I wrote this bit a few years ago as a means to kind of hold some ideas and concepts in my head for later use. This cast of characters is to be the central group for the book I am working on now. Much of what happens here is far, far later in the plotting of this story.
If you read last week’s story, this one will give you some insight into exactly how far Envy is able to corrupt normal people.
The street was calm. The skies were clear that day. In the three story bordello at the end of the avenue, hidden by bland walls and rumors of the extravagant activities within its doors, a storm based in terrible rage and jealousy was building…
Layhilani, Eric, Vavian, and Dempsy stood barely a city block away from the building. They had been to this place just the other day. It did not seem nearly as ominous to them then.
Vavian was the first to speak. “Something is really, really wrong here. I…I’m not the only one sensing this, right?”
Layhilani and Eric looked apprehensively at each other
Dempsy shook his shoulders, “Ain’t nothing “right” about this whole thing since we started.”
Vavian continued, “I…know. But, this time, something is… I just feel sick even thinking about it.”
Layhilani lifted her head up as if trying to hear some far away sound “She’s been here…”
Eric nodded in consent. “We work in tandem, understand?”
The group muttered quiet agreement.
Continuing Eric directed the plan, “If we have to use force, we’re going to be in confined quarters. Vavian, Dempsy, find and create fall back points. Layli, I need you to take the fight to this guy. Retreat as needed and let the boys cover you. I will charge through and secure Lillian. Do not worry about me or my safety, only the girl counts.”
“This may all be overkill. Then again, it may simply be a boy with too much money and time on his hands…” Eric paused, “Not one of you believes that eh? I…”
Eric was cut off by the sound of a shrieking woman falling from the second story window of the brothel. The cries she made as her body hit the street and shattered, fate unkindly having spared her life, were tragic.
“GO!” Eric directed.
And they ran.
People were fleeing the bordello at an alarming rate. Most of them found their way out through the doors. Several unfortunate women found their way out of the building via the windows, much in the way that the first one had.
Seconds later the group reached the main entryway to the building. The difficult little man who sat there previously was nowhere to be found. No one was surprised. Dempsy went to work gathering the men and women who were attempting to hide or hold their ground. Their initial reactions to him were in resistance. “Things are about to get quite bad here, for your own safety you should really consider running away.” His calm almost detached voice and manner likely did not help convince anyone of his position on the matter.
The unholy screech from upstairs on the other hand, did a great deal to convince the reluctant patrons to flee.
As Eric and his allies barged their way into and up the stairs, Lillian and her unwelcome guest were beginning a wicked decent into the gaping maw of madness.
Lillian scampered away from her attacker. He seemed so huge, his arms and his eyes dangerously long like a spider. He was screaming something at her, but she could not understand him anymore. Each word was being twisted into animal-like noises.
“Lorenzo? Is that…Is that you?” she managed to ask despite her fear.
“you rememberme after all” His speech was coming forth in a strange cadence that seemed almost delayed from his mouth after he made the words with his lips. “how couldyou? who washe thatyou would choosehim overme?”
A flood of unwelcome memories returned to Lillian. She could feel her will to live entirely slip away. It was comforting. Finally giving up was comforting.
It was short lived comfort, whatever powers were twisting Lorenzo were also pressing his memories into Lillian’s mind. She saw for the first time, though his eyes.
The boy had been to her services many many times. Lillian had dismissed him as another pervert but then saw something that shocked and wounded her as she watched his memories play out in his head. The fantasy that the boy indulged in with her was one where she simply loved and was kind to him. It was not perverse, it was not selfish, it was simple and honest. Lillian long ago stopped caring about whatever fantasy her customers were looking to fulfill. They were almost always sexual romps of the most embarrassing kind. It was easier to allow them their unabashed fantasy and be done. After all, she never had to participate, only allow them to act out their desires on the stage that her powers of illusion provided.
She felt ashamed. She felt evil. Worst of all, she felt responsible for the monster now stalking her bedroom. Lorenzo had somehow gained knowledge of Cassius and that he was the only person she could possibly love. Lillian cowered in a corner, tears falling from her eyes.
“stop crying! why doyou makeme yell atyou!” Lillian covered her ears and shook her head like a child. “amI too loud forYOU!” Lillian screamed. Sheer terror escaped her and her heart exploded inside her chest over and over.
Lorenzo, took steps closer to her, “you don’t wantme…FINE! cruel man would takemy place? noNOno! these walls this roof this gold…MINE!”
His voice was piercing and other worldly. Lillian tried to run towards the door. She tripped and crashed to the floor just mere feet away from the exit of her room. Looking back she could see him stalking ever closer.
“how couldyou lovehim? allow inour bed!” His body was changing, it was warping into something twisted. “look atME!”
