To start things off right, I feel like I should post an excerpt from a piece I just wrote in the novel. I'm almost done finishing it off (i.e. being a perfectionist) and I want to share another moment with the mafia. Here, Tory Cross is meeting with General Gakin in an art museum. The two are discussing Tory's recent discovery of Gakin's betrayal, a business transaction gone wrong. As always comment, critique, suggest please. I hope it's up to snuff! Click the link below, the text is after the jump!
Tory walked amongst the depictions of Howla brutality and Human gallantry with a glass of wine in his hand, sipping away absent-mindedly as the curator begged him not to break anything. Nodding slowly, Tory let his eyes wander to a statue of Prince William, scourge of the Howlas during their enslavement of mankind.
“Where is Jack?” Tory asked the curator, interrupting him mid-plea.
“Mr. Coraq? I’m not sure,” the curator tugged at his mustache, “I’ll go find him right away sir! But please, I’m begging you, these are antiques, relics, the slightest misstep and we could lose millions!”
Tory grimaced, “I’m not sure I’ll be able to hear you ramble on about your precious paintings any longer friend. Please find Jack.” The curator gulped and loosened his tie slightly. Beads of sweat flying down his forehead, the lithe old man sprinted down the hallway to find Jack Coraq the baker.
“Now, I want all of you to set up a perimeter. Be a little obvious about it, make sure at least a few of you can be seen by the General as he moves in.” The bodyguards nodded quickly and went off, their black raincoats billowing behind them. Alone, Tory stood silently. Sipping his wine, he licked his lips and looked around him. Every white wall had been scuffed or trampled on by the rambunctious students, their vigor muddied and wanton.
Suddenly, harsh panting and running feet could be heard. Tory turned around to find Jack Coraq trying to catch his breath. The curator was looking at them from behind a wall decorated with deviant hand drawings of naked human women, what posed for art during the latter half of the 21st century. “You didn’t have to run, Jack.” Tory brought the wine to his lips.
“Wait!” Jack took the wine from Tory and sniffed it, “Gakin’s been known to poison people before. He could’ve laced this with something!” Still sniffing, Jack had the wine violently torn away from him.
“Don’t ever touch my alcohol again Jack. I know how to take care of myself. This isn’t poisoned.” He waved his wands, “Why did Gakin want to meet me here?”
Still panting, Jack shrugged. “I’m not sure Tory, I only came here to make sure he knows I’m neutral.” Jack stared at Tory, “To make sure you know that I’m neutral.”
Tory’s lips parted, revealing jagged rows of teeth, a sorry excuse for a smile, “I know you’re neutral Jack, you must be. After all, you’re only a simple baker right?”
Jack didn’t reply. He stood up and waited for General Gakin with Tory. Soon they could hear a voice calling out from the main entrance. Its booming baritone echoed along the hallway. “Tory Cross!” General Gakin then turned the corner and walked towards Tory, carrying one of his guards in his enormous hands. Tory didn’t even flinch.
“General, as always, it’s a pleasure to see you.” Tory looked at Gakin’s broad shoulders, scarred flesh and burn wounds not fully healed peeking past the faded brown fur. “Thank you for returning to me my personal affects.”
Gakin tossed the limp body of the guard to Tory, then swung his cape around him. “Come here, I want to show you something.” His gruff voice, even at a whisper, reverberated throughout the hallway. He was tall and strong, a walking mountain of muscle. Despite his girth, he was still quick and nimble. He was vigilantly paranoid, dedicated to the art of quiet suspicion.
“Is that why you asked that the meeting be held here?” Tory gave his cup to Jack and followed the General. Jack fumbled with the wine for a bit before quickly taking a sip and giving it to the cowering curator.
“I wanted to speak to you about that,” Gakin’s black eyes flared, “You already received your last shipment of guns for this quarter. Why did you even want to meet with me?”
“Because I know that was going to be my last shipment ever.” Tory stopped walking.
General Gakin smiled and stopped to turn around. His cape was a dark shade of verdant, trimmed in a glossy black. He towered above Tory and made use of his height. Walking up to the mob boss, he imposingly stuck out his chest, “And how would you know that, young Tory?”
“I know, because I found the papers you wrote to Howard. I know he’s paying you for the rest of whatever it is you have. I know you’re betraying our agreement for that old bastard.” Tory let his hand rest on the gun at his hip, his fingers tensed.
General Gakin’s eyebrows raised, “That’s quite a feat you accomplished.” His eyes looked to Jack, who was very determined to clean his nails at that point. “I wonder, messenger, how he could have known this. Do you have any idea?”
