6 The Sound of Silence
(From the point of view of Violet Belladonna)
Death carries a lot of emotions, and it tells a great deal of stories. The grief of betrayal, the tragedy of abandonment, the hopelessness of the inevitable, the fear of god, the euphoria of the sweet release, the melancholy of a broken dream, and the anger of a defeated soldier—death speaks of anguish in its purest form. One may know everything about a person once they gaze at them from the very moment they exhaled their last breath. That few seconds when they showed their absolute truth in their eyes as their soul escapes the confines of their feeble bodies.
Death is passionate. Dying is filled with feelings. It has a life, and that is the greatest irony of it all. Death is the only thing in this world that speaks more about the truth of life itself.
This thing before my very eyes, it has… nothing.
It's unfeeling, impassionate, emotionless, and whimsical. They all look like someone killed them, and that's about it. There is no weight placed in this massacre—it feels like someone did it just, so whoever did this can get it over with as soon as possible.
It's cold and empty.
I stared at that damn head for a good few seconds before my mind started to drift back to reality.
"Mada… Bel… Don…"
However, his eyes kept pulling me back towards the darkness, towards the emptiness in my heart, seeing all these deaths permeating the surroundings.
The unnerving stench of death paired with the burnt aroma of melting steel.
The sound of muffled screams coming from afar—some sounded nearer—and the cries of the survivors as they broke from all the tension prickling their minds.
"Madame Belladonna, are you there?"
This feeling of dread and disgust I… I could even taste it at the tip of my tongue.
A sharp feeling snapped my senses back to its proper places in my head. It came from my shoulder, and it felt like a ripple of force ripped through my muscles and traveled throughout the nerves in my body in one swift movement.
I realized the man in front of me, Sir Damian, with the expression similar to that of the gargoyles on the walls of the empire, scowling and filled with anger, shook my body, and it brought me back to reality. To the realization that if we don't move, we're next.
"I'm sorry, I…" I said, wide-eyed, looking at the directions all over me, dumbfounded at my paralysis. "I didn't know what happened. It's so… I…"
"I understand, Madame Belladonna, but we need to move now. If we don't," Sir Damian pointed at the ground where the rotting carcasses of the ones proud soldiers of Izrecael scattered, "we're next."
I nodded, and without another word, I rushed towards inside the catacombs. The princes were still sleeping soundly on my arms, thanks to my magic. They all looked so peaceful, not knowing that their death is just a few steps beyond that gigantic open gateway, and their salvation lies beyond this narrow, dark entrance towards the resting place of the dead.
As soon as I stepped on the second step of the star headed downwards, my body came to a halt. Electricity surged all over me, and my feet feel as if it's sinking on the hard concrete floor.
Finally, I cracked the code. My stunned reaction earlier was not a feeling of dread from all the dead people I saw.
No, it was a spell.
Now that spell got even stronger, stranger—more unique and less subtle—localized entirely from one single caster. This all meant one thing, of course.
The person responsible for this binding is nearby.
"What are you doing, Madame Belladonna, let's go!"
Sir Damian, whose shout echoed throughout the walls of the catacombs, commanded with much impatience in his voice.
Perhaps, the spell does not affect everyone in the vicinity, and then the caster is weaker than I thought. Forget that for now; I still can't get out of here even if I wanted to with this spell…
"Let's go." His booming voice vibrated beside my right ear as he wrapped his arm around my shoulder. By the time his skin contacted mine, I had moved again as if nothing had happened.
"Wait, stop." I shrieked, almost tripping from my steps. "What just happened?"
"I'm sorry, what?"
"The spell, what did you do with the spell?"
"I'm not sure I can follow your question."
"Oh, for crying out loud, look I…" I turned my body around to face his direction behind me, and that's when I saw it. The soldiers behind us are all stunned and unable to move, the same as I earlier. "Look, Sir Damian, see for yourself. Look!" I pointed behind him.
"What? I…" When he looked at the direction I was pointing at; his face grew pale. "What is happening?"
"Magic, Sir Damian, somebody cast a spell around us. God knows how powerful that spell is, but it stuns all of us," I exclaimed as I waved my hand from my side upward then made a gesture as if I slapped the air in front of me, a floating green crystal followed the movement my movement like its tailing my fingertips and hovered before me. "except you."
