Jasper Piers was just your average Joe looking for a place to belong. He looked around the dusty cobbled streets of Dragon Valley where he had grown up with too many siblings for his liking.
He ran his fingers smudged with dirt through his honey blond hair, staring distantly at the strange citizens of Dragon Valley.
They may have been the most diverse people in the world of Atalan. Jasper rolled his eyes. There wasn’t any other worlds anyways to compare Atalan to. He wouldn’t know if there was if any evidence begged to differ. He sunk to the ground with a sigh. He was just a simple human trying to coexist in a world filled with strange magic at every twist and turn. He didn’t want to die going through the motions of an average human, but at the same time he didn’t want to enter a world that was not his for the taking.
It was a delicate balance between the order of things and pure insanity it seemed. Jasper pushed himself to his feet as he shoved his hands into his blue sweatshirt as he walked towards the park surrounded by shops.
The ancient shops seemed even older today under the bright sky. The fountains of the park in the middle of Dragon Valley were still gurgling streams of water as the benches creaked against children’s weight as they bounced up and down, desperately looking for the ice-cream truck that lazily made it’s way around the shops occasionally.
Everything went on in it’s ridiculously orderly way as Jasper grew older along with it. It was just apart of life and Jasper Piers was a no one. He would be here and gone in the next second for the gods, if the gods even knew him.
He didn’t believe they did and for a split second they paid attention? He was almost scared to see the results of the mess. Jasper wasn’t a god. He was just a man who didn’t understand them well in a country obsessed with them. Jasper wasn’t sure what to with the few moments he had to himself that didn’t involve trying to make money playing his guitar outside of the shops of Dragon Valley where onlookers glared at him for breaking the rare silence found in Dragon Valley’s streets.
Pray to the gods? What god? Walk around Dragon Valley and hope to not be found causing trouble? He wasn’t sure. He wasn’t exactly one to pay attention to the gods. He spent most of his time when forced to learn about the extensive history behind them, even listening to the ridiculous lecture on how the gods were once humans, napping. His violet eyes peered into the distance as he lifted his head in the direction of the unspoken god’s temple. Majnun, the god of Insanity and Magic. The unspoken god. The insane god. The god humans did not dare to worship.
Jasper sighed as he stared around the dusty streets and worn down shops of Dragon Valley covered in thick greenery. His pace began to quicken as he started walking even more speedily towards the temple that clashed with everything Dragon Valley stood for.
The lulling unfamiliarity of the of the temple against the dull familiarity of the shops in Dragon Valley made the temple seem even more absurd than it already was. If there was such a thing anyways. Everything screamed in his head he wasn’t meant to be there. He wasn’t a magic-source. He wasn’t anyone special. Why was he heading toward the mad god’s temple?
He walked up the steep cobbled stairs, making sure not to break any bones in the process.
He glanced over his shoulder before taking a deep breath and staring at the mad god’s temple. What was he here for? Jasper looked down at his worn-out black sneakers that had taken a good beating in the years he had worn them.
The comforting familiarity of Dragon Valley seemed to fade as Jasper gazed upon the ordinary temple which hadn’t resembled the mad god particularly much. Jasper nervously ran his fingers through his hair. It was too calm. What would a mad god want to do with a simple human anyway?
Jasper stopped at the heavy wooden door covered in an intricate design as he looked for a few coins to toss at the altar of the mad god. This was pure madness itself. He searched his pockets desperately as he glanced over his shoulders. No going back. Who needed dignity if anyone saw him anyways? When did dignity matter to Jasper Piers? He had no dignity growing up and he didn’t plan on changing that peculiar habit of not having any as he got older. He breathed a sigh of relief as he found a few coins to offer the mad god. The gods needed money because it was a show of gratitude? Jasper tilted his head quizzically towards the temple. That wasn’t right.
