Chapter 1 — Heavy lies the crown
Cycle of the Shroom: Chapter 1
The thump in my heart, the thump of the city, they're aligning and finding their unity.

These two entities, each with their own rhythm, their own pulse, they're coming together. Finding their configuration, their orientation, their own unique movement, here within me.

The sun's rising outside. A dull glow pushes its way through the ashen sky, penetrating the grime-ridden windows of my throne room, providing a dim radiance that plays with my vision.

This place, the Neo-Budapest Triangle, and its soul, the 250 million people crammed within its vast walls, they are in my mind; they are in my heart. Our souls are one, and this is the true source of my power.

Shakespeare once said, 'Uneasy is the head that wears a crown', and how long have I worn this crown for now? Years? Decades? Epochs have come and gone, and continue to come and go in the flash of a moment, the flicker of a flame, the thump of my heart, the beat of the city.
"Don't do it, Pinkie."

A face looks up at me. One of so many that has looked at me this way over all these years. Fear in their eyes, abject fear, and not only this but sorrow, too. "Don't, look, I got a kid, man, I can pay you, Pinkie, just…"

I push my blade into the man's chest, slowly. I watch the light in his eyes fade and drift away, that glimmer, that thump, beat, pulse, disappearing and then gone.

I snip off their little finger to add to my collection. A token for me, and a signature that shows my intent, my strength, but it is not violence that holds the secret to my power.

The people of this city, of the Neo-Budapest Triangle, all held together in here, millions and millions and millions of them, of us, surviving in the aftermath of the Black Lake incident. Most use the Shroom to survive through escape, and this is where we differ. This is why I sit on this throne, and I am able to reign supreme.

Not because of the fear I instil in them which, is only to reinforce my position.

My power comes from my vision, my foresight, my ability to feel these people. The thump that runs through them, through us all.
The Shroom, the power of it is in its ability to help us escape, it is true. It's here to help everyone find a different plane of existence, to resist the horror of this vast conurbation, but there is more.

The power that so few understand, the actual power I came to see, the colossal strength of the Shroom comes not in the ability to let you escape, but in the ability to let you see. To understand what is in front of your very eyes. What they don't realise is that it's with this clarity of vision that true escape is possible.

The crown I wear bears heavily, not because of all the souls I have taken, not because of the horrors I have inflicted, not because of the power I hold over Neo-Budapest, but because of what I can see.

I see them, I see the world out there, and whatever I do to them, it will never hurt as much as what they would endure without me, what I give them. The Cycle of the Shroom is upon us, and I am leader, guide. I wear the crown because I understand the power that the Shroom holds, and it is a weight I will gladly bear.

Art & idea: Stefan Große Halbuer
Storytelling & writing: Richard Galbraith
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