Ch. 36: "Heartbreak and Horror"
Disclaimer: WK does not belong to me. Neither do the lyrics that proceed each chapter- they're taken from various songs from the "Queen of the Damned" soundtrack. Any songs from different sources will have a disclaimer at the bottom. Don't sue. =pp
Another taste of the evil I breed
Will level you completely
Bring to life everything that you fear
Live in the dark, and the world is threatening
Several sharp slaps brought Yohji to dizzy consciousness hours later.
He groaned, lifting his head and forcing his eyes open. His whole body was sore- especially the back of his head, where one of the Vampires had struck him with the leg of a chair.
Slowly the world swam into focus. He was in a small but lushly furnished room, tied hand and foot to a chair. He looked around quickly, searching for his friends. They were in similiar arrangements nearby, tied to chairs. Most of them were awake, but Omi, Nagi, and Aya were still unconscious. Farfarello was conspicuously absent.
"Omi," Yohji hissed. "Wake up!"
"Urusai," someone snapped, and struck him across the cheek.
He grunted, wincing, then turned his face to look his attacker in the eye.
"Welcome to earth," Schuldich said sarcastically, and laughed.
Jesus Christ, Yohji thought, staring at him. He stopped himself just in time from saying the German's name in relief.
He was different.
His laughter was not the cold, condenscending mockery it had been before. It was a little more honest now, even with the undertone of unpleasantness to it. Like.. a bully who enjoyed torturing people. Not like the laugh of a man who hated the world and himself especially.
He was dressed in the same white suit Yohji was accustomed to seeing Schwarz wear on missions, but his hair was pulled in a loose ponytail, locks of sunkissed hair hanging by his ears and framing his face.
He was still beautiful-- but now he was the enemy again.
Rosenkreuz's personal plaything.
"Schuldich," he murmured, staring up at the man with regret and anger.
Schuldich cocked his head, arching his brows at Yohji. "Sounds German. Are you trying to impress me?"
They'd changed his name? Yohji swallowed bile and asked carefully, "Who are you?"
Schuldich grinned cockily and performed an elaborate bow. "Salem desu. I'd ask yours, but I already know it, Weiss."
"Look, Salem," Yohji hissed, struggling with his bonds, "you have to let us go. These men--"
"Urusai," Schuldich said impatiently, hands on his hips. "They'll be here soon." He grinned. "Then we'll see what they do with you."
Both men turned their heads at the quiet question.
Ken was staring at Schuldich with burning eyes, his jaw set. "Where's Farfarello?" he repeated fiercely. "What did they do to him?"
"Fah-fa-reh-ro?" Schuldich repeated slowly, frowning. "The 'traitor' everyone's so excited about?" He flapped a hand carelessly. "They handed that freakshow over to Aga-whatsit awhile ago."
"He's not a freakshow!" Ken shouted furiously, struggling with the ropes binding his hands. "You.. you... TRAITOR!"
"Maa, maa," Schuldich laughed. "Someone tell the chibi to shut up."
"Siberian," Manx hissed warningly.
Yohji strained his neck as he looked around at his friends. "Where's Aya-chan?" he asked sharply, realizing suddenly that she wasn't there.
"The girl?" Schuldich leered. "That Aga-guy wanted her, too." He frowned slightly, glancing sideways at Yohji. "She said 'schuldich', too," he murmured curiously. "Is that some codeword for you twits?"
Yohji gaped. Aya-chan had known Schuldich??
"KISAMA!" Aya had come awake sometime during the conversation, and was fighting his bonds with fury. "Give her back!!"
"Oh, shut up," Schuldich said irritably.
The door opened.
"What's going on in here, Salem?" a woman's voice demanded crisply.
Schuldich straightened himself hastily, giving a slight bow as his employers entered the room. "Sumimasen. The prisoners-"
The woman who had spoken, an older lady with a tight face and a neat little bun, flicked her fingers towards Omi and Nagi. "Wake them up."
"Hai." Schuldich hastened over to the two boys, shaking and slapping them until they recovered.
