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Chapter 1-8

Page history last edited by Anonymoose 1 year, 2 months ago

     “Prepare yourself, henchman of King Tom!” The young boy shouted, waving a stick in the air, draped in a makeshift cloak of a patchwork blanket, a pot on his head and a piece of cardboard tied around his chest. Shaking the stick at a metal garbage bin he issued his challenge, “Iron Golem, your reign of terror ends today, Sir Tamerlion has come for you!”


The boy armed with the stick swung with all his might and thrashed the defenseless garbage bin. A cacophony of clangs echoed, and the aluminum siding dented and caved. Finally, the series of blows brought the bin down; its lid popped open, and the contents spilled onto the ground.


     The boy leaped back with surprise, eyes wide with fright, “The Iron Golem ate people; it was a vampire iron golem,” he said with a trembling voice. That look of shock soon curled into a smile, “But the demon is defeated, a small task for the great Sir Tamerlion! It won't hurt anymore again.”


A door slamming open revealed a middle-aged woman with frazzled hair who stormed in on the dramatic scene. I watched from the sidelines; and although I had a clear court-side seat, I could make no distinction of her facial features. A blank void was there where a face should have been. Despite that, I could feel her gaze taking in the scene of the costumed boy standing over the mess he had created.


     “What are you- what do you think you're doing?” Her voice was stern, swallowing her anger and trying to keep her voice under control.


     “Mom! I've defeated the Iron Golem!” Said the boy gaily in response.


The mother cradled her temples in her thumb and index finger, “Pick all that up and get back inside. Now.” She spat out losing some control of her temper.


     “But the Iron Golem's guts are cursed.”


     “Then use a pair of gloves in the garage. Clean up your mess. And get back inside in five minutes. Or else.”


Slamming the door behind she disappeared back into the house, and the young boy cast his eyes down. His game of pretend came to an abrupt end. The jovial look of victory in his eyes was replaced with guilt. Gathering the pieces of garbage and plastic bags he strained and struggled to return the garbage bin upright. He then cleaned up the mess scattered mess diligently. The mess was soon cleaned up but not without a cloud of sadness hanging over him. I watched the boy labor away, standing not more than three meters away, yet no one noticed or acknowledged my presence. When I looked around, a suburban neighbourhood obscured a short distance away by a grey mist spread in all directions. When I looked back at the boy, I noticed his eyes, hair and studied his face.


     “Is that me?” I asked aloud.


The boy didn't say anything at all. I suppose I was like a ghost. Maybe this was some memory. Perhaps I was dreaming as my messed up brain tried to piece together the broken parts of my head that had been jumbled up like a thousand piece puzzle after being dropped from a skyscraper. With the job finished, the boy gathered up his playthings and returned indoors. I followed behind him, a door shutting in my face; I flinched, but nothing crushed my nose, instead the door closed and passed right through me. I guess that settled the question of my specter status. I followed the boy who gripped a corner tight and spied on what I soon saw as I brazenly rounded the corner myself; the mother sitting at a desk on the phone.


     “I said I was sorry. I had to check up on my son. Look, I know you have kids too so get off my back about putting you on hold. Yes, I know you're busy. Look. I need to know if you can ship out the new linen by this weekend. Don't give me your, 'why?' It's the long weekend, and the restaurant has all its tables reserved each day.” The mother caught the child spying on her, asked the person on the phone to hold and very impatiently asked, “Yes? What is it? Mommy is busy.”


     “Is dad coming back for the weekend?”


     The mother sighed an obviously tired reply, “I don't know. Your dad is far away on a business trip.” A muffled voice was audible from the receiver, and so the mother hastily brought it back to her ear, “Can you not yell please? I was talking to my son. Don't give me that again, I know you have kids too.”


Dejected, the kid let go of the corner and climbed the stairs of the home to the second story. I followed him to a room at the end of the hallway upstairs; a child's room filled with posters, toys of all types scattered around the floor, stuffed animals, various characters from shows and a myriad of other things. There the boy sat down on the floor and picked up a picture book. A book about knights and dragons, princesses and chivalry.


