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Nathan sighed, brows knitting as it was like she didn't even listen to him. His eyes detached from her, hesitating on telling her exactly why he had become aware of what happened. People often didn't like to hear that he was out and about on a leisure walk at night. But what Nathan had seen he didn't want to interrupt, he didn't want to come hurrying up from the shadows towards Ada in the middle of the night. He just made sure she got home, so that he would check on her in the morning.
Suddenly the young woman started harshly, Nathan stepping back, hands out. Had he scared her, had she heard something or seen something just now? But before the questions could exit his lips, she was sagging towards the doorjamb.
The physician watched, confused, until he realized her lids were drooping, as was her body, and she started to topple just as he recognized what was going on.
"[#00CCFF Ada!]" he exclaimed as he tried to catch her, to make her not hit her head on anything.
He fumbled to attempt this, the woman's head lolling but mercifully- if clumsily- he had managed to keep her from falling into the hall table or into anything sharp.
"[#00CCFF Ada,]" he chided, reaching up to place the back of his hand over her forehead; hot. He sighed through his nose, laying her down the rest of the way safely and looking up and around to see if there was anyone else about. It was still rather early, he supposed. It was why he had thought that it would be a good place to see if she was alright.
Turning back to her, the man blinked, stopping as he saw a bright redness on the side of her neck, hidden by the puff of her hair as she fell. Feeling distinctly invasive, but reminding himself for her medical health he should investigate, Nathan used a finger to dismiss the strands from obscuring the mark on her neck.
What it revealed to him was a strangely dry puncture on her neck. Not dry, closed. But angry, fresh and swollen looking. His lips parted in shock.
"[#00CCFF Good god, what have you been up to?]" he breathed, shaking his head. And with that he gathered her and delivered her to her bedroom.
It was a short while before she roused, waking in her bed to Nathan seated on the window ledge, looking pensive, hands clasped in front of himself. His eyes turned to her as he heard a moan- likely either from the throbbing of her head, of dehydration, or of her fall.
"[#00CCFF Ada,]" he breathed, face serious, but eyes relieved for her rousing. He stood up from where he had reclined against the panes and turned towards her, coming better into her field of vision by leaning towards the bed.
"[#00CCFF How are you feeling?]"
Ada wasn’t sure whether she sounded convincing or not but the last thing she needed was someone inside her house while she was trying to figure out what happened. She could have imagined the whole ordeal but that didn’t explain why there had been a puncture in her neck, nor did it explain why she had seen the same figure in her home. In honesty, she was frightened and if Nathaniel came into her home he would surely have questions and she would not know what answers to give him.
She thought that the creature was going to kill her but he seemed to spare her life, telling her that she shouldn’t speak of her evening to anyone and she did not want to find out what would happen if she did speak out. More than likely, she would be dragged off to an asylum for the insane because that was exactly what the story would make her sound like. Ada suddenly felt self conscious about her neck and she pulled some hair around her neck in a natural movement that might seem like she was just trying to get some air to the back of her neck. As she listened to him speak she tried to figure out an excuse to get rid of him but the more she searched her brain for an excuse the more reason he had to come into her home.
Then she heard [i his] voice. She was startled and her eyes darted around her home as if she was expecting to find him stood there but there was no sign of him. [i Perhaps he does know.] She thought to herself but the last thing she could afford to do was test that theory and risk getting killed for talking of her evening. Ada held on to the door and used it to help her stand up right. She was suddenly feeling dizzy and the only thing that could centre her was to lean on the door. [b “Was there a reason for your visit?”] Her voice sounded strange, almost as though it were an echo and her vision started to blur. [b “I’m...I’m quite alright...”] She said before her body slumped to the floor.
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His brow was furrowed, lips pursed in a thin line as he gazed at her. He knew how invasive he would seem, showing up so early and unannounced, but when there were things about in the night, or a stumbling woman clutching her neck, things were only so proper.
The physician swallowed, eyes glancing to the side as he felt a hot wave of nervousness stay his tongue for a moment, grasping for language. He would need to be delicate about this. Who knew what she did or didn't know about what had happened and he didn't want to shock her too badly.
