DAMNED || LANDEL'S INSTITUTE

A Multifandom Asylum RPG


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Day 50: Chapel
can't stop shivering
full_score wrote in damned
The last thing Claude heard was the Head Doctor's voice faintly filtering into the corridors of the ship before he found himself tucked beneath the sheets of his bed. It took a moment to register he'd even changed locations, but then he he abruptly sat up, fought the wave of nausea that washed over him, and felt the blankets beneath his fingers. The room. He was back in his room now. Under different circumstances, he might have wondered if last night had been some horrid dream, but the sharp pain in his eyes gave him a rude awakening. Hissing through his teeth, Claude buried the heels of his palms against his lids, only to discover two cold compresses had been taped over them.

"Good morning, Thomas," he heard the nurse's cheerful voice from beside his bed. Her sudden presence nearly made him jump out of his skin, and he sharply turned toward the source of the greeting, heart beating rapidly in his chest. "I'm sorry you're not feeling well today, but hopefully you can still enjoy some of the activities we have planned."

'Not feeling well' was a bit of an understatement. His hand hurt, his stomach kept turning with every movement, and it felt like someone had dumped a bunch of sand into both eye sockets. Right now, Claude just wanted the nurse to leave him be, but it didn't look like that was an option. Taking his uninjured hand, she gently tugged him out of bed, despite his protests that, no, really, he just wanted to stay in and sleep, please.

"I think getting out of your room a little bit will do you good," she told him. "I'm sorry your eyes are probably hurting, though. If you're ever feeling uncomfortable, don't hesitate to ask one of us for some pills."

"What about eye drops?" Claude asked tightly.

"Oh, no, too much of that could damage your eyes," she cautioned, and the sheer irony of the situation hit Claude so hard that it would have been laughable if he didn't already feel like crying right then. The nurse was as oblivious to it as always, however. "I know you usually go into the chapel during this shift. Would you like to go there again?" Claude didn't answered immediately, but that didn't deter the nurse. "Yes, I think that sounds best..."

In truth, he probably should have requested the sun room -- it was closer, for one, which meant the nurse didn't have to lead him as far of a distance. For another, lying down on one of their sofas sounded like a good option. But by the time Claude came to that conclusion, he was too stubborn to say anything, and he made his way up to the second floor, his footing slow, but steady.

The nurse deposited him on one of the central pews, next to the aisle, before leaving him to himself. Thankfully, it was still early in the shift. As he paused to listen, the room was mostly silent, save for the footsteps and hushed voices of the occasional staff member or patient who trickled in. But it was probably only a matter of time before others came. For some reason, the thought of being stuck in a crowded room made him tense, not necessarily because he thought anyone would pay him any mind, but because he simply didn't want it right then.

Somehow, the full implications of what happened last night hadn't sunken in: experiments, healing himself, the issue of whether he could actually go home after this, not being able to see, the ship, father. Instead, he just felt saturated with all of it, paralyzed by the horror of what they'd done to him, and the uncertainty of what it all meant beyond this moment. Claude took a shuddering breath, uninjured hand balling into a fist in his lap.

[For Guy.]

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His eyes opening slowly, Edgar put a hand to his head, fighting back a world of soreness. For a moment, he thought he'd fainted from blood loss- it would have been embarrassing, but not entirely unexpected. However, he found himself in his bed; an end to the night had finally arrived.

He rose carefully, his hand immediately trailing to his injured shoulder. He felt thick bandaging through his clean shirt, his wound wrapped far better than his improvised job during the night. It seemed Landel showed some charity to the injuries sustained on the patient population during the night. Edgar couldn't help but feel that the false concern shown for the patients was even more of a slap in the face given what they faced during the twilight hours. He next inspected his leg- also bandaged, though lighter than his shoulder. Moving to his desk quietly, he opened the drawer to see if his finds had returned to the room with him. Surely enough, atop the parts of his radio and Luxord's was the silver knife, as ornate as he remembered. He moved his journal from atop his desk to the drawer, hiding the contents beneath it. He could investigate them later.

The night had been so long: Celes was gone, and Edgar's attitude toward her during their final meeting surely hadn't helped her in the slightest. It was likely she'd finally given in to Landel's brainwashing- it was a testament of his power to see a once-strong general so defeated. Worse was that she'd been right all along: there truly were beasts roaming the halls that were far more vicious than they seemed. All he could do now was take her warnings to heart and not allow himself to give in. Allowing Landel to win so easily wasn't an option.

