I didn’t wake up in the familiar room in the Rest Center. Instead I was in a room that looked like it belonged in a five star hotel. I sat up and looked at the bed I was in. It was huge, Nearly as big as my entire room back at the barracks. I swung my legs over the side and went to stand up, when I realized that for the first time since I had arrived on Cyst I wasn’t wearing my Shroud.
I looked around the room and spotted my Shroud neatly folded up on a table in the center of the room. The door to my room was closed so I got out of bed, scuttled over to the table and started to pull my robe-like piece of clothing on. I was struck with a thought, and before I put on my Shroud I turned it around and looked for my Tag.
Juewuhl, 328th citizen
That was it?
How was that enough to make someone go crazy?
I tried tilting the tag, putting it in the light, putting it int eh dark, looking on the back… there was nothing else. It was just your name and your number.
Utterly confused, I finally gave up and pulled my Shroud over my head. It seemed to readjust itself to my body, and the collar shrunk around my throat. It wasn’t choking me, but it wasn’t loose either. That’s why I had never thought to take it off. At this point it was impossible, short of cutting it off.
“Come in!” I called out. The door opened to reveal Monark and I found myself very disappointed that it wasn’t-
“Pailadyn can visit if she wishes. But first you must come with me so we can discuss your prize. Congratulations on winning the Tournament.”
I had nearly forgotten… I won. I could… I could go home. And now that I was able to, I began to doubt myself.
Was this really what I wanted?
“I’ve actually been meaning to talk to you about that Juewuhl. I’ve known what you wanted since we first met in the Arena. I must admit, it peaked my curiosity. I talked with some of the council members and we may have a way to return you home but first I’m going to ask if perhaps you’d rather stay.”
Why would I ever wan-
“Because it’s perfect here.” He must have noticed the widening of my eyes, “Yes. You are in the council castle. I know this is by no means your home, but no one has ever decided to take the favor over the castle, no matter what they wanted to ask when they came here. You wouldn’t have to fight, risk your life… die. If she agreed to never leave, we could also bring Pailadyn here to keep you amused.”
“No. I’m sorry to break your streak, but I want to go ho-“
“Will you so lightly abandon your friends here? Abandon the memories that you’ve made? Leave when you are coming into you power?”
“Yes. Now can I please go see the cou-“
“I’m afraid I’m not asking Juewuhl” said Monark.
I looked at Monark and found that he was serious.
“Then at least that spares me having to tell you no again.” I said. Monark smiled and snapped his fingers. As many men and women as could fit came through the door and began to surround me. They all wore Shrouds, they all carried an air of competency and skill around them. They couldn’t be the…
“Are these the previous victors? What have you done to them? Did you… can you…”
Suddenly multiple things snapped into focus.
Skrybe changing his answer over the tags.
Skrybe trying to kill me.
The inconsistency between the story and Skrybe’s actions.
Something was screwed up… a new scenario was forming in my head and in that scenario, only one person stood to gain. But there was one more thing I needed to confirm it all. And it was standing behind Monark.
Monark dropped his fake smile and turned to look behind him, but there was nothing there. I had tricked him. As soon as he turned around, I cut at his ankles and pushed him to the ground. I managed to reach behind his neck and pull out his Tag before I was seized by several pairs of hands.
Biest, 1st citizen
I was yanked off of Biest by the mind controlled victors and as Biest stood up, a change came over his face. He seemed to grow feral. His eyes grew wild, his teeth and nails seemed to grow long and sharp, and his hair grew shaggy and unkempt.
He really looked insane.
“I knew you before you came here Juewuhl” growled Biest. “Your ‘memory loss’ threw me at first, but I checked your mind… you are the man I once knew.”
“W-what are you talking about?”
Biest smiled a cruel evil smile and began to approach me slowly.
“I’m not telling Juewuhl. Because then you’d remember… and I can’t have that. I thought about keeping you as one of my Thralls, but you have trained yourself well. I am not able to control you like I can control your friend. If I had half a mind, I’d kill you right here!”
He laughed as if he had made a joke, then he continued to speak his voice rising to a loud howl.
“Oh waaiiit… I do only have half a mind!”
Then he leapt for me, his jaws closing around my throat.