Chapter 1: Holy places


“...And let these sins be forgiven, as God almighty is my guide…” As the words flowed from Matthew's mouth he felt a soft peace come over him, like a gentle weight being laid softly over his whole body cradling him in it’s muffling embrace, he felt as if he were safe, as if he were all alone in The Godric Cathedral, all alone except for the soft unbreakable holy silence.

“What?!” The voice of Father Gabor shattered the silence like a mirror dropped on the floor. “The Ruban church has no use for street rats such as yourself! I should have you arrested, praying without donating money first!”

“As God almighty is my guide, I cast off these…” A holy silence. Deep inside, the outside world could get as crazy at it wanted, he would always have inner peace.

“Please Father, I don’t have anything to give, my family is struggling as it is, I just came to ask our God for his help!” A voiced said wavering as it begged.

“As God almighty is my guide…” Holy silence, deep down, really far down.

“You think God would care about a worthless wretch such as yourself?! What insolence! What greed! You who would not donate, but asks for the world in return, get out! GET OUT OF MY SIGHT!”

Matthew sighed, “As God almighty…” he decided to give up.

Matthew had only been a priest here for a short time, but he had already grown to love the cathedral. He glanced around with rabid familiarity at the tall stone walls of The Godric Cathedral embroidered by stain glass and intricate stone carvings of the saints of old, some of which he could name, others whose names had been lost with time. He wondered how long the mason had spent on those, carving every detail. Matthew wondered if he had ever imagined that the deep meaning behind his work would ever be forgotten, would ever become meaningless.

As Matthew looked around he saw Father Gabor grasping a tattered commoner by his shirt collar. Father Gabor was a frail old man, but Matthew was always surprised at how strong he could be when menacing the weak, he was a fierce lion even in old age.

Father Gabor half dragged, half carried the poor commoner to the front gates of the cathedral by the collar of his worn and ragged shirt.

“You worthless RAT! If I ever see you around here again, begging for money, I will kill you, do you understand?!” Father Gabor, with the grace and elegance of a man of his stature and age, flung the poor hopeless man down the front steps of the great cathedral into the lingering snow. The man sat there gazing up at the great glow emanating from the enormous wooden gates that were opened wide as if welcoming the world into the great cathedral’s embrace. Silhouetted by the light was Father Gabor who took one last look at the desperate man, before slamming the ancient doors and bolting them shut.

Matthew slowly got up from his kneeling position and sighed. He watched as Father Gabor made his way back in towards a roaring fireplace etched into the wall of the cathedral. It was massive, but barely managed to warm the air around it, given that the tremendous hexagonally shaped structure of the cathedral was so large and frigid, the only warm place was at the fire’s side. Father Gabor eased himself into a chair, his old bones creaking, finally showing their age. As he leaned back he let out a stiff sigh and stared into the flames with his brow furrowed. He poured a cup of wine with shaking hands.

“Damn them, damn them all, do they think they can all just steal from the church?! Animals, rabid thankless animals, the lot of them.” He grumbled to himself.

Matthew gazed up at the nameless stonework looking down at him, “I wonder if they would have agreed.” he said, gesturing up at them.

“What’s that boy?! Did you say something?” The old man grunted into his wine cup.

Matthew stood for a moment just staring at the stonework, then without taking his eyes away said, “In times long past the church helped those in need, didn’t it?”

“There’s a reason those times are ‘long past’ boy, forget that nonsense, the world is ever changing, getting hung up on the past is for us old people to do. Be thankful for your youth, you don’t have to live like me. This cursed chill gets worse every year, it’s barely the ninth month of the year and it’s already snowing. I swear Kugaaruk city is going to be the end of me.”

Father Matthew was silent again. Then, “Doesn’t it say in the old text that it is the duty of the strong to protect the weak? Why do we even wear these robes and call ourselves priests if we can’t even follow the teachings of our own religion?”

