RWWP: Act Three failism
Act three is when I gave up, and it shows. Not that it’s much worse than the rest, but I had stopped trying to write well at this point. Posting this is painful, but the show must go on.
Selwyn hid in the shadows near the Pierce estate. He had never seen it so busy. Selwyn doubted Runa would be there tonight. She was crazy, not suicidal. Then he saw the man fly through the window.
Runa was inside, and Selwyn needed to be. The entrances were far too heavily guarded for him to sneak past without getting attention. Shutting down the perimeter lighting would be his only option. It was about then that the lights went out. Suggestion was a truly marvelous power.
Taking advantage of the sudden darkness, Selwyn sneaked past the gate guards and into the estate. The patrols had stopped their rounds to investigate the faulty lights. Other guards shifted at their posts. None of them noticed Selwyn slide through the open doorway and into the manse.
“I don’t like this,” Selwyn heard a guard whisper from within the main hall, “First that hooded boy, then that monster, now the lights go out.”
“The Queen’s attendance makes me far more nervous.” a second responded. Both stood not far from where a Shadow was strapped to a column.
“You don’t think they’re connected, do you? I mean, people have said the Queen Helena is rather… Unique…”
The Queen’s presence could only mean bad things. If Pierce was receiving her, he would be in the second level conference room. Leaving the Shadow and its guards to their fates, Selwyn went up the stairs and down the hall. The conference room door was shut, but Selwyn could hear Runa’s voice from within.
“Listen, I don’t care what you have to say. I am telling you that there is a rogue Shadow tied to the load bearing column right outside, so we don’t have much time before it gets angry and pulls it down.”
“That would be rather unfortunate now wouldn’t it.” Pierce’s voice was difficult to hear.
“It just means I’ll have to speed things up a little bit.”
“Guards, remove this woman.”
“You don’t want to do that.”
“Yes, I do.”
“No really don’t…” Selwyn heard the thump of bodies dropping, “…touch me.”
“What did you do?”
“I did nothing. I tried to warn you. You really shouldn’t touch me. Bad things happen.”
“Very well, I’ll just have to kill you.”
Selwyn didn’t need to see to know Pierce pulled the rope that rang the bell to call for reinforcements. This put Selwyn, eavesdropping at the door, in an odd situation. On one hand, he was invisible. On the other, he was in the way. He also wouldn’t be invisible if the lights came back on…
Ah, suggestion worked both ways.
“Your Majesty, I do suggest you leave this estate post haste,” Runa continued speaking, not yet aware of the Queen’s own treachery, “This man is involved in things more deadly than you can imagine.”
“I can imagine quite a bit, my dear.” The Queen responded.
Four guards arrived behind Selwyn and pulled their blades. Using the narrow hallway to his advantage, Selwyn skirted around the group and knocked out one guard with a swift strike to the neck. Two more soon followed with strikes to the temples. The fourth managed to make it to the door. He opened it before Selwyn could strike the base of his neck and incapacitate him as well. The body fell and Selwyn stood facing Runa. Pierce and Queen Helena sat at a polished wood table behind her.
“Hi, Runa,” he grinned.
“Ah, if it isn’t Selwyn the Undead,” Pierce said from his cozy seat on the opposite end of the room.
“Actually he’s only half dead, he never fully died the first time,” Runa said.
“Is that entirely relevant?” Selwyn asked.
“No, but I’m a stickler for detail.” Runa turned to face him, showing her back to Pierce.
“He will be Selwyn the Full Dead in a moment,” Pierce’s voice rose with agitation.
“Not if I have a say in the matter,” Runa looked directly at Selwyn as a slender throwing dagger appeared in her hand. She spun around and threw it directly at Pierce.
Pierce made no move to dodge. A Shadow leapt onto the table in front of him and took the dagger instead. Selwyn’s muscles tensed, debating between fighting and fleeing.
“Oh, for the love of Apollo!” Runa cursed.
“I was always a fan of Ares, myself.” Pierce stood up and bowed to Queen Helena, “If you’ll pardon my poor hospitality, my Queen,I really must go see to that Shadow downstairs. I would hate to have this lovely manse collapse on such a memorable night.”
“Of course, Lord Pierce,” she nodded her head.
“I shall leave this Shadow in your charge. Use it as you see fit.”
“Don’t let him leave.” Runa said to Selwyn.
“A valiant notion, had I not multiple exits.” a wall panel lifted up, seemingly on its own accord. Pierce disappeared through it, his pet Shadow blocking the path to him.
“Your Majesty, I really insist you leave this place at once,” Runa returned her attention to the Queen.
“Uh, Runa, that’s kind of what I came here to tell you.”
Runa gave him an agitated glance.
“The Queen is on their side.”
Runa’s eye twitched.
The Queen smiled.
“Well so much for that plan.” Runa passed off a mocking bow at the Queen of Death as she backed out of the room, “For now, I shall bid you adieu, Helena. We shall meet again.”
“Oh no,” The Queen still smiled, “I will see to it that we will not.”
Runa slammed the door shut and took off down the hall and into the nearest room, not caring which it was. Selwyn slipped into the room behind her before she slammed that door as well.
“What are you doing here?” she turned to him and yelled.
“Beyond trying to save your life?” Selwyn gave her a smug look.
Her eye twitched again.
“Regardless of any of that, we have to leave this estate. Everyone here is going to die in…” she paused, pacing across the room, “half an hour or so. I don’t want to be here when that happens. We have to leave.”
“Do you know anything about a soul rending ritual?” he asked her.
She stopped her pacing with her back to him. She slowly turned a pale face in his direction.
“What did you just say?” her voice was suddenly quiet.
“This is what I came to show you,” he retrieved the letter from his pocket.
She ripped it from his hands. Her eyes scanned the letter back and forth as she shook her head.
“I found it in a hidden compartment in a hidden desk in a hidden laboratory in the Ryder manse. Well, Katharina found the laboratory.”
“Katharina?” her eyes widened.
“Yes, we found this bizarre machine, it looked like it was used on humans. We think it’s related to this ritual the Queen mentions.”
“Where is Katharina?” she took a menacing step closer.
“She is safe. In the laboratory. I left her so she could look over the notes on the machine and maybe figure out what it does.”
“She is alone?”
“And not in Sheol?”
“Unless she went back on her own, no.”
“Then she is not safe. We have to find her.” Runa tossed the note in Selwyn’s general direction.
“What?” He grabbed the note from the air and tucked it back into his pocket.
“Katharina is going to die tonight, Selwyn,” she raised her voice as she stepped closer to him.
Selwyn backed up with each step she took toward him.
“There were two ways she would be spared: if she remained in Sheol for the night, and if she was with you. I figured having both of those down would be good enough but you clearly are incapable of following the simplest of directions!”
“I-I didn’t know!” his heart raced.
“I asked you to do one thing, Selwyn, one!” She raised a finger and kept it poised an inch from his face.
Selwyn clenched his fists, doing all he could to restrain himself from swinging at Runa. She wasn’t who he was angry with.
“Now I’m going to ask you to do another.” Runa’s voice had calmed. She lowered her hand.
“What?” His voice was as sharp as Runa’s daggers.
“You are going to help me find Katharina, stop this ritual, kill Karl Pierce, and possibly the Queen as well. All within the next twenty-eight minutes.”
With that, she left the room, an air of determination surrounding her.