So I've spent some time in the....fuck I can't remember the name...I keep wanting to say St. Vee's, anyway the Texas cowboy hospital and rodeo, or whatever the hell it was. I got in there, barely feigning enough amnesia to get them to waive my personal info, to get my head stitched up. I swear, I saw a doctor with cowboy boots. That's not very encouraging shit, let me tell you.
You know what fucking hurts? A concussion with a side order of three blunt cracks to the head. So the order of the day was that glue they use now instead of stitches, and some gauze. I took a few hours to just sit back and rest, letting the pain relievers do their thing poorly. My head throbbed with each heartbeat as I laid in a dazed stupor, watching some banal program with disinterest. It felt good to relax, to rest in a bed again. Even though it was a sterile, bland room, I felt a bit more like myself, as I closed my eyes, listening to the soft hum of electric lights.
Sometime later, I suddenly lurched forward, almost vaulting out of the bed, as icy fingers ripped my lungs to pieces. My shadow, my fucking shadow caught up to me so I had to run, I had to get out, before it killed me.
Barely had time to grab my clothes, didn't say a word to anyone. So stupid, I took my mask off for too long, and it found me. So I ran again. I needed my supplies, my weapon and my mask.
I stowed them deep in that park near the campus where I found Arkady. Fucking stupid to just leave my stuff out there, I would've had a meltdown if they were gone. Sort of reminds me of when Pied Rabbit lost his mask and freaked out. Now I get what he felt, that sense of vulnerability.
Anyway, my shit was still there. Apparently, me running through the area startled every damn bird in the state, they all started squawking and flying off into the night sky, ruining any chance of stealthfully getting through there without attention. My head swimming in pain and disorientation, I climbed up into the tree I stashed my sword within. The dark humor was thick, indeed, as I mused over the last time I ended up in a tree.
After I fell out of the tree, nearly stabbing myself in the process, I caught my breath, to soldier onward.
So, I tried to shrug off my physical pain, and threw myself into my task. I found that if I stayed focused on the hunt, on the purification, that my shadow seemed censured, shying from conflict.
Surely Arkady was as wounded as I, and unlike him, I still had the use of both arms. But he had numbers on his side, didn't he? I remembered reading his work a time ago, but I had forgotten so much...so much, yet the truth remained, Arkady was marked, and that was all that mattered. He had to die, for the blessed innocents.
I contemplated my next move in the park, when I felt the presence of someone else nearby. Instinctively, I turned to my right, to see someone through the trees, on a path. His form flickered...I can't explain it. To my eyes, he was both marked and not. For a moment, he'd stand out as if he were the only thing in my vision, and the next, trees obscured his form.
Upon closer examination, as I stepped through the veil of night, I saw this person wore a mask.
A proxy mask.
I needed little more incentive to shuffle this fool off the mortal coil, but the unique aura about him begged me to speak with him first.
The agent stood beneath a lamplight, pausing for a moment. He wore a smiling mask, the type you might see on stage, and an old school hat. He sort of reminded me of Ghostface from Scream. The rest of his clothes were casual enough, though he too carried a blade.
Now before I go further, I simply must say that this is unacceptable. I appreciate the homage to my persona, by carrying swords, and wearing masks as you skulk around the darkness, but this shit is sacrilege. I understand that to some of you, I'm a beacon of hope, the ole swordsage, delivering justice brutally to the evil fucks of the world, but I don't want you to dress like me. It's appreciated, but discouraged. I wouldn't want you people getting hunted by monsters and proxy agents due to a misunderstanding, alright?
So I approach Ghostface, trying my best to shake off the dizziness. I end up using the streetlight for support. I can only imagine the added light, caused my painted hoodie to glow as if fueled by astral fire.
I called out to him, irritated by both his mockery of my costume, and by the nagging pain in my right leg from the recent fall. "Another masked joker, with a sword...I'd be flattered if I didn't know better." I reached back to my pack to pull my sheathed blade. I was in a purely defensive mood until I could see him better.
Ghostface>>>You....you're zero, aren't you?
I admit, I enjoyed hearing the fear in his voice, even through his faux British accent. I guess I did have a reputation now. Good. I needed every bit of help I could get, right then. I shifted in the light, as I approached, my legs nearly giving out even before I left the streetlight's halo.
Me>>>ZeroSAGE...The name forced upon me, as the slayer of evil. As for you...I don't know who you are.
He chuckled at me. The bastard saw me wounded, saw me as prey. I wasn't fooling him with my bravado, and yet I maintained steadfast, hoping to keep an advantage on him.
Ghostface>>> Well, perhaps I could say that know you would have recognized the mask...but no matter. I suppose I could say that...now you shall. It certainly was quite a turn of fate to happen upon you, zero*sage*"
I fucking hate proxies, and I despise cryptic proxies even more. And this shithead was a cryptic, sarcastic proxy. All three of him, as my vision blurred again. I clutched my head with my off hand.
Me>>> You're trying to be clever, heh...codes, riddles, annoyances... all of which come down to the basic point...that posturing of intelligence...a false and unwarranted sense of confidence
I needed to move, my legs were giving out. I forced myself to walk around him, to assess him. Maybe he was falling apart. I begged for a sign of weakness from him, as I taunted him
Me>>> So are you going to start babbling binary at me now?
He laughed again, seeing through my every posture, every taunt. I was fucked.
Ghostface>>> “If I knew the binary for 'no,' I would recite it now. But no, I'm not. You see, Mr. 'Sage,' I have a mission…one I believe we actually share. You see, there is a certain gentleman--though I suppose that 'gentleman' couldn't be a more inaccurate word--going by the moniker of 'Arkady Svidrigailov.' I've come to kill this man
What did he want with my quarry?
