You must flee the scene.
Staying here any longer
Would prove quite fatal...
The figure aimed its bow at me, drawing back an arrow and preparing to shoot.
“Get to the darkest point of your home! Now!” I heard Ringmaster bark.
“You can’t run you know!” The sinister woman cackled as she fired an arrow. I dodged it as best as I could, watching the arrow go through the door as if it was paper. “The next one won’t miss!”
I opened the back door and quickly fled in, locking it and running for my life to the garage. My pursuer was busy shooting out the lock. Dashing into the garage and closing the door, I heard the lock of the back door explode, followed by Elana’s delighted cackling. My heart was pounding, my lungs ablaze.
“Promise me you will stay calm, alright?” I heard Ringmaster speak as something wrapped around my leg. I gasped a bit as it enveloped my entire lower half. “Stay calm!”
It was easy for him to say! He didn’t have some unknown thing wrapping him up like a Christmas Present! The last thing I saw was an arrow stabbing through the garage door as the unknown substance engulfed my being. I heard the curses of the archer fade off quietly until the wrap slowly came off of me, revealing to me that I was suddenly in a dark cave. I still couldn’t see anything however, with the poor light.
‘W-w-where am I?’ I quietly squeaked in my mind.
“You’re somewhere safe.” Ringmaster’s voice resounded from behind me. “Elana can’t follow you at the moment.”
‘H-huh?’ I turned frightenedly to where Ringmaster’s voice was coming from.
Sure enough, I was met with his tall figure, top hat and all. I still had yet to see what he actually looked like.
“I’m sorry, this was the only place I could enter at.” Ringmaster spoke, approaching me.
‘Wait, go back a few seconds! What happened to Damien? Who is Elana?’
“Damien will be fine. He cannot enter this place for a while, however.” Ringmaster spoke solemnly. “As for Elana, I’m not entirely sure what she’s here for, but I can take a guess... That is besides the point, however. Tonight, here in this place, you must sleep well. I cannot guarantee the quality of your rest after this. In the morning, we will head out.”
‘W-what do you mean?’
“It is no longer safe for you to remain stagnant in this place.” His tone was serious. “Elana will relentlessly hunt us down with intent to kill.”
I worriedly shifted my feet, shivering a little bit at the thought of being hit by an arrow as a means of death. What about my family? Were they going to be ok with that murderer in the house?
“Don’t let your worries take you now. For now, you must rest.”
I felt an odd wave of drowsiness wipe over me as I passed out on my feet.
That night I didn’t end up in Wake.
When I awoke to Perish, I was sitting in the cave, beside Ringmaster. The sun was rising and gently lighting the cave. I could now make out a large portion of the features on Ringmaster.
The band on his hat was adorned with the four suits of cards, each colored a different hue. On the band was also an ace carrying all of the suits. Covering Ringmaster’s eyes were purple bangs of hair. The same color hair draped over his shoulder, and was so long it even draped over me a bit. His hair was pretty soft. It was then that I noticed I had been hugging him this entire time.
I gently pulled my arms away from Ringmaster, but somewhat failed to as he cling to me a little bit with one of his arms. Sighing silently, I simply continued my observation. Ringmaster’s wardrobe was bizarre, to say the least. It consisted of a purple overcoat, black shirt, and jeans. Adorning his skin-tight shirt was a purple tie decorated with a red spade, the same symbol resting on his belt as well.
Continuing my observation, I realized that two of the card suits were also tattooed onto his cheeks. For someone who seemed to act so mature, Ringmaster had the fashion sense of a cartoon character. Then again, I had really only known the man for a week or so. Maybe he was secretly insane.
Then again, who wasn’t?
Suddenly, Ringmaster began to stir, interrupting my thoughts and hugging me closer. He was waking up. I would pretend to be asleep for a few minutes to continue my observations. Letting my breathing slow down and closing my eyes, I heard Ringmaster stretch a bit, and noticed his slight shifting as he sat up.
