"Wake— ah, you're up!"
Trilok's gaze was blurred. Even his hearing was woozy as he heard a sharp sound around him. A shrill screech filled with rumbling notes. His chest felt like supporting a liter of lava over it as he found a little troubled while exhaling.
Something, someone, touched his face.
"It's alright. The first time is always bitter," a chuckle echoed while Trilok saw a dark shadow in front of him. It morphed. The hand patting his cheeks turned cold while the dark shadow formed a face. A face Trilok might never forget in his entire life. Thick, unkempt beard with loose dark hair and a resounding scar running through the figure's left cheek till his collarbone.
He held a staff.
And on that staff was pushed in a blade. He wasn't a spearman, but he still kept a blade over his staff and its edge dripped with blood.
Trilok's eyes snapped open and he punched.
Instead of the familiar integral structure of a face, what Trilok felt was something akin to a padded mitten as his gaze focused on his surroundings once again.
"Hey, hey! It's alright," a dark-face chuckled as his brown skin glowed warmly under a source of golden light. Trilok revealed a confused expression. The youth in front of him looked a little familiar and checking the information of the man, Trilok recalled.
"Boris?" he inquired.
"You remember me? That's good. Crimson Heaven tends to affect memories of a rare few," the youth smile and slowly let go of Trilok's fist.
A sharp sting continued to ache Trilok's head as he frowned and looked around. The party couldn't be livelier but he was surrounded by groaning men and women of the ship. The next thing, Trilok glanced towards his right thumb, and seeing the ordinary ring, he sighed in relief.
"What's going on?" Trilok tried to stand but the crouching Boris patted Trilok's shoulder, indicating him to take it slow.
"Carnival's kindness. The amount of Crimson Heaven you snorted is too great in volume for a beginner and it hits you with a bang, unlike the effect of small quantities which truly reveal a crimson heaven and strangely energizes you. Now, you know that this drug has its risk without being the slightest bit addicted to it."
Boris chuckled while Trilok took heavy breaths. He continued to observe his surroundings and found Henri crouched over Kol, poking her cheeks while trying to wake her up.
"What are you two doing here?"
"I said I'll try to find you, remember?" Boris smiled, "This is what I meant. Usually, newbies are out for hours, missing the best time of the carnival. We're here to help you up."
"You're here to help... I was forced away from a sweet, sugary..." Henri didn't finish but he scowled and poked Kol's cheeks, "Wake up already! If I die, and find your mother, I'll be your stepdad. And how unfilial are you to cockblock your stepdad by sleeping!"
He exclaimed while Trilok sniffed and felt a sweet scent over his nose. The scent of Crimson Heaven.
'Amazing... If I can produce Crimson Heaven and get the community addicted to it... they'll give me any price I want. Or, they would wait for another three years to pass for the Carnival Ship to return.'
Trilok thought internally. But he didn't let business fill his mind. Instead, slapping both of his cheeks, Trilok shook his head and tried standing up again.
"I'm fine, thanks," he smiled towards Boris who tried to help him up.
"Kol?" Trilok walked over to Kol and thought for a moment, "If you don't get up soon... your dress will go dirty, you know."
"Nngh," She grunted.
"Well, sweet dreams," Trilok shrugged while Henri looked towards the youth with a surprised expression.
"That's it? You're not going to wake your woman up? What if someone lays hands on her?" Henri inquired.
"Look who's insecure now," Trilok smirked while Boris chuckled, "Don't tease Henri too much, man. When he gets annoyed, he becomes a party pooper."
"I do not."
"You so do!" Boris retorted while crossing his arms as Henri pursed his lips.
"Fine... maybe I peed over Rhosah. Maybe I shat on the drum once. But those days are behind me!" Henri sighed.
"I plan to nut one out on the person who gets too annoying," he glanced towards Trilok coldly.
"Fascinating," Trilok nodded, "But what I'm saying is, poking doesn't work on Kol. She's a heavy sleeper. Here," Trilok crouched, placing one palm over Kol's mouth and with other, he pinched her nostrils shut.
Kol's eyes snapped open and she instantly jumped up while Trilok retracted his hands. With a glare, Kol shouted at Trilok, "And to think I said I cared about you!"
Kol flinched and Trilok's gaze turned murky.
The embarrassing declarations flooded their minds and they both grew pale.
Gulping, Trilok and Kol matched each other's gaze before the employer pursed his lips, his right brow lifting up, and his head shaking.
'We won't talk about it again.'
Kol understood what Trilok meant and nodded with a blush. They both said... a little too much and she quickly nodded.
"Can we leave?" Henri inquired.
"Ow," Kol clutched her head and winced in pain. Her head was banging and Trilok explained the situation to her and why almost all their contacts from the Community were lying around them.
"Noland?" Trilok inquired with a strange expression as he found the youth sitting on one of the logs alone while continuously puffing in a roll of smoking fish skin. His eyes were murky and seemed to have gazed upon infinite wisdom.
