Thursday, July 4

Chapter Thirteen

Death...death is something that all people must experience. Some...experience it sooner than others. But in the end, none can escape it...and when it catches up to them, it strikes them down with a cold vengeance. Now imagine death on a massive scale. Say a good hundred people died. Let's say bodies littered the marshy, dirt streets of a once peaceful village. And lets say that god had mandated for this to happen. For those who had fallen on this day...were not his children...but heathens who denied his glory. This was the belief of Father Lucius. He shared no sympathy for the inhabitants of this land. They would convert or they could die for all he cared. 

Father Lucius shooked his head at King Lucian. The three of them were seated in the banquet hall, discussing matters during a meal.

The queen notice something about him. He was indeed a different man, but not exactly a better man. The man who had left off on a pilgrimage was much more...  eccentric and lively. But this man sitting before her is bitter and cold. He looked as if though he had seen his entire family murdered. And in a sense, he did. He had lost so many brethren of the church. He knew he was bound to lose even more. All in an effort to teach those who oppose the church's influence. 


"Have you gotten a confession yet?" The queen looked at him rather crossly. 

Father Lucius simply shrugged with a reply of, "no." 

Heavily she sighs, "Surely you jest, what have you been doing this entire time?" 

"Tell me, have you ever heard of an old text, about story of a named Prophet Daemon?" He asked.

King Lucian gave a tiring groan and called for his cup bearer, Taily who moved gracefully to her lord's beckoning.

"No amuse me..." The queen was quite curious now. 

"Prophet Daemon lived alone in an abyss. No soul accompanies him. There is only a table with books stacked higher than any ceiling. He taps his quill pen against the wood twice, as if he were thinking. There is enough space for him to write in one book, which had been kept open. The choice of book was a blank one. It has nothing written in it. No words, no pictures... no thoughts…no feelings, it’s just simply nothingness like which he resided. 

He tapped his foot, and moved the quill pen through the air, leaving a long trail of black ink. The black ink soon turned into a radiant spectrum of color, and such became of the world around him. He was given the inspiration to write now; the mood was perfect. Hours past as the prophet scribbled away in the book that was once empty. 

When he looked up from his book for a slight break, he noticed a single figurine sitting against his pile of books. The thing was lifeless. It had no face, no emotion. The prophet decided to change this. He slowly and carefully picked each detail for figure perfectly.

Once this task was complete, the other figures showed up. After what may have very well been an eternity, the man had thousands of figurines with faces and emotions upon those faces. There was nothing that would bring them to life, though. 

Meekly, he turned back his book. Miraculously, he stumbled upon a mid-sized hole in a page. People were sitting, walking, talking, and participating in activities, that he had only dreamt about. A majority of them resembled his figures closely -" Father Lucius was cut short by the queen.


"You believe this witch is actually a creation made by a prophet himself?" The queen gave him quite a queer look.

"An unfinished creation." Father Lucius corrects her. 

"Creation? It sounds more like a fluke if anything." King Lucien said. 

Father Lucius rose from his chair and shouted, "Fluke!? It was a miracle! The ink resides in her body, where blood should be. It must be - it has to be. Think of all the possibilities, we could create life just as he did!" 

-------

 Fenix wasn't intimidated by the bits of metal that held them in this cage. He tried working the lock with his stubby fingers, hoping to eventually hear the satisfying click. Of course he only did this whenever the guards weren't around. From time to time, Leon would  give him a stern look to express he shouldn't be doing this. 

Leon explained to him that they will be released as soon as Headmaster Jared arrives. The guards didn't even think it would be worth the effort to chain them since they wouldn't be staying. 


"I don't think I can take this anymore Leo. The food here is terrible." Fenix complains to him. 

"Is that all you've been thinking about this entire time?" Leon couldn't believe what he's hearing. 

"Well no. I could think of a lot of things; like for an example. How elf boy pretty much escape and left all of us behind." Fenix mutters out of despite. 

"Really are you that dense? Of all things you better hope he did escaped. Why do you think they've separated us to begin with? They found out he wasn't a human. Who knows what they would've have done to him or are." Leon sighed. 

Fenix was quick to say, "I hope Blazerine is alright." 


Leon turned to face him before asking, "Did you know?"

"Know what?" Fenix said, rather puzzled by his question.

"Don't play dumb Fenix!" Leon almost lost his temper in mid sentence, but he ends up restraining himself,  "You knew about Blazerine's condition beforehand, didn't you? Actually it seemed like you and Lyrist both did."

"I don't know when elf boy found out, but I did back at that bandit camp." Fenix paused for a moment then continued on, "You really think I could bring myself to say? After what had happened with your mother? And how could I do that to her? She saved our lives." 


"She has the exact same symptoms as the black mark of death, and yet we've never extracted it from her." Leon thought out loud. Although he felt ashamed that he didn't realize she had been suffering this entire time. 

