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2 yrs ago
Current Life is great!
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Been here a while.

@MyCatGinger is my girl.

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The ancient Vikings did it last,
Now I bring it back.

Poppyseed, my fellow. You fell off
The stool; you were never huge.
Mellow words deluge, deluded by the podium.
Thought you were one of the greats,
When you don't even embody them.

You're no Poe; you've got no flow
You're a poser, and now you're closer to the hurt,
A Wordsworth whose words are worth the worms in the dirt!

I'm the lyrical warmonger, and this is my conquest.
There's no contest; I'm Genghis.
Get this: two collections, I blessed the world
Pressed to word a million times,
Conquered east and west with my rhymes.
You're just one of the rest.
Your ‘conquest’ is a con-quest to woo others
But you failed my test with flying colours.

Still, I applaud your accomplishments.
You're the leader of a live poets' society.
You got the bully pulpit. But I'm the bull—
You've messed with the horns.
I can beat you to a pulp in a thousand forms.

I might go iambic on your behind.
The mastermind: when the stars are aligned,
You might catch sight of my fine masterpiece.
Just a glimpse. And you'll know there won't be peace.

I could've just said two words but I gave you verses
I'm that courteous.
Now don't try to come back at this versus!
This flyting only had one round.
There is only one poet king crowned,
And his kingdom is no longer bound.

I quit.

—Daimyon Londe: Modern Flyting

When Daimyon wished for a reset the night before, he had wished for a complete one: a mental and physical rejuvenation to let him face the new day with the carefree attitude others—he hoped—had got to know him for. Four hours of sleep, however, could not fulfil such a wish. Instead, when he was woken up at 7 am by Monokuma's shrill voice, he sat up feeling exceptionally groggy. It was a strange—stranger than usual, that is—feeling for the poet, as even his mental reset did not feel complete.

He remembered who he was.

When he reached, almost instinctively, for his notebook on his bedside table, it was not with panic, but with an unconscious understanding that this was what he had to do. He read the first and last few pages quickly to re-encode the essentials into his short-term memory, then looked at his most recent diary entries to get himself back up to speed with the happenings of yesterday. There was a lot to read, so he skimmed through it. Even still, the punches came one after the other: the deadly Night of Carnage that had left so many dead, the unfortunate infiltration of Davis' room and the treacherous loot they had won with it, the robot giving him the Memory Notebook after all of it... Though he did not read further back for the previous events, he still hazarded to guess that yesterday had been the most eventful day he had suffered through at this hospital.

How was one meant to continue after such a cataclysmic series of events?

Waiting for the inevitable doom to catch up to him felt more enticing every day, but the poet could not bring himself to surrender to the void. There was life in him still—there was life in him when it had been taken from so many others who, he thought as he looked at the list of all Infinites in the e-handbook, had been better equipped to survive in one way or another. That meant that there had to be something in him, too, something that made him outlast all of these incredible people. Maybe he was destined to survive; maybe his guardian angel was more active than others'. Or perhaps he had simply slipped under the radar of every murderer so far.

It did not matter. He was alive, and more importantly, he wanted to live. There was a world outside that he had painstakingly built up for himself, and he wanted to get back there. His tired muscles and foggy brain energised as such, he got out of his bed and through his short morning routine, thinking about what to do. By the time he was dressed and ready to go, he also knew where to go.

To Emily's.

Detailed paragraphs spoke about the woman in his notebook, giving account of how she had almost accidentally suffocated the poet under her anatomy-defying breasts. Perhaps inspired by the close encounter, Daimyon had decided to give the chest of weapons to her for safekeeping. That chest, he had known since he first saw what it contained, was a mortal danger to all surviving Infinites. He had to check on it, to make sure it remained in safe hands—if such a thing was even possible. Guided by the map in his e-handbook, he trotted up to the second floor and headed straight to Emily's room.

Much to his surprise, he was not the only one to think of doing that.

Someone was already standing before her door: it was Max, the police officer, Daimyon reminded himself with a quick second glance at the e-handbook. The door was open and Emily stood in it, and the two were making some sort of conversation.

