A flock of deranged crows, a feathered fiend, a scarecrow with an abysmal sense of humor, and a pumpkin-faced monster with a self-satisfied grin drawn permanently across its gourd. There was a vast variety of cacodemons and monstrosities that found it appropriate to challenge Louie this eve. It was upsetting that it had even come to this! But how had it come to this?
Louie Calvin Klein was en route to Era where he was intending to rendezvous with his estranged cousin, Beaux Phacelia. It had been many years since Louie had seen or even spoken to Beaux, and he really only held interest in him because he was the only relative he had in Fiore, and it was reasonably uncomplicated to locate him. Unfortunately, transportation in Fiore was very inconsistent. There were "big" towns and cities where the primary way of transport was by car or some other modern vehicle, and while others had only trains, there were more places than Louie had ever anticipated where the primary method of transportation was simply just archaic. Shirotsume was such, and everyone traveled by mule-drawn wagons or by foot in a place with such intense topography. The entire time Louie was shuffling in his seat fearing that it was not clean, wondering why he was disappointed, to begin with. He was wrong to hold any reasonable expectations for such a devolved country. The people were poor and the rate of crime was even poorer. Louie wouldn't have been in shock if their wagon were seized by bandits at any second now. The place was so terrible that he almost held sympathy for the men, women, and others who had to endure such hardships. If he had left Napedia without any anticipation for this country, Louie knew he would have spared himself of such displeasure.
But this was only the beginning of his torment. The mule-driven wagon stopped at a farm with a large pumpkin patch and corn maze not too far from it. In the patches and in the fields were a swarm of families dressed comfortably in what could only be considered to be rags meant for colder weather. The silly things probably couldn’t afford thermal clothing, so they sacrificed their appearance and probably their dignity as well to compensate for their comfort. Meanwhile, Louie was also wearing fabrics designed for the coolest of chills, but appeared to be lightly dressed in comparison to the families in the fields. He was accustomed to such weather, being from Napedia, and found ways to maintain a tolerable temperature without strutting about looking like a fool. If anything, he looked far too regal for the weather. He wore a grey trench coat that looked was color of iron and a white, long-sleeved turtleneck sweater underneath. His loafers were refined, shiny coals that covered his feet and his thin gloves that were worn more for aesthetic than for function matched in hue. Summarily, he dressed up of a class and echelon far superior to the people around him, but no one seemed to care or cared very little.
The wagon stopped and said something before the driver could. The driver was a short, stocky man with so much facial hair across his eyebrows, sideburns, beard, and mustache that all of his other facial features such as his eyes and lips were buried underneath. He had a huge nose covered in skin tags and warts and was perhaps the ugliest man Louie had seen today. "Pardon me, sir," Louie started placidly, a stark contrast to how he was feeling internally, "the wagon has stopped. Why is this?"
"Ol' Betsy needs to stop for a rest! We should be back on the trail in no time." The Old Man responded in peals of laughter that sounded like gurgles.
Louie smiled warmly and nodded, looking down a bit if not a bit despondent. "Is that so?" There was a silence between them that lasted for a few breaths, but the Old Man had something else to say at the expense of Louie's mood.
"It's not so cool out today, kiddo," Louie's smile almost twisted when the Old Man called him that, "why don't you go and pick some of them pumpkins o'er there? Takes no time at all and the farmer here is payin'."
"I-Is that so?" Louie replied, fumbling over his words. It wasn't the weather that Louie dreaded, but such a menial task was beneath him. He didn't come to Fiore for to play in the mud with swine. He knew this and was quick to retort. "That is a good idea, but perhaps I should stay inside-"
The Old Man interjected with a smile. "Well, you need to go somewhere, kiddo. I'm cleaning out the trunk, so you'll need to occupy yourself until I'm done!"
The ugly beast banished him from the carriage, and Louie had no choice but to comply and curse him in silence. What a disgusting creature he was! He was only as beautiful as his mule, but not nearly as useful! His shit-eating grin was almost more than Louie could have tolerated, but more than a decade of deception has prepared him to veil such honesty beneath kindness and mild temperament.
Not only had the creature banished him, but he somehow found himself in the very mud he dreaded to travel, picking pumpkins like the rest of them. It might have been a way to vent his frustrations or to kill time, but regardless, he held the most terrible frown all the while. But then the cacodemons appeared.