He shook his head, "[#00CCFF I can't do that.]" And cleared his throat. "[#00CCFF If it is a fever, then,]" his eyes returned to her, "[#00CCFF I should stay. To ensure it ends and does no further harm to you, or spread. They are dangerous. Just in case it [i is] contagious, I've a head start on containing an infection.]" His eyes were steady on her as he awaited her response, seeing her hesitation, her sway. If she fainted and did not rouse, then she could lose her life. Concern was tight on his features.
[B [i "Perhaps he knows what happened,"]] came an eerily familiar voice in the back of Ada's mind; arch and reserved.
That night, her dreams were haunted with the image of the creature she had met in the castle, although a part of her told her that it had all been in her imagination, that she had not met anyone in that castle. Perhaps there was a logical explanation for why she had ended up in the graveyard with a puncture wound on the side of her neck. It seemed to have heartbeat of its own. Pulsating with heat as if to remind her that everything she had seen was real. It would have been fair to say that the woman barely slept that night, haunting by the fear she had felt when he had his hands clasped around her arm.
Her body shot up straight as a cool sweat drowned her forehead. Her chest rose and fell with aggression and she found herself panicked as she looked around the room so that she could make sure that she was in the safety of her home. It was then that she heard the persistent knocking that had roused her from her sleep. Ada sighed as she pulled the sheets away from her body so that she could put on a dress appropriate for a lady answering the door. She dressed in haste and pulled her hair around her neck, so her puncture was not visible and made her way to the door.
When Ada lifted the latch, she was surprised to see Nathaniel at the door. She looked him over in a similar way to him and she swallowed hard when he seemed concerned about her health. Her eyes glanced over the ring on his finger before they settled upon his face once more. Did she warrant a visit somehow? She was not a rude person so she dressed her lip with a smile to show gratitude for his concern.
[b “Nathaniel. What brings you here this morning?"] She felt dizzy for a moment and she shook her head to shake it off. [b "Oh I... I think it's a fever, nothing more. Perhaps you should go. I would not want to make you sick.”]
[right [pic https://i.pinimg.com/564x/5f/82/36/5f82364665b10db0ee4b027f60a2a6c7.jpg]] Thomas, once he entranced the human woman, now had to deliver her as he worked what magic he had and she fell limp in his arms. Supporting her was a challenge for a moment until he could bring her against him properly. But then, where to take her? He had no idea where she lived, having not any interest in keeping track any longer. But perhaps in this case it would be wise, so that he knew where to look if his discovery now would turn into bad attention, and so he could wreak upon the proper head the punishment for the blame.
The night was still, as if freezing in the light of the moon. Like it had earlier, the skies were unsettled, though high above them, as there was no breeze at their elevation. The world was in blanched suspension, it seemed, and only the clinging mists that hid parts of the world, and him, moved softly. It crawled with curious hands along garden walls, threading through picket fences and wrought iron gates and wended through the streets as it softly bubbled up from the rivers and lakes in the area. It filled the low points of the countryside; like for instance a village town in a valley next to a river. The one directly beyond the estate's reaches.
It was to here that Thomas eventually left the young woman, laying her down in secret in the quiescence and isolation of the graveyard. The keeper knew that he should not touch any movement within the gates if it stood above a man's height. There were monsters about. Monsters that many villagers knew not of, and those that quietly plagued them. But this one had a mission.
He secreted her beneath a tree, glancing around the quiet area, laying her ridiculous cloaks overtop of her. And with that done, he retreated into the shadows of the near treeline. There, Thomas waited for her to awaken. It would take longer with what he had taken from her, but it did come. She roused, and delivered herself home, and now he knew where she resided.
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The next morning there was a knock at her door; polite, but persistent. It was Nathaniel, the mortician who lived nearby the necropolis. His bright blue eyes, serious and determined and his lips thin as he stood before her, hands folded behind him as he heard the latch slide open on Ada's door.
He looked her over.
"[#00CCFF You don't look well,]" the young man stated. His eyes had flickered over her and taken her in. There was concern in the knit of his brow, however.
One of the local characters, Nathaniel was known as a sweet tempered man, with a slight social disability and a processing issue at times when overwhelmed. And rather nocturnal. So seeing him this early was a treat. But, other than knowing of his medical knowledge, who ever was pleased to see a mortician? He wasn't in his formal mourning attire, however, though he always wore black. But the ribboned, tall hat was absent, and the black silken stock tie.
