10th of June 1823 - 25th of April 1829
we hide in the places where mice make their holes. our skin getting cold under moth eaten clothes. i feel my lips turn blue, i'd do anything to be held by you through the night. the doors are all closed, we peer through key holes. tucked away in a place where flowers can't grow. your skin
turns to dust in my hands and i'm left holding onto a pile of sand
you learn to fear your father at an all too young age. drinking turns a person who was supposed to protect you and love you into something awful, something violent, something hazel should have never seen or known. poor, fragile hazel never deserved anything she got, especially not a father like this. his rough hands calloused from woodwork, his large boots that make black and blue imprints on your stomach, his belt that makes a sound chilling you down to the bone; they are all tools of torture, weapons designed specifically to make your life a living hell. you take the brunt of that burden for hazel, because you never want her to be subject to something so cruel. it doesn't stop her tears, but at least she's crying for you and not crying because she's in physical pain from your father's alcohol abuse. that's all you can ask for.
hazel only has you to depend on, and you take that responsibility without a single complaint. not counting your father, hazel is all you have as well. you want to protect her and keep her well, even if her own body goes against your fervent wishes. she's been weak since birth, your dear hazel. so many doctors have said she won't live to see adulthood. you want to think otherwise. at least she isn't subject to any beatings which might worsen her condition. if your sacrifices can do anything to keep hazel going for longer, keep her alive longer than the doctors say, having to face your father's wrath is worth every bruise and lash you accumulate.
not everyday is bad. there are times when you almost feel like you have an actual father, times when you can almost forget the fact that he ever hit you or degraded you. it never does quite last long enough for you to actually forget anything. those days dangle like something awful over your head, like a promise that doesn't fulfill itself, teasing you with a life you can't have as long as you live under the same roof. your father switches from one person to another as easily as lighting an oil lamp.
reading is an escape for both you and hazel on good days and bad. she loves listening to you spin the tales of those whose lives are extraordinary and full of adventures the two of you can only dream about. you feel like that does a little something for her health, too, because she brightens up so much when you agree to read to her. you've taught her nearly everything you've learned in school, and you know she can read perfectly fine on her own, but she always asks you to play narrator. she never has to bargain with you; seeing her smile is all the motivation you need to agree.
having an escape outside your home, however, is hard to come by. the torment does not end at the front door. a select number of your peers, one henry bedlow in particular, seem to have plenty of time to spare when it comes to making you feel worse than you already do. you haven't the faintest idea why they targeted you out of all people. maybe you just attract the kinds of people who only want to hurt you. you can't say one way or the other.
you don't know what finally drives you to pick up a rock and smash it into henry bedlow's face, but you can't stop after you've already hit him. the sounds of the school children egging you on, encouraging you to keep hitting him, is like white noise to your ears. your entire body feels hot, vindicated, all the way down to your toes. for a moment, you think you were right to strike back like this. after all, he did bully you relentlessly day in and day out. when you drop the rock from your fingers, bloodied like henry bedlow's face, regret falls over you like a cold chill.
henry bedlow will be missing an eye for the rest of his life because of you. he never bothers you again, and you never do find the words to apologize. you put it from your mind altogether, a bad dream best forgotten.
you leave for university just after hazel is admitted for permanent residence in a hospice. with her illness worsened in the last couple years, she can no longer live at home without proper medical care. part of you loathes the thought of being apart from her, leaving her in a place full of strangers who don't know the first thing about her, like how she prefers stories to be read or even what kinds of books she enjoys the most. but she won't allow you to stay at her side any longer for her sake. it's the one time she's really put her foot down about something. she wants you to live for yourself. you don't know the first thing about that.
as the carriage takes you away from the one comfort you've ever had, you wonder if the next time you see hazel will be in her bed or in a casket.
