This is a story of brotherhood and friendship. This is how things started to look bright for me after a chunk of my life was spent destroying lives and spreading chaos in a state of insanity. This is the story of a girl who cried a river and drowned the whole world. To put it less dramatically, this is a simple recollection I have of some memories that I wanted to share with you. Enjoy.
It was an interesting time. I had saved my brother, Finn, from certain death. I had expelled the Reapers' evil forces that lurked my body and his. I had resurrected two women I had killed in cold blood, redeemed my image, and was declared a hero. It could only get better from there... or could it?
Regardless, our story starts not long after the end of the events of my redemption, one morning when I was waking up in the house of Finn and Jake, where I had been staying. I was still waking up. I dressed myself and was ready to eat breakfast. I bumped into my brother and said to him, tiredly, "Oh, morning, bro. What kind of adventures are you involved in today?" He awkwardly followed with, "Nothing, really. Just a chill day." I gave an "uh-huh" in agreement as he went into the bathroom to shower. I laid my face on that dining room table to snooze, only for Jake to slap my face with a piece of buttered toast. He said to me, "Rise and shine, Rufus. You've got work to do today."
So my day progressed, and I found myself outside working, sipping iced tea, watching the sun beat down on me. Finn then came up to me said, "Hey, let's go out into the woods and mess around." I held my rake up against me and said, "Hmm?" He then replied, "When was the last time we could just fiddle around and have fun? Never, that's when." Finn then awkwardly looked up into the sky as I continued raking. I replied, "Sorry, I've got work to do. Maybe later."
Later came, and my work was done for the day. I was in for the night, relaxing, sitting on the couch, reading a very interesting book about narwhals and giggling at the sign nailed to the floor that said "IN CASE OF THE MORROW CRASHING THROUGH, STEER CLEAR". After that, Finn came into the living room and begged me to get on with the adventure. I played along, so I packed up some supplies, and ventured into the woods to see just what Finn was so excited about. We found ourselves travelling on a path and eventually stopped in front of a sign that read "GHOST MISTRESS LANDING - ABANDON ALL HOPE YE WHO ENTER HERE". I vigilantly decided to step into this forbidden area with a sense of adventure, Finn agreeing to this decision. We tiptoed into the forbidden area with sweat dripping from our brows. I unsheathed one of the small scimitar daggers that sat behind my back and signaled for Finn to stand back and keep guard. I looked around and then signaled that it was safe to enter. We tiptoed forward a little more, Finn taking alarm after stepping on a branch that made a loud crack. I shushed him with my finger over my lips as I laid low and surveyed the area once more. I sheathed my dagger and said, "Well, I guess there's no danger here."
It was then that a wisp of spiritual energy swiped through the air and we threw ourselves to the ground. Finn then yelled to me, "What was that?" I then said, "That's the danger." The ghost mistress swooped and swerved, letting out cries of agony and lamentation. I reminded Finn, "We better get out of here, bro. This isn't a safe place for mortals." He silently affirmed with a nod as we dashed out of those woods. He blocked his head as the spirit swarmed in his face, screaming for me to get it off of him. I then attempted to throw my fist at the swarming aparition, only to end up punching my brother square in the cheek. He yelled, "Ow! What was that for?" I then replied, "Sorry. I just-" The rampaging aura then cut me off as she took her true form as a beautiful woman with long, flowing hair, dressed in a gown, laying down suggestively in the air and laughing softly. She spoke, head laying down on hand, and said, "You boys look worn out. Why don't you stay with me for the night, have some fun?" Finn then angrily replied, "No thanks." I then shoved him aside and tried to reason with the maiden myself.
I said to my brother, "Now hold it here, Finn, I got this." I then cleared my throat and adjusted my collar. I pulled out some breath spray and rid myself of any bad breath, hoping to coerce this lovely lustrous lady. I said, in a rather high and mighty manner, "M'lady, I am a man who knows how to make a deal. We'll crash here for the night if it means so much to you. Surely you have some beautiful mortal friends to keep me company?" The ghost mistress looked at me, annoyed, as if I had offended her greatly. She pointed her finger towards the way we came in, and said, bluntly, "Get out." I groaned in disappointment and started making my way back. I then overheard Finn conversing with the ghost mistress, her nodding in astoundment, them eventually shaking hands. She turned her head to me and said, "Well, loverboy, your friend here has convinced me to let you stay. Come with me."
We followed her into a well-hidden, well-protected fortress guarded by armor-clad centries with spears. They allowed us in to what we were surprised to find out was much, much bigger on the inside, spacious beyond belief. It was nicely decorated with curtains and paintings, candles on tables, statues and suits of armor, looking like a castle in its own right. We paced around in amazement, our eyes wide, our jaws dropped into goofy smiles. Finn said, "This is amazing!" I replied, "Yeah, well, we better let Jake know we're gone. He gets worried about you when you're not home." I then tapped onto my fancy wrist communicator to communicate with my eagle-dragon, Gilda, telepathically, to let her send a notice to Jake about our departure. We were safe with the ghost mistress for the night, who then came to our side and said, "Your room is on the right. Our guardians will insure your stay is safe."