He stepped up to them.
“Good morning!” he spoke cheerfully with a half-acted smile on his face. He lessened it after realising that it hardly fit the context. “I just wanted to...check up on my fellows. How are you two doing after that—” He reached the door before finishing the sentence, and that was its death sentence. The sight of Emily in nothing but bedtime underwear, its executioner. “Oh, um...perhaps this is a, bad time.” It was a difficult task to actually look at the woman's face rather than, well, anywhere else, so he tried his best to look beyond her and inside her room instead. “How is that...chest, doing, by the way...? T-the one with weapons, I mean.”

The others, surprisingly, accepted the woman Daimyon had nominated to safeguard the chest. They held one more examination of its contents: the girl with the intense eyes was looking for something in there. The poet had no wish of seeing all the murder inside, so he bid the group farewell—expressing his hope for a better day tomorrow—and started walking back to his room. Rounding the hallway, he ran into two more women, recognising one of them as Jezebel. His notes about the happenings of the past few days mentioned how it was the clown who allowed Thomas to get Marianne's handbook, so he could start executing his plan. Though he understood that, for the plot to progress, she had to act this way, he still harboured some bitterness. He gave the two a nod as he walked past, and that was it.

He was almost to his room when he heard someone let out a long...moan? His heart skipped a beat as he turned around to see who it was—and his surprise did not abate when he found that it was not a human facing him. It was a black-and-white machine, just like Monokuma, but female. Daimyon remembered reading off-hand in the brief minutes before he was spurred to action that these female robots also had a name, but it eluded him at the moment.

“What is it...what is it that you want?”
He was beyond asking for names.

She first explained to him how she fought and killed Calvin. That finally gave some form of reference to the poet: with Monokuma's ghastly ‘announcement’ still echoing in his ears, he knew that he was talking to Kyra.

“So you have, you—” He cut himself off. “And why are you here? Am I next?”

Kyra shook her head.
“He had one last request.”
From her bosom—too much of Daimyon's day revolved around chests and he did not like it—she pulled out a bloody book. It was smaller than most books, about the size but thinner than his own treasured notebook.

He wanted to give me this?” the poet asked back. “Curious...”
He knew he did not have much of a choice. Technically, he could have simply declined the item. But it was a mysterious book covered with bloodstains. Entirely too conspicuous not to be important. Too ‘iconic’, as the robot herself said. So he took it gingerly, making sure the blood did not get on his hands. With her delivery done, the robot started walking away.
“Wait...Kyra,” Daimyon called after her. “Send Davis my regards. I have a...feeling that we will see each other again soon.”

With that farewell, he stepped into his room. The door clicked shut, the book hit the table, and Daimyon sat down. He let out a sigh of exhaustion: looking at the clock, then at the bed, he had second thoughts. His tired body screamed at him to let it rest, but he steeled himself. His work for the day, though already plentiful, was not yet done.

He examined the book. Its front cover was black, its back white, further cementing the idea in Daimyon's head that it was important. On the front were two handwritten words: ‘Memory Notebook’. It was distinctly not the poet's handwriting, else he would have believed that, with such a title, the notebook was his. There was a long stain of recently-dried blood running down on the cover—Calvin's blood. Daimyon took a deep breath. There was no question whether he would open it, but he did feel like he needed some preparation. Like any good explorer, a reader also needed to be well-equipped for the journey that was diving into a book. In a moment, he was poring through his own notebook, flipping through pages in search of anything that might help him in tackling the book. Besides, he had a gut feeling that this was not his first time encountering this particular document: it seemed like such a huge plot device that it must have been at least foreshadowed earlier. His authorial instincts proved correct, and he found entries about his work on a mysterious diary that he had titled the ‘Ryoshi Membook’. There were, in fact, several pages on it: each detailing the hardships and slow progress in decoding the Membook, which the poet had deemed crucial to understanding the group's predicament. What was more, his work on it was also intertwined with his entanglement with Marianne. Thinking quickly, he opened the drawer on his table—and, indeed, there was a book lying inside, below the stack of letters he knew were from the late botanist. He pulled out the book: its dark cover was tattered, the handwritten letters barely legible. Only with some imagination could he make out ‘Ryoshi Membook’. Looking from that to his new acquisition, it became clear that they were one and the same, except the latter was much newer. This meant that the ‘Membook’ was really a ‘Memory Notebook’. But what was ‘Ryoshi’?