16th of May 1839 - 17th July 1839
time and again boys are raised to be men. impatient they start, fearful at the end. but here was a man mourning tomorrow. he drank, but finally drowned in his sorrow
. he could not break surface tension. he looked in the wrong place for redemption.
it doesn't take much for you to end up a sweating, overheated mess in algeria. you really weren't made for this kind of heat at all, as if the sun itself was having a grand time just sitting on your back throughout all hours of the day. you're almost surprised you haven't been burned beyond recognition by the unforgiving sun yet; you burn so easily to begin with and you can only imagine how much worse it would be here. the parasol herbert is making you use still looks ridiculous, though. there really was no way you could have dug in conditions like these during the day, and your dig is slow like a baby's crawl because of them.
you knew what you were getting into when you joined the expedition, if only because of herbert's near constant nagging and reminders, yet you have to admit you feel strange just by being here. everything about algeria is completely foreign to you, almost like you had stepped into some faraway land nigh incomparable to london or even mayfair. it was like traveling to a world you would read about to hazel for her bedtime story. the scenery, the people, the language: all entirely different from what is normal for you. while the prospect of finding something to take back with you sounds exciting, you can't wait until you can finally return to london and put this mess of a dig behind you.
you feel odd as you walk through the passageway which had recently been discovered. you can't quite put your finger on the emotions and sensations you experience the further inside you go, only that they feel so very odd. you have to convince yourself to keep moving forward with your team, because you think that if you were alone or had even a smidgen less curiosity, you would have left without finding a thing. you feel that odd being in here and looking at all the old statues and symbols left behind by an age that's long since died to time. your only solace is that the passage is a slight reprieve from the heat outside.
eventually you make your way to a dead end, a movable slab of rock between you and discovery. you come to regret asking it to be moved almost immediately after it slams shut behind you.
it's dark as far as your eyes can see, and you can't breathe. you can't breathe, and there's a light shining in front of you, piercing through the darkness in a way that calls to you. you touch the glowing blue light, and great visions of places you've never seen before passes through your mind and eyes. you grasp for air, the light clenched between the palms of your hands, and the darkness overtakes you completely.
you return to england soon after you're rescued from the dark prison deep inside the passage. it was herbert's decision, but you're not sure you could have stayed much longer regardless. the orb you took from the chamber puzzles you greatly, broken into pieces of mystery that just won't fit together no matter what you do. not even taking it to be examined does much to quell the questions you have about it, and you can't find anything about it in any books. your confusion grows the longer you have the orb in possession, as does the odd feeling in your chest that never quite left you since algeria. having the orb nearby only increases that sensation. you feel like you've brought something otherworldly back with you, something likely way beyond your comprehension. you feel changed, yet you're unsure whether or not if it's for the better or the worst.
your life only seems to swirl slowly downward the more you try to look into the orb. the news of herbert's disappearance hits you hard, the aftermath leaving you with yet more unanswered questions. mysteries continue to pile up as the days go by, with unexplained events and even deaths left in your wake. you hear a great, echoing voice, wordless yet screaming, calling to you in your nightmares, which occur every single night without fail. you begin to lose count of just how often you've jerked yourself awake in the night, sweat and darkness like a suffocating blanket all around your body. you wonder if bringing the orb with you was a mistake, and yet you don't dare leave it with someone else, not while you're still curious about its origins and how you came to have it in the first place. you continue to research the orb and ask those you might be of help for answers both in person and through letters, but you almost feel as if you're chasing after something you may never get.
when you finally piece the orb back together as you remembered it, you feel no sense of relief whatsoever, nothing even approaching a resolution to everything you've been through, only something bizarre burrowing deep into the messy recesses of your gut. you don't understand why you were able to fix it after all this time of having to carry around its pieces which refused to bind together despite your best efforts. why now did it seem so easy, as if you had known the solution all along but just couldn't see it? restlessness pervades your thought whenever you look at the completed orb. you think maybe you should have left it behind in algeria.
weeks of nightmares and confusion, and all you get from it is the completed orb, a lot of dead ends regarding it, and a single note too vague for your liking but also too intriguing to ignore, just one solitary thread of something that might give you the answers you want. or, it could be nothing at all, just like everything else you've tried so far. you really won't know anything unless you follow through.