“I know you’re awake.” I heard him chuckle. I decided to keep my act up for a bit, until his hair brushed over my neck a bit. A smirk tried to force its way onto my face. “Hm?”
I could hear the plot in Ringmaster’s voice as he moved his hair around. It brushed over my neck lightly and was driving the nerves on my skin crazy! My face violently twitched as I finally gave up, flailing mildly.
‘Ok I’m up, I’m up!’ I shouted in my head, opening my eyes.
Ringmaster only chuckled as my vision came into focus. I was met by a spiky grin from the man.
‘D-don’t we have somewhere we’re supposed to be going?’ I squeaked a bit in my head, covering my face.
“You’re right.” Ringmaster sighed, patting my shoulder. “Let’s head out, then.
‘Right...’ I quietly spoke telepathically.
“Are you alright?” Ringmaster asked as we stood up.
‘Mhm.’ Of course, that was a total fabrication.
“...” Ringmaster was silent.
‘So where are we headed to?’
“First we must figure out where we are.” As Ringmaster spoke, he led me to the gaping mouth of the cave. He tilted his hat down to the brightness of the sun as he resumed speaking. “Do you perhaps recognize this terrain?”
Before me was some obscure skyline I had no idea of what it was. I didn’t recognize it at all besides a few jumbled up features. I saw the Gateway Arch, but I knew St. Louis wasn’t surrounded by mountains, I had been there just last year visiting family. Among the sea of skyscrapers was also the Empire State building. Apparently someone doesn’t know how to build either St. Louis or New York.
‘This is so strange...’
“Hm?” Ringmaster tilted his hat again as he responded.
‘This city is a mashup of at least two different cities.’
“That... is not good.”
‘W-what do you mean?’ I turned worriedly to look at Ringmaster. If he was saying it was bad, it had to be pretty bad... I think.
“It would mean that Elana is doing major damage to this world with intent to smoke you out.” Ringmaster responded in a grave tone.
“Oh, that’s right~!” I heard the cruel bow-wielding woman’s cackle from behind us.
The last thing I saw was a glowing arrow aimed at me, before I was tackled down. I passed out.
“-What do you suggest I do then?” The bandaged eyed one of the two asked with a bored tone.
“Let me rejoin you again.” The other spoke as she braided her hair. “Then what you are trying to do will finally work.”
“How would that help with it?”
“Your mind is incomplete without me. You should know that.”
When I awoke, a headache split my head like Moses and the Red Sea. What was that?! I mean, both of those figures looked kind of like.... but that wasn’t possible, was it?
I hesitantly cracked open my eyes, immediately regretting it upon seeing Ringmaster propped up against a wall, an arrow bright as the sun sticking out of his arm. Upon sitting up, I realized we were no longer in the cave, but instead in a dark forest. I hadn’t seen any evergreens where we were before, we must have been a good ways around the globe!
I brought my attention back to Ringmaster as I crawled over to him weakly, my knees shaky at the sight of his injury. He must have taken that arrow for me...
‘R-ringmaster?’ I quietly spoke within my mind, eyes glued to his blood drenched coat.
He didn’t respond. I shakily checked him for a pulse. It was slow, but there. My eyes went back to the arrow. Should I risk taking it out and tearing his arm more, or would it be better to let it stay there?
“Take it... out...” I heard Ringmaster quietly speak.
Swallowing hard, I got ready to do just that, locking my eyes on where it sunk into his skin. It was casting off a really, really bright light. Hesitantly, I grabbed the arrow of pure light. It burned just a bit, and I felt Ringmaster flinch beneath it as it brightened. Whimpering a little bit, I began to pull the searing arrow out of Ringmaster’s arm. The ammunition came out with a sickening crack. I had been afraid that I might have snapped the object in Ringmaster’s arm when I saw the lack of an arrowhead, until I saw the small, knife-sharp but of the stick of light. I discarded it to the side quickly.
