Chapter 61 - Ceremony Day
“Maybe we should think about this more later, when we aren’t so drunk...” Grant said as he clutched at his stomach. “Where’s your bathroom!?”
Rhett hollered out directions and Grant rushed down the dark hallway, wobbling side to side, his bladeless hand glided across the smooth wall. He noticed a purple glow coming from the room beside the bathroom. He didn’t have time to get a decent look though as he rushed towards the toilet to relieve his system from the binged alcohol.
After bringing himself back upright from having his face parallel to the toilet, he felt immediate relief. A visceral kind. His mental anguishes were still present. He examined his monstrous finger once again, this time from all angles at once using the mirror.
The night had really done a number on him. Crusted mud splotched on his face and hair. He shook his head as he stared at himself. He noticed one of his eyes seemed a bit of a brighter yellow than before, or maybe it was his imagination.
After cleaning up his face and gulping up water, he stepped out into a purple tinted hallway. He could feel his fingernail gradually shrinking. Rhett stood before the room where low purples casted out from.
“Oh Grant, you feeling any better? I thought I’d show you one of my best buds from childhood,” Rhett said as he motioned for Grant to walk in.
The room was full of dirt and plants, and with that came a musty smell. A large tarp layered underneath covering the entire floor. Heat lamps were scattered throughout the corners of the room, giving it the illusion of a night club. Rhett sat down on a mound of dirt next to his massive tortoise and dropped his hand upon his shell.
“This is Tarro, he isn’t the most lively, but he does have a pretty fun personality.” Rhett gave a weak smile. “At least I think so.”
Grant sat across from them in the only chair in the room.
“I wouldn’t expect a room like this to be in here...” Grant said as he slowly looked around the room. “Anyway, back to the previous conversation.”
“Yeah, I may have riled myself up a bit a moment ago. I still believe it’s possible though, but we should really think everything through more. Tomorrow at the ceremony we should have a more concrete answer about some of the subjects.”
“Oh yeah, that’s tomorrow…” Grant sighed.
“They’ve said it shouldn’t take too long, but we should really keep an eye out for instances where they could mess with us. If such a small thing really caused your nail to grow that way, we need to be aware of everything.”
“That is true... Should we tell Saraiya?” Grant asked.
“As much as I want to… I can’t trust anyone except you right now. And plus her not knowing will help paint our expressions with a shade that is less suspicious. I can’t imagine her acting to be much better than ours.”
Rhett’s guardian took a few steps forward and plopped back down, now looking at Grant.
“There is one thing about this that is still bothering me. I mean, it’s all bothering me, but one thing we didn’t discuss.” Grant reached his arm out to Rhett’s pet.
The guardian took a few more steps forward, and Grant pet his shell.
“The vulthos. Do you think they have to do with the experiments too?”
“Hmmm, that is a good question. I suppose it is a possibility. I feel like they are pretty low on our list of concerns right now though, right?” Rhett asked.
“Yeah, I guess so.”
Grant woke up the next morning with a headache. He scrambled towards the sink and gulped up water from the faucet. He had never drank that much in one night, and as much as he wanted to regret it, he felt like he learned important things because of his mishaps.
Today was the big day, the ceremony. Grant and Rhett came to an awful conclusion on what kind of event this could be. Although, Grant wasn’t sure if he believed everything Rhett said, or rather he didn’t want to believe it. But, after gaining claws, nothing seemed too ridiculous of an idea.
He decided he was going to have to suspect everything today, especially Lars, who was the one in charge of the ceremony. Was he really behind something so atrocious though? If he were, did that mean that Jack had set him up this whole time? Only to be met with the same fate as his brother?
Grant stepped outside and noticed the whole village outside in front of Lars’s trailer, once again with tables, chairs, and food. Banners and balloons scattered around his yard as well that read, “Welcome to the Family.” Grant’s stomach turned. Up until a few days ago he felt happy about being appreciated enough to be called someone’s family, but now the sentiment left a sour taste.
