wherein our protagonist belittles himself to the state of a breakfast entrée
wherein our protagonist belittles himself to the state of a breakfast entrée
This was the worst hangover of the man's entire life.
A long, mournful groan echoed through the alleyway. The man was slumped along a mournful row of trash bags, acting as greasy cushions that squished and squashed as his limbs swung pathetically about. Every joint ached with an ugly thudding; his tongue hung out loosely from his jaw like a flopping dead fish on a hot summer's day. His feet throbbed and moaned to be set free from their stupidly tight confines. A low buzz emanated from all around, the only noise the man had the privilege of hearing in his state, and his eyes only saw inky pools. He had never quite felt this much like a helpless breakfast sausage in his entire life.
He went about like this for several minutes until a flit of intelligence broke through. Staring up into the peach-tinted sky, an attempt at thought gathering produced little results. He had no idea where he was, how he got there, what he had done; the usual checklist you find yourself consulting in a dirty alleyway remained tickless. Hell, even his name was swimming around somewhere. He scratched his head. It would be just his luck that he'd come down with a spot of convenient protagonistical amnesia. A groggy look down his torso alarmed him even further. He appeared to be wearing a dress.
He sat himself up slowly with a grunt, the trash bags sagging with relief. He picked at his dressings. On second thought, it looked to be some kind of coat. A rain coat, perhaps, but one that extended down to his legs. Was he fashion model, perhaps? He did a slight twirl, but he wasn't feeling it. He was gloved as well, in a shadowy texture that matched his coat, and something akin to dark rain boots covered his miserable feet. Some chains twinkled from his neck as he stumbled, attached to... what is that? A hoodie? The man spent a minute flipping the hood onto his head and back before he was satisfied. He spent another two fiddling with the giant zipper he found on his front before giving up.
He'd been adorned with some kind of fashionable body bag, and he had no idea who was to blame. His eyes no adjusted to the gloom, he was distracted by a azure glow peeking from the alley's end. Figuring there was no sense in further bumming about the man picked up an ambling pace, hood seated upon his crown, and strode into the light.
It appeared to be around dusk so his eyes weren't quite as demolished as they had been before, but the orange sky wasn't the main attraction. Across what appeared to be a chasm stood a wall of crag, colored a striking dark blue. Only a few steps from the alley and he had found himself against an iron boundary; which, to be fair, was shielding him from falling down deep into the rock below. The gears began to click rustily in his mind.
Hell... ooow. Hall... oh. Halloh. Hallow? Hollow?
It was the first time he had heard himself speak. He quite liked the sound of it, and repeated himself a few times in various tones and accents like a dreadful parrot.
Behold, the Hollow Bastion!
Oh, right. He'd been here before. He vaguely remembered a snide voice uttering its name, but the speaker eluded his memory. It would be hard to keep these blue walls from his memory, amnesiac or not. Visions of decrepit clockwork and absent castle ruins danced in his head like a picture book. Trodding up some stairs to his side, he appeared to be passing more of a town or village of some sort. Golden pipework arched among windows and back doors that hummed with activity. That was new. He could've sworn that the place was abandoned the last time he paid a visit. It could've been the hum of machinery within the walls, lest for the occasional roar of laughter or squeak of alarm that was most assuredly human. Plumbing seemed to have become an ongoing pastime the man noted, passing under yet another waterfall that roared out of a pipeline above his head and spattered slightly onto his coat.
He rose out of this backalley stairway only a little drenched, but was immediately accosted by yet another grand sight. Towering above a mass labyrinth of roof and stone stood the castle, straight out of his memories. Albeit a little cleaner than what he remembered. Whoever had settled in its footsteps had begun some kind of reconstruction, as scaffolding and mechanical constructs clung to its walls. It was hard to pry his eyes off the sheer scale of the beast. It had obviously been some time since he had last lain eyes on it, but why was he here?
He was jostled by a frenzied cart driver and woke from his pondering. He appeared to be in some kind of market. He slid into the calamitous crowd and took into the sights. The shops were all built into large stone walls on either side, but they crowded and sat ontop of one another in haphazard fashion. Regular fare was much evident, such as a grocer and a bookstore, but exotic oddities peppered the streets. Merchants hawked bubbling concoctions out of windows, small pig-like figures (Muggles?) ushered out trading cards to wary stragglers, axes and staves came through by the barrel. Numerous crafts flew through the evening skyline above; what looked like a pirate galleon soared above the rooftops among a convoy of smaller, toy-like ships in uniform fashion.
