A Multifandom Asylum RPG

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Day 57: Chapel
It's getting cold in here.
gald_digger wrote in damned
Anise was actually sleeping well for once. When morning came, she was curled up on her side, her arms tightly hugging her pillow in the same way they would usually hold Tokunaga.

All was peaceful... until she was awakened by a hateful voice.

Her eyes snapped open, and she jolted up into a sitting position. The Head Doctor... that bastard Landel was back! Those were her first thoughts, but as the haze of sleep gradually left her mind, she began to question whether that was actually true. There was something weird about the intercom announcement. She couldn't put her finger on it exactly, but... wasn't it a bit too much like another announcement she'd heard before?

"Did you sleep well, Dolores?" a nurse asked as she let herself into the room. No... she wasn't a nurse. It was that woman from yesterday - a soldier. Anise didn't want to start any trouble with her, so she merely answered with a nod as she pulled herself out of bed.

Wait a second... this wasn't her uniform. Well, it was, but it wasn't the one she was wearing last night. It looked like Anise was dressed in those gross-looking gray rags again, with only one noticeable difference: a pair of star-shaped stickers on the front, just above the smiley face on the left side. What was that for? And did this mean they weren't going to be treated like soldiers anymore?

Anise didn't have much time to wonder, as the "nurse" urged her to quickly finish getting ready, and to choose a place to go. As usual, Anise chose the Chapel. There was a bittersweet familiarity about the place. It reminded her of home, but it also reminded her of how far she was from home.

Once she was left alone, Anise sat down on an empty pew. She didn't feel much like praying today, and she still wasn't sure it would do any good, besides. Instead, she occupied herself by looking around at the decor and the staff, and then by picking up a hymnal and glancing through it. She really wanted to know what was going on... but it didn't seem like any clear answers were going to come right away.


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And just like that, the night was over. Had the night really been that short? They had only paused on the stairs when the intercom cut in. Edgar cursed himself for having needed the moment's rest- he hadn't been as well as he'd insisted, but he'd thought they would at least reach their destination. Being wrong was not one of his favorite activities.

At least there had been enough time to discuss the events on the radio: Landel had indeed returned, but was apparently working with the rebel faction. It was doubtful he'd had any genuine change of heart; he was looking to get his position as Head Doctor back, no doubt. As for the rebel, he'd apparently agreed. It was possible he knew the extent of Landel's power, or, at least, enough to convince him to work with the lesser of two evils. And what of the announcement at the end of the night? An area even the military couldn't access? So many questions still unanswered. The clues spoke volumes while giving so little concrete information.

There would be time to think about those questions later. Even before opening his eyes, Edgar could tell this day would be better than the last: while still feeling the oppressing heat from within him, it wasn't as prominent as it had been during the night. Adjusting was a slow process, but one for which he was grateful. He sat up, wiping a thin sheet of sweat from his brow, listening to the morning announcement. It took a moment- where had he heard this before?- for him to realize it was the same message as the previous week, including the note about the suggestion box. A recording?

There was more: gone was the military uniform, replaced with the familiar, smiling shirt (though drab, he was grateful for the shorter sleeves; they were far better for dealing with his high temperature than the military garb). Affixed to the front of his shirt was a single star made of something similar from the tape from the storage room: adhesive on one side, shiny and gold on the other. Curious. Why, after the show of power the military had given the patients in the past few days, would they revert to the older system? Edgar doubted anyone would truly be fooled into believing Landel was running the schedule again.

Or would they? The soldiers had played roles during the Doyleton trip, donning the outfits of nurses while clearly being members of Aguilar's guards. It was visitation day- did that mean they were going to put on a show for the visitors? Edgar had never had one, himself, but he'd heard stories: they were people who resembled friends from home, believing the patients were who the institute claimed them to be; however, he'd believed they were possibly figments, beings conjured within the realm of the institute. If those in charge could pull people from other worlds and times, control beasts, and alter the memories of the patients, it wasn't out of the question that they could create a creature of mimicry, one that would work its way into the mind of a target, creating more doubt within them. It'd be an impressive trick, and one that would undoubtedly leave some questioning their own sanity.