Father Gabor grumbled and snarled, “Again with this nonsense? Silence your ridiculous babbling, we’re priests, that’s why were wear the robes.” Then he sighed, as if realizing that Matthew wasn’t going to just let it go. “Fine boy, I’ll tell you why we wear the robes, but listen and remember this well, for these words may foretell the destruction of our very civilization!” Father Gabor looked back at the young priest studying the statues. “Dammit, harken to me boy!”

The young Father Matthew turned his gaze to look at the old priest in his worn leather armchair.

“Power is gained through subjugation, without power we would not be able to keep the darkness out. It is true that once upon a time this world was kinder, but those times have past, and so too did the purpose of our creator. The forces of evil will always be waiting in the darkness to destroy us, they will stop at nothing to undo our great holy work, and men like that wretch outside would allow them the chance! He is beyond our help and deserves none of our pity, if we were to try to help him, there would only be another and another after him who needed help, and if we were to help them all, that would leave us penniless, and empty of resources.” Father Gabor shuddered in the cold, “Then… then the darkness would close in and nothing would be able to stop it! We must always be vigilant! We have to subjugate the weak, because the world will always try to make you weak, and the only way to protect this world is to make sure you are always the strong one.”

“No matter the cost?”

“No matter the cost....” Father Gabor coughed and settled down to stare back into the fire. “It’s been more than three hundred years since the war ended, but make no mistake, our enemies are everywhere, and they will never forget.”

Matthew cast his eyes down, and stared at a silver coin in his hand with the image of the Hexagonal Stone of the Ruban Church engraved on it with a golden lark imprinted behind it. In his other hand he held a knife. He wasn’t really sure what war Father Gabor was talking about, the man hardly ever seemed completely sane, but he understood his mentor’s point. Gently he rolled the square coin over between his fingers as he weighed the hefty choice before him. Closing his eyes for a brief moment, he breathed slowly. By the time he opened them again, he had made his decision. “I just can’t accept that.” He said, and pocketed the coin, stepping forward.

All great adventures start in a tavern!’ What an idiotic concept. But that was what Tȟatȟáŋka had thought in an effort to cheer himself up the first time he’d seen the Bluebird Tavern. Fast forward five years and now you’re a twenty three year old ikče wičháša living in the heart of the shittiest city in the whole Ruban Empire with a dead family and only a crappy run down tavern that doesn’t make any money to remember them by. Great adventure! No seriously, who’s up for round two? Can I get a show of hands? ‘Fuck my life.’

Tȟatȟáŋka AwáhiŋhAŋ wiped down the bar, the etched and waxed wood was actually quite beautiful, but he didn’t notice any of it, tonight was just another night for him, and it was about to finally be over. The last of the night’s customers got up and walked out the door, Tȟatȟáŋka giving them a forced, tired smile and a nod as they left, wondering if he could finish cleaning soon enough to turn in early.

“Night, kȟošké!” Pȟatkáša Wašté-wiŋ waved to him, then giggled as Kȟaŋǧí hugged her from behind.

“Have fun you two.” A bit of a real smile crept onto Tȟatȟáŋka’s face as Kȟaŋǧí tried to kiss his girlfriend while she tried to pretend to be annoyed with him. “Watch out for that snow, it’s starting to come down pretty hard.”

“Aw man, No way! It’s gonna be a rough winter this year!” Kȟaŋǧí took a break from trying to kiss the disappointed Pȟatkáša to look out the window.

“Yeah, I wouldn’t drive in this weather, just walk or take a horse.”

“We’re gonna walk, thanks Tȟatȟáŋka.” Pȟatkáša shrugged Kȟaŋǧí off and pulled him towards the door.

“What do you mean walk? I can drive! Snow is like social norms, if you ignore them long enough they becomes less of a problem!”

“Come oooon!” Kȟaŋǧí followed her out the door reluctantly, being dragged by his hand.

“I can do it Pȟatkáša! You just gotta believe!-” their voices became muffled in the snow as Tȟatȟáŋka heard the door swing open and closed again, ringing a little silver bell hanging from it. He heard their faint voices disappear into the night as they undoubtedly walked home through the drift.

