Originally Posted by mintjelly
I really like your story. The plot and character development is excellent thus far, keep it up! I'll definitely be subscribing to this thread; I want to see what else you come up with for this story :)
Thank you! Knowing I have someone who enjoys it makes me want to keep writing, so I appreciate your comment.
Chapter Two: Step into My office
I led the cute Flaaffy girl into the forest, making sure to avoid the town where I was nothing but a thief, and a killer. Along the way, she seemed to enjoy walking through the lush vegetation, pointing out the various flowers growing along the paths we traversed. Personally I wouldn’t mind if the whole forest burned to the ground, and now that I thought about it, I would actually enjoy that quite a bit, but I kept those thoughts to myself.
Next we hiked up a steep mountain range that surrounded the town, and I had to help her keep her footing several times along the way. Once we reached the peak, we were greeted by a sight that made my heart race, as our destination was just on the opposite side of the mountain. “Mia… W-what is this place?” It never dawned on me that Velvet wouldn’t have known about this place, considering that I had never told her, and the chumps in town didn’t like to talk about it.
Lying below us was a large abandoned factory complex, with several buildings that spanned acres of land. It appeared that there used to be a forest surrounding the factory at one time, but it had long since been destroyed by a massive blaze, leaving only the charred stumps of trees dotting the land. Replacing the water that used to flow through the streams in the forest was a black sludge that constantly boiled up through several strange machines throughout the complex.
The entire area was blanketed in thick smog, generated in part by the continually smoking stacks that rose up high above one of the factory buildings. Compared to the so called utopia on the other side of the mountain range, I realized that this place must look very alien to the daughter of the richest man in town.
“This is where I go when I’m sick of all the green stuff you townsfolk adore so much.” I teased, giving the fluffy sheep a rough nudge, which was returned with a look of confusion. “You mean you… like this place?!” I laughed at her response, grabbing her paw while I began to lead her down the mountain, despite her obvious reluctance to continue on.
“Of course I like it. Everything here is so dry, and the air is just so full of energy.” Taking in a deep breath, I savored the smoky air for a moment before continuing. “Just being here makes me feel stronger, almost like it’s meant for me, you know?” Turning my head to look at Velvet while we walked farther down the mountain, I could see she was already holding her nose.
“N-no Mia, I really don’t. I think this place is… awful. It’s just dreadful!” Shrugging off her opinion, I picked up the pace, dragging her along with me to the bottom of the mountain. It was dark even during the daytime, as the smog overhead blocked out much of the sun’s light, and I could tell the harsh scenery was beginning to scare the little Flaaffy.
“My friends are up ahead, inside that building over there.” I motioned toward the largest structure in the factory complex, which had smoke stacks sprouting from its roof. “I want to stop in, and get a few drinks before we start looking for the guild members.”
“W-wait, but I thought that’s what we were supposed to be doing now!” Shaking my head, I grabbed her by the arm, and pulled her to the factory building’s entrance door. “We can do that later, right now I just want a drink, okay? Unless you think you can make me do otherwise, little lamb…” I crossed my arms, frowning, and glaring down at Velvet with glowing red eyes.
“N-no, I just…” She stuttered nervously, bringing a smirk to my face. She might act brave sometimes, but I felt pretty good knowing I could intimidate her whenever I wanted to. She knew who was leading this little adventure, whether she liked it or not. “Then quit wasting my time, and come inside with me.” Throwing the disheveled door open, I led her inside, into the massive room that awaited us.
Inside the building were a number of large steaming vats, filled with various chemicals that had long since outlived their original purpose. The place was surprisingly well lit by strange glass balls that didn’t use oil to make light, instead some magical force seemed to power them constantly.
Off to the side was a long bar-like table situated in front of a doorway, with an abstractly shaped creature resting behind it. Several Grimer were spread throughout the building, sucking up the sludge that seeped from the many broken pipes contained within the facility.
The sight made Velvet squeal, and turn right around to bolt back outside, but I quickly placed her arm in my firm grip. “Come on Velvet, don’t be such a wuss. I told you before, nobody is going to hurt you with me around.” The sheep girl whimpered, and looked at me with pleading eyes. “B-but the air is so thick I can barely breath! I don’t want to be in this place, it’s even worse than outside!”