However, if the visitors were conjured creatures, why would there be a need for the pretense at all? Why reinstate the facade? It didn't settle well: perhaps it meant that the visitors were previous patients- ones who had been broken over time, who had given up. The thought that Celes and Locke may be in the numbers was discomforting.

Edgar was met at the door by his nurse- no, not the nurse, but the soldier from the day before- and led along the hall inside the patient block. Given the choice of the chapel or Sun Room, Edgar chose the former: as he was still feeling uncomfortably warm in his own skin, he decided to avoid the sun for the time being. The chapel was quiet, and would give him a place to think.

Think, or converse. Edgar spotted a few familiar faces along the pews- Carter, Guy, Tear- and Anise, sitting alone. It had been some time since he'd seen her- he decided it was best to catch up with her, given that there was always the chance she'd be gone the next day.

Pushing a damp strand of hair from his face, he greeted her with a slight bow. "Anise," he addressed, his voice still raspier than he would have liked. "May I join you?"

Not surprisingly, the hymnal didn't give a lot of information about the types of religion practiced on Earth... but the lyrics were kind of nice, so Anise didn't mind skimming through it. She continued to do so until she noticed someone stop nearby, and she glanced over just in time to see a handsome blond bowing before her.

Immediately, her eyes lit up. "Edgar! Hee hee, it's been a while." Maybe just a few days, but any amount of time felt like a while when it came to good-looking men with class. He looked a little... off, though. Maybe he was sick.

"Of course you can!" she chirped in reply when he asked to join her, scooting over a little to make sure there was plenty of space on the pew. Anise was relieved to see him again, both because she was worried he might have gotten himself into trouble, and also because she feared she might have blown her chances at getting to know him better by refusing to share information about the basement. But here he was, in one piece and greeting her in such a charming way!

"How've you been? You look a little under the weather," she observed, a hint of concern in her voice. After a beat, she hastily added with a wide grin, "Oh, but you're still as handsome as ever!" She didn't want her concern to come off like an insult.

Edgar smiled at her compliment, in spite of her noticing his condition right away. If he learned nothing else from the experimentation on him- magic aside- he hoped he would come out with a better understanding of how to hide the symptoms of an illness. It wasn't an skill with which he had a lot of practice, and while it wasn't always necessary- indeed, concern and the appearance of frailty sometimes made others more willing to talk- it was annoying at times.

Well, there wasn't much to be done in this situation. Anise was quick enough to notice (he was sure the graveled voice didn't help matters) and had already shown herself to be one who had a lot of concern for others, whether she knew them well or not. It was an admirable trait. "Unfortunately, I have been a little under the weather," he confirmed. He could feel the sweat returning to his forehead, and straightened himself. "A temporary sickness, though. I'm sure spending the shift with such fair company will make me feel much better."

He held up his arm for her to see. "While I may be less than the picture of perfect health, I am happy to tell you I did manage to find a healer to fix my arm."

Anise beamed when the man complimented her right back. "Ooh, I'm flattered!" she giggled. The 'fair' part had to refer to her natural cuteness, but it took a lot of effort to be as cheerful and pleasant as she usually was, so it was nice to feel appreciated! Especially by someone who she suspected had a wealthy upbringing. If only there was a subtle way to confirm that for sure!

She continued smiling as Edgar showed her his arm. "That's good! I'd be worried if it was still banged up after this long." Most injuries didn't last much more than a few days under the institute's care, after all. That illness didn't sound too good, though. From the looks of him, it looked like a fever... which was bad enough by itself, and could mean all kinds of things as far as causes went. Anise knew quite a bit about fevers, mostly from the time she spent watching over the illness-prone Fon Master back home.