He was black of hair, and bright blue of eye, and pale with his interior, relatively sunless schedule. He wore a glimmering, singular ring on a center finger, a dark red gem of modest size. A gift, he said, from a wealthy friend from long ago.
Ada felt a shiver move up her spine as he stared into her, as though peering into her very soul. She was almost certain that she would not make it out of this castle alive and his words seem to confirm that, seemingly satisfied that the woman had no-one who would come to look for her. Whilst he saw this as fortunate, Ada wondered if she had spent far too long pushing people away and now she was about to die alone, without a single person knowing about it, or caring.
Her eyes searched him, hoping for an ounce of compassion so that she might live but it seemed she had only angered him and he was turning her around so that she could no longer look upon the face of the creature. Now, Ada was not quite sure what she was seeing. The room around them dissolved into nothing and her eyes darted around trying to find something familiar but all she could see what the new blackness that surrounded them. She thought she had been left alone for a moment, but the feel of the creature’s hand upon her arm and steadying her so that she could not look around told her that he remained. Fear engulfed her and she forced her eyes shut as his voice echoed in her mind.
It was cold now. Not the same chill brought to her by fear, but the chill of a breeze. She did not want to open her eyes yet but when her consciousness was roused enough, she felt a pain in her neck, forcing her eyes open and her hand towards the heat that pulsed at her neck. Her fingers ran along the ripped skin and she gasped. She was alive, or at least she thought she was. Her surroundings were not the same now. Instead she had been brought to a cemetery, one she recognised and Ada found herself stumbling to her feet.
Ragged and sharp breaths escaped her as she tried to steady herself, preparing to make her way towards her home so that she could get out of here. She pulled the hood around her face, hiding the new puncture in her neck and made her way back towards town with haste, hoping that no one saw her as she skulked back.
As she approached her home, she glanced around before opening the door, closing it behind her with force as she pressed her back up against the wooden material with her eyes closed, relieved that she had made it home safe. Her chest rose and fell as she tried to catch her breath but when she opened her eyes, all her efforts had been wasted. The figure of the creature she had escaped stood before her, glaring at her with the same intensity he had in the castle.
[b “You are not real.”] She told herself in a whisper, closing her eyes and shaking her head until the apparition disappeared and she was left alone in her house.
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Thomas' gaze moved back to her eyes, thinking for a moment even as he looked down his nose at her, eyes cool and reserved. "[B That is fortunate, then.]" he responded.
He saw her staring at him, his face creasing in distaste of that. He didn't like what he looked like, he knew the monster she was seeing, and a vicious part of him wanted to force her to look more. To dare say something about it. The creature's face hardened and he turned her around, facing her back to him. With that, a kind of a cold, heavy static energy, like that of a hovering, pregnant thunderstorm in the air, silencing everything underneath it before the winds would pick up. It filled the air, the lungs, and stood on the fine hairs of the skin.
With that, the room around them melted into a shift of blackness. Like ink in water, it bled from before the eye, and disappeared; all but his hand on her arm, and the other coming up to hold her head still, fingers splayed, holding fast her skull so she could not look elsewhere.
And from that darkness, that chill behind her, came a voice again that threaded it seemed into her very skin. "[B It would be wise,]" it said, so close, intimate as if it were her conscience itself. "[B not to speak of this.]"
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Ada would awaken in the town cemetery, laid beneath a tree, across its gnarled roots, alighted upon by many a reflective individual and cleared of earth as a result. With a bright, hot, open pain in her neck, that upon curious fingers exploration, would reveal a single, deep, teardrop shaped puncture in her flesh.
Ada could feel his breath upon her skin with their new closeness and while she wasn’t sure if this man was human, or whether he had ever been human at all, she couldn’t focus on anything other that the features that reminded her of human ones. She had to allow herself to see the human side of him for her to gain some composure rather than simply giving in the the fear that was creeping upon her, threatening to drown her into compliance. There was nothing that could describe the way his hand felt upon her arm. While he was strong, he was not forceful and it felt like electricity crawling up her skin.
