- Irony the Stalker
I hate him.
"Oh love! Why do you resist me?"
I absolutely hate him.
"My dear, you mustn't run away!"
I hate him, and his singsong, feminine voice, constantly sing-songing in my direction.
"Erutis Love! I come with a gift this time --"
"I DON'T WANT IT." I whirl around and challenge his sparkling, glittery face with the hardest glare that I can muster. I can feel the beginnings of a headache, and the tenseness from just being around HIM makes my muscles sore. "I told you," I growl at him, "I don't want gifts, I don't want favours. I don't want coincidences or fate. I don't want 'sweet nothings' and wooing, and I definitely don't want you following me around." If he wasn't smelling his roses, I might believe that I've made my point.
Oh, Rased it's hot. Tromping through this overgrown forest, with a stalker by my side is taking its toll, and I'm becoming weaker every day. My water and food are running out, my cloths are in desperate need of washing, and my temper surely isn't bettering itself. I should be asking for his help, not rejecting him.
Suddenly there's a graceful hand presenting what should be a welcome gift. "My dear, you look hot." His grey eyes practically shine at me.
I stare at a taunting, sweating blue bottle, supposedly filled with water and ready for drinking. It mocks me with its divine, liquidy glory, and even just a lick up the bottle's side might quench my dry mouth.
He brought me something useful, how considerate.
"GET YOUR FRENCH-TIPPED CLAWS OUT OF MY FACE." I snarl at him, and readjust my leather pack, which is weighing down my shoulders. 'Essentials', I've had to tell myself the past few months, 'I won't be able to survive without my bag'.
Turning and continuing my climb up the hill (mountain), I try to ignore him. Yet, there he is again, floating effortlessly and watching me with amusement, which infuriates me to no end.
I start to sob giant tears of frustration. "Why, Krayon? Why are you tormenting me ...?" My shoulders slump with my bag's weight again, and this time I don't really want to lift them.
"Ah ... but Erutis," Krayon smiles gaily, "it doesn't have to be torture. I could bring you so much pleasure, if you allowed me."
Fucking prick. "There's a lot of things I could let you do, and you ain't doin' them." One foot in front of the other; I only have five miles left in this heat.
A disappointed silence falls over Krayon, and out of curiosity, I look up to where he had been watching me from the trees. He's still there, face scrunched up in consideration and arms crossed over his chest. His cape billows behind, and his 'sits' midair, as though there is a chair beneath him. The flecks of light that muddle through the forest canopy move across his face, and illuminate the stars beneath his left eye.
He really is very pretty.
His eyes focus on me, and his lightweight smirk returns; Crap! He saw me looking.
"See something?" Krayon asks, and swoops down from his perch to lean his damned face into mine.
I want to hit him, so badly. "I see absolutely nothing." I snarl, and stalk past him as angrily as possible. For a moment, my foot starts to slip, and I wobble as I try to retain my balance. The trees in my path begin to waver, and my head swims for a moment.
Krayon 'tut tuts' behind me, "Dear Erutis, so much denial. You were admiring me weren't you?"
I bristle, and turn to yell at him, but the movement makes my vision blur. "I --"
My words slur, and my throat tightens as everything ripples unnaturally. For a moment, I see the worry on Krayon's face, before my eyes roll back, and all I can hear are crickets, whining in the thick summer heat.
I wake with a mouthful of dirt. I can't move, and trying causes my stomach to lurch. It's nighttime, and an almost full moon provides enough light for visibility, and the air is finally bearably warm. Some strange noise catches my attention. I turn my head enough to see that my stalker is back amongst his treetops, and looking at a box with moving pictures. He seems to find it quite amusing.
"If you're trying to woo me, leaving me face down, in the dirt, isn't the way to do it." I mumble, more to myself than to him.
The box disappears with a snap of his fingers, and Krayon looks down at me, almost surprised. "Oh! You're awake! I was concerned there for a while. Then you began snoring, and I figured you wouldn't want me touching you ..." He smiles widely, "Besides, you can take care of yourself, can't you?"
He's mocking me! The bastard is mocking me!
Though, I guess lying on my stomach, in absolute filth doesn't make me appear threatening at all.
I stand up as quickly as I can manage, without making myself sick. He's the first ... thing, to ever make me genuinely try to anger. With my still-spinning head, and less-than-stable stomach, I'm afraid I'm having the worst time thinking of anything offensive. "Screw yourself, Krayon. Go find a picture to colour; at least that would keep you occupied." I pick up my bag and tromp forward, but stop as another insult comes to mind. "And I bet you tried to molest me in my sleep." Hah! Take that! Wound his honour-pride! Or, something like that ... my head hurts.
