Wicked Grin (Razorgrin's origins in the Secret World)

Hey everyone - I’m currently writing some SWL fanfic, it’s basically a retelling of small bits of the game as if my player character wasn’t a silent protagonist. I just like to imagine Razorgrin causing Sonnac problems and giving Brigadier Lethe a whole lot of crap. XD

With the whole “retelling” thing in mind, I’m keeping the writing spoiler-blurred, just click to read and be forewarned of spoilers.

I’m going to be posting it up by “chapter,” which the chapters are really small-- about two and a half to three pages long. Feel free to let me know what you think in the comments, hope you enjoy!

4 Likes

Bee
It must have been four in the morning when the phone rang. A man’s foot, dangling comfortably over the edge of rumpled cotton sheets, twitched in reflex at the sound. A heavy, tired sigh preceded a hand snaking out from beneath the warm comfort of blankets to slap at the offending device. When it didn’t shut up after his assault, thinking it had a snooze button in his half dreaming state, he grabbed it and pulled the phone under the sheets and up to his face to squint at it menacingly.

He sighed again. Pressing the green button, he slapped the black glass device up to his ear. “…Hi, Mom. Yeah, doing great. I-- Mom, do you realize it’s the middle of the night here? Yeah, I…” He went quiet, sighing again as Mom just kept going. Resigned, he answered, “Yeah, work is great. Everyone’s really nice. I-- no, Mom, I couldn’t find anything similar at home. It’s a startup company, I’m getting in as a lead coder so there’s a lot of upward mobility there-- Ugh…”

Sitting up, he finally shoved the sheets aside and peered around the room blearily. Aside from being sleep-crusted, his blue eyes couldn’t make sense of much beyond the tip of his nose. Swinging his legs over the edge of the bed to put his feet on the floor, he hunched over the phone and patted around on his bedside table for his glasses. “No, Mom, I’m not-- I’m getting up out of bed. It’s…” He slipped on his glasses, simple black rectangle frames, “It’s 4:15 in the morning here, Mom…”

Tired gaze becoming more unfocused as he wished he wasn’t hearing what he was currently hearing, he rubbed his forehead and this time he did roll his eyes at his mother. “Ugh… no Mom, I haven’t met any cute girls at work. …No, I haven’t had much of a chance to go out.”

At the mention of the city, he pointed his gaze to the open window to his right. The streets were busy even at this ungodly hour, London being what it was. He’d found the drone of passing cars to be soothing, and the cool misty air refreshing, so he’d left his window open. He was almost tuning his mother out in favor of listening to the buzz of the streets, until she said something that made him roll his eyes all over again. “N-No, Mom… I haven’t met any cute guys, either. Yes, that’s very open minded of you, I know-- I-- Sure, I’ll talk to Dad for a minute.”

He had to stifle a sigh of relief while his mother was handing over the phone to his dad. “Hey, Dad. Yeah, I’m doing good. Yeah, I’ve got the door locked. …Did Mom happen to mention to you that it’s 4:30 in the morning here? No? Oh, okay. Thanks, Dad. Good night.” Pressing the red button on his phone, he slapped it and his glasses back onto the bedside table, and then flopped back into bed.

He’d gotten back to sleep for about thirty seconds, before a sharp stabbing pain radiated from the back of his throat. Bolting upright again, he coughed sharply to try and clear the blockage in his windpipe, hand going to his neck to scrabble uselessly at his throat. His eyes watered and he wore a mask of panic, but just as soon as the agony started, it was gone again. He coughed once more just to be sure, and then sat on the edge of his bed, breathing labored and mind frantic to figure out what had just happened to him.

Good and awake now thanks to adrenaline, he pushed himself to his feet and trudged to the bathroom, grabbing his glasses. By the time he flipped on the bathroom light and stepped in front of the mirror and sink, he had his glasses slipped into place over his ears. He lifted his gaze to peer at his reflection in the mirror.

He screamed. The face that looked back at him was NOT right. The masculine, sharp angles of his face and his Roman nose were the same as always, but his ears had gone long and pointy, sticking out a good four inches from the sides of his head. There were-- noticeable lumps on his forehead, just beneath his hairline-- the nubs of growing horns. His hair was the wrong color, looking more like the color of dark blood than the natural orangish-red he’d had when he’d laid down to sleep last night. And his eyes, they glowed a nearly neon blue, not the normal stormy grey-blue he was familiar with.

