CAUTION: This story and the Author's Notes contain spoilers for the entirety of Amnesia: The Dark Descent.
I've wanted to write something for Amnesia: The Dark Descent ever since I played it for the first time some years back. Few games have captured Gothic horror so very well, and it takes place in the early Victorian Era, a favorite time period of mine. Despite his sins, I ended up being fond of Daniel, the game's unseen protagonist. I also thought that he would make a great sub: he is at once proud, haughty, sad, and vulnerable, and his daddy issues are canon. I had planned to pair him with Alexander at one point, but then I decided to delve into what might have happened after he escaped from Brennenburg. In this story, I went with the "Revenge" ending plot where Daniel ruins Alexander's ritual, thus causing him to be destroyed by the Shadow. As for Agrippa, I don't know, I assume Daniel left him at Brennenburg in the dungeon; he was a weird little side plot anyway, and does not factor into this story.
In this story, Daniel returned to London, but still has not fully escaped Alexander's machinations. He meets Henry Bedloe, the bully that used to torment him, and finds that he is a psychiatrist and a gentleman. Despite their history, Daniel decides to believe Henry's claim that he has atoned for his past; Daniel has committed far worse sins by now, after all. Desperate to regain control of his life and mind, Daniel turns to Henry for help. The two men grow close, but the shadow Brennenburg cast over the young man's life continues to deepen.
This story contains male/male romance and sex, and spanking (Daniel practically begs for it, no?).
September 8, 1839
To all that had known him, the man who set foot in London that day beneath the smudges of orange foliage and smoggy sky was unrecognizable. Though he was just twenty-four years of age, dark circles beneath his eyes and the hollowness of weight loss had aged him considerably. He bore only two cases and a carpet bag, and his European clothing were hastily tailored. His brown hair was unfashionably long and tied back sloppily, wispy tendrils escaping to frame his pale face; there were streaks of pure white running through it despite his age. His eyes looked larger now that his face had slimmed, and they seemed to gaze through the lively city to darker realms around shadowy corners. He exited the carriage and gave payment for the ride without once meeting the driver's gaze.
Daniel had spent less than a month in the isolated Prussian castle of Brennenburg, but it had distinctly marked his mind. Even now that he was finally home, he felt at odds with the world outside its walls. The daylight stunned his eyes when it was at its full strength, and the air never smelled quite right. The woods and quaint towns of Prussia had been too clean, too pure. Now, London sprawled out before him busy and dirty, and he found its tangibility deceiving. He wondered, where were the veins pulsing with dark secrets? He had flowed through those strange passageways, he knew they were there, once one peeled away this diaphanous skin of reality. Science and industry crawled over that skin now all around him, flea-like, and he found himself nauseous. Quickly, he made for his rooms.
His apartment was wrecked, but Daniel could not bring himself to muster anything more than sad tolerance. He threw off his coat and boots, set his suitcase down, and set to work in stocking feet. The activity was good, it kept him from being too bothered by how even his personal rooms felt foreign.
Was it because of the Amnesia Mixture? As he apathetically gathered ruined possessions together for the trash, Daniel pondered his strange state of mind. Over the course of escaping Brennenburg, he had regained much of his memories. True, they existed as if behind a fog, but weren't memories always like that? Was it even really the Amnesia formula causing this separation of his old and new selves? Or was that wishful thinking? Surely, it was more pleasing to think of his current self as totally separate from the man he had been, the man who had been led to commit so many vile atrocities in that void-blasted castle …
Daniel's hands shook violently and he dropped the vase he had been picking up. It had been left tipped but unbroken, and now it shattered on the floor. He stared at the porcelain fragments slicing the corpses of long dead roses, and felt nothing. Walking like a hybrid of a dead man and a trained animal, he fetched the bottle of laudanum from his suitcase and drank deeply from it. Soon, he would need to find a new doctor (Doctor Tate is dead, like the rest of them, he thought numbly), and procure himself more. For now, he would get his rooms into livable condition, and then it would be straight to the pub.
