The Ballad of mad Ankur, and his quest to live.
|A whip lashed out, towards the same target as before. A whip Ankur was all too familiar with. The instrument of torture lashed out again at the adolescent boy. Ankur had a history of not being a law-abiding child, neither was he known to be bright. Beatings akin to this occurred regularly, and after one last slash of the whip, the punishment was over.
“You should feel ashamed.”, retorted the whip-wielding soldier.
Ankur could only grunt. Ankur never talked to the other children, and he always seemed to be committing something to consequent him with beatings and whippings. Even his own family seemed to be distant. Ankur had no friends, no acquaintances, other than his well-used fists. Everyone said he was a lost cause. Ankur considered all others to be as well.
It was now 1522 PL (Post-lux), fifteen years after the whipping by the soldier, in a world comparable to Earth during the early industrial era.
All was quiet in the small, rural city of Quillo. The streets were devoid of any life, other than a silent baker, quickly hauling his burdensome load of wheat to the old windmill. Small bits of the load fell out, but he didn't pause to retrieve the wheat. The stout man was not worried about the loss of his precious cargo. There were larger, more menacing threats to be wary about.
Quillo has one establishment that can be guaranteed to be frequented everyday, know as the Quillo Pub. The place was a hive of scum and villainy. The thieves, murders, robbers, and generic evildoers were occupying every table, chair, and space on the floor. The air had an evil aroma to it, as if the malicious essence from the patrons rubbed off on the environment.
The pub was bustling, with shouts, music, and beer mugs clanging together. In the corner of the pub, apart from the mayhem, sat one lone soul, Ankur. Of all places in this town, he felt at most at home here. Here is where he could discover many like him, many forgotten by their families, many unloved. Even with this mutual feeling of brotherhood, Ankur's life was devoid a significant relationship. Tonight, Ankur felt mad. Ankur felt really mad. The madness felt inside him was unlike any he felt before. Ankur needed to hurt something. Ankur needed to murder someone. Ankur sprinted outside, to quell his thoughts with a fresh breeze, but was only greeted with the soot-laced air from the large coal factories nearby. His lungs hurt, his head hurt. He needed to kill; it had been a while since he did last, and for good reason.
Although Quillo had its share of murderers, they were always the first to go, the first to “disappear”, after a new terror began to threaten the town two years ago. Stories told of an organization, it’s agents that wore ghost-white masks made of wood, whose leader’s heart was so wretched, hell itself didn’t accept it into its deathly halls. No one knew why he hated death. That was just one of the many myths, and legends about the “Linfur Spirts”, the men who stab you at night, whose cries ring out when another soul is lost. There were a myriad of myths, but they all came to the same despicable conclusion: The Linfur Spirits kill you when you kill, their white wooden mask unmoving, even as blood freely flows through the streets.
Ankur looked up to the sunset, barely visible through the rough haze. Ankur was calming down now, almost ready to go back inside. Unfortunately for him, fate wasn’t on his side, as one of the more feared patrons came outside, and kicked him down. Dord was the reaper of the bar, the only one who had killed, and lived. Dord seemed invincible, and thought so of himself as well. Dord was not liked, but respected. Ankur could keep out of Dord’s interest, so long as a different unfortunate soul was on it.
Ankur regained his composure, glaring at Dord, who followed suit. Both men knew how the encounter would end. A small sneer manifested on Dord’s face. A group of people circled the two, having heard the commotion outside.
“You sad boy. I think it’s right time to give you a grave.”, taunted Dord.
Ankur was no longer a child. He had been through many harsh years, and he wasn’t going to end it against Dord. He would rather die a chilling death by the Linfur Phantoms, than by Dord.
Dord and Ankur circled each other for a notable length of time, many would later report that it seemed like centuries, until finally, Dord lunged. Ankur was not capable of dodging an attack of such ferocity. Ankur fell, and Dord approached to assault Ankur further. Before Dord could begin, he was swept off balance from a stray, powerful kick, generously donated by Ankur. Dord lacked an appropriate reaction when Ankur feverishly swung his arm at his opponent. It connected, and a bone-cracking sound was emitted. Dord was finally able to properly block an attack, throwing Ankur off-balance. Dord took this opportunity to swing back his arm for a large punch, but Ankur had enough time to dodge and retaliate with his own evenly brutal punches.
By the time the brawl was stale, Dord lay sprawled on the ground, with Ankur, brimming with hatred on top. Dord was barely able to cry for mercy. Ankur prepared to walk away, and avoid the consequence for killing, but a small fire burned in his heart. Ankur could not just walk away. His mind was shrouded in darkness, fear, and hatred. Hatred for the unknown, hatred for the darkness, hatred for Dord. Ankur tried to resist the temptation, but living his whole life as a villain had taken its wicked toll. Ankur swiped a dagger from the crowd, as his was misplaced not long ago, and aimed it at Dord’s almost lifeless body. Everyone watching knew what this meant, and quickly dispersed to their own homes, knowing that tomorrow Ankur would be no more. Ankur was thinking something else, however. He thought he would survive the Linfur Spirits. He would live, even though his only weapon was a dagger. A dagger that felt foreign in his grip, a dagger with it’s own story of hardships and killings. Even though the dagger was his only weapon, and he only has some rags on his back to protect him from harm, he felt anger in his heart. Anger that could kill anyone, anger that could kill the Linfur spirits, anger that could kill Dord.