Lifting his hands at his own reflection as if to ward off a blow, he then saw that he had …talons? Claws? Really long nails? They stuck out a good inch or more from the tips of his fingers and looked wicked, filed to sharp points. “What the f’k? What the f’k?!” He shook his hands helplessly, as if he could shake the claws off of his hands.

Looking back and forth from his hands to his face in the mirror, he tried to sideline the panic and figure out what was going on. Had he been assaulted by some kind of midnight rogue makeup artist who dyed his hair and glued things to him while he was sleeping? Reaching up, he yanked at both of his ears-- and the sharp sting of pain told him that they were both very real, very much attached and he’d just nicked one of them with one of his claws. “GAH!”

Awkwardly putting a band-aid on the cut on his ear, he then lifted a hand gingerly to his brow, careful of the claws. He poked at the horn-lumps tentatively, they were really sore and stuck up cartoonishly, the skin red and agitated. He could feel something in there, actual growths of bone-like structures threatening to puncture through his skin. “What the f’k…” He reiterated, for emphasis.

Looking back to his hands again, he glanced at a pair of fingernail clippers sitting on his sink, determined to at least do something about all this nonsense. Putting the blades against the side of one his claws, he squeezed the levers-- and then screamed all over again. He had never in his life had the misfortune to have to trim a dog’s nails, so the presence of a quick in his own nails had baffled him completely. The claws spurted blood at the incision point, and he inadvertently threw the bloodied clippers across the bathroom as he clapped his other hand to the wound. “FFFFFAAAACK!”

After mummifying his wounded finger with gauze, claw and all, he gave up and trudged into his kitchen. Hoping a pot of coffee would lend some sanity to the situation, he reached for the carafe.

It exploded. The glass didn’t just shatter, it threw sparks of blue energy as it burst into pieces in his hand, sending glass shrapnel across the room fast and hard enough to imbed the shards into the backsplash over his kitchen sink. He shrieked again, tossing the plastic remains of the carafe into the sink and leaping backwards in a panic.

That would only be the first of many, many explosions. His orange juice bottle blew the top off in his grip, sending juice cascading onto the ceiling. Quitting the kitchen, he went into the living room and blew up his television set. Pressing a button on his remote caused it to throw sparks and smoke. Just walking past his shelves caused books, movies and albums to fly at him, scattering his collections across the room. He was vaguely aware that he should probably call in sick to work or something, but touching his phone scared him at the moment, he didn’t want to blow that up, too.

Then the truly violent explosions came. After his furniture had started slinging itself around his apartment of its own accord, he was huddled in a corner fearfully as he started breathing hard, and felt a surge of… power… overcome him like lightning crashing down from above. It hurled his body up the wall, forcing his arms out to the sides and sending blue energy skyward from his eyes and mouth, as if he were a living conduit.

He endured a week like that. The explosions eventually lessened, and he found that he could control the blue energy to some degree. At some point, he’d managed to gingerly poke his cellphone and hear a series of voicemails from his new boss. The final one was telling him not to bother coming back to work anymore, he’d been let go for neglecting to call in. It was just as well- by that point, the little nubs on his brow had grown into full antlers, tall and velvety as a deer’s. Relearning how to walk through doorways without knocking them against the frame had been a real pain.

As he was finally getting around to picking up the wreckage of his flat, there came a knock at the door. When he opened it, a black-haired woman in a white blouse greeted him cooly. “Good afternoon, Mr. Arclight. Are you–” She paused, looking him up and down, just raising a delicate eyebrow at the horns as if she’d seen stranger things. “From the look of things, I guess that question is moot… Bee problem? There’s a lot of that going around…”

Letting herself into his apartment, he watched her in bafflement as she looked around his place appraisingly, and then rolled into a practiced sounding spiel. “Mr. Arclight-- can I call you Micah?” She didn’t wait for a response. “I represent an organization located in London, a very large organization with branches across the globe and connections in every government. Although, we see ourselves as a… silent partner. We pull strings. Big strings-- prime ministers, presidents, kings. Dark days are coming, the world is in turmoil and we’re recruiting soldiers, agents, adventurers… Crusaders.”

He blinked wildly at that last bit. Had he heard her right? Crusaders? She continued, “And we offer good terms. A fresh start and a network unlike any other. Unlimited resources, a fantastic medical plan, and a way to harness and use your incredible powers. It may be a big transition but look at it this way… This is a unique opportunity. You have been chosen. You have been granted powers beyond what most can imagine. So you can be an outcast in a world that would never understand or accept what you’ve become… Or you can join others like you and take a stand against a rising darkness. And embark into a journey into the unknown, into the hidden places. Into the secret world… The choice, as we’re so fond of saying, is entirely yours. But know this… your emerging powers will attract plenty of attention, and not everyone is as accommodating as we are. …This will get you where you need to go.”