As I breathed deeply while my eyes glowed slowly, Sir Damian sputtered, "It's hard to explain, Madame. It's a matter of my blood, the point is, those things you magic people do, it doesn't work on me, it doesn't work on everyone in my family."
"Convenient," I replied as the green orb before I glowed and sent a ripple of energy headed towards the stunned soldier near the entryway of the catacombs. "so that's why the king gave you a high potion earlier instead of instructing me to heal you instead?"
The soldiers glowed, and one after another, they started moving again. They gasped and panted as soon as they took their dominion over their bodies back from those who trampled over them with underhanded wizardry.
"Yes, Madame." Replied Sir Damian with an awestruck expression on his face. His jaw dropped as he saw the soldiers moved again after their bodies halted like a stone.
"Not convenient," I replied as I slapped the air once again; this time, it's in the direction of the back of my hand. With it, the green orb orbited around me once again. "soldiers, that spell you saw all over you granted your bodies a strong immunity against that puny spell you suffered from earlier and many other spells out there. I'm not sure how strong that sorceress we're dealing with, but I learned that spell from the queen, and you best believe it's the greatest spell you'll ever receive in your life."
"Thank you, Madame!" The soldiers said one after another as they made a small form of celebration.
"You must forgive me, spells like this take a lot of energy to cast, and I do not have a strong amount of energy stored in my body right now nor do we have potion vials to help us out, so I will use these powerful spells sparingly, I hope you understand."
Before the soldiers could reply, Sir Damian commanded in his usual booming voice. "Brothers, I have a favor to ask of you in the name of your king!"
"If we must escape these catacombs alive, I wish to request five of you, brothers, to defend the humble entrance to the catacombs if the enemy follows our tracks. I know you might feel reluctant to do what I am about to request."
"Why would we feel reluctant to protect the escape of our princes, brother?"
"Brothers… You might die."
One soldier took a breath as he heard Sir Damian's words. He turned around, facing his back towards us. "Brother…" He whispered loud enough for us to understand. "That was all you had to say."
Sir Damian touched his chest, resting his hand on the sigil of Izrecael: an image of a hawk facing forward with its wings extended to its sides and its claws lunging towards those before them. "Let those who stand before us bleed."
"Our wings will be the last thing they'll see." The soldier chuckled. "You won't accompany us, brother?"
Sir Damian closed his eyes with an explicit form of pain written all over his face. "I would love to, brother, but the Madame does not have the luxury to use her abilities anytime she likes…" A loud thud outside of the catacombs halted Sir Damian's words. "I will be much more useful if I am around her and the princes."
"Why is that?" The soldiers asked, his head turned towards us.
Sir Damian wrapped his arms around my shoulders as he replied, "I am a Carmichael, brother."
The soldiers said nothing more as they faced the entrance of the catacombs along with five other soldiers with him. The three others, I do not know the whereabouts of the other two soldiers who had come with us, followed us as we descended the spiral staircase leading to the princes'' salvation.
As our path grew darker, the light from my orbs were the remaining source of light we had, so I waved my hands forward for them to float before us so we may know what lies beyond these significant ancient steps of seemingly never-ending spirals of darkness.
Bam! Bam! Bam! Bam!
As the breeze grew colder, and the surroundings got quieter, the only thing I could hear is the echoing sounds of our footsteps and the soldiers' armor, the sound of steel destroying the peace of the dear departed sleeping beneath the confines of this dreaded entombment.
Tak… Tak… Tak…
The sound of drops of water around us echoed as it hit the dark, damp, and cold concrete floor of this catacomb of the damned as if the spirits themselves gave life to the small droplets of water to shout their protestation at our invasion of their eternal rest. Perhaps those tiny droplets of moisture traveling the gravel and stone walls of the catacombs are the spirits telling us how disappointed they are to disturb their well-deserved sleep.
Ba-dump. Ba-dump. Badump.
The stillness of the surroundings and the never-ending quietness permeate the atmosphere as the darkness swirled and entangled our feeble minds with a spiraling aura of doom circulating our heads. It brought us to a troubling conclusion that our demise may or may not lie before the end of this stone-cold helix—showing us the blindness of death. Our hearts move faster than our feet as we traverse these damp stone stairs, perhaps showing us the reflection of a terrifying vista of our inevitable demise.
