Chapter 19 Eyes Of White
Axel enjoyed the walk back towards the warehouse. He was planning on promoting Jason some more at the slums with Jack. Jason was a real money maker with his talent. He was halfway there when he received a message from Jack.
Message from G3T_JACKED69
Someone stole all of the shit you put down in the cellar. Get here now.
His heart dropped. There was no one else that knew about the storage apart from Jason, Jack and Jasmine. He started running towards the warehouse, hopping in and out of shadows to increase his speed.
He rushed through the central area of the slums and down the sewage to the warehouse. The door was wide open and when he stepped inside he saw Jack looking into the cellar.
“It’s all gone,” Jack said, turning to look at him.
“Fuck.” Axel rushed over and looked at the hatch into the cellar. All of the items were gone; there was nothing left.
“Who did this?” Axel asked.
“I don’t know, man. I came back here to get some shit for Jason.”
“Fuck,” Axel spat, clenching his jaw. “You’re not lying to me are you?”
“This is me we’re talking about, Axel. I’m not rich but I’m not going to steal.”
“Then who, huh? Jasmine or Jason.”
While Axel was ranting and trying to figure out who it was that stole from him. Jack was looking around the warehouse. He wasn’t expecting to find anything but was shocked at what he discovered.
“Shut up, Axel, look.” Jack walked over and pointed to a little origami figure.
Just then, Jasmine rushed through the door. “I got your message, Jack!” she shouted, out of breath. “I can promise it wasn’t me.”
Axel hushed her as he looked at the origami figure. It was in red paper and was in the shape of a robin. “No,” he muttered, in shock.
Jack gulped. He turned to Jasmine and calmly said, “Cover your ears.” He did too just after.
Rage built up inside of Axel and he screamed, “FUUCCCKKKKKKKKK!” After exhausting his rage, he sat down on the floor.
Jasmine noticed the small red figure on the crate. “What’s that?”
Axel didn’t respond but Jack did. “The Red Robin. AKA Axel’s nemesis.”
“What? From Omegus?”
Jack nodded. “Yeah. The number of times we’d be searching for weeks for an item, only find it and then see it stolen with a little origami robin in its place. He’s fucked us over so many times.”
“How did he find us?!” Axel shouted. “You two haven’t spoken to anyone, have you?”
The two shook their heads. Axel remembered that Barb had warned him someone was looking for him. Jack noticed him thinking and asked him about it.
“Barb said someone was looking for me. It must have been him. I know Barb wouldn’t have told the person anything.”
“Are you sure he wouldn’t do that?” Jack questioned. “I haven’t met the man yet.”
Axel nodded his disappointment. “I want to point fingers but I just can’t.”
Jasmine noticed a few breadcrumbs around the origami bird and pointed it out to them. Axel turned around and looked at them. “So, the fucker wants us to play a game?”
“It appears so,” Jack agreed. “You know that never ends well though.”
“What else choice do we have?” Axel remarked. “We know we won’t find him unless we do. Why can’t this piece of shit just leave me alone.”
“Can you tell me a bit more?” Jasmine asked.
Axel sighed his annoyance at the situation. “Yeah. So, the Red Robin didn’t like the fact I could hoard shit on Omegus.”
“And gives it to the poor like Robin Hood?”
“The Red Robin doesn’t care about that. He just likes to play games with me. I almost caught him once but never again.”
“What did he look like?” Jasmine asked.
“He had a fuckin’ hood on obviously, what were you thinking? Am I gonna track him down in real life and threaten him? Don’t answer that. But yeah, every time. Every. Single. Time. He is just a boring degenerate fed up with his own life he has to make mine miserable.”
“Get up,” Jack told him. “Stop being all soppy and shit and let’s catch him. I wanna catch this bastard too, you know. Do you remember the Glint Sword; the one item I need to complete my set? That prick stole it. I know I can’t get it back but I can sure as hell beat the crap out of the guy and that’s exactly what I want.”
Axel looked up at him. “Let’s do this shit then. Jasmine, you in?”
