Sang – Chapter 27
Turning another corner sharply, Jacob glanced down the new expanse of hallway and let out a shallow sigh; this corridor seemed just as endless as the last one had been. He stumbled past the first doorway, and unwillingly gave in to his exhaustion. Jake had no idea how long he'd been running, nor did he care, as he leaned back heavily on the wall and slid listlessly to the floor.
The younger Grimm inhaled deeply, feeling his eyes begin to sting from the clouds of dust which swarmed around him, and a question which he'd given up ignoring. 'Damn it, Will! Why aren't you here?' Jacob cursed halfhearted, beginning to fidget with his shirt cuff silently as he urged the pains in his chest to ease. Taking another slow breath, Jake bit down on his lip to keep himself from laughing. 'Why am I surprised? I really shouldn't be…' he thought scornfully to himself, 'Wilhelm's never done anything except run away…' At this, his thoughts trailed to a halt as the echoes of deliberate, heeled footsteps began to fill the hallway.
"With roses… adorned, with carnations… covered…" The Piper began to sing in a low voice, amid the sounds of his steps. Feeling a sleepiness begin to blanket his senses, Jake realized that Lied's words were the beginning of another spell and quickly picked himself off the dusty floor, using a nearby door handle as leverage. As Jake stood up, he felt the metal give under his hand, and nearly fell face first as the heavy door swung in.
Peering down a steep set of unkempt steps and into a dimly-lit space, Jacob made a split-second decision and stepped tentatively onto the cool brick stairway. Closing the door behind him softly, Jake made his way down the steps and into the high-ceilinged room.
Walking further from the stairway, and gazing at his surroundings with curiosity, Jacob felt his breath catch as he strained to see in the dim light, and realized with a sudden queasiness that he'd chosen the wrong place to hide.
Large expanses of the pale stone walls were scorched black in messy patterns and curving lines; some nearly touching the floor while others disappeared from view in the ceiling's shadows. Ignoring the wooden racks and shelves which lined a corner of the room's walls, Jacob kept his attention on the blackened sections of stone. "Impossible," He murmured aloud, glancing up and down the walls, "It's all writing." Fixing his gaze on the words closest to eyelevel, Jake tried to make sense of what seemed to be jumbled sentences and ideas. "They followed my music…" He read uncertainly from the blackened stone.
"…They danced my dances. Until their feet no longer touched the ground... and then, they truly soared." The Piper finished from the top of the stairway. "Do you understand, Mein Herr?"
Jumping at Dämon's voice, Jacob turned around to face the other man as he made his way down the flight of steps. "I-I don't." Jake stammered, frozen to the spot in fear.
"It means that I've ruined you, Lukas!" The Piper exclaimed, letting out an eerie laugh as he crossed the stone floor to stand in front of Jacob. "Even though you sacrificed everything, it didn't last."
"What?" Jake questioned in confusion, at words which had never been meant for his ears.
"Tsk tsk. Have you forgotten so quickly?" Lied chided, wagging a disapproving finger at Jacob. "Sit," The Piper commanded, causing Jacob's legs to suddenly collapse under his weight. "I've got a very important story to tell you, Lukas." Dämon explained with a crooked smile and a flamboyant flick of his wrist, as the words caught Jacob's curiosity. A second later, an open book fell into his hand, and the Piper glanced down at the first page.
"Once upon a time," he began, taking an invisible seat in the air and reclining comfortably.
"There was a small town. This town was no more or less important than the others, and its inhabitants lived quiet lives. Though no one went without food or clothes, not many of the families living there were well-off. In fact, the only wealthy family in this town was that of the mayor, who ran the area and owned the local steel mill. The mayor and his wife had a son who was both quick to learn, and eager to help his family. Whenever either parent had an errand or chore to be done, the young boy would be the first to offer, and the mayor's son was often seen running back and forth from one corner of the town to the other, greeting everyone he saw. But, these things don't last forever...
