I wrote most of this over the winter break I had, which is coming to a close. I know this story doesn't update as often, but I try my hardest on each chapter and appreciate any feedback I get.
"And the walls kept tumbling down,
In the city that we love.
Great clouds roll over the hills.
Bringing darkness from above."
The fire had originated from the house. Namely, from the kitchen, right beside the stove to make it appear to be accidental. Skulker hadn't lost his touch. Sometimes you had to smoke the nest to drive the prey out into the open, where they made themselves a much easier target.
That being said, the Ghost Zone's great hunter was mildly disappointed when he discovered no trace of the child Prince. He thought this was strange, since he was positive this room was in fact the child's, yet there was no sign of him. After months of careful planning, only to have his second attempt start to go awry, and this didn't bode well for him. Skulker was vaguely aware of the flesh bags in the house, but paid them no mind. They were not his target, and better still they were hardly a problem. He continued his search throughout the burning house with little haste but a growing sense of disappointment. He'd have to hunt down the boy all over again now, and Pariah would hardly be pleased when Skulker told him. Not that Pariah was often happy, but Skulker hated to be the bearer of bad news, especially since the New King—The King, Skulker corrected himself mentally—was not one to forgive past transgressions. More simply put, Skulker knew he could not afford another set of empty hands to show to the High King after his previous failures. Even in his mind, the title sounded as false as the lies Pariah were feeding his subjects. Two years of undaunted reign, and Skulker was glad to be out in the human world instead of the wreckage the Ghost Zone was becoming.
Out here, he had a task. A job. A hunt, glorious as was, which wasn't saying much.
"If it weren't for that idiotic Time nut and that Knight I wouldn't be in this mess." He grumbled to himself, kicking over a trash can as the disastrous flames roared up higher, consuming the old farm house as if they were moth wings.
"Heh. Humans do build such meager holds. " Skulker raised his arm to tap at a panel, intending to re-enter coordinates and wipe the now useless information from his system.
"Mrs. Baxter?! D-Dash—" The sound of a boy's voice and coughing made the trapper pause. "Mr. Baxter! Hello!"
"Well well." Skulker let a smile spread over his face as he turned to watch a skinny young man stagger up the steps. He appeared through the trundling smoke and lazy licking tongues of fire, and the wood stairs creaked ominously beneath his sneakers. His arm was raised over his face in some paltry form of protection, and it was amusing to Skulker. Didn't the boy know he was impervious to fire? This battle ground was only set in flames to assure few others could interfere.
The black haired boy lowered his arm, powder blue eyes widening and watering. He coughed once more and shook his head, staring like a deer in the headlights up into the towering ghost hunter.
"Y-you…you're the one I saw in the forest!" His surprise slid smoothly into righteous indignation, his brow furrowing. "Where are the Baxters?! Tell me!"
Instead, Skulker merely leveled his other fist at him, intending to throw a net, but the boy seemed to know what was going on and threw himself out of the way just in time.
Skulker scowled and moved after him, but while the fire was harmless to his ethereal form, the smoke was a bit of a predicament, since now it was too thick to see through. He passed through some walls, searching intently.
This time. This time, the Prince would not get away.
His lungs burned. His eyes stung. His mouth felt like sandpaper. And his chest felt as if it were being crushed in from an outside force. This and more problems pained Danny with every step further into the fiery farmhouse. His walk turned to rocky stumbling, but on he pushed, his desperation and fear for the Baxter's overcoming his own physical wellbeing.
A fire. That's what Vlad had said had caused Danny's accident. An all consuming broiling fire that had decimated his home, his parents and his life and left him with wounds that somehow ('Thank whoever up there will listen, little badger,") managed to heal.
Still, the mental wounds hadn't scared over yet, it seemed. Danny flinched and scrambled clumsily through the living room into the back study, feeling terror try to grip his heart and senses. It was at this moment he spotted the slumped form of Dash, who was on his knees coughing and not quite unconscious yet.
"D-Dash!" The thought of helping the other boy was what kept Danny sane, kept him from going back to that other terrible night of white lightning arcing and burning pain into his spine, into his brain—like a precious part of himself was being torn from his very—
"Dash…c'mon, let's go," Danny took little time getting the boy upright and half over his shoulder. He doesn't know where his sudden strength of, but he knows what adrenaline is and chalks it up to that. Danny doesn't know, can't know, that as he pulls and tugs the form of the youngest Baxter his eyes have gone from scared blue to toxic green, glowing from under his black as night bangs.