The woman handed him an envelope with a red cross on the front. He took it numbly, hearing the threats just as clearly as the offers. “There are instructions inside, use it-- or don’t. It’s your prerogative. You won’t see me again-- I trust you’ll make the right decision.”

She headed for the door. Once she was outside of his threshold, she stopped and turned back to him. “By the way, our organization? It’s called the Templars. You might have heard of us. We’ve been around a while… Good day.” She then waved, and wandered away.

Micah stood in the ringing quiet in her wake, envelope in his hand, still blinking in confusion. Finally, he repeated aloud, “…What the ■■■■?”

2 Likes

Shelley
Micah stood in front of his bathroom mirror and stared at himself. He had carefully popped his contacts into place, going to great lengths to avoid poking himself in the eye with his talons. It took him a small age to accomplish the feat, but he took the risk rather than going out in public in his coke bottle glasses. He had the Templar card in front of him, lying on the sink. Whoever these people were, they wanted him to wander across Ealdwick and find their organization. All fine and dandy, but he currently had massive deer horns attached to his skull. How was he supposed to get through the city streets looking like this?

He started with the simple things that he could actually do something about; he shaved first. It had been over a week since he’d bothered. He had patchy, wild red growths along his jaw that only served to make him look even more like some kind of crazed Narnia escapee. Micah shaved in an old fashioned way like his father had taught him, with a shaving brush and soap, and a straight razor. Once his face was clean, he started to feel more human. His hair was getting longer than he liked, but cutting it himself was daunting and a trip to the barber under the current circumstances was just… out of the question. He brushed ear-length locks straight back, and set them in place with pomade. Wiping his hands clean with a towel, he sighed and looked himself over.

All he needed now was a suit and a briefcase, and he’d look like a defense lawyer for woodland creatures. Snorting to himself, Micah squared his shoulders and told his reflection airly, “Your honor, my client Mr. Raccoon was nowhere near the plaintiff’s trash bins on the night of the twenty-second…” He almost managed the whole sentence without falling into a fit of giggles, but at the last moment he snorted and succumbed. A few moments of helpless laughter followed, with Micah leaning on the edge of his sink with his hands and giggling hard. He had no fear that he was cracking up, he already knew he was well past that point.

The giggles had put a smile on his face, making the next steps in his process seem automatic, less bothersome. Micah went to his closet and dug around for a button-up shirt. His t-shirts were useless to him now, as well as every hat he’d ever owned. He’d never get them around his antlers without destroying them. Settling on a crisp white one, he slipped it over his shoulders and wondered what else to wear. He had no idea what to expect once he found the Templars, so he went with “business casual.”

He wore distressed, fitted grey jeans and a red waistcoat, with a thin black tie that he tied around his neck loosely. The top button of his shirt was undone, and he rolled the sleeves of his button-up to just below his elbows. Micah debated whether or not to wear a suit jacket, but ultimately decided the waistcoat was enough for a London summer day. He picked his favorite shoes, low cowboy boots made of faux red snakeskin. The toes were adorned with embroidery on a lighter shade of leather, and curled upward smartly. His mother called them tacky, but he thought they were great.

Micah felt more normal than he had in days, but his smile started to wear thin once he remembered that he still had to figure out what to do about his antlers. Returning to his bathroom, he grimaced at his reflection and his horns in particular. He’d thought about just heading toward the location the Templars had specified under the cover of night, but he wasn’t sure if the place he was looking for would be locked up when he found it. Then what would he do-- hide in an alleyway all night until they opened up? He was daring to brave the daylight hours in hopes of reaching the Templars faster. That woman had mentioned benefits-- medical ones in particular. Micah had hopes that the Templars could help him with his antler situation.

First he tried just wrapping his antlers in a towel, trying to make it appear as if he was wearing a really big headwrap. Struggling to get the cloth closed around his ears and the broad prongs of his horns, he tucked the towel into place and then looked at his handiwork. It was ridiculous. The terrycloth abomination stayed on his head for all of three seconds before he tore it back off in frustration.

