Category: Casual Villainry

Casual Villainry Excerpt – 24

Time has passed once again. Another eight years, to be precise. Cyrilla has found her place within the R.U.N.N. base, though it took her some time to cast off the submissive nature that was beaten into her. For a time, she was like a parasite, simply an extra hand for anyone in the R.U.N.N. base who needed her. Despite the fact it was not a role she could serve indefinitely, this proved to her advantage as she at least learned every aspect of how the base functioned. She knew in that time that she needed to become more proactive, to find her place as Draego suggested she would.  

Her end goal remained being able to explore Fabula and uncover its secrets. That fact never changed and Cyrilla concluded that she was coming no closer to it with how she was in that moment. Thus, she slowly became bolder. She called upon the aid of Garv, the tall and eccentric fellow who was very excited about tomes. As it turned out, he was formerly an instructor of magic in the inner city before joining R.U.N.N. Though he led a highly privileged and successful life there, he was appalled by the upper class’ mentality surrounding tomes. The fact that merely owning tomes held more importance than the magic within them was an affront both to the potential of them and to the brave founders who wrote them. Along with Anna, Garv was one of the founding members of the Echor base and it was only possible to survive the earliest days thanks to the tomes he brought.  

Garv was more than happy to teach Cyrilla how to properly wield tomes. Anyone willing to put the wonderous magic contained within their pages to use was welcome in his eyes. This was something Garv had done before, many times, yet his passion in imparting the knowledge had never suffered. Thanks to his tutelage, Cyrilla managed to pick up an understanding of magic quite fast. Concurrently, she began to talk with Alan whenever she got the chance. Draego would regularly bring back creature corpses for Alan to use in his alchemical processes and Cyrilla wanted to personally analyze them. Sometimes pieces of the corpses would disappear, such was the toll taken by chef Guill. Nevertheless, Cyrilla usually got what she wanted from these studies.  

Since she abandoned the book of myths back at the inner circle, she aimed to write another to take its place. Hers would be more akin to a bestiary, however, as she wanted to detail everything she could possibly find regarding Fabula’s creatures. Perhaps in writing this she could even confirm some of the phenomena that had been written in the book of myths, she thought. Regardless, this was not actually the primary reason why she began writing the bestiary. In detailing all of the quirks of a creature down to their abilities, habits and aversions, she would allow the other members of the R.U.N.N. base to be more prepared in the scenario that they have to deal with said creature. 

As one might realize, Cyrilla could not figure out everything about a creature by just looking at its dead body. She would have to go out and watch the creatures in their own habitats; in other words, completely subject herself to the wilderness. She had become confident in her abilities thanks to Garv, though the task she had made for herself needed more than just confidence. Choosing to purposely go beyond the protective eyes of the lookouts was something only the bravest would risk. The lookouts themselves would not even go where Cyrilla had her sight set. She was treading a realm where only runners were meant to go. Regardless of concern from her peers, she would not be stopped. Upon seeing her resolve, the other R.U.N.N. members understood that it would be insulting to get in her way. 

She wasn’t a fool. Cyrilla started out small, sitting with the lookouts and noting the body language of the creatures that wandered close to the base. As the lookouts killed or deterred them, she watched the monsters’ reactions to certain spells to see which were the most effective. Furthermore, she watched to see if injured creatures would attempt to flee or lash out in a last-ditch effort. She realized that some of them even reacted to subtle things like the body language of the lookouts. The next step was personally engaging the creatures and putting her theories to the test.  

She put her body at risk and took several wounds for it. Claws of burrow hounds raked through her and she had felt the burning toxins of an earthwinder in her veins. Since the base had no dedicated medical expert she was brought to death’s doorstep several times, yet she was never taken. She survived and got smarter. She learned that burrow hounds could be easily blinded with just a flash of light. She learned that earthwinders fled simply by hearing certain sounds, like the cries of the wakudya birds in the skies above.  

Cyrilla became a one-woman army against the wilderness. Her ability to see and properly respond to even the slightest body language of any given creature was honed to near-perfection. She was able to go outside the usual safe boundaries of the base and come back without a scratch. Given she didn’t have a single tattoo on her body, this was unheard of. Her contributions to the base were invaluable as she created better counter-measures against monsters and more efficient ways of harvesting from them and the nature they came from. She was the first person since the age of the original settlers to seemingly tame the lethal wilderness.  

Most impressively of all, she had achieved all of this within four years. After some deliberation, Anna and the other R.U.N.N. members came to an agreement. They would make Cyrilla the Echor base’s second runner. Not just as a title of honor but so that she could go to the other R.U.N.N. bases and research the creatures local to their areas. It was her chance to finally, to some extent, explore the continent. When this decision was presented to Cyrilla, she happily accepted her new role.  

Thus, across the four years after that, she spread her fame to each of the bases. Kurth, Zamka, Gaist, Felle, Lamat, Deoch and Capti; all of the other settlements came to know her name. Cyrilla of the Echor base, woman of the wilderness. With her knowledge, other runners became more effective in their own trips and the productivity of R.U.N.N. grew on a continental scale. The threat of the wilderness practically stripped, the bases could afford to make more frequent and aggressive excursions into their respective cities. They accrued more members, more tomes, the time for uprising drew near.