Edgar straightened the fabric on his arm sling as his nurse knocked on the door and announced she'd be escorting him to the first shift. After a brief stop to the message board in the Sun Room and a few minutes spent looking out the windows, she led him upstairs and into the chapel. He headed for a middle pew and took a seat, turning and giving her a pleasant smile for now; he had to bide his time and act carefully, but he was through playing nice.

[Natalia]

There were many things of which Natalia had become newly certain as a result of the previous night. The one foremost in her mind upon waking? Dr. Landal had a truly unpleasant, disagreeable voice. Though, she would allow her feelings on that to be entirely a result of a building bias. Her nurse arrived to find her bed made, and Natalia sitting primly at her desk.

Happily, the woman allowed her a stop at the restroom to rinse her face and teeth, and to toy some with her hair. She did miss her headbands. When given the option between the Sun Room and the Chapel, Natalia opted for the latter, as she had passed through the former yesterday, but had yet to see the Chapel. After her own stop at the bulletin board ("I know you've only just arrived, dear, but perhaps you've a suggestion? We're really very excited about this!"), they ascended the stairs.

Natalia forced herself to focus on her surroundings, on the path to the Chapel, and not on her pressing need to stare at her nurse, to let loose a plethora of questions. How could the woman smile so sunnily, speak so lightly, and completely ignore what had gone on the night before? How? But, even her limited experience of yesterday told her quite clearly that asking anything of the nurse would result in disappointment.

"There you are, Sarah!" her nurse whispered, ushering her into the main aisle. Natalia took in the striking colors, the red pews seeming darker in the dim lighting; gazed up at the stained glass (it was really quite pretty), looked on the fountain, from which a peaceful babbling of water issued. Too strange; not alone the difference between this and the Order's churches in Auldrant. Caught up with the colors of the window, Natalia paid little attention to the pew in which she sat until she did.

Reaching instinctively for a black bound book, she glanced down the pew and noted a blond man. Most striking was his arm in the sling. Natalia remembered Himemiya's warnings of monsters, though they had not encountered any, and pursed her lips with concern. Pressing the book to her lap, she slid closer along the bench.

"Pardon me," she said, just above a whisper. "I understand this to be a rather... insipid question, but are you all right?"

Only a few minutes had passed before Edgar found himself joined in the pew by an attractive woman. He attempted to keep his mind focused on more pressing issues- there were plenty- but found himself distracted when she spoke to him, her voice soft and low. Alas, he always had a soft spot for women- an old, bad habit indeed.

"I'm getting better all the time," he said as a light smile graced him, keeping his tone low enough so as not to disturb those around them. He stole a quick glance over his shoulder- the nurses were near the entrance, far out of earshot. "The company of a beautiful woman like yourself certainly is encouraging."

He straightened his posture, attempting to look presentable despite the drab clothing and injuries. "Forgive my manners. I'm Edgar."

It had, she thought, been a silly question, as to take one look at him would make plain the answer. As such, Natalia found his answer to be as charming as it was unexpected. The equally unanticipated follow-up of flattery left her blushing--and reminded her of Guy.

"N-Not at all," Natalia said, stammering even as she smiled at his compliment, "I, too, have erred. The staff call me Sarah, however I am Natalia; it's a pleasure to meet you, Edgar."

She found it strange, a little unnatural to introduce herself with only her first name. True, when initially traveling it had been most practical to keep a low profile, and true, her name in its entirety was unlikely to have much influence or meaning to the "patients" here. Yet, something compelled her to want, even need to say it, so to affirm and reaffirm her identity each time.

Well, it seemed his skills in flattery weren't completely ruined by institute's limitations. Edgar smirked at her reaction, finding private enjoyment in it. He couldn't help but notice her manner of speaking was refined- she was a noble perhaps, or someone of the upper class. "Natalia it is, then. It's common practice for the staff to try to convince you you're someone else entirely. Just don't forget who you really are."

He leaned into the seat, trying not to think about Celes. Focusing on other pursuits was going to have to be a priority- it was likely there was nothing he could do for his friend now. "Tell me, what sort of place do you come from?"

"Absolutely not," Natalia said, vehemence curling her hands into fists over the book. She had resolved herself to that. Whatever this place would do or say, whatever it would attempt to convince her of, being swayed would never be an option. Judging from his expression, Edgar was even worse than Guy when it came to his behavior toward women; of course, most likely aided by lacking a crippling inability to be physically close to them.