“Yay! I’m in!” Jasmine squealed, clapping her hands together. “We’re gonna catch a good guy. We’re gonna catch a good guy— why aren’t you guys singing?”
“You’re not coming if you’re gonna sing that,” Axel put it simply. “We will need your skills as a thief so please don’t.”
“How about a different one?” Jasmine asked.
Axel shook his head as he got up. “We can think of a new one on the way?”
“Way to where?” Jack asked.
“Barb first. I have a few favours to cash in on.”
So, with murder on their mind, the trio marched out of the warehouse. Axel slammed the door shut and locked the door. They headed to their first stop: Barb. As they weaved through the crowd to him, they noticed he was sharpening the blade in the back of his stall.
“Ah, back so soon,” Barb said, placing the blade to the side.
“I need a favour, Barb.”
“Who’s that next to you?” Barb asked, ignoring Axel’s request.
“This is Jack, you can trust him.”
“It’s a lot of people to trust, don’t you think?” Barb said.
“I’ve known Jack for seven years, Barb. If he was to fuck me over it would be the first time.”
“Alright alright. What do you need?”
“Do you have any friends who can find someone?”
“Depends who it is?”
“Definitely. They’re not cheap though.”
“Five gold to even meet them,” Barb said, hardening his gaze at Axel.
“Fine. How much after?”
“You’ll have to speak to them,” Barb responded. “You know I’d like to help, but some things I cannot.”
Axel nodded. There was no point asking him who the kid that asked him was. It was just a random kid on the street that was paid to do it. “That’s fine, Barb. Where are they?”
“Noble quarters. It’s a club on the western side called Golden Goose.”
“Shit,” Axel muttered.
“I can get in there,” Jasmine said.
“I know you can, Jasmine. Barb, are the guards there under the rule of the captain?”
Barb shook his head. “They’re hired by the increased tax in the noble quarters. They’re mostly private and won’t accept bribes as they are paid well.”
Axel didn’t respond as he thought about what to do. “Jasmine, you can get in there right?”
She bounced as she nodded. “Uh-huh.”
He rubbed his chin in thought. “Alright, Barb, thanks for the favour. Do you want me to tell them you sent me?”
“No,” Barb responded. “They operate on a complete anonymity principle. They only do information, nothing more nothing less; but they’re the best.”
“Thanks for the favour, Barb.”
Barb gave him a nod and went back to sharpening his weapon. The three headed out of the slums, to the wall and started walking around it.
“The plan?” Jack asked.
“Plan old distraction,” Axel replied. “How many guards do you think occupy the noble quarters?”
“I don’t know. I’m guessing 100 all around it?”
Axel thought about the guess. He had looked inside Lenny’s rota book earlier and saw there were 300 guards under his command. The noble quarters was less than a third in size, but there was clearly more money being pumped into it to protect the inner city. He clicked his teeth as they walked. They didn’t want trouble when they were in there.
“We’re just gonna have to wing it, guys. Jasmine, you get up there now, when I send you a message, distract the guards occupying the gate inside. From there, meet us in the central location. If we get chased we can try and lose them in there.”
“Ok,” Jasmine said. “Do you want me to kill them?”
“No Jasmine, for fuck sake. Make an old lady trip or something. Play on their heartstrings. Might have to be a bit bigger actually. Just, do what you do best, alright?”
“Uh-huh. Ok, byeee!”
Jasmine ran over to a building, jumped onto a cart then onto the roof. She climbed further, dashed over to a taller one and then prepared for a running jump over to the wall. Axel and Jack watched in amazement. Jasmine was something. Without hesitating, she started sprinting towards the wall. At the last minute, she pulled a rope out and hooked it onto a ledge on the noble wall. There were guards up above and she sneakily pulled herself up and past them.
“You need to marry her, man, or I will.”
“Stop thinking with your dick, Jack. C’mon, we got a person to find.”
The two approached the gate a few minutes later and joined a checkpoint line. In the line, there was some fancy NPCs, a few well-geared players and then them. They did look like noobs. The only good item of clothing he had was his cloak. However, of course, they weren’t looking to get in the right way.
