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Been here a while.

@MyCatGinger is my girl.

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You guys know when in long-running series, there is usually an episode of flashbacks/recaps right before the grand finale?

Yeah, that's the idea. The difference is this one is all about Daimyon's past before the happenings in Axis Mundi, or really, before he got involved with the Infinity Initiative. ‘Ars Poetica’ literally translates to ‘the art of poetry’, and it's a meta-genre of poets writing about poetry and their poetic faith. I found it a fitting title for all of this.

Enjoy!



I wasn't born a poet.

I didn't emerge in this world
With a unique eye,
Wondering why people didn't see
What I saw.


Daimyon Londe was in a rush. The evening traffic was not. This difference was difficult to reconcile for the 21-year-old man, fresh license holder: he cursed, he flipped people off when their reactions were slow at the green light, and he was generally getting close to road rage. What stayed him was his destination that floated before his mind's eye: Logan Airport. For he was rushing to catch a flight to Tokyo, Japan, to see his mother's side of the family. He cherished his grandparents especially, and he had not seen them in over two years at that point.

Whenever he got the chance, he went fast. If he was to get a speeding fine now, at least it would be for a noble cause. He had been on a good streak for the last couple streets; checking his watch frequently, he convinced himself he could make it. He was still of the same mind when he rode straight down an empty intersection and found himself another person who was in a rush, from his left. He never saw it coming.



I never thought I'd become a poet.

The accident was a tragic event:
Robbed me of past and future alike.
I was left drifting in the present
Aimless...


He opens his eyes to blinding whiteness. His head screams in pain, so he closes them, which only helps marginally. Relying on his other senses, he figures that he is lying on a cushy bed in a quiet room. His knowledge takes him no further, and the gaps are filled by aching questions: where is he? why is he here?

Who is he?

The questions become too much to bear. The pain in his head, somehow, subsides, and he escapes to sleep.

The next day, he opens his eyes to blinding whiteness. His head screams in pain, so he closes them, which only helps marginally. Relying on his other senses, he figures that he is lying on a cushy bed in a quiet room. His knowledge takes him no further, and the gaps are filled by aching questions: where is he? why is he here?

Who is he?

“Daimyon?” He hears a voice call out to him, cutting through the darkness. Despite the pain, he forces his eyes open and pushes his head to the side. “You're awake!” He sees a man and a woman, both middle-aged, standing beside his bed, their faces wrinkled by worry-lines.

“W-who are you?” he utters weakly as he tries to place the two people. He tries harder when he sees their faces contort into expressions of shock—but he draws blanks.

“He's severely concussed. Temporary amnesia is expected,” a third person says in a reassuring voice. He cannot recognise her either; all he sees is her whisking away the other two. “Give him some time. We'll let you know when he's in a better state.”

The two want to stay but eventually give in to the third's wishes. Then the third leaves as well, bringing silence back to him. Silence and sleep.

The next day, he opens his eyes to blinding whiteness. His head screams in pain, so he closes them, which only helps marginally. Relying on his other senses, he figures that he is lying on a cushy bed in a quiet room. His knowledge takes him no further, and the gaps are filled by aching questions: where is he? why is he here?

Who is he?

“Good morning, Mr Londe.” He hears a voice call out to him, cutting through the darkness. Despite the pain, he forces his eyes open and pushes his head up. He sees a woman dressed in white, observing him. “How are we feeling?”

“W-who are you? Where am I?” he utters weakly.

“You're in hospital after your car accident, of course. You were quite badly hurt, but don't worry! You're young and you'll make a full recovery, given time. Your parents were here yesterday, do you remember?”

“My...what?”

“Your parents, Mr and Mrs Londe! They were here when you first woke up. They called out your name. Surely you remember that?”

“What's...my name?” He feels terrible having nothing to say but questions, but he cannot seem to formulate a coherent thought beyond them.

“Oh, my...this doesn't sound good.” The woman gets up. “Just hold on, I'll get the doctor.” She storms out of the room.
He would plead with her to stay and answer his questions, but he is too weak to do so. He falls back asleep.