"Say, have you been eating okay?" she asked after a moment, lowering her voice to just above a whisper. "I mean... with that gross stuff they've been serving people." It wasn't that Edgar looked like he wasn't eating well, but Anise knew for a fact that a lot of people were cutting down on (or even abstaining from) food, just because the mush was so hard to stomach. While she wasn't completely sure that Edgar was among the lower-ranked patients, Anise imagined it would be extra tough for a guy who was sick and needed to keep his strength up.

"I'm eating as well as can be expected, given the gruel they're offering these days. For some of us, it's the only option." A grimace crossed Edgar's face as he mentioned the pink sludge. It occurred to him the patients might be fortunate enough to have the original menu open that day, since the staff seemed to be trying to fool the visitors into believing nothing had changed. "I had hoped to get a good meal in town, but as I was worse yesterday than I am now, I was only able to get enough to tide me over until today."

He crossed his arms, leaning into the pew as much as the stiff backing would allow. "Not that I can't stomach the gruel if I have to. There have been times where we couldn't reach town before nightfall, and had to have a meal at camp. Travel rations are nothing to write home about, and when you have to move quickly, there's no time for packing a lunch. I've had worse than what they're offering here, though skimping on meals probably isn't helping my recovery. Let's hope they're serving the original selections today."

It was just as she thought, then.

"Ehe, really? That sucks. I've done a lot of traveling too, and our camp food is usually pretty good. Of course, I'm the one who does the most cooking." It was almost tragic to think a guy like Edgar couldn't get a decent meal while on the road. Sounded like he could use someone like Anise around! In fact, he could probably use her help right now.

Shuffling a little closer, so they'd be less likely to be overheard, Anise whispered, "Actually... I can probably help you with that. When we were in Doyleton yesterday, I bought these granola bars... They're nothing special, but they're probably easier to stomach than that pink stuff. If you want, I could share some with you." And since it wasn't an institute-supplied meal, she could probably do it without getting in trouble, too.

"I'm sure your cooking is far better than anything I could manage," Edgar said with a laugh. "My brother has some skill in it, but I'm afraid anything I created would leave your stomach in pieces. I've never had much practice with it, truthfully." Of course, it came with the territory of his position: he spent a lot of time dealing with ambassadors and inventions, not ingredients.

"And while your offer is very generous," he continued, matching her quiet tone, "I insist you save your bars for another day, and possibly someone in worse shape than I am. Trust me; I'll survive. It will take more than an illness and some barely edible slime to hold me back." That wasn't to say that said illness wasn't making things hard on him for the time being, but he would never admit to it- certainly not aloud. The thought alone that he'd caused his party to waste precious time the night before was enough to frustrate him.

He coughed, the whispering irritating his burned throat. Recovering, he gave Anise a reassuring smile. "Though I will say it might hold me back in some conversations."

As was usual for her, Anise's mind carefully analyzed every little bit of information that could potentially give away the man's social status. His gentlemanly mannerisms seemed to point to a wealthy upbringing, and if he never had to learn to cook, then that hinted at the same... though she had to wonder how he couldn't get decent camp food. When someone rich traveled, they usually brought an entourage that could take care of all their needs.

It was still a little early to make a definite call, but Anise was fine with erring on the side of caution and keeping her sweetness to the maximum. Even if it turned out he wasn't that wealthy, he sure was charming and cool!

When he declined her offer, Anise frowned. He was plenty gracious about it, but... could he really afford to do that, in his state? "Are you sure?" she asked. "I mean... I don't need them for myself. I bought lots, and I don't know many people in worse shape than you right now, so... think about it, okay?"

She couldn't force him to accept or anything, but she'd at least let him know that the offer was still on the table if he changed his mind.

Come to think of it, though... she did know one other person who could benefit from yesterday's haul. Tear was still suffering from miasma poisoning, and while the soldier wasn't likely to complain about her rations, she was probably feeling a bit miserable. Maybe Anise could put together a little care package for her.