He shrugged as he prepared himself to open the large door. He just wanted to offer a simple offering to pass the time and hoped he never met the mad god. Why would he anyways? Jasper chuckled lightly to himself. Now he was just being ridiculous. Jasper opened the ancient wooden door as it creaked and seemed ready to split at the hinges any second given. Jasper carefully stepped inside the temple as his eyes widened as he stared at the simple browns the temple was decorated with that went well with the earth tones of the rest of Dragon Valley. Everything was orderly and neat. It seemed even the mad god’s temple could not escape Dragon Valley’s suffocating order. White chairs were placed orderly except one as the two small windows brought in little to no light. The altar was simply placed in one of the corners of the room. It was everything Jasper expected and didn’t at once.
Once Jasper got over his sense of awe and bewilderment of the temple reality started to sink as he realized the altar was currently being occupied. Jasper’s eyes widened as the coins slipped from his grasp as he unclenched his fingers holding the precious coins.
His eyes stayed frozen on the man tied to the altar by a simple light brown rope Jasper commonly saw in the shops in Dragon Valley. A piece of familiarity in a desolate world of madness snapped Jasper awake as he focused on what the man was saying. The man’s face was ruby red as Jasper heard him muttering something about the “dumbass fairies” who resided in Dragon Valley.
Jasper took a step back away from the man very carefully.
Someone had tied him to the altar for a very good reason after all. The ‘dumbass fairies’ that resided in Dragon Valley where called Nymphs who were not a race to be messed with. Jasper’s violet eyes met the man’s brown eyes fueled with fire in a split second as he realized they were not alone in the mad god’s temple.
A man with crazed brown eyes and messy light-blond hair laughed hysterically in the corner with the altar of the mad god’s temple as a light blue woman with dark blue hair, eyes and wings raced towards Jasper laughing manically under her breath.
Jasper stumbled backwards as he mumbled something under his breath. “Nope. Not today. No angering mad gods today.”
"RUN, CHICKEN BOY! GO!" The blue woman cheered with insane laughter filling her. She nearly tackled Jasper as she stepped forward, her petite arms wrapping around his shoulders.
"Come'on, Liro! Tolo, tolo!" She leaned against Jasper, her face very closed to his to where he could feel her breath on his neck. "The temples about to go 'boom.'"
Jasper didn’t have time to tell if the petite woman was messing with him and calling him a coward, or if she had just somehow made the same reference his “mother” had made when he had been pecked by the chickens for not feeding them nearly enough on their family farm. All he knew was a man was tied to a mad god’s altar and a nymph had told him to run. Jasper tried to laugh nervously but his nerves wouldn’t allow it. “You don’t have to tell me twice.” Trust the mad woman and possibly embarrass yourself sounded a lot better than being blown into pieces. There would be nothing left to bury after all. Now why was he thinking about that?
Jasper ran as quick as his worn-out sneakers would take him. They hadn’t failed him in high school and he was certainly hoping they wouldn’t fail him now. He stumbled down the cobble steps and kept running until the thick greenery and familiarity of the shops came into view and he turned around.
His mind screamed at him. Why, oh why did he turn around? To see the explosion? Who did that anyways? The idiots in those T.V shows and books who wanted to look strong? No, Jasper Piers was a coward and not proud of the fact at the moment. He paused for a moment. Not a coward, more like he wasn’t reckless and looking for trouble. That made him sound better. Why the hell was he still staring at the temple that was suppose to explode in seconds?
Before he knew it the nymph woman had grabbed onto him again, giggling and bouncing with excitement. "This is the best part!" She squealed.
The blond joined her and a foot away from her, watching with the same excitement on his face. "BOOM!" Jasper’s eyes widened as he kept his mouth shut and his thoughts to himself. Ah, yes he was the average citizen of Dragon Valley who enjoyed the occasional explosion or two. This was not a wise decision. Jasper was not wise.
He watched as the complex temple’s calmness was disrupted by a massive explosion of ash and blindly bright light as Jasper shielded his eyes as they widened.
It was absolutely and utterly stunning. It was insane. The shock from the explosion caused the ground to tremble as Jasper fell down ungracefully, cursing. He heard the strange duo scream happily as adrenaline rushed through Jasper’s body.
Why hadn’t he run for his life and instead watched? What was wrong with him? What normal person in their sane mind would watch an explosion for shits and giggles? Apparently Jasper Piers would. There was a human being in there. Didn’t matter if the person was human or not, they were still a being.