Ken could only stare in silent dread at the four people that seated themselves at the long table before them. Three men, one woman, all with cold, merciless eyes. People without hearts- people that didn't know the meaning of the words 'compassion', 'mercy', or 'love'.
Rosenkreuz, the people Schwarz hated and feared so much.
Suddenly Ken knew their names without having to be told- a trick of either Schuldich or Rosenkreuz's telepath.
The Fourth: Souma, whose telepathy was twice as powerful as Schuldich's own.
The Third: Urumi, the woman who Farfarello had said could create such realistic illusions.
The Second: Iragadachi. The Eraser.
And The First.
Tall, dark, and handsome even at his age. His name was..
"Hello, father," Crawford said coolly.
His name was Crawford. Thomas Crawford.
Ken's hair stood on end.
Thomas Crawford-- Brad Crawford's father.
"I warned you," Thomas said in a deep bass voice, turning merciless eyes on his son. "You should never have betrayed us."
Verrat clung to her brother in fear, huddling against him and trying to ignore the laughing, jeering Vampires that watched the two of them be led down the twisted underground cooridors. She was terrified, confused, and exhausted.
And she was afraid for her brother.
He had been torn up badly in his fight with the Vampires, and had brought many of them down with him before they had managed to seize him.
The bleeding had already stopped on many of the wounds, and surprisingly several had already started to heal. In her frayed state of mind, it didn't occur to Verrat that his wounds were healing a little too fast.
He walked beside her now, silent and hard faced as a stone, wrapped up in a tight straightjacket, his stride partially constrained by the shackles and chain that had been forced on his ankles. His hair was almost the color of Schu-san's, but a little lighter, with a few stubborn white hairs.
Vampires. Who would have thought? She had never believed in them, of course; they had been fairy tales. Something to scare a child at night. But the creatures that had taken her from the apartment and dragged her to the strange house where her brother had been stayng couldn't be anything but those nightmarish creatures from the old horror films.
What did they want with her brother?
Why had Schu-san acted so strange when she had glimpsed him and called out to him?
Who were all the people Farfarello had been with?
And WHY had the crimson haired man- who was responsible for her coma in the first place -looked so shocked and betrayed at her reaction to seeing him? What had he expected her to do? Be HAPPY to see-
An image flickered through her mind- a vague, uncertain memory.
A restaurant. The redhead turning to laugh at something she'd said, his voice affectionate.
She shook her head, confused by the stray thought.
She looked up quickly at her brother's quiet voice.
Farfarello wasn't looking at her, but was watching the jeering Vampires warily as they were hustled roughly through the rocky tunnel. "Look for a chance to escape. I can take care of myself."
Verrat's fingers dug painfully into the man's arm, and she shook her head fiercely. "Demo-" Her eyes stung.
"Shut up," Farfarello snarled, "and do as I say. When you see an opening-- run."
"Quit talking, Traitor," one of the nearby Vampires hissed, shoving her face right in Farfarello's. Verrat had a sudden sick image of Hannibal Lector from "Silence of the Lambs" ripping savagely into a guard's nose with his teeth. To her relief, her brother merely turned his head dismissively away, lip curled.
"You won't be so high 'n' mighty when Lord Agammedo is through with you," the female Vampire declared, laughing harshly. "He's gonna make you wish we'd killed you years ago."
Talon was not normally the type of man to scare easily.
He'd seen several corpses before, both human and Vampire. But he had a sickening feeling that he was going to regret it if he opened the heavy bag lying outside his hotel room door, soaked in blood and already starting to smell.
He didn't have to open it to know what was in it- or who was responsible.
He gazed numbly down at the burlap sack for several endless minutes before shutting the door firmly and striding over to his bed. He yanked his suitcase out from under it and tossed in the few things he'd unpacked the day before. It would do him no good to stay here any longer. They obviously knew where he was.
Once he was done, he went over to the other side of the room and began packing his partner's things, throwing her clothes and items almost violently into her dark suitcase and slamming it shut. Her family would want her belongings. It was the least he could do; many Hunters couldn't even do that much for their partners because they were killed themselves soon afterwards. Resting his hands on the top of the case, he noticed they were shaking, and quickly shoved them in his pockets.
