I don’t even know what this is. I tried to write something about Sariah and Arkenheart getting their start as con artists, and then it turned into a story about drug addicts somehow.
“I’m still not sure any of this is a good idea.” grumbled Arkenheart.
“Put it out of your mind, Ark,” said Sariah, “You wanna make good money? This is how you get started with it. Now shut your face hole and look orphany.”
“How the fuck does one look orphany.”
“I dunno, pretend like you’ve never had cake and really really want cake or something. Improvise, damnit! Now here we go.”
Arkenheart tried to look vaguely forlorn as Sariah put on the hugest smile she could muster.
“Hi!” smiled Sariah while smiling with a huge smile on her face, whilst smiling. It was imperative to disarm the mark as soon as possible. Nothing was less threatening and harmless than a cheerful, nubile young woman.
“Er… uh, hi.” said whatever man happened to live at the first apartment on this block. The name of the mark was not important.
“My name’s Hickory, but you can call me Hick.” Sariah giggled, very briefly. The use of the first name, a social convention normally reserved for close friends and family, carried with it an immense level of intimacy. This of course was compounded with a brief pause and an extended hand, all the invitation the mark needed to comply with social norms.
“I… yeah, hi, um, Hick…” the mark reached out and grasped Sariah’s hand, effectively a hand shake without the shake. Elves don’t shake, such a motion is positively uncouth. Humans shook hands all the time, that alone was more than enough reason to never partake of the primitive practice.
“Me and my compatriot here are going around accepting donations for the orphanage here in Silvermoon. There are so many bereaved children in need of a safe place to live, and we depend on upstanding citizens such as yourself to keep the orphanage going!”
The mark frowned. “Well, that’s a worthy cause, but-”
“Now you would not believe the hardasses here in Silvermoon! We’ve been out here canvassing for a good two hours, and not one person has had the common decency to give! Show the kind man!”
Arkenheart was holding a cardboard box. She shook it, and the telltale sound of absolutely nothing confirmed “Hickory’s” story.
“Well, that’s awful, but-”
Sariah allowed herself to look mildly frustrated. “I tell you, it’s frustrating! All these people, such as yourself, live in absolute splendor compared to the poor kids! These kids aren’t asking for much, all they really want is to just be able to live their dreams. Orphans are people too, you know!”
“Of course, I never said-”
“Oh no sir! Not you! I know you’re not as callous and heartless as the other people in your neighborhood! You would never let a poor, homeless child starve to death just because you were too stingy to part with a gold piece or two! After all, you are a kind and generous individual, aren’t you?”
“Well, yes.” The mark was becoming increasingly flustered. “I donate to the priests quite regul-”
“See, Daphne? Not everyone is a greedy, self absorbed jerk!” Sariah turned to Arkenheart as she said this. Arkenheart did her best to look chagrined. It was surprisingly easy.
Turning back to the mark, Sariah continued right along. “Daphne here didn’t believe we’d find anyone willing to help a small, helpless child be happy, if only for a few days. She thinks your just the same old selfish jerks we’ve been talking to all week!”
“He hasn’t given anything yet.” Arkenheart pointed out.
Sariah turned back to the mark. “Well? Whaddya say? Wanna bring a crippled boy with no parents a modicum of joy?”
“I… er, well… err…” the mark stuttered out.
Sariah looked crestfallen. “Oh. I see. No, no, I get it, I get it… I just thought… maybe you were different, and… no, it’s okay.” Sariah’s super happy smile of smiliness was replaced with a sad, dejected fake smile of not happy at all. She turned to walk away.
“No, wait!” said the mark.
“That was sloppy.” muttered Arkenheart as they walked away, thirty gold richer.
Sariah shrugged. “Meh, I’ll get better with practice. I got him to go all the way up to thirty gold, didn’t I? Pretty damn good, if I say so myself.”
“Whatever, you had to boob him to get that far.”
Sariah shrugged. “If it works, it works. A little cleavage goes a long way.”
She knocked on the next apartment.
“Hi! I’m Hickory, but you can call me Hick!”
Arkenheart flopped down on the bottom bunk of the bed she and Sariah shared. “Good lord, I never thought fake cheerful you could get so annoying.”
“Oh hush, Ark, I’ve practiced fake happy for years now. I was flawless.”
“Yeah, I guess, to all those strangers maybe. And Sunny Fields Orphanage? What the crap kinda name was that?”
“Oh, like you coulda done better! It was good!”
“Yeah, whatever.” Arkenheart rolled over, staring at the wall. “How much we get anyway? Few hundred?”
“We sure did. Roughly three hundred I think. Should be enough to get us a good score of felweed.” Sariah sat the box on the floor, and began to count the coins out onto their large, shared desk.
“Mmm. What about Dreamfoil? You were so excited by that shit last week.”
“Oh shit, right, yeah, um… about that. Remember that night I woke up and randomly screamed about how the pickle jars were trying to rape me with giant rubber fish?”
“No more Dreamfoil.”
“Induced euphoria does seem like a better idea than nightmarish hallucinations. They should make felweed legal, really.”
Sariah nodded. “That they should! It’s not even addicting, really. When’s mother coming home?”
Arkenheart shrugged. “Dunno, mom said they had a whole thing on the south thing.”
“Real specific, that.”
“Well shut up! You know she hardly talks to me these days. Maybe she just knows we’re druggies now.”
Sariah shook her head sadly. “No, she doesn’t know. It’s not that, anyway. She hardly talks to anyone these days. It’s gotta be thistle.”
