 15543 208626 34270 116759249525384059167635 am a lord(154089 245473 257867 239159 239820 4039 254903 1241 124919 63207 100287 222359 154951 28061 67226 28359 125838 42751 86322 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108371 200629 158150 72345 9138 114118 5944 78100 222995 138839 8189 165888 102016 196044 208863 134460 86152 15752 142440 36590 71710 248618 186139 63675 10002 210268 241043 170027 220041 193448 213624 42460 241296 93008 72953 60624 35634 43525 183414 84531 80199 221306 225945 9037 56185 13176 166411 185184 11350 78525 180027 164869 43742 84686 166817 15543 208626 34270 116759 212084 156750 243973 3341 85848 71207 147591 253076 28 87114 204403 252971 173645 162780 25809 11484 222071 152809 106661 102222 154215 246366 17830 118581 68777 8861 91321 84274 232846 247295 113306 159042 121173 130 13042 13401 8501 115 3528 416 17214 11310 18147 18222 21560 10247 11518 23677 13605 3494 14936 98092 5905 11311 10392 10371 0302 21290 5161 39695 23571 17504 11269 18276 18101 0317 0228 17694 4473 22224 22200 19452 21589 67893 5569 13918 8958 12137 1333 4725 4458 5905 17166 13851 4458 17149 14471 6706 13850 12224 0929 14991 7382 15857 67893 14218 36477 5870 17553 67803 5870 5454 16102 15217 22801 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233736 110903 192317 235537 230439 240296 241467 222410 196557 115500 232110 97067 233773 234546 243304 246796 246403 185406 153841 147103 240560 147184 203402 155366 114750 245493 248487 215243 135032 233370 244691 76666 249743 252782 265803 211869 241777 247129 147001 245258 166001 149245 123442 258741 256917 257125 257123 257136 257085 128936 245413 193031 256896 222957 225553 224600 177301 144965 229822 237468 242739 191773 162662 209519 195287 223960 232398 242580 242276 241880 190332 228922 74396 218511 139512 241657 241654 241665 246622 239691 239944 226738 228952 237635 240354 201129 226503 14920 158558 240072 128502 233379 147184 147395 160011 147308 157642 179800 179801 240560 143349 206734 63386 230184 236525 215971 207718 238577 150134 242169 150933 105582 243252 245682 200424 112940 118282 173023 336104 111986 190050 198432 241677 243773 215078 180029 177013 158902 191227 196348 194965 31064 193941 246525 211648 220210 247104 240757 110647 193770 246403 183590 104753 247576 218810 114750 151165 245074 165950 247888 212521 228922 248624 248623 248622 248619 248618 248615 248613 248612 224644 248393 248394 248397 129911 90423 248717 240296 171461 249249 242460226068 193770 188342 249646 249556 249405 249588 249586 249577 249551 249543 249544 166427 242987 249569 206295 249564 168574 249554 249497 72987 181008 249805 249947 51790 207965 246171 136779 193568 232393 200834 222274 249272 250605 72987 179267 220629 142286 251746 251701 242925 250315 185333 242503 251735 199812 251717 249483 251675 213444 168716 106205 249650 251687 158050 251687 158050 251718 246999 243826 134441 244308 201814 191654 217827 172029 173911 160417 251742 251737 228984 228932 181775 204224 191773 172029 177478) Please keep it 107817 M maid 181008 Mating Oni Daugther 183714 Mating Oni Mother 230041 Micro Bikini Loli 114883 Oreimo Colored 146595 You Damn Coward 197074 Reco Seku 245855 Oni Rem Book 51332 Juri Game 251067 Loli Onsen 127894 Aikatsu Summer Idol 118282 Yukinya! 94579 Ano Natsu Okinawa 123554 Teisou Kannen Zero 206250 Naked Swimming Class 258972 Naked Swimming Class 2 75165 Girls In The Frame 85289 Cast Aoi 217410 Seikatsu Shuukan 102839 The Light Of Tsukimi Manor 123450 The Sex Life Of Tachibanas 228433 Saekano Meguri 254730 Naked Randoseru Meet-up 200855 I Saved An Elf Loli 225792 I Saved An Elf Loli 2 194036 Playing Shop 79081 Azusa Attack 1 79181 Azusa Attack 2 107668 Azusa Attack 3 245000 Azusa Attack 4 234741 Tanaka's Sister's Secret 256161 Schoolgirls' Breast Exposed 254838 Guild Girl And Goblin Slayer 258741 Archwizard Explosion Magic 175399 Giving Something To Megumin 214111 Mc Gakuen 127981 My Neighbor Rina 73758 Kuroneko Yukata 62886 Kuroneko Cosplay 110648 Battle Of Kuroneko 256857 Girlfriend, Boyfriend, Manager 262664 Girlfriend, Boyfriend, Manager 2 178983 We Fucked Like Rabbits 264018 Yet Innocent Maiden 168120 Short Pants And Others 112373 Popularity Of Short Pants 201031 Traumerei 150933 Hello Lolita! 233766 Helpful Mother 207964 Brother Sister Make Proper Love 142825 A Certain Village Custom 182290 Hero, Demon Queen And Her Elf 225904 Boobs As Reward 252784 Sister In The Mixed Hot Springs 180364 My Neighbor Is A Succubus 252783 After School Sex Treatment 110955 Air Head Delivery 194163 Love From The Ass 114737 Dick Conquest 240667 Let's Kiss With The Lower Mouth 267270 I'm No Virgin! 266965 Hifumi Found Her Sugar Daddy 274917 Muramata's Secret 234363 Loli Succubus' Mealtime 264920 Coach Chika 123141 Ready Steady Go 128980 Ready Steady Go 2 262816 Leave It To Onee-chan 122064 Dangerous? Sisters 266942 Nitta-san At Home 239369 Nitta-san At School 262395 Puberty Study Session 137065 Meaty Mate 197482 Petitx 158464 JC Manual 237482 Just Keep Watching 191489 Infiltration! Boyish 249257 Infiltration! Boyish 2 260807 Infiltration! Boyish 3 253687 Another World Lewd Magic 266402 Another World Lewd Magic 2 249660 Children Learns Sex 136671 Peachy Butt Girls 267816 Ikumonogakari Deluxe Ban 220380 Various Loli 150436 Independent Research 224786 Ero Pippi 42298 Tsundero 178931 Because It's You Shorty 181184 Kanomama 167586 Kid Sluts 255662 Ane Naru Mono 235594 Inakax 111258 Kigurumix 176994 Where Did You Go This Summer 60473 Grant My Wish 268236 Ayune-chan Anal Ecchi 265725 NPC Rape Mod 265399 Petit Love Colored Hole 238949 My Little Star 172018 Anything After The Photoshoot 204352 Natsu No Kisetsu 150749 Kondo No Race 237293 Body Complex 47624 Sibling Lust 268807 Taifuu Ikka 188918 Sex Manual For Kids 74396 Kyarame-Loli 178874 Puchi Bitch 244977 Indecent Win With A College Girl 211765 Could Happen During Afterschool 95185 My Little Sister Got A Boyfriend 268015 Zenin Shikkaku 82055 Hokeniin Survival 269533 Our Graduation Ceremony 110896 Cute Little Sister 265395 Enjoying Summer 233187 Takao-san's Service 240960 We're On Air So Be Quiet 236926 Look At Me As A Girl 267470 Hanging Out With My Big Brother 125987 The Place Where I Met Umi 263516 Goblin Slayer Harem 136393 Suzuka-sama's Servant 227910 Sibling Sex 114057 Chikanya-san 154284 Shogo Beat 177489 Hinata NTRism 192215 Dekoboko Love Sister 86129 Porno Switch 265660 Iinari Acme 168285 Bat?! Woman 211648 The Archdemon In Love 176656 Jogging Loli 272117 My Cheeky Sister Becomes A Dog 271494 Dick Selling Man 258390 Sex Friend Momma 271890 Error Of Call 259827 Stray Cat Girl 258241 Ideal Girlfriend 126937 I'll Practice With My Sister 209814 Takumi-Aki Rin 196016 The Kidnapper She Loved 253618 They Want To Enter Men's Bath 156795 Little Sister Is The Cutest 274290 Komi-san Strange Idea About Sex 228626 Boyish Girlfriend 249743 Boyish Girlfriend 2 272029 Boyish Girlfriend 3 272975 Boyish Girlfriend 4 234638 Fate Colored 199533 Omnivorous Hero 220794 Horny Androids 274555 Sex With My Childhood Friend 255678 Ocean Paradise 94966 Slimy Bellows 246032 Bully Me Nagatoro-san 256100 Thigh Situation 272050 Yes To Flat Chest 107353 Frienzied Triple 139512 Zombie Ero Manga 227463 Level 1 203511 Rin's Fall 207726 Gup Hside 260527 Enkou Ojisan 151941 Trip Dungeon 246011 Nade Camp 258654 Hore Tokidoki Nukumori 122876 Job Of A Committee Member 151256 Amagi Miteian 143349 Thunder Girl 238873 Scarlet Lust 173896 Run Girl Run 230275 Demon Loli Fate 185217 R.E.I.N.A
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2020.11.09 00:02 dlschindler Village girl hidden bath

"In Navajo, Ana’í means...enemy...Anaa’ means war. Sází translates to something or someone that was once whole and is now scattered, a word used to describe the final point of corporeal decay, as a body turns to bones and is strewn by scavengers and erosion."
-Craig Childs, Oct. 3, 2005
Faces were glistening with sweat in the gathering gloom and firelight. A storyteller reminded the new warriors of good things, but even those good things were now tainted with the reality of the world they now knew. She finished her story by saying:
"I remember when I was still just a little girl, these canyons were full of the blossoms of beautiful plants and the berries of juniper were the color of sunset. My sisters and I would play there beside the streams that ran clear and cool. There was never a fear of any kind of enemy then, in those times. It was still a long time until the sad times and the time of migration. The sad times; that is when the songs-that-are-stories became silent and the mothers had no babies to sing to in the night. Before the silent times. You see, before then, these valleys were all filled with the music of human voices and everything was peaceful." said Sihu, grandmother to the gathered boys. They could not be boys any longer. Their fathers and uncles were dead, fallen in battle, and new warriors were now needed. But she could see in their eyes that they were still just boys and they were not ready to join the Qeleteqe.
Of the three the oldest was Tcivuv-tame, then Kwewe-bous and the youngest, far too young for battle: Tsay-sikya. Upon each of their faces the Black-handed Woman put her mark with her drenched fingers. They were no longer sons and boys; receiving the Nayawa meant they were licensed to kill and to say prayers to the Naked God. When the moon rose the men of the Qeleteqe would come and claim their new warriors. Their mothers were weeping in the shadows.
This was a time of shame and despair: when men slaughtered each other and there was no more peace.
The Black-handed Woman was none-other than Sihu's last surviving sister: Pekyewo. She wore no mask for the ceremony. Masks made for this ceremony were made to look like the face of Pekyewo; wherever the original Black-handed Woman was not available, in distant fortresses. Everywhere the last of The People lived in fortifications built in the shelters of the earth, cliff-sides. As she left a dark stain on their faces she said their new warrior names and took from them their boyhood names given by their mothers. She called them from oldest to youngest:
"Deer-fang" as she marked Tcivuv-tame. Then she wiped the scalding darkness on Kwewe-bous and called him: "Wolf-eyes"
But even the callous witch known as the Black-handed Woman hesitated before she burned the dark substance onto the skin of the youngest: Tsay-sikya. Her hesitation let some of it drip from her pinky-finger to the earth and there it let a curl of steam where it hit the dust. The other boys made a pained face as the Nayawa scalded their skin and left a mark that would last for many years as stained their flesh, heating painfully as it mixed with the moisture of sweat from the firelight. Then she branded the boy and said his new name:
"Snake-color" she called him. But his name sounded childish and unintimidating. The other two boys, despite the pain of getting marked, tried not to laugh at the little warrior's name. It rhymed with 'yellow-runner' and meant he was a coward and weak and it sounded much like his child-name of Tsay-sikya. The Black-handed Woman had given him a weak name. Then the ceremony was over and they had to leave the comfort of home and wait outside for the warriors of the Qeleteqe to come for their new recruits. When the moon rose they would follow the secret path up the cliff. The boys stood there with their faces cooling and waited.
Snake-color felt a tear break free of his eye and scald his cheek anew. It would be a permanent blemish to his warrior-paint. This made his shame even worse as he stood with the others and waited. He said his first prayer to the Naked God, in his thoughts:
"Dear God, make me strong and brave. I know my people are suffering, but if I am brave enough, strong enough, then I can help end the war. Help me fight so fiercely that I can somehow make the fighting stop. Make me a man. Thank you God. Thank you for hearing my prayer."
The moon began to climb through the canyon's cleft and into the air. Beneath it the secret path to the cliff fortress was lit up and the warriors of the Qeleteqe could be seen moving like shadowy figures. They had spears and bows and daggers made of sharpened bones. Some of them carried axes and others had clubs. So heavily armed that they carried little else but weaponry. These warriors, seen in the firelight that bathed the rocks behind the walls, had faces scowled with violence, to replace their fading Nayawa paint. The leader wore one gold earring, a ring that was gauged into his left ear. The symbol of a temple guard, before the times of strife had escalated. The leader spoke to them slowly and with malice in his voice. He was deadly-serious when he said to the boys:
"I am Hawk-smiling. This is my division of the Qeleteqe and tonight we come for warriors from this place: Cricket Village. Who answers this call?"
"I answer." Deer-fang said loudly.
"Me too." Wolf-eyes tried to sound manly, but his voice squeaked.
"I do too." Snake-color, the youngest, said in a voice that betrayed his youthfulness. He was but a child. They all were, but he was obviously too young.
"Is this all the men you have here?" Hawk-smiling was not happy sounding with his new recruits.
"Take them and go, or take me instead." Pekyewo used a charming and feminine voice to make this trade, from the shadows.
"Of course." they were murmuring. The warriors of the Qeleteqe all looked up to behold some vixen; but instead they were greeted with the sight of the original Black-handed Woman stepping forward from the entrance of the cliff-house. She stood there in only her shawl, her hands still steaming in fresh Nayawa and dripping the burning substance onto the steps. The warriors gasped in horror at the sight of her face. It was no mask but a ruin of warfare atrocities and a twisted nightmare of violence.
"I think not." Pekyewo laughed witchily. Her cackling and giggling continued as they shuffled their steps away from her and nervously turned and left, taking the boys with them. They could hear the echoes of her real-voice as they fled at a terrified pace, walking with urgency to escape the Black-handed Woman of Cricket Village.
None of them had the courage to take that woman, so they had accepted their recruits instead. Hawk-smiling grunted at the shame of his men, fleeing from a woman who had offered herself to them, but could say nothing. He had felt the most fear of all: as the first among them.
The boys did not understand what their great-aunt had done. She had found it funny somehow, so it must have been a joke. So they were smiling. They all had seen her enough times to have grown accustomed to her ruined face, although in the firelight and when she scowled she could still frighten them. They walked at the pace of the grown men with longer legs and the boys struggled to keep this pace. Back down the moonlit path and out of the canyon they went with their new brothers of the Qeleteqe.
Hissing and rattling, brother-snake was coiled and they all stopped. The warriors had no animal friends. War had corrupted their spirits. A rattlesnake barred the path up ahead and Hawk-smiling told Wolf-eyes to fight it. Obeying orders Wolf-eyes threw rocks at the serpent until it fled the rain of stones. Wolf-eyes felt shame at hurling stones at brother-snake, but he knew he had to do whatever was commanded by the leader of the Qeleteqe.
"Very good. No enemy must stand in your way, boy." Hawk-smiling put one hand on Wolf-eyes's shoulder and assured him. His feelings about the animal changed and Wolf-eyes looked proud in the setting moonlight. He easily could have killed it, but driving away the rattlesnake was enough.
For the rest of the night they continued to walk until they reached a silent and mournful Kiva. Here were the supplies and the encampment of the entire Qeleteqe. Warriors from two more divisions were gathered. All together they formed an army of over sixty warriors. There were new recruits in the other divisions from other nearby places: Juniper Village and Grasshopper-creek Village. Hawk-smiling said to his new warriors:
"We once numbered in ten times this amount. But we have fought to the last of us, and this is all that still stand against the awful priests of the Sun God. No desert deity smiles on our clans and no true god smiles upon theirs. Blood will continue to drench the desert sands and the fertile canyons until only one way remains."
"What does this mean?" Wolf-eyes felt bold enough to ask.
His question was met by silence until another man spoke up. He was not of the Qeleteqe and he was not even of The People. He was tall and in the morning sunrise his shadow was even taller from where he stood atop the beams over the pithouse near the abandoned Kiva. He therefore cast his shadow over the gathered Qeleteqe, quite deliberately. They could see he had the feathers and the robes of a priest of a nomadic tribe called the Pocoteli.
The Pocoteli were well known to those of The People whom had left the old ways of the Sun God and now lived outside the laws of the desert. The strange people, the Pocoteli, had come for a long time before the strife began. They were traders from far to the south that brought gold and goods and also the Naked God. They had given the Naked God to a man called Hoota. He was now a prisoner of the old priests of the Sun God. The priests of the Sun God dared not execute Hoota or release him as long as the Qeleteqe was still banded. It would bring the old ways crashing down if they made a martyr of Hoota.
With his arms outstretched to extend the darkness against the rising sun he said to those in his shadow:
"The Naked God is here and now is the time to rise up and take back what belongs to everyone. No more will the old ways obfuscate the truth and oppress The People. All of the land will be green and verdant when the desert deity dies with the last of the old priests of the old religion. Let this day be the one where your sacrifices bring forth the new and powerful Naked God!"
The warriors thrust their weapons up into the rising sunlight. Then they followed Hoota's second-in-command, a man who now commanded the entire Qeleteqe. His name was Little-light and he introduced himself to the new recruits brought from three different villages to this place. Then he introduced the Pocoteli priest of the Naked God as Mentiroso. He had with him several of his Pocoteli friends. They all wanted to see Hoota rescued and the priests of the Sun God destroyed. It was explained that they were devoted to the Naked God and had given their faith to Hoota who had spread it to many villages in the early days of the drought. Now Hoota was a prisoner of the priests of the Sun God.
"In the House of the Sun. The Kiva of the Sun God. A pilgrimage has begun and we shall go there as well." Little-light told all of his warriors.
They set out and found one of the many roads by afternoon under the terrible heat. It was as if the Sun God were trying to kill them with high temperatures. The boys were very thirsty and Hawk-smiling told them they could go into the canyon nearby to find water. They were given water-skins to fill and they had to carry them back full of water for the other warriors.
"I will kill any pilgrims of the Sun God with my spear." Deer-fang told the other two. Only he had a weapon, the other two had to carry the water-skins back full. The shade was cool and they soon found a stream there.
Snake-color, the youngest, had set eyes on someone bathing in the water while the other two did not notice. She was very beautiful and had white blossoms in her hair. She looked up and froze in terror at the sight of three Nayawa covered faces. She was alone, nude and defenseless. Somehow this made her a shimmering beauty to Snake-color. In his heart he felt far more terror at the sight of her. He thought she must be a nameless goddess he had heard stories of.
They talked of their own bravery as they filled the water-skins, but then they looked up at the sound of a splash. She had retreated unseen by the other warriors.
"What was that?" Wolf-eyes had thought he had seen a nude girl disappear into the bushes.
"Someone bathing?" Deer-fang wondered also.
"A spirit." Snake-color stood there and said, the flash of his eyes startling the other two as they looked at the youngest warrior. He was not known to say things that were mistakes and so they took his word and made no pursuit or investigation.
They took the water-skins with them but Snake-color looked back and saw her watching from where she hid. Their eyes met across the stream and it felt like that instant lasted for a very long time. Snake-color did not want to look away from her gaze. He felt strong and brave as she stared at him. Her fear had become something else as she heard him and saw the warriors leave. He had raised her spirit and now her eyes flashed in a startling way. Then the moment was over and he had to leave her and follow the others away.
When they reached the top of the bluff there was dust and screaming. Some pilgrims were caught and being slaughtered by the warriors. The boys stood and watched in horror. Wolf-eyes fell to his knees and wretched into the dust. All around the warriors straddled their victims. They were punching them, strangling them and smashing in their heads with rocks. All around there were many dead bodies with arrows and spears in them.
The last of the pilgrims was held to his feet by Hawk-smiling with a shard dagger to his throat. He slit the man's throat then and blood sprayed all over the place. Then the violence was over. The Qeleteqe had found these men and women and children and killed all of them.
Deer-fang stood with his mouth open. He had peed all over himself in terror at the sight of carnage. Never had they seen such a thing. All the killing was so vicious and ruthless and happening like it could not be stopped. This all was observed by Snake-color but he did not react except to pray again to the Naked God, quietly in his thoughts and muttering:
"Dear God, so this is battle? I do not like it. There is no strength and no bravery. Instead you showed me something just a little while ago and I felt strength and bravery then. But is this what you really want? I am doubtful. Show me again what you showed me before and take this from my sight. I know I am a man now, but what are you, my God? What are you? Thank you, I guess. Yes, thank you, though."
"Deer-fang, that woman there is not dead. Use your spear and kill her the rest of the way." Hawk-smiling told one of his new warriors. There was no obedience. The boy just stood there trembling. He dropped his spear. Hawk-smiling grabbed the crawling wounded-one by her hair and slit her throat and her blood shot out and covered each of the boys in red.
Wolf-eyes was crying and said:
"I want to go back to my mother!"
"You are not going to do that. You boys are not ready for this, but you will be soon enough." Hawk-smiling promised. He walked over to them and smeared more blood on them. Only Snake-color didn't flinch.
"I am ready to be a warrior and kill." he said.
"See? Very good. The little boy is ready. You older boys should be more like he is. You deserve his name instead." Hawk-smiling admonished them.
"I wasn't finished talking." Snake-color looked up and met the warrior's cold eyes.
"Oh?"
"I will kill for the Naked God but I see no reason to murder women and children. I will fight warriors who stand against my god. But there is no reason to kill these kind. These are still of The People and they were innocent."