‘Ringmaster?’ I barely spoke telepathically.
When he gave no response again, I checked his pulse once more. It was going back to normal. Looking at his arm, it seemed to be mending rather quickly.
The shadowy man didn’t seem like he was going to wake up anytime soon. I decided I would get some sleep. Sitting beside Ringmaster on the wall, I gently laid against his good arm. In his sleep, he hugged me a bit tightly. Soon enough, I fell asleep myself.
When I awoke to Perish once more, the area about me was greyed by clouds of a light rain. Birds chirped about merry songs of migrating home, but...
The last time I checked, it was the middle of February still. The trees around were Evergreens, so it had to mean that Ringmaster and I were in an area that had winter. Did that mean we were in the Southern hemisphere? But that would make it Summer... Sighing silently, I decided to give up on trying to understand it, looking up at Ringmaster. It seemed that the man’s bangs had fallen off of his eyes. He was still asleep, which gave me a chance to observe the area previously covered by his iris bangs. A scar appeared to run around one of his eyes. It looked as if in such a pitiful condition that if could start bleeding at any moment. I was tempted to touch the area nearby it, but knew better, instead deciding to just hug Ringmaster a bit more.
The purple-haired man’s arm which was around my arm suddenly hugged me closer, his other arm coming around me as well. Looking up at him, I saw his bangs had gone back over his eyes.
‘Are you ok Ringmaster?’ I asked in a quiet manner.
In response, he nodded lethargically, sitting up a bit more and hugging me close, his injured arm slightly stiff. That was something I had honestly wondered about. Why had he taken that arrow for me? That would have avoided this whole situation... mostly. I would’ve probably been speared in one of my vitals, so there’s that issue...
And why did he trust me to take that arrow out? I have no medical experience whatsoever!
“We should get going... before Elana finds us again...” I heard Ringmaster quietly speak.
‘But what about...’ I trailed off, looking to the arrow, still alit with ethereal light.
“I’ll be fine, I promise. I’m already almost healed.” When I brought my gaze up to Ringmaster, he was smiling in a soft manner.
‘...’ I worriedly looked up to where Ringmaster’s eyes were covered by his bangs.
“I’m fine.” Ringmaster reiterated, patting my head a bit. “Now we need to figure out where we are so we can accurately navigate the area.”
Ringmaster began to stand up, so I stood up too. He looked at the forest, I started at a wall that just seemed to be randomly in the area. Feeling it a bit, it seemed to be a concrete structure. It was almost as if it was... no, that couldn’t be the case! I had only seen racquetball courts in Florida! And not fenced in? Preposterous!
“Is something wrong?” The shadowy man beside me asked.
“This racquetball court.. being not fenced in? That never happens!” I found myself unconsciously muttering aloud. “And being surrounded by Evergreens?”
A sword suddenly sliced through the racquetball court by me like it was butter. Instinctively, I grabbed the arrow to block the blow. Surprisingly, it held, but upon colliding with the sword, the arrow burst into flames of gold.
“Might as well give you a bit of a chance...” I heard Elana chuckle as the cement wall dissipated into dust. “That way I can see just how pitifully you fight now!”
The flaming arrow I was shakingly holding morphed suddenly as if controlled by something. Instead of a projectile, it was now a broadsword. I could barely hold it up like this, and it billowed flames like a mighty dragon, bathing the around with a fierce orange glow. My muscles were already aching from the weight of the sword, and I ultimately ended up dropping it, afraid of getting hurt by both the weight and flames.
Immediately upon dropping the weapon, the fire disappeared. Looking to my hands, they seemed to be perfectly fine, even after holding a weapon that was literally bathing in flames like it was a piece of coal.
“You’re afraid of fire? Elana chuckled disbelievingly. “You’re absolutely path--”
Looking up to see what had cut the terrifying archer off, I found it to be a shadow, impaling her straight through the heart. The shadow appeared to be derived from Ringmaster’s own, Frightened, I stumbled back a bit.
