Varraso 2

Michael Varraso

The Cult of Shadowy Misdeeds

"Hold." The commander shouted. "Hold. Go!" At the signal thousands of the pristine droplets descended from their abodes deep within the stratosphere. Their target was the prosperous river city of Tarbola. Unfortunately they had lost the element of surprise, with their gaseous transports rolling in like tanks several hours before the main assault was due to begin. The normally crowded streets of the prosperous river city were empty. Most of the city-folk buried underneath blankets, or at the bottom of a tankard. Even the guards were hiding in their towers, not daring to venture forth onto the streets. Only one man dared venture onto the streets this particular night, automatically making him the target of several droplets. He was running through dark alley ways, and scrambling through side streets with reckless abandon, but the droplets zigged and zagged, matching his course. His cloak pulled tightly up to him trying to protect himself from the pelting drops of rain, but it was futile. Then suddenly he stopped, and the droplets missed their mark.

"Here we are," he whispered to himself, as he paused to catch his breath. He confidently strutted up to the old house he paused in front of. Its porch and Victorian tower mirrored ever other house on the street, its only difference being its color. Sage green. The man approached the mahogany door and began to knock. Knock. Pause. Knock, knock, knock. Pause. Knock. Pause. Knock, knock. With a creak the door opened. "You are supposed to ask for a password before you open the door."

"Excuse me? Why would I do that my dear?" said a voice the man was clearly not expecting. Standing before him was a lady with white curly hair, hunched over from the weight of time, her body held upright by an ornate wooden walker.

"Um, sorry, wrong house."

"Oh you kids today. No respect for your elders. In my day, you would be beaten for disturbing your elders. Oh how the times have changed, thirty lashes that's what you would get."

"I am deeply sorry, but I must get going now," he replied, his voice filled with shame.

"Oh sure, just knock on an old lady's door, then scurry away, like some thief in the night. Made such a ruckus, to; never heard such knocking before." The man slowly started to edge his way back. "You should be ashamed of yourself. Could've woke the neighbors up. And you wouldn't want to wake Mr. Black, such a sweet man." Her rant about the ineptitudes of the younger generation continued until the man had made his way to the next house.

Knock. Pause. Knock, knock, knock. Pause. Knock. Pause. Knock, knock. He repeated on the door.

"Twelve," a voice from the inside replied.

"Shut up you idiot, that wasn't the right knocking," a second voice shouted.

"Wait it wasn't?"

"No. It isn't that complicated. It is simple, Knock. Pause. Knock, knock, knock. Pause. Knock. Pause. Knock, knock."

"That's what he did."

"No it's not."

"Yes it is."

"No. Is there something wrong with your ears?"

"Shut up, both of you," the man from the outside shouted. "The answer to the question is six. Just let me in already."

"Could you knock again?" the first voice replied. Knock. Pause. Knock, knock, knock. Pause. Knock. Pause. Knock, knock.

"Happy?"

"One second," the first voice shouted back. "Was that right?"

"You stupid dolt, of course it was right. He heard us say it." The second voice replied.

"For the love of the gods. How about this, if you said the number six, I would say three, and if you said ten… while I would still say three." The man outside the door paused, waiting for them to open the door. "It is me, Pinch. I know you recognize my voice. Just let me in."

"Oh, Pinch, why didn't you just say it was you? That would have solved this entire problem." The door opened to reveal the owner of the first voice, a man called "Twist." He towered over the rest of the men in the room, his biceps bigger than most men's thighs. He was one of the most intimidating men in the city, at least, until he talked. His high pitched voice belonged on a thirteen year old girl, or a clown that had sucked in too much helium.

As Pinched walked forward he was able to make out six people, "Great," he thought to himself, "I am the last one here." The darkened interior of the house always surprised Pinch. A skeleton hung from the back wall, illuminated by the only source of light in the room. A chandelier that hung above a circular pit.

"Do you have it?" said the old man who owned the second voice. At ninety-four years old, he was the oldest man in the Cult of Shadowy Misdeeds; he was also the only one to forget his own name. A toothless grin clearly visible beneath his cloak and cowl as Pinch nodded. The other five members began to clap, some walking over to give him a big pat on the back. Pinch let himself grin as he looked around to see the other members in the Cult of Shadowy Misdeeds.

The next to congratulate him was "Grab," a small sixteen year old boy, with messy light brown hair. Grab was the Cults pickpocket. Next came "Brains," he was in charge of planning things. "Brains" was in his late forties, and his gruff well fed exterior a direct result of his time spent reading instead of moving. Finally "Feet," came to congratulate him. "Feet" had just shown up to the Cult one night and never left. These of course weren't their real names, but "The Leader" deemed it necessary to give people fake names, along with cloaks and cowls to block out people's faces. "To prevent treachery," he always said.

"Hand it here, Pinch," The Leader said, his cryptic voice sending shivers down Pinch's spine. Pinch dug deep into his cloak, and removed something large. It was covered in linen cloth, preventing anyone from seeing it. "The Necronomicon, finally, it is mine." "The Leader" said as he reached his emaciated hands to grab the parcel. He carefully unwrapped the linen to reveal a blackened book. Its cover was adorned with a bone carving of a skull, and the pages were made from the hides of deer.

"A book? That's all? Why the hell did we steal a book? I thought we were going to get treasure," Grab complained.

"Shut up you fool!" the Leader shouted back. "This book is the secret to power. Imagine what we could do with it. Everyone, gather round, in a circle." The cultists shuffled forward, obviously less enthused by the book then the Leader, but still willing to comply. "Ahn Nuarbit, necronosi," the Leader began chanting.

"What's he saying?" Twists whispered.

"How the hell am I supposed to know? It probably won't even do anything" Pinch responded.

"Yeah, million to one chance. Should we start chanting with him?" Brains asked.

"Probably. Ahn Nooarbit necronosy," Feet started. The rest of the cultist soon followed.

"Fools what do you think you are doing?" The Leader shouted.

"Well, it just seemed right. That's how they do it in books and stuff." Brains tried explaining.

"Shut up you morons. Let me do the thinking around here." The Leader resumed his chanting, as the rest of the cultists stood around, wondering what they should do.

"How long do you think it's going to" Pinch started. He was cut off when a scream echoed from the book. A purple ray shot forth and struck the leader, causing him to scream in pain. Green smoke began to rise from the ground. "Alright, time to go," Pinch said as he bolted for the door. Taking Pinch's example the rest of the cultists followed suit and ran for their lives. The cultists ran for two blocks, before they finally felt they were safe.

"What the hell just happened?" Grab asked.

"I have no idea, but I bet its cause we didn't chant," Feet said.

"Do you think The Leader is dead?" the old timer asked, gasping for air.

"Oh yeah, there's no way he's alive," Pinch responded.

"Yeah, million to one chance," Brains said.