Fenix said, "Maybe all that mumbo jumbo about the sacred orb isn't so off? Maybe, just maybe it has concealed the illness within her body." 

Avon Voltaire walked straight past their cell. He didn't bother to even speak to any of the guards on duty about suspicious behavior. He'd met a few men earlier that he'd much rather have not, and he guessed they were drunk, because they had been talking a lot of gibberish. And really nothing they said made sense or had relevance to the other things they've said. He could feel condemning stares, alongside those snide remarks. He couldn't determine some of their genders very well due to their sickly looking figures. All it did was make him wonder, what did they do to get locked up in a place like this. It wasn't long til he ventured down to the torture chambers. The smell was even worse than the previous floor. Feces.... and perhaps even the stench of rotting flesh. Shortly he stopped in front of a door after overhearing a voice. 

The man said, "This is beginning to get too out of hand... If this continues there won't be anything left to play with." 

He noticed the burnt seals all over Blazerine's body. Right away he knew that red hot pincers had been used. Often they're used to tear off pieces of flesh. Sometimes vulgar acts are performed with this tool as well. Such as inserting them into the vagina or rectum. To humiliate them even further, sometimes they would tear a woman's breasts off, but this didn't seem like the case. The cuts weren't vital, which led him to believe that they were possibly draining her blood at a slow rate. But in between all the bruising and cuts. She had pale skin that even the moon would envy. 

Softly he ran a hand across her leg and said, "So beautiful." 

Blazerine didn't respond to his voice or even his touch. For her mind was constantly fighting between two major opinions; one being that this whole thing is a complex dream or just a hallucination created by her imagination.

Avon briefly looked down while he struggled with the door, but once he manages to barge inside, the man was nowhere to be found. 

However what he didn't know is that the exchanger was looking down at him like a predator, from above, ready to pounce his prey from the wall. As soon as Breebo lit up, Avon was forcibly knocked back into the floor. The impact was hard enough to render him unconscious, and sent Beerbo hurtling into the farthest corner. 

The exchanger unsheathed a dagger, that's strapped to his left leg, on the outside. With a quick swipe, the metal meets his own flesh, cutting open a wrist. He allows the blood to spew all over the front of Avon's vest. Right after that, he slits the next one. Then suddenly his icy blue eyes began to glow dimly. His sight changed, everything now appeared in shades from jet black to light grey. Everything expect for a bright blue sphere that appeared inside of Avon's body. He extended his hand over his chest, and the sphere came to his palm like a moth to a flame. He could hear it speaking to him, it was angry, and filled with hatred for revenge. 

Leaning in close, he kissed Avon right on the lips. He breathed in slowly, causing the sphere to faltered just slightly, until he inhaled a deeper and longer breath. Sucking the life out of him, the sphere quickly dispersed as so did his. The spheres passed one another through their mouths, switching places at the exact same time. The veins in his arms pulsated with the same blue light and travelled throughout his whole body. His heart raced for a moment before it completely relaxed. The voice of the soul was added into his mind. All of who he was, now resides inside of him. His memories, feelings, and even personality. 

Avon exhaled slowly, his breath visible in front of his face. The temperature around him was significantly colder than everywhere else, as it always was. His breath flowed downwards and into the new nostrils. After a few seconds his chest rose quickly then fell again. Eventually he tossed his old shell aside and climbed back to his feet. 

Although the transaction went well. The emotions of it's former owner's is still running rampage. It's going to take him awhile to settle in completely. This left him with a problem, a single one that could jeopardize everything. Mister Breebo was a witness to what just happened.

"Damnit where did he go?" Aimlessly he looked around, but to no prevail. For a second, he threw his hands up in the air, out of dismay and continued on,  "I've obtained the most safest position I could ever achieved  - how ghastly - my first mistake." 

But what did he know about Mister Breebo? Was he more likely to hide than reveal himself? Since he no longer has a master to take care of him. 

"Just thinking about it makes me rather dotty..." For a moment he paused, only to realize that Avon personality is still getting the best of him right now.  

Slowly he waved goodbye to Blazerine. "Don't go anywhere, I'll be back." 

Afterwards, he reached down to grab his hat from the floor. Carefully he dusts it off and laughs, "At least this guy taste isn't as horrid as the last fellow." 

He stepped outside of the chamber and plopped the hat on. Then he's off on his way, back to the upper floor, to alert the guards. 

Leon watched the man with the hat, past their cell once again. However this time, he seemed to have taken interest in him. But it couldn't compare to his own amount. He continued watching the man gaze into every cell he passes. 

Just a little further ahead of their cell. Leon could only hear bits and pieces of the conversation, between him and the guards. It peaks his curiosity enough to try to listen in. From what he could tell; The man in the hat had declared, he had killed an exchanger. That's something he has never heard the likes of before.

