The things came in and out of focus. The horrors. They sort of pulsated and their limbs flailed. God, they had so many limbs. Horrific, sharp, yellow, gnarled limbs. He kept feeling them crawl all over him. Ugh. They were all over him, chewing at his neck and shoulders and the noise they made was simply awful. How long had he been hiding in that hole? Had the horrors found him? Of course they had, they were on him now. He brushed them off and ran. Something tripped him. Snarling, he turned and kicked out at it but his foot made no contact. There was a figure in the distance, flickering, unclear. It came closer and he shuffled away. "Jack?" It was a woman. Her voice echoed. "I'm not going to hurt you, I promise. My name is Arachne. Remember me? Miss Scaroe hired you to assist me? I was hoping you would still follow those orders."
"Go away. You're crawling with them!"
"Crawling with what?"
"I can make them go away, Jack. Would you like that?"
He stopped and looked up at her suspiciously. "You can make them go away?"
"I can, but I need you to do me a favour. Anemophobia Sarok, Lilia White, Perseus Frivolidad and Daemon Scaroe. I need them all killed."
Propped up against Ravel's bed was a case. Mist put it on the bed and opened it as he walked in. "Is this a violin?"
"Do you play?"
"Not...not very well."
"I'd like to hear."
"Uh...maybe some other day..." She shrugged and put the violin back where she'd found it. "I haven't played it for a few years, so it would be even worse than I remember..."
Smiling, she sat on the edge of the bed and gestured for him to join her. He did as told and she cuddled up to him, head against his chest. With a chuckle, he wrapped his arm around her back. "The cute side of you is something I never thought I'd see..."
"This isn't the cute side of me. It's the 'I want you to play violin' side."
He laughed again. "Yup, very subtle. I'll give you sweets instead? I have a bag of cherry lips somewhere that taste all lavendery."
Mist pulled a face. "Lavendery?"
"It sounds better than it is. You don't want them. I tried to get Vex to eat them all, but that didn't work. They just rot in a cupboard now."
She couldn't think of a reply. She just let him hold her there. He was strong and it felt so...warm, so safe, like nothing bad could ever touch her while he held her.
River shrugged off the other doctor. She was stitching her own wound. She didn't like help with medical things she could handle herself. If she needed help, she would ask for it. Melantha stood nearby, a little shaken and crying freely. Her arm was in a sling. Memphis watched them both from the doorway. His leather jacket was draped over Mirth's shoulders. She suddenly stood. "I'm thinking of moving away."
River shook her head. "This isn't a 'running from the bad things' thing, is it?"
"No. It was a plan from a while back...a 'leaving Bernard' thing...I don't think I can go back to that house alone..."
"I'd call that running away." Memphis stated.
"Nobody asked you!"
"Bernard just died. You up and leave now, you'll not have a chance to get over it, no chance to think about things. Take it slow."
"What the hell do you know about it?"
He winced slightly at the harsh tone. "I just lost my best friend. I'm staying put. I'm still going to work here. I'm going to drag myself through as normal."
"It's not the same!"
"I was closer to Amadeus than you were to Bernard!" He kicked a bin and stormed over. "I've known Amadeus for far longer than you've known Bernard. He has saved my life multiple times and likewise, but this time I was too slow. I could easily have stopped his killer on time, but I didn't. I let him die. I froze, and I have no idea why, but...but I did. In a sense, I killed him. You couldn't have made any difference to Sult's death, so you carry no blame, but this will haunt me for years. Nobody could have saved Bernard. I carry that blame, I carry that loss of my last friend I'm not married to, I'm alone. I've lost almost everyone, and everyone almost lost me, but I'm still carrying on."
She said nothing. Then she threw his jacket at him. "Leave me alone, Memphis!"
"You deserve to be left alone...to think things over...think about what I said and think about your choices and everything that's happened. Just think things through, Melantha." He turned and left. A few minutes later, River followed.
She hugged him from behind, sort-of pinning his arms to his sides. "It's alright, querido. It's over. No-one truly goes away when they die. Bernard and Isaac and Amadeus will always be here."
He responded in Spanish as someone he hated passed by. Roughly translated you would get '[beep] that. You [beep]ing think that but in all [beep]ing honesty, I...' He cut off there and broke away.
"You're not alone. You have me and Melantha and there will always be others there for you."
He swore again. "Injusto."
"Life isn't fair. Get used to it."
"I know. I need time to think..."
He nudged the Grotesquery with the side of his foot. "It didn't work...I'm binding things to it until it doesn't work anymore." Esra picked it up and dragged it away. Tewdews sat there, staring after him until he disappeared completely from view. Her eyes then flicked to Twist and Vex. "Hi."
There was a hesitant silence before Vex forced a smile. "Hi."
"So what is that thing your friend wants destroyed and why does he want it destroyed?"
"It's a God corpse, he's not my friend, he kind of wants to torture and kill me, and he wants it destroyed because some people plan on using it to bring monsters to our reality."
"Cool." She stood up and stretched. "Weird place. Very medieval Gothic sort."
"Not my castle."
"Close enough." He clapped his hands together happily.
"You're a vampire. I'm allowed to be strange."
It was late and Mist was getting ready to go home. She was in Erskine's bedroom again, getting her coat on. That was when she heard something. It sounded like...like someone playing violin? She hurried downstairs and to the doorway of the living room. He was sitting facing the television, eyes closed, violin under his chin. Smiling, she leant against the doorway and listened. It was sweet, melodic. He was pretty good, but for all the classical songs she knew she could not place the one he was playing. He opened his eyes, saw her and stopped playing.