3rd August 1839 - 8th of August 1839
i'm counting nocturnal hours. drowned visions in haunted sleep
. faint flickering of your powers. leaks out to show what you keep.
this is the second time you feel as though you've stepped inside the pages of a storybook from your childhood. the scenery of brennenburg is majestic, about as much as you would expect from a castle overlooking the town below, with trees all around and towers that stretch far into the sky. the main difference between here and algeria is that you feel calmer, more at ease, as if you left everything that could have possibly worried you back in london. where it not for the orb resting among your belongings, you would almost believe that you actually did leave it all behind you. you feel like you've started out on the right direction for once, hope building in your gut wanting to believe you did the right thing in following a vague note you came very close to throwing away. you have no idea where you'll go from this point on, but you feel good about where you are.
being around alexander, however, puts a vibe in you that's hard to put into words. he's surely an eccentric person, if nothing else, versed in many different subjects including magic, a notion you haven't entertained since you were a child looking for an escape from his own life, his head deeply buried in fiction novels to keep from thinking about his father. there's something about alexander that's peculiar to you, nearly about as odd as everything else you've experienced over the last couple months. his eyes are beyond time, old like the sun, almost seeming to look through and far past you every time he turns your way. something in them, something about him, puts a feeling in your chest you can't make into a complete thought. you're not sure you'd have the answer you want even if you could form that thought.
the notion of strangeness in alexander leaves your mind barely a day after; you don't have time to dwell on much besides how much longer you might live. you've given up a lot to come this far. all your sensibilities and logic. thrown out the window as far as you're concerned. you've come here for one purpose alone; you don't have the time or luxury to be dwelling on much else and asking questions that will get you nowhere. you're sure alexander wouldn't provide the answers for you regardless, even if you are burning to ask, your curiosity peaked. the both of you are focused on the orb and the shadow, making everything else matter very little in the grand scheme of things. otherwise, you're sure you could learn much from alexander if you had the time.
when alexander uses the orb in front of you down in the deepest parts of brennenburg, a shining light you're all too familiar with emanating from its surface, you wonder just how much you don't know, and just how much alexander isn't telling you. awe and fear mix together, birthing more curiosity and yet more fuel for your nightmares, as if you didn't have enough. you don't know where the orb came from or why you have it, but you can't deny its power after seeing it for yourself. you can only imagine what it would do with all its potential untapped, with the shadow no longer attached to it. thinking of specific possibilities is beyond you. if the orb told you anything, it's that the shadow has not slowed in its hunt for you. not that you ever thought it did, what with your nightmares still clinging to you like wet clothes drenched in a unrelenting downpour. at this point, you're willing to do whatever it takes to live in the face of impending death, and alexander promises with a solemn voice that you will live through this if you're willing to do what's necessary.
you're standing on the very edge of something, looking out into the vast unknown with wary, frightened eyes. you don't know what that something is, or what will happen once you step off that edge into the expanse of uncertainty before you, but you feel as though it can only bode ill for you. you've felt the presence of omens almost all your life. how could you not, raised and beaten as you were? you hate to think of what your father has done to you, having left the memories to rot back in your childhood home, but you can't deny that it groomed you in some way, made the think about the worse before the better in nearly all situations. this one is no different, the feeling only enhanced by the nature of what you're dealing with.
you lay in bed, fruitlessly preparing yourself for sleep you won't be getting thanks to your nightmares. the laudanum helps a little, but not enough for you to sleep all the way through the night. lord knows you've downed bottle after bottle in your attempts to sleep without good results. sleeping without it is nigh impossible at this point. you expect the same will happen tonight as well. as you stay on your back, looking up at the canopy above you, you wonder if, at the end of all of this, hazel will get to see her big brother again.
