Josh chuckled. "Then I won't leave your side, madam." he said with a flourish.
Internally, he did a double-take. Whether or not Taylor meant what she had said, still was nice hear. Her blush certainly hadn't escaped his notice as well.
Taylor's nudge brought him back to reality. He shrugged and flashed her a grin. "I wouldn't mind being taken if it's by you. Although, lemme warn you, I don't taste to good, weed smoke ruins the flavor."
He glanced back at a fast approaching Olivia. Josh discretely noted the exchange between the boy and a red dog, maybe his red dog? He hadn't noticed the thing until now, but he found it rather odd that Sadie hadn't immediately introduced herself the moment they arrived. Why was that? The boy had been here when they had arrived, that he was sure of.
Jo shrugged. Maybe he had the dog locked away until now, he likely had his reasons.
"We could get a room, but then who'd be left of the Mystery Gang?"
An idea formed in his head, on that earlier seemed unlikely but now seemed plausible.
He turned to Olivia. "speaking of mystery, Liv, how's the nose on that dog?" he nodded towards crimson canine.
Joey snickered at Taylor's comment and took her smirk as his queue to join her. He couldn't tell if Liv's coy words earlier held any truth, but hell if he didn't take them as a boost to his confidence. Suddenly, he was in a great mood, and that coupled with is high; maybe cloud nine actually severed as an accurate descriptor.
With confidence and high clouding better judgement, he sauntered up next to Taylor after gaining some distance from the group. "You think you can handle this mystery being as high as cloud 9?" he jibbed.
The soft, shadowy light of predawn seeped through his city. The brightest stars still shone overhead, though they would soon be snuffed out by the rising sun. The night sky was not as he remembered it; the stars and the constellations were misaligned. A year had passed.
With every step, his heavy walking staff struck a lonely note, echoing through the capital outskirts empty streets.
When last he had walked this path, an honor guard of 300 elite warriors had marched in his wake, and the cheers of the crowd had shaken the city. It was to have been his moment of glory – yet it had been stolen from him.
Now, it was a city of ghosts. What had become of his people, again?
With an imperious gesture, he commanded the sands beside the roadway to rise, creating living statues with a crackle of red energy. This was a vision of the past, the echoes of Xerxes given form.
The sand figures looked forward, heads tilted toward the ghostly image of the immense Eye of Cipher hanging above the great pyramid palace of Xerxes half a league ahead. It hung there, declaring the glory and power of his empire, though no one remained to see it. Vestec had reduced him to a measly shell of his former self bound to the pubescent body of angsty teenager. Nevertheless his sense of divinity never waned. He could sense those of the chaotic family as they moved about Galbar, ignorant of his profane existence. Blood bound them together. But blood cycled through the heart, and the heart was treacherous.
As he walked the broken street, the sand-echoes of his people pointed up at the sky, their joyful expressions turning to horror. Mouths opened wide in silent screams. They turned to run, stumbling and falling. He watched this all in despairing silence, bearing witness to the last moments of his people.
They were corrupted by a deluge of red rain, reducing their flesh to dust and cast to the winds, leaving behind an abomination of divine production. What had gone wrong with him to unleash this catastrophe?
His focus narrowed. His march became more resolute. The power of the red stone marking the tip of his staff recreated his city in shimmering purple sand. He reached the base of the Cipher and began to climb up makeshift stares, taking them five at a time.
Sand versions of his most favored subjects lined his path, faces upturned, grimacing and wailing in silence before they too were swept away by the winds and became demons of jaded perfection.
He ran, taking the steps faster than any man could, toes digging into the granular substance, carving furrows where they caught. Sand figures rose, and were then destroyed, to either side of him as he climbed. He reached the top.
Here, he saw himself, rendered in perfect, heartbreaking detail.
In his divine form, he rose up into the air, arms wide and back arched. He remembered this moment. The power coursed through him, infusing his being, filling him with ecstasy. He dropped to his knees. In horror, he saw this own expression change into one of utter pleasure. Though he knew what was to come, he could not look away.
The unseen event blasted Xerxes to nothingness. Blood rained from the sky, hurricane winds of rage and desire whipped across the once gleaming city, it's citizens became demons.
It was too much, but no tears welled in his eyes. That simple act of grief was forever lost to him. He regretted nothing.
A brutal shockwave of sand flared out, disintegrating the final moment of Xerxes. He stood alone among the dying echoes of his past.
He killed his people.
The divine made mortal turned away, just as the first rays of the new dawn struck the barren landscape.
He'd seen enough. The sand image of himself collapsed behind him.
The dawn sun reflected blindingly off the flawless red stone atop his staff. In that instant, he knew that divine power still stirred within him. He sensed the essence of his own power in the air that he breathed.
He lifted a hand, and multitude of sand citizens; hain, human, and roavick alike, rose from the sands in the barren basin that was once Xerxes.
"Hear me Xerxes,” he said, his voice tinged with renewed sense of vigor. “Your king will return. I swear it.”
A nameless mortal explores with ruins of Xerxes at first light. At first glance he seems to be nothing but a normal boy, but with just his will and the power of an odd red stone, the purple sands of Xerxes answer his call, becoming what he sees fit. As he travels deeper into the city, the happenings of the Dark Carnival play on like a recorded video using sand. Soon he reaches the apex of a sand-Xerxes and watches himself ignite the flames that started the downfall of Xerxes. He refuses to feel regret yet his frustration is clear as day. Oddly the people aren't considered toys any longer. He comes to terms with the idea that he made an error, and thus served as his own downfall. He knows that despite the fact that Vestec stripped him of divinty, power still resides in him. He makes a promise to return.
The cereal need some to go first anyways my dood. Accept the facts that you have never experienced true bliss.
You let society and corporations control you. They tell you to pour cereal first in order keep you weak and docile. True bliss and freedom are apart of me, you on the other hand, you are a slave shackled to the concept of Cereal First.