She found herself wishing that she had never trespassed upon the castle at all. Perhaps if she had not been trying so hard to prove herself, she might not have proved everyone else right. Here, she was likely to meet her death and show everyone that a woman was no braver than a man; that a woman could not take care of herself. Her heart skipped a beat one more as his voice found her, cruel intentions seemingly lacing the tone. It was true, if he were to take her life now, she was sure that he could do so easily and she had barely lived yet.
[b “No-one.”] Though her voice was quiet, barely even a whisper, she knew he would hear because of how close he stood near to her. [b “There is not one person who knows where I am, nor is there anyone who would think to come looking for me.”]
[right [pic https://i.pinimg.com/564x/5f/82/36/5f82364665b10db0ee4b027f60a2a6c7.jpg]] The creature's face was angular and long, the most human-looking thing about him save his hands and arms. His teeth were sharp, but familiar in their shape at least, lips thin and delicate on his face. There was a bare glint before the creature's eyes, caught in the light, as a pair of wire eyeglasses were revealed, delicately perched on the thing's nose. His eyes were hollow looking, but not empty. It just seemed their places were so dark, no light was reflected to give it any depth or true "hollowness", save those little flickers that were small, they seemed to be far in the back. And as he leaned forward, they were thrown into shadow with the locks of hair that fell from over his shoulder as he drew closer, and tall, standing over her so that he was required to gaze down at her.
His hand on her was not cold, but it was not warm. Not as warm as a person generally tended to be, and he held her firmly, not roughly.
Thomas' eyes, as hers did undoubtedly, took the chance to look at her up close, expression hard, mouth pressed closed as if perplexed. "[B Look at you,]" he scoffed, voice softening slightly. "[B Life so fragile, so [i short].]"
"[B I wonder who will look for you,]" he said as if thinking aloud.
Ada should have known that such a haunting place would have just a sordid secret but without proof of such a being in existence, this was the last thing she could have prepared herself for. Anyone would have felt the same fear she felt in this moment, of that she was sure. It was impossible to feel anything else when the figure, less than human, skulked around her in a threatening manner.
She flinched and took one step back to put some distance between them, knowing that it was unlikely to give her much more space. He would close the distance again and he did just that when he reached out for her grabbed hold her arm. Her skin felt as though it was on fire and frozen, both at the same time, it was hard to know what she felt. Ada’s breath caught in her throat as his face neared her and she could finally see every single contour of his face.
She did not want to allow her eyes to separate from his because she was too scared to take in the rest of him. A gasp escaped her lips as she was pulled closer to him and she squeezed her eyes shut as he decided what to do with her. Fear did not allow her to speak but she had to force her eyes open.
[right [pic https://i.pinimg.com/564x/5f/82/36/5f82364665b10db0ee4b027f60a2a6c7.jpg]] As he got closer, Thomas could smell the pulse of the life inside of her. He swallowed, willing himself to ignore the smell of a fresh body before him.
Thomas took pause for a moment as he heard the attempt at strength in the woman's tone rise up from what was mostly silence until now. She raised her chin in defiance at him, and for a moment he blinked at the sudden change, but then his face hardened. He could see the fear in her eyes. It was something approximating pride he saw on her face that she turned towards him, a last will, or wanting to show the dread beast she wasn't afraid of his monstrosity even as she shuddered in front of it.
"[B I see,]" he responded, lip curling. "[B Then we are in agreement.]" and with that the creature stepped up to her, more lurching in a limp towards her, close now.
His hand closed on her upper arm, Thomas inhaling as he looked at her. This close, in the dim light of the room his face was visible. Human, or the suggestion thereof. Gaunt, eyes dark, deep, and empty, save that suggestion of light inside of them. This close, as well, it was clear that the strange movement of his body was because below his abdomen it had fallen into monstrous chaos, taken over by a mass of moving, tentacled flesh and growth and movement. It was what made his gait so strange, the limbs moving intelligently over their surroundings as he passed them.
Thomas' breath edged out as his eyes were drawn towards her pulse point. "[B Now what to do with a little trespasser, then?]" he said, pulling her towards him, so he could get a look at her clearly now.
The woman had no doubt that her words meant nothing to the creature before her. He was far from human yet she could not seem to rationalise this in her mind. Creatures such as this did not exist in the real world. They were for stories; ones that were written with the intention of captivating the mind of a reader. For some such tales were fascinating and for others, they instilled a fear within them that made them believe these beings lived amongst humanity. No book or story could explain this man’s existence, nor could it explain why he appeared to be less and less human with every passing second.