All of these revelations threw log after log to the fire of his curiosity, which then burned hotter than perhaps ever before. He opened the notebook. On the first page, there was a name, written in lovely cursive: Ryoko Otonashi.
“The Ryoko Otonashi Memory Notebook...” Daimyon murmured. To think, that after all the hard work in trying to put together even just the title, all he had to do was wait for the complete version to fall into his lap... It mattered little now. Shrugging off his growing tiredness, he delved into the pages of the notebook.

He spent the next hour reading, engrossed from page to page. His observations from the old version were proven mostly correct: the book was the diary of a high school girl named Ryoko Otonashi. That was the cursory summary. But Daimyon soon found out much more. As he moved through the pages, he diligently took reading notes of the important details: how she attended a place called Hope's Peak Academy, how her grades were failing, how she always seemed to show ‘natural cheerfulness’ and a general lack of interest in the world around her... Then about how this all was because of a ‘unique neurological disorder’ that caused her to be very, very forgetful, about how she had to attend numerous treatments and how she promptly fell in love with the one who was treating her.

At that point Daimyon had to pause. There was a checklist floating before his mind's eye, and the items on it were being checked with terrifying speed.

He skipped to the end section, expecting something. And there it was: pages upon pages of ordered, detailed descriptions of people and places. Appearances, personalities...their relations to Ryoko. After seeing that, he did the same in his own notebook, opening the last few pages. His last dozen or so entries were all about Infinites, with quick notes about locations of interest within the hospital mixed in.

The poet could not help but let out a sad chuckle. Everything fit, perfectly. He could have written that Memory Notebook—after all, he had his own. There was just one thing Ryoko's lacked that his had. He moved back to the very first page of his notebook.

Rereading the page made Daimyon feel strange. He always felt that his condition, being so rare, made him unique in the world. Yet here he was, reading about someone suffering from quite obviously the same thing. The book drew his attention once more; he was curious to see what happened to Ryoko.

It took him about half an hour more to get to a point where he could not continue anymore. What was before a resonating solidarity with the high school girl turned into rising disgust in the poet. He found out that Ryoko was a cover: a fake personality invented and artificially enforced by someone else inhabiting the same body. The name of that someone was one of the last words he had read before he stopped: Junko Enoshima.

That name rang no bells for the poet; he doubted there was anything about her in his notebook either. No, what bothered him so was the possibility that the same thing might have been happening to him. What if Daimyon Londe was also a cover, a pleasant face hiding someone far more sinister beneath? And, even worse, how would he prove that was not the case? As absurd as the idea seemed, the same meta-logic that carried him through this day meant that he could not discard the thought. After all, it would make for a fine plot twist—so fine even he would not expect it.

He looked at the clock: it was just past 3 am. The exhaustion he had managed to keep under control was pushing up against him again. This time, he did not have the willpower to fight it. He used his last bit to take his pen, return to the first page of his notebook, and write after ‘ brighten up the days of millions’: ‘You are a good person.’

Closing the Memory Notebook and bringing his own to the bedside table, he carried himself to bed. Thoughts kept racing in his head even as he closed his eyes. He wanted what he had always dreaded. He wanted a reset.

Daimyon's warnings fell, predictably, on deaf ears. The two Infinites were closing in around him, each looking to get at the chest for their own reasons. The poet weighed his options: whether to step back and let them have it or hold onto it closely and prepare for a possible confrontation. He was still weighing when, as if irritated by his inaction, the writer of their story spurred them along. This time, the plot device was disembodied ticking and some very real, very stern words from Davis. The thought came to Daimyon that perhaps it was time for him to fulfil his role in the plot, just like Thomas had done—keeping the trove of murder away from his fellows, even if he had to pay for his heroics with his life.

He discarded that thought. Promptly.

“Looks like I was mistaken,” he spoke, sighing. “This chest is...too valuable for our journey to discard, it seems. Let's get it out of here first.”

His fellows, spurred to action by the ominously loud ticking, agreed, and helped him carry the deceptively heavy chest out the busted-down door. Not a moment after everyone was out did the room burst into flames. The poet's heart skipped a beat, and he fell on the ground out of surprise. Then it skipped another, for he suddenly found himself staring down a quite obviously heavy chest—two of them, in fact.

