Come On Out, Shadow

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Before I could move, Noah grabbed the blade of the knife in what I assumed was a panicked attempt to stop her. He hissed as it cut into his hand and black blood ran down his arm, but he didn’t let it go.

“Fool!” Emisair fumed, furiously trying to twist the knife out of his grasp. I finally came to my senses and swiped her with my foot, throwing her across the room, and the knife falling out of her hand.

Noah ran and grabbed the knife, where it was swiftly dropped into his pocket. He gave Jhaq a once-over to confirm she was alright before we both turned back to Emisair.

She was staggering towards us. “She’s not safe!” she hissed. “Either we kill her, or she’ll kill us.”

“There has to be another way!” I insisted. “It’s possible! It just happened for fucks sake!”

“You stupid bitch…lightning never strikes twice in the same place. You’re delaying what is inevitable!” Emisair’s eyes were filled with rage.

“We’re not killing her!” Noah snarled. “Not when we can still save her! That’s all there is to it.” He was more furious than I had ever seen him, and he completely ignored the blood gushing out of his hand from Emisair’s knife. I was about to offer a cloth to wrap it with when Emisair suddenly leapt at him and my focus changed.

I managed to push him away in time, but as a result, it was I who was being pushed against the back of the room by a frenzied Emisair, right next to where Jhaq lay. Her nails were clawing into me, as if she were trying to rip out my heart- maybe she was- and as she did, her eyes seemed to glow completely red and her teeth spread into a sinister smile. “Come on out, Shadow,” she said maniacally. “I know you’re there! Come out and plaaaaa-”

With that, I socked her in the face and kicked her away. “Stop it!” Noah yelled at the both of us.

I ignored him. I had no care in the world anymore. “What are you trying to do?” I asked Emisair, walking towards her. “If you want to kill me…” Everything around me sharpened, intensified, amplified. I could see and feel her heartbeat from where I stood, and it would be nothing to rip it out…”Go ahead,” I finished with a grin.

So she did.

Or rather…she tried to.

I dropped to the ground when she flew at me again. She came to a halt standing above where I lay. Still reeling from her charge, she couldn’t block my foot smashing into her chest, sending her flying into the ceiling. It was almost too perfect that a chandelier was dangling right where Emisair was about to fly into.

Killing was far easier sans a human body.

There was a loud crashing sound as the thing shattered and fell to the ground around me, a shower of glass and crystal. I watched Emisair drop before my feet, shaking with rage and pain. Blood ran down her back, mixing with the glass on the ground. She hissed at me and I could see her body becoming longer, her claws scraping against the ground. A feverish grin spread across her face, and Noah started yelling at both of us to stop. But that wasn’t going to happen.

I raised my claw, ready to strike.

It wasn’t Noah who stopped us. Or even Daniel. It was Christan who yelled out “STOP!” from the doorway, perhaps saving the life of Emisair in the process.

Both of us froze and looked at him. He looked terrified, not at all like a natural king, though the crowds behind him wouldn’t be able to see that. “Step away from eachother,” he commanded shakily.

I immediately obeyed, partially out of sympathy for Christan, but also because I was slowly coming out of my psychotic/demon mode and I wanted things to stop. I fell back into my body, the cold of the room reaching me even with Emisair’s cloak. Emisair merely glared at him. “Your human’s slut has physically assaulted me,” she informed him, her body changing back as she spoke. “I shall not stand for it! Either discipline her or I shall gather my men and leave. Now.

I slowly got up. My senses were still distorted by my rampage. Christan was looking at me, trying to seem stern. “Cat…”

“She was going to murder Jhaq!” I croaked. “That was the only reason why I-”

“It’s true,” Noah confirmed. “It was Emisair who attacked first. Not Cat.”

Emisair flared up. “I was going to kill the demon inside her,” she said. “These two would put their fellow people in danger due to sentiment. I wasn’t about to let her slaughter us all when we knew that she was a danger.” She turned to Jhaq, lying asleep on her bed. “The woman that she was is no more. She would mercilessly murder everyone from her king to her little daughter. And these two would risk that.”

“No…” I took a deep breath. “I had the same monster inside me,” I confessed the boy-king, and the people behind him inhaled. “But I managed to force them out before I could be taken over completely. I believe that Jhaq is capable of doing the same, if she’s given the chance.”

“I agree,” Noah spoke up. “I don’t see the need to take a life in order to destroy what is only a potential threat. We have the time to stop it, it is still-”

“What time is this?” Emisair retorted. “The longer we wait, the stronger that thing is. We’re putting everyone at risk here by waiting for what is inevitable.” She looked directly at Christan. “I will not stand by and wait to die. Either stop this threat…or I’ll leave, with my men behind me.”

Oh please, please do.

Unfortunately, Christan was reluctant to let that happen. “You can’t,” he said weakly. “You know that-”

“I do know. Your forces are far weaker than theirs. Our alliance is the only thing that keeps your people safe. But if you will put them in danger, I see no point in my presence here,” Emisair spoke coldly. “Take a side. Now.”

I knew what Christan would pick, but I tried to speak out. “Listen-”

“What is this?” A voice called out.

The crowds moved around to make way for Daniel who strode into the room. He immediately went to my side and put his hand on my arm. I immediately felt warmer, calmer. “What has happened?” he questioned Noah.

Noah spoke immediately. “The Lady Emisair tried to end Jhaq’s life. Cat managed to stop her, and now Emisair is claiming that she is in the right.”

“I am in the right,” Emisair spoke with utter conviction. “That thing inside her is a slaughtering machine. It nearly took your paramour, and now it is succeeding in taking your servant.”

“And now she’s blackmailing his Grace into submitting to her will,” I spat. “If Jhaq doesn’t die, she’ll leave.”

Daniel’s face didn’t show anything. “Daniel,” Christan spoke. “What do you see?”

He remained silent. I myself had no idea what Christan meant. Noah took Daniel’s silence as an opportunity to speak. “Cat Madigan was able to escape unharmed. I have no doubt that she can assist me in helping Jhaq recover. Just give us that chance, your Grace.”

Before Christan could speak, there was a voice. “Master…Nnnn…”

Jhaq was slowly rising from her bed. “Don’t let her move,” Christan ordered, and several guards dashed in and raised their blades to her.

Slowly, Jhaq backed down, and opened her eyes. Still black. “What is this?” she asked, and her voice made my stomach flip.

“Drop your act,” Emisair ordered. “There’s no doubt of this now.”

“No doubt of what?” Daniel retorted. “Will you explain yourself?”

“Your servant is being taken by the same entity that nearly took Cat Madigan. And now that she speaks, there’s no doubt of it.”

Daniel looked at me in confusion. I bowed my head. “Her voice…it’s Axyl’s,” I admitted. “Not Jhaq’s.”

Emisair turned to Christan. “I believe we have more than enough to confirm this?” she enquired. There was a murmur of appreciation from the crowds, and Christan looked away from us. I knew he had made his decision.

“Cat…”

I flinched at the voice of the monster calling my name. I slowly looked at her, but I couldn’t keep my eyes on her terrified face for more than a second. Daniel watched me in silence.

“Now.” Emisair spoke as if the matter had been settled. “Onto the matter of the assault. I want the girl locked up, considering how she cannot be executed. I believe this is fair-”

“What on earth are you talking about?” Daniel spat.

“I kicked her into the chandelier,” I informed him.

Daniel raised an eyebrow, but Noah spoke before he could reply. “An attack which was initiated by Emisair’s own assault.” He raised his hand to show everyone the ugly knife wound that Emisair had given him.

