ANNO DOMINI ~Allium~ [Beta version]
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BOOK 2, CHAPTER 16: DASTARDLY DIVISION
Regal? Regal, please wake up, my dear child.
Wakefulness burst into Regal’s mind, and he popped his eyes open the instant he regained consciousness. The carpet, browned and hardened by being virtually cooked from unconventional waves, was pressed against his face. He sprang to his feet, dizzy from the sudden upright position, and he exerted himself to stagger to the bedroom door, which he threw open.
In his living room, where Chanel continued to slumber, the masked guest was waiting, standing up straight at attention.
Regal growled, his balance gradually restoring itself after the magically induced sleep.
“You’re awake earlier than expected,” the guest said. “You should’ve been asleep for another day. This is proof of your potential and abilities.”
“What the hell are you still doing in my home?” Regal demanded, marching into the living room. To his relief, his sleeping fiancée seemed unharmed. “You better not have hurt her!”
“I was waiting. And don’t worry about the woman. I haven’t done anything but put her to sleep. She should wake up after sunrise.”
Having lost all sense of time, Regal saw it was nighttime through the windows.
“You bastard,” he muttered, rubbing his head as he just noticed his mild headache. “I asked you why you’re still here!”
“I have something for you.” The masked guest spoke without any clear emotion, although their underlying intent was fairly easy to interpret, even with their voice-altering magic. “A gift.”
“Don’t expect me to forgive you.”
“That’s too bad. Because I know you’ll enjoy this.”
A loud crash from the master bedroom startled Regal. Whatever had caused it sounded hefty and unruly.
“What was that?” A rock sank into his gut as he stared at the closed bedroom door.
“That would be your gift.”
Regal shot the masked guest a hateful look, then slowly made his way to the master bedroom. Hand on the doorknob, he braced himself for whatever he’d find, then cracked the door open to peek inside.
There was wreckage. Furniture was destroyed, the walls and ceiling cracked.
And there was the gift.
Regal slammed the door shut so hard that pieces of drywall chipped around the frame. His heart pounded in his chest, and a layer of sweat coated his face.
“Don’t be afraid,” the guest told him darkly. “The next phase of your desires is about to begin.”
“You don’t know anything about my desires,” Regal said through gritted teeth. However, he knew he was wrong about that.
“Oh, but I do. I know a lot about you, because that was part of the contract. On top of that, we’ve already done too much with Agrarian-Schism to go back now.”
As Regal stood in place, shaking with fear and regret, he could only understand the dead end road he had come down; the deal with the masked guest offered no reprieve.
“The company’s name is a play on ‘agrarianism,’” Regal said, “which is a belief system of rural living and farming. Farmers are self-sufficient and provide an important role in their community. Although agrarianism negatively views commercialized farming and capitalism, our company acts to divide itself from the pitfalls of big business, hence the ‘schism’ in the name.” He gave the guest an indignant look. “It’s shameful to use such an important entity—important to society—the way we are using it. It’s downright insulting to the company’s honorable stance as a large corporation that upholds the agrarianism principles.”
“Shame is the game we play at,” the disguised individual uttered.
“And now,” Regal continued, raising his voice, “it’s like we’ve twisted the meaning of the Agrarian-Schism name, now that we’ve created a divide between the products of agriculture and the society that depends on them.” Sighing, Regal added, “It’s ironic…but almost too perfect.”
“Yes, a dastardly twist. I find it to be wonderful, actually.”
“This is it, then.” Regal shook his head, feeling burned by the words coming from his own mouth—words of defeat. “It’s really all or nothing.”
“If you don’t go all in with your plans,” the guest explained, “they will fail. And if your plans fail, you will be dealt with…in a most unpleasant manner.”
Regal thrust his fist into the wall, punching through it with ease.
“You’re awfully opaque about what your own plans are. Why don’t you tell me something? How will my desires being fulfilled help you out in any way?”
“What’s it matter?” The altered voice sounded smug, although the speaker did not move at all. “If you get what you want, then why worry?”
“Because…the common good is also important to my desires.”
A wicked cackle emerged from behind the mask, its tone twisted and mutilated by the voice-changing spell in effect.
“That’s a lie,” the guest said, pointing a gloved finger at Regal, “otherwise you wouldn’t have entered into this contract with me.”
Hesitant, Regal muttered, “Did it ever occur to you that people make mistakes? Doesn’t it ever occur to you that I could’ve been wrong?”
“Yes, it does!” Now the guest was delighted and animated. “That flaw is what I exploit. You failed yourself,” their voice and manner of speaking sped up with excitement as they spread their concealed arms out, “and there’s nothing you can do about it!”
Never before had Regal wanted to rip somebody limb-from-limb. He tried to reason with himself that the masked guest was something much lower than a human, and tearing their disguised head off was justifiable.
Yet, he could not. The consequences would be dire, and he could only look at his fiancée sleeping on the couch and think about what it would mean to overstep the boundaries set by the cloaked individual.
A heavy thud came from the door, which barely remained on its hinges.
“It’s getting restless,” the disguised person said, looking at the pitiful door to the master bedroom. “It is aware of your desires, and only wants to serve you. In fact, it exists because of your desires. Why not use this gift? I told you that you’ll do well to see your plans through, so you better use everything at your disposal.”
“I…don’t have a choice.” Regal hung his head in dismay.
“Think of everything you stand to gain. Your plan is rooted in your desires, after all. If they succeed, it’ll bring you true happiness. It’ll be a happiness spawned from the deepest parts of yourself, where your conscious mind is unable to go. Tapping into that part of yourself is the key to true happiness.”
“I honestly think you’re wrong,” Regal muttered, “but…”
But it’s for the best. Nobody else can protect the earth as well as you, Regal.
Rubbing his face, Regal groaned. “I know that.”
The guest held one hand up. “You can choose happiness…” they held up the other hand, “…or punishment. What will be your answer?”
With another thud, the master bedroom door fell from the doorway, taking part of the frame’s trim down with it. Drywall dust wafted through the air. Regal looked at his new gift, the greatest tool to achieving everything he wanted, despite not believing those desires himself.
Before Regal could give his answer, the masked guest was already exiting through the living room window. It was supposed to be a six-story fall, but it’s unknown whether or not anybody landed on the ground below.
Protect nature’s bounties from the parasites of the land, and they will be yours forever in a world safe from those who threaten it.
With effort, Regal turned to gaze into the eyes of his gift, which looked right back at him.“I’ll do what I can for this world,” Regal said to his gift, feeling his resolve grow due to the encouragement of the whispers in his soul. Swallowing his sadness, he added, “Not that I have a choice now. What the hell was I thinking?” He grabbed his head as his gift stepped closer, rumbling the apartment with each step. “I…can’t remember. When did I make a deal with that masked bastard?”