Then a war cry.
We didn't stop running, but the sound of several warriors screaming their hearts out as the sound of swords hitting the surface of something boomed all over the still and quiet catacombs. Something strange came with the clanking of armors and jangling of swords, something similar to that of the cry of rabid dogs. I could even hear the barks of an untamed mutt prowling around with its feet hitting the damp stone floor. All along this is a symphony of growls of hellish beasts of unholy origin.
The stairs itself is quite immense; after all, there are five of us, but we can still move around with ease. I realized that there's still a lot of space remaining for us, after hearing the fierce battle happening above, it felt as if the surrounding area was getting tighter and tighter, making it harder and harder to breathe. It felt as if the stone walls and ceilings were moving towards my direction, and in a cracking sound with its vibration rippling over my skin, it crushed our bodies into one crimson pulp of flesh and blood—pinching us like two fingers killing a mosquito.
Of course, it's only in my imagination, but I cannot help feeling that way.
"Are you okay, Madame Belladonna?"
As I heard Sir Damian spoke while panting for air, I felt my paranoia leave my body. "I am quite fine, Sir Damian. We need to move faster."
So we did. We ran even faster than before; we ran as long as there's something beneath our feet.
... Until it happened.
A soldier screamed behind us. His knees were trembling on the floor, his head was hanging low, and his back was arching forward. He kept crying and uttering nonsense that none of us could understand. A soldier approached him and asked him how he's feeling, only for the crazed-soldier to reply with more nonsense utterances with an occasional shriek similar to that of a demon possessing a poor man's resolve.
"IT'S COMING! IT'S COMING TOWARDS ME! NOOOOOO! THE WALLS! THE WALLS HAVE MOUTHS! THE WALLS HAVE MOUTHS! IT CRAVES! IT CRAAAAVES! IT CRAVES FOR MY BLOOD! IT'S COMING FOR MY BLOOD! THE WALLS HAVE MOUTHS! THE WALLS HAVE MOUTHS! IT'S COMING! HELP ME. IT CRAVES!"
That's the only reasonable answer we got from him so far, afterward? Nothing. All but the useless utterance of a blinded fool, eaten entirely by the unfathomable depths of his mind.
Illusion magic. Whoever this caster is, they are strong if they can muster another spell of this intensity after the widespread paralysis ruin they cast earlier.
Another soldier came towards him, asking what's wrong.
"Leave him. He's lost. We cannot save him, not now, not with what we have right now. We must focus on leaving here."
"What's happening to him, Madame?" The first soldier who came towards the maddened soldier inquired in a defeated tone.
"Illusion, I fear. Leave him; we can't help him right now."
"But he's my friend, Madame!" The man dropped to his knees and hugged the now reddening mad man with his saliva dripping from his mouth. "How cold, Madame. How cold to leave him like this."
"Then stay. I am not forcing you to do anything. Stay and when that sorcerer followed our trail, protect him if you must. Believe me. It would be easy for this one to find you—to find us."
The soldier remained to embrace the maddened soldier, both on their knees. We went back to our feet, two soldiers beside me, running towards our ultimate goal, the crying, and the shouting of the two soldiers surrounding them as the darkness of the catacombs ate them away.
After a few more levels of stairs, we finally reached the end. Now we took our first step on the coldest, darkest, and the lowest level of the catacombs, the halls where the dead lie. The catacomb halls are even quieter as if noise cannot permeate its walls unless some dares to disturb it from within. We are those defilers who seek the help of the resting place of the dead to help the living.
We ran through the halls of the catacombs, the resting place of queen Lara lies beyond the furthest and deepest part of these halls, the halls wherein those men of royal blood rest.
As we continued our never-ending chase towards freedom, a scream of a lone man along with the screechy laugh of a woman whose voice is so shrill, the intensity of her cackle alone could form a crack on these stones of time immemorial.
"DO NOT TOUCH MY LOVE!" The voice of a man echoed throughout the corners of the catacombs. Meanwhile, the woman continued to cackle with her shrill and hoarse voice.
We could hear the dreaded gnarl of hundreds of teeth as the barking ran towards us nearer and nearer as if every step we took was double their speed. We cannot outrun them, but we still have the benefit of being far from them.