The remnants of summer continued to flow throughout the atmosphere of the Crown Colony of Gold Coast. The sun beat down on the populace, reflecting off the stone constructions of housing and the massive fort that stood beside the sea as a blinding burst of white. Palm trees scattered around the area as the streets flourished with the sluggish citizens, each attempting to cope with working in such hot conditions. It had only been a few minutes since arriving at the colony, the sailors had quickly jumped into maintenance of their vessel while the Captain decided to visit the local warehouse in order to discuss prices of supplies.
Emerging from their quarters came the three troublesome explorers, longing for a decent room to sleep in for the next couple nights before leaving once again for South Africa. The view was amazing, Garth and Damien simply stood at the gangplank in awe of what they could see, if only they were born earlier in order to watch over the creation of the colony. The rolling hills, the palm trees, the giant fort. Everything that could be seen held a story in itself, a history, no matter how brutal it may be, it was beautiful. However, John was having second thoughts. Concern covered his face as his eyes slowly scanned over the area, watching the inner workings as if he knew it all.
“You two go ahead, I’ll stay on the boat.” John stated, his words wavered as he slowly turned to return to the cabin,
“Wait, why? We’ve got two nights here, so we might as well make use of our time.” Damien replied, questionably watching John’s worrisome actions.
“I’d rather not stay in the town. You know, bugs and shit.”
“You never objected to this in Mexico, and I think it was even worse because it was the height of summer.” Damien placed his hand on John’s shoulder with concern, attempting to convince the ex soldier to join the two. “Besides, we need to stay together at this time. Who knows what we’ll run in to.”
“Leave him, Damien.” Garth stated, his voice exhibited sympathy, “I doubt anyone would know we’re here.” The words incited a sigh of relief to be thrown from John’s mouth, shaking the hand from his shoulder before continuing back to the cabin.
“You were dispatched here before decommissioning, weren’t you.” Garth questioned, instantly stopping John in his tracks once more. A moment of silence fell over the three as the atmosphere fell low.
“Yeah.” A blunt reply given without turning to face his friends, John’s memories came back to haunt him as soon as he realised where he was. There was no way he could handle staying in the place which held nothing but a negative memory. He couldn’t question Garth’s assumption, he was a smart man, and the actions of an ex soldier such as this would definitely provide enough evidence of a previous dispatch. A dispatch which had scarred the man’s mind for the rest of his life.
“Let’s go and find a hotel for now, Damien.” Garth suggested, holding back the urge to press further into John’s past as he hopped onto the gangplank, returning to land once more. There was no means to find a hotel alone, no map, no signs. The only way to find one was through spoken word, asking the people to point the two in the direction of a hotel, or at least somewhere to sleep for the two nights they would be stuck in this sweltering area.
Disgusting streets twisted through the town, blocked sewage trenches that were left to fester in the hot weather. A mixture of colonists and natives watched over by a garrison of troops, acting as a police force as they punished the natives for the smallest of crimes. There was even one man, dark skin, no top, his ribs were extremely defined as his arms seemed to have no muscle at all in them. He was being arrested by a couple of red coats, a gun held to his head while shackles were attached to his wrists, still hanging loose with the possibility of falling off the arms. Damien watched in horror as the two wandered past, he wanted to intervene, attempt to find justice for this man who had probably stolen bread in order to survive. However, he couldn’t, his mind refused to allow him to jump in against the colonial garrison. They were soldiers, they had training and they were taught to treat things with hostility. He wouldn’t be doing the man any good, in fact, he’d probably make it even worse. He was lucky to be born a westerner. Garth, on the other hand, paid no heed to the scene, his eyes fixed on the route the two took as the arrest was ignored. Why doesn’t he care? Why doesn’t he even mention how bad the scene is? It was simply who he was, and there was nothing anyone could do about it.