His next attempt involved yanking his bedsheets off his bed and draping them carefully over the horns, till the hem settled just above his eyes and the rest of the cloth trailed down his back like a cape. Then, a second sheet went across his shoulders and criss-crossed in front over his belly. He cinched it all closed with a spare belt. The thought he’d had was something along the lines of a “flying nun” situation, trying to appear as if he were wearing an elaborate habit or religious headdress. The actual result was nothing along those lines, he looked like a horned madman wrapped in bedsheets. Micah supposed that he could tell people he was a prophet of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, but the entire costume would probably just draw more attention than the horns alone would have.

When the realization hit him, Micah pulled the blankets off of himself and chucked them directly in the hamper. He was going to look strange either way, so why not just go as he was? Nodding to himself, Micah opened his medicine cabinet and dug out an old stick of kohl-- black eyeliner that he’d kept from his goth kid phase in his not-so-distant past. If he was going to look weird, he might as well lean fully into it. A little bit of makeup around the eyes, and folks would be more likely to assume the horns and ears were just makeup, too. Carefully smudging the kohl around his eyes to get that careless guy-liner look, Micah then grinned devilishly into the mirror, doing his best Kubrick villain gaze. It made his vibrant blue eyes even more freakishly bright, and was actually kind of terrifying. He’d have to be mindful to not smile at anyone like that on purpose, lest he send them running.

Chucking the kohl onto the sink, he gave himself one last look-over, and then grabbed his Templar directions before he headed for the door. Stopping at a crap-catcher dish by his doorway, Micah slipped on some rectangular sunglasses with black lenses, and slid his wallet into his back pocket. Then he was off and out into the London streets.

Stepping out into the daylight, he steeled himself and then started marching down the sidewalk. The key here would be to keep moving, and move like there was nothing strange going on. Thankfully the location marked on the card in the Templar envelope was nearby. He squared his shoulders and sauntered along, a soft smile on his lips, just an elf with horns out for a walk.

The first people he encountered were a pair of old ladies chit chatting on a stoop. Their conversation came to a halt as Micah walked by, and they both stared at him with silvery brows furrowed. He couldn’t stop himself from smirking at them, daring to wink at the old birds as he passed. He heard one of them snort derisively behind him.

A trio of teenaged girls stepped out of a coffee shop, and two of the three reached for their smartphones to point their cameras at Micah. That gave him pause; adventuring out bravely was one thing, but having it recorded felt like a bad idea. He quickly lifted his hand over his face in a way that he hoped obscured it, and flipped the girls off. It was rude, but he also hoped it would have the dual effect of preventing himself from being identified and preventing the girls from using the footage anywhere online. He hurried away to the sound of digital camera shutters chirping.

Micah rounded a corner, and double checked the directions on the Templar card. He was in the specified location, but there was nothing there. Just a pair of cops standing guard in front of a gateway. Looking around to see if he’d maybe missed something, he decided to approach the bobbies and see if they had any information for him.

“Authorized pers-- Wot in the’ell are you sposed to be?” The first cop to look up at Micah blurted out, forgetting his practiced speech as he caught sight of the antlers.

“Pardon me, officers, but I’m hoping you can give me directions.” Micah said, not bothering to address the question and presenting the Templar card for the coppers to see.

“Iunno wot that’s sposed to be either, but you ain’t sposed to be here. Go’on, piss off back to th’ forest or wherever ya come from, goat boy.” The same cop answered, his cohort just furrowing his brows and staring hard at Micah with his mouth hanging half open.

“GOAT boy? Officer, these are quite clearly deer antlers.” Micah smirked, and argued just for the sake of being contrary. He was realizing it was great fun to watch the gears turn in the heads of the guardsmen, whether it was because they likely had only two braincells to rub together between them, or they were struggling to make logical sense of what they were seeing.

“All right lads, D.I Shelley. He’s with me.” A woman’s voice came from behind Micah, sounding like she was trying excessively hard to be tough and authoritative. When he half-turned to look at her, the face matched the voice; a short blonde woman in a black trenchcoat, visage creased from years of stress. D.I. Shelley was holding up a badge for the cops to see. They both nodded and straightened their postures, got quiet in the presence of a superior. She pocketed the badge and then grasped Micah by the elbow, dragging him away from the guards. “Oh, you are a right cheeky sh’t, aren’t you? Runnin’ about in broad daylight wearing your fae shape for all to see. Did you pop down to the market on your way here, too? Maybe stop to sign a few autographs? You know, they call it the ‘secret world’ for a bloody reason… The least you can do if you’re making trouble in London Above is to put on a human glamour first.”

Her grip was surprisingly strong, Micah lurched and followed as he was dragged and berated by the small, sassy woman. He found that he liked the appellation of “right cheeky sh’t,” and tried some sarcasm to live up to the expectation. “Sorry Detective, my glamour was still in the dryer.”

