The twisted visage of the Lady’s other raised her hand towards Arnold, who had been thrown to a far ledge by the water, and he felt something trying to grow and take form in his lungs. She was attempting to kill him with the thorns but the binding was protecting him and would turn it against her…he hoped.
The growth stopped completely as Nicholas leapt onto the Fae’s back and started to chant as he held a hand against her face. She screamed out as her face turned black as if burned. Nicholas went flying off of her, thrown by unseen forces, and crashed into the cave wall and then fell into the water. She turned her attention to him and just as Nick broke the surface, gasping, the water rippled above his head and pulled him under again.
Arnold attempted to get up, but he froze in surprise when a knife suddenly rained down from above and jutted out of the Fae’s shoulder. She cried out as she reached up at Finn’s weapon painfully, it sizzled as the shoulder began to blacken and the veins around the wound quickly turned purple. She removed the dagger, and then turned her attention up towards the three. Jaeger was rushing down the passage Arnold had traveled to reach them, as Willow shouted, “The cats are coming! Both sides!” He was scribbling something along the other entrance into the cavern with chalk of his own. Finn was yelling for the dwarves to hurry to the safety of the cavern and then surprised them all as she dived headfirst into the pond after Nicholas.
It was chaos as roars filled the cave, giving the knight pause as she stopped her descent, the Fae pointed at her once and the knight gripped her chest in pain. She spared a glance for Finn as well, though Arnold couldn’t see her. The cat got to his feet and bounded from his ledge over the water and landed next to the Fae and her attention turned back to Arnold too quickly and the sheer force of the melody alone gave him pause as the growth in his lungs very slowly started to take shape again.
The binding between them was tearing her apart, her skin had started to break off in peels as she attempted to destroy him. If she was herself she probably would have never made this mistake, but she wasn’t the Lady right now, the one who blanched at the thought of holding an iron knife against her skin. This dream half didn’t seem to care that it’s actions were harming it so long as it may kill him, it’s hatred was palatable in the melody flowing into the cat.
Jaeger’s sword slid through the Fae’s heart with ease, surprise painted its face since it had assumed the knight taken care of, and the thing screamed out in pain as her body began to disintegrate. The congestion and melody flowing into him ended, it had never been painful at any time, but he still breathed a sigh of relief…until the Lady’s presence escaped her dying frame and shot directly into him.
At that moment he could feel the court of Forlorn Want, their surprise as they felt themselves changing to reflect Arnold, the world shifted and changed as his perspective began to alter and heighten. He began to become aware of the elements surrounding them in ways he never had been before. The water’s flow which had been diverted, now returning to normal, the wind which had brought their scent to the fire creatures, the plants growing underground nearby…he collapsed to the floor as the Dwarves unleashed their weaponry on their foes that were slowly one by one breaking through the sealed doors, Jaeger knelt beside him to see if he was alright, and Finn broke the surface of the water with Nick who was still clinging to life.
He thrashed about, in pain as his existence seemed to conflict with itself, he felt hot, like he was about to tear himself apart with this addition to his being. The court too was thrashing about in seizures, but one voice was still there…the man with the pine hair spoke to him happily, “Come with me.”
He felt a pathway before him, and Arnold slipped through the fire, through the light, and fell away from the burning world arriving in pain at a land of darkness and floating rocks, a gigantic eye nearby watching the man with the pine hair who stared down at him amused at his arrival. “I never expected that you would be the cause of the Lady’s death!” He said happily. “Nor inherit her essence, despite the fact you were not the one who felled her! Still, for whatever reason the Knight was not chosen, you are now the new Lord of Forlorn Want!”
Arnold grimaced as he stared at the giant eye in dismay at being led into a trap by the dark aether. He tried to flee, but his body flailed about uselessly. The pine-haired man placated him, “Do not be afraid of him. He is just a watcher, the perfect audience for what shall transpire. He witnessed the acquisition of my own court long ago.” He knelt down and grinned, “As you must be aware, a Servitor cannot be a master. It is a violation of everything you were meant to be, and so you must rid yourself of one existence or the other.”
Arnold grunted as he could feel the truth of his words twist him about. He couldn’t be both, and he didn’t want to become the Lord of those Fae. The man didn’t seem to mind his suffering, still amused by it as last time, “Give me my cousin’s essence, the Lordship of Forlorn Want, and I will combine it with my own court.” He paused briefly, “I could slay you and take it, but you have just been too entertaining!”
Arnold gritted his teeth, angrily as he forced himself to speak, “Uphold the deal I made with her! Neither courts will ever-” He collapsed as his body convulsed against his will. Either he was about to explode or the presence would fly out of him anyways like when he had too much energy stored for Maddox.
The Lord grinned and nodded genially, “Neither court shall ever intentionally cause harm to you or any of your friends, that is a most acceptable bargain. Do we have an agreement then?”
Arnold shouted, “Deal!” He felt the explosion coming, but he gripped the man’s arms and shouted as he instinctively got rid of it like how he would transfer to Dr. Maddox sometimes…the presence passed from him to the Fae, leaving Arnold feeling empty inside, blessedly empty without the feeling of the court.
He wasn’t aware of the pine-haired man thanking him for the amusement. He was just happy to be done with it.
The cat laid on his side for hours recovering from his ordeal, or so he assumed since his watch was not working here, and Arnold and the giant eye ball simply watched one another. Despite how long they sat there it had just floated there calmly, not moving against him. It was also silent, which put it leagues above some of the company and places he’d had to endure recently.
He was relatively safe here perhaps…safe enough to recover…he did not want to risk ending up in the aether realm again because he tried to get home while tired…besides someone had once told him that the best way to be found was to wait where you were for a rescue…he could give that a try while he recovered from this ordeal.
Arnold realized that he still had questions he’d wanted to ask the inhabitants of that world, such as what they had done to turn the Light against them. He didn’t feel like going back to get his answers though.
((To be concluded, read his rescue though if you haven’t already.))