Finally, the two had reached a simple hotel. Or at least a place that claimed to be a hotel, run by a family of colonists who greeted the two kindly. The building may seem run down, rotting walls and broken floorboards. But it was the closest hotel the two could find, and a cheap one at that. The building itself was a fine example of the differences between defined cities and simple colonial towns. How different life is when compared to England, the social aspects seemed more broken and disgusting while the atmosphere of the whole area reeked of suffering, and they had to deal with two nights of this. It had to be endured, the rooms were far from satisfactory, crude mosquito nets hung above the beds, an outside toilet which was more of a hole in a wooden shack. There wasn’t even running water. At least a simple newspaper was provided, a weekly release with very limited copies that had to be shared between the two explorers. Were they even explorers?
“Hey, it looks like there’s been some murders lately.” Damien pointed out to Garth, both of them sitting on the bed as they split the pages between themselves to pass the time.
“I’m not that surprised.” Garth replied with a sigh, attempting to get more drawn into the story some fisherman had written out to the printing press, something about a giant shark.
“Seems to be targeting white people, slicing their throats in the middle of the night.” Damien had grown concerned now, they were staying in a town with some murderer who attacks white men. Even though they were staying in a simple hotel run by white men, they couldn’t just shrug it off.
“It’s a good thing we brought those guns.”
“Only because the sailors insisted we bring them, even pointing a gun at someone could save your skin. But…” Damien fell silent as he placed the newspaper onto the bed beside him, falling forward as he rested his arms on his legs. “…Something tells me we should have brought the spears with us.”
“Why? We don’t even know how to use a spear.” Garth continued reading, not paying much attention to his companion’s concern, his voice suggested silence as he read over the same sentence five times because of Damien’s interruptions.
“I know. It’s just. Something, you know, it’s something in the back of my mind that makes me want to keep my spear as close to me as possible.”
A large sigh was given as Garth threw his half of the newspaper to the floor, giving up on reading when Damien was constantly annoying him with his complaints. “Then let’s just go back and grab our spears, we should have enough time.”
“Man, I hate customs.” Matias complained in the attempts to start a conversation with his Portuguese friend who was caught up in a French map. His arms stretched forward before he crossed them behind his head, looking around the unfamiliar streets of Paris. Multi-story stone buildings lined the area as the people, dressed in some expensive cloth, continued about their day with their annoying posture. A posture that exhibited wealth, ignorance, every face turned to the two with some disgusting looks as they giggled to each other about the foreigners. Who knew that the place they had to go was in some rich area of the city.
“Come on Gabrielo, we’ve been walking for hours and I swear I’ve seen that building at least three times.” Matias continued, nudging his side into his companion with haste.
“Don’t worry, I’ve got this.” Gabrielo replied, his eyes squinting at the map as he held it close. Attempting to read the street names as he continuously propped his head up for a moment in the effort to discern his position on the map. The letter they were given was held under Gabrielo’s thumb, placed against the map next to the street name it was addressed to. They knew where they had to go, but they first needed to find out where they were first.
Out of pure curiosity, Matias lowered his arms as he watched over Gabrielo’s shoulder, trying to make sense of what he could see. “I didn’t know you could read French.” Matias mentioned, slightly irritated at his partner’s ability to speak several languages. Wishing that he had such a gift in order to understand what those annoying rich people were saying behind their backs.
A small hesitation took place before the stuttered reply, “Y-yeah,” a sigh followed. Gabrielo’s arms swung down in defeat as he looked up to the bright blue autumn skies. Watching doves fly from building to building, probably collecting materials to build their nests in order to survive the winter. Nature seemed to know what it was doing more than the two Iberians did, lost in the cycle of life as they were commanded by their instincts. Some biological clock that told them that they have to collect food and materials for the winter, a simple yet complicated set of instincts which followed the yearly seasons of the globe. While humans, they were far less instinctive, commanded by whoever was higher than them. Or perhaps they were commanded by the greed this modern world had given to them, they weren’t lost in some cycle of life. They were lost in their own minds.
