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Nightshift 45: Entry Room
scarefaux wrote in damned
[From here.]

The door opened without much trouble, creaking only slightly as the Scarecrow stood in the doorway. The rooms looked so different at night- even his flashlight had little effect on the overwhelming darkness. He looked over his shoulder into the hallway, briefly thinking of turning back and finding someone to look for Mele with him. Then he remembered all his friends were changed somehow, affected by the Institute's influence. He took a deep breath, more determined. No turning back now. It might take all night, but he was going to search this place as best he could. He couldn't just let them wander around, thinking everything was fine and dandy- they were in danger!

He took a step into the room and closed the door behind him, moving his light toward the front door of the building, then toward the walls, attempting to find the door to the Waiting Room where he'd seen Dorothy. He swept half the room quickly with his light, making his way in a few more steps. "Hello?" he decided to ask the darkness, almost hoping he didn't get an answer. The handle glittered in the dim light. The strawman gave his dying flashlight a shake, trying to get it to brighten as he made a bee-line for the door.

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"Are you alone?"

Her heels made little clicking sounds on the floor as Mele stepped away from the wall, coming into view as she disengaged her invisibility.

"How boring." Mele sighed. "I was hoping it'd be a little more lively. After all," she tilted her head to the side, "I'd rather not tarnish my beauty and pride by fighting greenhorns and cattle. But in this case, I've made an exception."

She looked up and smiled. "It's for Rio-sama's sake, see?"

Oh geez. What has he gotten himself into this time? XD

The flashlight escaped his fingers as the Scarecrow gave a startled jump- it clanked loudly on the floor, the light illuminating Mele for only a second as she appeared from nowhere.

"You spooked me!" he said, a little irritated as he knelt to retrieve his flashlight, silently cursing his bumbling hands. As irked as he was that he spent more time dropping his flashlight than actually holding it, he was glad he found Mele so quickly, even if he had no idea what she was talking about now. Probably still befuddled by the Wizard Landel, no doubt.

"I'm glad I caught you before you made it too far from your room," he said, standing again. He waved the flashlight at her in a reprimanding fashion. "You ought to head back to your room for the night, especially if you're still confused about yourself. You may not believe me, but this place isn't safe!"


"'Confused about myself'?" she repeated, irked. "Exactly who do you think you're talking to?"

She sighed. "Of course this place isn't safe." Mele came closer as she spoke, "I'm here." She aimed a fist at his stomach.

The Scarecrow started to say something, but found himself cut off as Mele's fist connected with his middle, forcing every bit of air out of him. He landed heavily on the floor, his flashlight already lost again. His arms were shaking, his body slow to respond as he gasped for air.

He fumbled for his flashlight, his fingers wrapping around the tail end as his body attempted to recover from the blow. "W... what are you doing?" he asked in a ragged voice, unable to make sense of any of this.

Not even a mundane fighter. Disappointing, indeed.

"I said it, didn't I?" Mele crossed her arms. "Pay attention. This is Rio-sama's desire. For greater strength, the screams and despair of the weak is collected and gives us energy. Us Rinju Den."

She looked down at him. "You—what do you call yourselves? 'Patients'?—you're the cattle. Be grateful for the honor!" She kicked him in the side and turned dismissively.

"If you don't want to lose your life, go back to your cell like a good boy, hmm?"

[S-sorry. /)_(\ Evil Mele is cruel]

[I'd say she's being fairly charitable at this point, given the Scarecrow's complete ignorance of the situation. XD]

The Scarecrow struggled to get to his feet, his body aching from her blows. In the back of his mind, a stray thought wondered if he'd rather be set on fire than this- he decided not, but this was just about as punishing.

He took several deep breaths, the air burning his throat and chest as it went in and out. "Mele!" he called, unable to comprehend what he was hearing. He'd certainly been wrong about her not being able to take care of herself- had he been wrong about her as a friend as well? He wasn't willing to believe that. "You- you've been bewitched somehow!"

He put his hands on his knees, steadying himself. "I'm your friend, remember? The Wizard Landel has some sort of spell over you, I just know it!" Oh, if it was the last thing he ever did, he was going to get that Landel for this! Brainwashing people, convincing them they were someone else, turning them against one another- he almost made the Wicked Witch look like a charming woman.

"Bewitched? Friend?" Mele repeated, turning to stare incredulously.

...It was too dark to stare. Mele aimed a blast of fire at the ceiling that lit up the room for a moment. Didn't actually light up the room any, but it felt awesome.

"Practitioners of Gen Juken don't have 'friends'," she said, turning the word into an insult. "Landel," she scoffed. "If he is some kind of wizard, he's a sorry excuse for one. Rio-sama is the supreme existence! Genju Ou, the Mythic Beast King!"

Mele clenched her fist, grinning up at the ceiling before realizing where she was and shaking her head to get back on track. "Your will is a little resilient, hmm? If you're a fighter, come at me already."

Yikes. The Scarecrow's knees and ankles seemingly turned to liquid, giving way beneath him as he took a few steps backward. She could conjure fire? That meant she must be a witch, as well! So she was a bewitched witch? This was not good.

He stumbled onto his feet in a hurry, his better instincts telling him to high-tail it out of there without further interrogation- after all, she apparently could summon the one thing he feared most and fling it about the room at her discretion. "I'm not a fighter, Mele," he said plainly. "I... I just wanted to be sure you'd be all right, especially if you've not got your head on straight."

"If you're not a fighter, how'd you escape your..." Mele trailed off as she realized Long must have left something out. Well, whatever.

"How do you know me, anyway?" Mele asked, tone dismissive even though she was finally curious. "I never introduced myself."

"We're friends, Mele," the Scarecrow insisted. Or at least he thought of her as a friend. "Maybe it's more like 'repeat acquaintances,' but it's sure more than perfect strangers." He made a circular motion with his hand as he talked, trying to remember his way through the darkness to the door in case the situation went south.

He desperately wanted to help her, but he equally desperately did not want to be set ablaze. Moral dilemma and mortal fear certainly made decision-making difficult. "We spoke earlier today, remember?" he asked tentatively, figuring the spell she was under had made her forget their conversation completely. "You said you weren't feeling quite like yourself?"

"I was fighting the Gekiranger earlier today," Mele said. "Rio-sama had just taken the Blood Oath and Suugu was—" Mele placed hands on her hips. "Why am I telling you this, anyway?" she muttered.

Mele called fire to her hand and held it, making it bright enough to see by. Ugh, why did the lights need to be off? Stupid Long.... "There's the door. Don't come back, ok?" Mele didn't say that she doubted he'd get far, considering the other Shigenshou and the Sogenshi were out there, but it wasn't anything Mele was concerned about. "Here's hoping you live another day, hmm?" she taunted.

As much as he tried to tell himself that human bodies didn't burn the same way straw did, the sight of fire was enough to make his body feel like ice. Fear did strange things to humans.

He looked away from her for a moment, internally debating what to do next. She clearly didn't remember any of her time at the Institute, nor did she remember anyone she'd met there, himself included. While he didn't want to leave her to her own devices in such an enchanted state, it was clear that, as a witch, she was more capable of taking care herself than he was of himself.

"Mele..." he started, finally deciding what would be best at the moment, "Please, just take care of yourself tonight, okay? I'll find some way to snap you out of this. You can count on it!"

With that, he turned and exited to the hallway.

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