"No. You are wrong. These are the enemy and this is how our war is being fought. You imagine battlefields with warriors bravely dancing but war is about fear. Fear of supporting the wrong god. This is to end that god and bring about peace and fertility. The rain will come and the drought will end forever if the Naked God stands without the rivalry of the Sun God. It is the heat of the sun, the orb of the Sun God, that is killing us all."
"Then take some of the water we have brought." Snake-color was strangely calm. The other warriors were of the new recruits and shocked by the brutality of the massacre or of the veteran Qeleteqe and panting with the exertions of murder. Only Snake-color was calm, among all of them.
It was time to leave the dead there and continue to the nearby pit-house of Charcoal Village. But before they left Hawk-smiling and his warriors stopped to see a warrior being admonished by Little-light:
"What have you done? You stole turquoise and Ooqey and precious offerings they carried to the Sun God? These things must be left on them."
"I only took stuff that is valuable. They are dead and they don't need it."
"You stole from them! That is not what we meant to do. Leave all of that stuff!"
And so nothing was taken from the dead. Apparently it was wrong to steal any of their offerings the dead carried to their god. Murder was justifiable but not theft. The purpose of the killing was not to rob them and so there had to be a difference. And the difference was made clear by Little-light. In his anger he walked over and kicked all of the things that were stolen out of the warrior's hands and it all went everywhere and landed back on the ground where it belonged.
At sunset the band of warriors approached Charcoal Village. There was music and dancing as they arrived and nobody saw the warriors surround the place and wait in the darkness watching and awaiting orders.
It was a wedding.
Snake-color's eyes flashed in the sunset and firelight at the sight of the girl he had seen bathing earlier. So the Naked God had listened and now he saw her again. She was standing like an offering dressed all in blossoms of white and the petals of flowers and the silver grass woven into her skirt. Her long hair was being braided to the rope of the wedding pole to be cut free by the groom. The groom was across the fire from her and he looked handsome and nervous. She was smiling at him with such a wondrous gaze it made Snake-color feel even more proud of her. She was so brave and beautiful and he loved her without hesitation. His heart swelled with pride as he remembered she had seen him and loved him. And this was her, a girl of such strength and beauty that everyone could see and she had loved him back. Snake-color felt very proud as he watched the wedding.
Dancers and musicians filled the night with a joyful sound and scene. Then Snake-color felt a kind of awful dread inside and he realized they were The People but the wrong kind, they were ones who still worshiped the Sun God. The girl had a necklace of the gold disc of the Sun God and so did her groom. When the Qeleteqe were ready, would they kill all of these too?
Horror was felt by Snake-color. He himself was part of the Qeleteqe and these were his enemies. Then the moment of celebration and peaceful gathering was finally interrupted. Little-light and Hawk-smiling and the other warriors showed themselves. The music stopped and so did the dancing. At first, in the silence, nothing happened.
Warriors started to eat some of the food and stare at all the beautiful women. Snake-color could not bear to see what he thought was going to happen and he stepped forward as well, between the bride and Little-light.
"Don't harm her!" Snake-color stood in defiance. Then he felt the powerful grip of the warrior's hand on his neck lifting him.
"Stop!" the bride ordered, her voice a trembling sonnet of fear. She did love Snake-color and he could hear it in her vocalization, loud and immediate. There was silence then. Everyone was watching this central thing unfold itself.
"You tell me this? To stop?" Little-light looked at the girl, the bride of this wedding and then said:
"I was going to let everyone here live, I thought. This is a confused place in a confusing time. Should some of you join the Naked God and abandon the Sun God? We are not savages. We have just cause." Little-light insisted, still holding the boy in the air with one hand gripping the neck. He sounded sincerely defensive. He really didn't want her to think he and his Qeleteqe were savages and moreover the guests of the wedding and the residents of Charcoal Village.
"Then that is how it should be." she begged the powerful warrior. Now she sounded insistent but submissive. She was helpless to do anything but speak.
"Oh?"
"I am the daughter of the high priest. This union should make this into a village of the Sun God. They pray not one way or the other. Show mercy, show the strength of the Naked God by showing mercy." she spoke up and at these words there was a lowering of the young warrior he held up with just one strong arm's grip. He was still choking him inches above the ground.
Little-light made a commanding gesture to lower weapons and step away and all of his warriors did that; vanishing out of sight and back into the night. All except Hawk-smiling who had his shard dagger to the throat of the groom. The young man had yet to speak but his spirit insisted he do so and he said:
"Don't harm her, she is Taalawa. You might harm me and free her of her pact, but do not cut her hair!" he spoke, despite the bite of the blade.
"Don't say that Koongya!" the bride, Taalawa cried out to her groom. He looked deep into her eyes with love, knowing his words had cost him his life.
Then Hawk-smiling slit his throat and his blood did mistily gush out. His body fell and the smell of blood met Snake-color's nostrils. Little-light laughed and dropped the choked boy to the ground. Then it went dark for Snake-color.
He awoke some moments later to all sorts of wailing and cries of anguish at the slaughter of the groom. His body lay nearby.
"What have you done?" Taalawa was screaming. Her voice was hoarse. She could say nothing else over and over. Her weeping and tears wet her face and it was like when she had first turned and saw Snake-color at the stream. But that is not where they were anymore.
Little-light wrapped his arms around her, holding her. Then without ceremony Hawk-smiling walked to her and cut her hair with the same blade. For a moment the horror of what they were doing to her silenced all of the wedding guests. Only the sound of the sharp object sawing through her hair and the wedding rope that braided it to the pole. Then the shrieks of horror of the women screaming at them to stop their brutality.
Hawk-smiling finished cutting her hair and she struggled free of Little-light and went to her fallen groom. For another moment she knelt by him, trembling hands reaching out to touch his remains that lay dead on the ground.
"You killed him!" she protested, glaring up at Hawk-smiling. He and Little-light just stood there by the wedding pole. They both realized they might have gotten a little carried away.
"Get her, she is coming with us." Little-light noticed the young warrior, Snake-color getting to his feet shakily. Then they too vanished into the darkness around Charcoal Village with the rest of the Qeleteqe. Snake-color had no choice but the make her a captive. He walked to her reluctantly and touched her shoulder. She was sobbing and crying as somehow a maiden and a widow at the same time.
"Come on. You are a hostage now. You have to come with me." Snake-color said to her. There was very little force in his young voice. She looked up to him and this time she saw him as her enemy. The love was gone.
Snake-color felt his heart break. He offered her his hand and she took it and got to her feet. She was taller than him and looked down. Their eye-contact was locked and they were saying something to each other silently. Everyone saw this but knew not what it could be that they were saying.
Taalawa followed her captor to the waiting warriors and they continued their march to the House of the Sun where her father would not be pleased to see her among his enemies. She was a precious hostage and with her they could make an exchange of prisoners. The question was, would this work? Was she worth Hoota to the priests?
Snake-color prayed again as they walked:
"Dear God, you have put her in my care and by my side somehow, but it is horrible, now she hates me and she is among enemies. I was there when they killed her new husband and then they cut her hair. Why is this happening? I am happy she is with me but the circumstances are as terrible as they can be. Why God? I mean to say thank you, so I guess I will: thank you."
As the sun rose above the distant hills they were nearing the House of the Sun God.
"Will the war soon end? Will there be peace? Maybe that is what I should have prayed for." Snake-color thought. He was very tired. The Qeleteqe stopped in an arroyo and rested there out of sight. Taalawa slept by his side and sometimes sobbed and sniffled in her sleep. Snake-color watched this and eventually he too fell asleep, surrounded by all of his brothers: her enemies.
They shared a dream that night. In this dream:
Alone they stood ankle deep in a stream of cold water. Birds flew around them in a swirl. They turned around and each other were there. Then they played in the water, laughing and splashing. They became the birds and flew away. In a distant and verdant place they stood side by side and many of The People were there. A hole opened up in the sky, which was like a cliff wall, it looked natural and fertile, like a belly-button. Sorta a naval of the whole world. The People each held the hand of another person and together the couples jumped merrily into the hole. Taalawa asked her companion:
"What is your name?"
"Tsay-sikya." Snake-color told her.
The girl was then suddenly dressed as a bride again, her hair long and braided and with white blossoms. She laughed and smiled and her eyes flashed and then she leaned down and kissed the boy's forehead.
"I love you Tsay-sikya. Together?"
"Yes" he agreed and they took each other's hand and ran to the hole-in-the-world and jumped through it together. They both looked back and saw the world behind them was entirely dead, none of The People remained. They were in a new world and there was no sun, just warmth and there was certainly no war because there was no Naked God.
Then Snake-color awoke and saw her staring at him. She whispered in the early light of dawn:
"I had a strange dream. Is your name Sikya?"
"Tsay-sikya." he whispered back to her.
Then Taalawa sat up a little bit and leaned over him and gently kissed him on the lips. It sent a strange feeling through him. He felt loved again but this time it was not a proud feeling, it was a sad feeling. A kind of happy feeling that was lined on the edges with profound sadness.
The sun was rising and all the warriors were well rested and as they got up they looked upon their prisoner with unmasked lust and hatred. But they could not harm her, she was an important hostage and Little-light had need for her so they could trade her for Hoota. She was safe among such cruel warriors. Only Snake-color was trusted with guarding her. He was obviously in-love with her.
And the cruelest thing was to make him her enemy. He could not set her free but had to be the one to walk behind her as they marched. Under the hot burning orb they walked directly across the desert until they found another pilgrim road much closer to the House of the Sun.
Then the Qeleteqe stopped and took up hidden positions as a scout signaled that someone was on the road ahead. Many of The People were walking slowly and Snake-color left Taalawa in the shade of a big rock. He climbed it enough to see over and beheld these ones:
They walked with grim slowness and many of them wore only rags and sorrowful faces. Some had dried wounds and others broken limbs and burns. All were victims and refugees and they had covered themselves in dust and ashes. They were walking the road and leaving the lands of The People.
"Not again." Snake-color worried that another massacre would befall these poor wretched wanderers. But instead the Qeleteqe hid and many of the warriors covered their eyes or their ears, as though afraid of these of The People.
"We don't attack?" Snake-color dared ask, relief evident in his voice. Hawk-smiling had his back turned to the walking crowd as they shuffled past hidden death-dealers.
"Ghost-folk" Hawk-smiling said quietly and then he shuddered in fear.
Snake-color took another glance and felt a chill of dread at the awful sight of them. They were alive but not one warrior anticipated killing them. They were free to escape and migrate away. No harm would come to the Ghost-folk; whom had safe passage to leave all the horrors they had experienced behind them. It didn't matter what god they had prayed to. They walked away from it all.
That afternoon the Qeleteqe reached the House of the Sun. The place was built of many houses and rooms in the shape of a rising sun and had served as the capital of The People and was where the priests lived.
For nearly a thousand years, it had stood countless droughts, many worse than this one.
But Hoota had taken power from the Sun God when he spoke words to so many rural villages on behalf of the Naked God. A foreign deity that promised no more Sun Priests and that fertile seasons would come always. This had begun the early troubles and those had escalated into warfare. Now many of The People lived in fortified cliff dwellings in canyons guarded by towers and watched over by either god.
It seemed that nobody was in the House of the Sun. The Qeleteqe wandered around unchallenged until they found just one warrior waiting for them on the road towards the sunrise. Of course, the Sun-dagger Temple would be the final refuge of the priests.
He stood alone with a stone-club, an Omaha. He had his earring of gold like the one worn by Hawk-smiling. A gold ring gauged into his left ear.
Taalawa was standing before all of the warriors, refreshed with some water as they all were. Dark rings under her eyes shown she was feeling ill from the strenuous journey and heat-stroke and dehydration. She was still alive, refusing to die in the arms of her remaining loved-one.
"I am going to go with him, he is Clouded-might. None of you can beat him in a warrior's duel and what honor would you have if many of you fought him together? See how brave he is to stand alone and claim me? You would be cowards and the Naked God would not listen to your prayers if you did not fight him one of you at a time." Taalawa held her hands up and said these words loudly to all of the Qeleteqe. They shuffled their feet nervously. Not one of them wanted to fight Clouded-might and so she simply walked from them to him.
"She is right and also I am the temple-guardian and I stand in your path. The same thing will happen and you cannot go past me as long as I stand here." Clouded-might told the many warriors.
"I will fight him." Hawk-smiling said, knowing he must or he would no longer be first among his warriors.
"So the traitor will be the first to die." Clouded-might chuckled. He had seen Hawk-smiling and recognized the temple guard that had become a believer in the Naked God.
They fought a violent duel and soon Clouded-might had beaten Hawk-smiling to the ground. He did not spare the life of the fallen warrior and raised the Omaha for a killing blow. Hawk-smiling let out a terrified scream and then it was over. His head was smashed by the heavy club.
"Is there not one among you who can fight me now?" Clouded-might pretended that his wounds were painful and that he was tired.
Two warriors suddenly rushed at him at-once and he killed them both as they reached him. Then another tried to run at him while letting out a warcry. Clouded-might picked up the spear and threw it heartily into the crowd of warriors where it found a home in someone's leg and went clean through.
"I have courage!" Deer-fang charged with his spear aimed at Clouded-might. He died with that courage frozen on his face.
"Who can fight me? Are you all just boys? I see Nayawa but not one warrior with courage!"
This time it was three warriors that came at him and in a blurry dance he struck them each aside and as they lay gripping broken parts he showed them no mercy, raising his bloodied club in a death-blow for each of them.
"You die!" one of the leaders of a division of the Qeleteqe, named Scorpion-star, shouted as he fired an arrow into Clouded-might's leg in retaliation for the spear he had thrown. Then he sent five warriors to finish the lone temple guard.
They charged at him and cut him with their spear points, adding to his wounds left by Hawk-smiling's shard dagger. There was dust and sprays of blood as he surprised them with the same shard dagger and slashed open a wrist and kicked dust into another's face. He struck one alongside his head and that warrior staggered away. He had taken a spear and spun it around and knocked one from his feet. He clubbed that one in the same movement. Then they stabbed him with their spears.
Grunting in pain the big warrior still held the fight and crushed another skull. He picked up the shard dagger and as one of those five warriors tried to stab Clouded-might again he threw it and stuck it onto the eye of his enemy. He took the spear and turned with it and put it into the last warrior. Then he smashed the two that he had injured and followed the staggering and stunned warrior and split his skull from behind.
Clouded-might had many wounds but he stood there still.
"I will fight you now." Scorpion-star walked boldly to go and fight the panting lone warrior who dripped blood from many wounds. Then he too was struck down.
The warrior with the spear through his leg was crying out and moaning horribly. It was the only sound as everyone stood there unsure what to do. Little-light became frustrated and went and killed his own warrior with an ax to silence him.
"Someone slay that warrior." Little-light commanded and pointed at their enemy. He stared down each member of the Qeleteqe until only Wolf-eyes met his gaze. The boy picked up a stone and walked close to their enemy.
"Is it you that finishes this? You are just a boy! Send me a warrior!" Clouded-might bellowed.
Wolf-eyes felt only a little bit of fear as he prayed in his thoughts:
"You, God, see me standing alone before this terrible warrior. I have thrown a thousand stones that hit their mark. Only when I meant no harm was no harm ever done. Dear God, make my aim as true as my courage as I stand here. Thank you, God."
"What do you wait for?" Clouded-might asked his only willing foe left among the Qeleteqe.
"No enemy will stand in my way." he recalled with words he spoke and with sincere accuracy he threw just one stone which struck Clouded-might in his forehead.
The warrior fell backwards and died with sunlight in his eyes and golden left earlobe.
It was at that moment that the Qeleteqe looked up and around for their prize but she was gone. Somehow during all of the fighting she had fled. Only Snake-color had seen her go back into the House of the Sun. It was in vain that they searched all around for her and found no trail of her. She had doubled back and hidden herself very well.
The remaining warriors regrouped and were about to leave after an entire day was gone searching for her.
Snake-color had deserted the Qeleteqe during the scattered search and when they left to go to the Sun-dagger Temple. Surely they would find the priests there and kill them all and rescue Hoota. Or maybe something else would happen. Snake-color did not care. He was tired of war and wanted to find Taalawa.
He took a bow and some arrows from where Scorpion-star had left the weapon and also his own spear. He knew that with the Nayawa he must be armed or die whenever he was seen by any enemies. But he had abandoned war. He doubted that the Naked God cared.
Wandering the halls of the great place, that had once held many festivals and thousands of The People, he felt very alone and afraid. Darkness and echoes were all that remained. For days he explored the derelict House of the Sun and eventually he gave up finding her there.
A light shone at night atop the cliffs of Sunlight Canyon where all pilgrim-roads led. No more tribute came here, but perhaps the Sun Priests were not so long gone?
Someone had the brazen stance to remain overlooking the place.
And so he thought that Taalawa had gone to the lights up there. And he made the ascent up steep paths. When at last he came there he found strangely dried up dead bodies posed and decorated as Pocoteli upon pallets that sat overlooking the House of the Sun below. The mummies were very old and shriveled and sat with empty staring eye-sockets. The voice Snake-color had heard when he started his journey spoke from aside where he hadn't noticed him there:
"They are living-ancestors. They will live here with us and the Pocoteli will have their home here. A home for us, a wandering tribe from so far away. Now we have our very own land, as the Naked God promised us." Mentiroso was sitting there. A red and green bird was on his shoulder. It spoke too:
"Where are the Sun Priests?" the bird asked. "Parrot want an eye. Give pretty parrot an eye. An ear?"
"Your bird speaks?" Snake-color sounded amused. He almost forgot the creepy ancestor-mummies.
"He does. Parrot speaks the words he heard when I met my new bride." Mentiroso smiled back, bemused at the attention towards his colorful bird.
"New bride?" Snake-color looked around and saw that the curtain of the pithouse was drawn. His dry throat suddenly choked him. A dreadful feeling was gnawing at him. A very bad feeling.
"She was very beautiful."
"Was?"
"Just a moment, I will show her to you as she is, joined with the Pocoteli." Mentiroso left the bird there and stood with eagerness. He skipped to the pithouse and went inside.
"She was." the bird said. It didn't seem amusing anymore.
Then there stood Mentiroso and he stood in hideous glory shouting the kind of prayer that the Naked God really heard. He wore a strange new costume of a stretched hide as a robe and a crown of amaranth and a mask of another human's face.
"All for you, my lord, Yacatecutli! We, no longer of the Pochtecas, were cast out again and again and now we have come at last to our great home! Thank you for this that is now ours!" the priest of the Naked God danced as he shouted this prayer with wild eyes. He held the legbones in his hands and shook them as scepters with many strips of colorfully dyed leather, feathers and golden bells.
Snake-color stared unblinking at this spectacle of horror; seeing that Mentiroso was quite mad. Bile and rage welled up inside him as the horror of the moment beat in his heart like a drum. He stared directly at what Mentiroso was now wearing.
He was wearing her skin.
Without any further hesitation Snake-color aimed the bow and shot an arrow into him. Then another arrow and another. The priest was still moving until the spear was pushed downward into him. Then he was as dead as his ancestor-mummies.
He untethered the bird and it flew away saying:
"All for you! Thank you!"
submitted by dlschindler to libraryofshadows [link] [comments]