Suddenly, the atmosphere changed. The crowds started murmuring again, but this time, they were discussing Emisair’s own behaviour. It occurred to me from what they said that while Emisair could outrank both Daniel and myself, she was still an outsider, a visitor in this world. And by wounding one of their own…

“He was stopping me.” Emisair replied, unfazed. “That cut was his own fault, not mine.”

That was her big mistake. The people bristled at her for dismissing what she had done, for making herself out to be higher than the likes of themselves. Emisair seemed to realise what she had done, but she couldn’t recant now.

“Put her under house arrest,” Noah interjected. When Christan looked at him, he went on. “Both of them.”

“What?” Emisair spat.

“Noah…” I was about to argue.

“I will not pretend that Cat Madigan is innocent,” Noah said, meeting my eye. I remembered the moment when I lost control, when I was ready to kill the red eyed woman. “But it was Emisair’s actions which triggered her behaviour. If they’re both placed under house arrest, they will not be within proximity of eachother. No more incidents of this kind shall occur.” Noah shifted his gaze to Emisair. “If that does not stop them, then the next course will be, of course, imprisonment in the cells.”

Emisair fumed. “I am not to be treated like her. I do not need to be punished.”

“By that logic, neither should Cat,” Noah replied. “Your actions are equivalent to hers. And one can go on to say that while Cat’s behaviour is expected of her, because of her humanity, you on the other hand should be able to control your actions.”

She bristled. Noah, as the victim in this, had the most influence over her fate, and she knew it. He may not be letting me off the hook for my behaviour- I was about to kill her for fucks sake- but Emisair would’ve murdered Jhaq in cold blood, and he wasn’t going to stop till she was punished for that.

“I believe this is fair,” Christan finally said. “Cat Madigan will be confined to her chamber for a moon, as will Emisair. Remove them now.”

“Wait,” Emisair said suddenly. “For Cat Madigan, this is not a long period of time. More often than not, she’s unconscious in her room. She could sleep for a moon, and wake up when she’s ready to be released.”

Even I had to admit she had a point. If our roles were reversed, I’d find it pretty unfair too. Of course, I wouldn’t be such a bitch and start a fight with her.

Well, maybe. I dunno.

“Then I’ll watch her,” Noah proposed. “I’ll account for when she’s awake and when she’s not. She can be released after thirty days and thirty nights of activity.”

“And separate her everyone?” Emisair interjected, a sudden gleam in her eye. “Including Daniel?”

Daniel put his hand on mine, covering the light that was about to be thrown in her fucking face. “Her chambers are my chambers,” he reminded her. “We can house Noah if he wishes. Either way, her punishment is identical to yours, my lady.”

She scowled. “Fine. But she is still confined.”

“As you are,” Daniel agreed.

She turned on her heel and stormed out, only to be grabbed by a guard. “I know my way,” she snapped.

Another guard approached me, and gestured for me to walk with him. I was surprised that he didn’t grab me. Perhaps he was afraid.

I followed him, but Daniel stayed behind. As the door closed, he raised a hand to me, as if to wave.

That’s when I remembered Jhaq.

And Axyl.

“What’s going to happen?” I asked the guard urgently. “Will she be alright?”

“What do you think?” There was no unkindness in his face, he even appeared sorry, if only a little bit.

I shook my head. I knew what I thought. I loved Jhaq…but I was even more afraid of Axyl. And if she attacked me, I knew what my first instinct would be. Still, Jhaq hadn’t hurt anyone. The only signs of Axyl she had shown us were her voice and her black eyes…

“Why can’t Daniel see her eyes?” I questioned.

Unexpectedly, the guard answered my question. “I wouldn’t know,” he said. “Perhaps it’s part of his humanity. That would explain it.”

“But I’m human too,” I reminded him.

“Are you?” he replied. “We all saw you.”

I grimaced. “I have no excuse for that,” I admitted. “But even if I’m not human, I’m still treated like one.”

“We cannot change the manner of our birth,” he pointed out. “We have no control of how our lives turn out.”

I thought of Kaya, one moment a promising politician, the next a deadly weapon. I remembered Nereida’s brutal death at the hands of the same one who killed Kaya, her old friend. Daniel himself had been thrown into this world the minute he left mine. And who would’ve thought I would’ve become this? A depressed paranoid schizophrenic with a growing detachment from Reality, no longer able to feel pain or death. “Believe me, I know.”

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Back in Action

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Reality was the last place I wanted to be when I awoke, but to my dismay, when I opened my eyes, I saw the roof of my ceiling instead of the red velvet atop of Daniel’s canopied bed. Fuck.

Later on, after dinner, I decided to tell Papa Willis what had happened, as I couldn’t tell my real family, of course, and he was the one of the few who knew what was going on with Daniel. So I told him. Well, I gave him enough hints for him to figure it out.

“Shaddup,” I messaged him after he realised what I was saying. I was so grateful that I wasn’t telling him in person, I would’ve died on the spot if I did. And I was even happier that Daniel wasn’t there to see, or read, his reaction.

After some teasing and questioning, Papa Willis reassured me that it was okay, and that he could trust me not to judge. The subject turned to Delirium, and the monsters within. “Goddamn Delirium…” Willis said.

“It does have it’s moments though…”

“Cough, Daniel, cough.”

“…yeah.”

“Oh, and the fact that you’re pretty much the most powerful and dangerous person around now helps.”

Thanks Willis. I was about to reply, when he messaged me a couple more times. “Btw, if I’m in there still, you’ve got an ally,” he said. “Remember.”

That’s when something became apparent to me.

Noah had told me that I was the only human besides Daniel. At the time, I was too overwhelmed to question this. But he was wrong. For weeks prior, people were stirred up by the presence of three humans. One died, the other escaped and the third was taken in, and was marched through the castle grounds, and imprisoned.

“Be right back,” I messaged Papa Willis. “The most dangerous and powerful person in the world is now pissed off.” I didn’t need Daniel to send me to Delirium, within a blink of an eye, I was there.

I rolled out of Daniel’s bed and grabbed his long jacket and started buttoning. “Cat, what’s wrong?” Daniel murmured sleepily.

“Willis,” I told him, making sure that the buttons were completely done, in order to cover my lack of clothing underneath. I paused for a moment, then grabbed a long plum coloured skirt and shuffled into it. I didn’t have time for a corset, but I figured the better dressed I was, the more chance I had of getting what I needed.

“What have they done?” He was immediately awake. “Cat, what’s going on?”

“Human blood!” I had no time for shoes, I just bolted out the door, not waiting for Daniel.

He soon caught up with me though. My sense of direction in this place was severely limited, and I wasn’t bold enough to ask anyone for help. I later encountered him, fully clothed, walking towards me. “Christan’s chamber’s are that way,” he told me, pulling me in the opposite direction of where I was walking.

“So you understand.”

Daniel nodded. “Did you think I would be here if I thought otherwise?”

“They need you alive,” I stated, following him down the corridor. “And yet they went to me for blood. Why not Papa Willis? He’s probably a better match than I was, and they wouldn’t have had to purge you after you got better.”

“It was a lot of blood they needed…”

“Do you really think they would’ve cared about what happened to him?” I reminded him. “Noah said that Christan confirmed that I was the only possible donor, and believe me, he very much wanted you to survive. I think he would’ve put his ass above that of a human prisoner.”

“He couldn’t have forgotten Willis, could’ve he?” But I can tell by the look on Daniel’s face that he already knows that’s a negative.