————

A week later, he lies wide awake in the early morning. He has started having nightmares a few days back, and they often keep him from feeling rested. He is not alone: three people are in his room, with one talking to the other two in a slow, matter-of-fact tone, and the other two listening with varying expressions of surprise and sadness.

“We ran the tests on him. It turned out to be...more than just a bad concussion, unfortunately. He has anterograde amnesia.”

“What does that mean?”

“He can't form new memories. He remembers nothing of his life, and no matter how many times you tell him things, he forgets almost immediately,” the third explains, quickly continuing, “H-his memory can be trained, of course! People have gone a long way with this condition. He can, too, with enough time and training. But I'm afraid it's permanent and he'll...he'll need lifelong care and supervision.”

The other two look at him. They are his parents—he knows he is supposed to know this. These are the people he cherished the most—but nothing registers as he looks at them. Nothing but a deep well of sadness as he sees her mother fighting back tears.
“I'm...sorry...” he says, finding himself teary-eyed as well. Though he is still confined to his bed because of physical injuries, he musters his strength to sit up, letting his parents embrace him. “I'm really...really sorry...”

“I don't know what's happening to you. But you're still our son, Daimyon...even if you don't remember,” his father says.

His mother is next. “There's always hope, my dearest. If you can hold onto one thing...let it be that.”

The third person, a nurse, then tells his parents what comes next. He catches, and soon forgets, the most important bit: he is not getting out of this hospital anytime soon. He does not pay attention to the rest, as his mind is preoccupied with keeping one phrase afloat. After his parents leave, he asks the nurse for a pen and a sticky note. While she is gone, he murmurs the phrase to himself again and again, trying desperately to keep himself from forgetting it. She soon gives him what he asked for, only for him to find out he had no idea how to write it down.
He cries out in frustration, turning to the nurse. “Please, write it down... ‘There's always hope.’ Yes. That's it...thank you.” He takes the note and attaches it to his bedside table, figuring out that the table is what he sees first when he wakes up.
The nurse soon leaves him to rest and process the situation. For him, there is not much to process—he escapes instead to sleep.

Two months pass. For Daimyon, each day is the same: he wakes up in panic and confusion, the nurse on watch calms him down and explains his situation, then takes him to the day's training sessions. There, specialists help him strengthen his battered mind with various exercises, often training for hours on end. A key part of the exercises is repetition, as they attempt to establish a baseline of knowledge within the amnesiac man that he does not forget. There are some surprising results: he relearns reading and writing quite quickly, realising that his muscle memory remained unscathed. What's more, he finds that other forms of ‘general knowledge’ also come back to him with relative ease. Though he never consciously realises, he is soon able to get dressed, eat, and even ride a bike by himself. The specialists tell him—they have a love for explaining, despite knowing that the man will forget everything they tell him almost right away—that this means that his ‘implicit memory’ might not have been damaged the same way his ‘explicit memory’ was. In laymen's terms, they continue, this means that he can be a functional adult once again. They tell him all this with great big smiles on their faces, assuring him how fortunate he is to be able to rely on one form of memory when the other failed. Their satisfaction is rivalled only by that of his physical therapists, who tell him how proud he should be of his young body to recover so fast from a major car crash.

All these good news, and yet Daimyon does not become happier over the two months. Partly because he has to be told them every day, but partly also because he, for a reason he cannot pinpoint, does not feel that good about them in the first place. The sticky notes on his bedside table have multiplied; most prominent are the ones that say ‘Do Not Panic’ and ‘Days I've Been Here (add one every time you wake up)’. There are also more encouraging messages from his parents, who visit him regularly and even help with his training sometimes.

And yet, something still feels wrong for Daimyon.

At the end of the two months, the specialists tell him that he has successfully relearned all the skills he had before his accident, and that he was ready to reintegrate into the world outside. At that moment, a flash of clarity occurs to him. He finally realises what feels wrong.

