My Life with the Thrill Kill Kult: I See Good Spirits & I See Bad Spirits
Theme: Doomite backstories of youth
Date of Completion: Jan. 17, 2007
And This is What the Devil Does, by Kyence
Disclaimer: Zarkon is property of World Events Productions. The lyrics are property of Sleazebox Music & BMI.
"Raindrops keep falling on my head, indoors." The statement was hummed with a quirky rhythm, endlessly refrained amidst Jepaya's protests.
"Zarkon, stop it! This is NOT funny!" She stomped her right foot while slapping her tail vehemently on the wet floor. The increasingly larger puddle beneath her retorted with a spray that left a murky residue on her beads. "How can you be so jovial when this is all a result of your failure?"
His ditty ceased traveling through the dense air. He stared at her dully. The spattering of water drops could be heard in two distinct patterns. Zarkon looked upward at his own raincloud, hovering a couple of inches over his scarfed head. His storm produced slower, thick drops: after all, he was the clothed one, so he was thoroughly soaked and waterlogged with his absorbent attire. Jepaya, true to her Sapientydan culture, was nude save for some beaded sashes; the drops lithely slid off her jaundiced green scales. He didn't want to admit it, but wearing drenched clothes in this high-gravity environment made movement on his part a hundred times harder. If his dark hair hadn't been bound in the scarf, it would probably drag his head to the floor, a mistake he made the first time he tried to wash it on this planet. The worst his stepsister had to worry about was slipping and falling on her staff.
"Well, unlike you with your accusations, I'll be the better of us and give you some credit for not having your scythe blade activated; you might electrocute yourself otherwise," he plainly spoke. "I know you don't like being shocked," he snickered as he slowly crouched.
"Don't you...don't you dare," she hissed.
He gave her a cock of a dark eyebrow and a mischievous half-grin, dipping one finger into a tiny stream meandering towards him that had grown due to her angry footwork. A distinct violet charge could be seen travel from his finger, across the strip, into Jepaya's puddle, and into her feet. As expected, this prompted a scream from her that began in pain and ended in rage. She leaped from her tiny pond and elbowed him in the chest before he could muster the strength to parry. "I know you don't like being touched," she chortled before springing back. Zarkon was thankful her feet were slippery enough to inhibit her balance so that she fell flat on her face. He also noted that the cloud above her head followed her precisely. He slowly moved back and forth, looking up as his own piece of magical meteorology followed his head.
"These 'things' have a homing signal of some sort," he said out loud. He moved his arms up and down. "We have to...ugh," he groaned as he started ferociously pulling off his black coat. "I can't take this anymore, I can't move with this damn thing on!" he cursed in Drule so that Jepaya could not understand him. Successfully freeing his arms from the coat, he gave it a hearty toss; of course, being on Planet Apodia, the gravity, and the water, the coat landed in a loud thumping pile only a couple of inches from his left foot. "Any closer and I would have broken my foot!" Unfortunately, the pile was not clear of his own personal puddle, so he was greeted with a sharp mist. "Damn it, I hate wearing black all the time. Why can't I wear something nice and red?" he rambled as he stretched his arms and legs. "Ahh, that feels much better. Sure, I'm still clothed from neck to toe, but that heavy coat...never swim in that thing."
"If you take any more of your outfit off, I am going to be sick," Jepaya groaned as she averted her eyes. "You know half-breeds like you are more hideous than the ugliest Arydican."
Zarkon threw a hand up. "I'll tell Shai you said that, how you really feel about half-breeds like her and me." He turned around and crossed his arms, trying to look offended and ready to extort Jepaya, though truly he was trying not to laugh at how ridiculous his serious stance was with a storm raining on him.
Jepaya protested, "That's not what I meant. I would never put you and Shai in the same category...besides you're a male half-breed, a punk, acting like you have a world of experience yet you're younger than me: you're barely in puberty!" She gave a resigned sigh, "I'm not going to bother arguing with your instigations anymore. I...you...We," she strained at the inclusive pronoun, "must try to find a solution to our problem."
"Hah, you blatantly insult me, and then expect me to jump to your side like a dullard, clapping my hands stupidly while cheering, 'Sure, let's work together!' You always seem to think I'm one of your cloistered, meek little male Apodia-born types. Gah, you know better than that: my expatriate self was raised in a patriarchal society, thank you very much. Save your amazonian attitude for someone who respects it," he gave his chest a hefty pat, which returned a sloppy, moist sound. After Jepaya passed his test and remained silent, he faced her and feigned capitulation, "Now what can I do to rectify this?"