She was right, of course- Edgar was in poor shape and probably needed bed rest as well as a good meal if he hoped to recover at a decent speed; however, he was also a firm believer that what didn't kill a person only made them stronger. He was being stubborn at this point, his own sense of pride fueling his refusal. It wasn't that he didn't want her help, but more that he was sure there were others worse off than he was. If the doctors were trying to force his hand and truly were watching how he managed the sickness, he could not afford them the chance to see a moment of weakness.

Yes, that was probably what left him most irritated about the experimentation- not the heat or the exhaustion, nor the humiliation or the mild paranoia, but knowing that, while in this condition, he was a weaker link of any group that would have him. Someone who needed to be taken care of, needed to be watched, needed that moment of rest to recover his strength... He was never one to doubt the strength of having allies, but he also valued his independence. To have it stripped away, to not know whether or not the move was intentional, to have so many unanswerable questions in the first place- it was all mounting on him, pushing him to an edge. With his head still swimming in a boiling sea, it was harder and harder to concentrate on what needed to be done.

He sighed to himself, running his hand through his hair reflexively. If he was damned either way, then maybe handling his health first was the best way to go. He was so used to thinking of others first- his people, his allies, and what was best for the greater good in the long run. It had been some time since he'd felt so selfish. "You'll have to forgive my rudeness. The past few days have been beyond stressful, and I've clearly let it get to me. I'll consider your offer, and will certainly remember your kindness."

When Edgar apologized, Anise's expression softened, and the frown faded. She couldn't blame him for being stressed and acting weird; the institute often pushed Anise's own anxiety levels to the limit. It wasn't like he was being all that rude, anyway - just a little reckless and stubborn. Nothing she wasn't used to dealing with in heavier doses with some people she knew.

"Really? Great!" she cried with cheer when he seemed to reconsider, clasping her hands together. When she continued, it was in the hushed whisper she had been using moments earlier. "My room's F14. I'll leave some things out for you tonight, so if you decide to take me up on this, you can just swing by and pick them up off my desk. Okay?"

Her lips curled into a playful grin as she added jokingly, "I trust you know how to behave in a lady's room?"

Actually, it was pretty rare for Anise to share her room number with someone she didn't know very well. With people like Sync prowling around, it seemed like a good idea to keep it secret. She didn't think she had to worry too much about Edgar, though. It was a little easier to trust someone after seeing their weaker side. Besides, a gentleman like him didn't seem like the type to snoop around, which was probably the biggest risk of inviting an acquaintance to her room.

F14... same hallway as Celes' room, if his memory served him well. At least that made finding the place easier. Edgar smiled genuinely, a little surprised Anise would simply trust him with her room number. Then again, perhaps she had little to hide. Her teasing reminded him a little of Relm- it wasn't a bad resemblance, though it did leave him wondering if the artist would be anything like Anise in a few years.

There was a stirring from the back of the chapel- the "nurses" had arrived, presumably to move everyone to the next shift. Though annoyed by the interruption, Edgar was pleased the time had passed so quickly. It convinced him the rest of the day would be tolerable if he could keep himself occupied.

"Believe me, if there's one thing I do know," he said, "it's how to be a gentleman." He got to his feet slowly, offering his hand to help Anise from her seat. "Should I stop by tonight, you can count on me being on my very best behavior."

Boooo. They were trying to wrap up the shift already? Just when Anise was really enjoying herself!

Any frustration she felt at the unwelcome interruption quickly faded when Edgar held out his hand to her, though. Why couldn't all men be this charming? Taking his hand and rising to her feet, Anise grinned and nodded at his reply.

A familiar-looking nurse was making her way down the aisle, presumably to escort Anise, so it looked like it really was time to say goodbye. "It's too bad we have to leave already. Let's make sure we meet again soon, okay?" She flashed Edgar another bright smile before skipping away to meet her "nurse."

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