Placing a paw around her muzzle, I shut her mouth. “You’re the one who volunteered to come along with me to make sure I keep my promise in the first place, so you just need to tough it out for a little while, and be good to your word. I’m not going to stay here for that long anyway, I just want to drink for a bit.”
Releasing her, I turned away from the wimpy Flaaffy, and made my way over to the makeshift bar. Several crude stools had been put together in front of the table, and I jumped up onto one, making myself comfortable while the bartending Muk gave me a look of surprise. “Miasma, is that really you? We heard you’d been killed along with your old man in the last town raid…”
At this point, some of the Grimer nearby had taken notice to my presence, and slid their way over to me. “Who else would come into a place like this?” One of them remarked with a laugh. “Miasma here is the only guy I know who isn’t made of sludge to fall in love with the kinda drink served here. The stuff would kill anyone else but this kid.”
It was true, I had been coming here for quite some time now, feeding the fire in my belly with the variety of chemicals this place had to offer. The people here had taken me into their grimy group of friends, if only out of respect that I had lived through drinking the stuff when no others that came here had.
“Give me a can of the strongest stuff you’ve got Sooty, I have a lot of things I want to forget about from the last couple of days.” I spoke in a joking manner, but what I said wasn’t a lie. Things had been going downhill with the guild for awhile, but Brimstone’s death was the straw that might have broken our backs.
The Grimer around me all took seats at the bar with me, while Sooty went back into the room behind the table to fetch our poison. I had almost forgotten about Velvet, and when I looked over my shoulder to see where she was, I had to roll my eyes. She was standing in the same spot where I had left her, right next to the door leading outside, just watching me with worry in her eyes.
Once the bartending Muk had returned, and placed cans on the table for all of us, I eagerly picked mine up with both paws, dumping its contents into my mouth, and chugging it down. Slamming the empty can down onto the table, I let out a satisfying belch of toxic black smoke that dispersed into the air above me.
“I’m sorry to hear about your dad, kid. He was a hell of a man, I know that much. Leading the rebellion against those self-righteous townspeople like he did for so long, he was a real hero to a lot of people out here.” Sooty took my empty can, and replaced it with three other ones, filled to the brim with steaming darkly colored sludge.
“It’s okay… He told me this day would come, and he knew how dangerous what we were doing was. I guess it was inevitable, really…” Grasping one of the cans, I drank about half of it in one swig, as miasma began pouring constantly up from the side of my mouth, tainting the air more every second. Around a crowd like this, there was no reason for me to hold it in, instead they always seemed to enjoy my smoking.
Sooty grinned at me, giving me a look I had seen more than a few times before. “After something like that, I bet you could use something to relieve all the tension you must have built up inside, huh? If you want, I’d be willing to help you out once your belly is filled to your hearts content. You know I don’t mind.”
I laughed, wishing I could accept her offer as I had done before, but I knew now wasn’t the right time for that. “Nah, I’m sorry to say I can’t play with you today Sooty. I have company over there that probably wouldn’t appreciate that sort of thing…” While I finished off my second can, the bartending Muk looked over to Velvet who was of course still standing by the door.
“You mean her? Heh, I hadn’t even noticed the little lamb… she scared or something? She looks like she’s ready to bolt outside at any moment.” Setting down the empty second can, I picked up my third, and turned to look at my companion. “Yeah, that’d be her. Hey Velvet! Come over here, and meet the nice people! Unless you want to continue being rude.”
I could see her scowl at me while she slowly approached, which only made me smile. “Alright everyone, this here is my friend Velvet. Be nice now, she’s got soft skin in more ways than one, and believe me I know, if you get what I mean.” I chuckled, and the Grimer around me joined in my laughter, making Velvet blush furiously. “M-Mia, you’re being so cruel today…”
Sooty snorted at her comment. “Cruel? Miasma’s always had a crude sense of humor. It’s one of my favorite things about our toxic little hedgehog.” She gave me an endearing look, and I winked at her with a grin. “Are you sure your really his friend? Anyone who’s been around him long enough should know that.”
