Actions

Work Header

puppets held together with string

Chapter Text

 

Riz’s chest was freezing and he felt the cold spreading to his limbs. His eyes immediately started looking for escape routes, but Coach Daybreak was blocking the way. 

He took a small step back. 

“I-I have no idea what you are talking about”

“Cut the act” Daybreak snapped at him so sharply that any excuses died before escaping Riz’s lips.

Kalina, help!

The Tabaxi was once again nowhere to be found when Riz needed her. Typical.

Daybreak inched closer, and Riz took another step back until his back hit the wall.

“So, you know Kalina, little goblin. Such an unusual acquaintance you have. It makes me wonder, do you know any other famous people? Perhaps any red dragons?”

Riz gulped. He knew he should say something but felt paralysed.

“So you do”, Daybreak continued. “Don’t worry kid, so do I. But. Strange thing. Kalvaxus never mentioned you”

“Perhaps, he didn’t think you should know”

Kalina, for Gods’ sake. Please.

Daybreak’s hand snatched Riz’s arm and squeezed hard enough to hurt.

“Are you sure about that, you sneaky piece of shit? Because if you are, you surely won’t have a problem with me mentioning you to the big boss”

Riz couldn’t think. Couldn’t breathe.

Fight. Run.

His body was paralysed.

His silence spoke volumes. The grip on his arm grew tighter.

“Huh. So, Kalina has her own separate spies”

I can’t breathe. Please Kalina, help. 

Daybreak continued.

“But maybe you could be of us-”

“Excuse me, Mr Daybreak?”, a voice rung out.

Riz managed to turn his head to face Adaine, in her proper private school uniform, gently tapping Daybreak’s shoulder.

“Excuse me,” she repeated. “Mister Porter wanted to talk to Riz. About supplemental barbarian lessons”

Daybreak let his arm go, and Riz resisted the urge to cradle it close to his body. That would surely leave a bruise.

The Coach’s demeanour changed in a second.

“Alright, go along kiddos. But Riz! Can you please meet me at my office after school today? It’s quite urgent I am afraid, so don’t forget it”

“I-I won’t, Coach”, Riz plastered a shaky smile and let Adaine grab his hand and take him away.

I am fucked. I am completely fucked.

“Riz”

Daybreak is gonna tell Kalvaxus. I am gonna die. That dragon is gonna kill me.

“Riz, can you hear me?”

No, Kalina is gonna use one of her pawns to kill me first, so I don’t spill any info. Oh, gods, I fucked up.

“RIZ”

Someone was shaking him. Someone was touching him.

“Let me go!”, he desperately pushed the other person away.

“Hey, Riz, it’s me. It’s Adaine”

Oh yes. The oracle.

“Riz! Riz, look at me.  Can you breathe with me?”

What is even the point?

But he tried to comply. It took him a few attempts but he managed to inhale deeply and then exhale. He did it again and again until, while his terror didn’t fade away, he could put on a calm facade, for Adaine’s sake.

“Are you okay?”, she asked.

Fuck no.

Instead, he nodded.

“I told him a little white lie to get you away. I think you were having a panic attack”

“I don’t get panic attacks”, he said, his voice weak.

“What did he even tell you?”

“Doesn’t matter”

“Of course it fucking matters” Adaine looked at him with exasperation clear in her glare. “I get panic attacks all the time and I-”

“For the last time, Adaine! I don’t get panic attacks. Drop it!”, he snapped.

She opened her mouth as if to say something, but closed it once again. She eyed the palimpsests on the ceiling following their every move. 

“C’mon”, she said. “Let’s go meet the others. We can talk then”

Riz was a dead man either way. He complied.

~~

“All I am saying is that Daybreak is creepy”, Adaine said as she laid her lunch tray on their table.

“Aren’t all faculty members though creepy? And adults in general”, asked Fig who was tapping her fingers on the table in a familiar melody.

“And weren’t we told that the faculty is behind the whole corn thing?” added Fabian.

“Exactly!”, said Adaine, enthusiasm apparent in her eyes.

She’s approval seeking. Probably derived from her familiar relationships.

He then realised that she was expecting him to say something. He sighed.

“Uhm, I am not sure if he is involved”

“You looked terrified when I found you!”, Adaine countered.

“I did not! How did you even find me?”

“I was just wandering and I-I don’t know, I had a hunch”

A hunch my ass. That was divination.

“Did he mention me?” Kristen piped up.

“What?”

“I said did he ment-”

“For fuck’s sake Kristen. I am pretty sure Coach doesn’t know you are gay. We’ve been over this!” said Fabian.

“You didn’t hear what he told me! He told me that I’ll burn in hell if I am gay! He’ll murder me”

“Well, good thing he doesn’t know!”, said Fabian. “But it won’t remain a secret for long if you are announcing the fact that you are gay every five minutes”

“I support you, my gal”, Fig winked at Kristen. “Fuck that homophobic piece of shit”

“We are getting off-topic”, Adaine interrupted. “Riz, what did Daybreak tell you?”

“He didn’t have the time to tell me much before you came”, he answered truthfully. “But I am gonna meet him later today”

He winked at Fabian full of false bravado.

“Maybe he wants me on the team”

Fabian threw a chicken nugget at him.

~~

At the end of the school day, Riz ignored the worried looks coming from Adaine and stepped into Coach Daybreak’s office.

Here are the facts.

He could have already talked with Kalvaxus, meaning I am gonna die or get tortured for intel. 

Or. 

He could blackmail me,

The thought of that stupid human having him cornered was infuriating. 