He thinks about getting Dash and anyone else he can to safety, and his eyes flash in deadly determination as he hauls the boy much larger than his own thin frame. He thinks about the fire, about the ghost but Danny doesn't think about how Vlad was about to up and leave the family that had taken them in to burn.
He refuses think about that. For now. But there would be Hell to pay.
Three feet from the front door, which had yet to fall to the flames, and something metallic and heavy came down through the floorboards, along with an otherworldly laughter that chilled Danny to his very core and made even the stunned Dash yelp and wobble.
"Going somewhere, ghost child!?"
"W-who!?" But Danny isn't given a chance to find out who the ghost has him confused with, because the next thing he knows something very big and green and furry has launched from porch into the ghost's back. The giant metal ghost goes down under paws and the beast's colossal chest clips the threshold it takes a chunk from the wood finish. The two go rolling, and Danny decides he'll worry later about two ghosts, because now the door's open and he can get Dash out.
It only takes a second to lower Dash against a fence post far from the fire and smoke, but Danny hesitates as he stares up at the farmhouse. Flames flutter into the black sky and make the stares fade with blotted gray smoke. The fresh air out here is wonderful and his chest aches in protest as he goes to turn back up the porch steps. He's scared, but his fear for his own safety is overridden by the heavy guilt that something here is going on behind his back, and his blindness could cost innocent people their very lives. He knows where his answers will lie, if there any, but that isn't the time for this. There is still no sign of Dash's parents.
Danny also doesn't know where the ghost or the giant hound has gone, but he doesn't care. He's sure the Baxters are in their room, up stairs which the green haired ghost had blocked off before. The gasping boy scrambles up the stairs, twisting round on the balls of his feet when he hears a crashing noise behind him, and sees the bottom three steps are now gone into the basement, the drop sure to break your leg at the very least. He's now trapped on the second floor, with the fire, the Baxters and two ghosts. Great job, Fenton.
Danny moans and pushes on, down the far end of the hall, waving through harmless if thick smoke.
He grabs the brass knob and turns it, throwing open the door. Cold air rushes him, but that isn't what makes him gasp. What does it is the thick sound of a cape fluttering, the familiar white and red fabric swishing as the blue demon like ghost turns on its heeled boot, holding the large, prone form of Mr. Baxter over his shoulder as if he's no more than a bag of flour.
"Y-you're here!" Danny can't keep the marveled elation from his voice as he sees that Mrs. Baxter is gone and the large window has been opened and its screen pushed out. He runs into the room, pulling the door shut toward himself, hoping to keep the flames off a little longer and hurries to the imposing ghost's side.
"C-can you get him out? I'll wait here, the stairs have gone in." Danny explains in a hopeful rush, hopeful blue eyes looking into the piercing red ones.
The ghost nods, but Danny warns "Be careful! Please…" he finishes, feeling foolish since the ghost is already dead. He sees a faint smile play on the purple lips as the tall entity turns and pushes off, flying through the window and heading down out of sight.
Danny smiled in relief, but it leaves when the second floor shudders and something comes blasting through the wall. The second floor shudders warningly, and Danny keeps his footing by grabbing hold of the sill as he turns to see what's going on this time. Beams and debris and the door land atop the green haired ghost, who's looking a little worse for wear than Danny remembers from their previous encounter.
He turns, mouth forming an 'o' as he backs up toward the nearest corner, waiting to see if the green furry beast will follow it, but there's no sign of it. Danny looks back at the window, then at the ghost on the floor, body sparking and teeth clenched. In pain or anger, Danny can only guess. But it looks like pain. A lot of pain. It's struggling to get out, and its clearly too stuck to free itself. Couldn't it go intangible?
…Intagiwhat? How did he know that word?
The fire licks into the room, breaking Danny's concentration.
He swallows, and feels something prickling in the back of his head. It's faded and fuzzy but for some reason Danny no longer sees someone he fears or even dislikes. For a lightning quick moment, Danny can't breathe because he doesn't have too, and he sees himself as something more of an acquaintance to the ghost trapped under the ceiling. Slowly, as if in a trance, Danny edges over, reaching out. He doesn't know why, and he really isn't aware of anything as he leans over, palms meeting wood and he begins pushing with all his might.