The inhabitants only furthered the dream-like feeling; while they were predominantly human, the man observed many a strange species ambling coercively through the squalor. A trio of pigs laughed and scratched as they pranced down a side avenue. A slender woman outfitted with an aquatic lower half stared in wonder as she was carried by a laughing brutish thug, evidently her boyfriend by a smooch he received on the cheek for his services. The man was almost hit by a pair of frenzied flamingos, followed up by a grouping of frantic hedgehogs escaping from an unknown threat. A large furry creature was running amok to the dismay of several shopkeeps, running away tearfully from any and all outstretched gestures. The man began to accept the possibility of this being his favorite coma dream yet, although after several rough jostles things began to seem startlingly like reality.
Feeling rather overwhelmed the man stumbled into what seemed to be a tavern, if the foamy mug sign had anything to say about it. Trying to ignore the bunch of monkeys playing cards in the back, he sidled up the bar and was greeted with a refreshingly human face. He was asked what it would be this evening, he cautiously ordered "the usual". The bartender blinked, then said that it was coming right up and began to fuss around with a glass. Confirmation that he wasn't a regular customer. He wasn't sure whether to call himself a customer or not considering he didn't have any munny on him, and he wasn't sure what he'd do when the bartender found out. One thing mattered most; quenching his parched throat that felt thoroughly vacuumed.
He tried to grasp at the memory, but it slipped right between his fingers. He had had no luck jogging his memory throughout his walkabout; his name, age, birthday, rank and status remained a far off mystery. He hadn't thought to look at himself in a storefront reflection either. He'd probably hit the bathroom and take a glance after his drink, see if that would help anything. He glanced at the one other soul at the bar; a funny looking man with a curved mop of hair passed out in a dribbly stupor.
Sword... more like...
A thud. The man started, surprised by the bartender's hearty mug slam. Lips roughed like sandpaper he managed a thank you before beginning to down the frothy glass. It accomplished the worthy task of both igniting and chilling his heart at the same time. Glorious brew washed down his throat and he savored the feeling with fervor. Well, until the sweetness hit him. From the depths came a noxiously sugary flavor; he would've gagged and spit out half a tankard, if not for the lady standing in the projectile zone. Fighting for control, he managed to chug the mixture down in a gasp. To the witless barkeep, almost tearfully, he croaked a request for something with a little more "concentration" to it, if you caught his drift. The bartender gave a little gasp, followed by a furtive nod of understanding. The next mug tasted more like maple syrup.
If he owned a damned sword, he'd have better things to do than sit here choking on eau de diabetes.
Frothing slightly at the mouth the man pondered how to evacuate as quickly as possible. He shoved aside the glass (it connected with his barmate with a solid thunk), choked out a thank you and stumbled towards the door in earnest. He couldn't even stick around for a bathroom trick, let alone a follow up mug slug. Lo and behold, the bartender was squawking something about paying up. The man had a feeling getting sent to the precinct wasn't in his best intentions; he began another, more thorough pat-down of his own person with a little more earnest. Nothing, nothing, zip, zilch. Unsurprisingly the man could still at least remember the sound of (imminent) sirens.
He reached into his coat and scoured the inside. Bingo. He unzipped a hidden pocket and a leather packet was procured. Whipping around to apologize deeply to the irate staffer, he suddenly wished he hadn't made the effort. His stool-mate neighbor was awake and not only sporting a mean shine on his glistening forehead, but a look of unrivaled terror. If the owner had been planning to throw a keg at him, her similar state of fear betrayed any confidence. They stared at the stack in his hands, then simultaneously snapped looks behind him at some unknown entity. He looked into palm.
This wasn't munny.
He tentatively took a look around.
Unaware of the calamity to follow, the man's mind prided itself in finishing the puzzle. Clear as day, a fragment of memory parted from the cloud. A sing-song voice of a time once forgotten chimed in softly as the man stared at his own mugshot.
Luxord, Luxord, more like Sucksord...