“But what about my...memories?” he asks, much to their confusion. “Every day I...wake up, not knowing who I am. I still don't recognise my parents, or my friends, or...anyone. How can you say you're done with me? Will I be like this until I die?”

There is much discussion between the specialists at his outcry. In truth, they have long discarded the possibility of him regaining his explicit memory and focused on training his implicit. Still, they do not have the heart to send him away when he is so distraught, and so one of them finally steps forward.

We are done with you. But there's someone else who might be able to help.”



I wasn't a natural poet.

When others had given up
The heavens gave me a muse.
She opened my eyes, she opened
My mind, to a better life.


“Good morning, Daimyon.” A different voice wakes him up a few days later. He opens his eyes, quickly scanning through the notes on his bedside table before sitting up. Standing before his bed is a young woman, not more than a couple years older than him. She wears a white coat and has a notebook in her hands. “I hope you don't mind the first name basis. I just thought we should get over the acquaintance process quickly.”

“Good...morning, ma'am. I've seen you before, haven't I? I'm sorry...”

“No, you...actually haven't.” She pulls out a chair and sits down beside him. “I'm Dr Maya Morandi, and I'm here to help you remember.”

“Remember? But haven't I been doing...these things...these, uh...” he looks at his notes for a quick reminder, “these training sessions already?”

“In fact, you're done with them. You don't remember, but you asked the staff here for help in building your explicit memory back up. That's when they called me—I specialise in treating amnesiacs. Total amnesia like yours is very rare, so I understand how anxious it must make you. But! There's no problem without a solution. Here, take this.” She hands him her notebook and pulls out a pen to go with it. “This notebook will be your main tool to recovery.”

Daimyon takes a second to examine the notebook. It fits nicely in his hand and is pleasant to look at with its simple, dark red cover. He opens it, finding its white pages empty.

“It's yours now,” Dr Morandi says. “And it's up to you to fill its pages.”

“With...what?”

“Think of it as your memory storage. The things you see, feel, and experience...you can write all of them down here, into this notebook. When you need to remember, all you have to do is read it.”

“Will it really help me?”

“Well, it's nothing magical. You're essentially picking up the brain's slack by storing things manually, in writing. People take a lot for granted when their memory is concerned, you know—but you and I both know that it's a very fragile thing. You have to be more observant and more conscientious if you want to fill in for it. But who knows? It might just help you see the world in a new way.” Daimyon nods, fiddling with the pen in his hand. “Go on then! Try writing down what you see.”

“I...” He stares at the page; it daunts him. He draws blanks.

“The first page is especially important! Think: what would you like to know right off the bat, every morning? Write those down.”

“Right off the bat...” he repeats, racking his brain for something, anything at all. Then he starts writing. He writes with great uncertainty, each word coming laboriously after the last, but he manages to get a few sentences down at the top of the first page. “Is...this good?”
The lines read the following: ‘Good morning. First of all, do not panic! You probably feel confused, but that's normal. You are Daimyon Londe and you suffer from amnesia. This notebook is here to help you deal with it.’

He hands the book to the doctor, who looks over it. “Name...situation...reassurance... Perfect! It's a great start.” She gives it back. “Now come! Let's go for a walk. Bring your book with you—you'll have plenty to write about!”

During their walk, she teaches him how to write on the fly and talks about the art of translating senses into words. Then he undertakes a new regime of memory training with her guidance, focused on holding thoughts in his head for long enough to be written down. When the day ends and a new begins, she is by his side in the morning to remind him to read the notebook, until it becomes muscle memory. Thus go the first several days of Daimyon Londe under the care and tutelage of Dr Maya Morandi.

————

After the first week or so, they are sitting once again in his hospital room. She leafs through his notebook while he waits in anticipation.
“You're making good progress, Daimyon. Your notes are getting more frequent and more detailed.” She hands it back. “They're just disorganised at the moment. Your writing, it's like an unfiltered stream of thought. Which is great for mimicking the mind, but not so much for being useful to you! You need some sort of order. I'd suggest dedicating some space at the end for the more...permanent features of your life. People, places, you know? Your friends, your parents, your home, these all deserve their own page. What do you think?”

