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Eradicating W(retch)ed Goodness

"All I ever wanted was to be good."

By Trinity HPublished 4 months ago 7 min read

Her breathing was broken, wet; like she was drowning in front of me.

“Can I tell you a secret? I found this locket with a rat.” What a fucking obscure thing to say while I’m holding a sword above your chest, I think. I watch as shaky hands move to her neck, untucking a necklace from underneath her armor. It’s shabby- A short gold chain with a too big emblem on the front. Pretty gaudy, in my opinion. How she hid it during the fight, I didn’t know. Whenever I wear jewelry, it always ends up halfway to choking me before I can get the killing blow. I guess she really is a professional. All I know is that her blood is getting all over the clasp, making it impossible to open.

It didn’t look like she was trying to open it, but my hand twitched at my side anyways. Maybe I wanted to help her, in these final moments. Maybe I wanted to kill her instead.

“He was the first companion I found, in some dungeon in a fishing town.” She was looking somewhere far away when she spoke, like watching a play over my shoulder. If I was a good person, I would kill her quickly. Anything would be better than this: watching her slowly bleed out under me, listening to her recount her life in what? A feeble attempt at letting her live? She would die here anyways.

She coughs and blood trickles down her lips. I am not a good person, and that’s gross.

Suddenly, and without warning, her eyes harden, and she looks at me- I can see her knuckles whiten against the locket. “I killed them.” Her voice is like steel, strong enough to pierce through whatever is holding me together. In this moment, I remember who I’m standing over, and all it took for me to get here. My grip tightens around my sword.

“They left him without food. The floor was covered in shit, and he’d obviously been sleeping in it. I didn’t know if they ever bothered to clean it out. They didn’t even leave him water. They domesticated him, and left him to rot, or only took him out when they needed him, or something in between the two. It didn’t matter.” She spit the last words. If I couldn’t see the wound on her chest and through her stomach, I wouldn’t think she was hurt at all. It was like the force of the world was moving through her, like whatever kept us all on the ground swayed with her anger, leaving everything around her to fall into the orbit of her fury. I could understand how she’d made it so far, how she got so many people to believe in her. Maybe if I was good, I would have believed in her too.

But I am not good, and I do not believe in her. I angle the sword so it’s resting above her heart, and I give myself one more minute. Whether she notices my change she doesn’t show, but I watch the fight drain out of her all the same. “Now,” she laughs, and it sounds like a babbling stream, “now I can’t remember the last time I saw him.”

She looks at me- she looks at me and I’m a taxidermy butterfly, pinned behind a glass case up for display. I didn’t win this fight. The realization is sudden and intense, like falling through a frozen pond. I have a gash across my torso, sluggishly bleeding enough to coat the inside of my armor. My leg is broken. My ribs are bruised. My shoulder is aching where it popped out earlier, not to mention the poison slowly working its way through my system. I probably have a concussion.

I have been close to death many times, but never as close as this.

Under me, she has a slash across her abdomen and a stab wound through her gut. Both of her arms are in commission, she has almost full use of her legs. I’ve been told she can mess with your mind; can make you do things you’d never think of doing yourself. Even if I didn’t believe in hearsay, I know that she could twist her words without magic. She hasn’t gotten this far without great power and capabilities, yet her I am standing over her. I wish my hands would shake at the resignation, but the blade stays still.

The bitter truth is that had she wanted to win, she would have. But I am not a good person, and I will take whatever scraps are given to me.

43 seconds.

“I think this is where it started- the complex I have. I thought that if I could save one helpless rat, what’s a world of helpless rats, right? Everything had gone tits-up, we were in a civil war, I saved a rat, and found out I was special through what? Being able to talk to dragons? To control them?” She’s looking at me like I know what she’s feeling; like I’ve been special too. I’ve never been anything special, and maybe that’s why she’s letting me kill her. She coughs again, her head lolling to the side. I don’t want to hear this anymore. I will the time to go faster. 29 seconds.

“Being here, now, I know you can’t control anything, none of us can. All I’ve ever wanted was to be good.” Her voice is trailing off- and a good thing too; what else is there to say? I don’t think there are good people, and if there are, they’re not her.

14 seconds.

What do you say to someone you’re about to kill? What do you say to someone who’s going to let you kill them? I’m counting down the seconds.

As if through a haze, she meets my eyes. I’m trying to ignore the openness of her expression. I get no joy seeing the resignation on her face, the tranquility that’s soon to follow. I wonder what it’s like to be good. I wonder what it’s like to die. “One thing,” she whispers, and against my will I listen, “I don’t want to be like them. The ones who caged Retch. When I’m gone, go let him out.”

7 seconds.

“He doesn’t deserve to be locked up by people trying to help him, anymore.”

In this moment, I wish anybody else was here to kill her instead, and I wish I was a worse person than I am. I know my answer before she’s done asking the question.

3 seconds.

“I will.” I say.

She closes her eyes.

The blade cuts through her like a knife through butter. It’s quick. I can’t pinpoint the moment she’s gone; in the blink of an eye the Goddess of Destruction is reduced to nothing but a body and a necklace. I wonder why I let her talk for so long. I also wonder why it mattered that she did.

Not everything is a production however, and I need to get out of here before I join her corpse on the dirt.

I rummage through her satchel and find a healing potion, at least I hope it’s a healing potion, and down it like cheap mead at the tavern. It doesn’t fix everything, but it does enough that I can walk out of here without passing out. It also makes the moss on the wall dance. Incredible.

Taking the pouch, I lay down what I don’t need next to her. Should I close her eyes? Is that the nice thing to do? Surely, but I’ve never been nice before. My eye catches the necklace, its cheap varnishing crusting off under the iron of blood. Without conscious thought I’m reaching to open it, a morbid sense of curiosity clouding any other objective I might have in my head. The clasp comes away with a flick, and the compartment snaps open like a gentle wave. I expect to see some photo of family on the inside, maybe a lover. I’d pocketed many lockets in my time with The Guild, and never once have I come up without family.

This time I did. This time, all that faced me was a blank piece of paper with the word “retch” written in shaky script. Like it was rushed. Like a child wrote it.

As quickly as I opened the necklace, I close it. It’s none of my business what’s inside- sentimentalities don’t do me any good in this cavern. I begin the long, arduous task of limping to an exit, hopefully somewhat close to where I am.

But I look one last time- sue me- to the body I’m leaving behind. I think of a caged rat in a dungeon, a child finding a locket. I wonder if cruelty breeds cruelty, even when trying to be good. I wonder if it matters, in the end. Lastly, I think about how fucking annoying it’s going to be trying to find a house with a pet rat in it without any information whatsoever. I turn my head forward and continue, towards the surface.

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About the Creator

Trinity H

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Comments (1)

  • Obsidian Words4 months ago

    I feel like this is strangely timeless, like nothing else is of consequence save for the thought they share in this final moment and that one lil rat and I love t!

Trinity HWritten by Trinity H

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