"Fenix are you hearing this?" Leon asked him, but Fenix was ignoring him. "Fenix? What are you doing?" He leaned on over and placed a hand upon his shoulder. "Don't tell me, you're playing with rats again?" 

Fenix never turned around when he whines, "What's wrong with rats!? They make good pets!"

Leon impatiently looked surpassed his shoulder and sees something that obviously is not a rat. "What is that?" He asked.

 ----- 

This time of day was always best for stealing food. The baker was firmly ensconced in the back of her small shop, busily preparing the day's supply of various breads, pies and cakes. The  patron - cook-- or whatever it was called in this strange human world - was not there yet. The front door was usually left unlocked, the baker believing she would hear the bell jingle if it opened, even though she sang at the top of her lungs while she worked. But Lyrist had learned that, if you opened the door just enough to squeeze an arm through and grab the bell before it could bounce against the wood, so he could slip in nearly silently and take whatever he pleased.

This was where he was now, breathing in the fresh, warm scent of baking. Looking around at the day old trays. He fumbled a small burlap bag from under his shirt and tiptoed behind the counter, then began to load up the bag with muffins.

This was the riskiest part, because the door to the back was right next to the counter, and if the baker passed by she would easily see him crouched behind the counter. He had thrown in about six muffins when the ever so unpleasant singing drew closer.

He didn't even stop to think, just threw himself around the counter, crouching low as he bolted toward the door. He was out and into the alley across the dim street by the time the baker had moved into the main shop, adrenaline made him run even quicker.

It wasn't long till he was leaning against the cool brick of a wall. Softly he pants with the bag clutched in his left sweaty hand. Just seconds later, the baker poked her head out into the street, looking around in confusion. Lyrist knew he had not taken care of the bell this time. It would be awhile before he could steal from that bakery again. 

He retreated himself even further into the alley. It's not that he's been actually hiding out here. It's just a lot safer for him to climb up the building's wall without anyone noticing him. From there on, any roof can be his for the taking. Periodically he would change roofs, easily by simply running and leaping in a single go. But for the most part, he stays at one roof in particular. It has the best view of the castle, and yet it's not aligned with any of the window's of the castle.

Once he found a comfortable spot, he sat down. He wasn't really fond of sitting about, while the others were going through who knows what in that castle. However he wasn't exactly sitting idly around. He's just waiting for the right moment to sneak back inside and grab Yeldir the Magnificent cloak. The two of them were conducting a plan to rescue the others, until contact was broken off... Although the only thing he could get his hands on, was Blazerine's sunglasses. They were just lying out there in the middle of the square. 

While eating, the rain began falling slightly to a moderately downpour. Most of the humans retreated indoors, however... one did not. It was Sir Emmanuel's daughter, Elizabeth. 

Elizabeth didn't mind the rain not one bit; in fact she loved rainy days. She loved how it brought out nature's scents from the soil and plants, not to mention it kept her usually frizzy hair damp. Well at least enough to look smooth for once. Momentarily she looked up at cloudy sky, which was now becoming a lighter grey. 

The only thing she carried was a small, worn round basket. It held the herbs she had picked so far, but there was still plenty of room in the little container for spring flowers and another handful of herbs. Speaking of herbs, she had came upon another small patch of it and proceeded to kneel down and gently pull the leaves from the plants' stems so as not to damage any of them. 

Closing her eyes, she inhaled deeply trying to smell the delicate scent of the flowers. Opening her eyes, she frowned, unable to smell even a tiny whiff of flower. The rain masked the smell well... and replaced it with the smells of the wet vegetation and ground. Shrugging to herself, she switched the basket to her other hand and continued her search in the moderate rainfall. The little adventure came to an end after running into a man. 

The man said, "Hey Beth, you'll catch a cold if you stay out here too long." Then he patted her on top of the head. 

Elizabeth stomped her feet for a second or two. "Nope, I'm invincible just like papa!" 

"Of course, how could I have forgotten? Where is your papa anyway? Is he inside?" He asked.

Elizabeth succuried back to the house while shouting, "Papa, papa, Sir Faust is here!" 

Sir Faust greeted Sir Emmanuel, and the two of them ended up sitting at his table, speaking for a spell. 

"I'm telling you something weird is going on." Faust brought up halfway into their conversation. 

"What are you getting at?" Emmanuel questioned him.

"The exchanger that Avon Voltaire killed. It was one of our guards...but -" 

"But what?" Emmanuel pressed on.

"His wrists have been slit. I don't know what kind of method that is to kill an attacker, but even so. Avon was covered in blood, and it's the only wound we could find on the exchanger." Faust irritatedly rubbed at his chin. 

"That does seem a little odd." Emmanuel thought. 

"And I've been hearing amongst the guards, that Father Lucius has been secretly extracting blood from the witch."

