The staff rumoured it to be an extension of the main manor.
To some, it was believed to be a monument in memory of the knights that had fallen at the young master's engagement.
And others, that it was a greenhouse the young master (rather impetuously) built for his betrothed.
After all, the sand in the trenches was ideal and ripe for growing. There was nothing to obstruct the sun. It was the perfect - almost ingenious - addition to the Blazkowicz Manor after everything.
Yet these hopes were expectedly dashed when the gardener returned after days into the ceaseless construction; his heart suffering terribly at the sight. Because no greenhouse in the kingdom was made out of steel. No greenhouse was made this tall and round.
No greenhouse... well... looked like a coliseum, really!
Placing down her teacup, the Countess sighed longingly as she looked out her study window at the addition's progress. It was so stupendously tall that it cast a shadow over the main estate, but oddly, she couldn't find it in her to be surprised anymore.
'Monsters... a Green Knight... a coliseum! What is next? A titan to appear in the Blazkowicz County!?'
She sighed again as she placed aside her father's letter. He was so taken by the events leading up to this that he could scarcely even utter his usual endearments towards her.
Not that Sylvia could blame him. It was a lot to take in. So much, in fact, that she sighed again when she thought of the princess.
It was no surprise the young woman was withdrawn after everything she saw and experienced. She hadn't heard from or seen her ever since the disaster at the engagement, and wondered if perhaps any one of these night would be her last on the estate. And how would the Countess go about redacting her own son's engagement?
She sighed for the umpteenth time and the servants could only stare on pitiably. Be it at the lady's great sorrow, or the monstrous thing taking shape outside the windows... no one could tell.
The two weeks following the engagement, however, didn't find Daisy leaving the estate or cancelling her engagement to the Blazkowicz family's only son. Oh, no.
Instead, it found Daisy far busier than she ever imagined herself to be. Busy in the form of replying to letters. Dozens and dozens of them! Who knew a demonic invasion of her own engagement would skyrocket her popularity instead of soiling it?
Well, she certainly didn't.
For the few days after the fact, the princess had been asleep, stirring only when she sensed a presence. She was too groggy to make them out, too weak to; her right shoulder all the while aching and pulsing like a raw wound.
By the fourth day, however, Daisy had regained some semblance of energy. Though the pain was still present, it subsided enough for her to sit up in bed; the princess quickly realising she was back in the guest estate.
And boy, when she thought back, her engagement was certainly one to remember as Daisy pulled away the top of her nightdress, staring disdainfully at the big, ugly purple blotch on her shoulder. It looked almost like an old wine stain on carpet. A sight that triggered the memory of how she'd gone into shock shortly after the Slayer's arrival, convinced she'd lost the arm entirely when she couldn't feel or move it in the least...
And then she thought of the skulls. The red demon. The massacred knights.
She could only assume the adrenalin at the time was what kept her going, because even weeks later, the reality hit her like a wave of nausea. One she struggled to dispel as she set aside the pile of letters in front of her, massaging her temples tiredly.
Was this what being popular entailed? Headaches and sleepless nights? She didn't know how most noblewomen did it. The only one that put a genuine smile on her face was Petunia's, who excitedly gushed about Vega, apparently dazzled by the story of his 'cooling system'.
Not that Daisy could even begin to imagine what that was, but it was nonetheless an entertaining and appreciated read in between the sensationalism and questions of who the fabled Green Knight Blazkowicz was.
She knew precisely whom that title referred to. It was ironic that he was the one responsible for the ghastly rumours as well as ultimately the one to dispel them, be it quite literally with a gun.
Smiling fondly, she wrote back to Petunia. And by the end of it, wondered exactly where that Green Knight had been these past few weeks.
He hadn't come to visit her, and she'd been so preoccupied properly responding to the influx of letters that she hardly thought to visit him either...
Not until three weeks later, that is.
Daisy would have been lying if she said she wasn't the most stressed she'd ever been in the past few years. She also would have been lying if she said she didn't miss the familiar racket of gunfire most days and nights. The din of construction was a far less intimate replacement; one she could no longer remember William Blazkowicz by.
Frustrated, the princess returned to a most trusted method of finding him: sneaking out at night. The knights seemed either on break or relieved from work as she crept out stealthily, clutching her shawl. Thick clouds gathered over her; a bizarre series of orange and white lightning dancing behind them.
Now that was hardly normal. Could it have been the work of demons? It must have something to do with the invasions, right?