I shook my head. “Christan himself granted me permission to see him. Not to mention he nearly escaped. There’s no way he could’ve forgotten that easily.”

“What are you going to do?” I could hear the apprehension in his voice.

“I’ll ask him nicely,” I assured Daniel.

“If you say so…you can catch more bugs with honey than vinegar after all.”

“Will manure do?” I replied.

He thought for a moment. “Yup.”

Christan was accompanied by about ten of his circle when we arrived. His face showed surprise, which was followed by a large grin as he saw our pleasant smiles. “Lady Madigan,” he greeted me, bowing to me and lifting my hand to his mouth for a kiss.

“Your Grace,” I replied, trying not to recoil at the touch of him. I still hadn’t forgotten.

“Daniel, it’s good to see you,” he said, his face going pale, though his expression remained friendly. “I would’ve thought that you would’ve remained in bed for a few more days.”

“The physic said he was healthy enough to walk around if he pleased,” I said.

“I believe his Grace was referring to something different,” a woman with sleek red hair and coal black skin informed me. The company behind us chuckled sycophantically, while Christan looked torn between laughing with his friends and the danger that was reflected in Daniel’s face. She approached the three of us, and curtseyed dramatically. Her eyes, when she looked up, were as red as her hair. “Emisair,” she announced herself. “I already know who both of you are.”

“Ah, so you’re the woman Thommand spoke of,” Daniel said. “According to him, you’re more flame than mortal.”

She beamed. “Well then,” Daniel said. He pushed me forward slightly. “I take it you will get along with my dear Cat Madigan then.” He smiled at my gaze of death. “I am off to speak to Thommand, so you stay here and be merry.”

I put on a complaint smile, and let him kiss my cheek, before whispering, “If you try negotiating things without me, you’re dead, sweetie.”

“Always a pleasure talking to you, my lady,” he replied, his eye glimmering, before walking out to the corner of the room to hunt for our least favourite fat man.

I turned back to my new aquaintance, with her red eyes bored and mouth sulky. “So,” she said. Her voice was deep and accented. “You’re the human’s whore.”

Charming lady. The whole room went silent, and took the two of us in. Emisair gazed at me as if she expected me to react.

I took a drink of cloud dew, knowing that I would need it. “Hmm?”

“A whore,” she repeated. “And a human whore to add to it.” She tutted. “He must look upon you in pity,” she said, gazing around the room to see all those who supported her. Only a brave few met her red gaze.

I smiled back calmly. “That’s a new name,” I told her. “But I do believe you have it wrong. I’m more commonly known as Freak, and that’s for a very good reason.”

“My lady…” Christan looked uncomfortable.

The lady gave him a look that could’ve burnt him alive. “I can see why,” she said rudely. “You have the look of the changed about you. You’re just like Kaya, only unlike her,” she took a step toward me, her eyes burning into my own. “You will never have any right to respect,” she finished with a sneer.

I smiled at her. “Thankyou,” I said sweetly. “I’m so glad to have made an impression. You, on the other hand, I’ll surely forget before the night is over…was it Emily?”

“Emisair!” she hissed.

“Right…forgive my forgetfulness, it’s just that I don’t particularly care for you,” I replied. I turned to Christan. “Your Grace, if you don’t mind, I’d I’d like to discuss more urgent matters than this snooty cow who is trying to insult me,” I said as I took another gulp of the sickly sweet drink. “Might we dance?” I knelt into a slow curtsey and lifted my head towards him, like Jhaq once taught me.

Shocked for only a second, he remembered himself and held out his hand. As I took it, he lifted me up and walked me to the centre of the room. The musician played and we began to dance. “I thought you wouldn’t have wanted to touch me,” Christan noted.

“Oh, I don’t,” I assured him cheerfully. “But I figure that if you try anything, then I can just set you on fire. We’re not in Reality right now, you know.”

His laugh was nervous. “I’m unsure whether you jest or not,” he said.

I shrugged. “Anyway, I need your assistance with something.”

“Anything.”

“My friend, the human. I wish to arrange another visit with him.”

He went quiet. “Your Grace?” I asked.

“…that may not be…”

“Why not?” I asked him. “I have a feeling he’d want to see me.”

“He’s…not in a good condition.”

I let my eyes narrow at him. “I thought he was being monitored.”

“He was…I mean-”

“There’s the word, was.” The fear was plain on his face, so I pressed him further. “What has happened to him?” I couldn’t control myself, I clenched my jaw. “Is he dead?”

“No! No!” Christan looks horrified. “No, he…he was alive…”

“Again with the term was, when was the last time you heard from him?”

“It…it was before T-”

“That’ll be all, your Grace,” Thommand’s harsh voice intruded. I turned, and saw him with Daniel beside him, looking grim.

“M’lord,” I curtseyed slightly, remembering the honey flavoured bullshit talk Daniel had with me. “Perhaps you can illuminate me? Where is my friend?”

“Gone,” he said simply.

My eyes trailed over to Daniel, who was glaring at the fat lord. “Let me rephrase that. Perhaps you can illuminate me…or I can illuminate you.” Literally.

“Threats will get you nowhere Lady Madigan, not here.”

“This is a reasonable request,” I said. “I want to know where he is. Now.”

He sighed. “You’ll listen to it from start to finish if you’re to hear it,” he ordered. “Though I imagine you’ll still remain angry.”

I smiled. “I’m only human after all,” I reminded him.

“Not by much,” he said nastily. He turned on his foot and left the room. Daniel took my arm and dragged me after him. On the way out, I could feel the woman’s red eyes glaring after me.

When we reached Thommand’s rooms, Daniel closed the door behind me. “Why was I not informed of Willis’ departure?” he demanded.

“You were still recovering,” Thommand replied. “Technically you were, anyway.”

“He was able to work from bed,” I retorted. “Why was this not in his papers?”

He merely shrugged. “Maybe he didn’t remember,” he suggested.

“Oh, I would’ve remembered.” Daniel’s eye didn’t leave Thommand for a moment.

Another shrug. “It matters not,” Thommand said. “Your lady wishes to know what is going on, Daniel. Would you like to…illuminate her, or shall I?”

“I think I’d prefer to hear it from you, m’lord,” I replied. “You know the whole story anyway.”

The corners of his mouth turned down into a scowl. “They wanted blood,” he started.

They only meant one thing. The monsters. “Go on.”

He let out another sigh. “For years, we’ve been giving them the prisoners of our world,” he informed me. “Criminals who cannot reform, have no place in our world.”

“And that has to do with Willis how?”

“This is the part you won’t like, Lady Madigan,” Thommand advised me.

“Trust me, I’m not too happy with the parts leading up to this either.”

Thommand shook his head. “They’ve been attacking people in the towns below. They were threatening them unless the human be transferred to their cells.”

No…. “You believed them?” I spat.

“I had no choice. The people will remember if we do not rise to protect them, and if they remember that, what do you think the chance is that they’ll protect us? Think of the greater good, you stupid girl.”

“I am.” I wasn’t bluffing. Papa Willis’ transfer meant another thing, one that Thommand would’ve been concerned about. “We still don’t know how he or the other three humans ended up here.”

“Other three?” This immediately peaked Thommand’s interest, and he stared at me intently.

Even Daniel’s surprised. “There were four of them?”

“I don’t know if they were travelling together,” I confessed. “But there was another human. She was at that brothel that you sent me and Daniel to.” The memory of that place made me sick inside.

“You mention this now?” Thommand groaned.