9th of August 1839 - 14th of August 1839
the love for life once bright. (out of sight) a burning fuse. the only flame i have. fate's spiral down this curve. (shall only serve) the seeds growing my misery
. these wounds kill time. my struggle sublime. idle the blood. a black state of mind. all dreams left behind.
deep in the lowest parts of brennenburg castle lays a prison still very much in use, and it is here where alexander says you can be saved, where his magic can help ward off the shadow from following you to the ends of the earth. he wastes little time in showing you what must be done, what acts you must commit so you might stay alive. the first time you witness it firsthand, you shake and cry yourself to sleep in the low light of your room. how he expects you to kill people is beyond you. you almost want to say no, perhaps request a less bloody solution. you hold yourself back from doing so, even though you firmly believe you should be protesting. the one question holding you back is: what if there are no other alternatives? you don't have the time to ask for one regardless.
you're shaking like a leaf in the wind the first time you torture a prisoner, a man alexander claimed was a rapist. you try to concentrate on what you need to do, even though his screams and the sight of his blood spilling from him crashes into the very foundations of your already shaky resolve. you want to live, and this man has done things he deserves to die for. you have to keep that in mind, else you feel you'd lose your nerve. you've never once thought of killing a man until your very life depended on it, and even now you're not so sure you want to be killing anyone, even if they are criminals and degenerates, the lowest of the low. you need them if you have any chance in hell of escaping the shadow.
the killing doesn't get much easier over the next few days, but you feel your hands becoming a bit more steady. you're no expert in torture or the instruments involved, but you try to learn as much as you can to speed up the process. you don't feel much fascination or satisfaction in learning something new, not like you normally would. the longer you wait, the longer you go on without progress, the closer the shadow draws to you. the laudanum and the rituals do very little to keep it from banging and wailing at the barriers of your sleeping mind, if the little rest you do get could be considered sleep. screams haunt you at night along with your dreams, and you spend more time crying than resting. you're worn down to the bone by your exhaustion, more skeleton than a man of flesh and blood. someone else looks at you every time you catch your eyes in the mirror, someone who's seen more than he ever wanted to in life.
one by one you torture and kill as alexander instructs. one by one you make someone meant for death bleed and scream and cry, their memories of torture forgotten and renewed thanks to the amnesia potion alexander has at his disposal. their deaths are saving your life, but that doesn't mean you're very good at killing. not like you ever thought it'd be a skill you would one day need. frustration sneaks in to sit beside your fear. you just want wipe your hands of this situation already and return to what's left of your life if you can manage. you're not sure what you would do once you left brennenburg and returned to england, and - if you're honest with yourself - you haven't given if very much thought either. how can you think of a potential future when your life is hanging on by a quickly unraveling string? you're not sure you could be the same daniel ever again now. you feel too changed to go back to being him without issue.
you lay down for bed, the candles closest to your bedside lit, fully expecting to be visited once more by another nightmare. you can't stand being in the dark anymore, not that you ever truly enjoyed it to begin with. you want to cry thinking about how nightmares and a fear of the dark are now normal for you. they still terrify you all the way down to your very soul despite you being used to their place in your life. you have another ritual tomorrow. you don't expect you'll get any sleep at all.
i keep my knives
sharp. dance around muscle groups like paper. separate so neatly at the joint. falls away easily if you follow my map. embedded in each creature like dotted lines. and i trace these with my trusty knife.
the man tied down to the slab is covered in swirling green ink from top to bottom, his head covered by a burlap sack muffling his voice. his chest heaves with desperate breaths which echo all around the room. you watch him wriggle in his bindings, your nerves unsettled and erratic. you can feel alexander's eyes piercing into your back, twin blades sharp as steel embedded into the column of your spine. you've always found his eyes to be too odd and exposing to stomach, but now they feel crippling. your hand trembles around the knife you're grasping, unnerved by his stare. you ask him to leave, and when he does, you take a deep breath, knife poised at your chest ready to strike at any time now.
