Disclaimer: Frictional Games owns it all, which makes me insanely jealous. XD
He hid in the shadows in the corner of the room behind the crates and listened for the hissing growl of one of Alexander's Gatherers as it searched for him. He could hear it's shuffling footsteps as its feet scraped across the floor, and he closed his eyes and pressed his face to the wall and tried to ignore the grinding of his teeth as the monstrosity shuffled into the room. Its guttural hiss echoed in the darkened storeroom, and Daniel swallowed the whimper that wanted to escape and prayed that it wouldn't see him.
His prayers were in vain however, and he heard the strange sound that it and others of its kind made when they spotted him, and he leapt up from his hiding place to run. He wasn't fast enough, however, and it's long claws raked themselves down his left arm as he ran past. He grasped the bleeding wounds with his other hand and ran out of the room and looked around frantically for another place to hide. Spotting another door, he ran over to it, flung it open, ran through, and slammed it shut behind him just as the grunt slammed into it from the other side. Backing away from the door, he scanned the room for somewhere to huddle, and upon, spying a number of wine barrels standing in the corner, he dove for them and hid among them. As the monster broke the door down, he hoped that they couldn't smell blood.
The door splintered apart, and he heard that guttural hissing again, followed by the sound of the thing shuffling into the room. Daniel hunkered down and wished for it to leave. This time, his prayers were answered, for he heard it walk out of the room and, after a few minutes, it vanished. Daniel allowed himself a small sigh of relief and crept out of his hiding place. He stuck his head out of the door to check that it was truly gone, and then he ducked back in, and lit his lantern so he could inspect his arm. His coat and shirt sleeve were shredded, and blood was running freely down his arm. He sat the lantern down on a nearby table, reached into his pocket, and pulled out a bottle of laudanum. He popped the cork and drank the foul tasting concoction down. It nearly made him vomit, but it did its work, and he soon saw the wounds on his arm closing.
He tossed the bottle to the side, picked up his lantern and ventured back out into the storage area. He had to find Alexander; he had to kill him and put and end to everything. The monster had brought him here, played with his emotions and his will to survive, and then manipulated him into committing so many atrocities. The old man had to die.
What are you doing, Daniel?
Daniel froze as the rich baritone slithered across his mind, and he shuddered as the baron invaded his thoughts.
Daniel, I demand that you cease this foolishness this instant. Do you honestly believe that you can stop me? Have you forgotten that you are as much a murderer as I am?
Daniel shuddered again. "N, no." he stuttered in denial "That isn't true. You lied to me."
Did I? Or did I really just tell you the truth - that you must kill to keep the Shadow away. At no time did I make you kill a single soul, Daniel. You did that all by yourself.
"It's not true!"
Oh but it is. Deny it all you wish, but we know that you are as guilty as I am.
"I'm not a murderer!" Daniel shouted, and his voice echoed loudly through the halls and rooms of Storage. Alexander simply laughed, and Daniel tried to shut him out as he walked down the darkened corridor, and he couldn't help the relieved sigh when Alexander's presence vanished from his mind.
Now that he was gone, Daniel focused back on the task at hand, finding the parts to fix the elevator. He had to reach the Inner Sanctum; he had to kill Alexander.
No! Get away from me! Leave me alone!
Daniel whimpered and closed his eyes as the voice rang through the hall. He knew he was the only one, the only human, in storage, yet that voice ran through perfectly clear. The girl's voice sounded familiar to him, but he shied away from trying to remember where he knew her. He had a feeling that it wouldn't be good for his already fragile sanity.
Pain the man, cut the lines!
Daniel shuddered and forced his eyes open. He had to get moving. He had to fix the elevator. He had to kill Alexander. He walked up the stairs and turned right and followed the hall to a larger open room. There were chains hanging from the ceiling, but that was all he could see; it was like their was a wall of darkness in front of him that not even his lantern could penetrate. Taking a deep breath, he stepped into the room...
... and then scrambled back in sudden terror as a scream tore through the air, and the torch in the center of the floor ignited on its own. He swallowed the scream that surged up from within, and he stumbled and fell to land on the floor, which knocked the wind out of him. His eyes sank shut as his chest began to heave and the room began to roll. A loud ringing filled his ears.
No! He couldn't have a fit here! He was so close! He knew that the ending of the area was up ahead. He had to get those rods! Unable to stand, he began to drag himself along the floor towards the room that was now brightly lit. He tried to ignore the blood stained swatch of fabric on the floor as well as the large blood smear that led on from it.