Gods, I hope he kills me.

He knocked on the door.

“Come in”

  He entered, to find Daybreak sitting behind his desk with a smug expression on his face.

“I’ve been waiting for you. Riz Gukgak, right? Please, sit”

He motioned at the only other chair in front of the desk. 

Riz went through the motions. He closed the door. He sat.

“I’ve predicted that Kalina might have her own spies planted in the school, but let me tell you, I wasn’t expecting a goblin. Your kind is known to be deceitful and stupid. Not a very good choice if you ask me”

Riz’s fingers dug into the chair’s arms. 

Don’t encourage him. Keep your cool.

“What do you want?”

His voice sounded a lot more sure than how he felt. Good.

“I can report you to Kalvaxus. I am sure he wouldn’t like Kalina going behind his back.”

What do you want?”

“Easy kid. Sit silently like a good student for five minutes, okay? You don’t want to anger me”

Riz hated that whether he liked it or not he had to comply. 

He shut up.

“Good”, Daybreak continued. “You were one of those kids involved in the corn incident, right?”

Riz nodded. He clutched his dad’s briefcase close to his chest, but it brought him little comfort.

“Well, that wasn’t supposed to happen. That piece of paper was supposed to be on a cleric chosen by Sol, Kristen Applebees. You know her, right? You are on the same adventuring party”

Riz nodded again, dread sinking in. 

“What would happen if Kristen had the paper?”

“You aren’t in a position to ask questions, kid. Anyways, the first attempt failed. But that doesn’t mean we are gonna give up”

He slid across the desk a piece of parchment. Filled with demonic hieroglyphics. It looked identical to the one he shot on the first day in school.

“Listen goblin”, Daybreak snarled, the word ‘goblin’ sounding like an insult in his mouth. “I can forget about what I heard you say in the hallway if you do a small job for me. Make sure that the cleric has this parchment within a week from now. Is that a deal?”

And here I thought I knew better than to blindly accept deals after last time.

“How am I supposed to do that?”

“Don’t be stupid, kid. Lying and deceiving is in your blood. Your kind is a sneaky, murderous bunch. I don’t care how or when you do it. You slip her this page. And your job is done. And Kalvaxus never learns about you. Now, I hate repeating myself. Do we have a deal?”

Like he had a choice. He took the paper.

“Deal”

~~

Kalina finally appeared a few minutes after he arrived at his apartment. 

“Hey, kiddo”

“Where. The fuck. Were you?”, he snarled.

She lazily laid on the wall of his bedroom.

“Wow, Riz. Congratulations, you got caught. I won’t lie, kiddo. You really messed up”

“I know. I am sorry!”

He felt like a little kid again. He wanted to cry.

“Kalina, what do I do?”

“Isn’t it obvious? Kalvaxus can’t know about you. You slip the page and kill the girl”

Kristen would die?

His mind couldn’t comprehend what was happening. 

“B-but I am playing right into his hands. Who’s to say if he’ll leave me alone after I kill Kr-the girl?”

Kalina regarded him for a second.

“Do you have a better idea, kiddo?”

“Kill Daybreak of course”

“Hm, I am worried that this is too much even for you, sport. Daybreak is sturdy and he is protected by his whole Owlbear team. But you are right, Daybreak is a loose end. Kill the girl and then we’ll deal with him”

“Wasn’t the girl important?”

“She is important, because of the ritual the Harvestmen are planning. It’s called perditional contradoxy. By opening a Hellmouth inside of a holy person, destined for heaven, you prove their God a liar. This causes the apocalypse. Do you understand?”

“Absolutely not”

“Ugh, it’s the basic extremist thinking that all fucking cults have. Cause the apocalypse, have their God win, abolish all sin from the world, yada yada.” 

“Well won’t this interfere with your plans? Won’t the apocalypse hinter you from bringing back the Nightmare King?”

“I’ve been observing. Kristen is no longer loyal to Solo. Yes, a Hellmouth will be created but it won’t cause the apocalypse. Their plan won’t work. But this will distract Daybreak enough for us to plan our next move”

“I can kill Daybreak directly! We don’t need to wait, in fear he will tell on us”

She stepped closer, hovering over him.

“You are lucky kiddo. If I liked you any less, I would have killed you after a screw up like that. Why such a reluctance to follow my plan? Say, are you getting attached to your party?”

That was a dangerous question.

“Of course not. I just learned not to blindly accept deals”

The Tabaxi threw her head back and laughed.

“Look at you. You’re all grown up now. Alright, Riz. Your choice. Kill the girl or the coach. Choose wisely”

And with that, she disappeared.

~~

Riz stayed awake the whole night thinking of ways to sneak the piece of parchment into one of Kristen’s belongings. It was ridiculously easy. There were countless opportunities. Hide it in her jacket, as she hugged him each and every morning. Slip it in her bag during lunch. Between the pages of a textbook as they studied together in the library.

He knew he had to kill Kristen. That was the safest option for now. Hell, he was planning on sacrificing the whole party to Kalvaxus by the end of the year. 

Kristen had to die. That was okay. The party could survive without a cleric. Fig was learning healing spells. Sure, there wouldn’t be warm hugs and spams on their group chats over sexual orientation. 

She had already died once. It was like putting things back to normal. This was fine. He was fine.

He still tried to find ways to stealthily kill Daybreak. But he couldn’t think of a method, without that bastard spilling his secret to Kalvaxus. If he hadn’t already.

The parchment with the evil runes stayed in his drawer next to his tin-foiled flower.

He couldn't bear looking at them.