Tatiana was dead.
The most obvious conclusion would be that the one they called "Traitor"- Farfarello -had been responsible for his young partner's murder. But from what he'd heard and studied, that wasn't the way the Irishman worked. He enjoyed killing, but once the deed was done, he lost any semblence of interest in his victim. Why take the time to wrap up the remains, track down a friend, and leave them so blatantly displayed?
No. Farfarello would have killed her and left her behind to rot. Someone wanted him to think the madman had done her in.
Talon had sent her to the apartment. Had she been captured on the way? Or had the Vampires shown up at Farfarello's apartment? If it was the latter, then there could be a slim chance she'd been right.
Whose side was the Irishman on? Tatiana had undoubtedly figured that out-- too late. The only other people who knew were Schwarz and Weiss. He didn't trust the bastards of Schwarz as far as he could throw them. But Weiss... Naive though some of them seemed, the redhead at least seemed to have a good head on his shoulders.
He grabbed both suitcases and headed for the door. He would have to get rid of her body- or what was left of it, anyway. And he was discovering rapidly that that was something he would rather not do. Tatiana had been aggravating, but she had been smart and beautiful and full of life. She didn't deserve this. He had been foolish to send her out on her own. She could take care of business for the most part, but she was still less experienced. For the first time he could remember, Talon felt a horrible, wrenching guilt deep inside. He felt responsible for her death. If he hadn't...
No. He refused to torture himself with the "if only's.." that his mind was so willing to conjure. He would put her remains aside so that he could give her a proper burial later on-- hopefully on her home soil. For now...
For now he had vengeance to attend to.
"This one." The Vampire who had swaggered into the room pointed imperiously at Ken. Her twin brother entered a moment later and nodded, smirking. "Agammedo wants this one, as well."
"What?" Aya's voice was sharp.
Urumi lowered her hand and offered the Vampires a cold look. "You've just interrupted something," she informed them in tones of steel.
Yohji sagged in his chair, gasping for breath, his cheeks wet. Ken couldn't tear his eyes from the older man, his heart constricting with sympathy. Farfarello had said Urumi's illusions were terrifyingly realistic. And by Yohji's screams, and the name he had been calling out, he could see it was true. Souma had ruthlessly wrenched Yohji's haunted memories of Asuka from his mind, channeled them to Urumi, and then sat back to enjoy as the stern-looking woman worked her illusions on the hapless assassin.
"It's an illusion, Yohji-kun," Omi kept murmuring, watching his partner with shattered eyes. He was still shaking over the illusions of his sister and family cast on him. "Just an illusion. Don't let her win."
"Shut that one up," Iragadachi said calmly, glancing towards Schuldich.
Schuldich took a step forward and cracked Omi a shot across the jaw. The blow almost made the small boy fall from his chair. Nagi watched silently, biting his lip almost hard enough to make it bleed. Ken wasn't sure why the young Schwarz member hadn't attempted to use his Gift, but he had a sneaking suspicion it had something to do with Crawford's father- the First. He still didn't know what the man's Gift was. Aya had reluctantly taken his cue from the dark haired boy, though he looked like he was waiting for a chance to use his flames.
Thomas turned uncaring eyes on his sweating son, arching his brows. "Does that hurt, Bradley?"
Crawford met his father's eyes and didn't look away. Ken could see his hands clenched behind the chair where Rosenkreuz couldn't see them, bound together. Blood dripped from between his fingers to land on the floor from where his fingernails were digging into the flesh of his palms. His knee looked horrible from where Ryo had shot him. Mangled flesh and bone, covered in blood. One of the Vampires had forced a few motrin pills into his mouth, but that was nowhere near enough to stop the pain. Ken had a sick feeling that if he didn't use his Gift on Crawford soon, the knee was going to be permanently fucked up.
If they lived through this.
"This one," the female Vampire repeated stubbornly, jabbing a finger against Ken's shoulder. "Agammedo told us to find someone special to the Traitor, and this is him. He wants to use him for a little while before you brainwash him or whatever."
Urumi frowned, and looked ready to argue.
