The Eighth Rune Ch8

Edgard woke up shaking in his bed again. It wasn’t from the pain of the self-inflicted stab wound. That had been quick and clean and had done it’s job perfectly. He was shaking from the frustration and the anger at having to repeat the day yet again when he had been so close to success. The feelings welled up in him for a few moments, and he found himself wanting to hit something. He balled up his right hand into a fist and hammered it against the wall next to his bed multiple times, yelling out as he did so. It didn’t help–in fact, his hand hurt from the strikes–but he still felt like doing it.

Repeat, repeat, repeat, Edgard told himself as he hopped out of bed and began going through all the motions of the day before. It was a success. All I need to do is repeat everything, all of the successes, exactly as they happened the day before, he thought, nodding to himself as he put on his clothes and left his house, still ignoring the laundry and daily maintenance chores that once consumed his mornings. He went through the conversation with Hilda almost exactly as he did the previous day, only changing a few words as his memory faltered.

He was so caught up in trying to mimic all the motions of day seven, he almost repeated the one part of the previous day that he most definitely didn’t want to relive: the conversation with the chef. He stopped himself just as he was a foot away from descending the stairs down into the basement to get supplies by himself. No, the chef said specifically that the reason he hadn’t approached me before yesterday was that I was always with someone else, with Mae, when I went down. He doesn’t feel comfortable including other people in his scheme . . . So what I need to do is find someone to go down there with me. He frowned as he looked at the flight of wooden stairs leading down into darkness. But who the heck is going to be okay with going down there with me? Who is going to keep their mouth shut while I assemble everything I need to build a bomb and then not say anything when I leave? He looked down the hall. There has to be someone . . . He was almost tempted to just wait for Mae to show up and use her again, but the more he thought about asking Mae for anything, the more he thought about losing the contents of his stomach and bile seemed to crawl up his throat.

No, I can’t use Mae. I don’t want to see her, much less have her know what I’m doing, he admitted to himself with a sigh. But that doesn’t leave me with many options left, he thought, looking at the doors to the sermon halls. His mind immediately went to Derian next. Well . . . there is actually someone who owes me, and he might feel guilty enough to go along with it. The only problem was he didn’t want to talk to Derian either. After all, Mae may have put a knife in his back, but Derian had definitely been the one to drive it home. Then, for all of his doting on his sister, he was quick to offer her up as a sacrifice to appease his own conscience and alleviate his guilt. Sure, she might have had a crush on him–her ‘yes’ to going out made that clear–but Derian’s timing when first bringing it up couldn’t be ignored. It had nothing to do with Edgard getting a house finally and already being well past the usual age of settling down. Derian had tried to play matchmaker just to help himself feel better about sleeping with his friend’s girl.

Edgard sighed. I suppose beggars can’t be choosers. He took another deep breath and walked down the hall into Derian’s sermon room. Here goes nothing. He took one last deep breath, not to still his nerves but to quiet his anger, before he pushed through the door into the lecture hall.

When Derian saw him, he must not have seen how mad Edgard was because he instantly started grinning ear to ear and waving him into the room. “Hey, come on in. I’m just getting to the good part. I’m about to tell these four lucky listeners”–Derian nodded his head towards the only four people listening in a room with pews to seat a hundred–“about the quintessential rune of the Travelers Guild, the gust rune, and how it came to be.”

“Oh, we’ve, umm . . . We’ve heard that one before,” one of them quickly said. “There really isn’t a reason for you to–”

Edgard cut the man off mid-sentence, saying, “Get out.” He didn’t even bother looking at them as he issued his command. He didn’t have time to waste. He knew they would be leaving on their own shortly, but he wasn’t in the mood to just let things happen at someone else’s pace.

“Hey, don’t you talk to us like that. Who do you think you–” The rebuttal was silenced even quicker than the previous attempt at talking.

“I SAID GET OUT! Don’t you dare make me repeat myself!” The fury in Edgard’s voice was enough to have given even a man of Cedric’s size pause as he yelled at them. The few attendees of Derian’s sermon shuffled off while exchanging glances and muttering amongst themselves.

Despite yelling at the other men in the room, Edgard’s gaze had remained focused on Derian, who had taken a step back when he heard the furoy in Edgard’s voice. His face was growing paler by the second as he inched backwards. “Look, man, I’m sorry.” He raised his two hands like a man surrendering. “It’s not what you think.”

It’s not what I think? Edgard’s temper had somehow summoned the fire in his gut again, the hatred he had felt towards Derian and Mae when he first found out, and now it seethed inside of him. It’s not what I think? You didn’t sleep with my girlfriend? He wanted to lash out, but his temper was quickly checked by his common sense. If Hilda finds out you already knew when you asked her out, then when you go back to get her, will she still come? the voice of reason whispered in his head. Calm down. You were just shouting to get those guys to leave. You have a mission to complete. Edgard felt his nails bite into the palm of his hand, and he forcibly unclenched the fist he had been unconsciously making.

“I mean, well, maybe it’s exactly what you think. I just–”

“Relax, Derian.” Edgard did his best to fake a smile as he calmed himself down. “I just need to borrow you, and I figured you wouldn’t mind not having to give a sermon.”

“Huh? Oh . . . uhm, so . . .” Derian looked at Edgard skeptically. “You’re not mad?”