The ghost's eyes fly open but Danny has already made his move, taking hold of the heavy beam and moving so it rolls off the back of the ghost to reveal its damaged, broken arm. Sparks fritz lamely as Danny straightens up, his green eyes staring down unseeingly. Then the young man blinks, and they are blue again. He sways tiredly.
For a moment, the two only stare at each other, one with wide eyes and the other with a shocked but otherwise unreadable expression.
Then the metal ghost's gaze focuses on something behind Danny and he blanches, clearly frightened but whatever it is that's flying through the window. Danny turns; already knowing who it is as the regal ghost swoops through the window and grabs Danny easily, glaring. The ghost raises his free hand, palm wide open and facing down at the broken metallic ghost, fuchsia energy gathering around his fingers and surging inward, waiting to be released down and wreck sheer havoc. It was clearly a killing blow, if the panicked look from the ghost on the floor was anything to go by.
"Wait! Don't!" To everyone's surprise, even Danny it seems, he shouts the worried command at the red eyed specter. There's another frozen moment where everyone looks at Danny with different expressions, and Danny looks at his defender with wide, desperate blue eyes until the ghost growls. But…he lowers his hand and pushes off from the ground, sending them out of the burning house. Danny knows asking anymore would be too much, and since even he isn't very sure why he asked the ghost to spare the other's life, he is thankful for the other's mercy over that at least.
He could tell though, by the tight arms around him and the ghost's furious red eyes he's about to get the scolding of his life, second only to the time Vlad caught him riding bareback at night without a helmet on Lucy.
"What were you thinking!?" Barks the echoing voice, just like the green ghost's. But this tone is different, more aristocratic, comforting. "Freeing him like that, you foolish boy—"
"W-we gotta save the horses." Danny mumbles as he's pulled from the house and up into the air. His stomach somersaults but it's a surprisingly enjoyable experience, to be in flight like this, open to the world. Even if that world is on fire below you. His arms tighten around the ghost's neck.
"That is taken care of." Comes a softer snap. "You should be grateful of that mutt of yours."
"Mutt?" Danny parrots lamely, blinking the sleepiness away. The cool air is helping.
"Cujo? Why—what did Cujo do?" Danny asks in confusion as he's lowered to the ground. Far from the front of the house, closer to the woods he notices. As if his new friend doesn't want them, or perhaps himself, to be seen.
Danny gets his answer when the sound of hoof beats thunders through the air. All the horses have been released into the far paddock and, while shaken and scared, are very much from harm's way. Already buzzing sounds and machines roaring tell Danny the firefighters of Crowhaven County have arrived to tackle what's left of the fire that consumed the small farmhouse and only some of the stables.
Danny perks up in relief at this sight, but when he takes a step toward the others something barrels into him and he goes right down into the damp grass, the wind knocked from him.
"Idiot dog!" The ghost gripes, reeling like an affronted cat as a towering green hound shoves its head, the size of a truck tire, into Danny's shocked open arms.
"W-what?! I—hey, wait, wait!" But the attacking tongue does not stop, slobbering all over Danny's face and chest and there's a familiar tinkling noise behind its head, on its neck. A dog tag glints. A familiar symbol, a P within a D, stamped like a royal seal.
"….Cujo?" The boy cried out in surprise, and was answered by several deep, but overall delighted barks that made his ears ring from their sheer volume.
"That is your dog, yes. The true form of your dog."
"True form…?" This is all a bit much to take in, and Danny has the distinct feeling there's more to of it that's going to beat the shock of a giant ghost hound.
But then he's distracted, because Cujo is licking him again, getting ecto-slobber all over him and Danny can't help but laugh, throwing his arms up in defense against his suddenly monstrous, yet still adorably friendly, dog.
"Y-you got big, buddy! Yes, I'm okay! I'm okay!"
Cujo gives a worried whine, and it sounds so out of place coming from this giant creature, but he finally sits back. Danny works to catch his breath, keeping a hand fisted into the dog's fur, rolling the dog's thick neck fat amicably as he pets his dog. Leaning back gives him a better view of the sheer size of Cujo, and he gasps, remembering something.
