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.

Novel Website - https://www.crimsos.org/heart-of-spoils

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5. Chapter 5 - A Flock Of Jokers

 

 

“You and a friend are journeying through the forest. You see a bear and it's approaching fast. You don't need to run faster than the bear, you just need to outrun your friend.”

-A joke told around one of Farrow's Inn fires-

...

Sigit knew not of when she passed out, but when her eyes flicked open, a pale white halo lingered not that far above her face. The lamp’s hollow glare stung so she winced, and winced more at the dulled throb blooming from her shoulder. Then it all came back.

I got impaled

I left my sandwiches.

I beat his score.

The lasting craze from killing undead adversaries was slowly draining from her body, hough when she tried wiping her sleep filled eyes, something cold pinned her arms back, her legs, everything.

What?

Chains constricted what little movement was possible, strung tight like joyless steel. The medical bed creaked. A small white table with scalpels and needles sat nearby. At first, a thriving joy echoed through her thoughts, then, a small sense of uncertain happiness.

Because now, Vixie looked at the cute little unicorn all in a red dressed body and bandaged to perfection, almost in awe. Awe? Or at least with interest.

Sigit managed that signature toothy grin. “Hey cutie. Sorry I got all banged up. Why am I locked in chains, huh?”

Vixie's bold blue stare softened. “I don't want you reaching for your injury just yet. I had a troubled time removing the floating rib from your shoulder. It's still healing. This is the best way.”

“Floating rib? Ribs don't float.”

“Oh no. That's just the name for it. Floating ribs don't really float. Another word for them is, lower ribs.”

“Oh.” Sigit didn't know why she didn't notice this before, but her friend was still wearing that elegant black maid’s dress, flashing white patterns and all. Her body relaxed. This was the mansion’s leftmost chamber, the medical room, the only room of its kind, with only a few lamps, beds, and tools to work with. How lovely. Vixie was a true one of a kind gem in this regard, being the only one who knew a lick about health or anatomy. Yep, a sparkly glistening dazzled gem indeed. Where would anyone be without this girl? Oh, probably limping or crawling about the house with broken bones and ruptured blood vessels. That's where.

Vixie went about this gloomy scene tending to the unicorn's wound sprung from careless delight, but it seemed as though her eyes were hieroglyphs. They darted around in search of something of a different nature, a little bitty piece of her that had suddenly gone missing. The icy eyed maid had so innocently been flustered, her perfect round cheeks burning red hot pink and peach.

Sgit was about to ask Vixie if anything was wrong, but her back was starting to ache and her feet were tingling from lack of movement. What was this maid looking for? A secret no one would understand? A new friend? Oh no. That would be absolutely terrible, ethal even. She could see her world freezing into the ruins of empty company. What a terrible life indeed.

Then, when it seemed Vixie was utterly lost behind her eyes, she she leaned down closer to Sigit’s bewildered complexion, both their faces preparing for what was sure to happen, eyes closing, faces softening. The kiss was light and long. There was no force. Her once cold trapped body warmed in surprise which was instantly replaced with joy. Tingling rivets soothed their bodies until nothing mattered. Vixie's hands carefully embraced her face, exploring it, completely ignoring her horn which so many times others have judged against, made fun of.

They parted. Only inches separated their noses so their heated breaths touched each other's cheeks.

Vixie asked, “Did you leave my lunchbox up at the cemetery?”

Sigit could not focus back her thoughts fast enough to reply immediately. It was a sudden change in mood. She thought something more would happen, something more than what had just transpired. But now. It always ended up with Vixie’s possessions, her trinkets, her gifts, her masterpieces.

“Please answer me. It would mean the world.”

It took a rerun of recent events in Sigit’s brain to realize the details she all so carelessly looked over. There was the walk up towards the cemetery, then the taunts, then the battle lasers, and then the wound. Somewhere in between the plates of memory was her mistake. But omitting to it was like fighting back a parasite threatening to take control of her tongue, for she knew how Vixie acted if anything of hers was misplaced.