A proxy sought his death....Was he a problem for the others? Or...I was wrong to accuse him? Surprisingly, I felt this masked fool wasn't lying to me.
So maybe I was wrong about Arkady.
Whatever, I told myself that I'd figure that out later, so I threw myself into the discussion, diametrically opposing him. I could barely restrain my laughter back at him for once.
Me>>> Have you now? He's not corrupted, hasn't succumbed, even if he's an arrogant prick of a man, he's still whole. There's no need."
As I said the words, I started to believe them.
Ghostface>>> It is not a matter of succumbing to anything.
He seemed pissed, I could hear a growl in his voice. I struck a nerve, and I intended to work that flaw as if I were a hyena.
Ghostface>>> He may be whole, but he is still corrupt. He murders senselessly without any thought for the life he is taking. He is a menace not only to his enemies, or even the people around him. He is a menace to society as a whole, but then again, I suppose he's not the only one..
Me>>> So I'm a menace? From you, I sort of like that kind of talk.
Ghostface>>> I could almost say about you what I've said of Arkady. That monster mask of yours isn't the only one you wear. You've taken your own title back, hiding the fact that you're a murderer under the veneer of righteousness.
I didn't disagree, I'm placing a ridiculous amount of belief and trust in this vision, but his sudden anger made me nervous. I drew my blade. It must've made a beautiful display, coated in the same paint as my hoodie. Glowing as a sword of light in the dark.
Me>>>He *is* evil, I'm not blind to it, but even so...he is whole, and every life is sacred in this fight.
My vision spun, causing me to stagger. The longer this conflict lasted, the worse for wear I was going to be.
Me>>> You cannot proceed...and I will kill a poorly costumed knock-off, to save a man's life today.
Ghostface>>> You speak of saving lives, but how many have you killed for a scheme that is, pun unintended, bone-headed?
I shuddered, my hands grew cold. I saw my blade lower before him. He knew of evil, but did he know what I have seen?
Me>>> Have you seen...the Bleeding Tree?
The ass laughed at me again. I raged internally, screaming at myself to pick up the weapon, to cut this fucker down.
Ghostface>>> The bleeding tree? I hardly think it's real. More than likely, it is nothing but a delusion you used to cope when your grand plan failed. Tell me, SAGE, how did it feel when no one showed up?
Enraged, I screamed.
Me>>>NO!!!! It's...it's real, horrible...
My heart raced, as I felt warmth in my hands. I had to stay focused.
Me>>> I can kill it, and…if you stand in my way, a moment longer...then I will carve my answer from your bones.
He paused. Fear...yes, Fear, I can use that.
Ghostface>>> I wish I didn't have to do this. I respected you, Zero. You didn't deserve everything you had thrust upon you, but you dealt with it anyway. I know firsthand how hard it can be to have people looking up to you when you don't deserve it.
Ghostface>>> However, you gave up the title of sage a long time ago. You can't simply claim it back, especially not after you've lost your Marble Hornets. No, you're no sage. The only title that fits you now is "Murderer". You're a dangerous man, zero. And I'm going to make sure that your last refuge is the sweet release of death.
This asshole punned my blog. That would've been amusing, if from the Pied Jester. I smirked beneath my mask.
Me>>> You read my blogs, well ,,,,then you know why I won't stop!
I attacked, charging him in a clumsy rush, hoping to end this with a single move. He saw me coming, even as I staggered forward, blocking my assault.
Ghostface>>> Right now, your life is a fate worse than death.
He shoved me back, trying to stab me with the tip of his blade as I stumbled backwards.
Ghostface>>> You've become something vile...
My lungs exploded, as he drove the point into me.
Ghostface>>> And the worst part is you didn't even realize it. I'm sorry.
With a fucking replica piece of shit sword....mine got sharpened, at least.
Ghostface>>> I respect you, but that's why I have to euthanize you...
I doubled over, clutching against him as best I could, I had to keep him from being able to swing. I grasped his jacket, slamming the blade's pommel against his side. My hilt struck him in the ribcage, frantically I repeated the maneuver, buying some time. I gasped, trying to regain my vision, and my breath. He fell to the ground, crumpled under the blows.
Me>> How...the fuck...can you talk...so much, in combat?
He lay there, panting, a hand braced against the ground, the other on his side.
Ghostface>>> There are perks...to staying in shape.
He started to struggle to his feet. I couldn't let him back up, I screamed at myself to move.
Ghostface>>> And there are benefits to working for the dapper gentleman.
There, it was him, the monster. All the shit he's put me through, what he did to...
Amelia. My vision started to clear.
I just needed a moment more.
Me>>> How...can you talk about justice…and work for that...
I charged him again,
He didn't suffer the worst of the blow, but my sheer force, colliding with him, threw him to the ground. I took advantage, scrambling atop him, as I struggled to get my sword to his throat. He held the blade in his grasp, blood streaming from his thumb, as I cut into his hand.
Ghostface>>> Tell me....how did it feel when you gave Nessa to the enemy...I hear she's dead now, you know.
I put my knee into his chest. I felt his breath escape. My lungs caught on fire.
Me>>> She taught me that I cannot...save the corrupt. You're already dead.
I pressed into his throat as he croaked.
Ghostface>>> How did it feel... when he didn't show?
Three times, he's asked me now how I've felt...I responded with the only answer available.
I ripped his throat to pieces in a smooth motion.
Me>>> Like this.