with your resolve firm, you trace the knife's edge along the lines of ink, red merging with green and then spilling over. his cries sound pathetic to you since you've already condemned him to death long before you ever entered the room. you can't help but laugh at and mock him, cretin that he is. you're a good man, an innocent, a man who doesn't deserve to have his time on this earth cut short by things he can't control, but this man? as far as you were concerned, he was going to hell where the devil himself would continue your work for the rest of eternity. by the time you're finished and the man is no longer squirming around like the helpless pig he is, the knife and your hands are coated liberally in his filthy, criminal blood. your panting heavily, your own blood pumping hard through your veins.
you feel exhilarated knowing that you're one step closer to being free from the shadow. after what you've done here, you can do anything if it means not dying. perform ten more rituals? a hundred? a thousand? it doesn't matter at all! they're all criminals and no-goods anyway; who cares if they die? surely not their families. and you still have a family to go back home to. the first thing you're going to do when you leave is see hazel, and then you're going to forget everything you ever knew about an orb or the shadow.
you're so close to finally being rid of all the nightmares and death and pain. you're so close to not having to be afraid anymore.
cold, alone and alive. you're afraid but that's not what i asked, wanna go for a ride
? sharpen your teeth my darlings, sharpen your minds. take a finger, if the hand feeds you shit, take one scalp at a time.
all the laudanum in brennenburg does nothing to keep the swirl of words from dancing around like cruel, laughing jesters in your head. your tears mix with the liquid pouring down your throat. you can't stop crying. you can't stop picturing the dead little girl you killed, lying so still and so cold, so quiet compared to her previous cries. you still feel like her blood is drenching your hands even though you've washed and wiped them over and over again to no avail. did a human skull ever feel that fragile to you before? you can't remember, and you don't want to recall all that you've done that lead you to this, a terrible moment of awakening after what seems like years immersed in darkness.
horrified. appalled. sickened. disgusted. pathetic. you feel all these things about yourself, the picture of a little girl's corpse burned like a brand into your head. you can't believe how selfish you've been, how awful, how abhorrent. what made your life more important than hers? or any of the people you've tortured and killed for that matter? how could you have been so blinded by fear that you would resort to spilling blood just so you wouldn't die? you certainly deserve to have the shadow come and rip you apart now. you smashed a little girl's head against the cold stone flooring so she wouldn't get away, so you wouldn't be exposed for your crimes. your hands are covered in her blood for the rest of your life now, even if you can't see it anymore.
you wonder, drunkenly and eyes overflowing with hot, bitter tears over your failures, if you've become worse than your father ever was. if everything he ever said about you was actually true all along. you feel just as worthless and pathetic as he claimed throughout your entire childhood.
at least your father wasn't a murderer. at least your father wasn't as vile, as stained in blood as you. maybe it would have been better if he was that low. a little girl would still be alive and well with her family if your father was as horrible at you.
what would hazel - dear, sweet, innocent hazel - think of you now? surely she would shun her brother in shame. cry herself to sleep at night over the loss of someone she loved so much. you couldn't bear to see her again as you are now. everyone you've ever met in your life would shun you for becoming a bloodthirsty monster, a killer, the worst of the worst. you never meant for any of this. you were just so afraid; you didn't want to die. what could you have done differently? you knew nothing of what you'd gotten yourself into, and you still don't know the answers to all the questions you had. this was supposed to be your salvation, your saving grace. alexander swore that this was the only way for you to not die at the hands of the shadow. you believed him when you thought you had no other choice.
you were made to believe you had no other options, and now you wish you had been less hesitant to buy into what alexander sold you. now you wish you had thought of a better alternative, wish you had never come to brennenburg in the first place.
bend around the wind. silently thrown about again. i'm treading so soft and lightly. compromising my will
you wake up the next morning only to find that alexander has locked you out of the inner sanctum and left you for dead, left you to be torn apart by the shadow. just when you really needed that salvation, just when you thought your life couldn't get much worse, he turns you away, locks you out knowing you will die without him while he takes the orb for himself. it's only now that you realize saving you was never something alexander was after. it's only now that realize just how thoroughly he tricked you, how deliberate he was in leading you along just how he wanted. you curse alexander's name in as many ways as you can think of, your face covered in overflowing and unstopping tears.