Krayon stares for a moment, almost puzzled, before laughing, "Comparing my name to that of a child's art utensil. Very witty." I feel him floating behind me as I keep walking. "Very original too, I've never heard that joke. Not once!" The airy sarcasm is just dripping from him, as he keeps talking, "But, you just made me more amused than ever."
The demon manages to whirl in front of me again, and floats backward for every step of mine forward. "You're quite cute." He coos, "And for the record, I will annoy you, harass you, follow you, and make your life as miserable as possible, but never touch you. Personally, I would be begging me for some physical contact, but we're not at all alike. Don't they say opposites attract?"
I stop in my tracks and scowl at him, "If you want an opposite, go after Eclipse."
He exaggerates thinking about this by tapping his jaw with a nail, "Hm ... yes, very pretty, isn't he? Much prettier, and better tempered than you, but I'm afraid he won't have me." Krayon sighs with disappointment.
I have nothing to say. My femininity has just been downsized, and a man (a demon!) has been called prettier than I. What an asshole!
Krayon watches me bristle and fume and smirks again, "Oh calm now, I speak in jest. You are quite lovely, you should present yourself more so."
This is it. Bickering with him is so wearying. Coming up with (attempts at) searing replies is tiring, and I don't know how much more I can take. "Leave. Me. ALONE." I growl at him, and move onward yet again. No wonder traveling has been taking me so long; I keep stopping to argue.
"Hmm ..." Krayon purrs, and his lips curve into a Cheshire Cat smile. He leans close to my ear and whispers gently, "I wanna hear you beg."
I sucker-punch him on the nose, with absolutely no effect.
"I will not beg you for anything!" I snarl, as I rub the ear he had been so close to. Dammit if my face is a never-before-seen shade of red, too. "Now leave! I have a town to get to!"
Krayon chortles and disappears from my sight.
Good riddance. But I know he'll be back.
It's late when I arrive at the small town of Egae. Very few lights are on, and those that stand out so brightly belong to hotels and bars. My luck seems to be feeling amiable, finally, and I can't help but sigh with relief at the prospect of a clean bed. I walk the main street for a few minutes, before picking out the most promising appearing hotel.
I knock on the door because it's locked, and wait for it to be opened, hopefully by a kindhearted inn keeper.
The air is still warm, dry and clear, and holds the promise for fireflies to emerge soon. White, sparkling specks litter the black sky, occasionally obscured by a few wispy clouds, still visible in the night. Darkened trees peek from behind darkened buildings, and lace the town's edges from all around. The breeze is so slight, I can barely tell it's there without looking at the forest trees for movement, the gentle shifting of leaves on thick branches.
Really, if I weren't so desperate for food, bed, clean clothes and human contact (Krayon doesn't count) I wouldn't mind sleeping outside.
The door opens quietly to show a still sleepy, bedraggled woman with greying hair, and a barely wrinkling face; It must be later than I thought.
She speaks in a groggy voice, "Can I help --?" The woman stops, and studies me for a moment.
The door slams in my face.
Well, that was rude. How do I respond to that? 'Excuse me, you just slammed a door in my face. Was that on purpose?' Or perhaps, 'BEWARE MY SWORD MASTER SKILLS OF DOOOOOOOOM! Open irrelevant human! Or I shall slay you and your family!'
It wouldn't do to start a bad reputation. Or as bad as it can get, considering a complete stranger just dismissed me in the rudest way possible.
I start banging on the door. "PLEASE! OPEN UP! I'm hungry, I'm tired, and I need a bath! I have money! Lots!" I sob pathetically, and slump to the ground, my forehead scraping roughly against the door.
There's shuffling inside, a clank, and I think I hear a match being lit. "Be gone! We have been warned of a red-haired demon traveling our way. We've been warned by another demon who has only brought our town good!"
My eye twitches. A red-haired demon, eh? I'd show them demon ... if only I wasn't begging for lodging. I cry again. "A blond demon? With curly hair and a cape? He's a liar, and has obstructed my path ever since I've met him." I wouldn't be talking like this, if these people didn't seem to be so eager for melodramatic formalities.
There's mumbling on the other side.
"He said you would speak badly of him, seeking pity. Go away!"
I can't help but weep.
That damned curly-haired fop of a moron. I'll get him. And he'll be the Demon Lord I've been seeking to slay. Painfully.
