Category: Casual Villainry

Casual Villainry Excerpt – Runner

Runner 

Cyrilla feels her life shatter as she hears the boy’s words. The ignorance on his face tells her that he doesn’t even know what he’s done. That he’s completely taken away her life as an individual on a whim.  

The portly owner approaches, “Isn’t that wonderful! Yes, a girl like her has her charms, doesn’t she?” He turns to face Cyrilla and jabbers, “You must be so happy! To finally live under the wing of an upper class; and I believe you’re a part of the high family too, aren’t you son?” 

The owner, the boy and his mother exchange pleasantries but none of the words reach Cyrilla. Her mind is hollow, processing nothing. The tusk is still in her hands. No longer being held back, the tears drip from her eyes. 

Then, a glass-shattering explosion. 

The guards are flung through the store, glass shards and debris following behind them. A wave of heat and dirt welcomes itself in and the situation is clouded. Confusion, the mother drags her son close to her and is the first to shout “What’s going on?!” 

The cloud of debris clears just enough to bring into view a tattooed man rifling through the destruction. “Really, just a jewellery store? Ugh, really not my day,” he reviews before spotting the people inside. Under one of his arms are four tomes, each quite sizable. For a moment his gaze meets Cyrilla’s and she recognizes him. Something spurs within her, that same captivated feeling from when she saw that invader back at her training camp. It’s him. 

The mother quickly turns and flips open her bag, revealing a large, decorated tome within. The moment the man sees her movement he bolts over to her side and slips it out first. A boom of sound follows behind him, just his speed was enough to blow away most of the debris.  

“Oh man, you had something like this?” the tattooed man stares at the tome dumbfounded. “Guess I called my luck too early.” 

The woman tried to scratch at him with her overly-varnished nails; “What do you think you’re doing?!” she caws.  

“Oh, sorry. Forgot to say my thank yous. Well, I’ll be off!” the tattooed man taunts before jolting away like a bolt of lightning.  

As he leaves, Cyrilla cannot even process her thoughts. She wants to shout ‘wait! Please save me!’, yet the words do not come. Choking on her thoughts, Cyrilla doesn’t even realize that she’s already running. She is not like the tattooed man, she is not so powerful or brave. She is just a maid, that’s all she was ever trained to be, a body to be used by another. Yet, with thoughts slower than her legs, she runs, because all she has ever wanted is freedom. 

Guards that have gathered outside are giving futile chase to the tattooed man, followed by an individual that looks regal even among the upper class. His face is a blistering red, in a moment he zips past the guards at a pace to challenge the tome thief. Cyrilla hides in an alley as the guards pass, she moves through the shadows and uses the confusion to pass from street to street. She hears explosions, sometimes near sometimes far, but there is no time for her to review her safety. Even if she is caught up in the havoc, even if her body is ripped apart, she is committed to her escape.  

She doesn’t know where she is going. She continues to run in the direction her legs chose for her, ‘If I go one way I have to reach the edge eventually’, she thinks. Though her plans end there, she realizes that she still has the tusk in her hand and that it’s her only equipment against Fabula’s wilderness. Before getting caught up in her thoughts, she catches a glimpse of a battle as the runner passes an adjacent street in the blink of an eye. His tattoos glow with a powerful vigor, protecting him from spells flung by the royal man. She has no time to stare in awe, she moves quickly to the next alleyway. 

The next street over is full of spectators moving towards the danger. The guards are attempting to hold them back but the upper class are the type who get everything they want. They push on forwards, Cyrilla tries to use the crowd as cover so the guards don’t notice her pass by. She is shoved around by the disrespectful collaborative but manages to find her way through, right into the arms of a guard. 

“And just where are you going, servant?” he questions. “Are you lost? Who do you belong to?” 

The muscle memory from her training kicks in. She brushes herself off and stands to attention, her mouth creaks into an easily broken porcelain smile. “I-I was sent to get this tusk and-” 

“Speak up, servant! I can’t hear you over this cocky bunch.” 

“I…” Cyrilla’s mind finally has to catch up with her. If she allows her body to move on its own then she knows she would stab this guard and run. Her palms sweat, her grip tightens and she quivers. She remembers a name- the shop owner mentioned the name of the family that had come to buy her earlier. “I belong to the Hakon family. I was accompanying the young master and my lady and I must confirm their safety.” 

“Hakon, y’say? Ha!” the guard mockingly exaggerates. “You’ll have no trouble finding Sir Hakon, servant. That’s him chasing the runner!” he points towards the ruptures of debris and billowing smoke. “I think I’m going to keep you here, servant. In Echor, there’s no safer family than the Hakon! You don’t have to worry, I’m sure they’ll come and pick you up,” the sarcasm is rife in his voice. 

Panic overtakes her again. “It’s just one guard, you’ll find no better odds to push through,” she considers. She plays out scenarios in her mind where she attacks the guard, pushes him or just slips through. She has one shot and absolutely cannot waste- 

Another massive explosion erupts, this one at the far end of the street. The closest of the crowd are thrown back and the brick road is uprooted, barriers are put up to protect the upper class from falling wreckage. Cyrilla looks over and sees the glow of the tattooed man being thrown in her direction. As she looks up, the two of them catch another glimpse of each other as he flies over and slams through a far building. This is Cyrilla’s chance, while the guard is distracted she ducks under his arms and heads for a back street.  

Trained enough to not be shaken by such a move, the guard quickly turns and easily grabs on to Cyrilla’s servant clothes. They afflict her mobility too much, she pulls against the guard’s grip but is nowhere near strong enough. Movement acting before mind once more, Cyrilla raises the tusk and stabs into the fabric where the guard grips. As he yanks back, the fabric of her dress tears and she runs before the guard can find any other leverage.  

At the far end of the back street she sees an open square where many of the upper class have gathered up. She turns to avoid the group when another blast hits, collapsing the buildings immediately before her. She is knocked down and the guard is still on her heels, she forces herself to her feet and keeps running. She comes closer to the square and sees more guards waiting to allow straggling upper class into a constructed barrier. They would not care enough to allow her in, she believes, yet there are no more side paths to duck into. The pace of her run slows and the guard nearly catches up when the tattooed man jumps down from above between the two.  

“Going somewhere?” he asks Cyrilla with a deep, brash voice. Without giving her time to open her mouth, the tattooed man grabs onto her as his entire body lights up with magic. Sir Hakon appears on the building above, burning expression unchanged since Cyrilla last saw him. He winds up another spell, wide-eyed the guard notices and leaps backwards with all his might. A crackling sphere of energy is released from Sir Hakon’s hand and splits the street below into a ravine in the span of a heartbeat. Yet, no bodies lay within the crevasse, for Cyrilla and the tattooed man are far gone.