“Tell me Charles,” the Battlemage said as he stoked the amber flames of the campfire, as they danced before his eyes, “Have you ever been bested my another… Been so beaten that you were unsure you were going to get back up?” His friend turned from the tree he had anointing with the ale of the hours past, happily unaware of the dozens of endangered pixie ants he had just sent to a, lets say watery, grave. “Ha! There is no man who can best me by sword or arm Battlemage! If he were to break my arm, it would mend, and it would return unto him his favour two-fold” “But what if it is not your bones that are broken?” Barekvar added, his face looking much older now than it had in the days past. “Ah…” Charles Manor sighed, finally catching his friend’s drift, “So you speak of the fairer sex. Of wounds much harder to heal.” “I do…” replied Barekvar.
The silence in the small campsite seemed almost deafening. The two childhood friends sat alone around the amber circle, amidst the many Goblin corpses of a raiding party that made the fatal error of thinking they looked easy prey. Their other two compatriots had travelled North, to chase rumours of their quarry, while these two travelled East, to chase others.
“King to Bishop Nine” Barekvar said through clenched teeth as he fought the searing hot pain shooting across his arm. “I can watch this no longer.” murmured Manor under his breath as he turned and walked away, unable to continue his exposure to the sight of his best friend putting himself through such agony, “He is a fool” he added, wiping the beginnings of a tear from his left eye. “Listen to me Barekvar!” King shouted. “He has your Queen. This is over. Stop your madness.” But despite his friend’s pleas of sanity he played the game of infernal chess with the Serpent King, refusing to see the last of his hope dwindle in the face of his opponent’s end game.
As the scaly foe hissed in laughter and made his next move, drawing the game to its inevitable end the Lady Lazarus walked quietly to the Battlemage’s side. There she stood. Motionless and without speech. “I don’t want to hear it.” Barekvar grunted, swallowing back the urge to burst from his seat or pass out from inflamed agony. “I know,” she said, breathing in a long and heavy sigh, “But you have to.”
“You make decisions every day. Small ones. Big ones. Whether to stop at that coffee place on the corner before punching in. Whether to wait for the light to turn or just chance it. Whether to get that third pint or call it a night. And every one of these decisions affects the course of our lives. Shifts it in the tiniest of ways in a direction unbelievably the same yet completely distinct. This is just one of those decisions Thomas. And like every one of those decisions, it’s one that needs to be made.
Sure some of your choices may seem more pertinent than others. Whether in the end Brown was better. Or should you have held out for Yale. But who’s to say that changed the trajectory of your fate any more than the decision you made between Butternut Squash Risotto or the Rib Eye the day before your 23rd birthday. Who’s to say Yale would have brought you more success? Who’s to say the Rib Eye would have meant you wouldn’t find yourself with that 33 Caliber in your hand right now.
“I fear I just do not understand sir. These creatures are very… confusing.”
“What is it about them that confuses you Mr. Fritz?”
“They do not behave in logical patterns sir. Their actions seem almost haphazard at times. Their history shows that they are capable of immense growth. Indeed they have made unbelievable strides considering that their already limited cognitive potential is further impaired by these… What are they called again?”
At an hour too late for most three dark figures entered the near broken down premises of The Lincoln Liars Inn. “We search for the one known as the Battlemage” said the one in a low voice as the figures approached the dingy bar of the Inn. The barkeep shifted in his shoes upon hearing their request, unsure if it was a safer option to answer or to not. “We would appreciate any help you could volunteer” said one of the other two as he slipped a shiny gold piece onto the bar. “Over there” the barkeep whispered pointing to the South East corner of the room with his head.
“See,” he said as he pulled out a cigarette from the crumpled pack of Golden Highs and lit it. “You don’t want this to be just another suspense novel” he said, pausing for a puff, “you want people to see this guy and not hate him right off, cause then you’ve lost em.” “So how do we do that?” his friend asked, typing away furiously on his tiny notebook sized laptop. “Well,” he pondered as he rubbed his goatee, “the first one has to be an accident. Some chick in some European country while he was on vacation. He got drunk in some tavern in… Scotland. Met some dumb busty blonde who thought his accent was amusing. They sneak off to some hut in the middle of the night. Fool around. She likes it kinky. Asks him to choke her. He plays along, hesitantly at first, but soon he finds he can’t stop himself. He feels her blood pumping through his fingers, squeezing the last of her life from her body.” He paused, taking another drag. “Afterwards he feels nothing,” he continued “none of the shame or guilt he’s supposed to. In fact, the more he thinks about it, the better he feels. More in control.”
“Okay,” the typer said, rubbing his hands together and blowing on them to prevent his fingertips from numbing up, “what happens next?” “The next two are easy,” his friend replied “Two bit hookers in some back alley in the Red Light district.” “How does he do it? He has to evolve over the intermediary kills. Maybe piano wire? Or a rope?” the typer asked, reaching for the cigarette to take a drag. “No No!” the narrator protested, “I thought of that already. Too filmy. He has to use his bare hands. That way he feels every moment.” He paused suddenly, thinking about where the story went next. He pulled out a fresh cigarette, handing the stub to his mate. “The ending is gonna be important,” he said after a few minutes of puffing his fag silently. “He can’t just get caught or die in a shootout. He needs closure.” “So how do we give it to him?” his friend asked coughing from the disgusting taste of the last drag. “With a final kill. The important one.” “Who is she?” “The one that broke his heart. The one who started the entire cycle of pain and anger.”
He took a deep drag, sighing loudly as he exhaled. “She has long brown hair. Plump breasts. An ass that used to drive him crazy. He’ll take her out to dinner first. Pretend he wants to meet up and talk about old times. To catch up. This one’ll need a lot of detail, and don’t forget the eyes. The eyes are important.” “So where does she die?” his friend asked, trying to type fast enough to keep up with the narration, “What is she wearing? Do they do it?” “Don’t know yet” the narrator said as he stood up, crushing the cigarette butt under his all-stars, “I’m picking her up tonight.”