Patience wheezed as she sped through the dingy sewer water. It was murky and freezing against her exposed legs; but fear caused her to ignore the disgusting feeling and keep going. Her lungs and throat burned and her muscles screamed in pain; but she knew she couldn't afford to slow down. All she could hear was the loud splashing of running footsteps. She knew the sound wasn't only from her own however; but they were also from her pursuer. Her entire being filled with dread at the thought of the man chasing her…if she could even call him a man any longer.
"Patience, dear…why are you running from me? I only want a little taste~!" he called from behind her. Patience cringed at the maniacal laughter that followed and echoed off the stone walls of the corridor. Her heart leapt in fear, and sank in pity all at once. This man…this thing that was chasing her…he had once been her friend.
Once Patience had turned eighteen, she had left her home in England to explore the countries of Western Europe. She liked France so much that she decided to settle there for a while. While searching for a job and a place to stay she ran into a woman by the name of Justine Florbelle. She seemed like an agreeable person (at the time), so Patience agreed to work as her gardener and maid at her castle when the offer finally presented itself. That's how she met this man…how she met Malo.
Mademoiselle Justine had taken her to a local orchestra concert one night when she had learned of Patience's love of music. Patience was amazed at how they had gotten front row seating; although, Justine was rather wealthy, so she didn't think too much into it. Her heart raced with excitement as the musicians came out on the theatre stage. As they played, one stood out in particular.
He was a violinist with short, slightly messy brown hair and olive green eyes. He seemed so deeply and passionately into his music in the way he played. A small, contented smile stayed on his lips throughout the entire performance. Patience felt her heart inexplicably skip a beat as the last song finished; and the young man turned to his fellow performers, letting out a happy, hearty laugh. They all soon joined in with joyful laughter at a performance well done, but all Patience could hear was the sound of his ringing in her ears. She was so caught up in her fixation with him that she nearly forgot to clap with the rest of the audience.
Soon after the show, as she was leaving with her mistress, Patience found out who he really was. He was a young violin virtuoso by the name of Malo de Vigny. She froze up timidly as she noticed him making his way towards her as she tried to walk out the theatre door. Or at least, she thought he was making his way towards her. As it turned out; however, he was eager to see Justine instead.
Patience stood back as the two shared a kiss in front of her; suddenly feeling very small. She felt like a child as Justine introduced her to Malo; smiling shyly and offering a quiet 'hello'. Apparently, he was one of three suitors who were after her mistress' heart. It hurt Patience a bit to see him with Justine after she had decided that he was the first man she truly fancied; but at least she still got to visit with him when he came to the estate. She resolved that as long as those around her were happy, then so was she. After all, they were all friends and one should not covet what their friends had and they lacked.
But…that was all before, when everything still made sense. In the past few hours, Patience's whole world had caved in on itself and turned into some sort of nightmare realm. No one and nothing was as she had thought before. Justine was not her benevolent mistress and friend, but rather a horrifically cruel sociopath who imprisoned and tortured not only her, but the three suitors and other town folk as well.
Patience had awoken groggily and painfully in a cold, underground cell earlier the same day; only to hear a phonograph message from her employer stating that this was all a test in a study of the human psyche she was conducting. It was to see if Patience could remain sweet and level headed in the face of peril, or if she would snap and resort to any kind of violence to stay alive. So far Patience had gotten through what she hoped was nearly the entire test without hurting any of the others she found. She had saved the towns people she came across without causing them too much pain, but in turn she had been wounded considerably herself. Each trial seemed to be rigged so either the person she was trying to save would be maimed if Patience did not choose to maim herself instead.
By now cuts, bruises and scrapes covered her body and stung every time she moved. She could taste the distinct and putrid flavor of blood and bile in the back of her throat; yet she felt a small amount of accomplishment for having endured so much just for others. She was better than Justine, so much better; and she vowed to make it out of here alive to flaunt her superiority in her face.
But at the moment however, escape seemed sadly unlikely. She had no idea where she was going as she ran from Malo. She didn't know if she was nearing an exit or just wandering deeper and deeper into the bowels of the castle. That didn't matter at the moment though; she just needed to get away from Malo before it was too late. Then she could stop and assess where she was; and how to escape.
"Come back! You'll have to do until I find Justine!" he called again. "I'm starving…I can't wait any longer!"
It took everything she had not to cry out in pain and fear. She knew she was nearing the end of her rope so to speak. Her strength was running out. Patience could hardly breathe anymore; her breaths came in and went out as short, burning rasps. Her legs threatened to give out beneath at any minute. If she stopped though…her life would surely be over. She would be slaughtered, and devoured, by the man she had once cared so much about. How cruel the hand of fate was.
As unbelievable as it might sound, Patience still felt something for this man…even if he was now merely a shell of his former self…a monster. The torture he endured at the hands of the one he had once loved must have been too much for him. It ate away his mind until he went insane and resorted to madness and cannibalism. It wasn't his fault…he didn't deserve any of this. He could have been so happy in life, what with his music and outgoing nature, but now…Patience couldn't see any way for things to turn around and go back to the way they were.
