Beyond the Cutting Edge: chapter two

The night was cloudless, the moon shined dimly it wasn’t ideal conditions but Tristan would make do, another party was taking place at his house though he was no longer there to over see it, the young minds of his peers would fuse the two parties together forming the perfect alibi he stood on the roof of Grey’s mansion cloaked in black and ready for almost anything, he entered through a window he easily slipped open and found himself on the fourth floor. Thoughts rushed through his head as he quickly calculated the value of the different gems he saw before him. He took six small sapphires, the ones least likely to have their absence noticed by whoever sees the room next.
He slid noiselessly from the room to a dark hallway quickly finding his way to different treasures of the house and planning out future heists should the rumours prove false.
As he entered the kitchen he heard a noise, his first thought was that he really did wake the dead. Then the noise repeated and his irrationality dissipated. He effortlessly leaped onto of the fridge to stay out of sight. From his new vantage he watched as two. People walked in and turned on the lights, which struck him as odd since the house was off the power grid. “Why does the boss insist we stay out here so far from base? Asked the fat man as he pulled a loaf of bread from the bread bin. “Because you keep making too much noise and I’m male adjusted.” Said the lady as she sat down at the table and picked a piece of rotten fruit to gnaw on as if it were fesh. They sat down and began to eat in silence. After the meal which took far too long in Tristan’s mind, the two began talking once more. Tristan was trapped, cramped in a dark corner until they left. “I don’t get why he needed the girl.” The fat man said, sitting there making no effort to move. “It isn’t our place to understand the orders of our master, merely follow them to the letter, if he wanted he could order me to live in the Forrest.” Said the lady, in a fevered tone that reeked of conviction.  Tristan felt like he was being tortured by their conversation, every second up their hurt and every word they said emphasized his pain, forcing him to memorize each line as they went.  “I don’t like the new uniform, too much white, we won’t blend in with the night, how can I be sneaky dressed in white and silver?”  Asked the fat man, that was actually the first time Tristan noticed the two were dressed the same, he saw someone else in a similar outfit before but he didn’t care enough to remember who or when.  At that moment all he cared about was pretending he was, already back home, counting his loot in the secret room behind the fireplace.  “I think the point is that we look like ghosts, hence staying in this supposedly haunted mansion.”  Said the lady as she rose from her seat to leave, “It’s your turn to do the dishes I believe.”  She said to the fat man.  “There are no dishes,” He replied, she turned shot him a glance so cold he went silently over to the sink and pretended to wash dishes that weren’t there as she left.  He left soon after her, most likely to go to sleep, once the two were gone and both silence and darkness were restored, Tristan quickly snuck down from his hiding spot and made it back to his part in time to hand out a cake he baked that day, helping to instill in his ‘friends’, the idea that he had been at the part the whole night.  He hid his loot in the room behind the fireplace and sang along with the music he hated.

The next day started much the same, he was on his roof, but this time in a cold sweat, the memories of his dream mingled with his latest job, making him question the very fiber of his reality.  “Don’t think you’re getting out of chores again today.”  Kaylie said from somewhere beyond his range of vision, he dared not turn around, for fear of broom to the face.  The broom landed in his lap just as he sat up.  “Don’t bother with words; she’s in a bad mood today.” Lisa said cheerfully as she began cleaning dried juice off the windows.  Kaylie went inside to wash dishes while Tristan swept every room of his house and washed all of his walls, the party that previous night seemed to have been particularly rambunctious.  When they were all done Kaylie offered for Tristan to come over to her house with Lisa, saying “We’ve got plenty of food, you could have a nice quiet evening for once, I know you secretly hate those parties. “  Without a second thought Tristan gladly accepted the offer, he hadn’t been invited over for anything less than a holiday or during a crisis, he was certain something was bothering his friend.

Once his friends left he returned to his hidden room and began planning where to sell his loot, it wasn’t a difficult process, but one he took so much pleasure in he could scarcely wait for it, he would have done it the night before if he hadn’t arrived so late.  He made sure to spend at least three hours partying to create the illusion of being there the whole night.  With this obligation complete he fell asleep on his roof once more.  He calculated the money he would earn to be somewhere between five hundred and eight hundred gold coins, a fine night’s work completely worth all the effort.  Or so he thought.  Once that was done he went to town to spread the word that there would not be another party that night.  The youth of Cutting Edge groaned in protest every time he gave out the news, with the exception of Rich who was much more concerned about his still missing girlfriend, even offering to pay twenty gold coins for Tristan to find her, he agreed to search but made no efforts, it was his day off.  Tristan did however think it odd that a client so eager to meet him would vanish without even giving his job, but as he was financially secure for the moment, it hardly bothered him.