“I thought Daniel would’ve mentioned it,” I admitted. “Then again, he wasn’t in any condition to remember.”

“You were though.”

“Was I?” I raised an eyebrow. I went on. “At any rate, you should’ve gotten the information from him before they did.”

“We were trying,” he informed me angrily. “Unfortunately, our methods had to be restrained, thanks to you. If it weren’t for you, we’d know what happened, and none of this would even matter!”

I was silent at that. “I hope you’re pleased with yourself,” Thommand continued nastily. “Do you know what this means?” When I didn’t answer, he went on. “They’ll torture him. He’ll give them the information. They’ll have the advantage, another one. And he’ll die anyway. All because someone didn’t want us to hurt a crazed lunatic.”

“What if I hadn’t been aware of it?” I asked after a while. “What if that human had been taken in quietly, and I hadn’t known about it? What would’ve you done?”

“We’d have the information,” Thommand answered simply.

I glared at him. “Then you’re no better than they.”

We stayed like that for a while. Suddenly, Daniel’s voice broke the stormy silence. “Can we get him out? It’s only been a few weeks, they wouldn’t be treating him yet.”

Thommand looked over to Daniel. “What makes you think they’d be treating him before torturing him?”

“It’s their…specialty.” Daniel’s voice is sickened slightly. “Giving him the treatment would kill two birds with one stone. Besides, they’re not in any hurry for the information. Like you said, they’re already ahead of us.”

“You don’t know that though,” Thommand pointed out.

“It’s likely.”

“We’re not letting him die,” I finally spoke up. “We can’t.”

Thommand looked at me, half amused. “Why are you so determined to save him? Really?”

“He’s my friend,” I said. “And I need to know why he ended up here in this world. This isn’t just about him, this is about why I’m here too, and Daniel and the others.”

Thommand shook his head at this. “Must I be cursed with this goddamn philosopher?” he growled suddenly. “There are more important things here, can’t you get that through your head?”

“You don’t understand,” I insisted.

“I don’t need to. You, on the other hand, are only concerned with yourself and your own. There is a fucking war going on, and you’re busy questioning your own existence here! You can think about these things when you’re dead. Understand?”

“Completely.” Asshole.

Daniel took my shoulder. “We save him,” he told both of us. “We can’t let them have another advantage to hold over our heads.”

“The people will know,” Thommand reminded us sullenly.

“Then we’ll send protectors,” Daniel said.

“We barely have enough as it is.”

“Then we’ll have to train others. It wouldn’t be a bad idea to start training the children. Start with self defence, then-”

“No.”

I looked at Thommand. His face was set. “Why not?” I asked. “We’re not going to stand a chance without forces.”

“This is only a last-”

“I think we’re already heading downhill,” Daniel informed him. “Training the children will give them a fighting chance against them. Or would you rather them die like at Helevia?”

Thommand clenched his jaw. “We have more allies than they-”

“Allies, you say,” Daniel scoffed. “I’ve seen that fire woman; she’s like to switch to save her own skin. Allies won’t be enough to save us.”

Thommand was silent for a while. Against my better judgement, I worried that he was overwhelmed. He finally looked up at Daniel. “Find the man who’ll protect the villagers,” he ordered. “Organise a group of young ones to train, maybe your concubine can be of some use there.”

I gritted my teeth. “So we can go save him?”

He looked at me in a way I couldn’t define. “If you can.”

Daniel and I nodded and left the room. “We can do this,” I said to him. “We have to.”

He nodded, less convinced than I was. “Are you alright?” I asked.

“You’re the one whose hands are shaking,” he said.

I looked down and realised he was right. “Shit.” I frowned. “I guess I am scared.”

“Better than stupid.”

“Hmm…”

Daniel took my hand. “I’ll take care of what Thommand requested quickly,” he said. “In the meantime, you need to prepare yourself.”

“I know.”

He smiled sadly. “You know…it might be too late to save him.”

“We have to try.”

“I just…don’t want to get your hopes up.” He put his arm around me as we walked back to our room. As we went along, I became aware of how tired I was. So did Daniel. “You’re pale,” he noted.

I nodded. “I just need a break.”

He opened the door to his chambers. “I’ll get you some tea,” he said.

“Please do.” I sat down on the bed and closed my eyes.

Daniel got my tea and sat down next to me. Tentatively, he took my hand. “Are you alright?”

I nodded. “Just…I’ve gotten used to things calming down again.”

“Yeah…me too.”

I took a gulp of the tea, the mint clearing my head. “…I think I can handle it though,” I told him.

“Really?”

“Thanks,” I scoffed.

He shook his head. “You know what I mean. It’s just…well…”

“I’m not confident at all?” I finished.

“No! No…” Daniel grimaced. “Kinda.”

I stuck my tongue out at him. “It’s okay though,” I told him. “Right now, I’ve forgotten how to be afraid.”

“Hopefully that lasts then,” Daniel said.

“Amen,” I replied.

You Love Him

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Daniel was no longer having seizures, but he was confined to bed rest until he could stand without falling back down. As I didn’t have anything to do on Friday, I decided to leave Reality to stay with him during his recovery, leaving Kaya to her own devices. For the past few days, Daniel’s room was occupying the space that was my room, another piece of Delirium occupying Reality. Only this one have me a large headache. It was helpful when I was busy and needed to check in on Daniel without blacking out, but now all it gave me was a giant pain in the neck.

On Friday, I woke up in Daniel’s chambers, and when I opened the door, I saw the ostentatious hallways that was the palace. Trusting that the time I spent in Delirium wouldn’t be too long in Reality, I spent ten days in Delirium with Daniel.

I became used to having Jhaq and Noah as companions for this duration. When Daniel was asleep, I sometimes helped Jhaq with reading. She practised often and was now able to understand some poems, though I usually had to read them first in case she decided to show them to little Ray.

I slowly learnt to trust Noah, against my better judgement. My reasoning was that he had loved Kaya and supported her after her death, and anyone who was sympathetic with a traitor must have a decent reason for doing so. Besides that, he was willing to talk of things at court, and talk about Kaya when she was a child. He was able to satisfy some of my curiosity, though he still had boundaries, just like anyone else did.

When Daniel was considered competent to work from bed, I became used to servants coming in and delivering messages to him. They no longer did double takes at the sight of me, one even bowed when they entered and encountered me sitting by Daniel’s side as he slept. I was responsible for taking messages when he was unconscious. Most of them were queries as to when he would recover, but there were some requests for him to look into something suspicious around the Lake of Ghosts after he was better. I kept that one in mind, just in case I felt like tagging along.

Daniel’s bandage was removed and replaced with a black eyepatch, like Noah had told me would happen. He complained of the strangeness of only having one eye on a regular basis, and how he wouldn’t be able to react properly now that his peripheral vision was disabled on his right. He was embarrassed about taking his eyepatch off, so he kept it on even when he was sleeping. He probably took it off when he was helped down to where the hot steam was to bathe, but according to Jhaq, he usually did that when I was catching up on rest.

I shouldn’t have been entirely surprised to see Christan raise his admittedly beautiful head again. Daniel was still bedridden, and he was asleep when Christan quietly came in.

“What are you doing here?” I demanded.

Christan put his finger to his lips as he closed the door behind him. “No one knows I’m here,” he explained.

“Should they?” My left hand started burning again, and I didn’t even care that Daniel was sleeping next to me. I would light this prick on fire if I had to, no questions asked.

“I don’t want to hurt either of you,” he told me. “I…may I sit down?”

I didn’t answer him. “As you wish,” he sighed. “I understand why you hate me so.”

