LET ME JUST SAY: Downloaded the 1.69 patch (by complete accident mind you) which caused my game to reroute to origin, and well origin hasn’t liked me from the start, so it just refused to load the game for me, and the TSW.exe shortcut wasn’t working anymore, and basically I spent hours trying to find a fix only to uninstall the game and reinstall up to 1.67 only. And I failed at one point so I came to this *very little space between fingers* of losing the entirety of this save.
On another note, I actually managed to finish this chapter before all of that, so here it is, still keeping up with the 2-day schedule. (just waiting to see when it’s going to climb to 3…and then 4…and then 5…)
Warning: PG-13 Descriptive gore and sensitive possibly triggering material
I stood at the top of the horrible dreadful scene, my feet perched atop the bodies of hundreds of lifeless corpses. My hands were outstretched in front of me, cupping the essence of life; a pool of bright dark blood. The grim reaper, in his dark sinister cloak, floated overhead, his cold stare digging into my back as he poured the contents of a bloody pitcher into my cupped hands. The blood splashed and overfilled, droplets of the red liquid flying in all directions as I struggled to keep it all contained in my now seemingly small palms.
Then a light appeared in the distance, a laugh, a smile, a hope. I reached out, the blood spilled at my feet, but the grim reaper cut out the light with a powerful swing of his scythe and my world was plunged into darkness yet again, the blood dripping down between the bodies of the dead.
I woke up with a horrible jolt, the nightmare still vivid behind my eyes. There was a horrible dread in my chest, making me feel as if I’d made a terrible mistake, as if that light had been Edmund, as if my very existence in the dream had caused the loss of his.
I’d barely been awake for two seconds that suddenly my arms felt on fire. The sudden pulse of pain that went through them shocked me to the point where I fell off my bed.
I didn’t get any warning this time, it had skipped the painful movement of my magic inside me directly to the point where it felt like I was going to explode.
My eyes were wide in fear, my chest painfully constricting, as I could feel that I didn’t have the strength or the time to hold back the wave of magic that wanted to spill out and…do what? That’s what I was afraid of.
What had I done last time?
How had I survived last time?
No sooner had the word crossed my mind, I was on my feet and stumbling for my dresser and pulling out a pair of scissors.
I didn’t hesitate for a second. I pressed the cool blade against my glowing skin and made a slit. A few droplets of blood escaped from the wound and vaporized before they hit the ground.
I slid down as that feeling of relief came back. I let out a shaky sigh. The relief wasn’t as high as last time, I could still feel some of my magic stirring, but at the very least I didn’t feel like I was going to explode again.
I brought my trembling hands to my head, hating what had just happened.
Maybe I should just stop trying to sleep.
The door suddenly swung open, a wide awake Erin running in. I’d made so much noise stumbling around my room…of course she heard it.
The moment the door slammed open, I reflexively tossed the scissors underneath the dresser and hid my cut arm behind me.
Erin wouldn’t understand. She’d jump to conclusions.
“Xavier!” Erin exclaimed, dropping to my level.
“I know, I’m sorry it was just a nightmare.” I said tiredly.
“God Xav, this is getting ridiculous.” Erin said, tossing her hair back. “The potions I gave you obviously aren’t working. You need to go see a doctor, or at least get some pills.”
“Pretty sure that’s not going to do anything.” I mumbled, shifting slightly from my uncomfortable position.
“You went through a lot a few months ago, maybe you just need to talk about it with someone.” Erin suggested, rubbing her tired eyes.
“I told you all about it.”
“Look it’s late, I’m feeling better, let’s talk about it some other time okay?” I said, willing for her to leave. She frowned a little, but shrugged her shoulders, getting up and moving to help me.
I waved her off. “I’m fine.” I insisted. She hesitated for a few seconds, but eventually nodded and left.
I pulled my arm out and stared at the now dried wound.
My magic is the problem. It’s fighting against me, it’s causing me to have nightmares, there’s too much of it in my veins. It has to be the problem. And this has to be the solution.
Doesn’t matter that my sixth sense is telling me it isn’t.
Because in the end, this is the only thing that actually works.
No one’s POV
Erin still couldn’t quite understand the concept of art.
She never had. They were meaningless structures in her eyes. Attempts at replicating some sort of weird image you see when you’re high on something. Take this one for example: just two pieces of metal twirling around each other and nearly touching.
Now some might see this as a symbol of love, some of aggression, some might view the sculpture as a window.
But Erin? She still couldn’t see the point of it. Who would pay this much money for the musings of a child?
Erin groaned and turned back towards her group of friends.
Edmund had apparently insisted on seeing Xenia and Teo again, and since he was now a ‘changed man’ the two were really curious to see it for themselves.
It had been Xenia’s idea to come to a museum, something along the lines of a ‘last ditch effort to give Teo actual culture’.
Erin still didn’t get how this was culture.
“I’m still having trouble believing it.” Xenia said, poking Edmund’s cheek again.
“Stop that!” He said, swatting her hand away.
