9th June 2017

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Chapter 4: It’s Not the Name of a New Song

The crowd around the concert wasn’t small, but it couldn’t have been said to be massive. Flambirdge was after all, a bit niche. Still, there were indeed some of those crazed individuals who had camped out the previous night and lurked in place until the evening, which is when the live show was being held. The tents of those people were long since taken down, but a few still had barbecue equipment out and after having enough for themselves, were sharing with the rest of the line. The majority of the crowd were lizardfolk of one kind or another, but while Flambirdge was niche, it wasn’t a niche that was exclusive to those scaly people. There was a good quantity other beings. The main reason for the quantity of lizard-people was the three main performers of Flambirdge being ones themselves and of course, Smogpolis and Meyr just had a larger amount of lizard-people in the first place.

Picky was standing stiffly and glassy eyed with an orb, with glowing spiral designs, in his hands. He did have a terminal computer, but while he was out, he carried a full-dive orb for interacting with the ethernet. Gaddy and Luca were protectively standing guard, making sure he wasn’t jostled heavily by the crowd. Ruin and Jojo watched them anxiously, occasionally glancing at the commotion further up the line.

Isn’t he taking too long?” Jojo worried.

Just as she complained, there was a low gasp from Picky as he came out of the ethernet and his eyes lost that empty look. He quickly put away his computer.

There’s been a scam, some of the tickets are fake”

Oh no” Ruin whispered.

It better not be our tickets” Jojo said.

If it is, we’ll just watch the mirror-stream” Gaddy decided.

My place again?”

Thanks Luca” Gaddy said.

It’d be better than nothing, besides, they’ll give tickets to a consolation concert!” Picky informed.

Hey you guys! Why does it sound like you’ve decided that the tickets are fake? Did you buy them from somewhere dodgy?”

We’ll know soon enough, come on, line’s moving” Gaddy said.

In short order it was their turn. Along the way, they learned that the scammers had spoofed all the sellers of the tickets! It was random if you had a fake or not they said.

The entrance of the concert hall was a bit grim. It was one of the older buildings in the city, and what made up the pillars of the entrance way were petrified beasts and criminals of an older more externally savage time. It was quite artistic, but incredibly morbid. What the pillars held up were actually a roof that had been rebuilt several times. Initially there had been a lot more pillars too, but now there were only six.

The rest had suffered the ravages of wars of survival.

Grand double doors of stone were splayed open, but their carvings of trees of flame were still visible. Beyond these doors, was a particularly more sleek and advanced set of vertical sliding doors, but the artistic had remained here, and someone had blended a mosaic fresco into the magical machinery. The upper part had the Dragon Sun himself, Zhulougr. Below was an image of a burning world.

Luca circled himself as he looked at Zhulougr.

Standing in front of these doors, were several security guards. They were actually dressed up for the event, wearing feathered cloaks and metal bird-skull masks. Catching glimpses of hands and legs, Picky felt they were a bit too well-armoured, but he didn’t think too much of it.

What attracted everyone’s eyes was the device that the guards were using to scan everyone’s tickets. It was unsurprisingly a scan-wand of some kind, a metal rod with clear lines of magic circuits hidden within. It let out small beams and then turned either black or white.

The guard with the scanner looked a bit nervous at the sight of Luca, worried by something about him, but when they scanned the tickets, the light washing over their bodies, the rod turned white for all of them, and they went on through without a problem.

Did you see that guard, do you think he has something against gazed? I mean he was so super surprised to see Luca’s ticket was legit!” Jojo fumed.

Luca’s bigger than that guy, he was probably just a bit worried Luca would flip out like a hooligan!” Picky decided.

Luca looked at his massive hands.

Do I really look like a hooligan?”

Just a bit, sorry” Ruin said.

Inside the main hall of the building was already filling up, the stage was yet dark. The space had been transformed into a standing space, with all the chairs folded into the floor. The hall itself was quite dark really.

We need a hooligan right now if we’re going to get to the front of this crowd. Let’s go Luca” Gaddy commanded.

With that, Gaddy, Picky and the two girls bunched up at Luca’s back and he moved forwards slowly. For the most part, people automatically got out of his way. Not many people wanted to argue with a figure of that size, that and with a bit of direction, Luca avoided people that looked similarly large.

