The Beast With Two Backs
Noon – Suddenly, I am aware of moaning around me. Someone is in pain. For a moment I am unsure of my surroundings and then I realize it’s just our prisoner, Ash,coming to. I’m in the makeshift torture chamber in the basement of Willard’s manse. I must have been day-dreaming, bored by yet another torture session of some unknown idiot sent to kill us. Bored. What’s happened to me that I care not for someone else’s pain or, worse yet, that I’m about to either kill him or permit someone else to? Deciding who should live and who should die has become as natural as breathing, I don’t even think about it.
Too bad it wasn’t as natural as something else… like sex. Unfortunately, I seem to experience that significantly less than killing people. With Willard gone indefinitely (and let’s face it, once you find out someone has slept with your Mom the attraction fades, completely) and the party in Quashie starting to be a distant memory, that’s likely it for the foreseeable future. Yeah, definitely not like breathing.
Turns out it’s me that will kill this one after all. The butt end of the hilt of my bastard sword should make quick work out of this guy – and does. As I stare at Ash, I admire my work. Barely a mark on him – only a slight depression in the middle of his forehead betrays that his skull is crushed. He almost looks like he’s sleeping. Almost.
This is what my life has become.
Jon and I retire to the kitchen to wait for Edmund to finish his deed. Moments later Edmund saunters into the kitchen. “Did you guys hear that?” Jon and I shrug and look at each other wondering what Edmund is talking about.
“That was a bit messier than I intended, I dropped him from too high. There was a lot of screaming from onlookers and I thought for sure you would have heard.”
We didn’t and that was the last time I thought about Ash.
After downing in some more of Mabel’s cooking, the three of us decide to head back to The Elium. Linnfard should be awake soon – plus we want to know what else Brother Yohan was able to uncover about Analee, our would be assassin from a few days past. I’m sure he has uncovered nothing, but I have nothing else to do and hanging out with Linnfard is at least more entertaining than sitting around here.
We appear in our room at The Elium and I am immediately reminded of how boring I find this place. Why do I continue to agree to come here? I hate it here. I can already feel the boredom cloaking me, the bland walls, the floor that is virtually the same color as the walls. The people here even resemble the walls, it’s like they have never been outside. I look around the room and for some reason my gaze is drawn to Edmund. It’s the fuscia shirt he’s wearing. I didn’t much care for it back in Quashie or in Bastion. But here, it stands out, it’s different, it’s interesting. I like that. He’s an arrogant asshole, I’m starting to like that too.
The door swings open, we aren’t surprised because prior to it opening wildly we heard the loud crashing and clanking of an armoured individual running clumsily towards it. While I’ve never heard Linnfard run in armor, I knew it was him. Which is why we weren’t surprised. What did surprise me was how well he looked. For someone who, 48 hours ago, was being feasted on by vampires he looked, well, like it had never happened. After a ridiculous conversation where Linnfard again postures like he was the invincible hero – something he was not – he decides to cut the conversation short and invites us to spar. Eager to do something – anything, we all agree to head to the practice rooms. Funny, Linnfard barely even noticed Amy wasn’t around.
Not interested in sparring with Linnfard, I grab a seat on a bench on the periphery hoping to be entertained/distracted from the boredom of The Elium. Jon and Linnfard are deciding which weapons to use and Edmund is strutting in my direction to take a seat. He looks good.
What is going on?! Did I just think that? What is wrong with me? It doesn’t matter anyway, he’s never shown the slightest interest in me. I shake my head to clear it and hopefully return it to normal.
Edmund takes a seat next to me and puts one arm around my shoulder and the other on my thigh. I don’t move, nor do I move his hands. In fact I drape my hand on his thigh.
Linnfard has decided to spar with daggers. If I cared or was even remotely paying attention to that scene, I would likely have helped him make a better choice. But I wasn’t and didn’t. Jon, obviously more interested in entertaining himself than helping Linnfard, goes along with it. The sparring begins and essentially ends as soon as it starts. Even I am having a hard time seeing the quick moves Jon is making, but that might not be saying much as I am focused on Edmund’s hand slowly making its way up my thigh. In fact, the only reason I’m even able to track Jon’s hits on Linnfard is that each time he taps Linnfard, Edmund’s hand deftly moves higher on my leg.