Axel sneakily opened his menu and type a message to Jasmine.
The queue was diminishing, and he hoped that his timing was good. Otherwise, they would be in a world of it. There were three people left in the queue, then two, then one and then finally.
“Help!” A voice screamed from the other side.
The three guards looked back in an instant but didn’t move. The leader of the three gave a head nod to the other two. Those two, with their spears in the air, rushed to the scream. There was still the leader stationed at the gate.
“Fuck,” Axel murmured under his breath. Quickly, he brought up the messages and sent her another one. Another scream came out from behind there and Axl was surprised it was so quick. The guard looked back, hesitating to move. Eventually, the guard held his spear high and went to go help. “None of you move,” he said to the line.
“Lovely,” Axel said, pushing past an NPC and walking through.
Jack and Axel disappeared down an alleyway. Jasmine messaged him, saying that she couldn’t meet up as they were chasing her.
“We’re by ourselves,” Axel said to Jack.
“Is she alright?”
“She’ll be fine, it’s Jasmine after all. Right, the Golden Goose.”
Axel followed Barb’s direction to where it was. When they moved out onto the main street, they noticed how much better everything was. There was no cracks in the concrete, no homeless people chilling and no stench of piss and syphilis. Everyone was clean and it was far more colourful than the rest of the city. Flowers hung off buildings and there were even street cleaners.
“I feel like I’m in one of those utopian movies but it’s really dystopian. Where everyone jacks everyone else ff in a circle-jerk,” Jack commented. “And then there’s a murderous cult that kills people.”
“No shit, same. I kinda hate it actually. At least it’s clean though.”
“Eh, I like the smell of the city,” Jack said.
They looked od compared to the rest. Surprisingly, no one batted an eye. And so, they headed towards the Golden Goose. They arrived at a place near the royal wall, where the king stayed.
Axel spotted a golden goose sign down a nice street. It was fairly quiet and not what he was expecting. Barb said it was a club, but it looked as far from a club. It was painted black and the windows were tinted inside. At the front, there was a muscular kobold wearing a vest.
“Shit,” Axel said. “Just follow me. Act like my backup or something.”
“Alright,” Jack said. “There’s no way I’m taking that kobold though.”
“I don’t want you to,” Axel assured. “Alright, follow me.”
With Axel leading in front, they walked to the entrance. The kobold spotted them but Axel paid no attention.
“Reason for entry?” The kobold requested.
“To have a good time,” Axel responded casually.
“Like a goblin could pick up a few ladies. I’ll ask one more time, the reason for entry?”
“Information,” Axel replied, meeting his eyes.
“Five gold at the bar,” the kobold said. “Forget everyone’s faces.”
“Sweet and simple. Thank you.” Axel opened the door into the place, finding it to be a calm atmosphere. A few people were lounging around. Even a few strippers. Jack was taking a mental note of the location of the place.
“Nice,” he added, looking around.
Axel thought it looked like a stereotypical mob boss place. It was fairly modern for the mediaeval city. He spotted the bar and casually walked up to it. He took five gold from his wallet and placed them down.
A bar attendant quickly scooped it up. “Right side door. Forget my face. Lose the muscle.”
“Business partner,” Axel corrected.
“They only speak to one person,” the bar attendant insisted.
Axel looked to Jack. “How much for a whiskey?” Jack asked.
With that now done, Axel spotted a blank door to his right. He walked right through, along a black hallway with a red carpet, and finally into a room with beads for a door. Axel hated them. They were just so annoying. They easily caught on his pointed ears. Nevertheless, he pushed them off and walked into the room.
It was a bedroom, fairly messy too. It was in the same style as the club. He spotted someone meditating on the bed. They were facing away. Axel noticed a chair at the foot of the bed and promptly sat down. He didn’t want to waste time.
“Hello, Axel Smudge,” the person on the bed said. Their voice sounded spiritual.
Axel cleared his throat, alarmed that someone knew his full name. Only Jack knew that. Regardless, he stayed put until they turned around. When they did, however, they floated on the bed to face him. The person pulled their hood off to expose completely white eyes. It was a woman with brown hair.
