- HALO -
"Are you gunna to go see ‘em?” The kind girl asked.
Liam checked his pockets for coin. “Mm, aye, might as well. I’ll jus’ spot him from across the floor I thinks.” The sweet face smiled, and reached out to pet his chin gracefully. “Well, good luck to ya lad; try not to stare at ‘em.” She laughed as Liam’s expression skewed. “Jade, nobody is going to stare at a dangerous man with a feckin’ rapier, who by the way, would receive no consequence if he is motivated to use it.”
Jade’s tongue tutted. “Was only makin’ a craic love.. But if ya keep talkin’ like that, all prim n’ proper, he’ll sniff ya out right quick.” She shrugged and continued along side him in a sultry stride. “I’ll go with ya. Owe ya ah jar anyhow.”
Liam checked his surroundings. For a moment the red brick road didn’t seem so busy. It could have been Jade’s balletic presence, or perhaps he is use to the back roads barren at dusk due to customary habit. The sun dipped into the crimson mountains; it’s now or never to get his own gander at the humbly infamous pirate. “You sure there lass? It's not exactly a place for the delicate type.”
Jade squinted. “You’re one to talk. Ah barely called to ya, and ya nearly pissed yer britches.” Liam glared back at Jade’s crooked smile. “Listen here, everyone’s skittish after the Lull. Just the fact that Dea’s King is home has got everyone on edge. I ain’t soft.” He grumbled, “Got this job the same way you had.” Jade skipped a step and hummed, “Aye that."
The pair turned the last corner to The Wolfex Ridge; a sensitive and taboo name only Deans dare to exploit. The building is nestled deep into the red rock mountainside with a set of carved stairs descending to it’s entrance. The excitement could be heard well beyond its’ borders. Singing and laughter drowned among the hordes of bolstering conversations in a match to talk over one another. The pair strode into the dim lit bar and immediately sat at the counter before taking a good look around. Jade ordered a round of beers and tacked a Dean coin to the counter.
Liam gazed blindly into the establishment as his eyes adjusted. “Well that’s not great.” He said as he noticed a pile of dead Tabians in the corner. “Probably there as a statement because of The Lull.” Liam grimaced, “Glad I’m not friends with any of ‘em. That ah kin see anyway.” His lips barely touched the rim of his glass as he heard it. That voice. An unmistakable sound, low with gravel like undertones as though it is two people talking at the same time. The voice of the Pirate King.
“Turn it over, Felix!” Lance hollered, followed by a mumble. “Why ya such a shite with cards?” Onlookers peered over the wooden table booths at their leader playing a game with his crew mate. “That’s what ah want ya teh think,” the giant company responded quite boldly. Lance didn’t believe it for a minute, and stuck his balisong into the winning card on the table. “Ah saw ya cheatin’ ya wank.” He uncorked a small bottle to take a swig, eyes watching over Felix incredulously. “Nora’s diddies, guess that’s a draw then. Ya fucked the queen of diamonds though.” Lance spat liquor back into the bottle, laughing. “Where ‘ave ah heard that one before?”
The banter is typical. However, there is something about Lance that is not. Could it be his cascading auburn dreadlocks against those piercing teal crystal eyes? Or is it the permanent scowl across his face, paired with the perilous yet nonchalant behavior? No, there are many strikingly gorgeous and interesting Tabians in the world... It must be his presence. Liam’s chest felt tight, like it is being grasped and pulled, softly, quietly.
Jade pat Liam’s leg. “Ey, yer starin’ lad, don’t let him catch y—aaaa oh.”
Lance’s smile dropped as he caught Liam’s gaze from across the room.
“Stop that.” Jade hissed, and elbowed his ribs. Liam broke gaze and turned away. “Shite, I’m sorry, it’s just.. Do you see it?” Jade whispered, “See what,” now intensely concerned about whether or not Lance was still looking. Liam’s brow began to sweat. “The triangle around his head. I heard of it once before, but thought it was all just a fallacy.” Jade’s eyes grew big and round. “Yeah it’s a rumor, but ..you really can see a halo?”
“Yeah, it’s faint, odd, ghostly. As though it’s not actually visible when you focus on it too long? I must be hallucinating.” Jade glanced casually back before quickly snapping away. “We have to leave.” Liam asked, “Is he still lookin’..” as he also stiffly looked over his shoulder to find out for himself.
Lance beckoned Liam over with two sharp fingers.
Liam wanted to just die on the spot. His mind screamed to run, but every fiber of his body had another opinion. Within seconds he found himself standing in front of the the Pirate King’s table. “H-H-.. Yes, aye sir? Somethin’ ah kin do fer ya?” he tumbled out, wishing so desperately that he could melt and disappear into the floorboards. Lance played with his whiskey bottle and didn’t speak. Felix scratched his chin. “Liam innit? Yer ah rep fer the southern trade aint’chya?”
