Act I: Red
Chapter 3: Prophecy
There was a graveyard situated in the center of the land, the stranger observed. It was north of the valley that the tavern was located in and south of the oddly scarred lands that covered the entire northern region. He had still not figured out the name of the land, nor could he find any reference on any of the tombstones; or what was left of them. Many were rigid and destroyed. In fact, nothing at all was engraved on anything; only a handful possessed the markings that the male believed to be symbols of snakes.
Upon closer inspection, the snakes appeared to have arms, or at least some sort of appendages. The stranger thought that they were possibly a different species or race, but only wrote the observation down in his small notebook before standing up once more. The book now had multitudes of scribbles, each one pertaining to an oddity he had procured while exploring: no weather, no wildlife, and barely any people at all. He glanced upward to the sun, confirming that at least for now, the land did experience a day and night cycle.
Turning back around to face the wastelands in the north, he spotted his next inquiry only a few yards away. He walked up to it, feeling the cold, drying sensation it emanated from the blackened, dead bark that covered its form. It was a tree; the branches were bare and twisted, as if it had never breathed any semblance of life at all. No other tree in the land was similar, as he picked up by walking through the eastern forests. Once more he jotted this down in his notebook.
Past the tree, in the distance of the barren lands, he saw that there was a very large wall, supposedly housing a city of sorts. Rooftops were seen protruding from the inside, and in the far back, he noticed many towers, giving him the idea that there was a castle in the midst of this unknown fortress. For sure, the denizens of this land could have very well been living in such a construct, and he had every intention of searching it. He decided to inspect it tomorrow.
He gave one last glance to the graves, contemplating on whether or not he should just dig up the corpses, if there were any, to learn about what had died and possibly examine the cause and time between their deaths until now.
The sudden voice caused him to quickly grasp his blade. He turned his head to see who was speaking. What he did see, however, loosened his grip; it was only the woman he had conversed with earlier in the day. He said nothing.
"Yes, nice to see you again, too," Sakiya grumbled as she stopped to sit on one of the intact headstones. "I saw you outside of the tavern. I figured we could talk about what we learned, if you've learned anything."
Again, the stranger opted to remain silent.
"What, you're just not going to say anything? Look, I met someone who seemed to have a clue about what's going on here. I figured it would be something we can talk about," Sakiya tried to offer.
The stranger kept his stare for a while longer before pocketing his book and crossing his arms. To Sakiya, he seemed to be studying the surroundings again, which then forced her to notice a trait she had not paid attention to before - his eyes. The irises were a deep amber, but it was the whites of them that irked her. They weren't white at all; they were black. And the only sensation that came from looking into them was a terrible coldness.
"...The fairy," he finally spoke up.
"What? Wait, you saw? That was a fairy?"
The stranger nodded subtly.
"...What did she tell you?" he asked, meeting her eyes again. Once more their appearance was so jarring that she wanted to look away, but if she wanted what she was about to say to work, she kept herself from doing so.
"I won't say anything further until you answer my own questions," she pushed. "An exchange."
"...There is nothing I have that would benefit you in any way," he said monotonously.
"Bullshit," she spat, crossing her arms as well. "I saw you writing in that little book of yours. You did the same when we first met. You've been making notes, right? I know you at least have some sort of thought about our predicament. And if you're actually a part of this place, then you definitely have a lot you can tell me."
The stranger didn't respond, nor did he move in any way. Sakiya then realized he didn't even listen to anything she just said and yet expected her to tell him what information Avelia passed on.
"I'm not telling you anything. Not until you give me something."
"...Then we have nothing more to discuss," the stranger said. Following this, he took his attention elsewhere and began walking away.
Sakiya held an expression of disbelief, her arms spread out in front of her in befuddlement.
Lord, you are an unbelievable child... she thought.
"The land is in the middle of a war," she said loudly so he would hear. "And we've been stuck in the middle of it. God you are an asshole."
The pale man stopped dead in his tracks, giving Sakiya an ounce of hope that he would finally stop being so pointlessly stubborn and actually talk to her. After a few moments, he once again pulled out his notebook and presumably jotted this information down. She waited until he was finished before standing up, assuming he was going to turn around... only to find that he would do nothing of the sort. He didn't even verbally reply; instead, he just continued walking.
"You've got to be kidding me!" she growled.
The stranger immediately felt himself being whipped around and then grabbed by the front of his shirt. Sakiya's now reddened face was a mere couple of inches away from his, the fury evident in her widened eyes.
"Listen, you prick, I could not care any less about whatever stupid background you might have come from or your twisted mental disorder that everyone shunned you for as a child. Or something. The only thing I care about right now is figuring out what the hell is going on," she hissed at him. "And you're a god damned idiot for believing that you are not going to need any allies for any given situation. Especially if we're going to somehow get swept along in this supposed war and we're forced to kill each other."
She held him for a minute before quickly letting him go. The stranger stared at her in silence, at least giving Sakiya the notion that he was contemplating what to do next.
"...I told you. I have nothing that can benefit you," he finally answered in his grating voice.