Shelley stopped, and tossed Micah’s elbow out of her grip roughly, bringing him to a halt in front of her. Waggling her finger in his face, she scolded, “Alright, cut the crap, forest lord. You’re a long ways from London Below, and an even longer ways from the Sylvan Grove.” What’s your business up here? Have the Druids of Avalon finally popped their clogs and let all the fauns run amok? That’s the last thing we bloody need.”

Micah couldn’t restrain his grin. This cop talking to him as if he was even remotely clued in about what was going on was just too funny to him, not to mention all the finger wagging. He lifted his hands helplessly and smirked as he told her, “Honestly lady, I have no idea what you just said to me. I never really watched Lord of the Rings, not my thing. I’m more of a Hitchcock and Romero kind of guy.” He grinned, and when she stared at him flatly he sobered and cleared his throat. “Ahem… I woke up like this a few days ago, I don’t know anything about any druids. I’m just following directions and hoping to get some help. This is all weird to me.”

He held out the Templar card to D.I. Shelley. When she looked down at it and saw the red cross, her eyes widened in realization. “Oh… ohoho, you poor bastard. You’re Bee-stung. I’d heard of strange things happening to folks who’ve swallowed Gaia’s Bee, but I have to admit, sprouting horns is a new one on me.” Shelley grabbed Micah’s elbow, and started dragging him toward a black car with official plates.

“Wait, I swallowed a bee? Like an actual bee?” Micah asked in a small bit of panic, stumbling along after Shelley as she dragged him over to the rear passenger door of the car. He remembered the sharp sting of pain in his throat, the choking fit that woke him on the night that this all started.

“Not my monkeys, not my circus. You can ask Sonnac all the questions you like, once we get you to Templar Hall. You’re getting the special police escort straight there, elf. I’m not having you traipse down the lane to terrify more of the locals, the Templars will burn us both at the stake.” Shelley opened the car door and put her hand on the back of Micah’s head, shoving. “In you get.”

“Wh–Ow!” Micah complained, as his antlers inevitably clonked against the frame of the car. Shrugging down low to compensate for the additional height, he scooted into the back seat. Shelley slid into the driver’s side, and as she did, Micah asked, “Am I under arrest? Aren’t you supposed to read me my rights, or something?” When she didn’t respond, he persisted, “Hey, at least tell me what’s going on…”

“Bloody Americans…” Shelley muttered, pulling the vehicle out into the road. She relented and told Micah, “Look lad, I only know what I need to know, for the sake of us little people. The big bad secret organizations, they’re the ones with the answers. Your new crowd, the Templars, they’ll fill you in on whatever they want you to know. Best be prepared, they’re as like to exact a heavy cost for those answers… I’d ask if you knew what you were getting into, but you’ve no idea what you’re getting into…”

The ominous weight of Shelley’s words hung like a cloud in the car’s cab. Micah sat back silently against the leather seat, and stared out of the car’s window as they drove. It was a short trip fortunately, after not too long the detective was pulling the car into a half-circle drive situated around an ornate fountain. The surrounding buildings were carved from stone, in some sort of Roman style, or possibly older. Red flags bearing the Templar cross hung from almost every bare spot in the facade, and flapped in the breeze.

As Micah stepped out of the car and closed the door behind him, Shelley leaned out of the driver’s side window and told him, “You’ll be safe here. Get to Sonnac. Get your answers. Be ready to pay a high price for them.” She put the car into drive, and as the wheels started easing forward for her to pull away, she called out to Micah, “My sincerest condolences!”

He stood in the center of the drive, watching Shelley pull away until the hum of the car’s motor was drowned out by the sound of the water rushing in the fountain. Turning his gaze to the largest building in the center and the men and women guarding the doors in stiff looking uniforms, he puzzled over what he was seeing. This was a secret organization? Massive halls, banners and flags, just down the block from apartments and shops? After thinking for a bit, Micah couldn’t resist lifting both of his hands, and gesturing to the buildings around himself. Asking no one in particular, he said, “How in the F’K is all of this supposed to be a secret?!”

2 Likes

Sonnac
Moving up the small stairs and through the open archway of Templar Hall, Micah passed the guards at the doors without them even batting an eye in his direction. Stepping past another set of large wooden doors that stood open and guarded, he came into a massive foyer with white and grey marble floors and stone columns holding up a massive dome. On every wall of the square foyer there were more large wooden doors flanked by guards, but only one set of doors stood open. Off to his right, Micah could see a large deep red carpet, and an ancient painting of St. George and the Dragon hanging above a mantle and fireplace.

