A wind blew gently across the tops of the dark forest trees. Cradled inside a tree of great power was a nest of gold, calmly awaiting the One who would appear to change the destiny of the world around it. Waiting for the Awakening to stir the powers of the world, either for good, or for evil.
The wind was gusty today, Tweek noted, craning his neck to see outside as more and more customers piled into the small coffee shop. A small smile tugged on his lips as he made another pumpkin spice latte, inhaling deeply the rich scent of the many spices.
“Here you go ma’am,” Tweek twitched, head ticking to the side, hands shaking slightly. The woman smiled at him, and handed him a small bag.
“Fer yer tveetches.” She told him, in a thick accent that Tweek couldn’t place. “Eet help. Vake ye up.”
Tweek took the bag carefully, only glancing inside before putting it behind the counter. Hopefully it wasn’t another bag of meth. His parents had been in the game a long time, he wasn’t going to fall for some undercover cop or nothing.
“Er, thanks gah!” He exclaimed, already turning to the next customer, who seemed to be tapping their foot impatiently.
The day went on as such, Tweek getting bored serving coffee after coffee, and sometimes annoyed with the blends they would request. This wasn’t Harbucks, he was allowed to do more shots of espresso than was technically legally allowed. But fuck it, the store sold meth to the regulars who requested it.
By the end of his shift, Tweek had almost completely forgotten about the little bag the strange woman had given him. As he was leaving, his mother popped her head from the small kitchen.
"Oh honey! Don't forget to take all of your stuff!" She smiled, her soft brown hair tickling her cheeks.
Tweek twitched almost violently at her sudden appearance, a small grunt leaving his lips as he noticed the half-forgotten bag. Grumbling softly, he snatched it up. The world exploded with sound, and Tweek found himself flying through space. Closing his eyes tightly he expected to feel pain, but instead merely continued to float. That bag had an explosive device in it! His mind supplied, opening his eyes, he gasped aloud.
"OhmygodImustbedead!" He screeched, watching as blackness faded into a soft orange glow around him. In the middle distance he saw a flash of the coffee shop, firemen rushing around to put out the remaining flames. His mother was nowhere to be seen, but his father was sobbing as a few police men patted his back.
"But what about Tweek?! Why can't you even find his body?!" Richard Tweak sobbed, collapsing to his knees.
"We're sorry sir, we've only managed to recover your wife from the store. She's in critical condition, but with time she could make a full recovery." The officer replied, shaking his head slowly. "Your son must have been at the center of the explosion. It is possible that he was vaporized."
"Gah! I wasn't vaporized! I'm- righthereohmygod where ishere?!" Tweek's voice seemed to echo back to him, making his shaking worse. "Oh no I'm really dead and now I'm going totheafterlife gah!"
Flashes of unfamiliar people swept past his vision, their voices ranging from excited to afraid.
"The Awakening! The waters are red! The Awakening has finally come!" Men standing in front of a river running red.
"My fortune-telling bowl has cracked! The water gone! The Awakening has arrived!" A figure cloaked in dark material recoiled from a broken bowl, blood-red water staining the ground.
"Find the Awakening!" "Capture them!" "We must get to them before anyone else does!"
Gravity began to pull on Tweek again, and suddenly he was laying on a bed of golden moss. It was the softest thing he had ever felt. Burying his nose in the moss, Tweek closed his eyes tightly, willing the tremors to go away.
Tweek winced, the chorus of voices painfully loud inside his head. Who are these people? Why are they so obsessed with waking up? Groaning, Tweek tried to open his eyes, but a bright flash of blue made him pause. A man stood on an outcropping of rock, robed in blue, raven-black hair streaming behind him in the wind. His face was in shadow, but his fists clenched tightly at his sides.
Finally tearing himself away from whatever those visions were, Tweek sat bolt upright, staring around himself. The nest of gold was sheltered from the sky by what appeared to be tree roots. He looked around frantically, standing to his shaking feet.
What's going on? Am I really dead? Is this heaven? His thoughts ran a mile a minute. Cautiously, he moved to where the roots of the tree parted to make a large gap. Sunlight filtered down, making the nest glitter.
"M-mom?" Tweek called, looking around carefully. The cop had said she was in critical condition, but would probably die from meth withdrawal. "Dad?!" He cried, panic gripping his chest painfully tight. It was clearly a strange place, one he had never seen before.
Tears pricked at his eyes, and he turned this way and that, eyes fearfully wide. Clutching his elbows, Tweek slowly emerged from the roots further. The sounds of the forest emerged as well, unfamiliar animal calls making Tweek's shoulders shake. There seemed to be a path running right past the nest of gold, tree branches creating a nice shelter from the sun.
