Monday, July 20, 2015

Day Eight-Eighty-Eight: A clear message

The Sky Bitch landed outside Pubton a day after Logan and Dragomir’s short meeting. 

The great flying machine’s chugging, graceless descent from the sky was enough to stop a few hearts, both aboard the ship and on the walls surrounding the city. Though it made it to Pubton well enough - a bit slow, perhaps, but well enough - the Sky Bitch teetered precipitously as it hit the ground, one of its landing struts failing to extend. The hull listed dangerously to one side, and the squealing groan of stressed metal convinced at least one person that this was the end.

It was not, of course, the end. The Sky Bitch lolled to one side, threatened to roll, and then stopped. Everyone got off. Injuries were minor. (Eve stubbed her toe. She didn’t tell anyone.)

Celebrations were had. The war-weary enjoyed a massive feast in their honour, thrown by King Gok, of all people. And as great heaps of steaming, greasy food appeared on tables and disappeared down gullets, people raised their glasses to the fallen. To the soldiers of the Imperium, to the people of the Imperium, even to the werewolves who had died in the course of stopping the Non. A few people wondered why they’d been forced to go to such incredible lengths for an empty spit of land, but a major victory against the Non was, still, a major victory against the Non. No one begrudged that.

To everyone’s surprise, King Gok led a toast to Pagan. Everyone participating in the feast joined in. More than a few wondered if Pagan’s ‘slaves’, now officially freed by Pagan’s death, would be excited by the news - yet their drooping heads and watery eyes betrayed them as the saddest of all.

The revellers revelled long into the night, not dispersing until the wee hours of the morning. Few things happened beyond the scope of the party during that time. Antonio went to visit his sister, who, with her pack, was prowling outside Pubton; Evangelina processed several documents in her small apartment, keenly aware of how unwelcome she now was in any party situation; Libby tinkered with the Sky Bitch’s navigation systems; Eve ate a rat.

Dragomir dreamed.

Despite the awful content of Dragomir’s dreams, he’d never given up on sleep. He enjoyed the act of casting aside waking life too much to abandon going to bed every night, even if it meant suffering through horrible visions of a future that could be, that might be. Yet ever since the fall of the tower and the unleashing of the Catastrophe’s energies Dragomir had found himself without dreams, and the inky absence seemed to exhaust him more and more every day, regardless of the number of hours he spent with his head shoved into a pillow.

His dream on this particular night at first came as welcome relief. Some of the fatigue that had been slipping into Dragomir’s body immediately drained, and he could tell that the dream was, somehow, responsible. But then the dream got into full swing, and Dragomir was far less thankful, because Traveller was the first person he saw.

“Hi,” Traveller said. He was not wearing an eyepatch, and his hair was much shorter than normal. “You have something that belongs to me.”

“Yeah,” Dragomir replied, pulling back. “Gonna keep it, too, if you don’t mind.”

“But I do,” Traveller insisted. He took three steps forward. “I’d like it back. I’d like it all back.”

“Tough.” Dragomir retreated just as many paces. “You can’t have it. It’s mine. I’ll… I’ll kill you if you come any closer.”

Traveller smiled, the expression both understanding and sad. He continued to stalk forward, his usual, clumsy gait replaced by the lithe pacing of a predatory animal. Dragomir turned away and began to run, flying across the green dreamscape of his mind as he dropped to all fours, skin an oily black. But his flight wasn’t good enough, and somehow, somehow, casually-strolling Traveller caught up. Nothing Dragomir did could pull him away from his grisly fate, and as he rose up to claw at Traveller’s face, perhaps to pull out his good eye, Traveller swatted him to the ground.

Towering over Dragomir, Traveller tapped his empty eye socket. “You didn’t do this. I know that. Which is why I’ve decided that we can share. Don’t worry about it too much.”

Dragomir raised his hands, trying to fight off the inevitable, but Traveller fell upon him, the unstoppable power of his muscles easily pinning Dragomir. Both men screamed -

- and Dragomir woke up in his bed, a similar scream passing his lips. Sweat poured down his skin in thick sheets, and a chilled shiver coursed through his body.

It took Dragomir almost a minute to pull himself together. He mopped the sweat from his brow with his blanket as he got out of bed, staggering slightly from the combination of a dull headache and being jolted out of sleep. He felt vaguely nauseous, wondering, in all the horror of the vision, what time it was, and he staggered to the window to peer at the sky. The room was darker than when he’d gone to sleep, so it must be -

“Back,” a muffled voice insisted through the window pane.

Dragomir fell on his ass with another scream, another thrill of absolute terror sweeping along his veins. Traveller, shaggy, one-eyed Traveller was staring through the window at him, one hand pressed against the glass. Dragomir could only see the faintest silhouette from a light across the street, yet he knew this was Traveller, knew as thoroughly as he knew that he owed the scraggly man something he could never properly replace.

“You’re naked,” Traveller noted, voice just barely audible through the glass. “I think I gave you that, didn’t I?”

Dragomir puffed, pulling his blanket from the bed and covering himself. “Get… get the fuck out of here…”

Traveller grinned. His fingers tightened slightly, and as they did the glass beneath them creaked. A spiderweb of cracks shot across the pane, but it did not break. “You should go get yourself a drink. Yep, that sounds about right.”

Get out of here,” Dragomir hissed. He staggered to his feet, struggling to remain covered as he ran for the door. “I’ll call the fucking guards - “

Traveller smashed through the wall of Dragomir’s house with the ease of a child ripping apart paper, smiling ghoulishly all the while. His arms reached for Dragomir, stretching to impossible lengths for a human, and Dragomir wondered, even as he tried to run, whether or not Traveller was as much a freak as himself. Dragomir stretched his own legs, trying to force himself into a leaping bound, but Traveller caught him, he chuckled and caught Dragomir, and with a satisfied grunt Traveller dragged Dragomir to his chest - and both men screamed -

- and Dragomir woke up in his bed, a similar scream passing his lips. Sweat poured down his skin in thick sheets, and a chilled shiver coursed through his body.

He needed a drink.

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