“Mad? Nah, I’ve got work to do though, so do you mind coming with me?” Edgard turned around and walked towards the door, hoping that Derian was following. He didn’t really feel like faking his smile anymore. Today, we blow them up, and we get Hilda, and we leave town. I don’t need to mess it up here. He repeated the plan several times like it was the greatest calm-inducing mantra known to man as he walked towards the basement, assured by the sound of footsteps behind him that Derian was following.

“Edgard”–Derian stopped at the top of the flight of stairs–“you sure you’re not mad?” he said, giving Edgard a lopsided frown. “I mean, um . . . Why do we need to go down there? By ourselves?”

He thinks I’m going to murder somebody? Edgard laughed a little, then stopped when he realized his chuckle sounded awfully similar to the chef’s lighter chortle. “Derian, I’m not mad. I just need your help lifting some stuff for a project I’m working on. I have to get something ready for Hilda.” Edgard did his best to not lie, but also to not tell him the truth. He’s right: I am going to kill someone, but he doesn’t need to know that.

“A project for Hilda?” Derian slowly started to descend into the basement behind him this time. “What are you doing?”

“Oh, I’ve been putting together an invention of sorts. It’ll be pretty cool when I get it assembled, but, for right now, it’s a secret, so keep it quiet.” Edgard realized as soon as he said it that his explanation for what he was doing was starting to deviate from the Hilda story. “I mean, if it works, it should be able to make something pretty for Hilda.”

“For Hilda? Not Mae?” Derian’s voice was shaky and hesitant, like a foot testing ice on a frozen lake.  

“Yes, for Hilda. Are you deaf?” Edgard shook his head. “Just keep a lookout while I get some stuff together.

“So you’re making something pretty for Hilda, not Mae?” Derian was starting to become a bit annoying.

So timid. Edgard shook his head. “Of course for Hilda, not Mae. I’m going out with Hilda after all. Why would I do something for a girl like Mae?”

“You’re what?!” Derian’s voice regained its firmness. “Since when?”

“Since this morning.” Edgard shook his head. Just let him get this out of his system so I can work in quiet. He may not have punched Derian this time, but he still didn’t want to talk to him.

“Really? I thought you were with Mae.”

Edgard realized that if he kept responding, Derian would keep talking. The conversation would keep going, and he’d never get his little raid done and be out of there. So, instead of saying anything back, he just glared over his shoulder at Derian.

“Hey!” Derian shook his head at Edgard, his guilt obviously already dissipating. “Is that any way to treat your older brother-to-be? Show some respect and tell me how it happened! Did she ask you out? Did you ask her out? Have you told Mae?”

Edgard clenched his eyes and tried to calm himself by repeating his mantra for the day: Today, we blow them up, and we get Hilda, and we leave town. I don’t need to mess it up here. He repeated the same thing three times in his head but still didn’t feel like talking to Derian. “I’m busy, don’t distract me. A lookout should be silent, not noisy,” Edgard reasoned, hoping it would be enough to get the nosy Brother out of his business. You’ve already slept with my now-ex-girlfriend. Haven’t you done enough for one day? The words remained unsaid and behind closed lips. Whatever, this will all be over soon. We will achieve victory today and live happily ever after.

At this point, Derian did manage to disappear and stay out of sight, likely guarding the door just like a lookout should. Wherever he was at, he was doing his job well since Kenway and his stench didn’t make a reappearance. At least one part of the plan is already successful, Edgard thought as he finished packing everything up and began to leave.

Derian, who had been loitering about halfway up the stairs, looked like he wanted to say something. Edgard came up the steps with the bag of goodies, but the silent treatment had done its job, and Derian’s open mouth uttered no words as Edgard made his way past him and out of the church into the town.

He went to the same spot he had set up last time, buried the bomb and hid behind the exact same view-obstructing rock. The only difference was that this time it was much quieter. There wasn’t an issue with a crazy, psychopathic, murdering cook bugging him every five minutes with an eagerness to leave–a fact which Edgard was relishing. He was set on leaving the twisted gem farm that was the town, but he was definitely wasn’t in such a rush as to leave without Hilda.

When the farmers finally showed up, he waited till they were about seven seconds off, and then began mentally counting. One, two, three, four, five, six . . . and . . . There was a deafening boom, and the ground exploded. Everything was going perfectly. It was such a neat wrap up that they didn’t even have time to scream. The bodies, and some body parts, flew all over the place. Edgard stood up and walked over to the site, admiring his handiwork and looking around to make sure everyone looked dead. This . . . This was well done, he thought to himself with a smile. He was torn somewhere between laughing and crying. How did it take me so long to come up with such a simple solution? It didn’t matter though. He was done. They were done, and he was free. Now, the only thing left to do was go back to the town, talk Derian into doing some work for him and then spend some time with Hilda.

At least, that was what he was planning to do until he felt an earthen spike shoot right through his gut so fast he didn’t even have time for it to hurt before it had already lifted him off the ground. Not again! He sputtered out a few curses at himself as he twitched and flailed around on the spike for a few moments, pain once more creeping up his body and ushering him into death. He tried to turn his head around as he bled out to see who had finished him off so he could correct his oversight the next time around, but the spike held him firmly in place and left him with a few moments in which he could do nothing but think, and he came to a grim realization. So I guess there was some benefit to having a crazy man stab all the bodies last time . . .


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