"What are they going to do with a witch's blood?" Emmanuel asked rather puzzled.

"Well if you can even call it blood. I've heard it's completely black. And supposedly one of his brethren was caught drinking some of the stuff." Faust explained. 

Emmanuel suddenly lifts his head after hearing a thud from above. "What the?"

"Somebody's on the roof -"

Hanging off the side of the house; Lyrist jerked his lower body all the way into a swing, which sent him plummeting through Sir Emmanuel's window. His feet made contact first, by smashing the shutters wide open. The table is just inches from touching his back, but he can't avoid hitting what's on top. As soon as his feet were planted against the ground. He reached out for his target, Elizabeth. She of course wasn't smart enough to react quick enough. Easily he restrained the girl; who was now screaming and crying for her papa. 

Within the first step Sir Emmanuel made, Lyrist unsheathed his nails like a cat, ready to slice open today's catch.

"Please I beg you, don't hurt my little girl! She's the only thing I have left!" Emmanuel cried. 


The thought of reaching for his weapon comes to Faust mind, but all that did in return was make Lyrist applied additional pressure to the girl's neck. 

"Don't even think about it..." Lyrist hissed at him. 

"Papa!" Elizabeth was horribly sobbing.

"Lyrist...? What - what do you want? Is this about what happened to Blazerine? It's not my fault, neither is it hers. She has nothing to do with this.  So please - please just let her go." Emmanuel pleads. 


"Her life for every single belonging that has been taken from our group. If one turns up missing, so will she." Lyrist threatened.

"Emmanuel no, this is treason! You can't obey the demands of a criminal!" Faust yelled at him.

Sir Emmanuel eyes focused a single glance at Faust. Was he really saying this right now? Is he truly wanting to test the boundaries of their friendship? This is his little girl they're talking about here. Specifically the thought is making him rather agitated. And he wasn't going to take any unnecessary risks when it comes to his own flesh and blood. He picked up his helmet up off the table, then rams it as hard as he could across the back of Faust's head. 

When Faust dropped to the ground, completely unconscious, Emmanuel said, "You better keep your word." Just to make sure Faust kept out of the way. He gagged and tied him right before he left. 

Now Lyrist was left all alone, well not entirely. He's now sitting there with a little girl; who is nowhere near done shedding tears. And the sound was three times worse due to his sensitive ears. Elizabeth was now the second human he has ever seen cry. Fauna being the first... cried in a similar childlike manner too.  

"Mama..." The thought sprung up into his head as plain as day. Those little hands of hers were reaching toward the flowers that had been knocked down to the floor. No doubt in his mind that he's the culprit. 

"Mama's...flowers..." She cried out loud. 

Lyrist very well knows what its like to experience the loss of a family member. It must be harder for someone of her age to understand, or even cope with it. Once he loosen his grip, the girl bolted to the flowers. While she gathers some, one of her fingers gets cut by a sharp shard; from the broken vase.

Elizabeth began to cry harder at the sight of blood. Lyrist could tell she wasn't exactly in pain. She's more likely scared than anything else. Quickly he unties the bandana that's concealing his ears against his head. Then he moves in closer to the girl, and uses the bandana as a bandage to wrap her finger up. 

Suddenly she stopped crying... Just a little sniffle here and there. It wasn't long till she was looking up at him. Not out of fear, but in amazement. Lyrist restrained himself once the girl started playing around with his ears. But not so much the one, that's been blown down to a more regular size. 

"Gentle, gentle now..." He said with a wince.

Delightfully she laughed with the biggest smile upon her face. "Angel, you're an angel!" 

Out of nowhere, his ear twitched to the slightest sound of someone screaming. Since she wouldn't let go of his ears. He ends up picking her up and carrying her over to the window. From what he saw; there's some kind of commotion going on at the castle. Then the panicking of racing thoughts flooded his mind; from patrons, to servants, to knights, and even guards. He wasn't sure why his listener ability chose now of all times to return to him, but he wasn't going to let this opportunity go to waste. 

"The Prince is dead!" 

"Who could've have done such a thing?!" 

Slowly he closes his eyes, while draining out the little girl, and everything else nearby him. Through all the darkness he imagines his father blank canvas, like he had once done before. The beautiful swan feather, the ink bottle, which is tied around the top with a blue ribbon.

The feather fluttered briefly in the air before dropping itself into the ink. Then right before his eyes the feather danced across the canvas, creating long and short strokes. Slowly the image became clearer and clearer until the image of a crying woman appeared. She's lying on top of a small bundle.There was the illusion of motion as the canvas recreated the image repeatedly, making slight changes with each recreation to give the appearance of movement.

"Where were you when this had happened!? Where were all the guards?!" The queen angrily shouted in between sobs. 