“Right!” He quickly moves to the last pages, counting some back, then writing ‘PEOPLE’ at the top. With that same momentum, he starts writing the first entry.

“What are you—” She leans in to see, only to burst out in a chuckle. “Ah! You flatter me...”
The first entry, written with careful letters and encased with a square of importance, is ‘Dr Maya Morandi’.

Somewhat later, they are taking another walk. They are out in the city, and Daimyon feels like it is the first time in forever. Dr Morandi knows the truth, however—it is his second time outside. She walks ahead, taking in the buzzing Bostonian life and encouraging the man to do the same. He, on the other hand, is buried in his notebook, scribbling furiously.

“Something wrong? You're lagging behind,” she mentions.

“Sorry, doctor, I...there's just so much to write down! I can't keep up!”

“Then you're being too verbose! I'm glad we came this far, but the world is a constant overload of sensations. You need to figure out what to capture from it. It's an art in and of itself.”

He makes sure to note down the doctor's advice. One evening, when he feels particularly restless and thus sits alone in a park with his notebook, he stumbles upon it. Thinking, he flips to his People section, where Dr Morandi's profile greets him. Over the days it has blossomed into two whole pages filled with descriptions—and a surprisingly well-drawn sketch—of how she looks, what she wears, her traits and preferences, and what she means to him. It is, even by his own admission, a mess.

So he gets to rewriting it.

First he tries to come up with shorter, more concise substitutions for his words, but this only saves a small amount of space. Then he tries to cross out non-essential paragraphs but finds judging what is ‘non-essential’ an impossible challenge. Frustrated, he puts down the book and gazes into the distance, deep into the park. The sun is just setting, its rays are gleaming their last through the tree crowns before the entire sky turns orange. Daimyon revels in nature's beauty, wishing he would remember all of it. It fills him with a kind of energy, and he picks up the book again. Looking at the pencil sketch he drew of the doctor, he imagines it coming into the colours of nature around him. Then he writes...

- windswept hair, the colour of an oak tree's trunk
- eyes that shine with the light of the evening sun
- the grace of a breeze that moves the leaves
- the esteem of


Daimyon pauses here. He looks around: what in nature has esteem and authority? His eyes are drawn to a nearby scene, where a uniformed man scolds a couple for littering on the grass. Thus, the final line ends up being:

- the esteem of a park ranger

He is not sure what to make of this short list. It is definitely his most concise attempt yet, condensing half a page into four lines. He adds a note to the top of the page to remind himself to show Dr Morandi tomorrow, then stays awhile to watch the sunset.

————

“What do you think?” he asks with anxious excitement, sitting in his hospital bed.

Dr Morandi stands before him, notebook in hand, reading intently. “Daimyon, this is...poetry!”

“Poetry?” He expected many reactions from the doctor; this is not one of them. “But it doesn't even rhyme...”

“Poetry doesn't need to rhyme. It really is just...well, I'm no poet, but I think it really is just an artistic condensation of meaning. Which you've done excellently here. Honestly, if you just remove those dashes from the start, you could put this out as free verse poetry!” She laughs, and Daimyon laughs with her.

“I don't know, but it helps me read over everything quicker...since it's so short.”

“Of course! It might even make for stronger memories, since you can attach people's traits to things already in your implicit memory. Even if you don't call it poetry, you should keep writing in this style, if you can. It'll help you in more ways than one!”

