If you are new to this serial story, begin here
As this is the second part, the above link will take you to the previous part.
This story contains scenes of violence, strong language, and uncomfortable situations. Please be advised.
The light filtered through the small window ahead. Kurt blinked and felt his eyes resist to staying open. His entire body hurt. He could smell dirt. Poop. He told his eyes to stay open, and with a few more painful flutters, his eyelids stayed open and he saw his surroundings. Bleached stone and brick were haphazardly piled on each other and held together with a primitive mortar.
He tried to lift his head, he didn’t like the part where he could feel his bones creak and his muscles ache. His grunts were feeble as he slowly lifted himself off the floor: he could feel the dirt fall off him. He felt for the cold wall and slowly made his way towards it, until finally, he propped himself against it. His face was in the shadow now. The light was filtering in a window above him. He could hear bird song through it and left it at that. In front of him he could clearly see the large-pattern of crossed bars that were supposed to keep him. Not just him.
He felt tired, but he wasn’t unaware. The man sitting against the bars wasn’t undetectable. He was alive, Kurt could see him breathing. His face was obscured by both his weak vision and the slight shadows in the cell. Kurt could feel him watching, just as much as he could feel Kurt’s gaze. They said nothing. A some unsecured stone could be heard in the distance rolling until it plopped down a rickety slope.
“Summering in a dungeon are we?” It was one of those accents where you knew the person was learned. You couldn’t tell if he was British or American, but he was learned. Kurt didn’t know how to assess the shakespeare-speech retched from this man’s mouth: he didn’t like it. When he said nothing in return, the man started again. “Come now, playful banter helps lighten the mood. It’s dreadful in here and I’m not willing –” the man slowly stood up, “– to lay around bemoaning the situation, are you?”
To Kurt, this man looked like someone he had seen before. The man had unnaturally blue hair – also, his eyes matched his hair. Upon further inspection, he saw the man was wearing an elaborate get-up of embossed leather and iron findings. His cloak slightly pooled beneath him. No.
The man sauntered over to Kurt. Kurt barely moved his head to follow the man’s movement. When the man crossed toward the light, his eyes looked so vibrant. Kurt concluded they just didn’t look the same. Each footstep – placed firmly one after the other – each footstep planned. He made his way to Kurt’s side and bent down to be face to face with him. Why did his eyes not look the same?
The man looked him over and gave a low whistle, “you’ve had it rough.”
Kurt said nothing.
The man shrugged, and then imitated Kurt’s position against the wall. He looked at Kurt’s legs and straightened his own in front of him, then he looked at Kurt’s arms and plopped his own hands in his lap as well. They both proceeded to stare at the unopened gate.
“Nice here.” The man said.
The air in the dungeon was musty to say the least – if the only aeration came through tiny holes high up in the wall – then it was safe to say that the dungeon probably didn’t see much air circulation in a day. The ground was made of dirt and gravel and stamped-in hay. You know, a dungeon was not originally synonymous with the idea of a ‘prison’. The dungeon – or keep of a castle – was meant to refer to the most secure tower in a castle, until the misuse of the french ‘oubliette’ became synonymous with the french word for keep – ‘donjons’ – and eventually a dungeon became –
“Well,” the man replied, “you could have kept up the pretense of muteness.”
Kurt sighed, his head was pounding and his body really ached. His vision was getting blurry. He was sick.
“You don’t look so well, friend.”
“No shit Sherlock!”
“…what’s a, uh, Sherlock?”
Kurt could not stand him.
The man looked around and then looked back right at Kurt. He stared at him for a bit until he extended a hand. “My name’s Hiroto.”
Kurt slowly moved his head to look at ‘Hiroto’. His face could only muster so much disbelief. He felt no friendly will. Kurt had a problem with his eyes. Kurt tried to get up, but his legs gave out and he stumbled forward. Hiroto quickly grabbed him by his waist and lifted him up. Kurt tried to wrestle him away, but he did not have the strength. It was only then did Kurt look at his self. He didn’t remember these clothes.
Hiroto tried to shift Kurt’s weight across, “So, ah… Daska?”
“What did you just call me?”
“Um,” Hiroto shrugged, “that’s what they call you.”
“No, no, no, no, no.” Kurt tried to push Hiroto away. He was the bigger man, he felt like he was sloughing off a wet bag of sand as Hiroto almost tripped from the force. Kurt made the strength to walk.
“Sorry, am I hurting you?”
“I’m not here.”