Jepaya took her inactive staff and prodded him in the hip. "If it weren't for your ego and disrespect for the Essentia, we wouldn't be in this predicament." She poked him harder, "Why couldn't you just be happy training to be a healing mage?"
Zarkon grabbed her staff and gave it a hearty tug. "Do you know how annoying it is to be a healer?" he began quietly as he narrowed his eyes. "No, of course you don't, you don't have any productive affinity: you're a Crystal," he released his grip. Amidst the endless precipitation, he continued with a dose of honesty he rarely employed, "All I'd ever do is heal the sick, the weak, the whiny, for things that are so minor and inconsequential to things I have witnessed firsthand. Why should I subject myself to such an inefficient life? I agreed to come to this damn planet to learn how to use a novel method of attack against enemies, not to make them heal faster!"
"First off, you have a horrible opinion," Jepaya replied. "Our race's healing techniques, those that can wield them, eliminate the need for invasive surgeries and technology that can be allocated for something more useful."
"Like weapons to destroy the Arydicans?" Zarkon countered with derision.
Jepaya nodded, oblivious to his tone. "Second, you haven't even gotten to the intermediate techniques; you can't even master basic healing spells! The only times I see you heal is on yourself, and only on your exposed fingers and face at that. You could do that before you came here, so it's some strange inborn ability, not a Sapientydan technique. Maybe if you applied yourself, you could do things the proper way!"
He glared at her. "They typed me as a Typhoon: I have a potential to be a force of destruction or rejuvenation. Now, which one do you think is more attuned to my character?"
Jepaya could not disagree with him: he was someone more inclined to destroy things that interfered with his goals rather than create or heal someone for no personal gain. However, the idea of this boy possessing attack spells was a terrifying prospect. Thank the Essentia he was apparently destined to be inept at it.
"That rotten bastard would not switch me into offensive spellcasting. The cantankerous broad spouts that the only reason I am permitted to even train as a healer is because Shai pulled some mental strings," he snarled. Jepaya growled, gritting her teeth at the insult.
"We should punish her," Zarkon concluded. "Maybe with the proper intimidation, she'll let me choose my course of study...oh, and apologize about insinuating about Shai's psychic abilities," he added as an afterthought to please the ever-loyal Jepaya.
"I agree, but don't you think we should address what's looming over our heads first?" she reminded as gently as she could.
"I was getting to that," he said loudly. "Let me backtrack: I acquired,"
"You mean stole, don't you?"
His eyes blazed. "Don't make me fry you again. As I was saying, I ACQUIRED," he restarted while his gaze dared her to interrupt him with semantics again, "The Rudimentary Spell Book for the Water Element. I flipped through, and decided to skip to the middle of the Thunder chapter. We know from the past that I can inherently conduct electricity through my skin so it seemed natural to not waste my time," he gave her a quick smirk as he alluded to the first day they met. He had given her a hefty dose of voltage when she sprang on him after losing tolerance for his witty remarks. She avoided him for the most part after that, save for occasional meetings where things ended up in an argument, her threatening to disembowel him, him just laughing, goading her. He knew she was powerful, but he knew Shai would not let a thing happen to him, her latest 'investment,' so it was nice to have such impunity after being at the bottom of the Drule hierarchy for so long. He did enjoy Jepaya's company more than he'd ever let on to her; she probably was the closest facsimile to a sibling or a sister he would ever have at this point, and her threats were paltry compared to what his old masters had meted out. He figured the ongoing rivalry kept his interest. The Drules and his fellow Duonulan folk had taught him that hating people was simple enough; not wanting to hate someone took much more effort. Both Reyk and Shai have been trying to redeem him, but he often wondered if there was some ulterior motive behind their supposed good intentions. "I was halfway through the spell for a thunderstorm when you burst in here, started screaming at me, I started screaming at you, cursed a few things, and, here we both are, Worst Team in Universal History."
"Well, is there anything in the book that can help reverse this now?"
"What book? The tome was literally porous plant fibers; why when in this day and age you have digital and bio-electrical storage available, I'll never know. Here, this is what's left," he waved the pulpy remains in the air, which limply wiggled.
