And so he Ran
The storm continued to pound Lam Berel. Thunder rumbled both on the surface and its depths, water rushing, gushing like rapids through the sewers, pushed to their limits. Light flashed through the waterfalls pouring down from above, the thunder’s heralds giving such beauty to the rotten, murky underbelly of the city, sending cascades of rainbows through the filth and decay.
Olivier’s heart ached in his chest. He could no longer hear the thunder, the rumbles, deafened by its beating, booming in his ears. His feet ached, boots sodden, green tunic stained brown by the muck he beat through, spurred on by that proud muscle in his chest.
His shell got the better of him, that spiral weight shifted too far forward, unable to be kept back by his tendrils. He bit his tongue; yellow overtook his vision a moment, hiding the filth he fell in, giving him some solace that it may just be dirt... Only dirt... and nothing else. But he didn’t only fall. He rolled, end over end, his yellow-and-blue form cracking and bruising on the stone path until he came to a scraping halt, face-down.
He raised his head a touch, spitting out a mixture of that stew and blood, panting as he fought so hard not to gag, let alone expel more. No matter how hard he tried, he could not push away the scents that congealed around, that threatened so to strip him to his very bones, diluted enough by the rain to keep it at bay. But it wasn’t the effervescence around that worried him. He tried to still his breathing, push away his heart’s beatings, listening.
Come on, he thought, holding his breath, enduring his head throbbing with the pain instead of his breath, focused. They couldn’t have given up, right?
He simply laid there, listening, waiting... until he heard them. Footsteps. Angry rambling. He even felt a bit of warmth on his back from their torches, but, as he rolled over, saw they were still a ways back with only the torches to be seen through the gloom.
Olivier heaved a heavy sigh, finally allowing his head peace, and stood once more, leaning on the wall. With his right arm. Lightning lit the sewers again, filling the halls with rippling color cast through the falls, but no light dared to touch that arm. The rest of him was a swirl of blue and yellow and smooth as could be, but it was purple, jagged, and etched in red, as if he had drawn blood from a stone. It was dribbling a nasty, purple ichor, still, and the pearl on the back of his hand was bright.
With a golden arrow in it, pointing behind him.
Olivier spat out another round of blood and vile remnants, and spun to it. Break time was over; how long was he down here, though? The storm had been raging when he ran through the Hag’s Loveshack, when he parted ways with his friends. For their sake.
It was better this way. They shouldn’t be caught up with a killer like him. Olivier... he didn’t even mean to do it. Madam Vollum... W... why did she threaten his friends? Why did she say such spiteful things? Why did she want to taint him so much? He understood that she wanted to die, after... whatever happened to her... What did happen to her? It was so familiar to Olivier, but, as far as he knew, only he could do that... Right?
He stopped for a moment, sliding into a tiny nook. Against the will of the arrow. He settled his chest again, eased his breathing, listening as the mob continued to follow. However, was it everyone? Were all of them still there... or did some of them finally grow bored and leave? There was a third option, but Olivier didn’t want to consider it.
But he did have to consider one thing, something he never gave thought to: Was he the only one with this power? Was he the only one that could wield this... this...
A thought struck him, making him gasp from how hard it hit.
Wasn’t Baro supposed to be up in the market at that time?
Yellow filled his eyes again, holding. The Dread Pirate Baro. The first captain of the Scylla... and whom Olivier had replaced. He originally had doubts about what Squall had told him, that the Aceon known as Plu could have been the wicked Dread Pirate, living perfectly fine and well in plain sight... but now... That level of carnage. That willful toying with other’s lives; it matched the legends and rumors spoken of the Dread Pirate.
Red returned to his eyes, growling a little.
Curse you, Squall, he thought... grimacing. No. I’m at fault here... I agreed, after all. I’m her... friend.
For someone -rather, something like Olivier- friends were rather hard to come by. Being a Cephamorian-Terrahn, also, he had to be careful who he called such. Everybody always wanted something. It was never good enough to simply want to be with him for the sake of such... and it seemed Squall was no different.
He shook his head, and stepped out from the corner again.
Only to duck back.
Sparks still hissed and sizzled on his tendrils, the crossbow bolt that hit his shell clinking on the ground. More whizzed through the air, cracking and sparking on the stone before and beside him. He tried to step out again only to be met by a fresh herald of bolts, forcing him back into his nook.
Olivier cursed under his breath, muffled further by the creak of crossbows, their strings pulled taut again-
“What do you think you’re doing!” Someone, a Terrahn woman, cried out. Someone Olivier knew, somebody that shouldn’t have been there nor be this close to his life again. “Put down your weapons this instant!”
