It’s Day Thirteen of the #freewritemadness!!!
The scene that I wrote today, was one I wasn’t expecting to write. Draven mentioned at the end of the last chapter that there would be a Public Flaying… and I wasn’t going to go there. But today’s prompt was – hamburger – and I am a morbid, morbid person who had a horrible idea, and then I went and added a slice of cheese to it.
I have a hyperactive mind. Jumping from one idea to the next. I apologise for the all-over-ness of today’s writing. It truly is the work of a hyperactive squirrel.
Just a reminder that this story is completely off the top of my head, written as each day passes, with no real plotting or planning. Things may not be cohesive, things may not make sense, dialogue is very likely shitty and uncharacterised for the most part, descriptions lacking, hell, the random sketchy plot itself is probably lacking.
This whole Unfortunate Adventure is a glimpse into the horrible yet beautiful disarray of The Very Rough First Draft.
And so, here is today’s incoherent rambling. 😉
Today’s wordcount was – 2647 (was aiming for 4ooo today – didn’t quite get there)
Overall wordcount is – 25651 (over the halfway mark!!)
All liquid rewards from this post will be going towards @teamaustralia’s #hayrunners initiative! All liquid rewards will be sent to @teamaustralia on post payout!
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Six torches were gripped firmly by six emotionless men, illuminating a wooden platform in the centre of a sizeable meadow. A gravel path wound itself about the platform and led towards a large building, constructed of thick stone bricks and wooden accents. Stairs led to a wrap-around verandah, and the arched door and tall columns that encased it spoke of a grandeur she had yet to see anywhere else in Glouweln. Was this the Master’s family house, perhaps? Though that seemed a bit morbid, considering the torture stand that lay directly before the house. Quint was bound to a post upon the platform, accentuated by the flickering torchlight, his bare skin impossibly redder than before… almost as though he had bathed in boiling water before being strung up.
Katéa stood near the edge of the incensed crowd; they were a hundred people, all yelling and jeering at the man from her world, and hungering for his demise. These people had once been his friends, cheerfully greeting him and drinking with him most nights at the tavern, and now they were a pack of rabid beasts that longed for the scent of his blood. The torch flames swayed from side to side, mesmerising beneath the heady fuzz of the mead that shrouded her mind… maybe she should have drank more.
Nessie and herself were the only ones in the crowd not creating a ruckus —they watched on in a solemn silence. Draven stood on the platform, behind Quint and beside another man. The Master. Clearly father and son, they looked near identical bar Draven’s scar and the older man’s greying hair and beard. Both held that fiery tiger’s eye sheen to their brown eyes, the same square jaw, and she felt that they would likely share that same dimple that she had become enamoured with.
The Master held up a long whip, three blades dangling from the black leather, each edge agleam beneath the torchlight. A hushed silence fell over the crowd. Unintelligible words from that unknown language spilled from his tongue and into the midnight air, setting each blade alight with orange flame. The fiery blades spun through the air in a vicious circle and met Quint’s bare skin. The crowd held their collective breaths, and then Quint’s gut-wrenching scream resounded loud over the area. A steady thump shook the ground as the people she stood within stomped and cheered and demanded more, but Katéa remained silent, wincing as she almost felt his pain emanate from him. The wooden post he was bound to, was it attached to a platform or was it actually a stage? This was judgement, but it was also entertainment.
The fiery lash struck again, and again, in rapid streaks of flame that flew across the sky and whipped Quint into a bloodied, burnt oblivion. Each time it hit, a chunk of crispy flesh would fall to the planks and sizzle, greeted by more cheers, applause, and soul-piercing screams. She wrinkled her nose as an unsavoury scent wafted towards her, caressing her nostrils with its meaty odour. The fire cauterised his bodily flesh, keeping his blood safe inside of him… he would live through this torture.
Draven held an unwavering glare fixed to his face as he silently watched at his father’s side. What was going through his mind right now? He had not wanted to be here, but there had been no choice; this was something he had to do. If he were the Master, like she assumed he one day would be, he would be the one holding that bladed whip. She shuddered. It was so barbaric, and yet… her stomach did not churn and the mead she had pounded did not rise. These were the customs here, their punishments… she moistened her lips. She would have taken his devices and shoved them up his arse, and then left him to rot in the void, with no food or water. It would just be him, alone with his thoughts until his body at last failed him. Perhaps she was just as barbaric.
