Title: Whenwar consumes us.
Summary: To return to his rightful place as the Prince of Midnight, Carrion must join his Grandmother's enemies in order to overthrow her. With a spy on the inside (Violet Mousquetaire), and the rest of his followers in hiding, Carrion must put aside his own plans to survive. Warning Book 2 spoilers.
Disclaimer: Alright, I don't own the Abarat, or the characters, and the list is pretty much endless as to what I don't own.
Dedication: To my newfound friend Eclair: Psycotic Confectionary, long live the random emails!
The present day...
Christopher Carrion was stronger than most. Life had dealt him many hard blows, knocking him to his knees more than once, forcing him to haul his way back to the top again and again; and as he reached a jagged rock with a night sky above him, he knew he would have to crawl upwards again. Only this time it would be literally, not figuratively. Looking up at the sky made him certain that he wasn't about to give up yet.
His hand scrabbled about on the top of the rock, looking for something to hold on to as to pull himself out of the water. His cold and numb fingers found a crevice in the rock, and after pushing away some of the mud and pebbles that had buried themselves into it, he dug his fingers into it and pulled himself upwards.
His bruised arms hurt until he thought they would stop working, his body giving up before his mind was ready, but it was nothing compared to the searing hot pain that shot across the wounds on his chest that caused black spots to form in front of his eyes, threatening to take him away from it all. But Christopher Carrion wasn't a man to be defeated by bodily pain, it was a hindrance to his aim that was all, it prevented him from climbing further away from the water, and the pain slowly turned to frustration as the adrenaline in his blood pumped through fast to help him survive.
As his forced and short breath began to become steady again, Carrion raised his eyes to the skies again, and then lowered them to meet with a row of houses standing in a line along the grassy verge of the beach. Having climbed up someone's pathway, in which over the years had crumbled bit by bit into the sea, he found himself outside of someone's house; this gave him the new motivation to keep moving, and seeing no lights on inside he took the chance to look in through the window, searching for inhabitants.
Aware that he had lost his clothes, and now that he was out of the water his skin was steadily becoming more and more frozen with the wind, Carrion looked around for something that might aid him. A line of washing hung in the back garden of the house next door, and keeping close to the houses and away from the windows, Carrion managed to seize an assortment of clothes that he quickly pulled over his head, with difficulty, before looking around once more.
There was clearly active life here, as none of the houses seemed in anyway dilapidated, yet they all appeared to be inhabited at this particular time. Walking around until he was sure that he was in the Abarat, and not still trapped in the hereafter, Carrion decided to break into one of the houses to see what he could find. Taking his chances with the loyalties of the owners, being a night hour it either belonged to him or his Grandmother, Carrion broke a window using a stone he found nearby, and climbed inside with a spidery quickness.
The Mousquetaire's were a large family, old named, but without the greatness and the fortunes that some great families acquired. Under the rule of the Carrion's for many generations, and faithful subjects when it came to allegiance, the news that found their ears tonight was an astonishment. It left them with a dilemma, and knowing they would be watched closely, they knew they had only two choices. Switch allegiance or hide.
The town meeting had revealed what no one would have been able to guess. The news was already a few days old, but it was still as shocking as it had been when it was first announced on Midnight. The Prince had not returned from the battle that had taken place in the hereafter, and therefore, he had been pronounced dead.
Looking at one another with fear in their eyes, the Mousquetaire's walked back home in silence, holding hands to support one another. Life had changed for them now, uncertainty was eating at them, and they didn't know what to do.
Gerret Mousquetaire owned one of the fisherman's houses on the edge of Idjit beach. He lived there with his wife and his two sons who were still in their infancy, and who commanded most of his time away from the sea, but he made enough to feed them all, and so he viewed himself successful in life.
As he and his wife, Holly, opened their front door to the blackness inside that was darker than the night outside, they knew they were not alone in their house. Setting the children in their arms down on the large armchair that was beside the door, Gerret lighted a lamp and found himself staring at a face he had hoped never to meet.
The candle flame flickered in Christopher Carrion's eye, making them seem larger and more threatening than ever before, and giving his already sinister expression an even more ominous feel. Readying himself for screams, Carrion was somewhat surprised when both man and woman, who undoubtedly lived in this dwelling, fell to their knees and bowed down to the floor at his feet. This action was unexpected, but was well received by the Prince of Midnight.
"My Lord Midnight!" the woman said breathlessly, her long dark hair falling over her face as she bowed to the man in her home.
"My Lord they told us you had not returned!" the man said looking up, his pale skin traditional of the night islands. Carrion knew instantly that they were not foreigners to this hour. "The guards were at the town meeting, Mater Motley has declared you dead."
Carrion took a step back and away from the candle flame, he didn't like to stand so directly in its light when he was still feeling vulnerable and weak from his journey here.
"Dead?" he muttered. "You will tell me where I am," he ordered his voice low but filled with the struggle of speaking.
"The hour of 2am Idjit," the man informed him.
