Elesett Álmodozó was a knight. He was a man of average height, with dark skin and almond shaped eyes. His irises were onyx black, his hair was curly and his face was dotted with freckles. What was most impressive about him, was his musculature. He had a sculpted body with glistening abdominals, pulsing triceps, and a sturdy back. However despite how physicall imposing he was, he made for a rather poor fighter.
He was hesitant to swing a sword and in single combat was quite ineffective. There was a running joke amongst his squad that he was the perfect of example of why to not judge a book by its cover. Their latest task, had only solidified the truth behind that notion.
Before them, lay a sub-human of the Dalkyvith kind. The creature ran a small pub and was quite well liked despite his appearance. He had a bloated belly and stubby legs meaning he couldn move very well. He was six times the width and three times the height of an average human after all. His skin was red and warty like a toads, and his head was shaped like a Salamanders. The reason he had been killed, was because of the abnormality of his appearance.
The entire altercation had begun when a man stormed into the knights hall, shrieking and shuddering. He wore a cats mask, indicating he was a merchant and a man of importance. Tyteos, the leader of Elesetts party, had immediately set down his drink and rushed to him.
”Sire, what happened? ”
The man continued panicking for several seconds longer before begining to stammer out words. ”I-I went to a pub down in that ” he shivered, ”detestable Ravens Market. I just wanted to see get a drink and see what the area was like, but when I entered the place there was this-this creature, ” he paused again melodramatically. ”It was this disgusting fish, frog like thing handing out the drinks. It frightened me oh so terribly and when I collapsed in terror, it only offered me a few words of concern! Can you imagine the disrespect? ” he stopped to recollect himself, as if he had experienced something truly traumatizing.
”So, uh, what would you like us to do about that? ” Tyteos asked, not seeing the full picture. The masked fellow lunged forth and gripped Tyteoss tunic tightly, setting the entire group on edge.
”I want you to kill it of course! Rid me of that thing and toss it out of the city gates! I want nobody to know, lest word of it clogs my ears. ”
”But si- ”
”No buts! I asked to you to kill it, did I not? You are knights. You do not have the authority nor privilege to question to me! This entire guild here only exists because of us merchants, meaning you must do what we say! ”
Tyteos shared an uneasy glance with the rest of the party, but inevitably conceded. ”Fine. Please submit your request at the front. This will bind us both to a contract and well be able to complete the mission for you. ”
”I know how it works. ” the merchant snapped haughtily. He then got up and brushed off his silk coat, cleansing himself of the commoner which had touched it. Elesett could visibly see Tyteos tremor with anger, but he calmed himself and made his way back to the party, picking up his drink solemnly. He had a solemn look about him, like someone enjoying their last drink before execution.
”Are we really agreeing to this? ” Elesett wondered. Tyteos simply shrugged in response.
”You heard the man. We aren in a position to argue back, or else we lose our jobs. Nothing much we can do about that. ” replied Bolzein nonchantly. Bolzein was a thin man, one with long, messy hair that dropped to his sides and a rather hunched back. However despite his less than savory appearance, he was a much better knight than someone like Elesett.
”I know, but…there has to be some other way! We
e knights aren we? Isn our job to protect the innocent and all that? ”
Tyteos nearly spat out his drink. ”Protect the innocent? You know how many kids we drag off to the mines every other day? Innocent is the last thing we are. ” he returned to sipping his drink, stone faced despite the amount of alcohol he was gulping down.
”It doesn change the fact that we have roles to fill. Sure we aren perfect but this is too far! This is a complete violation of everything we stand for! ” Elesett cried passionately. A hand gripped his shoulder, cutting him off abruptly.
The man was an average fellow, with ginger hair and a decently bulky frame. His name was Frank, accentuating his pure plainness. ”Come on now Elesett. Use your brain! If people like us can become knights in this city you know the standards low here. The qualifications are barebones, not like the knights who actually go out to battle. ”
e hardly any different though. ” Tyteos interjected. ”They
e stronger and tougher than us, but all that leads to is a worse temperament and atrocious nature. This may sound crazy but we
e just probably the noblest knights youll find in this kingdom. ”
e hardly noble! Just because we
e a bit better off than the scum in other places doesn make us
Tyteos spun around, knocking his own glass over, so that he could grab Elesett by the collar and stare him in the eyes. It had been a long time since passion had roused within them, and the man looked almost demonic. ”Shut up! I don want to hear about being noble from a coward who can barely swing a sword! ”
The rest of the party went completely silent, watching with bated breath what their leader would do next. Tyteos glared at Elesett for a few more seconds before loosening his grip and taking a deep breath.