And then the bar was empty. Again. Tȟatȟáŋka looked up and stood for a moment staring at the rows of tables and booths with dirty glasses and vacant chairs, wondering at how different it looked from the way it used to be, when his uncle still ran the Bluebird. The place had been full back then, with his mother cooking in the kitchen and his uncle waiting tables, the bar had been full of a different kind of crowd, diverse and happy. Now Tȟatȟáŋka was the only one left and there was no one to run the kitchen, just him serving drinks to the rowdy, less controllable clientele that now inhabited the Bluebird. All that was left now was to keep the tavern open until he could eventually sell it.

The place seemed so foreign to him now. Like without his mother and his uncle there with him, the Bluebird was no longer his home. Tȟatȟáŋka hated working there, each day he couldn’t wait for everyone to go home so he could close up, grimacing with dread at the prospects of having to open up again the next day. Selling it was the only option in his mind, there were just too many memories here. It just felt so lonely, so empty, like he was the only one left in the world operating a ghost Bluebird, nothing like the original. Tȟatȟáŋka finished wiping down the bar and sighed. Yup, so empty….

Wait, hold on, there was someone still sitting in the corner booth. Tȟatȟáŋka really didn’t need this cruel irony right now. He peered at the person he had been too busy monologuing to notice, having to lean over the bar to even see him.

It was a shadowy mysterious figure with a long dark black cloak with a hood covering his head and face. In his hand he held a half empty pint of beer, and was leaning on one arm.

Just get him out of here, that’s all you need to do, just get him out, finish cleaning up, prepare for tomorrow’s rush and go to sleep. It’s a simple plan, real easy to follow, you can’t possibly fuck this up.’ Tȟatȟáŋka breathed in and began to walk out from behind the bar, addressing the figure as he spoke.

“Excuse me sir, I’m sorry to bother you, but the bar is actually closing down now, it’s past hours.” He said in the politest way anyone could possibly manage at half past one in the morning.

There was no response. The hooded figure simply sat there staring into its glass of amber liquid, seemingly lost in thought.

Tȟatȟáŋka was a little annoyed at this. “I’m sorry sir, the bar is closed, I’m going to have to ask you to go home, I have to clean up.” He walked around the figure, trying to get a look at his face.

Again there was silence. Then the figure’s head slowly lifted up slightly, teetering as it perched on its hand as if about to nod in affirmation, then hesitated for a moment suspended in indecisiveness, until finally it slammed down into the table with a loud crunch.

Tȟatȟáŋka jumped back, surprised at the sudden force of the impact, then rushed forward, “oh crap, are you okay?”

The figure lay limp with its head buried in the table, a pool of blood forming under its face. Tȟatȟáŋka lifted back the hood of the person and started to lift him off the table and back into a sitting position, only to jump back again in surprise at seeing the newly revealed individual who was under the hood. This of course caused the figure to fall back down face first into the table with a second crunch, resulting in a muffled groan.

She was beautiful. Well, she would have been, if it wasn’t for the fact that she had obviously not showered in days and was covered in the blood now gushing from her face. Her skin was dark ruby red mixed with brilliant sapphire swirls and small collections of smooth pale white scales that coalesced in patches like dew drops on her skin. The colors clung to her skin like a fungus that couldn’t be scraped off, or a bruise that never healed, making it impossible to tell who she originally was or where she came from. The only remaining trace was the brown hair draped and matted over her head, making Tȟatȟáŋka think she might have been Ruban once upon a time. She had obviously been turned demonic though, the colors crawling all over her skin, beautiful though they were, they were the tell tale signs of a devil’s corruption.

“Fuck.” She mumbled, her face still buried in the table. See? Corruption.