We walked into our room to find only one bed. There was a loveseat on one side of the room, some carpeting and rugs, a picture of a lighthouse, a nightstand with a lamp, a fancy bathroom, and not much else. I said, "Alright, since I'm the oldest, you're taking the couch." Finn then snappily rebutted, "No way, man! I get the bed!" We growled in each other's faces. I said, "Rock paper scissors to see who gets it?" Finn fiercely replied, "Deal." Our palms laid flat, our other hands fisted and banging against, it was a battle of wits, with it ending in a tie of rock. We went once more, this time both picking scissors. One last round occured, me picking paper and Finn picking rock. I slapped his fist hardly and scoffed, coyly replying, "You're taking the couch, bro, and I get this nice, comfy bed to lay my head on." He stared at me as he positioned himself onto the couch and readied himself to sleep. I lay comfortably on the bed, hands behind head, one leg bent with foot resting flat, when two guards arrived in the doorway. To our surprise, and my benefit, both of them were foxy armor-clad women in plated skirts. I grinned and raised an eyebrow, rolling my eyes to Finn, who was not paying attention, focusing more on sleep than the guards.
The taller and elder one said, in a firm, demanding manner, "We guard this fortress in the name of the Ghost Mistress. You are welcome as a guest for the night. You have our word that you will be safe. If there is anything you need, call for us. I thought to myself, and I considered that thought. It is not an adventure for me unless there is love to be had. I brought that thought to fruition, and said, "Can you two come here for a second?" They arrived at the side of the bed to my right, in between me and my brother. They stood erect as the younger and shorter, who spoke in a quieter and more affable manner, said, "We are listening, master. Please tell us what it is you desire." I said, in a suave, cunning voice, "Well... I'm awfully lonely here with no one to keep me company but my brother. And you two are here to guard us, right?" The elder and taller replied, "That we are, sir." I continued, "Well, if it isn't too much for you, since I'm very sure it must be lonely for you out here, as well, your company is greatly appreciated." The elder and taller replied, "I believe I understand what you are implying. It is against my code, but there is never a better night than tonight for moments like this." I said to the younger and shorter, "And you?" She was a shy girl, nervous to come up with an answer. After a brief hesitation, she replied, "Well, I... I... I don't know." I thought further, and held my chin between my thumb and forefinger to conjure a solution. Quickly, it came, but it soon went. Finn then shifted on his side, his eyes partially open, and saw the guardesses in the room. He seemed confused, going so far as to ask, "What's happening?"
To that, I replied, in a casual manner, "Bro, these are the lovely guardesses who are keeping us company for the night. Two, count them, two. One for each of us. Consider yourself lucky. I know what you go through, and I think you'll like this." He confusedly replied, "Huh?" The younger guardess went to him and kneeled down, cupping his face in her hands, looking him in the eye. She smiled. She then let her hair down and said, "You must be tired after coming all the way here." Finn awkwardly replied, "Well, I kind of didn't expect this, and-" She shushed him quietly and lovingly. She whispered, "Relax. Think peaceful and serene thoughts." She locked her lips onto my brother's, and kissed him passionately. It warmed my heart to see my brother be so loved, and I couldn't help but feel happy for him. I turned my head back toward my center of focus and commenced with the older guardess. Little did we know we wouldn't be getting much sleep that night, and for good reason.
The morning sun rose, and both my brother and I were feeling accomplished and proud of ourselves. An obligatory fist-bump was had. I pushed the sleeping elder guardess off of me and went into the bathroom to wash my face. Afterwards, I donned the complimentary robe provided for guests and grabbed the second one for Finn. I tossed it towards him and said, "Alright, let's blow this joint. We've had our fun, now we gotta get back home." Finn then groggily sighed and said, "I don't wanna leave... it's nice here." I then forcibly pulled him toward me by his hat and said in his face, "Listen, bro, you give a deprived guardess what she desperately needs, you don't leave her side. You hear me?" He nodded, his face in shock. I then lightly tossed him back onto the loveseat. "Good. Now let's skedaddle." He then asked, "Um... shouldn't we get back into our clothes first?" I then remembered that I was wearing a robe for no reason. "Oh yeah, good point. Just give me a moment..."
