Sunday, November 29, 2015

Et Ascendit in Caelum, Part One

The struggle between Eve and Traveller was brief.

Dragomir didn’t understand what was going on in Traveller’s head. With his eye restored and his body whole again, the man was obviously undergoing some radical changes. ‘Reversions’ was probably a more accurate word, but Dragomir suspected that Traveller’s personality had always been dopey and stupid, even before losing his eye. The Traveller of the last few days, by contrast, was at times sharp, threatening, and too confident. Dragomir couldn’t tell if that was the result of getting his eye back or putting on a facade. Regardless, he didn’t know what possessed Traveller to even imagine that Eve was his daughter.

She wasn’t. She was Dragomir’s daughter. And not the real Dragomir. She was the daughter of a fraud, a phoney, a two-bit replica with little time left to his life. So when Eve attacked, Dragomir felt just the smallest bit of satisfaction. That’s my daughter in there.

Pushing himself up the stairs, Dragomir peered into the circular tower attic, the cracked, barely-roofed space illuminated only by the dying sun. Traveller was trying, and failing, to push off a figure covered in a ragged brown cloak. Dragomir knew Traveller had lost none of his strength when regaining his eye, that was obvious, but he lacked something Eve had always possessed: speed. Eve was as fast as Logan at his prime, and no one else could compare. Speed and strength, that made for the perfect soldier.

Traveller whirled, trying to grab at Eve’s cloak. Eve whipped around him like a tornado, eluding his grasp and striking out at him with lightning speed. Dragomir suspected she could kill him in an instant, but her attacks were too smoothly calculated, with an almost admirable restraint. Within seconds Traveller was incapacitated, his body twitching uselessly as he swayed from one foot to the other. He dropped the diary, and it glared up at Eve.

“Ghhhg…” Traveller’s eyes twitched spasmodically, and Dragomir wondered if the newer addition might pop out and roll around on the floor. “Gaaaahhg…”

“My god, she must have struck every nerve in his body,” The Baron breathed, peering around Dragomir. “Not a bit of blood, either…”

The Baron fell silent as the darkened hood of Eve’s cloak wheeled around to stare at him, and he pulled out of view. Eve hissed, crouched over, and stalked in a circle around Traveller’s body. Her clothes were stained with deep, dark blotches in dozens of places, and blood dripped freely from her face and onto the floor, leaving a trail in her wake. Dragomir’s heart hurt to see her, but he didn’t dare move, because Eve could still easily murder Traveller if antagonized.

Not… my daddy…” Eve ran her fingers along one of Traveller’s arms, grasping him firmly by the wrist. “Don’t even try to be… you… fake…

“Hhhnnnngh,” Traveller gurgled.

Dragomir stepped into the room. It was an unsteady step, a step filled with fear, but not fear for himself. He feared for his daughter. The Eve he knew, when she wasn’t stalking an opponent, was invincible. Eve stood upright. Eve never expressed emotion. Eve spoke in apocalyptic prose, proclaiming the end of everything with casual ease. Eve most certainly never said the word ‘daddy’. This really was Eve, then, but an Eve who was broken, an Eve who’d lost her invincibility, transforming into a skulking, still-deadly creature of the shadows.

Dragomir didn’t care which Eve it was. She was his little girl. “Eve, it’s me. It’s daddy. I’m here.”

Eve’s hood whipped around, and she took two steps towards Dragomir. She sniffed the air, a hound on the trail, and took two more steps, still clutching tight to Traveller’s wrist. Traveller staggered as she tugged him along behind her, the diary whirling around his ankles, smacking itself into his feet in a useless effort to restore him. This apparently annoyed Eve, and with a flicker of movement she kicked the diary into the far wall, dangerously close to a large crack filled with dying sunlight. The face on the cover looked unconscious. Dragomir reached for the diary across the room, eyes wide.

Daaaaaaddyyyyyyy…” Eve’s voice wavered, crackling and foul. “It’s me… that’s you… hi, daddy, you came, daddy…

“I came,” Dragomir said, nodding. “You shouldn’t kick daddy’s things around, Eve. My diary. It’s not nice.”

Sorry… daddy…” Eve pulled herself another step closer to Dragomir. It looked like she was dragging one foot, not that it seemed to matter to her speed. “Eve… isn’t feeling… so… good… does daddy… have… medicine…?

“Yes,” Dragomir promised, a tear welling up in his green eye. “Daddy has medicine for Eve. Let that guy go, sweetie, and I’ll give you medicine.”

Eve nodded, and in an instant Dragomir knew he’d said the wrong thing, wondering simultaneously if there was a right thing to say, then concluding, just as Eve moved her arm, that she was going to do it regardless. With a snap-flick of her wrist Eve launched Traveller’s prone body through a wall, using all her strength to catapult him out of the tower. The break in the wall was so abrupt and so clean that the tower didn’t seem to notice at first, and it took three quiet seconds before the wall started to collapse in on itself, rocking the king’s tower. Dragomir caught only a faint hint of Traveller’s falling form as he plummeted into the ruins of the fortress below, surrounded by tumbling bricks. He looked… surprised.

Dragomir’s eyes widened, and he stood in mute shock as The Baron’s ghosts flooded out of the hallway behind him.

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