As Jon and Linnfard make the switch to short swords, I look at Edmund who begins making a blatant move to have sex right here on the bench. I’m shocked back to reality at the crassness of his thinly veiled suggestion, and remind Edmund that here and now is not the time. However crass he may have been, it did nothing to dissuade my desire and I whisper “later” as he moves to stand.
As Edmund walks to the ring to take a turn sparring with Linnfard, I am left to marvel at my own actions. Edmund has clearly not changed, the arrogance and tactlessness of his actions are the same and even bother me as usual. That’s it, this is going no further. There will be no later. Now back to reality.
I look up to see Linnfard holding a bastard sword and Edmund a dagger. This could be interesting. And it is, as Linnfard lunges for Edmund and misses, his bastard sword digs deep into the ground and snaps in two. The broken tip springs up and hits Linnfard in the nose. A bloody mess. Linnfard grabs his nose and the three of us quickly move to help him. However, when Linnfard raises his head his nose has stopped bleeding and looks fine. Well, well, Linnfard has been training. Apparently he is naturally better at healing than fighting.
Deciding we’ve had enough sparring for the time being, we piddle about The Elium for a few hours.
6pm – We make our way to dinner. Why we decided to come back here for dinner and not enjoy another of Mabel’s fine meals is beyond me. Mental note, give enough of a shit to ensure my decisions position me to eat Mabel’s food more than Elium food. It’s not that vegetable stew is bad, it’s that it is vegetable stew and not something else.
As dinner comes to an end and we sense impending boredom, we send Linnfard to find out if Mother Jana will see us yet. Surprisingly, she is willing to see us. We eagerly set off to her quarters, though when I really think about it we should be less excited about this visit. We expect Mother Jana to tell us about the mission we are required to take with Linnfard to clear our recurring debt to The Elium. Nothing good can come of this conversation, and while I secretly (and openly) hope she will release us from this debt given our recent rescue of Linnfard, I highly doubt that will happen.
Mother Jana is sitting at her desk, and truthfully she looks like death barely warmed over. She is grey and visibly weak. I feel bad for her and seeing her in this state makes me very grateful for all she has done for us. As she is weak and tired, she dives right in and states the mission she would like us to go on with Linnfard is a quest to find information about his parents. We are not impressed and she can sense it. Mother Jana implores Linnfard to fill us in on the details and I get the feeling, as she gets up and leaves the room, that it is up to Linnfard to persuade us to accompany him. She won’t make us.
We take a seat on the chairs in Mother Jana’s office and Linnfard fills us in. His parents were missionaries, sent to Kahlunda 16 years ago to establish a monastery. Apparently a monster attacked the settlement, and everyone was killed, save one infant, who was brought back to The Elium by Brother William, one of the most celebrated paladins of The Elium. Needless to say, that infant was Linnfard who now wants more detail about the circumstances surrounding his parents’ death. I glance at Jon and Edmund who look as sceptical about this quest as I feel. A visit to a town that was burnt to the ground? To speak with local’s who don’t speak our language? Really? What else is there to know? They died, we know why and how.
In an attempt to have this mission make sense, we decide to head to the library to find out more about the region. We find Kahlunda on a map and are provided with Brother William’s diaries from 16 years ago. The incident is like a footnote among his entries and matches exactly what we have been told. There has to be more to this quest than we are being told. Or maybe Mother Jana just wants us to baby sit Linnfard as he returns to the site of his parents death? Maybe we are just helping him close the book on his past?
Linnfard is called away to do chores as penance for his mistakes on his last mission. We sit in our room at The Elium. With nothing to do and feeling not much inclined to pass another night in this place, we all decide to head back to Edmund’s place in Bastion. We leave a note for Linnfard telling him we will be back in the morning, after breakfast.
9pm – With that, we appear at the second floor landing of Williard’s in Bastion. We head our separate ways, Jon and me to our rooms to sleep and Edmund to Willard’s study to learn more about Kahlunda.
Some time passes. Almost asleep, I hear a knock at my door. Not waiting for a response, Edmund slips into the room and my willpower evaporates.
8am – When I awake, I’m in Edmund’s arms and daylight is peeking through the blinds. I could get used to this reality.