"It was a short piece. It was over."
"It was very good. What was it?"
"Four Seasons. Winter."
Didn't sound like it, she thought. There were bits missing, but he did seem to be doing it from memory, so...She sat beside him. "Can you play anything else?"
With a deep sigh, he did as he was told. True to what he had said before, it wasn't very good. He got lost several times and played a few wrong notes, and at one point went so wrong the strings squealed and he nearly dropped the instrument. So he wasn't amazingly talented, but he probably just needed sheet music and practice. Once he was finished she forced a smile and clapped.
"I sort of wrote my own piece once...it wasn't good, at all, and it had lyrics, which were stupid, and it sounded like a stupid pop song."
"Is it a love song?" She asked, a laugh in her voice.
"Unfortunately it is."
"I remember it better than the other two. I found the sheet music I wrote the night after the...uh...night terror." He began to play, then stopped, lowering the violin. "Do I have to sing as well?"
She thought for a moment. "Can you sing?"
"In that case, I'll be the judge."
He sighed and played again. His voice was deep and managed to fit the music well. He was certainly a better singer than he was a musician.
"She flits around from place to place
Her hair is black as night
She gets in fights with everyone
Then goes away to cry
I know she seems to hate me and I likewise
But something deep inside
Makes me adore this crazy darling girl
Steady by my side..." He stopped. "There's, uh, no second verse."
"That's okay. It was nice, though...was that about me?"
"It wasn't really about anyone. The girl was kind of imaginary...I can model a second verse around you..."
"I'd like to hear that when it's done."
He smiled and she got up to leave, when he started playing again.
"Pale skinned like china
A perfectly-crafted thing
So official on the outside
But soft and sweet within
And every little thing she does
Is amazing, brave and still...
The only thing I hate about heeeeeer
Is that her laugh sounds like metal banging on a tin"
She turned at that, putting on a mock insulted face. "Well when you snore, it sounds like a strangled sea-lion."
"When have you heard me snore?"
"At the medical bay in the Sanctuary?"
"I don't snore..."
Yulianna's eyes flickered open. Beside her on the pillow was the bracelet with her given name on it. She looked up and nearly jumped out of her skin. Santa Clause, Mihai Viscol and one of Mihai's elders were standing over her. "What is this?" She hissed through gritted teeth. Viscol smiled.
"I have the proof that you're working with Mevolent. I've given it to the remaining Russian elder. They're quite glad to be shot of you."
"You tried to kill me."
"It was deemed the best course of action to protect the Sanctuaries around the world."
"Why am I still alive?"
The mystery elder interjected. "You're still alive because Grand Mage Viscol believes you can be of use."
"Thank you, Elder Lumina."
"How could I 'be of use'?"
"Mevolent believes you to be dead, meaning you can operate nearby under the radar. Dare attempt to contact him, of course, and...well..." He snapped the bracelet around her wrist, "let's just say that particular darling piece may be a little cursed..."
Hato knocked politely on the door to Elder Gyazara's office. "Yuki, can I have some assistance please?"
Yuki Gyazara looked up, eyes widening a little. "Uh, s-s-sure, Mi-Minako. With w-w-what?"
Minako Hato smiled seductively. "Come. Follow me and I will show you."
Yuki had always had a bit of a crush on Minako. It was a bit of an effect she had on people, similar to China Sorrows, Eliza Scorn and Gale Blaze. It was around Blaze's less noticeable level. It was why she had effectively names herself 'Beautiful Heart'. Yuki himself was nothing special. Bowl-cut hair, his nose was slightly pushed back, almost constantly sweating and noticeably jaundiced. He was scrawny and weak, but had excellent leadership skills and a stutter. He hated his stutter. Hato brought him to a supply closet. Blushing slightly, he followed her in at her beckon. "M-Minak-ko, I th-thi-think-"
"No, no you don't, Tsamiron."
He froze. "Ts-Tsa-Tsamir-ron?"
"Tsamiron, open the door." His eyes widened as he found he was incapable of disobeying. "You see, Yuki, Tsamiron is your true name. Tsamiron, accompany me to Grand Mage Koken'Nin's office please." She pressed a knife into his hand, "and hide this up your sleeve."
Horrified, he followed her, hoping to see someone along the way he could call to for help, but he saw no-one. They reached the Grand Mage's office and Hato knocked. "Grand Mage, Elder Gyazara and I wish to speak to you."
She opened the door and smiled, beckoning poor Yuki in after her.
"Elder Gyazara...are you okay?" Ryuunosuke asked, getting up, face a mask of concern.
"G-Grand Mage, hel-elp me-m-me..."
Ryuunosuke's eyes widened and he opened his mouth to call for Cleavers, but Hato pushed at the air and threw him over his chair. "Tsamiron, help me kill him, please." Yuki felt himself raise the knife and walk towards the Grand Mage and it felt like he was watching someone else do this. It felt like it couldn't possibly be him...
((Was originally meant to focus on Jack...then I had a massive chunk of Rist enter my mind...ALL THE RIST!!!...And OMG, normally I can write plenty of song choruses but this is the first time I've ever successfully written verses, and the second one was as spontaneously improvised as it was for Mr Ravel...wowie zowie...and in case anyone is wondering what the hell Jaundice is, it's yellowing of the skin.))