Not standing too far from the door, was the Princess Elena. A small little smile crept across her face as she thought, ( Finally... he no longer stands in my way of the throne. ) 

A familiar voice immediately redirects the canvas to paint a brand new scene. There he was, in the guest quarters, was Father Lucius, but he wasn't alone. Several hooded men were lying face first against the floor. None of their faces could be seen, until Father Lucius had turned one over, only to discover, his brethren has black glossy eyes of a raven. 

"You weren't worthy enough, but you know what? I am, I AM!" He bellowed, right before raising a vial to his lips. Without hesitation, he drank every ounce of the black liquid, til there was none left. Right afterwards he began to cough and shake violently. Every vein coursing through his body had turned black, and was now sprouting up to the surface of his skin. Once the veins finally met their end; at the face. It drips the leftovers in the eyeballs as a means for a storement container. 

What was years of progression on Blazerine's life, just took over this man in just a matter of minutes. However it had gone on a step even further. 

Immediately his face was split by a wide, leering grin. His thin lips completely pulled back, until they had been ripped off; exposing the gums and teeth. His face continually kept stretching apart unnaturally, half hidden by the fall of his straight black hair; which kept growing and growing.  His shoulders hunched, his hands stretching, clasping, waiting for a chance to grasp, take and tear. 

Lyrist couldn't quite comprehend what he's seeing, nor could he helped but wonder if this too will be Blazerine's fate as well. However his concentration comes to a crumbling end after Elizabeth screamed. His eyes readjust to their surroundings, only to realize there's a wolf at the window. It was no ordinary wolf, mind you, it was Argo. He barked happily while smelling his familiar scent. 

Lyrist wasn't exactly too fond of his... wet dog stench. And to top everything off, Argo shook himself dry, getting the two of them wet in the process. 

Suddenly a loud rumbling was heard, after a flash of lighting. And it was getting pretty dark, despite it being day time. The gusts of wind funneled between the surrounding buildings and blew about at his vest, as if he were a wind chime. The storm was enough to lure Argo through the window. Whether he was welcome or not, he seeked warmth from the fireplace. This is when he set the anxious Elizabeth down. Then she wandered on over to investigate the new house guest.

Lyrist's head twists as the sound of the door opening, reaches his ears. It wasn't the only thing he heard. Sir Emmanuel hastened heart increased solely by the sight of his daughter. Immediately he dropped everything he carried and swooped Elizabeth right up into his arms. 


"Look I couldn't get everything." He said, "Most of the inventory has been cleaned out. All that's left is a dusty old cloak and a stick."

"Since you did not retrieve everything. Keep Faust here for awhile." Lyrist quickly places the cloak on and grabs a hold of his father's sword. 

"What - you're not planning on sneaking into the castle, are you?" Emmanuel asked.

"No I'm going to walk in." Lyrist said after brushing the sleeve of the cloak against Faust's face. 

Emmanuel cowardly backed into the corner with his daughter, once Lyrist's entire being began to unravel like a ball of yarn. Then it knits itself back into place, but with Faust's appearance instead of his own. As soon as the last stitch of armor is in place, he turned to Emmanuel. 

"But how?" Emmanuel shockingly gasped. 

In Faust's tone of voice, Lyrist said, "You're still obligated to keep your word." 

-----

Leon now had a pleasant look to him, not smiling, but rather smiling with his eyes. "He can help us." He said with both of his index fingers softly gripping the little imp's shoulders. "He's small enough to fit through the bars. All he has to do is find the keys." He explained.

"I thought you wanted to wait for your headmaster to release us. Now you're wanting to ruin whatever left of your reputation forever?" Fenix asked. 

"If what he said is true, we need to get Blazerine out of here fast." Leon stood up now, ready to take charge. 

"Wait, wait a second. Are you telling me that if you didn't find out about this exchanger shit? You were just going to leave her, weren't you?" Fenix couldn't help but look at him in utter disgust. 

"Fenix - I don't know, I'm full of mixed emotions right now, okay?" Leon said.

"You're the one who dragged me into this journey, and you were just going to abandoned it completely?" Fenix swallowed a bit hard before continuing, "After everything WE all have been through, TOGETHER!?" 


"There's something I have to tell you." Leon sighed.

Fenix looked away and muttered, "Tell me what?" 

"Back when we were all trapped by the singing curse. Belina Willow not only told me, but showed me what will happen to Blazerine. She's going to die, but... she was in Fauna's body." Leon explained. 

Fenix blows it off by saying, "It's just a coincidence."


"You think so?" Leon shrugged.

"Okay let's say it's believable. Who in the hell could ever get that close to Fauna anyway?" He asked.

"You could." Leon pointed out. 

"Okay then tell me why? What would be the purpose of all of this?" Fenix questioned.