It was evening by the time Daniel had his rooms marginally restored, and fresh necessities bought. He drew himself a bath and changed into evening clothes from his wardrobe (untouched by the chaos). The clothes hung loosely on his gaunt frame. Looking in the mirror, he remembered distinctly the young man he had been before Algeria: an archaeologist enraptured by dreams of finding fame and fortune and adventure, romanced by the exotic tales pouring into the British Museum from all over the world. For a moment, lifting his face to the reflection, he looked like his former self again. Then the shadows, emotional and physical, sharpened his features. He was wasted and withdrawn. He knew now that the world was no different from school, from home, from anywhere: it was dark and promised only pain.
There was a flicker of sorrow in his breast then, a distinct jolt of mourning. Could one mourn oneself? He had to turn away from the mirror. It would be best to go out and find himself a drink now. Pity there was only enough laudanum left to get him to sleep tonight.
On the street, Daniel soon found himself lost. He knew the streets, he knew his former haunts, but he was reticent to visit them, lest he run into a familiar face. He could not stomach the idea of socializing just yet; he hardly remembered or cared to remember former acquaintances. Besides, what could he really say? That he had gone to Africa, taken ill, and recovered somewhere far away? Trite enough lies to cover his ordeal, yet he found the idea of uttering them distasteful. Lies reminded him too sharply of Alexander's deceit. He found himself very sensitive to falling into that man's ways since leaving Brennenburg.
At last, past some winding alleys and quite farther than he had intended to go, Daniel found a place to drink. He had never been inside this place before, it was the sort of shabby haunt he would have looked down on once. Tonight, this was a blessing, as no one would know him there. He was dressed plainly, and the bite of severity Brennenburg had etched into his face made him fit in with the other embittered drunks. The regulars hardly gave him an eye, obviously deciding he was another youth fallen from the middle class or wherever, just one more failure swallowed by the city. Daniel might have once been offended by being seen this way, but now he was just grateful for the anonymity. He drank gin steadily, at a table alone.
Who am I now? Daniel wondered as the liquor cut through his mental fog. He stared into his glass, noting the shadowy reflection of his face. As he had shopped in London earlier, his sense of home had begun to return, along with more memories. All of it was for naught, however. He was no longer that ambitious young man. He was no longer the 'Daniel' that had walked these streets. So, who was he? Who was he now?
I have nothing to show for my travels, and the thought of archaeology makes me quiver with fright, Daniel thought. His hand shook and he grasped the glass firmly in both hands. More tombs! This whole world was built upon the bones of other worlds, corpses not yet quite dead. The thought of finding another half-dead dreaming thing like Alexander—or, God forbid, another Orb—fills me with terror! No, I'm done uncovering those secrets. The past should die, and if it cannot, then at least let it be buried! Let it stay buried! I won't be the one to uncover it.
Daniel sighed and leaned his head on a hand. The darkness in his eyes deepened. The talk in the pub hit a lull. The liquor began to unchain his thoughts.
And yet … I cannot fully make peace with the secrets I have already uncovered. In my dreams, I sometimes still see that blue light shining in the distance, and I want to reach for it. I've even heard Alexander's voice calling to me, and I have wanted to listen. Only the screams of the people I've murdered hold those sickening temptations at bay. Is it only my fancy that's tempted? Or is my mind still so diseased as to be drawn to the darkness? I purged the Shadow from my life, as I purged Alexander from this world. Why does my mind insist upon tormenting me so? Will I ever be truly free?
Daniel drank rapidly, aching for the oblivion of drunkenness. The dreams were not the nightmares of old. He was no longer being hunted. No, these dreams were more insidious, simply for the fact that they were less frightening. He was curious in these dreams. It was the same curiosity that had kept the Orb in his hands, that had led him to Brennenburg. Even in committing unspeakable acts of torture, many a time that evil curiosity had kept his hand steady, his eyes keen.
Screams boiled up inside Daniel—his own or the memory of his victims', he could not tell. He drowned them in gin. He wondered which he would do tonight in bed, cry or laugh. The extremity of his mental torture sometimes struck him as remarkably funny. Whichever, it doesn't matter, Daniel thought. Just so long as I don't do either in public.
It was not a promise he would be able to keep that night.