Chapter 4 - The Berzerk Twins
Meanwhile, at Fairgrifen, two Jun twins were having a
disagreement in the middle of a market.
They were notably twins. They both had light green hair, though the girl, Fuun’na, worked it into a side ponytail while Sanpu, the boy, had a single one hanging behind his head. They both had black eyes though Sanpu had a desaturated silver iris while Fun’nas’ was a desaturated purple.
The girl wore a bow behind her back, a white and green shirt and shorts that didn’t reach her knees. The boy, Sanpu, wore dark blue shirt and pants, with a light blue jacket. His pants seemed to have had its left leg ripped out of them.
“What did you call me?!”
“Stupid! Who else would want to buy that silly dagger? And for that price!”
“It’s pure silver! It’s worth the money.”
“Pff, they’d have to pay me to get that little trinket.”
“Pay this!” He rose both his hands and flipped her off.
“No, you pay this,” she flipped him back. He snickered, though, and she looked down to remember she had no middle finger on her left hand. Her forehead flared in anger, her iris focusing and shrinking to a dot as she engaged her nervous system into full overdrive. Marauders like them could do that.
“That’s it!” She leapt towards him.
“Waaahhh!” Somebody yelled as they fell on top of a carpet of weapons, rolling around as they shoved at each other. They pushed away and got up, brandishing weapons they had caught from the ground. Sanpu a broadsword and Fuun’na a heavy hammer.
They took a breath.
“What are you doing?! Stop!”
They ignored him, already blind to reason.
They leapt at each other and swung. The weapons clashed with such force they sizzled new-made dents, followed by a burst of power that blew dust away.
“My merchandise!” The blacksmith complained. He was a black-haired young Pan so he actually looked pretty funny to the twins, throwings his hands over his head in shock. “Stop it! Why are you fighting!?”
“Ugh, Take that!”
Their blows weren’t that fast, but the power behind them was so very violent. And that was good about the speed, because soon, the onlookers were dodging their wild swings too. They took the fight around and throughout the large market. They dodged each other, they ran around, chasing each other. Other sellers saw their wares getting trampled or thrown around.
“Call the guards!” Somebody yelled as confusion spread amongst the entire market. They ran through counters, stepped over merchandise carefully out across rugs and carpets, clumsily throwing weapons at each other. The escalation was ridiculous. Wherever the twins reached, chaos would burst out, disarray would take over and confusion would spread as people tried to understand how to even keep their distance.
They were not predictable in the slightest.
For many long minutes, the response time of the guards, they kept fighting. But when a lawful and threatening voice sounded out - “Halt, you maniacs! What are you doing?! Stop at once!?” – They were suddenly a lot less belligerent and hostile.
Their irises returned to normal.
“Crap, time to high tail it!” Sanpu said truly worried, right before giggling, madly excited. Fuun’na followed after him. The four guards that had come were soon assailed by the very crowd they had come to protect.
They were furious, demanding all manner of rights from the guards. Explanations, compensations, to stay there as boxing bags for complaints and insults. Part of the crowd hadn’t even been affected but who can avoid a good opportunity to yell their ills at someone?
Sanpu winked at one of the guards, as they ran. In turn, the guard punched one of the citizens aside, right in their face, but that just made the crowd really get impossible to cross through, riled up further. Sanpu laughed as he led Funn’na along, disappearing from sight behind a building.
They ran for a while longer, but after a while, they could drop into a casual march.
“Think I’m keeping this one,” Fuun’na mentioned, gesturing a war-hammer she had picked up during the fight.
“Why not? That was a good fight, it felt awesome, crushing all those stands.”
“You have to be careful, though. You almost crushed me.”
“If you can’t get outta the way, then you deserve it.”
She smacked him across the back of the head.
He looked back, raising an eyebrow, and punched her shoulder.
“Ow, why you!” She threw that very shoulder back at him, colliding with him so vengefully it almost pushed him to the ground.
“Grah!” She threw a jab at his face but he managed to grab it.
“Calm down,” he pleaded, suddenly squeamish, “we’re not done yet!”
“Humpf,” she reacted, folding her arms.
“Come ooon, I was just teasing,” he asked, approaching her. He put an arm around her shoulders, pulling her close. “You know I love you.”
“I know, big brother.” she said, blushing and resting her head against his shoulder.
Smiling, they went into an alleyway. It wasn’t dark at all, few things were during the sun-scorched day, but it was sufficiently isolated. A man awaited them, in a cloak and hood, hiding his face in a mask and his hands in gloves.
“Well?” Sanpu asked, stopping a few steps from the man, “are we in?”
He stood in silence for a second, contemplating the twins.