That night he snuck into the house of the Rod family, and waited for them at their dining table.  When Susan Rod, the mother of Lisa and Kaylie, came to put down the dishes she made no remarks but set a place for Tristan along with the others.  A few minutes later Lisa and Kaylie arrive and sit on either side of him.  “I take it you still don’t like the way our doorbell sounds?” Susan asked as she served food to her daughters and their strange friend.  “You know me all too well Mrs. R, all too well indeed.”  He said with a charming smile.  The meal was a wonderful soup made mostly from ingredients grown in the sizable garden behind the house.  While the Rod house was small it had a medium field for a yard, and was practically farmland, the Family used this land wisely making it work for them.  The Rod’s didn’t need to work as everything they needed was provided for them, Victor Rod, the father of Tristan’s friends, Would go into the Market to sell any excess produce they had, on this evening though he was absent, he left to go on a hunting trip with several of his friends.  As Tristan began to eat Kaylie told him what was troubling her, “Gale’s gone missing, the sheriff is looking into things, and I’m sure they’ll suspect you, I know you wouldn’t kidnap anyone, but you’ve got to lay off the crimes for a little while, before it’s too late.  They will catch you.” She pleaded before taking a fresh mini loaf of bread and dipping it into her tomato bisque.  Tristan thought for a moment while chewing some of his bread.  Everyone seemed to have words of advice for him recently, and he hated it, he had no idea why, but he did.  Kaylie however, had always been there for him and her sister too, the both of them had been giving him advice from the very beginning, his urge to ignore all advice conflicted with his desire to keep his friends happy and so he sat in silence thinking his options over.  “Well, I’m all set for a month actually, I’ve just one more job to do, and after that I can take a break.”   Tristan said before returning his attention to the meal before him.  “I hope Gale’s okay, she may not have been very nice, but I’m worried about her.”  Lisa said quietly, speaking up for the first time that meal.  Tristan thought it odd that their mother was fine with them hanging out with a criminal, he had always thought it odd, but had little to go on as he didn’t know much about mothers.

The next day Tristan was woken up by a loud knock on his door, he knew it could only mean one thing when someone woke him up before noon, trouble.  He dragged himself out of bed, a place he was surprised to wake up in. He pulled his blankets over him and stumbled to the door, opened it slowly, the sheriff pushed past him entering the house without a word ran through it quickly and returned to him.  “Where is she?” He demanded.   “I’m too tired for this, less pronouns.”  Tristan said with a yawn as he started back up the stairs towards his room.  “Don’t play dumb we already have an anonymous tip that she hired you to help her with something, you would have been the last one to see her before she vanished.”  Sheriff said angrily.  “Wait, you mean that Gale kid, yeah we were supposed to meet up at the entrance to the forest but I was late, don’t even know if she ever showed up.” HE said as he finished his hike to the second floor, deciding to instead sleep in a guest room, the rest of the stairs were too much.  “We’ll be scouring that area, and if anything comes up as unusual we’ll be back to see you again.” Yelled Sheriff as he ordered his Deputies to run towards the Forrest, starting the search immediately.  “Sure I don’t care about anything before noon, so come back after; I’ll get you and your men drinks and be more hospitable.”

