《The House of Wolves》[The House of Wolves] - Broken Mind(2)

ystal clear water.

The reasoning wasn something grand or elaborate however. Just like practically everything Alder had done in his entire life, it was childish. His dramatic sprint to the canal was motivated simply by a desire to see his reflection.

But despite the simplicity of the motivation, to Alder seeing his reflection was an absolute need. Amidst all the things he had seen today and all the sights his brain had been overloaded with, he simply longed to see something that reminded him of his old life. And the closest thing he could think of in this scenario, was his reflection.

And so he peered into the water. In it he could see his reflection in it better than any mirror or looking glass he knew could ever provide. His copper brown skin, his messy black hair, his unimaginably skinny arms…he could see it all in unexpected detail.

It was stunning, and Alder couldn help but to stare at himself. Unfortunately, this brief tranquility was disrupted when a bead of sweat trickled down Alders forehead and plopped right next to Alders reflection. It rippled across the waters surface, creating a distorted, messy image. Alder balled his fist upon witnessing the perversion of his likeness…but he was also saddened at the same time.

He couldn explain it but something about the malformed image of himself in the water held an unimaginably intimate quality to Alder. But he couldn understand why it spoke to him the way it did. After all the reflection he had seen prior was the most accurate one was it not? That was him, just like his days with his sister had been his life. But was that really true? He had seen for himself that wonders greater then he could have ever imagined existed in the very place he had claimed as his home, was he really who he thought he was? Was his life really as simple as perceived it to be?

This inquiry ate away at Alder, and in an act of reckless, prompted by the torrent of unidentifiable emotions raging inside Alders heart…he slid off the contact on his left eye. And there… was one of Alders two gorgeous purple irises. The only abnormality Alder had, expertly covered by his contacts, had been exposed. At this point, the water had settled and he could see his reflection clearly once again.

Wow…so pretty was the only thing Alder could think.

Hed always known this, but now more than ever, the beauty of his purple eyes was brought to light. They felt so distant, so transcendent, despite being quite literally a part of Alders very being. He couldn help but to reach for the waters surface. Even if his reflection became screwed up even further as a result, even if more ripples emerged as his fingers met the waters surface he couldn help himself. He simply had to touch the image before hi-

”HEY! What are you doing boy!? ”

Alder withdrew his hand instantly and jerked his head in the direction of the voice. It was a tall, lanky man with a raven mask and baggy silk pants. His voice sounded kind of screechy and strained, which surprised Alder.

”Your eyes…they
e purple ” said the man, inquisitive now, staring at Alders features with intense scrutiny.

”H-h-How POSITIVELY fascinating ” said the man, his barely visible eyes adopting a frenzied look. Like a fox staring at a plump rabbit.

The mans lips curled into a devious smile and he outstretched a long, spindly hand towards Alder.

In that moment, Alders fight or flight instincts kicked in and without even thinking he kicked the mans hand away and ran as fast as his exhausted legs could take him. The man tried to give chase, but Alder was too desperate to be caught.

Eventually, Alder found himself at what seemed to be the ruins of an old, dilapidated tower. Alder looked back to make sure the strange man wasn behind him and snuck into the tower. The entire place was practically falling apart at the seams. Creaking stairs, broken railings…it was a mystery to Alder how the place hadn been destroyed yet. But, he chose to traverse it anyways, eventually finding himself on the very top floor which seemed to be an abandoned classroom.

On that top floor there was a gaping hole and a precipice leading to a very high drop. By this point, the sun was beginning to sink and Alder was feeling very tired. He sat down against a wall, the wall furthest from the hole and placed his head within his hands.

Before he knew it he was crying, and then full on sobbing. Tears and snot were running down his face at breakneck pace and he looked disgusting. But he didn care. He was far too alone…to care.

I want to go home. I want to leave this wretched place and go back to sis. At least, that was what he wanted to think. But some part of him, some despicable, strange part of him felt unsatisfied. Like he still wanted to see and experience more. That same part of him felt enraged at everyone in this city. He hoped they would all disappear.

The crowd which had gossiped about him, the stone cold merchants in the market, and especially…the old man who had reached for him with questionable intentions, and anyone like him. The people with masks were who he hated the most, so much so that he wished they would die. Die so that he could take their place and conduct himself how he truly desired.

Alder felt so torn it was unbearable. He wanted to go back to his sister and forget all of this, but at the same time he didn , he couldn . He needed to know more about what he didn know, even if it was terrifying and massive in scope. The fantasies he had so dreamed about were right before his very eyes, and he had no idea for the life of him what to do about it.

He tried to slip his contacts back on so he could sneak out but they simply fell onto the dusty floor, meaning he couldn leave. But he couldn go back out there either, even if that small yet vocal part of him cried out ferociously to do so. So instead he wiped away his tears and put his head in his lap.

Eventually, he was able to fall asleep and his mind was able to travel past this city. It took him to wondrous and fantastical lands where it was always bright and things were simple and innocent like in the storybooks. The world in his dreams was just as colorful and outlandish as this part of the city looked, but instead of suspicious masked men there were gallant heroes. Instead of screams in the dark there were the shrieks of princesses waiting to be saved from the clutches of monsters. There were no complexities, or loneliness, or sad endings. It was a perfect, basic world…if only it were real Alder thought to himself subconsciously.

This thought faded however as he frolicked off into this blissful dreamscape, eager to complete more quests in the little bubble of innocence his mind had willed into existence….

Ill save you Esmerelda! Just you wai- suddenly Alders thoughts were disrupted by a tap on his shoulder.

His eyes flew open, and before him stood a man….dressed like a prince.