“Cat Maaaaaaaadigaaaaaan,” I hear you nonexistent readers cry. “We wanna know what happened to your friend in Deliiiiriuuuuuuuuum.”
FINE YOU NONEXISTENT LITTLE SHITS.
Nah, it’s alright. I do need to talk about it, at least if I want to make my bad mood seem more plausible.
As some of you nonexistent readers know, I had managed to get permission from Christan to see my friend from Reality who had ended up in Delirium. I’m guessing they thought it would help get him to talk more. I didn’t really care, I just wanted to see him.
It was Christan himself who escorted me, along with Daniel, who wouldn’t be left behind. When I objected, he rolled his eyes. “If things get out of control, someone needs to step in,” he said.
“I’d be fine,” I told him. “Even if he didn’t recognise me, he’d be chained up, wouldn’t he?”
“Your friend isn’t who I’m worried about,” he said.
I frowned. “I don’t follow.”
Daniel grinned. “You wouldn’t,” he admitted. “For a killer, you are far too innocent.” He doesn’t flinch when I slap him across the face. “I’m talking of that gift he gave you.”
“That ribbon? What of it?”
He sighed. “I am here to protect your virtue,” he informed me.
“What virtue? Mines already ripped to shreds. Here, at least.”
“Then your reputation.”
“…again. What reputation?”
“Alright then. I am here to stop Christan from taking you in the dungeon.”
“Well that was blunt.” I groaned. “Does this mean you’re going to make me wear a belt too?”
“Hey, I have nothing against you having relationships with people,” Daniel corrected. “The only thing I object to is you doing stuff to make others happy.”
I frowned. “Don’t I do that anyway?”
“Not in that sense.” Daniel groaned and shook his head. “Look. His Grace is a nice kid, but he has….the potential to turn into a tyrant.”
He smiled at that. “Yes, like that turd of a Game of Thrones character. It’s just a matter of letting him learn his power. Do you understand at all?”
I nodded. “Only let a king know what he should do, not what he can do.”
“Good girl. Basically what I’m trying to do is to make him remember his morals. Just because he wants something, doesn’t mean he should have it.” Before he could continue, the door opened and Christan walked in, with Thommand following behind him. Both greeted us warmly, and vice versa. An outsider would’ve considered us happy to see eachother.
This wasn’t necessarily the case. My view of Thommand was along the lines of a serpent whispering in Christan’s ear. Daniel wouldn’t take his eyes off Christan, who greeted me as a dear friend, even though this was but the second time we had met. Thommand watched everything too, and even I noticed how Christan continued to hold my hand after he raised it to kiss.
We travelled down the long staircases, everyone giving us lingering looks as we passed them. I was wearing something more appropriate than when I was first in public; a long grey gown, not unlike ones which Jhaq occasionally wore. Did they look at Kaya the same way? I’d have to ask her that.
The ostentatious castle grew less ostentatious the more stairs we travelled down. When we were growing close to the dungeons, I was starting to feel glad that I didn’t live here all the time. It would be a chore to walk around this place all the time, like Daniel did.
I had stayed mostly quiet this whole journey to the dungeons. When we entered the long passage which would lead us to them, however, I started hearing sounds of a commotion, growing louder and louder as we walked. “What’s going on?”
Suddenly someone charged past us, and sprinted towards the entranceway. More followed, a dozen guards stumbling after him. “Don’t let him get away!” Christan yelled out.
I don’t know why I did what I did, or how. But in a split second, my hands were shaking and I was hurling a ball of light where the prisoner was running.
He stopped before the entranceway burst into flames. His hesitation was what cost him his freedom, as at that moment, a guard caught him up and slammed him against the wall. “Quick work Cat,” Daniel whispered.
Christan’s eyes were wide, as if he’d never seen something like that before. Thommand merely looked curious. “You’ve been training,” he noted.
“I’ve had practise,” I replied. I didn’t tell him how I’d been throwing fireballs at Daniel’s ceiling whenever I had been annoyed at him. Which was a lot.
“Just as well.”
I turned away from the three of them and walked to the prisoner. “Don’t hurt him!” I told the guard holding him up against the wall. “I want to speak to him.”
“Why? So he can bite off someone else’s hand?” he growled. The prisoner gave a dark chuckle at that, only to get slapped around by the guard.
“Take him back to his cell, for gods sake,” I demanded. “Or another cell if you can’t use that.”
“Who are you to order me around?” The guard turned to leer in my face.
I refused to cower. “My name is Cat Madigan and I just burnt down a stone entranceway,” I replied. “I am Daniel’s ward and Kaya’s student and I know this man, and I demand to speak to him alive, or so help me, I will turn you into charcoal!”
“Get. The fuck. Out of my sight!” he screamed.
I’m close to raising my hand to strike when Christan interrupts. “Return the man to his cell,” he ordered. “And if I dare see you speaking that way to Lady Madigan once again, you’ll join him.”
The guard bristled, but did as Christan said. He turned to me. “You have no idea what he’s done, Freak,” he informs me. “You’re a fool to want anything to do with him.”
The prisoner’s hair hung over his eyes, but I could see the rest of his face. There was blood staining his teeth, and his mouth curled up in a snarl.
