Chapter 2:

Daydreams of Devilish Delight, Part 2

Setting Sun Story: Beta

Western Lake Park, Baustas - Adam - 4:48 PM

Lying on a mound of grass, hands under his head, Adam opens his red Baustian eyes.

The red evening sky is the first to present itself, plastered with large, ominous orange clouds.

The red lake at Adam’s feet lies still, not it nor the trees, painted red, placed scarcely at the water’s edge, feel any breeze.

Red houses, forming the West End Residential District, his home, sit at the other side of the lake, and behind him sprawls a red city of large white-stone buildings.

All is dwarfed by a needle at the city’s center, the foundation of an ovular temple: the Deacons’ High Tower. 

This sanctuary, Baustas, or the Red Dot as it’s often known, hides behind red walls on all sides, and at every street corner, at every compass point of the barrier, hangs a banner.

A white silhouette of a man, arms stretched at his sides, over a flag of red and gold. The Symbol of the Savior.

The dark and dreary world of the Hero remains, with nothing left untouched by the everlasting dull red light.

Blood thumps in Adam’s ears as he tries to calm himself. 

“What the hell was that?” He asks aloud as he struggles to rid his mind of the intruding visions that plague his naïve daydreams.

These visions are not uncommon, but Adam feels the sanctity of his dreams rely on keeping himself from the inhumane pleasures of adults. To serve the Savior, to prove that he is above others imperfections, to have his prayers someday answered. Freedom from the council of humans, freedom only his God can provide.

Settling his mind and closing his eyes, he searches for his daydream once again. Something stops him, his mind halts as he feels a tingling at his nose. 

His eyes cross and meet at the tip of it, granting him a sight never having graced his eyes before.

A blue butterfly, a brand new insect, and more-so one coated in a colorful Saturation that shouldn’t exist. The contrast with the hue of the air is powerful enough to feel as if the butterfly is giving off a light of its own, reverberating and bouncing off the opposing red filter around it.

It slowly parades its wings over him.

“Oh?” He whispers, freezing up as he slides his left index finger up to the butterfly’s perch, navigating the bug to the back of his hand. 

Adam forces his eyes open, keeping watch on all of his own movements and surroundings. 

He’s never had such acute awareness in his life. Successfully performing the operation, Adam leans up, bringing his face as close as possible, enough to see every tiny leg, fold of its abdomen, and vein in its wings.

He holds his breath as not to disturb it. His tired eyes must be playing tricks on him, for when he comes closer, the blue seems to literally radiate from the butterfly in luminescent specks.

As he spots another speck floating off the butterfly, he notices that it leaves behind a white splotch on the wings themselves.

He chalks it up to sleepiness and the staining of the lake’s light on his eyes.

“You’re so… blue.” He says to himself, covering his mouth with his right hand.

Slowly moving his left hand away from him, he reaches his other into the pocket of his baggy, dark pants, standard of a servant to the Deacons, pulling from them a pencil and small pad of paper.

Adam presses the pad against his leg, his eyes starting to dart from subject to the page rapidly, doing his best to sketch the butterfly. Just as he starts to detail the first wing, his hand shakes, and the butterfly takes to the sky.

“No… wait!” He yelps as it flies over his shoulder behind him. 

He rolls over onto his stomach, reaching out toward it, but the logically impossible entity is too far to catch.

As it drifts higher and higher, fluttering from side to side as it rises, Adam tries to draw as much as he can before it disappears. More details hit the page as a voice from Adam’s theatric imagination seems to play a phrase to him.

‘We’ll meet again soon enough.’ 

The exciting image getting the best of him, he smiles as his jaw quivers and his tongue shoots over his teeth and around his lips, the pencil furiously scratching at the pad.

When next his eyes pull to the sky, the blue dot is nowhere to be found. 

He lets out a sigh, and plunges his face into the dirt, scrunching his nose against the paper, and mixing his dark-brown hair with the orange grass. The paper sticks to his face when he pulls himself up, and flutters back down to the ground.

Adam chuckles at the sketch as it follows the properties of its real counterpart. 

Shortly however, he notices that drawn on it incomplete is still the sketch of the butterfly, but next to it in seemingly perfect anatomical proportions, the promiscuous side-eying bunny girl from the dream. 

The wide-eyed wonder of the situation drains from his features, leaving him disappointed in his, although understandable from any sane perspective, impulse of ‘immaturity’.

Shaking his head, he rips the drawing in half, stuffing the girl into his pocket to dispose of ‘such a disgusting image’ later.

The pencil touches back to the drawing of the butterfly, but with another heavy exhale, so too expels his motivation to continue.

Adam crosses his arms, and lays his head in them, carelessly looking toward the brick-lined city block that lays at the Northeastern edge of the park. 

His eyes gloss over in emptiness, like a small and unobserved mirror, simply pointing the landscape back at itself; like the eyes of his own mother, eyes that wait endlessly to be seen. A weight collapses over his body as his bones turn to liquid.

He laments alone in thought.

Fifteen years he’s existed here. The Sacred city of the Savior, the supposed last haven of the barren planet. To him it feels everything but.

If we’re blessed by the Savior, the promised people, why are we barred behind these massive walls? He thinks. He’s read enough about it to know that the Deacons’ consider those outside as nothing more than savages. 

Surely, backed by a Deity capable of taking a God’s form himself, the Baustians should be able to cure the world of its Chaos, of the red light that sucks life from the land. Despite such obvious answers, the Deacons and the Chosen are the only ones to cross the walls. 

The world simply accepts it, happy inside the warm cage.

Just once, he thinks, just once, he’d like to sprout wings, and take off into the sky. Prove to the Savior that he can bring back color.

