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Chapter 26. A Calm Between Storms
Erin woke up sweating. The nightmares were back. In fact, they'd been back since they'd been kidnapped. She wasn't sure how long they'd been in the dungeon, but it can't have been more than a week because Vechs was still alive. Or at least he physically was.
After the Guild had left Vechs had fallen to his knees and just stared at Zisteau's lifeless body. It just hung there, mutilated. He'd stayed there, barely blinking, looking like a shell of the Vechs Erin had come to love dearly.
Eventually Erin had fallen asleep, tiredness taking over. She now looked over to Vechs who was laying on the floor, looking up at Zisteau and seemed to be talking to him. Erin looked up at Zisteau, wondering if the poor guy was alive or not. But it seemed Vechs was talking to him like one would to a grave.
"I miss you…so fucking much. I hate seeing you like this." Erin could hear Vechs mutter, "I'm sorry this happened to you...it's my fault that you're like this now and I will never forgive myself." His voice was surprisingly steady, but incredibly raspy, like Vechs had been crying for hours and now he'd just run out of tears.
"It'll be okay though, Zisteau. I'll get my heart back and get the other two out of here. We'll be okay and I'll give you a proper burial. Well, you wanted to be cremated, didn't you? So I'll do that. And get you buried with a tree, I'm sure that's a thing. An apple tree, because I know you liked those."
Erin could feel tears running down her cheeks. The way Vechs talked to Zisteau was unlike anything she'd ever heard from him. It was so gentle and loving. It was clear to Erin that Vechs had loved Zisteau with all his heart. And now he'd lost him. Not only that, he'd given his heart up to try and save him.
"I really am sorry, Zisteau. You believe that, right? You know that I'd never intend for this to happen to you? You always did see the good in me…but now? Now I'm the reason you've been…well...whatever this disgusting act is."
While she listened Erin thought about Skereth, safe in Obrary, probably completely unaware of the fact that Erin was deep underground in a dungeon. Erin wanted to try and visit Skereth's dreams, but she knew she couldn't. The connection didn't work with braks and casters.
So instead she focused on trying to send a message another way. Her current plan was to send a bird with a note. She had no idea how to accomplish that from the dungeon, though. As a matter of fact, she didn't know how she'd do that anywhere. So instead she just believed that Skereth would somehow know. Somehow she'd get a feeling Erin and the others were in trouble and she would come to their rescue.
"I don't understand this," Vechs said, Erin looked over at him and saw he was gesturing at Zisteau, "why deface your beautiful body? What did you ever do to deserve this?" Vechs let out a chuckle, "It's because Blame's mad, I guess. He seems to be obsessed with me. It's creepy, so fucking creepy."
Erin couldn't agree more, Blame's fascination in Vechs was disturbing. He would often touch Vechs, call him his food, whisper things in his ear. Erin could tell it made Vechs incredibly uncomfortable. She doubted Blame cared though. He probably hadn't felt real human emotions for years, if ever.
"I guess it's because he's crazy. Like Sicas. I bet they know each other. It's just the kind of fucked up coincidence that'd occur at this sort of time. They're both psychopaths. Actually, the whole Erizul Guild are. They're absolutely bat shit crazy. The way they're treating us seems like a game to them." Vechs went silent after this. Leaving Erin to her thoughts again.
Everything about their situation was messed up. The torture, the mutilation of Zisteau, Blame's creepy nature towards Vechs. Everything.
"I know you've been listening, Erin," Vechs said quietly, "I don't mind, I just wanted you to know that I've been talking to you, too."
Erin crawled over to Vechs and knotted her hand in his, "It's going to be okay."
"Yeah, it probably will be. We have Skereth, she'll come and get us. I bet Sevadus will fly her in with his airship, she'll come in, kill all the Guild members, then we'll all fly away. After a while this will all be a distant memory that we may even laugh about."
Erin smiled at Vechs, "Yeah. We'll laugh about it over dinner when we're all married with kids and only see each other every now and then because Chad's a famous journalist, I'm busy solving crimes again, and you're travelling the far corners of the world."
"That sounds good to me. I think it'll happen," Vechs said. His face was full of pain. There were lines where his tears had washed off the dirt. His voice was empty and Erin was sure he seemed ten years older than before this whole ordeal began.
"I think so, too." Erin replied.
After a while Chad woke up and crawled over too, so the trio all lay together. The silence was a comfortable one. They all felt like this was the calm between storms. Like any moment someone would burst through that door and the thunder would echo while lightning flashed and the rain poured down on them.
But for now they rested. Erin had managed to sort of heal her leg wound, although she could tell it would leave a horrible scar. She was okay with that, though. She never saw scars as ugly. They were like memories on her skin, they held a story. Whether it was the one on her back due to surgery, or the tiny scar on her knee from falling as a child and grazing her knees, they all held a story.
"I wouldn't choose to experience this," Chad said quietly, "but if I could choose who I'd experience it with, I'd pick you two."
"Gee, thanks, Chad." Vechs teased, a tiny bit of his old self showing through
"You know what I mean. I was trying to be deep."
"If we have nothing else," Erin sighed, "we have each other and our humour."
"I suppose it could be worse." Vechs said, "Not sure how the hell what we're going through could be worse, this is pretty shit. But I bet it could be worse."
"I know it could be," Erin, Chad and Vechs all sat up suddenly to see Persephone standing in the doorway, for the first time without her mask.
One half of her face seemed to have melted off and was now just bone. She smiled at the trio's horror stricken faces, "I decided it was about time you saw who I really was," she walked over and pulled them all up. As she did, Erin saw one of her normally gloved hands was also skeletal."Blame would like you to meet someone. He's very excited about it. So excited that he prepared a feast. You three are the guests of honour."