2020.10.01 09:40 IZEDEROb Village girl hidden bath

Had this idea coursing through my head. A meeting between the famed Leader of Konoha and an overconfident brat. Words, phrasing and ideas slipped into place, so instead of naturally working my way to up this point, I penned it down, chronology be damned! Not afraid of criticism – I’d be more offended at it being withheld it on the basis of sparing my preciwous feelings being preferable to allowing stagnation to occur – so please tear it apart if your so inclined. Ideally, I’d ask you explain why it set your blood alight, but I also savor the sweet taste of wordless fury so you do you!
Import-ant InFO: This is an AU. The relevant bits pertaining to this segment being Minato and Kushina conceiving children (one of whom never made it to term), and Sarutobi neither being tender-hearted or soft. Also, Tobirama low diffing the fodders bros.
—Wrote up the last bit to cap off the segment. Haven’t had time to rewrite/edit it several times to the point where I find it satisfactorily appealing, but I’m sure it’ll prove perfectly adequate either way!
If not, let me know. (Remember, perfection can only be sought!) I went with the flow on the last bits, so we’ll see how it holds to the usual standard.
A conversation between equals (Cliffhangless Editon)
‘Twas but a usual day within the famed Village Hidden in the Leaves when it came to the weather: Warm, sunny and inviting. But with the biannual Chunnin Exams taking place within the great village, a sharp increase in tourism followed; merchants lain through the streets, peddling their wears, while several food vendors came to partake in the fun, selling common and exotic foods and treats alike.
Really, he should’ve shook the stupid “escort” accompanying him all the earlier! It’s as if they thought he was three-years-old and would burst into tears if he got lost. Ugh. Foreign entrant or no, at-least take me seriously!
Despite himself, he contented himself with dutifully taking notes on things he wanted to try for later, tossing over the information he’d received. With Naruto incapacitated from the snake bit equivalent of severe dysentery, it fell to himself to turn the intercepted “party crashing plans” to their favor.
For increased tourism wasn’t the only thing such a lovely event drew. This time, the beckoning of war lurched. Ironic, considering the exam’s goal that Genin sought to compete (though often fight and subsequently kill) was to prevent that very thing from happening.
And since it was rude to show up to a party uninvited, he’d just declare their arrival ahead of time.
Sauntering into the Hokage’s mansion like he owned the place, Menma paid the secretary situated behind the desk no mind, slipping past her without a glance.
“Um, young man?” Rolling his eyes, he froze with one-foot inches above the ground, before plastering a look of confusion on his face and turning around to address the women speaking to him.
“Oh, I’m sorry! I was in such a hurry that I didn’t see you there.” Wouldn’t be polite of him to say that she was so irrelevant that she wasn’t even worth acknowledging.
Walking towards her, he introduced himself. “My name’s Menma, what’s your?” He kept his expression warm and unguarded, as he analyzed the women. Red hair, curled eyelashes, painted finger nails, and a faint chakra signature. A retired kunoichi, or perhaps an Academy dropout?
Her face softened, and the tension relaxed from her form. “Its nice to meet you, Menma. I’m Ayako.” He felt himself being appraised, measured up and divided to see what he could do. A wolf in a sheep’s clothing, perhaps?
“Did you have business with the Hokage? Unfortunately, Sarutobi-sama doesn’t take walk-ins, so you’d have to book an appointment with me and come back later in the week.” She smiled apologetically.
“O-oh… I didn’t… realize” Staring at the ground, he acted despondent. “But–but I really think he should hear what I have to say! Please, Miss Ayako, it’s really important!”
She met his eyes, smile turning a tad patronizing. “Could you tell me what your business is with him, Menma? I’d have to clear it before bringing it the Hokage’s attention.
He beamed at her; his expression angelic.
“Oh, just a declaration of war.”
Ayako’s expression froze on her face, and he relished her uncomprehending stare. “Oh, haha! You’re joking.” At her giggling, he joined in by dissolving into peals of laughter. As she calmed down, her face sharpened as she looked strict. “But Menma, you should be careful about telling jokes like that; not everyone has a sense of humor, and some people are required to take statements like that literally, regardless if you’re kidding or not.” Sternly, she addressed him like his guardian once had.
He nodded, shoulders slumping, admonished. “That’s true… Not everyone has a good sense of humor as you do.” Brightening, his smiled nicely. “Thank you for the advice, Miss Ayako.”
Returning his smile, she asked. “So, what did you need? It shouldn’t too long for the Hokage to address your concerns.”
He cocked his head to the side, faking ignorance, before his smile warped, turning malicious.
“I just told you, I’m here to deliver a declaration of war.”
Turning around, walking away from the gasping women, he gave a cheery wave as he resumed his course to Sarutobi’s office.
As he moved, he admired the hidden agents lurking amongst the hall. While he couldn’t see them, their chakra, primed and ready to explode, gave them away. No one made to stop him of course; diplomatic immunity for the win! Placing his hand behind his head and popping off a one fingered salute, he tore open the door to the Hokage’s office and announced himself with gusto.
“Yo, Sarutobi! What’s up?”
A pair of eyes assailed his form, and Menma maintained his innocent smile as he was appraised. Returning the favor, he directed his gaze to the man himself. Rockin’ the classic Hokage robes made famous by the first of the Hokage, Hiruzen Sarutobi, Third Hokage, Champion of the Blood War, stared him down hard. Unlike his secretary, Hiruzen’s expression was cold as ice, and for moment, Menma started to wonder whether this was actually a good idea or not.
The moment passed, naturally. Of course, this was a good idea; as if he were capable of anything else!” Oddly enough, the man’s chakra was dull and lacking for such an acclaimed figure. Typical. He suspected Sarutobi wasn’t worth all the hype he’d regularly received, and this proved him right.
Apparently finished his appraisal, Hiruzen addressed him. “I’m surprised, most nations don’t send children to deliver such important messages.” Face hardening, Sarutobi sneered. “If this is your idea of a joke, I’d recommend you own up to now. Things would go smoother for you.”
Approaching the Hokage and taking the seat across from him, he rolled his eyes in a grand gesture of disrespect. “I ain’t joking, Hiruzen. I’m here to formally declare the war that’s coming Konoha’s way.”
The Hokage’s gaze continued to bore into him, and Menma found it far too hot in here. He leaned back in the fancy leather chair – if nothing else, Sarutobi had good taste – before shifted his posture and draped his legs over the arm rest.
“Then get to it.”
He scoffed. “You’re so boring! Where’s the threats? The part where you act all tough and tell me I don’t know who it I’m messing with, that I’ve picked a fight I can’t possibly win! Haven’t you any sense of theater? You’ve got to build up to these things!” Looking annoyed, it become clear that Sarutobi’s patience was rapidly dwindling.
Not wanting to get thrown out, he tossed his hands in the air dramatically, before straightening out his posture. “Finnn~e! The village of Stone, as well the newly christened country of Sound,” he made sure to sound particularly disgusted as he said that. “Are in the midst of launching a full-scale invasion upon this lovely city in which we currently reside.” Capping off his speech, he slowly and carefully reached into one his coat’s pockets and removed its contents.
Two silver coins, coated in dried blood and marked with the engravings of their country of origin, were laid atop Sarutobi’s desk. “The Fence Sitter sounds his regards.”
This wasn’t actually a recognized manner of declaring war, and the coins weren’t even reflecting the actual aggressors.
Menma just thought it was cool.
Back to smiling, he looked at the Hokage. Sadly, it seemed Sarutobi hadn’t picked up on the idea very well.
“You…” Sarutobi said, sounding less-than-pleased with him, and Menma allowed his eyes to widened in an approximation of fear as he shrank back.
Exhaling deeply, Sarutobi’s anger slipped from his face. “And who is that you represent? Am I to assume you came on Ohnoki’s behalf?” Despite looking calmer, the Hokage’s eyes still burned.
“Uhh, me? Neither, I mean, I’m actually from here… Konoha, that is. I’m not with formally associated with those idiots. Well, not anymore, since I… “Swallowing audibly, he let his eyes drift to the ground. “Had enough of that.”
Sarutobi said nothing. After a beat, he chanced a glance, and saw Sarutobi looking at him in an appraising manner. “Your name, Menma, was it? That’s a rather… peculiar choice.” Gone was the anger, the annoyance, concentrated calculation barring its way to the forefront.
Menma perked back up, false melancholy dispelled in an instant. He could see the Hokage constructing his little hypothesis with what information was available.
In walks a boy named Menma, approximately on the cusp of hitting his teen years. Having tentatively working or worked for the Country of Sound – its new leader secretly being Sarutobi’s former student, the traitorous snake themed Orochimaru. If the Hokage were worthy of the title of “Professor”, he could probably draft together the theory that the Orochimaru was responsible for his abduction and subsequent revival. His own corpse disappeared not long before Orochimaru himself did, so the timeline fit. It’d be a long course, but eventually he’d come across that horrific discovery and the truth would unravel itself.
So naturally, he was going to ruin it.
“I know, right? Who names their kid after freaking noodles?” He shook his head. “Mom and Dad had no sense of pizazz!” He grinned, wide and foreboding, and he shot to his feet. “But I should introduce myself properly! Menma Suijin Namikaze, at your service.” Spreading his hands, he bowed deeply. While he’d rather had a clone introduce him, he doubted that fly very well.
“Is this a joke?” Blinking at the tone, Menma (gracefully) rose from his bow to meet the Hokage’s eyes, only to frown at the sight.
Sarutobi’s face couldn’t properly be classified angry anymore. With features drawn, lips forming a snarl that belonged on an animal and eyes burning with the desire to kill whatever was in front of him, he looked outright livid.
Menma said nothing, wondering what the Hokage was playing at. “Allow me to make this very, very clear to you.” Sarutobi words were lined with steel, and he couldn’t find it in himself to feel indignant at being talked down to. “I knew Minato and Kushina well; I considered them close friends. Likewise, I regard their son in a similar manner.”
Sarutobi’s gaze drilled into him, and Menma held back a whimper as he felt his beautifully rehearsed material die a swift and sudden death. “So, seeing you wearing the name of their deceased son and brother, mocking his memory, has managed to upset me in a manner few have managed.
“I doubt you’d understand, but futilely holding your dead child in yours arms and only being able to cry isn’t something I’d wished on anyone.”
Despite himself, Menma broke eye contact, eying the picture of his own father at his inauguration.
Rising to his feet, Sarutobi stared him down from behind his desk. “So, tell me, Menma, why shouldn’t I introduce you to Ibiki Morino, head of Torture and Interrogation, and have him rip your origins from your screaming lips?”
Menma laughed uproariously. “Really, Hiruzen? Threatening me with torture? The only way I’d only ever talk from that is if I felt a reward were in order for a good well done!
“But fine, fine. Since you’ve ruined the set-up for my jokes, deviated from my script beyond improvisation, I’ll give you a reason you’ll never forget!” Snarling, spittle flying from his mouth, he matched the Hokage’s glare with his own.
Ha! Take notes, Hiruzen, this is how you set the mood!
Mouth curling into a deranged grin, he struck out a finger. “Hiruzen Sarutobi, Third of the Hokage of Konoha, the one who sanctioned the infamous Uchiha Harvest, was you!”
Killing intent, pure and unrefined, flooded the room. Vision blurring, Menma’s breath caught in his throat as tears pricked his eyes. Suddenly reminded that this man had a confirmed body count of four digits, a trace of a whimper left his throat.
“Eheh. Hehehe–HAHAHA! YESSS! I love it! It’s beautiful, magnificent, spectacular! With an ocean blood at your heels, your manifestation of your desire to kill me sets me alight!” Bathing in the afterglow, Menma released his own killing intent.
He recalled his first kill. Some idiotic passerby that mistook him for a girl. Many more followed after, contracts, assassinations, the scores of people that earned Naruto’s ire. Selene, infamous Pirate Captain, deprived sadist and personification of evil, dead by his hand, along with the lives of her crew. Yukio, the boy who attempted to reach out and befriend him, rewarded with immortality through death. Each life taken, each soul extinguished, every dream, every hope reaped, all bled unto him and left its mark on his own soul.
The consuming bloodlust overtook the room. Most sane people would fall unconscious or be in hysterics at the weighted desire to commit murder.
“’Mmmmm…. So good…” Menma moaned rapturously.
Then, abruptly, it stopped, and Menma balked. “Trespassing, illegal entry, impersonating an emissary, blackmail…” Holding out a hand, Sarutobi ticked off his fingers at each listed offense, before reaching the thumb. “And now, slander.” The Hokage bared down on him. “In light of your crimes, would you rather I kill you here and now, or face execution?”
Grin frozen on his face; his eye twitched. I hate you, Hiruzen. Sighing, exuberance dying with a pitiable whine, Menma shook his head side to side. Mirroring the Hokage, he held out his hand, palm facing towards himself. “I’ll have you know that I have legally and properly entered Konoha, under a participating Village. Furthermore, in times of emergency, one is allowed to traverse Konoha without an escort as long as it falls within the intention of lessening or preventing a catastrophe.”
Lowering his thumb and little finger with each point, he continued on; blissfully ignoring the Hokage’s unamused expression. “I never impersonated an emissary, seeing as I never identified myself as one. “He lowered his index finger. “Nor I did I blackmail you. You merely asked me to give you a reason so as not matchmake me with Ibiki, so I abided by your request.
“If I were to blackmail you, I’d have said, oh, I dunno… ‘If anything, untoward were to happen to me, or if my punctuality is anything less than perfect regarding the rest of appointments on today’s agenda, then the evidence that one Hiruzen Sarutobi orchestrated the assassinations of supposed conspirators of the Uchiha Clan would be leaked to every person on the continent, then you could make a case for blackmail.”
He smiled cheekily at that, savoring the moment, as he slowly lowered his ring finger. “And finally, your accusation of ‘slander’…” Pausing, he held the remaining finger up for longer than necessary. “I’m not even going to dignify that with an explanation.”
He waved his hand. “So! Let’s be honest, here. The reason half the Uchiha lie dead is because you ordered it. You know this, I know this and I know that you know that I know this. Whether by your hand or by execution, you’d be kneeling right next to me as you await your own sentence.”
Sarutobi’s eyes narrowed. “You assume much.”
“Pfft. Are we still doing this? Tell ya what! If you think I’m bluffing, you can kill, subdue or whatever fun stuff you can dream up while I list out some terms.” Turning his back carelessly, Menma cleared his throat.
“Firstly, and most reasonable if I do say so myself, pay me an appropriate bounty for any enemy combatants I pick off once this little ‘surprise’ attack launches. Secondly, I want to be able to traverse Konoha to my heart’s content; I don’t need a babysitter to hold my hand and tell me I can’t go certain places, ‘kay?”
Pausing, he patiently waited for the Hokage to interject; resuming when the man was silent. “Lastly, I want some pocket change. I simply must try out all these new delicacies and foreign cuisine that have shown for the party, and haven’t got the space to carry around over five different types of currency!”
“I have terms of my own.” Not turning around, he cocked his head to the side. It was do or die.
“Oh, very well. I suppose my magnanimous self can spare some small concessions.” Picturing Sarutobi looking unamused, glaring ineffectually at his back, he laughed. “Go on, amuse me.”
“If I even allow you participate in this supposed attack on the Village, then you’ll do what I say, when I say. No excursions, no deviancy, nothing. Secondly, while I’ll grant you tentative access to Konoha and its facilities, Clan compounds are off limits. If you have an issue with that, you can take it up with the individual proprietors.”
Menma twisted around, smiling nicely. “Sure thing, Sarutobi! Though I couldn’t help but notice you left off the part about my due reward for alerting you to this horrible, impending crisis. Surely, you can part with a finder’s fee, eh?”
Sarutobi stared him down. “If you want money, I suggest you take up work.”
Pouting, he wiped an imaginary tear from his eye. “But… But-howl-will-I afford to make ends meet! I have a sick sibling to take care of, an-and this month’s rent is due, and…” Trailing off, he sighed. “Heh. Sarutobi, my man, this job has done little wonders for your sense of humor.
“Fine.” Straightening out, Menma hardened his features. “How’s about we cut the crap and get to the gist of what you want from me, Hiruzen? I have other things I’d like to do today, and as much fun as annoying you is, there’s only so much I can take before it starts to bore me.”
Sarutobi smirked, and Menma bristled. “And here I thought you enjoyed the back and forth?” Chuckling, Sarutobi relaxed. Figures. Try and take him off-guard by leading him to think that the man’s earlier behavior was a front, simply a means of getting him to tip his cards and reveal his hand.
Whatever. It was worth seeing the supposedly legendary Hokage of old brought low and squirming before him.
“I will assemble a team to scour the border in order to verify your intel, in which you will partake in. You are to set out with them within the hour. Since combat is expected, assuming your claims are true, you’ll receive compensation in the form of three times the standard S-Rank mission wage.”
“Mmm-hmm! Sounds good to me!” Truthfully, he wasn’t certain what the standard pay for an S-rank was, but he was sure it was enough to get Naruto off his back once he caught wind of this. “Though, and I feel I should mention this from one friend to another Hiruzen, your attempts at subterfuge could use some work. I mean, I’m kind of offended that you thought I wouldn’t pick on the fact that your forces are reporting on how I fight straight back to you…” Trailing off, he frowned at Sarutobi’s expression.
A bland look was set on the Hokage’s face as he stared. Rising an eyebrow, Sarutobi spoke slowly, emphasizing each word. “Menma, my boy… It wasn’t my intention to hide the fact that I have my shinobi watching you. It’s as you said, it’s so obvious, that I didn’t think to address it since I doubt you expected any less.”
Shrugging, he continued on. “I thought you would’ve caught on to it. I apologize for confusing you.”
Fighting the blood rising to his cheeks, Menma smiled with forced cheer. “Ah, no worries Hiruzen! Just having some fun.”
Sarutobi nodded, appearing pleased. “I’m glad that’s sorted, then. I’d hate for your miscomprehension to come between our working relationship, Menma-kun.” Smile stretching, Menma held back a tremble at the slight.
“But as enjoyable as I find your company my dear boy, I’m afraid there’s only so time I’m able to dedicate to your riveting discussions. I’ll have someone pick you up once I’ve got the details sorted, so, if you don’t mind…”
Menma span around on his heel, hiding the look marring his face. “Say no more, Hiruzen! Say no more…” Quickly making his way to the door, he grasped the handle harshly before Sarutobi spoke up once more.”
“Ah! One last thing, Menma …”
Closing his eyes and suppressing a hiss, Menma slowly turned his head to stare back at Sarutobi, only to balk.
The mock-friendly visage Sarutobi had adapted was gone. In its place, was nothing less than the legendary Hokage, the slayer of thousands and veteran of both World Wars.
“Never barge into my office again.”
Refusing to be intimidated, Menma scoffed. “Ya-huh. Sure thing. Dully noted.” Forcibly opening the door, he quickened his pace as left the building.
Back onto the streets, flooded with people going about, his hands coiled into fists as tension bubbled. Exhaling, he scoured his options for food. Spotting a vendor selling some kind of glazed meat, he walked up them and spoke quickly.
“Give me five of those.” Pulling out some coins, he handed them to the vendor. “Keep the change.”
Looking uncomfortable, the vendor quickly deposited the money and went about handing him his food. Staring them down, Menma watched intensely at they went about setting the meat upon a plate before finally passing it to him with a hesitant smile.
“Have a nice day…” Awkwardly speaking, they tried addressing him, but he spared them no mind as he left. Quickly scaling a rooftop, he plopped down to eat his snack. Depositing a slice into his mouth, he appraised it. Cooked well, tender and soft, he enjoyed the sweetness of the meat as he chewed slowly, gritting the meat between his teeth.
So, turned out Sarutobi was clever than he’d given him credit for. Irritating, but he could deal. Revealing that he knew the truth behind the Uchiha Harvest may have been ill timed and possibly better exploited at a more opportune time, but it at-least ensured no one would try anything untoward…
Mulling over that as he shoved the last of his food into his mouth, Menma pondered that. Despite himself, he doubted he’d come up on top if Sarutobi’s shinobi tried to betray him, so the guarantee that his threats provided were invaluable in that regard…
Shrugging, he stood and made his way to the ground. He still had time to kill, and he wouldn’t mind looking at clothes for the occasion.
After all, it wasn’t everyday he got to continue his father’s work so directly, and he’d hate to soil his attire with the blood of Stone’s ninja.
Heh! Like extracting blood from a stone.
Chortling at his joke, Menma walked the streets of Konoha.
Soon it’d be time to reap more souls.
submitted by IZEDEROb to NarutoFanfiction [link] [comments]


