Runic - Heart of Spoils

All life's a game for those who thrive in a world filled with them. In the wonderfully bleak realm of Sitic, a small band of misfits dwell in the only form of civilization where fun reigns as top priority, even if a little madness slips in unannounced. They explore the rabbit holes no sane soul would ever venture, much less find enjoyment in. They’re not the most stable group by any means, but making bliss from absurdity is quite a common practice among those who go about in crazed solitude. Outside, phantoms roam about seeking to enter their home and ruin what amusement bides within. Tensions are strung as the threats grow more and more lethal and the intruders become more and more dangerous. Life long friendships are tested. Battles commence. Something must give at one point or another, and slowly, losing one’s mind is become a better option as the days draw on.

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1. Chapter 1 - Apocryphal Bliss




Copyright © Crimsos







We are proof of a world gone mad.

But it's all we have, and at least we have each other.










“Some say if you imagine for too long, you’ll die.”



Zafer was in a mood for catastrophic deeds, indeed. The cemetery tombstones surrounding him watched on with their hard placid glares. A wonderful half moon illuminated their cold faces with a afterglow coaxed in indigo. It was quite a cold and quiet night for springtime's first impression, but a sharp toothed smirk still grew on his tanned skin, because this outcrop of dead souls would not be quiet for long, and what was about to transpire would soon turn the air searing hot. It was a deception so natural. Normally, a place such as this stood as a hallmark for the mourned who rested here for all of eternity, cozy in their narrow coffins feet below the soil.

“Nope! Not the case! Zafer hollarded wildly, and snapped a look at his choice of attire, rejoicing it for a second time. Perfect -a neon green archer’s cloak, made full by his black shirt and parachute pants. The man flipped back his hood, allowing short, silver hair to touch a cool breeze, giving the stars a joyous, lethal smile. His boisterous call reached across the shallow hills, scathing them with volume. Within seconds, a tremor softly rumbled underfoot, a movement that vibrated the blades of grass.

He knew not of how many would reveal themselves this time around, last week it had been two hundred, and yesterday, fifty. Their numbers were random each time the lunar circle rose to greet the realm of Sitic, so it was best to prepare as if challenging a grand army of thousands, even if only a few showed up. Preparing for a fight was always brought thrill, that uneven tingling through his body, like a dose of high density glucose pumping through every muscle, and to a greater extent, the quenching sensation that awaited afterwards.

Another underground force rattled the cemetery, signaling the warrior above to draw his steel Falchion belted at his hip, a sword perfect to lacerating bone. In one continuous crisis, undead hands ripped through the soil, splitting grass, tasting the night with their thin spindly fingers jolting around, void of flesh. These unliving hands were followed by arms, and all limbs harboring nothing but hard, latticed marrow. Zafer was unable to count them all, but he knew that now, at least three hundred skulls peered with empty eye sockets at him, with lifeless, ivory teeth.

“Got your attention,” he muttered lightly, and whipped out a bottle of mana from that same belt, and drank it whole, gorging it and not caring how horrible it tasted. It would prove useful later even though his tongue felt like a block made of vinegar. “I’m betting around seventy killed before you all flee.”

The mass of living skeletons nearly toppled over each other as they charged, mouths open, all their legs stumbling in a disjointed dance that made for a decent laugh. Zafer focused in a sharpened thought, channeling the mana swelling in his stomach to be used and unleashed upon the world. His Falchion erupted into a new blazing form as bright, ultra neon green fire wrapped the weapon in a scalding jacket, a blade fit to fight the undead. Its sizzling whisper galvanized him, and he swung it fluidly, the wide arc shearing off four heads as they lunged. One of them flung its body in the air towards the man. He spun around on nimble feet, stepped back, and plunged the sword into its collarbone, getting stuck there on the fly, before hurling the scalding body towards another group of meatless marauders who were coming in fast. Ribs splintered, backbones snapped, all an orchestra of crashing calcium filled instruments.

Zafer cleaved left and lodged the blade into an unsuspecting skull, then tore it out sending dead shrapnel into five more bodies like unshapely bullets, each wearing a fire coaxed coat. It was quite a masterpiece, turning some skeletons to cinders, while others were blindingly sliced down to bits. A dodged sharply to avoid a clawing arm, then a jolt back, narrowly escaping a flying skull that would have otherwise fractured his shin.

By now, the pyro sprung by his magic had multiplied into hundreds of burning plums that roared, turning stone to soot, and grass to emerald embers rising like a swarm of shining peridots. Then, in one heaving motion, Zafer swung down his sword, and from it a lambiant arc of flames gushed forth to consume another horde of his lifeless adversaries, eating them until they were reduced to small stains of ash. This was a perfect long range attack, for any enemy who thought that close combat would be enough to win. No, in order to outdo a capable opponent, one must be able to embrace all form of offensive tactics, and combine them into a fighting style most would find themselves outmatched by.

At least, that was the gist anyway.