————

Just as the doctor ordered, Daimyon starts dabbling more and more in poetry. Though it takes him a long time to get a hang of it, he eventually becomes almost as proficient writing in such a condensed fashion as he does regularly. He also researches classic and modern styles to formalise his knowledge. This newfound skill of his persists through his amnesia, allowing him to steadily fill the notebook with poems of various shapes and sizes. His favourite quickly becomes writing about people: he dedicates many to his proud parents, he sends them to his friends and even hospital staff.
The foremost subject of his emerging poetry, however, remains the person who kickstarted it. As they struggle through session after session together, Daimyon finds his notes about Dr Morandi becoming increasingly personal. One day, when he reads back the previous week's records, he realises that they sound like that of a man hopelessly enamoured with someone. The realisation is equal parts frightening and enlightening: frightening because he did not think he could ever have feelings for anyone again, and enlightening because it explains the strange feelings he gets when spending time with her. The fluttering heart, the rush in his head—there is no mistake about it. His memory might be faulty, but his physical intuition is as healthy as ever.
From that point on, he spends much of his free time and empty pages exploring the idea. He takes care not to show Dr Morandi any of it, which becomes increasingly difficult. Still he presses on, rediscovering an universal truth: love is a hell of a drug.



I didn't think I'd remain a poet.

Inspiration is fleeting.
Muses, they come and go.
What was I without them,
What was I alone?


Then, one morning, he wakes up to a familiar sound that he, regardless, cannot place. Instinctively, he reaches for his notebook to clear up the confusion, but he finds nothing on his bedside table. Panic rises quickly in him as he scrambles up from the bed, only to finally notice that he is not alone. A woman stands at the side of his bed, holding a dark red notebook. It must be his, he thinks, the only clear thought in his head at the moment.

“Daimyon. Don't panic, it's me,” the woman says, not doing his anxiety any favours. She hands him back the notebook. “Read up.”

He quickly scans through the first, then the last couple pages, reconstructing his reality.
“Doctor!” he exclaims in recognition. “W-why did you...have my notebook?”

“I read it. We have to talk.” She gets herself a chair to sit beside him. “But first, I must apologise. It wasn't right, reading into it. I realise now that you wanted to keep...some things in there private.”

Daimyon works his way backwards in the diary portion of the notebook as Dr Morandi talks, soon figuring out what she must be talking about. He feels a cold sweat run down his neck.
“They were private! Why did you read them?! I wasn't...it wasn't ready...!”

“Ready for what, Daimyon?” He sees the woman's intense expression crack as she looks away. “I...I want to hear it from you, directly.”

He knows exactly what to say: the major theme in the last several of his notes is trying to muster the courage to say it. Yet, he has never managed; now too, he feels his words get strangled in his throat. He takes a deep breath. This is not how it was supposed to go.
“I wanted to...confess,” he utters after much struggle. “Confess that I love you.”

Dr Morandi nods, then shakes her head, then both at the same time. She closes her eyes and stands up, facing away from the man, wiping her face of something.
“R-right. Then...then I have to apologise...again.” She turns back to him, only holding herself together through visible effort. “I'm really, really sorry.”

“What? Why?” A familiar, dark cloud of confusion gathers in Daimyon's mind. He frantically pores over his one solace, the notebook, but it has no answers to offer. Throwing it aside in frustration, he gets out of his bed. “You didn't...make me fall in love with you, did you? You never even showed a hint!”

Dr Morandi takes a step back. “No, but—think! You saw me more than anyone else for...it feels like months now. More than your parents, more than any other staff, every single day. P-prolonged exposure like that builds an emotional connection, it's—it's just how our brains work!” She pauses to compose herself. “The truth is, there is a limit to the amount of time one doctor can spend with an amnesiac patient. I...broke that limit. By a lot. I thought, you were improving so well, I didn't want to leave your treatment unfinished! And because of my stubbornness, you were exposed to this...torturous mix of emotions towards someone who simply cannot requite it!”

“What do you mean, cannot? What...what stands in the way?”

“Because I'm your therapist, and what you feel for me, it's...it isn't real love. It's dependent attachment; it's a survival instinct. Trust me, you're...not the first case.”

Out of everything she has just told him, somehow that last part hurts Daimyon the most. He believed, truly, that what he felt was genuine and unique; it gave him immense joy to know that even someone as defective as him could love someone with all their heart. He sinks back down on his bed, burying his face in his hands.

