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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4. Chapter 4 - Joywave



“If life is a lucid dream, my brain must be drugged on something fierce.”



And so, everyone who had gathered for dinner were brought back to congregate around the table. Chatter rose like happy insects that sung during half moon nights, although Barben’s cranium burned slightly; he had no idea why everyone was so happy. He just went along with it like going down a river made from Petunia flowers. It made the staples in his head quiver.

Meanwhile, Sigit had this charming idea to get everybody quiet, to kill the chatter. She smiled gleefully and clapped both hands to her hard copper ear muffs, making a splendid noise that banged over and over again and again; each time a pleasurable wave electrified through her head. When she stopped, all was silent.

The pink spots on Vixie’s cheeks brightened, loving the chime echoing in her brain.

“Thanks, I guess.” Zafer eyed the cute little unicorn like watching a strawberry burn. “Now that you’re all here and at attention, all but one of you knows what happened just an hour ago, so here’s the summary. We had something of a break in where an intruder from the outside entered our castle by unknown means. The first one to see the skeleton was Vixie, who was happily situated in her bed when it peeked through her door.” He turned to Vixie and asked, “That’s how you put it right?”

“Yes. It wanted my attention.”

“Right, so she and Sigit chased it down the northernmost hallway leading to me and Creen’s bedroom. From there, well, all of us managed to put it down. Now all that remains of our unwanted friend is a bowl full of bone dust hanging in Vixie’s room, because she likes stuff like that.”

“So that’s the fuss?” Barben leaned back and kicked his feet up, grinning a mouth full of K9s. “Easy stuff. I could just stay here and have my gargoyle quartet do all the work in subduing these Intruders.”

“Do refrain from your suggestion.” Creen’s glare was placid. “Last time they had free reign, someone almost got eaten. Now, my husband was going to suggest that we play a game of lost and found to solve this issue. We all go around and find where Intruders could slip in, and fill the openings up.”

Everyone shared glances, some greedy, others gruesomely playful.

“And the one who finds the most cracks and holes,” she carried on with a dull smile, ”will get top priority servings of my next get-together dinner! No matter who else shows up!”

Everyone’s faces glossed over with a happiness and rhapsody so aimless that it could have been mistaken as flawed group thinking. In fact, Sigit jumped on the table and danced like some puppet bent on cutting its strings, the unicorn’s horn gleaming sparkling gold absurdity. But then, she remembered a little fact, just a tiny detail overlooked by crazy glee.

“Wait,” she spurted. “I was going to do my weekly visit at the cemetery and destroy a bunch of skeletons. Remember? I want to beat Zafer’s kill score.” Her arms were flailing at this point. Not getting her weekly fix of commotion would be an abomination.

“Calm it down, please. “ Creen’s reply was ten times lower and softer. “Very well. While the rest of us looks for gaps in the castle, you can do your playtime visit.”

“But make sure to really study what the skeletons do while you’re up there, maybe you’ll see what I saw,” Zafer added.

Sigit nodded hysterically.

Like a splatter of harsh neon paint on paper, everyone chose partners and parted ways to start their hunt for any openings where the undead might enter. There were hundreds of hallways and chambers to transverse, with even more bedrooms and small cells to search, not to mentions the network of dungeons down below. But this odd group of happy misfits didn’t care. About fifty others were fast asleep in their sheets, silently dreaming. Perhaps some would awake to their game and join in on the fiasco.

Of course, Zafer and Creen were paired together, as it was impossible to spit bone without absolute force. Their shadows were long as they raced across walls of white marble delight. This little scavenger hunt for holes was what the loving couple needed to satisfy an otherwise unbearable sense of aimlessness. Food, small talk, and sex weren’t enough. Engagement in activities with their weird friends was the answer, right? Right! Ha! Who knew!? It was a show of fun for just them to see. Anything went when hunting for apparitions.

Swiftly, Creen pulled off a nearby curtain and draped it around herself like an ivory veil. “Hey dear, we can plug up the holes we find with this curtain. It’s big enough for just about anything, and it even matches our interior!”

Zafer didn’t dare respond, for his wife’s remark carried a tone sounding silly, a joke. It was true. What would they use to cover up possible openings? Their pace slowed because the question was heavy. Marble was difficult to make without extended preparation, and temporary remedies would only hold up for so long.

“I’m sure we’ll find a way, we have the will after all.” Creen regarded his husband's distraught expression with sleek fondness, careless about what circumstance that face found itself in. She went up close and ran a hand through her hair. It seemed to calm him.  Perhaps she would unbutton her charcoal shirt a few notches to ease the man's stress even more. When one had skin of utmost softness, such tasks were easy.

“This is an older part of our home.” Zafer waved towards the room dead ahead, a domed chamber harnessing the former parts of tiles left un-renovated for years now. “Do you remember this place? It’s where we had our first dance.”

