DAMNED || LANDEL'S INSTITUTE

A Multifandom Asylum RPG


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Nightshift 60: Main Hallway, 2-West
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ninelivesonce wrote in damned
[from here]

Taura peeked out of the stairwell door with the first evidence of caution she'd shown all night. Everything looked quiet, but that didn't mean much of anything.

They'd met here the last time she'd come up to head into that room, and that thing had come out of the walls. She didn't want to wait around anywhere, but especially not here. She was glad they were meeting a little further down the hallway. It didn't make it safer, but she'd fought enough battles to earn a little superstition.

Every soldier had a few. Didn't matter if they were religious or so fanatically committed to the opposite opinion that it almost qualified, they gathered superstitions like an air filter gathered dust. When you risked your life every day, anything that seemed to stand between you and the darkness shone like a beacon. She'd learned to forgive her fellow soldiers their foibles quickly; and then after her first real mission she'd understood. A fussy method of attaching a helmet was both a safety measure and a ritual -- doing something the same way every time kept people from forgetting it, and every time they came back alive cemented it.

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[From here.]

The Horrible Hallway came into sight as the Scarecrow reached the top of the stairs. He let go of Lust's hand to use his flashlight, looking one way down the corridor, then the other. There didn't seem to be witches out and about, but that had always been the case, hadn't it? Just as they started down the hallway, there would be a chill in the air, their flashlights failing them at just the right time as a hand came out of the darkness, reaching for them.

Oh, he'd let his imagination run a bit there, leaving him spooked himself. The Scarecrow tried his best to push those feelings down, wanting to seem braver than he really felt. He'd been through the Horrible Hallway once or twice without an occurrence, but it was often not the norm. Whether the whole hall was enchanted in some indescribable way, or simply guarded by a witch with powers he couldn't fully comprehend, it was a terrible place to be at night.

Seeing nothing out of the ordinary yet, he shined his flashlight down the corridor to the hallway that branched from it. "All right. This hall in particular can be most dangerous at night, but if we head straight over there, I think we'll be okay."

It was a strange thing, walking through the darkness and clasping hands like children. But there was a strange comfort to it as well. Something Lust couldn't pinpoint or explain, but something she knew she had never felt before. It was such a human thing. A human thing to want and a human thing to do and gain from. She realized that she still didn't know just what Frank Westerning was, but declined to press the issue. She hadn't offered her nature, either.

And then they had reached the hallway that seemed to frighten Frank the most. Lust shook herself, banishing thoughts of what this place could potentially do to her.

"What does it protect, that makes it so dangerous?" the homunculus asked, stepping beside her companion and stretching her fingers to prepare her claws if need be. She couldn't imagine any other reason for a hallway to be particularly bad. She peered after the light, trying to discern some difference or hint. "And don't worry. If anything comes, I'll take care of it."

That was what she could offer.

The Scarecrow smiled at her offer, pausing before answering her question. He had to admit he was grateful to know she was confident she could take care of anything that came their way, whatever that meant. Unlike Lion, he wasn't a terribly intimidating figure, and the creatures that roamed Landel's had already shown they weren't afraid of him; unlike Tin Man, he didn't have a weapon, and wasn't entirely sure how— or if— he could use one if he did. If the multiple injuries and bandages covering his arms were any sign, he wasn't capable of defending himself very well. It hadn't been a problem when he was made of straw- being of flesh and blood was another matter entirely.

"I don't rightly know, to be honest," he answered. "Down that way—" he pointed to the east, stepping aside so she could take a look "— are the storage rooms. When your light runs out of batteries, you'll have to get more from down there. They've also got a room where they keep boxes of things that belong to the people they say we are."

"Really?"

Both of those things interested Lust, and she made a note of them for later. She peered down the hallway, cursing her weakened night vision. "They've made whole lives for us, then?"

She wondered what sort of woman she was supposed to be in this world. What sort of life they'd created, if they really did go that far. That would be for another night, however. Frank had a mission - of sorts - and she had plenty of time.

"So it seems." The Scarecrow shook his head, though his response was an agreement of sorts. Ever since he'd received his body in his box at dinner one night, he couldn't help but worry about Hunk Howard, the man he supposedly was. Was there really a Hunk Howard, and his body was simply being borrowed? And if that was the case, what had happened to him? Or had it all been fabricated somehow to make the lies the Institute told the patients more believable? He wasn't sure how to make humans, as they weren't just pieced together from old clothing, but with as complicated as their bodies were, it couldn't be an easy task.