"Let's see.... I don't know.  Maybe a powerful emotionalist that's mentally stable, while wearing the sacred orb. Look at this way. He has Avon Voltaire's body. I don't think he's going to give it up easily, because honestly, he's safe, now that nobody is coming after him." 

"Partner..." Mister Breebo weeped at the thought. 

"Leo how does the guy even know who Fauna is? It's impossible, unless this guy has been stalking us this whole time." Fenix mumbled. 

"You may be onto something." Leon said. 

Mister Breebo kept listening to the humans, while scratching a claw right in between his horns. 

Fenix excitedly clapped his hands together and asked, "So what's the plan then?" 

"There's a guard that patrols the halls, once in the wee morning, once at noon then lastly at midnight. All he has to do is snatch the keys from him." He explained.

"Nay!" Mister Breebo softly snorted, "Did chu think I would do this theeng for notheng?" 

Fenix and Leon both exchanged glances, before looking together at Mister Breebo. The same thought is lingering between them. What could possibly a creature this small would even want anyway? 

A low growl escaped somewhere from deep inside of the little imp, when he spoke out in a mischievously voice, demanding, "MEAT!"   

Leon was quick to say, "Deal! Now be quick, he should be making his rounds." 

Mister Breebo arches his body in a stretch, till his little back popped, preparing to go out and do his little antics. His body wobbling cutely as he fixed himself back to his proper position. Then he was off, scurrying easily through the cell's bars. Naturally his pace drew faster to avoid being spotted. Shortly he paused, right beside the wall, after hearing an odd noise. Listening in closely, he deficers the sound. It's nails, sharp nails continuously getting scraped across stone. There he stayed, frozen in place, not daring to make a further move. 


"What is that?" The first human asked another one; who is approaching him. 

"I don't know." He said, "I can't figure out where it's coming from." 

"Well it stopped now."

"Yeah it did, how odd. Well I best be on my way, gotta finish my rounds." 

"Yah well make it quick, there's a wench with your name on her."

Mister Breebo flicked his eyes up, once he spotted the shiny silver keys, which were dangling from the human's belt.

"A wench eh?" The human continued. 

The other one cupped his cheeks and shyly replied back, "Aww shucks I can't believe you remembered my birthday!" 

With the humans preoccupied; he made a move. It takes only a matter of seconds for him to reach the patrol guard. A venomous smile had spread across the imp's face, all the while his little devious claws edges for the keys. The smile shortly fades, after realizing he's too short to reach them. He hopped once, twice, but it was no use. He was now determine more than ever. However his determination would never be satisfied, for there is another force to be reckoned with; a knight. He single handedly render both of the guards unconscious, by blindsiding one guard with a blow from just a stick, which bluntly smacked him, harder than any blade ever could. He fell forward, straight into the other guard, resulting with their heads meeting in a hard collision

The Knight watches the imp wildly run for it's dear life, to avoid being squashed to death. Suddenly he squatted down and rolled the guard over to snatch his keys. Then tosses the keys through the bars of a nearby cell, telling the prisoner to free himself and the others. Proceeding, he surprised Leon and Fenix by using his nail to unlock their cell. The two of them looked stunned, unsure how to react, until they saw the stick in his hand. 

"Elf boy, you came back for us!" Fenix blurted out. 

Lyrist nodded and said, "Precisely..." 

Leon overhears the commotion of the prisoners rallying up. All this did was make him question Lyrist's motives. It's obvious they weren't going to be exactly sneaking out of the castle. 

"You're going to use these prisoners as distractions." Leon assumed.

"I had to." Lyrist began, "There's something running amuck in the castle."

"What about Sinner?" Fenix asked.

"What about him? If he gets away, he gets away. Nothing that can be done about it under these circumstances." Leon shrugged. 

Fenix placed a hand upon Leon's shoulder and whispered, "Thanks Leo." Then he left to go search for him on his own. 

Lyrist made his way down to the torture chamber. And Leon followed short ways behind, wondering if there's a possible chance of running into Sinner. 

Lyrist slowed his pace quite a bit, after realizing Leon was purposely falling behind. "There is no time..." He mentioned, before continuing to speak, "Are you going to help save her or must I do this alone?" 

Leon lowered his head down and sighed, "I never in my wildest dreams, I thought the words of my father, would burn a hole forever in my heart. My path was set in stone, when I pledge my allegiance to god...but now..."

"Pardon me for being quite blunt, but you're being selfish. She never asked to be part of this. She just wanted to go home. Deep down inside, both you and I know that she does not believe the words of Yeldir The Magnificent, about helping her return. Which leaves us a question. Why would she go through all of this for nothing in return? She did it for you Leon. With whatever time she has left in this world. It's for you, for your conquest, of becoming a headmaster. The least you could do is get her out of here. Then you can decide whether or not you will part ways."

"Wait!" Leon thought for a moment, then he repeated, "With whatever time she has left in this world. What do you mean by that?" 

