[DRYH] Prodigal (23)

edited August 2014 in DRYH
After a long, wonderful day with Eileen, you bid her goodbye and begin the trek back to the Mad City. Back to the scene of the crimes. The place that stole you away, then tries to keep you out.

Did you take the subway? Open a door? Tear a hole through? Regardless, you made it through.

The cobblestone streets of the Mad City are in disarray. Chunks torn up, other spots missing, showing the barren earth or puddles underneath. Half of the gaslights are broken, many of the poles twisted and warped. A couple look like they were battered down, others look burned.

The clocktower is stuck on thirteen o'clock.

Shops are vacant, but none are boarded up. It's like people just disappeared. As if they all left suddenly. Or were carried away by some massive tide.

You walk towards the Wax King's, I assume. Along the way, there are corpses. First, you see some needle-noses, those dogs that ran with the Pinheads. Their bodies are broken down, the sewing thread spines snapped. They are but dismembered Raggedy dolls now.

There are pools of melted Smothered folk, bloodied and rotting Rage Warriors, and the numbers only grow as you step ever closer to the monolithic Waxen Castle ahead of you.


  • I make my way along, wading through the detritus of war. I mourn for the loss, but in the back of my head is a persistent cadence. notreal notreal notreal I don't know, still what the Mad City actually is, but with Eileen shining like a lighthouse in my mind, the tragedy pales. Must sleep. Must come back to Eileen. If the Mad City eats itself, that's okay by me. I struggle toward the Waxen Castle, aboveground for the first time.
  • There are no living souls to bar your way. The candlespires of the Waxen Castle shine and flicker in the murky night of the quiet Mad City. Only the sputtering flame and your footfalls sound as you walk into the Castle.

    The Smothered Folk who were always underfoot, working in methodically slow and tedious ways on the castle, they are gone.

    After walking through the odd catacombs from the entrance to the castle, you come into a kind of courtyard.

    There, amid the multi-colored waxes of a thousand thousand burned candles, sits Lady Thrinia. She's reading a small journal.


    As you come closer, she looks up, "Benjamin?" she sounds surprised.
  • I take in the silence, the strange desolate beauty of wax swirled with wax, Lady Thrinia's own austere elegance. "Lady Thrinia. What happened? After I left..."
  • edited August 2015
    "Amanda is safe." Lady Thrinia answers immediately. That was the thing you charged her with before you left. She closes the small journal, puts it into a pouch on her sash. She adjusts the cuffs of her soft leather boots, then stands. She's not wearing armor, instead clad in something like a swashbuckler, with a low-cut poet shirt, tight pants and high boots, along with aforementioned sash and a saber.

    Lady Thrinia walks up to you, her flaming eyes scanning you. She says in her easy manner, "The Mad City is at peace. A painful peace, one that may not last a fortnight, but Officer Tock has shut down his operations, the Tacks Man is on vacation, and the Wax King... he is resting."

    "Amanda is not your lover, is she? I had thought, despite your protestations, that she was." Thrinia steps closer, looking at you closely. "But you have a different lover."
  • "I do. Amanda was never my lover, not even really my friend. She was my responsibility. Thank you for keeping her safe. The Wax King is okay?"

    I look around again at the echoing emptiness where there once was so much slow, steady activity. I didn't do this, not really, but I had a hand in it. I was the match that lit this fire, somehow, and like a match I am very nearly consumed myself, burnt out. I am so tired. The only thing I feel as keenly as the ache of exhaustion is my hope, my need to see Eileen. I left her minutes ago. I wonder how many minutes have passed for her since then.
  • "I understand responsibility," Thrinia replies heavily. She puts a hand on your shoulder, then in a sudden move, pulls you into an embrace. It is warm, chest to chest, not the hug of a lover or even a friend, one of a comrade-in-arms.

    A smile cracks her face, she stands a bit closer, "My lord survives. He is as he is ever. He rouses, at times, to ask for you. He will be delighted to know you are well. But he said you would not return. I, for one, am glad to see you again."

