This is for all my Kormades! Thanks for being cool and spicy. <3
If you don't understand this, just enjoy the story.
Chapter One: A Word of WarningEdit
Wheeze walked down the street, tugging his cloak tighter around himself. In one hand he held an open box of cheese whales, and he ate them as he walked, feeling their power soak into him. It was a reassuring power, a power he'd known for years, and each cheese whale he ate was like a comforting voice speaking to him, assuring him that he was, in every way possible, a Kormade.
He wasn't the beast that had ravaged the Empire of Croissant that night all those years ago.
He ate another handful of cheese whales for good measure, just to be absolutely sure that the dark power lurking deep inside him was banished for the time being. Then he took a deep breath, put the box in his bag, and continued on down the street, the dusty journal heavy in his pocket.
He'd found it in his attic, and while he could make sense of most of it, there was some text on the title page that he couldn't read. The characters were foreign and unfamiliar, and it didn't look to be in any language he knew. He figured one of the other Kormades would know, and his first stop was Meerkat's workshop.
He walked up the steps and through the door, except...it was a glass wall that looked like a door. Ouch.
Wheeze found the real door and went in, and...wow. Meerkat's workshop was an almost magical place, and all her projects astounded him. He didn't understand much of what she was working on, but it all looked pretty cool; he didn't want to damage anything, so he stayed as close to the center of the room as he could while he looked for her.
"Meerkat?" he called. "Where you at?"
Oh. That rhymed. He wheezed to himself quietly, but it ended up being quite a bit louder, echoing through the shop.
Hearing Wheeze's wheeze, Meerkat emerged from behind a broken down sky craft, putting her goggles around her neck.
"Hey!" she said with a wave, though it was a reserved wave and she clearly wanted to get back to her work. "What's up?"
"Real quick," Wheeze said, "I need you to translate something for me."
He dug the notebook out of his pocket and handed it to her, and Meerkat examined it for a moment.
"This is Beanut Butterian text," she said. "I don't know the language, but Jicama does. He's over in the Bakery Gardens."
"Thanks," Wheeze said. "I'll let you get back to working on that..."
He forgot what words were and ended with, "That thing over there."
Being so good at social interaction, he thanked her again and hurriedly left the workshop, getting out the cheese whales again.
Were Kormades socially awkward like that? Or was it a trait of a terrible beast? Was he normal? Was he like everyone else? Were the cheese whales working? Was their magic strong enough?
His mind was a storm of anxious questions, and he ate some more cheese whales, knowing he would soon have to see the Armm priestess for another box. Could there ever be enough cheese whales to keep his inner savagery, his inner monster, at bay?
He worried his way all the way over to the Bakery Gardens, and he was finally distracted from his thoughts when he caught sight of Jicama, sitting alone on a bench. He looked to be deep in thought, and Wheeze was reluctant to disturb him, but no one else in the Empire knew Beanut Butterian.
"Excuse me, uh," Wheeze started, "Jicama. Do you have a minute?"
"No, but I do have a fall and wind chimes scented candle," Jicama said, producing the candle from his pocket. "Would you like it?"
A candle from the depths of the prison, the maze, the labyrinth that was Walmart.
Visions of the rescue flashed through Wheeze's mind, visions of screaming and souls and fear. They'd barely escaped with their lives...
He remembered the Walmart employees and their chant, the chant that had nearly crumbled the Great Croissant...
They'd nearly lost the Empire that day, and they'd nearly lost some Kormades. But they had saved Jicama, so maybe it wasn't all bad...
Wheeze touched the scar across his nose and shivered.
"I'm good," he finally said. "Thanks, though."
He got out the notebook and handed it to Jicama, saying, "Can you tell me what this says?"
"Of course, Kormade," Jicama said, taking the notebook into his hands.
He was silent for a moment, and in that moment, his entire demeanor changed. Every scrap of content and happiness was gone, and he took on a grim, grave expression, only growing graver as he read more of the note.
"This..." he said. "This is not good, Wheeze. This isn't good at all."
"Why?" Wheeze asked, his heart clenching. "What's it say?"
"It warns," Jicama said, "of terrible things coming to the Empire in the spring. That's...that's now."