“I should've told you all this earlier,” Dr Morandi continues. “But I didn't want to hurt you. I never did.” She waits for Daimyon to respond, but he does not, instead quietly sobbing. It makes her heart break. Still, she presses on. “It's the unfortunate truth that as an amnesiac, you'll be a prime target for people to abuse. I didn't...intend any harm, and look how much I still managed to hurt you! Now imagine someone malicious. If they were to isolate you, they could easily prey on your emotions. Then there's your notebook—you must keep it secured at all times, because if someone takes it, you're suddenly at their mercy. I hope you can understand these.”

Daimyon finally turns to her, teary-eyed. “What now?”

“W-what do you mean, what now? I—”

“Will you leave me? Please don't leave me,” he pleads. “You...you don't have to love me, just please don't leave me. I feel...lost without you.”

“Lost? I don't think so.” She sits down next to him. “If anyone, I should've realised that you've been self-sufficient for a while now.”

“How can you say that, when I can't even remember?”

“But you can! You can hold memories for an entire day, did you realise that? For an anterograde, that's unheard of! Your note management is also fantastic. You don't need me. Far from it!”

Daimyon lets out a sad chuckle. “You taught me all of that. Poetry too, I...I would've been nothing without you.”

“Did I really? I only told you to be more concise. Poetry—that was your idea. And, my god, you are talented in it.”

“Do you really think so?”

“Yes! I've read the ones that were meant for...for me. They're beautiful.” Dr Morandi lays her hand on his, looking into his eyes with a small smile. “I don't deserve to be your muse, Daimyon. But someone else does. And the whole world deserves to see what you're capable of.”

“I'll always remember you...”

“Ha. As good as it'd make me feel, I'd rather you not. I was...well, I really was just doing my job. And now you can go on to greater things.” She lets him go and starts heading out of the room. Daimyon gets the urge to reach after her, to hold her hand for just a little longer, but he resists it. “I'll tell the hospital heads that you are as trained as you'll ever be. They'll probably discharge you tomorrow. Let your parents know.”

“Will I see you again?”

She looks back one last time. “I'll be there to say goodbye.”

With her gone, Daimyon lies back down. He feels exhausted, physically and mentally. But he does not sleep—he has too much to think about.



I carved out my own path as a poet.

But imagination—that's limitless:
A never-ending spring of joy.
When you give it enough space,
That spring becomes a lake.


Everything went as the doctor predicted. Daimyon was given the green light the next day, and his parents showed up quickly to take him home. She was there, too: cordial but professional towards the family, giving them advice going forward. The parents thanked her profusely, as did Daimyon, who battled himself throughout not to let his feelings show. He waved her goodbye when they left but did not say anything—perhaps he thought their story was not over yet.

Daimyon resumed life with his parents in Boston. He made them promise not to tell anyone about his condition, and in exchange he worked incredibly hard to conceal it from others. Even still, the first year out of the hospital was the most difficult one of his life: he had to drop out of college, into which his parents had already sunk large sums of money into. Though they assured him that his well-being was the first priority, the guilt still ate away at him, and he tried to help out with house errands and odd jobs to bring in some income. His options and abilities were limited, however, barely making a dent in his loan debt.
Poetry was what kept him afloat in this despairful year. He dedicated most of his free time to perfecting his technique and often spent days just letting his mind wander to dreamscapes and impossible worlds. He started lucid dreaming, something which his mother said he had never been capable of before. Without the means to travel the world in search of inspiration, he learned to harness it from everywhere around him, and often just rely on his imagination to guide his writing hand. Amidst these efforts, the dark red notebook quickly filled up. He bought a much thicker one to last him—with a green cover, his favourite colour—and learned to copy over and expand the essentials from his previous one: the first page, the second and third which contained a timeline of his life so far, and the People and Places sections. It took him over a week to make the transition, most of it spent in deliberation over a single entry: that of Dr Maya Morandi. He recorded her wishes, but also his feelings, making for an agonising choice. In the end, he copied the people without her and instead gave her a mention on the first page. He thought it was a fitting commemoration of her brief but life-changing impact on his life.