Thomas held up a hand to silence her. "We're going to attend the execution anyhow. Let them use the Healer to break the Berserker- what does it matter? Salem. Get Ryo and Kyoko.
Ken blinked. Kyoko?
Manx glanced towards him. Birman's real name, she explained, her mental voice bitter. Then she winced violently.
"Enough of that," Souma murmured, watching her with slitted eyes. "Naughty girl."
Schuldich didn't move, but he must have called for them mentally, because a moment later Birman strode through the wall as if it was thin air, and Ryo stomped in through the open door.
Rosenkreuz rose to their feet, and Thomas gestured towards their prisoners. "Bring these worms to the chamber. We're going to the execution.
Birman walked over to Crawford and slapped him on his bad knee, grinning. "Ready to go, big boy?"
Crawford's teeth clamped on his lip, and blood leaked down his chin, but he didn't cry out. Aya went stiff, and flames began to creep up his arms.
"Aya," Nagi said sharply.
"Don't try anything rash, young man," Thomas advised, holding up his hand, palm out, as if showing him something. "I keep his name close by. I could kill him in an instant, if you'd like."
Aya hesitated, obviously confused but angry. Ryo seized Crawford under the arms and began to half carry, half drag him out of the room. Birman, Schuldich, and the two Vampires hustled the rest of them after the big man, with Rosenkreuz in the lead.
"I don't get it," Ken muttered out of the corner of his mouth to Nagi. "What's Thomas's Gift?"
"Blood contracts," Nagi murmured, avoiding his eyes. "When Rosenkreuz took us on, we cut our names into his skin. My name is on his right arm. If he cuts himself there, all he has to do is wish me dead, and I'm dead. We're all there-- Crawford, Farfarello, Schuldich, and I... and God knows how many other people. The other three of Rosenkreuz are also Contracted to him."
"Quit talking, pipsqueak," the male Vampire growled, reaching over to cuff him roughly. "Step lively, there!"
The walls became rockier and the ground eventually became dirt as they walked, and it soon became obvious that they were underground. It got darker, as well, until eventually Birman and Schuldich were forced to take out flashlights to light the way. The Vampire siblings sneered, their eyes able to adjust to the dim lighting.
Ken felt like they'd been walking for hours before he finally began to hear a dull roaring sound. It took him a minute before he recognized it as the sound of a cheering, shouting mob.
"We're almost to the main chamber," the female Vampire called over her shoulder, walking quicker as she got caught up in the excitement of the forthcoming execution. "Hurry it up!"
Ken tried to dig his feet into the rocky soil in a sudden desperate attempt to avoid the inevitable. Fear made his heart race and his stomach twist.
Oh, god, this is it, he realized. They're going to kill Farfarello, and they're going to erase everything that makes us who we are. Who will I be when I'm Rosenkreuz's puppet?
I don't want this. This can't be happening.
And with all of these frantic thoughts came one burning underneath them all, fierce with hatred and fury.
I want to kill them all.
Then eager hands were reaching out, latching onto his arms and dragging him out into a sea of Vampires. He was swept away from his friends, away from the only possible route of escape, into the chamber where Agammedo himself resided.
Ken tried to struggle, but there were too many of them, laughing at him, pushing him, and hissing obsene things in his ear.
I want to kill them all.
He felt unbelievably hot and dizzy. The normally dormant, warm Power inside of him was burning him now, and he had to open his mouth to gasp for breath.
All of them.
One of them gave him a hard push, and he stumbled forward. He fell painfully, unable to catch himself because his arms were tied behind his back.
He was surrounded by screeching, shouting Vampires. They were so loud he almost couldn't hear himself think as he lifted his head helplessly to face the figure on the dias above.
"So this is the one who will be the downfall of the Traitor himself," Agammedo said with a patronizing smile. He leaned forward to get a better look at Ken. "Surely you must be joking. This little boy?" The other Vampires laughed loudly. Aya-chan was chained to the throne, looking terrified. Beside her, a younger girl watched the events with dull, unfocused eyes. She was riddled with bite marks, her flaming red hair a tangled, unkempt mess.