I decided to try. “Papa Willis?”
His mouth shut close. He said nothing. “He’ll escape the minute his door is opened again,” the guard called to the others. “Give him one of the darker cells.”
“I want to talk to him!” I objected.
Daniel put his hand on my shoulder. I shook it off and began following the guards, who were leading Willis away. “Please, it’s vital that I speak with him!”
“Look, lady-” A quick flash of anger across Christan’s face made the guard pause before continuing. “This is a madman. He broke through the chains and bit off Sid’s hand when he tried to stop him. This door now…”
We come to a halt in front of a giant silver door with several restraints. “He won’t be able to break through this,” he told me. “And he can get his meals through here. No one’s gonna get hurt because of him.”
“I need to talk to him,” I insisted.
He groaned. “Will someone else reason with this foolish woman?”
Thommand stepped up behind me. “No one wants to risk one of their own from interacting with him. This cell will give him everything he needs until it is decided what will be done with him. Meaning this cell is not going to be opened till then.” His words were probably meant to sound sympathetic, if not for that look in his eye. “No one will be able to speak to him once he’s locked up.”
I paused. “For how long will he be imprisoned?”
“How should I know?”
The door opens and Papa Willis is dragged inside. I looked back at my three companions, and I followed the guards in. “Cat!” Daniel hisses.
“Lady Madigan, it’s not right!” Christan called.
I ignored both of them and stood next to my friend. The guards hesitated when I didn’t leave. “She’s with him,” Thommand said. “Hurry out.”
One of the guards went to chain me up. “Touch her, and you’ll all lose your hands,” Daniel growled.
As they left the cell, I looked out at Papa Willis. He hadn’t said anything this whole time. Outside, Daniel raised a hand to me, almost as if he were waving. He looked as if he were going to say something, but then the angry guard from before closed the door behind me.
“Well aren’t you stupid?” Papa Willis jeered.
I turned to him. “I prefer Cat, to be honest,” I told him. “But I can live with Stupid. Do you want me to fix your hair?”
He just spat at me. “Well, too bad, because it’s annoying me, and you’re chained up.” I went over to him and pulled his hair away from his eyes. They just glared at me. “How long have you been here?”
He doesn’t answer. “Okay…” I sighed. “They said that there were three of you. Who else was there? Slenderman? Smith? Flash?”
Papa Willis looks up. “Don’t talk about them,” he fumed. “You don’t know them, you have no right to talk about them as if you do!”
It then hit me. “You don’t remember me, do you,” I said faintly.
“Not really. Were you part of that crowd that brought me in?” He snorted. “You’re the most normal looking so far, I’ll give you that.”
I was silent. His frown wasn’t with irritation this time. More confusion. “Am I meant to know you?” he asked.
“I…” I looked down. “We were friends.”
“Were friends,” he repeated. “What did you do? Leave me for some cooler people? Left when things got tough?”
“No…I never left,” I said. I felt like I was about to cry. “And I won’t leave either.”
Papa Willis scoffed. “I dunno. You look like you’d be comfortable out there. Your boyfriend would miss you too much to let you stay in here with me.”
“You don’t understand, I-”
“I get it, don’t worry.” He rolled his eyes. “I’m not stupid, I know what they’re doing. And I’m not talking either. No matter what kinky shit you try to pull on me.”
I flicked him in the nose at that. “Hey!” he complained. “Who flicks someone in the nose? Surely you can do better than that.”
I shook my head. “Come on now. I saw you outside. Go on. Hit me.”
“I don’t want to. You’ve been beaten up enough.”
“So you’re a coward then.”
“That’s the last thing I am.”
“Then who are you?”
I inhaled. “My name is Cat Madigan. I know you don’t recognise me, but I used to call myself something else.” And I tell him my real name.
Before he could talk, I continued. “I…didn’t think I had changed that much. I didn’t realise I was so different from Reality. But…” Tears were now falling out of my eyes, but I couldn’t help it. “Do you remember her at all? You were like a brother to her. She was sixteen, with long brown hair and weird eyes? She could laugh at anything, but at the same time, it only took one sentence to make her upset. She liked to draw. She…didn’t have it that good at home. But that was okay. Because she had you and her friends. Even when she got lonely and sad, she knew you were there.” Even though I was close to sobbing, I tried smiling at him. “And now she’s incredibly pissed at you because you’ve made her cry!”
Suddenly the door opened and the guards came in again. They made a beeline for me, and started pulling me out by the arms. “Let me go!” I demanded. “Please let me go!”
They paid no attention as I kicked and screamed, and they wouldn’t let me go until they cell door was slammed shut behind me.
Then they started running as I started hurling fireballs everywhere.
My hand was mid-strike when Daniel caught me. I punched at him and swore at him, but he wouldn’t let me go. Eventually I just broke down sobbing, and he let me sit there for as long as I needed.
Finally, I looked up. “He didn’t know me,” I whispered.
“He didn’t know me,” I repeated. “Daniel…have I…am I really so different here?”
When he didn’t answer, I just leaned back on him, and felt his arms wrap around me. “Who am I?” I was murmuring. “Who am I Daniel?”