The fluffy Flaaffy bristled somewhat, raising her voice. “Of course I’m his friend! I mean… I like that about him too, but we haven’t even met before, so I think that kind of humor is a bit out of line.” Sooty shrugged as I took a large drink of my oily beverage, burping up another poison filled cloud to feed the growing smog in the air, making Velvet cough.
“Well, either way, the name’s Sooty. It’s nice to meet you Velvet.” The Grimer sitting at the bar all said their hellos to her, legitimately glad to have a new face in their usually desolate facility. “We don’t get many visitors here other than Miasma, for… obvious reasons.” She motioned to the polluted air circulating through the room.
Velvet put her paws over her mouth, coughing a bit more. “N-nice to meet all of you too… You’ll have to forgive me, I’m not used to being in a place where the air is so... dense.” Finishing off my third can of sludge, I could feel the effects of the chemicals beginning to distort my thoughts, but I didn’t mind. I found these feelings helped take the edge off, and allowed me to relax.
“So, anything I should know about what happened after our last raid? I assume everyone else got out okay?” I glanced back over to Sooty after exchanging my empty can for the fourth, and final beverage I planned to have today.
“Yeah, I didn’t hear about anyone else getting killed, so I guess they all made it out. I did hear that Chubs is trying to make himself the new leader though…” The bartender frowned at her own comment while I took a sip of sludge. “Chubs?” I snorted. “That fat ass always was entitled.”
“Everyone in the guild knows that I was to be the leader if Brimstone disappeared, the big man said so himself. Why would that overgrown rat try to take over when we were all in agreement that I should be the leader when my dad kicked the can?”
Sooty shook her head. “Everyone thought you were killed too, at least that’s the crap Chubs has been spreading around for the past couple of days since you were gone. Not only that, but he’s high on getting revenge for Brimstone, so he’s actually become pretty popular with everyone at the guild.”
“You have to remember, they all stepped out of your way because you were Brimstone’s boy. Mess with the boy, and your messing with the man himself, but now that he’s gone…” I shot Sooty a fowl look, knowing where she was going with this. “Look, I don’t need my old man to have their respect, and I never did. I’ll march in there, and shove Chubs’ words right up his ass if I have to.”
Gulping down my last can, I slammed it on the table, and hopped down from the stool. I nearly fell on my face as my feet hit the floor, not realizing just how inebriated I had become, prompting Velvet to hold my arm. “Mia, are you okay? Maybe you shouldn’t have drank so much…”
Growling at her, I pulled my arm free, stumbling away from her a bit. “I’m fine, okay! Don’t tell me what I can’t do.” Black smoke spewed from my throat, whether I wanted it to or not at this point, as I began to make my way awkwardly to the exit.
“Miasma dear, please be careful… I know your confident… and I’m confident in you too, but please don’t be surprised if you have to gain the respect of your guild members all over again. If Chubs has won over some of the stronger members, I hate to think of the fight you’ll have on your hands…”
Ignoring Sooty’s comment, I shoved the door open, and stepped outside into the world of pollution surrounding the facility. Velvet followed closely behind as I made my way slowly toward the mountain range that shielded the town, and its surrounding areas from what was left of the old world… my world.
Getting a bit dizzy, I stopped for a moment, placing my paws on my knees to keep myself upright. Velvet placed her paw on my shoulder, looking as worried as ever. “Mia, why don’t you just rest for awhile before we go to your guild? I can tell your upset…” I growled at the annoying Flaaffy, stepping away from her again, I didn’t want to admit it but she was right.
How dare that fat rat try to take what was rightly mine? I didn’t put up with the old man for all those years just to be shoved aside by some butt kisser who couldn’t fight to save his worthless life. “Darn it Velvet, I told you I’m… Ugh…” A stabbing pain plagued my stomach, as the smoke I breathed suddenly began to dissipate.
Apparently the abuse I took in that jail cell had weakened me more than I had expected, and I could feel the fire in my belly beginning to die down from having so much drink poured on it. “Urk… o-okay Velvet, we’ll take a break before we go…” Slumping down onto all fours, I made my way over to one of the immense number of burnt tree stumps in the area, sitting myself up against it.