The noises of the forest became louder, animals rushing towards Tweek. Small mammals skittered past Tweek's ankles, screeching and calling. Jumping back, Tweek turned around, eyes wide at the sight of a giant monster.
It looked like some kind of worm, thick, curved thorns protruding from its body every few feet seemingly without a pattern. At the front tip was a huge cluster of the thorns, seeming to mock the shape of a flower. Red blood dripped from these thorns, a small creature disappearing inside its horrific maw. The worm was huge, easily as thick and long as a tree.
Tweek was frozen, heart doing double-time as the worm seemed to notice a much larger, much easier prey standing right in front of it.
Whatthefuckisthat? Ohfuckitsgonnaeatme!! Blood was rushing in his ears, an arm hooked around his shoulders, dragging him back and away from the lunging worm.
Crack! The worm slammed into the ground, thorns tearing into the earth where Tweek had been standing moments before. It made a grunting sound, gurgling deep inside itself. Turning to where Tweek had been plopped against, Tweek finally noticed that he wasn't dead yet.
The last person he had seen in his visions stood before him. Long-sleeved blue tunic casually belted with first cloth then a purse belt, long black hair held back from a handsome face by a blue and yellow headband. As Tweek watched, the man drew a sword, pointing it directly at the worm, whom had begun to rise up and charge again.
Too quickly for Tweek to see, the stranger moved, the head of the worm landing less than a foot to the left of Tweek's foot.
"Gah!" He cried, lurching away from the head. It dripped with a green ooze, the smell pungent even through the mouth. The panic hadn't let go of Tweek yet, and he cried out again, rushing the strange man and gripping him tightly.
I don't know what's going on! I'm terrified! Too much pressure! That is so gross! What's happening?! The thoughts rushed on, body shaking uncontrollably, small grunts and whines escaping his mouth, until a gentle, rhythmic thumping caught Tweek's attention. It was pressed to his ear. Eyes squeezed tight, Tweek began to breathe in rhythm with the beats.
Finally calming down, what, or rather who, Tweek was holding onto finally began to register.
I'm clutching onto a stranger that just killed a ferocious creature. Ohfucktheycouldtrytokillmenextiwouldbeeasyprey! Shoving away, Tweek tumbled back a step, staring up with wide eyes into the dark blue of the man before him. Blue seems to be a running pattern with this guy.
He was looking Tweek up and down carefully, face cold and unreadable. Not even a flush of embarrassment. With a swish of fabric, the man turned away, sword flicking to get rid of any green goo coating it, before he smoothly slid it back into the scabbard at his side. Beginning to stride away, Tweek noticed a small black bundle that the man must have dropped in his haste to save Tweek from the monster.
"Um… excuse me? Gah this is too much pressure!" Tweek stumbled over his words, hands clutched to his chest as he leaned toward the man. "I don't, ngh know whereIam! I'm sorry for gah! Forgrabbingontoyou! I was too terrified to, ngh think clearly! But! Um! Thank you! ForsavingmeImean! Ack!" Tweek shuddered, his twitching hadn't been this bad in almost a month, since he'd quit the meth coffee at least.
The man rolled his head back lazily to look at Tweek, blank expression still in place. "I don't know what you're saying."
The words were foreign to Tweek, who's heart sank. Gh! Of course he doesn't speak English! Look at him!
"What a pain," The stranger sighed, eying Tweek up and down once more, taking in his shaking body, twitching head, trembling hands, and tearful eyes. "This wasn't the plan."
Huh? Tweek had no idea what the strange man was saying. Branches began to snap overhead, the screeches of some new kind of animal making Tweek jump and hiss in alarm.
Voices in the same strange language floated down through the foliage, sounding frustrated.
"We can't land here! These branches can't take the weight of our winged beasts!" Multiple voices chimed in, seeming to lament something.
"But we have to! The Awakening is at the golden nest right beneath us!"
Giant flapping of what seemed to be wings continued to sound, followed by more branches snapping.
The strange man was watching the tops of the trees, glaring. "Come on." He grabbed Tweek's bicep, tugging him away from the voices and noises.
"Maybe we can set down on those rocks? And make our way on foot?"
"What are you? Stupid? The sea of trees is infested with flower insects! How would we avoid running into them? Moreover, even if we were lucky enough to be able to kill one, don't you know the smell of its blood will have the place swarming in minutes?!"
The men above seemed almost panicked about something, rustling from all around Tweek and the strange man drawing Tweek's attention.