Daisy's heart pounded fearfully as she walked faster for the trenches. It was dark. She was unarmed. All alone at an ungodly hour of the night. What if they decided to attack? What if she would become a casualty this time? And just where in tarnation was her dimension-traveler when the world needed him most?
She had been so consumed by these thoughts that Daisy didn't realised she reached the monolith until coming face to face with a facet of it. After all, there were several. All made out of impossibly tall, iron walls. There was brickwork here and there, and combined with the sleek, gleaming silver walls, she couldn't help but find it resemble something like a fortress.
In fact, there was so much steel that Daisy struggled to distinguish a door between them... assuming there was one. The thing looked impregnable.
She approached the closest façade tentatively and reached out, hoping to push it open, which begged the question of why she'd come here at all. What did she hope to achieve? Did she really just want to see him? See him and then what?
The princess's conflicted thoughts, however, vanished the instant her fingers brushed against the wall and it hissed open. She jolted back in surprise and would have turned back if not for the blue glow of light from within. It was a colour she recognised. One she grew to hold fondly, even.
Straightening up confidently, the princess entered the room; the door closing behind her, which prompted an even brighter glow within. It uncovered a room similar to William's study. All sleek, clean steel, inlayed with luminous tubes.
She followed the path of them and to what appeared to be a human-sized one; a glass encasing big enough for two people. Well, one, if you've the Slayer in mind.
She approached it slowly, studying it curiously before the glass hissed open as well, similarly to the front door. Looking about her, the princess quickly ascertained this was her only way forward.
Stepping in, the doors hissed closed behind her and she squeaked in surprise as the tube began to move, ascending. It took her a long moment to realise it meant no harm. And when she did, she turned around hesitantly; her eyes widening at the view she passed.
It was unlike anything she'd ever seen. A marriage between ancient and modern, familiar and new; steel and brickwork merging to create something like a classical coliseum and technological marvel. It shared a similar aesthetic to his original study, and Daisy wondered if it was an Earth or Argenta one as the moving tube came to a slow stop on the third or fourth floor. She was too entranced by her surroundings to tell.
William's study. It was so similar, in fact, that when she stepped out of the elevator, found the very same tables and screens now mounted in the new and certainly larger room, only doubled in size and length, and forming an incomplete circle...
But that wasn't what she was looking for. Seeing no trace of the man in question, Daisy found herself wallowing in unexpected disappointment and nerves.
Something about his absence made her uneasy. Vulnerable.
In the event of another invasion, what were her chances of survival? How much longer could she take a stand against those things alone? When he'd return to his world - and that, she knew he would eventually - what would become of the kingdom? Her sister?
She muttered, scowling, terribly agitated with her own thoughts and feelings. Perhaps what happened at the engagement left a far deeper impression on her than she cared to admit. One she fought desperately as she turned to leave.
Only, Daisy wouldn't leave.
Because a voice sounded suddenly from every corner of the room, reverberating with static energy in the walls and floors, almost knocking the princess's heart out of her chest with surprise.
'Hello. I am Vega. Welcome to the Fortress of Doom.'
'S-Sir Lucius...?' she started, staring agape at her surroundings to no avail. She was still as alone as can be. Puzzled, Daisy frowned as she asked the familiar nobleman, 'What manner of trickery is this? Where are you?'
'Please enter your personnel ID into the keypad below.'
'Please enter your personnel ID into the keypad below.'
She quickly realised that though this was certainly Vega's voice, it wasn't the Vega she knew. This one sounded more unnatural; more rehearsed; if that was even possible.
Daisy didn't need to scrutinise the tables to find what she needed. The 'keypad' in question glowed a familiar blue for her benefit as she approached the rotunda again, scanning the numerical device for a long moment. Every few seconds, Vega would repeat his last request. A certainly annoying ritual Daisy would rather be done with as quickly as possible!
She reached for the keypad at a loss for where to even begin with a 'personnel ID', when a large, familiar hand did it for her instead, keying in an apt '666' which unlocked the screens. It also unlocked a new prompt from Vega.
'Access granted. Welcome, Slayer.'
And what a welcome it was. Daisy had many questions. All of which disappeared the second she turned around, almost colliding with the Slayer who appeared fresh out of the shower. She could smell his aftershave from this close, feel his body heat...
She also happened to be close enough to notice his necklace again. And almost bare chest.
A sight that made her stumble back onto the table as she gripped it with both hands, desperately searching for something over his shoulder to distract herself. She could feel her cheeks prickle and her ears turn hot.
'I-it's been a long while, William,' she raised the side of her fist to her lips to compose herself. 'It is a pleasure to see you... doing well.'