“And why should we, sister?” A man said, and every part of Olivier tensed, hearing that snap. His hearty voice became that of a swine to the slaughter, squealing louder than those that exclaimed around before there was a hefty thump. The crowd, the water, even the storm around quieted as a soft smacking sound filled the air, and Olivier’s eyes were once more red.
“It’s lady, and you shall not hurt him,” she said. “Do you understand? He is my responsibility.”
“Then go get him. He’s pinned down,” somebody said... exclaiming as he most likely pointed after Olivier. “Hey! He’s getting away!”
Olivier didn’t look back. He did not dare to look back. He simply ran, harder than ever before, following that yellow arrow as it grew, pulsed and brightened with every desperate stride. The path was blocked ahead, the grate raised, forced even higher on its chains by the torrent of water rushing underneath. The other side was a solid wall of water, all rushing towards the ocean, doom for Olivier if he slipped and fell in.
He had to think fast. He didn’t have much time. His mind was buzzing, figuring out what to do, racing and roaring as he heard that smacking behind, approaching fast. He was on the stairs to that grate, his left hand flailing... landing on his sword.
A spark of blue fluttered across his eyes, sent through his blade as he threw it. It spiraled, whispering through the air before it sung on the chains. Breaking them. It fell of its own accord, bobbing on the water, but Olivier was able to jump on it, sliding, rolling on the other side... his sheathe heavy once more. Its three gilded braids on its pommel seemed to wrap around his wrist, caressing it, as if congratulating him as he continued to run, but he didn’t feel much like celebrating.
After all, that snapping didn’t slow, nor did it fade.
It was no good. Staying down in the sewers wouldn’t be enough. Olivier simply hoped it bought enough time for the others, but it was about time to consider getting out. He thought the arm was showing him the way, but it seemed more like a glorified compass than an actual guide at this point. Even then, a masochistic one.
However, what else could he do but follow it. He simply prayed he did not come across any rats... or spiders. The Garolot was the closest he wanted to deal with those. What if he ran into a Strigborg’s den, after all, or was hunted by a Luurepo –thoughts and scenarios he really didn’t want to know about. Both of those were more inviting than the actual thought he needed to tackle, though.
Lady Naomei, he thought, her very name locking his legs. It was only a moment, the briefest of glimpses, the shortest of breaths, but it was enough to send him tumbling again.
This time into the water.
No! He scrambled at the sides, clawing at it. Sparks flew from his right, leaving thick lines in the old, withered stone, but the current was too strong. He could only watch as the grate passed again, but it was quickly lost to a fall and froth, carrying, tumbling him along.
Olivier gave up on the sides. It was useless to stop the current, stop his descent, but that doesn’t mean he gave up. He refused to, now more than ever. He was no longer the scared, starving little urchin stowaway on the Kraken. He had grown, toughened up, found his resolve. Hell, he was even a captain! The terrors he faced, the... the war it had become against that darkness; he would not give in!
He made it to a crossroads of sorts, water funneling in from nine different sectors, all culminating into one great river, heading down to the ocean, the Barator Sea. Though all nine great flows met, the current was the weakest here, as if it needed to settle a moment, compromise and compose. Olivier looked around, looking at the nine entries, and saw the arrow under the water grow bright, pointed at the third on his right.
He went to it, and found it wasn’t as deep, that he could at least stand and walk. The water pressed against his legs, rushed by his boots, trying so hard to upend them. Olivier scoffed, and slid out of them. Not like they were any good now, anyways, so he let them drift off in the current while his feet, their suckers, held firm to the stony basin under. It might have slowed him down further, but he wasn’t in a rush. Not at the moment; the crowd, that smacking, had finally faded.
Olivier heaved a heavy sigh, but was not feeling any better. He still had no idea where he was, if he was able to get out of here, if his friends were safe, or, for the most pressing matter at hand, why Lady Naomei was there. What was she doing out of Terra, and why was Olivier “her responsibility”... Was it because he... “saved” Madam Vollum? Why were either of the members of the Church there to begin with? Nobody started a pilgrimage in the winter; what business did they have to be there?
Was it... because of me? He thought, green touching on his eyes as his stomach tightened, knotted. But why? Why now, after all these years?
The walls, the halls seemed to fade away, widening, opening to another crossroads, but this time Olivier didn’t choose any of them. Instead, he climbed the steps to the right, back onto the path, back on drier lands. Lightning flashed in the tunnels again, catching him in that colorful blast, leaning against the wall a moment to catch his breath. All the muck on him shined like gems in that brief flash, feeling like a grimy coat... making him want for the one he left back on the ship, but also for something else.
I’m definitely going to need a bath once I get out of here... if I get out of here.
He sniffed- turned to a snort as he gagged and coughed. He picked at his nose, clearing it of that foul tincture, and heaved another sigh as he once more followed the arrow. One way or another, he will find a way out. He will make good on his promise.