"You dare ask me that? You saw it for yourself, with your own very eyes. Or did you look away out of shame? Knowing every human here saw the 'filth' you've been traveling with from the backwaters.
" Lyrist shook his head.

Before Leon looked back up to reply, Lyrist was already out of sight. 

During his search, Lyrist saved several prisoners; whom were begging and pleading for their lives. Sadly he did come across a prisoner that is nowhere near capable of moving on his own. The most he could do is give him a merciful death. And so he did.... Lyrist broke the man's neck with his bare hands, knowing it'll be impossible to carry both him and Blazerine out of the castle. He given his apologies shortly before leaving. 

Finally he reaches his destination...  There he stood quietly in the doorway, staring at Blazerine. Bloodied, bruised, and battered were only a few words that could describe her condition. From a closer examination, he realized the black smears that adorned her face, looked awfully familiar. Brushing his hand across her cheek to remove the liquid, only to reveal a slit beneath, that's gushing more of it out. Then he remembered, the black substance Father Lucius had taken, was actually blood, her blood. 

"Can you hear me?" Lyrist asked, but there was no response.  He continued, while yanking off his hood, to reveal his true form. "Look it's me." Still there was no reply. She's just lying there, staring into nothingness. 

Quickly he unlatches her wrists and ankles, before declaring, "We're leaving." 

Blanketing her with the cloak, he then scooped her up into his arms and headed for the door. However he's unexpectedly caught off by a guard. A unsheathed sword is aligned point blank at his neck, ready to slice. 

"Who are you? And what do you think you're doing with her? She's a witch, you know -" The guard words were cut off by a direct blow to the back of the head. 

"She may be a witch, but she's our witch!" Fenix passionately yelled. 

"I wasn't expecting it to be you." Lyrist was taken back by surprise.

"Yeah well..." Fenix began, then he tossed aside the thick chain, he had just used against the guard. He looked around for a second, before asking, "Where's Leo?"

"I believe he is disbanding our group." Lyrist pushed passed him and continued, "We must go." 


"No this way." Fenix disagreed, "There's a water canal beneath the castle. I don't know how deep it is, but if the water can get out, so can we." 

Lyrist turned back to ask, "How are you sure?"

"They got 'em fancy fountains, don't they? Where else would the water be coming from elf-boy?" Fenix irritatedly mumbled. 

-----

An oily black being stood out, stark against the darkness of both its surroundings and apparel, which is beginning to sink beneath. Lending a ghostly visage to an already unnerving figure. Spending long moments soaking in the atmosphere, it finally descended, emerging soundlessly through the corridors of the castle. It was almost electrifying, the moment when an outsiders eyes graced it's form. Then it stopped... and bubbled itself up, till it stood a liquidity three feet, over every person who opposes. Nevertheless the tides of humanity flowed ignorantly around it, like a stone jutting from the surf and just like a stone, it stood unmoving in its continued observation. The flames of candles, lanterns, torches, throughout the area had flickered overhead. Voices faltered in conversations, faces turning upward in curiosity. As soon as its mouth opened, a hellish screech echoed from inside their minds. Some screamed, or tried to escape the discomforting noise, by covering their ears in vain. 

Between the screams and unsure shuffle of half-seen forms it entered, unfolding its limbs, some appearing to be an obscene flower. Lashing blackness contrasted vividly with the room around it, as everyone overhears the lanterns exploding.  

During these brief bursts of shattering glass, it moved across the room, lips spreading wide as it approached the one chosen for its evening meal. One of its many limbs reached forth with lightning swiftness, its tip splitting into three long digits that sought to snatch her up from where she stood, others following suit in a surge of life intent on swallowing her in their atramentous embrace. Smaller pieces eventually budded off and caught up quicker. They slithered up the woman's legs, traveling all the way to the face, entering through her nostrils, eyes and ears. 

----

Lyrist dropped Blazerine, after being plummeted by an oncoming flood of terrifying thoughts.  A rapid series of shrilling heartbeats, matched his own accelerated heartbeat. "Not now!" He cried!", While clutching each side of his head. 

Fenix grabbed Blazerine right before her head fell beneath the surface. "What the hell is the matter with you!?" He yelled. 

Lyrist tightened his grip, as if it would keep the voices out of his head. They were getting louder and louder, one by one. He hated them, hated them all. He couldn't even think clearly anymore. Full sentences becoming fragmented and broken pieces in his mind now. 

"The voices are coming back again!" He protested. 

"Well drown them out!" Fenix snapped, but he shortly looked down at Blazerine in his arms. "Okay maybe those weren't exactly the right choice of words. Hey now that I think about it. This is like the first time we met... expect, well, you had more clothing on. Not that I'm complaining or anything." He chuckled. 

"GET OUT OF MY HEAD!" Lyrist couldn't help the outburst. 