I didn’t respond to that either. Daniel suddenly cried out, and I immediately grabbed his hand. “Cat,” he hissed.

“It’s alright,” I told him. “It was just a dream, that’s all Daniel.”

“Argh…” He let out a shudder and his left eye squeezed close. He was still wearing the eyepatch, the vain man.

“Relax now,” I told him. “Do you want to go back to sleep?”

“Sleep…yes…” he murmured. His eye blinked open and gazed up at me. He lifted the hand he was holding to his lips, and kissed the fingers. “You should sleep too, you know,” he told me. “You look drained.”

“I’m fine,” I insisted. “I’ll go to bed soon, I promise.”

“Good girl.” Even drowsy and exhausted, Daniel’s tone still managed to sound as dry as a bone. His hand slowly drifted down to his chest and he fell asleep once more.

I was gently removing my hand from his when Christan spoke. “Tell me about him,” Christan asked quietly.

“You’re lucky he didn’t see you,” I told him.

“Cat…I…” I turned to face him. “I want you to know that I am ashamed of what I had done. Not only what I had done to Daniel, but to you as well, most of all. You…” His face was scarlet, but he didn’t stop. “I called you a dear friend, and then I treated you like a dog. I know you can’t forgive me, but just know that I will never do anything like that again. To anyone.”

I hesitated before giving him a nod of acknowledgement. “Thankyou,” I said.

Christan tentatively walked to the end of Daniel’s bed. “Thommand would’ve banned me from coming here,” he confided in me. “He told me to act like the whole thing never happened. But that…wasn’t right. It did happen, and Daniel is proof of it.” We both watched Daniel’s sleeping face. “I’m curious,” he started.

“About what?”

“Mercy.” Christan was frowning. “Everyone knows who you are, Cat Madigan. What you’ve done hasn’t gone unnoticed.”

Here we go again. “I want to understand why some people die at your hand, while others are left alive,” he said. “Why you let me live.”

I hadn’t thought much over that, much to my surprise. I chose to spend more time considering why I killed at all, but I soon realised that he was right. “I…I don’t know.” I held my hand in front of me. The letters aren’t glowing right now, all that’s there are the dark scarlet carvings. “I…I suppose it has to do with loyalty. Of a sort,” I amended. “It has to do with my state of mind as well. In a blink of an eye, you don’t see that you have another option, you just focus on your instinct.”

“Instinct?”

I realised how awful that sounded. “It’s not always my instinct to kill,” I informed him. “But in that moment, when Daniel or I have been hurt by them…anger takes over, and I don’t see anything else.”

“What’s the difference between them and I though?”

“I think it’s the Cat Madigan,” I said. “You came to my world, remember?”

“I thought you two were the same.”

“No…” I told him sadly. “I’m weak in Reality. Daniel would tell you differently, but that’s the truth. When I’m in Reality, I can’t let many people know about your world, so I conceal my actions. So I can’t fight back in Reality, at least not with my physical body.” I remembered that day I murdered that Fury in the brothel, when I broke away completely and snapped every bone in her body. “Using…that though, is difficult. I can’t control her as easily.”

“The shadow,” he told me. “That’s your shadow.”

“I…yes…that’s what it is.” I closed my eyes. “I hate it when I come here. Every time, I feel like I’m becoming some sort of monster. I shouldn’t be able to kill like I do. But I can. I’m losing my humanity, and that means something to me.”

I knelt down on the floor beside Daniel’s bed. “He’s the only thing keeping me human,” I told Christan. “The only reason I can live with myself.”

“How did you two meet?” Christan asked. “When did this start?”

“I…was fourteen at the time. Or fifteen, I’m not sure actually. No, I was fifteen. I was being attacked. Strangled, to be exact. Then suddenly, it stopped. And he was there.”

“You must’ve been frightened.”

“Of course I was. But not of him.” I thought back. “He wasn’t like them. He didn’t make any move to touch me, and I decided he was safe.”

“He wasn’t your guardian though,” Christan pointed out.

“That was Kaya,” I confirmed. “I could see Kaya, so it made more sense that she take care of me instead of Daniel. I still saw him though, of course. He was often with Kaya. He was annoyed with me though. Like I said, I’m weak in Reality, and I had trouble fighting off the Shadows there. So he didn’t have time for me unless he needed something. He was an ass.”

He laughed at that. “He wasn’t that bad though,” I added. “A couple of times, after bad attacks, he’d stay with me and help me sleep. And then when he found out about my parents, he stayed with me all night.” I smiled slightly. “He insists that he didn’t cry, but I know that it wasn’t me. I didn’t cry in front of others, well, not when I wasn’t in physical agony.”

“Never?”

“Well, that might be a bit of an exaggeration,” I admitted. “Still, I could count on one hand the number of people whom I trusted enough to cry in front of for no reason.”

“Then Kaya died,” I sighed. Well, not exactly, but I don’t tell him that. “He was devastated, you know that.” Christan nodded. “So was I. But I…” I changed my mind at the last second. “I…I managed to get past it,” I lied. “I made myself focus on helping Daniel recover. It was difficult, but I managed to do it, somehow.”

“But then, after he recovered, I started having nightmares. I kept dreaming about Kaya dying, again and again. I thought it was me though, and I knew that I was going to die.

“Then the dreams got really bad. I could feel everything she felt, from the ice beneath her feet to the sudden shock of her heart stopping. And I couldn’t take it anymore. So…” What I was confiding in him was more than I trusted to some of my close friends, but I continued anyway.

“One night, I tried to drown myself,” I said quietly. “I held my head underwater until I started dreaming. But then I realised something.”

“And that was?”

“I was the stupidest person alive,” I said. “I would let myself die because of my visions, because I was frightened of a figment of my imagination. So I got my head out of the water, somehow.”

“Daniel came immediately. He was furious at first, but I was too out of it to care, I just wanted the pain inside my head to stop. I didn’t speak to him for a few days, not really. I couldn’t speak about it to anyone. I tried to get help from my friend, and she had a panic attack. She made it clear after that incident that I shouldn’t tell her these things, even if they were killing me, because she would be hurt too. So I kept it inside, along with everything else.

“I don’t remember when I started self harming, but I hated myself for doing it. I just wanted some way to get my pain out, and that seemed like the only option. Soon after, Daniel caught me, and I expected him to be angry. Instead, he took the razor from me, and let me cry on his shoulder.” I paused. “It was good to cry,” I added. “Before, I felt so cold on the inside, and I couldn’t do anything to get rid of it.”

“Anyway, after that, Daniel changed. Before, he was saying that I was weak, though never to my face. But then he took me under his wing. He didn’t treat me like an invisible person, he explained things to me, and he took my opinions seriously. And he stopped discouraging me when it came to fighting off the shadows. In return, I stopped being timid about everything, and I warmed up to him more. And I developed more a thick skin when it came to…what happened to me.”

“He cares about you deeply,” Christan observed. “He’s devoted to you and your safety, I know he is.”

I smiled softly. “When I changed, so did Daniel,” I said. “When I opened up to him, he relaxed a lot around more around me, and he stopped being so serious.” I laughed a little. “He teased me a lot too. But it wasn’t mean hearted, like other people are. He just did it to get me to stop being a sulk.” I looked down at Daniel. “He’s not perfect. But he’s the best man I know.”

“You love him.”

That statement made my heart stop. “You do,” Christan told me. “I should’ve seen it before, but I was blind. Now I can see the truth. He has your heart.”

