PRISON BREAK (I)
Three Goddesses -- that's who he gazed at inside a small, damp cave. There they stood, beneath a dim light, their visages ethereal, otherworldly. He couldn't understand, couldn't even begin to fathom where they came from, or why, or even the simple how. He could but sit and stare, woeful in his silence. His mind still believed it to be a dream, or perhaps a flash of joy before he'd finally depart, yet, in his heart, he had hoped it was real, that it was happening, even if it be the last day of his life.
Tensions within the cave were so high, Lucky mused inwardly, that they could practically be cut with a knife. Alison stared at Hannah frigidly while the latter stared back bitterly and apologetically. No one spoke; the two of them mostly trying to contain their emotions, while Lucky merely wanted to find out how long could they keep this up before boiling over. She wagered if it were up to Hannah this could go on probably until the end of time, though Alison was another story entirely. She was proven right shortly after, as Alison was the first one to crack and speak.
“You certainly always knew a way to weasel yourself into things,” Alison said, scoffing coldly. “I’d only imagined you had a shred of dignity left... I guess you don’t.”
“... I don’t think I ever had all that much dignity,” Hannah said, sitting down and cracking a faint smile. “It’s too exhausting.”
“You have nestled yourself finely, though,” Alison smirked. “Protected by both the Empyrean and the Sword Maiden; you must be over the stars.”
“I really am,” Hannah still retained her smile. “What about you? Who’s your friend?”
“... Lucky,” picking up on the cue, Lucky waltzed over and shook Hannah’s hand with a contemptuous smile. “I can’t believe there’s a whore out there who could make Ally angry. You must have done some batshit insane stuff. I don’t like you.”
“....” Hannah’s eyebrows twitched angrily for a moment as she shot a glare at Lucky who merely stepped back with a grin on her face. “Another foul-mouthed moron? Ally, Ally... wasn’t I a proper lesson? Don’t make friends with two-faced idiots. That tale never ends well.”
“Two-faced?” corners of Lucky’s lips twitched as she fired back without giving Alison a chance to speak. “If you mean loving and understanding, then I certainly have two faces... unlike you, vile-shriveled cunt.”
“At the very least,” Hannah fired back immediately. “My shriveled up cunt hasn’t been seen already by half a world.”
“Because the half that had seen it had died from sorrows.”
"Oh my, I did not know I had such power; perhaps I should flash it to you so you can finally die."
“If it would mean finally never needing to see your wretched face, gladly. Go on, lift that skirt and show us what you got.”
"Rather than angry, you sound quite horny. Could it be this is ye old child's ploy -- those who fight love? Ah, I'm sorry, I am a woman taken; look elsewhere. Perhaps that lad crouching there. He seems like he'd be your type -- a breath away from death."
"...." Alison stared in wonder, fear, and absolute embarrassment as words and sentences she never imagined leaving even the vilest of mouths were spewed out of two beautiful, graceful women. She had read horror stories before, and even enjoyed some of them, and had heard many-a-man curse and spew filth in taverns... but nothing, all combined, ever came close to what she had heard today.
By the end, she had begun shaking, tears forming up at the corners of her eyes. It was only then that Lucky and Hannah realized something was wrong and stopped; reflecting, they figured they may have gone slightly overboard with their play. Though the two of them might have enjoyed it, Alison certainly did not.
“... you alright?” Lucky asked Alison who quickly backed into the corner, away from her.
“S-sister Lucky... I... I...”
“Ah, I know; I’m sorry, alright? It’s just that seeing that face woke something very ugly inside of me.”
“Inside of you?” Hannah chuckled. “That’s adorable.”
“Hey, shut it,” Lucky growled. “Can’t you see we’ve already scarred her more than anything has before in her life. Do you really want to continue?!”
“No, you’re right,” Hannah sighed, smiling apologetically at Alison. “Don’t worry. We’ll stop, alright?”
“... h-how... how can you say all those things... think those things... aaah...”
“It’s because we’re terrible people,” Lucky replied, shrugging and sitting down, whipping out a bottle of wine. “As simple as that.”
“... you barely know me,” Hannah glanced at Lucky, smiling wryly. “How do you know if I’m terrible?”
“... really? Like, really?”
“Uhm...” Alison seemed to have slightly recovered for the time being, taking a deep breath. “L-let’s just... let’s lay out a plan properly, now that Hannah’s arrived.”