He was about to continue his description of the hallway, but was given pause by his own thoughts as they wandered through his concerns. "Every one of the nurses goes along with it. And there are doctors we sometimes meet who believe it, too. They want to convince you you're someone else entirely, like everything you know never existed."

His face fell for a moment as he remembered Dorothy, her visit still haunting him. His eyes returned to her after a second, his look determined. "Don't you believe it, though. It must be awful to be out there not knowin' who you are and believing you're someone you're not. That's why we've got to find a way to stop Landel. He can't get away with this!"

"It's not awful," Lust said with a shrug. Frank had inadvertently stumbled upon a subject very close to the homunculus' heart. She had lived most of her life never knowing she was supposed to be some other woman, a woman who had lived and loved in a place she barely remembered or understood.

"If you never knew you were someone before, you don't find yourself missing anything. Or wondering what that person was like, and how much of her still exists in you, and what that means for everything you know and remember.... That's what's awful."

Sometimes she wished she had never met Scar, never learned the truth of her origins, or began to remember bits and pieces of that other woman's life. She had known who she was, and known what she would be upon attaining humanity. Now she could only wonder and worry.

"Really, who are we except for what we think in our mind? I sometimes believe we're all only who we think we are..."

"Oh, but what about the people who care about you?" the Scarecrow asked earnestly, turning to her. "You might not know you're not yourself, but they will. They'll miss you."

The topic was nearing one to his own heart- even as he spoke, he remembered that visitation day, Dorothy sitting across from him and insisting he was sick, that there was something wrong with his brain and that Oz never existed. And true, there was that movie of their adventures, and those people in it did look an awful lot like them, but Sangamon had said it was all pretend. Though he trusted Sangamon's opinion, there were times the former strawman questioned his friend, and wondered if he actually was Hunk Howard.

But then he thought of his sleep study, the mission he and Depth Charge had been put through, all that had transpired since his arrival. He didn't have a working brain, but he refused to believe a place that forced the patients into so much hardship was actually trying to help them in any way. Dorothy was out there, and he had to help her- her, and his friends who had been 'released.' If he didn't, who would?

"How can I care for people I don't know?" Lust shrugged, though she did try and give the scenario honest thought. It was difficult for her, having so little experience with the idea of anyone caring about her. The one man who had, she had killed in an emotional fit. Not out of anger, but out of fear and confusion.

"Though maybe I'm not the best person to pose that hypothetical to," she went on. "The people who loved the woman I used to be are dead."

And besides that, had insisted she wasn't that woman.

"But even so, what would happen to me," she continued, unable to let the subject rest, "if I remembered all of her memories and her life? What about my memories? My life? The things I think and feel and want and love? Who has more right to existence, the woman I was or the woman I am?"

Passion filled her words, passion she hadn't realized she even truly held. Oh, she'd had something of a similar conversation with Envy, but he had dismissed her wondering and philosophy as madness. But the questions plagued her still. Who was she? Where had she come from? Where was she going and what would become of her?

"I'm sorry. It's just that this is something I think about - from long before I ever came to this place."

The Scarecrow gave Lust a nod and an encouraging smile. "No, it's all right. We're all given a lot to think about when coming here, though some of us more than others on account of not being human to begin with." That, and he got the feeling they were talking about two very different topics.

Her situation sounded far different from his own, though. The woman she used to be? So had she been bewitched and lost her memories of who she was before arriving at the Institute, as well? He had to admit that did sound awful, to know she was supposed to be someone else entirely, but not know what could be done or what consequences would come of it. Lust implied her problem started long before her capture, which made her situation that much more complicated.

It was something he'd considered before, that perhaps Dorothy was right, that he was Hunk Howard and truly wasn't well; however, having seen the terrible things the doctors subjected the patients to, he wasn't willing to believe their lies anymore. There was the matter of what had happened to Hunk Howard, though— human bodies surely didn't just appear out of thin air, and he'd seen his old cloth body with his own- well, Hunk Howard's eyes. And Lust's fervent argument brought up a good point: what would happen to him if his body's former owner returned? Could he return to being made of straw? And would he want to? That last part was the most distressing.

He shook his head. "Now, I'm not the best at knowing things, but I do know that if you were to stop being who you are right now tomorrow, or if you were bewitched into believing you were someone else? I'm sure any friends you've made here would care, and would do anything to try and help you get back to yourself. You might not know them any longer, but they'd still know you, and know who you are and what you mean to them."

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