Closing my eyes, I tried to focus on stirring up the fire in my stomach before it went out. After a few tense moments, I managed to burp up a fresh cloud of pollution, as my fires gradually began to regain their strength. “Mia… I know you don’t feel good right now, but…” I opened my eyes as Velvet spoke, surprised to see that she wasn’t looking at me, but rather she was looking off into the distance.
“W-what is this place, really? Why is everything so… dirty, so ugly, so… corrupted?” Remaining silent for a moment while I caught my breath, I began blowing smoke freely from my mouth one again, wondering why she never asked a similar question about my own appearance before. “Are you sure you really want to know that, Velvet?” I spoke with a solemn tone, and truly wondered whether it was a good idea to tell her.
“Of course I want to know. How can I just stand here in a place I’ve never known, and not question why it exists?” Turning around to face me, she had a serious look in her eyes. “Please tell me.” Sighing softly, I shrugged. “Well okay, but don’t say I didn’t warn you… it’s not a pretty story.”
Groaning with a bit of effort as I stood myself up, I walked over to the cautiously curious Flaaffy, as we both gazed across the foggy horizon. “There is a legend that says a long time ago there were strange creatures unlike ourselves that enslaved us, and forced us to fight their battles for them. These creatures were very smart, and created all kinds of things, like those factory buildings back there.”
“For many years we served these creatures, until at some point they went to war with each other, using their creations to kill one another. It’s said that what they created to fight in that war is actually what caused this world to be the way it is now, and the town you call home was spared by some sort of… god-like person.”
Velvet tilted her head, glancing at me with a frown. “God-like?” I nodded. “Yeah, according to the legend, someone raised the mountain range around your town, saving it from what happened to this place. Personally I think it’s a bunch of crap… I mean who could possibly be powerful enough to do that? It’s stupid to believe that garbage.”
The little Flaaffy hugged herself, glancing over to the mountain range that separated her home from the outside world. “Y-you mean this is what the rest of the world is like? What I’ve been living in this whole time… it’s all that’s left?” Nodding once again, I stepped in front of Velvet, sneering down at her.
“That’s right, your home is all that’s left living in this damn world, and you townsfolk hoard it all to yourselves.” Getting up in her face, I backed her into the remains of a burnt tree, grabbing her by the neck while she squeaked. “Why do you think there is a thieves guild? Because were bad people, because we enjoy hurting others, because we’re too lazy to work for what we want? No!”
Velvet looked to be close to crying while I snarled at her, my temper having been tripped by talk of that cursed legend. “It’s because people like your father shun us, drive us out of their utopia, and into this. This!” I pointed back at the horribly polluted landscape behind me with my free paw.
“We steal because we can’t get what we need to live in this world, and because your people won’t let us live in their stupid town. We tried reasoning with you, but you chased us away with your hatred for people different from you, while others were killed off for being too persistent.”
I could feel the strangest sensation well up inside of me as my emotions poured freely forth. Suddenly I had the oddest spell of déjà vu. “Your people killed my mom a long time ago… and now… a-and now…” Releasing the concerned Flaaffy’s neck, I felt something wet under my eyes, but it didn’t burn like water normally did.
“Now they’ve killed my father too… I swear I want to kill all of them! “I yelled, my anger only just overcoming my sadness. “Every single one of them for what they’ve done, not just to me, but to everyone else who’s had to live in this hell because they’re too good to share their paradise with us!” Velvet carefully wrapped me in a hug while I began to shake.
“I-I don’t have anything left… there’s nothing left for me to follow, nobody else for me to follow… I feel so… lost without him…” I realized what the feeling under my eyes was, as streams of tears made their way down my cheeks. I was crying. Me…
“I’m sorry Mia… I’m so very sorry… for everything.” Velvet cooed softly, hugging me tighter until I finally returned her embrace. We wouldn’t go to see the guild today, not with how I was feeling both physically, and emotionally. Instead, we would return to her paradise, and bed down in the green forest away from my world of despair.
It was there that she comforted me, and it was there that I realized this beautiful little lamb was all I had left to cling to. Her love was enough to keep me from giving up on this life for at least another day, and for that I was truly thankful.