"The years passed and, as all places eventually do, the little town began to grow. While the town grew, some people began to gain money, while others lost it. The young man continued to do errands for his parents, but had become strangely selective about who he gave his greetings to-"
Lied suddenly paused, running a finger absentmindedly along the edges of his book's worn pages. "How dull," Dämon muttered as he flipped the book shut and carelessly tossed it aside, creating an unnaturally loud echo. "Writing is much more difficult than it seems." The Piper added defensively. "But you wouldn't know that, would you, Lukas?" Dämon questioned, playing absentmindedly with a strand of silver hair between his fingers. "No… you certainly wouldn't." He concluded.
"Well, actually I…" Jacob began, about to clarify both the fact that his name was not Lukas, and the fact that he did indeed know how difficult writing could be. Instead, Jake held his tongue, as he recalled the kind of results his input usually led to. "…I wouldn't."
"Yes, yes, we know that." The Piper replied distractedly, with a dismissive wave of his hand. "There has to be an interesting way to tell a story." Dämon muttered to himself. "Ah…" He concluded suddenly, turning murky silver eyes to the other man. "After all, you do look exhausted."
"Wilhelm!" Schwarz exclaimed suddenly, jarring the other man out of his preoccupied stupor, "Stop!"
"Stop?" Will repeated in confusion, "Stop what? I'm not doing anything."
"I meant: stop the horse." Prinz explained in exasperation, as he slid a hand past Wilhelm's waist; reaching for the reins, and giving them a firm tug.
"What was that for?" Will questioned sharply when the horse came to a halt. Glancing over his shoulder at Prinz, he managed to catch a glimpse of the lycanthrope as he vaulted off Kastanie.
"I think I may've seen something… just wait there a moment!" Schwarz hastily explained as he retraced their progress along the pathway, and disappeared into the trees.
"Take your time." Wilhelm retorted dryly to the deserted pathway, "It's not as if I have somewhere important to be." He added with a sigh. Slowly dismounting from Kastanie's saddle, Will attempted to stretch the stiffness from his back as he tethered the mare to a nearby tree.
Leaning back against the warm leather of the saddle, Wilhelm glanced down at his hands and began inspecting them distractedly. Ignoring the persistent background noise of birdsong, he started to twist the silver ring around his finger; seeming to be deep in thought. "Beans..." The older brother murmured, "Is it always a misunderstanding?" Will questioned aloud in frustration.
Hearing a sudden, high-pitched shriek from behind him, Wilhelm started in surprise and let out an undignified yelp as he spun around. He scanned the pathway nervously, and glanced at the nearby trees in suspicion when no explanation presented itself. "Schwarz?" Will wondered as he unconsciously moved closer to the mare. "Perfect," he added dryly, "I hope you haven't got any objections to being eaten first, princess." Wilhelm joked in a hushed voice to Kastanie, who snorted arrogantly and tossed her mane. "You think it's funny, do you?" Will questioned, but instantly forgot his intended comeback when a persistent chirping noise began.
Barely keeping himself from jumping at the sound, Wilhelm took another look around in an effort to figure out what was making the shrill noises. As the chirping became louder, Will realized that it was coming from somewhere by his feet, and dropped his gaze down to the forest floor.
Meeting Wilhelm's stare was what seemed to be a ball of feathers, which was frantically twittering and fidgeting at the edge of the pathway. 'Oh Christ,' Will thought to himself in embarrassment, 'I can't believe that I was just scared out of my wits by a bird.' As the distressed animal let out another screech, Wilhelm took a step towards the tawny heap, but halted when the bird froze in its struggle and gave an impressively high-pitched shriek.
"Whoa," Will murmured as he took another step towards the feathered creature, "It's alright," he continued, trying to mimic Jacob's method of calming the horses. At his efforts, the bird's wings fell limply to the ground while its legs coiled up in an attempt to play dead. 'I did it the same way Jacob does!' Wilhelm thought in annoyance as he glanced down at the splayed bird in dismay. 'Well… it nearly worked.' He amended, moving another few steps in the animal's direction and taking a closer look.
