There were many reasons why Aruff had chosen to erect his temple in the village of the barbarians. The most obvious reason is that the barbarians worshipped him, and their songs of praise were just the thing to help him get up in the morning. Of course, the company he kept also benefitted the heroes he trained, providing targets for the would-be warriors to practice their skills on.
Also of note was how effective the barbarians were at keeping Spartypuss away.
The cat god had come to visit his brother, and, having teleported to the wrong spot again, was spied in a second by a particularly bored barbarian. With a cry, all the muscular brutes marched out of their huts, cracking their knuckles and screaming unintelligible battle cries. Hearing this, Spartypuss darted up the stairs to Aruff’s temple, and threw the door open. As a bearded barbarian neared, Spartypuss slammed the door, breathing heavily. He turned around, and saw his brother, along with his brother’s latest student. Both looked surprised.
‘What are you doing here?’ asked Aruff, his hands on his hips.
‘Happy Birthday!’ Out of nowhere, Spartypuss conjured up a noisemaker, which he used to fill the temple with a tiny cacophony, before taking out a cake from his waistcoat pocket, despite it being far too big to fit in there. As he lifted the cake into the air, pink icing dripped onto the stone ground.
‘How dare you!’ Aruff seized Spartypuss’ arm, making the cake fall onto the floor. ‘Shaming my name by associating it with saccharine nonsense!’
Spartypuss looked to the cake, now reduced to a pile of pink and brown mush. When Aruff shoved his foot into the mess, Spartypuss cried even harder, kneeling to the ground. Denise walked over with her arm outstretched, but Aruff stopped her. ‘There’s no room in this world for people like him,’ said Aruff, shaking his head. ‘If he wasn’t immortal, he’d be dead by now.’
Hearing the roaring of his people from outside, Aruff shoved Spartypuss out of the way and reached for the door handle. In an instant, a whole host of barbarians entered, causing Denise to leap into the air above them. While they did near Spartypuss, one pointed in Denise’s direction and threw a spear. Denise whacked it away, sending it tumbling to the ground.
Then she dove. Soaring above the heads of the barbarians, she made sure to glide about in circles. The brutes kept their eyes on her, and ended up dizzy while doing so. Most of them swerving about aimlessly, Denise rose and dove at them, slugging one barbarian between the eyes, causing a group of them to fall like dominoes. While admiring her job for a while, Denise did end up getting a punch from a barbarian still standing. It sent her to the other side of the room, and made her gain quite a headache. Shaking herself alert, she saw that barbarian near. She picked up a bowl from under an Aruff statue, and hurled it at the attacker. While he stumbled a bit from the bowl in his face, Denise leapt at him and scratched his face with her claws.
With that one screaming in pain, Denise flew over to the others getting up off of the floor. Another spear was thrown in her direction, and she quickly caught it in her claw. With this weapon at her disposal, she darted towards one beast and shoved the spear right in his mouth, the scream of agony making her smile. Turning around, she swiftly punched another barbarian, then another behind the previous, then rose into the air again, watching the cowards retreat. As they left, Spartypuss clapped.
‘Yay!’ said he, ‘but why did you shove the spear into that one’s mouth? That was nasty.’
Aruff nodded, and turned to Denise. ‘For once I agree with my brother,’ he said, ‘You indeed have the viciousness a warrior needs, but I do think you were a little sloppy here and there.’
Taking one last look at his ruined cake, Spartypuss left the temple, teleporting away from the barbarians into the middle of a deep fjord. Slapping his face at his own mistake, Spartypuss teleported away to a flower field, where he let the air and swaying movement calm him, allowing him to think better.
Why not pay a visit to a friend?
Walking back to his flat, Daryl sighed in relief. His first day on a new job and nothing happened. No head monsters appeared at all; in fact, Daryl didn’t have a single thought in his head. His brain was entirely clear as he carried out his job, and the day went by so quickly too. Despite the brevity, going back to his home still felt like a weight off his shoulders.
A few seconds after entering, he slumped himself on the sofa. He had seen a human do this in a television show he watched, and thus he thought doing so would help him fit in a little easier. He was just like them now. Nothing strange, nothing horrid. Just another person. Nobody at the store even brought up his wings, his scales or the fangs protruding through his mouth. They didn’t really say anything really.
Daryl did as they did, lying in silence for an hour or so, letting his head be as clear as possible. Just as he was about to fall asleep, a loud noise shook him, filling his mind with a variety of images. He swore he even saw Aosoth before his eyes for a second. Shaking himself, he saw none other than Spartypuss in the room, his arms outstretched. When Daryl got out of his seat, Spartypuss immediately hugged him.
‘Geez, okay, stop!’ Daryl squealed.
Spartypuss released Daryl, looking a little sad while doing so. ‘I just wanted to see how you were doing.’