“He’s losing wakefulness. Turn him over,” the Master commanded.
A tic tightened Draven’s cheek as he clenched his jaw, and slowly turned a crank that rotated the pole that Quint was attached to. Upside down, he moaned as a rush of blood flooded his head and returned him to consciousness.
Renewed lashes burned bright in gleaming whips through the darkness, and the screams returned… they were no longer soul-piercing screams of horror and torment, but despairing wails that were fading beneath the loud cheers and stomping feet. That meaty smell — it almost smelt of burnt hamburger patties. It was disgusting, but at the same time it was doing unthinkable things to her stomach. ‘For fuck’s sake, stomach; get a grip’, she thought to herself. How long had it been since she’d had a burger? She swallowed that thought and whipped away from the sight, unable to watch any longer. She would just stand at the back here, and wait for it all to be over.
The moon was tinged with red as it began its descent, as though it knew and understood the torture it was watching over, and the screams began to fade. The show was over. It was so surreal —the crowd thinned, buoyed by glee, higher than high, after having watched flesh be burned and ripped from a man. Nessie had disappeared without a word… the poor elf. She had seemed near enamoured with the creepy guy. Queepy Quint… got his quomeuppance. She shook her head. What the hell was wrong with her? Making jokes at a time like this. She was just as disgusting as the sight she had just witnessed.
There was a tree at her back, she leant against it and closed her eyes, and waited. What was she waiting for? Who the fuck knew. She didn’t even know. She would just wait. Wait for Quint’s screams to remove themselves from her mind, wait for the mead to stop making everything so fuzzy, and wait for Draven to come and get her, to take her away from this horrible place. The end of the night would come, and she would keep on waiting.
Footsteps approached and she opened her eyes. The crowd had departed; only she, Draven, his father, and that damned body remained. The torches had been placed symmetrically on either side of the platform —the stage— and brightened Quint’s red and black skin. She shuddered. Was he dead? Probably not. He was likely unconscious and would simply stay there until he eventually died. The elements would then take him and return him to the earth. Fuck! She was doing it again. She was sounding like Sarah more and more each day.
“Katéa,” Draven stood before her and lowered his head, but not before she saw a hint of pain buried behind his eyes. Was that related to this torment? It almost seemed more tender, more personal. He took her arm and directed her to his father. What a fantastic time it was to play ‘meet the parents’. Some mead, some torture, and then be one with the family! Why the hell not? Maybe they could share some cake… drenched in the blood of their enemies.
“Father,” Draven swallowed. “This is Katéa.”
The man stared down at her, a steely glint to his eye, and she shrank back as he made a harsh harrumph. “And this is your choice? A blasted newcomer.” He shook his head and grimaced. “I tire of the pain your people bring.” He looked at Draven and snapped, “Tread lightly, boy. Mistakes are to be learned from, not repeated.” He whipped around with no further word and stalked towards the building, slamming the door behind him.
She blinked. What the hell had just happened? She was no Quint if that’s what he was declaring. Nessie had said that the Master would be pleased… ‘pleased’ didn’t seem to cut it. And what the hell was that thing about mistakes being repeated —did Draven have a habit of picking up every newcomer who stumbled into the tavern? She peered up at him, not sure what to think, what to feel, and after a long, silent moment she at last managed to find her words, “Draven… I-I don’t think I understand. Why is he angry, and what mistakes are being repeated?”
He bowed his head and murmured, “This conversation would be best had away from… this mess.” He waved a disgusted hand at the platform and led her to the corri-door, ushering her through the one beside it.
Tall torches lined another gravel path, though this one led to a small cottage and not a manor-esque house. It was surrounded by autumnal trees similar to the ones she had stumbled out from. That day seemed so long ago now, though she knew that it wasn’t. This place played tricks with her mind, made her think she had been here for months when she had only been here a week, it amplified all feelings and thoughts, exacerbating her anger and intensifying her… she swallowed. No. She would not think it.
Dread encased her. What was he going to tell her —and most importantly, did she really want to know? Anxiety replaced her heart’s beat as he opened the cottage door and motioned for her to enter, guiding her towards a cushioned chaise. He then turned his back to her and silently poked at the fire.
The cushion was soft and the cottage seemed comfortable. Her toes curled around the furry rug as she looked about the room, trying not to stare at Draven’s back. She couldn’t help it. Her gaze kept returning to him, and at last he deigned to face her. The flames roared high and her heart fell into her stomach as the faint glimmer of a tear shone from his eye before he forced it away with a hard blink. He sat beside her and took her hand, lightly touching each of her fingers. Conflicted, she wanted to offer him her other hand, but also wanted to whip the hand he held away from him. He still did not speak, and finally she broke the silence.