Suddenly her foot caught on something beneath the water. A strangled scream caught in her throat as she tumbled face down into the dingy water. Try as she might she couldn't prop herself up above the surface. The frigid liquid stung her eyes and nose as she did her best not to let it invade her lungs. She was done for…game over. There was no way out now. She couldn't even get up. If Malo didn't snatch her up in a few seconds, she would simply drown instead. Sadness and hopelessness swelled in her chest at the thought of never being able to see her family again. Surely no one would ever know what cruel fate had befallen her…it would be a mystery to anyone who cared; most likely never to be solved. She only hoped the grief wouldn't be too much for her parents to bear…and that her dear sister, Maryrose, would be alright without the guidance of her big sister. Patience took a moment to pray for them, but was interrupted by strong hands yanking her out of the water.
She gasped for air and tried to shake the water from her eyes. Her pale blue orbs went wide at the closeness of the face staring back at her.
Malo's once beautiful green eyes were now dull and blood shot as he stared at her. His mouth was set in a lunatic grin, complete with blood smeared around the edges of his lips. His breath smelled strongly of the metallic, red liquid as he half wheezed, half laughed. "Got you~" he rasped before throwing her down against the stone wall.
Patience hit the wall and got the wind knocked out of her. She gasped hollowly and slid down into a crouched position. The water reached up to just above her bosom in her current position; which made catching her breath even more difficult. She courageously looked up at her killer.
He was still grinning as he stood over her. She could see his body shaking as he softly chuckled at his accomplishment. His head was bent down so that the shadow of his hair now blocked out his eyes. A torn and sullied burlap sack fashioned into shorts was all that covered him; the rest of his now grayish skin was exposed. Patience could see a large, deep wound in the shape of an 'X' across his bare chest, and similar lacerations all along his arms and legs. His skin was caked in dried blood; whether it was all his own or not was uncertain.
Patience compared what she saw before her to the Malo she once knew and sadness tore at her heart. Unable to think of any other actions to take, she wept. She wept for the horror inflicted upon her old friends in this godforsaken prison. She wept for the family and friends she would never get to see again. She wept for her utter defeat. And, most of all, she wept for the fact that she could save the one she loved so much.
Waterfalls of warm, salty tears cascaded down her pale cheeks and hit the still water below, becoming indistinguishable. Her pathetic and morose sobs echoed around the chamber as she let all of the anguish out of her system.
"I-if you want to eat me…go ahead. I won't try to stop you any longer Malo…you know this place much better than I do. You'll just catch me sooner or later anyway…" Patience wheezed, finally fully accepting her certain demise. "I'm just…I'm just sorry I couldn't save you…" she sniffled as she tightly shut her eyes and awaited the end.
A few anxiety filled moments later, she was still alive. How could this be? What was going on, why wasn't Malo doing anything? She was afraid to open her eyes and take a peek, but she did so anyway. She took in a sharp breath of air as she realized that Malo was standing closer to her than he had been a second ago. The smile was gone from his visage; replaced with a thin, serious line. Patience didn't dare speak, not yet.
Her heart jolted in her chest as he slowly stepped closer. He kept his painfully slow pace until he was merely an inch from her huddled form. Was this it? Was he going to end her now? The suspense and anxiousness was killing her inside. "Get it over with already! Must you torture me so by making me wait?" she thought.
"Such a…sweet girl." He said quietly. "So willing to save…anything…no matter how lost the cause may be."
Patience's heart stopped at his words.
Malo stumbled a bit and pitched forward; falling gently and draping himself over Patience's form with a splash. His arms rested limply by her sides and his cheek to her forehead.
Patience could hardly breathe, could hardly think during this current and unexpected situation. Her tears had stopped for the moment as her wide eyes stared off into space. A sudden memory flooded her mind.
She had been working in the garden one pleasant spring day; weeding the flowerbeds. She was rushing a bit because she knew Malo would be arriving soon for dinner, and she wanted to have a chance to talk with him before Justine stole away all his attention. Just then, she heard a slight rustling in the roses next to her. Curious, she leaned over to see what was hiding there. A gasp of horror escaped her lips at the sight before her. A small mouse was caught in the thorny mass. It scrambled to free itself from its sharp prison, but to no avail. She reached down to try and help it out, but fell back with a shriek as a garden snake twisted its way towards her hand. Snakes had always frightened her ever since she was little and one almost bit her while out on a walk with her father.
She was too startled to look again for a few minutes. Finally she got up enough courage to peek once more; crawling back to the spot on her hands and knees. The sight that met her this time was even more horrible than the last. Somehow the snake had gotten the mouse in its fearsome jaws; and had begun to swallow the poor thing.
Patience screamed and shot up. She spared no time running away from the gruesome sight. She ran back inside and shut the back door; sitting on the floor and trying to compose herself. She didn't do a very good job however, because she had begun to cry. The poor mouse…she could have saved it, couldn't she? But she didn't…
Suddenly she heard footsteps coming towards her. She looked up to see Malo standing over her; looking concerned. She gasped and ducked her head down again; she didn't want him to see her all red and puffy eyed.