     Quickly the boy's spirit was restored, and he jumped back up and pulled the stick that was tucked under his belt and waved it around, “Sir Tamerlion will save the kingdom!” He leaped onto the bed and jumped up and down. “Evil King Tom has taken good king Tim's throne while he's gone. And he poisoned the other knights of the table and put them to sleep; but as long as Knight Tamerlion rides, King Tom will never win!” The boy jumped from the bed and hit the floor.


A rush of wind blew across the scenery surrounding me. I closed my eyes and shielded my face with my forearm, and when the wind passed I spotted myself, grown; the very man I was now standing tall with the same pose, still with the same old and faded blanket draped over his shoulders and a pot on his head, lifting my sword into the air.


     That other me proudly declared, “And Sir Tamerlion will rescue Princesses Kim!”


     That performance was met with a pair's laughter; seated on a couch nearby was a couple, their faces blank and featureless, the man's voice crisp and clear, “Man, sometimes you're just too much.”


     A girl seated beside him was clutching her sides, “You spent all that money for that?”


     “Just letting myself partake in a little nostalgia,” the other me shrugged and returned the sword to its scabbard. “I always wanted a real one when I was a kid. I remembered it a few weeks ago; and with a little extra cash from a care package from home, I did some research and ordered one to be forged online.”


     The man leaned forward and asked, “And when you said you weren't gonna join us last night, you were waiting for the postman?”


     The other me squirmed and tried to dodge the question, “I didn't want to have to walk from the post office to my apartment with a suspicious looking package.”


     “Is that even legal to have at all?” The girl's voice was a little mocking and disdainful now.


     My reaction was quick and pointed “Yes. It's a replica; it's legal to own it.”


The girl leaned back in her seat; the other me with a scowl had eyes that were digging into her. It seems I had lost my temper a little at her attitude. At a loss, the girl shut up and closed herself up. The man sitting beside her leaped off the couch and put himself between her and me. He came to her defence and threw himself into the line of fire. I suppose this guy was a friend by how familiar he talked with me, and this woman must be his girlfriend of something.


     “Can I hold it man?”


Without any hesitation I handed over the scabbard, “Sure. Just be careful it's actually sharp.”


The man carefully and respectfully took it in his hands and drew it. Flicking his thumb over the tip and edge, he looked at the other me and chuckled, giving out a, “holy shit” and held it out a bit.


     “How much did you spend on it man? A hundred?”


     “A few hundred.”


The man's voice betrayed any surprise he tried to hide, “What? Holy shit man.”


     “Hold it up, you can see how they made it by pounding it. It's the real thing.”


     “You know, if you just wanted to play pretend, you could have just bought a cheap knock off. You got school to pay for don't you?”


I held out my hand and took back the sword and put it away, “I know. I'm fine. Thanks for asking. I don't bother you if your bank account is doing alright when you go out and get hammered every weekend.”


     “You need to come out more often man. The other guys miss you too. You just stay in here studying, reading and playing video games all day. We hardly see you.”


     “I don't do well in bars and stuff.” My response was rather cold compared to how lighthearted it was a moment ago.


My friend raised his hands and backed down and took a look at the girl on the couch. I couldn't see either of their faces, but the change in his posture and just by looking at her cross armed I could tell by the body language what was going on.


     “Well man, you enjoy yourself tonight. If you change your mind, the DD can come and get you.”


     “Yeah yeah.”


The other me watched the two pick themselves up and let themselves out, walking past me who had been watching from the corner of the room by the door. While the other me turned around to clean up and put his makeshift costume away I heard the exchange between the two as they headed toward the door.


     “What a loser,” the girlfriend whispered.


     Her boyfriend tried to play her down, “Hey now. He's been a good friend of ours forever. He's a funny guy when you get him out.”


     “Did you see how he looked at me?”


     “You just hit a nerve. He treats everyone the same, even girls. If you piss him off he's not gonna hold back.”


     “I think he needs to get laid.”


The door shut behind the two, and silence returned to the apartment. I followed into the other room where the other me had disappeared to see him sitting on the edge of a bed, the sword resting on the covers; in his hands was an old faded picture book, the same one he had been reading when I saw myself as a kid. My face was a little muddled, a hard to read expression. I didn't even remember enough to figure out why I would wear such an expression on my face, but as I studied it I didn't even notice the same grey mist at the edges of the dream was getting closer, and the world was slowly crumbling toward where I was watching from.