2020.09.24 05:51 joshuawaggoner90 Village girl hidden bath

[Worstverse] Hello readers, my name is Travis and I've started this blog to share with all of you my experiences at Worst Hotel. For the most part it can be said that this story begins with me staggering drunk and broke down a poorly lit but richly littered New York street. Having lost every penny I had to my name in a poker game only about an hour before hand, along with the title to my car and my leather jacket. I had been attempting to check into hotel after hotel, looking for a place to escape the chilling fall night air. To my bad fortune they all demanded a credit card before allowing me to book a room. This put a damper on my plan to crash and dash at the crack of dawn.

I was approaching the end of the street and only one flashing neon sign remained. "Worst Hotel- Vacancy", it read. "Worst Hotel? Why would anyone... Well, fuck it. I'll sleep in the damn lobby if I have to." The peculiar name doing little to deter me, I marched the rest of the way to the door and flung it open, causing a loud brass jiggle bell to clang an ear splitting herald of my arrival. The noise seemed to clang on and on with no hint of quieting. Over the racket I heard an annoyed voice yell from further into the building, "Cut that shit out!" and with that the ringing ceased instantly with not so much as an echo. Across the room I was able to identify the source of the voice. At the end of the lobby was the main desk nestled into recess in the wall, manned by what appeared to be two young men in their late teens, both looking at me with mild irritation. One was tall and skinny with greasy black hair that almost covered his eyes. The other was short and chubby with thick, curly red hair that sat unkempt over a noticeably large forehead.

"What the shit is wrong with that door bell?!" I aggressively inquired at the two boys.

"Nothing's wrong with it." The tall boy answered shortly.

"Yeah, how would you feel if you were minding your own business and some jackass kicked a door into your face? Probably raise all kinds of hell wouldn't you?" The short one added.

"I... What?" I replied in confusion. "It's just a door bell."

"Just a door bell, he says." The tall boy mocked to the shorter one, which caused them both to chuckle for a moment before the tall one continued, "Do you want something?"

"Do I want someth-, yeah, I want a room you greasy prick!" I spat.

Rolling his eyes, the taller of the two turned around and grabbed a key off the wall behind him and hurled it at me like a major league pitcher. I ducked as the keyring flew past my head, smashing into the wall behind me before clattering to the floor. As I glared at him, anger burning in my gaze, he dismissed me with a gentle, twinkley wave of his fingers and a triumphant smirk on his face. The shorter one was now laughing hysterically. As I bent down to begrudgingly pick up the key I read the room number on its tag. The tag itself was an ornate brass oval, aged in just such a way as to only accentuate its beauty. The tag's number was apparently expertly engraved by hand which matched to room 257.

Not wanting to ruin the good luck of having someone literally throw a room key at me before asking for a credit card, I made a B line for the elevator to the right of the desk. As I pressed the call button I turned towards the front dest and noticed that from in front of the elevator doors they were just out of sight behind the desk. The doors opened with a soft ding and as I entered and attempted to press the button for the right floor I realized that, not only had I not been told the correct floor on which to find the room, but more importantly, there were only two buttons. Ground floor, and 8. I leaned my head out of the still open doors and yelled down the way of the front desk, "Hey! Abbot, Costello! This piece of shit only has a button for the 8th floor!"

The tall one slowly leaned his head around the corner, and with an even more prominent and irksome smirk replied, "Well then I guess you better hope it's on that floor then, shouldn't you?" And then just as slowly and slimily drew his head back behind the corner, never letting the smirk leave his face. Cursing to myself, I withdrew back into the elevator and pushed the only available button.

After what seemed like an unreasonably long time to climb only 8 floors the doors dinged once more and opened, releasing me into the hallway. It didn't take long at all to determine the cause of the taller concierge's smirk.

As I exited the elevator the room I laid my eyes on first was labeled #1... I thought surely that was an error or something, but the one next to it was labeled #3 and the ones across were #2 and #4. Nervously I began to walk down the hallway following the continually ascending room numbers. Time seemed to drag on as 12 and 14 were long gone and I was walking up on 87 and 89. I was at a loss as I thought about the dimensions of the building I had seen from outside. There was no way it could have held even this many rooms on one floor, never mind if this meant that they would continue all the way to my 257. It just wasn't possible. But my disbelief was heavily tempered by my desire to rest my head on a soft pillow in a dark room. So I continued on.

122 and 124, 163 and 165, 207 and 209. I counted as I passed them one by one, taking notice that the rooms must have been pretty large given the ample distance from one set of doors to the next. As I got closer and saw the room marked 256 I knew that the next set of doors would be my destination. Rest at last. I hurried my pace as I approached but stopped in confusion as I had the sickening realization that... my room number wasn't where it was supposed to be. On one side there was 259 and on the other 258 and 260, but absolutely no 257. I dropped to my knees in defeat, rapping my fist against the wall where my room should have been waiting for me. The greasy bastard got me. He must have given me a prank key to a nonexistent room knowing I'd have to walk all the way here to find out I'd been had, then have to walk all the way back. At which point I would probably be thrown out after not being able to produce a valid credit card.

I wanted to storm back into that lobby and beat the actual piss out of that boy, but just as I was working up the energy and motivation to, I noticed that their was one more door at the very end of the hall. I squinted my eyes to read the number etched on an aged brass plate lavish enough to equal the tag on my room key.

257
I was there. I had made it. I stabbed the key into the lock and twisted it free. As I opened the door the lights all lit themselves, revealing a gorgeous Victorian theme with elegant drapery and furniture everywhere. "This has to be a presidential sweet or something." I thought to myself, at the time not registering how stupid the idea of what looked to be such a dilapidated hotel having a presidential room. I didn't let my exhaustion keep me from exploring the palace like dwelling. Everything in the room was of the highest quality and craftsmanship you could imagine. Silk and gold and silver was everywhere and my time working at a local pawn shop was all I needed to tell me that this stuff was all the genuine article. I immediately began rummaging around for the thing of highest value I would be able to cram into my pocket when I left.

I ended up settling on a solid gold ash tray adorned with a few random gems such as emeralds and rubies. My exhaustion getting the better of me I decided to finally take a quick shower in what appeared to be a solid gold tub, and lie down to sleep. Rather than get up early and try to slip past everyone I decided to get a good rest and just make a mad dash for the door instead.

Waking the next day I quickly snagged the golden ash tray in my back pocket and made my way out of the room, but as my feet cleared the thresh hold I felt a sudden pull on my pants followed by a ripping sound and then a dull thud. Stopping, I turned to see that the ash tray was laying in the doorway just inside the room. I felt my back pocket that was now ripped almost completely off. Scowling, I reached down to pick the thing up but as I stood it was jerked out of my hand and fell to the floor once again with the same dull, heavy thud. "What the actual hell?" I mumble to myself, squatting down to investigate my would be pilfered booty.

I picked it up again, this time looking for wires as I felt around and turned it in my hands. I found nothing, so at that I tried to grip it tight and give it a hard yank in hopes of wrenching it free of whatever bond was holding it. I leaned forward and snatched back as hard as I could, but to no avail. The ash tray remained in my hand but my hand also remained in the room with the ash tray. I just stood there for a moment clutching the small, gilded dish as is was blocked by some yet identified force. Determined, I walked into the room all the way to the far wall and heaved the tray at the open door as hard as I could. But instead of passing through it just stopped silently and dropped to the floor yet again, bouncing a little as it landed.

Curious, I began to try to remove other objects from the room, none of which would allow itself to be taken any farther than the door. Angered by this but not deterred, I decided to drop the ash tray out of the window and recover it upon exiting the building, only to find that there was no window in the room. Which made sense now that I had time to think about it. In my exhausted state it hadn't occurred to me that it had to have been some kind of optical illusion, the endless hallway. The elevator must have only went up one floor very slowly and the halls were all built on an almost imperceptible incline as they twist and turn, which made it seem like you just kept walking down an impossibly long labyrinth of halls and doors. And all the objects in the room must be magnetized somehow, which is how they won't cross the doorway.

It was so obvious to me now. This had to be some kind of prank hotel or something. That's why they let me in without asking for a credit card and why everything was just generally so strange. They get some idiot to come in and film him running around like an asshole using hidden cameras and then put it all over TV. Abandoning my attempt at thievery I began to make the long walk back to the elevator.

About half way into my journey I saw another person in the distance about to enter their own room. First thinking it might be another victim of the hotel's ridiculous shenanigans I picked up my pace to warn him that he was probably being screwed with.

"Hey guy!" I shouted as I approached. "There's something up with this p-" I stopped short as I got closer and got a better look at the man. He was tall. Taller than anyone I had ever seen in person. And his pale head which sat on his thin, lanky body was completely bald. When he turned to face me it got even worse. His eyes were wide open and unblinking, appearing to be in a permanent state of terror, and his facial features were all sharp and sunken. I just stood, frozen in shock as he slowly leaned over towards me, bringing his horrific eyes level with mine.

Then suddenly he just started screaming in my face like a lunatic. Over and over he yelled at a volume that made my eardrums feel like they were on the verge of rupturing. At first I could only jump and convulse in response. Not that I didn't scream, because boy did I scream. I was just so horrified it didn't register as a valid response at first, and when I finally did it was just as much me trying to will my legs into tear-assing down the hallway faster than I had ever moved in my life. And I ran track in highschool, so believe me when I say I was moving at a healthy clip. Smashing into corner after coner did little to halt my momentum as I hurtled through the maze of doors and halls, the whole time chanting in my head, "It's just a prank! It's just a prank! I'm being pranked! I'm just being pranked!"

My legs were on fire as I rounded the last corner, finally seeing the glimmer of the stainless steel elevator doors. I smashed into the wall, all but punching the call button over and over and over until the doors slid open with a familiar, soft chime. No sooner did they began to part was I inside the elevator, now brutalizing the ground floor button. My whole body shook as I descended to the lobby. Breathing heavily, I readied myself against the handrails and waited for the doors to chime and open one last time, plotting the exact angle would use to bolt out and make my way to the front entrance as quickly and cleanly as possible.

DING

As the doors opened I pulled against the rails and kicked off the back wall of the elevator with all the strength that remained in my body. Someone was walking into the lobby! I'd be able to make a clean escape without having to stop to pull the door open like I had first calculated.

"YES!" I yelled triumphantly, only feet from the exit. I was almost out of this twisted place and home free.

My face made contact first, then my right knee, then the rest of my body was brought to a sudden and violent stop as I tried to bolt through the opening. I felt the closing door brush against my back as I knocked it aside on my way to the floor. I could feel the cold of the tile underneath me as I heard a voice call out over hysterical laughter as I lost consciousness.

"Holy shit Pete! I've never seen anyone eat it that hard before!"

I was brought back with a splash of ice water against my face. I sat up, ready to fight as I choked on the water. The taste of pennies permeated through my mouth as it filled with blood from what was certainly a busted nose and lip. "UGH BLUGG KA KA!" I hacked as I raised my fist, ready to hammer the person standing over me. As he slowly faded back into clarity I saw it was the tall, greasy haired boy. The smirk on his face now wide as it could ever possibly be.

"The old crash and dash, huh? Yeah that doesn't work here. Can't leave until your debt's all paid up and square. Welcome to Worst Hotel asshole."






"You're gonna need these while you're working here." The shorter of the concierges said as he handed me a black canvas bag with "W.H." embroidered in gold on the front. "You can't do your job without some of this stuff so try to not lose it and shit." The boy who introduced himself as Lezley minutes ago.

He and the slick haired bastard Pete had sat back and allowed me to tucker myself out making attempt after attempt to break through the invisible barrier in the doorway, during one of which I'm pretty sure I broke my hand. All to no avail. It was apparent after a few hours of fast tracking through the five stages of grief that I wouldn't be leaving of my own volition. After which it was explained to me by the two young men that I would be working as a custodian to pay off my debt to the hotel. What's worse is that the room I had occupied was the most expensive one possible. So this wouldn't be a quick ordeal.

"What the hell is this place?" I asked as we left the room where I was presented the canvas bag. "And what the hell was with that tall fucker that freaked out on me?" I continued.

"Tall? Freak out? Oh, you must have ran into someone from 8-61. They're pretty weird but they're not the craziest ones from 8-Cluster. Their hearing isn't as good as ours, so their speech just sounds like screaming to us." He answered.

"What do you mean by 8-Cluster? I have no idea what you're even talking about." I said in confusion.

"Oh right. I should probably explain how things work around here." He began. "Things are about to get a lot crazier than what you've already seen. The messed up floor plan, the tall freak out dude, the invisible barriers. That's barely scratching the surface. So you know all the science fiction stuff where they talk about multiple dimensions and traveling through them and shit? Well, surprise. Turns out there are a bunch of different dimensions, but they're not just all layered one after the other. It's more like how soap bubbles clump together on the top of the water. One clump might have planets with similar conditions to Earth where life evolved the same way as it did here. So you end up with more humanoid like inhabitants like the tall guy. But other clusters can get kinda wild by comparison. The conditions they evolved and survived in are very different, so they look really different from us."

"The shit does that have to do with this place?!" I interrupted.

"I'm getting to that dick hole!" Lezley responded. "So there are 8 clusters that exists on the same plain of physics. And in those clusters there are a whole bunch of variant dimensions with life forms kinda similar to each other. You know how like Wolverine and Spiderman are both Marvel characters, but you never see them in the same movie because different companies own the movie rights to them?"

"No, not really." I answered.

"Well anyway, that's like what a cluster is. And you know how you don't see anyone like Superman or Batman or Flash in a Marvel movie because they're two separate universes?" He kept on.

"Again, NO, I don't. Stop speaking nerd to me." I said with growing frustration.

"So this is basically a nexus for all the different clusters. The hotel is a hub where residents from one dimension can visit other dimensions freely. Unless they've been flagged, of course. Keeping track of each cluster is especially important because the cluster dictates the conditions a guest can survive in. So if you're from cluster-8 like us then you'll probably be pretty happy about oxygen and water. But if you're like from 5-22 and have a high cesium content in your skin, well... Walking around in our atmosphere would feel like getting thrown into a tub of boiling water. Until you die that is. So what we do here is process the guests and give them special apparatuses that let them survive and go unnoticed while they're in different dimension. You know how like in Men in Bl-"

"I know you're not about to say more nerd shit." I interrupted.

"I... NO!" He said defensively.

"You're telling me this is... an interdimensional hotel... for... monsters... Aliens?" I asked in summation.

"I mean, basically. Yeah. That and we act as a haven time to time for paranormal anomalies, and sometimes render various services for them. We're a lot more than just a hotel." Lezley answered. "Anyway, call them whatever you want, your job is making sure the guests enjoy their time here."

"Enjoy there time here?" I echoed.

"Among other things." He added.

"What other things?" I said nervously.

"We'll cross that one when we get to it." He finished as we came to a stop in front of a dilapidated door towards the back of the hotel. A large C-8 printed on the wall next to it. "Here we are, cluster 8 staff living quarters. Ready?" He added with a grin as I nodded, signaling him to open the door. There's nothing that could have prepared me.

At first glance you might mistake the area as a common room at some rustic cabin resort. Rough hewn furniture made from logs, a fireplace in the center, and a kitchen area off to the side. But then I noticed the occupants. The very first one to catch my eye had what appeared to be a bone-like shell or mask covering their face, but after a moment of "eye" contact it began to open and spread out into a set of horns similar to what you'd expect to see on a deer. The face underneath was stark white and smooth as porcelain. The large, dark sockets that had first assumed were caused by shadows cast from the mask like horns were actually just deep, sunken holes. If a were to have seen this in a painting it would have been almost beautiful, but in person, under the circumstances, it was more than unsettling. Even their soft smile and gentle, greeting nod did little to calm me down.

The rest of the occupants, while different in their own ways, were about as far from human as the first one. I jumped as a voice spoke from beside me.

"You're gonna need this too." Lezley said, pulling what looked to be an old fashion iron key from his shirt pocket, holding it hanging by a small chain. "This your room key. I'd tell you to not lose it but..." He trailed off as I took it in my hand.

"But what?" I asked, but no sooner than I did I began to hear a sizzling sound followed by the noise the chain made as it hit the wood floor, and shortly after I felt a burning pain in my hand. I looked down to see the key had begun to melt and was burning into my hand, leaving only a black mark in the shape of a key across my palm where I had been grasping it.

"OUCH!! Fucking damn it man! What was that shit?!" I screamed into his face.

But then I heard a soft laughter pick up from behind me. I turned to face the others in the room with us as they all raised a hand bearing a black key shape in the palm. I turned back to Lezley and started to open my mouth to speak but he cut me off.

"That's the key to your room. Only people marked to that room can open the door. Keeps you from losing the key and someone else using it." He explained, giggling as I rubbed my still burning hand.

"You guys would make a fucking fortune in security systems." I retorted sarcastically.

"This place does have lots of... unorthodox ways of solving problems. You'll figure that out more and more as you go on. Room's that way." He ended, pointing to a hallway almost hidden in the far corner of the room, opposite the kitchen area.

Opting to not socialize with my new interdimensional co-workers, I slunked across the room towards the hallway. Only pausing briefly to exclaim "Tell that other greasy prick at the front desk to eat a dick at his own convenience!"