you can practically sense the shadow creeping closer and closer to you, its billowing, haunting wails outside of your nightmares for the first time, though the amount of fear it instills in you is the same as ever, if not more so. it's just as paralyzing in real life as it was in dreams. hearing it reduces you into trembles so fierce that you're going to break apart any moment from the force of your body alone. you're so afraid and angry all you can do is shake and cry, waiting for death to finally come for you after outrunning it for so long. you want to live. you want to take back all that you've done. you want to go back and turn down the offer of excavating ruins in algeria. you want to go home.
you feel like you should have seen this coming ever since the dig. you've had enough time to figure out just where you would be headed. the clues were all there; you were just too blind to see them until now. blinded by fear, blinded by how naive you were, blinded by trust you never should have handed over to a man like alexander. was your death truly inevitable all this time? both you and alexander seem to think so.
except alexander is a liar. alexander is a murderer who led you down a path you would have otherwise never taken. he ruined your life, reduced you to a hollow shell of a man, and now he's making sure you die knowing what you've done to get here in your final moments alive. he offered you sanctuary, only to take it away at the very last minute. you're too weak to press on anymore, and you can't think of a single thing that could save your life. you don't have the strength to put yourself up off the ground anymore. the memory of tortured and dead bodies is still fresh in your mind, as if just thinking of them brings them to life once more, an awful playback on the last couple months of your life. you see all the people you've killed, from the very first man all the way down to a little girl who just wanted to escape. just like you.
if only you could just forget it all.
i wake up, it's a bad dream
. no one on my side. i was fighting. but i just feel too tired to be fighting. guess i'm not the fighting kind
you wake up in a castle you've never seen before, and how you came to be here is a complete mystery to you. your head aches, and you can barely recall a thing through the haze of pain pounding in your skull. you wonder through the dim castle halls, the sounds of rain and the shifting of wood at your back, looking for an answer about where you are and how you came to be here. finding a note from yourself is something you don't expect, but it's better than nothing, and definitely gives an exploitation to the pain in your temples and why you can't remember a thing. your former self tells his story and pleads with you to take revenge against a man named alexander, a man you can only assume wronged you in some way. attempting to piece together the fragmented pieces of your memory left to you after drinking the amnesia potion proves to be impossible, like there's a great wall blocking you from the knowledge you seek.
you can't leave through the front gate, so the only thing you can do is go down just like your former self wants. you don't even know where you would go even if you could leave.
going through the castle, with its creaks and mysterious noises you can't name, is a lot more than you bargained for, a lot more than you think you can stand. growls and gurgles echo from the corners of rooms, from doors you just stepped through, and the sound of them shakes you down to the core. just what had your former self gotten into? what kind of mess does he expect you to clean up in his place? it gets darker and darker the deeper you go down into the castle, the lantern you found your only source of comfort. you're afraid to be without it, to be fumbling around practically blind, but you're more afraid of the things you miss, the things hidden away where your light can't reach. your former self tells his story to you the further you go, and the castle itself seems to be planting memories that aren't yours into your mind against your will. you don't know what to make of it at all.
the shadow your former self speaks of dogs your every step, corroded masses of flesh appearing on the walls and floors, preventing you from turning back. part of you almost doesn't care to do what your past self wants, and wishes you could have left through the front door long ago. the castle is crumbling around you, and horrors you dare not speak of walk in your footsteps, the sounds they make something out of nightmares you don't remember. there's no place for you to rest, no place for you to hide, and you're so tired you could collapse any second now. running seems to be the only thing keeping you conscious.
you can hear yourself cry and rant and rave the deeper you get into brennenburg you go. you're not sure which sounds are real and in the moment or which sounds are just in your mind, playback from a previous life you only know about in notes and flashes of broken up memory too jagged to fit together. you don't think you'll ever get the full scope of your memories back no matter what you do, and you're not sure you want to if what you've read and heard is to be believed. you try not to think of it too much, choosing instead to press on rather than mourn what you can't change.