“No, we’re not like that!” I flashed around in horror. “No, I don’t.”

“You do,” he repeated. “If he hadn’t survived your blood, how would’ve you felt? Tell me that.”

“I believe you should leave now,” I told him coldly. “You’ve overstayed your welcome enough.”

“So you don’t deny it.”

Leave. Now.”

He closed the door behind him, and I realised I was shaking. It made no sense to me why I was shaking, and I felt anger at Christan for making me feel that way.

Romantic feelings would always be pushed to the back of my mind when it came to people. Because no one would want to love a depressive schizophrenic, particularly one who is a total fuck up. It didn’t stop me from growing attachments to people though, which may or may not contribute to my emotional instability.

My ideal ‘romance’ wasn’t the type involving mushiness and flowers and stuff. To me, it’s more simple than that. I haven’t ever fallen in love, but I think that it would happen when I finally let myself trust them inexplicably.

Hence why I have classified myself as Forever Alone. Because after everything’s that happened to me, I don’t think I can let myself trust anyone that much. Besides, they all leave in the end. People always do. The only person who has stuck by me this far has been-

Oh god no.

Confrontations

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I opened my eyes. “Pink.” I immediately hear gasps coming from above me. I roll over. “Was it pink you chose?” I ask Ray.

She hesitates and shakes her head. “Green.”

“Should’ve guessed that,” I grimace. I lie back down. “I feel disgusting, what time is it?”

“Eight morn,” the doctor says from somewhere.

“Hello Noah.”

“You shouldn’t call me Noah.”

“Kaya was allowed to call you Noah,” I say provocatively.

“Oh, she didn’t have permission.”

“Mmmmph.” I roll over and knock against Daniel. “Daniel?” I immediately straighten up. Then I collapse back down again. I’m too lethargic to lift myself up. “How is he?” I ask.

“No response yet,” Noah says. “Anything could be happening.”

“Jhaq, did you give him tea again?” I had gotten Daniel to swallow a couple spoonfuls of tea when he was barely conscious to help improve his colour, at the advice of the doctor. She nods. “That’s good.” Once again, I try sitting up, and I just lean against the head of Daniel’s bed. “Crap…I have to do things today,” I groan.

Noah frowns. “What do you mean?”

“In…” I’m not sure what to say to these people. “In…my own world, I have to go to an appointment,” I say. “Therapy.”

“For what? Your health is perfect.”

“Not exactly, it’s complicated.” I roll out of bed, onto the floor. I struggle to stand, and Jhaq helps me shrug into a robe which smells like Daniel. “If anything changes, you’ll let me know, won’t you?” I demand Noah.

“Of course. We’ll send Jhaq or Ray.”

“Good.” I catch a glance of myself in the mirror. “How long was I unconcious?”

“I wouldn’t know how long it would be in your world,” he told me. “But you were…gone for two nights. We removed the rest of Daniel’s eye during that.”

“His blood levels?”

“His colour’s better, but like I said, there’s been no response yet.”

I look over at Daniel. If I didn’t know better, I would’ve said he were sleeping. “Be good,” I tell him, as if he could hear me perfectly well. I recoil at myself in the mirror. “I look like shit.” Then I saw Jhaq’s disapproval in the reflection. “Sorry, sorry,” I say hurriedly.

“Dying tends to do that to you,” Noah reminds me dryly.

“True, very true.” I stumble to the floor again. “No need,” I tell Jhaq as she rushes to help me up. “I’ll have you know that I fall at least three times a day, I can handle it.” I pull myself up onto my bed. “My dear doctor, what is recommended that I eat after mass blood loss?”

He frowns. “Anything that helps restore iron in your blood, that’s what Kaya once told me.”

“Wonderful. It looks like I’ll be having steak for breakfast.” Steaaaaaaaaaaaaak.

Then I remember I’d have to cook it in front of my family. “Or crappy gluten free cereal, that works too.”

“Maybe you should sit down again,” Noah suggests.

“No, I’m usually like this,” I tell him. “Just ask…yeah, I’m fine. Okay…” I open the door and a boy falls to the ground at my feet. Not knowing what to do, I look out into the hallway. It’s the same hallway as my house in Reality.

Then I look down. “Hello. Can you bring me a plate of steak?”

“I-I-I-I beg your p-p-p-pardon?” The boy was trembling, and slowly crawling back from me, it was clear he wasn’t meant to be there at the door, but my bloodless brain wasn’t aware of that, at least not immediately.

“Steak,” I repeat to him. “Something along the lines of beef, if you don’t have the genuine article. And make it medium rare, I need blood today.”

The boy begins to hurry away, only to be tackled by Noah. The sight of Noah holding the boy in a headlock brings me out of my hunger induced confusion. “Also,” I add, “you probably shouldn’t be listening to our conversation behind that door either. It looks uncomfortable.”

“What do you want?” Noah growls at the boy. He merely whimpers. “Answer me!”

“Don’t shout at the kid,” I tell Noah. “Bring him in here first anyway, so he can’t run.”

Noah proceeds to throw the kid into Daniel’s chambers, and he stumbles onto the ground. Noah slams the door behind him. “That’s not necessary,” I raised my voice. “You’re not to beat him, he can’t be more than seven.”

“A seven who records everything he hears and gives it to his master,” Noah replies.

“Even so, this is a hospital,” I tell him. “Or that is the case right now anyway. And no violence in the ward is allowed.”

He frowns at me. “Kaya told me you were kindhearted,” he says. “But I didn’t take you for someone who is soft.”

“I’m anything but. I’m simply tired,” I told him, and his face changed. “Kaya died a year ago. I’ve changed a lot since then, and I can assure you this has nothing to do with kindness or weak hearts. There’s a time and place for that sort of punishment, and it’s not now.” I sigh. “If you want to beat the boy, do it away from here, and away from me. I can’t stop you. But there’s been enough blood and death here today.”

“That’s a bit of an exaggeration,” Noah says, but he doesn’t move toward the boy.

“Question the boy and be done with it,” I said. I open the door and I see the glamorous hallways of the castle. “If you’ll excuse me, I’m off to find my prey.” Steaaaaaaaaaak.

_____________________________________

When I told Lolly about Daniel, I didn’t mention how I was drained until I was dead. That’s not what she cares about though. She’s more concerned about on how Daniel’s death would affect me than what I would go through to save him. So I didn’t say anything.

I was told to take my mind off things, as if Daniel slowly dying alone in his bed was as insignificant as a patch of dust on a jacket. I had become depressed as the day went on, worrying about Daniel and life without him. Talking about it only made me realise how much he meant.

And then I saw the last person I wished to see.

“Lady Madigan,” Christan greeted me outside the adolescent centre.

“Save it.” I walked straight past him, and I heard him hurry after me. “Are you deaf?”

“I was told to come here by the physician. I bring news of Him, my lady.”

“He said Jhaq would be sent.”

“She was, before I intercepted her.”

I turned around to glare at the golden prince. “You think that’s clever?” I hiss. “Going after me again after you’ve broken me already?”

“Listen to what I have to say and I’ll be gone!”

“That had better be the case.” I continued walking, but I slowed down, so I walked behind him. “Speak.”

“Daniel awoke for a few minutes, before going into a seizure. That is all I got of the message from the girl.”

“What exactly made you think that it would be safe for you, of all people to tell me that?” I growled.

“Calm down, I-”

You stuck a dagger in the eye of the man I trust the most!” I screamed. “If he’s dead, it’s on your hands.”

“It wasn’t my intention-”

“Save it. I’ve had enough.”