“For fuck sake, Gabrielo, don’t tell me we’re lost.” Matias raised his voice as he saw the man’s actions of defeat,
“Then I guess I won’t tell you anything.” He replied with a saddened tone. His body refused to accept defeat while his mind screamed for the acceptance. His empty hands clenched together into a fist. Wait, empty hands? Gabrielo quickly turned around to see Matias had taken the map and the letter from his hands, taking control of the search for the address.
Without any hesitation, Matias took the lead, approaching a random well dressed gentleman and lady with a brutal glare in his eyes. A flinch was all that could be done by the natives of the city before the man stepped in front of the woman, a concerned smile on his face as Matias raised the map before him. “I want to get here, where do I go?” Matias ordered, the Spanish words flew straight over the Frenchman’s head as he looked at the letter and the map. From simple assumptions it was possible for the man to figure out that the two needed to get to the address on the letter. And so he turned to stand beside Matias, quickly looking over the map before drawing a route from where they were now to where they needed to go.
“Ah, thanks.” Matias mumbled in surprise. The route was extremely short, only around three streets before they would reach their destination. A small nod was given by the gentleman before he quickly paced away from the two, taking the lady with him. Finally, they could meet whoever they needed to meet.
A large two-storied house stood between its identical neighbours, the doors and windows designed with great architecture which stood out from the rest of the street. A gargoyle hung from the roof, watching over the entire street with a look which resembled hunger, as if it was lusting for the taste of human flesh. Silently watching over its prey, waiting for the perfect time to strike. The explorers knocked on the door, the two knocks muffled by the surrounding populace as faint footsteps could be heard from inside. Drawing closer and closer before clicking of an unlocked lock rang through the immediate area, allowing the door to open. A middle-aged man was revealed, wearing simple grey and blue clothing which seemed to be more of a casual resting attire. The man showed no means to leave the building, his expression showing fatigue as if he was woken from his slumber. The situation was as awkward as ever, the two Iberians stood in silence as they watched the slightly balding man rub his hands over his face, pulling down on the skin in the effort to wake himself up before itching his deep black goatee.
“Can I help?” The man spoke in French, a language unknown by the two visitors as they looked to each other in conclusion. A sigh of annoyance was given before the Frenchman decided to close the door.
“Ah wait!” Gabrielo called out as he instinctively wrapped his hand around the edge of the door, preventing it from closing before he held the letter to the man. Hesitantly, the letter was accepted, with a free hand. Letting go of the door as it was opened and quickly skimmed over, the tired eyes growing wide as they saw the signature at the bottom of the page. He poked his head from behind the door frame, looking around the area before waving a hand to invite the two in.
“Take a seat.” The man spoke in Spanish as he led the two into the living room. Pointing to a large leather sofa which stood in front of the window, facing the other side of the room. The whole room itself was decorated with items only the richest could afford. Swords and a shield hung over the well made fireplace, an armour stand propped up in the corner of the room while a myriad of vases and jars collected dust on almost any surface there was. A second seat was situated diagonal from the fireplace, facing the sofa, it was here where the Frenchman sat down himself.
Looking around the room with awe, the two gladly sat down, their bodies tensed up as Matias noticed the spear being held by the suit of armour. It was obviously a Mayan artefact, the wooden handle somehow twisted around itself as the blade split into five. A main spear head with four smaller spearheads poking out diagonal to the main shaft, as if it was some kind of fishing lance.
“You have a spear!?” Matias called out, his eyes fell to a glare as he instantly grew hatred for the man, about to raise from his seat to attack. However, Gabrielo tapped on the angered Spaniard’s shoulder as a silent way to tell him to sit, an order which was quickly accepted with small mumbles of profanity.
“Of course I do, I used to work for your boss.” The Frenchman replied calmly, speaking perfect Spanish. He held the letter up once more where he would read through thoroughly seeing what was had to be said. “Ah, I see…”
“We were just told to meet you, apparently you know what we need to do?” Gabrielo questioned, overly curious on what was written.