It was first a few birds that would accost and harass him, but their frenzy and rage were too simple of a thing to not slice through with his gorgeous blade. Aside from his supreme looks, it was his blade that stood out amongst everything else in that patch. It was similar if not an authentic Midian katana, beautifully adorned with threads and jewels that were as pretty as his complexion. It was of clear and overt Midian descent, but Louie was far from such heritage. He was Napedian and not Midian, but indulged in collecting what he himself could not have. Growing up, he was given many things: trinkets, pendants, jewelry, and all other material things until it somehow transformed into a fascination with all things “other.” Even the speech he displayed to everyone else was a fruit of this captivation, discarding phrases and sometimes even mannerisms distinct to his heritage to adopt and appropriate another. In many ways it made him appear more friendly despite his appearance looking so regal that it appeared alien to others and voluntarily transformed him into a people-person. It made it easier for him to plan things, after all.
The birds descended upon him maliciously and then died when their figures grazed the refined edge of his blade. Louie’s frown remained, looking perpetually perturbed. “What ugly things! Such ugliness! Disgusting!” he splurted in a fit of anger, not realizing that Fiore had diseased birds as well! Epidemics, poverty, and a great depression overwhelmed this country beyond what was plausibly reversible. He must find Beaux as soon as possible!
Louie was determined to explain to the Old Man what had happened to him and how horrible the pumpkin picking had gone! There was not a person on Earthland, not even in this country riddled with problems, that could resist a young boy’s fright such as his. This was the plan he was set to carry out and observe its succession, but Fiore had more than diseased birds!
Louie fumbled in between his many pockets, angrily looking for sanitary wipes so he could clean his blade. He said something under his breath. Something in a language different from what the Fioreans spoke. Whatever he said, he whispered it with unrefined venom. He was going to clean it, but something terrible appeared behind him. Something he knew that was much bigger than him, but it was not fear that consumed him. He did not tremble with fright, but with rage and some form of indignation.
"Unbelievable." Louie sighed, an indignant glare settling onto his eyes like oil on water. Louie was leaner and shorter than most men in perhaps any country, making everything but his face appear feminine and pretty. His countenance was soft and small, but even this sometimes appeared feminine. Regardless, he was completely capable of exuding some masculinity in usually the crudest of ways.
To his fortune, his supreme physique permitted him agility and features allowing him to be nimble, so avoiding the feathered cacodemon's swipes was a simple and wasted feat. Why exude so much energy on something so beneath him? Looking at it reminded him of the ugly old driver, and only inspired him to make haste. Several careful and elegant strikes later, the cacodemon had been slain. And yet, Louie's troubles did not cease here.
A cackling scarecrow with a self-satisfied, shiteating grin attempted to down him but failed. It took a tidbit longer, avoiding it's scythe and its provocative stare, but it too had been slain. By this point, Louie's loafers were caked in mud and dust. Additionally, Louie was close to livid. Close.
The next (and unknowingly, the final) cacodemon that begged his attention was a silly fiend with a gourd (perhaps a pumpkin? It didn't matter) for a head, and brightly lit lantern that swishes at the faintest of breezes, and rags for clothing which Louie considered to be synonymous with what everyone else was wearing. The moment the fog settled and the cacodemon made its presence known, Louie did not wait to strike. He was upset, and that was certain! How could such a disgusting beast approach him? Why do they torture him with such horrific countenances as they do? Louie had done nothing to beckon such atrocious behavior! He'd rather tolerate the ugly beast of a driver than these monstrous creatures!
This exchange was perhaps the most unpleasant of them all and also the most extensive. While he had suffered no strikes or blows to his physical figure beforehand, if only his dignity, he wouldn’t leave this battle without a few cuts on his fingers and ears, even if the cacodemon possessed no weapon with any obvious cutting and piercing capability. The splurges of dark energy that is launched at him looked similar to clouds but felt like daggers against his unblemished but now flawed flesh. But they did not trade blows and the beast was down in no longer than five minutes. Louie did not consider himself to be an especially skilled swordsman and only took up the blade in an act of acute interest in Midian katanas, but seemed that he would have to refine his swordsmanship if he were going to survive in such a run-down country, stricken with poverty and danger, especially since he wasn’t underneath the lukewarm blanket that was Beaux. But Louie held very low expectations of his older cousin who impulsively decided to stay in such a poor country. Someone who was so foolish in making decisions likely held very little capability “up there.” Louie quietly pondered if he had done anything to compensate for it.
When the cacodemon was slain and there was no sign of any other to appear, Louie quickly retreated from the pumpkin patch and back to the mule-drawn wagon where the repulsive old man waited for him.
“Howdy there, kiddo. Saw you pickin’ them pumpkins. You should talk to the couple that own these patches to get your reward.” The Old Man insisted, pointing to the quaint cottage that they lived in. Most would call it quaint, but Louie would coin it as, again, archaic.
“There really is no need! I left the pumpkins in the wagon, so it will be difficult to miss.” Louie smiled, his brows twitching unnoticeably. He climbed into the wagon and shut the door as quietly and quickly as he could. “Are we ready to depart?” he asked nicely.
“Sure are. Era, was it?”
“Yes! Thank you!”