After trying every inn and hotel in the town, (Only to be greeted by the same response as the first) I give up and found a nice clearing in the woods.
It isn't so bad, sleeping outside, but the bathing thing is really irritating me, and I can't find a stream to refill my water. So here I am, sleeping fitfully in itchy leaves and a dirty blanket, wishing for water at the least, and wishing that my stalker would simply leave me alone. Is it so much to ask?
A sound reaches my ears. Titter-like, high, on the edge of wailing and peaceful ... it sounds like a flute.
My eyes open to see damp leaves, covered with damp dirt, and barely visible by the moonbeams which manage to make it through the forest canopy. Logs lie dark and prostrate to small critters who scamper in the night, disturbed by this sound which keeps flitting its merry way through the quiet.
It's a happy song. It's a peaceful song, content.
I can't help but stand and attempt to find the source. Not because I'm especially affected by, 'the beauty of this music', but because I'm tired, and I want to know who's making noise in the middle of the night. If it is a 'who', perhaps it's a 'thing'; I don't know.
Stumbling over fallen branches and roots, I temporarily abandon my things to search. My head is still fuzzy, and I can't see clearly, trees stand in my way, and I run into some wet trunks. A few twigs fall in to my boots, and I think I scraped my knee on a boulder, but I manage to find an almost coherent path. I should probably be suspicious that there's a path in the middle of this forest, but dammit, I'm gonna find the source!
A large shadow is mingled in the treetops, and the song becomes louder, more prominent. Blond glints in the vague moonlight, and who should I see but my stalker, making sweets sounds around him.
I should have figured, and should maybe be frustrated (I should be doing a lot of things right now), but his song is relaxing. I cross my arms and make a half-hearted try to hide myself in the shadows, and listen to Krayon's repetitive tune.
His eyes are more narrowed than usual, and for once he's sitting on a thick branch instead of floating. His entirety is focused, and for a moment, I believe I'm seeing the Lord he's renowned to be, sophisticated, and with power at his fingertips.
Krayon hits a sour note, and winces. I almost want to laugh.
He glares at his windpipe (I'm close enough to see it's not a flute), then abruptly tosses the thing over his shoulder, like a dart ... in my direction.
I reflexively clap it between my hands, as the pipe missiles dangerously close to my chest.
"Would you care to give it a try?" Krayon asks lazily, as if he didn't nearly kill me.
"Don't play instruments." I say simply, and absently pocket the pipe. "And I've heard better farts from traveling minstrels ..." I add snidely, but stop when I see the disapproving frown he's sending me.
Krayon studies me for a moment, (what he's looking for I'm not sure) then turns himself on his branch, "That's too bad you don't play." He states thoughtfully, and places his chin in a hand. "It would be nice to find someone who could create music as well."
"Another sign I'm not for you."
His lips curl, "I could teach you." He says smoothly, but his tone hints at more; His smile is too mischievous.
I snort at him, "I don't want to learn. I'm afraid swords are my only calling."
Krayon's shoulders jump as he chuckles, and he smiles with amusement, "Well then, I suppose that's the end of this conversation." His head dips, and shadows cover his expressions. "I doubt you're so content." He states, "I've yet to meet a human who is content with one calling," Krayon lifts himself again, and his eyes are surprisingly piercing. "Or maybe I'm still ignorant. But I'll find you another calling, and you'll love me for it." He says it so factually, that I almost believe him.
The tree I've been leaning on suddenly feels too pliable. I step back, and tighten my crossed arms protectively over myself, "Is it love you're looking for, or a doormat?" I want to say something more, but I don't know how to emphasize such a question.
Krayon's eyes light thoughtfully, "That is a good question." He coincides, "I'll get back to you on that." Krayon smirks again, "Well then, on that note, I bid you good night."
He doesn't wait for a response, and blinks from my sight. It's almost creepy.
I shiver, suddenly feeling strangely alone, and reluctant to go back to my things, but knowing I need to. The trees loom more noticeable, and the trail behind me appears too dark.
What an odd conversation ... there must be more to him than I realized.
I'm finally interested.
The hay wagon jumps and jolts over rocks along the main road. I've finally found someone willing to let me ride with them, for the simple payment of riding in the back because my stench is unbearable. People are so cruel to the poor! (I don't mean that, the man gave me water too)
Krayon hasn't showed himself for a few days, which sadly, is a sort of vacation for me. I left the town of Egae with no luck in clearing my honourable name, and still no supplies. At least without Krayon's presence I've been able to make some progress.