"What?" Why is this guy trying to talk to me in the first place? It's clear we don't speak the same language! A howl went up around the pair, and Tweek would have frozen to the spot again, if the strange man hadn't begun to drag him.
Dozens of those horrible worms emerged from the trees, all of them aiming for the two men now running for their lives. A flash from the corner of Tweek's eye and he watched as the sword cut a path through the wretched creatures, the squelching noises they made as they hit the ground enough to make Tweek nauseous.
More and more were descending, the strange man growled what must have been some kind of curse. Pulling Tweek close, the man swung wide, slicing several worms in two.
"Whatfuckingkindofplaceisthisthathasthesehorriblemonstersnghinit?!" Tweek exclaimed, hanging on tightly to the man.
Changing grip, the man hoisted Tweek over his shoulder, turning around and launching himself into the air. A scream caught in Tweek's throat as he watched the ground disappear beneath them.
They jumped over the remaining worms, who then began to give chase. It proved to be no matter though, as the man ran much faster.
A worm emerged directly to the side of Tweek, and he let out a little scream, the thorns pulling back to reveal a horrible hole lined with sharp teeth that seemed to move on their own. It was so close Tweek could smell the putrid scent of death that clung to the monsters.
The strange man grunted, leaning forward and leaping. Tweek watched, terrified, as the ground rushed past them, and it registered that they were falling into a dark hole. Swinging Tweek around from over his shoulder to in his arms, the man cradled Tweek close.
A sharp gasp of breath was let out as Tweek saw one of the worms falling with them. We're going to slam into the ground and die!
They landed hard, the abrupt stop not seeming to faze the strange man at all. He even landed squarely on his feet. A fall like that should have broken his legs! Tweek shivered, watching as the worm landed not too far away. It reared up, as if deciding who to go for.
The man didn't move farther away, and Tweek sucked in a breath to scream at him to move clearly that thing is getting ready to attack again! Suddenly the worm stopped, falling to the ground limp.
"They can't live without energy from the trees. There's no trees underground." The man murmured. Turning to look at Tweek, he spoke again, his words just as unintelligible. "Don't worry, humans aren't affected by a lack of trees." The words seemed kind at least.
Setting Tweek down, he began to stride off, replacing his sword in the scabbard once more.
The sight of his retreating back made Tweek's blood run cold.
"Wait! Where-- ngh! Whereareyougoing?!" Taking a step forward, Tweek's legs gave out beneath him. "D-don't leave me!" Hitting the ground with a thud, Tweek squeezed his eyes shut, trying to remember his breathing exercises. His breathing was too irregular, speeding up as everything came crashing into his mind at once.
"I…ngh! I can't stand up…" Tweek whimpered between gasps. I've been freaking out since I got here, I've got no energy left! I wanna go home! I wanna go home! The tears that had threatened so long ago came to the surface once more, spilling over without permission.
I want to go home! Without proper air, blackness began to creep in the corners of Tweek's vision. He continued to gasp, on all fours before the strange man, the sounds increasingly more ragged until he fell forward, unconscious.
Waking up was a struggle for Tweek, exhaustion trying to tug him back down into slumber. Eyes blinking open blearily, he saw sunlight filtering down through a hole in the ceiling. Only a yard or so away was the worm.
Unthinking panic caused Tweek to scream, shoving up to his feet and running in the opposite of the creature as fast as his lanky legs could carry him.
Almost as soon as he began to run however, he ran into a hard surface covered in cloth. A voice rumbled above him, alerting Tweek to the fact that he was not in fact alone, and that the man had not left him and… he was fucking ripped holy shit no wonder he could carry me so easily!
"Do you want to smack your face in? I thought you'd sleep longer." The man grumbled, watching Tweek's face closely as Tweek pulled away slowly, tilting his head cutely to look into the man's face.
"At least you aren't freaking out anymore," He let out a puff of air, shoving Tweek none-too-gently away from him. Tweek realized that the man had been standing directly against a wall of rock. How on earth did he get there so fast?
Looking around the hole finally, Tweek realized it wasn't so much a hole as it was a tunnel. Running water made a pleasant sound as it disappeared into the darkness.
"Out of my way, I've got shit to do since I'm apparently an idiot." The man continued to grumble, pushing past Tweek and over to a different section of the tunnel wall. Huge tree roots dangled down, with a mighty wrench and a deafeningly loud crack the man tore a huge section from the wall. The stuff was thicker than the man's actual arm and he pulled it off the wall like it was nothing. "Damnit, why am I so stupid?" The grumbling and complaining didn't seem to stop, the nasally voice punctuating as he tore more roots from the wall, periodically slicing through them with his sword.