“Does it really escape you?” Vixie crossed her arms and looked away, a gesture that sent sharp chilling pins through the unicorn’s spine. Nothing was worse than her companion’s discomfort.

Sigit winced. “Uh, that’s a possibility. Actually. I did. I left the lunchbox up there, the ribcage one you made me, right?”

Time collapsed. Reality sunk. Sigit woke up in a well sheeted bed wearing her regular hospital gown, no chains. It was a normal room, likely one of the upstairs apartments. But none of that mattered. Even though that kiss hit just right it didn’t matter, not one little tiny bit. Groggily groaning and gross with worry she slipped out of bed, clamping her shoulder. It was bandaged, but it still stung when bothered. Trotting down the first hallway outside was a task with this stupid annoying wound to weigh her down. Well, she wasn’t complaining. Vixie had done a fantastic job in bundling everything up. Now if only she didn’t get into these kinds of messes this often.

Speaking of Vixie, Sigit knew just where to find her, and it wasn’t going to be a calm confrontation. No fucking way. The wall candles lit her bodyin even intervals as she passed them. Each one said hello with their burning orange twinkle like fireflies given deadly hormones that made them grow unnaturally massive. New faces were beginning to emerge from the doors she passed. Everyone was waking up from a restful time beneath the tide of dreams. Some had pointed ears, animal ears, blue hair, black hair, red eyes, purple eyes, and all bits of color and differences that drew their origins from all across the cosmos. Although none were seen, they still were secretly reminisced in Sigit’s brain, where foreign thoughts were like paper planes folding off and away towards somewhere old.

Across the hallway. Down the flight of stairs, or two, perhaps three. Through a series of empty rooms. She hummed all the way hoping that things weren’t so bad even though reality always swung back. Vixie’s room was still that chamber of bone made artwork she had always admired, adored, aspired to. It was easy to find. They often played together here in shared stasis and indulge in all sorts of games and conversations, no matter how vulgar or bizarre.

The bedroom door was cracked open letting a slivered light to creep in and light the air with afterglow, slow and happy. There in the hollow gloom, movement frenzied like a heart beating liquid plastic through its body. Vixie sat over the bed. Her arms moved where only two blurs were seen. The floor was weightless. The room’s walls were dry bones and barren of color. When Sigit footsteps grew too loud Vixie turned as if started cold, also exposing what faulty treasure was being forged.

“Uh, what’s up?” Sigit’s words touched on frigid land, so they vanished instantly. What would she do? Apologize? Maybe strike up one of her dances to please her best friend’s taste? Oh but what a frantic mess this was.

“I’m rebuilding my lunchbox!” Vixie said in snow. “I tried visiting the graveyard but our adversaries had already taken it under! I can’t stand it. Why? Why take that of all my things?” The little’s maid’s hands were swift but strained from welding needles through wishing bones and ribs. Obsessions by rote were always left to dry when overlooked. But for the unicorn in question, it was an opportunity to show just a bit of love, remorse for her mistake. To most, this was all inconsequential, but to Vixie, like everyone else in the mansion, was strapped tight to passions that went down narrow ways.

Carefully, Sigit knelt beside her and asked, “Can I help?”

“Help with what?”

“What do you mean? Help with your new lunchbox silly!?”

Both of them just stared like isolated wanderers looking through delirium. Then, while in their own separate madness, they simply chuckled a little girl’s shuckle as if pretending a tea time playdate. They sat really close in stalemate kindness with their shoulders just inches apart, hands moving to remedy a desire that would likely lead to more violence, and then no one would care for or accept them alone. Sigit’s nose soothed upon wafting up some of Vixie’s peppermint scent just strong enough to notice.

So, together, the jokers descended into an all night project not meant for anyone but themselves. It didn’t matter if tiredness truck down come midnight. Morning didn’t exist.