When he neared the bird, Wilhelm noticed that amid many ruffled feathers, and looped around its stiffened legs was a fine, silver chain. Regarding the animal with suspicion, Will nudged it with the toe of his boot and, as it responded with nothing more than a surprised twitch of a leg, he scooped it up in his hands. Holding the bird cautiously, the older Grimm took a loop of chain from around its leg and slowly began to free the fragile form.
As Will succeeded in untangling the last section of the bird's tormentor from its wings, the little animal suddenly gave a small squeak of victory and launched itself off of his hand in a flurry of plumage. 'You're welcome.' Wilhelm thought to himself dryly as he watched the bird fly hurriedly back into the forest. Shaking the remaining feathers away, Will began examining the chain and noticed an odd weight attached to its end. Pulling the long end of the chain into his hand, Wilhelm realized that the silvery length's thick clasp had trapped a familiar ring on its end.
"Coincidence." Will stated aloud, sounding sceptical as he opened the chain's clasp and took the ring between his fingers. Pausing to glance from the ring Jake had placed on his hand, to the one held between his fingers, he realized that they were indisputably identical in every detail, except for their size.
"What's a coincidence?" Schwarz's voice questioned from down the pathway, causing Will to jump and quickly close the smaller ring in his fist.
"Coincidence?" Wilhelm repeated, turning to face the other man and giving him an oddly warm smile, "I don't know what you're- Christ!" Will exclaimed as he glanced up at Schwarz's hair which was sprinkled with leaves and twigs. "Did you lose a fight against a tree?" He wondered, motioning to the other man's dark hair.
"A tree?" The lycanthrope wondered in confusion, "Well… seeing as how they don't move, it wouldn't have been a very interesting opponent." Prinz added dryly, giving Will a grin as he unbound his hair and shook it out. "So, what were you calling a coincidence?"
"Nothing, I was just talking to Kastanie." Wilhelm answered a little too quickly, as he tried to inconspicuously slide the smaller ring into one of his pant pockets.
"Liar." Schwarz quickly snapped back. Instantly realizing what he'd just said, the lycanthrope gave Will a look of bewilderment and put a hand over his mouth, "I didn't mean… well, I did mean it, but I didn't-"
"You could tell I was lying?" Wilhelm quickly interrupted, his words somewhere between suspicion and fascination, "Only Jacob's ever been able to do that."
"Actually, I could kind of… smell it." The lycanthrope explained hesitantly, "I don't know how else to explain the feeling, it's never happened before."
"Another first? I think it would be safe to assume that we're going to be dealing with the full moon tonight, then." As he spoke, Will fought down the urge to step away from the other man, and instead, gave him a sudden smile. "Let's keep going. We'll need time to set up before the sun sets."
His nose twitched at the sudden change of topic, but Schwarz only returned Wilhelm's smile and took a step towards the mare. "Right." The werewolf answered, giving him a questioning look. "But, what exactly are we setting up?"
"I'm sure we'll think of something." Wilhelm said with a vague shrug as he pulled himself up onto Kastanie with a jingle of reins.
A/N: OMG. I'm not (completely) dead! And before I ramble about anything: I'm really sorry about the lack of updating for the past few months. (I know I'm a bad person.)
See, I've been struggling through a grade twelve semester while working two jobs, trying to get everything done for university applications, and fighting other things (such as MASSIVE writer's block.)
(But, all in all, that's a pretty lame excuse, isn't it?)
As always, I truly love you readers/reviewers… (And I really do like hearing your theories about what's going to happen next.)
(Whoa, that's an abnormally short A/N for my standards…)
Wait! I forgot. Since it's been such a long time since I've written these characters, someone please kick me if anyone fell out of character in this chapter, (though I tried to pay extra attention to it.)
And, (yes I forgot something else,) the words which the Piper sings at the beginning of this chapter are from (one of) the most famous German lullabys called Wiegenlied, (or "cradle song," in English.) (According to Wikipedia.)
...Hopefully after exams the next chapter will come more easily than this one did. (Hah.)