“Sure.” Lucky and Hannah nodded as the latter turned toward the man in the corner and hollered at him. “Get your skinny ass over here. We need your help.”
"Hey! Be gentle with him!" Alison growled, walking over and helping the man stand up, pulling him over gently and sitting him next to her, never letting go of his arm. "You really haven't changed one bit!"
“She was always like this?” Lucky quickly chimed in. “Why were you friends with her in the first place?”
“... should you really be asking that question?” Alison fired back at her with a faint frown and a pout, causing Lucky to chuckle.
"Alright, enough of the nonsense," Hannah said, taking out a bottle of wine as she realized Lucky wasn't going to offer her own. "Ella gave me the most accurate map of the place she could find," she added, taking out a medium-sized parchment with fairly few explicit drawings. "As you can see, it sucks and tells us nothing. The best I could read is that the Submerged area is somewhere around the eastern part and that it's most-likely heavily guarded."
“I could easily go over and sneak in,” Lucky added. “But that’s about as much as you’re gonna get from me. I caught a glimpse of a few beasts and guards, and they’d all wipe the floor with my skinny ass in no time.”
"L---uh, the Empyrean had given me these," Hannah took out a few, strange-looking talismans that neither Lucky nor Alison recognized. "These are like ordinary communication talismans... except forged through Magic, meaning that nobody here should be able to detect them. This vile creature will sneak in first and use the talisman to describe the general outlook, and then we'll see."
“What happens if I get caught?” Lucky asked.
“You’re on your own then.”
"No, she's not!" Alison exclaimed, growling at Hannah. "We're not separating! This place is too dangerous, and if we get caught, we can't count on external help! Very few powers are willing to offend this place!"
“... fine,” Hannah sighed, relenting in the end. “That will mean, however, making this far more difficult of a journey.”
“Can either one of you two inform me what... exactly are we supposed to do?” Lucky suddenly asked. “I mean, I know we’re after the Cult members, but... what when we find them? Do we kill them? Kidnap them? Follow them around and spy on them? What exactly is the goal here?”
“Seriously?!” Lucky exclaimed as both Alison and Hannah went mum. “Ugh, no wonder you two are friends. You are both idiots.”
“Were friends!” Alison quickly corrected.
“Yeah, yeah, that’s why your eyes lit up like fucking stars when you saw her,” Lucky said. “Because you were friends and now you absolutely hate her. Geez, you’re many things Ally, but a good actor ain’t one of them.”
“Kidnap them?” Hannah proposed.
"Yeah, gun straight for the most difficult one," Lucky sighed, realizing that it was probably the salvation of the entire mission that she had tagged along. "We have two options: make this a short-term or a long-term assignment. If we make it short-term, I'll sneak one of you into their area and we'll grab two of them and bolt out. The third one will be in charge of cover-fire, and we'll no doubt rock the entire world with a fight. If we settle on the long-term one, we'll set up a set of bases and merely keep an eye out on them for the first few weeks, jotting down their patterns: guard rotations, cycles, strengths, weaknesses, potential gaps, that sort of a thing. Hopefully, this will reveal some sort of a hole on their defenses that we can exploit."
“I-I know some... some good blind spots... for... for guards...” the man who had remained silent so far suddenly spoke out; he didn’t care anymore whether it was a dream or reality. Whichever it may be, he felt his heart start for the first time in eons. It was a feeling he wished to hold onto for as long as possible.
“You do?” Lucky, Alison and Hannah asked uniformly, glancing at him.
"Y-yes," the man replied hoarsely, nodding. "T-their defenses are especially l-loose in-between the boundaries... S-submerged Quarter, uh, borders Hanging Chains and Gardens o-of Nightmares... t-the borders are loosely d-defined, and g-guards are careful n-not to cross into a-another territory... so they al-always make extra space... t-that can be used t-to find a good place f-for a base..."
“Well, what do you know,” Lucky cracked a grin, patting the man’s head. “You just might be very useful!”
"Hey! He's not a tool!" Alison quickly reprimanded, swatting Lucky's arm away. "Thank you," she turned toward the man and smiled warmly. "If what you say is true, it will be extremely helpful to us. When we are done... I promise to take you out of this place with us and give you a proper life that you can enjoy. I promise..." Hannah and Lucky remained silent, holding back on the sighs; they pondered deeply, just how much will Alison be able to endure this place before breaking down at her seams.