“What’s wrong?” She called to him and his eyes which had been cast down the lane over her shoulder, locked instantly onto hers,
“Been a long time” he muttered “and there’s something off...” he began glancing behind him “nobody happens upon this place by accident I don’t care how delirious they are, it’s too hidden, unless you know it you don’t just happen upon it” he added his tone low
“What does that mean?” she asked though she could tell that her questions were beginning to irritate him, he moved to stand beside her,
“Because that means Priest targeted our little town, he sort it out for a reason” he said and continued down the lane. She hurried after him and silence settled around them again.
As they gained upon the town, black clouds began to roll in as though they knew that the ensuing battle was going to be bloody and ravenous,
“Stop, wait!” she hissed, grabbing at his arm, he turned sharply knocking her slightly “we can’t just walk in Gunner, it’s too dangerous we...” she tried to explain the sudden outburst
“I don’t do gutters and If I'm going to be returning home I’m walking through the front bloody door, do you understand me?” he said, she nodded “now if you want to go crawling back through the shit and sludge of this town then be my guest but I suggest you let go of my arm” he hissed back at her and again he continued upon his journey. She stood for a moment considering what he had said, she was afraid to walk back in, brazen and brash like she owned the town nobody would dare dot that now, even those who had fallen under Priests spell but she had something they didn’t, she had the Gunner. He was not afraid to walk talk and strong, he was not afraid to fight, to kill and he was not afraid of Priest; when she was with him she felt strong and though he scared her he also made her feel safer than she had felt in a long time. She ran after him and smiled timidly when he looked down at her he did not return the gesture,
“I’m guessing no guards just CCTV?” he asked
“Yes” she replied, she wondered what the plan was and so she asked
“What’s the plan?” she asked outright
“We’re going to see the King and Queen” he replied, she was more confused than ever but she trusted him.
The town could have been abandoned it was so quiet, barely anyone walked down the streets and those who did cast awkward, prying glances there way; the gunner started back, breaking their glanced down but she kept her gaze averted, her eyes examining the pavement. She knew every inch of the town though she could not say that she had explore every building or crevice it held and when they came upon a large perfectly square house, a house with a reputation, her cheeks blushed. For as long as she could remember the house had been home to many a sordid tale, in the 19th century it had been a plantation home, a home to men being forced to fight men to the death; in the 1920s it had been the house of many a wayward young girl, liquor had been brewed there and shipped across the salty seas and it had since then a home to women of the night; a whore house for lack of better words; supposedly it had, since Priest had taken over, fallen into disrepair; Priest ran the only whore houses in the town and the thunder crack rooms was the only one he allowed to remain open. She followed him up the large wooden steps and onto the equally large porch just as the rain began to fall, The Gunner pulled open the screen door, he did not knock but simply walked right on in and she followed suit. Inside the house was rotting, it was damp and dust filled, cobwebs hung from the chandeliers and spiders made perfect homes between the mahogany stair railings. She shivered deeply at the sight of the once grand home, the wall paper moulding and the paint peeling, the stairs were begging to fall away and the carpet was brown with dirt. She tried to ignore the dank smell that had wrapped itself around the house and followed the Gunner toward the sound of music, music in the form of an old Texan funeral march, for some reason it felt fitting. When they turned the corner of a broken doorway she gasped at the sight that met her eyes and a tear rolled down over her cheeks; the room that lay before them looked brand new, like it had been untouched by time; the chandelier still shone and glinted in the light, the carpet was soft and thick in a deep ruby red, the walls were decorated with murals of biblical sin and angelic downfall, the gold leaf upon the picture frames and statues was crisp and fresh and the carved mahogany was polished and smooth. She could not believe her eyes and when she looked beyond the room to the far end she saw a throne, a golden throne set with a blood red seat and beside it a second throne of equal decadence though this one had fallen and it lay upon its side. Upon the still upright throne sat a woman, a queen, they stood in silence for a few minutes, it was as though she could not see them where they stood like her sight did not reach that far,
“Who..?” she began but he cut her off
“That’s the Queen of pain and her King of sorrow” he answered and again she felt that they were a great and important part of his history. They moved further into the room her eyes constantly watching; the queen sat on her throne with her king at her feet his eyes sorrow filled, his will broken, he did not acknowledge their presence even when the Queen of pain stood as if to greet them though a greeting was not what she had in mind. As the gunner moved toward her, her hand moved toward her hip, toward the whip that sat coiled there, like a python ready to attack and she did. She pulled the whip free and released it with such force and precision that it cracked at the air before it wrapped around the Gunners throat in a death grip
“Luther King what are you doing back here?” she hissed, it was the first time she had heard his true name and instead of panicking about the whip choking the life from The Gunner she found herself wondering when the nickname had come from.
Though the Queen of Pain was sneaky and sadistic she did not possess the gift of hindsight for if she did, in hindsight she might have considered where The Gunner had been, what he had survived; he had grown lithe and fast and with a flick of his own wrist he had wrapped the whip around his hand and yanked it free from her grip. This caused her to lose her balance and sent her toppling to the floor with a loud thud and a crack as her nose connected with the bottom of a statue, the Gunner looked up and caught a twinkle in the eyes of the King of Sorrow, followed by a smile, a smile the Gunner returned as he unwound the whip from his neck,
“Get up” he spat down at her and she quickly obeyed, standing with a wobble, “where is he?” he asked her silence fell, in response to her disobedience he took the whip and lashed at her feet, “where is he?” he asked again when still no answer came he began to walk away,
“you won’t get her back Luther, she’s fallen too far down the rabbit hole, he’s dragged her to the darkest place with-in herself and she loves it, you won’t get her back Gunner” she screamed. He did not respond to this, he did not turn back but only yelled over his shoulder,
“William, you want to join me you know where I’ll be” he walked from the house then and she followed, she presumed that the final words were directed toward the King of Sorrow though she did not know why.