He approached the open doorway, and rapped his knuckles twice on the wood. The lone occupant of the office was a handsome, dark-skinned man meticulously penning his signature on a stack of forms. He didn’t look up from his paperwork as he said, “Ah, come in, come in. Good to see you’re capable of following the directions on the back of a card. It is the basis for us getting along famously.” He was neatly dressed in black and white pinstripes, with the Templar cross on his tie clip. His tie and pocket kerchief were predictably, blood red. When the Templars had decided on a motif, they really stuck with it.

Micah walked into the room when invited, and when the man at the desk finally abandoned his paperwork and stood up, he had expected him to at least be mildly surprised about the antlers. Instead, the Templar had just gracefully maneuvered around his desk to shake Micah’s hand, smiling politely. “Of course, with an establishment like this one we’re practically in the Yellow Pages under ‘Crusaders.’ Richard Sonnac.” He introduced himself, shaking Micah’s hand with a firm grip.

He couldn’t help but smirk at Sonnac agreeing with his earlier criticism of the Templar way of hiding in plain sight. Micah chuckled and introduced himself, shaking Sonnac’s hand with a more delicate grip. He was trying to be careful of the claws. “Micah Arclight. You uh… don’t seem too bothered by the horns?”

“Indeed, I am not.” Sonnac confirmed, taking his hand back and steepling his fingers in front of his belly, arms relaxed at his sides. He started to pace his carpet while telling Micah, “It is rare, but there have been cases of those blessed by Gaia experiencing significant changes in their appearances. Usually, the culprit is a non-human ancestor. The bee disenchants any magics that had been woven over the chosen one to hide their inhuman traits, a side effect of receiving Gaia’s blessing.” He stopped in front of Micah, appraising his horns. Sonnac crossed his arms in front of his chest, and lifted one hand to his chin thoughtfully. “If I were to venture a guess, I would put my coin on a…. Satyr ancestor. Or maybe a faun. Definitely something from one of the Fae courts.”

Micah stood with his hands folded behind his back. He blinked slowly and raised an eyebrow at Sonnac. “Are you suggesting that… fairies are real?”

The Templar chuckled, “Mr. Arclight, you just spent the last six days hidden away in your apartment, setting things on fire with your mind and growing antlers. I would think that the existence of fairies shouldn’t be too large a pill to swallow.”

Micah paused, and then found he had to nod in agreement. “…Fair point.”

“Everything is true, Mr. Arclight. Folklore, stories, myths and legends, from all across the globe. Even the most outrageous tales hold some grain of truth. You’ll find vampires are real. Werewolves, too. Devils, demons and angels. As you work as an agent of the Templar organization, you’ll come to find yourself rubbing elbows with all manner of creatures and cryptids.” Sonnac side-stepped his way back behind his desk, straightening the lapels of his suit jacket as he sat. He pulled a form from the stack on his desk, and started scribbling on it.

“Ah… that brings me to the big question-- Work? I am, in fact, newly jobless, but I’m having trouble imagining the Templars needing a lead coder. I mean, do you even have a website? Is www dot Templars dot org a thing?” Micah quirked his eyebrow at Sonnac again, delicately scratching at the side of his neck with his claws.

“Heh, I do believe having an Internet presence would be even more counter-intuitive to secrecy than having a gigantic marble hall in the middle of London, don’t you think?” Sonnac smiled and shook his head. Signing the document with a flourish, he stood up from his desk again and brought it to Micah. “No, your new Gaia-given talents would be wasted on a desk job of any kind. You are a soldier, Micah Arclight, a Crusader chosen to fight the rising tide of darkness. You will work as a field agent, furthering the interests of the Templars as well as fulfilling your purpose as chosen of Gaia. You’ll find that these two great tasks go hand in hand–”

“Hang on a second, Mr. Sonnac…” Micah held up one of his clawed hands, it had started to sound like the Templar was about to start up with a rousing speech, but he had concerns. “Look, I’ve never-- soldiered. I have zero combat experience, I didn’t even want to take taekwondo as a kid. I played Call of Duty, that’s all I’ve got to run with here. Even if I have some kind of superpower, I can’t really say I’m thrilled about the idea of running headlong into a hail of bullets. Haven’t you got some sort of internship position? Somebody’s gotta photocopy all of those papers, right?” He offered with a self-deprecating chuckle, then finished, “I just want some help getting myself back to normal, and dying sounds like it would put a crimp in those plans, so-- how about we dial back on the Crusader bit, yeah? Hell, I’ll even take up janitoring if that’s what it takes to look human again.”