Fenix swung Blazerine's arm over, making her smack Lyrist upside the head, repeatedly. "Get", smack, "a", smack, "GRIP!", smack, He demands. 

Lyrist blunk blankly at Fenix suddenly.

"Better?" He slyly grinned.

"Oddly...yes.." Lyrist said, quite stunned. 

Fenix had distracted him enough to pull him out of all the chaos. But he was quick to say, "I can't take all credit, she helped a tad." He wiggled her arm aimlessly in the air. 

"Let's, let's just carry on." Lyrist shook his head and continued down the canal. 

Fenix followed after, while saying,"You never did explain, what you meant by, "something's running amuck.'" His eyes were narrowing accusingly, waiting for the answer.

Lyrist runs the scenario through his mind, of the possible outcomes Fenix might have, if he were told that the astrucidy running around, is a result of drinking Blazerine's blood. He also knows Fenix has a lot of issues, when it comes down to trusting another individual. It might be in his best interest to be forward, instead of allowing a backlash to recur later on. 

"You're not answering me, because this has something to do with her, doesn't it?" Fenix voice slightly trembled. 

"I'm afraid so." Lyrist simply replied. 

"Well spill the beans elf-boy." Fenix blurted out impatiently. 

"Members of the priesthood have been consuming Blazerine's blood, for whatever purpose, I do not know of. There's no denying that they've contracted symptoms of the Black Mark of Death. All but one had perish, and turned into something monstrous." Lyrist said.

"You think, no.... I mean, well, I hope not." Fenix sighed.

Lyrist looked back at him to say, "Do I think, she's the very cause of the Black Mark of Death?  I fear that it may not be far from the truth. I believe they're connected." 

"But why, how even?" Fenix asked. 

"Ask her once we've made it out of here." Lyrist suggested. 

"We're all going to be fugitives after this, you know?" Fenix couldn't help but chuckle. 

"What do you suppose we should do then?" Lyrist frowned.

Fenix thought for a second, before he said, "Well that's a no brainer. Hop on a boat and get the hell out of this region." 

Soon he felt relieved, after seeing patches of the starry night, peeked through the canal. "We're getting closer.", he said. 

Lyrist on the other hand, is bothered by a bitter thick scent, of scorched wood, which is getting worse by the second. He had no trouble running without losing his breath, but he's crippled due to the inhalation of smoke. 

Fenix adjusts Blazerine's body over to his shoulder, before grabbing Lyrist by the waist, to forcibly carry him the rest of the way out. Shortly he's surprised by people, yelling top to bottom, from a ship. Fenix couldn't believe there was a harbor hiding behind the castle all along.  Even though the ship was in bad shape, everybody was desperate enough to take the risk, considering there were only three ships. One had caught on fire, after being struck by lightning, and the other one had already set sail. 

Boarding the ship, Fenix bumps into Argo, Sir Emmanuel, and his daughter, Elizabeth. She was weeping horribly, while holding onto her father's legs, ever so tightly. 

"Don't go papa, don't leave me!" She screams.

"It's papa's duty to serve the kingdom, whether or not its standing or falling." He smiled warmly at her, then he glanced over to Fenix, "Here take these documents, they're require to travel inland from this port." 

Fenix slumped Lyrist's back against the ship's railing, before he took a gander at the documents. To him it looked like a ragged piece of cloth, stained with ink and some blood, since he doesn't exactly know how to read very well. "But why...?" He asked.

Sir Emmanuel looked momentarily away at barrels being rolled by strong seamen, and chickens being rallied to captivity on the ship. Everyone was busy, the mast crawled with men repairing the ropes and sails. 

"I should've tried more to prevent all of this from happening." He sighed, "This is the only way I can redeem myself, but my daughter does not deserve the same fate as I." Sir Emmanuel slowly turned away. 

Elizabeth tried chasing after him, but Fenix was quick enough to hold her back. Once Sir Emmanuel had stepped off the ship, the plank had been removed. 

The big doors to the captain's quarters opened as a big, and proud figure emerged, out into the rain. The figure moved forward onto deck and into the moonlight. Immediately he took colour in sharp black and red, finer garments, than anyone else's on the ship. He glistened with details of gold and with skull symbols dominating the outfit. 

The captain looked around, and as he did, he responded to his first mate. "Are we set for sail master Kensing?" He asked. 

Kensing bowed his head slightly, "Yes captain!" 

"Then let the message be heard all round' tat Zephyr!" The captain declared. 

Kensing acknowledged again and was already moving. "Ai captain"

The captain turned to the railing of the ship and spotted a bloody man, not too far away. He called out to one of his crewman to help him aboard. The crewman had heard it, but was already on his way, so he knew it was useless to return an answer to the captain.












© Tiffany Ann Adkins 2015 - 2019