“I need to find someone,” Axel said, ignoring the strangeness of the situation.
“The Red Robin?” she questioned.
“Sorry, are you looking at me?” Axel had to ask.
“Yes. I do not see like you,” she responded. “I am the oracle, known only as of the oracle. I do not repeat names and I forget everyone who I meet. So, Axel Smudge, is the Red Robin who you wish to find?”
‘Fuckin’ creepy,’ Axel thought.
“People often think that,” the oracle responded like it was a normal thing reading his thoughts. He did wonder how this got past the game’s code.
“Oh, you too,” Axel joked. Now Barb and this Oracle could read his thoughts.
“I thought Barb sent you,” the oracle wondered.
“Stop reading my thoughts now,” Axel insisted.
“That is the price you see. The five gold is merely a deposit,” the oracle said.
“What do you want?”
“Memories. Your deepest and most troubling. I do not want coin if that’s what you mean, Hoarder?”
“Listen, oracle lady, if this is some fetish cool. I just want to know the details. So please, tell me what I want to know.”
“You pay first,” the oracle said.
“So how does this work?”
“I feed off of fear and anger; it is how I receive nutritional value.”
“Go on then, the things you might find are a little boring. Mainly my ugly boss.”
“Are you sure, Axel Smudge?”
“Never been so sure in my life,” Axel said straight.
“Such fire and determination. This will be a feast.”
The oracle hovered over to him and came face to face. She looked into his eyes and he looked back into the white of hers. Then he started to see the memories of his past. Him when he was younger; his joyful self. Then it was hate and rage, fire and brimstone. It was all the things that had made him turn sour in his life. The oracle was amused and it fed her insatiable hunger. She looked everywhere and only saw driving hate fueling him. She was almost horrified but hopefully, she could absorb it. Not because she wanted to but she had to.
Suddenly, Axel stopped seeing his memories. The oracle expected him to burst into tears but he just met her eyes.
She suddenly dropped onto the bed and crawled to the backboard. “What are you?!” she screamed.
“Me? I’m Axel fucking Smudge, are we done here?”
“Do you not feel any anguish or regret? No taking back of what you have done?”
“I feel pretty good actually. Reminds me of who I am today. I don’t like it but I sure as hell want it.”
The oracle’s eyes turned to a humans and she grabbed a pillow to cuddle it. What she had seen was a man with endless fire. A man so determined he was going to do anything to achieve it. There was regret but it was clouded by dark lighting. She could no longer bear to look at him. She had seen the most ghastly of things in her short life but the man that stood before her was capable of untold things.
“Your turn,” Axel said, calmly.
“What?” she questioned in a panic.
“Information. That was our deal,” Axel responded.
The oracle completely forgot about it for a moment. “Uh— 73rd street is where you will find what you’re looking for. It’s an empty room in the tallest building.”
Axel smirked. “Thank you oracle. I’ll forget your face.”
The oracle didn’t meet his eyes, only nodded. “Please don’t come back— ever.”
“That’ll be hard. I’m sure you will be working for me soon. Nice place by the way.”
The oracle didn’t respond, only gripping the pillow tighter. Axel took his leave, angrily pushing away the beads that always caught on his ears. He exited out into the bar and found Jack just finishing his whiskey.
“That was quick,” Jack said. “Don’t say it.”
“I wasn’t going to,” Axel chuckled.
“So, you find him?”
“I got a building,” Axel responded.
“Right, let’s go.”
The two headed out onto the street. “So who was it?” Jack asked.
“An oracle. Pretty cool; she read my thoughts. I didn’t realise the game could do that.”
“How much did it cost?”
“Only that five gold, I paid in my memories.”
“What the fuck? That sounds messed up!” Jack exclaimed.
Axel laughed. “At the end of it, I think she expected me to cry or some shit.”
“No. She got too scared,” Axel responded.
“You’re an animal,” Jack remarked.
“That’s what she said,” Axel smirked, slapping his arm.
“Oh, you did it— you had to, didn’t you? So, where is this building?”
“Just follow me,” Axel responded.