”The definition of a knight changed a long time ago. We
e basically just armored freelancers now, taking on jobs and walking around in this stiff ass armor all day for some coins. Get that in your head before you get killed. ”
Just then, the merchant strode over, a quill in hand. He requested that Tyteos sign the contract he had obtained, and without question Tyteos complied. It made Elesett sick to his stomach, instilling a helplessness within him that seemed to eat away at his soul. The quill used to sign the paper might as well have been a blade due to the way it drove through his heart, filling with him with self loathing for what he was about to agree to. But he held his tongue and watched the transaction transpire. Of course he did. It was all he could do after all. He was a lumbering force of pure muscle who wasted it all in holding himself back, what right did he have to object to anything?
As soon as the agreement was made the group put on their armor and set off. He disliked the way the metal felt against his skin. It gave him a feeling of pride, like he was meant to actually accomplish something with it on, but every time that pride turned to shame once he realized what he had put it on for. The only way to forget his shame, was through drink, but even he couldn be drunk all day. Or could he? Perhaps he couldn be drunk on alcohol all day, but when he wasn doing that he was drunk on a blade he didn deserve. Drunk on the idea of what it could do, and the future he could carve for himself if he had the strength of will to use it for something. But every time he dared to believe in that future, he was dragged back to the reality that he was useless, a failure too human to do what needed to be done. He was like an egg raised in the perfect conditions, but which turned into a runny mess when opened.
Outside was a halfway constructed church, where a young priestess directed several workers to fulfill certain tasks. Elesett could feel a blush rising in his cheeks, sweeping him up in a heat which made him forget how much he hated himself, but he turned his head away and denied himself that warmth. Unfortunately, the female member of the party noticed, and leaned against Elesetts shoulder.
”Youve got a thing for that priest don you? ” Edith teased.
”You can tell even under the armor? ” Elesett asked nervously.
”Im perceptive that way. ”
”Well, she is gorgeous. ”
”That is true. ” she mused. Suddenly, she pulled Elesetts helmet close to hers, so they could lock eyes through the visors. ”Forget about her though. ”
”What? Why? ”
”Ill admit, you two would look good together, but you can afford to get distracted on the job. Its just a trick of the trade. All distractions that aren related to your task are weeds that need to be cut out. ”
”You speak as if you
e good at your job Edith. ” Frank quipped. She growled at him, but he was hardly fazed. ”You can bark at me all you want but its true. None of us are all that skilled, so I say let the lad live how he wants! ”
Their sixth and youngest member, an adolescent named Barnett criticized Franks condescending attitude.
”You can hardly be calling anyone a lad, considering how you and Elesett are the same age. Matter of fact, you
e only a few years older than me! ”
”Hes right yknow.
” Edith remarked, cutting her way back into the conversation.
”Besides, since we
e all shit my advice is even better! He should learn how to wield an actual sword before he pulls out his own. ”
Elesett could feel color flushing into his face once again. But it didn provide him warmth, but shame he was all to used to. Anger bubbled withim him upon that realization.
”Yeah but then what makes up different than undead? We
e basically sucking off those merchants just to scrape by, now you want me to compromise my feelings on top of that? ”
Bolzein cackled. ”It seems like this ones finally grown some balls! Still, comparing us to undead? Quite a leap there. ”
”Yeah, no one even know if undead exist. ” Barnett quipped. Before he could get shot down more however, Tyteos fell back from his position at the groups helm in order to pat him on the back. It was a rare moment, to see Tyteos break away from his selfish disposition and show someone else compassion.
”He makes a good point though. I say, if he wants to go after the priest lady let him. Assuming we make it past today. Folks in the Ravens Market are tricky. I reckon wed get taken down by a single assassin if they
e well trained enough. ”
Elesett gulped. ”Don say that please. ” Tyteos just opened his mouth, allowing what sounded like a laugh to escape his lips. As soon as they arrived at the pub however, their demeanor changed. A few folks spared glances at them, but most of them didn care enough to do more than spit in their direction.
The moment they opened the door, Elesetts jaw dropped. The pub owner was massive. He had met some abnormal peoples before during the guilds jobs but this, this was terrifying. Tyteos didn waste a single moment in awe however.
Before the fat fellow could even say
e closed ”, Tyteos had already rushed forth and driven a sword into its swollen gut. His handling of the blade was improper, but it was enough to pierce through the gluttons enormous stomach. At first the Dalkyvith didn notice, but soon blood spurted from its lips and a scream began to gargle. But Tyteos didn stop. he moved the blade around and around with such intensity that blood began to splatter on his helmet and pink pieces of intestine accumulated on his sword. The poor fellow was dead before he could even fully process what had happened.
Elesett was left nauseuous after the incident, but everyone else had an air of complete casualness. Even Barnett, who was only seventeen. They stared at the thing for a few moments and immediately went about the rest of their tasks. Frank went back and retrieved several large satchels, Bolzein sliced the Dalkyvith into dozens of fat little pieces, whilst Edith cleaned the blood and whatever else had seeped onto the floor. Tyteos went to the washing room and soaked himself in water to wipe off the crimson which stained his armor and blade.