“The...the muses...” he uttered.
A profound sense of horrousal took hold of him. Faced with a situation his notebook could never prepare him for, he was at a loss. He felt weak, both physically and mentally. Before he could resign himself to the questionable fate of being crushed under a very gifted woman, however, she finally lifted herself off him. It took him a few seconds to get up—he drew a few quick breaths first, wiping his nose and checking for any blood. There was none. The only imprint of the incident, it seemed, was in his mind.

“I am...I am quite alright...”
His back aching, he scrambled to his feet. The others, just now untangling themselves from an even larger pile-up, seemed mostly unharmed, and the chest—in fact, all chests involved in this situation—was also unscathed. Davis' room, however, was quickly disintegrating. Someone slammed the faulty door close, but they could all still feel the heat. Dusting himself off and clearing his throat, Daimyon wished to speak, but this time, the bear was faster.

...and much more captivating than the poet could hope to be, for all the wrong reasons. The eyes of the Infinites were glued to the screen as the two-tone terror gave a gruesome report of the deaths of two, three, four—Daimyon lost count very soon. He stood, mouth agape, in disbelief. Somewhere deep in his mind, a voice told him that there was no way to prove the bear was telling the truth; they were all words. He wished he could believe in that voice.

It ended as abruptly as it began. All these Infinites, gunned down in a rapid-fire presentation, ending in a blow sure to rend even hardened hearts. And Daimyon's heart was anything but—that he often seemed so carefree was for an entirely different reason. The images the bear's descriptions conjured in his mind assaulted him with their vividness and terror. He could not shake his disbelief, especially as he saw people starting to disperse with the end of the Night of Carnage. How could they just leave, he wondered. This was an outrage!

“This is no way to write a story...” he muttered, before raising his voice. “Writing off all these people carelessly! Sinking them so ungracefully, condemning them to the waves, to be lost in the sea of the plot... They deserve a proper sendoff, damn it!” Tempering his anger, he turned back to the others who were eyeing him with justified surprise. “We must bring them redemption. We must. The writer of our story has to pay.” Despite preaching of grand ideals, he did not forget about the murderous elephant in the room. He knew he could not carry it anywhere by himself, so they had to come to some sort of agreement. “And this—this has to be locked somewhere safe. With someone who...” He looked around; there were many faces looking back and he did not recognise a single one. “...who has no interest in its contents.”

He felt strange, taking leadership of the situation like this. Something told him he had not done so often before. But this time was different. Seeing so many people he must have known and even cared about killed off so unceremoniously gave him a new conviction. He might have only been a character in a grand story—but every character could change the plot completely.

Eventually, he pointed at the woman who had nearly killed him just minutes before.
“I nominate her.”

leaked footage of @BrokenPromise writing the latest post

The commotion outside did not cease even as Daimyon and company entered Davis' room—the broken door did little to quieten the noise. For the poet, it meant that his anxiety only got worse, especially as he took in the overbearing environment. The gilded walls and furniture assaulted the eyes, while the faint metallic scent of the numerous trophies added to an atmosphere that felt thoroughly artificial. Daimyon's wandering eyes quickly focused on an out-of-place artefact, a glitch in the golden matrix: a plain wooden chest sitting on the bed. Its lock, lying on the floor.

A chuckle that felt similarly out of place came out of the poet. He chuckled because he was a character in front of an important plot device. He realised that everything leading up to this point was part of a plot. A formulaic plot, even: the building tension, nice and slow, before the eruption of action. Screams, explosions, drama. Death. This climax propelled the selected group of characters to arrive at the next important location with the device, be it anything, that would bring the story to its next stage. It all fit together; there was not a doubt in Daimyon's mind about it. His only question remained as such: who was writing this story? Was it some megalomaniac director's idea of the next killer game show? Was it one of the masterworks of life?

Was it all Davis' orchestration?