Jack shook his head vigorously, “General, he made me give him the papers. He saw Howard come to my store, it is not my fault!” He rushed over to Gakin and took the General’s hand, “I promise you I would never betray the Holy Prophet or his High Regent. I am only a humble servant!”
Tory rolled his eyes, “If you’re going to attempt to kill anyone General, let it be me. Jack is not your enemy.”
Gakin shook off the groveling baker. Wiping his hands on his cape, Gakin turned back around. “I still want to show you something.” He began walking again, and Tory followed. His knees shaking too badly to move, Jack stayed where he was and furiously began to bite his nails.
“Why are you betraying our agreement General?” Tory’s throaty growl did nothing to slow down Gakin. After several more attempts to get the General’s attention, Tory was finally silenced by the sculpture he saw before him.
It was a limestone rendition of the Howlamega’s battle against the twenty-fourth Magna Beast, Aqusafia. “Why did you bring me here?” Tory asked.
“You have a lot of questions for a gangster,” Gakin walked around the sculpture, his eyes poring over its most minute details. Upon seeing Tory’s face, Gakin sneered, “Sorry, I mean Verokka. You have a lot of questions for a Verokka.” This did not make Tory happy.
“Are you going to tell me why you brought me here or not General?”
“Yes I am, actually. I want you to look at this sculpture.”
Tory shook his head, “No! I called this meeting, I was gracious enough to let you decide where we would have it. I demand answers, now!” Tory ripped his gun from its holster and held it at his side, ready to fire at Gakin.
The General’s eyes lazily wandered down to Tory’s hand, “I wanted to remind you of what the Howlamega has done for you, young pup.” Gakin looked up at the furious battle-hardened face of the Howlamega, etched with an incredible eye for minutiae. Every hair had been defined, every scar given appropriate attention. “Do you remember the War? Did you fight in it?”
“No,” Tory replied, his gun still at his side.
“If you had been there, if you could see the lengths to which our Prophet would go to save us, you would understand. This meeting, your anger, your jealousy, comes from ingratitude. You have been given this entire country to make your playground, to use our money for what you want. And now, when we ask of you to perform your duty as a Howla, you squirm.” In the blink of an eye Gakin was standing in front of Tory, looking down at him.
“We took the guns away from you, because you play with them as if they are toys. Because we know you only care about yourself and your pitiful Verokkas.” Gakin snarled, “Crim understands his place, his purpose. He did not break orders and attempt to kill the son of a government official.”
“That was my nephew! My idiot nephew! Don’t blame me for a pup’s mistakes!” Tory shook his gun at Gakin, angrily trying to make himself taller. “Does the Howlamega know that the largest mafia in Atlantis is being cut out from the deal? Does he know?”
Gakin pushed Tory back, “Don’t mistake me pup for a simple slave. And do not pretend you give a damn what the Prophet says. No one is fooled by your acts of obedience. Once a wild dog, always a wild dog.”
Tory had no answer, he merely made another loud, strained grunting sound. Frustration was mounting on his shoulders, burdening him.
“You don’t want to be treated like dirt?” Gakin braced Tory by the shoulders, “Then begin listening to orders, Tory.”
Tory’s entire body was shaking with rage, “You dare touch me?” he roared at the General. He shoved Gakin’s hands away and pointed the gun at him.
This was an offense the General would not tolerate. He quickly knocked the gun out of Tory’s hands and throttled him against a wall. Fighting to break the General’s grip, Tory lashed out, trying to scratch and claw at Gakin. “Stop!” Gakin slammed Tory into the wall again, bits of plaster raining down on him, “You arrogant fool. Harry said you were smart. He said you knew what you were doing. Don’t let your anger overcome your better judgment. I am the High Regent for a reason.” Gakin flung Tory to the ground. Tory rubbed his throat, scowling at the General. His black eyes were flaring, flames burning the edges of his temples.
“Use that anger for something productive Tory. Sit in this room. I said sit! Sit here and remember where you came from. The next time you think yourself so bold as to take on a General of the Howlamega, come more prepared.” Gakin snickered at Tory’s attempts to stand. He kicked the gun out of Tory’s grasping hands and left the room. “I will see you at our next meeting. Hopefully by then, you will have proven yourself worthy young pup.”
Tory sat there and stared at Gakin’s retreating figure. His hands were still rubbing his throat, the pain making his voice hoarse. He called out for Jack and the curator but no one came. No one came for Tory Cross.
So he sat alone, lifeless eyes gripping with reckless intensity the images of the Howlamega’s victories. Pastels of his greatest feats with the elements lined the walls, watercolors of his most daring adventures; even new-age interpretations of his abode in Territoria filled the room. Finally coming again to the limestone sculpture, Tory sighed. The ghosts of a king he had never seen or met had defeated him. He would comply. For now.
Until next time then.