DAMNED || LANDEL'S INSTITUTE

A Multifandom Asylum RPG


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Day 46: Breakfast
repeatingfate wrote in damned
For the second time, Rika found herself waking with a start. She blinked at the grey light streaming through the windows, and looked across the room. Anise was still asleep. So. I'm still here. Let me just check...

Rika put on her slippers and walked over to the desk, checking the drawer and breathing a light sigh of relief. Good, the knife was still there. She wasn't sure why it would be there - shouldn't they have confiscated the weapon? Either way, though, as much as she was reluctant to use it, she was glad to have it still there.

Just then, she heard the creak of the open door, and quickly closed the drawer. Her nurse peeked in, whispering, "Rachel? Time for breakfast. You should put on a sweatshirt, it's a bit chilly." Rika nodded, quickly adding the extra layer and following the nurse out into the hall and to the cafeteria.

She was used to a Japanese-style breakfast, so the idea of something sweet - which the nurse was avidly describing, with the waffles and fruit and syrup - was a bit odd. Once she walked in, though, she had to admit it smelled good. She filled her plate with waffles topped with blueberries, some sausage, and eggs, took a glass of orange juice, and took a seat. It seemed she was early, so she took a seat close to one of the windows and waited.

[For Ange.]

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It wasn't even that it was all a blur. The problem was that it was all too clear.

Mele sat with her head in her hands, food untouched a short distance away after her stomach had protested just by looking at it. Mele couldn't even remember how she even got here, just a vague recollection of having woken up amongst a jumble of memories that didn't fit together, disorienting her enough to limply let the nurse do whatever, apparently.

Never mind who the hell this Airi person was, Mele clearly remembered looking in her closet, seeing her clothes, and then...something had happened and—

And then there it was. Gen Juken. Genki had been flowing through her veins. Her stomach roiled again and Mele leaned forward, eyes watering as she coughed, as if retching up the taint of genki.

[for the Scarecow!]

The Scarecrow's nurse was unknowingly set on rubbing salt in open wounds as she led him across the Cafeteria, chirping cheerfully about how she'd found him a seat with one of his friends. He stopped walking for a second when he saw it was Mele, trying to mentally prepare himself. The brief moment didn't settle his mind or his stomach in the least.

He took the seat across from her, his eyes on the tray in his hands as he tried to think of something to say. His sore side had given him plenty to say the night before, but nothing appropriate for polite conversation.

It looked like the night had been rough on both of them. He only hoped she wasn't still brainwashed and volatile. "Are you okay?" he asked finally, ushering away the awkward silence.

Mele looked up, blinked, and then blinked again. "Scarecrow," she muttered, and the moment got shot through with the image of a Scarecrow who had been unfamiliar, illuminated by the light of her flame.

She'd remembered saying Landel was nothing next to Rio, and while that was no less true, it was impossible.

Rio-sama. Mele coughed again, and then shook her head, as if to shake everything out of it. "Somehow, I guess," she said thinly. "How about you?"

A cautious smile crossed the Scarecrow's face as he heard her say his name. She was sounding more normal already. Then again, Dorothy had sounded mostly like herself, too. Still, it was a comfort that she recognized him.

"Could be better," he answered quietly, clasping his fingers nervously before him. He looked at her untouched food, then his own, and thought briefly about how eating might make him feel better. He somehow doubted it, despite what he'd been told.

"You had me worried the other day," he said, his eyes returning to her as his smile faded.

"I'm worried about the other day, too," Mele replied tiredly. "Did I really call myself...Airi?" Saying the name held a certain trepidation, as if the name could summon 'Airi' out of nowhere to possess her again. The nurses had called her that, over and over again and even though Mele didn't quite believe in that sort of magic, she'd heard of it somewhere and maybe that had been what happened.

But that would mean her Gen Juken had been a result of Mele wishing she had that power again and—No.

It couldn't have been. It was impossible. If she had that power, she would use it to get out—She didn't have it and she didn't want it.