It mattered little, in the grand scheme of things. The screens were alive again, displaying the battle of wits between Davis and Thomas, whom Daimyon had read plenty about. Then, in a flash, Thomas was dead, his head severed from his body. He, too, was a plot device, even more than he was a character: with his purpose of setting up the next stage fulfilled, there was no use for him anymore. Even still, the efficient writer managed to squeeze out one final bit of relevance out of him: some expository dialogue, hinting at a resolution that seemed both far-fetched and far-away.
The poet felt that the man's impact called for a flashier, more dramatic death—but he was not the writer here. He was not the one in control. He was a character, so much so that he even had a physical script: his notebook. His notebook was him; he knew all that was written in there and nothing more. Everything else was improvisation.

The warning that came from Davis sounded harsh and serious, but Daimyon knew better. When, ever, did the protagonist heed the villain's advice? He knew what he had to do. It was all he could do—it was written.

He stepped up to the bed. The chest, this wonderful plot device, lay invitingly in front of him—what could it contain? What could sit inside it that brought this amazing and despairful story forward? The poet knew there was little use wondering. He pulled up the hasp.

A treasure trove of murder unveiled before him. Weapons of all sorts, melee and guns alike, lay in a heap in the chest. There were knives, daggers, pistols and other small arms that Daimyon, far from being a weapons expert, could not identify. What he knew, however, was more than enough for him to realise that this was a chest of enormous power. Armed so thoroughly, anyone even slightly proficient could have taken on and taken down the entire group of Infinites if they so chose.

The poet's nihilistic enthusiasm quickly gave way to a sense of dreadful responsibility. Letting this trove of weapons fall into the wrong hands would have been catastrophic. He felt agency again, agency to change how this plot was going to unfold. Acting on his first instinct, he slammed the chest shut.

But it was too late.

Two others were already by his side, their eyes also drawn to the artefact. One was the strong, suited man who he still could not recall, and the other was a small girl who nonetheless eyed the chest intensely. Daimyon did not know whether they saw him opening it or if they knew what was hidden inside—but he knew he would not be able to stop their curiosity.

“Let me just say,” he said, slowly, his hands still on the chest, “that this chest must not leave this room.”

Comes in, creates a new villain, turns the RP on its head, then leaves us in the critical moment with the Nic Cage graph. What a man.

@Herringson In all seriousness, it was always a pleasure to read your writing. I wish you stuck around to the end, but you already gave this RP a lot. Thanks for everything!

The rising tide,
The quaking ground,
The erupting volcano,
The sweeping hurricane.

Nature's many powers.
Reminding us all that
We are just guests on this land
And She is its master.

—Daimyon Londe, Quick Lesson #11

Daimyon read on silently as the minutes ticked by. What was very much unlike him, however, was that he was not entirely focused on the hand-written words that filled his notebook's pages—he kept an ear open, keeping himself in the tense flow of the situation in the hallway. Why he did this, and why now of all times, he could not answer. Something was stirring in him. Anticipation quickened his heartbeats. Glancing up from the book every now and then, he saw a barely-changing scene: some Infinites moved back-and-forth robotically, others tapped their feet in impatience, and the braver tried to reason with the guard. Repeating patterns. Hardly exciting. But the poet felt something more; in his mind he was conjuring the image of an imminently erupting volcano. He could feel the earthquakes already.

When the first punch struck, he was only half-surprised. He jumped to his feet, sliding his notebook back to the wide front pocket of his shirt. Two young men were fighting fiercely before him; the others were watching with shock on their faces. He realised that an ill-timed strike could detonate one of the many bombs on Denis, the guard—whose name he had to remind himself of once more—, which could lead to a chain reaction of everything on the two walls exploding with him. A voice within him called for him to resign to his fate—a faint cry before the survival instinct suffocated it. Before his mind's eye, he could see smoke emerge from the top of the volcano. He heard the quakes getting louder. His heart beat in his throat—it would erupt soon. He had to get away.

He ran to the end of the hallway, rounding the corner, then to the end of the other half. The quakes were piercing his ear when he saw that they were real: a few Infinites were trying to break down a door, swinging at it with increasing strength. He could not name them all, but he knew exactly who the room they were standing before belonged to. His notes spoke in length about Davis, the Infinite Conquest, part of the ever-dwindling original crew that Daimyon himself was member of. After getting a sense of how much has happened since their imprisonment, the poet could hardly believe that he, of all people, was still standing.