There! Off to the right was the door that led to where the rods were stored. He was almost there! That knowledge allowed him to regain his feet, and he staggered over to the door and pulled it open. In his eagerness, he forgot to pull it shut behind him. There they were; lying on a shelf near the back of the room - which was lit by only a solitary candle on a box - were the two rods and a note. Daniel scanned the note, which had been written by Alexander, and then he picked up the two rods, stuffed them in a pocket of his tattered frock coat, and walked out of the room.
He heard the warning growl too late.
Daniel screamed as he came face to face with one of Alexander's servants, and he ran back to the room where he had found the rods. He slammed the door behind him and stumbled towards the back of the room as the monster slammed into it to try and break it down. He reached the back of the room and ducked down to the right behind a large trunk. There was a tinderbox there, which his absently picked up, as the servant stepped into the room, making that frightening guttural hissing as it did.
He covered his ears with his hands and backed into the corner and tried to look at the wall, but the wooden slats began to bulge and pulse as his vision began to distort. He began to gasp for air as the servant walked out of the room, and Daniel struggled to get back into the light of the candle before he passed out. But he was too little, too late, as the room began to rock and spin around him, and he collapsed to the floor, unconscious.
H was walking again, holding his lantern out in front of him. His left arm was a bloody mess, and the sleeve was in tatters, though he could not recall when the injury had happened. It throbbed fiercely, but he did his best to ignore it as he trudged on through the old archives, hoping to find the door to the entrance hall. The smell of old water, smoke and burnt wood filled his nostrils as he walked on - had the castle caught fire recently? He didn't think so, but then again, he could barely remember his own name.
A sudden gust of wind roared through the hall, extinguishing the torches on the wall and blowing things to the floor from a nearby table. Hadn't he been to this room already? Hadn't he picked up the lantern here? Where was he? What was he doing here? He shivered and gathered his ragged frock coat around him. Cold, so cold...
Daniel shuddered as Alexander's voice touched his mind, taunting, tormenting, tempting. Tempting him to kill again...
When had he killed? Who had he killed? He couldn't remember doing any such thing. He couldn't be a murderer! He would never do such a thing! It was Alexander! He had to kill him!
And here you were just saying that you aren't a murderer, Daniel. Are you sure you know of which you speak?
"I'm not a murderer!" Daniel snarled in response "And she deserved it, that little bitch!"
Believe what you will, Daniel, but we know the truth, do we not?
"I didn't kill anyone!"
Isn't that what the prisoners said as you tortured them? It wasn't the truth then, so why now?
"Please, I'm innocent!"
Paint the man! Cut the lines!
Daniel sank to the floor and moaned as Alexander's laughter once again rang through his mind as the familiar mantra, spoken in his own voice, echoed through the room, as though he was speaking it out loud, even though his lips were pressed tightly together.
Paint the man! Cut the lines! Watch the blood spill! Let it come!
Pain exploded in his head as he titled sideways and fell to the floor, unconscious.
Daniel stared at the contraption in front of him, puzzled. He knew that it had to do with the elevator that he needed to take to progress closer to the Inner Sanctum, to Alexander, and he knew it had something to do with the rods he had found, but he wasn't sure what. He looked at the three symbols carved into the console and noted their shape, and then he looked down at the rods in his hand and for the first time noticed the words scratched into them. Suddenly, everything made sense, and he put the trinity steam rod in the hole under the triangle, the four phase amplitude rod under the square, and the flow cycle rod under the circle. There was a hiss of steam, and the room shuddered slightly, which let him know that he had done it correctly. He smiled in satisfaction and went back to the main room with the missing gears. He had laid them in a pile on the floor, figuring that this was where they would be needed. He had already figured out how to direct the steam flow, so now he had to do this last part, and he could move on.
He quickly figured out which gear went on which peg, and then he filled the burner with coal and fired it up. Then it was a simple matter of pulling the lever and standing back and watching the machinery come to life. He couldn't help the smile that stretched across his face as he turned, walked out of the room, and up the stairs to return to the back hall.
Before he was even halfway up the stairs, a strange screaming roar echoed loudly in the room, and the place shook as large mounds and webs of a pulsation fleshy substance appeared on the walls, floor, and stairs. He whimpered in fear, and the whimper turned into a cry of pain as he touched the fleshy substance, which caused it to tear through his clothing and bite deeply into the skin and muscle of his leg. He staggered away from it, only to step in another pile. This time, his shoe was torn to pieces, and his foot was turned into a mangled chunk of skin and bone, which caused him to scream and agony and fall to the floor. He dragged himself up the stairs to a clear spot, where he fished around in his pocket for a bottle of laudanum, which he quickly gulped down. That allowed him to regain his feet, and he shuffled painfully out of the machine room and across the hall to the elevator. He climbed inside, pulled the gates shut, and wearily pulled the handle. With a jolt, the elevator began to descend, and he sighed in relief.