“I’m dreaming. I’m dreaming and I’m going to wake up to Benny poking me a hundred times because I didn’t make him dinner and he’s probably starving because of it and I’m just gonna give him a big hug cause this is the dumbest dream–”
Everyone stops at the sound of footsteps. Unknown footsteps that culminate to someone at your door. Unknown footsteps to you. Known footsteps to someone else. Hiroto knew those footsteps.
The footsteps stopped at the bars of the cell. Ominous laughter, Kurt could feel it travel down his spine. Hiroto was still by his side and Kurt saw the man’s body tense and his hands ball into fists. The laughter gave way to clapping. Whatever villain was taking his time at the door – he read the book on being bad front, back, and centre. Kurt looked up.
They were all tall and slim. This one was no different. His eyes were a violet hue, deep set, and large. His hair was long and wavy and angelic. He wore some official attire emblazoned with foreign badges. Authority had come in a set of striking features. The man turned his head towards Kurt.
“Daska, Daska, Daska… When will you learn.” A fucking villain. He then punched a dent in the bars.
Hiroto was taken by surprise and dropped Kurt as a result. Kurt fell like a dead log on the ground: the thud was visceral and he rolled onto his back with his injuries freshly sore.
The villain crouched to his knees and watched Kurt struggle. He tapped on the bars as he watched Hiroto stand in shock before snapping out of it and running to help his cell mate. “Daska,” he said, “Daska I need you to do me a favour.”
Hiroto, not a strong one – it took all his might to prop Kurt up into a sitting position. Kurt felt winded and weak, and mad: “I’m not playing this game.”
The villain’s eyes widened and a smile grew on his lips. “Game?” His eyes grew wider. “Game? Game? Game? Games? Did someone say games? Games? Games? Games? You are the one playing games!” Again he was at the bars and Kurt saw another dent.
Kurt stayed silent.
“Where is the Name of God, Daska?” The villain was shivering.
Hiroto spoke up, “what are you talking about. Arnolden, the Name of God is still at the alter–”
“No it is not!” And another dent, “where did you put it, little thief!”
“I’m not… I’m not…”
“… not gonna tell me?”
“I’m not Daska.”
“Great!” the villain Arnolden screamed. He yelled. He resorted to the wall behind him and Hiroto watched as he broke down brick and mortar with his bare rage and fists. Kurt tapped on Hiroto’s shoulders. Hiroto looked at him and was shocked to see him smile.
“Why are you smiling, he’s going to kill us!”
“He’s going to kill, Daska. I’m not Daska.”
“Even if you aren’t Daska, he’s going to kill us because you aren’t Daska!”
“Don’t worry, look at me,” Kurt looked down on his own body: bludgeoned and beaten. “This fucking mental, I’m not here.”
“You fool, wake up, you won’t survive!” Hiroto seethed between his teeth.
“It’s okay,” his eyes were open, “it’s just a dream.”
The idea of creativity can be applied to anything. Absolutely anything. It’s a dull mind that believes that science, theory, and logic makes no room creativity. The technical is rife with creativity. So creative you can become with, say, a drill. Don’t try that on anything vital – just the nonessentials. Just the would-be-nice-to-have. Just the thigh. Just to see his face. Just to hear the screams.
What a butcher, what a cocksucker. Arnolden loved to be creative. Nobody else at the time agreed with him, but it was never a matter of would, so much as could. You couldn’t think to agree with him if you passed out. You’d pass out when there’s a drill in your thigh.
Arnolden clenched his fist and brought it down on the table: the mouldy rubbish cracked beneath his force. Maybe, he was just going by it the wrong way. There was a mirror in his private room, like everything else it was considerably touched by the hands of time. He couldn’t see his reflection in the mirror: it was too dirty and the crust couldn’t be washed off with just soap and water. He walked up to it – in his solitary weakness, he spent too much time just staring into it. Just staring into it. In his solitary weakness, he spent too much time just staring into it. Looking for himself, perhaps. He was always crying.
There was a moan from the chambers. It may be that the thief was awake. Arnolden wiped his solitary tears and followed the sweet song. The low, lower, lowest dungeons saw no light save the lone torch every now and again. There was no air, just stench. What poor souls living in these lowest chambers; having to deal with Arnolden.
He had just brought the thief. That fool Hiroto was of no use. Now that he thought about it, he should dispose of him soon: he had a blabbering mouth. The thief’s pain was silent – trying to keep his dignity? Ha ha ha. Arnolden took long and simple strides. The moaning became louder as he approached Kurt’s current abode. He peaked inside and smiled behind the bars.