“Yes,” he said, “you did your part and proved yourselves loyal, and the wanted posters are enough proof of your…status.”
“Right, great. So can we meet the boss?”
“Soon,” he said, “but take these,” he added, throwing coins at them. They looked like ordinary coins, apart from being pitch black and having no engravings on them. Sanpu grabbed his off the air, as did Fuun’na. That also made her pull her head out of her brother’s shoulder.
“Make sure they are never scratched, or stolen. Keep it on you. We only deal with our own, and our own must be carrying this coin. Damage it, lose it, and you’re out.”
“Hm,” Sanpu eyed the coin curiously. He bit it, startling the hooded man into a hop.
“Wha-what did I just say??!”
“Look,” he showed him the coin, clean of dents except for a scratch that marked his bite “tell the others my coin looks like this, that way you’ll know I haven’t just replaced it.”
“Humpf. You have to improve your attitude, the both of you. We’ll contact you soon. I’m told that with warriors of your caliber, the boss can finally go ahead with his plan.”
“Well, s’long as we get paid,” Fuun’na voiced in a flirting manner, resting her head again on Sanpu’s shoulder.
“Be on the lookout and lay low. No more scenes until you’re contacted.”
Sanpu smiled and brought his hand up to brush his sister’s hair.
“Got it, we’ll sit tight.”
“We’ll find some other way to pass the time, I’m sure,” she pointed out suggestively. The man shivered a bit.
“Hm,” he said, clearly feeling awkward, “‘Till then.” The man’s figure dissolved in smoke as if he was a mirage. They waited a few seconds, and then they laughed, pushing apart.
“They always freak out when we get all touchy,” Sanpu commented, amused.
“Well let them, who cares what they think,” she voiced. Sanpu stroked the top of her hair, a bit too forcefully.
“Ooww,” she pushed him away, also a bit too forcefully.
“Uf!” He laughed, stepping away from her “ha ha, come on, let’s go back.”
They walked out, heading for the bunkhouse where they were renting a room. The thieves would know to find them there.
“This place is actually quite big,” Fuun’na regarded while they walked through the dusty streets of Fairgrifen. “Specially the wall.” It was visible from any point in the city. It was a big city.
In fact, Fairgrifen was an easy enough place to spot from almost anywhere, both within and without. It had compensated for the fact it stood in the most planar island known to the world by surrounding itself with the highest and thickest wall known to the world. Despite that, two buildings were almost as tall as the wall; so much so that, when viewed from within the walls, they looked of equal height.
The Aristocrats that ruled over Fairgrifen lived in a palace built high, with has many towers as there were Aristocrats, all surrounding a lower building, a dome, which was where they met to convene and council and give audiences. That decision, made at its foundation, would forever make certain no one would forget how many rulers of Fairgrifen there should be.
The whole building looked as luxurious as it was large, with rounded ceilings on top of the towers, mimicking the central dome, and its entirety was adorned with golden and sapphire patterns which spiraled up into the diamond sphere at the top, the largest of which on top of the center dome.
It was definitely one of the most amazing buildings one could see in their lifetime.
The second building was the town hall, a name which remained from its foundation, outliving the city’s expansion and growth into a state. This one had obviously suffered construction and renovation throughout the years. It served to hold feasts and celebrations and was fitted to supposedly receive every citizen of Fairgrifen.
Fairgrifen was much known for its festivals and celebrations, which it hosted in the town hall if ever some inconvenience threatened their schedule festivities, such as a sandstorm. Or a military siege.
In order not to fill too much space, as the years went by, they started raising the building instead of widening it. The result was a succession of elliptical rooms, built on top of each other, with the ground floor being much wider. It was bent, far from clean, but it was painted with strong, vivid colors. All and all, while being the result of a succession of patch jobs, it was still one of the most unique structures known to the world.
Most of the rest of the city-state were much like the rest of the villages and towns that inhabited that deserted island. Buildings made of hard rock, with cloth or wooden windows. It had three markets, normally filled by individuals who displayed their craft on rugs and carpets, but some actually had stands.
The city’s government taxed the vendors, obviously.
Fairgrifen’s crime had never been much to worry about, either. It had a lot of thievery going on, most of it petty, but beyond that it didn’t suffer from anything out of ordinary…until recently. Some crime boss had joined most crews into a sort of guild, organizing crime in Fairgrifen. For the first time, the Aristocrats themselves were being robbed, guards bought out, ‘turfs’ being forced into existence. It was a real problem that was starting to cost the city some of its commerce, pushing it out in order to host more iligitimate business opportunities.
Sanpu and Fuun’na did not know about any of this when they first came to Fairgrifen.