“Will you please tell me what just happened? Why does your father say that I am a repeated mistake?”
Draven sighed, “Because, after twenty years, he still bears the pain of loss. I was barely three years when mother took her life, my brother was four.” He squeezed her hand. “Newcomers don’t last long here, and she… she lasted longer than most. He warns of an aching future if I continue this path, repeating his error of wooing someone not of our world.”
“Your mother was a newcomer…” Katéa moistened her lips. “She fell in love, had two sons, and still killed herself? Why on earth would she do that?” She bit her tongue. What the fuck? She was the most tactless person in the world. Why on earth would she ask that? Idiot, idiot, idiot. She quickly looked away and stared into the flames, not wanting to meet Draven’s eyes. He shrugged, a motion she felt rather than saw.
The flames licked at the wood and danced about one another, crackling loud in the silence. Draven had refused to even say her name until he had determined that she was willing to stay. Lingering trauma from his mother’s death. Did she truly want to stay? Yes. There was no longer any doubt. She couldn’t even imagine going back to the other world now… it seemed a distant memory —a dream. What was it she had said the other night? That she could be free here, be herself. And then Draven had smiled at her, bringing forth a heart-fluttering happiness as he at last spoke her name and allowed the dimple in his cheek embed itself into her heart and mind. He never did teach her how to hunt, though; only how to shoot a tree. Tears rose in her eyes, blurring her vision. Why was she crying? She blinked them away but they kept coming. She clenched her eyes tight, hoping that the tears would get the message, but they rolled down her cheeks as flowing rivers, ceaseless and never-ending. She hurriedly wiped them away before they could be seen, but it was futile.
Draven leapt up from the chaise and looked down at her as she quickly turned away. Flinging herself onto the cushion, she hurriedly buried her face into it.
She didn’t answer. How could she? She didn’t know! She sobbed until her chest could heave no more. Her eyes were sore, her mind ached, and she stiffened as his hand lightly stroked her hair.
Everything was amplified in this realm. All thoughts and feelings. She had never felt such rage as she had when she had seen that pixie’s body. She had never fallen for someone so quickly before… she took a sharp intake of breath. There it was. She had thought the thought she held back before. That was it, wasn’t it? It had been a fucking week and she was crying away her heartache before anything had even happened. The Master didn’t approve of her. She was just going to kill herself like everyone else did. She was going to bring pain and suffering to all around her.
She had never been the suicidal type, but maybe those other people had not been either. She could not imagine falling in love with someone, having children with them, and then killing herself. Was it a longing for ‘home’ that sent their thoughts astray? Why couldn’t they just appreciate the beauty of this new world? The only horrid thing in this world —apart from Gruesome Grissom— was Serenithyl, and that bird would be dealt with. Neither Draven nor Nessie seemed perturbed by the creature at all. She had faith that they would send it back to sleep.
Climbing to her feet, she wiped at her tear-stained cheeks. They felt puffy, ugly, and were probably as blotched as Quint’s purple face right now. “I’m sorry,” she murmured, lowering her head to hide her horrid appearance. “I should go.”
Here she was, making it all about herself. Draven had brought her here to his home, told her of a long lingering pain, and now she was acting like a bloody drama queen. Her tears threatened to flow again and she clenched her eyes tight, not waiting for Draven’s response as she headed for the door.
He grabbed her arm and spun her around, holding her tight against his chest as he wrapped both arms around her. She sighed, contented. This was where she needed to be. This was where she belonged. Placing her hands against his chest, she pushed herself back enough so she could look into his eyes, perhaps see if she could glean what he was thinking, if he thought that she was an idiot for how she was acting right now… he lowered his head, brushing his lips against hers —oh, God. Wrapping her arms around his neck, she pulled him closer to her and returned his kiss with a fervour she had never known.
His lips found their way to her jaw, lightly nibbling as they followed her neck, to her collar, to just above her chest… she gasped and swept her hands through his hair, entwining her fingers about the twisted strands, and lightly tugged, making him face her once more. There was an adoration in his eyes that matched what she felt in her heart, that which pirouetted and danced through her soul.
This was definitely where she needed to be, and definitely where she belonged.