None of this mattered. The instinct within him destroyed every dissenting thought as it echoed its singular directive: survive, survive, survive. Do whatever it takes to survive. He knew there was no known way out of the hospital. He knew nothing about unknown ways, only that they had to be. They had to be because a struggle without a chance for success was not how life wrote its scripts. When the poet called on the muses, which he had often done, he did so to ask their help in matching up his work to life. He never succeeded, of course, but in his long career he had learned a great deal about how the greatest storywriter of them all operated. Over the years, he wrote down the most important lessons in his notebook, always copying them over to the new one once his current one had filled up. One of these lessons was now at the forefront of his mind.

‘There is no struggle without meaning.’

Though the meaning of their current struggle eluded him, he never doubted the veracity of this lesson. It gave him hope each day, gave him the drive to work, at all times, to discover this meaning. It pushed him, now, to join the Infinites trying to break down the door.

“Let me help,” was all he said as he stood in the door with a few others. He knew his strength was not considerable—especially when compared to the well-built, suited man who stood beside him—, but that did not stop him. The noise in his head, the volcano rumbling, it drowned out everything else.

On a command, they all bashed against the door with their shoulders. The impact hurt, but only for a moment, before it submerged into the vortex of sensations that enveloped Daimyon. His muscles strained against the sturdy frame, again and again. Rhythmic struggle.

Then it happened. After a number of attempts, the combined power of the gathered Infinites dislodged the door, allowing for it to be opened. There was apprehension. Daimyon looked at the others, and they looked at him. The uncertainty of what they were going to find beyond the broken door, in the mastermind's lair, weighed heavily on all their minds. The poet, though—

—he was used to uncertainty.

After a silent nod, he pushed the door open. Darkness peered back at them, cajoling, inviting them to explore. Daimyon made a step forward, answering the call of the void. Moments later, his fear became reality.

The volcano erupted.

An explosion, ringing through the patient's quarters. Screams, piercing the ear and threatening to engulf them all in the sea of chaos. The darkness inside Davis' room suddenly became not just an inviting mystery, but a refuge from the fallout.

So Daimyon stepped inside.

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
every 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.

Daimyon found the silence following his speech unwelcome. Here he was, having just finished the monologue of a lifetime, and no one even graced it with a reply. He assumed, naturally, that the Infinites were simply taken too far aback by the merits of his impassioned words, but still. Talk about a tough crowd.

In the wait that dragged on, the poet kept his attention on Thomas. He was, after all, the one his reply was directed at. Surely, even cartoonishly conniving villains had enough decency to respond to such a gracious olive branch, he thought. He believed he had been fair enough in his proposal, at least, though he braced for further escalation. After a minute, he asked for further escalation, or anything at all, by anyone.

But nothing came. The tension remained palpable, suffocating almost, but it lingered in the atmosphere. Like an imperceptible black fog, it swirled over the group but never materialised. Daimyon could feel it, as much as he could feel the chill when Thomas looked him dead in the eyes. Yes, dead—that was the right word for the biomechanic's expression. The fire in it that had accentuated his mad ambition just minutes ago was snuffed, leaving behind only darkness; an abyss a well-read poet does not stare long into.

Nietzsche... Beyond Good and Evil. 1886. The flash of remembrance caught the poet off-guard. It was just a snippet, but it was so clear and so bright... How long had it been?

Then the monster was alive again, light returning to his eyes. As if his soul left his body for a brief moment, only to now return. Still, the glint seemed different, as if Thomas was not the same—
Thud. Daimyon did not see the clown's back-fist coming, but that was his own folly. Truth be told, he felt relieved at this jolt back into reality, which he might have verbally expressed were it not for the ample dosage of pain that came with it. The surprise ended quickly enough that he could consciously see the e-handbook—the e-handbook! The root of all their conflict, the hill he was to die on. There it went, sliding effortlessly away from him, right into the hands of Denis. He scrambled to get up, but his body was slower than his mind, clumsier too. His arms wobbled under the weight of his tall body when Thomas spoke but gained furious strength with each word of the green-haired villain.