After some redressing and a quiet escape, we left the woods and marched back on home. Jake quietly sat on the stoop with his arms folded, looking displeased. He started tapping his foot as we arrived. I then tried to explain, "Oh, hi Jake. Yeah, sorry we were gone all night. I mean, yeah..." Jake then replied, his voice stretching, "Hmm... I see. I was getting a little worried. It's dangerous at night." He then batted his eyes towards Finn and nodded his head downward. "And you, Finn. I'd expect late-night shenanigans from Rufus, but you? You could've been hurt, or worse." Finn then tried to rectify the situation, "Jake, it's not that big a deal. We just-" Jake then interrupted, "I don't want to hear it. Go to your room." Finn then said, "But-" Jake then gave a cold, blank stare, which sent Finn off into the house. Jake then said to me, "As for you..." I then quickly and nervously replied, "It was his idea. I didn't have any part in it." Jake then doubtfully replied, "Mm-hmm." I then pointed my finger right at Jake and said, "Look, Jake, you're being overprotective. It's not like you two aren't always in life-threatening situations as it is, why should it be different if it's me? One little night of messing around does not a horrible mistake make. So back off." I then headed inside.
I then went back to the couch to continue reading about narwhals, just when Jake stood in front of the coffee table. He sighed and said, "Alright, I'll admit, I overreacted a little. But it's only natural for me to get worried. After all, I'm more of a brother to him than you've ever been." I then laid the open book and my lap and said, "Excuse me?" Jake then continued, "Well, I've been with him most of his life, and was raised as a brother to him. I figured..." I sighed and bluntly said, "No, Jake. You don't know what you're talking about." I then set the book down and headed upstairs to hang around with Finn. I found him slouched over on his bed, visibly disgruntled. I said, "Hey bro, what's the problem?" as I entered. He replied, "Did I do something wrong?" I then calmly replied, "Naw man, Jake's just a little worried is all. You didn't do anything wrong." I sat beside him on the bed as he sat leaning forward. He said to me, "About last night..." I thought to myself, "Oh boy, here it comes..." Finn then replied, "Well... it's just... I... I liked the experience as a whole, it's just that I've never done that with a girl before." I then reached to the underside of the bed where I had been stowing a bottle of ginger beer for some odd reason. I sipped as Finn continued, "I didn't wanna leave because I wanted to go a little further with that process." As I capped the bottle and placed it down. I chuckled and said, "Jeez, you already went all night, what more did you want?" I sipped once more.
Finn continued, "So there's this one princess I've got a thing for, Flame Princess..." I then spit out the ginger beer I was drinking right into Finn's face. He then preceded to wipe it off vigorously. I held my hands out upward and said, "Whoa, bro, you don't want to do that. Trust me, it won't be fun, nor will it be pleasant." He then looked at me for a good three seconds. I replied, "Moral to the story: don't play with fire." Another awkward silence took place, which I broke with, "But uh... whatever suits you, I guess." I swigged some more of that delicious ginger beverage as that awkward silence filled the air. I broke that silence by saying, "So uh... how's about another late-night adventure?" Finn replied, "I don't know." I then tried to coerce him by saying, "It's gonna be fun..." Finn did not respond. I shrugged and walked out of the room, but quickly snuck back into Finn's room and said, "Oh, come get yourself a sandwich. It's time for lunch."
The nourishment was palatable. Afterwards, we hung around the house, minding our own business, allowing me to work on my whittling, and come sundown, the fun would begin once more. Finn and I rolled out of his bedroom window safely into the bushes, making a firm landing without a scratch on either of us. I said to him, attempting to sound like a fancy Englishman, "Well, brother, what ever have you planned for the night?" Finn replied, "Let's go by Marceline's. She's probably up at this hour." I objected, "Nah, I was thinking something a little more actiony. Something more mano y mano. But what?" It was then that a metaphorical lightbulb shone over my head. "I've got it! There's a nice little place I figured we could mess around for the night." We followed the trail to the abandoned Reaper territory, where I spent many a day pondering the history of those brutal killers and observing their creative input. It was cursed, however, but luckily, I had a solution. We arrived on spot, a good par four golf course away from the entrance. I pulled out of my satchel an idol of light and goodness I had whittled in my spare time and attached a necklace chain to. I handed it to Finn and said, "Bro, wear this. It'll keep you safe from the curse of the Reapers." He then said to me, "What about you?" I pulled out a second idol and said, "A good craftsman always comes prepared." I donned this idol and readied my daggers once more, this time having both of them out.
To elaborate about these idols, the Reapers are figures of darkness who exist for no reason other than to kill and to spread chaos. Their mortal enemy is the opposite of all of these things, an unnamed figure of light and harmony who goes by many names, among these are Healer, The Morning Sun, and Purity, to name a few. It is written that any likeness of this entity will repel a Reaper and protect its bearer from certain doom, and in some cases, may kill a Reaper. Many places of interest throughout parts of Ooo built large statues and structures in and on buildings, in living rooms, in city squares, and such as a traditional means of keeping Reapers at bay. I whittle in my spare time, carving figures of things that interest me, many of people and things and places from ancient history. Sometimes I whittle people I know and love. Just a little hobby that has gifted me with a small amount of foresight; but enough of that, let's get back to the story.
