The House of Wolves

Just another dead man

ith cleaned the blood and whatever else had seeped onto the floor. Tyteos went to the washing room and soaked himself in water to wipe off the crimson which stained his armor and blade.

All the while Elesett stood frozen, paralyzed by disgust and self loathing for what he had gotten himself into. It took everything he had to just keep standing up.

Why am I alive? he wondered to himself. It was an odd question, but after seeing something like this, he needed some sort of reason. What justification could there be to drive a sword through someones gut without even making proper conversation with them? What had his party members seen and endured that he hadn . Had this weak willed disposition of his just been a curse of fate, a result of his inherent destiny?

He stumbled out of the pub in the midst of the cleanup and threw up in the middle of the street. But he stopped himself in the middle of it, afraid that his vomiting would hurl his intestines out as well. He had never seen intestines before today. Who knew they were so long and slimy and disgusting?

No, you
e being ridiculous. he told himself. But just as he was about to finish the process and clean himself up a voice murmured in his ears. ”Just die. ” it whispered.

Elesett stood up and looked around wildly, eyes locking with a beautiful blonde man next to him, with a face as delicate as porcelain. A second later, he seemed to appear as a woman with raven black hair, then a Dalkyvith, than an elf. He was all these things and yet none. He looked somewhat otherwordly, like a figment of Elesetts imagination. He didn dare reach for him or draw closer, for the fellow seemed to appear intangible.

”W-what? ” was all that he was able to stammer. The other man stared at him without feeling, his eyes seeming more like empty tunnels to get lost in than body parts. He was so…so holy looking, like the priestess had appeared, but in a different way. A colder way.

”Just die. ” the man repeated. ”You
e too weak to survive in a world such as this after all. ”

”But I-I want to li- ”

”Do you? ” the fellow pulled closer, a flicker of curiosity bursting from within inside his blank pupils. They were completely black, even at the irises, just like Elesett. ”What reason do you have to live? Your parents, dead. Your friends, murderers. Look at this place, ” he threw his arms, showcasing the full scope of Corvachia. Elesetts eyes became opened to all sorts of depravities. A man shoving a bruised woman into an alleyway, elderly folk practically drowning in tobacco and liquor, a boy with a raven tattoo beating an older man with his bare fists. Sights enough to truly send Elesetts intestines spewing from his lips.

”This is what the whole city is like, and no amount of gold can hide that. But…its not as if you can escape. And its not as if this wretchedness is restricted purely to this city. It extends everywhere, possessing the hearts of men and turning them into puppets of madness. Your friends are no different. You saw how easily they were willing to take another life for the sake of a couple measly coins. ”

”W-what are you trying to say to me! ” Elesett cried, practically choking on his own words. The ethereal figure stayed calm.

”Im saying, that this is life. This is what it means to be alive, and this city, this society we live in only enhances that. So why even live? Why not just die. Its fitting for a street rat like you, an insignificant little bug who spent twenty two years accomplishing nothing in life. ”

”You
e right… ” Elesett thought to himself. What was he alive for? He knew his comrades reasons. Barnett simply did it for fun, Frank to by nice things, Tyteos to keeping himself going, but Elesett? What did he have? ”I have nothing. ” he confessed. The realization was a quiet one, like a stone being dropped into a lake, but the more it rippled out the more the admission crept into every corner of his brain. Tears sprang to Elesetts eyes, and he didn dare stop them.

All the while the fellow smiled, finally revealing some sort of expression on that blank slate of a face, and just like that he vanished…leaving Elesett alone on the street, struggling with all his might to gather himself.

When they came out everyone else engaged in discourse about what they would eat tonight, about how dangerous the situation mightve been if the Dalkyvith was faster, about what their favorite drinks were, and more.

Elesett could feel his stomach turning, but he shook his head and steadied himself. It was impossible to see his party in another light after this, despite how prepared he had thought he had been for this. The mans words rung in his head. ”Your friends are murderers. ”

Suddenly, Barnett wrapped his arm around his Elesetts shoulder. ”Don tell me your scared man. Its just another day in the job. ”

Day in the job huh? Elesett thought to himself. He couldn see it that way. How could this be just another day in the job? How could taking the life of an innocent pub owner be something normalized. But Barnett continued.

”Oh come on, you just have to get used to it. Im five years younger than you and Im already well adjusted enough. This is just how the city is. You take and you kill those weaker than you, and you make money off of it. You can be so queasy about everything. ” he patted Elesetts helmet playfully.

Why won this little shit get off me? he thought to himself hatefully. But yet, he couldn go through with actually making him get off. Just like he couldn be a real knight, or swing a sword, or do anything correctly. He was just like the rest of his party. All he could do was take from those weaker than him with his head stuck in the dirt. He was a blemish on this earth. The blonde man, or whatever he was, was right. A man like Elesett was truly undeserving of life.