Jasper swallowed down the guilt in his throat for staying back to watch the man’s death and do nothing. It had just been as natural as breathing to stay behind and know the man deserved what was coming. He needed to get help. This, whatever it was, was not normal. Did it matter? Was he really asking that question?
Jasper stared at the odd duo laughing hysterically as he hauled himself to his feet. The question was out of his mouth before he could think. “Can you do that again?” He resisted the absurd idea of grinning and instead tried to wipe off the soot on his face with the sleeve of his sweatshirt.
The nymph woman turned and looked at him with a coy smile tugging on her lips. "I like you." She said firmly. "You're not a fan of the gods, are you?" The blond looked at him with a deranged smile and tipped his head, also curious to know.
Jasper raised an eyebrow at both of them before wiping the rest of the soot off his face. “Is this a chance to insult the ‘almighty’ gods that will strike me down with lightning if I ever dare suggest they aren’t good and full of justice?” Jasper answered back sarcastically before shrugging. The man could kill him with explosions within seconds if he wished. Jasper knew that much, so why was he making reckless decisions? Not smart. Not smart at all.
"The very gods." The nymph nodded seriously, yet her grin pulled on her cheeks. The blond nodded along with her, only his head movements seemed slightly more erratic than average. The woman bit her lip as she seemed to assess Jasper carefully. "Which god do you hate the most?"
Jasper sighed. In Dragon Valley it was basically the worst crime to hate any god. Good three were tied for the ones he hated the most. “Three are actually tying for that position at the moment. Calypso, the goddess of the Sea for her beautiful family ruling Dragon Valley. Thieves wearing crowns after all. Agonin, the god of Order. Can’t blame the guy in most situations, but the people I guess. Kid failed a math test? Run to Agonin. Kid got the flu? Run to Agonin. Fire burn your house down? Run to Agonin then put out the fire. Blame Agonin later and say the gods have abandoned you.” Jasper cleared his throat as he thought if he should say what is on his mind. “He also has a stick stuck up his ass. No offense. I guess Carule the god of Love after that. People run to him like there is no tomorrow for every question in the universe. On bad date? Run to Carule. Going to kill someone? Say it with love and apologize to Carule. He’s basically a vain asshole with too much power.”
The nymph woman looked at him with the brightest smile spread across her face. "I really like you." She giggled slightly before shaking her head. "What do you think of Fate?"
Jasper looked at her with a pain-stricken face as his mind jumped to the goddess of Fate, Fate. “Are you going to ask me the god of Debauchery, Vinyx’s, opinion on being sober now? She’s a self-serving bitch who doesn’t give a shit about anyone else.” Jasper surprised himself with the amount of bitterness and hatred in his voice. Maybe he had actually paid more attention to those lectures about the gods more than he would like to think.
The woman gave a strange, excited look to the blond next to her who was humming under his breath as he hopped on one foot. "Second to last question - what about the god of Insanity?"
Jasper gave her a strange look before looking at the temple and shrugging “The god of Magic and Insanity?”
Jasper started laughing hysterically. “I don’t give a shit about him. Why should I? He’s a magical asshole that walks around causing more shit combined versus all the other shitty gods who have sticks up their asses. He doesn’t give a shit about me or helping my family and none of those assholes of gods helped when we were starving. He can screw off and enjoy his fancy title up in the clouds while I flip him off. I just hope to never piss the asshole off because he might have to get off his little throne and actually give a shit instead of destroying lives for kicks and giggles.”
The woman was completely buzzing with joy and she clapped her hands. "Ooh, Liro, this one is good!" She held out her hand. "I'm Mania, and this is Deliro - you can call him Liro though. You should join up with us! What do you say?"
Jasper shrugged. “Why not? If I get to see any more explosions and get to complain about the gods, I’m good.” He would just need to fit in scrambling to buy a new guitar in between that. He would also need to send a few dollars to the woman he was supposed to call his mother.
He had put off seeing her for years due to "lack of work." She knew why though. He wouldn’t want to go near her with a ten foot pole.
*Livvielove wrote Mania and Deliro from her Reapers Genetic Challenge.*
"Tolo, Tolo" - "Hurry, Hurry"