We were both armed and ready to strike at any second. We stood back-to-back and paced through that barren wasteland, filled with skeletons, both laying on the ground and hanging through ropes or pikes, as well as dead trees. Also scattered throughout the area were structures of the figure of darkness that the Reapers worship. An eery silence filled the air as we sheathed our blades. I dug two fingers into the soil and crumbled the dirt between my thumb and the two fingers. I then exhaled onto my dirt-laden extremities, pressing them together once more, and gave an affirming "mm-hmm". Finn then asked me, "What is it, bro?" I replied, "The soil has preserved itself well. Reapers, Reapers everywhere. We might wanna leave, these idols can only do their job for so long. Plus, some hot cocoa sounds good just about now. Let's head over to Marceline's and play it safe."
So we ventured forth to the fortress of one Marceline the Vampire Queen and were treated with a warm welcome. Hot chocolate was indeed provided, and it was a rousing visit, full of humorous remarks and social commentary, as well as minimalist conversation about the state of things. Little did I expect for my makeshift wood idol to start glowing with the essence of the Reapers. I looked down at it in confusion and then quickly averted my eyes back to Marceline as she sipped her cocoa. I then stared at Finn's idol and lowered my eyelids in suspicion. The idol only seemed to have a smidget of the essence in it from what the naked eye could see. I jerked my head back towards my cocoa and continued to sip from it. I kept my silence as that casual get-together continued and my brother and I were eventually out the door. We got back to the treehosue in time and were off to bed. I tidied my spot on the couch where I slept at night and placed my idol down on the coffee table to observe it. I twiddled my fingers and observed that purplish black smog swirl around the carving for a good few minutes before noticing Finn coming downstairs to get a glass of water. I then quickly rushed upstairs to his room to take notice of his idol before he could notice me. I made it to the room in time, crouching down in one corner out of sight and gazed upon the statuette. It was glowing slightly moreso than before, but the amount of smog emerging from it was noticeably greater than before.
Finn then entered the room, and my heart started racing. I was holding back my hyperventilating and crunched up tightly so he didn't notice me. He got into his sleeping bag and started to doze off. It was a battle of wits, waiting for that moment when I knew he would be asleep and I could escape his room. To pass the time, I took notice of the idol and carefully watched as it just barely illuminated that corner of the room with its mysterious fog. I wondered what it could possibly mean if these idols, which were to have supposed immunity to the Reapers, stood no chance against them. I eventually grew sore from slouching forward and quietly exited the room. I made it to the living room sofa and threw myself onto it, sighing in relief. Just as I had closed my eyes, a deep, booming voice filled the room. "Archimedes the Atoner... Archimedes the Atoner... why have you forsaken us?" I then looked around and found in the corner of my eye and near the doorway an astral projection of a Reaper's ghost, wearing a hooded cloak, hands dripping with the blood of a fresh kill. I was nervous. I asked, shuddering, "Who are you?"
The figure walked towards me and used his power to throw me and pin me against the wall. He lowered his cloak's hood, and there I knew who he was. It was the Reaper that had used his blinding stare to curse me with those powers all those years ago and made me into a monster, the one I killed with my own hands. He said, in a menacing, but quiet voice, "You were the last hope for the Reaper race. You took it upon yourself to wipe us off of the face of the planet. I was sent as a messenger of hope, for you to reconsider and join our orders. It worked, at the cost of all of our people. You never perfected your power, but you used it well. It seems that your kin was given the power at your hands, and he was strong. He fought it despite losing his mind. He was a welcome Reaper, truly the revitalization we so desperately needed. You did not let that come into fruition. For that, you must pay."
I shuddered in fear, hyperventilating. I replied, "Please, no! Not my brother! He's all I've got in this world! He's my only family!" The aparition then replied, "So be it. You have 72 hours to consider this decision. When 72 hours is over, you pay the price." I then replied, "Wait... you don't know any beautiful women, do you?" The aparition slapped his palm upon his face and said, "Wow... just wow. Really? We see everything, you can't outsmart us. So yeah, make up your mind, Archimedes." After an awkward five seconds of silence, I yelled out in anger, "Archimedes was my father! My name is Rufus!" The Reaper's ghost came back into the house and said, "Yeah, we know. It's just code we use your Reaper name when talking to you." He then exited once more.
I thought to myself, how could the idol be ineffective against an actual Reaper? Did I not construct it correctly? Were all those stories just old wives' tales? Have the Reapers evolved into such an advanced state that they are strong against them? What could this possibly mean?
It was the perfect conflict; old habits coming back to you and trying to make things worse, the ultimate life-or-death decision. Truly, I had to live up to my family name, and face full life consequences.
TO BE CONTINUED...