All the while Elesett stood frozen, paralyzed by disgust and self loathing for what he had gotten himself into. It took everything he had to just keep standing up.
Why am I alive? he wondered to himself. It was an odd question, but after seeing something like this, he needed some sort of reason. What justification could there be to drive a sword through someones gut without even making proper conversation with them? What had his party members seen and endured that he hadn . Had this weak willed disposition of his just been a curse of fate, a result of his inherent destiny?
He stumbled out of the pub in the midst of the cleanup and threw up in the middle of the street. But he stopped himself in the middle of it, afraid that his vomiting would hurl his intestines out as well. He had never seen intestines before today. Who knew they were so long and slimy and disgusting?
e being ridiculous. he told himself. But just as he was about to finish the process and clean himself up a voice murmured in his ears. ”Just die. ” it whispered.
Elesett stood up and looked around wildly, eyes locking with a beautiful blonde man next to him, with a face as delicate as porcelain. A second later, he seemed to appear as a woman with raven black hair, then a Dalkyvith, than an elf. He was all these things and yet none. He looked somewhat otherwordly, like a figment of Elesetts imagination. He didn dare reach for him or draw closer, for the fellow seemed to appear intangible.
”W-what? ” was all that he was able to stammer. The other man stared at him without feeling, his eyes seeming more like empty tunnels to get lost in than body parts. He was so…so holy looking, like the priestess had appeared, but in a different way. A colder way.
” the man repeated.
e too weak to survive in a world such as this after all. ”
”But I-I want to li- ”
”Do you? ” the fellow pulled closer, a flicker of curiosity bursting from within inside his blank pupils. They were completely black, even at the irises, just like Elesett. ”What reason do you have to live? Your parents, dead. Your friends, murderers. Look at this place, ” he threw his arms, showcasing the full scope of Corvachia. Elesetts eyes became opened to all sorts of depravities. A man shoving a bruised woman into an alleyway, elderly folk practically drowning in tobacco and liquor, a boy with a raven tattoo beating an older man with his bare fists. Sights enough to truly send Elesetts intestines spewing from his lips.
”This is what the whole city is like, and no amount of gold can hide that. But…its not as if you can escape. And its not as if this wretchedness is restricted purely to this city. It extends everywhere, possessing the hearts of men and turning them into puppets of madness. Your friends are no different. You saw how easily they were willing to take another life for the sake of a couple measly coins. ”
”W-what are you trying to say to me! ” Elesett cried, practically choking on his own words. The ethereal figure stayed calm.
”Im saying, that this is life. This is what it means to be alive, and this city, this society we live in only enhances that. So why even live? Why not just die. Its fitting for a street rat like you, an insignificant little bug who spent twenty two years accomplishing nothing in life. ”
e right… ” Elesett thought to himself. What was he alive for? He knew his comrades reasons. Barnett simply did it for fun, Frank to by nice things, Tyteos to keeping himself going, but Elesett? What did he have? ”I have nothing. ” he confessed. The realization was a quiet one, like a stone being dropped into a lake, but the more it rippled out the more the admission crept into every corner of his brain. Tears sprang to Elesetts eyes, and he didn dare stop them.
All the while the fellow smiled, finally revealing some sort of expression on that blank slate of a face, and just like that he vanished…leaving Elesett alone on the street, struggling with all his might to gather himself.
When they came out everyone else engaged in discourse about what they would eat tonight, about how dangerous the situation mightve been if the Dalkyvith was faster, about what their favorite drinks were, and more.
Elesett could feel his stomach turning, but he shook his head and steadied himself. It was impossible to see his party in another light after this, despite how prepared he had thought he had been for this. The mans words rung in his head. ”Your friends are murderers. ”
Suddenly, Barnett wrapped his arm around his Elesetts shoulder. ”Don tell me your scared man. Its just another day in the job. ”
Day in the job huh? Elesett thought to himself. He couldn see it that way. How could this be just another day in the job? How could taking the life of an innocent pub owner be something normalized. But Barnett continued.
”Oh come on, you just have to get used to it. Im five years younger than you and Im already well adjusted enough. This is just how the city is. You take and you kill those weaker than you, and you make money off of it. You can be so queasy about everything. ” he patted Elesetts helmet playfully.
Why won this little shit get off me? he thought to himself hatefully. But yet, he couldn go through with actually making him get off. Just like he couldn be a real knight, or swing a sword, or do anything correctly. He was just like the rest of his party. All he could do was take from those weaker than him with his head stuck in the dirt. He was a blemish on this earth. The blonde man, or whatever he was, was right. A man like Elesett was truly undeserving of life.