Ada was clearly not the first to venture into the castle. She didn’t not need to hear his words to know that and she doubted that many were able to tell the tale of what they saw here. Humans could be cruel. If the men from her village believed that a creature resided within the castle she was certain that they would come to hunt the beast to rid the world of the ungodly creature. It made sense for him to live a life of solitude and remain a secret when he though about it that way.
Her eyes widened as the figure seemed to lean towards her, spitting words of hatred towards her. What fate had curious beings met before her? She did not know if she wanted to ask such a question. Ada shook her head at his words.
[b “I do not expect mercy because I am a woman. I expect that you do not take kindly to any human and you do not see my sex as a factor in deciding what to do.”] While someone could have mistaken her speaking out for bravery, it was simply because she couldn’t stand silence and she knew that silence would not help her. [b “I expect that you are not like the men of this world who might take pity on a woman. I will not run and I will not cower before you.”] She tried to inject strength into her tone as she spoke, lifting her chin slightly as she did so.
[right [pic https://i.pinimg.com/564x/5f/82/36/5f82364665b10db0ee4b027f60a2a6c7.jpg]] As he advanced, the unmistakable slide of flesh over the stone floor was heard, licking at the silence, and growing still as he did.
"[B You swear it,]" Thomas sneered at her. "[B The promises of mortals like you have lost their value to me, if they had any to begin with.]" His fingers curled at his sides, scar tissue flexing tightly on his hands. With that, the man's body seemed to grow behind him as he hunched over, leaning towards her. It was as if it were rising beyond him, mindless as he shifted and sidestepped the light again, falling again into shadow, but a mass of a writhing, barely human silhouette.
"[B Your kind has slunk in here time and again, and have all met the same fate,]" he hissed, body suddenly drawn closer, hand sliding over the surface of a table, where in troth Thomas had to lean for a moment, feeling his spine crawl and twist for a moment. The physical discomfort did nothing for his temperament. "[B Do you think, because you are a woman, I will show you mercy?]"
"[B For if I let you leave you will undoubtedly attract more of your kind,]" Thomas continued. "[B Like a wasp.]"
Her voice had faltered, alluding to fear or uncertainty and she was sure that, if the male aimed to scare her, he would take advantage of that fact. She wanted to run, to get out of there and return to her village and never return but there was nothing that would make her feet move, even if she willed her feet to do so. Even as she allowed her eyes to move around the room, she knew there was no way out of there. She swallowed hard as she brought her eyes back to him as he continued to advance.
The moonlight shed more light on his form and the breath caught in her throat as she took in his appearance. His appearance struck fear as much as his voice had and she found her lips parting as she observed the pale skin and the glow of his eyes, showing that he was not completely human.
[b “I had never heard of a creature residing within these walls. It is the truth, I swear it.”] She said, falling over her words and biting this inside of her lip to try and calm herself.
[right [pic https://i.pinimg.com/564x/5f/82/36/5f82364665b10db0ee4b027f60a2a6c7.jpg]] "[B Mm, yes,]" he growled, "[B that's always the excuse, isn't it?]"
Thomas' gait halted just slightly as he had to shift his movement pattern, limping slightly. She didn't move at all, even as he advanced towards her, slowly. Either she was trying to be brave in the face of the creature, or she was frozen like a prey animal listening and looking for any sign of aggression, even staring down their hunter, ears atwitch as if somehow this wasn't happening.
As the man drew closer to Ada, he passed into, and stopped short of entering completely, a shaft of the moonlight from one of the tall windows. It sent a bar of illumination slanting over the lower half of his face, where she could now see traces of humanity in gaunt, exaggerated lines. Sallow, greyish skin, made pale in the light, pulled back over sharp teeth, and a thin, straight nose. Lank, dark hair fell behind his shoulders, thin and stringy looking, showing the border between his thin shoulders and neck.
"[B Exploring into the myth of the creature?]" he hedged, feeling the accusation lilt in his tone, throwing it at her. "[B And are you satisfied?]" The ember glow of his eyes fettered a little as they narrowed at her.
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