“Uh…. “ Tȟatȟáŋka was unsure what to do at this point. Demons had come into the Bluebird before many times back when his uncle had run it, but this demon was different, she was a succubus, powerful, dangerous and ultimately a terror to try to control. The less powerful ones were often simply used as prostitutes and could be seen on any street corner controlled by Los Difuntos, but the more powerful ones could be used as spies and assassins. This was the first time Tȟatȟáŋka had ever been faced with this kind of situation.

The succubus lifted her head off the table and slumped down in the booth seat, clutching her head.

“Shit.” She slurred as she spoke, obviously more than a little drunk.

“Uhh….” Tȟatȟáŋka was frozen.

She stumbled a little with her feet as she slid herself out of the booth, and using the side of the booth to steady herself, she stood up in full regalia and epicly posed, swaying slightly, in front of Tȟatȟáŋka. The succubus was staring defiantly at the chair a little to the right of Tȟatȟáŋka, as her cloak billowed around her, pit stains and all, like a pair of black wings sprouting from her shoulders. Only it wasn't. It was just a normal dirty old black cloak, that actually didn’t look anything like a pair of wings, which made the epic pose and drunken flourish look a little absurd.

The Succubus took a hesitant step towards Tȟatȟáŋka, wavering as she did, her expression contorting with concentration as she went slightly cross eyed, then focused again. He wasn’t sure if he should walk forward in order to catch her if she fell, or back away out of fear of what she might do to him. He stepped forward, slightly entranced be the girl in front of him.

“Balls.” She said, almost being cut off by the torrent of vomit that cascaded from her mouth. This time Tȟatȟáŋka definitely jumped back.

“Oh… wow.” Tȟatȟáŋka was speechless. His face contorted in horror and shock at the display in front of him.

“Urh. Yeah, that’s a bitch.” The succubus wiped her mouth with her sleeve and spat out the last of it onto the floor. She then grinned up at him and held out her vomit sleeve for a handshake. “Lanakila.”

“Uh. Tȟatȟáŋka.” There was no was no way he was going to shake her hand. “Hey listen, why are you-”

“Yeah, there’s no way in hell I can pronounce that, Seriously your parents must have hated you. Imma call you Teedo, mkay?” With that the succubus named Lanakila stood up and stretched, tottering as she did from her drunkenness. Her cloak was way too big for her, the sleeves extending far over her hands making her look like a little kid wearing her dad’s coat. It was covered in stains and splotches, some of which were clearly bloodstains and the previously beautiful, yet messy, dark brown hair that was draped over her head had bits and pieces of vomit dripping from it, as she hadn’t bothered trying to hold her hair back when she spewed.

“Hey, hold on!” Tȟatȟáŋka was flustered, having gotten over the shock of the strangeness of this whole situation, he was reeling in anger trying to get a hold of himself. “The bar is closed, please leave, demons and devils aren’t allowed in here anyway!”

Lanakila half stumbled, half sauntered off towards the bar in a strange manner that would have made anyone other than a bartender laugh. “Teedo my boy, listen. There are two things in this world you should never do.” She gingerly half collapsed, half stumbled into a chair at the bar. “Never say no to yourself.” with a flourish she reached behind the bar feeling for something until finally she pulled out a fine ambur bottle of whiskey that made her grin. “And never try to keep a rabid alcoholic from her booze!”

Tȟatȟáŋka, who had at this point was obviously standing right next to the drunk demon girl messing with his stuff, grabbed the whiskey out of her hands and put it back where it had been. “Actually, I’m a bartender. Telling people when, how and where they drink their ‘booze’ is my job, and I just decided to cut you off.”

“Ok, well that’s a load of bullshit, who put you in charge?!” Lanakila glared again, slightly to the right or Teedo in what was theoretically a menacing way.

“My Uncle did! When he died!” Tȟatȟáŋka was pretty much fed up with tonight. He was having about as much fun as the time when he had accidentally chopped off two of his toes with his aunt’s tomahawk. Seriously, zero out of ten score for today.