“I’m not done speaking.” He continued to walk beside me, and I remained completely silent. “He came at me and knocked me to the ground. He was throttling me, I had no choice! But I didn’t kill him!”

I didn’t respond. For some reason, this gave him confidence. “I only wanted to get him across the face. A scar as a warning. But he moved.” His voice became frantic. “I had no intention to hurt him in the way that he was. I swear Lady Madigan.”

Both he and I were silent as we walked. I looked over to him. “You want my forgiveness,” I said.

“I do,” he said. “And I am willing to give you anything to have it. Whatever you desire, you can have it.”

“Very well.” My tone is pleasant, but I’m glaring at him. “Rip out your own eye, and have your guards beat you till you’re at the edge of your wits.”

“Wha- My Lady, be reasonab-”

“I’m being perfectly reasonable,” I said, in the same kind of voice I would use to explain something to a little child. “It’s an eye for an eye. So to speak. That’ll pay for my forgiveness. I think you can figure out what you would have to pay for Daniel’s.”

“I…”

“You must know.” I smiled sweetly at him, my eyes full of poison. “Take the one thing you care about the most and have your guards hold her down while she is-”

“Stop!”

“Should you really be saying that to me? Of all things?”

“I-”

“Don’t bother. Just understand this.” I was shouting then, but I didn’t care the slightest. “Daniel and I are not toys for you to enjoy and to throw away as you please. Neither is anyone else, no matter what you think of them. And if Daniel dies because of you…” I broke down sobbing on the pavement. I don’t know what it was; despair, anger, madness, one of those three. When I finally looked up, Christan held out his hand. I saw his face, full of pain and sympathy. But most of all, he looked frightened.

I took his hand, and I crushed it in my grip. “If Daniel dies because of you,” I repeated, ignoring his cries. “I will not hesitate to make every fibre of your being burst into flames. So I suggest that you stay a long distance away from me, if you want to live.”

“I don’t want him to die,” Christan said to me. “He’s the last person in this world I want dead, trust me my Lady, I wish him no harm.”

I gave him my poisonous smile again. “Then I think you understand my message,” I said sweetly. “Now go.”

Don’t Go Now

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It’s all a matter of waiting. Which happens to be the thing I am worst at.

It’s like that time with Chase; the only thing I can do is sit there and watch on. There’s only helplessness.

And hate. That too.

Daniel’s shivering all the time, and his face is drained of any colour, except for a bright red near his right eye. Right now there’s a bandage wrapped around his head, covering the wound, but I still feel sick, knowing what’s underneath it…

“The eye must be removed,” Jhaq had told me. “It’s been too badly damaged, Daniel would no longer be able to use it.”

Later, someone I assumed to be the physician gave me a much more gory description. The eye had been sliced straight down the middle, whoever attacked him got him straight in the eyeball. His words made everything seem so much worse, I had already felt uneasy at the sight of Daniel; hearing the doctor’s words made my stomach churn.

“What else has been done?” I asked Jhaq.

She just shook her head. “Have you cleaned it?” I probed. “Have you given him water? Please, tell me!”

“We’ve cleaned it, Miss Madigan,” she reassured me hurriedly. “And he’s been given food and water, but…” Her voice trailed off.

I tried to understand. “He…can’t keep it down? Is that it?” She nodded. “Is it the shock?”

Jhaq sighed softly. “The weapon, Miss Madigan…” She stopped speaking suddenly.

I then saw the two figures at the door. One of them is Thommand, the other is his Grace.

“What do you want?” I said coldly.

Christan looked away. Thommand spoke. “We merely wanted to have knowledge of your wishes, Lady Madigan.”

“Wishes? What do you mean?”

He sighed. “Have you seen the condition of the weapon?” Without waiting for my response, he takes it out from behind him and tosses it toward the bed.

I caught it with my left hand and looked at it. I felt my anger rise as I saw it still had Daniel’s blood on it. “Just what am I meant to be looking at?”

“Wipe the blood aside if that helps,” Thommand suggested.

I ran the blade over the leg of my pants, and as the blood disappeared, I saw what he meant. I glared at Christan. “Why would someone carry a blade this rusty?”

“Do not question him,” Thommand said sharply.

“I have every right to,” I growled. Christan’s eyes widened. “After everything that has happened, I certainly have that right.”

“The point at hand,” Thommand was changing the subject again. “Is that if he receives an infection, then he shall slowly rot.”

Christan flinched as my five letters lit up again. “And?” I snarled.

Thommand is completely unfazed. “In the case of that happening, I was wondering if, instead of letting him suffer, you would allow one to administer a quick d-”

A ball of light suddenly seared off the edge of his arm. “Get out now, before you lose the rest of your attire,” I hissed. “Now!”

Thommand turned around in a huff, but Christan remained. “And what do you want?” I enquired angrily.

He shook his head. “I am the king,” he said firmly. “I wish to stay with Daniel as he recovers.”

“I believe you lost that right when you put that bloody dagger in his eye!”

“I will not be ordered around by his wench, my la-”

I caught him by the collar and hissed in his ear. “Listen,” I growled. “I have killed people for far less than you have done, your Grace. I am definitely not below revenge, and no one would blame me for it now.” I looked up and met his frightened gaze. “If your life means anything to you, you’ll leave. Now.”

I let him go, and he turned away with whatever remained of his pride. I looked back at Jhaq, who had no expression on her face. “Are you alright?” I asked, my voice hoarse.

“Yes, Miss Madigan,” she said firmly. She came up to me and put her hand on my shoulder. “Is Miss Madigan?”

I looked away. “What do you think?”

She sighed. “Jhaq…no, I worry too.”

Suddenly, Daniel let out a scream. “Daniel?!” I ran over and gripped his hand. “What’s going on?”

She just stared at Daniel, who was shaking violently. “Jhaq, please, help!” I pleaded.

Jhaq looked up. “Daniel is…”

“What?” I put my hand on his chest and I can feel it pounding like a jackhammer. “What are you saying?”

Her voice dropped to a whisper. “Daniel is…not here.”

“…not here?”

“No. Daniel’s mind is…gone.”

I shook my head. “It’s the shock, that’s all. He’s just in shock.”

Jhaq raised an eyebrow at me, and I immediately understand what she means. Who would know better than me?

“He’ll…he’ll come back though,” I told her. “I always do. No matter how bad it gets, I always come back. Even if it’s against my will.”

Jhaq spoke up again. “Daniel is not like Miss Madigan,” she reminded me. “Miss Madigan…” At the sight of my confusion, she raised her left hand, and I realised what she meant. “Daniel has never…Daniel is not…” She is grasping for words she does not know.

So I speak for her. “Daniel is not a freak,” I concluded.

She nodded. “If he…he won’t…” I inhaled. “He wouldn’t come back. He wouldn’t…heal.”

I looked down at Daniel. His lips were forming words I couldn’t hear, or understand. “How…long?” I asked her.

She shook her head. “No.” She suddenly ran out of the room, leaving me with Daniel.

“Cat…” I heard a whimpering sound come from Daniel. I grasped his hand, and waited for him to say more. Instead, he cried out again, gasping in agony.

His hand tightened around mine, and I thought my bones would break. But I didn’t let go. If I did, he might too. Stay with me Daniel, I pleaded. Please.

Memory of the Dead

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“Holy shit…”

“Don’t ask.”

“But-”

“Please Cat?”