The next day, he forgot who Dr Maya Morandi was. Eventually, his body did too, and her name no longer brought any feeling to him. But, although he himself did not know, she still defined his first proper poem collection. Titled ‘On Heartache and Its Cures’, it comprised of several odes, rhapsodies, and other emotionally-charged pieces that dealt with the complexities of love. His father, who was the second biggest fan of his work behind his mother, pitched it to a friend of his who was a publisher. Daimyon's only objection was that he did not believe enough people would care, especially since the publisher only agreed on putting it out in exchange for a substantial payment.
For the first week after it came out, he entirely avoided the literary community. Then, as the family was having lunch together one afternoon, his father spoke up.

“So, guess what. The publisher called me today.”

“They want their money back, huh?” Daimyon asked, burying his impending sadness in hot soup.

“It sold out.”

He almost spit out his soup.



I remained a poet.

The world became my muse.
I went, I witnessed, I wrote,
And people could relate.
They saw themselves in my mirror.


On Heartache and Its Cures was a tremendous success. Daimyon became known in literary circles and beyond as a rising star, which brought him acclaim, respect, and most importantly, money. Though not yet enough to get out of his debt, things suddenly looked brighter with a bestselling book under his belt. Above all, he felt validated for the massive effort it had taken him to make the collection. There were poems in there that had taken weeks to write, and every single day he had to pick them up, not remembering anything from the previous day's efforts, and continue. Before setting out to write a sophomore project, he learned how to better manage his condition. He maximised his ‘remembering time’ by sleeping as little as he could get away with. For when the reset inevitably came, he left himself specially-crafted notes in his notebook that put him right back in the mindset he had left off the day before. So engrossed was he in this effort that his second collection came to be revolved around it. ‘Reset, Repeat’ became a narrative of persistence, of overcoming and recreating the temporary. Initially he worried he had included too many hints to his amnesia, but no one managed to put them together. The now-eager publisher had themselves another success: not so literary anymore but popular, its motivational themes reaching millions.

Then, the day came when the Londe family was finally debt-free. That same day, Daimyon announced something he had planned long ago: he told his parents that he wished to move out and live on his own, and to embark on new adventures. Though tearfully, they let him go, and he moved to Minnesota. Why Minnesota? He had no idea. One day, he had found the words ‘Move to Minnesota!’ in his notes, with his distinct handwriting, squared and marked as important. No context had been given. But, by that time, he had learned to trust himself.



Daimyon Londe was in no rush. The accomplished poet sat reclining back in the comfortable backseat of the taxi. He carried a small bag with him with only the essentials: wallet, passport, notebook. There was a suitcase in the trunk—he was heading to the airport. Six years on, it was high time to make up for the missed opportunities. Plus, his grandmother was turning 75 and he would not have missed it for the world. In the idle time of the ride, he browsed on his phone, reading the reviews of his latest book, ‘The Ikoroshi Prophecies’. It was an experimental prose-and-poem hybrid about the fictional prophet Ikoroshi and his many prophecies and teachings of varying sanity. ‘Prophecies finds Daimyon Londe at his creative best,’ one review read. ‘He mixes formats and styles, sometimes mid-verse, breaking plenty of walls (fourth and otherwise) in the process. It definitely isn't his most commercial work, but those who are willing to enter the mind of Ikoroshi won't soon want to leave.’
Daimyon was about to read further when a notification popped up. He received an email.

‘You Have Been Selected’? What is—where?” he muttered as he read the title and beyond. “The Infinity Initiative...hmm...”

It was an interesting proposal, he had to give it that. But it had to wait. The taxi rolled into airport parking; he paid and got out. As he was walking into the airport, he saw a plane flying overhead. It filled him with excitement. He was ready to fly.

I am a poet.

In disorderly lines I found meaning,
Rhymes and reason. Where there was
Memory, there is now imagination.
Where there were boundaries,

There is now Infinity.





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 ‘...you 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 so...so 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.
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