     “Laven. Wake up Laven. Hey. Laven. Wake up.” A familiar voice filled the air. First quiet but getting louder all the time.


I felt the ground shake beneath my feet, or perhaps, since I seemed to be standing on nothing by now, I was shaking back and forth. Before I had a chance to experience vertigo when I looked down to check, I felt myself falling gently before my dream faded to black as I returned to the real world. Maybe the real world was a bad way to put it. It was at least a real world.


My eyes opened, and my senses were assailed, a bright sun shining behind the canopy overhead. I smelled fresh dew and wet soil, heard songbirds chirping in the early morning and felt something soft clinging to me. Hanging on me like a body pillow, Rosette's face was hovering only a few centimeters to my side. When I turned my face toward her, her bangs tickled the edge of my nose, and her amber crocodile eyes locked onto me. My body seized up in an instant; a gaze like that has been filed away in human instinct as belonging to a predator, and danger was the only thing is signaled in my brain. Pulling myself away was not possible though; my left arm was sandwiched completely between her breasts, her legs crossed over mine and her arms wrapped around me.


Her inquisitive face, upon realizing I was now awake, turned into an eager toothy smile; and before I knew what was going on, I felt my arm stretch, and her body moved with lightning speed. I was left completely immobile as she had put me into a perfect straight arm bar before I realized fully what was happening. She playfully pulled on my arm; I felt my shoulder and elbow joint being pulled, gently at first, but gradually being overextended painfully. Still half asleep, I entered into a panic quickly and tried in vain to loosen her grip, but Rosette calmly held her lock and gradually increased the pressure. I stomped my foot on the ground, and she let go. Before I could nurse my shoulder, she leaped onto me and pinned me to the ground, hovering over me on her knees, claws pinning my shoulders.


     “You've got good reflexes, but you're still too tired when you wake up.” That familiar playful predatory smile crept back onto her face, “You lost, now you gotta pay the price.”


Rosette let go of my shoulders and quickly pressed the palms of her claws against both my cheeks, and her lips came down suddenly and pressed deeply against my own. She moaned, and I felt a tickling of air from her nose onto my face. Her eyes were shut as she tried to force her tongue into my mouth as her weight shifted to and fro on top of me as if she was trying to grind herself closer to me. There was an incredible amount of heat coming off her, and I felt it seeping into myself, and I almost relaxed and lost control. Instead I bridged my hips and threw my weight sideways. With a cute yelp, Rosette found herself unexpectedly thrown off to the side, and I quickly got back onto my feet. Raising my hands as fists to the side of my face, I squared off against the salamander; who got back up to her feet as well.


She wore a confounded expression, a little disappointed as well, but she studied me while we circled around each other and around the burnt out fireplace in the middle of the camp, and she soon had that same signature smile of hers again. I was through with running away; it wouldn't do me any good. If I could escape, I'd find myself back to square one, but I wasn't about to roll over and accept everything that she was pushing on me. There was a tinge of pride in me that wouldn't allow that. I was still flushed with heat though. Even after separating it didn't go away, my cheeks still felt red hot, and a foreign sweet taste still lingered in my mouth. When I studied Rosette as well, she was red from ear to ear; her tail swishing behind her a raging inferno.


I must have lost my focus because a cloud of dirt erupted behind her; and with a talon foot dug into the dirt and kicking off, Rosette flew towards me. She was fast, but she wasn't coming in for an attack. Her hands were stretched out which caught me off guard as I spread my own to catch her. Her arms wrapped around my back and mine around hers, and the momentum she carried knocked me onto my back. I didn't hit the ground softy at all, and it left me winded, but there was a girl on top of me, rubbing her cheek into my chest gleefully.


     “What were you dreaming about?” She asked suddenly.


     I had a hard time keeping up with the pace she was setting, “I don't know.” I felt an awkward silence and a bit of pouting on her end so I continued, “I think I was just seeing a few memories.”


     “Who's Kim?”


Now the mood had changed from awkward to worrisome, I felt a heat come off Rosette, and it wasn't a pleasant warm one like before; it was a hot and uncomfortable, and it was causing me to sweat. I squirmed under the heat, and that didn't make the situation any better. I wasn't even sure who she was talking about; I don't remember anyone named Kim from anywhere at any time.