"That green blur—that was you!" Danny realizes, sitting up more and watching amazement as the hound barks and tosses his head in what seems to be a nod. "Y-you're the one who saved me in the woods! I mean, besides the…other one."
Danny turned his head for the other ghost, expecting him to be at his side still. But his eyes rake over black forest and blue grass, and his search yields no results as to where his mysterious protector has gone off to this time.
"Ah, hey! Oh, he's gone again. I still haven't gotten his name…" Danny murmured sadly to Cujo as he got to his feet.
It hit him then, how tired he really was. The ache hit him bone deep and he stumbled woozily, caught by Cujo's thick neck as the dog jerked under him. The dog rumbled worriedly, but Danny merely patted his head, grateful for the support as he looked around for a different person this time.
"C'mon buddy. Let's go find Vlad. Don't scare him too much, okay?"
Skulker stood on the hill, hidden behind a copse of trees on the outskirts of the forest. He watched the humans begin to fight the fire, eyes roaming the black night. Skulker paid little attention to what was going on before him. His ruined arm hung uselessly at his side, gone up to the elbow. It would take some time to repair the metal armor, and time was not something he could afford right now. But his mind tumbled with its own problems, bringing back the memory of only a few moments ago, when those emerald eyes had bored into his own, when a whip no bigger than a sapling had used some deep-seated strength to free him from under the fallen house parts. They had blazed with power and ferocity, but were rimmed with lively edges of familiarity and concern—something he'd never expected to see again on the young prince's face. To top it off, those same eyes had flashed back at Plasmius before he'd delivered his counter-attack. One that the hunter knew was a killing blow, yet the knight had backed down under the green gaze, bending to that same sapling. He'd gotten out of there with his afterlife, but barely, and it was thanks to Danny both times. That wasn't good. Skulker prided himself on knowing every direction a hunt could potentially take. There were sometimes hundreds of factors you had to consider if you wanted to make sure you captured your quarry. And yet…
He simply had not expected the boy to remember him.
For some reason, the boys missing memory of his world made it much easier to call the Prince 'prey' instead of 'friend.' It was nothing personal, the boy wasn't his enemy, but he was a job. And he'd been assured over and over by his moles that Danny Phantom had no memory of the uprising and the accident. He was human, weak and harmless. There shouldn't have been anything easier to catch when you took the knight and his hound from him. By himself, Danny Phantom—now Danny Fenton—was no more than a mouse. And yet, the boy had ducked and rolled, had shown strength that was clearly not something his physical body knew, and had given Skulker a brief glimpse at another side to the boy that all of the Ghost Zone had been told was long gone. Besides, in the Ghost Zone it was either kill or be killed, and if all he had to do was bring the boy to Pariah, then he could live. As much as it bothered Skulker to betray what used to be a good hunting partner, he kept these thoughts deep down in his conscience and tried to focus on avoiding Pariah's wrath long enough to find the child. After months of searching he had done it too, despite the Knight's best efforts and magical wards. It had all seemed so easy, distract Plasmius and the mutt, get the human child and destroy anyone else who stepped in his way. But what had just happened proved the child was not human, even if he was a shadow of his former self, he was still Danny Phantom, somewhere in him. Skulker wasn't an idiot, if the boy yet retained his ghostly powers, then there was still had a chance of fighting Pariah and getting the throne back.
If the boy's powers and memories were returning, then this changed everything.
His next moves would need to be taken carefully, yet quickly so as not to waste anymore time. As the hunter turned to head into the forest, there was a flash of light between two trunks. And with a great shredding sound, claws ripped through the very fabric of space and the glowing portal widened. There was the sound of snuffling as a muzzle poked through, and claws dug a little father down until the tear almost touched the sparse grass. Out leaped a beast, fur blacker than the night and deadly claws sheathing back into its paws as it leaped out onto the grass. But it was not alone. Its heavy chains rattled and clinked as it stumbled hesitantly farther into the human world, prodded on by a floating guard from the Warden's own personal little army.
Skulker growled, narrowing his eyes as he watched Wulf and two more guards join him. No noise was uttered when the Warden himself stepped through, tipping his hat.
"Good boy, mutt." The Warden smiled condescendingly, and Wulf's ears sank as he turned to stare at the ground, tail between his legs. Skulker stepped up to him, his single hand out complacently.
"Warden! Erh, sir, I was just—"
"You were just failing your mission, Skulker. The King isn't happy. And he's ordered me to bring you in, and lock you up."