    She claps your shoulder and turns, "Come, Benjamin. We will visit him together."
  • I can't help but smile at Thrinia's camaraderie, and again with relief when she lets me know the Wax King is well. I walk with her to see the King, through the disconcerting emptiness.
  • As you come closer to the place that was once the audience chamber of the Wax King, you pass by a gaggle of half-foot tall scribbled animals and little men. They were playing what looked like maybe soccer, but with several waxy balls. They stop and stare up as you pass, silently watching with wiggly faces and heads.

    Finally you come to see the Wax King, sitting upon his throne, staring off into nothingness. Thrinia motions for you to speak first.
  • I smile again at the little doodles, grateful to see them and to know that means that Scribbler must still be alive.

    The Wax King's stillness is unnerving. There has always been a warmth behind the surreal dribble of wax, and the thousand-yard stare is unlike him.

    "Your Majesty? It's Benny. Benjamin."
  • His head moves gently, and his eyes blink slowly. He looks up, around in slight confusion as if rousing from a daydream. Then, he sees you, a crack of a smile. He raises a hand towards you, "Benjamin," His voice came out like a croak. He clears his throat, "Why are you here? Weren't you safe? At your home?"
  • "Someone, something, changed my family. They're like zombies when it comes to me. I'm still so tired, and it still feels dangerous to sleep. And there's someone I love, someone I won't see hurt."

    "Was I safe? It didn't seem like it."

    I realize that, in my frustration, I haven't been using the tone of respect I usually adopt with the Wax King. It seems important. "I'm sorry, your Majesty."
  • He nods, quietly accepting the apology. "Do you wish to rest here? Is that why you've returned? "
  • I sigh with relief. "Can I, Your Majesty? I know that I've often seemed strong, but I don't feel it right now. I am so tired."
  • "Of course, my son. I will assign Thrinia to protect you. She will not fail." He says this with complete confidence.
  • I bow. "Thank you, Your Majesty. Thank you, Lady Thrinia. I am sorry to have come to you with nothing to offer and only a plea for help." I pause, weighing my next question. "Your Majesty? Are you Awake? Human?"
  • Thrinia answers, perhaps out of turn, but she does so boldly, "I am proud to give you aide, Benjamin. I do so gladly."

    The Wax King tackles your next question. He gives a dry laugh, shaking his head slightly, "Ah, Benjamin. If I had a wax coin for every time someone asked me that." Then he starts, laughs with a twinkle in his eye, "Oh, that's right. I do! heh heh..." He cackles like it's been a while since he'd laughed that hard.

    Finally, it dies on his dry lips and he fixes you with a look, "We are allies, Benjamin. But that is a secret I reserve for those in my retinue. If you wish to bend knee, there are many secrets I would share. I know you've been reticent, and I am not bothered by your sense of independence and your will. It has been a boon to me and mine. But there are some things... best kept in the family."
  • The Wax King's cackle disturbs me, and his mention of family tickles the worry-center of my brain, but I am so tired, so anxious for a safe harbor and sleep, that I don't comment. "Yes, Your Majesty. Perhaps after a... nap. I understand that some information needs to be... privileged."

    I pause. "Your Majesty, may I sleep now? I'm sorry, but I'm so tired, and really, I'm just a kid. Seventeen. I wasn't meant for this."

  • The Wax King calms a bit, his cackling dying to a weary grin. He reaches up a hand to your shoulder, gives it a firm squeeze belying inner strength you'd sensed all along. "Of course, Benjamin. Of course. Milady, please take Benjamin to the sleeping chamber." He gives you a fond look, "Sleep well."

    Lady Thrinia leads you through the hundred halls into the Warrens where you find an opulent bed chamber. Silk sheets, four poster bed, fluffy pillows. It's cozy.

    With Lady Thrinia standing outside guarding you, hidden in the Wax Castle with Nightmares at bay for now, you finally, for the first time in what feels like a couple lifetimes, settle down for a nice, long nap.
  • --END SCENE--

    and that's...

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