“Oh OH! Oh now we’re gonna get sad, let’s- let’s all just get sad for poor Teedo, we’re all gonna have a real sad time now for your little pity party!” Lanakila poked Tȟatȟáŋka in the chest in a very defiant manner and tried to push him. She ultimately just ended up pushing herself backwards and sitting down heavily in the bar stool. “Well guess what! Everybody’s dads die, your dad is dead, your mom’s dad is dead, my dad, I never had a dad, but if I did he’d be dead too- probably. You know, everyone- everybody dies, Teedo, it’s part of the circle of life. Just don’t try to find any meaning in it and pretend that nothing happened, ok?”

“What? I never said anything about my dad, I said my uncle is dead, and of course you have a dad, how is that even possible- but what does this have to do with anything?! Get out! Get out of my bar!” He was astounded at how easily she got him off track.

“Fine, yeah, I get it, you need time to mourn your dad, I understand.” The succubus rose from the bar stool and wobbled towards the exit. The door wasn’t far but she struggled to reach it, tripping over her own feet in a zigzag path, walking in its general direction. When she finally reached it she struggled to open it until finally Tȟatȟáŋka walked over and opened it for her.

Grunting awkwardly, the succubus stumbled out into the frozen early autumn night. A chilled breeze blew into the Bluebird, making Tȟatȟáŋka blink the tears from his eyes. He watched Lanakila struggle down the decaying and broken street, until she disappeared into an alley. The sky was clouded and the moon shone dim in the sky. Most windows had gone dark and the only light that cut through the night was that of the Bluebird Tavern. An orange glow coming from the windows, it’s light splayed out across the cracked and worn street. Tȟatȟáŋka looked at his old home and back at at where the shadow of a girl he had cast out had disappeared.

Maybe he had been a little too hasty to throw her out. She was really drunk after all, and he doubted she would last the night in that condition. Oh damn, had he just committed murder? Holy shit, that girl was going to die tonight and he could have saved her!

‘But she’s not a girl, not anymore, she’s a monster. A demon.’ So she deserved to die? Tȟatȟáŋka didn’t know. No, no she doesn’t deserve to die, Tȟatȟáŋka had never imagined himself to be the kind of person to ever be having this debate, when had he become so callous and loathing?

‘She’s dangerous.’ But then again, who isn’t? His uncle had served devils and demons back when he was still alive. If his uncle had been alive he would have given the drunk girl a room upstairs and given her proper medical treatment. The only professional doctors available were the Ruban Priests of Healing, and they were expensive, so street medicine was commonplace, and Tȟatȟáŋka’s uncle had been proficient in treating alcohol poisoning. He had served everyone back in those days, no matter who they were, no matter what race. He was a good man, and was ultimately killed for it.

‘Sometimes you have to pick a side.’ And sometimes you have to just say ‘fuck it, I’m too tired for this bullshit.’

Tȟatȟáŋka strode back inside and grabbed an heavy coat which he put on, relishing the thick buffalo hide, and his aunt’s tomahawk from under the bar counter.


Lanakila was drunker than she had been in a long time. It was a good feeling. Obviously the whole, dizzy-puke-at-every-step part of it was kinda a drawback, but it was nice being able to be so mindfucked that there wasn’t a single coherent thought in her head. She hadn’t had such peace of mind in a long time.

One step in front of the other and we all fall down! The ground was like every boy in the world, just dying to meet her.

“No ground nooooo! Feet, legs, save me from the ground!” Well this wasn’t so bad, it was quite the adventure, just her, and her boyz Foot, other Foot, and Legs boyos just out for a night on the town. Killer.

“Yo Lana! Yolana! Hey that’s a name right? Maybe? I don’t know whatever, yo Lana, what is on the agenda for our night of debauchery?” asked Other Foot.

“Calm your fucking tits Other Foot, everybody hates you. Uh, but for the agenda, I’m thinking… find a place to sleep?”

“Yeah no, that’s a bomb idea, I’m zonked, Chiquita.” Leg Boyos was like.