"For now." The Warden said simply, motioning with one hand. He gave a little snap and the guards edged toward Skulker, shields and glowing ecto-sticks raised in warning.
Skulker gritted his teeth, hair flickering gently in the wind as the ghost guards advanced.
He thought, quite quickly in that moment. Thought of what was happening, what would happen and what might happen. Mostly, he thought of the young Prince risking his very human life to rescue him, even when Skulker had given him no reason to consider him more than the enemy.
So Skulker lowered his arm, and to Wulf's clear surprise, went quietly.
"We will talk." Skulker's tiny whisper met Wulf's ears as the hunter passed, and Wulf blinked in astonishment. His tail twitched and he shot Skulker a questioning look, but the ghost's eyes were dark and trained to the ground as he was shackled and led away.
No one had any more reason to hate the Warden than Wulf, for a multitude of reasons. And the hunter also knew of the friendship Wulf had enjoyed with the Ghost Prince. From this, Skulker could begin to cultivate a new plan, he was sure of it.
"Sir?" Approached one guard to Warden, sounding hesitant as he eyed the dark, still night. "Sir, shouldn't we look for the prince? He can't have gone far…he's still human. Can't even fly." It certainly sounded simple enough to the henchman, and his friend that was holding Wulf's chain nodded in mute agreement.
"That portals about to open, remember." The tall figure cast in white shook his head and snapped his fingers at Wulf.
"What can the boy possibly do? Even with this powers back, I thought his memory—"
Wulf, who had finished reopening a quick portal, glanced back at them, ears pricked.
"Not just the boy, you idiot think! Who's still with him?" The Warden snapped in annoyance.
Recognition dawned on the guards face, and both of them blanched. Their boss nodded when he saw they understood his words.
"…exactly. That Knight is never more deadly than when the boy's in danger, and we can't afford to tangle with him now. However…" The Warden smiled as he seemed to remember something, and the guards didn't look overly pleased to see such a grimace on the ghost's face.
"After that little rescue attempt we saw Plasmius doing…I can't imagine he's got much power to be a threat to us. When the portal opens tonight, we'll use the confusion and take them. It shouldn't be too hard. It's not like the prince will be much of a problem by himself."
The Warden laughed, and Wulf's ears drooped sadly as he followed them through, back into the Ghost Zone.
"Irresponsible! Irrational! And among other things! You could have been killed—or worse! Do you ever think before you…"
Danny spaced out at this moment, distracted by feeding some dried jerky to the tiny puppy flopped in his lap. Now that he looked closer, Cujo did have a bit of greenish tint to his fur, and even his eyes, which were trained on the meat in the boy's fingers as he dropped it in the tiny maw. Cujo's tail wagged, and someone cleared their throat.
Danny winced and sheepishly raised his gaze.
From where he sat on the fallen log in front of the fire, Danny stared up at Vlad, who was gazing down at him reproachfully. That vein in Vlad's forehead was back, and Danny momentarily worried for the man's mental health.
"…I said sorry." Danny offered once more, a tiny unsure smile spreading over his face. Combined with those big hopeful blue eyes Vlad had to take a moment in his scolding.
"…you've got to stop doing such reckless things, Daniel." Vlad finally spoke, barely above a whisper. This wasn't the usual script, Vlad generally just yelled at him more, cursing his lackadaisical attitude or whatever it was that had gotten him in trouble this time. The boy had a penchant for attracting trouble, even Danny would admit that if pushed to. This time however, things were different. And so Danny said so, at perhaps great danger to his health. People didn't fight with Vlad, he yelled and they cowered. Except one.
"I didn't see you running in after me, Vlad." Danny grumbled, not caring if he sounded petulant, and Vlad froze. Danny went on, now playing with Cujo's ears. "You could have helped you know!"
Vlad watched the young man for a moment. Despite finding out his dog was a giant ghostly hell hound, he hadn't started treating the mutt any different than before. Granted, it probably helped Cujo had shrunken back to his gangly, puppy form that he also had. To this day, Vlad had no idea how Cujo had found his way to the human world when the portals were closed. But the dog was small, and he must have dug through something to end up in the paddock where he then found Danny. It had been impossible to remove the dog from its master's side once Cujo had found the boy a few months ago. The only creature more fiercely loyal to perhaps the point of folly than himself was the dog. Vlad would give him that much.