"Haha! I'll pass the word along." Lezley said, as he closed the door behind him.

I started looking for my room only to realize I didn't know which one was mine. There were numbers on the doors but I wasn't told which number I should look for. I glanced down at the key marking on my palm, noticing that instead of the key having teeth, in their place was a number that I guessed might match the right room. I followed the number to room 19 and turned the nob. The door opened with a click and creaked open.

The first thing I noticed was that there were two beds. One looking tidy and unused, and the other was made but had various nicknacks and effects adorning the wall and shelves around it. Attempting to process the idea that I would have a monster from another dimension as a room mate, I plopped myself down on the vacant bed and stared at the ceiling. But before I could even let my imagination run wild as to what kind of twisted goblin I would be rooming with for the foreseeable future, I heard a knock on the door.

Nervously I stood and grasped the doornob. I gave it a gentle twist and open it just enough to make a crack large enough to see through. My vision was not met with the otherworldly gargoyle I had expected, but rather what appeared to be a human woman in her 20s. If I had to give an off the cuff description I call her, well... pretty damn cute. Excited I swung the door the rest of the way open and asked louder than I intended, "Are you my room mate?!"

"Uhhhh, no." She answered plainly. "I'm the only eight one thirty seven who's off right now, and they like to have someone from their own dimension help get them settled if possible. And other than me it's just Lezley and Pete. So here I am."

"Oh, well that's... mildly disappointing." I huffed under my breath. "Anyway, my name's Travis." I added, extending my hand.

"Good for you." She said as she turned and began to walk back down the hall towards the common room.

I closed the door behind me and hurried to catch up. As we rounded the first corner she began to explain that there were currently almost 50 staff members who hail from cluster 8. Only four of which being from 8-137, which according to her, is the dimension we come from. Once we entered the common room she brought me to the kitchen area and explained that we were allowed to use some of the money we earned to buy things we needed like food.

"How do we get that stuff if we can't leave?" I asked.

"You'll figure that out later." She dismissed.

She opened a door that blended into the boards on the wall revealing a walk in refrigerator with multiple compartments all individually numbered. "They work just like the rooms. Only you and your room mate can open the cabinet with your number." She said, pointing to the number on the closest cabinet. "So if any of your shit comes up missing you know what happen to it."

"You sound like you've got everything figured out." I said, trying to force small talk. "How long have you been here?" I added.

"About two weeks." She answered, closing the refrigerator door. "You get used to things fast in this place." She opened another concealed door. "This is the pantry. Same deal."

I stood in mild shock as she began walking back down the hallway where our rooms were located, but I shook myself out of it after a few seconds and made my way behind her. Before we left the common room she added, "TV has cable but it's always shifting through dimensions mid show so don't bother. At first interdimensional porn sounds kinda hot, but then one day you're in the middle of Supernatural, the cable shifts, and then you can't sleep for three days. WIFI password is WorstDayEver followed by your cluster number and your dimension. Best stick to that and regular porn."

After we passed room 50 in the hallway it opened up to a small locker room with two doors at the far end. "Left one is toilets, right one is the bath. It's Japanese style but don't get too excited. It's hard to bathe with some strange being from another dimension staring at your groin trying to figure out how it works." She said.

I shivered as I imagined having my junk ball gazed by some of the nightmarish creatures I had just seen. Fortunately that thought was interrupted as she continued, "Oh yeah, speaking of, you should have one of these in the bag you got earlier." She then brushed her hair back, revealing some short of silver piece of jewelry that twisted around and inside of her ear.

"These let you understand the different languages the other workers speak. And they all have one so they'll be able to understand you." She elaborated. "That's about all you need to know until tomorrow when they put you to work. I'm in room 23, so if you need anything... Stay as far away from that room as possible."

And with that she spun on her heel and left me standing there in the locker room. I made my escape as I noticed several of the other occupants rounding the corner, undressing as they walked. I made my signature B-line for my room, slamming the door behind me and diving head first into my bed. After lying there for some time I had manage to doze off, only realizing this as I was being woken by a gentle tugging on the sleeve of my shirt. I opened my eyes to see a pale, porcelain face with deep, black, empty sockets only inches from my own. I howled, spouting a torrent of profanity as I made my best effort to claw my way up the wall next to my bed.

"HOLY FUCKING CHERRY PICKING JESUS WHAT THE ACTUAL SHIT SLINGING HELL NAME OF VIC MOTHERBITCHING MIGNOGNA?!!" I exclaimed in my frenzy as I attempted to claw my way up the wall, causing the deer like horns on top of its head to slam shut back into its mask-ish shape. "Oh, holy shit, it's just you..." I coughed in exacerbation. "What... what do... want?" I asked, gasping for oxygen.

The creature began to speak in a soft, bell-like language I couldn't understand. After realizing I couldn't understand, it reached for the canvas bag beside my bed and produced a small box, and from the box it withdrew the same small metal device that the girl from earlier had in her ear. So, taking the hint, I took the small metallic object and placed it around my ear.

"Is that better?" The creature spoke in the same soothing tone, but now I was able to make out a definite feminine voice.

"Y-yeah. Much." I answered.

"Good. You were having a bad dream." She said. And though I couldn't see her eyes I felt like she was looking into mine with concern.

"Oh, I didn't realize. It's kinda been a crazy couple of days so I'm not surprised." I mumbled more to myself than anyone else. "Sorry I freaked out on you like that. I feel like a dick cause you were just trying to help."

"It's quite alright. Up until today you didn't even know that beings such as myself from other dimensions existed, so it's understandable to be a little apprehensive." She reassured me.

We spent several minutes conversing about getting used to the new environment and coming to terms with such far out notions as other dimensions. After a while the strangeness began to fade from her appearance as I started to realized what a kind and caring soul she had. While we spoke, what I once thought to be the horns on top of her head began to slowly drop and unfurl into impossibly thin hairs, almost like spider's silk that couldn't be bothered to tangle or stick to one another.

As the conversation drew to a close she rose from where she had been sitting and, with all the grace of a feather in the wind, practically glided back to her bed.

After that I was able to roll over manage a soft, slightly hopeful smile, knowing I had at least one person looking out for me in this insane fever dream of a hotel. Fortunately I was able to get some real sleep before I was jolted back to consciousness by my foot being violently yanked off the bed to the sound of "Move your ass. Time for indentured servitude."

It was the abrasive girl from the night before, and this time my excitement to see her had been greatly tempered. I snatched my foot out of her hand with a groan and pulled the covers back over my head. "Don't be a dick." She said as she ripped the blanket away from me and began to march out the door.

"How'd she even get in anyway?" I thought to myself. Still cranky from my rude wake up call, I began to remove various items from the canvas bag. First were two sets of uniforms, deep black and trimmed in gold filigree. Though it appeared missed matched with the very utilitarian fabrics, and style of the clothing itself being simple cargo pants and a t-shirt. If you took the gold trim off they'd look almost... tactical. Next was another key with a brass tag adorned with the number 1. The burning sensation from the last key still fresh in my mind, I elected to hold it only by the tag for the time being. Next out was a pair of black work boots. Noting extraordinary there. Just... work boots, of the black variety.

The next item took me by surprise. Fumbling blindly around the bag, I felt my hand clasp onto something heavy. As I pulled it into the light my first impression was of one of those collapsible batons the police carry. However this one seemed to be only a solid piece of brass and stashed away in a black leather holster. At that point I thought back and remembered seeing several other staff members carrying these around, but had no idea what it might be used for.

Moments later the she-monster that snatched me from my sleep walked back in with Lezley. When he noticed me holding the small brass bar. "Oh you found it!"

"Yeah, I guess I did. The hell's it for?" I retorted.

With smirk he reached down and took it from me, sliding it from its leather housing. "Check this shit out." He said, never loosing his grin. Suddenly he took the bar and gave it a hard shake. As soon as he did it erupted outward in both directions, transforming into a brilliant brazen spear.

"HEY! Watch it shit-ass!" The girl barked as the spear rocketed past her arm at blinding speed.

"Oh damn! My bad Sash. I haven't messed with one of these in a while. Forgot how fast them shits come out." Lezley apologized. "This is orichalcum. It's serious stuff too. A long time ago a village of bandits got a hold of a little bit of this stuff. Fucking built Atlantis with it. So keep up with it. If you lose it, that's your ass." He continued. As he spoke he continued to shake it, turning the spear to a sword, the sword to an ax, the ax to a dagger, the dagger to a mace, and then back to a small bar before sliding it back into the holster and tossing back to me.

"Ok, I'll say again... WHAT IN THE HELL DO I NEED THAT FOR?!" I exclaimed.

He looked at me for a moment then answered ominously,

"Other things."
submitted by joshuawaggoner90 to NaturesTemper [link] [comments]


2020.09.05 11:31 equatorialbaconstrip Bath girl hidden village

While part of the THNGW multiverse, this story, depending on the direction of our esteemed original authobenefactor, is intended to be a standalone. Original story Credit goes to u/ThisHasNotGoneWell, so be sure to support him. Thanks for your continued support!

30.
Wish in one hand...

The sun was sliding below the horizon by the time we made it out of the area of Te Furah’s ashfall. Wiesse was rising in all its vibrant cerulean majesty on the opposite horizon, bathing the forest in its glow.
Here I was, back in Jardis, not far from the village where it had all started. Again, I wondered just what had happened to Telsia. Had the inspectors killed her? What did they do to those caught using magic? Sure she had manipulated everyone she came across, but she was only trying to survive. I hoped she was at least alive.
“There’s a house up ahead.” Tabbiaka called.
Carefully we advanced to find a modest sized farmhouse and barn. The place looked abandoned, the house's front door open a crack, revealing a dark inside.
"We need a place to rest." I said, feeling the previous battle. The jolt of energy from Silvy's mana infusion was beginning to wear off and the fatigue from Tabbiaka’s healing of my wounds weighed on me like my name was Giles Corey.
“Is anyone home?” Tabbiaka called out to any potential occupants but was only met with silence. As we reached the house, she called out again. The house and the forest around us remained silent.
“Let’s check it out.” I said, pushing the door the rest of the way open and letting my eyes adjust to the deeper darkness. The house was a fairly simple, two room design. A dining area and a small kitchen nestled into a corner of the house connected with a larger family area that sat in front of a fireplace. Beyond a door in the back of the house, I could just barely see a bedroom with a small bed, maybe for two. There were no lavish designs or trinkets anywhere to be seen. Everything that had been left in the house, tools, utensils, clothing, and furniture, were all practical and drab. These had been simple people who, by the size of the house, were somewhat poor but not impoverished. There was no sign of those who had lived here before us, but the layer of dust on nearly every surface told us that they had been gone for quite some time.
I wanted nothing more than to answer the call of the beckoning bed in the other room.
“This place will do for now.” I said. “Let’s rest here for a few days and recuperate.”
Silvy nodded. “I'll gather some wood and get the fire going.”
“I’ll check to see if there’s a well nearby.”
I pointed to the bedroom. “I’m going to see if the bed works.” I said, the fatigue causing a slight slur in my speech. It was washing over me like a wave now. Any minute and I’d simply pass out where I stood.
Both girls glanced at each other, and then burst into amused chuckling.
“I guess you’re right.” Silvy said. “Why don’t we all get a bit of rest. The night is a little chilly, but I think we can all keep each other warm.” She raised an eyebrow at Tabbiaka.
Tabbs nodded. “That would be nice. It’s been a long day.”
Silvy took me by the hand and drew me toward the room. “Come on Zee, off to bed with you.”
I plopped myself down on the bed and a plume of dust shot up from it. I didn’t care, I just wanted to sink into the softness of cloth and furs. I closed my eyes and revelled in the complete darkness on my eyelids.
“Oh no you don’t.” Silvy’s voice cut through my already dreaming mind like a knife. I felt a hand rudely yank me up to my feet. “Your clothes are covered in blood and ash. There’s no water right now, so we can’t bathe, but I wont have you lying in that mess.” She pointed to a wooden chest at the far end of the bed. “Tabbiaka, can you check that to see if there are any extra blankets, please?”
She began stripping me of my clothes, pulling my shirt over my head and tossing it across the room. She then moved down to my pants, undoing them. Too tired to protest or fight it, I let her do it.
After a moment, I stood nearly naked in front of the girls. All I had left were a pair of boxer shorts.
Silvy stared at my waist. "Hmm. What do you think, Tabbiaka, should those come off too?"
Tabbs grinned coyly. "Well, there is blood on them. They'll need to be washed."
Silvy nodded. "I agree. They must go." She then reached forward and yanked the shorts down to my feet.
Now I stood, in all of my birthday suit glory, in front of the two women. Both of them stared, appraising my body with lascivious grins on their faces.
"We can't join him the way we are, you know." Tabbiaka said, pulling her own shirt off to reveal her ample chest. "Our clothes are just as dirty and grimy as his are."
Silvy giggled. "I suppose you're right. We'd better do the same."
For the next minute, I was treated to what had to be the most amazing view of my life as the two undressed. They took their time, making sure I was watching, giggling the entire time.
Any other time, I'd have been the happiest man in the world. However, for once, I literally didn't and couldn't give a single fuck. I just wanted to sleep and not even the beautiful sight of the two women could change that. I turned and single mindedly crawled onto the bed. While Silvy had been dealing with me, Tabbiaka had found some fresh blankets and had stripped the old dusty ones off. I found my way under the covers and closed my eyes.
A moment later, I felt a rustle and two heavenly warm and soft bodies slipped next to me on either side. A hand from each of the girls slid up my chest on both sides and two heads of hair nestled into my neck.
"You girls..." I mumbled, only seconds from drifting away. "You both are amazing. I love you two."
To my left, Silvy kissed my neck. "And we love you."
Tabbiaka's hand slid up to my face and gently turned my head toward her. A moment later, I felt her lips pressed against mine. The kiss was tender and brief, nothing like her lustful one from earlier. She didn't say anything when she finally pulled back, but she didn't have to.
As we lay in the darkness of the abandoned house, I smiled. Sure, the last couple of months had been one shit show after another, but I had to admit, it wasn't always so bad…
I held that smile as sleep finally took me.



My eyes snapped open and for a long second I stared at the room around me, briefly wondering where I was before the events of the previous day came rushing back. I was alone in the room, the rest of the bed devoid of the lovely women who had shared it with me. It was for the best, I supposed. The covers were crumpled from my restless sleep. I had been plagued by dreams, my body waking in flight of something on my heels. I couldn't remember just what the dream had been, just a feeling. It was a sense of something. Whatever it was, it knew I was here, and it was excited. It wanted me badly. Normally I’d have simply dismissed it as a strange dream and thought no more about it. But I’d been contacted several times through dreams before and something felt real about this one as well.
My body still felt a bit weak as I slipped from the bed. The wound may have been healed, but Tabbiaka’s spell only caused the body to heal itself, albeit at an incredibly rapid rate. All that healing took energy from the body to do so, leaving the recipient weak for a short time.
I opened the bedroom door and was blasted with the smell of a cooking fire and... something... being cooked. Whatever it was, I wasn’t sure it was edible if the smell was anything to go by. Despite the unpleasantness of the odor, my stomach growled. Due to burning so much energy to heal itself, my body was now ravenously hungry. So much so that even Silvy’s cooking, and that was a very fair assessment of what was burning my nose at the moment, couldn’t dissuade it.
I pulled myself through the door to find Silvy hunched over the stove in the little alcove of the house that made up the kitchen. She was intently staring at the contents of a simmering pot and occasionally giving it a stir.
“Silvy...” I croaked through a throat I hadn’t realized was completely parched. I cleared my throat and tried again. “Silvy, what in god's name are you making?”
Silvy snapped up from her concentration on the pot and dashed over to me. She wrapped me up in a tight hug and squeezed the hell out of me.
“Can’t breathe…” I gasped.
She let go, her face a bit red. “Sorry. I’m just glad you’re finally awake. We were getting worried about you.”
My brow furrowed. “Worried, why? All I needed was a good night’s rest.”
She clasped my hand in both of hers. “Zee, you’ve been asleep for nearly three days. That was two nights ago and it’s nearly evening now.”
Well that certainly explained the hunger and my parched throat. I looked around. “Is there any water?”
She pointed to a couple of jugs near the far wall of the kitchen area. “There’s water in those. Go easy on it though, as the supply of drinkable water is currently limited. We’ll need to go for more soon.”
I made my way to the jugs and uncorked one of the bottles. I raised it to my lips and took a sip. The water was luke warm and tasted stale, but it flowed over my tongue and throat like a sweet river. My dessicated body absorbed the water and raged for more and I couldn’t help but to take a few deep gulps of it before catching myself to keep from drinking all of it.
Reluctantly I set the jug down and placed the cork back into the opening. “Where’s Tabbs?”
Silvy had returned to the simmering concoction in her pot. “She went out a while ago to hunt and to scout the local area. It’s because of her that we have this.” She pointed at the pot.
I inched closer to the stuff. It was bright red and smelled like it could be substituted for gasoline. “And just what is that?”
She leaned over the pot, her eyes closed and inhaled deeply. For a moment, I wondered how she hadn’t singed off the hair in her nose. “This is a variation on stew called chemmiarang. It’s made mostly from elupaya fruits.” she reached over and grabbed a small red fruit that was clearly a chili pepper of some kind. “Tabbiaka found a few dozen plants yesterday. She was hoping to find some more ingredients today, but I figured, ‘why waste time’, you know? I threw these together along with some of the spices that I found here. I'm missing a few ingredients, but it’s all we have at the moment.”
I stared at the thick concoction. This had to be some kind of elven version of chili. But this… no, this couldn't be right… Was it supposed to be this thick without any added thickeners? That meant she’d had to simmer this down for hours. Under the acrid smell of peppers, there was a hint of scorching and a smattering of strange spices. There was no way that this was even remotely edible.
“Silvy, are you sure you’re making this right?”
She turned and stared at me. “Look, I know you and Tabbiaka aren’t fond of my cooking, but at least I'm trying.” she pouted.
I sighed. “You’re right. I’m sorry. We should have taken your feelings and efforts into account. Thank you for going through the trouble of cooking for us.”
Silvy grinned. “In that case…” she reached for a bowl and spooned a glop of the stuff into it before handing the bowl to me. “Here, eat up.”
My stomach simultaneously did a flip flop and then betrayed me by growling.
I grimaced at the bowl for a moment. No way I was allowing myself to eat this alone. “Maybe we should wait for Tabbs. That way we can all eat together.”
Sorry Tabbs... Hopefully she’d forgive me for throwing her under the bus like a baggage handler at Greyhound. Really, I just wanted to stall for a little more time before I had to subject myself to the horror in that pot.
Silvy nodded, took the bowl back from me and dumped the demonic looking mess back into hell with its brethren.
“I needed to talk to you about her.” Silvy said, giving the pot a final stir and then removing it from the heat.
“What about?” I asked.
She came close and took me by the hands, staring into my eyes. “You know I love you, Zee. So does Tabbiaka. She adores you.”
“I know Silvy, I just-”
She raised a hand and cut me off. “She’s your shorn, just like I am. She wants to make you happy. It would also make me happy for you to accept her for the woman she is. I know she’s your friend’s daughter, but you have to face the truth: He died, Zee, a long time ago. Tabbiaka is an adult and your refusal to see her as such is an insult to both her and the memory of your friend. Think about it: is there anyone that he’d be happier with her being with?”
I pondered it for a moment. “No, I suppose not.” I admitted. “It’s just so weird. I mean, to me, Cass was alive only a couple of months ago. The same event that brought me here, took him as well. Then I find that the few minutes between him being taken and me translates to more than two decades, he’s been dead for eight years, and has a daughter who is grown.”
Silvy slipped her arms around me and pulled me close. “You've been through a lot, Zee. you didn’t ask to be pulled into this world only to get caught up in a war that has nothing to do with you. But keep in mind all the things she’s had to endure as a halfling. She’s allowed herself to be considered a shorn, a slave to anyone who wishes her to be, all because it’s still better than being a halfbreed. Since Professor Theilen died, she’s changed. She’s become far more confident in herself, more assertive.”
I thought about her making out with me in the middle of the battle with Arvan and her promise to finish what she’d started. “I’ll agree with you on that one…” I muttered.
“That’s all because of you. It’s all to get your attention. She feels she’s being left behind and that there’s no place for her amongst you and I.”
Silvy’s words were a red hot poker to my heart. “I’m sorry. On my world it’s just not common for a man to love more than one woman at a time.” It was a sorry excuse and I knew it. The truth was, I didn’t know exactly how I felt about the whole situation. I mean sure, I loved them both dearly. But I didn't know if I could love them equally.
Silvy squeezed me tighter.”You aren’t in your world anymore, Zee. You’re in Tabbiaka’s world. Love her as she loves you, as I love you.”
I kissed her forehead. “I will. Thank you, Silvy. Thank you for being such a caring and understanding woman. I’ll do better, I promise. I’ll do better by you both.”
As if we’d talked her up, the door opened and in walked Tabbiaka, holding the carcass of some small animal that looked somewhat like a rabbit with ears like bat wings. She froze in the doorway. “Am I interrupting?”
I shook my head and extended a hand. “Not at all. Come and join us.”
She looked at me and then at the animal. “I've got blood on my hands.”
“It doesn't matter, come on in anyway.” Silvy said, also extending a hand.
Tabbiaka smiled, set the rabbit down and came in, rather enthusiastically, to join our embrace.
I welcomed her warmth in our midst. “Thank you both for being there for me.” I said to them. “I don’t think any guy could be happier than I am right now.”
“Well I know what will make it better.” Silvy said. “Let’s eat!”
In my embrace, I’m pretty sure I felt Tabbiaka’s heart stop. She squirmed out of our hug and hightailed it back to the rabbit. “I need to process this and cook it before we do anything.”
Silvy pointed to the pot. “Why not add it to the stew? All it’s missing is some meat.”
Tabbs shook her head. “I think I’ll cook it separately.”
For a moment, Silvy looked hurt. I sighed. Dammit all… “Tabbs, why don’t we give her a chance. Let’s add it to the stew.”
Stared at me for a long moment as if to say 'You know what's going to happen, right?'
I nodded slightly. I know…


An hour later, we sat at the table, Tabbiaka and I staring into the devil red stew. Silvy tucked in gleefully while we watched to see if she keeled over.
I dug a wooden spoon and lifted a glob of the thick stew. Taking a deep breath, I raised the spoon to my mouth and took a bite.
For a relieved moment, a relatively pleasant flavor graced my tongue. My eyebrows raised and I managed an 'mmm' of approval.
Then the wave of lava washed over me… it wasn't just the heat from the thick substance, but a consuming fire engulfing my mouth and surging into the back of my throat. Beads of sweat broke out on my face and I gagged at the suddenness of it all. I was no stranger to spicy foods, in fact I loved them. But this was on another level from anything I'd tried. This was Carolina Reaper and Trinidad Scorpion have a baby and that baby grows up, meets the devil in hell and the two end up with an unholy offspring of fire and brimstone.
In front of me I saw Tabbiaka, having taken my initial grunt of approval as a go ahead, lifting a spoonful to her mouth. I had to warn her but I couldn't get my mouth to work well enough to spit out the glob of fire. I did the only thing I could do. I tilted my head back and let the burning lump singe its way down my esophagus. Once the stuff was clear of my trachea, I croaked out a warning. “Tabbs…”
I was too late. She coughed and spit the red mass back out into her bowl. Her face turned beet red and sweat began to drip from her skin. Her hands came up and made a frantic fanning motion at her open mouth for a moment before she reached for a cup of water.
“Wait Tabbs, that won’t-”
Too late again. She gulped the water down and then coughed as the heat became even more intense. We had no bread or milk to quell the heat so we’d simply have to endure. All the while, Silvy scarfed the stuff down like it had zero effect.
“Don’t you think you could have warned us, Silvy?” I rasped through a burned throat.
She looked up from her food, finally noticing our plight. “What’s wrong? Don’t you like it?”
I shook my head. “The flavor is actually fine, Silvy. It‘s the fucking nuclear explosion that blows up in our mouths that’s the problem. How is this not affecting you?!”
Silvy shrugged, took another bite and swallowed. “It’s not that bad. Sure, it’s a little spicy, but it’s not too much.”
Across the table, Tabbiaka finally recovered enough to speak. “I think my taste buds have gone deaf…”
Silvy frowned at us. “Come on. It’s not fair that every time I cook, you two suddenly hate it.”
I shook my head. “That’s not it, Silvy, I swear. We literally can’t handle the spiciness.”
Silvy stood from the table. “It’s not even that spicy!” she shouted. “I've been eating this since I was a child!”
“Maybe that’s it.” Tabbiaka suggested. “You’ve been eating it so long that it doesn’t affect you anymore. Zee and I have never had chemmiarang before.”
I pulled a pouting Silviana close. “Silvy, you know I love you.” I said while caressing her hair.
“I said we’d do better with accepting your cooking, and we will. That’s why I had Tabbs go ahead and add the meat. I love spicy foods, but that stuff is hotter than anything on my world, probably by a huge margin.”
“So humans won’t be able to eat it?” she asked.
Sure, let’s go with that… Honestly, there were probably plenty of people on earth who would be dying to try that batch of Satan’s Kimchi.
“Most likely.” I said.
“I’m sorry Zee, Tabbiaka.” Silvy said, pulling away from me and moving back to the table. “ I just wanted to make something we could all enjoy. I didn’t know it could hurt you like that.”
I sighed. I hadn’t meant to make her feel guilty about it. “Silvy, you haven't done anything wrong. It’s just not our tastes, that’s all. Maybe someday we will be able to eat it. We’ll just have to start with very small amounts. The flavor was actually pretty good and, if you can temper the spiciness down, I’d love for you to make it for us again.”
Silvy smiled. “I’ll work on doing just that, though I’ll have to find a suitable alternative ingredient for the elupaya fruit.”
The rest of the evening went pretty uneventfully after that. Tabbs and I both went gratefully hungry while we winced at seeing Silvy wolf down nearly half the pot of chemmiarang.
“We can’t stay here much longer.” Tabbiaka said. “Food and water are pretty scarce here. I think we’re still too close to the ash.”
“There’s a town a few days from here.” I said. “We should be able to go there. I think i can find it again.”
“We should leave soon then, tomorrow if possible.” Silvy said. “We can pack up whatever is useful from here for the journey. Once we get there though, what’s the next step?”
Don’t you have someone to kill? The thought of the mysterious entity wormed its way into my head. I quickly shook it off. “It’s been one battle after the next for quite a while. We all need some rest before we try to figure out what to do next.”
Tabbiaka shook her head. “But the Faye could be-”
“I really don’t give a shit what the Faye are doing, Tabbs.” I said, interrupting her. “We’ve done our part. We just got our asses handed to us by Arvan and, if he’d managed to keep control over that spell, we’d be dead. For the last month we’ve scraped by just barely time and again. No, for the next few days, we relax. The next person to control the barrier is the king of Jardis. We can’t just charge in without knowing what to expect. We need to plan with clear heads and, to do that, we need some time to mentally reset. So, for the next week, the standing order will be this: no planning, no working on the next phase of this situation, no worrying. Relax, play, have fun.”
“But what about-”
“This is an order, Tabbs.” She knew I hated using the shorn system against her, and I hoped it would show how serious I was.
She nodded slowly, her fists clenched. “Okay, we relax.” she stared at the jugs that held our small amount of water. “I’m going to get more water.” she stood from the table and grabbed one of them before heading to the door.
Still sitting across from me and still eating, Silvy pointed at Tabbiaka, raising her eyebrows as if to say ‘What are you doing? Go with her!’
I sighed and stood, following Tabbiaka out the door. “Wait up Tabbs, I’ll come with you.”