“Poor, poor Daska. Poor, poor, poor little thief. Was it worth it? Who –” he opened the cell door and softly stepped in. Tip a tap. ” – consumes the Name of God and deludes himself that he found salvation? Did you find it? Did you find it, little thief?”
Kurt was poorly. He would rather not. Arnolden put his hand on his skull and pushed his head back. Arnolden looked at his handiwork, whatever lucidity that was left was only enough to know the pain. This man: he was either delusional or he’s the wrong one. Arnolden was always of the opinion that he wasn’t the one they were looking for, but Puka was so sure and he wouldn’t waste an opportunity like this. He sighed and dropped Kurt’s head back.
The sun was dipping beneath the horizon. Arnolden had cleaned up. He strode across the Academy grounds and watched the new recruits dash about; getting into trouble; making fools of themselves.
“Sensei!” He turned around and smiled as a little thing bounced her way towards him.
“Good job, Puka.” He patted the girl on her head, “you truly worked hard and it paid off! Now it’s just the matter of questioning Daska.”
Puka-tan screwed up her face, she put her hands behind her back and kicked the dirt beneath her. “Bleh! What a dastardly villain! I hope he gets what’s coming for him, any luck?”
Arnolden looked to the sky and frowned, “no, he’s very tight-lipped. He’s either delusional or too prideful for his own good.” He shook his head, “being formerly the best of the best this academy produced is meaningless if you sully your skill with arrogance.”
“Yeah!” Puka-tan whipped her arms in front of her and clenched her fists. “What a baka!”
“Anyway, we still have to find the Name of God before it gets in the wrong hands. If Daska sold it to the leaders in the Badlands… This could be devastating to the flow of iki-kai.”
Puka-tan’s eyes widened. “He… didn’t have it?”
“Argh! That no-good-for-nothing –”
Arnolden put up his hand and she stopped mid-sentence. Standing in front of him was his colleague and his students. Daiki walked up with a smile on his face with two young men following him. “Arnolden!” Daiki’s face lit up with laughter as his large, booming voice filled the Academy grounds.
“Daiki-sensei!” Puka-tan ran up to the large, old tree of a man and jumped up and down.
“Hahaha! Always nice to see such spirit! With that sort of energy, you’ll become quite the knight soon!” Puka-tan beamed at Daiki’s compliment. “Arnolden,” Daiki turned to Arnolden, “have you met my students? This is Kerralot and Lorraine.”
Arnolden turned to the two young men. They both smiled: one gave a big grin with a wave, and the other one pursed his lips slightly and nodded his head. “No,” Arnolden replied, “this will be the first time we’ve met.”
Daiki slapped the two boys in the back, the strong force pulled the air out of their lungs and in the surprise they both almost fell over. “Hahaha! Well, now you know, two bright pupils I have here! I’ll just say it: soon to be the best of the best!”
Arnolden smiled as the two young men tried to regain their footing. “Yes, quite a troop you have there, Daiki.”
“How is he?” Daiki said, his tone had changed.
Arnolden shrugged: “uncooperative.”
“Let me talk to him, he was my student –” Arnolden put up his hand again.
“We don’t need personal feelings to mix with serious matters. This is going to take time. We have the th– man in custody, but we still do not…” He looked around the grounds to see if anyone was listening, then quietly: “we still do not have the Name of God. He didn’t have it, he won’t say where it is.”
Daiki’s face became grave. Kerralot and Lorraine changed moods with their master’s as well.
“Sensei,” said one, “please let us look for it. We cannot just stay here and wait for the end of the world!”
“Yeah!” Said the other, “we gotta go look!”
Daiki stood in silence, until he finally spoke up: “I think I need to speak with Daska. I understand where you are coming from Arnolden, but please, I know the boy more than anyone. I can see where his cracks lie and maybe –”
“Enough!” Th cruel cadence in Arnolden’s voice was unexpected. He stepped towards Daiki – who, although stronger, was no match for Arnolden’s sheer height. “Understand the predicament, Daiki – and believe me when I say: this is where your obligations to the boy ends. Leave it to me.”
Arnolden left them with no sense of closure. His frame disappeared in the dimming light as he crossed the grounds and disappeared in the cluster of buildings. Daiki clenched his fists at his side as he watched Arnolden leave. His two pupils and Puka-tan looked at each other in unease.
Daiki spoke: “Lorraine, Kerralot, I need you to do something for me, okay?”