At his question, her tone and features softened. "There is much that I could say about Auldrant, and of my--of the Kingdom of Kimlasca. When you ask, what sort of place, what precisely are you asking? And, if you would, I am as curious about your home. It is fascinating; apparently, there is a land ruled by the people, without nobles or kings."


"It's said that the 'patients' here have been brought from various worlds," Edgar explained. It seemed so long since he'd doubted that theory, but he couldn't deny what he'd learned from his own experiences. "I've even met someone who was from the same place as myself, but brought here from a different plane of time somehow. I don't quite know how to explain it, but the possibilities have left me wondering about the homelands of everyone I've had the chance to meet."

His curiosity was piqued by Natalia's near miss with words- my kingdom? The thought that he might not be the only royalty within the institute was encouraging. He wasn't familiar with the region- then again, the chances he'd meet another person from his particular home world seemed remarkably thin- and he suspected she'd have never heard of his, as was the case with most people he'd met.

Still, he was willing to respond to her questions if it meant he could learn something about her. "A land without nobles or kings? You mean a democracy- I know of a few, though I come from a kingdom myself. Figaro."

A different plane of time? Natalia fought to wrap her mind around the concept, something easier now than it would have been twenty-four hours ago. Once one door of impossibility opened, the rest waited for the next formidable wind to blow them ajar.

"By whom is it said?" she wondered, "is it the consensus among the patients? I'd hoped for that very conclusion yesterday, when no one I met had heard of my land. It was that," the flash of a brittle smile, "or admit insanity."

Which could never be an option; it would be tantamount to abandoning her people.

"Yes, democracy! That was the word. I fear that I have never heard of Figaro. As such, I expect that you're also unfamiliar with Kimlasca, ruled by King Ingobert the Sixth? As well as the Malkuth Empire, ruled by Emperor Peony the Ninth? Auldrant has long been controlled by those two powers, and also by the Order of Lorelei, a neutral religious organization originally centered on the reading and preserving of the Score read by Yulia Jue--the Score being the records of the planet's past, present, and future."

Quite an explanation, and all hushed, but he had asked and Natalia found a nostalgic relish in speaking of Auldrant. It was merely the tip of the iceberg of what could be said.

Edited at 2010-06-14 03:05 am (UTC)

Edgar gave Natalia a casual smile, a small laugh behind it. "That's quite a thorough description, and an interesting one at that. I'm interested in hearing more about it. You're right- I'm as unfamiliar with your lands as you are of mine. Given the theory that we 'patients' come from entirely different worlds, it's not entirely a surprise."

The concept certainly was one that was understandably difficult to grasp- even for someone who had some experience with magic and the incredible things it was capable of, the theory was just at the edge of believability. "Someone tried to explain it to me on my second day here- I wasn't sure I believed them at first; however, with each passing day, it's harder to think I'm the only sane one here, especially since I've heard it from an ally I know to be a credible source."

Lifting her eyebrows, Natalia dissented: "That was hardly a description, barely even a prologue."

But, she would not continue just yet. The theory of multiple worlds held more interest for her, at least insofar as its relevance to the moment. She twisted her hands together in her lap, over the hymnal, and directed her smile first to its leather binding.

"How did that person try to explain it? I had thought... Yesterday, I spoke with three from Earth, and one from a Fire Nation. None of them had heard of Auldrant. The books in the library were books a girl from Earth recognized, but I had never heard of, despite being able to read the text. It..." Trailing off briefly, Natalia shook her head.

"It's impossible, but I had been hoping for such an explanation to emerge. If it had not, I may have been more tempted to question myself, and what then would become of Baticul, of Kimlasca?"

Though she spoke more to herself at this point, she leveled her smile, now somber, at Edgar. "I would lose any right I had to rule, the moment I allowed my people to become figments."

Natalia's words struck Edgar deeply; no matter how hard he tried, he couldn't help but be reminded of Celes and how she'd ultimately lost herself during her imprisonment- a fate worse than death for someone of her caliber. There was no changing the fact that he'd pushed her, not knowing how the institute had changed her. He couldn't allow himself to make the same mistake twice.

"I'm afraid I can't explain it much better than that," he started, his tone even. "While most forms of magic are admittedly beyond me, I do know it's possible to have more than one realm of existence, using magic to open a gateway from one to the other. They're undoubtedly able to use something along those lines to pull us here, though I don't expect we'll get any concrete answers on the inner workings of this place without more information on the man behind it. Just expect to meet people from lands you've never heard of, and make the best of this unique opportunity to learn about them."