Time seemed to slow to a halt, while Ankur thrusted the cold blade into Dord’s dark heart, whose screams were lost behind immovable lips, whose soul granted freedom of his human incarceration. The moment he died, Ankur could feel a difference in the air surrounding him. He quickly looked around, but saw no one. Ankur looked down at the body of the man he brutally murdered. The man whom almost killed him. Before he had any time to regret his decision, Ankur heard footsteps. He looked to his left hurriedly, and saw it was only Crimson, a local thief who had taken a small liking to Ankur. Of all the people in the town, Crimson was the lone person he related to the most, although they were not friendly enough to even be acquaintances. What was he doing here? The Linfur spirits killed all souls in the vicinity, regardless of innocence. For that reason the onlookers departed to their respective dwellings.
Crimson didn’t move. Was there something behind Ankur? Ankur turned around, and saw no one else. Ankur looked back at Crimson, only to suddenly lose his breath. Blood pooled from Crimson’s heart, and he fell, revealing a Linfur Spirit, unmoving behind him. Ankur had never felt the way he did at this moment, frozen, just as the spirit. He ended his stupor, as the spirit rushed at him at a supernatural pace. Ankur saw two more round the corner behind the first spirit. They were unlike how Ankur imagine them. These spirits were human-like, with the deathly white masks, and brown hair. Ordinary, raggedy clothes were the spirits' attire.
Ankur readied his rusty blade, as the first one approached. The blade pierced the air, but not the spirit, as the spirit ducked. Faster than Ankur could react, the spirit punched him in the gut, sending him flying back two Humes. Ankur quickly stood up for another assault. Ankur dodged it, and retaliated by stabbing the spirit, a stab that surprisingly marked its target. What Ankur didn’t expect however, was the spirit disappearing, instead of perishing. The second spirit caught Ankur off-guard as it punched Ankur’s shins. He fell, and another spirit appeared before him. They all crowded around Ankur, all of them with the same cold masks, all of them deathly as death itself, and all at once, hitting Ankur. But Ankur wasn't ready to give up, wasn't ready to die. He wasn't aware of madness that fell over him that night, enveloping him until he was more evil than anything else. Ankur didn't foresee him getting up. Ankur didn't get up. The darkness did.
The now more frequent blows from the Linfurs did no more than anger the beast enveloping the shell of Ankur, still alive inside despite all the evidence to the contrary. What faced the spirits resembled a large shadow, nothing else to prove its sentience other than a transparent radiation it emitted, and felt by everyone in the town.
The Linfur spirits were not deterred as they assaulted the beast. The street, now barren of anything living was the lone witness to the conflict. It seemed as if an unstoppable force meet an immovable object. There was one flaw, one fault in the Linfurs. They were not unstoppable. The beast was. Time seemed to freeze, and reality came distorted, while the two foes met. It was only one instant.
One moment for it to end.
But time was distorted.
It lasted an eternity. It lasted twenty seasons. It lasted six ticks. It lasted until the Linfurs were no more, and the beast was still extant.
Immediately, the beast vanished, leaving Ankur lying in the streets, dazed. Ticks passed. Centicks passed. Seasons past. Was time still distorted?
Ankur abruptly got up. His head hurt, his back hurt, his legs hurt, anything not in pain he considered a luxury. He took stock of his surroundings. The remnants of the Linfur Spirits were scattered throughout the street, almost unrecognizable. Lying on the ground in front of Ankur was an intact Linfur mask. A stray gash was the only imperfection found upon the smooth, wooden surface. Ankur picked up the mask, surprised by the cool temperature of the object, even colder than the chilled night. A sharp pain in his back reminded him of his injuries. He couldn't go back to the small town; he would endanger the occupants should more evil spirits appear.
The stark mask, the bloody knife, and the torn rags on his back were now Ankur’s only possessions. Alone Ankur started limping towards the dark forest, the silence broken by distant crickets, any other mundane sounds. Ankur looked at the mask a final time before he departed. He silently hoped there were none more, least his future well-being is threatened. His last glimpse back towards town reviled nothing abnormal. Silently, Ankur headed into the unknown woods, awaiting his future fate. A small seed of madness had been planted, the roots have been formed, all that awaited Ankur now was the flower to grow. Ankur’s eye abruptly twitched.
Now that you have read the story, please be aware of the fact that this is set in an alternate Universe, so the slang and units of measurement are very different. Feedback is greatly appreciated.