Before Sakiya could explode from frustration, he pulled out the book in his pocket and handed it to her. She looked at him before snatching it from his hands, turning away so she didn't have to have him in her sights as she leafed through.
"...Those are observations I've made. You will notice that I wasn't lying. There is nothing that can help," he said.
"You're really unbelievable, you know that?" she sighed exasperatedly. "I'm not usually this bitchy, but between you and that lady you're now telling me is a fairy..."
Sakiya did in fact notice that everything the stranger had written down had been pure observation. There was nothing truly out of the ordinary, except for a few things she had picked up on herself, such as the air having an odd feeling to it. Seeing the descriptions of the graves, however, caused her to glance down at the one next to her to confirm what he had written down.
"So then what do you make of this war?" she asked, more calmly. The stranger placed his hands in his pockets and turned his head back to the tavern.
"...I don't know," he admitted. "I haven't seen anything relating to a conflict, let alone the soldiers to carry it out."
"Do you think it's a lie?" Sakiya asked, facing him again and handing his book back.
He didn't answer this. Instead, he just fit the book back into its pouch and stared into the distance. Sakiya lowered her eyelids as she realized he was falling back into this irritating pattern.
"Okay... seriously... why do you keep doing this?" she asked, though kept her calm. She then tried a different approach. "I'm not going to hurt you."
The horizon became increasingly less interesting as the stranger noticed Sakiya's change in tune. While his expression remained vacant and icy, many thoughts were swimming around in his mind – how much to divulge, how much to withhold, why she perceived herself as a threat in his eyes. Regardless of his hesitance, however, his mouth simply decided to spit out what he believed was the most obvious.
"The conflict may be the reason we are here."
And this caused Sakiya to pause for thought. It seemed to strain the man to admit this, although for what reason she couldn't fathom.
"So there's a war with no soldiers because... we're the soldiers? How? I'm not trained in anything relating to combat."
The stranger said nothing, crossing his arms again and taking a deep breath. It was clear he was continuing to think.
"…I believe we were called here for a larger reason," he stated, deciding to share what he had conceptualized. He knew the woman would not cease her badgering otherwise. "Meaning that from here on out each of us plays a pivotal role, and that it acts as some sort of prophecy. The question is to what end."
Sakiya leaned back on one of the gravestones again, contemplating what he was talking about.
"Was it the land that called us here, you think? Or something or someone else, and why so many of us? Have you thought of what this prophecy could be?" she asked.
"Lands don't need sentient creatures to do its work," he continued. "This land in itself is merely a conceptual subject that we ourselves created; in other words, it's just the ground. Based on how all of us were gathered, it could be assumed that they, whoever they are, are of the same sentience as us." He paused. "All of us must serve some purpose, even if it is a mere line of dialog. As for what the ultimate goal is, I don't know yet."
"Do you think whoever is doing this," Sakiya began to ask, "chose us randomly, accidentally, or purposely and specifically picked us out? What I'm trying to figure out is why I am here. What kind of purpose could I serve? I don't even know where I came from. Or what I'm doing here,"
"…Worst case scenario is that whoever we're dealing with needs all of us for specific parts, like pieces to a clock. But there are so many other variables to consider, as well…" He cleared his throat. "We don't know if it's more than one person, something of a past event that was triggered now, or even something that we all decided in the future, to warn our past selves of something important that will happen at the time." He paused again. "...It's just a theory. I don't know if it's true. But if it is, then I will assume that, if there are more of us, we will fit into this larger purpose like clockwork. Regardless of how minor the task is, it will serve to complete the reason we've been brought here."
Sakiya tore her eyes from the ground to his face, seeing that his hardened expression remained unchanged. He was still staring in the direction of the tavern. And it was very obvious to her that he was harboring deeper experiences with their current circumstance, related or not.
"Can I ask you something?" she began. The stranger remained silent. "How did you come up with this idea?"
"…Maybe it just seems obvious to me," the stranger answered quietly. "Otherwise I have my reasons."
"Oh?" she continued to pester, giving a slight smile now. "The same reasons for why you won't even give me your name?"
He hesitated before answering.
"...This alliance exists only to further accomplish the necessity of either advancing our mutual knowledge of our predicament or escaping. Nothing more. I will not share anything about myself, and I do not want to know anything about you," he replied.
"I understand that," Sakiya nodded. "But it's a bit uneven. I've given you my name. You can at least tell me why you won't."
As she predicted, the stranger said nothing.
"Then can you at least tell me what makes you so quiet?" she asked in a calmer tone.
The stranger's face seemed as if he huffed in stubbornness, but he soon let go and became more relaxed. He sighed.
With this, he had had enough. He had given her everything she needed, so he was no longer required. Sakiya watched him walk away, letting her questions rest.
Glossary - Day 1
- The Stranger / Race: Human / Status: Active
- Sakiya / Race: Human / Status: Active
THE FAE COURT
- Avelia / Race: Fae (Fairy) / Status: Active
- The Tavern: Establishment in between the Fae Forest and Rogue Woods, south of the Graveyard.
- The Graveyard: Plot of land between two rivers and in the center of the land.
- The Corrupted Tree: Black, deadened tree located in the Graveyard.