"How's your body?" She didn't remember hitting anyone that hard, but she recalled, as if from a long time ago, that certain people took physical provocation seriously. Or maybe it was from Airi's memory. Dammit.

"It's fine, I think," the Scarecrow answered, not actually sure. There were certain spots that weren't particularly happy about the blows he'd taken, but nothing had felt out of place (as far as one who wasn't terribly familiar with the construction of human bodies could tell) when he'd inspected himself upon waking.

"You did say something about Airi," he noted, putting a hand to his abdomen to double-check its condition. "I wasn't sure what you were talking about at first, but... yesterday was so strange!" He felt that ire rising in him as he thought about how his friends had been tricked the day before. He hoped Scourge was feeling better, as well. If Mele was back to normal, there was a good chance he was, too.

"You weren't the only one like that," he continued, taking his fork with an irritated vigor. "I was starting to wonder if I was the only one who hadn't been brainwashed, but I met a young man after- well, after I saw you last night- in the hallway. He was new, and seemed to know who he was before he came here."

There was Soma, too—how she'd kept flatly saying her own name to the nurse. But Soma had called herself 'Maria' last night. If the nurse kept calling her 'Airi', how was she supposed to combat that?

Making a note to see Soma sometime, Mele fingered the edge of the food tray, and slid it toward her with a sigh. "I met a bunch of them, too." There had been...Yomi? Yeah, that was her name, and...Yuffie. Mele thought Yuffie had seemed less dangerous that time, which didn't really make any sense since Airi had been terrified, but Mele thought now that an edge had seemed to be missing from Yuffie, as if the girl Mele had carefully avoided had lost something. Maybe Mele had lost something, too, when she'd been 'Airi'. Besides the obvious.

"They..." Mele paused and swept her gaze over the sea of patients. Yomi and Yuffie were there, but they were too far away for her to tell if they had returned to being the people they were formerly. Not that she had known Yomi before.

"That's...good, I guess," Mele said in response about the new guy. But...I thought I knew who I was last night, too.

Another moment of silence fell between them as the Scarecrow felt annoyed with himself. And here he'd been feeling sorry for himself for being seemingly alone the other day amongst all the brainwashed folks when they were the ones having it rough! He took a deep breath, wishing there was something he could do for Mele.

"I'm sorry I couldn't do anything for you yesterday or last night," he said. "I set out last night thinking that if you'd had your brains taken or something during the day and couldn't remember who you were and what's out there at night that you might get into trouble."

He fiddle with his fork on his tray as he continued, his eyes concentrated on his hand for a moment before returning to her: "I was going to find you and try to keep you out of it, but boy, did I have it wrong. Even if you were mixed up in the head, you were perfectly capable of taking care of yourself out there."

Mele looked up, startled by the sentiment. "Why should you...apologize?"

Taking care of herself? ...Is that why he'd been there? That's right, he'd said something about it being dangerous. And she'd responded by—

Mele looked away, biting the inside of her lip as the first stirrings of guilt made her fingers twitch and she crossed her arms.

"I'm sorry," she finally said.

"No need to be sorry," he said with a genuine smile and a wave of his hand. "You weren't thinkin' right, and it's not your fault. I don't blame you at all. This place did something to you, bewitched you so you couldn't remember."

He took a bite of the food on his tray, knowing he needed to eat something. "I just wish I could have done something for you to snap you out of it. I'm awful glad you're okay now, though."

He gave her a concerned look. "You are okay now, right? They didn't hurt you or anything, did they?"

It was this 'bewitchment' thing she was worried about. "Do you know anything like this? Some technique that can do this?" Although, since he hadn't known how to break it, it probably wouldn't help even if he knew what the brainwashing technique actually was.

And there was that again. Concern. She shifted, uncomfortable. "I'm okay." Mostly, I guess. She did remember Airi getting taken up some stairs and being terrified, and then she was suddenly in that room. Although...Mele stilled. Maybe it had been that thing that had been the brainwashing technique? It might not have been self-induced after all?

Well of course it was, there was no way for her to have genki without it injected. She sighed, in relief for herself, and more importantly, for Rio—that her fear of genki suddenly invading Rio and turning him into the Hakaishin again was hopefully unfounded.

