Echoes of a Broken Mind

Disclaimer: Not mine.

Summary: Illyria hears voices. Rather, she hears one voice. Its name is Fred.

I like Illyria's character. I think she's fascinating. And I've written a similar character for a book, so the resentment of all things human- oriented is pretty easy. I think. Did I do all right? This is just a pet idea of mine, Fred talking to Illyria. Inspired by where Illyria is complaining about being trapped in 'Underneath.' Trapped in a building, yes- what about trapped in her mind?


/This isn't my world, anymore,/ Illyria realized. Yesterday, all of this was hers. Nothing stood in her way. No gods, no humans, nothing. She was the immortal power that no one dared face. At the height of her glory, everyone bowed down to her and her army of dread. They would die if they didn't.

/No,/ a tiny voice said from the back of her mind. It was sad, but determined. At first, Illyria had fought it with all her strength. But the voice had proved formidable. Illyria was not at home in this mind, this body, or even this world. The voice knew the Shell with impossible confidence. /No, this isn't your world. Your world is gone. It was archaic, and it failed. Can't you go back? Won't you just leave us be?/

Illyria didn't answer. There wasn't a response she could give. She glanced over to where the human named Wesley stood, running one hand over her sarcophagus as if hypnotized. She couldn't grasp it, that humans would be able to overcome all the demons. What had happened to her people?

Her reflection stared back at her from the window. She focused on it momentarily, fascinated. She looked so breakable, in human form. One frail hand reached out and her fingertips pressed against the cold glass.

/Please.../ the voice begged. /Please, just go back. There's nothing for you here./

She tried to ignore it. It sounded like Wesley. She focused instead on her eyes in the window... She looked vulnerable and foreign. The face was drained of all emotion. It looked starved. Life had lost its luster for her. That was what she was craving. That was why her human exterior was so drained. There was no more surprise. Wesley had said that was enough to live for, enough to keep going because of. But there was no surprise in that face. To that face, everything was worth a total sum of nothing.

/Who are you?/ Illyria asked mentally. This thing wasn't going away, she had decided. It was like a buzz in the back of her skull, constant. She didn't want it there. She wanted to be alone. She wanted to go back to where she belonged by right.


/The Shell./ She managed to put as much disdain into her silent words as possible.


/There was a time I was alone in my mind. Before, it was quiet. I was the only one here. It was empty./

/I'm sorry. That must have been lonely for you./

/I liked it better./

There was a long pause on the other side of the mind conversation. /Oh,/ Fred said.

/My mind was my own. My voice was my own, my body was my own and the world was my own. Now I share it with /you/. You're a human. All of this humanity is overwhelming. You creatures are a plague on the world. Ignorant beasts, taking over what doesn't belong to you. My name was /feared/! Now I've been reduced to this./

/You have Wesley. He's brave. He'll help you./ The Shell sounded so smitten that it made Illyria's lip curl upward in disgust.

/You think I am a fool? He wants the Shell back. He's looking for what's not there./

/I'm here,/ she reminded, meekly but firmly. How strange, humans!

/But so am I./

/Yes./ She sounded at a loss of what to do. Illyria could relate on the strangest level to the emotion. It was so desolate here, so desolate and so crowded. Everything around her smelled of human, her nostrils were crowded with their rancid odor. Where were the demons, the mighty creatures of darkness? Why was the entire world shrouded in a mask of humanity?

/This mind is much too small,/ she said.

/It's a little cramped, but still cozy. It's home./ Illyria could pick up an accent, now. None of the others had it. Neither of the vampires sounded as the voice did. Wesley didn't. Why did she sound so different?

/You speak... strangely.../

A quiet giggle that no one could hear. /Actually, I don't /speak/ at all./ That was a funny reminder. The voice was something in her head, a voice that no one could hear, crowded in with her own thoughts... It was enough to make her feel claustrophobic. There wasn't enough space within this Shell, her cage...

/Leave me alone./

/I can't./

/Why not?/

/I can't let you take me./ The solemn statement confused Illyria. She pulled her hand away from the glass, leaving smeared fingerprints that belonged to the being that shared her mind. Her head tilted to one side. Wesley looked up, gave her a grim smile that wasn't all there. The voice in her head sighed. /I wish he knew I see him./

/You can't. It's only through my mind that you see anything. I only let you see the images that I want you to see. They aren't sight, they're thoughts./ She noticed that she sounded like Fred. She hadn't thought the human had affected her that much.

/It seems like sight./

/I thought all I had of the Shell was memories./ But no, that wasn't right. She knew scientific facts she shouldn't. They were random and garbled, but there. She worried about Wesley, got angry at him for drinking... These were the cage's influencing, not hers. The Shell was not only a Shell anymore. It could change her thoughts. It was her compassion. It had softened her mind, and was building up her conscience brick by brick.

Illyria was slightly afraid of this. /What am I supposed to do?/ she asked.

/Listen to Wesley./

Then Fred was quiet. Illyria listened intently, but she had nothing more to say or was unable to say it. So she just looked out at her sarcophagus, her tomb, and wondered.

If she slept, would she have nightmares?