Tabbiaka was halfway across the yard when I caught up. “I can do this on my own.”
I nodded. “I know, Tabbs. I just want to walk with you for a bit.”
We walked silently for a long moment.
"I'm sorry, Zee." She said finally. "I know it's been rough the last month. At first, I wanted nothing to do with any of this, but after Amoret… all those people… because of me…"
"Tabbs, it's not your-"
She held up a hand. "Just let me finish, please. Regardless of whether the Faye still would have attacked Amoret or not, I had a hand in them doing so. That's on me. While I don't like the idea of helping those little fuckies, I just want this all to be over."
I chuckled at her word use. "It's 'Fuckers'."
"What?"
"The expression is 'Fuckers', not 'Fuckies.'" I said through my laughter.
She canted her head in thought for a second and then shrugged. "I like mine better.”
She shook her head, as if dismissing the thought. “Anyway, it's not like I want to fight constantly. It's just…" She took a deep breath and sighed. "When we fight together, I feel so alive! I feel useful."
I stopped and took her by the hands, causing her to drop the water jug. "You've saved my life twice, Tabbs. I could never repay you for all you've done. You’re definitely useful.”
“That’s not what I- Nevermind... “ She sighed, shaking her head.
I pulled her close to me. “I owe you my life. If it weren’t for you, none of this would have been possible.” I leaned in and, raising her chin up, I kissed her. Her eyes fluttered shut and I could feel her pulse quicken. After a moment, I pulled away. “I’m sorry for the way I’ve treated you, Tabbs. You’re an amazing woman and I should have seen you for who you are. I’ve been such an asshole.”
Tabbiaka’s eyes reflected the final crimson light of the evening as she smiled. “You have been a bit of a fuckie.” she said, emphasizing the word.
“Okay seriously…” I said with a laugh. “That just makes it sound weird. It sounds like a bunch of cute and fluffy things that you’d see lined up in a row and following their mother into a pond.”
Tabbiaka laughed out loud at the image, actually letting out a snort. Of course this had the effect of making us both laugh even harder.
A moment later, we had both calmed enough to pick up the water jug and resume walking, my right hand clasped in her empty left. “In all seriousness, Zee. I want to be more to you than just the mage who watches your back. I want you to love me the way you love Silviana. If you find a way back to your world, I want to go with you.”
“I do love you Tabbs, and I promise that I will do better. If and when the time comes to go back to Earth, rest assured that I’ll be bringing you both with me. You’d love it there. There were so many amazing things that, until I came here, I took it all for granted.”
“Father used to tell me stories about Earth all the time. He said new information was one of the easiest things to find, and that ‘if you weren’t learning something new everyday, you were wasting your life.’”
“Of course he’d say that.” I said with a fond smile. “He was right. All of our collective knowledge was compiled on a vast system that almost anyone could access at any time. We found ways to store and collect art, music, books, games and so much more on devices the size of our palms.”
“You mean that thing in your bag, right? Is that one of them?”
Had I not shown her the novelty of my phone? I was gonna have to get on that.
“Yeah, it is. Although it can’t access the internet, the vast information stores, from here, I still have plenty of stuff on the device itself. I just need to figure out how to charge it. It runs on electricity, the same stuff as your lightning.”
She held up a finger and a single tiny spark shot from it. “Well maybe I can do it for you.”
“Yeah, I doubt it. You’d fry it in an instant. We’re talking a miniscule amount compared to your lightning, like a drop in an ocean. It needs a tiny, but steady charge.”
Her eyes fell at the news. “I see.”
“Don’t worry, we’ll figure out a way. Until then, it still has a little bit of a charge, so I can show you a few things from home.”
At that, she smiled. “I’d like that.”
When we reached the area where Tabbiaka had drawn water, she stopped dead in her tracks.
“It’s gone.” She murmured, staring at the grey-brown landscape before us.
Before Te Furah, the place had probably been a decent sized creek flowing through the region. Now, it was an ash choked valley.
“How?” Tabbiaka wondered. “This was all clear, just yesterday! There’s been no ash falling here.”
I shook my head, recognizing the phenomenon. “Doesn't need to. A big rainstorm upstream likely swept the ash into the creek. They’re called lahars, volcanic mudflows. They sweep down rivers just like this and can clog them up.”
“I’ll see if I can get more to come up.” she said, setting down the jug and holding her hands out. Her eyes closed and her brow furrowed in concentration. After a long moment, she relaxed and her arms fell to her side. Her head hung and she shook it slowly. “There’s just not enough.”
I shook my head. “It’s for the better. We don’t want to drink water from this anyway. It’s been contaminated. We still have one full jug left. We’ll leave out tomorrow and head for the town I told you about.”
We began to make our way back to the house, walking quietly for most of the way.
"So do you know where this village is?" Tabbiaka asked, breaking the silence.
I nodded. "I don't exactly have a map, so I can't say exactly where it is, I've got a good idea of its location. Unfortunately, I have no clue as to its condition. Everything else around here has been abandoned. I don't know if it was as well. But we'll worry about that tomorrow."


After a few minutes, we finally approached the house. Inside, I could see soft candle light.
"Tabbs, I never thanked you for the other day." I said. "That healing spell of yours is incredible."
"I should probably teach you that. Though I don't know how well it'll work for you. The only reason it works for me so well is because father explained many ways in which the body works.”
I chuckled and considered the extensive training we’d had in first aid, especially under combat. Sure, Cass had possessed a much better handle on such things.
“I’ve got a pretty good understanding on how the body works, Tabbs.”
She stopped and turned toward me. “We’ll see. Hold out your hand.”
I held my hand out, palm up, toward Tabbiaka. She reached behind her back and produced her small dagger.
“Where the hell did you pull that from?”
She grinned. “A girl’s gotta have her secrets. It’s not my fault that you didn’t notice that I had it on me.”
I smiled back. “I’ll keep that in mind.”
She took a hold of my hand and poised the dagger over the fleshy part near my thumb. A second later, I winced as she slid the blade across my palm. The laceration wasn’t deep, but was enough that, back on earth, I would have questioned going to have it stitched. A steady flow of blood dripped from the cut and spattered on the ground.
“The key is to let the magic do its work, but also visualize how the different parts of the flesh mend back together.” Tabbiaka said, sheathing her dagger and then placing her hand over the cut. “Use that mana technique of yours to feel and influence it if you can.”
I felt a mild itching sensation as the magic took effect. I focused and reached out, feeling the mana that flowed into my hand and took hold of it. I visualized where the mana wanted to go and concentrated it at the site of the wound.
I thought back to high school anatomy class and the various layers of the skin from the bottom up. The lowest was the hypodermis, made mostly of fat and connective tissue. The dermis, the middle layer of connective tissue, sweat glands and hair follicles. Finally, the epidermis, the outermost part that served as a waterproof protective layer.
In my mind, I imagined blood vessels mending and tissue stitching itself back together layer by layer and willed the mana to follow. The mild itch suddenly exploded into searing pain , like the dagger had instead been driven through my hand. Before my pain squinted eyes, the bleeding ceased and the flesh began to mend itself from the inside moving out. The entire process took only a few seconds, but the agonizing pain made it feel much longer. Then, I was whole again and the pain was just gone.
“That’s pretty incredible, Tabbs.” I said.
Tabbiaka raised my hand into the dim light coming from the house and studied my palm. “There’s no scar. That's...” She murmured. “I’ve never been able to do it without leaving a scar.”
I grinned. “Well, you did say your knowledge of anatomy is what helped you refine the spell. I’ll teach you what I know about anatomy and maybe it can help you.”
“Who’s giving anatomy lessons?” Silvy’s voice called from the now open door of the house. She stared at us for a moment and then shuddered, crossing her arms over her body. “Ugggh, why don’t you two at least come play doctor inside, where it’s warm.”
A soft chuckle ripple through my body. We were indeed, quite literally doing just that. “Come on Tabbs, what do you say we finish this lesson inside?”
She nodded. “It is a bit chilly out here and I…” she trailed off in a long yawn. “I could use a nice warm bed. I’ll teach you the runes for the healing spell, then I’m done for the night.”
I laughed again and led her inside. “Yeah, we’ve got a long trip ahead of us tomorrow.”



We set out the next morning as the day was beginning to warm just a bit. The air still had a chilly bite that made the girls shiver in their cloaks, but to me, it was rather nice.
We had packed up our gear as well as anything from the house that might be useful, mostly a bit of food and the water.
I remembered that Val Aswad had been to the Northwest of Telsia’s village, so we headed southeast. I still wasn’t one hundred percent sure that we were going the right way, but most of the forest looked vaguely familiar. At the base of one of these trees was the pendant that Telsia had tricked me into hiding. I briefly wondered if I might be able to find it before deciding against the notion. In a forest like this, there was no way to remember where I’d hidden it.
We were still a couple of days out from the village. Our biggest concern was water. Our jug contained perhaps a couple of gallons and that had to stretch between the three of us for the journey. Therefore, we kept our pace leisurely and carefully rationed the water. Hopefully we’d come across a river or a lake before too long.
By the time the sun began to set, we were more than ready to take a rest. We settled on the edge of a wide clearing that gave us a view of the clear early autumn sky. Wiesse had set several hours ago, so tonight would be a true night. We had brought the several blankets from the house so, while we didn’t have a tent, we’d be plenty warm. As the sun slid below the horizon, we started a small fire and enjoyed the view.
Even though we had no reason to suspect any danger, I volunteered to take watch while the girls got some rest. I sat leaning against a tree, facing the open field and away from the fire so as not to spoil my night vision. A moment later, Silvy and Tabbiaka both plopped down on either side of me, bringing a few of their blankets with them. Both of them threw their respective blankets around me and snuggled in next to me, flooding me with their warmth.
“It’s no fun to sleep alone.” Silvy said, leaning her head on my shoulder. Next to me, Tabbiaka nodded, her head resting on my other shoulder.
I chuckled. “Maybe so, but coming over here and curling up with me will just make me tired too.”
“I think we’ll be fine, Zee.” Tabbiaka said. “No one is looking for us, so there shouldn’t be any serious need for a lookout. Besides, did you forget my ‘detect’ spell? I’d feel someone’s mana coming long before they got here.”
“But that’s when you have it activated. What about when you’re asleep?”
She nuzzled closer to me. “I’ve been working on it since Amoret. I’ve been able to develop it into a passive spell and run it almost continuously. No one can sneak up on us without me knowing it.”
“Tabbs, I fucking love you.”
“I know.” she said with a smile.
I relaxed a bit and allowed my eyes to drift up to the clear night sky. Between the crisp autumn air and the heat from the girls, the feeling was exquisite. I closed my eyes and simply basked in the feeling for a long moment.
A sharp gasp from one of the girls pulled me back to reality. “Oh wow!” Silvy yelped and my eyes snapped open.
“What? What is it?” I asked looking around this way and that.
Silvy gazed upward to the sky. “Up there!”
Tabbiaka and I both glanced up and our eyes widened. Above us, several flashes of light streaked across the dark sky. As we stared, the entire sky seemed alive with flickering striations of white light.
For a world with two hundred and fifty or so visible stars, I had to wonder what some would think of meteor showers like this. Thankfully, I didn’t have to wonder for very long.
“It’s a starfall…” Silvy said in awe. “This is… Amazing!”
“What do you think it means?” Tabbiaka wondered, her mouth gaping at the celestial sight.
“So many... “ Silvy said. “Each one is a soul finding its way to Karas… but so many? Could it be from Amoret?”
I felt Tabbiaka wince at the mention of the attack. “Maybe, but that was more than a week ago. Why would they just now be going?”
“Relax girls.” I said. “It’s just a meteor shower, bits of dust and rock that burn up in the upper atmosphere.”
“Zee, I know you know a lot about your science, but that just sounds ridiculous.” Silvy said softly, She squeezed me tight in a gesture that felt a lot like a pity hug. “Everyone knows that the higher you go, the colder it gets. Nothing can burn up there.”
I hadn’t meant to completely discredit their folklore, I just didn’t want Tabbiaka to feel guilty anymore. Hell, for all I knew about this world of magic, that might have been the correct explanation.
But if Silvy was going to talk down to me like I was an idiot who knew not the working ways of things, then I was going to have to whip out my big ol’, thick, science and smack it on her cheek.
“That’s true.” I said. “But what’s going on up there isn’t due to heat, at least not from the atmosphere.” I sat up a bit, adjusting my position. “Here, I’ll show you.” I took her hands and cupped them together.
“You know how you blow into your hand to warm them?” She nodded and I continued. “That works because air heats up when it’s compressed. If you tried blowing into your hands with your face far away, you’d notice that it won’t work. That’s why.”
I pointed up to the sky. “Up there, small bits of rock are falling into the atmosphere at incredibly fast speeds, like faster than you can blink. It hits the air and compresses it in front of it like the wave that forms in front of a ship. Those bits of dust and rock compress the air so much that the heat causes most of those to burn up long before they reach the surface.”
Silvy glanced from her still cupped hands upward to the sky. “Hmm. I suppose that makes some sense, though how you’d come to that conclusion in the first place, I’m not sure.” she settled back to her original position and then yanked me back to mine. She and Tabbiaka both snaked an arm around me and pulled themselves in.
“Why don't we just enjoy the view for now.” Silvy said. “You can be a scholar later.”
I stifled a laugh at the way she said the word ‘scholar’. I was pretty sure she had just called me a nerd.
“Fine, you win.” I said. “How about I introduce you to an old earth custom instead. When you see a falling star, you make a wish.”
Tabbiaka focused on one and smiled. “I wish that-”
“No. Don’t tell anyone or it won’t come true. Just close your eyes and wish from the heart.”
Both of the girls closed their eyes while making their wishes. I smiled at them, wondering just what their most heartfelt desires were and hoping their wishes would come to fruition.
Just to be here, sharing such an amazing event with them, mine was being granted right here at this very moment.
I was definitely falling, just like those meteors, hoping that I didn't burn up on the way down.
submitted by equatorialbaconstrip to HFY [link] [comments]


2020.08.25 15:46 Konchew Village bath girl hidden

Abigail Williams (Ascension 1) [CV: Ōwada Hitomi]
Battle Start 1 I will let the gate be known. It is impossible for you to close it. ...Fufu.
Battle Start 2 Ia! Ia! ...Ahahaha!
Battle Start 3 The white ship unfurls its sail.
Skill 1 Open, O gate...!
Skill 2 The cats will judge your sins.
Skill 3 Right here, Father.
Skill 4 Ia! Eh-ya-ya-haah fhtagn! [1]
Command Card Select 1 You're right.
Command Card Select 2 It's becoming clear.
Command Card Select 3 Impossible.
Noble Phantasm Select 1 Even if it becomes painful, endure it, okay, Master?
Noble Phantasm Select 2 Aah, the Silver Key is inside me.
Noble Phantasm Select 3 Fear the abyss of the endless dream.
Attack 1 Let's wrench you open. Go play.
Attack 2 How about some indignity?
Attack 3 Don't avert your eyes.
Attack 4 We've got guests, let's entertain them.
Attack 5 Go play.
Attack 6 Being picky is a no-no.
Extra Attack 1 Come forth from the impure garden!
Extra Attack 2 Ahahahahahahahahaha!
Noble Phantasm 1 Beyond the gate of deep slumber, you'll descend and reach the land of dreams. The disastrous capital of evil, the hidden wasteland of intense cold, the sole peak of the foreign gods, the absolute summit of the unknown. If you are to enter, it will be impossible to leave. Dreamlands.
Noble Phantasm 2 Stairs of seventy, seven hundred dreams. By descending, you'll reach the land of dreams. The disastrous capital of evil, the hidden wasteland of intense cold, the sole peak of the foreign gods, the absolute summit of the unknown. It won't be satisfied while it dreams. Dreamlands.
Damage 1 Aah...violent, aren't you.
Damage 2 Ufufu...
Damage 3 Father...
Damage 4 Kuh...
Defeat 1 Master...I can't, see you...
Defeat 2 Open this place...
Victory 1 Foolish, aren't they. Hindrances will die.
Victory 2 Can you hear the song of the nightjar?
Level up 1 Haah, it's delicious, Master.
Level up 2 It's just not enough... Please. Give me more, enough for me to bathe in it.
Level up 3 Let me protect you.
Bond 1 I am going to pluck the wings of the butterfly. While it lives, solemnly as if it were a ceremony... With pity and prayers...despair and rapture... Is there any person who wouldn't be charmed by such a sight?
Bond 2 Let's swim in the waters of the night, shall we, Master? Relying only on the scant light of the stars. ...Before we notice, even that will disappear and only the sensation of our intertwined fingers will remain in this pitch-black world. Would this witch me float in the water? Or would I sink to the bottom of the water as ephemeral bubbles ascend to the surface...
Bond 3 Duudududuu~♪ dududuu~♪ du duu~♪ Glo~~~~ria in Excelsis Deo♪ ...What a beautiful melody...
Bond 4 Do you want me, Master? Or do you fear me? ...Or perhaps, you want to wreck me and turn me into a mess? If a heretic witch disturbs the calm of your heart, it is fine to never look at me. If you just let me accompany you from behind, that will be more than enough for me...
Bond 5 The true self, ideals to be fulfilled. Fu...fufufufu, don't mind such a fickle thing in the least, okay? Everyone just wants to connect with someone and echo empty words... Instead of that, would you let me see your dream? The land of dreams that only you can reach. I want to protect that place.
Dialogue 1 What place should I open a gate to today?
Dialogue 2 I'll become a gate that ushers you in.
Dialogue 3 Pray and knock. Even if it's at the farthest ends of hell, I will respond.
Dialogue 4 There are times when I find my other self unpleasant and I can't look at her. This is undoubtedly self-loathing. This is the only way I can reflect on myself... As expected, I am nothing but a child. (If you have Abigail Williams (Non-Summer))
Dialogue 5 Gilles de Rais-san in the black overcoat? Yes, he is a kind person. He uses straightforward words to advise me which is a great help. He lends me his precious book and tells me stories about interesting mysteries. It's still difficult, but I am starting to understand what he's saying. The only fly in the ointment is that sometimes his stories are all over the place, and when it comes to the topic of the best way to offer sacrifices, he goes into every minute detail and it turns into a very specific and long sermon. (If you have Gilles de Rais (Caster))
Dialogue 6 Ufufu, Heroine XX-san. If you get hungry late at night and sneak into the kitchen, you have an 80% chance to run into her. As you slurp noodles together, she'll get mad at your teasing then calm down and her cheeks will loosen as her eyes start sparkling...she is a very boisterous person that I can't get tired of. (If you have MHXX)
Likes Something I like, something I like...As expected, it has to be a thick steak dripping with blood! Sinking your teeth into with a knife in hand without caring about how you look is just irresistible! ...that was just a jest. Since you asked, I'd like to have a taste of an adult ice cream. Vanilla ice cream with a bit of brandy dribbled on it. Should I pay a visit to the place of a certain somebody who'd let me eat it in secret, I wonder.
Dislikes Something I dislike... Hmmm. If I had to pick something other than barking dogs...Aah, when I find an alarm clock, I smash it into pieces with a hammer. Disturbing one's wholesome sleep is absolutely unforgivable. Right?
Holy Grail Relying on the power of dreams is nonsensical... Fufu, fufu...really, just what should I do. Fufu, ahaha...Aah, I'm sorry, Master. Truly, how laughable... To be crying...
Event I've received news of something sinister, Master. In other words, my time to take the stage has come, right.
Birthday Today is Master's birthday, right? I'm sorry, a present from an abominable witch will surely ruin such a fine day. If you don't mind, I would like you to allow me to say a modest prayer. God is with us. May Master and your beloveds be given tranquility and may tears never wet your cheeks. May only a gentle dream await you.
Summoning Good day, Master. I'm Abigail Williams of the Foreigner-class. ...Are you frightened of me? A girl in the prime of her youth is like the unsettled chrysalis of ethos. Please accept this me who changes constantly like the pupil of a cat. Let's make beautiful memories together, okay...
Abigail William (Ascension 2) [CV: Ōwada Hitomi]
Battle Start 1 Strife is wrong.
Battle Start 2 I won't let you suffer so...please.
Battle Start 3 The cats remember even the lost wisdom of the Sphinx.
Skill 1 What kind of dream do you wish for?
Skill 2 Kyah! Ah...that surprised me.
Skill 3 "Reconcile with the cats"?
Skill 4 Lthar! Even Nosh! ...Sheesh.
Command Card Select 1 Yes!
Command Card Select 2 As the Lord wills it.
Command Card Select 3 While I'm a bit anxious...alright!
Noble Phantasm Select 1 Aah, cruel Master...
Noble Phantasm Select 2 Now, here's the splendor of the stars.
Noble Phantasm Select 3 O God who does not know all...
Attack 1 Here, take this!
Attack 2 Ei! Yah! Taah!
Attack 3 Hwaah, I'm sorry! Let's give them a greeting, okay?
Attack 4 "Cast your cares on the Lord"?
Attack 5 Now, Nosh! Now, Lthar!
Extra Attack 1 Summer, the Sun, pancakes!
Extra Attack 2 Come, O sweet dreams... Ah, uh, this may be improper...
Noble Phantasm 1 Beyond the gate of deep slumber, there are thousands of wonders and every mystery to journey through. The lost City of Gold, the magnificent and eternal City of Flowers, the Throne of the Gods, the Gate of the Utmost Limits where dreams come to an end! If you are to enter, it will be impossible to leave. Dreamlands.
Noble Phantasm 2 Stairs of seventy, seven hundred dreams. There are thousands of wonders and every mystery to journey through. The lost City of Gold, the magnificent and eternal City of Flowers, the Throne of the Gods, the Gate of the Utmost Limits where dreams come to an end! Come, break the taboos and dive into the dreams. Dreamlands.
Damage 1 I can still go on!
Damage 2 Kyah.
Damage 3 As long as there is life left in me, I won't fall...
Damage 4 It hurts.
Defeat 1 Master, forgive me...
Defeat 2 Am I a witch, I wonder...
Victory 1 The lord of the enchanting light has come.
Victory 2 Are you okay, Master?
Level up 1 Don't push yourself, Master.
Level up 2 Thank you! I'll do my best!
Level up 3 Um...just a bit more... Ah, n-no! It's nothing!
Ascension 1 Between madness and sanity. Beyond dreams and reality. Crossing through the slumber of the roses, guided by the throne of the ancient ones, now, I manifest here. My Foreigner Saint Graph has been updated once again... Is that a good thing? Or is it bad? Sigh... Will this expose my precious Master to dangers that we won't be able to recover from, I wonder...?
Ascension 2 Look! Cute, no? Eh...n-no! Not me! This one riding on my shoulder is Nosh. The pudgy one at my feet is Lthar! They get along swimmingly! Right? ...Right? ...If you don't reply with yes, something terrible will happen...Yeah! Good!
Bond 1 While I can't dream, I can connect to them. Even to pleasant but dangerous dreams which if you enter you'll never return from again...
Bond 2 Hn...this? Fufu, this isn't a swimsuit! These garbs are the ceremonial dress of an adept, a bishop who spreads the teachings of God! That's how it is, but...I'm at my wit's end from having to lug around this heavy pedestal... I wonder if it's a backlash from fiddling with the design to make it more Summer-like... Eh, no, I didn't say anything!
Bond 3 (Humming)~~~~♪[2] Oh my, Master. I just felt like humming. It's a sad-sounding song...that's why I like it.
Bond 4 (After clearing Salem) The Abby from Salem? The girl who called you "Troupe Master-san"? I'm sorry, but, unfortunately, that hasn't been passed down to me... Strange, isn't it? It's a story about the same me so just why am I so envious... But still, if you feel inclined to, please tell me about it again.
Bond 5 Please, stay there, okay? Stay like that, won't you, Master? You mustn't become someone like me with a fragile heart and a fervent gaze... That's why...
Dialogue 1 Let's fulfill our daily responsibilities, Master.
Dialogue 2 I am me, Master. The villager girl ignorant of the ways of the world that you've found, Abigail. I'll remain that as long as this temporary existence continues, always...
Dialogue 3 Your comrade on your journey...the taboo witch... Your small...l-lover... I want to become who you wish for.
Dialogue 4 Maybe the me who remains earnest even when she's in doubt is stronger than the me who wanted to increase her intelligence and become wiser... Haven't I become weaker as Master's Servant, I wonder? (If you have Abigail Williams (Non-Swimsuit))
Dialogue 5 T-the valiant King David... The irresponsible King David... I must have a proper talk with that person, yes! About God...about a tranquil heart...and also what he thinks about Abishag-san whom he talks about in such a relaxed manner... (If you have David)
Dialogue 6 Once again, I couldn't help thinking that she is an amazing person! Yes! I meant Katsushika Hokusai-san! The works she paints with her brush gliding across the canvas turn into dreams. Dreams you can see while awake, yes, they are a dream come true! Also, Servant or no, she can even stand on equal ground with magicians and enemy monsters! (If you have Hokusai)
Dialogue 7 For example, when we are in Chaldea, you see? I feel that sometimes "something is interfering with the power of dreams". Yang Guifei-sama, yes, it's Yuuyuu-san! She is connected to the land of dreams that surrounds Fomalhaut. That's amazing, it is beyond the stars! She said it is the inner palace attended to by her maids, but... If she'd give me her permission, I'd like to pay it a visit. (If you have Yang Guifei)
Likes Recently, I've been having fun reading books! I get so absorbed in them that I end up staying up late by accident... Phew, before I noticed, I've been rushing with the praying! I'm a naughty child, aren't I? Fufufu.
Dislikes Something I dislike...or more like, there is something troubling me. Before I notice, I find myself in some kind of temple surrounded by people of advanced age who are completely wrapped in robes. They treat me kindly and lavish me with things like old-fashioned confections, kelp tea and...tuna candies? However, I don't understand anything they say... Furthermore, it seems like these children (referring to the cats) understand what those people say, but they are being all whimsical and won't tell me anything. Geez...
Holy Grail I am sure the Holy Grail doesn't have the power or the capacity to fulfill my wish. This also means that I myself am inadequate...
Event According to my dream fortune-telling..."Traveling to an unfamiliar land will bring you happiness"! If you don't mind, please, let me accompany you!
Birthday Master! Happy birthday! Seeing you off with a lively song in celebration would be nice too, but, if you don't mind, how about we hold a relaxing tea party? Let's talk a lot and tell me about your family, your beloved hometown, and the dreams you picture in your mind!
Abigail William (Ascension 3) [CV: Ōwada Hitomi]
Battle Start 1 Ufufu, Ma~ster~!
Battle Start 2 Sheesh, what hopeless people!
Battle Start 3 Let's turn this into a memorable experience, shall we?
Skill 1 How about this?
Skill 2 Fluffy and dreamy!
Skill 3 Shall we have a swim?
Skill 4 Fufu, we are getting closer to the land of the cats!
Command Card Select 1 As you please.
Command Card Select 2 Yes, I know.
Command Card Select 3 Really?
Noble Phantasm Select 1 Let's make this the best vacation, shall we?
Noble Phantasm Select 2 The comet twinkles brightly.
Noble Phantasm Select 3 The aroma of the roses...fills this place.
Attack 1 Swing! Fufu, that was pretty good!
Attack 2 Please, excuse, me!
Attack 3 Ahaha, how delightful!
Attack 4 Ei! Yes, like that!
Attack 5 There! Nice kill![3]
Attack 6 Lthar.
Extra Attack 1 Now, come, Master! Ufufu, ahahahaha!
Extra Attack 2 A temporary Summer dream! Woohooo! Ahahahaha!
Noble Phantasm 1 Beyond the gate of deep slumber, what comes and goes through the sky is the ship of the stars, the skyscraper of the cloud curtain, the village where cats frolic, the palace of the gods, the picturesque scenery of the frozen wastelands! Those who visit won't even dream of leaving... Dreamlands!
Noble Phantasm 2 Stairs of seventy, seven hundred dreams. What comes and goes through the sky is the ship of the stars, the skyscraper of the cloud curtain, the village where cats frolic, the palace of the gods, the picturesque scenery of the frozen wastelands! The hunting tiger waits eagerly but won't strike that doorway. Dreamlands!
Damage 1 What a bad person.
Damage 2 Wah.
Damage 4 Are you satisfied?
Damage 5 Geez.
Defeat 1 I have to...wake up...
Defeat 2 Everyone...will die...
Victory 1 Ahaha, I'm a little tired.
Victory 2 Let's have some tea, shall we, Master?
Level up 1 Waah, I'm happy. This will make me useful, right?
Level up 2 I want to become an adult.
Level up 3 Ufufu, does Master like me?
Ascension 3 Ufufu, I wonder if this swimsuit suits me? In truth, it is quite embarrassing, but it would make me happy if Master took a liking to it. Swimming at the waterside and basking my bare skin in the crystal-like sunlight; I have never even dreamed of being able to experience such joy! It would be so nice if this wonderful time could continue for eternity.
Ascension 4 Even if that time comes one day, don't be sad, okay, Master? Even if you forget, even if we will be separated and won't be able to meet. Everyone is a gift given by God. Our heart, which cherishes the passing everydays and treats our modest happiness with tender care, is our gospel, our true treasure. That's what I think...
Bond 1 Swimsuits are so wonderful! It makes people realize that they are only wrapped in their thin common sense and in truth are always naked, doesn't it?
Bond 2 Since we came here and all, should I try getting a tan? I feel like if it is my current Saint Graph, I could pull it off. I am sure the tanned me would be able to smell the scent of the Sun in her bed even in the dead of night. How about we try it together, Master?
Bond 3 (Humming Nearer, My God, to Thee)~~~~♪[4] It's a lovely song. It's like both my body and mind are becoming clear.
Bond 4 I saw a dream like this. I wonder if I intruded on Master's dream? On a hot midsummer day, I was enjoying a nice and cool pancake while being rocked by emerald green waves. Fufu, even though I've never eaten something like that! The cranberry relish was super sour, but also very delicious! Perhaps, because I was together with someone. ...What a dream.
Bond 5 Hey, Master. If you were to bring me along and indulge in a secret dream, I would be filled with happiness too. It doesn't matter what dreamland it is as long as I am with Master. But, see? When it becomes daylight on this planet, when the true dawn arrives, can you swear that you'll properly return from the dream? It's a promise...
Dialogue 1 Won't you take me to a pure white beach, Master?
Dialogue 2 Me, the Servant who faithfully serves you. Master who kindly inquires about my mood. Just who is the lord of your heart? ...It is surely something ambiguous in the world of dreams. Besides, you see, our true masters might be the "cats". Fufu.
Dialogue 3 If Master alone can spend their days in peace, I'll be content. However, you will surely choose the harshest path to tread. That's why, even if it is only for a moment, I'll become a dream that will heal you.
Dialogue 4 The Foreigner Abigail... Since we are the same person if we were to switch clothes, I think Master would be in quite the fix since you wouldn't be able to tell the difference at all. My, you're saying that wouldn't pose a problem for you...? Fu~n, in that case, which Abby am I right now? Ufufu, if you can't give the correct answer, you might get some small punishment from us. (If you have Abigail Williams (Non-Summer))
Dialogue 5 That Hokusai-san and I are both wearing swimsuits! To think that would make me so happy! Ah, would it be better to call her "Oei-san" when she's wearing a swimsuit, Master? Fufu, it seemed like Oei-san couldn't calm down and was all fidgety when I was in my adept's garbs. I tried telling her I wasn't a fairy, but she went "That angel's feathered robe is irrefutable evidence!". Fufu, Oei-san was a very adorable person in her youth, wasn't she. (If you have Katsushika Hokusai (Saber))
Dialogue 6 You smell something soft and mysterious? Fufu, that would be this here! Pancake ball, also known as pancake bowl! I tried making based on what Jaguarman-san taught me! She told me it was Zipangu's traditional food! Originally, you are supposed to put okonomiyaki on a bowl of rice... But then Jaguarman-san said, "What, there's no difference even if you use pancakes"! ...It's just that, the bowman Emiya-san and Her Majesty King Artoria suddenly appeared and dragged said Jaguarman-san away... Those two were making a somewhat indescribable expression... Right, just like the one Master is making right now... D-does Master want one too? (If you have Jaguarman, Emiya, and Artoria)
Likes Speaking of something I like...that would obviously be pancakes! Ufufu, I've also learned of it! In this modern age "people can't live without pancake"! Soft hotcake, stylish crêpe, rectangular galette, bliny, okonomiyaki! Wonderful, the world is filled with wheat flour... Oh, huh? The last one alone belongs to a different class? ...Ngh, it's a precious cake from Master's country so it's so pitiful for it to be left out...
Dislikes I like what I dislike, I dislike what I like. They keep something at a distance or desperately hide it from one's eyes, and yet, they are charmed by it. Dreams reveal such selfish schemes. Ephemeral dreams can also show the truth. That's why, I am, dreams are...
Holy Grail I wish the whole of this planet could become a part of the Dreamlands. That is the desire I would entrust to the Holy Grail. It might be an unforgivable sin, but that is precisely why I end up wishing for it.
Event Lthar, Nosh, we're heading out!
Birthday Happy birthday, Master! I was frantically racking my brain, thinking about what to give you. Well, even if I say that, what I can give you are truly just meager things. Please, pick the one you'd like. One, I'll become Master's mother for today. I'll spoil you plenty. Two, I'll treat you to the pancakes I've made. Fufufu, let's add as many berries as the number of your age is as toppings. Three, without exchanging any words, we'll take a quiet walk on the beach. Ah, somehow, I ended up just listing things I want to do. Ufufu♪
 