     Rosette lifted herself off my chest and stared right me with furrowed brows, “Who's Kim?”


If it wasn't obvious by now, she was quite mad. I might be so brazen to say that she was jealous. I was looking up at her dumbfounded, an expression which seemed to be making her mood worse. Was I dreaming something? Remembering dreams after you wake up isn't the easiest thing after all.


     “Why bring this up now?”


     “You were calling out that name in your sleep.”


     “I was sleeping. I'm sure it was just nonsense.”


     “No. You were saying it like it meant something. Who was she?”


     “You're not making any sense-”


     “Was she your girlfriend? Was she your wife? Who was she?”


     “I don't know-”


     “If she is, why are you so kind to me?”


That last one came out of left field. She was jealous, but she was equally concerned about something. Something she'd assumed by jumping to some conclusion without thinking again. I suppose that was just something she did all the time. Doing things without thinking. My mind was under pressure and racing for an escape route though, and the contents of my dream were being poured back into my head piecemeal.


     I grabbed her shoulders and forced her to look at me and pay attention, “Calm down. I remember now. She was an imaginary friend. A character I made up when I played games of pretend as a kid. She doesn't exist; she's just something from a children's book.”


     “Really?” Her voice was a little uncharacteristically meek. I didn't say anything, instead she just studied my face and let out a sigh. Her face once again brightened up into a smile, and she shook my shoulders, “What kind of girl was she then? Come on. Tell me.”


     “Just a run of the mill damsel in distress.”


     “Some fair skinned girl with long curly blonde hair? Thin and frail? Come on!”


     “What? That had to be over ten years ago, I don't remember!” I tried to think of a way to disarm the situation as my brain rattled inside my head. The only coherent thought I could come up was to change the subject, “And what did you mean, 'why are you so kind to me?'”


     “N-nothing at all. Forget about that part.” She got off me and stood back up and stretched her back. “Anyways, we need to get going. There's a town about a day away.”


     I wasn't going to pry, now wasn't the time; but from how sure she was with her directions, I couldn't stop from asking, “Only a day? I walked around the forest for almost a whole day and didn't see any end of it.”


     “I've been in the woods her for a month now. I'm almost out of goods, not enough for two.”


     “A whole month?”


     “I heard there was a strong fighter up in these woods. I wanted to fight her.” Her voice trailed off, "Oh, you don't suppose that was her?" She tilted her head. "Oh, but there was also a—"


My face twitched involuntarily. It must have warped my expression greater than I had thought, because I watched her go from beaming with new found enthusiasm to a slumping defeat in an instant.


     “But I promised we're gonna find your home. There's no time for me to be hunting around in these woods any longer... We're gonna need to find someone who knows a thing or two. We gotta go south to do that.”


     “You're just going to drop everything for—”


     Rosette turned around, striking a pose; an index finger pointed at me, her other hand resting on her chest with legs poised and dramatic, “You're my husband. Of course I will help you.” She reached out with her hand; and taking it, she pulled me up off the ground. “It's our first adventure. I'm with my lovely darling Laven. I could not be any happier. I've dreamed about this day all my life.” First adventure? Those words resonated in my head and made me worry a bit. “I was born to be your wife, and meeting you here; you were meant for me It was destiny. I won't ever let you go. Nowhere you can go where I won't follow. No obstacle I won't crush to not be separated.” She made a fist with her claw and punched a nearby tree, and the bark of the tree snapped and broke in a display of both strength and sincerity.


     “And you don't have to worry either.” Rosette looked back at me while I dusted myself off. “I don't doubt you. I got nothing else, and I owe you my life many times over. I'm not gonna- whoa! Whoa! Whoa!” Rosette suddenly clung to me with a look of longing in her eyes, and my body seized up. At my panicked cries she relented sadly. “But that, I'm not totally comfortable with that. I-I hardly still know you!”


     Rosette stepped back, extended a claw to cup my cheek and confessed to me, “Laven is a very kind man. A very shy man who tries very hard to be brave. I may not be smart. I don't know anything about love; how to show it or make it. I didn't know a thing about till I met you, and I might not be smart, but I know one thing. You'll fall in love with me someday soon. Because it was meant to be.”


I was still shaking a little. Maybe I was worried she was right.

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