“I've never wished harm...on anyone.” He finally pushed himself up and got to dusting off his outfit. “But with any luck...I might sing your eulogy one day.”
He looked after Thomas and Denis as they walked out of the room. Jezebel announced the end of the meeting. The others were getting up. Looking over them, the people who sat frozen silent when he needed their support, he felt disgust rising in his throat. Dull pain struck his head: the transition from quiet to noise was too sudden. Or perhaps it hurt because it was so full of throbbing thoughts: the e-handbook, the plan. Marianne. The Nietzsche quote was floating at the back of his mind still. Nothing made sense.

He could not leave like this.

Taking a deep breath, in and out, he walked over to where Faith and Noah were.
“How are you holding up?” he asked.

Daimyon's inquisitive eyes pleaded for nothing, it seemed, as most Infinites avoided his gaze. Those who did meet it could offer nothing but silent sympathy. No one wished to be in his position, understandably so. The wiggle room around the decision shrunk with every thought until it boiled down to two binary choices, each with unknown and potentially far-reaching consequences—a true ‘bad or worse’ situation. As comfortably as Daimyon moved in the realm of the unknown, this much mystery was more irritating than intriguing.

It hardly mattered how he felt, though. What counted was how he was going to act. The sole person to offer any sort of comment had blonde hair and striking fiery eyes, wearing an elaborate outfit that consisted of a waistcoat with a long-sleeved shirt underneath and a red ribbon tied loosely around her neck...Lucy, yes. The Infinite Prodigy. Daimyon had almost forgotten the names of the roster amidst the chaos. Her identity was not what mattered here: it was her impassioned outcry against the absurdity of the situation that resonated with the poet, and he assumed with everyone else as well. Beyond that, however, he also caught on to her choice of words, describing the posse of her, Thomas, and Jezebel as ‘pulling strings for the greater good’. Now, language was a fickle instrument and phrasing was its scrupulous art—as Infinite Poet, there were few who knew that better than Daimyon. Regardless, he could not ignore the connotations of her outburst, even as she stormed out of the room. ‘It was all just a game’ for them? Truly?

Finally, there was no more room to delay. Thomas urged—no, pressured him to give over the e-handbook. He looked down at it one last time, clutching it tighter in his hand.

“I want to.” He let out an enervated sigh, looking at the biomechanic. “Trust me, Thomas, I want to. But I can't. Why? Because this is not reality. This...” With slow steps, he made his way to the middle of the circle, spreading his arms to underline his point. “This is a scene straight out of an action drama. We have a cartoonishly conniving villain, terrified extras, a damsel in distress...ah, we even have a hero with a moral dilemma. These are tropes. Flat, two-dimensional characters penned by a lazy, imagination-deprived writer. Is that what we are? Really?” He turned slightly in both directions, addressing the others as much as Thomas now. His voice gained new strength as he continued. “It sure seems so, because if we weren't, why would this situation have devolved into such ridicule? There is no substance, so there has to be spectacle to cover it up. There has to be action, action, action to keep the thrills up, because that's all these characters are capable of. You might be fine with that, Thomas, being in such a movie setting, or shall I say game. But I am not.” A pause. “I am a person. A flesh and blood human being, capable of rational, civil conversation with my fellows. Do you know what that means? That means that all you had to do was approach me, say, after this meeting and tell me you wanted the e-handbook. Heavens forbid, you might have had to tell me a few details of your plan to get me to agree, but so what? In my eyes, we all share an ultimate goal: that is, us escaping this nightmare once and for all. There really is no higher cause to strive for at the moment, is there now? And if your plan serves this purpose in the end, then I would have been glad to help you. I would have even sworn secrecy if that was the requirement to proceed. That's, it. Instead, look at what you have actually done: you brought an explosive and openly threatened everyone to force them to do your bidding. Why? Now you're missing fingers and a whole heap of blood. Was it worth it?” He let the question hang in the air for a second. “This could have been solved calmly and with reason. The way of thinking adults. Yet you chose the way of boneheaded B-movie characters and caused suffering for everyone involved. I do not wish harm on you, Thomas, only that you cease your theatrical hostilities and take a moment of introspection. Then we shall see to getting you that handbook.” He found his seat in the circle and sat down. “Now... I missed the last portion of this meeting, and for that I apologise. Will someone enlighten me as to what has been discussed while I was away?”
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