Like Midori, they had sought to enter the city but had been barred due to a lack of monetary funds. Unlike her, though, they didn’t allow that to be the end of it. They had staged a fight, as they often did, and used that to get through the gate. Once through, they lost themselves in the city.
The guards had not minded it that much, in all honesty. They hadn’t even raised any wanted ads nor anything, not at first. Whoever decided not to report them must have thought they wouldn’t have money to sustain themselves anyways, and that they would soon return to the gate, to leave.
But Sanpu had never harbored the notion he would be paying for things with money he had brought. Once inside, they looked for mercenary work, quickly finding bodyguard jobs for some rich Fea merchant who was tired of having his merchandise stolen.
Still unaware of how tight the criminal network was on Fairgrifen, they caused the death or painful incapacitation of every thief that sought to rob the old Fea. They then thwarted some assassination attempts, unaware up until later, that they were actually aimed at them. In under a week, they gained renown as the bloody twins, which was appropriate since their family name was Blood.
It was good work, both of them enjoyed it. They often fought , which was fun, and they were well paid.
Then they were contacted by the man in hood and cloak. He paid them off to kill the old merchant. At first, they had decided to keep their word and deny that job. But later, the old man told Sanpu to go fetch him some water when he was in one of his ‘screw the world’ moods, so Sanpu decided to kill him, just to see the look of shocked surprise in his face.
He no longer remembered whether he had slashed the neck or the belly.
They fought off some guards that the Fea still held, killing a few, and then they went into hiding.
It took a few days for Fuun’na to talk to him again, she could really hold a grudge sometimes but, no matter how long it took, she always returned to brother.
As he was thinking back on these things, Sanpu saw a poster of them. He ripped it out and looked at it, showing it to Fuun’na.
“I wonder what those guards at the wall think when they see this?”
“Probably ‘d’oh! We should’ve done that before they killed our very important merchant’,” she mocked.
He laughed, crumbling the poster in his fist before throwing it away.
“And can we sell these coins?”
He smirked, “heck yes, they’re pure gold. They got some kinda hard ink on it but that won’t upset real merchants.”
“That’s good to know,” she noted, cheerfully.
They had been planning to flee the city once they got their money but the cloaked and hooded man, instead, offered them another job, to serve as bodyguards to a thief who was going to steal a horse. The horse was very cool, actually, Sanpu was really tenpted to steal it for himself. But his sister knew him, she made sure to stay between him and the owner, who he’d want to kill in order to steal the horse.
He had decided against pushing it with a shrug. What was the color of the horse again? He couldn’t remember.
Then they were offered another job but they argued back that they were staying in the city for too long. Soon they’d be caught. At which time, finally, the hooded figure explained about the boss and his criminal network and how he could keep them hid if they joined him, for as long as the recruitment lasted.
They shrugged and said “sure”. It wasn’t clear what the recruitment was for but they just didn’t feel like setting out yet; walking the desert had been a tiresome and boring trip and neither of them had the patience to go at it again. Plus, it sounded fun.
Marauders as they were, it was rare for them to be involved in such shady business, they were more often than not employed for more straightforward purposes.
Too bad the city seemed to be inhabited by limp weaklings who couldn’t stand one blow from their heavy weapons. Except for the captain of the guards, that one had almost killed Sanpu.
And a bodyguard from some merchant who put up a good fight. He still lost, but he wounded Sanpu all the same. And very badly.
Remembering the amazing fight, he traced his cheek to see if he could still feel scarr, but it had cleared.
“So, anyways, who’re we gonna betray, Sanpu?”
Sanpu smirked. A few days earlier, after two recruitment missions, since they had first joined the guild, they had received a letter from one of the Aristocrats, saying he knew about them, and wanted to see them or he’d set the guards on them.
So they went.
He was responsible for the justice of Fairgrifen, like a minister of justice. A fat man, also Jun, though he was lean and mean, with a pointy mustache. Because where would a corrupt politician be without an evil pointy mustache. He had green iris amidst his black eyes and dressed in expensive clothes. His skin was tanned and his muscles well outlined, he looked like a fighter who’d never the less by be a bit rusty.
Long story short, the man knew they had been invited into the guild and wanted to pay them to kill the crime boss. In turn, they’d get money and a pardon so they could stay in Fairgrifen without fearing arrest.
They shrugged and said, “sure.” The Crime boss certainly knew about their visit to the politician, but killing the merchant had proven they were money hungry so he’d still meet them and try and match the Aristocrat’s price. Or so they figured.
Of course money had very little to do with betraying the Fea merchant…but only the two of them knew that.
“We’ll do what we always do, little sis,” he said, putting his arm around her.
The reason had been the same as it always was.
“Whatever we feel like,” they said together, content.