A shadow washes over Adam’s back. He continues out loud, sarcastically venting to himself, “Anything to not become some straight-edged soldier, and Savior knows I’m damn well no merchant-”

“What’s wrong with straight edges?” Asks a smooth yet exhausted voice.

Adam stuffs his pad into his pocket, and cranes his neck toward the source. A familiar face smiles down at him.

“Taking a break from your oh-so-hectic lifestyle?” Julian asks sarcastically.

He limps over to Adam’s other side, and with a heavy groan, sits himself down carefully, leaning back over his hands and keeping his sore legs stretched.

“And personally I think your stubbornness would serve you great as a merchant,” he adds, looking over to Adam with a half-smile. 

Everything about Julian scares Adam just a little bit. He towers over Adam standing, although most people do. An endlessly athletic lifestyle as a training soldier gives him thick arms and calves despite his slender frame, and bronzed skin so shiny that Adam in secret has referred to him as Baustas’ second sun, he could never say that out loud though.

Apart from height and the response to Julian’s activities, the two look similar. With large red eyes, and the same subtle curl to their hair, (Julian has to keep his shorter for training), even thin lips that rest in a serious, ‘He must be thinking real hard right now,’ manner. 

Adam’s often considered himself a weaker Julian, his only defining trait being a subtle drive to deny all that composes Julian’s path.

In the end these insecurities weigh on Adam, but nothing could take away a decade’s worth of collective childish dreams, even if separated by their logics.

“Can I be honest? I wouldn’t trade moments like this for anything,” Julian blurts out.

Adam is still distracted by the lost view of the butterfly. An absentminded grunt spills from his throat. Such a response is atypical.

“You ignorin’ me? Usually you’re the one who gets all sappy,”

“Huh? No. I just saw something that’s-” Adam trails off, initiating a full-scale retreat into his mind.

“Oi!” Julian yells as he claps in front of Adam’s face, jolting him awake.

“What’s the deal with you, man? Tough drama at the Library?” Julian digs. 

Comments like that are what keep Adam up.

Fuck off with that damn superiority complex, even if he’s got a couple years on me, Adam thinks.

“They actually let me out early. Said it was a particularly nice day,” Adam finally responds as he scratches at the back of his head.

Julian chuckles and falls back into the grass. “Boy if they treated us like that, nobody’d be getting anything done.”

Adam rolls his eyes, trying to think of a comeback.

“Ah! You’ll never believe who I sparred with today,” Julian remembers.


“Tallsoul. Arrabelle, Taron’s kid,” Julian says excitedly, leaning up on his elbow, a smile on his face. 

Adam can’t help but grin too. The heartthrob daughter of Baustas’ hero has been the subject of Julian’s fantasies for as long as Adam can remember.

“I was wondering who could mess you up so badly,” Adam finally returns with confidence.

Julian ignores the statement.

“You know she’s not even in the program, not even technically a soldier, or even on her way to Special Tasks. This girl, from birth… it’s like she was bred for fighting!” Julian exclaims.

He moans as he sits up, feeling at his back.

“Spares nobody, let me tell ya, Zalach’s made her a killer.”

“No kidding?”

“Yeah. Hey massage my back a little, will ya?”

“She must’ve hit your head pretty hard too.”

The absurd remark doesn’t give the two another second before erupting them into laughter.

Today’s training worked Julian to his core, enough so that relief like this has brought him to the brink of tears. Feeling his empty lung stabbing at him, he tries to catch his breath, bringing Adam down with him. 

They both sit in silence for a minute, getting one last look at the sun before the wall eats it entirely, spreading the shadow that washed over the lake to the whole city.

“So what’d you come find me for?” Adam asks, breaking an orchestra of singing crickets.

“Just wanted to see what you were up to. Heard she started working at Painny’s sweets place.”

“She being Arrabelle?”

Julian stifles a smile.

“You’re hopeless,” Adam whispers just loud enough to be heard.

Julian gets to his feet with a renewed vigor.

“Have you seen the outfits Painny makes the girls wear? I bet she looks adorable! Probably with an embarrassed scowl and everything. Her legs in that dress, Adam. Think of her legs!” Julian gushes, leaning over Adam with a smiley expression expecting sympathy. 

His towering intimidation has so quickly been turned to hulking disappointment to Adam.

Adam reaches a hand up, issuing get up assistance from his injured friend. He brushes himself off.

“Harbor just a little resentment of someone that kicked your ass?” Adam suggests.

“She’d kick yours too,” Julian fires back.

If she could kick anyone’s ass, than assuredly, that’s the norm, and I’m not in a special case, Julian thinks. Or maybe I want to be in a special case?

“I think I’d be smart enough to avoid such a situation.”

“Not if you plan on joining up this year.”

Adam pauses. His face shrinks into pale hesitance, something that happens every time reality comes creeping in over his shoulders.

It chokes him, putting a pressure over his neck, stopping any words from coming out.

“Mhmm,” Adam manages.

Julian has already taken off planning as he does.

From early schooling to specification training, Julian’s scheduled out everything to bring himself into his best life, and he’s inspired just now to start once again with Adam.

“You spend the two years I have in there… you could be lookin’ pretty good, let me tell ya. Oh, and with your father and everything, it’d be a fast track too. Surely the Deacons would remember everything he’d done, you know? It wouldn’t be as fast as Arrabelle could manage but trust me-” Julian drags on. 

Adam throws out his hands, waving and shaking his head.

“Don’t bother yourself with it, I can handle things myself!” Adam cries, trying to free himself from continued truths. “Let’s just go to Painny’s,” he finishes. 

In outstanding agreement, Julian limps down the hill, toward the street’s center. Adam lets out a sigh, putting his palm to his chest and feeling his heartbeat. 

The moment Julian looks away, Adam’s eyes gloss over again, his mind racing again and again over the impending days of normality that await him.