Nestled safely within a guest bed, Tristan’s body became immobilized while his mind began to wander, piecing together different things, analyzing the week so far. He dreamed of masks and ghosts and crows, he dreamed of life and death, he dreamed of family and friends, but most of all, he dreamed of sharks and fish. He awoke earlier than usual, the time was ten thirty five, he knew what would happen if he stayed. Tristan quickly bathed and changed his clothing; he packed his bag and left with a small folded piece of paper. “Every con artists should know, when the going gets tough, you vanish.” Tristan said to himself as he left the only house he’d ever known.
Lisa sat in the field watching as Kaylie picked weeds. “How do I always end up doing all the work?” asked Kaylie, as she tugged at a particularly tenacious plant. “Because I can cook and sell stuff, and you do the gardening, we agreed to split the labour.” Lisa said lazily with a yawn. “Yeah but you don’t have to watch me,” Kaylie complained while toppling over as her fingers slipped off the stem merely removing the leaves. “What else can I do with my free time? Hangout with our friends?” Lisa said with a smirk. “Hey Kay, what’s that?” Lisa asked, pointing at a small piece of paper on the inside of a nearby window. Kaylie quickly ran inside grabbing the paper and reading it aloud to her sister. “I have to go for a little while, you two were right about my lifestyle catching up with me, I’ve been blamed for whatever’s going on with Gale, I’ll have to find her before I get into too much trouble, but I think she might be dead. I’m not sure when I’ll be back but I can’t let the old man see me, and I don’t want you two involved, so long chums.” Kaylie read with much confusion, before handing it to Lisa who confirmed the message herself. “He’s so stupid, that’s how you make them think you did it more, not less.” Lisa complained standing to her feet and going to her room to collect something. She returned moments later with her coat and Kaylie’s too, and pointed to the east. The two were going hiking.
Deep within the dark forest lived a boy, a boy many considered mad, but Tristan considered a friend, Blue Cog, he ran away from home when he was five and his family never found him. He lived in the woods taking care of himself, hunting wild animal and foraging wild berries, he was the wild personified. “Are we lost?” Tristan asked his strange friend as they marched through a thick bush far from any path. “Define lost?” Blue Replied with a wide smile. “Well do you know where we’re going?” Tristan asked feeling uncertainty creep up on him suddenly. “Define where?” Blue asked still smiling as he sliced a bush with a self crafted spear. “There’s a reason no one talks to you but me.” Tristan said, beginning to feel annoyed. “True, but this isn’t it, anyways I’ve got a map.” Blue said showing him a small paper he drew scribbles on marking different regions of the forest with some sort of number system. “What do the numbers mean?” Tristan asked, finding it surprisingly complex for someone who seemed to see things so simply. “Danger level, I avoid nines and stick to ones, this bush is a one because no predators want to march though such thick bush when you can go the long way to the watering hole, we’re very close by the way.” Blue said as he began climbing a thick tree only to drop down rope moments later.
Tristan looked over the papers from his bag, all of them blank zero clues to go on. He wrote everything he knew about the situation so far, the masked man and the strange people in the haunted house, the crows, that was the worst part; he knew exactly what that meant. He wrote it all down then he began to ponder the events thus far. “If she was desperate enough to need my help then maybe it really was something people would kill over, if I had only gotten to her on time, I’m sure I could have saved her,” Tristan lamented aloud. “How do you even know she’s dead?” Blue asked looking the notes over and writing down strange events he noticed in the forest, missing tress migrating birds, scared animals, footprints, and the crows everywhere. “Crows feast upon the dead, that is why they came, I was much too late, it must have been that masked man, he’s clearly the boss of those strange people from the haunted house, which means my next move should be,” He said, half explaining to blue half explaining to himself all the strange revelations of his dreams. “Oh, can I come? If you’re going to be sneaking around town, I haven’t seen it in forever, and neither of us want to be seen.” Blue pleaded gleefully, practically singing his words. “Fine, just stay quiet, we’ve got a lot of work to do and I could use a helping hand.”
That night at the Grey Manor the fat man was eating prime Ribs and a soup, when he heard a noise. “What did you say 13?” He said questioning the noise. “I didn’t say anything I’m trying to get some sleep, we’ve got a job tomorrow,” the lady replied from a couch in the sitting room nearby. Just then an apparition appear, a ghoulish figure with many arms, it was luminescent and beautiful, yet horrify. 13 ran instantly from this sight, screaming as she left the building. The fat man heard the scream and rose from his seat to find the source of his companion’s fear, only to fall; his feet had been bonded together. The ghost appeared before him and he felt himself being pulled upwards until floating inches away from the ghost, he could smell rotten flesh. “Why do you disturb my rest, who are you!?!” demanded the being with a voice that echoed across the entirety of the home causing even the shadows the shrink in fear. “I’ll tell you everything, just spare me, I don’t know my name anymore, they just call me 26, I was told by my master Gear to stay here, he said if I stayed here he would be happy and I have to do what he says, he saved me from the grave.” The fat man said in a rushed voice. “Your sins against me are sever, why should I spare you?” The ghost inquired. 26 fainted from fear at that moment.
Blue untied the fat man from the ropes used to drag him up as Tristan removed his disguise. “Drag the body up to the roof and leave him there, he’ll sort this out himself, we won’t be getting any more details from him, I’ll go through any papers he happens to have in this place.” Tristan said darkly, while heading to the area where 13 had been sleeping. The two of them scoured the house for clue, finding several papers with different dates on them and older papers that appeared to be ripped out of partially burnt books. “We’ll get to the bottom of this in no time.” Blue said confidently, but Tristan had his doubts, something about the entire scenario seemed familiar as if he heard all of this before. “I don’t know what to do next.” Tristan admitted sadly. He looked over the papers recognizing the dates but they were all months in the future, he couldn’t possibly wait for them to see what happened, he needed a place not a time, where was the palace that Gear mentioned where was anything, he had to know where these people were hiding. Then it hit him, Blue had already mentioned it, the foot prints, they had to be from the same group of people. “Take me to the footsteps in the forest.” Tristan said, his confidence returning instantly. They left in silence leaving the papers, but copying everything down onto their notes.

 

ECHO ECHO

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One thought on “Beyond the Cutting Edge: chapter two

  1. Pingback: Beyond the Cutting Edge: Chapter three | Echoshadow

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