Ch 126: Encore
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"...tip...me over...and...pour...me...out...."

"Kyaaa~ Again! Do it again!!! <3"

"...."

"Encore~ Mama loves you! Whooooo encore! Again! That's my Rosalia!"

It's...too much. The pressure is too much. Never before have I ever faced a fangirl as intense as this person, not even the crazy screaming teenagers at some top idol group concerts. But at least that's worth screaming for. Lights, stage, flashy music, choreographed dancing, extremely hot people.

I have none of those.

I am three.

By some cosmic joke, the world's worst fangirl is my birth giver. Her stanned bias is cuteness.

Around us, the maids and other servants clean and pack, putting away shopping purchases and general luggage into the right spaces to be loaded up and sent either back home or to the vineyard vacation villa. Somewhere we'll be going to back to quite soon.

How are the seasonal produce and my famine prevention measures going throughout the territory? Did grampa do any of the things I asked? More smokers for the troops? Increase the greenhouse tents? Distribute informationals to outskirt farms along the main roads?

What about the early opened dungeons?

There's a lot of work to be done instead of ...this.

Now we just wait for father as he finishes up any necessary work up here. It's a little frustrating I'm not privy to exactly what, for there is quite a wide variety of business, but I do know my engagement is one of them. I feel there must be a reasonable way to squeeze proper information out of the nerd. But until then....

...As the ladies of the house of course we don't need to bother much. Order the right things to be done and go. No need to trouble ourselves with something as mundane as packing back.

This is why mother and Lilyanne are having such a grand free time.

"I'm a wittle teapot~!"

"Oh oh oh wait with Lily! Go on Lily sweet~ Get up there!"

"Yaaaaaaaaaaaaayyy~ Wit Rosa!"

"....."

Never in my whole life as Rosalia Ventrella have I ever been so humiliated. That's saying a lot.

There is no stage, but somehow any flat elevated surface is good enough.

Even the bed.

Down below my evil assistant does nothing to help me. Rather Georgie eats snacks and encourages my mother even further, at times suggesting even more embarrassing outfits for each song and dance number.

Today I am dressed like a fat decorated cream puff, poofy and diabetically sweet. The little curled pigtails and ostentatious amount of ribbons in my hair making me feel even younger and more childishly girlish.

Truly the worst enemies are the ones close to you. Betrayal. E Tu Georgie? E tu!

"I do believe my Lady, that the young misses would be extra extra eeeextra adorable if they did that thing, where they make a biiiiiiig heart with their arms."

"Kyaaaa~ Oh o ho ho-oh my that would be so precious! Go on! Go on Rosalia! Do the thing!"

Betrayal. Sell out. Just fire him.

"Biiiig smiles my young miss Rosalia~" he taunts.

It's as if he's milking every second of this to make up for the fact I didn't save him from his theatrical debut stage. Which was wonderful and absolutely not my fault at all. Go sue the theatre!

I know suing isn't exactly a thing here but I'm sure we could figure out something.

Afterall their security absolutely sucks. An endangerment to innocent audiences. Especially to small children.

Just look where that stupid show got me?!

"Imma wittle teapot shortie and stout! Dis is my handle! Dis is my spout~"

Lilyanne wiggles her butt, poofy white filled with expensive layers of short cloth fluttering with each bounce and move she makes. Completely in her element, she cares not for shame nor my shaken silence. The toddler and tiaras show for one must, no, it will go on.

"Oh no no no my little duckie~ Lily sweet, tooogether~ Rosa dear keep up~" mother claps.

She would wave fan chant light sticks if they existed. She would be such a pageant mom if these were different times. For once I'm glad cameras don't exist here. No records of anything.

How about no?

You can't make me do any more than this? I'll die. I'll die of shame and mortification. This small body has no resistance to this kind of shit. I will die from being over embarrassed by my own household.

I haven't felt this level of crude humiliation since the last time I lost a bet and had to cosplay as...no let's not think about it. The memory of shame is too much.

There's no one that shameless here that could force me into-

"Whatever did I miss?" the evil fiend leans against the open door.

Speak of the devil and he shall appear. Damn it.

"Oh darling! My love, my Lord, my wonderful husband who makes such beautiful babies. Lookie! Just look! Your girls are so wonderfully cute, if you just look you'll surely be convinced to make more."

Mother runs up to him, pulling him down to the little 'concert' seats, before plopping down to excitedly cuddle into his lap.

This is not proper etiquette at all. But somehow I don't think mother cares. Full on lovey dovey. The couple blissfully ignoring how some maids gasp and giggle in passing. Georgie rolling over, red-faced and choking.

