Obscura Rhapsody Chapter 12.1

The story so far: Something has gone wrong. The mission of vengeance the Vanguard undertook against the information broker Roué has failed, but how? Khloe now finds herself in Astora Sanatorium, with recent events and her mind clouded – and somehow powerless…

Chapter 12 


The words did not fit, and it was driving Tungsten mad. 

He grunted in frustration, leaning back at his desk and shoving the papers and pen back in what he would have called a “creative tantrum” were anyone around to witness it. He rubbed his eyes wearily, taking a moment to glance at his pocket watch.  

11:02 in the morning.  

The words were not coming easily and, even worse, it was as though his mind was splintering on what to write. Tungsten knew that the editor for his story paper Marvels of the Unknown would be expecting some kind of story, either another article recounting some insane encounter while visiting the capital, or a fictionalized interview with an upcoming artist, or maybe a memoir of a drug-addled youth spent in the city wastes. Tungsten was typically never short of ideas, but here in the sanitorium all of that changed. 

He grabbed the pen again and, after dipping it into the inkwell, tried writing. In his mind, words took root and bled onto the page. 

“Is there any other business?” Roué asked. 

A man leaned forward. His suit was finely tailored, immaculate. Rys recognized him as a partner from Loquist – Josen? He wondered if the man grew up with Roué; they looked to be of similar ages. 

“The Tai’Hiera are disrupting some of our business around Loquist. Despite their claims that they won’t interfere with any of the alcohol distribution from the south, we’re seeing an increase in Saints detaining and often impounding our cargo.” 

Tungsten’s hand began to shake, and he dropped the pen. A small blot became a wound upon the page. 

He looked down at the words he had written, and his mind was blighted with a strange sensation, like icepicks into his brain, and the sound warbling in his ears as if immersing himself into the ocean. He clamped his eyes shut and waited for the feeling to pass. When he re-opened them, he saw the man. 

A foot from his face, floating in the air, was an impossible man. “Impossible” as in he was small, only several inches in height, but full of detail despite Tungsten’s mind attempting to process what he was seeing. 

He was thin, somewhat gaunt, wearing a well-tailored black suit. He wore a silver vest beneath, and below that was a pale shirt. The man was standing cross-armed, staring at Tungsten as though this was a perfectly reasonable situation to find oneself in. Despite his stature, Tungsten could see the amber of the man’s piercing eyes. He felt as though he was being judged.  

“I’ll wait for you in Vargas,” the man said. “In three months, four days. You’ll know where once you arrive.” 

And the figure vanished. 

Tungsten sat staring for a while longer before shaking his head. 

“I haven’t drunk enough this morning,” he muttered, reaching for the half-finished bottle of whiskey on the desk. He looked at its contents with disappointment, then looked back across the room. He sighed, remembering that his “shipment” hadn’t arrived yet this week. 

The half-bottle wouldn’t last him the next hour. But Tungsten remembered he had something better. 

He walked over to his bookshelf and removed some of the volumes, collections of his writings from the story papers. Tungsten tapped on the back wall, revealing a panel that jutted out. He opened it and investigated the clandestine compartment, pulling out a bag with white powder in it. 

“Time to go to Heaven,” he said through a wide grin. 


“Khloe?” Gerard said, leaning his heard forward slightly, as though it would add emphasis to his words. 

She half-sat, half-slumped on the divan across from him. It was already forty minutes into their session, and she had barely said anything. 

The damned medicine, he thought. Gerard was not against medication. Far from it. But he wondered why so many of the sanitorium’s patients had to be so deeply medicated to the point of stultification. It impeded him, and why was he even there if the whole nature of his work – to communicate and possibly heal the patients through words – was obstructed? 

The woman – Khloe, he reminded himself – sometimes would aimlessly look down at her hands. Gerard followed her gaze and looked at the curious bracelet she wore. The design was rather plain and must have been part of the standard wardrobe for some of the sanitorium patients. Khloe appeared to pick at it without energy, as though disbelieving its very existence.  

“Do you like the bracelet?” Gerard asked kindly. 

“No,” Khloe offered, her voice wispy and faint. 

Gerard nodded. Progress. “Oh, is that so? Why not?” 

Her eyes fogged over, as if the answer was there but then immediately gone. “I don’t know,” she offered at length. “It’s weighing me down.” 

Gerard offered a polite laugh. “Well, I doubt it could be that heavy.” 

“Not heavy,” she said. Khloe ran her fingers over the bracelet. “Heavy inside.” 

Gerard’s forehead scrunched in confusion. “I don’t understand your meaning.” 

Khloe said nothing. 

Gerard nodded after a moment and made a few notes in the journal on his desk. “Fine. Let us try something else.” He folded both hands on the desk. “How about you tell me why you’re here. Do you remember?” 

Khloe looked up and locked eyes with Gerard. For the briefest moment, Gerard saw something there.  

Her eyes are filled with fire. 

But then it was gone. 

“I don’t know,” she said. “I can’t seem to remember.” Her hand rose and rubbed the side of her head. 

“You remember nothing at all?” 

Khloe stared at Gerard, but soon it transformed into a blank look that Gerard was finding all too familiar with her. 

“Do you remember your childhood?” 

Khloe’s eyes focused a little, and to Gerard she looked more settled. “Childhood?” 

“Tell me about your parents.” 

Khloe took a breath. “Mama in the kitchen. Spring… Spring finally came.” 

“Good, good!” Gerard said. “How old were you?” 

“I had just turned five.” 

“Where was this?” 

“Where was I when I turned five?” Khloe asked dreamily. 

Gerard coughed. “No, no. I meant, where did you live when you were five? When spring came?” 

“Greenveil.” Khloe’s voice remained monotone, offering no change in timbre, no spark of some nostalgic fondness. 

Gerard nodded. “I’ve never been there. That’s along the Western Ridge, is it not? I’ve heard it can be very lovely during the spring and summer months.” 

“Yes. It’s been a long time since I’ve been there. Long before I joined…” 

Khloe clutched her head, moaning in pain. She leaned forward, almost tipping over onto the floor. Gerard stood quickly and rushed to her side, holding Khloe up while her body seized.  

“Sister!” Gerard called. Within moments, Veru stormed through the door, took stock of the situation, and swiftly moved to Khloe’s other side. She gently grabbed Khloe and held her up, gripping her mouth to force it open. 

“She mustn’t bite her tongue!” Veru yelled, and Gerard looked back. He grabbed one of his dry pens and placed it between her teeth. Gerard helped Veru take Khloe outside and sat her in the wheelchair. With a curt nod, she hurried with Khloe to one of the medical wings. 

Gerard sighed. Not for the first time, he wondered if he would be doing a lot of that during his time at Astora. 


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