Tokyo's Vampire Lord was eerily beautiful, his dark hair spilling down over his shoulders and his crystal blue eyes flashing from a face pale as death. Ken stared up at him silently, refusing to speak or admit his fear.
Agammedo glanced away from him, as if he'd lost interest, and gestured to some of his followers standing nearby. "Bring him out," he called imperiously. "Bring out the Traitor-- Jei."
Ken tried to sit up and see, straining his neck to try to find Farfarello. A Vampire behind him kicked him, and he fell with a grunt onto his side. "Make the Traitor bleed this worm dry," the Vampire screeched. "Make him kill this person he holds in such 'high regard'!"
Ken took in a shaky breath. Farfarello wouldn't do that. He'd already eaten about eight hours ago.
But as he was shifting, trying to get up again, his eyes landed on Agammedo.
The Vampire's eyes were narrowed, his lips pressed together tightly. "No," he barked. The Vampire who had kicked Ken drew back warily. Agammedo's face smoothed out quickly, as if he was forcing himself to seem carefree. "I have something else in mind." His followers howled with delight.
Ken stared up at Agammedo, his heart thudding in his chest with a sudden suspicion.
Why had Agammedo reacted so forcefully to the suggestion of Farfarello drinking Ken dry? Ken thought of how drinking just a little of his blood had changed Farfarello so drastically. Just how powerful- how different -would he be if he had a full drink? Or even close to it?
Was Agammedo afraid of Farfarello?
The roar of the crowd became deafening, and he rolled over quickly, eyes darting towards shifting shadows by the wall. A dozen Vampires walked forward into the flickering torchlight, struggling to get a wriggling, snarling Farfarello to the front. He was wearing a straightjacket, and he was covered in wounds.
"Farfarello!" Aya-chan screamed, sounding anguished. "Oniisan!"
Farfarello's eye darted towards her on hearing her cry, and suddenly his face went even paler than usual, his single golden eye going wide.
Ken looked quickly from Aya-chan to Farfarello in confusion, but Agammedo laughed cruelly and reached out to run a slender hand through the tangled hair of the dull-eyed Feeder beside Aya-chan. "How do you like my pet?" he sneered. "Broken and empty, but still workable. Even after the naughty things you did, eh, Jei?"
Farfarello's struggling became suddenly more ferocious, like a cornered wolf, and more Vampires had to dive forward to restrain him.
Agammedo's laughter overrode the Berserker's enraged howls. "Say hello to your big brother, my little Feeder. Long time no see, ne?"
Ken's heart leapt into his throat as he turned wide eyes on the unresponsive girl. Red hair... like Farfarello's...
"I had a sister."
Oh god... Ken stared numbly at Farfarello, feeling suddenly sick. The Irishman was actually managing to wound some of the Vampires, constrained as he was. And then Ken realized what he was seeing.
This was Jei.
He'd regained his sanity. He'd seen his sister.
Ken vaguely remembered Talon, voice low with fury, telling him how Farfarello had been a frenzied killer even before he'd begun taking Rosenkreuz's medicine.
He remembered the pain that flashed across the Irishman's face when the small girl had jumped in the path of his blade, forcing him to hesitate.
Farfarello had said his sister was dead...
Ken had assumed she had died from an accident or an illness.
Had Farfarello tried to murder her?
Tell the man what he's won, Souma's mocking voice said in his mind.
The heat inside of him churned and boiled, and suddenly it was too much- all of it. The confusion, the fear, the hatred, the pity, the secrets, and the horrifying truth of it all.
Ken rolled onto his belly and vomitted before plummetting into darkness.
Author's notes: AAaaaa don't kill the authoress! *runs and hides* I'm so sorry it took me this long to get this chapter out.. T__T And then the ending is so.. weird.. o_O;; Tried to shove too much shit in at once instead of waiting for the next chapter. -_-; um. yeah.
Work's been hell, and then I'm still settling in here at my new home... but most of all it's just been evil evil writer's block. Bleh. >_< But anyway... hopefully the next chapter will be up quicker than this one was. ^.^;; Ja~
Disclaimer: Lyrics are from "Prayer" by Disturbed
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