Suffer Georgie, suffer. Suffer what I suffer every day.

"Is that so?" the fiend slightly sighs, playing along.

It could be the heat tinging his ears brighter than his hair, but he readjusts the fully grown woman in his lap, getting comfortable.

At the very least, he has the decency to stop mother's hands from completely undoing his collar, though I do disgracefully catch the barest reveal of a pale throat dipping to alabaster and pink bitten collarbones. The faintest signs of very fresh indecency.

"Oh yes darling! Absolutely!" mother squeals, pitch raising to a kyaaa~ as father tightens his grip around her waistline. Her happy shy act of rubbing her head repeatedly into his side all the more contradicting, as if she wasn't responsible for the disgusting love marks ruining father's skin.

Can I join Georgie in rolling the hell out of here?

"I think, my love, I'll need a little more...convincing" dangerous eyes land up on 'stage'.

I wish I could say they were full of tender affections for his cute stupid little...teapot, but no. There is no such thing as overconfidence in his bearing. A true nobleman does not ask or beg, but simply receive with magnificent grace, as easy as breathing.

That's his Lucifer face. A serene angel of God before the fall from grace. His beautiful smile makes my tiny knees shake, plopping down on the soft stage.

"Papa... don't make me do this anymore." I plead.

There's no need to fake the waterworks. Begging is useless but I can't. I cannot bear to continue this absolute shame. With teary eyes and a trembling tiny frame, I force myself through the sacrifice. I will present my neck if that's what it takes.

Save me from this monkey show!!!

"Hmmm? What am I supposed to be looking at?" he addresses mother, keeping that horrid gaze on me the whole time. His sadistic aura larger than this entire room, engulfing me. Multiple threats pierced into the air.

"Rosalia!" mother gasps.

I can't, I really can't keep this up. Look Lilyanne is so good at this dancing monkey thing! I'll teach her all the songs! Take her! Take her and spare me!

"Papa." I crawl, putting on the performance of a lifetime. "Papa~ Pllllleeeeeease, I'll be goooooodddd. I'll practice the harpsichord every day. I'll do all my homework without complaining anymore. I won't run off. I didn't mean it. I was wrong. *sniff* Daaaaaaady. Daddy pwease~"

That's it. There is not even the shred of honor left in me. This cruel game forcing me to lay out my hand all on the table.

Somehow the entire suite has fallen into dead silence. The maids do not even dare breathe. I am not a fool enough to ignore how I've paralyzed Georgie onto the floor. My own mother staring in horrified shock at me.

The fiend smiles even more dazzlingly, it hurts to look directly. Though that could just be my pride.

With a quiet beckoning of his gloved hand, I jump down to toddle up to his blessing. A deal with the devil not yet contracted. Wetness still drips at the edges of my hot eyes, the weight of all-singing dancing humiliation still at my too full skirts.

He pats my head gently, but it feels as deadly as a sword. A finger twists through one of my curly pigtails in a way that could almost be called playful.

"Oh Chip. Daddy sees you're very tired today...as am I. I seemed to have missed so much...fun. Well then? Won't you show your mama and I one last time what you've learned. Hmmm?" the devil chuckles, holding the bottom of my skull in his mercy.

I feel my own face twitch. I hate him. I hate him so much. All that work for this? Forcing me to pull out all stops and more in some final judgment?! Is there a limit to this man?! Just what?!!

I could scream but I wish to live. This is exactly the father I know.

Sensing the drop, father laughs again, relishing in my despair. He leans over to press cruel lips against one of my short pigtails as if it were mother's hands. Then tells me to,

"Go on. Convince me."

As I reluctantly march up to the 'stage', bracing myself for the concert of a lifetime, in my head, I already sing to myself.

'I hate you, you hate me~

Let's get together and kill daaaaady~

With a great big bat ~

And a nailed 4x4~

No more eeeevvvvil villainy faaaather!'

Sighing, I take a confused Lilyanne's hand and turn around to start the monkey dance routine. From the top, let's start with the damn Little Teapot.

The very rude audience however deters me immediately. Georgie appears to legitimately be dying on the floor. The maids have all disappeared. Mother is facepalming?!

Only father has returned back to somewhat normal, blank faced and clapping something awful.

"Wonderful. Magnifique. The epitome of delight. Do tell me there's more? Absolutely divine. Maria, my divinity, my blessed wife and beloved mother to the whimsical little monstrosities I call my daughters, I am not quite convinced about risking another one of those into the world but I am getting there. Bravissimo. Encore."