I'm on my way to the city of Kontreo, in the Region of Kontreo, on the Mountain Kontreo (People didn't have much imagination in naming things), which is northwest of Raenef's castle. There's rumoured to be a demon lurking around the city, causing all sorts of chaos. From stealing jewels and candy, to setting the Town Hall on fire, Kontreo has been running amuck.
I say this is a job for Erutis the Great! Leader of the Thieve's Guild, and Sword Master Supreme! My feminine wiles are second only to my overwhelming beauty! What city wouldn't want me to save them? I'm awesome and generous like that!
Now if only I wasn't in part of Krayon's domain. After leaving Egae, I remembered that Krayon had introduced himself as 'Demon Lord Krayon of Egae', which probably has something do with why the humans there believed him so willingly. While most of the mountain planes belong to Raenef (much to his ignorance), I already knew that some land overlapped with an other Demon Lord's territory; Krayon lives next door. This means that he will make my job, that much more difficult.
Oh Irony. She must be a friend of Fate and Luck, who all probably know Meruhesae ...
I never liked her.
The wagon lurches again, and I'm thrown further back into a pile of hay. This is so disgraceful! At least it's sunny. Hot, but sunny. The wagon's wood almost gurgles with sound as we move, the shifting boards blending with clopping horse shoes, and whining of crickets. The air is so damp with heat again, that even birds have sense enough not to emerge from their trees, and I only see the occasional squirrel darting across the dirt road.
When I close my eyes, the sun beats down on my face, warming, almost comfortable, but I know my cheeks and lips will be burnt for a week. I'll probably turn blonde soon, also.
"Hey girl! We're at the edge of the city, you get off here." The driver ahead of me says.
I hop off the wagon and gather my bag, then give the man a few coins for his help. I would like to say I'll remember him for his most likely, rare act of kindness, but his face is so forgettable, that I probably won't remember in a month.
A sixty-foot, grey wall stands at the end of a mile-long fork-in-the-road, built to protect the equally large city inside of it. Kontreo is the capital of this region, and has been attacked many times. During the Hangma War, demons took refuge in Kontreo City because of its size, therefor making it an obvious target for Heaven's Creatures. Rased was said to once reside in Kontreo, but left because of the lack of regard for her word. When Heaven's Creatures attacked, it was looked at by followers of Rased as punishment for their sodomy and sin, and not many pitied those that lived there.
Even Krayon couldn't do much to save his city under the wrath of Rased, and he only made an effort to rebuild it. Hens, he built Kontreo a giant wall, to help protect the people in the future.
I suppose that should be enough for me to consider his generosity, but handling that demon is such a pain!
When I get to the entrance, five guards stand to protect the thirty-foot doorways. Decorating the doors are two stone dragons, spiraling up pillars on either side of the entrance. Some unintelligible characters are scribed beside each dragon, and the closer I look, I can see that there are more characters inside the larger ones.
"May I enter?" I ask the center guard, who stand further away from the doors than the other four.
"Depends." He grunts, "What's your business? If you're just passing by, there's an inn seven miles up the other road."
I seriously hate these formalities; I twist my face into the most pleasant, 'I'm perfectly innocent' expression that I can manage, "I'm here to try and find the problem that plagues your city. I seek nothing more than to help."
The guard looks at me suspiciously.
My smile widens, "I can't begin to imagine the pain your people are going through. Certainly letting me inside your walls, to allow me to search for this demon"
"won't work against you."
The guard stares at me and frowns.
I think my face is about to break from smiling.
"Who are you?" The guard asks slowly, implying, 'Who do you think you are, coming to me, and claiming good will?'
"Infamous female leader of the Thieve's Guild, out for the reward because she needs it to feed her men, and they were too frightened to come out themselves, so I come here alone."
Almost alone. I wish I were alone.
The guard sighs, "Come in. You won't be the first wanna-be knight to come for the reward."
Yes! There is a reward! "Thank you sir." I respond politely, and move forward as the doors are opened. Wait. He called me a wanna- be!
I don't have enough time to yell at the guard, as the doors are shutting with a deep 'DOOM', sending vibrations through the ground.
So inconsiderate! After glaring at the doors, I turn around, and see a few abandoned stands that assumably served as the beginnings of a market. Further ahead, at what could described as the point of a perception drawing, the scatterings of a crowd are visible. In stark contrast to the outside, inside the walls is musky, so any further than fifty yards is foggy, gloomy. Despite the shady surroundings, the air is dry, so dust lifts easily from the ground.
I look around and take a deep breath, gag from the dirt floating into my throat, then plunge forward into the massive city that is Kontreo.