They both beheld each other's watery burden. I hate asking for help, they thought.
"This is very interesting." The beautiful green-furred woman observed her latest clients with fascination. She had cast a waterproofing spell on her rugs and white robes the moment their arrival was announced. She sat in an ornate chair, stroking Coba, her cerulean feline as he sat in her lap. Her powerful wand levitated next to her, its wooden veins pulsing with magic.
"Yes, rain is interesting. Rain is fun," Zarkon snidely replied. "Make it stop."
"You are rather rude, where are your manners, boy?" she flashed her yellow eyes at him, which shined as bright as her flaxen hair.
"Forgive him, Spell-Sister Hagar, his caustic demeanor is due to his upbringing, which I am actively trying to adjust." Shai gave him a stern look, and Zarkon complied, he was certain not of his own will.
"Please what?" Hagar pursued.
"Please. Make. It. Stop." He maintained his composure. He was on edge. It had been several long days. The cloud never got smaller. If he tried to use an umbrella, the cloud just moved closer to his head. There was no shelter from it, and yet, it seemed some people expected him to be in a good mood?
Hagar nodded. "And your sister, Jepaya, here, exhibits the same symptoms."
Jepaya nodded respectfully, while Zarkon blurted out, "Obviously."
Jepaya offered, "If you have to kill him to end the spell, that's perfectly acceptable."
"Or, if one of us has to be drowned in Arydican piss, Jepaya will definitely be more suited for that than me."
Hagar was moments away from siccing Coba on them, but Shai used a psionic attack to give both adolescents numbing-and dumbing- headaches. "Thank you, Shai."
The chartreuse sorceress shooed Coba off her lap, stood up and pointed at the smarmy boy. "Congratulations. You have managed to annoy the water spirits to the point that they cursed you."
"Really?" Zarkon crossed his arms. "Spirits make the rain; no, ignore all that physics about water vapor and phase changes and kinetic energy. Spirits make water, of course."
Shai accosted him, "You can't invoke energy from an element if you have no respect for the unseen beings that interact with molecules just as much as you do, if not more."
Hagar added, "There are two reasons why you have not found a way to break the curse. First, Jepaya, here, is a Crystal; the boy is a Typhoon." Zarkon snorted that this green hairy woman in desperate need of a depilator continuously omits his name.
Shai nodded in comprehension. "Yes, I was suspecting that may contribute. Crystals and Typhoons have the worst affinity for each other. That negative energy would have annoyed even the most good-natured of spirits."
Jepaya recalled Zarkon's phrase of "Worst Team in Universal History."
"The second reason is he has an inherent weakness for curses. Which can mean only one thing," Hagar's staff flew into her right hand. She laughed. "Now, the only way to remove the curses is separately: when they are both together, their conflicting energies cancel everything else. This is also a rather strong one, but it has less of a hold on her, so I will purify her first." With that, Hagar gestured to Jepaya. Jepaya cast a questioning glance at Shai, who nodded. Jepaya nodded back and walked to Hagar's side, her neck flaps glistening from the rain. She was thrilled that soon her despicable cloud will be gone. Hagar chanted a teleportation spell and in an instant flash of green light, both of them vanished.
Coba arched his back and gave a visible shudder. He sauntered a foot closer to Zarkon, who was holding his head and chest. You made me lose my favorite spot. Idiot. Coba's tail vigorously swished as he angrily stared at the blue boy with ears far too large for his head.
Shai smirked and covered her smile with her mouth; she comprehended the familiar's thoughts. Zarkon did not, but he assumed as much from the animal's gestures. "Here, kitty, have a drink," he flicked some runoff at the feline, who screeched and hissed before running under the empty chair for cover. Standing, he said, "I guess I made a bad first impression."
Shai replied, "That is an understatement." She was silent for a bit before saying, "You always try to overstep your boundaries, challenging any form of authority that does not explicitly cater to your wishes."
"If I have an opportunity to do so, I will do it. I have a lot of catching up to do," he muttered.
"You have to learn what is worth fighting for."
Zarkon sighed as he used the most calm, diplomatic voice he could muster, "I really don't think I can handle philosophy right now." He glanced at her unmistakable feline features. He thought of how Coba scurried away from him at the slightest touch of water. "You have been keeping your distance from me. Don't think I haven't noticed." He cupped his hands to gather some of the artificial rainfall. He opened his fingers slightly, letting it run out like tears onto the rug that had managed to stay soft and plush despite his presence. They immediately dried out as though on the surface of a desert.