“Argh…fine.” But I can’t take my eyes off his hair. It’ll take some getting used to. For as long as I had known him, his hair was always falling across his face, as he refused to put it in a ponytail except for classy occasions. It wasn’t too short though, and there was still that messy look to it, but it looked a whole lot…cleaner. “Can I touch it?” I asked.

“No.”

“But I wanna!”

“Are we really doing this now?”

“Well, what are we meant to be doing?”

“Well, I was going to show you around here,” Daniel told me. “But I suppose….”

“Bitchface,” I said cheerfully. “Where are we?”

I had just woken up here a couple of minutes ago, in the centre of a giant room. The first thing I saw when I opened my eyes was an endless landscape of colours and lights, and I was immediately dazzled by the beauty of it all.

Then I saw Daniel and his hair, and decided that that was the headliner.

Daniel took my hand and pulled me up. “Do you recognise this place?”

I do. It takes a while to register, but I do. “I thought this place was destroyed.”

“No. It very nearly was, but after they won, Christan sent guardians to drive them away.” There’s a hint of disgust in Daniel’s voice, and I don’t blame him.

After?” I enquired. Daniel nodded. I clenched my jaw. “Fashionably late, was he?”

Daniel groaned. “Thommand and Clarrent are his advisors,” he reminded me. “I wasn’t at their court when this happened, but I do know that saving these people wasn’t in their best interests.”

I was silent. “Will you be alright?” he asked.

“So what are we meant to do here?”

Daniel inhaled. “Thommand wants us to collect the memories of the people here. He’s looking for one person who died in this place to give us some information.”

“Slow down there, Daniel. I’m confused.”

He shook his head in exasperation, and it’s almost how it used to be- him getting annoyed at me, and me getting flustered and pissed. “Look,” he says. “You’ve got memories of this place, don’t you?”

I nodded. “From Kaya.”

“Well, all you need to do lure the people in this place out, and interact with them.”

Trying to take in all this, I decided on pretending that I knew what the hell was going on. “Then what?”

“Watch and learn.” Daniel took off his coat and handed it to me. “Now go ahead.”

“Wait. What. Huh?”

“I’m tired,” Daniel said as his way of explaining it. “You can handle this on your own.”

I just stared at him. “I am a fricking walking disaster,” I told him flatly.

“You could say the same for me.”

“I’m sorry, but there’s nothing in your record which says ‘accidentally demolished three houses’,” I retorted.

“This place is pretty fireproof,” he informed me. “Now go on. Explore to your heart’s content.” With that, he pulled out a little flask and took a gulp.

I stared at him. “Is that what I think it is?”

“Lucky potion,” Daniel replied. “Good for the nerves.”

I snatched it from him. “You’ve got a problem mister.”

“Oi! Get your own!” I walked away from him, and he hurried after me. “Cat, give me back my medicine.”

“One doesn’t drink medicine without measuring it first.”

“I did measure it! One flask full of medicine every time I have to go out on a job for Fat man.”

“No wonder you got caught last time,” I grumbled. When Daniel didn’t reply to that, I sighed. “I’m sorry.”

We slowed to a stop. “It wasn’t the first time we’ve gotten caught and tortured,” he reminded me.

“It was the worst though.”

Daniel smiled at me and gave me a quick hug. “Don’t blame yourself,” he told me. “I know how you feel about it, but you need to remember that you had no choice.”

“Didn’t I?”

“No.” He kept his arms around me, and then made a grab for my hand. When I held it out away from him, he growled and caught me around the waist.

“Oi! Let me go!” I yelled.

“Give it here before I tickle you.”

“Is that an actual- oh shit!” Torn between my dignity and my stubbornness, I flung the bottle in the air in an act of desperation.

Releasing me, Daniel calmly walked over to where the bottle was flying and caught it single-handed. “That wasn’t so hard, was it?”

I stuck out my tongue at him. “Now go on, then. Explore!” Daniel sat down and took another swig of his ‘medicine’.

I gave up. I left the grand room and decided to find where the entrance was, just in case we had to make a quick getaway. “Okay,” I told myself. “I’m going to keep track of the turns I make, so I can get back to Daniel easily. And hopefully he won’t be completely intoxicated.”

First, I turned left. Then I kept going straight ahead, and then there was a right, at a smashed statue. It was then that I heard yelling. Release me, now! a woman snarled, but the voice seemed to echo in my head.

I looked around quickly. “Where are you?” I called out, praying that hopefully the source of the voice didn’t have the same personality of the vengeful ghosts in Corpse Party.

There was silence. Then I heard the voice repeat down the hall. A more cautious person would’ve gone and found Daniel, or at least, a companion who probably wasn’t an alcoholic. But at that point, I had forgotten the directions I had taken, and it was more focused on finding the source of the voice.

I opened the door to a small, plainly furnished room. There was no bed, instead, there was a mattress on the floor, with a small woollen blanket which had been tossed to its side.

Let me go, the voice demanded, or I swear, I’ll rip that precious hair of yours from your skull.

That’s when I realised whose room this was.

Did Thommand want Kaya’s memories? Really?

I shook my head at that. If he wanted this so badly, he definitely wouldn’t have sent the two people who cared for her most. Especially not one who recently pulverised a brothel owner and shattered his whore.

And burned his own scarlet tunic. And that was completely intentional.

So where was the voice coming from? As I looked around the room, I tried my hardest to understand what was going on. I had never heard of ghosts in Delirium until today, and I wondered why I heard Kaya here, instead of her home in the sky.

I suddenly remember. I’ve heard her say that before. Right before she pulled out the knife…

I laughed at the memory. Many screamed, others fainted. Daniel just stood there confused as hell, while Nereida started giggling uncontrollably. But I believe it’s still here, the evidence of her attack.

I looked under the mattress, and there they were; long silver strands, almost as long as my whole arm. They were all matted together, I would have to use all my strength to tear them into separate fibres. No wonder Kaya cut them off.

With that mystery solved, I tried to remember what Daniel wanted me to do. I was to find ghosts…and then what? What did they even look like?

I returned to the hallway, and the realisation that I had completely forgotten the road I had taken. Dammit.

Then I heard a giggle behind me. Which all you nonexistent horror game enthusiasts know means one thing; I was about to be murdered by a psychotic ghost child. Lovely.

Actually, that’s not what happened. This isn’t Corpse Party, it’s just my fucked up imagination. But at the time, I thought that would be the case.

“Hello,” I said. Because that’s what you say to creepy ghost children that will murder you in a couple of seconds. And you also turn around to face them before they kill you, because it’s impolite for them to stab you or slit your throat from behind you.

He’s different from Daniel. His body is white, and I can just see through him. There’s a sort of glow about him, and he’s gazing at me intently. He looks about six…if that.

“Ano’er hooman,” he said in a high, clear voice. Then he sweeps me a bow. “May I help you?”

Umm….. “I’m…looking for my friend,” I tell him. “Can you help me?”

“What’s her name then?” There’s no malice or hate in his face, simply curiosity. But I’ve been hurt by friendlier people.

“Her name is Kaya,” I told him. “Do you know where she is?”

Why I decided to trust him, I’m not sure. I didn’t have anything to lose, I suppose. I could fight him off if necessary, or so I hoped. And I was so used to dying, it was almost routine. I’m guessing I followed him because I wanted some faith in the goodness of people left. I wanted to be proved right.

He gave me a giant, toothy smile. “Through here, m’lady,” he lisped. He held out his hand, and I took it. “Follow me.”

Who Am I?

Standard

“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.”

“Like Joffrey?”

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.”

“No.”

“Why not?”

“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 nodded.

“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?”