“That I do know, no matter how much I want to kick you two out. I have to do this, at least I won’t owe your boss anything else. So I’m guessing you managed to get the information from Fergus.”
The two looked to each other in confusion once more, already forgetting about their little visit to England. “The old man in England.” The Frenchman reminded the two, bringing reactions of realisation as their memory came back to them.
“Ah yes, we need to go to Nanling in China.” Gabrielo confirmed,
“Yeah… What about the spears?”
“Oh they’re with us.” He gestured to the spears that were wrapped up in cloth, left to lean against the wall in the hallway.
“I mean information on the spears.”
“We had to do that?”
The man sighed heavily, “Yes you had to do that you fucking idiot.”
“Boss seemed to be irritated about those two kids stealing the spears, so I just assumed we needed to find out where they were.”
Another sigh was given out as the man looked up to the ceiling, “Why has god forsaken me?” He mumbled to himself, rubbing against his face as he thought out means to teach these fools what they were supposed to learn.
“Alright, alright. We’re going to need to go to China anyway, but you two need to learn how to use the spears first.” He begun explaining, about to continue with his words before being rudely interrupted by Matias,
“I already know how to stab people with the spear.”
“No, there’s more to it than just stabbing you idiot,”
“I don’t want to learn those flashy flipping martial arts stuff, I’ll just beat the shit into those thieves.”
“Matias, shut up.” Gabrielo ordered, his patience already wearing thin from the long journey the two had to do as they attempted to find this place. Hidden within the maze of Paris.
“I’m surrounded by idiots.” The man spoke to himself once again, rubbing against his face even more as he attempted to tolerate the Spaniard’s idiotic mind. “Okay, my name is Hugo. I have the ability to wield the spear of Air. Passed down to me from my father, who was a good friend of your boss. From what he had learned, and what he had taught me, there is much more to the spears than just swinging it around and hoping you hit someone. They have something more… complicated than that.”
“So what is it?”
“I’ll teach you later, I struggled sleeping last night and I just want to get back to bed. Get yourselves rested up and prepared, because we’re travelling to Austria-Hungary tomorrow. Come here at daybreak.” Hugo explained as he stood from his chair, waving his hand in a dismissive manner,
“What? Why?” Gabrielo questioned, confused at how fast the conversation was. Hugo seemed to know a lot about the spears, along with carrying experience in the usage. If he’s going to be teaching the two, then it would be best if they had a better understanding.
“I’ll tell you tomorrow, fuck off.”
Night had befallen the Gold Coast colony, the air had quickly become freezing cold as the entire town had fallen silent. The random calls of birds, insects and small mammals intermittently broke this silence. The skies were devoid of any clouds as the waxing moon slightly illuminated the area. Placed against the black canvas of the sky, fitting perfectly with the surrounding constellations which brought life to the void that loomed above.
Damien awoke from his sleep, his eyes snapped open followed by a silent yawn. Sluggishly, the Englishman pulled himself out of the hard, stained bed, pushing the mosquito net out of his face as he walked out of the room, dressed only in his pyjamas. From the route of the short tour given by the owner of the hotel, Damien remembered the position of the outhouse, walking only in socks as he was met by a sudden cold breeze. The temperature increasing his urge to urinate even further, forcing him to quicken his pace before he entered the outhouse.
Finishing with a sigh of relief, Damien left the outhouse and followed his tracks back towards his room, happy to know that the bright moon was able to illuminate the area. Suddenly, from the darkness of the roof’s overhang, a hooded figure reached out to grab Damien by the mouth. A sharpened, cold knife pressed against his throat, he couldn’t see anything of the man, not even his skin colour due to the warm leather gloves. He struggled, he tried to call through the fingers, but all sound was reduced to nothing but mumbles. The knife was slowly pressed further and further into the throat, he could already feel the pain before it has pierced the skin. From the sounds of the assailant’s breathing, it seemed that they were at the same height. Allowing Damien to swing his head back to strike at the nose, quickly loosening their grip enough to slip away. He ran back inside, diving into his room as he grabbed the pistol from the bed side table. However, upon returning outside, the figure had disappeared.