The show hasn't even started you stupid nerd!

"I 'hates' you~" Lily parrot caws, the thing she does before learning new words or songs "you hate me~"

Uh oh.

Did I just?

"Darling perfect husband of mine....Father of Rosalia...just where did she learn that from?" mother's voice comes unamused from behind her hands.

A too familiar chill of foreboding crashes down much like mother's property damage.

Uh oh.

Everyone run! Go go go! The hotel suite is almost empty from packing anyways. Don't mind the collateral damage we have to move! Now! Stop drop and roll!

Ahhhhhhh!

Save me you terrible nerd! This is all your fault! Ahhhhh! Don't let mother get me again! I promise I'll be good! Really! Eeeep!

There are many ways to make a grand exit. In this case a great escape.

I hope the hotel staff won't mind too much, we'll send for a big tip or something later.

With a girl in each arm, father is forced to exit from the center stage and around back.  A necessity more than anything. To confuse mother's 'chase' instinct, something I blame grampa for, from activating its full deadly potential, as we make our escape. Really not proper etiquette at all.

Somehow I don't think mother cares.

--------

----

--

-

Lift the curtains. Did some of you call for an encore? Ask and you shall receive.

Author Warning: Higher rating for this part. Actual depictions of Violence and Cruelty. Hamster alert.

There is no need to read to continue on with the story. Proceed at your own risk.

And now, on to the show.

-

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"... tired."

"H-How?! How are you here?!"

"I'm...really...really...tired."

A heart ripping cry between a whimper and a sigh. It contrasted greatly with the flash storm outside. Such a little thing, such a long way. There was no need to suspect for any lies.

Not that it mattered.

A little boy that looked like a dream. A saving grace.

As dirty and shivering as the small child was, he seemed to light up and shine in the darkness. The despair of the bloody space.

Fire lit torches flickered shadows ominously. The fat dripping candles only at half-light, setting things even more frighteningly than if it was pitch black.

Even set ablaze with the ancient chandeliers, round suspended wrought bars, candles lit like floating ghosts, the cold stone castle was always drowned in darkness. Day or night. Dark corners and hidden cellars. High above on rocky cliffs and rockier terrain, where few dared tread where nature deemed them unwelcome.

There was always something to hide.

Always.

"You're here...oh of course you are~" the lady of the house crooned.

If one could call such a cold place a house.

Some people had grand delusions of a castle and the life within the tall seemingly impenetrable walls. As if they weren't things built originally to defend, to act as a fortress.

Keep a lookout.

Keep the monsters out.

Sometimes though, people had a way of flipping things. Whatever it was made for, used elsewhere. Made up. Hard stone painted in layers and layers of paint, fresh and old. Something about blood just...never washed away.

When the child staggered, breaking the tense moment, she ran for him.

Breaking all decorum, a grown woman with a title, ran down the rest of the staircase. Her jewels bounced widely and the heavy trails of her dress dragged. On the unprotected stone floor, wetness splattered. Summer storms and uncleaned blood, pooling to create such an effect. When she ran a splash and trail followed after, rippling a path.

A few servants trembled, one on the top of the stairs, two the sidelines, one by the door. Their head bowed low.

They see nothing.

They hear nothing.

If they wanted to keep themselves whole, they will say nothing.

There are worse places. Worse masters. This will be nothing. Just like all the others.

Even as a beast in bloodying splendor dashed to its prey. Even if it's only a pitiful child, not much meat on the bones. Honestly something they can't say they haven't seen before.

He looks up with a foreign air and exotic eyes and even fewer dare to feel sympathy if they bothered to stick around. They can't afford to.

"You're here! You're actually here!" their mistress sounds delirious with madness, rushed with joy.

Her youthful face smiling so wide the layers of paint and powder cracked more than the lighting that occasionally struck outside. Underneath, the land of skin scarred and marred with boils and sickly rot.

When she dove on her knees, uncaring of drenching her fine gown in rain diluted sewage and blood, thunder rumbled right on the beat. The lights creating horrifying shadows, long claws outreaching to the soft still figure of a child. Taking him into her arms, a heartfelt reunion.

Painted cinnabar lips, lasting as it was poisonous met the still warm skin of the softness only a babe could possess. The first contact alone sweeter than honeyed ambrosia. In her arms, the boy felt as fragile as a summer butterfly, still fluttering without any intent, any pain.

Yellowed teeth snarled and bit down.

Amar winces, but he doesn't cry.