“A quest!” Foot exclaimed.

“Indeed,” Lanakila glared with determination at the road ahead of her, “and nothing shall stand in our way now.” The four of them stood shoulder to shoulder and faced their opposition.

Five native boys stood in front of them, blocking their way. She was outnumbered two to one.

“What the fuck? Is that a demon?”

“Hey demon girl, what’re you doing in pté oyáte territory?”

With the addition of these six natives, that made seven enemies, including the ground, meaning she had a 7.7% probability of success. That coupled with the fact that she was horrendously drunk meant her stats were dwindling at an all time low, she’d have to go all in on this. Win or die, it was her destiny.

“You!” she pointed at one of the natives at random. Then because of her sudden motion, she felt nausea overcome her and bent double, retching and trying not to throw up. Fucking nailed it.

“Hey she’s kinda cute.”

“Oh shit, get back, she’s not just cute, she’s a fucking succubus, see those horns?!”

“Oh fuck!’

“What is a succubus doing here?!”

“Matȟo, this is bad, we should get out of here!”

“Are you kidding? You want to let her get away? If she’s here it can only mean one thing.”

“Los Difuntos.”

“What are you planning, pretty demon girl? You tryna fuck with the pté oyáte?”

“The only good demon is a dead demon, kill her.”

Foot at this point had to interject. “Lana, we’re going to really need to step on it if we want to get a leg up here!”

Leg Boyos joined in. “Personally I think we should just hoof it, normally I would recommend we try to walk a mile their in their shoes, but with their intensely presumptuous perspectives, I’m afraid they don’t have much to stand on.”

“I’m with Leg Boyos on this, I really think we should try to tread lightly-” Other Foot commented meekly before Lana interrupted him.

“Shut up Other Foot. It’s my decision, and I say we jump in with both feet, put on our dancing shoes, and put our best foot forward. Trust me, I’m gonna toe-NAIL this!”

“Weak.” Leg Boyos coughed.

“Hello friends, I wish to fight! Oh fuck.” Lana hadn’t noticed everyone advancing towards her with weapons in hand.

She tried to backup, which proved difficult, considering how drunk she was. The team of four or five guys or girls seemed to swim in front of her, the cracked pavement of the sidewalk was the only thing she could really focus on. She’d never had to fight this drunk before, but running was hardly an option. Maybe a foot in mouth approach might have worked better?

“Hey!” a voice rang out behind her. “Matȟo, Winúŋna, guys, that’s enough.”

“Tȟatȟáŋka? What are you doing here?”

Oh fuck, she really didn’t feel good. Lana down! Lana down!

“I’m here to clear things up, she’s with me.” Teedo was such a babe, seriously. Much more reliable than Other Foot, what a useless cuck. ‘Run away!’ he says, fucking pussy. What a… what a… shit Lana was out of foot puns.

“What’s going on here Tȟatȟáŋka? I thought you hated demons!”

“He’s under her influence, she’s a succubus remember?”

Lana was still reeling, she could definitely feel a blackout coming on. Wooo, here we go with the nausea! “I don’t know who you are, but you can suck my dick!” She wasn’t really sure if it was coherent or not, but they were fighting words nonetheless.

“Tȟaŋháŋši, I’m not under any kind of magic.”

“Yes you are, why else would you be defending a demon? Tȟatȟáŋka, I’m sorry but we’re gonna have to do this, you’re not yourself right now.”

Lana could hear Teedo sigh. “If I were under her influence could I do this?!” He grunted, and there was a flash of light and dull pain as Lana sprawled to the left and finally got a chance to meet the ground.

Tȟatȟáŋka shook his hand. The punch he had delivered to Lanakila hadn’t been too hard, but it was enough to knock her out. It was the only thing he could think to do.

