Tuesday, 16 December 2008

A further bargain, the beginning of the end

* A sheet inserted into the diary, dated prior to the account that it is followed by *

I write this briefly as a pre-cursory note to the records that will follow. I do this now only in defence of myself. In the hope that it shows my intent was only ever to protect. That I was played for the fool by a mind superior and far more devious than I had known, a mind that I thought I trusted.

The stresses of the preceding days, the lack of sound sleep and a winter chill combined to drag me down. I had been found by Rip sat, asleep, on the steps from the Town square into the canals. I didn't truly recall going there, I had felt a fever and taken myself out for the fresh air. Rip took me home. After a few cups of tea and warmed through by my home and the friendship shown by Rip, I felt much better. Rip suggested that we lighten our lives by going skating. At first I declined not feeling that I had the energy nor inclination but he was right I needed to get myself out of this rut, to put my mind back to rights.

We spent a fun hour or so skating on the lake outside the city walls when, as the sun set, the professor approached, asking that I walk with her. I agreed to walk her home and leaving Rip and Orchid at the pond, wandered back across the fields.

We reached the steps when Nareth halted. She seemed transfixed by the silhouettes of Rip and Orchid.

"A beautiful night."

"yes, it truly is"

"I need to say to you... I stand by our bargain. But...Mr. Wirefly, I almost took him last night. They are so..."
The Professor trailed off.

"Nareth, you must not. They are so dear to me, I would not lose them please"

"Would it not be beautiful, simply to destroy one to see the reaction of the other? Or...better still...bring one to destroy the other? That would please my Lady."

"No Nareth, this is not you talking this is the filth that you carry with you"

The Professor stared down at the flagstones.
"Filth? Is that what it is, Beq Janus?"

"Your lady, I do not think she would pass as a lady in most circles", the Professor laughed at my attempt at bravado.

"No...it is a poor jest. She would not even pass for human."

"To toy with people for mere whimsy...."

"For mere chaos.", intoned the professor, I shook my head wearily and frowned, "Mere. I am fighting, Beq. It may not seem that way. No one here has died by my hand."

I stepped closer, I had felt the professor Nishi I knew in those words. The Professor stares across the snow at the couple.

"Thank you Nareth"

"But..they would be exquisite. I would take her, to lure him...Then...to watch her weaken him...devour him...", The Professor growls softly and looks at the sky.

"You must not, not her"

"Why not her? Why is she special?", I bit my lip, not entirely sure where those words had come from myself. "Why?", the Professor flared her nostrils, baring her fangs.

"She is a good friend that's all, it is no business of yours Nareth"

"So...her being your good friend, saves her soul? Is this...a favour you ask? A boon? My Lady grants boons."

"Has it come to this? That I must beg and plead for the lives of my friends?". The Professor laughed softly, not looking at my pained expression.

"It will come to worse, Beq. It's like a mathematical problem...I have been placed here, and no power in this world may stop me. Only...I stop me. Only I stay my hand. Or...I am insane, and a wooden stake may slay me.". The Professor laughed again.

I looked forlornly from the professor to my friends and back

"I wonder how long I could keep her alive...at the edge...I could make her beg, you know.", I tried to ignore her goading, my anger rising in me.

"It is not long now, I will stay your hands, two of us must surely be stronger than one."

"I could become an angel of mercy.", the professor mused, not hearing me. Then as if in recognition of my statement she nodded. "I smell you, yes. And I tire of rats.". I swallowed. "If only I could show you...just a glimpse...It's not what you believe. There is such great beauty, and the music of her pipes. It is...unspeakable. A bead of sweat ran down the professor's brow despite the cold.

"You mustn't Nareth, no, to revel in the delight of torture it would surely kill me"

"Well...yes...but that would not be a problem. You would only be better, after death."

"I could not exist as you do, I would end it myself. This is no existence for you Nareth, I pity you."

The Professor looked down at her hands, and balling them each into fists, dug her sharp nails through her gloves, drawing blood.
"There's a catch...I cannot end it myself. Not an option. Though, I did try, repeatedly." The Professor watched the blood dripping from her hands to the flagstones. I have tried...for example..to simply walk into the morning."

I imagine the scene, the desperate fight to expose oneself to the Sun that would surely kill you.

Miss Feuerstein passed by us.

"That one, she looked tender.", sneered Nareth, this was the last straw, I pushed Nareth away from me.

"Stop it!"


"It is not wise to lay hands upon me, Beq Janus. Unless...you wish to hurry the day.", she held a bleeding palm up to my face. "It could be now...I would not have to sleep alone.", I flinched, turning my head away from the congealing blood as the professor closed her hand and nodded. "A shame."

We walked back to the laboratory, the professor would need to sleep soon. She finally came to the point, the reason that she had sought me out. She talked of suspicions, of worried that the people of Babbage had started to see her for what she was. She was fearful not for herself but for the interruption to her "lady's" plans.

"Beq...can you deflect suspicion?"

"deflect it from you?"

"Yes...from me. Away...from me. If they come to you...with..questions..."

"You wish to hurt me by taking my friends and then expect me to excuse you too. I don't know Nareth. I will not say anything, not if they remain alive."

"The scope of...these events...Beq...."

"Your secret will be your bond, Nareth"

"...lives are so...", she paused, "Yes. We have...a deal. I will not touch..the two...But you may..not lay claim..to them...all."

I stood up to leave, fighting to hide my fear, I had just made a bargain to keep secret a murderer in order to protect my best friends, what kind of pact had I just negotiated? The Professor looked longingly at Me and then to her casket, her intentions clear.

"No Nareth, I could never sink to that"


"Beq...if I could show you...that there is nowhere...to fall...to sink.", she swayed and instinctively I stepped forward to steady her. "Have I fallen? Is that what I am?", there was hint of anger in her voice, "Am I fallen?"

"The thing that lives inside you, it is beneath human". The Professor laughed in my face.

"It is...ancient...before time, it was ancient...Humans... No...There is...no...beneath...Tell a god you are above it. I will watch."

"I have long dismissed faith and superstition, I would no more worship a depraved god than work for a depraved man."

"Depraved...", The Professor laughed once again. "Oh, yes. I must sleep now. I can...no longer..fight it. Would you join me?", The Professor laughs mockingly and I turned angrily to leave. "When I am yours...It will be...interesting."

"When you are mine we can fight this together, I will help you Nareth."

"No...but you will try.", she flowed into the casket, the lid slammed shut.

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