Choking down the disgust, the gross sensation of this nasty human shaped thing gnawing and drinking from his flesh, he imagines it to be like when he first hunted. Clumsy and still shaken, unsure.

The scaled beast pinning his nerves down, gripping its talons into his limbs. It's long purple tongue slithering across his face and oversized jaws wanting to chew him right up. Any moment longer of hesitation and he'd be just as dead as most of his brothers and sisters.

He still thinks he prefers the lizard-beast over Damia. The scaley powder and puss-filled rashed skin rubbing against him as the crazed woman suckled his neck. Her lack of fangs and rotting teeth making it all worse.

Not more painful. Just worse.

Blood dripped.

Not from him. Like Damia would waste a drop of his blood. Especially right now in her state.

The woman was wasting the months away, withering in an unknown disease. Her skin festered, hair and teeth started falling out, all manner of gross pains that meant nothing against the fear of lost beauty.

From all the things she's ingested, simply been around, no one could say what it was. That was the danger of untested potions.

Then came the fire. Her brother and connection at the Troops, Darius, being the biggest victim. Though he lived, it was at a great price. Paralyzed and incapacitated, dependent on the kindness of his devoted pupil to keep not just him but his work's memory alive.

Too many memories better off forgotten. Too much evidence in the smoke and ashes.

So she fled. Past lines and borders were drawn by funny men, conquerors and thieves. All the way to this big piece of nothing. A castle on top of a lonely world.

Blood dripped again, rippling the slightly flooded pool rain water. The floor rippled and glowed red, murky but for the barest of reflections. Funny shapes make funnier pictures clearer than any veiled reality.

When Amar looks up, the outstretched hand of a mangled and hung servant girl slightly swayed in a strong rush of a breeze. Dead eyes swelled with blood, and cold congealed blood dropped a dark red blessing onto the center of his forehead.

He does not feel any wiser, any more understanding.

It is not as beautiful or fragrant a mark as when his mother pressed her ring finger to him each year. Each special holiday that called for it like the rings of flowers and bursts in color.

Instead, the swinging hand that gifted it hung high, naked and partly flayed. This empty temple of fear and stone. Grey and faded.

If there were gods, they did not exist here. If they existed at all.

He accepts none the less.

Like he's seen his mother do so many times before. Like the priests and common clothed people in colorful lands far from here, around death, at festival days, and any holy hour, he prays. Closes his eyes and prays the souls that cut and suffered here can leave in peace. Tells them in his mind's eye to hurry up and go, bathe in the pools of forgetfulness and reincarnate. There is nothing for them here. There will be nothing left for them here.

Nothing good at least.

But they can stay a bit for a show, if that will help appease their souls.

He remembers liking puppet shows. A long time ago.

"I thought that terrible thieving bastard would lock you away. That I would never taste you again." the monster woman sobbed.

A desperate wet mouth still grasped onto his neck. Diseased lips whispering against his broken skin. Clinging onto him like the potential cure he maybe could be.

It stung, of course, hurt something nightmarishly terrible. His body willed limp in her hungry hold as the human lizard tongue lapped, and he can't hold in the sickness. The shivers.

He didn't like things biting him. Not even babies.

It felt too many words beyond disgusting, even if he learned all the many languages in the world. Bite him and he'll bite back. It was just instinct, the way of the world. It seemingly made things so much better to pull and rip apart the creature hurting him. From stinger and fangs to poison sacks deep in their guts.

The poison in his veins still hurt, but it was better. At least he didn't lose. At least he could go back home to mama.

...He's suddenly very tired.

Even more so than earlier. It wasn't a lie or anything. He's just... really really tired.

Must be the poison finally hitting. Has to be something new, something he's not used to yet for this to work.

It took around 2703 counts for him to feel it. That's about 3/4th of an hour glass down, and someone like Damia should feel it even sooner than that. He guesses he has about half an hourglass.

He's getting very tired, but he can keep awake that long. No problem. This is fine.

"...it was scary," the boy chokes out, voice cracking "...lots of things...that came after...were really...too scary."

He doesn't make to hold her back, doesn't touch her, stays limp, but the witch coos and giggles, finally releasing his neck when the blood stops coming out as easily.

"Vincent doesn't know you're here. Does he? Didn't show a peep of you. Thinks he's so high and mighty now with that blasted support. To think he's so greedy, after all we've done for him?!" her mad grip would hurt another child. A weaker one.

To be weak meant to sleep forever, and sometimes, lots of times, Amar thinks they're the lucky ones.

There's no need to play along. Just as there's no need to lie. Everything was scary. Everyone was scary.