Shai regarded him kindly. Rejection. Is that what you are afraid of? "I'm not going to cast you out. Granted, you should be punished, but I think you have managed to do that yourself."
Zarkon nodded, succinctly thanked her, and took a step closer, checking to see if she would take a step back. She did not. He actually felt relaxed, even as rain pellets tap danced on his head.
Another green flash emitted from the center of the room. Hagar and Jepaya returned, sans gray cloud. Coba meowed a welcome to his mistress. Hagar returned it with a pat across his back. Jepaya walked towards Shai, her face full of relief.
"Now, it is your turn," Hagar gestured to Zarkon to follow her. Without making eye contact with anyone, he marched to the center of the room, eager to be dry again. The green flash. Outside, on an ocean shore.
"An ocean?" he whispered. The witch's residence had been far from any large body of water. He said with admiration, "That's a nice trick!"
"It's not a trick, boy." Hagar glared at him
"I meant no disrespect this time. I didn't see any ocean when we arrived by spaceship. My name is Zarkon, by the way, and I'm not a boy, I'm a bit older than that."
"Is that so?" Hagar leered at him. He was foolhardy, but he was brave. She had turned many into dung beetles for saying less than he had managed thus far.
Zarkon nodded in answer to her question. His yellow eyes were hard, unaccustomed to soft emotions. He had an old gaze, one that matched her own as a cynical youth. Some of her visible belligerence melted away. She cackled, "Very well, Zarkon."
She turned abruptly to the incoming waves, holding her wand in both hands so that it was parallel to the horizon. She begin to chant in a triad of notes that formed a chilling chord. Zarkon saw images of seas creatures thrashing violently in the waves skewering his mind, tsunami winds, a whirlpool draining everything he was into oblivion. Unable to speak, he frantically looked at Hagar. Her chanting continued, her entire body glowing a twisting, living spindle of greens, blue, and reds. Her wand now floated of its own accord, gliding further away, towards the horizon. The sky above them darkened, and storm clouds rolled in. Zarkon managed to groan, and regained his speech. "Not MORE rain!"
Hagar focused on her spell. This is tough. They aren't willing to leave him be. She had never had such trouble removing a curse before. She continued in the mysterious language of the mystics, commanding the spirits to remove their hold on him. They seemed to respond more fiercely at each turn. Their final rebuttal approached in a giant tidal wave. But they gave Hagar a critical piece of information.
"Zarkon, the spirits are saying that only Sapientydan blood should use Sapientydan attack magic." She summoned her wand to float closer to the approaching wave that was strengthened by the new storm, extending the magical barrier she cast around them.
He was grateful for his large ears, which picked up her words despite the cacophonous background from the ever-closer wave of death. His own cloud was deafened and pathetic in comparison. "What do you mean?" he shouted. "Only dominant Apodian descendants can handle Apodia's gravity! I have legs so I'm not a stinking Arydican, so that means the Duonulan have Sapientydan ancestors! So I should have no problem!"
The wave was a dozen feet away, its crest moments from swooning into a trough. The web-like barrier was hardening into a thick shell, ready to brace the impact. Hagar heard the spirits' angry words and relayed them. She was beginning to have a sense of what they were implying, but she wasn't the one they wanted to learn this information. "You have an Apodian ancestor, but it's not Sapientydan or Arydican. Think: who must the Duonulans be descended from? Think! How many Sapientydan Typhoons are there? One or two a century if that and never in half-breeds. Where does that leave you? What does that make you?"
The wave smashed into the barrier. The sound was muffled; the trickling of Zarkon's meager piece of cumulonimbus took precedence. He could not hear it over the racing of his two pumping hearts. "Damn it, we really are outcasts," he seethed. He had learned in history class that the Inalegans, a violent amphibian Apodian race that possessed storm magic, were reviled and subsequently exterminated by old-fashioned genocide on the bipartisan action of the Arydicans and Sapientydans. Apparently, some refugees escaped, ended up billions of miles away from this world, as slaves for the Drules and genetically engineered into the Duonulan. Wonderful, failure is my legacy.