Why did you drug me to sleep? I would have told you the truth anyways. The question hung silent in Sigit’s brain, but it never went far. She was just happy to not be in the doghouse.

Zafer and Creen's bodied were normally intertwined during times when their family's wrongdoings lead to agony, but now they simply sat off the edge of their bed, silent. Their chamber’s walls were all concealed by shelves and slots of scrolls containing origonal parables drafted and finalized by Creen’s own delicate hands, poetry that merged intimate love and peace on the planet nothingness. Like most of everything the castle’s organs contained, these parables and such were self made. They held other’s mistakes like glass paper in their hands. The carpet was a mahogany ocean burnt in the place where a very unlived intruder once stood.

“Dear, Sigit’s always getting into all sorts of messes like this.” Creen’s eyes flashed black once more. “How is this any different? It’s just another injury that will be healed over once time notices our little girl is in peril.”

Zafer regarded his wife with mixed intention. She wall clad in very little, just white cloth garments covering bare necessities, because she was completely bare otherwise. Oh that hip-flaring hourglass of a body would get attention soon, but now, distractions only derailed thought. “The skeletons could never pull someone underground and attempt to suffocate them. Hell, they didn’t even use to act as one group. You know, they could never actually work together.” He waved an aimless hand. “It’s been all good fun a magic play up until now. Sigit never got injured to this extent.”

His wife fetched a parable scroll and wound her arms around the man that could set fire the world. Her skin was softly warm as she opened it up to let the script spill from its paper home, a supple body that concealed its true meaning for as long as desire would allow it. “Look at this dear. In one of my love stories, it says that pain can happen for many reasons. Sometimes, it can come from an added suffering. But other times, it can be brought on by a great loss.”

“When did you write it?”

“Oh this? This one’s quite old, written before we married..”

Zafer laughed a laugh that all forgotten lords laughed. “Well that settles it then! The old ways were only right in bliss! Just like Barben said when he didn’t do his work - ‘just another unwanted task under the rug.’ Perhaps giving it a burning finality will prove useful.”

The wife spared a moment’s irritation, then a minute’s vexation that veiled calmness from returning, not instantly. She kept quiet, though, for exposing these thoughts had proven disastrous before.

He...he doesn't like my story.

During their sleep, she took out that same scroll and looked it over. Her tender black eyes were hidden by darkness. They had not shared intimacy this time so she could ease out of bed without unwinding tangled limbs and clothes. Of all things save for close bonds among the flesh, these ancient parables about love and fantasy were always close to home, for her childhood home was far now, for she had discarded that life long ago. Now, this castle was her sanctuary, one of the meager five bodies which made up the entire population of Sitic. Nothing existed outside the castle expect a barren scape of dark rocks and rivers spanning between mountains with eerie green afterglow. Spreading upon beds made from mysticism swallowed everyone’s old homes if the intention was to escape every blight that happened to walk up on shore.

Or had her husband already given up on unraveling this world?

Creen held the scroll tenderly, and found enough comfort to wander mindfully for a spell.

Sleep came like a disease spread thin, entering her body slowly and unwilling to weight down, one pack rat at a time. And when her dreams took hold they were Indistinguishable from reality. Every world desire had long since been fulfilled - a husband, a family, and a way to meander through life as a machined counterpart to creativity. She allowed her own mind to be locked to keep everyone else in a stasis where thoughts could color themselves fully. Although, that company had gradually been draining away by some unseen, unrecognizable force. Those who had gathered at the dinner table not too long ago seemed the whole shrill of life, not just a sum of its part.

Creen slipped the parable scroll in her cloth blouse and eased back into Zafer’s arms. The warmth drove worry out from its cog and into a vapid space where nothing could exist. The man's temperate breath touched her neck, making her indulge in a peaceful sigh. And finally, yet again, And finally, yet again, the thought something missing outlined her mind.

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