The Grue Posted January 17, 2014 Report Share Posted January 17, 2014 WIP -------- Right now this is at 2141 not counting the title and since it is three in the morning I thought I would ask for your guys' help in editing it down to the limit. Any critique, good or bad, is requested and appreciated. Also, since this is my first post, name is Adam though you may call me The Grue. ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- The Ballad of Ladyface. The blinding beam of the lamp cascaded over Annabeth, scalding her unprepared eyes, and wrinkling her features as she shied away from its magnitude. The darkness was so absolute mere moments before, that this sudden reprieve filled her with a mix of gratitude and abject despair. She despised the dark, but the light brought to life her worst fears and she almost wished for the soothing madness of the blackness. Annabeth narrowed her eyes and swallowed hard. She could feel the irons anchoring her arms behind her as they bit into her slender wrists. Mixed with the dull ache, the tingling sensation she felt racing up and down her arms helped indicate how long she had sat in the dark. Her academy training took over and she took stock of her surroundings as best she could. They were in a small room, if you could even call it such; the walls and ceiling were made with sheets of corrugated metal, and the floor of warped planks covered in dirt and other unmentionable shadowy things that scurried and scuttle at the peripherals of the light. The furnishings were sparse and seemingly cobbled from various locations and sources. The lamp overhead swung slowly, illuminating a stately yet over worn desk sitting across from where she sat chained to the chair. A small lamp sitting upon the desk was switched on and while it was not as bright as the lamp circling overhead it was bright enough to lift the gloom that had enshrouded the other side of the desk and the room surrounding its small radiance. “My dear, I am sorry for the theatrics, but I had wanted to make sure you were able to get some beauty sleep. A girl’s got to put in the work if she wants to look her best.” Annabeth looked beyond the desk and into the face of the women who sat behind it. The woman’s voice was soft, like velvet wrapped around warm honey and it was all she could do not to feel a bit of reassurance at those words, as the woman folded her delicate fingers and continued. “I hope you are feeling well? I apologize for the manner in which you were brought here, and I do hope that nasty bump on the back of your head isn’t causing you too much pain. May I ask how your trip was through the Breach?” Annabeth’s mouth was parched, her tongue dry against her teeth, “Why are you doing this?” The woman frowned, “such manners, not even the slightest of small talk with you Guardsmen, I expected more from you Anni-bell.” Annabeth swallowed. No one called her that, at least no one on this side of the breach. The last person to call her that was her fiancé, when he left all those months ago to pursue his research Malside, to await her to join him when she finished the Academy and got her station orders when she reached Malifaux. “What have you done with Jonathan?” The woman smirked to herself and pursed her lips, “I am afraid my dear, that he is no longer with us. Though I must admit he did attempt to keep up his correspondence with you,” she gestured to the piles of parchment lying on the desk, “it is too bad that he was unable to get them to you, perhaps if he did you might not be in the situation you are in, though we are very glad that you are.” Annabeth shivered, what did she mean no longer with us? Was her dear Jonathan dead? She had thought it peculiar that she stopped receiving the weekly letter, though she knew how he could get caught up in his research and forget things. “What did you do to him?” The woman smiled and picked up a small pile of letters from the desk, “Let me read some of this to you, though I may paraphrase, we have a schedule to keep.” She began reading softly, as if trying to convey the words as more than words. “My dearest Annibell. The aspiring poets who have come and gone from this place were not mistaken, for this truly is a journey of immeasurable magnitude. The experience of passing through the Breach was as invigorating as it was terrifying. In passing I felt something stir within myself, though presently I cannot quantify what it is…” the women stopped for a moment and shuffled through the letters before beginning again, “..finally they have let me venture out on my own. When my research permits me a brief intermission I have found that I enjoy taking long walks throughout the city after nightfall. It is nice to get out of that stuffy lab and gaze at the stars instead of at the unhewn and rough Soulstones they have me studying. Some find the night time here unpleasant, and though I cannot blame them it feels different for me. Where some might take pause at journeying out after dark, it seems as if I feel almost a calling to go and walk alone. At times, during these jaunts, I seem to catch a fleeting glimpse of someone, walking just ahead of me, always just around the next corner. I follow, not knowing yet why but the things that they have led me to are marvelous. I wish I could describe the wonders of the cyclopean ruins I came across a fortnight ago, standing there, in the precipice of those ruins, in the hollowed out ruins of some forgotten building, I mean it is almost as if I was standing in the shadows of giants of some long lost age. I plan to return there and see what else I can find..” A quick shuffling brought a new page to the top of the pile, “…I feel strange. I have taken a leave from the laboratory. It seems that the presence of the soulstones is making me ill. The Guild doctors have said it is normal for those uninitiated in the ways of magick to sometimes react this way when in their close proximity, but I think it is something else.” The woman skipped ahead as if looking for a certain