Translation notes: [1] No clue how to translate this. The original is "イア!エエヤヤハーフタグン!". It's not "Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn" since that would be "フングルイ ムグルウナフ クトゥルウ ルルイエ ウガフナグル フタグン". Okay seems like it has parts of what the Dunwhich Horror screams while it is being killed ("Eh-ya-ya-ya-yahaah—e'yayayayaaaa...ngh'aaaaa...ngh'aaaa...h'yuh...h'yuh...HELP! HELP!...ff—ff—ff—FATHER! FATHER! YOG-SOTHOTH!...") and, well, the ftaghn from the Cthulhu chant thing. Idk, I'm not knowledgeable about Lovecraftian lore. [2] Abby appears to be humming a Christmas carol, "What Child Is This?" here. [3] Original has "ナイスキー" which is an abbreviation of "ナイスキル" (nice kill). It's a volleyball term or what and means "nice spike". [4] Here she seems to be humming a Christian hymn, "Nearer, My God, to Thee".
 
I translated most of the lines by ear so there might be mistakes. If you think I messed up something, be sure to point it out.
submitted by Konchew to FGOGuide [link] [comments]


2020.08.17 23:08 don_h_kowalski The Horned One

Do you sometimes know what you do is wrong? Sometimes, we all do wrong, for one reason or another.
My February break was snapped in two by something very wrong. Very wrong. My life was never the same. Just a chill-weekend at the lodge, right? Just two friends with booze and free time. I am sure you know it, the deep stones down the gut remind of anxious anticipation, not yet knowing what will be torn away. Soiled, was last year’s lingering winter. The old snow was a hard and grey stew like fungus at the side of the road. My friend Norman Sakrif and I were on our way, hitting the road to a man-cave-relaxing-week.
I drove my dust-stained VW Rabbit up the road, stalking the mountainside on the back of a grey serpent, a black line in the white desert. We needed rest – well, Norman more than me, I guess. He had some months behind him and as a friend I offered a trip to my father’s lodge. I was not delighted to be on skis but boy, what a blast to stand on high, at the end of the season and to enjoy the solitary comfort of the wild with a civilized bottle of drink. We rolled up the lone steeps to the small cluster of lodges, a retreat for the upper middle class of which my family was a part of.
“Nice man, really nice! Really damn nice!” Norman smiled. It was good to see that.
“Yeah, we got to clean up good, after. My dad is really skittish about the place.”
“I don’t mind. Just us, TV and plenty of alcohol,” he proclaimed.
Unloading the car from food and clothes, I saw a dark silhouette behind the curtains of the lodge next– the ghastly face of Mrs. Rosenthal, the most terrible neighbor. Like ice in shade she stayed to the end of winter, just a face in the windows of the house. I took the car down the hillside, to the garages. Afterwards, I walked upwards, back to the houses. To my right, there was another lodge, bathed in light. Seemed like old Waller was here with us too. I had known the doctor since I was a kid, which made a greeting (unfortunately) mandatory. “Mikey!” the ancient rake cried out in excitement. He was thin and tall with tense wired muscles, hidden under a red hemp shirt. Good shape for over 80. His glasses clang to the tip of the long nose as he scraped the shining plate on his head, before he pulled his arms to greet me.
“For once a good surprise! You up here this late in the year? Need a bit of privacy with this girl of yours, hmm?” he purred like a grey lynx.
I laughed it off. “Not what you think. I’m here with a buddy for the week. Just got to get a clean mind, you know.”
“Don’t get too idle,” he teased. I smiled in awkward silence. “You boys got anything planned?”
"Well not too much. Norman is eager to try ski hiking. I would prefer not to. We shall see.”
“Norman?”
“My friend.”
“Oh, yes. Well good you here, I can use some company. Nobody around at that time.”
“Why you’re up then? Usually you come in December, right?”
“Me and my wife always came here remember? Didn’t feel right to stay put. Maintenance’s a real bitch so I thought ‘Henrik you got to use this place while you still can’ and so I just packed my things and moved up here.”
“How long are you staying?”
“I am here since the beginning of January. Guess two more weeks and then back home.”
“So, I think we see each other in the next couple days then.”
“You guys want to come grab some dinner tonight?” Dr. Waller asked. He seemed sad so I agreed.
We had set for around 8, I hoped Norman wouldn’t mind. He sat outside, only in his pullover. While there was frozen white around us, the sun in the mountains burned like an incubator. Norman seemed unsettled.
“Everything right?” I asked, marching up.
“Dude. I think someone is over there. Saw some face in that window,” he gesticulated at our neighbor.
“Haha, she’s creepy I know. Always watching making sure nobody’s up to trouble.”
“Just the caretaker or what?”
“Not really. Don’t worry about her. She and her husband came up here hunting since they were young but he died and now she spends all her time here.”
“Alright”, he seemed at ease. “Want to grab some beers while we settle?”
“Sure.”
The sun went down as we lazily zapped through the channels, before we stuffed ourselves in boots and jacket to march the few steps downside to the Waller lodge. It got dark very fast, up here in the mountains. The wind was howling loud and strange.
“Hello, I am Henrik,” Dr. Waller greeted Norman.
“You two go ahead I just call in home,” I said. I didn’t want to talk with Sarah in front of Norman, so this was as fine an opportunity as any.
Sarah was an understanding woman, knew I wanted to be there for my friend. I told her I would call sometime on the next day but that I could always be reached. My battery was a bit low so I asked Henrik if I could plug my phone for the while we were with him. The austere house sucked me up. I remember the laughter. There was no hallway to lead me in, the smell of cold bacon and cut cheese welcomed me in the small kitchen, aided by a wooden table and a broad corner bench. Dr. Henrik Waller had prepared a small feast, mostly classic Alpine food, in the tiny woodlined kitchen with the walls plastered in old photographs. His house seemed humbler than ours, but had an attic and a basement, while we had to stash all tools and our washing machine, vacuum cleaner and ski gear in the bathroom and the storage. I preferred the cozy structure of Henrik’s lodge in contrast to the modernish layout of our place. Henrik was an avid traveler and bon vivant, he presented us with a bottle of French wine to the classic German blood sausage, cold ham and other meaty main dishes, ornamented with dry cheese and simple bread. A symphony of spicy dry hot steep air in the flesh touched by our teeth. The bacchanalia of the Alps dancing for their fair folk masters in the light that stepped onto the mountain.
“All local,” Henrik reinforced every time he came up with something new.
Wine strengthened our slightly less drunken mood that was barely touchable when we had entered, and Henrik seemed eager to catch up and brought us various Belgian beers, Irish apple wine and Highland whisky and more German beer, always vanishing under the earth to return with new liquid dishes, like a dwarf bringing forth new treasure.
“Just a sip. You must taste it! It’s the best!” he insisted, after every glass.
We talked a lot. Henrik told of his latest visit to Ireland, how he enjoyed to stroll the streets of Dublin.
“Rosie always wanted to go there.”
“Your wife?” Norman asked.
The old man nodded, eyes glued to the table. “Already two years,” he whispered before coming back to reality, trying to lift up the gloom. “You married Norman?”
“Yes. At least a few weeks more I guess.”
“Oh,” exclaimed Dr. Waller. “I am sure you find someone else,” he efforted to console.
“Or we start a bachelor commune up here. What you say Henny?” laughed Norman. The old man frowned.
“I think my family wouldn’t approve of that.”
“You live with your children?”
“Not living… but I try to see them whenever I can.”
“Got any photos?”
“Yes, but I left the phone at home. I like the silence up here too much as to spoil it with cat pictures,” Dr. Waller laughed at his own joke. Norman met my eyes: crazy old people.
“I use my phone now less and less,” he agreed with our host. “Didn’t even bring a charger. Barely use the damn thing.”
Norman’s soon to be ex-wife was troubled. After finding out about his affair with a colleague she had crashed her car, head full of pills. Painfully aware of the sullen sentiment, each of us tried to lift the room up to laughter again, dozing ourselves with short sips of bliss from the bottle. I guess it was a bit after midnight when I heard the thumb, a sudden sound more felt in the vibrations of the walls than really heard. Was it just the wind?
“What was that?” I blurted out.
“What you mean?” asked Norman. Henrik just staring wondering in agreement with my friend, scratching his grey van Dyke looming under the chin.
“That noise,” I said.
“Didn’t hear a thing.”
“Me neither.”
“I clearly heard it. You got some martens in the basement?”
“Oh, yes! Martens those damn beasts!”
“Must be some heavy martens,” I said unconvinced.
“Maybe it was probably the washer. I just take a look and be right back,” said Henrik, leaving our overfilled table. Poor old man had to clean it up tomorrow.
Norman seemed tired and even more drunk than me. Outside, the window was pitch black. It was time to leave. Suddenly I felt it again. A slight shaking from downstairs.
“Everything alright?” I shouted towards the nearly closed basement door.
“Yes, yes. You know how old things sometimes do odd things. Well believe me I know it from my own behavior.”
We laughed and sat in silence. Soon Dr. Waller would emerge again from underground, bringing forth new treasures.
“A fine Edinburgh whisky for the gentlemen?” I heard Henrik shout. I gave Norman a look, he nodded, his eyes slightly shutting his world down. Time to sleep the day off.
“I think we should get out Henrik. Maybe tomorrow,” I suggested.
Still from down I heard him “Oh, just this one. You ought to taste it. It’s the best, my friends!”
He came back up we hurled the glasses to our lips and were on our way. I was sure we would at least have another night over at the Waller lodge with its magic dwarf-cave underneath. Inside our own lodge it was warm. Pulling our bodies up to the second floor, Norman so wasted he stumbled directly into the bedroom, I tried to clean up a bit. I was in the bathroom, upstairs, already longing for my bed, when I heard it. A haunting wail cut through the air. I froze looking back in the mirror, something moving behind me out of the corner of my eye. Then nothing. Maybe I misheard, I was drunk as hell. No, I admitted. I had heard it. Something was outside. Straight to bedroom, me shaking, Norman in the bed.
“You heard that?”
“What?” mumbled the half-sleeper.
“That thing.”
He moved up, suddenly more sober, or maybe less drunk.
“What?”
“Some noise creeped the shit out of me. I’m not sure. I don’t think it was something… like an animal.”
He laughed. “You’re drunk. Or you think Henny runs around outside or what?”
I frowned in disbelief at his doubt, while he went on.
“Man, what you talking? Was just some animal. Or Henny is doing that old bitch over there,” he giggled, a bit too forced.
I went for the window, Henrik’s house barely seeable in the misty night. As I left the room Norman was asleep again. I looked at my phone. Shit. The battery was now lower than before. Wasn’t plugged properly, I thought while I wrote Sarah that I loved her and that I was in bed, pushing away thoughts of lunacy. I was scared. The wooden walls of the lodge felt to entomb me in my quarter-drunk delirium. I had stopped smoking years ago but I wished to suck on a cigarette more than anything.
I checked the bedroom and the small room that was still holding the child-bed and the bathroom. I opened the window in the hallway to draw in the wooden folds from outside and locked them tightly against the cold walls. Then the heavy part was coming – going downstairs, trying to test the old wooden door. I wasn’t sure if I had locked it. I stood at the head of the stairs for about 4 minutes and then, very slowly, dragged my body down, step by step. I checked the storage room, the living room the kitchen the small separate toilet and again in the living room. One by one I turned off the lights hoping to get rid of this feeling that something was watching me. I checked the door making sure it was locked. I pushed down on the handle about 15 times. When I was convinced, I went upstairs and locked the bedroom door. I was glad to have Norman in the room. Less scared, my curiosity got the better of me and I went to the small window and halfheartedly gazed out. Nothing. Just eerie silence and the night, the light of the moon reflecting the glimmering diamonds that surrounded us. I took my phone and plugged it in the outlet next to the bed. I put myself down in bed but couldn’t sleep. Norman snored heavily besides me. Still listening I drifted away, still listening.
I woke up. It was still night. I heard nothing. Alright, I thought to myself, trying to convince me that everything was right. Then the truth dawned on me – something must have woken me up. I got up slowly and silently stepped towards the window. Nothing – just dark empty houses and the moon hung up in the sky, telling me to fuck off. I went back to bed and listened carefully. Nothing. I drifted back to sleep.
Next morning, as was to be expected, I felt a heavy hangover. Norman was up, checking his phone, red eyes in the white light gleamed towards me.
“Hey Aurora,” he said with a big smile.
“Dude, I feel like crap,” I stuttered.
“Same.”
“Remember last night?”
“What?”
I halted. Should I tell him? It was probably nothing. Just some animal. Everything was good. I shouldn’t tell him.
“That sound,” I said.
“What you talking about?”
“Yesterday, you were already in bed, fuck did you sleep with your jeans?”
“Yes, seems so,” he laughed at me. It was good to see him laugh. Everything was alright, nothing to worry about.
“Well, no what I meant was. I was brushing my teeth and I heard that sound. I wanted to tell you about it but you were asleep so I woke you up and told you. You said it was probably just an animal.”
“Seriously?”
“Yeah.”
“Dude you never heard about the Alps serial killer up here?” he grinned at me like the Cheshire Cat.
I rolled my eyes and slowly pulled my body off the stinking mattress. There were some pills down in the kitchen and I really needed something to stop that chainsaw in my head. I didn’t feel anxious or was probably too drunk to feel it. Everything was in place, everything was fine. Downstairs I made coffee and checked every corner for some Aspirin. A few seconds later Norman’s face appeared in the doorframe, two cups of coffee in his hands. We just watched TV for a while, each of us to his thoughts.
“Want go grab some fresh air?” he asked.
“Sure,” I answered.
The sun was bright and I didn’t bother to put on my jacket or to tie my laces. I unlocked the door and went forward, then I felt something under my foot. Beneath my boots was a red mass of fur and tissue. Long ears and pained eyes looked up at me. Dead. I lifted a shout from my lungs.
“What’s wrong?” screamed Norman from the hallway.
“The fuck. God look man.”
It was a rabbit. The rabbit. Dead and crimson and grey and white formed an orcano of disgust in my bowls. The mutilated animal was laid across the small patio surrounding the doorway. Entrails spilled out on the dead rock. My eyes were locked on the flies that were already settling in their new home. Blood dried in the face of the clear morning stone, smiling down on us. The air was thick with iron, sharp like a sting in my face.
“What the fuck man,” Norman had come forward.
“Who would do this?” I felt scared. The familiar emotion had suddenly jumped on me, back from yesterday’s drunken terror.
“Fucked up. Was probably some animal.”
“And it brought its prey to our doorstep?” I shook my boot. Yellow and red and putrid smell crept on us. I heard something shuffling down behind us. The door at the neighbor-lodge swung open in full force, shocking me out of my stupor.
“What’s that noise?” Mrs. Rosenthal was on her patio, frowning at us.
“Hey,” I shouted back and gave her a weak smile.
Slowly the crone came for us, muttering Jesus Christ under her breath as she saw the dead thing with the unblinking eyes.
“When your father hears about this!”
“Are you crazy? This wasn’t us! I just stepped out and here it was.”
“You think something dropped it here?” Norman asked her, suddenly eager to confirm his unbelievable thesis.
“Sure. A bear,” she scoffed.
“I am serious Mrs. Rosenthal.”
“You’re drunk. I can smell it. I heard you yesterday waking everyone up. I’m calling your father right away.”
I rolled my eyes as she turned her back towards us.
“Seriously?” I walked after her. “That wasn’t us. I mean why would we do that?”
“Mr. Schmidt! There is no one here besides yourself and Dr. Waller and I don’t believe he has suddenly turned to butchering animals on his neighbor’s doorsteps. I come here every year since 1979 and I never heard of a wild animal bringing pet-corpses to the doors of people.”
“It wasn’t us. Please. You know me I wouldn’t do something and even if I would, I probably not put it in front of my own door,” I said, barely hiding the fury in my sarcasm.
“What’s that noise?” Dr. Waller squeaked from down, standing in his door, pulling up his boots. He slowly trotted towards us, he didn’t look great either.
“What’s going on?” he asked, a few steps away from mine, trotting forth energetically.
“Some shithead put a dead rabbit at our door,” Norman called in anger, a short and broken stutter in his voice.
“What?”
“Yeah, look.”
Dr. Henrik Waller shook his head.
“Who? I mean Rosen -”
“Wants to call my father cause she thinks I’m twelve and did it myself,” I laughed, thumbs in my belt shaking my head in disapproval.
“That woman. May I come inside for a moment? Don’t want her to hear that eh?”
“Sure,” I answered, still in disbelief. Strutting back inside, careful to get out of my boots without dragging in any of the wretched scrambles of the dead thing at the doorstep, Norman and Henrik followed me.
“Want some coffee, Henrik?” I asked.
“Oh yes, of course. Have to ration mine for a bit as going down won’t be an option soon enough.”
“What you mean? Going to town?” asked Norman.
“Snow is coming. The road will be blocked, but don’t worry. Longest was in ah, in 97 I think. Didn’t leave the house for five days.”
“You serious?”
“Don’t worry about that,” I tried to calm Norman, “Happens every few years before winter ends up, but nothing can happen. Well of course with someone like our friend…” I alluded to the rabbit which seemed to make Norman visibly uncomfortable.
“You guys best head back,” said Dr. Waller.
“Doesn’t it always thaw after a few days?” I inquired.
“Sure, but I mean you would be stuck here for days.”
I looked at Norman. His decision.
“Well I got to say, being stuck here doesn’t sound too bad.”
The matter was settled. I was not happy but didn’t want to come across as a coward, so I said nothing. Afterwards, the three of us gathered around the kitchen table like mice around a piece of bacon.
“So, Hen what do you think about that dead animal at the doorstep stuff?” Norman asked.
“Well, nothing. Could be maybe it was just a ridiculous accident. Or maybe it was the Horned One,” he cracked to himself tongue in the corner of his mouth.
“The what?” asked Norman.
“Some folk tale,” I said.
“So, what’s it about?”
“The legend goes that, at the feet of this very skiing area, once lived a giantess named Gutemine and her two brethren. While the brothers went to hunt, down in the woods of the valley, Gutemine would go and tend to her garden. One day a wanderer came by and asked for shelter from the night, Gutemine let him in, into the halls and when the brothers returned with fresh slain meat upon their back – because they really loved the tall red deer that are still there, down in the valley – they invited their guest to the small feast. In gratitude for their hospitality the traveler told them that he had come from up the peak and that there was a rich Dvergr, living hidden behind gentian groves, in a cave.
The traveler told the brothers and Gutemine that the name of this worm-like creature, this maggot that had feasted on Ymr and a frændi to Fafnir, that the Dvergr was called Stromme and that he had been, for a night, the host of the wanderer, much like they were now. He also told them that Stromme, who had a fierce blackened forge where he sat – from dusk and to the dawn – and forged the most precious works of craftmanship the traveler had ever seen. Surely, he said Gutemine would make a good wife to the blacksmith. At this the brothers got a wrath and their faces grew cold and dark. The next day she was nowhere to be found although they called and called and called. Out of the shadows came the punished one, maiden no more. Antlers fastened with a chain around her head to fool the brothers. The false tongue cut out, the thieving fingers chopped off, the cowardly sinews taken away, the greedy eyes spiked with hot nails. Thus, was Gutemine forced to wander the woods day and night and wait for her brothers to save her, crawling like an animal in the dark forests. The people in the village say she waits to this very day.
The story goes, as fellows down in the valley can assure you with certainty, that the horned one as she's called, goes round the woods this very day, screaming silent a rundown roar of breathless bane. Half-crooked fingers growl like worms in the crusted dirt, a brown carpet lain in a chamber made by wormlings and wyrms, sleeping in the heart of Yule, forever winter until the tears from empty sockets dry on scorched skin.
Searching day and night for her brethren. Munching small squirrels and flies and maggots and roots from yonder earth for nourish herself. To this very day she stalks the woods they say. Beware when Stromme makes new gems in spring! You might confuse the sawdust of his labor with newborn snow, then turn away and mind the upward woods cause if she finds you you're going to be slain,” Dr. Waller shouted.
I had heard the story before but never this dark. Norman, interested in literature, lyricism and so on, discussed the themes and origins of the tale with Henrik, giving me time to slip away up the bedroom to my phone. A text message from my father read ,Ignore her’, two missed calls from Sarah didn’t look too promising. To my surprise, I found out that my charger was dead, and I was stuck with 10 percent of battery.
“Hey,” Sarah answered my call, voice friendly, “You guys are alright up there?”
“Yeah kind of. Look I know it’s nothing, but something strange happened.”
I told her of the howling the day before and the dead rabbit.
“That was probably the same. The poor thing got away from some predator and just happened to die in front of the house and that’s what you heard yesterday.”
“It wasn’t just in front of the house, it was right on the doorstep.”
“A bit odd but come on, stranger things happen all the time.”
“Yes,” I said, “Listen I will turn settings down. Charger is broken and Norman got none with him. If I just use it for short calls we should get through this fine. Else I can use Norman’s.”
“Alright. I love you. Don’t worry, nothing is out there to get you.”
I didn’t say it, but I disagreed. I went downstairs and joined my two companions. Soon Dr. Waller left us. It was an hour after noon and we decided to make a comfy day in the warm insides of the lodge, to make some burgers and settle ourselves in the living room, before we went to bed. I must have been already asleep when I heard it. A loud howling in the night. Was there? Had I heard it? Yes, yes this time there was definitely something. I rose from my bed, frozen in fear. Norman stared at me.
“The hell.”
“What was that?”
“I’ve no idea.”
“Was that the sound from yesterday?”
Was it? I wasn’t sure. I hadn’t really heard it, but it was louder and less human. We just sat for a while in uncomfortable silence. Scanning the dark room for any movement. Then it hit again, outside, a shrill sound like calf brought to slaughter.
“Dude,” Norman whispered.
I got up and crouched to the window, needing a few seconds until I forced myself to look outside. I saw the Waller lodge in darkness. Nothing to see in the black of the windows and the door. Was it the dark wood or was the door open? I didn’t dare to speak my mind.
“So?” he broke the silence.
“I don’t know man. I don’t know.” I stared at my feet, dodging his questioning gaze.
“Shouldn’t we look?”
“Look what?”
“Henrik? The old lady? If they’re okay?”
“Don’t know man.”
“I mean could it be wolves or foxes?”
“I don’t know.”
Knowing that it was no wolves but something else, something out of shadows. The tale of the antler-horned woman came back to me, hairs in my neck standing at attention like black razors.
“Probably is just some animals,” I said, pulling myself under the blanket, ignoring the crouching noises down in the old snow-mud. Down, below our window.
A sudden knock, a bang.
“What now?! Fuck!” exclaimed Norman.
“Shit what was that?” I lifted my head, seeing strange lamps hanging in the dark. I went once again to the window to see the house of Dr. Waller, shining in phosphorene glamour. Looking at my phone, it was 2 am. Then again, as hard and loud and angry as the first one, a sudden loud BANG. Something was outside, trying to get in.
“Shit what now?!”
“The fuck I don’t know okay? We should just stay here.”
“What about the other two?”
“I don’t know? If they’re in they’re probably as safe as we.”
I sounded unoptimistic. I knew Norman was right but the thought of going out there into the darkness was petrifying my limbs.
“The fuck,” Mumbled my agitated companion, before pressing his muscled thighs into black jogging trousers. Out he went, out onto the hallway, me silent after him. Another bang made my head snap back between the shoulders like a tortoise hiding in its shell. Then everything became clear.
“What’s that noise?” shrieked a familiar ghoul from the night outside. Mrs. Rosenthal was not amused.
“What’s the matter with you people? Is such a noise necessary?” she asked, hugging her thin shape into a bright pink bathrobe under her parker.
I stared into her beany eyes and the downward line over her chin, not sure if to laugh, before I answered her.
“For the last time. That. Wasn’t us! We were scared shitless.”
“Don’t tell me this wasn`t you! Can tell that your father when he finally talks some sense to you. Said he would call you and give you one over your head,” she said proudly.
From behind. Another step. More Steps coming from out of the dark.
“You guys hear this?” Dr. Henrik called through the night.
“Got you up too huh,” said Norman.
“Last time this happened was ages ago. Me and Rosie were up all night, scared to death,” he smiled. “That’s the red deer coming through. Usually they try to stay away from us here but sometimes the slopes are too steep for some so they come up here through the woods.”
“Haha, really?” asked Norman. “Me and Mikey had the time of our life in there.”
“That’s no deer,” said Mrs. Rosenthal sternly.
“The hell, woman it is!” shouted Dr. Waller.
“Clearly that was a man!” Mrs. Rosenthal insisted.
“Sure, a man here in the snow on a short walk or what?”
“Now calm down guys,” Norman tried to intervene.
“Maybe we should get back inside and call someone up tomorrow?” I suggested.
Snowfall was getting stronger.
“Good luck with that. I know how to protect myself,” said Mrs. Rosenthal, whirling around on the spot, stomping back to her hut.
Dr. Waller just shrugged, waved and marched off back into the darkness of the lodge.
Norman looked at me. Locked inside I closed the window shutters flooding the inside with darkness. It was the middle of the night but none of us felt like sleeping so we just sat in the kitchen, silently thinking about what was going on. I was no longer alone in my growing discomfort around here and the isolation didn’t help.
“We just pack up and leave,” Norman suggested.
“We could try if we hurry but we need to be really quick. Just clothes phone and so on, leave the rest here.”
Of course, the road was blocked. Wandering down to the garages was exhaustive enough but it was clear we wouldn’t get down. Snow had come and vanquished everything beneath. Hardship was the way up, back to the house. Then we heard it again. It was near. Norman gave me a look and we ran back to the door. I fumbled the keys out of my jacket, Norman scanning the white hills above. I just opened the door when we heard it again and fell inside.
In resignation we brought our bags all up in the familiar bedroom and sat down. Something was wrong. I tried to call Sarah but didn’t get through and left her a message. Norman still had his phone, so we were not in danger to be cut off entirely.
Through the night we heard the wailing in the distance. Just sitting resigned to our fate. Morning didn’t improve our mood. I didn’t dare to open the window shutters, forcing us to use the bulbs inside. The sky was grey and endless snow was falling. Sarah had written me a text that said she had called my father who got in contact with the local mountain-patrol, but there wasn’t really anything they could do, just some people on a rock all by themselves, scared and alone.
“Dude, shouldn’t we do something? Play some cards?” asked Norman. “I mean old lady over there seemed chill enough. No reason to get this trip messed up you know. You know, no reason to shut us in all depressed here. There is just deer outside you scared of a deer or what?”
I didn’t answer.
“The fuck man,” he rose and left the room.
I grabbed after him, tagged his shirt and pulled him behind.
“Dude that’s not some deer or animals. That was no deer that put a dead fucking rabbit at our door.”
“Dude, not that again.”
“Yes. Exactly that again.”
He tried to pull loose, I didn’t let go. He pushed me. I fell half on ground head against wall. Wall won. I looked up at him. Ready to go on, his mind cleared.
“Shit. Oh man, I didn’t mean to.”
He didn’t finish his words, a close loud clash of glass and a shot. He looked at me no time to think he scrambled out the door, me after him in tow. Heavy snow fell on us. Rosenthal House – flooded in light and window crushed against the strong mist.
“Fuck what’s going on?” Norman said, looking through the black hole in the wooden wall. Ignoring my pleas to go back he circled the house. Something white stuck in the door, something that was not ice.
To my horror I realized, it was a fingernail! A line of blood crept down from it, straight down to the floor. Door unlocked, Norman and I went inside the house, not knowing what awaited us.
The lights were on. All was empty and silent, until I entered the living room. In the living room we saw the thing. Her face twisted in pain, the mouth wide open. Lines and wrinkles like cracks on a broken egg. The whole visage turned into a grotesque grimace. There was next to her, as useless like a flower in winter, a big old hunting rifle. Something strange and horrible must have given her pump a slap and stopped it.
We gasped in fear, not familiar with the dead. Something must have scared her literally to death, something that was still around here, preying on us. I was sure of that.
After we had calmed ourselves, Norman picked up the rifle. I looked behind me to the open door. Something was still here with us. I looked outside into the mist and saw a shape moving, its steps so soft it was barely hearable. Then, it made a noise, the howling from the night again, now very near. I closed the door as fast as possible.
“Dude something isn’t right. We need to check on the old man and lock up till someone gets here,” said Norman.
After a while without any indications for another presence, we decided to check on Dr. Waller and to return to our own house. We left the blank corpse of Mrs. Rosenthal and stalked through the mist, conscious for every sound or shadow in the thick cold air. We moved downwards to the Waller house. I marched up the small porch and knocked. Seconds felt like hours. Nothing, I knocked again. Nothing.
“He’s not here,” I said
“Let’s try if it’s open.”
The doorway gave in and showed the small vocational home nearly like we had left it after our drunken celebration. In the kitchen, stuffed like a goose, a small sink full of spoiled dishes and the empty bottles forming a line at the edge of the table like a grenadier battalion waiting for employment. The darkness made it seem sinister and the more seconds I spend inside it the more oppressing it became. Norman looked at me, rose his arms above his head and let them drop in disappointment. A shiver ran along my back as I heard something break in the distance.
“Where is he?” asked I.
“I don’t fucking know,” answered Norman, aggressively.
Slowly we made our way around the house, fresh fallen snow hugging us in tight discomfort. Rubbing hands in the unthawing lands. A white sun crept up over the mountains pushing clouds to the side only to drowned by them in a moment’s notice. We found something that looked like tracks as we slowly marched up the small hills, not a word was spoken. Soon we approached the woods above our community, the sun covered by cold mist.
“Shit not a single sign,” cursed Norman, his breath filling the air like cigar smoke.
We climbed the ground, thick with fat broken branches forming spiderwebs in the frost lands. Fear was keeping me warm. Going in the woods you sometimes feel foreign eyes locked on your back. As soon as you brave yourself for the monster and turn around, there is just nothing winking back in your face. You march on and on. And then it became clear. Footprints braking branches and tree limbs, something had come here before us. We went a bit further, downside now pressing my boots in the steep flank of the earth. And then it began. Norman turned around but I knew it was to our right.
The wind singing through the woods, I lifted my head to my left and heard the sinister wailing that crept in the trunks like an animal stuck in a hole. There it was. A shadow beyond the grey mist. Twisting and limping towards us. It was humanoid. A still smile without lips it started to scream. It flailed towards me. The skin was covered in crusted red and black, the head was normal but beneath was a sea of swollen flesh, covering deep scars and lines turning like creeks in the skin. I knew what I saw but did not comprehend, hastily making my way back followed by this abomination. Back just back. Cold air running between my hand and the edge of the jacket. It stared - eyes wide open over the noseless skull.
It followed, twisting and hopping on the stunted and hobbled legs. Crunching every branch in the dry dirt with toes standing apart, turning away from the foot in impossible angles. I was certain: The horned one had come for us.
"Run!" I screamed towards Norman who looked up at me. I turned - it was near me clicking its teeth in inhuman language.
Back to the house back to the house. I risked a look and saw Norman fast beside me, the thing vanishing slowly behind us. An agonizing scream filled the air. We didn’t stop, just back to the house.
The door was open and the place messier than before as I tried to catch my breath I realized, something was here while we were at Waller’s and in the woods. Fast I ran upstairs, Norman behind me. We locked the bedroom door and waited. There was nothing, until there was something. Below us – knocking, banging, screaming and wailing in hissing sounds.
Taptap. There it was. A weak hand on the door, knocking as politely as be. Norman looked at me and I looked at Norman, each receiving laurels of disbelief. Silence.
Taptap and a rusted voice like scrap thrown underwater thick with algae.
"Doc that you?" spat Norman out. No answer.
"Henrik?" I asked.
Taptaptap and a scrapped noise from outside. Aggressive rhythm-thumbs against the door. Fists shook the door. Norman's eyes, wide as a deer's hit with headlight, turned to the closet. Together we stemmed it against the door like a gate holding the ram. For a time. Outside trashing hurling fists, hurt skin scratching uncaring woodwork to the tune of the rasp. At last a shrieking cry, like a baby, and silence.
"Give me your phone," I whispered. Norman in shock just stared, and stared so I took it from him and sent a message to Sarah. I pressed 'send' and sent a silent prayer that she would get it, and that I survive the night. We sat hours in silence, not sure what to do.
"Should we look?" he asked, finally.
We lifted the wooden gateway to the side. Norman, , wanted to go first but I had the key and the will to prove myself. Slowly and silent I grasped the doorknob – in the slowest momentum I looked out at the hall. A pair of glowing eyes opposite, I screamed and the thing howled back the maw wide open, black and rotten it stumbled forward one mangled hand stretched out towards me, ready to pluck my throat. I tried to shut the door but fingers got stuck, thick black worms twisting at the edge.
“Hack it off! Hack it off!” I shouted in panic. Norman frantically searched for something to get rid of the intruder. In the end he took a chair. With full force he swung it down, on its fingers and the thing gave in with a final nearly-human shriek. I closed the door and locked it again. Closet rolled over it again. Haven again. I closed my eyes and just wished for this nightmare to end. We sat for a long time, then the struggle began. A rabble outside joined by tears in my eyes as I pissed myself.
"Open the damn door," droned a familiar tune. We pulled the closet away and there was Dr. Waller, fire-axe in hand. "Jesus," said the old man.
"Dude the fuck was that!" shouted Norman.
I looked behind Dr. Waller. I saw the blood on the floor and on the axe. The thing was covered in white cloth, already soaking up the blood. Its outlines looked small and twisted. Was this, after all, an animal? The horned woman? Something else?
Henrik looked in our gaunt faces, exhausted lids nearly closing above his heavy eyes. We put a tablecloth over the restless body and leave for Henrik’s house where he poured each of us a drink to forget the attack. He said he would quickly check on the other houses and pull something over Mrs. Rosenthal, give the old girl some rest, he had said. He never came back. Policemen arrived with Sarah and my father. No trace of Dr. Waller, they had said.
Before anyone stopped me, I ran back towards our house, upstairs, and lifted the cloth: It had not been the howling of an animal. On the hallway carpet was something, something that was once a tortured and mutilated human. A young man, now a dead and thoughtless object. The flesh around the mouth, where once lips had curled up to smiles, was carved up into a grotesque hole, showing the upper gums and the missing teeth. A blinded eye looked at me, the other brown, like my own. There were scars all over the carcass, the piece of meat, and between the legs a shredded undefined mass of human flesh, like a child tried to cut with scissors, a pattern in a sausage. I suppressed the gag reflex deep inside my throat. I didn’t fully understand until they opened the basement. There was a washing machine that worked perfectly fine and didn’t make sound.
Sounds had come from a hidden room behind a shelf, where there was a gynecological chair and hundreds of knives; butcher’s cleavers to machetes to small switchblades and buzz saws, circular saws, axes and scalpels and, perfectly folded, the clothes of a missing 19 year old who had screamed his vocal folds to uselessness within a week. There was proof he wasn’t the first one. I never heard of Dr. Waller again and I don’t know to this day why he didn’t attempt to make Norman and me a part of his collection.
I don’t know why l acted like I did, why my brain refused to see the human, naked, broken, out in the snow, begging for help. Why did I choose to see the monster? Why did I become the monster? Does the devil have horns? A young man, barely an adult, was in need and we ran away, allowed the beast to devour him. Do you sometimes know what you do is wrong? Sometimes, we all do wrong, for one reason or another. Norman and I are still friends, though not really. For a time, he came by to visit me and my wife Sarah. It was also he who found out that tongue is a delicacy in the Alpine regions.
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2020.08.17 23:02 don_h_kowalski Village girl hidden bath