The moment they got back from the guild, Tyteos proudly dangled the chopped up body in front of the awaiting merchant. It made Elesett feel tempted to retch yet again, but he bit his lip to keep it in. After cursing its ugliness, the merchant sent Frank to throw the bags outside the city gates, and the matter was settled.
Thank goodness. I can just go home and process all of thi-
Right before he finished that thought, another man came storming on, frantic and desperate. He had a raven mask, and was practically breaking down. Elesett watched in terror as Tyteos approached the man and asked him what had happened.
”I lost him! This beautiful, scrumptious, purple eyed little boy got away from me! ” he devolved into further crying. ”Y-you, you must help me search for him. Ill pay you handsomely I promise! ”
Tyteos wavered at first, just like he had with the last job, but conceded in the end. Thats it. Elesett thought to himself. He would not put up with this. Not with this city, not with this system, not with this life. It was a never ending cycle of obsession and greed and narcicissm, a poison which grew more and more potent with each passing day. There was nothing Elesett could do to change it, he doubted he could even if he became the knight he so dreamed of. Even if he did, it would come back, fiercer than ever. There was no single man who could change a place this corrupt, and all that could be done was to keep living empty lives. He was done, with the disease and the filth Corvachia had injected into his body, so much so that he felt tempted to take out his sword and just fall on it.
”Im done. Im going home. ” he said resoundingly. The entire guild looked at him in bewilderment. A few laughed in disbelief, but when they grasped his seriousness, they began bombarding Elesett with questions and accusations.
”Don be a coward! ”
”Are you really that bothered? ”
”Look at this, pathetic. ”
”You won get paid otherwise. ”
Without hesitation they all turned on him, driven to viciousness by the allure of money. But Elesett didn care. He would not follow them as they hunted down an innocent child, not today.
”I DONT CARE! IM NOT DOING THIS ALRIGHT! ” he shouted, tears springing to his eyes and his voice hoarse. The entire guild turned to see what happened. Tyteos strode over to him and removed his helmet. They stood face to face for a while, Tyteos scrutinizing and ripping apart Elesett with just his gaze alone. But Elesett didn change his mind.
So Tyteos hit him, square in the jaw. It was a sloppy punch, one that could easily have been dodged. But Elesett took it and crashed onto the floor. Blood spurted from his mouth and when he looked up, his guild members had taken the shape of monsters. Glaring at him from their elevated perch, one they had gained not through skill or worthiness, but through sheer apathy and ruthlessness. That was the disease known as Corvachia had done to them, it had stripped them of their humanity. The more he looked at them the more the more eager he became to just slice out this curse which had settled beneath his flesh.
”Your done. ” Tyteos muttered, before turning his back to Elesett…forever.
After seeing them walk off Elesett had made his way in a daze to the guild garderobe. His mind was hazy, broken by the days events. He could hardly piece together anything, or remember what had happened before today. The only thought in his mind was I don want to be in this city. He repeated it over and over and over and over again.
He repeated it as he drew his blade out of his scabbard, he repeated it as he positioned it above his throat. Before he made the final blow, he tried to think of reasons not to do it, but in doing so he was only reminded him of all the reasons he did have.
e a coward. You never go through with things, so at least be a coward to the end and go through with this. You
e a weakling who can stand the sight of blood, how could you ever dream of making it anywhere. You don belong in this city, but you can escape. So why are you still alive? You
e like the horses who pull the chariots. Dull, ignorant, incapable of using your physicality to fight in anyway. It just helps you carry other peoples shit better, whilst you do nothing and take it from them. Just end it all. Who out here values a life like yours? No one has time for nobodies. You either do your job right or you don do it all. You said it yourself, you
e like an undead, so why not just seal the deal? You have no dreams, no goals, no nothing to keep you going. You
e a puppet on a string, not even worth a chapter in a book. You joined the knights to accomplish something but ended up doing nothing. Why are you even here-
He ended it. As he bled out, he dreamt of the priestess, of the holy woman. The polar opposite of the man who had tempted him to death. He contrived a future with her in which they ran away from this city and started a life together. In which he got to bask in her angelic holiness. It was a simple dream, not like becoming a knight or a grand savior. But that simple dream held everything Elesett could ever wish for. He had given up on being some symbol of morality, but perhaps he could obtain a moral life.
Just as he began to imagine more, to dream of kids or even grandchildren, black began to cloud his vision and death extended its cold clammy hands into Elesetts chest, wrapping its hands around his heart. He wanted to cry out, to refuse its grasp but before long he had been turned into a corpse.
He became just another dead man, crushed by the city, one who would soon be forgotten amidst the waves of bodies the city had already piled up. A feast for the crows to gorge themselves on and forget before the day even ended.
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