Sonnac shook his head, the corners of his lips curling up. “You are a very funny man, Mr. Arclight. But I can assure you, Gaia does not grant her gifts idly, nor does she allow her chosen to rest peacefully within her earth. You are quite immortal now, you will not die.”

Micah pursed his lips, staring at Richard Sonnac for several heartbeats before he drawled, “Yyyeah. I might be willing to humor the fairy thing, but running headlong into danger just because you’re telling me I’m immortal-- That’s gonna still be a hard ‘no’ from me.”

“Hm. I see you’re going to require further convincing.” Sonnac nodded, then backed up a few steps. He lifted a hand in a beckoning gesture, and Micah had thought that the Templar wanted him to follow, until a bald man in a black suit stepped out in front of him. He jumped, Micah hadn’t heard the man walk into the room, hadn’t even seen him from the corners of his eyes. He was so nonplussed by the man’s sudden appearance, and his appearance in general, that he didn’t immediately question what he was doing there. The man was wearing a perfectly white full-face mask that looked eerie, like an un-decorated Mardi Gras mask. Micah watched as the masked man unceremoniously bent at the waist to spread a tarp over the carpet in front of him. “What the fu–”

A gauntleted hand reached out from behind Micah, roughly grabbing one of his horns and using it as leverage to pull him backwards, slamming the back of his head against an armored shoulder. The motion jerked his head back, and his eyes rolled up to see a towering man in full plate armor, gazing in Micah’s direction through the slits of a bucket helm. The armored man wore an ornate hood over the helm, with Templar symbols in red, black, and white. He looked every bit like a knighted executioner, and he didn’t even give Micah a second to struggle before drawing a blade across his throat, slitting it open.

Blood poured into his windpipe and flooded his mouth, causing him to splutter helplessly for air as he grasped at the wound. Micah started to stumble forward, but the armored man held him centered over the tarp as he staggered. His vision darkened, and they seemed to be guiding him down onto the tarp-- to bleed out there, and not make a mess on Sonnac’s carpet.

“Hmm… Do try to control the spray better next time, Pendulum.” Sonnac was frowning hard, but less at Micah and more at the blood droplets that had reached his desk. He mildly chastised the knight executioner while polishing blood off of the wood with a pocket handkerchief. “Or, are you Pit? I can never remember which is which.” He gestured to the man in the black suit, and then back to the knight. Both of them just stood at attention, perfectly silent while Micah died at their feet.

Darkness, cold, and then a hammering, whooshing noise, something like the percussive rush of sound and light after a magnesium flash. The light filled his vision, blinding and white, until it faded into a warm golden glow. He found himself elsewhere-- surrounded by foliage, the golden glow, and the cadence of buzzing bees. A well of energy rushed around him, the bees riding on its currents.

“Hell. Lo? Hello?” A sweet, genderless voice tried, forcing its timeless tongue around clumsy English for Micah’s benefit. He tried to call out a reply, but his own voice rang out like full-volume static and hammered in his skull. It frightened him, he tried to huddle inward and hide in the golden depths of the well.
“Fol-low. Follow. Follow, follow follow…” The sugary voice called out to him, and a big fluffy bee meandered its way outside of the well, leaving a golden trail of pollen for Micah to follow. He shook his head, refusing. It was warm there, and good, and nothing hurt. Just peace and buzzing.

“FOLLOW.” The voice was suddenly less sweet, and Micah found he had a small swarm of bees lighting on his face, their little stickery feet papping against his skin and their wings buzzing irritably. Micah squealed and flailed his arms, surging to his feet and dashing in the direction of the insistent little fuzzy bastard leading him away from the well.

“Alright, alright! I’m following!” Micah called out, his voice ringing out in the grey silence. The world beyond the well was desaturated and cold, a mocking shadow of the living world he’d just left behind. He could see shapes and features of the London he knew, but they were distorted and fell away into shadow, beyond the pollen glow of the bee he followed. Even with the limited sight distance, it didn’t take Micah long to realize where they were going-- right back up the steps of Templar Hall. He gritted his teeth and kept following the bee directly into the room where he’d died, Sonnac’s office.

