Contracts Tradition / Ritual in Dread Romantic | World Anvil


Olive stands in the garden at five till midnight. Before her is a rotted wooden door that leads to nowhere. She stalls for time, preparing herself for what comes next.   She brushes the sweat from her brow, her bleach blonde hair sticking to her forehead. She reaches into her pocket and pulls out her cellphone. No reception.   She takes a deep breath. The name on her tongue is whispered out of fear, "-null-"   A sudden click and clack emanates from the door. It creaks open, the sound of whispers rising from beyond it. She steps through, her feet firmly landing on concrete.   In the center of the room is a bottomless pit. The ceiling is lined with pipes and chutes carrying waste from all corners of their walking island.   She feels her phone vibrating in her hand. She looks and the screen is distorted. The caller id is nothing but a string of zeros.   Time seemed to stand still when she answered. Four gray skinned hands, each with seven fingers crawled from the pit. They lay flat against the concrete, save for the fourth, the fingers of which tapped impatiently against the floor.
There's nothing like a good, old fashioned deal. We love them. We love them so much that before the fall, companies would raise prices just to offer a sale at the original price. Hell, there's even a holiday for it. Black Friday is literally the day of deals, and people have died because of it.   There are many little things at work here: the fear of missing out, the urge to jump at sudden opportunity. You also have the satisfaction of getting more for less; the pride of outwitting another party, no matter how false the feeling may be.   The beauty of a bargain exists even in magic, but it runs much deeper than a mere exchange. The touched write contracts that bind the soul, each an unbreakable promise. There's no penalty for breaching your end of the bargain. You couldn't even if you wanted to.

Cross my heart…

A contract is any form of agreed upon exchange, written or verbal, between two or more independent parties. It doesn't matter what the exchange is. It can be monetary or even something more abstract.   They vary in complexity. It can be a winding roller coaster of technicalities and provisions made over years, but most are much simpler. Something as simple as agreeing to take out the trash can be considered a contract under the right circumstances.     There is no way to break the contract. One must either work out a way to void it with the other parties involved, or fulfill the concluding terms of the contract, of which there are often many.

….and hope to die

The key to a contract is agreement. Only one side needs to consider it binding for it to count. Many make these contracts without even realizing it. Those who do realize have quite a world to explore.   There are things in the world that thrive on these contracts, entities beyond reason. These beings have unknown agendas and power beyond that of any touched, but their contracts are always fair. Any display of extreme magical power you see will usually require a contract to make it possible. Contracts are still in the process of being explored. It's new territory. The idea of binding spirits and other less savory things opens up many possibilities. Only time will tell how good or bad those possibilities may be…  
It replies without words. The whispers grant only a stream of broken things. To her they are only fragments of coherent thought, each sharp and to the point like shards of glass.   "You know what we want." Olive says. "Your terms?" Her eyes roll back, and it responds. She puts the pieces together: Abstracts… Emotions... Dreams.
- 0 -
Her voice breaks. That was not what she expected. "I beg your pardon?"
-Accepted-   -beg-
"Oh, fuck you. Tell me what you want.
-I see/walk/speak-   -have>want-
"So that's the bargain? You allow us to add a damn church to your backside for free?"
-free = false- -0 = free-
"Then what do you gain?"
"What-" One of the hands rises from the pit, a hand offered to her. The arm is long and thin with joints folding and unfolding.
- negative = 0 -
"No downside? That's official?"
- Affirmed -
She reaches out and shakes the hand, it's seven fingers wrapping around hers. "Deal?"
- contract = sealed -
Olive watched the hands retreat to the darkness of the pit. The phone disconnects. Time returns to normal. Her heart is racing, her hand ice cold. She looks down and sees the finger prints on her skin like a brand. It would take days for that to go away.   She turns and exits through the door and walks up the path to her cottage. On the way to the cottage, she pondered how a church could even fit atop the walking island.   As she drifted to sleep, she realized it didn't even matter. Not anymore.


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So won't you fall for me?
won't you fall for me?


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Jul 26, 2023 13:25

Ok, that whole concept as well as the actual deal gives me chills.

Jul 26, 2023 23:24 by Dr Emily Vair-Turnbull

My heart is pounding a little. Wow.

Emy x   Etrea | Vazdimet
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