Obscura Rhapsody Chapter 11.1

The story so far:

The group of adventurers known as the Shadow Vanguard have (mostly) reunited. After a recent affair in the town of Avalace involving a series of murders and shapeshifting lycanthropic beings, the group is ready to move on to their current objective: avenging their defeat and lost loved ones through the machinations of an information broker named Roué.

However, things don’t seem to go as planned…

Chapter 11



Khloe’s world was fire and pain and glass, as she and Aedyn crashed through the window and plummeted below.

She fell in a sea of shards, each one reflecting the angry amber of the flames above them. Her head was a torrent a pain and fog, having barely any time to react to Aedyn’s warning and escape.

Is that what we’re doing now?

Khloe’s body tilted, her momentum carrying her over in a tumble. To her, everything had slowed down. Below her was the cobblestone street rising fast to meet Khloe from several stories down. A glance next to her revealed Aedyn, eyes closed and his face bruised and cut, in freefall next to her, with no sign of awakening. She suspected he took the brunt of the blast, foolishly placing himself in front of her.

I wish he’d stop doing that.

And still they fell. 

Khloe found a strange serenity in the moment, among the heat and debris. She fancied she could even reach out and pluck one of the shards, examining them with infinite curiosity and time, similar to being in one of Akaja’s dream-like Thoughtspaces. She mused why their lives were a constant barrage of moment-to-moment terror and thrill and heroics. It was a life Khloe harbored no illusions as to the fortitude she would require to endure it. But there was something in the camaraderie, and even in the strange gift that was their Obscura talents, that granted a respite from the sanity that should have overtaken her long ago. The sanity to leave and return to a normal, quiet life, one where she could have taken care of her father.


And it came back to her. 

The last time she spoke to her father. 

And with it came a flood of regret and anguish. 



Gerard strode the long path towards the main building of the campus, which rose like a revenant clothed in fog.

He sighed, something he had been doing a lot of in recent weeks. From when he had first been offered a position at the sanitorium, and his subsequent doubts that continued to needle him, Dr. Alexis Gerard was skeptical that he had made the right choice.

He felt the same hesitation in his heart begin to fill his legs with lead. Gerard nodded politely to the people he passed, either to the Sisters who acted as caretakers or even some of the patients themselves, if they appeared to be lucid enough. He held the Sisters in high regard for their devotion to the patients, in some ways living up to the oath of care in a way the doctors never could. 

Gerard walked by another Sister, and he saw something in her eyes, some truth veiled in the polite veneer the Sisterhood typically wore. He stopped and turned towards her–and immediately felt awkward as he did so. 

It was her eyes—a pale amber, like early dusk. They were framed by a round, lovely face with dark chestnut hair bundled neatly beneath the white hat all the Sisters wore while in service at the sanitorium as part of their customary uniform. When her eyes met his, he was immediately disarmed in a manner Gerard rarely felt and even less expected. There in her eyes he found a pleading which beguiled him, but there was more. This was not what Gerard had originally caught in her eyes, and he narrowed his focus as he took her in.

He suddenly realized what he had originally seen in those eyes: exasperation

And then he looked across from her, towards a man who was standing so straight Gerard wondered if his back would snap from the tautness. Gerard regarded the man with a strange curiosity, in part because when he looked at the man, he saw his peculiar clothing and and face as if through a dream. The clothing seemed real enough, if completely incongruent with the surroundings. 

The man wore a cream-colored commoner’s hat, rimmed yet floppy. He wore round spectacles that looked larger than they needed to be, with gold rims and an orange tint to the lenses that Gerard could not fathom as to their purpose. What the hat did not conceal showed thin, dark, graying hair. The rest of him was unremarkable: thin frame, pale skin with bony fingers that held a lit cigarette. He wore a loose shirt with a floral design and over that a white sweater. His dark slacks were creased as if he had recently slept in them. 

But it was the smile. The man’s smile made Gerard’s head buzz. 

The man’s face was simultaneously in two places, both very close to where they were now. One of them was smiling a hideous grin that was wider than was reasonably possible for a person; the other had lips set in a grim line, but the face warped, as though just beneath the surface of water. This warbling contorted the face in a manner that Gerard found dizzying. In the next moment, the man’s face was normal… if irritated.

“What in the godsdamn do you want?” he asked.

Gerard was taken aback by the bluntness of the man’s expression. Icy anger steeled his neck, and Gerard made sure to compose himself before responding. “I beg your pardon?”

“Ah,” the man said, in a manner that suggested he had won some private bet that he had made with himself. “The fancy speech, eh? Not quite from the capital. Where are you from, the Ezosian Midlands? Kind of murky and shit there, isn’t it?”

Gerard’s eyes met the Sister again, and now he read a mixture of sympathy and, See what I’ve been dealing with?

“I am a disadvantage, eh, Mr—” Gerard began, hoping his voice conveyed the calm he did not feel. 

“Tungsten,” the man said. “Jaeger Ess Tungsten. The ‘Ess’ doesn’t stand for anything, see? When I became a writer I needed some kind of middle initial, and I didn’t have a middle name. Wasn’t fancy enough, you know?” Jaeger made a point of pointing at Gerard’s jacket. “So my first wife, she recommended the letter ‘S’ but I was rather drunk–I think it was just drunk that time–and anyway, I misheard her and thought she said ‘Hess.’ Either way, I split the difference and stuck with ‘Ess,’ which I rather liked.”

Gerard just stared at Jaeger.

Jaeger turned to the Sister and mock whispered, “This one’s a little slow on the uptake.”


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