He took Natalia's hand encouragingly, meeting her eyes, his light tone taking a serious air. "Listen to me, Natalia. Don't doubt yourself. This place is full of deception, its entire aim possibly to lead you astray and break your will. I've seen it happen to others, to friends, and you cannot let that happen to you. After all, if you don't make it out of here and home eventually, what will happen to those who depend on you? I'm sure your people have faith in you, so you have to have faith in yourself, as well. You cannot lead them otherwise."

[I AM SO SORRY]

More than one realm of existence. Natalia could little help but to wonder how it was that Edgar had come to know that so firmly, but it was one more question in an ever-building heap. His attitude mirrored her own, or what she wanted to be her own--an enthusiasm for educating oneself as to the nature of other lands. Before she could nod, and express that she was well ahead in that, he took her hand. Surprised, Natalia blushed again, her eyes caught.

Again, Edgar reminded her of Guy. Perhaps it could be attributed to a subconscious disposition toward finding similarities; the way that Kiba had recalled Luke. But, in this instance, it was more. As when Guy had spoken so kindly, and been so reassuring, when within the Inista Marsh directly after her rejection at Baticul; Edgar had precisely the words. There were no tears now; Natalia had gained at least that much character.

Bowing her head, she laughed, a quiet sound. "Thank you. How disgraceful I must seem, to be relying on a stranger for strength. It was not... I had felt it, known that already, truly, but how difficult it can be to believe what you know." Looking up now, back to his eyes, her other hand joined their and she squeezed. "Again, thank you! Worry not--I shall abandon neither myself nor the truth. I'll return to them."

A beat.

"My, but... certainly, I have learned better than to make this assumption, but I feel your position in Figaro must have been more than common."

[No problem~ ♥]

The machinist's eyes stayed on hers, her promise bringing light to the abysmal setting; it seemed she'd be just fine, and if she could survive this wretched place, surely her people could do the same for a short time without her presence. He nodded in understanding: it gave him hope for his Figaro.

Edgar released Natalia's hand after her pause, a small smile still on his lips. "You have keen intuition," he said, holding back a painful hiss as he leaned a little too hard into the back of the seat. That shoulder was going to be a problem. "You've hit the nail on the head: I'm the king of Figaro. One of the reasons I'm so sure in your abilities to lead is because I see a little of myself in you, I suppose." It had been some time since he'd felt doubt in his abilities as a leader, but he'd been ruling for years; she was younger, and it was likely she'd not had the same experiences he had on his side. Such thoughts made him feel unnaturally old. Where did the time go?

His right hand found his chin as he thought. "There's no shame in finding strength in another. Even though you have to be a strong leader, don't wear yourself thin by feeling you have to take on every hardship alone. It's important to find your allies and use their strengths as your own, but I'm sure you know that." He looked toward the front of the chapel a moment before returning his attention to her. It was nice to have a kindred spirit nearby, even if the circumstances surrounding their meeting weren't the finest.

Triumph in having guessed correctly was tempered by attention paid to his repositioning. Had she less experience in dealing with stubborn men disinclined to show that they were in pain, Natalia would have remained as oblivious as he might have liked to his injury's continued effect. Unaware that she would be unable to use a fonic arte during the daylight hours, Natalia was sorely tempted to cast Heal. She felt more than negligent in leaving it while conversing with him, but had yet to find an appropriate lull to fill with the spoken verse.

Further, what he said distracted her. There was triumph, after all. She spoke with the king, and felt more at ease. Natalia loved her people, and would not think less of commoners, not under any condition. Yet, the responsibilities and concerns of the royalty, moreso than even the nobility, were unique to them. She had known him for only a few minutes, but Natalia was confident that Edgar was a wonderful king.

"You pay me a great compliment to say as much," she answered, not flushed, only sincere. "I've striven to advise the king, and to serve the people, but I am only the princess, and have not yet born the same burdens as my father. My, but," Natalia giggled, "you do look young to be king! Younger than Emperor Peony of Malkuth, I'm sure."

Turning a speculative eye toward him, Natalia tried to deduce his age. Peony looked younger than he was--and at times, certainly acted it, she remembered with a brief thinning of her lips. It hardly mattered; she shook the irrelevant question from her.

"I'm afraid," she noted, now looking to her refolded hands, the sharp pain following Jade's slap fresh in that moment, as if her cheek still burned, "I've had a penchant for relying too much on others. It is at that point, you must agree, that there can be no excuse."

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