He thought they were going to die. For real. He thought Lukas and Rosa lost. And losing meant sleeping forever.

Just like all the ones who lost the game before, big and little.

But they didn't, they lived and healed, and it was still...so painfully scary.

Even when it was peaceful, especially so. He doesn't know what is calm without a storm. Does not know kindness without a great price. Countless warnings ringing in his head, slithering tight at his throat as if it were his papa's warm hand.

Ugliness must be seen as if it were good.

Poison must be taken as if it were sugar.

A disobedient child that can't understand.

This is nothing. The lizard lady in front of him is nothing. The strong dark man who tends to his wounds and blows the pretty sounds from his silver pipes means little. Even the funniest one, a sore loser made of smoke and glass, broken with spilled pomegranate wine over golden threats that are as much promises. They matter not.

Nothing could compare.

"Did you mean it...from before." the boy says softly. So much so no one else, had they stayed, would have heard.

"Why whichever part? Which part led you right to this far oh so far desolate lair?" Damia laughs, languishes. Half crazed thoughts raced. If only blood could be made faster. Purer. If only this tiny child was larger, could have ripened with elixer fruits of his blood.

No one else could compare.

Except maybe ...

"There's nowhere else. No one else will help me. Please. Please madame Damia." the child shivers.

In his mind, he pretends he's somewhere else. Just for a moment. For a moment he is weak. He is sunlit in stupid ribbons and strange clothes. His stomach is warm and not in pain, someone else's mother comfortingly hugs and asks nothing of him as she teases her funny family. Remembering their flustered funny faces, how they fall so easily for it, almost makes him laugh to tears all over again.

He uses that. Blinks and gathers the bittersweet wetness under his eyes.

"Please what? Speak clearly and respectfully boy. And I just might not eat you all in one bite." she tries to drink from him again, slipping in cold splatter as he somehow pulls back.

Tilting his head, just right, he points to himself.

"I want to sell you one of my eyes?"

Lightning flashes before thunder rolls, blinding shadows if only for a split moment. It's her turn to shiver. Shiver and laugh wildly out of the beating of hearts.

The rotting and decay of her teeth, her face, her entire being reminds him of the low-level ghouls and spirits his older brothers would sleepily tell him tales of. An exiled witch doctor, rolling bone dice to decide what or who she should bother to eat next.

"Good. Very good!" she laughs, practically in hysterics.

He wonders if that was one of the effects of the last poison laced in his blood, or if the insanity was all her own.

Oh? Wasn't there something about people going crazy if their mama and papa were too close in blood ties?

He remembers Rosalia muttering the way she always does when she made him do her 'homework'. How to read how these people liked drawing their family trees, then matched it up to Hoody's papers he saw when helping Vincent. That could explain it?

"I have to get back, they'll miss me and know? And I do like seeing. So I need to keep one? Is that ok?"

She laughs to the rain and clatter of the howling wind. Amar wonders now how mad Yuna will be if he's late.

He thinks he'll be late if the crazy lizard lady keeps laughing on the floor or trying to drink his blood. Even the dead corpse hanging above him looks like she was getting bored.

"Of course, what a wonderfully smart and selfless boy you are! So sensible! Come. Here won't do at all!"

When Damia makes to stand up, he takes one of her offered claws. The long sharp nails still real with roots in her skin. That was going to change soon.

Amar looks up to give her a small smile, relieved. Especially as she takes him to the stairs that grow even darker, deeper into this castle, into the mountain. Before he leaves, he turns back and thinks the dead girl swaying looks like she's waving goodbye.

That's nice.

He hopes everyone got everything set up in time because he's getting sleepy. That Cass didn't get too tired using her real ability. This job was definitely much easier with her around. Even if she was a little annoying, always fussing after to brush his hair, how he didn't wear his earrings anymore or pretending to even know him.

Silly Cass. He just met her?

Silly Cass. Doesn't know how to get the story straight.

Silly silly silly.

So silly for still trying to follow after a ghost of his mama.

He told her she's dead. Told her she'll die, just like the others. That she's been free for a long time, since mama died. And the weirdo still tries following after him to brush his messy hair straight or make him smell like stupid flowers. It was annoying.

Everyone around him dies. Always.

The kitten. The guards who stayed quiet. The old servants. The maids who followed his mama when she took him and ran. The smugglers. The innocent merchants. The nice old man and his grandson. That dessert caravan, young, old and all the babies.

They all died.

Amar doesn't want this Cass to die too.