"I will stay here," Carrion decided looking around at the house. "You will tell no one that I am here, or that I am alive."
He let the command dangle as he looked down at the two people on the floor in front of him. Usually he liked it when people showed their lowliness in this way, but today it annoyed him.
"Stand and state your name," he ordered, causing the couple to rise slowly to their feet in fear of angering him should he change his mind. Even in his mishmash of clothes, much too big for him, he still managed to looked every inch as intimating as he did dressed in his infamous collar of nightmares. Just his mere presence was enough to make one shiver.
"Our names," Gerret began. He paused, knowing once he gave them his family would be plunged into the old family loyalties once again. "Gerret and Holly Mousquetaire." But there was also no way he was going to purposefully lie to the man in front of him.
Carrion recognised the name; it was as old as his own. The Mousquetaire's had not always been lesser than the Carrions, but they had always been loyal.
"And your allegiance lies..."
"With you my Lord! Always to the Carrion's," Gerret said earnestly. It was true, he was dutiful, but he had to make Carrion believe it. His family's lives could be at risk if he didn't, and his life would be over.
"I am no longer in Midnight, I want assurances that your loyalty is mine and not the hour's," Carrion warned, his eyes catching the light once more and making Gerret's wife gasp in surprise.
Gerret was bewildered. He could never imagine a world in which Carrion was not Midnight, splitting the two seemed impossible, yet it looked as if that was what his Lord was telling him.
"Of course. Shelter here, Holly, the children..." Gerret said, he wanted his wife and children out of the room as soon as they could go, not to expose them anymore, and Holly took the children, one in each arm and climbed the stairs without looking back. "My family has served yours with respect for many generations, and I intend to do the same."
It was a slight compliment that seemed to put Carrion at ease, reminding him of his great family, and the fall of their own with only a few words.
"Very well," Carrion said seating himself and saying motionless for many hours as the family tried to live around him. To his credit, the addition of the Prince of Midnight didn't cause much disruption to the normality of their bedtime routine.
Only when the two adults chose to retire for the night did they realise they hadn't decided what to do with him, and feeling obliged to give him somewhere to sleep, even though he had not been invited into their home, Gerret's inbuilt custom demanded it. And so with marked complaints from his wife, and little to no thanks from Carrion himself, the couple were forced to give up their bedroom and sleep downstairs on the hard wooden floor.
Carrion stayed hidden in the Mousquetaire home for a week, not letting anyone tend to his wounds but himself, keeping to the room he'd been given, and keeping the door locked, only opening it when he was brought up his daily meal of fish soup. Which was the only meal he would take, and Holly, being the mothering type that she was, worried constantly that he did not eat enough and tried to coax him into eating the fresh slice of bread she repeatedly put on his tray. In the end, she gave up and settled on giving him larger helpings of soup. She wondered whether there was a reason for his favouring this dish and touching nothing else, but she felt it was not her place to ask.
Carrion had still not told them how they could help him; instead he kept to himself and reserved an eye for the beach. Adding to the tension in the house, the boys often cried at night, and eventually Holly took their mattresses downstairs until the whole family was camping in the living room, leaving the prince to his dark thoughts alone and undisturbed.
It seemed like they would be forced to spend many months like this, impatiently waiting for Carrion to become strong again. Eventually a month did pass, and Carrion ventured downstairs, longer than a few minutes to demand something, and sat with the small obedient family around the fire. After a few evenings in this manner he even became accustomed to the boys screeches and laughter as they gurgled and babbled to one another filling the silences that were often in the air. One not speaking and the others too afraid to.
One evening at the fire, he gave his instructions.
"I want you to learn what is happening at Gorgossium."
Gerret shared a worried look with his wife.
"But how my Lord? My wife and I cannot pass for spies for you, we have never been to Gorgossium," he explained.
"You are Mousquetaire's; you are well connected with each other. Surely you have one of your numbers in service at Midnight?" Carrion asked or stated knowing the answer. It was impossible for them not to.
"Violet," Holly whispered not realising she had spoke. Her husband looked at her horrified.
"My niece? No, she works for Mater Motley," Gerret said hoping to fend them away from Violet. She was too important to her father to be brought into this. But he had already got them in deep, and if one in the family falls, then they all fall. Perhaps it was already too later for violet; maybe she might as well help them. "She's a seamstress."
"You assured me of your loyalty," Carrion reminded him unpleasantly.
"Y-yes," Gerret stammered.
"And the loyalty of your family!" he hissed at him.
"But?" Carrion's tone switched abruptly, as he asked sarcastically. His previous question had already got the message across. Refuse him, and there would be consequences for it.
"She is not mine to command. I will have to speak with my brother," Gerret said defeated. He'd surrender his niece without so much as a fight.
"Good," Carrion said a wicked smile on his lips, the light dancing in his eyes. "Tell me about Violet..."
A/N: First ever Abarat, apologies for any mistakes made with the places and facts.
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Mousquetaire Long glove covering most of the arm.