They entered with cursory, and casualty, Creen spun around with the curtain drape in hand and sighed happily, “Yes dear, it was during the peppermint moon season when times were wilder, and we were just as younger.”

“And it seems like it’s never been visited since.”

Her smile widened. “We should come here more often.”

Remarkably, the chamber’s unkempt inner shell of cracked walls was just for show. No holes were found, not even breaks within the rounded surface big enough for bodies, only small crevices where only Ooze Rats could slip through.

“Shame.” Creen was already heading out. “Time for the next chamber.”

They were like two crazed companions hunting for secrets few could ever understand, but loved the ride nonetheless. Sometimes they broke off from their insatiable search to indulge in little dances, each one a waltz which served enjoyment when current travesties failed. When not shown where to belong, both hearts were blind. Creen and Zafer were in good spirits indeed.



Icy blue hair, fist tightened hands, and a bold azure glare sharper than scalpels. Vixie wished to death that she didn’t have to be grouped with Barben, but here she was, watching from behind as the robe wearing feind paced casually ahead of her. Such a casual, careless step this monster man had, with his wine goblet held loosely in one hand, the other dangling like a diseased animal. They were strolling down one of the more opulent sectors, near the entry parlor that spanned out into a sea of smooth clean tiles. Here, hallways were wide enough for a family or two, or even a dragon.

Barben waved an airy hand at nothing specific. “My word, what do we even use to seal up the holes we find?” He waited a second, then a second more, then another, another. “I said, my word, what do we even use to seal up the holes we find!”

However, Vixie's eyes froze straight in bone dry avoidance. The tide of her thoughts were closed in a mindful ribcage. She had brought all of these trinkets made from spine vertebrae and Phalanges in hopes of showing Sigit, but now, they were left to jingle in her dress pockets. They weighed down, reminding of what could have been a jolly ol’ time.

“Oh dear o’ me.”

Barben whipped around. “You said what?”

“I said that I’m pretty doubtful that we’ll find anything out of the ordinary.”

The fiend’s red ringed eyes blazed amusingly. “Oh and what do you know? You’re already unmotivated to go through with Zafer’s little game. That’s why I suggested my gargoyles would just do most of the work for us.”

“That’s no-”

“And then here he goes, dismantling my brilliant suggestion before it can be explained further.”

“I not trying to sa-”

“We have plenty of things all of us could be doing besides this. Just get minions to do the job, not us!”



Vixie’s stopped cold. “Is realism too much for you? We’re not going to find anything at this rate, and what’s worse is that I don’t have anyone to share my trinkets with.” Her eyes weighted down. “I know other people love seeing my collection.”

Barben was already pacing straight away.

“I have this bracelet made of toe bones that jingles around. I also brought a necklace that I crafted from polished teeth. There’s so much stuff I own to share.” Her otherwise black dress ripple to flash its elegant white designs, eyes glowing like neon ice, hands full of what could have been a great show and tell. “Here, you can at least wear my newest crown. I molded it straight from marrow.”

Still, the man walked away.

Vixie’s brain welled up in frost. Well fine, I see it now! You don’t want any of my creations that took so long to make. It was all for nothing. Why can’t you just take one and love it forever? But no! The one I was stuck with just ignores everything I say and walks along like a mindless little bitch! I hate you! Come back! Please! I’ll do anything you want!  Her little pink cheeks burned red, her lips puckered to a frown, clenching her dress.



While everyone else was busy wasting time chasing phantoms, Sigit was preparing for quite a show as she pranced towards the cemetery. The path there was a bramble snake winding uphill, teeming with creatures chittering to a night that never ended. With a toothy smile and swaying hips to match, the cute little unicorn came upon the desolate sea of gravestones jutting out from cold tight soil.

Oh, but oh it wasn’t just a usual outing wearing bland normal clothes. No, Sigit wore her favorite bright red sleeveless top and short dress combo, a high strung attire sported only when she was either alone or having fun time with crazed performances. It was something someone would wear to fancy ballroom dance floor, and what a ball this cemetery was. Warm breezes were wonderful if one had plenty of skin to feel them with, and without them, life was just a bittersweet space to buckle and break under. She also brought a few sandwiches in case hunger creeped up during the upcoming fray, all tucked away in a bright white ribcage case crafted by Vixie herself.

This wonderful little party was about to rage on. Taking in a deep, deep breath she yelled, “Who the hell wants to have a dress up party!”

The tombstones were inert.

“Oh really? Act now and I’ll throw in a pose to die for!”

Stillness replied with silence.

“All you guys suck! I know you’ve been strolling into our castle without permission! So get out here and give me a good time will ya?!”