Even though he doesn't know her. Even though they just met. He doesn't want that at all. He doesn't want to watch that anymore. Doesn't want to see anymore. If someone could take the pictures, the smell, the sounds, all the memories along with his eyes, he'd sell them all.

If he doesn't know her, maybe she'll leave him alone after this. Maybe.

"What- what in the hell is this?!"

The bloody lizard lady's shocked reaction wakes him up. Ah, he really felt too sleepy. It felt a little like he was a wooden puppet on loose strings, falling loose even as he moves.

"Oh? That's a lot of mirrors?"

The boy steps forward, dozens of him turn to hundred, maybe even hundreds and thousands. The mirror images of various shapes and sizes, stretching his reflection across infinity as he spins in place.

Infinity huh? He's never counted that high before.

There's so many of him, and Amar doesn't like what he sees. His sandy skin isn't as nice and dark as his mama's. Nor was his hair her pretty black chai, soft waves silken like rising steam. If he smiles, he can find the traces of her scrunched up. But he doesn't like looking.

If he looks too long, too closely, he might see him.

And he can't breathe.

Turning back to bad lady, he doesn't need to guess about who she sees when he stands there, reflected thousands of times over around the room. He knows.

He's very sorry a thousand times and more. Very much sorry that he took too much after abbi and not enough of amma.

He's sorry.

"What is this?! What are they all doing here!?" she gasps, stumbling around the room. Revolting in every expensive crystal clear reflection of her ugliness. Her rot. The stinking insides coming out the surface under layers of paint and pearls, unable to hide for the sights.

So this was every mirror they could find huh? That's a lot, he thinks to himself. Counts.

47? Wait no, he spots that there are little ones in some corners. 60? 61? 62?

"Why can't I-" the quick motion disorients her, fresh poisoned blood setting in sooner than he expected.

He only counted a little over 1300 times?

A yawn overtakes him. He won't die if he falls asleep here but it was still very not good. He hopes they hurry up outside. He wants a snack and nap.

"Is this a dream? A trip?!" she cackles, staring at slowly shaking limbs losing their control.

"Madame Damia? Are you alright?" he hopes not.

He knows it when she goes falling into a mirror, barely cracking it. Madness overtaking as she seemed to try to destroy the ugliness reflected back.

"Don't do that? It hurts right?"

He tugs her skirt without any real intent. The action irritating her enough to whip and slap a claw across his face, knocking him down further across the mostly dark room of mirrors. Face down, he yawns through a smile he feels he can't stop himself from making. Mama says he's not supposed to make that face in front of others. They'll know.

A murky reaction of powders and liquids activating in the pouch carried under his clothes. Gas slowly steaming from where he fell.

Now he didn't start it.

Rosa said he lied a lot and that's just silly. He was telling the truth very much of the time even if she didn't believe him.

If you lie under a detector, like the ones they hooked him up to at the 'trial' thing, then it would hurt very much. Shocks of pain or heavy weights pressing you to death. Lots of types. If you tell the truth but are even scared a little bit, it still hurts.

It's not like he wants to get hurt or feel owies.

Lukas said he used tricks. Not lies.

That was much smarter. Not exactly right but very much better. It was a good thing everyone was all too dumb to listen to Lukas or he'll be in more trouble. Adults were so silly, it was kinda sad how stupid they were.

The sound of the summer thunderstorm outside could still be heard from this deep in.

If Damia's personal....room, wasn't soundproof enough, then that was perfect to cover up anything that escaped. The servants here were too used the sound of screams anyways.

"You brat- w-hat is.." she stumbled, slowly knocking over self. "...you did this....and the...fire. Darius..."

"That's silly?" Amar wonders to himself, why do so many people think that?

He only set the signal when? Not start the actual thing. How was he supposed to do that?

People all thought and acted so funny, it got boring after a while.

He stretches a little, getting up he goes to help the blood-sucking lizard lady into the middle of the room. Didn't want her hurting herself just yet.

"Thank you for helping me all that time" Amar sincerely thanks, not a single lie meant. "No one else wants to get me good poisons. I'm having a hard time getting enough now to keep up my training? Ah but no one eating my blood is nice. That part was weird?"

"Y-uoi" she seethed, growing increasingly stiff.  Her breathing speeding up as she panicked. The lack of easily expanding chests and lungs make it all the easier to just hyperventilate.

"Don't worry. You won't turn out like master Darius. This is very different stuff." the boy tilted his head, a little confused but ultimately understanding of the woman's fears.

Fiddling with the small case in his pocket, Amar tried connecting the pieces until the tube and needle were all attached and good to go. It was a little hard to figure out but if he thought of it as a puzzle game it wasn't so annoying.