This turmoil went on, giving the lunar circle a spectacle most grotesque. Everything was going splendid until, like an undead superorganism, all the skeletons simultaneously halted their previously unyielding assault, all of them suddenly stopping by imaginary puppet strings. For a second, Zafer thought that they were starting to mount a different means of attack, which seemed impossible, because these creatures did not show any signs of deep intelligence up to now. His Falchion lowered as the army of bones began retreating back into the soil, as if the cemetery wanted back its horde of lifeless warriors, sucking them in feet first, then their legs, then chest, neck, and lastly, their skulls disappeared underneath.

Then, nothing.

Another cool breeze brushed the now burned landscape, unaware of what happened. What was left only brought Zafer middle mark disappointment, with his once fleeting heart now a cold orb of zirconium. All had vanished below, leaving him alone, a grand rally cut short, a fantastic song paused halfway through. Even so, in the night of crystallized bewilderment, the man was still able to count how many were killed by his hands. Seventy five. It was a slight margin above what was expected, and upon returning home, his beautiful wife would rejoice in his accomplishment, and they would celebrate fashionably, then sleep peacefully. The vial of mana he ingested before this battle had provided more than enough energy to power his own mythical abilities. Using liquid mana itself was quite a rare technique, especially for combat, not because it was regarded as one of the most revolting substance in terms of how it tasted, but rather, liquid mana itself was difficult to compose.

Zafer exited through the cemetery’s flamboyant cursive gate, leaving behind a desolate field scorched by hysterical might. Now, his eyes poured abroad a landscape that served as an infinitely grand reminder of why few lived in the realm of Sitic. Unlike the cemetery, most of this realm was a barren stone wasteland lined with endless streams of shamrock colored acid, oozing their undying afterglow across mountains, canyons, and bleak, hard plains of rock. It was a place in which only a handful made their home. In fact, as he continued peering across this vapid horizon, not a single homemade light made its presence known - just a darkened scape derived of joyous glimmer and radiance.

His home was another testament to this notion; a lonely castle that nestled itself below a cliff face, overwhelming in size, gothic in style. Yet, its interior embodied all the wonderful means of comfort, something that he was looking forward to upon his return. It was, to an absolute degree, a rarity in a land such as this, a fully made structure that could accommodate a large crowd, a steel jewel trapped inside a reality in which few knew of its existence.

His pace back was lethargic down the mountain, simply because there was no tangible reason to go any faster. Every hour was a clone of the ones before it. Since there was no daytime in this world, there were no mornings, allowing night to play its omnipresent hand over everything, no matter what time it happened to be. There was no rotation, no turnabout of light and dark, as if the realm was at a standstill. He could stop for a long time, even laying down to take a nap, and nothing would change. At times he would be away a week before returning to the castle. After all, entertainment had to be manifested from within, since every bit of outside stimuli had long since outstayed their value in terms of fun. And, being fresh into his prime age, fun was all too treasured. He could sing this happy song for eons, and it would be heard by the same audience, every time. His boots scraped on familiar ground that knew their firm touch. This path had almost been eroded by his feet alone. The trail was narrow as it winded down and down like a blackened corkscrew. Falling from such a height would spell a ticket out of life.

Finally, Zafer made it down the mountain’s face. It wasn’t much longer now, just a few miles across the valley, then he would see the sharpened spires rise into view, then windows, then a large, welcoming front door. The castle was just as he remembered it. He crossed a bridge that overarched a slow moving river of acid throwing its soft emerald halo on his face, boots clicking against the hard cold surface. This was a pass way built by his own hands, made from melted orr and titanium bars for inner structural support. Along with the bridge, a mining drill had also been constructed a good ways off to gather appropriate materials for constructing life’s necessities, such as pottery, utensils, and ranges of appliances like sinks and bathtubs. After all, living in a castle of gargantuan size demanded these items to be crafted, while other materials like wood and glass were made in the castle’s foundry, using alchemy, and a good set of tools. Everything had to be brought to reality from raw land. Unlike Grove, Yevital, or even Typhon, this realm had always been left alone in the cosmos, barely checked in by Mejis map makers, and even they had found no reason to do even that, decades ago. Self preservation was the centerpiece to his livelihood, and to those few sparse handful of souls who lived with him.

So, besides needed task, days were spent finding new form of remorse to combat time’s constant pool of boredom, from battling skeletons and other undead apparitions, to being absorbed in what meager company existed. Zafer gave the starry canopy another delux wicked glare, as if to accuse Ambright of leaving everyone on this rock to be left twiddling their thumbs. If Sitic was a kingdom, he was the king, and his wife was queen, and they had command over an army that could be counted on just one hand, no more.

His falsely acropolistic home had more than a dozen rectangular eyes all gleaming yellow, and all of them were looking down at the man coming closer. The structure was almost humorously vast in height, to the point where one had to tip their head straight up in order to take it all in, every flamboyant design of blackened steel, every pillar, and every spire stabbing the troposphere with their spear point heads. The doorknob welcomed his hand with its cool nickel touch, and the small family within these walls would be even more welcoming, offering boundless respect, frenzied companionship, and hysterical fun. They were a strange group indeed.

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