T Minus One Day
“Where did it all go wrong?” My question echoes through the Atrium.
“To start with; you accused your girlfriend of cheating without any proof”, Elena answers in a decidely acid tone.
I put my fingers in the bowl of candy and take out something that smells like liquorice. I smell it, then put it back in the bowl, searching for something else. I really don’t like liquorice. I select a chocolate-guitar and chew on it.
“You accused your girlfriend without proof”, I spit out between mouthfuls of chocolate.
Elena frowns at me, something I have become inundated over the years we’ve known each other. “I caught Lina wooping naked in the effing jacussi with a ‘friend’. There’s your ironclad proof. You had– what, a suspicion? A notion of something?”
She continues, while on a roll. “Did you ask anyone else if they had seen anything?” I shake my head, albeit grudgingly. “So basically nothing, nothing but unfounded suspiciouns”, she temporarizes.
“I felt that I had strong ground for my accusations when I made them”, I say, weakly. Elena pops another piece of candy into her mouth, something that crunches.
“You put your tongue on a key-word there. You felt. Whenever you want to accuse someone – be it about cheating, stealing clothes or otherwise – you have to be cold. Emotionless. Level-headed.” She looks into my eyes. “Were you level-headed when you accused Nevena?”
I shake my head, mute and uncapable of coming up with a good answer. Hindsight is always twenty-twenty, it’s often said, but yeah, hindsight is a bitch.
“What… what do I do now?” Elena starts the television and checks through the movies she have on her usb-memory. I recognize the names of several blockbusters.
“Do? Runey, sweetie, you have fucked up. In fact, you have fucked up royally. The only thing you can do now is to wait a little, then buy whatever is Nevena’s thing and grovel. You get down on your knees and you beg her to take you back.”
I can feel a big lump form in my throat. An amalgation of mucus and regret. Of why’s.”What”, I ask carefully,” will happen if she doesn’t take me back?”
Elena stares at me. She opens her mouth, as if to say something, something mean, but ultimately closes it. “It just means that sometimes things doesn’t work out. I know that you want things to last. To be pristine. Unchanging. But Rune, everything changes. The mountains themselves are eroded by wind, water, cold and warmth.”
I dissect Elena little speech for what it really is; a pep-talk for someone that have screwed up. But it does make me feel better. A little. And I will grovel. Apologize. Whatever it takes. I will- Elena interrupts my inner monologue.
“… Rune?” “Uh-uh?” “I was asking what movie you wanted to watch?”
“I will be satisfied with anything as long as it has Zoe Kazan in it.”
“Got it”, Elena says with a smile.
The sweat flung from Greyscale’s arms covers the floor of the warehouse that doubles as his smithy. Technically speaking, he has the gear to make the work much easier. More modern. Although something should be said for working old-school, he mutters.
On the other hand, heat and warmth and burning metals are like old friends to a member of the Flight. He picks up the red-hot piece of a material that isn’t metal with his left hand and observes it. Five holes- one hole for each knuckle and the piece is bent at an angle.
He glances down on his right hand, or rather the missing space where his right hand used to be. Will be, given time to heal. A shake of his head and he quenches the piece in brine.
Why, he asks himself, did I do this? He’s just a boy. An autistic boy with a single eye and a piece of my soul in him.
Once they worshipped Greyscale. At the roots of Yggdrassil, in a deep and damp place he slept and gnawed. There they worshipped him, there they brought him the murderers and the adulterers and the oath-breakers, who the old Norse despised more than anything else. Through worship and magic he wrought his own realm,Náströnd which means Corpse-Shore in Norse.
He winces slightly at the name and takes the now fully quenched piece out of the water-barrel. I sure was dramatic in those days. He muses for a name of the weapon he has forged from his very bones. Hellfire? Naw, too Christian. Bonebreak? Definitely has potential. The Shatterer? Too much of the Nineties.
Hermann spreads the map of Ochre, the Crimson Bridge and the Hermannstadt on top of his desk. He takes out a deck of cards and starts to place them accordingly on the map, his very own little preparation for the Bonfire Ball.
The Queen of Spades, sometimes called the Black Lady- that will be Perenelle, placed at Ochre itself. He has explicitly told her not to bring anything that can be viewed by Pier 7 as bioterrorism.
Flip. The Jack of Hearts, this will be me, at the isle proper, scouting. With my sonar abilities it makes perfect sense for me to take point.
Flip. The Jack of Spades. This will be Richard, behind me, making sure that nothing gets by me. It would be a serious to mistake the one-armed, former king.
Flip. The King of Diamonds. Ruler of an extinct people, Gomagog will attend Perenelle. He will be the axe to her scalpel. I just hope he doesn’t cause too much destruction.
Flip. The Queen of Clubs. Merith, eldest of us all. Her role depends on what will happen.
Hermann shuffles through the deck until he finds a Joker. There is a quote that he oftens thinks about, one that can be used to describe this particular situation. ‘If you’re not cheating, you’re not trying hard enough’. And I shall cheat.