Lillian did look, much to her own regret. The sound of breaking bones and limbs stretching to unnatural lengths and dimensions was her reward. Lorenzo became a creature, a monster constructed of hate and fury right before her eyes. He was close to the ceiling in height when his body stopped contorting. His arms nearly dragged on the floor and his face was twisted in a permanent scream. He was unnaturally thin now as if he were stretched out on the rack for weeks, never allowed to die.
Lillian got up off the floor to flee into the hallway.
The monster that had been Lorenzo continued to pursue her, “you can not run away fromme! it’s justus!”
Lillian screamed again, her voice finally giving out and her cry sputtering into a rasp of pain. Lorenzo’s long mangled arm reached into the hallway and his twisted snake-like fingers wrapped around Lillian’s waist. He slipped out the door into the hallway. “yes yell, cry, see how no one cares foryou except me.”
The monster was caught entirely off guard by the appearance of Eric, Layhilani, and the rest as they exited the stairwell and entered the hallway. “I wouldn’t go that far.” Eric replied in the most proper and mocking tone he could muster. Lorenzo lunged at Eric with his long clawed arm. Those claws seemed to grow as they cut through the air. “Lilli….!” Eric made the command as the fight started.
In an instant the warriors coordinated a brutally effective series of maneuvers. Layhilani, taking a foot boost from Vavian jumped over the others and rebounded off the side wall. She cut only once, but her strike removed the creature’s arm that was grasping Lillian. The monster howled in pain and was about to turn towards Layhilani when it saw Eric draw his broad sword. It turned to attack Eric with a lunge which Eric deftly sidestepped.
Instead of finding Eric in his claws, Lorenzo was instead faced with the business end of Dempsy’s pistol. “Love hurts eh kid?” The gunshot pierced the monster’s claw and went straight into his chest. Dempsy then dodged around a corner while Vavian gathered up a charge of electrical current.
Layhilani had to work to un-pry the detached hand from around Lillian’s small and fragile body. By the time she had done so, Eric was with them. His sword in his right arm, he took Lillian up in the other. “I’ll get her to safety. Destroy this abomination.” Layhilani nodded.
Eric began to run from Lorenzo who was now re-growing his arms and claws back at a frightening pace. Lorenzo swiped at Eric, his claws ripping into the Templar slowing his run. A second blow from the monster was aimed at the unconscious Lillian and Eric deflected enough of the strike to protect her but suffered further injury as a result. The third strike was interrupted.
Vavian stepped out into the hallway again and warned the others, “Eyes!” They had seen this trick before and all closed their eyes. Vavian let forth a brilliant flash of electricity into the air that blinded Lorenzo.
The monster staggered about for a moment then regained his sight to see Layhilani standing as his only obstacle before him. Everyone else had scattered.
“She did this to you…” Layhilani said to him.
“indeedshe did…i will makeher suffer to the last” the monster replied.
“Lillian is not to blame. Envy found her way into your heart and that is why you suffer.”
The monster howled again and rampaged towards her. Layhilani cut and hacked his arms and claws as he moved forward in the narrow hallway all the while keeping her eyes toward his neck. She was surprised as Lorenzo was when a gun shot suddenly sounded behind them.
“Don’t mind me. I’m just in a really foul mood.” Dempsy walked forward firing his pistol repeatedly at the monster. “Didn’t think I’d let you do this by yourself did you?” Dempsy was a terrible shot. He had only managed to distract Lorenzo. That was enough of an opening for Layhilani though.
She ran straight towards the monster that had only a short time ago been Lorenzo. Ignoring the slashing hands that grasped for her, she delivered a brutal kick to the beast’s chest before spinning in place and severing one its arms near the shoulder joint.
Dempsy stepped back. The sight of the Shadow Elf fighting unrestrained was often disturbing.
The creature reflexively reached for where its arm had been and in doing so, opened its guard up. Layhilani wasted no time exploiting this. She spun with her sword and split the creature’s belly. It bore down with pain and rage for the spot she struck from. Claws slammed into the floor but missed Layhilani as she melded with the creature’s shadow on the floor and appeared behind it.
Her blade plunged through the creature’s back up to its hilt. Layhilani braced herself by kicking the creature just below where the sword had found its way and then pushed forward. The creature fell to the floor face first.
Layhilani’s sword slid out as the creature’s body fell. She jumped forward and whipped the cutting edge around, cleaving Lorenzo’s head off.
Dempsy had seen her fight like this before, even more because Layhilani often took pleasure in dangerous contests. This time however, she was merely ruthless and cold. Something about this fight was different for her.
“We have what we came for. It is time to leave.” Layhilani turned to leave without another word.
Dempsy looked at the shattered mess on the floor that used to be a person, “Tough break kid. Looks like your luck with women is worse than mine.”