Kasumi woke feeling tired and hungry, her nose filled
with the smells of burnt wax and singed hair, fresh and old blood, and a
few things less pleasant and not directly related to her.
She tested her movement, hesitant at first, then jubilant as she felt that she was no longer restrained. The air around her was cold and felt heavy as it passed over her skin, and soon the sounds of a dinner party drifted in through the space around her, her ears beginning to clear as they popped.
A hiss swept up hear her ear and she jumped, a pair of pin pricks making themselves felt on the soft flesh of her ear lobe, and then a cacophony of hisses and rattles sounded all around her - above, to the left, to the right - everywhere, forked tongue flickering out against her neck and face. She screamed, blocking out, for a moment, every other sound that came on the wind.
The lights came on around her, soft dim things that just illuminated the area near the mirrors that encased the room, close to glass surfaces and far from her. She moved, sluggishly, towards a light, her mind blocking the way her body felt as she touched the floor, the way the lights dipped and swayed as she came closer and closer, until she was upon them, and leaned forward.
She looked on, in mute horror, as the face neared the mirror, movement seen around the edges of her vision, and she could only think Snakes! I'm covered in snakes!! And she resisted the urge to scream again, knowing it would do her no good. She gasped as her nose swam into view, the nostrils distended, and bluish in color, pulled up and back, very separate. And still more came into her line of sight, a snake, barely as wide as one of her eyelashes, winding around an eye that was dark yellow and centered with a slit for a pupil, the eyelid blinking first horizontally then vertically, and the snake wound it's way back up her scaled face, the tail never coming into view.
She held up a hand to the mirror, watching her skin ripple under the scales, her breathing slowly becoming slow and even as she calmed herself down. This must be what the witch woman made her. She undulated her body, and her tail came into view, the tip of it sliding around her throat like a thick cold scarf. Her breasts stood out, but lacked nipples, the scales smooth and large over the area, but nothing more. Her female body, as it were, entirely ended just past her waist, and she knew, as a cold weight settled itself in her stomach, that she was going to be like this forever, and be like this alone, because she had no means to reproduce. Everything she'd had, was gone.
On both her wrists though, there still stood out in stark relief, against the blue-white scales, the tattoo that had begun all this. She took a deep breath, and recounted her steps, mentally tracing her way back to that tattoo parlor.
Soon, she grabbed the blanket that had she'd been set on and left the room, the cloth covering most of her freakishness. Slowly, she moved her way down the streets of New York, another strange face walking awkwardly in the throng of faceless people, unnoticed.
Oddly, she took comfort in that.
It was not within the scope of Keth's normal life to feel out of depth.
Yet the spartan surroundings that decorated a staircase that led only upwards, in an ever tightening spiral, nearly dumbfounded her. Along the railing that hugged the wall, there were thousands of carvings of fairies, and as she climbed upward, her lungs straining as she kept up with the deceptively fast paced Bethany. The floor below, when she cared to look, was a simple hardwood floor.
In the way that the Mona Lisa was just a simple portrait. The mahogany had been stained in a strange pattern, resembling Celtic knotwork but with none of the fundamental rules followed due to the craft. In between each swooping arch of line there laid a star, and inside each star was a complex series of knots and twists that connected a trio of discs, each a different spiral, locked in a triangle, spinning outside and inside of each other, all inside the intricate veins and capillaries of dark finish that, as Ghost climbed higher and higher, seemed to pulse with each step.
She stopped a moment, panting, her sight diverted to the double doors that appeared at irregular intervals as she ran up the steps. Each portal was whitewashed, just like the walls, and the steps, accented with a stark black trim that matched the railing and the edges of the fairies wings. She looked up, and then panicked. She'd lost sight of Bethany. Doors opened and closed above her, and she sighed, settling down on the steps, letting her elbows rest on her knees, her fingers twitching and dangling in front of her, clutching feebly at the thin air. She willed her breathing to slow, to deepen. If she had kept up her pace, she would've fallen unconscious and subsequently slid down the stairs, or at worst, catapulted down them far faster than, she suspected, even the girl with her Dark Gift of Rage could run.
She looked at the chronometer that hung between her breasts, tucked under the collar and lace and straps to keep it protected, and checked the time. 5:48 am. Indeed close to dawn. The upside down watch face ticked away merrily, the seconds passing by almost in a blink, until the time of 6 am hit, and as the second hand passed the 2 and ticked on towards the three, a din of such magnitude echoed through the spiral room that Keth as forced to cover her ears in pain, her eyeballs vibrating, her body thrumming, her fingers pressing so hard into her ears that she feared she might cause herself deafness just by pressing to hard.
Each of the doors opened at once, and a number of huge mechanical birds slowly and wobbly strutted out into the small landings that abutted their stoops, raises they're wings and spread them wide, and shrieked, as one, "Cuckoo! Cuckoo!" over and over again, for nearly a full minute as the bells chimed, and whistles sounded and alarms groaned and honked. After a minute though, it was over, and the home fell silent again, its clockwork mannequins still and returning to their rooms, the chorus over for now.
Slowly, as the echoes faded and her eyes were able to focus without seeing spots, she heard a deliberate and strong ticking, like a silver tipped cane tapping against cobblestones and occasionally a loud thump, like a particularly large book opening and then closing with a snap. Over the now clear sound of clocks ticking, it was a welcome respite.
She stood, and began walking again, her energy renewed as the sound of motors began, and she felt the ground move and shift beneath her, a sense of something rising and turning, and the walls began to almost cut out, revealing pure sunlight that streamed in through stained and clear glass, painting colors on the walls in vibrant reds and blues and crisp muted greens. They'd been hidden away, buried treasure, and as the feeling of movement continued more of them opened up beneath her, coating the walls in rich pure color. Her breath stole away from her as more hues twisted into view, until finally the moving stopped, and the house was once again silent.
Keth began to climb for the third time, her eyes wide. This entire house made her feel awestruck and small. Who made a house that moved? Who made a house that, at dawn, opened every window to the sun, every pane a masterpiece? Who scared former criminals and left mysterious messages that questioned your life? Who had kids that seemed so different as to be night and day?
Her eyes set upon a pair of gilded doors, different from the others in that, though they were simple in design and function, had just a touch of gold that set them apart. Not anything fancy as hammered designs for golden knobs or hinges, just straight classic lines. Even in the brilliancy of color and loud blobs of the stuff that painted the formerly white walls, it stood out. It felt like it was a place where *things* happened - like your parent's bedroom or those long narrow hallways in science fiction movies. A place of danger and fear and comfort and wonder all wrapped into one.
She reached the doors and set her hands against the cool wood, surprised to see the grain of the ebony. They opened at her touch, swinging slowly inward to reveal a study, full of globes of all sizes, maps and mobiles hung up on the walls and ceiling. It was a church, almost, and sitting in a tall mahogany chair, the dark maroon velvet upholstery faded in places, more from use than anything else. Inside the chair sat a tall black haired man, with dark blue eyes and soft pink lips tinged with blue, the tiny veins that had been so difficult to see on Bethany and Michael were very pronounced on his skin, and his nails, where his fingers steepled together under his chin, were entirely clear, but seemed traced with silver, sparkling.
He smiled, revealing the two long fangs that where his canine teeth, and licked his lips. "Hello, Keth."