But his relief was short lived. After only a few floors, the light of the lamp hanging above him flared and then went out, followed again by that strange scream as the Shadow appeared on the walls of the elevator shaft. The elevator lurched to a stop, and then it began to free fall. The fall then ended abruptly as the elevator crashed, and the force of the impact threw Daniel forward out of the car, and his head struck the stone floor, knocking him unconscious.
When he woke, he was lying on the floor in the archives, staring at a bookshelf that was only a few inches away from his face. What was he doing here? He had to find something... something to do with the wine cellar... Oh! He had to find the wine cellar key. Certain now of what he had to do, he got to his feet, lit his lantern, and set off for the recent history room. He walked out of the room he was in, down a hallway, and into a large room with a hole in the ceiling, and a fireplace at either end. He walked all the way down to the far end and went through a doorway, which led to a small seating area, with a table, a few chairs, and a piano. He approached the piano – didn't Alexander play? - when the cover over the keys slammed shut as if an invisible hand had moved it. He whimpered in fright and backed away, down a short hallway with a door on each side, and a hole in the wall behind him.
He turned into one of the rooms, which was full of shelves that were holding books and maps, and rolled up plans for the castle itself. As he approached a display board with two maps of the castle on it, a flash of white illuminated his field of vision, and he heard Alexander and his own voice, speaking about repairs to the castle. After a few minutes the flashback ended, and for a brief moment Daniel found himself standing in a burnt out shell of a room, with the windows blown out, the ceiling above gone, and the walls and floor blackened and charred. The smell of and old fire, and burnt wood filled his nose, but then that vision also vanished, leaving him standing in the map room once more.
He shuddered and ran out of the room, across the hall, to a second map room. No sooner did he cross the threshold, than there was a loud rumble, and the room shook, followed by a horrendous crash as the ceiling caved in. Some of the boulders landed only inches away from his feet. He couldn't see do to the wall blocking his view, but he knew that his path back into the large hall was also blocked. So, his only option was...
He walked out of the room and looked at the small hole in the wall at the end of the hallway. He looked around and spotted a small stone sculpture lying on the floor, so he picked it up and hefted it with one hand, testing its weight. It seemed to be just heavy enough to do the job. He walked back to the hole in the wall, and threw the sculpture at it as hard as he could. He was rewarded by the sound of cracking and crumbling stone, as the wall around the hole partially collapsed, resulting in a bigger hole that he could climb through into the recent history room. He spent a few minutes listening to another flashback, this one with Alexander explaining how to open the secret door behind one of the bookshelves, and then he quickly located the correct books, and was rewarded with the sound of grating hinges as the bookshelf on the far wall swung open, revealing a small private study.
He walked in to find the key he needed lying on the desk, but as soon as he picked it up, he heard a growl in the other room, which was followed by the door slamming open. Daniel ducked into a nearby wardrobe, and quietly closed the doors behind him, to hopefully prevent whatever had opened the door from finding him. He huddled in the dark for a long moment, but there were no shuffling footsteps, no guttural hissing, no harsh breathing other than his own. He cautiously crept out, and peeked around the corner into the recent history room. Seeing nothing, he stepped out of the private study and into the main room proper, and then he peered cautiously out into the hallway. The coast appeared clear, so he ran on his tip toes across the hall to the room that he had originally come through. He tried the door, but to his annoyance, it was jammed shut and would no longer open. That meant he would have to go through the large open room to reach the door to the entrance hall. There was no cover out there, and who knows what was waiting for him.
Closing his eyes for a second, he took a deep breath to steel himself, and then he simply ran. He ran down the hall into the large room, and made a right turn to reach the far end of the room where the hall leading to the entrance hall door was located. He ran past the piano and looked up just as he slammed into the back of one of Alexander's servants. He fell backwards to the floor and screamed in horror as he scuttled back on his hands and feet as the creature turned to face him. It growled as it raised its hand with its five long blades and brought them slashing down across his face. Daniel screamed again as the skin across his face was fileted open and blood began to pour freely from the wounds. A second later, it brought its claws down again, this time across his chest, and the flimsy material of his waistcoat and shirt were no match.
Daniel finally managed to regain his feet, and he ran screaming between gasps for air to the other end of the room. Too late he realized he was trapped by the cave in, and he was too weak and winded to try and run around the monster as it shambled towards him. He stared at the monstrosity as it walked towards him, and the mere sight of it began to distort his vision as his eyes rolled up into his head, and he fainted.