“Hey Grant! Ready for the big day!?” Lars waved from across the street.
Grant could only fake a smile and wave back. He stayed across the street from the villagers until he realized he had no other choice but to participate. Grant and Rhett both agreed to go along with the ceremony in order to gain more clues but to be wary of any warning signs.
Grant still couldn’t believe it. Everything felt so fake. What was real? What wasn’t? It seemed the logic of this world had reversed. Humans with sharp claws? Indestructible lion claws? Humans with wings? Rhett’s sister maybe getting experimented on to get tortoise abilities? It felt too stupid, but, he couldn’t deny the fact that it would make sense.
He finally crossed the street and held his breath. Rhett and Saraiya weren’t there yet, so he would have to suffer alone.
“You feeling better today?” Kale approached him with Zair on his shoulder.
“No, if I’m being honest, I’m feeling worse.” Grant took a seat at an empty table. “So, when does everything start today?”
“Once the meal is prepared, I would assume. If Rhett and Saraiya don’t get here soon, I’ll have to go grab them.” Kale sat down across from Grant.
All the villagers weaved their way in and out between the obstacles, placing food and silverware on the tables. Every person who passed Grant personally congratulated him on becoming an official member. He faked as best he could his gratitude.
Cats circled the dining grounds, as if they were security at a fancy feast.
“Lars didn’t make you help with preparing the ceremony?” Grant asked.
Kale sighed. “I have the most important role in the ceremony, so they let me relax for the beginning of it.”
“Most important role? What do you do?”
“You’ll see later.” Kale looked down. “Everything will be fine though. I can handle it, I’ve had to do it for the past few years. I think this year will be my best work so far though, at least I hope.”
Was he going to make something? What was his role in this ceremony? Grant just nodded to his vague answer.
A group of villagers called out as Saraiya and Rhett both approached and sat down at the table.
“Another feast, huh?” Saraiya smirked.
“I think you mean, another feast, hell yeah!” Rhett said, but Grant noticed he was trying too hard to be excited, which he previously thought his enthusiasm for food had no bounds.
“Hey everyone, sorry if I made you worry last night.” Grant realized he hadn’t apologized for causing so much stress to everyone. “Did you at least get your interview, Saraiya?”
Her smirk turned into a wide smile. “Yeah, I did! Thanks to Kale! I am in the works to send it out to a music magazine right now. I’m pretty excited to see what happens!”
“Don’t forget us when you make it big as a reporter,” Rhett teased.
One of the villagers overheard the conversation. “Oh, you’re just now being welcomed here, you can’t go off and leave!”
Saraiya laughed. “I’m sure I won’t be leaving anytime soon. Making your way up the ranks for writing articles doesn’t proceed that quickly. Also, I’m surprised, Kale knew two members of the band on a personal level!”
“What? Really?” Rhett said. “You’ve never told me that!”
“How else did you think we got them to come here?” Kale said, seeming to realize there was no way to hide his secrets any longer.
“But why keep that a secret? That’s awesome,” Grant said.
Kale lost eye contact with everyone and avoided the question. “What a nice day.”
“Today is indeed a great day.” Ambri stood behind Kale, with a beaming smile. “Ceremony days are my favorite days.”
Lars tapped his glass and stood upon his deck. “Okay everyone! It looks like we are about ready to start the final day of festivities!”
All the residents of Lyros gave a cheer, besides the honorary members and Kale.
“Our inspection with Mr. Nelto went well too! So everyone be proud of all of your hard work!”
“I’m glad everything went well, dealing with Mr. Nelto was kind of tough this time, right Kale?” Ambri said.
Kale gave a slight nod.
Hard work? What kind of work was everyone doing? They were only taking care of their yards, right? Grant and Rhett exchanged glances.
“Starting tomorrow we will hold our next meeting for Lyros, and this time Saraiya, Rhett, and Grant are welcome to participate as well!” Lars shouted from his stage.
The same people cheered again.
“Now let’s begin the feast!”