"Hmm? Ah, my friend. I am humbled by your very existence. Did you know that when I created those pills shaped in butt plugs, I always thought about shoving them into every woman I meet?"
"He's been like this. I mean, his pills are certainly welcomed," Boris chuckled, "In fact, he attracted a few ladies, too. But he turned them all down."
"Of course," Noland replied idly, "I can gaze upon the bosom of the world. I can tear its clothes apart and revel in its naked joy as long as I have alchemy... I am with the one. The one true lady."
"Boss... he's creeping me out," Kol whispered.
"You don't say..." Trilok whispered.
"He actually didn't fall unconscious and took the sweet spot after snorting all that Crimson Heaven," Henri stated while looking towards Noland in admiration, "He's one step closer, indeed."
"I see. Anyway, it was nice meeting you two again but I plan to observe and find the things I can enjoy. If you two have nothing else to do—"
"No, we're free. For us, Carnival happens every few months, so this is normal for us."
"Yes. But before we try to know each other, let me first seal the deal with the amazing lady I met. She should be around here," Henri spoke quickly and started looking around.
Soon, he led the group towards a woman Trilok and Kol were quite familiar with.
There she sat, in an embrace of a bulky man with a weathered face and a deep gaze. His arms holding her tightly as she pressed her lips against the man with a cherishing look in her eyes.
"Oh, I have missed you, Andre," The woman whispered.
"It's been long indeed, Mama," the man whispered.
Henri fell to his knees, a gloom of despair covering his face as he moaned, "Mama... we were supposed to..."
Hearing his sob, the woman looked back and yelped in surprise.
"Boss, you're finally willing?" Her eyes gleamed as she ravaged Trilok's bare front with her eyes, her gaze not even falling towards the kneeling Henri.
"Patty..." Trilok pursed his lips. In fact, he wasn't truly surprised. The woman was fun to chat with and given the reputation, clearly more fun to 'hang' out with, too.
"No, this guy had some delusions," Trilok smirked while Henri felt stifled.
"Sorry, Henri, if I hadn't met Andre... maybe, sure. But Andre gets dibs," Patty smiled without any remorse while the level seven spirit enhancer named Andre nodded towards the group. His gaze a little respectful towards Boris and absolutely ridiculing towards Henri.
"Anyway, we're sorry for disturbing you. Enjoy," Trilok waved his hands as they turned while Kol glanced towards Patty once again, accidentally meeting her gaze even, which made Patty giggle and wink at Kol.
"Come on, Henri, it isn't the first time someone shot you down," Boris chuckled and patted Henri's back.
"That's it! I'm challenging for the Skull of Honor!" Henri shook his head, "Once I have the skull, I will have no need to seek out pleasure. I'll be revered by men and women alike!"
"Hey, Boris, I'm really grateful for you waking me up quickly but... I'd really rather find things that interest me by myself. Like... look!" Trilok pointed towards baskets of rolled fish skins, "I still have to try that. And that—" Trilok pointed towards men and women dancing around the nest of fireflies.
"Hmm, understandable. I hoped that I could pick your thoughts about alchemy but..." Looking towards Henri who made his way towards the group of men and women sparring with an ugly expression, Boris sighed, "I'll let you two on your own. Still, if you're here by the end of the night, feel free to stay at my home. We can discuss quite a few things there."
"Sure," Trilok nodded and Boris left after Henri. Meanwhile, Kol sighed and spat coldly, "Good thing those two left!"
"Yeah," the corner of Trilok's eyes twitched a little. Boris may have presented himself as a peaceful individual but he would continuously glance towards Trilok's ring and keep on talking about alchemy without end.
"He must have met amateurs alone. No one likes to talk about alchemy this much, not even people like Noland... and God, how hard it was to not laugh out loud when he said, and I quote— Alchemy is hard."
Kol shook her head.
"It's hell!" Trilok continued with a sneer.
"Anyway, want to smoke?" Trilok offered as he looked towards the baskets placed at every corner of the carnival.
"Yep!" Kol licked her lips.
Matches were lit and the end of the rolled joints was lit up. Kol and Trilok glanced towards each other before placing the other end of the joint in between their lips and inhaled deeply.
*Cough* *Cough* *Cough*
*Cough* *Cough* *Cough*
They both almost choked and began coughing. Smoke filtering out of their nostrils while they quickly removed the joint from their lips.
"What the hell? First the Crimson Heaven, and now this! The people here make it look so easy!" Kol grumbled while Trilok felt his lips drying a little.
This carnival was not off to a good start.
"Oh, you two!" Slender arms suddenly wrapped both Kol and Trilok from the back of their neck and pulled the duo's face onto a fleshy pillow each.
Tilting their gaze with a dark expression, the two found the new assaulter to be none other than the saleswoman who sold Trilok the Weed Harvester.
With a mocking smirk, she stated clearly, "Carnivals are not enjoyed without a proper guide and just two rolls of smoke. And why the hell would you go this deep of a puff on your first try?" The woman shook her head while squeezing the two against her breasts even more firmly.
"Let me teach you guys how to have fun!"