Herbert stared down at the pitiful sight in front of him. Daniel was slumped against the wall' inside the charred remains of what had once been Castle Brennenburg, his face and chest torn and bloody. His shredded clothing did little to conceal the other injuries spread over his body, but especially on his arms, neck, and head. The jagged claw marks were everywhere, and many of them were swollen and oozing a foul smelling yellow fluid. Dried blood under Daniel's fingernails and on his hands showed that he had been the one to inflict the wounds. Even as Herbert watched, Daniel's eyes focused on something that only he could see, before he let out a blood curdling scream and clawed as his face again, leaving fresh wounds upon the already abused tissue there. The elder archeologist reached out and captured his friend's hands in his own, which caused Daniel to scream again as he began to struggle. His struggles were feeble, as his emaciated frame clearly showed that he hadn't eaten anything in the few weeks since he had vanished from London, and Herbert was easily able to gather Daniel to him and restrain him.
"Please Alexander," Daniel moaned "Let me go. I don't want to be a murderer anymore. I won't take anymore innocent lives."
"Hush Daniel," Herbert soothed "It's not real."
"I won't, I won't, I won't, I won'tIwontIwontIwontIwont." The chant continued on unending, until Herbert put a finger to Daniel's bruised and bloodied mouth. Daniel fell silent for a moment, but then he tried to escape Herbert's arms. "I must kill him. I have to kill Alexander."
Herbert looked up at his guide, a local from the neighboring village. "Who is Alexander?"
"Freiherr Alexander von der Brennenburg was the last baron of the area before fire destroyed the castle and killed the family inside while they slept three centuries ago." the man replied in heavily accented English "No one has lived here since, and the burnt out remains of the castle were allowed to fall into ruin."
Herbert looked down at Daniel again and noted the empty bottles of laudanum scattered on the floor around him, as well as the full bottles that filled the pockets of his ragged frock coat. The poor boy had been sent back home from Algeria after the incident in the ruins, but the break had not helped. Letters from him hinted that he was being plagued by nightmares of suffocating to death in the ruins. At some point, he had overdosed on laudanum trying to calm himself after one of those nightmares, and his doctor had hospitalized him while he recovered.
But Doctor Tate had died in a freak accident at the hospital and not long after Daniel had vanished. It had taken several days to learn where he had gone, and even more time to follow him there. Villagers in the area confirmed that a young man had been seen wandering towards the ruins of the castle, though no one could figure as to why Daniel had come to that particular place. Whatever the reason, he had evidently roamed the castle since his arrival, suffering from delusions and hallucinations, due to repeated laudanum overuse. It was a miracle that he hadn't died from it yet.
Daniel suddenly screamed again and wrenched himself out of Herbert's arms. He pressed himself against the scorched wall, and his green eyes were wild and unseeing as he raked his nails down his arms again, leaving bloody gouges in the flesh.
Herbert knew what awaited Daniel. He had come to Prussia to bring the younger man home, but with his shattered mental state, Daniel faced a lifetime in an asylum, lost in his horrifying visions, never to escape. Herbert made a decision then. He asked the guide to step out, and then he carefully stepped across the groaning floorboards to where his friend was huddled in a corner by a window whose glass had been long ago blown out by that centuries old fire. He carefully, so not to startle him, reached into Daniel's pocket and pulled out his remaining four bottles of laudanum. Laudanum was a potent sedative, and Daniel's state was proof that it was dangerous if overused. He lined the bottles up on the floor and opened all of them. And then he gently took Daniel by his head and tipped the bottles into his mouth, one by one. Daniel swallowed them all without hesitation.
Almost immediately, his frantic muttering slowed and stopped as his tired, wild eyes sank shut. Herbert gently laid him down on the floor and watched as his breathing slowed and then stopped. A minute later he checked for a pulse and found none. He hoped that he had done the right thing and that his friend would find the peace in death that he had been unable to find in life.
"Rest in peace, Daniel."
A/N: This entire fic was inspired by a prompt on Amnesiakink. Sadly someone started to fill it, but only wrote one chapter before grinding to a halt, so here is my attempt to make something out of it. Here's the prompt:
What if the entire thing was just one big hallucination? Daniel's really in Brennenburg, but there is no Alexander, no other worlds, no orb, no Gatherers, no Shadow, and there never was. He wanders aimlessly around the castle, and due to a bit too much laudanum, starts to think there are monsters everywhere, he is a murderer, and that he must kill an imaginary man named Alexander. The pain of the monsters is actually self inflicted, though he doesn't realize it, assuming that it is all the monster's fault.