“Aw man, I’m happy for you. You actually became a writer!” Teo exclaimed. His hands were in his pockets, and he had a rather reserved attitude, but he still looked genuinely happy for his childhood friend.
“Yeah! I’ve already written two books and I’m working on two more right now. One to get published mostly, I’m hoping to get that one done at the end of the month. The other one is more of a pet project of mine. So I want to spend as much time as possible on it.” Edmund enthusiastically said.
They still needed to get used to it, but the four were finding this Edmund a lot more fun to be around. He smiled more, his gestures were more wild and expressive, and he talked a lot more. It was always something Edmund used to do – restrict himself to saying only the essential.
“Still having a hard time believing you two are back together.” Xenia said a little skeptically as she glanced from Xavier to Edmund.
“Why?” Xavier asked.
“Well in highschool all you two used to do is makeout and so far you’ve only like bumped shoulders or something.” Xenia noticed with a smirk.
Xavier shifted uncomfortably.
“A relationship isn’t all about kissing.” Edmund replied, practically scolding Xenia. She shrugged and Edmund pulled out his phone, eager to change the subject. “Do you guys want to see what I’ve written so far for my book?”
“Yeah sure.” Teo said, and Edmund excitedly opened up the word document on his phone and showed it to Teo and Xenia as Xavier gravitated towards Erin.
“My eyes snap open and all I want is to close them again. I’m sitting in a subway station, a suitcase at my feet and a phone on my ear.
‘Honey? Are you listening?’
An annoyed female’s voice reaches me through the cellphone. I flip the phone shut and toss it on the seat beside me. I stroke the beard I’m wearing and I look around me with my new eyes. Glasses. Oh joy. I glance at my right where a teenage girl is stirring in her sleep. In a few minutes she’ll wake up and wonder how she got here. She won’t remember having ever bought the clothes she’s wearing, but she’ll gradually start remembering bits and pieces of the last two weeks. She’ll assume she’s been too stressed out with work, only to learn that she quit her two part time jobs. Seven days ago.
I dig my hands into my new pockets and pull out a wallet. I look at the driver’s license.
My new name is William Hawkner.”
“Are you serious? You guys haven’t kissed yet?” Erin asked, her voice tinged with amusement. “I thought you were just messing with me.”
“It’s barely been a week Erin.” Xavier replied, checking out a sculpture.
“So!? Are you just not into him anymore? Are you realizing you don’t like him?” Erin asked. Xavier and Edmund had always evolved first around physical contact. What made it so different this time around? Apart from the lack of teenage hormones and the general fact that both had changed…
“No, it’s not that.” Xavier sighed.
“Then what is it?” Erin pressed on. She’d noticed a gradual decline in Xavier’s attitude in the last few months, and it, along with his continuous nightmares, were really starting to worry her. Maybe this was a way for her to figure out what was going on.
Or maybe not.
“Not now Erin.” Xavier snapped, glancing at their three other friends. Clearly tired of the conversation, he walked back over to the group just as Edmund was passionately talking about his plans for his story.
Erin bit her bottom lip. What was going on that he wasn’t telling her?
Xavier had the afternoon off and, knowing Edmund spent most of his time working on his books, he dropped by the library for a surprise.
Seeing him, Edmund was more than happy to stop what he was doing to spend some time with his boyfriend.
“-my last book didn’t sell that well so my editor’s actually been wanting to meet up a lot to discuss my new story.” Edmund said in a low voice so as to not disturb the others in the library. “But I think I’m on the right track.”
“I don’t see how it didn’t sell well. I finished it last night and I loved it.” Xavier replied, and Edmund smiled.
Looking at the gorgeous smile that was reaching Edmund’s eyes, Xavier just wanted to grab his face and plant one on him, but at the same time… – and this was something Xavier was beginning to thoroughly hate about himself – he felt something blocking him. As if sealing that deal meant something horrible. So Xav swallowed with a little difficulty and turned back to looking out the library’s huge windows.
“Ah geez, I’m sorry Edmund.” Xavier sighed as the self-hatred settled uncomfortably in his gut. In that moment Xavier felt broken, all those nightmares he was getting, all those extreme measures that were causing scars on his skin and in his mind…Edmund deserved better than what Xavier had become.
“What? What’s wrong?” Edmund immediately asked, his voice tinged with worry.
“I want to! I swear! You’ve more than shown me I can trust you again, but I just…” Xavier muttered, trying to formulate his words properly without sounding, god forbid, pitiful.
With a tiny smile Edmund placed his hands on Xavier’s waist and brought him in for a backwards hug.
“You don’t get it yet do you?” Edmund whispered in his ear, causing small shivers to go down Xavier’s spine. “I don’t mind.”
Xavier opened his mouth to say something, but Edmund wasn’t done.
“I’m just happy spending time with you right now.” He finished, pressing his chin on Xavier’s shoulder. “I can wait till you’re ready. We can go at your pace.”
Xavier’s chest felt warm, and he found himself blessed to have someone this amazing, this understanding.