She lay on the cold pavement, strangely beautiful in the dwindling moonlight, covered in vomit and bloodstains, reeking of booze, she always had this strange passive aura of beauty. Her horns were twisted and curly, most demon horns were stubby and rounded, devil’s horns were massive and irregular, growing in grotesque random ways across their heads, sometimes their faces. Succubi’s horns were the only ones to be sharpened to points, warped by incredible Ruban magic that resulted in the iconic small curled and pointed horns that were a succubus’s identifier. Tȟatȟáŋka didn’t know the girl’s story, but he could tell that she at least seemed to be a rogue succubus with no devil masters, which was a dangerous and rare occurrence.

“Wow, you really are serious.” Matȟo stared at Tȟatȟáŋka astonished at what had just occurred. “What the fuck is going on, kȟolá?”

“Listen to me very carefully. I know you want to kill her because she’s dangerous, because she’s a demon, and an enemy. But that’s not going to happen. Not tonight, not ever. I’ve had a really shitty day. In fact, the last couple of months have been… the hardest of my life.” Tȟatȟáŋka paused to steady himself. “And maybe this is the wrong path to take, but I’m going to take it anyway, because… maybe I owe a debt, maybe it’s the right thing to do. I.. I guess I just don’t know. When we were young there were good people and there were bad people, and we were always the heroes. But now that i’m older I realize that the world is filled with heroes and monsters, and sometimes we can be both. And I just can’t accept that.”

“Tȟatȟáŋka, she’s dangerous. You don’t know how powerful she is, she could kill you, or she could have been sent to kill Chayton, or she could be rogue, and in that case Los Difuntos or the Ruban Church will kill you, no matter how you look at this she has to die, she’s just too dangerous to keep around!” Winúŋna said. She shuffled her feet and clutched her tomahawk, unsure what to do.

“What the fuck are you thinking man, what kind of bullshit is that? She’s a demon, they’re monsters, kill her!” Matȟo stared angrily at Tȟatȟáŋka. “Look me in the eyes.”

Tȟatȟáŋka matched his gaze. They stood for a time in silence just looking at each other. Winúŋna nervously looked back and forth between them as a gust of wind caused her to shiver.

Finally Matȟo burst in frustration. “She’s a succubus! I could understand maybe with a regular demon, by why Tȟatȟáŋka?! Why a succubus? Is it because she’s hot?” Winúŋna blushed.

“Matȟo, I know the risks, and I’ve made up my mind, I just… I just need today to NOT end in murder, you know?” Tȟatȟáŋka stood between Lanakila and Matȟo, tired but defiant.

“Kȟolá….” Matȟo sighed. “Just take care of yourself man, ok?”

“You too Matȟo. Winúŋna, say hi to your uŋčí for me.”

Winúŋna laughed uncomfortably. “She’s worried about you Tȟatȟáŋka, we all are.”

“I’ll be fine.”

Silently the two figures departed into the night, Tȟatȟáŋka watched them go. He knew Matȟo and Winúŋna pretty well, but he had no doubts Chayton would hear about this, and that meant trouble for him. Silently he stooped down and lifted the demon girl off the ground. He was a skinny guy, but she was far skinnier, and light enough for him to carry, despite her being slightly taller than him.

Cradled in his arms she looked troubled in her sleep, twitching every now and then. Her brown hair draped over her face, the girl was shrouded in her own world, battling demons far more monstrous than she. The streetlights passed over them as they made their way down the main road, briefly illuminating their figures. Farther on down Hartjens street Tȟatȟáŋka could still hear the sounds of the electronic club music and sometimes the joyous screams of the party goers. The silhouette of the massive Godric Cathedral towered above Hartjens, as if warning all those enjoying Kugaaruk’s extensive nightlife that there was a hell. Parked motor vehicles lined the streets, though most were run down and dirty, having been manufactured using spare parts most likely stolen from richer people.

As he neared the Bluebird he finally relaxed. The glow of orange light still cascaded from the windows, splattering out onto the grime covered street in warped waves caused by inconsistencies in the cheap, old fashioned glass that filled the Bluebird’s windows.

It had been a long night, but he was finally back home.


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