Not that that said much for Vlad, but still.
"I helped, Daniel.' Though he did not say how. "And do not take that tone with me—" This worked on everyone else. Everyone.
But the boy stood up to his full height, his glare more hurt than it was angry.
"After I had to go first! Why were you just gonna leave them? I know you don't like normal people Vlad but what the hell. How could you just let someone burn like they were a damn decoy so we could get away—" Danny froze, eyes widening in realization and Vlad's jaw tightened as he turned away. He busied himself with tending the small campfire as Danny sat back down on the log with a thump.
"A decoy. That's what they were, wasn't it? …We were running away." Danny breathed, his breath hitching. "Why? From who? I thought…"
What Danny thought, he didn't say. Though Vlad had a good enough guess. He was quiet himself a moment, finishing adding a small branch to the fire before he moved to sit down beside his prince. He gazed out into the grisly tangled brush surrounding them, and noticed the noise from the farm was gone, and that no one had come searching for them. They must have found the burnt clothes Vlad had planted then. Though that wasn't the plan in the first place, Vlad had to admit Skulker's fire had come in handy in more ways than one. Eith any luck, Vlad and Danny were now presumed dead. If only the Baxter's knew how dead they really were.
"As I said earlier, I hadn't been entirely forthcoming with you. But it was not to harm you, or to lead you on. Everything else is real, I promise. Especially my promise to protect you."
"From what, Vlad." The boy was getting it now, from the desperation in his voice Vlad could tell. The arrival of the word 'what' meant that Danny's wary looks into the dark forest around them showed he was understanding. At least a little bit.
Vlad had to hand it to Daniel. He hadn't lost that royal tone.
"…The Accident wasn't an accident."
Danny's furrowed brow rose, in danger of vanishing under his shaggy hair.
"There was…an attack. By an enemy of your family, and it was to take over the throne from your parents." Vlad tried to explain quickly, and would not look Danny in the eyes as he spoke.
"Throne? But that would make them…and that would make me…" Danny trailed off with his finger pointing at himself, eyes wide and looking a little lost. Vlad wished to comfort him but there was still more to tell.
Vlad nodded. Danny's finger leveled at Vlad suddenly.
"And you…?" He prompted softly.
"Your knight." Vlad said simply, before speaking on into the stunned silence. "Your parents, and your older sister, did not make it out of their castle. The Ghost Zone's kingdom was overrun by Pariah's men on the night of your eighteenth birthday. You were nearly killed, but I, along with help from your subjects, escaped through a closing portal into the human world. The portal exploded outward on us, nearly killing you and removing most of my powers from me."
"As if being a prince wasn't enough, yes, Daniel. You are technically a ghost prince." Vlad helped his palms out, hoping to look complacent. "So you see, that is the reason I acted…like those humans didn't matter. To me, they don't. As grateful as I was for their help, if Pariah Dark gets his hands on you, all hope will be lost. There won't be a way to get your title back, and I'll have failed in my duty to protect you…" Danny didn't seem to be listening to this though. He looked rather ill, to be honest, his hand over his chest as he tried to breathe.
"And my parents? My sister? Ghosts t-too?" The boy certainly looked pale enough to play the part it seemed, this new information no doubt swirling around Daniel's head as he sat there. It was a lot to take in, Vlad didn't blame him.
"And now they're…gone. And I won't ever see them again? They were murdered?"
Vlad simply nodded, and let the boy have a moment. This turned out to be his undoing, because Daniel's tired mind was moving much to fast now for even the boy to keep up it seemed.
"That ghost in the woods with the green hair, the one that started the fire? He was looking for me to kill—?"
"I can only assume. At this point, we have to assume any ghost could be on Pariah's side, whether they want to be or not is a different question. But we must remain in the shadows and be cautious—"
"No! No, I don't want to be cautious, I, I want him to pay! He's the reason? The reason I don't know anything o-or, or have a family?! And I was stuck here, for over a year, when I could have been out looking for him!" Vlad looked horrified at the boy's outburst but quickly covered it, standing to meet the boy as he rose from his seat.
"Daniel, please, keep your voice down…"
"NO!" And on that shout the boy's eyes blazed toxic green, glowing in the night. They were ablaze with fury as well, and while Vlad didn't blame him, this wasn't the time or the place.
