It’s now deep into night after we return to the dorms from the Temple of Distortion. Darc and his brothers head right out into Dark Academy to torture and murder each other. Or something like that.
I choose to stay back in their dorm, while I wait with rising anxiety, anticipating for the screams to start.
Of course – it is in fact the exact opposite.
An absolute silence reverberates throughout the Academy.
More distorted facts and truth.
It’s silent enough to make me curious.
I venture out, and my black cat companion – lovely Gorgeous – slinks along with me.
It was time to explore – and it felt safe to do so.
I exit the North Tower, in aim of searching for the Vampires.
The night itself is not black, but grey and purple.
Everything is in shade – this realm was truly some kind of in between place. The Under. Not total death, but half way to it.
And so, for the first time – I inspect the Academy.
Every part of this gothic and black palace Academy is empty.
There’s spacious creepy temples for black magic for each kind of monster down here, and an empty library documenting lies and untruths – books with titles of ‘How the World Ended’ 23rd edition. Or ‘The Way of Noway’. Everything was backwards or perhaps even some kind of joke on the truth?
For their studies, the classrooms I also explore in the West Wing. I find nothing but empty rooms. I mean – no furniture. Nothing. Nothing. Everything above is empty. Soulless, lifeless. Even the colourful entry into the lobby seemed to be a façade. A front – with absolutely nothing behind it.
In every direction, it’s like I’m a part of a trick.
I do enjoy the architecture all around me though, like a beautiful abandoned gothic palace, or the projection of something like that, that once thrived.
I do find where everyone went.
Underground. More precisely? In. The. Ground.
Gorgeous’ fur stands on end and his tail puffs out wide and curls aggressively as he shows me the way, to the South Wing, but goes quietly and slowly through the outside courts.
I follow behind at a similar pace, while the wind is howling around me – sounding like the noise of ghosts, seemingly my only company.
Then I find red stairs leading down into the dirt.
Gorgeous leads the way.
The wind stops as soon as I’m down the first curl in the stair case, and then I breath in rotten stale air as I reach a church.
My eyes land on the Fountain of Youth, depleted of blood, the centre of a hub underground. Aside from the many old skeletons hanging from shackles from the ceiling, the entire church is full of alive and seated students – holding hands, heads bowed, wearing black robes.
I’ve taken the last step down, assuming I am unnoticed, and the only one awake.
But then I notice the man at the alter, looking completely… mortal. The young vibrant man is watching me, blood painted around his eyes. He is looking panicked as he paces up and down.
He looks straight at me.
“Please, I don’t want to become one of them,” the man calls to me, but only as if I might be an illusion, as his eyes roll upward, “Oh, please, lord, I don’t want to be a monster, please!”
“You asked for this,” a second figure appears out of the shadows. An elderly frail man, holding out skeleton fingers, cupping the back of the man’s head – I watch his eyes roll back as he drops to his knees and submits immediately, “I, Lord of the Veil, deliver you to infernal bloodthirst.”
Gorgeous sits in front of me now, agitated but watching the whole procession.
The Lord Veil looks right at me, but he’s not perturbed or distracted.
As if I’m merely a fly on the wall, I watch as he casually twists the head – breaking the neck and killing the man without making him bleed.
The body falls forward and silence ensues.
I watch as the Lord Veil turns to face what is behind him – the Fountain of Youth. It caught my attention first because it touches the ceiling, and runs off steaming blood.
One drop slithers down the middle spine of rock, into each basic, toward the skeleton finger. It’s almost empty aside from a few droplets left.
The Lord Veil touches the drop of blood gravitating toward him, it wobbles on his finger as he delivers it to the dead man. He turns the man onto his back and presses the blood drop to his lips.
“Rise up again, for your forever life,” The Lord Veil whispers and it echoes through the walls made of black dirt, soot and ash.
I don’t speak up or move, I just watch without blinking. I’m not sure if I should be so entranced, but I was stuck here – so where else was I to go if not near the action? I do note my bravery, however, even in my tattered silver dress, even after being shredded into by Darc and his brothers. I healed quickly, I flew back to the Upper so briefly in my dreams, and every second I was feeling stronger. Maybe over time my memories would even come back with my growing power.
A third figure appears at the altar – a witch I would guess. Completely naked and so pale she’s almost blue – she stumbles forward with a bright smile on her face, “She sacrifices herself,” she speaks and I cringe with the sound of her absolute pleasure, so excited to… to…
She drops to her knees, places her arm over the mouth of the new undead. Eyes popped open – the fallen man bites into her wrist and starts to drink, pulling her down to go for her neck instead.
The entire time she smiles, while the dead man rises with the death of the female above. A vampire is made?
I’ve missed the Lord Veil standing – now pointing at me.
Without a word he just points at me.
Creepy fucking shit fuck.
Um – run?
Feeling freaked out, I turn and run back up the steps.
Straight up into the ‘fresh’ grey air, with the pale purple sky.
This places feels like a prison.
I look around me, turning and twirling, and the Academy is still empty.
“I need to get out,” I tell myself in a panic, wanting to run but feeling heavy and heavier, like it’s a dream and I can’t make myself move any faster.
Someone is inching their way into my ear, into my head, making me heavy, and heavier… each step… hurts….
I feel breathless.
I feel I weigh what a man would weigh, plus my own weight, plus the dark soul of another.
Got you, Solomon’s snarky voice rests in my head.
We got you, Horace and Fane speak together.
We’re inside you, Ash adds on. It’s like they’re all lying on top of me and I can’t breathe, and I –
Oops, Darc takes hold of my eyes, You’re possessed. Run. He’s teasing me with that snarl, and I have no chance left to fight.