Chapter 17: The King of Joy

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But for our pride and arrogance, we earned a great reckoning. For we said that God was a myth, a fiction, a superstition. Thus, all was permitted, nothing forbidden. But who are we to slay the Transcendent? Simply enough, we weren't. We claimed God to be dead -but our stories did not kill him.

***

Laidu's amber eyes flicked open. He paused for a moment. No voices! They were gone. He lay down, exhaling loudly. The silence in his mind was so refreshing. He turned his head slightly and stared, confused.

He was on a nice bed, not expensive, but sturdy, covered in a warm quilt. He didn't know how he had gotten there, but that wasn't what confused him. Nor was it the wild and crazy storm that bellowed and howled outside the window. Nor was it the fact that he was wearing his spare pants under the covers, though that fact worried him. It wasn't the other beds, three others, to be precise. Laidu saw someone sleeping in one. Skaria.

No, it was the young child staring intently at Laidu. When the kid saw Laidu's eyes, his brown eyes lit up with excitement. "MOM! MOM, HE'S AWAKE!" he shouted, dashing out of the room. His shout hurt Laidu's ears.

Did something with a two arms, two legs, and a really loud voice just run past us? the angry voice asked. Laidu's heart fell. Nope. The voices were here to stay, it seemed. At least Mr Angry was.

What's your name? Laidu asked the voice. Mr Angry, in my mind, won't cut it. He shifted and sat up. A few deep breaths, and he waited for Mr Angry to answer.

The angry voice was silent for a while. Kasran, it said. Anger burned inside him. An aimless rage, given no direction, it burned inside. Laidu could feel the acidic hatred boiling underneath.

Kasran, Rhaem said, cheerfully mulling over the name. I think I've heard that before. Yes, I swear I heard it before!

Shut up, you bloody fool! Kasran snapped. Laidu sighed. There would be no peace in his mind.

The door opened. Laidu looked up, before he saw Indra and Kyra rush in. "You're awake!" Kyra shouted, slamming into Laidu and hugging him. She let go and smiled. "I was worried about you!" Indra simply had a bundle of bandages and a jar of greenish paste.

Laidu smiled. "That's sweet," he said, before wincing. He looked down. While his chest was fine, his abdomen was wrapped in several layers of bandages. Some were stained dull brown, the same shade as long-dried blood. "That's new," he remarked.

"Claw wounds." Indra sat down next to him. "Can I take it off? I want to apply a poultice." Laidu nodded. Indra reached around him and began to undo the bandage. "You know what caused it?" she asked, handing the dirty bandages to Kyra. "Don't touch the blood, and burn those. But not in a cooking fire." Kyra nodded, waited for a few more, and walked out.

"A monster," Laidu said.

"That's a bit childish," Indra said.

"It was giant, about eight feet tall. It looked male, but didn't have any parts, if you get the idea." Indra nodded. "It's skin was grey, it had no face. Just an eel-like mouth and a giant eye. What else would you cal it?"

Indra stopped. "Where did you see that picture?" she asked.

"Picture?" Laidu asked.

"You're describing a picture of Kazalibad." Laidu gave her a blank stare. "You're describing the engraving of Kazalibad from the fifth volume of the Rise and Fall of the Kingdom of Elysion." Indra finished with the last of the bandages. "KYRA!" she shouted, making Laidu wince. She was loud. "I got more bandages for you!"

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