Chapter Twelve: Funeral Preparation & An Unexpected Return
Location: The Crystal Chamber
Let this be a recorded statement for the deceased. I am a doctor, am I not? I must look on such things in a way as my profession dictates, and record all. There is no way to account for the time of death, nor can I give an accurate description of cause, save to say that the blood loss has stemmed from a deep gash in the upper chest area where the marking of the rose was located. The blade missed the heart, yet severed the carotid artery as well as the cranial vena cava. Death occurred within a minute at the most. Suffering level within the short span of time: Excruciating. I shall keep this last note to myself, however, for the Lord seems more distraught about this than I could have guessed. He had been near frantic at the realization of his actions, and to think any further on this event may well be precursory to a descent into madness.
There is little more that can be done at this point. I have cleaned away the remaining blood that did not find it's way into the pool at the altar's base, and have dressed the wounds in preparation for a possible funeral on the grounds. Perhaps the rose garden within the courtyard would provide a fitting backdrop. Still, I dare not talk about such in front of the Lord. His wrath is swift as is, and I do not dare invoke it on the brink of sorrow.
Perhaps it would be best to remove him from this place. He stares at the deceased too intently. Does he believe that sheer will alone may yet rouse her from eternal slumber?
I speak much too soon.
How?! How can this be? How is it that the body shudders in death?! This is magic, surely. Illusion and false hope! No...Nicolae? Be this Nicolae's doing?! He couldn't...he wouldn't dare! He couldn't attempt to take physical form through her!
The Lord's visage betrays a mingling range of baffled and furious emotion. It would be best to take up arms.
Damn Nicolae for this...
Immortal Rose's Journal
All was black. I felt strange, suspended as it were, in a void. Nothing above or below save for shadows and silence.
He snarled in adamant fury as he started toward me, head lowered in menace.
"Ye think it is so easy to escape my grasp? Ye seek safety in death? Foolish, foolish woman! Not even death itself can save you! Mine curse is still upon you. See? The mark still lies upon thy flesh."
He paused a moment to chuckle, raising his head up in an authorative sneer.
"Ye shall not breath thy last till I will it. Thine heart shall not cease till I deem it time. This act of sacrificial slaughter was mercy, yet I...I will make you suffer! Ye shall know pain, be wedded to it. Ye shall beg me to end it, plead and grovel before me yet! I shall see to it. And to that end, this!"
Here, he lowered his head once more and charged against me. His right hand thrust forward, fingernails sharp as daggers as they buried deep into the spot of the dagger's wicked death wound. The seering pain tore through me as though the hand itself were made of fire. Indeed, it even glowed like burning coals as he ripped it free.
I stumbled away, not being able to hold back the agonized cry that seemed to be pulled from my very soul. I felt my heart throbbing back to life, the dull aching of the senses returning with a vengeance. The void was fading, even as his laughter resounded harsh and tormenting in my ears.
"I give thee life once again so that I may rip thine soul out at the last!"
The emptiness of the void left, and all senses assaulted me in life once more. I became painfully aware of aches all through my body. The deep wound where the dagger had found it's sheath in my flesh, the stiffness of my limbs on the cold, hard stone of the altar. The blinding glow of the crystals and the chilling air in that room. All this, and the din of voices at my ear, calling me urgently as their faces searched mine in earnest.
They were confused, and rightly so. Expressions of relief blended seamlessly with questioning, sorrow, and disbelief. I looked back at them, doing all in my power to face them fully without unnecessary movement. The Lord was the first to speak.
"By the gods.... the Rose of Immortality!"
Was that what I had become? Was I truly immortal now? No, not immortal. Lucky at best, if such a thing could be considered luck.
I fear worse is yet to come.
- Immortal Rose