The new logs fell to the ground, quickly joining a pile that Tweek didn't notice was behind him until he almost tripped over it.
Within minutes, the blue man had begun constructing what clearly became a raft. Binding the wood together with the finer strands of roots he found, the man worked quickly and tirelessly.
Tweek watched silently, thinking. He's… really fast. He ran away from those worms… while carrying me. He made a huge jump, also while carrying me… he jumped from the lip of that hole and was completely fine. Killed all those monsters… and saved me. Probably more times than I can count. Who… who is he?
The man sat down on the finished raft with a huff, wiping nonexistent sweat from his brow.
Tweek wandered back over to where he had been sleeping. Picking up a nice blanket that he hadn't noticed before. Why did I fall asleep again? Memory of gasping for breath came back, and Tweek nodded in understanding. He was leaving me, but I cried and couldn't breathe. He must have tried to help me… he probably wasn't even actually leaving anyway, probably just going to start on the raft. I slowed him down. Tweek's breath was coming fast again, fingers twitching as he began to carefully fold the blanket.
I'm nothing but a nuisance to him. Some strange guy shows up out of nowhere, in a strange land, and is useless. He must have felt sorry for me… now I'm just in his way. Tweek let out a rattled breath, shaking his head, the rest of his body still shivering. Underground was a little cold for nothing but a poorly buttoned top, apron, and skinny jeans.
Closing his eyes, Tweek reached for resolve, gritting his teeth. Marching over to the man in blue, whom was still sitting on the edge of the raft, Tweek took a steadying breath, kneeling before him, the folded blanket clutched tightly in his shaking hands.
"Excuse me? I'm sorry for not being any help and just getting in the way. Ngh! I really am grateful to you forsavingmegah!" Tweek rushed out, biting his lip at all the little extra sounds that came out. "I-- I don't know how I got here! But! I can't break ngh! Down like that again! I ack! Think we were destined to meet-- I'll stay with ngh you ifyou'llhavemethatis!"
The man in blue said nothing, his scowl merely deepening, one black eyebrow raising in question. Looking away, the man let out a puff of air, mumbling seemingly to himself. "I still have no idea what he's saying." Standing slowly, the man turned to the raft and began to push it to the edge of the underground river.
Tweek lunged forward, leaning his weight to try and aid in pushing it. He had a feeling he really didn't do anything, he was too scrawny to be of much help in that department.
The raft glided into the water gently, and the man helped Tweek climb atop it, placing his hands on a rod in the middle that seemed to be made for that very purpose. The man pulled a large stick for himself up, and climbed up too, pushing them away from the shore.
The hole grew smaller the further along they moved, and with it the light. Darkness crept around the pair, and with it Tweek's paranoia grew.
"Shit, fuck, damn, bitch!" He cursed, shaking so hard the water was making louder splashing sounds against the raft. "Ack! I can't seeathing! What if we hit something?! I don't ack! Want to die from drowning! Ngh! Especially after surviving those worms!" He exclaimed, clutching the middle rod as though his life depended on it.
A small snick sound, and suddenly their raft was bathed in the soft glow of a torch. The man in blue held it in his hands, no visible tools for fire in his hand. Where on earth did he get that?
"You make a lot of noise for someone so tiny," the man sighed, offering the torch to Tweek.
Blanching, Tweek took the torch, holding it carefully away from him just in case he caught fire. Does he have magic? Oh fuck, does everyone in this world have magic? What'll they think of me?! I'm just some broke college kid! Too much pressure!
Shaking his head as though to clear it, Tweek looked at the dark tunnel ahead of them. The torch could only illuminate so far, but at least the man would be able to save them if something came out of the darkness at them.
Gazing at the man's back, Tweek sighed. He cut a striking figure, broad shoulders strong and squared, as though prepared for anything.
I can trust this man. That's why I decided to follow him.
A thought suddenly occurred to Tweek, and he sat up straighter, looking carefully at the man in blue. "Um? Excuse me? My name is Tweek, Tweek Tweak." Tweek pointed to himself, repeating again. "Tweek, my name is Tweek."
Inspired, he swung his finger to the man in blue, hoping he would understand. "And you?"
The man remained silent, scowl not lifting. The shadows across his face danced in the firelight, and he sighed, looking away once more after his initial turning to me.
"The Awakening is supposed to be a being that throws this world into chaos…" Although grumbling, the nasally quality was easy to hear. Do most people sound like this? "How could I know he would ask me my name and be so… friendly?" Seeming to make up his mind, the man turned back to face me. "My name is Craig, Craig Tucker. Tweek."