The moment they got back from the guild, Tyteos proudly dangled the chopped up body in front of the awaiting merchant. It made Elesett feel tempted to retch yet again, but he bit his lip to keep it in. After cursing its ugliness, the merchant sent Frank to throw the bags outside the city gates, and the matter was settled.

Thank goodness. I can just go home and process all of thi-

Right before he finished that thought, another man came storming on, frantic and desperate. He had a raven mask, and was practically breaking down. Elesett watched in terror as Tyteos approached the man and asked him what had happened.

”I lost him! This beautiful, scrumptious, purple eyed little boy got away from me! ” he devolved into further crying. ”Y-you, you must help me search for him. Ill pay you handsomely I promise! ”

Tyteos wavered at first, just like he had with the last job, but conceded in the end. Thats it. Elesett thought to himself. He would not put up with this. Not with this city, not with this system, not with this life. It was a never ending cycle of obsession and greed and narcicissm, a poison which grew more and more potent with each passing day. There was nothing Elesett could do to change it, he doubted he could even if he became the knight he so dreamed of. Even if he did, it would come back, fiercer than ever. There was no single man who could change a place this corrupt, and all that could be done was to keep living empty lives. He was done, with the disease and the filth Corvachia had injected into his body, so much so that he felt tempted to take out his sword and just fall on it.

”Im done. Im going home. ” he said resoundingly. The entire guild looked at him in bewilderment. A few laughed in disbelief, but when they grasped his seriousness, they began bombarding Elesett with questions and accusations.

”Don be a coward! ”

”Are you really that bothered? ”

”Look at this, pathetic. ”

”You won get paid otherwise. ”

Without hesitation they all turned on him, driven to viciousness by the allure of money. But Elesett didn care. He would not follow them as they hunted down an innocent child, not today.

”I DONT CARE! IM NOT DOING THIS ALRIGHT! ” he shouted, tears springing to his eyes and his voice hoarse. The entire guild turned to see what happened. Tyteos strode over to him and removed his helmet. They stood face to face for a while, Tyteos scrutinizing and ripping apart Elesett with just his gaze alone. But Elesett didn change his mind.

So Tyteos hit him, square in the jaw. It was a sloppy punch, one that could easily have been dodged. But Elesett took it and crashed onto the floor. Blood spurted from his mouth and when he looked up, his guild members had taken the shape of monsters. Glaring at him from their elevated perch, one they had gained not through skill or worthiness, but through sheer apathy and ruthlessness. That was the disease known as Corvachia had done to them, it had stripped them of their humanity. The more he looked at them the more the more eager he became to just slice out this curse which had settled beneath his flesh.

”Your done. ” Tyteos muttered, before turning his back to Elesett…forever.

After seeing them walk off Elesett had made his way in a daze to the guild garderobe. His mind was hazy, broken by the days events. He could hardly piece together anything, or remember what had happened before today. The only thought in his mind was I don want to be in this city. He repeated it over and over and over and over again.

He repeated it as he drew his blade out of his scabbard, he repeated it as he positioned it above his throat. Before he made the final blow, he tried to think of reasons not to do it, but in doing so he was only reminded him of all the reasons he did have.

You
e a coward. You never go through with things, so at least be a coward to the end and go through with this. You
e a weakling who can stand the sight of blood, how could you ever dream of making it anywhere. You don belong in this city, but you can escape. So why are you still alive? You
e like the horses who pull the chariots. Dull, ignorant, incapable of using your physicality to fight in anyway. It just helps you carry other peoples shit better, whilst you do nothing and take it from them. Just end it all. Who out here values a life like yours? No one has time for nobodies. You either do your job right or you don do it all. You said it yourself, you
e like an undead, so why not just seal the deal? You have no dreams, no goals, no nothing to keep you going. You
e a puppet on a string, not even worth a chapter in a book. You joined the knights to accomplish something but ended up doing nothing. Why are you even here-

He ended it. As he bled out, he dreamt of the priestess, of the holy woman. The polar opposite of the man who had tempted him to death. He contrived a future with her in which they ran away from this city and started a life together. In which he got to bask in her angelic holiness. It was a simple dream, not like becoming a knight or a grand savior. But that simple dream held everything Elesett could ever wish for. He had given up on being some symbol of morality, but perhaps he could obtain a moral life.

Just as he began to imagine more, to dream of kids or even grandchildren, black began to cloud his vision and death extended its cold clammy hands into Elesetts chest, wrapping its hands around his heart. He wanted to cry out, to refuse its grasp but before long he had been turned into a corpse.

He became just another dead man, crushed by the city, one who would soon be forgotten amidst the waves of bodies the city had already piled up. A feast for the crows to gorge themselves on and forget before the day even ended.

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