‘Oh, yeah,’ said Daryl, brushing himself off. ‘I’m doing fine. Really. I just got a new job…’
‘Oh, that’s wonderful!’ cried Spartypuss, twirling around on the spot. ‘I think we should celebrate!’
‘No, no!’ said Daryl, waving his hands. ‘It’s fine!’
‘I insist! You must be tired after a hard day at work, so I’ll make you dinner!’ From his back, Spartypuss pulled out an apron and put it on, beaming all the while. Sighing, Daryl showed Spartypuss to his kitchen and watched him prepare a meal. Potato salad, followed by a bowl full of lollipops. ‘You better appreciate this,’ Spartypuss had said, ‘I ended up in about three flats before coming here!’
Soon the meal was ready, and Daryl slowly ate, trying not to let the presence of a Kirkalanian fill his mind with any more foundations for monsters. ‘Good food,’ said Daryl after swallowing a bunch of potatoes, ‘but I would like to be alone for now.’
‘Oh,’ wailed Spartypuss, ‘I was hoping we could talk more. I mean, it has been a long time.’
‘Well,’ said Daryl, playing with his fork nervously, ‘It’s just…I’m trying to forget Kirkalan for the moment and…’ All of a sudden, he noticed Spartypuss’ disappointed expression. ‘Not that I want to forget you, of course, we’re friends after all…’
‘Oh, don’t worry!’ Once again, the pink cat smiled. ‘I understand!’ And with that, Spartypuss poofed away.
Daryl continued eating, trying to clear his head as he did at the shop. Yet with Spartypuss’ appearance, Kirkalan had found its way back into his mind, and with it, the death of Aosoth. The plain grey walls of Daryl’s flat made way for the blackness of his former home, illuminated by the force that reduced the greatest evil in the land to a lifeless pile of ashes. He smelled her roasting flesh, and heard her final scream echo throughout the halls. Having seen his crime again, Daryl could only back away.
Instantly, he was back in his flat, having fallen to the floor after accidentally tipping his chair backwards. Despite being in a better setting, the memory still ran through his head. At the Co-Op, the creature who not only murdered several villagers but his own boss, sat behind the counter. Yet the people who came just acted as if he didn’t exist. What if they found out though? Oh, they’d be just like those back home, only no, they’d be worse, wouldn’t they? They have guns and technology and things.
As he made his way off of the floor, Daryl put his hand to his heart. It pounded away, the beat to which a creature from the head would usually make its appearance. He clung onto his trilby again, expecting something to emerge, but thankfully, nothing came out. The mere fact that there was no monster made Daryl’s mind a blank again, causing him to slump back down onto the couch.
Have some peace now, just have some peace.
The next morning, Daryl went into work, determined to keep himself calm and thoughtless the whole time. When he saw a group of smiling teenagers enter the store however, blabbering about who-knows-what, his mind flashed back to a village he once observed before he had razed it. Having seen a family enjoying their company, he almost flew away and gave up. Then he thought of Aosoth.
The teenagers took a six-pack to the counter, Daryl rung it up and collected the money without saying a word. Those kids left, and they were lucky they did. Just a few more seconds and Daryl might have breathed fire or let another head monster escape. Shuddering, Daryl held his head and looked around for other customers. His fellow till-worker was giving him a cold stare, which made Daryl shudder all the more until said worker gave him a good slap.
Something about that slap seemed to quiet whatever was leaping up and down in his brain, so Daryl made his thoughts empty again, going through the job as usual. The day went by quickly, with no other missteps. And so did the next day and the day after that.
Maybe boredom was good after all. The job he had was a boring one, the customers were mostly boring and the co-workers were too. They didn’t even feel like humans, more like the visions Aosoth could conjure to entertain herself. He still wouldn’t kill them, but probably because he couldn’t find it in himself to care about them.
Upon returning home, Daryl once again found himself throwing himself onto the couch, it becoming a daily tradition for him. Sadly, it did nothing to clear his mind, and the thoughts, ponderings and memories were as frantic and prominent as ever.
Maybe he did need Spartypuss here. As annoying as the cat was, he was responsible for Daryl being here, and was always willing to help. Yes, Spartypuss would think of a way to control the head monsters. No, knowing Spartypuss, one look at one of those creatures and he’d be running back to Kirkalan faster than one could say, ‘What the hell is that coming out of that green dude’s head?’
If he was to fit in with this world, he needed help from someone of this world. Someone to teach him the ropes, explain things, help him gain a greater knowledge. Perhaps one of his co-workers? No, they didn’t seem to like him very much.
Then, Daryl noticed the newspaper lying on the armrest. Those were always good guides to this world, even if most of what they reported cast pallor over Daryl. Picking it up, Daryl flicked through it.