A semi-clear jelly-like liquid swished in the syringe.

"Don't be scared? It's really good? We learned a lot and made lots of cool stuff under you and master Darius. Now we have all the books, we can learn more. It's the nutrient potion. We helped make it last longer. One-shot like this you don't have to eat or drink for a few more days? It's really cool."  the boy showed off.

He got some nice head pats for it. Somehow Gable or Cap saying he did good, even if it was just something like this, felt nice. Vincent not yelling at him, even if he was surprised, also felt not bad?

It was still weird though. He doesn't always know what to do when he didn't trick people into being nice to him.

The funnyman that was Rosalia's papa was much easier to deal with. If he said he was going to put a hole through you, he does. Simple.

It's even funnier how Rosa thinks her papa is scary. He was so scary nice to her and her drooling stinky sister? All the time? Sometimes he thinks she doesn't even know he's her kinda crazy papa. Babies were stupid sometimes, but that's okay because they're little and cute.

At least Lukas knew just what Gable was. Gable didn't say it but it was too easy for anyone that still had their eyes in their heads.

The other boy could smell it too. That they smelled alike, somewhere under the skin. Same way Lukas knew about the weak one. The one that could break with one press of his foot, if he felt like being clumsy and missed juggling his knives. Amar's not sure how someone as strong as Lukas could have someone so weak for his brother? Even a half brother. That one wasn't so little anymore.

All of his own brothers were strong? Isn't that how brothers are supposed to be?

Oh. That's right. The weak ones went to sleep. How silly of Amar to forget. He didn't?

'Don't look.' his mama cried

'Don't listen.' she'd order him.

'Don't ever look back.'

She would sing her songs, over and over again. Washing over the prettiest of sounds, ringing in his ears. The hypnotizing bells beating in tune with how his little breath beat.

He's sorry it didn't work.

"You-" the monster below gasped for breath.

There were enough vials for three shots. That would keep her alive for a very long time.

Soldiers at the troops can go do a lot more if this stuff worked on people. He guesses they were gonna use it on long missions without a lot of food or water? The lizard lady was still a 'people'. She counted. A "test subject". Okay then.

He stabs her twice in different parts, carefully injecting all of the substance in. Watching for any side effects like he was told to do. Were there bruises? Extra pain? Did anything explode?

Nope? In fact, she looked healthier? That's what he'll say back to Vincent and everyone. But the food here probably wasn't very good so?

"You-" she floundered like a fish, eyes spinning madly as they tried to keep focus on the tiny boy in front of her. Her choked laughter sounded like a type of drowning " you...would have made...a great...man...just like him."

He stabs the last shot into her neck and forces her jaw open.

"Your teeth are really bad." he squints, holding his breath.

He doesn't like this part at all. It was gross.

"If they fell out like mine, it would be better. But adults don't do that? They're really bad, but it still hurts a lot." it hurt a bit to tilt his head, his neck " You can bite your tongue off and die? I'm not allowed to let you do that."

They gave him gloves but it felt weird. The pliers were ok. He doesn't really wanna reach in and pull the yucky things himself.

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2

2 and half?

Holding her down enough was a little hard when she screamed and squirmed around like that. It was almost as slippery as catching eels, but the heavy dress kept if he stabbed a few knives down.

"Okay dokey. That's 9? " he showed her the small jar, and it made a clattering sound. The healthiest sharpest teeth. "I left the rotting ones. Sorry. I don't really wanna." he tried stretching his head the other way.

Nope still hurt.

Rotting toothaches hurt more. That seemed like a fair trade for the yucky wound on his neck It was gonna hurt more when Cass saw and cleaned the wound. She was gonna find out anyway. Stubborn and silly as always.

Oh but he doesn't remember an always? Doesn't know her. Right.

He doesn't remember anything.

"You can move now. If you want? The numbness is only temporary." he says as he sits on top of her. Watching. Waiting.

It was honestly boring if nothing else was gonna happen. He'd rather watch Lukas do homework.

The painted claws swipe to strangle him, long in their reach. Amar feels himself yawn again, he just can't help it. He was so sleepy.

Bending down, he escapes by going low. Practically laying on top of bony lizard lady.

Maybe this is what Rosa means when he doesn't have enough 'mochi' on him, he knows she means fat and flesh the same way he knows all 381 ways Lukas says bacon but means something else. It doesn't feel very comfy.

"Still didn't wear off? You take too long? Too slow." he's a little grumpy right now so he complains.