“I’m telling you, it happened!” Damien continued his plead towards his companion, pushing at the explorer as they attempted to eat their breakfast in peace. The sun had returned to shining its rays onto this part of the world, temperatures began to increase once again as mosquitoes continued in their hunt for blood.
“Come on, it was just a dream of yours. You got a little scared from reading that article.” Garth replied with a sigh, dismissing Damien’s worries with a wave of his hand.
“No, it definitely happened! I couldn’t go back to sleep, and my socks were dirty! That’s got to be enough proof.”
“You went to the toilet while being half asleep, it’s easy to forget those things. Stop going on about it.”
“We should at least go to the garrison about this!” Damien continued insisting to report the attack, forcing Garth to lower his spoon with an even larger sigh.
“Fine, we’ll report the attack. Then what? Nothing, because there’s nothing to do about something that didn’t happen. We arrived here yesterday, it must take some great intuition for some murdering scum to track down where you’re staying and then wait for you to go to the toilet. It’s stupid.” Garth had grown too annoyed at Damien’s insistence, falling to simply accepting it, letting things go his way in order to prevent any further annoyance.
With the morning routine of breakfast and getting dressed over and done with, the two set off to the coastal fort. It was a long walk through the increasingly more crowded streets before they could reach the perimeter fence of the fort, a gate acting as the only way in or out with four soldiers guarding the gate.
“You’re not allowed past this way, get lost.” One of the soldiers spoke out to the two,
“We need to report an attack, sir.” Damien stated, inciting several glances between the group,
“What kind of attack?”
“Someone attempted to murder me last night.” Damien’s words quickly forced laughter to break out between the four, followed by a small sigh of humour given off by Garth. The disbelief everyone had been showing was already starting to get on Damien’s nerves, he simply reacted by turning around and storming off. If no one’s going to do anything about it, he might as well do it himself.
“Wait, where are you going?” Garth questioned as he rushed to catch up with Damien,
“I’ll work out how to deal with it myself” Damien scowled, speaking through clenched teeth as anger continued to pile up inside of him,
“Just stop it now, even if there was a murderer, they aren’t going to attack you again. I mean, its common sense for a survived victim to prepare for a second attack.” Garth tried his best to calm him down, already falling out of breath from just a quickened walking pace. Let’s just go back to the hotel and discuss more on the spears, we need to learn as much as possible to make it easier to understand when we get to China.
Damien paused, glancing back at his partner with pure anger written all over his face. “Whatever,” he sighed, his expression returning close to normal, hints of aggression still present, “that does make sense, it’ll be fine.” It wouldn’t be fine, it would bug Damien for the next month, knowing that a murderer was still hanging around the colony, knowing that many people would be killed before the garrison actually does their job at keeping order instead of punishing the natives for existing.
The talk came about with little results, Damien’s mind was still plagued with the worries of the murderer while Garth was still stuck in one mystery about the spears. The fact that Matias managed react to stop a bullet, or even the mystery of Garth’s hearing becoming more sensitive. What was causing such strange things to happen? And what was the reason for the spears to exist, with strange and impractical designs too. It wasn’t long until the second night fell over the colony, bringing the repeat of the cycle. Temperatures fell, people returned to their homes, intermittent calls from the wildlife broke the silence. At least this time there was a couple, very thin, clouds in the sky.
Garth was sitting up in his bed, reading through his many notes as he worked his mind as hard as he could in the attempt to find at least one answer to his many questions. Yet, no matter how much he tried, only more questions came about instead of answers. There was that constant hole in his notes, in his work, that one piece of important information missing. If he could find at least one answer, he would be able to answer many of the other questions, his notes would become even more completed. Yet there was nothing.