Liam turned to the addressing voice, although his mind still lagged off of that faint illusion around Lance. “Ah, oh, aye sir, Felix then?” The giant fisted the counter, causing all the glasses to jostle. Liam could have jumped out of his skin right then and there as the large man’s voice escalated. “AYE THAT! Kint forget you though, jumpy little fucker! Best stay away from the dock edge yeah? Hahaha.” He lifted his forearm to bump; the friendly way pirates greet each other. Liam apprehensively touched forearms with Felix, “Y-yes, I mean uhm—”
Lance stood to approach, and forced the skinny, shuddering Tabian into the bench making a sandwich between the two pirates. Felix emitted a soft “Woop,” As he slid down the booth. Liam’s eyes darted straight forward for something to focus on: Oh, that bar glass looked like it could have had better days, cracked on the side and a bit cloudy…
Lance invaded Liam’s space so close their faces were only a breath away. “What’chya been gawkin’ at lad?” he asked with a devious grin on his face that felt like it didn’t belong there in this moment. “Nothin’ sir I swear, please don’t kill me.” Lance laughed and pulled back. “Don’t kill me he says. Nothin’, he says. And here I thought you were just starin’ at my handsome puss."
The light talk encouraged Liam to turn to Lance for a more normal attempt to converse. “I was looking at your halo.” Suddenly mesmerized, Liam’s hand fell loose to reach the edge of the eluding line of light, just beyond Lance’s ear.
Lance twitched, brows knitted together more tightly than before. He rose to his feet while dragging Liam with him by the collar. The poor Tabian's feet danced while hovering his hands around Lance’s arms, determined not to reciprocate touching. “I’m sorry, I thought it was a rumor!” The entire bar went quiet and still. The pile of dead Gierran Tabians that laid in the corner felt more purposeful than before. “Please Lance, don’t kill me ahn—” he was interrupted as Lance pulled him close into his chest and locked hips.
Liam is internally screaming.
What the fuck? Am I being molested by the Pirate King? Should I yell? Would that matter if he is he going to kill me? What do I say? What do I do?
Lance whispered into Liam’s ear so faint just he could understand. “Only those charmed by a God can see my Halo.” Liam nervously replied on impulse, “Then why can’t you see it?” Lance avoided the question, and turned him around, hugging his small frame from behind like a lover. Liam briefly caught glimpse of Jade’s expression of sheer panic and shook his head helplessly. Items were tossed to the wood floor.. A knife, a compass, several sticks of tobacco, a tiny round tin, some white parchment.. Wait a moment, these are Liam’s effects! Lance ransacked his belongings, then held a coin up to his nose. A Gierran coin.
Liam began a breathy retort. No audible sound came forth.
Lance’s hugging hand grasped across Liam’s terrified face, fingernails digging into his skin just barely at the brink of tearing. “Looks like ah God might like ya some, but they ain’t ours.” The Gierran coin melted between Lance’s fingers into golden strings that dripped onto the floor like candle wax. “You don’t belong here.”
The Gierran resorted to his defense instinct and reached into is shirt for his needle knife, but Lance had already thrown it to the floor. Liam's desperate cry echoed off the walls as Lance slashed into his face with his viciously sharp nails. The Gierran spun around and held his mouth. He waggled his finger at the assailant, as though he wanted to say what he really thought.
Lance casually picked up the short needle blade and tossed it back to it’s owner. “What is it Gierran. Got somethin’ to say?” he asked as he drew his rapier and stood sideways, blade pointed towards Liam’s feet. “Hurry up then.”
The helpless Tabian didn’t reply to the dual stance, and began to back out of the bar. Lance slashed him again across the nose with his rapier as he turned to escape. Liam tumbled out of the bar holding his forehead with a bloody hand. Jade briskly slipped out after him.
Liam hobbled quickly up the stairs as fast as he could muster until he ran into another unyielding body in the way. He could discern through his bloody fingers it is Draccena, the Northern Fleet Admiral. She stopped cold and waited for him to move out of her way. He held his tongue and dipped around her, rage stirring in his belly.
Jade pushed Liam into an alley. “Ah shite.” Liam grimaced. “That’s it. I failed my mission because I was feckin’ curious. Now I’m going to die.” Loose clothing pressed into the wounds as Jade gasped, “No! Ya think he’s poisonous enough ta put ya under with his nails?” Liam buried his face in the linen. “Aye, it’s the only reason why he’d let me go innit?”
“Shh, not so loud,” she cooed. “We’ll find a way, we have some time. Someone in this city has got to have an inkling of an antidote.. I know of one that may.”
Liam’s world turned and swayed. The nausea clawed at his throat, and he tried to force down urge but it was no use. Handfuls of Gierran coins spewed forth from his coughing, choking mouth. His stomach kept on contracting violently and forcing more and more. His face was white and dripping sweat and tears. He sunk to his knees and scoffed as the phantom coins branded red hot and melted into the dirt.
“Off with the mission, if this doesn’t kill me, I’ll murder that fucking tyrant myself.”
- Δ -