Arkenheart rolled over again, facing Sariah, frowning. “What, you think mom’s a thistlehead?”
“Well, it fits, doesn’t it?” Sariah paused counting. “She never really talks to us, she’s always gone at weird hours for extended periods of time, she’s always distracted and gets angry really easy, she… it’s like her spirit’s gone, you know?”
Arkenheart nodded. “Like she died with dad, just her body hasn’t caught on yet.”
Sariah nodded sadly. “Exactly. We’re gonna lose her, you know.”
Arkenheart shook her head. “I don’t think so. She’s tough, she’ll be fine. Bathroom!” She flung herself off the bed and hurried out of the room.
“Two hundred gold worth. And none of the earthroot spiked shit either. The good stuff.” said Sariah.
“But of course!” smiled The Deal. “Only the best for my favorite girls. Here, just got some new shit in. Standard weed, right, but they cut in some ghost shrooms to give it a bit of extra kick, you know? Get some real good vibes coming in. Spectre Silk, they call it. Want some?”
“Yes.” said Arkenheart, before Sariah could reply.
“No, wait, we-” Sariah glared at her.
“Shrooms are great, sis, just you wait.” Arkenheart cut her off.
“Fine, fine, but if a banana golem tries to kill you, I’m not helping.”
The Deal watched them go, two hundred gold richer. He never told anyone his real name, preferred his new, occupational name. Kept things a little safer, as nobody really knew where he lived either. He would always use random locations for deals. Besides, everyone called him “The Deal” now. How cool was that?
He popped a bloodthistle leaf into his mouth and crunched down. They both had such magnificent behinds. He’d already slept with the one… Arkenplinth or plier or something. Arkensomething. But damn, they looked so similar. He’d pay anything to have both of them at once. Maybe he’d offer them some free weed next time.
It was usually bad form to sleep with a client, but when a man is presented with booty that fine, it would be criminal to turn it down. Besides, he already gave them access to his shroom cut stock, and that was already a pretty big leap over standard clientele.
He frowned. At least he thought it was the shroom cut stock. Maybe it was the dreamfoil cut stock? The bags looked so similar, and he kept hallucinating talking beetles. He shrugged. It would probably be fine.
IT WAS NOT FINE
Arkenheart huddled in her corner. It was safe in her corner. Parapets of little wheels of fire would protect her. Protect her from it.
A massive, shape shifting cat hovered just outside her vision. She wished she could turn on the lights. She couldn’t make it out. Maybe it wasn’t a cat. Maybe it was some sort of weird, furry serpent with gleaming eyes and legs. Like some sort of cat. A crazy, creepy cat that looked kinda like a furry serpent.
She hated it. She hated the snake cat. What did she ever do to it? And yet it sat there, perched on the corpse of her sister, screaming maggots at her. They were so sticky she had to get rid of them.
Get rid of them all! Burn them! Burn them all!
She grabbed her massive sword constructed entirely of fire and charged the evil snake cat.
The whole world fell up as the ceiling quickly receded into the night sky. She could see all the stars. They were so pretty. So pretty in the sky. She was falling. Falling upwards into an infinite sea of little sparkles.
But they were all skulls! The sky was made of skulls, little gleaming fragments of thousands and thousands of dead. Why did no one else see these? Was she the first? Maybe they were all just keeping it a secret. Maybe they all knew about the skulls in the sky and hid it from her.
They must think she was weak. They all thought she was weak, so they wouldn’t tell her about the skulls.
Well she’d show them! Set them all on fire! Burn the sky down! She smashed it with her sword, ripping a massive seam in the sky. It shattered like glass, massive splinters of the skull covered sky raining downwards, obliterating everything in a horrible cacaphony.
She looked around. Still in her room. It was all so small though. Like if she was hundreds of feet tall standing in a box. On top of a box. She had to get some milk. Milk would be good.
She threw the wall out into the hall, trying to find the kitchen. She couldn’t remember where it was. Where she was. Where the wall was. Why was it in the hall? She remembered throwing it there. How did she pick up the wall? It had a handle and hinges. The whole wall had moved easily.
Everything was so huge. The hall was massive, like a gigantic cavern filled with weird, bubbling blackness. Filled with bats. So many bats. They were absolutely everywhere and the world was going to end.
THE WORLD DID NOT END
Arkenheart blinked blearily at the sun. The curtain had been torn from the wall at some point, crumpled into a ball and stuffed in the corner of the room.
The sun was beautiful.
Her head hurt. A lot. She stopped staring at the sun.
“Hhhhhheeeeeyyyyy…” she tried to speak.
Sariah was on the bottom bunk. She looked down at Arkenheart. “I… that wasn’t ghost mushrooms was it?”
“The… shrooms, usually do that. Psych… psycho delight. But usually not like that. Was totally insane. Like, like, like…”
“Dreamfoil.” said Sariah. “Pretty sure our weed was spiked with it. Fuck damnit, I knew we couldn’t trust Deal.”
“The Deal.” corrected Arkenheart.
“No, not fucking The Deal. It’s Deal. I’m not using the The. He gave us dreamfoil laced weed and we’re never speaking to Deal again.”
“But I like The Deal. He’s so fuzzy sometimes.”
Sariah got off the bed, dragging Arkenheart over to it, and clumsily pushing her onto it. “You’re still tripping I think. I’ll go get you some… water, maybe. Yes, water.”
Sariah turned around, took a step, and stopped.
“Oh. Um, hi mother.” she said.