Suddenly, Garth’s attention was grabbed by a strange sound, coming from the window of his room. It wasn’t some random animal, no it was too loud for that. But it was also too silent to be heard by anyone else, the only time his strange development had become useful. It sounded more like… breathing, carefully made footsteps. Directly from beneath the window. Out of curiosity, Garth closed his book and silently crawled out of the bed, carefully placing his feet on the floor as well, yet he was even more quiet than whatever was outside. A hooded figure appeared, jumping through the open window, a rag spread across their face to only show the eyes. Yet the dark skin of the eyelids were still seen. This person had a massive figure, someone who had been working out for years, a massive strength that would easily break a door down without an inch of effort.
A glint from a large polished knife grabbed Garth’s attention, held by gloved hands, exactly how Damien had described. But then, with great agility, the murderer lunged forward, swinging the knife with a perfect aim towards the neck. Garth reacted by jumping back to the bed, grabbing his own pistol in the process as he pointed it at the attacker. A quick flinch of fear could be seen, just like a deer in the headlights. Yet, seeing that Garth is showing some hesitation to pulling the trigger, the figure prepared to lunge once more, knowing that there was no way he could dodge this next attack.
The trigger was pulled out of shock, intense ringing pulsed through Garth’s ears as the attacker grunted in pain. The bullet had struck him in the arm which held the knife, forcing him to attempt to withdraw from the room, jumping through the window again with amazing skill. The gunshot had grabbed Damien’s attention, he burst into the room holding his spear and his gun, just to see the attacker escape.
“Quick, after him!” Damien called as he followed through the window, tripping against the windowsill slightly before recovering, giving up chase. Garth followed behind, carrying only his own spear as he panted heavily. His heart was already beating fast from the adrenaline of the attack, but know he was running? He didn’t have the stamina to continue for too long.
“Stop you bastard!” Damien continued his calls, sprinting as fast as he can as the murderer attempted to lose him by turning at every corner he saw. Blood continued to drip from the wound heavily, a hand pressed down in the attempt to prevent too much bleeding, yet this damage had already shown its effects as he ran slower and slower.
As the attacker passed an oil street lamp, Damien raised his arm instinctively, as if he was trying to grab the attacker while shouting “Stop!” once more. Yet, for unknown reasons, the flame of the street lamp burned larger, forcing the lamp to explode into a ball of flames which was projected over the attacker. Burning oil splattered across his face as the clothes were set alight. Screams in pains echoed throughout the town as people were drawn outside to watch the scene. They all panicked, unsure on what to do as several men jumped outside with thick cloth in order to beat the flames out. Eventually, the garrison arrived.
“So this is your murderer?” The Captain questioned the two explorers, they had recovered from the chase and changed into their clothing. Their belongings were already packed and transported back to the Expedite as the Captain interviewed the two about the event from last night.
“That’s right, he fit the description of what I dealt with the other night.” Damien agreed,
“He attacked me with his knife,” Garth stated, his heart still pumping hard and fast, his voice wavering in fear.
“I do remember some reports of a strange hooded man hanging around at night.” The Captain hummed to himself, “And the past murders all seemed to be done by knives, I suggest you two leave now before the higher-ups arrive. I’ll take the matters into my hands,”
“Thank you very much, Sir.” Damien nodded to the captain as he stood from the wooden chair, Garth followed closely to the actions silently.
“Yeah yeah, have fun with your journey.”
And so, the two returned to the Expedite. Reuniting with John who was more than happy to leave this place as soon as possible. As for the events that happened, they were told as a story to pass on the boredom of the long sail to South Africa. John already regretted leaving the two alone, but he also exhibited how proud he was for Garth to hit his target, even if it was just the arm. While the sailors started joking around about ghosts causing the lamp to explode. Perhaps they were being positively haunted by the ghost of Harold?