He closed the notebook and gave it back, his eyes full of deep, deep sorrow.
"The first to come will be a famine. The famine of all famines, I'm afraid."
Wheeze threw the notebook into his bag, his heart beginning to race.
"We have to warn everyone."
He took off out of the garden, and Jicama ran after him, brandishing his fall and wind chimes scented candle.
"I'll take the Bean sector!" he called. "You tell everyone in the Googly sector!"
"Right!" Wheeze yelled back, sprinting down the street towards the Googly Gates.
His legs couldn't carry him fast enough.
Chapter Two: Run, Wheeze, Run Edit
Wheeze zoomed through the Googly Sector faster than a Zoom Hobbit, passing through the shopping plaza without slowing down the slightest bit. He couldn't risk it - he had to get through there as fast as he could, and he could only hope that the shopkeepers and restaurant owners had enough sense to notice something was wrong.
Wheeze never ran like this.
He could hear some of them following him, their boots pounding on the pavement, and their questions struggled to reach his ears through the wind.
"Is something going on?"
"Can I offer you a free croissant?"
A free croissant? On any other day, yes! But Wheeze had to keep running, and he didn't have time to accept any such thing.
The Kormadeborhood loomed ahead, and he burst through its gates, running straight through the tranquil pool at the center of the square. The fish scowled at him, but he paid them no mind, telling himself he would apologize later.
The first house he came to was Turquoise's, and she was out on her front porch, reading the latest edition of the Daily Croissant. She heard the unholy wheezing and looked up, immediately rising from the swinging bench when she saw the small crowd of shopkeepers.
"Wheeze? What's going on?"
"There's a famine coming," Wheeze wheezed, struggling to catch his breath. "Tell everyone to meet me in Tetris Square. Quickly!"
His lungs screamed in protest, but he took off running again, warning Kormade after Kormade. With their help and that of the shopkeepers, word of the famine spread like wildfire throughout the Googly Sector, and several Kormades went off to warn the Gru, Gaston, and Goose Sectors.
That only left getting to Tetris Square.
Wheeze was about to collapse, but he ran even faster, vaulting over the fence and tearing through the alleyways of Robot Land. He passed Gamblin' Grutfeld's place and Music Manor, sprinting past the Penguin Bar and Gamblin' Greg's Casino, and after what felt like forever, there was a light ahead. He ran towards it gratefully, relief washing over him, knowing he would soon be able to sit on one of the Kormade Thrones and rest for a moment, even if it was just a moment.
The light came closer, closer, closer...
And he realized too late that it was not any light he knew.
Chapter Three Edit
So much silence.
So much darkness.
That was all Wheeze knew.
And it was all very familiar - darkly familiar. He had once lived in darkness and silence like this, just like this, in a time that was as far away as the moon. It was so long ago, and yet he remembered feeling just like this as he floated around in that darkness, a creature without meaning or life or purpose.
He’d been a shell back then.
And he presumed it wasn’t any different now.
“That’s where you’re wrong,” a voice said, making him jump.
Shattering the eternal silence seemed illegal, immoral, wrong in every way possible, but someone had spoken, and that someone emerged from the darkness, bringing with them an impossible light. How could there be any light in this realm?
“Are you the beast who calls itself…” The figure, silhouetted against the darkness, seemed to squint at something in their hand. “Wheeze?”
Wheeze nodded, not daring to break the silence himself, and the figure nodded too, evidently pleased.
“Excellent,” they said. “I’ve been looking for you for years. You and your Empire.”
Me and my what?
“You think I don’t know?” the figure said with a chuckle. “There is nothing that escapes the eyes and ears of the Vegetals, little monster.”
Little monster… The words bit into him, but he forced them away, focusing instead on the Vegetals that had been mentioned. Because...Vegetals? Now? Here? How was that-
“You thought you purged us from the lands during the Baguette Wars,” the figure said disappointedly. “I thought you’d know better than to think we could ever be driven from this world, Kormade Wheeze.”
They shook their head. “No, no. We are here. We will always be here. Now…”
A chilling grin spread across their face - Wheeze couldn’t see it, but it froze the nothingness in the air, sending a shiver marching down his spine.
“I have a deal to make with you,” the figure said.