passage, “…I must conduct more research in those ruins, I believe I am close to something, something old and forgotten.” She put the pile down except for the last letter in the pile which she read slowly as she walked towards Annabeth, her voice much deeper now, less soft than it was before. She seemed to be skipping various words and sentences of her choosing, for her sentences did not seem to have a coherent nature. “Annabeth, I hope this reaches you. I am not sure if I will be able to maintain control of myself for much longer….this place Annibell, this place….it does something to you..I am not sure how to tell you this but you must forget about me, forget this place….those ruins…..he found me, the one leading me from before….my god Annibell, I killed that woman, splashed her blood about the stones of that place. He laughed as I did it, the man, as the woman screamed. Those screams of all those women as I cut into them, they will never leave me…..I do not know what to think anymore, at first there was horror, yes, but now, and secretly I think maybe even before, but now there is only a happiness I have not felt since I last saw your face, it is indescribable….these woman, these vagrant women have shown me my gift, I have guided myself ever since that day through the Breach. I have found myself and tutored myself in the forgotten, the lost. I have become…myself.” Annabeth was shaking, revulsion quivering through her body. What had become of her dear fiancé? What had he gone through that had changed him so? She must find him, try to make sense of all of this she thought. She didn’t noticed the woman start to shake at first. Too busy in her own thoughts to notice the frail woman before her begin to grow taller. Her thoughts began to race on how she could garner Guild support to find him when she finally realized that the woman in front of her had disappeared. Where once stood a slender woman, petite, with long raven hair and a kingdomed tan to her skin there now stood a gaunt and lanky man in the woman’s ruffled and silken evening dress. The realization hit her and as her mind screamed at her not to look, she lifted her gaze to the man’s face and as she opened her mouth to scream the man threw a handful of dust from a small pouch at his waist into her face and her world fell mercifully dark. She blinked slowly, the light coming back to her eyes. Her fiance’s voice came from somewhere behind her, the tone was wrong though. Where once her fiance had a deep baritone of a voice, was now replaced with almost a high pitched tonal resonance. “I am sorry Annibell, I had to make you sleep. I wasn’t ready before, and I am still trying to get this timing down to perfection. It must be perfect you see, these masks don’t last forever, and slipping into a fresh one takes time and the preparations can be tricky. Get it right and the guise lasts for a long time, don’t take your time and you can end up sloughing it off at the most inopportune time.” Annabeth shook her head, trying to remove the cobwebs that lingered. She felt his hands brush her own as he undead the irons about her wrists. She brought a hand up to try and rub the sleep from her eye that was clouding her vision but something felt wrong. She couldn’t feel her hand against her face, she could see that it had made contact but couldn’t feel it. She pulled her hand away and her eyes widened as she saw that her hand was covered in a sticky red substance. Her voice quivered as she spoke, “Jonathan….what is happening? Jonathan?” Her fiance’s called out from behind her, his voice dropped low as he spoke, “that is not my name…not my name….” Annabeth began to call out again, “I don’t understand, Jonath-“ Her words were cut off as her fiance strode across the room from behind her and spun her chair around and got down into her face and bellowed at her at the top of his voice, “That is not my NAME!!!” It was strange, not the fact that he raised his voice to her, but for a moment she thought she was looking into a mirror. Her face was there, staring right back at her except the face she was looking into, her face, had her fiance’s eyes boring into her. When she put it all together, the numbness, the red substance, the image of her face with her fiance’s eyes, she was silent for a moment. Then her mouth drew open and a shriek that seemed to come from the depths of her came pouring out. She clawed at her face in desperation, wishing it not to be true. She saw the flash of steel draw towards her. She put up her hand and barely felt the slice of the knife through her hand and across her throat, her thumb and for finger fell off into the darkness and her throat opened to silence her screaming a bubbling geyser of air and blood. He looked down at her twitching form. Just like the others he thought, though the others did not have the means and access his Annabeth did. Top of her class at the Guild Academy, and brought to Malifaux to be in charge of record keeping. Her thrashing slowed and lessened. He looked down and spotted her thumb lying on the floor, her finger stolen by some scavenous thing looking for a meal. He reached down and picked up her thumb. He stood up as he felt the change, his figure shrinking, his features changing, his hair growing; his face was last as it always was. It was warm, layered underneath his fiance’s freshly cut face. He brought up the thumb and applied the stump to his lips, coating them in a thin layer of deep crimson red as he felt his face meld with his Annibells until it was a perfect match. He looked down at her, his figure now a perfect match for her own, except for the cold emptiness of his eyes, and strode over her body to the change of clothes he had laid out. With one final breath she gasped through the blood, “Jon..Jonath.an..” He looked back at her, shook his head and spoke, “My name is Ladyface.” ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Quote Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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