"Daniel your powers—"
"How could you keep this from me?! For so long! I thought you trusted me! I thought you—grrhn," Cujo whimpered as Daniel suddenly crumpled, clutching his stomach as bright blue rings surged outward from there. They vanished a moment later, sparking in the midnight hour as Vlad bent down and supported the boy before he toppled into the fire.
That was the last thing Danny managed to groan before hot lightning shot up his spine. It was timed perfectly with a small explosion of light somewhere to his left, and he somehow turned his head, watching as a small circle of eerie green light slowly expanded outward. As it grew, the pain in his chest multiplied, making it hard to see or think or feel. And god, it hurt, the intense pain pushing into him, making his heart freeze in place and his blood run cold in his veins. The back of his head throbbed and tears leaked from his blue eyes as they flashed to green and back to blue alarmingly fast. He was vaguely aware of Vlad shouting something, of Cujo growling and barking, and the wind howling as the giant green portal opened wider and wider, sucking leaves in and pulling at them both.
Then there were figures pouring through the opening, and Danny's vision blurred dangerously. He felt himself set on the ground, confused when his arm fell through the wooden log and weakly pulled it out as it solidified again. Strange. The blue rings were back, two of them managing to move a few inches before they fizzled out, leaving Danny weaker than before. The wind howled around them, the stars above only serving to make him dizzier as it felt like his insides were freezing over and yet melting into mush all at the same time. God everything hurt…
"Your bleeding heart has gotten that knight of yours in serious trouble, child." Answered an unfamiliar voice, from an unfamiliar white mass that was looming calmly over him. "I guess what they say is true…history has a naaasty habit of repeating itself."
This time, the blue rings would not be ignored. They grew and spread quickly, pain flaring over Danny's body as he cried out one last time, arching up before going limp.
His eyes slipped shut, and he knew no more.
It was the strangest dream he'd ever had, mostly because slowly his mind began registering it was not in fact, a dream at all.
It was a memory.
Many of them, to be exact. Castle walls. Wide landscapes. An unearthly sky, with spectral creatures and a whole world to explore and, god he wanted to see it all. Fond, exasperated parents and a pretty older sister who loved him but could be a bit of a know it all. It was difficult to tell what was real, and what wasn't because surely people couldn't fly, and hair wasn't fire and there weren't giant bear-men with icicles for arms running about the place. These people and more were flooding his thoughts all at once and each fighting for a turn for his attention, coupled with these great washes of what could only be described as power. It crawled up his spine, into his very brain and seemed to latch there, pushing aside his humanity a bit too carelessly for his liking. There were many powers too, thought not quite as many as the memories, no.
Poor Danny was consciously aware of every sight, sound and smell from seventeen years and so no one could blame him for not being responsive for a while.
Awareness wasn't as painful as Danny expected it to be. Still feeling a bit weak and very sore, he took a few moments before the nauseousness passed him by. Stubbornly, he moved sluggishly toward awake, feeling every sore inch of his body, along with this strange tingling sensation all over. It was like his limbs had fallen asleep and were just waking up. This wasn't what really woke Danny though. What mostly got his attention were the hushed voices around him, and the snuffling sound.
"Cujo…?" He tried to speak, but it came out as a feeble croak.
"Amiko, vi vek! Vi aliaj, shush."
"Oh, look at the poor dear. Hairs a mess and thinner than a twig."
"Give him some air, Wulf. I know you're excited to see him but really…"
That last voice he did know, and instead of filling him with relief it filled him with a dread that settled like an iron ball in his stomach. Danny's eyes flew open and he gasped—though nothing happened in his chest, surprisingly—and he tried to sit up, stumbling on his shaking arms. He was wearing stripes. Everyone around him was wearing stripes, and the faces, an old lady, a thin rather ugly boy, a giant black werewolf and the hunter from before were all in front of him. His head throbbed, but he focused on the face of…S-something. His name started with an 'S.'
"Y-you! I…" He was torn between getting mad and having a coughing fit, so his body decided on both. Danny was aware of his own lungs inflating and deflating uselessly, and it was freaking him out, making him cough more.
"Vi devus resti ankoraŭ amiko. Vi estas vundita…"
"Skulker, you aren't helping either! Shoo!" Snapped the older woman, who tossed her hand at him a bit as if she were frightening off a fly.