Do you sometimes know what you do is wrong? Sometimes, we all do wrong, for one reason or another.
My February break was snapped in two by something very wrong. Very wrong. My life was never the same. Just a chill-weekend at the lodge, right? Just two friends with booze and free time. I am sure you know it, the deep stones down the gut remind of anxious anticipation, not yet knowing what will be torn away. Soiled, was last year’s lingering winter. The old snow was a hard and grey stew like fungus at the side of the road. My friend Norman Sakrif and I were on our way, hitting the road to a man-cave-relaxing-week.
I drove my dust-stained VW Rabbit up the road, stalking the mountainside on the back of a grey serpent, a black line in the white desert. We needed rest – well, Norman more than me, I guess. He had some months behind him and as a friend I offered a trip to my father’s lodge. I was not delighted to be on skis but boy, what a blast to stand on high, at the end of the season and to enjoy the solitary comfort of the wild with a civilized bottle of drink. We rolled up the lone steeps to the small cluster of lodges, a retreat for the upper middle class of which my family was a part of.
“Nice man, really nice! Really damn nice!” Norman smiled. It was good to see that.
“Yeah, we got to clean up good, after. My dad is really skittish about the place.”
“I don’t mind. Just us, TV and plenty of alcohol,” he proclaimed.
Unloading the car from food and clothes, I saw a dark silhouette behind the curtains of the lodge next– the ghastly face of Mrs. Rosenthal, the most terrible neighbor. Like ice in shade she stayed to the end of winter, just a face in the windows of the house. I took the car down the hillside, to the garages. Afterwards, I walked upwards, back to the houses. To my right, there was another lodge, bathed in light. Seemed like old Waller was here with us too. I had known the doctor since I was a kid, which made a greeting (unfortunately) mandatory. “Mikey!” the ancient rake cried out in excitement. He was thin and tall with tense wired muscles, hidden under a red hemp shirt. Good shape for over 80. His glasses clang to the tip of the long nose as he scraped the shining plate on his head, before he pulled his arms to greet me.
“For once a good surprise! You up here this late in the year? Need a bit of privacy with this girl of yours, hmm?” he purred like a grey lynx.
I laughed it off. “Not what you think. I’m here with a buddy for the week. Just got to get a clean mind, you know.”
“Don’t get too idle,” he teased. I smiled in awkward silence. “You boys got anything planned?”
"Well not too much. Norman is eager to try ski hiking. I would prefer not to. We shall see.”
“Norman?”
“My friend.”
“Oh, yes. Well good you here, I can use some company. Nobody around at that time.”
“Why you’re up then? Usually you come in December, right?”
“Me and my wife always came here remember? Didn’t feel right to stay put. Maintenance’s a real bitch so I thought ‘Henrik you got to use this place while you still can’ and so I just packed my things and moved up here.”
“How long are you staying?”
“I am here since the beginning of January. Guess two more weeks and then back home.”
“So, I think we see each other in the next couple days then.”
“You guys want to come grab some dinner tonight?” Dr. Waller asked. He seemed sad so I agreed.
We had set for around 8, I hoped Norman wouldn’t mind. He sat outside, only in his pullover. While there was frozen white around us, the sun in the mountains burned like an incubator. Norman seemed unsettled.
“Everything right?” I asked, marching up.
“Dude. I think someone is over there. Saw some face in that window,” he gesticulated at our neighbor.
“Haha, she’s creepy I know. Always watching making sure nobody’s up to trouble.”
“Just the caretaker or what?”
“Not really. Don’t worry about her. She and her husband came up here hunting since they were young but he died and now she spends all her time here.”
“Alright”, he seemed at ease. “Want to grab some beers while we settle?”
“Sure.”
The sun went down as we lazily zapped through the channels, before we stuffed ourselves in boots and jacket to march the few steps downside to the Waller lodge. It got dark very fast, up here in the mountains. The wind was howling loud and strange.
“Hello, I am Henrik,” Dr. Waller greeted Norman.
“You two go ahead I just call in home,” I said. I didn’t want to talk with Sarah in front of Norman, so this was as fine an opportunity as any.
Sarah was an understanding woman, knew I wanted to be there for my friend. I told her I would call sometime on the next day but that I could always be reached. My battery was a bit low so I asked Henrik if I could plug my phone for the while we were with him. The austere house sucked me up. I remember the laughter. There was no hallway to lead me in, the smell of cold bacon and cut cheese welcomed me in the small kitchen, aided by a wooden table and a broad corner bench. Dr. Henrik Waller had prepared a small feast, mostly classic Alpine food, in the tiny woodlined kitchen with the walls plastered in old photographs. His house seemed humbler than ours, but had an attic and a basement, while we had to stash all tools and our washing machine, vacuum cleaner and ski gear in the bathroom and the storage. I preferred the cozy structure of Henrik’s lodge in contrast to the modernish layout of our place. Henrik was an avid traveler and bon vivant, he presented us with a bottle of French wine to the classic German blood sausage, cold ham and other meaty main dishes, ornamented with dry cheese and simple bread. A symphony of spicy dry hot steep air in the flesh touched by our teeth. The bacchanalia of the Alps dancing for their fair folk masters in the light that stepped onto the mountain.
“All local,” Henrik reinforced every time he came up with something new.
Wine strengthened our slightly less drunken mood that was barely touchable when we had entered, and Henrik seemed eager to catch up and brought us various Belgian beers, Irish apple wine and Highland whisky and more German beer, always vanishing under the earth to return with new liquid dishes, like a dwarf bringing forth new treasure.
“Just a sip. You must taste it! It’s the best!” he insisted, after every glass.
We talked a lot. Henrik told of his latest visit to Ireland, how he enjoyed to stroll the streets of Dublin.
“Rosie always wanted to go there.”
“Your wife?” Norman asked.
The old man nodded, eyes glued to the table. “Already two years,” he whispered before coming back to reality, trying to lift up the gloom. “You married Norman?”
“Yes. At least a few weeks more I guess.”
“Oh,” exclaimed Dr. Waller. “I am sure you find someone else,” he efforted to console.
“Or we start a bachelor commune up here. What you say Henny?” laughed Norman. The old man frowned.
“I think my family wouldn’t approve of that.”
“You live with your children?”
“Not living… but I try to see them whenever I can.”
“Got any photos?”
“Yes, but I left the phone at home. I like the silence up here too much as to spoil it with cat pictures,” Dr. Waller laughed at his own joke. Norman met my eyes: crazy old people.
“I use my phone now less and less,” he agreed with our host. “Didn’t even bring a charger. Barely use the damn thing.”
Norman’s soon to be ex-wife was troubled. After finding out about his affair with a colleague she had crashed her car, head full of pills. Painfully aware of the sullen sentiment, each of us tried to lift the room up to laughter again, dozing ourselves with short sips of bliss from the bottle. I guess it was a bit after midnight when I heard the thumb, a sudden sound more felt in the vibrations of the walls than really heard. Was it just the wind?
“What was that?” I blurted out.
“What you mean?” asked Norman. Henrik just staring wondering in agreement with my friend, scratching his grey van Dyke looming under the chin.
“That noise,” I said.
“Didn’t hear a thing.”
“Me neither.”
“I clearly heard it. You got some martens in the basement?”
“Oh, yes! Martens those damn beasts!”
“Must be some heavy martens,” I said unconvinced.
“Maybe it was probably the washer. I just take a look and be right back,” said Henrik, leaving our overfilled table. Poor old man had to clean it up tomorrow.
Norman seemed tired and even more drunk than me. Outside, the window was pitch black. It was time to leave. Suddenly I felt it again. A slight shaking from downstairs.
“Everything alright?” I shouted towards the nearly closed basement door.
“Yes, yes. You know how old things sometimes do odd things. Well believe me I know it from my own behavior.”
We laughed and sat in silence. Soon Dr. Waller would emerge again from underground, bringing forth new treasures.
“A fine Edinburgh whisky for the gentlemen?” I heard Henrik shout. I gave Norman a look, he nodded, his eyes slightly shutting his world down. Time to sleep the day off.
“I think we should get out Henrik. Maybe tomorrow,” I suggested.
Still from down I heard him “Oh, just this one. You ought to taste it. It’s the best, my friends!”
He came back up we hurled the glasses to our lips and were on our way. I was sure we would at least have another night over at the Waller lodge with its magic dwarf-cave underneath. Inside our own lodge it was warm. Pulling our bodies up to the second floor, Norman so wasted he stumbled directly into the bedroom, I tried to clean up a bit. I was in the bathroom, upstairs, already longing for my bed, when I heard it. A haunting wail cut through the air. I froze looking back in the mirror, something moving behind me out of the corner of my eye. Then nothing. Maybe I misheard, I was drunk as hell. No, I admitted. I had heard it. Something was outside. Straight to bedroom, me shaking, Norman in the bed.
“You heard that?”
“What?” mumbled the half-sleeper.
“That thing.”
He moved up, suddenly more sober, or maybe less drunk.
“What?”
“Some noise creeped the shit out of me. I’m not sure. I don’t think it was something… like an animal.”
He laughed. “You’re drunk. Or you think Henny runs around outside or what?”
I frowned in disbelief at his doubt, while he went on.
“Man, what you talking? Was just some animal. Or Henny is doing that old bitch over there,” he giggled, a bit too forced.
I went for the window, Henrik’s house barely seeable in the misty night. As I left the room Norman was asleep again. I looked at my phone. Shit. The battery was now lower than before. Wasn’t plugged properly, I thought while I wrote Sarah that I loved her and that I was in bed, pushing away thoughts of lunacy. I was scared. The wooden walls of the lodge felt to entomb me in my quarter-drunk delirium. I had stopped smoking years ago but I wished to suck on a cigarette more than anything.
I checked the bedroom and the small room that was still holding the child-bed and the bathroom. I opened the window in the hallway to draw in the wooden folds from outside and locked them tightly against the cold walls. Then the heavy part was coming – going downstairs, trying to test the old wooden door. I wasn’t sure if I had locked it. I stood at the head of the stairs for about 4 minutes and then, very slowly, dragged my body down, step by step. I checked the storage room, the living room the kitchen the small separate toilet and again in the living room. One by one I turned off the lights hoping to get rid of this feeling that something was watching me. I checked the door making sure it was locked. I pushed down on the handle about 15 times. When I was convinced, I went upstairs and locked the bedroom door. I was glad to have Norman in the room. Less scared, my curiosity got the better of me and I went to the small window and halfheartedly gazed out. Nothing. Just eerie silence and the night, the light of the moon reflecting the glimmering diamonds that surrounded us. I took my phone and plugged it in the outlet next to the bed. I put myself down in bed but couldn’t sleep. Norman snored heavily besides me. Still listening I drifted away, still listening.
I woke up. It was still night. I heard nothing. Alright, I thought to myself, trying to convince me that everything was right. Then the truth dawned on me – something must have woken me up. I got up slowly and silently stepped towards the window. Nothing – just dark empty houses and the moon hung up in the sky, telling me to fuck off. I went back to bed and listened carefully. Nothing. I drifted back to sleep.
Next morning, as was to be expected, I felt a heavy hangover. Norman was up, checking his phone, red eyes in the white light gleamed towards me.
“Hey Aurora,” he said with a big smile.
“Dude, I feel like crap,” I stuttered.
“Same.”
“Remember last night?”
“What?”
I halted. Should I tell him? It was probably nothing. Just some animal. Everything was good. I shouldn’t tell him.
“That sound,” I said.
“What you talking about?”
“Yesterday, you were already in bed, fuck did you sleep with your jeans?”
“Yes, seems so,” he laughed at me. It was good to see him laugh. Everything was alright, nothing to worry about.
“Well, no what I meant was. I was brushing my teeth and I heard that sound. I wanted to tell you about it but you were asleep so I woke you up and told you. You said it was probably just an animal.”
“Seriously?”
“Yeah.”
“Dude you never heard about the Alps serial killer up here?” he grinned at me like the Cheshire Cat.
I rolled my eyes and slowly pulled my body off the stinking mattress. There were some pills down in the kitchen and I really needed something to stop that chainsaw in my head. I didn’t feel anxious or was probably too drunk to feel it. Everything was in place, everything was fine. Downstairs I made coffee and checked every corner for some Aspirin. A few seconds later Norman’s face appeared in the doorframe, two cups of coffee in his hands. We just watched TV for a while, each of us to his thoughts.
“Want go grab some fresh air?” he asked.
“Sure,” I answered.
The sun was bright and I didn’t bother to put on my jacket or to tie my laces. I unlocked the door and went forward, then I felt something under my foot. Beneath my boots was a red mass of fur and tissue. Long ears and pained eyes looked up at me. Dead. I lifted a shout from my lungs.
“What’s wrong?” screamed Norman from the hallway.
“The fuck. God look man.”
It was a rabbit. The rabbit. Dead and crimson and grey and white formed an orcano of disgust in my bowls. The mutilated animal was laid across the small patio surrounding the doorway. Entrails spilled out on the dead rock. My eyes were locked on the flies that were already settling in their new home. Blood dried in the face of the clear morning stone, smiling down on us. The air was thick with iron, sharp like a sting in my face.
“What the fuck man,” Norman had come forward.
“Who would do this?” I felt scared. The familiar emotion had suddenly jumped on me, back from yesterday’s drunken terror.
“Fucked up. Was probably some animal.”
“And it brought its prey to our doorstep?” I shook my boot. Yellow and red and putrid smell crept on us. I heard something shuffling down behind us. The door at the neighbor-lodge swung open in full force, shocking me out of my stupor.
“What’s that noise?” Mrs. Rosenthal was on her patio, frowning at us.
“Hey,” I shouted back and gave her a weak smile.
Slowly the crone came for us, muttering Jesus Christ under her breath as she saw the dead thing with the unblinking eyes.
“When your father hears about this!”
“Are you crazy? This wasn’t us! I just stepped out and here it was.”
“You think something dropped it here?” Norman asked her, suddenly eager to confirm his unbelievable thesis.
“Sure. A bear,” she scoffed.
“I am serious Mrs. Rosenthal.”
“You’re drunk. I can smell it. I heard you yesterday waking everyone up. I’m calling your father right away.”
I rolled my eyes as she turned her back towards us.
“Seriously?” I walked after her. “That wasn’t us. I mean why would we do that?”
“Mr. Schmidt! There is no one here besides yourself and Dr. Waller and I don’t believe he has suddenly turned to butchering animals on his neighbor’s doorsteps. I come here every year since 1979 and I never heard of a wild animal bringing pet-corpses to the doors of people.”
“It wasn’t us. Please. You know me I wouldn’t do something and even if I would, I probably not put it in front of my own door,” I said, barely hiding the fury in my sarcasm.
“What’s that noise?” Dr. Waller squeaked from down, standing in his door, pulling up his boots. He slowly trotted towards us, he didn’t look great either.
“What’s going on?” he asked, a few steps away from mine, trotting forth energetically.
“Some shithead put a dead rabbit at our door,” Norman called in anger, a short and broken stutter in his voice.
“What?”
“Yeah, look.”
Dr. Henrik Waller shook his head.
“Who? I mean Rosen -”
“Wants to call my father cause she thinks I’m twelve and did it myself,” I laughed, thumbs in my belt shaking my head in disapproval.
“That woman. May I come inside for a moment? Don’t want her to hear that eh?”
“Sure,” I answered, still in disbelief. Strutting back inside, careful to get out of my boots without dragging in any of the wretched scrambles of the dead thing at the doorstep, Norman and Henrik followed me.
“Want some coffee, Henrik?” I asked.
“Oh yes, of course. Have to ration mine for a bit as going down won’t be an option soon enough.”
“What you mean? Going to town?” asked Norman.
“Snow is coming. The road will be blocked, but don’t worry. Longest was in ah, in 97 I think. Didn’t leave the house for five days.”
“You serious?”
“Don’t worry about that,” I tried to calm Norman, “Happens every few years before winter ends up, but nothing can happen. Well of course with someone like our friend…” I alluded to the rabbit which seemed to make Norman visibly uncomfortable.
“You guys best head back,” said Dr. Waller.
“Doesn’t it always thaw after a few days?” I inquired.
“Sure, but I mean you would be stuck here for days.”
I looked at Norman. His decision.
“Well I got to say, being stuck here doesn’t sound too bad.”
The matter was settled. I was not happy but didn’t want to come across as a coward, so I said nothing. Afterwards, the three of us gathered around the kitchen table like mice around a piece of bacon.
“So, Hen what do you think about that dead animal at the doorstep stuff?” Norman asked.
“Well, nothing. Could be maybe it was just a ridiculous accident. Or maybe it was the Horned One,” he cracked to himself tongue in the corner of his mouth.
“The what?” asked Norman.
“Some folk tale,” I said.
“So, what’s it about?”
“The legend goes that, at the feet of this very skiing area, once lived a giantess named Gutemine and her two brethren. While the brothers went to hunt, down in the woods of the valley, Gutemine would go and tend to her garden. One day a wanderer came by and asked for shelter from the night, Gutemine let him in, into the halls and when the brothers returned with fresh slain meat upon their back – because they really loved the tall red deer that are still there, down in the valley – they invited their guest to the small feast. In gratitude for their hospitality the traveler told them that he had come from up the peak and that there was a rich Dvergr, living hidden behind gentian groves, in a cave.
The traveler told the brothers and Gutemine that the name of this worm-like creature, this maggot that had feasted on Ymr and a frændi to Fafnir, that the Dvergr was called Stromme and that he had been, for a night, the host of the wanderer, much like they were now. He also told them that Stromme, who had a fierce blackened forge where he sat – from dusk and to the dawn – and forged the most precious works of craftmanship the traveler had ever seen. Surely, he said Gutemine would make a good wife to the blacksmith. At this the brothers got a wrath and their faces grew cold and dark. The next day she was nowhere to be found although they called and called and called. Out of the shadows came the punished one, maiden no more. Antlers fastened with a chain around her head to fool the brothers. The false tongue cut out, the thieving fingers chopped off, the cowardly sinews taken away, the greedy eyes spiked with hot nails. Thus, was Gutemine forced to wander the woods day and night and wait for her brothers to save her, crawling like an animal in the dark forests. The people in the village say she waits to this very day.
The story goes, as fellows down in the valley can assure you with certainty, that the horned one as she's called, goes round the woods this very day, screaming silent a rundown roar of breathless bane. Half-crooked fingers growl like worms in the crusted dirt, a brown carpet lain in a chamber made by wormlings and wyrms, sleeping in the heart of Yule, forever winter until the tears from empty sockets dry on scorched skin.
Searching day and night for her brethren. Munching small squirrels and flies and maggots and roots from yonder earth for nourish herself. To this very day she stalks the woods they say. Beware when Stromme makes new gems in spring! You might confuse the sawdust of his labor with newborn snow, then turn away and mind the upward woods cause if she finds you you're going to be slain,” Dr. Waller shouted.
I had heard the story before but never this dark. Norman, interested in literature, lyricism and so on, discussed the themes and origins of the tale with Henrik, giving me time to slip away up the bedroom to my phone. A text message from my father read ,Ignore her’, two missed calls from Sarah didn’t look too promising. To my surprise, I found out that my charger was dead, and I was stuck with 10 percent of battery.
“Hey,” Sarah answered my call, voice friendly, “You guys are alright up there?”
“Yeah kind of. Look I know it’s nothing, but something strange happened.”
I told her of the howling the day before and the dead rabbit.
“That was probably the same. The poor thing got away from some predator and just happened to die in front of the house and that’s what you heard yesterday.”
“It wasn’t just in front of the house, it was right on the doorstep.”
“A bit odd but come on, stranger things happen all the time.”
“Yes,” I said, “Listen I will turn settings down. Charger is broken and Norman got none with him. If I just use it for short calls we should get through this fine. Else I can use Norman’s.”
“Alright. I love you. Don’t worry, nothing is out there to get you.”
I didn’t say it, but I disagreed. I went downstairs and joined my two companions. Soon Dr. Waller left us. It was an hour after noon and we decided to make a comfy day in the warm insides of the lodge, to make some burgers and settle ourselves in the living room, before we went to bed. I must have been already asleep when I heard it. A loud howling in the night. Was there? Had I heard it? Yes, yes this time there was definitely something. I rose from my bed, frozen in fear. Norman stared at me.
“The hell.”
“What was that?”
“I’ve no idea.”
“Was that the sound from yesterday?”
Was it? I wasn’t sure. I hadn’t really heard it, but it was louder and less human. We just sat for a while in uncomfortable silence. Scanning the dark room for any movement. Then it hit again, outside, a shrill sound like calf brought to slaughter.
“Dude,” Norman whispered.
I got up and crouched to the window, needing a few seconds until I forced myself to look outside. I saw the Waller lodge in darkness. Nothing to see in the black of the windows and the door. Was it the dark wood or was the door open? I didn’t dare to speak my mind.
“So?” he broke the silence.
“I don’t know man. I don’t know.” I stared at my feet, dodging his questioning gaze.
“Shouldn’t we look?”
“Look what?”
“Henrik? The old lady? If they’re okay?”
“Don’t know man.”
“I mean could it be wolves or foxes?”
“I don’t know.”
Knowing that it was no wolves but something else, something out of shadows. The tale of the antler-horned woman came back to me, hairs in my neck standing at attention like black razors.
“Probably is just some animals,” I said, pulling myself under the blanket, ignoring the crouching noises down in the old snow-mud. Down, below our window.
A sudden knock, a bang.
“What now?! Fuck!” exclaimed Norman.
“Shit what was that?” I lifted my head, seeing strange lamps hanging in the dark. I went once again to the window to see the house of Dr. Waller, shining in phosphorene glamour. Looking at my phone, it was 2 am. Then again, as hard and loud and angry as the first one, a sudden loud BANG. Something was outside, trying to get in.
“Shit what now?!”
“The fuck I don’t know okay? We should just stay here.”
“What about the other two?”
“I don’t know? If they’re in they’re probably as safe as we.”
I sounded unoptimistic. I knew Norman was right but the thought of going out there into the darkness was petrifying my limbs.
“The fuck,” Mumbled my agitated companion, before pressing his muscled thighs into black jogging trousers. Out he went, out onto the hallway, me silent after him. Another bang made my head snap back between the shoulders like a tortoise hiding in its shell. Then everything became clear.
“What’s that noise?” shrieked a familiar ghoul from the night outside. Mrs. Rosenthal was not amused.
“What’s the matter with you people? Is such a noise necessary?” she asked, hugging her thin shape into a bright pink bathrobe under her parker.
I stared into her beany eyes and the downward line over her chin, not sure if to laugh, before I answered her.
“For the last time. That. Wasn’t us! We were scared shitless.”
“Don’t tell me this wasn`t you! Can tell that your father when he finally talks some sense to you. Said he would call you and give you one over your head,” she said proudly.
From behind. Another step. More Steps coming from out of the dark.
“You guys hear this?” Dr. Henrik called through the night.
“Got you up too huh,” said Norman.
“Last time this happened was ages ago. Me and Rosie were up all night, scared to death,” he smiled. “That’s the red deer coming through. Usually they try to stay away from us here but sometimes the slopes are too steep for some so they come up here through the woods.”
“Haha, really?” asked Norman. “Me and Mikey had the time of our life in there.”
“That’s no deer,” said Mrs. Rosenthal sternly.
“The hell, woman it is!” shouted Dr. Waller.
“Clearly that was a man!” Mrs. Rosenthal insisted.
“Sure, a man here in the snow on a short walk or what?”
“Now calm down guys,” Norman tried to intervene.
“Maybe we should get back inside and call someone up tomorrow?” I suggested.
Snowfall was getting stronger.
“Good luck with that. I know how to protect myself,” said Mrs. Rosenthal, whirling around on the spot, stomping back to her hut.
Dr. Waller just shrugged, waved and marched off back into the darkness of the lodge.
Norman looked at me. Locked inside I closed the window shutters flooding the inside with darkness. It was the middle of the night but none of us felt like sleeping so we just sat in the kitchen, silently thinking about what was going on. I was no longer alone in my growing discomfort around here and the isolation didn’t help.
“We just pack up and leave,” Norman suggested.
“We could try if we hurry but we need to be really quick. Just clothes phone and so on, leave the rest here.”
Of course, the road was blocked. Wandering down to the garages was exhaustive enough but it was clear we wouldn’t get down. Snow had come and vanquished everything beneath. Hardship was the way up, back to the house. Then we heard it again. It was near. Norman gave me a look and we ran back to the door. I fumbled the keys out of my jacket, Norman scanning the white hills above. I just opened the door when we heard it again and fell inside.
In resignation we brought our bags all up in the familiar bedroom and sat down. Something was wrong. I tried to call Sarah but didn’t get through and left her a message. Norman still had his phone, so we were not in danger to be cut off entirely.
Through the night we heard the wailing in the distance. Just sitting resigned to our fate. Morning didn’t improve our mood. I didn’t dare to open the window shutters, forcing us to use the bulbs inside. The sky was grey and endless snow was falling. Sarah had written me a text that said she had called my father who got in contact with the local mountain-patrol, but there wasn’t really anything they could do, just some people on a rock all by themselves, scared and alone.
“Dude, shouldn’t we do something? Play some cards?” asked Norman. “I mean old lady over there seemed chill enough. No reason to get this trip messed up you know. You know, no reason to shut us in all depressed here. There is just deer outside you scared of a deer or what?”
I didn’t answer.
“The fuck man,” he rose and left the room.
I grabbed after him, tagged his shirt and pulled him behind.
“Dude that’s not some deer or animals. That was no deer that put a dead fucking rabbit at our door.”
“Dude, not that again.”
“Yes. Exactly that again.”
He tried to pull loose, I didn’t let go. He pushed me. I fell half on ground head against wall. Wall won. I looked up at him. Ready to go on, his mind cleared.
“Shit. Oh man, I didn’t mean to.”
He didn’t finish his words, a close loud clash of glass and a shot. He looked at me no time to think he scrambled out the door, me after him in tow. Heavy snow fell on us. Rosenthal House – flooded in light and window crushed against the strong mist.
“Fuck what’s going on?” Norman said, looking through the black hole in the wooden wall. Ignoring my pleas to go back he circled the house. Something white stuck in the door, something that was not ice.
To my horror I realized, it was a fingernail! A line of blood crept down from it, straight down to the floor. Door unlocked, Norman and I went inside the house, not knowing what awaited us.
The lights were on. All was empty and silent, until I entered the living room. In the living room we saw the thing. Her face twisted in pain, the mouth wide open. Lines and wrinkles like cracks on a broken egg. The whole visage turned into a grotesque grimace. There was next to her, as useless like a flower in winter, a big old hunting rifle. Something strange and horrible must have given her pump a slap and stopped it.
We gasped in fear, not familiar with the dead. Something must have scared her literally to death, something that was still around here, preying on us. I was sure of that.
After we had calmed ourselves, Norman picked up the rifle. I looked behind me to the open door. Something was still here with us. I looked outside into the mist and saw a shape moving, its steps so soft it was barely hearable. Then, it made a noise, the howling from the night again, now very near. I closed the door as fast as possible.
“Dude something isn’t right. We need to check on the old man and lock up till someone gets here,” said Norman.
After a while without any indications for another presence, we decided to check on Dr. Waller and to return to our own house. We left the blank corpse of Mrs. Rosenthal and stalked through the mist, conscious for every sound or shadow in the thick cold air. We moved downwards to the Waller house. I marched up the small porch and knocked. Seconds felt like hours. Nothing, I knocked again. Nothing.
“He’s not here,” I said
“Let’s try if it’s open.”
The doorway gave in and showed the small vocational home nearly like we had left it after our drunken celebration. In the kitchen, stuffed like a goose, a small sink full of spoiled dishes and the empty bottles forming a line at the edge of the table like a grenadier battalion waiting for employment. The darkness made it seem sinister and the more seconds I spend inside it the more oppressing it became. Norman looked at me, rose his arms above his head and let them drop in disappointment. A shiver ran along my back as I heard something break in the distance.
“Where is he?” asked I.
“I don’t fucking know,” answered Norman, aggressively.
Slowly we made our way around the house, fresh fallen snow hugging us in tight discomfort. Rubbing hands in the unthawing lands. A white sun crept up over the mountains pushing clouds to the side only to drowned by them in a moment’s notice. We found something that looked like tracks as we slowly marched up the small hills, not a word was spoken. Soon we approached the woods above our community, the sun covered by cold mist.
“Shit not a single sign,” cursed Norman, his breath filling the air like cigar smoke.
We climbed the ground, thick with fat broken branches forming spiderwebs in the frost lands. Fear was keeping me warm. Going in the woods you sometimes feel foreign eyes locked on your back. As soon as you brave yourself for the monster and turn around, there is just nothing winking back in your face. You march on and on. And then it became clear. Footprints braking branches and tree limbs, something had come here before us. We went a bit further, downside now pressing my boots in the steep flank of the earth. And then it began. Norman turned around but I knew it was to our right.
The wind singing through the woods, I lifted my head to my left and heard the sinister wailing that crept in the trunks like an animal stuck in a hole. There it was. A shadow beyond the grey mist. Twisting and limping towards us. It was humanoid. A still smile without lips it started to scream. It flailed towards me. The skin was covered in crusted red and black, the head was normal but beneath was a sea of swollen flesh, covering deep scars and lines turning like creeks in the skin. I knew what I saw but did not comprehend, hastily making my way back followed by this abomination. Back just back. Cold air running between my hand and the edge of the jacket. It stared - eyes wide open over the noseless skull.
It followed, twisting and hopping on the stunted and hobbled legs. Crunching every branch in the dry dirt with toes standing apart, turning away from the foot in impossible angles. I was certain: The horned one had come for us.
"Run!" I screamed towards Norman who looked up at me. I turned - it was near me clicking its teeth in inhuman language.
Back to the house back to the house. I risked a look and saw Norman fast beside me, the thing vanishing slowly behind us. An agonizing scream filled the air. We didn’t stop, just back to the house.
The door was open and the place messier than before as I tried to catch my breath I realized, something was here while we were at Waller’s and in the woods. Fast I ran upstairs, Norman behind me. We locked the bedroom door and waited. There was nothing, until there was something. Below us – knocking, banging, screaming and wailing in hissing sounds.
Taptap. There it was. A weak hand on the door, knocking as politely as be. Norman looked at me and I looked at Norman, each receiving laurels of disbelief. Silence.
Taptap and a rusted voice like scrap thrown underwater thick with algae.
"Doc that you?" spat Norman out. No answer.
"Henrik?" I asked.
Taptaptap and a scrapped noise from outside. Aggressive rhythm-thumbs against the door. Fists shook the door. Norman's eyes, wide as a deer's hit with headlight, turned to the closet. Together we stemmed it against the door like a gate holding the ram. For a time. Outside trashing hurling fists, hurt skin scratching uncaring woodwork to the tune of the rasp. At last a shrieking cry, like a baby, and silence.
"Give me your phone," I whispered. Norman in shock just stared, and stared so I took it from him and sent a message to Sarah. I pressed 'send' and sent a silent prayer that she would get it, and that I survive the night. We sat hours in silence, not sure what to do.
"Should we look?" he asked, finally.
We lifted the wooden gateway to the side. Norman, , wanted to go first but I had the key and the will to prove myself. Slowly and silent I grasped the doorknob – in the slowest momentum I looked out at the hall. A pair of glowing eyes opposite, I screamed and the thing howled back the maw wide open, black and rotten it stumbled forward one mangled hand stretched out towards me, ready to pluck my throat. I tried to shut the door but fingers got stuck, thick black worms twisting at the edge.
“Hack it off! Hack it off!” I shouted in panic. Norman frantically searched for something to get rid of the intruder. In the end he took a chair. With full force he swung it down, on its fingers and the thing gave in with a final nearly-human shriek. I closed the door and locked it again. Closet rolled over it again. Haven again. I closed my eyes and just wished for this nightmare to end. We sat for a long time, then the struggle began. A rabble outside joined by tears in my eyes as I pissed myself.
"Open the damn door," droned a familiar tune. We pulled the closet away and there was Dr. Waller, fire-axe in hand. "Jesus," said the old man.
"Dude the fuck was that!" shouted Norman.
I looked behind Dr. Waller. I saw the blood on the floor and on the axe. The thing was covered in white cloth, already soaking up the blood. Its outlines looked small and twisted. Was this, after all, an animal? The horned woman? Something else?
Henrik looked in our gaunt faces, exhausted lids nearly closing above his heavy eyes. We put a tablecloth over the restless body and leave for Henrik’s house where he poured each of us a drink to forget the attack. He said he would quickly check on the other houses and pull something over Mrs. Rosenthal, give the old girl some rest, he had said. He never came back. Policemen arrived with Sarah and my father. No trace of Dr. Waller, they had said.
Before anyone stopped me, I ran back towards our house, upstairs, and lifted the cloth: It had not been the howling of an animal. On the hallway carpet was something, something that was once a tortured and mutilated human. A young man, now a dead and thoughtless object. The flesh around the mouth, where once lips had curled up to smiles, was carved up into a grotesque hole, showing the upper gums and the missing teeth. A blinded eye looked at me, the other brown, like my own. There were scars all over the carcass, the piece of meat, and between the legs a shredded undefined mass of human flesh, like a child tried to cut with scissors, a pattern in a sausage. I suppressed the gag reflex deep inside my throat. I didn’t fully understand until they opened the basement. There was a washing machine that worked perfectly fine and didn’t make sound.
Sounds had come from a hidden room behind a shelf, where there was a gynecological chair and hundreds of knives; butcher’s cleavers to machetes to small switchblades and buzz saws, circular saws, axes and scalpels and, perfectly folded, the clothes of a missing 19 year old who had screamed his vocal folds to uselessness within a week. There was proof he wasn’t the first one. I never heard of Dr. Waller again and I don’t know to this day why he didn’t attempt to make Norman and me a part of his collection.
I don’t know why l acted like I did, why my brain refused to see the human, naked, broken, out in the snow, begging for help. Why did I choose to see the monster? Why did I become the monster? Does the devil have horns? A young man, barely an adult, was in need and we ran away, allowed the beast to devour him. Do you sometimes know what you do is wrong? Sometimes, we all do wrong, for one reason or another. Norman and I are still friends, though not really. For a time, he came by to visit me and my wife Sarah. It was also he who found out that tongue is a delicacy in the Alpine regions.
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