There was another magnesium flash and rush of energy, and then light and color filled the world around him. Micah was acutely aware of the temperature in the room suddenly, crisp air conditioning blowing around his ears where he hadn’t noticed it before. It made his skin break out in goosepimples, and he shuddered. The breath rushing into his lungs stung like hell, and his vision blurred and danced with the sudden onslaught. He coughed, leaning hard on the wooden doorframe. The wood creaked in protest, and the sound was as loud as gunshots to Micah. Taking several deep, gasping breaths seemed to help him get his senses under control. Then he pawed at his neck and chest, looking for the damage done to him.

Gaia had taken the liberty of doing his dry-cleaning, it seemed. There wasn’t a speck of blood on him, and no scar or wound at his throat. It was like it had never happened, Mama Earth rewinding time just for Micah. Pit and Pendulum were still standing at attention with a bloodied tarp at their feet, but there was no corpse. Sonnac was back behind his desk, scribbling on paperwork again. He looked up, and waved to Micah. “Come in, come in.”

Micah drug his feet across the carpet as he approached, a look of disbelief on his face. “I… you… You killed me!” He stopped in front of Pit (or Pendulum) and pointed accusingly at the knight, shaking his finger at him. When Micah realized there wasn’t much he could do in retaliation to the huge, armored man, he started to lurch toward Sonnac. “You let him kill me!”

The big man’s gauntleted hand fell on Micah’s shoulder, halting him. He tried to shrug his shoulder out of the knight’s grip, but found it stuck there like it had been glued on. Sonnac smiled, “And yet, here you still stand. Like I said, uniquely equipped for ‘soldiering.’ There would be no greater asset in war than a warrior who gets right back up after they’ve been cut down, wouldn’t you say?”

He quit struggling in the knight’s grip, instead straightening his posture and brushing down the front of his rumpled waistcoat. When he calmed, the knight let him go. “Alright, fine. Color me convinced. I’ll do your soldiering, or whatever, and you get these horns off of me. Sounds like a fair enough trade, I guess?” Micah didn’t sound entirely convinced, but the alternative seemed like Pit and Pendulum would just continue to stab him until he changed his mind.

“A fair trade, indeed.” Sonnac said with a smirk, and approached Micah with a manilla folder in his hands. “To sweeten the pot, I’ll even add on-the-job training into the deal. We would not send you into the field to merely ‘run headlong into a hail of bullets.’ We can hone your remarkable abilities, sharpen them into a fine blade. Or at least, teach you to control them to less disastrous effect on property values.”

Micah made a snide face at Sonnac, wrinkling his nose in a faux smile as he took the manilla folder that the Templar offered him. “Yaaay, suuuper. …What’s this?” He asked, opening the folder and flipping through it. It had a photo of Micah paperclipped to several forms inside of it.

“Your dossier. You’re to take this to Brigadier Lethe, in the Crucible. There are some forms inside that he’ll need for his records.” Sonnac explained, then pointed. “Down the hall here, and to the right.”

“Wait a minute…” Micah said, his eyes lighting on something on the top form. “Full name, Micah René Arclight, operative alias-- Razorgrin?!” He popped the folder shut and slapped it against his knee. Pursing his lips and squinting at Sonnac from the corner of his eyes, he couldn’t believe the Templar had given him a nickname that poked fun at the fact that he’d had to have his own throat cut to be convinced into this entire debacle.

“What? Too soon?” Sonnac asked, steepling his fingers in front of his belly again and shrugging nonchalantly.

He wanted to continue glaring at the templar, but Micah quickly broke when a snorted laugh escaped his nose. He had to admit that he liked the dark humor of it. “Nah… nah… that’s pretty good, actually.”

“Good, good.” Sonnac joined Micah in a good-natured chuckle, and then pointed again. “Now, down the hall, to your right. Brigadier Lethe. Best of luck.”

“Right. Okay.” Micah said, and then headed toward the door. Pit and Pendulum had already collected the bloodstained tarp and were waiting patiently at the door to be excused by Sonnac. He scowled at them and made a two-fingered gesture with his hand, pointing rapidly between his own eyes and the two of them, an unspoken vow to keep an eye on the strange pair.

As Micah exited into the hallway, Pit and Pendulum both turned their heads toward each other. They were probably having a silent laugh at his expense.

3 Likes

So so happy more people get to read this! <3 Hurry up with the next instalment grins

4 Likes

Hehehe, thanks Kate! :smiley: I kind of went wild spamming the Funcom forums here lol, I’ve been sitting on some content I’ve been too shy to share. I’ve got the next chapter brewing in my head already, gonna get to spend some time with Brigadier Lethe next :smiley:

2 Likes