Is it just me or is there a lot of smaller people?” Luca boggled.

Or maybe there’s just less big people” Picky pointed out.

At least we can get a better spot!” Jojo smugly stated.

That’d be nice” Ruin said.

Looks like you’ll have to sit down Luca”

No problem bro, I’m more comfortable that way anyway”

They got very far to the front in light of there being fewer obstructions, and Luca sat down, everyone else took the chance to lean against Luca of course.

Preshow?” Ruin asked

Wasn’t it going to be some guys called Gothoenody?” Jojo frowned.

Yeah, that’s the one” Luca said.

I read at work that there was some issue, what was it? Picky?” Gaddy tried to remember.

What? Uh, sorry I was thinking about something. Gothoenody? They got sick, just today! So, there’s no preshow, they didn’t manage to get anyone else in on time”

Smogpolis, won’t you please welcome… FLAMEBIRDGE!” a voice thundered from above.

In the next moment the stage was lit with pink flame, and unfolding upwards from these flames were Doudozolo, Tuku and Yvemmai! This time, each was in a long dress of pink feathers. They still wore their regular silver masks. The pink flames drew back to reveal other performers in shadowy shrouds, silver beaks peeking from the folds of their cloth.

There were cries of adoration and excitement, and without saying a word, Yvemmai started into a song!

I saw you today…”

It was Meetings, Beatings, Greetings! Yvemmai had written the song not long after her father died.

“…Can’t we meet with a smile, a while, while why? Why?…”

It was a sweet and heavy song, one that had sadness and joy riddled throughout it, but a vague gladness at having met. Slow, heavy with violent bursts of speed…

…We beat this bond in shape, so we can greet the end. So we can greet the dead! GREET THE DEAD! BEAT THE END! SMILE AND ROAR AND BEAT THE DEAD…”

The crowd joined in on the cries of ‘beat the end’ as the chorus started. Truthfully it wasn’t a song that fit that well with Flambirdge’s other songs. It was a bit too gloomy, cheerful and serious. Normally Flambirdge’s songs were just absurd comedy, but after an emotional outpouring a fan recorded for Yvemmai, they had taken to playing at the start of all their live performances.

“…I’ll live greeting the dead, I’ll die… Meeting… Greeting… Beating… the dead”

It was a song that was a bit clumsy, but within it was a will to keep going, no matter the pain, no matter how many would fall. To keep going, for the sake of those that lived, after all there was no rush. The sentiment was that in time, they’d meet again.

Smogpolis, you’re still alive right!?” Tuku asked the crowd!

There was a few sniffles and a roar that they were.

Then, we’ll start off with our new song, just for all of you!” Doudozolo announced.

The crowd jumped as if struck by lightning! A new song!

…and it’s called…” the three of them chanted together…

A clatter, cruel laughter and singularly grim black figure arose behind them, a man in armour that curved into hooks. Armour that was segmented like an insect. The helm had a vomit green visor that was, like the eye of an insect, compound, and below this visor was a pair of mandibles shaped like a pair of fists, meeting together. Antenna like wicked horns sprouted up from the helmet. Everyone thought it was part of the show, but on catching sight of it, the Flambirdge girls subtly signalled for security.

The figure raised a twisted pole of metal, dials and switches all over it, and set into the top of it was a turquoise crystal, but inside this crystal was the head of a shocked human with pointed ears and wings in their hair. The band around the girls stood up. The girls were getting quite nervous now, both at the fact that their band wasn’t helping remove the intruder and that security hadn’t come.

Yvemmai was first to react, because her mind finally caught up with her shock and recognised what people looked like that. That helm that had a pair of fists where the mouth should be.

That was the symbol of the Creed of Mandible!

EVERYONE, PLEASE ESCAPE!”

Then the band members threw off their shrouds, masks clattering to the ground, revealing segmented bug-like armour that looked like it was made of bone. These people also had helmets with compound eye-like visors and antenna like horns. They rushed at the three girls.

The figure beyond them chuckled, and gently tapped his staff down on the ground.

Alterworld Hollowing

As he said that, everything… refracted.