"But I was just! Oh, fine, woman." The hunter, Skulker, grumbled and did move off.
"Don't worrie now dearie…everything will be alright." He knew this woman too, but Danny couldn't place her yet. His head tingled and he clutched it, groaning.
"Vi nomas kaptitaj en tiu malliberejo 'Alright?' Freneza virino…"
The older woman shot the werewolf a look, and he closed his muzzle, tail wagging sheepishly as he leaned over and butted the boy's shoulder in what could only be described as friendly.
"…huh?" Danny managed, but his palm was reaching for the black fur before he could stop himself. His hand sunk into the thick mane just before the tattered hoodie and Danny blinked slowly, eyebrows knitting. The hulking monster looked at him hopefully, wolf ears pricking to face him as Danny's fingers tightened in the black strands, eyes roaming over him thoughtfully. His tail wagged a little faster.
"I know you…" he mumbled quietly, and even though it felt like his brain was moving through treacle, recognition light up the boy's green eyes.
"Amiko!" Danny was positively mauled then, mostly by a tongue and a cold wet nose that snuffled all through his hair and shoulders, making the kid laugh a little despite his aching body and everything that had just transgressed.
Danny smiled faintly as the giant tongue slapped his cheek, remembering getting 'attacked' like this quite a lot before…before The Accident that Wasn't an Accident. Wulf had been a very good friend of his, though the specifics weren't quite back yet, and Danny wasn't sure if they'd every return to him. Still, someone was better than the nothing he'd had before.
"Wulf, i-it's good to see you too buddy! Hah…careful." When a paw got too close to putting weight on his sore ribs.
Obediently Wulf sat back on his haunches and Danny sat up again. This time it was easier, though he made no move to go any farther from that point. He took in his surroundings this time, not just the people, and frowned at the gray, cold cells. The cement under him did little for his comfort, and the clothes were itchy and a bit thin for the cell he was in. It was a wide cell too, with smaller doorways on the opposite walls, and a little bench up by the iron wrought door, where Danny could see a little into the hall.
"Feeling alright dear? Here, try getting this down."
"Oh, thanks." As he took a sip he glanced at the woman who'd handed it to him. A moment later his cheeks bulged and he nearly spit it out, gagging. He gingerly set the filthy glass down without taking another drink, watching Wulf sniff at it and wrinkle his own nose, muttering what sounded like a term of disgust before nosing Danny's shoulder for attention.
"Sorry, your highness, soup water's all we've got."
"Ah, i-t's okay I—" He froze. "What did you just call me?"
"Don't recognize me yet, do you?" The woman's weathered face stretched into a smile, knowing and old. Old.
"…I kind of…it's hard. I remember stuff but I don't at the same time, I'm sorry I just…"
"Not to worry. They'll come back. In the meantime, let me see if I can jump start them your Grace." She patted his arm like a grandmother. Before she could offer him any tips as to her identity, he was vaguely aware of a memory where the same woman did it to him before leading him away from a massive pot she was cooking over.
"…the…castle chef?" he ventured, and then added, "And uh, please, you don't…just call me Danny, ma'am."
"Very good your highness! Why you were just a wee thing, no bigger than my knee when you started calling me 'lunch lady' and I—w-what?" She looked aghast, and the brief flaming white hair didn't help matters. "Call the prince by his—"
"En tiuj tempoj? Estus pli sekura…" Wulf muttered, shooting her a glance that made her pause and, though begrudgingly, nod.
Danny's stomach twisted as he looked around and saw something very strange.
"Hey, uhm, guys?" he asked, and realized by their confused look he probably didn't speak the part of a prince anymore. He shakily stood to his feet anyway, half propped up by Wulf before the room stopped leaning different directions on him. This was very strange indeed. So, in a small voice that fit his thin, scared looking frame, Danny quietly sent his worried question out into the world,
Wulf's speech was made by the help of Googletranslator. Because you can no longer highlight and translate yourself without having to rewrite everything, (thanks a bunch FFN) I've put his speech below, in order. Until Danny can translate for us, I have to stick to short sentences and body language.
1. Friend, you awaken! You others, shush.
2. You have to stay still a friend. You are hurt.
3. You call trapped in this prison alright? Crazy woman…
5. In these times? It would be safer.