Hagar looked at his mortified face. "This information cannot be dispersed; believe me, the Apodians would happily travel to your homeworld and eradicate every last one of you if they knew the truth," she informed him. She was expecting an angry comment from him about how that was brutally obvious, but none came.
"No one said the truth was painless," he finally managed. He haunched his shoulders and lifted his head high. He could see the barrier was holding well, but his cloud still remained, and he didn't want to spend the rest of his life with either. "Spirits! I understand! No attack magic for me, I'm done!" The wave endlessly crashed onto the barrier. Angrier, he bellowed, "I said I get it!"
Suddenly, the wave began to shrink into a focal point; Hagar began to chant again, lowering the barrier. The wave's energy dissolved into particulate light, which gathered onto the top of her wand. Zarkon was impressed at how that massive display of power could be compressed into something so tiny. "We're almost done, Zarkon," she announced, before aiming the head of the wand at him and firing the energy at him.
He was rarely this happy. The cloud was gone, the wave was gone, clear skies were overhead. He turned to Hagar. "Thank you," he said with pleasure.
"You are most welcome," she replied with a quick cackle. "Now, we must get back."
He held a finger up. "Would it be too much to ask if you could use your magic to, y'know," he gestured to his soggy pants.
"Dry your clothes? It is a simple request after all this." A quick gust of heat his way, and his clothes were crisp and pressed. He thanked her again, "You should bottle that stuff and sell it."
"I made some decent money some centuries ago with a deodorant," she replied nonchalantly. She held up her wand and was ready to begin the return spell when she received another interruption.
"Shai can read minds, so she's going to know this about me within minutes of my return. If you're her Spell-Sister and all that, you must know how she is, should I go back? Would that be a death sentence?" he asked, barely hiding his apprehension. "If that's the case, maybe you should send me somewhere far away."
Hagar laughed loudly. "The Inalegans were weak to curses because spirits disliked the race as a whole, but could heal otherwise mortal wounds on themselves without spells. Legends say if their skills were developed enough, some could heal others in addition to causing massive weather disturbances. I don't think you'll ever be a master given you are half-Drule, which probably saved you from being cursed when you attempted Sapientydan healing magic, albeit poorly." Zarkon glared at her while she continued with an admonishing shake of her finger, "You could certainly develop your inherent talents a bit, and be a bit more respectful when invoking. The spirits definitely take exception to you learning any attack magic, so you may as well accept that and move on. As for Shai and Reyk, do you really think they were unawares? You underestimate a shaman and a diviner? Surely you must realize by now that they had suspected your heritage the moment Reyk took you in. Lucky for them, your ego has helped confirm it."
Zarkon's eyes narrowed. "You mean...you mean," he spat, "they knew? They experimented on me? They tricked me?"
"Not tricked. More like omitted," she added. "If you want to hone any natural abilities you have, you will have to learn them differently. I'm sure your training will be adjusted accordingly. You could probably learn some more healing techniques without another curse being put on you."
He shook his head at the notion of being consigned to a healing mage's life. "I knew it! I knew there had to be something underlying their benevolence!" he sputtered.
"If you think they don't genuinely care about you, you are mistaken. After all, given all the trouble you've caused them, if you meant so little, why couldn't they just eliminate you and pick another Duonulan, hmm?" When she first met him, she wanted to blast him into pieces. Now, here she was, giving him advice and trying to get into his good graces. Inalegan survivors are a delightful scandal.
He shook his head. "I don't know; I don't think like that. Where would I go anyway? Back to the Drule Empire, where I have nothing?" He pondered.
Hagar took off one of her golden rings. "Hold out your hand." He obliged, and she slipped it onto his middle finger. He slightly cringed at the contact, but blushed nonetheless. "If you need to escape, this ring will send you to where you want to go, anywhere you want to go, in an instant. It will only work once, so use it wisely."
"And what do you want in return?"
"Just keep me in mind. A witch can be a powerful ally. You are ambitious, and I am patient."
Zarkon shrugged. "I accept your terms. You seem to have a great deal of confidence in someone you kept calling a boy, but I'll take the bait."
"Now, shall we go back?" Hagar's magic enveloped them.
AND THIS IS WHAT THE DEVIL DOES
Written by Buzz McCoy & Groovie Mann
Published by SleazeBox Music / BMI
Vocals - Groovie Mann, Buzz McCoy
Keys & Programming – Buzz McCoy