We are getting near the end! So far, I've been very happy with how this turned out, and I hope you are, too. If enough of you want me to, I may write a spin-off of this involving Daniel's colony, and a more extensive look at the AU in general.
I know the events since the amnesia potion have followed the game pretty closely, but I hope to veer away from that in this chapter. I don't know if it will actually happen, but I will try.
Other than that, on with the story!
Daniel felt himself slipping. His mind was coming unhinged the longer he stayed in this hellish castle. He kept forgetting silly things, like keeping his wings up. He remembered when they snagged on something and pulled painfully, but he forgot again soon after. The darkness had become his friend, though he hated it with a burning passion. It concealed him, and made him feel like he was the only person alive on the entire planet. He felt like he would never escape, never find Alexander. He was doomed to wander these blasted halls forever, stumbling in the darkness and slowly going insane.
A lit torch was ahead of him, and he couldn't remember if he lit it. There were two more ahead of it, and he knew he hadn't lit those, because he never lit more than one at a time to preserve his tinder. Cautiously, he followed them, staying close to the wall out of habit. His ears strained to catch any sound that might foretell danger, but there was none. There was only this strange trail of torches leading him through the dark corridor.
He heard a creaking sound, and the floor collapsed underneath him. He braced himself against the inevitable impact with a hard floor. Instead, to his absolute horror, he landed with a splash. It stung, but not as much as it should have, and as he broke the surface with a gasp, he heard footsteps that definitely weren't his sploshing towards him. He scrambled to regain his footing in a panic and ran as fast as he could in the water, desperately casting about for something to climb onto and escape the monster. There was nothing, and he could do nothing but run and hope he was faster than the creature. It snarled, and he screamed in response, cursing the water as its resistance slowed him down.
He was growing tired, and he felt his stride shorten. Soon it would get him, and this hell would end in a whirl of blood. In the dim light ahead of him, he saw something just above the surface of the water, and the sight gave him an extra burst of energy. He pushed forward, and soon he was pulling himself onto the blessed pallet floating in the water. The creature's footsteps splashed around the pallet in a full circle before it backtracked, and he let out a long sigh of relief, slumping down on the wet wood. He stretched out his wings as much as he dared and just rested, closing his eyes for a few heavenly moments. He may have hated this water monster, but he knew that as long as he remained out of the water he was safe, and the other monsters—servants?—would not appear. They never roamed the same areas.
Daniel knew he'd have to try and escape eventually, but he thought he deserved a rest. He was dozing when Alexander's voice invaded his head.
Yes, that's right Daniel, he crooned, his tone sickly sweet. Just close your eyes and sleep. It will all be over then. You can rest as long as you like, little one.
He whined, forcing himself to sit up and stay awake. But that voice was enchanting, lulling him into a daze, and he wasn't sure how much longer he could resist it. So he hauled himself to his feet and balanced on the pallet, lighting his lantern and scanning the water. The monster splashed, and it was far enough away he knew he'd be able to outrun it as long as there was a door or something else floating in the water to rescue him. He took in a deep breath, steeling himself before plunging back into the water and sprinting away. The monster immediately chased after, but he'd gotten a head start and retained a safe distance between them. It wouldn't last, but for now he was alright. But where was the way out?
Then, up ahead, a hidden source of light outlined a door. It wouldn't be enough to hold back the monster for long, but it was better than nothing. His sides ached, and he wished his wing wasn't lame so he could lift himself out of the water. Then he wondered why he hadn't thought of that before. He hadn't been able to, anyway, but the thought had never crossed his mind.
There was no time to dwell on this now. The door was within his reach, and he wrenched it open, dashing through and shutting it behind him. He nearly sobbed with relief when he saw the stairs in front of him, rising up out of the water and to safety.
Daniel stopped on the second step above the water to catch his breath, laughing as the panic finally faded away and left a sort of exhausted mixture of fear and elation. The monster was trying to break down the door, but had only succeeded in tearing a hole in the middle of it. He was safe from it. Then his emotions faded away until only his exhaustion remained, and he simply sat and watched the monster chip away at the door. He absently picked at a feather on the tip of his good wing, and barely noticed the sharp twinge when he pulled it out. He lifted his hand and frowned in confusion at the brown feather he held. Where had that come from? It looked like his feather, but it couldn't be. He hadn't lost any.
He cast the feather into the water, where the monster had finally broken down the door and was leisurely splashing around looking for him. It sensed the feather and went to investigate, tearing apart the delicate thing in the process. Daniel watched it all calmly, unwilling to move from this little haven. Really, the water monster was harmless, even from this distance. He was sure if he could see it he would be able to reach out and touch it, and yet it could not get him. He was overtaken by the urge to try and touch it, and was only stopped by his prevailing exhaustion.
He didn't know why he was tired. His breathing and his heart rate had returned to normal, and he wasn't exerting himself at all. But his mind felt heavy and lethargic, like it was incapable of doing much more than making sure he breathed and his heart beat. Curiously, he held his breath, and there was nothing to tell him that he should breathe again. He held it until he forgot, and then he gazed around him and wondered if he should leave now.
No, little one, you do not need to leave, Alexander whispered in his mind. You can stay there, and one of my servants will come fetch you. They will bring you to me. Would you like that?
Would he? He'd thought Alexander was trying to kill him, but this Alexander seemed to want to help him get out. Were they even the same Alexander? He didn't know.
Yes, I am the same Alexander. He was surprised that the voice answered him, but didn't say anything. I've decided you do not need to die at all. I promise I will not harm you if you do not try to harm me. Will you come, little one?
A faint growl sounded above him, at the top of the stairs, and he panicked before remembering that Alexander controlled those monsters. Maybe this one wouldn't hurt him now. He cautiously crept up the stairs on his hands and knees and peeked through the slightly open door at the top. One of the clawed creatures was standing there, looking about as if it was lost. Occasionally its head would drop into its hands and it would sway, but it didn't look overly threatening. Daniel hesitantly knocked on the door. The thing paused, its hands dropping to its sides as it searched for the source of the noise.
See? It isn't going to harm you. It is safe. Just reveal yourself to it, and it will take you to me. Come on, little one, I am waiting.
Far away, huddled with the colony's healer, Hazel sat and wondered about her brother. She hoped he was alright, wherever he was.