And how well! She was both tempted and hesitant to fix his shirt for him before he poked somebody's eye out!
He grunted out a response before moving away, and Daisy breathed a sigh of relief; her heart still pounding a mile a minute. She watched from the corner of her eye as he scrubbed his hair with a towel, all the while concentrating on the plethora of screens. They showed bars and graphs and huge walls of text she couldn't even begin to unravel... at least not at this moment anyway.
'You've quite an impressive monument here,' she started, looking around at the large and spacious room again. 'I take it the study was inadequate?'
'Affirmative,' Vega responded; his voice humming with electricity. 'This is the Slayer's new central command station, intended to provide and withstand approximately 0.5 megawatts of electricity.'
She could only assume that was a significant measurement of power, considering their obsession with it and this 'tether' device... the device that would send him home any one of these days. Daisy had mixed feelings about it.
'However, the Fortress is currently functioning on only a fraction of this capability. I'm afraid appropriate power sources are difficult acquisitions as we speak.'
The words inadvertently soothed her. She knew it was nasty, but she didn't want to face that reality just yet.
'May I ask what happened to Sir Lucius...?' she asked tentatively, unsure whether to address the Slayer or Vega's voice... wherever it was coming from, that is. 'Is this perchance his original form? This 'AI' you spoke of?'
Though the Slayer shook his head, Vega responded in full. 'Negative. This form is merely a fraction of recoding done by my physical body, intended to assimilate over time with the Fortress. My functionality has been stripped to accommodate for the power provided, and encompasses a range of basic command inputs and information.'
How fascinating! Enthralled, the princess hummed as she turned to one of the closest screens and said, 'I believe you can show me some of that 'information' at this moment, yes?'
As if magically, the screen turned dark before transitioning into a deep shade of orange, providing a long list on the left and photos and blocks of text on the right. Daisy sat as she took a closer look at them-wait, was there always a chair behind her? And since when was the Slayer too? Vega's voice was quick to cut her thoughts short.
'Provided is the Slayer's recovered dossier from Mars. It has since been updated by my physical body to accommodate for demons that were not previously recorded.'
Aside from demons, there were other categories such as locations, key items, log files, and several more. But Daisy tapped on the first out of burning curiosity, and half regretted it later, for the demons she saw and read about were more nightmare fuel than informative. Not to mention the terrifying variety of them!
She learned that the 'red toenail' was in fact called a Cacodemon. Its friends were known as Lost Souls. She also learned that she was positively content never seeing another Hell Knight again in her life. Add to the list a famished and decaying skeleton called a Revenant, a huge, pink, armoured swine called a Pinky, a walking meatball known as a Mancubus, and some hellish 3-metre goat and demon amalgam called a Baron of Hell too.
The last two, though, were the cherry on top of that horrific cake. The Cyberdemon and Spider Mastermind. Just what on earth did this man face on Mars? How was he still-I don't know-still standing behind her and looking through everything calmly after all that!?
Daisy sighed wistfully, knowing that going through life without seeing any of these things was probably just wishful thinking. As long as she was around William, just about anything was possible these days.
Having had enough of the demonic bestiary for one sitting, she filed through a few more of the categories on offer. She read about Mars, the infamous UAC, notable figures by the names Olivia Pierce and Samuel Hayden she felt an especially dreadful menace burn to life behind her at the sight of, and by the end of it, felt exhausted. It was surprisingly laborious work soaking in such foreign and comprehensive information.
But just when Daisy thought she'd had enough, she jolted to attention at a certain image scrolling through the list of key items. A skull. An elongated body. Green gems.
'What you are currently viewing is known as the Crucible,' Vega explained after a long moment of the princess simply staring at it. 'A conduit of Argent energy, as well as a melee weapon that belongs to the Slayer. Its origins are unknown of at this time.'
Daisy listened. Or at least she thought she did. Because her mouth went terribly dry and as much as she wanted to continue down the list, she couldn't. Her eyes fixated on the horrific item against her will.
The Slayer noticed. 'What is it?'
'N-nothing,' she croaked out, but was far too preoccupied with her own thoughts to chide herself. 'Nothing at all. I... believe I've overstayed my welcome here.'
'Daisy,' he said; the name silencing her promptly. 'Do you know it?'
She swallowed hard despite herself. She wanted to deny it, she really did. But that proved difficult when it was William asking the questions.
Quietly, tentatively; the tension thick in the room; she said, 'What if I said I did?'
A/N: maaaaajor apologies for the late update! But as always, I'm very appreciate of all feedback fam o7