Nightmares plague him. Daniel tosses and turns in the comfort of his bed, sweating and shaking as the shadow's clutches grip into him. He's thrust back into the pitch-black darkness of castle Brennenburg. His lantern is held in front of him, its soft glow lighting the dim path ahead. The cobblestone walls shine with a sheen of dampness that permeates the air and chills him to the bone. He shivers and draws his thin coat tightly around himself.
In the distance, wails of despair and agony break the silence. An unseen woman is sobbing from her cell; an old gentleman pleads for an end to his torture. There are children, too. Their cries seem to echo the loudest. They're shouting for their mothers and scratching their nails against the cell doors. Daniel pushes forward, desperate to escape their voices. The castle's foundations tremble as the shadow grows closer.
Daniel nearly drops the lantern out of pure terror. Alexander's all too familiar presence is inside his head again.
I can hear you breathing
He picks up his pace until he's running blindly through the corridors. His only source of light begins to flicker, immersing him within complete darkness for precarious seconds. Daniel stops and watches the flame extinguish itself. He stretches out his hands to feel for the walls, but there's nothing there. He is trapped in never-ending darkness. His senses seem to become heightened and it's more difficult to catch a full breath.
Have you changed your mind?
Alexander cackles. Daniel drops to the floor and hugs himself. He can hear the grunts and groans of monsters swarming him. The brute's large metal blade sparks against the ground as it's dragged towards its intended target. The victims of their torture are shrieking now. They beg for the pain to stop between each agonized scream. A little girl is begging for her life, but the knife cuts deep and her words become garbled.
A howl from deep within the dark makes the ground shake, and Daniel looks up. The shadow's pulsating red flesh is materializing before him. It' crimson glow is nearly upon him when he screams.
He awakens drenched in sweat and caught in the midst of a swath of sheets. His legs kick at the covers as he sits upright, ignoring the hands that are pushing against his chest. In the dim light, Agrippa's concerned face is cast in deep shadows from the candelabra he's placed on the bedside table. Daniel takes deep breathes as he struggles to shake the nightmare.
"Agrippa…" He whispers.
"I'm here, Daniel. You're safe."
Daniel bursts into tears. The aftershock of such a terrifying nightmare, combined with the memory of Alexander's taunting voice, makes him break down. He hunches over and cries into a bundle of blankets in his arms. He can't stop himself from shaking. Agrippa tries his best to soothe the younger man's worn mind.
"How is all of this possible, Agrippa?" Daniel says between sniffles. "We should be dead."
The shadow should have consumed them both. Daniel had been the subject of its abuse for months. He had been under the ministrations of its night terrors and suffered greatly. He had gone to extreme measures to keep the beast at bay, but it had always persisted, straight into the very depths of the Inner Sanctum.
And, Agrippa? He had been nothing more than a corpse, speaking through a contraption that allowed him to talk to Daniel at great lengths. When he had gathered the ingredients for Weyer's tonic, he'd thought that he had finally lost his sanity, but it had worked. Agrippa had been saved, somehow.
"Do you remember the portal Alexander created?" Agrippa asks.
Daniel nods silently.
Agrippa smiles, "That portal allowed us to step into another world. The very same world that Alexander was so keen to return to." He gestures to the entirety of the room. "You're not in Prussia anymore."
"But, how are you alive?"
"The same tonic that Alexander had used to bind my soul into a husk has since been refined by my pupil, Weyer. When my severed cranium was tossed into the portal, my soul was able to latch onto the new body that Weyer had prepared for me. You, however, already have a body and a soul, so you came as you are." Agrippa rubs his face with his hands in exhaustion. "You were extremely wounded, but we've managed to patch you up."
Daniel shakes his head, the voices of a hundred tormented innocents still lingering in his mind. "You should not have saved me, Agrippa." His eyes are downcast, too ashamed to look at the older man any longer. "I've killed people."
Agrippa sits on the edge of the bed. He places his hand over Daniel's and squeezes. "What you did was under the instruction of a mad man. Alexander convinced you to do those things."
"But my hands are the ones that committed the heinous acts!" His knuckles turn white as he clenches his fingers together anxiously. He's quivering like a leaf and he can't stop. The room feels too cold.
Agrippa's voice softens, "You were placed in a desperate situation, Daniel."
"I tortured people, Agrippa!" Daniel shouts, unable to stop the crack in his voice as the gravity of what he's done settles on his shoulders. "I have blood on my hands! I do not deserve to live."
Silence. Only the sound of wax dripping down the candelabra and its burning wicks disturb the peace. Daniel stares at the blankets, lost in his own dark thoughts.
"Daniel, it is true that if you had never discovered the orb, you would have never been led astray in Brennenburg." Agrippa takes the Englishman's chin in his fingers and tilts it up so that Daniel is gazing at him. "But, if you had never done what you did, I would have never been freed from my prison. Weyer and I would have never been reunited. Alexander would still be alive."
Agrippa let that sink in for a moment, before finishing, "You've done great things, my boy. Now is not the time to dwell on the past. You need to focus on replenishing your strength to face the future."
Daniel relaxes into the feather pillows, a million questions orbiting around his troubled mind. Although he does not clearly remember killing the villagers for Alexander, the memories still haunt him. His former self, the real Daniel, had become a murderer in search of retribution. Under Alexander's guidance, he had been led to torture men, women, and children, until the elder had abandoned him. Once he had been left to face the shadow alone, he had understood that he had been used. The guilt of his actions was crippling, until the moment he had swallowed the amnesia potion.
Upon awakening, Daniel had only felt anger. He had traveled through Brennenburg, revenge and sheer curiosity fueling him the entire way. He craved to figure out who "Daniel" had been before the amnesia potion, and once he had found out, his only goal was to end Alexander's life.
In the Inner Sanctum, Daniel had confronted him. He had been exhausted, mentally and physically. Alexander had been levitating amid the air, his pallid blue skin alight with an iridescent glow as the power of the orbs was channeled into him. Daniel had waited for the right moment to do as Agrippa had instructed. When the deed was done, the baron had cried out in agony and disintegrated.
But Daniel cannot bring himself to believe that the immortal baron is truly dead. Alexander was all powerful, omniscient even. Did he really fail to predict Daniel's revenge?
"What if Alexander isn't dead?" He utters, his grip tightening on the sheets in fear at the mere thought. The baron had never been pleasant to him.
Agrippa leans forward, a serious glint in his eyes. "Then Weyer and I will do whatever it takes to protect you from his wrath."
Does anyone even read Amnesia stories anymore?