When he makes to get up, he drags her by the string on her neck. It looks a little familiar.

"Mama said she never loses at games. But that's a lie. That's okay. Sometimes she lost something because of gambling. A lot of people at the troops really really like gambling? Ah, that funny loser. Lord Ventrella? He likes it a lot too. Lots of people." he tugs against her gritted teeth, the half worn rotted ones still left in her bloody mouth. He bets it doesn't taste as good when it's her own.

"Everything's fair and square when playing? I think you won this somewhere? I don't know? Mama had lots of these things. But I don't think I like you wearing even one of them very much."

It would be kinda funny if her head came off just like that. The kid wonders what kind of excuses he could give that could make for that?

Oops?

The gems and chain scatter as the clasp and links break, sparing the woman to breathe.

When he gathers the broken pieces he decides it looks better that way. It would be easier to sell? A lot of his mama's jewels looked a little too funny around here but the gems were alright? This place was weird, anywhere and all over he went. The same way how he had to explain to Cass that boys didn't wear earrings and most people didn't ever season their food right. Or at all? Weird.

"AAAAAHHHHHHHHH" the bloody woman screeched, strength renewed to rip herself free to claw and attack.

Just like the monsters in stories told in the dark. They were really scarier than beasts? People were the scariest, especially when they're weak. Weak ones have to come up with all sorts of bad ways to eat you.

He dodges easily, too easily. It was more fun playing with the stinky baby and the super-hard breadsticks, even if she was a lot slower. But if he hit that one too hard then Rosa would do more than hit him back. Like pull his ear or cry mad or make him smell more bad cheese. Bleh. Scary. Even scarier than stories.

When Damia finally breaks a nail by ramming herself against a wall, Amar admits that also felt a little good. He didn't even need to do anything?

But she had him trapped now. Cornered. Blood drooling savagely out her gummy mouth. How funny.

"Did you know? The door used to be here?"

The strange statement takes her back for the moment as if registering it as truth versus a distracting lie.

Amar holds back a giggle, just a little.

Slender white arms, almost lovely if they weren't floating disembodied, reach out from the stone wall, grasping the boy all around. Amar laughs because that tickles.

"Your sons say they hope you like your new room? Bye-bye forever now."

The arms pull and he disappears through the solid wall, childishly sweet giggles still echoing.

The woman screams.

Bleeding, clawing, surrounded by dimming candlelight and hundreds to thousands of broken reflections. She screams and screams till her declawed fingers rub raw against the impossible stone. Time seemingly meaningless. No exit. The reflections mocking at every angle every turn.

Revolting at the sight of the largest grandest mirror, she runs headfirst into it. Crashing in diamonds and shatter.

She does not die.

For a very long time, she cannot die.

Sometimes a sleepy silly child will think back to that fact and laugh a little. Don't mind it. He's just remembering something funny.


It's been a while! IDK how to write. Thanks for reading this far.

So who just skipped that last part? Bc you absolutely can, UT will still make sense and we continue on with our healing slow life.

But to those of you who didn't, uh is the story ruined for you yet?
Cool, don't read my actual horror story (that I also don't know how to write)

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Seriously though, thanks for reading to this point.
Writing helps me a lot and I'm just as big of a reader of this story as anyone. I also get mad at the writer for not making more. (or making it better/cleaner).

But I'll take it.

Thanks for riding along with me. Till next time. Happier times! Right after it's safe from the great mother again, Rosa gets her horse and maybe some rice, maybe run into a cousin while taking Lily to avoid a now puppy strucken stupid prince. That "concert" really left an impression.

To those of you who like the 'mob' characters more-

Jr. Chef/mean girls aide: dying on the floor- this is too much shame even for him. Get him holy water, please. He's actually quite an innocent and good boy.

Drill sergeant Tamera is actually chilling on another mission on some island far away. How nice! Free from the little Rosa! Somehow her hair is half blonde now in addition to the shaved side, long story.

Vincent is having a stress ulcer or something. He had to talk 'officially' with Damia a few days ago and he's still not over it. Also her sons are awful but lesser of some evils.

minion one: When will Lukas escape Gable's grounding? When?! He needs to go be a 'hero' and stuff. Maybe next time Grampa Ron does something stupid and lets him out. He'll ask big sister Maria later on how to sneak past Gable.

minion two: ow ow ow gotta alcohol and paste disinfect an owie ow ow ow. Not that long of a story but it's not that interesting or anything.
Then it's off to pick up gifts so no one yells or tries stealing his secret stash again. He's somewhere vaguely Romania/Hungary inspired right now. How fun.

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