The Scarecrow shook his head. "I don't know much about witchcraft or magic, aside from the fact that it can do a lot of terrible and wonderful things, depending on who is using it. Clearly, the Wizard Landel is not a good wizard." He took another bite, trying to stifle that uncomfortable anger.

"I wasn't aware you could use magic," he said, remembering the fire. Oh, fire.

Landel. Mele scowled at the table. Clearly, he was either powerful enough or well-protected enough not to care about the scores of patients who by now wanted his head. What had he said this morning? 'Therapy'?

...Therapy. Now that sounded ominous.

"Magic? I can't." Mele picked up her fork and started twirling it around her fingers. "Why do you say that?"

"Well, you conjured fire last night, right before my eyes." That weird feeling crept up his back again- just the thought of fire seemed to be causing it. "The only person I've ever seen do that was a witch."

He liked to think Mele wasn't a witch, but skills like fire-summoning said otherwise. Somehow, she didn't strike him as the type who would be a good witch. He sure was making some strange choices in friends here, but uniting against the Wizard Landel was far more important than worrying about the good, bad, and morally ambiguous witches in the patient population.

"If it wasn't magic, what sort of skill was it?" he asked, curious. "And if you can do that at any time, please don't do it here. I'm... not very fond of fire."

"'Conjure' isn't exactly the right way to put it..." Mele leaned forward to lean her elbow on the table so she could rest her head on her palm, her other hand still twirling the fork. It didn't make her feel any better, but she could at least pretend it was a sai in her hand and not a fork.

Pretending only went to far, though. "It's just a technique. A Gen Juken one..." She trailed off. After a pause, she decided that even if she didn't want to talk about it, she probably should. "Last night, I was using Gen Juken Phoenix Fist. I...can't, anymore. I can't do anything in this state. Not even my normal Rin Juken abilities." Abilities that she'd trained and suffered for, and damn Landel for reminding her of her reduced state by way of Gen Juken. Damn him.

The Scarecrow frowned as Mele lost him in a flood of technical-sounding witchcraft terms. He was confident he'd understand it with his brains, but for now, he'd just understand them as best as he could. "So something about whatever it was they did to you gave you your abilities back?"

He shook his head. "I just can't see why they'd even go and enchant you, if the effect is only temporary. If they wanted something from us, you'd think they could bewitch us when we got here and take whatever it is and let us go once they had it." He'd lost his brains, she'd lost her techniques, several people had lost their bodies- how did all of these pieces fit together, though?

"I suppose they're being entertained somehow in the meantime, pitting us against our friends," he said, crossing his arms.

"Yeah," Mele answered about the abilities, "Somehow. I—I can't remember it. I know I did something but—

"They do it for exactly the reason you said," Mele replied. "Entertainment."

She dropped the fork and leaned back, crossing her arms again. "Maybe it's even like a Chamber of Trials. Last person standing wins. That's why he keeps bringing more people in, so no one can ever win. Just an endless torment, feeding off our...screams...."

Mele realized she was rambling, talking to herself, and shook her head. "Have you met anyone else? Who's been brainwashed like I—" Mele paused, "like I had?"

"Not one who attacked me," he replied. "Unless you count the folks in town a few nights ago. I have heard about others through the board in the Sun Room, though. I didn't put much thought into it until it happened to one of my friends. Now it's personal!"

Well, it had technically already been personal, since he suspected this place had brainwashed Dorothy as well, but he couldn't be entirely sure of that. He was definitely sure they'd done something to Mele, though. And who would be next? Was he on the waiting list for this treatment, or was he somehow immune to it because he was used to having no brains? He couldn't see himself attacking folks, but stranger things had happened.

"Hmmm, I have. Met someone brainwashed who attacked me. Didn't know it at the time, but I thought—" Mele shrugged. "Whatever," she said tiredly. "No one's figured out how it happens, I don't suppose. And yesterday—that, too."

..."Town?" Mele asked a moment later. "I don't think they were brainwashed, though..."

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