Unfinished collab with @AimeChambers; works standalone
As Daimyon felt his head pulsate with a painful mix of irritation and anger, he realised that social interaction was the last thing he needed. Noah's words annoyed him; he could not even manage a strained smile to appear nonchalant. There was nothing wrong with his quick-fire verbiage—verbiage it was, indeed, but the Infinite Poet would be the last to judge him for that. It was more a matter of perception: in the current circumstances, Daimyon felt like he would have asked a heavenly muse revealing the secrets of poetry to please stay silent. But, since he began this conversation, he had foregone all such privilege.
Social norms—what a cruel mistress.
The thrifty boy was already inspecting his legs for damage when the poet's mental tirade subsided, and he was slow to utter a reply in protest.
“Thank you, but as long as my body moves, I am not worried.” He took a sluggish step backwards to demonstrate—more to himself than anything—that his body indeed moved. “I'm sure you would know, Noah. The body...heals. The mind does, too, I just...I just need to rest. A good night's sleep...makes me forget everything.”
He breathed in sharply. His eyes shifted to Noah, who seemed to acknowledge his words without much ado, and launch into his theories about Thomas' plan and motivation.
He let out the breath.
The biologist continued speaking, and Daimyon refocused.
“A hostage...?” he asked as he looked after the boy. “Truly? Besides—where are you heading in such a haste?”
“As horrible as it may be, I wasn’t properly paying attention at the time. The boy-” With his hands not full anymore, tho still coated in crimson, he reached for his PDA and brought it out. “Caora. They want to make sure no one saves any hostages or the boy will be sacrificed.”
The name brought forth some thoughts in Daimyon: he had read this morning about a few escapades with Caora early on in their imprisonment at Axis Mundi. The memories felt barely authentic and distant, and the latter bothered the poet the most. Having trouble keeping information he had read merely a few hours ago in his head could be catastrophic. In the face of impending panic, he held onto the Nietzsche bit as proof that his memory was still working, and chalked up his faults to his current disturbed mood.
“Suffice to say that although brutal, makes sense on a purely logical level,” Noah continued. “Only one person will be sacrificed without the chance of extra unnecessary casualties. However, the approach was poorly executed and will probably result in factions and infighting instead of fighting against the true mastermind.” He wiped the PDA quickly on his shirt before stuffing it into his back pocket.
“That is...not difficult to see.” Daimyon nodded; again, refocusing. “I simply cannot believe Thomas does not understand this. He must. Yes...” He looked up at the ceiling for a few seconds. “The state of nature—that's what he wants. Not Hobbes, but our Thomas. Where lives are...‘nasty, brutish, and short’.” he exclaimed the centuries-old quote, relieved that his mind had not yet gone. “A might-makes-right world. Might be the end of us all, if you don't mind me saying.”
An awkward silence descended on the two: neither took any pleasure in discussing the villain's plans. Daimyon, ever socially-aware, thought it fit to change the topic.
“Regardless. Where are we heading?”
“I must analyze this sample in the laboratory to test my theory on the nitroglycerin. Also, I would be most grateful to hear more about our sadly deceased Infinite Herbalist. The collaborations we could have created would have been illustrious!” He shifted his arms so that he held onto his blood-stained coat without getting more on his comfortable sweater. “You were close to the deceased, yes? Or that is what I have picked up from this interaction. I am very sorry for your loss.”
“Oh, I?” the poet answered after a moment's delay, unaccustomed to the topic switching yet again so quickly. “Y-you might say that. I would also rather not talk about it, if you don't mind.” He adjusted the collar of his shirt. “I would, however, gladly accompany you to the laboratory. Anything to take my mind off everything.”
Daimyon and Noah spent their next few hours in the laboratory. The scientist found his stride amidst the vials and microscopes, while the poet watched and made casual conversation. His head still hurt; it was starting to get worrisome. Trying to summon up thoughtful discourse felt beyond him. For much of the same reasons he also avoided mentioning Marianne: obfuscating and dancing away from the question whenever the curious boy prodded him. Instead, he asked Noah about his findings, which he shared dutifully. Daimyon did not understand much, but at least he got some room to breathe.
Eventually, the science only made his headache worse, so he thanked his new friend for the wonderful time and headed home. Jogging down the stairs from the third floor, he turned to the patient's quarters. He stopped at Marianne's room: it was closed and looked just like he had left it. Yet, in the back of his mind, the poet knew that he had betrayed his last promise to her and had failed to protect her legacy. He felt weak; his mind's troubles manifested in a cold sweat running down his back. He left the second floor.
He sighed in relief once he had arrived in his room, but it offered him no respite. Though his table was clear, he knew that Marianne's notes lay in the drawer. He opened it, just to make sure. They were there. He sat down at the table and took out his pen and notebook. The words did not come to him. His eyes wandered to the bed: it looked oh so inviting. A couple hours' rest, before the Night of Carnage would rain despair upon them once again. But he could not afford to rest. He could not afford to forget.
A clarity struck through the fog. He wrote it down.
My mind is leaky. It has a hole in it. It's probably at my ear. When my imagination races and blooms, I hear a tune. That is the imagination, leaking through my ear.
I've tried plugging it.
I've tried stymieing the flow.
I've tried living with it.
There is enough thought in there. My mind will never be empty.
It's just a bother that when I sleep
with my head sideways, resting
it pours out
absorbs into the pillow, forever lost
I have to refill it the next day
He looked at what he had just written: far from his best work, but encouraging nonetheless. One of his greatest fears was that his imprisonment would erode the creativity that had earned him Infinite status in the first place. As long as he could get inspired out of the blue, he was fine. He vowed to nurture this spark and spend the remainder of the afternoon writing.
“Alright boys and girls, IT''S TIME TO GET YOUR GAMBLING FREAK ON!”
Daimyon opened his eyes with a wheeze, jolted awake by the screaming bear. He raised himself up from the table he had laid his head on and looked around.
Where was he?
Soon enough he was leafing through his notebook. The announcement meant that he needed to do something and did not have much time for reading. He heard a commotion outside. It drew his curiosity, but he could not go out into the midst of people like this. He kept on reading and reading when a different voice came over the speakers.
“Those of you still on the second floor, or still hiding in your rooms on the first floor, please join the other hostages in the hallway of the patient's quarters. The faster we get this over with, the faster we can remove the mastermind from power.”
Though he heard this one fully, Daimyon did not feel like he understood it any better. He knew who the mastermind was but had written nothing about a way of removing him. What was that about hostages? And most important of all: who was the one talking?
That was the last straw. The poet could not bear all these unknowns, and as the man's voice kept coming and going from the airwaves, he made up his mind. After a cursory glance through the e-handbook, he stepped out of his room. Right away, he could see to his left the barricaded entrance to, according to the map, the resort. The threat was not empty then—they really could not get away through there. As he rounded the hallway, he saw people: about six or seven, with most of them waiting just before the end of the corridor. Daimyon strode up to them, spotting the guard that blocked passage: Denis, it must have been. Their eyes met, and Daimyon spied cold determination in the guard's. He also held a small device—holding it out, almost, showing it to everyone. It did not take an expert to figure out that it was a detonator, and that it connected to the contraptions scattered on the floor.
“Well, that is just...” he muttered to himself, adjusting his collar. “I never should have left the room.”
He did not trust his knowledge enough to talk to anyone, so he sat down against the wall and buried his head in his notebook. In some corner of his mind, he felt like these would be the last words he would ever read.