surprise and utmost relief floods you to find someone else in the castle, even if he is a frightening looking husk draped over spikes. talking with him, oddly enough, makes you feel the most normal you can ever remember being. you think you'd take kindly to anyone who wasn't out for your blood. it's all you've ever known; you weren't positive you'd ever get a reprieve as long as you were in this dreary castle.
apparently, contempt for alexander is not something you carry alone. you do as agrippa instructs, searching for the ingredients needed for the tonic he wants. what other choice do you have? you're being pulled along by nearly everything around you. yourself, who couldn't bear keeping awful memories, who would have died otherwise. alexander, a man who's spoken into your mind though you don't know how, a man who's voice, powerful and growling, makes you think of villains from books you only remember pieces of. even agrippa is leading you down a path. you haven't felt a single shred of freedom ever since you woke up alone, head throbbing, memories forgotten. the lack of choices in your situation only adds to your fear.
the mess your past self left for you only gets worse, something you suspected but weren't quite ready for. it seems that the deepest parts of the castle held the bitter, nasty truth for you to discover, and you wish to god you hadn't found out. the flash of memory reduces you to trembles, tears clouding your eyes as the scene replays itself over and over again in your mind. how could you be so foolish? so cruel? you can't breathe, your chest hurts as if there's a brick laying on it, and your tongue feels like dry cotton filling up your mouth. how could you ever think killing people would be okay? just how far gone were you? it's almost as if you're looking in on someone else's life, because none of this seems like something you should have done. you can only sympathize and pity who you once were, yet you can't just push all of it away like it doesn't affect you. your memories may be gone, slowly building back up bit by bit, but the person you are now and the person you were then are still the same no matter what you might think. you feel ill, sick to the stomach thinking of all the blood you've spilled.
the inner sanctum, alexander's stronghold, is flush with blue light, reaching out to even the darkest corners of the room. it's a light you know all too well, even with you memory a mess of moments and feelings. your arms shake around agrippa's decapitated head, sweating pouring from every place imaginable. it was hard to cut of the head of the only person you could consider a friend, and you're sick thinking that the motions feel familiar somehow, like you've done it before in another life. you're afraid and angry and tired; you just want to leave brennenburg forever, act like this never happened, act like you never knew a thing about a man named daniel who cut up bodies to save his own life. retribution is bound to come for you regardless, but you want to spend the rest of that time in whatever peace you can muster. you wait, alexander's voice filling the room as he talks to you. you don't care to listen. you hold agrippa's head between your hands, saying goodbye to a person you didn't know for very long but trusted beyond measure, and you throw it into the portal, alexander's screams an echo that pierces your brain. just as you do, the shadow, which was banging at the door behind you, finally breaks in, growling and growing larger in your direction, the castle breaking apart with its massive weight filling it up.
your panicked breath fills your ears as the shadow draws near, its red, bubbling mass of ever expanding flesh overtaking the walls and floor. there's nowhere for you to run. you freed agrippa just as he wanted. you got revenge against alexander just as you've been yearning for, both the you now and the you in the past. you've done those things, good deeds as far as you were concerned, holy water for you sins, and the shadow was still going to kill you in the end. you were still going to die after all, just as the you in the past suspected you might. you suppose you deserve it, but the thought doesn't make you any less afraid to die. pain like nothing you've ever known, a pain greater than the shambling monstrosities you've faced, goes through your body, the shadow finally taking the kill its been after all along. you fall to the floor. your vision goes dark, pulsating red the last thing you see of brennenburg.
you see lights in the distance next time you open your eyes, agrippa's voice a soothing sound in your mind. you feel calm. you feel still. you feel like you're moving on at last thanks to agrippa. the lights in front of you dance, your body too weightless to reach out and touch them, but that's all right. you're going to another place, far away from the horrors you've experienced, far away from your previous life and the life you had only just started hours ago. as your eyes slip closed with the voice of agrippa still fresh in your mind, you can only hope that where you're going is much better than where you've been.