Why couldn’t Xavier just let himself be? Why couldn’t he follow through with a simple kiss? It seemed so mundane the more he thought about it, but he knew deep inside that for some reason it meant something else. Something else he apparently wasn’t ready to accept yet.
A few moments later, after Xavier had counted the story of that one clumsy interview he’d had, his sixth sense warned him about something he couldn’t ignore.
“Something’s bothering you.” Xavier said.
“I…what?” Edmund said, taken aback by the comment.
“Yeah, it’s this sixth sense, I’ve developed. Sometimes it lets me know things that aren’t that obvious…it’s kind of hard to explain.”
“You didn’t have that in highschool…”
“No. It’s a long story.” Xavier said.
“Maybe you’ll tell it to me someday.” Edmund said with a smile.
“Yeah…maybe.” Xavier mumbled. It seemed like the simple fact of him having a sixth sense brought about the necessary explanation of too many painful things and Xavier didn’t want to indulge in that again. “So, what’s bothering you?”
Edmund sighed. “It’s my friend – Charlotte. Remember her?”
“Hard to forget.”
“She revealed to me, months ago now, that she has a genetic disorder that’ll lead to her death. She’s a close friend and she’s helped me out a lot, but there’s nothing I can do to help her in return. This just reminds me of Oliver. I don’t want to lose another friend to disease, but doesn’t matter how much research I do. There’s nothing I can do to help.” Edmund admitted.
“I…I might know someone.” Xavier confessed. “I know someone who can heal wounds, but I don’t know if she’d be able to heal this.
“It’s worth a try.” Edmund said, his mood lightening.
“I’ll talk to her about it.”
“And I’ll try to convince Charlotte to try.”
“Don’t raise her hopes up too much. I don’t even know if this is going to work.” Xavier added.
The delicate hum of the piano filled the relatively quiet bar. The piano was a new installment and though a lot of people thought it was a nice addition, I just felt like it managed to bring my mood even more down than before.
I stared at the pianist, continuously rotating around the feeling that I’d seen her before and that she was a complete stranger with the type of bright blue hair you didn’t see that often.
The smell of alcohol invaded my nose as I took another gulp of my drink.
Self-pity, self-hatred, you name it, I was deep in it tonight and it just made me hate myself the more for it.
What am I even doing? Have I really settled in this routine? Every morning now, I would wake up to the frightening feeling of my magic stirring uncomfortably in my veins, and if I hadn’t woken up from a nightmare that night and done it before, I’d pull out that pair of scissors and cut my skin…just for good measure.
I knew it wasn’t good, I knew cutting shouldn’t be the answer, but what else could I do? I didn’t want to lose control, the consequences would be devastating. The only answer I had was getting myself another bead. But even there I wasn’t sure it would do much of anything at all, probably nothing, and it also implied having to call my dad and explain to him why I was suddenly wanting one of those magical beads.
I rubbed my eyes. It’s just these nightmares…and I can’t avoid sleeping. I tried it, didn’t work, nearly got demoted at work for bad performance, and I couldn’t function at all. The tiny bit of sleep I was getting was apparently vital to me functioning in a day.
I bumped Erin lightly. “I know why I wanted to come, why are you here?” I asked her. She was looking about as bummed out as I felt.
“Just needed to think.” She replied, twirling her empty beer bottle.
“Yeah…maybe it is time I moved on? I thought I had…” Erin mumbled. I waited for her to continue, emptying my bottle. “Don’t expect anything more out of me, I’m not done thinking.”
I chuckled. “I’m going to get another one, want me to bring you one too?”
I made my way over and sat on one of the stools as I waited for my turn. The bartender was busy serving another man his – judging by the pile of empty glasses the bartender had just put aside – tenth drink. It was a quiet week night, a night for people to come and drink their melancholy away.
It’s only after I heard the other man’s voice that I actually recognized him.
I didn’t remember his name, but I distinctly remember his face. It was that detective.
The man who was in charge of Erin’s case, who’d come to the university to ask me about James, the man who I stopped James from killing.
“It’s not making any sense you know?” He slurred to the bartender who, recognizing me, had already begun taking out another beer bottle. “And no one, and I mean nooo one, can give me a concrete story on what happened to my partner. I just don’t know anymore, what am I supposed to believe? I got fired cause they didn’t believe me when I said my memories had been wiped. I mean! I think I’m the best placed to know no?? Nobody f*cking believes me and she’s dead, and there’s just these names I keep almost remembering…like Xander…Jason…I just don’t know. And I hate not knowing!”
I left the beer bottle on the counter and quickly made my way back to Erin, coaxing her to get up.
“Come on.” I urged, my heart beating a little more rapidly and the magic inside pulsing dangerously. The guy still didn’t seem to remember, but I didn’t want to do anything to help his memories come back.
“Xavier what’s going on?” Erin asked. I gestured at the detective, and after a few moments her mouth drew open in surprise.
“Is that…?” I nodded vigorously, and this time she followed me out of the bar without any protests.
There go our bar nights out.