"Are you crying Patience? What's happened?" he asked.
Patience was quiet a moment before telling him her story. "It was awful…and it was all my fault! I wish I could have save the poor creature…" she sobbed.
Malo chuckled and shook his head. He knelt down in front of her and ruffled her dark hair. "My, my, you're such a sweet girl." He said. "So willing to try and save anything, no matter how lost the cause may be."
Patience furrowed her brow and looked at him. "Wh…what do you mean?"
"Well, it sounds like the mouse, as sad as it is, was doomed from the start. Even if you had tried to free it, it probably would have been killed anyway. It was already badly injured from the rose bush. It might have bled out or been too weak to run from a predator later on. And the snake was already present. It wasn't your fault at all, don't cry." He reassured.
Patience looked up to see his warm smile as he stared at her. "I guess you're right…" she said, feeling stupid.
Malo stood up and held out a hand for her to take. "Of course I am. Now, come, we'll be late for dinner. Clarice is already setting out the food I'm sure. And you know Justine doesn't like it when things don't go according to schedule."
Patience took his hand and let him lead her to the dining hall; feeling much better about herself.
She was snapped back out of her thoughts. Had he been able to remember that incident? Had the sight of her crouched and crying been able to trigger that memory in his mind? What was going to happen now?
So many questions swirled in her mind as new tears began to fall. She glanced at his body. His arms were covered in deep gouges and teeth marks. Long, thin slices covered the skin of his abdomen and back. Patience bit her lip and tried to look away. It was too horrible…too tragic. This poor, sweet man…what had he done to deserve this? His life was completely ruined, all by one woman.
Without thinking Patience gently placed her arms around his neck. She could feel his cool form shake and tremble as she pulled him closer to herself. "God…how could this happen to you?" she said, barely above a whisper. Her voice faltered as she spoke.
Malo said nothing in response, but slowly and hesitantly moved his arms around her as well. She heard him chuckle lightly then cringe. She could tell that he was trying to contain himself for the time being.
Patience moved one hand down and placed it softly on his middle. She traced her palm slowly from his stomach to the scar on his chest, and from his chest to his shoulder. Her arms slid from him though as he gently drew back.
She looked at him curiously. She no longer felt fear…she didn't know what she felt anymore. He reached out and placed his hands to the sides of her rib cage; right above her breasts. He slowly slid them up and over her shoulders, then her neck. His open palms finally rested one on each cheek; cupping her face.
She shivered at his touch, and held her breath as he stared intensely into her eyes. Green met blue as they gazed at each other; each unsure of what would come next.
Suddenly, Malo burst into cackling laughter. He lowered his head again, still holding Patience, and shook with his laughter. Patience swallowed hard and awaited some sort of explanation. The fear was making its way back into her system already…
"I…I can't believe I never saw it before!" he cackled.
Patience was utterly confused. Never saw what before? Did he have any idea of what he was saying?
He heaved and ceased his laughter. "It's all so obvious now…yes…I should have seen it." He went on. Patience wasn't sure if he was talking to her or to himself. "You…you love me!" he said.
Patience was a bit taken aback. If he had accused her of such a thing at any other time, she would have embarrassedly denied it at all costs. But now…there was no use in being shy or embarrassed. "I…I suppose I do." She said softly. "I suppose I do…"
Malo wiped at his mouth, trying to remove some of the blood, and then placed his lips on her forehead. He didn't kiss her, but rather rested the lower portion of his face on her brow. She could feel his warm exhale against her skin as he held his position. He let his arms fall down to her back.
Patience ran her fingers soothingly through his matted hair; ignoring the greasy and unwashed feeling.
Perhaps she could stay down here a little while longer. After all, she was finally, in a sense, with the man she had always longed for. Even if this was not how she had ever imagined the moment when he realized she was more suited for him than Justine; it was still close enough. Patience had always believed that the bonds of love could never be broken; and that you could never truly stop loving someone all together, no matter what happened. A ghost of a smile graced her lips as she moved her head into the crook of his neck.
Malo let his cheek rest against the back of her skull. Her soft hair tickled his skin slightly, but he didn't mind. What he was feeling now, as distant as the actual emotions were to him, it was better than anything he had ever known.
Yes, perhaps she could stay down here a while longer. She didn't have the heart to leave Malo now. She would find a way to contact her family again if she had the chance; and to let Justine know that nothing could hold her down for long. That is, until Malo's insane tendencies were stirred up again. It was entirely possible that he could, and would, still kill her; but she didn't want to think of that now. As long as the love, no matter how unlikely and impossible, between them continued to shine through; she was sure that everything would be fine. Might as well try and be optimistic, right? Perhaps in time, they could even both escape, along with all the others. But she wouldn't get too ahead of herself, not yet. For now she would just focus on getting her beau to relax, and making sure he stayed that way.