Sigit marched one step forth not realizing that it was one step in the grave. The graveyard instantly caved out to become a scape of bones moving up from the soil, skulls and limbs moving to a crazily grotesque force. But the cute little unicorn was already taking her favorite fighting stance, feet spread, body leaned forward so her horn aimed just right down the imaginary scope. She drew in mana and held it tight inside her core as clattering marrow echoed splendidly in her ear muffs like piercing bells, lovely.

Then, once everything was all charged up and ready to go, Sigit fired off the laser beam of blood passion pink blasting towards her adversaries. Her horn gleamed solid neon fuchsia as the attack plundered like a celestial ray colored by a toddler. The skeleton mass burned up in twinkling whirls. The soil melted. The air seared hot. When the debris finally settled, the earth had been charred to an uncherished wasteland.

“That’s over eighty down, for sure.” Sigit’s face brightened. Zafer’s kill score had just been toppled down with ease. Blind power outshined over planned attacks any day. Madness was not a state of mind. It was a place, a carnival full of gruesome rides that seemed too scary from afar, but astoundingly pleasurable up close.

But then, a thought crept in, a tape worm that moved around in her frontal lobe. Through the spectacle she had forgotten to count the death toll specifically. A high score was useless unless given a proper value. Eighty something wasn’t good enough.

Well, shoot.

What happened next was straight from a classical graveyard scandal. A cold dead hand sprouted up from the burned soil and grabbed the unsuspecting unicorn’s ankle. Down, down, down she was pulled into this land laid bare of wonder, first her feet, then her thighs, and now she was stuck waist deep as more bone dry hands clenched tight and pulled hard. Grimacing and cursing like a punk pirate, Sigit aimed straight her horn down and readied to blow this land straight to the clouds. Dying here was a petty grievance meant to be pushed back, right?

“You idiots will stay down there.”

The laser shot again, straight down where all the dead souls thrived and undead faces loomed. Light stung her eyes but she didn’t need to see these faceless monsters anyway. Her naked legs tasted air once again, and she walked the grave, walking like a strut up, stick up queen proud to be free, frowning down of those wasted by fire, not looking back. A gargantuan crater was all that remained from her second attack, adding to the destruction, but it would be smoothed out by time by the coming week. There was no harm done, none at all, not even a little.

However, her victory lap was a full run cut short, for something was terribly off. Her shoulder was quickly soaked warm as sharp rivets of pain pushed out in swelling throbs. The girl stumbled uncontrollably and felt something sharp when she grabbed the wound tight, wincing. A white spike jutted out from her shoulder, dripping crimson.

“A bone...Well, screw me.” Sigit gave it a tug and screamed. This must have impaled her during the previous laser attack. She cried out again in anger, another in agony. It wasn’t her own bone, and it wasn’t going to get any better unless something was done besides screaming like an idiot. Vertigo has taking hold and nausea drew in. There were no tombstones to lean on, for all of them had been decimated, so she was left wobbling out the graveyard with no crutch to support her bleeding body. The castle was a small lighted speck down the mountain face, growing a tiny bit larger each step, or perhaps that was the pain talking.

Sigit’s foot slipped under a rock and she fell forwards. Her hands balled until they turned pale. This was not going to be a walk in serenity for sure, and having thin clothing to break her falls was just the silver lining she didn't want to see.


A subtle movement caught Zafer’s eye as he and his wife trolleyed around the corner leading back towards their foyer. They were both saints that came marching in, in lost hopes, no prisoners were taken. Their companionship stifled any small detail that would’ve crossed their path anyways. It was a game after all, a little activity to get the children tired enough for a pleasant night in bed, even though sunrise didn’t exist.

Creen kindly folded the window drape from earlier. “So much for our luck dear. But let’s face it, if we would have won the game, I would be giving myself priority come the next dinner.”

“Then everyone would hold a grudge for us.” Zafer slicked a hand through his hair and gave a jackal’s grin. “Our little island of a home can only stand so much tension. It’s a good thing we all have separate rooms.”

“Except for us.” Creen hugged him from behind, allowing her hair to roll down his shoulders like black and white paint. “Once this is over, we can have a little game of our own.”

The husband rolled eyes.

O’ but look! Look past their now open front doors. A glister of bleeding skin came stumbling in, battered from minfull joy that ended in a gruesome injury. Sigit could no longer stand up right as she entered the castle, so her legs gave in and sent her falling down with gritting moans, begging for mercy. Zafer and Creen came running up to offer support to this deprived little girl only to get a little more guilt, for their game seemed trivial now. Creen grabbed the window drape and wound it where Sigit’s wound had yet to clot. At least now things couldn't get worse, but it wasn't getting better until proper healing.

“Call Vixie over here now!” Zafer called to his wife. He dared to look down. Sigit was entirely conscious, be it with teary eyes, but her smile somehow bit through the ache as her toes curled and her hands turned cold.

“Guess what pal?” she uttered. “Just beat your high score. Guess that mean I’m ahead, or...I don't know.”

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