A scowl painted Elana’s face disfigured as she grabbed the shadows which stabbed her. An ominous glow enveloped her hand as said shadow began to disintegrate.
Taking advantage of the archer’s distraction it would seem, Ringmaster grabbed me close as a dome of shadows covered both of us and the sword up. I could no longer see anything as I felt something grabbing at my leg. Whimpering a bit, I clung to Ringmaster.
“Calm down. I won’t let you get hurt.” He quietly spoke as the dome opened up, letting light in.
The shadowy hands which were attacking me suddenly faded away as desert sand faded into vision and below my feet. I heard the soft crunch of my feet hitting the ground as the wave of heat finally hit me. It was certainly daytime here.
“Are you alright?” Ringmaster asked as I covered my eyes.
‘Yea... it’s just really bright...’ I responded softly in my head.
Ringmaster sighed a bit as I felt something go onto my head. Looking up, I found Ringmaster’s hat to be gone. It was now adorning my head.
‘But... this is your hat...’ I whined a bit, looking up at Ringmaster confusedly.
“Yes.” Ringmaster chuckled, grinning mischievously. “Yes it is.”
Somewhere along the way, I had found myself sitting on Ringmaster’s back. His hat had made it back onto his hat, where it kept his head warm and the sun out of his eyes.
As he was walking with me on his back, I realized just how tall he was. To be honest, I was practically a midget in comparison to him. He was probably around six foot five or something.
I also realized how short my hair was because of the walk. Honestly, I hated to admit it, but I was jealous. He had to have his hair draping over me, it was so long. To be honest, it actually kept me pretty cool, and provided relief from the sun’s harsh rays. There’s no way it was healthy for his hair though.
I sighed a little bit as I gently adjusted my arms around Ringmaster’s neck.
“Is something wrong?” I heard him ask with a chuckle as he continued to walk.
‘I’m just a tad bit tired.’ I replied with a squeaky yawn.
“You haven’t even been walking...” Ringmaster chuckled even more.
I only sighed and buried my face in the shadowy man’s coat, my own hair falling over my face in an ungraceful manner.
Soon enough, I had passed out.
“You!” The rage-filled girl growled with extreme malice as flames towered around her. “You have cost me everything!”
The man before the bandage-eyed girl only continued his chuckling as he tilted his hat down to block her fire’s bright light. Upon having a fireball hurled at him, he cackled, dodging easily.
“Watch out, Flame Princess!” He laughed even more, grin broadening around his pointed teeth. “Play with fire and you might just get burnt!”
I awoke with a sharp gasp, heart racing. I was still on Ringmaster’s back. My headache had been revived.
I was almost completely sure who that girl was... no, I was sure who she was.
“Are you alright?” I heard Ringmaster ask as he slackened his pace.
I spared no response to the top hat wearing man as I tried to calm my pacing heart.
Could it be?
I frighteningly brought my gaze up to that top had on his head.
My heart stopped cold in its tracks.
So did Ringmaster.
“Are you alr-”
“L-let me g-go!” I quietly exclaimed, squirming and trying to escape from Ringmaster’s grip.
“Hm?” Ringmaster only adjusted his grip on my legs, trying to keep me trapped!
“Put me down!” I shouted this time, feeling frightened beads of water begin to show up at the corners of my eyes.
I knew who both those figures were.
They were Ringmaster and I.
The shadowy man complied and put me down. Immediately, I backed away, seeing small flames trail my steps.
“What’s wrong?” Ringmaster asked, approaching me.
A wall of fire suddenly appeared, blocking his advancement. My breath felt short and my lungs ablaze like the flame in front of me. I felt suddenly dry upon watching the wall of flame.
“What’s wrong?!” Ringmaster’s voice could barely be heard behind the crackling fire wall.
I quietly whimpered as I watched the flames grow in size.
“I don’t trust you anymore!” I shouted as the flames engulfed me as well.
Who are you really running from?