Playing King in Your Small Kingdom
Notes: The characters are not mine and this ficlit is! It's an idea I've been developing for a while, taking place during episode #25. Has anyone else noticed how sobered Autor is during the scene where Ahiru says goodbye to him and Fakir and Uzura? Throughout the remainder of the climax Autor is dedicated and loyal, with no indication of his earlier bitterness. I can't help but wonder if something similar to this scene may have happened. Especially since my perception of Autor is that he's an innocent, idolizing boy, unaware of the full evil that Drosselmeyer is capable of.
Autor turned away from the door as Fakir disappeared into the night. Hopefully he would be smart enough to stay safe in this now-calamitous town. The blood-rain had ceased, at least, so there was no reason why he would be turned into a crow. Fakir was in an angry, frantic state, however, and that was not something in his favor.
The boy frowned, debating within himself. Perhaps he should go along. But he would hope Fakir could take care of himself. The last thing Autor wanted to do was coddle him.
Not to mention that with a town full of giant crows, Autor's bird allergies would overwhelm him and he would be constantly sneezing, no help at all. No, going outside would be ridiculous.
His eyes widened as he caught sight of a trail of blood across the wooden floor. It stopped at its source—the discarded letter-opener with the golden bird's head. The lower half of the blade was covered in crimson liquid.
"This was what pierced Fakir's hand?" Autor said aloud, too stunned at the moment to even be upset at the mess on the floor and on the letter-opener. "What happened here?"
He crossed back to the desk. Red was splattered across the half-finished top piece of paper on the desk, but the writing was still legible. He leaned over, staring at the fancy script. That was not Fakir's handwriting. It more closely matched . . .
"Drosselmeyer?" Autor breathed in shock. He had studied everything Drosselmeyer had written, including old letters that had been found. He would recognize the man's handwriting anywhere. And Fakir had said Drosselmeyer was actually here. . . . Here, in this study that Autor had replicated out of devotion and idolization to a magnificent writer. . . .
"He made me write it."
That meant that it truly was Fakir's hand that had held the pen, but Drosselmeyer had . . .
Had what? Controlled him?
Autor snatched up the paper, heedless of the blood. This was the first new story of Drosselmeyer's that had been written down since his death. Autor's hands fairly shook as he almost worshipfully held the edges of the leaf. What had Drosselmeyer wanted written so badly that he had come here to have Fakir pen it?
This was the lake called Despair. It was dark and deep, like Ahiru's eyes.
Autor's own eyes widened in shock and confusion. "W-what . . . what is this?" he gasped. Ahiru? Drosselmeyer had come to make Fakir write about his friend Ahiru? Why?
He read on, quickly devouring the words on the page. His stomach twisted in disbelieving knots. Drosselmeyer was speaking to Ahiru in the Story, telling her it was her fault that she could not remove the pendant. And to take off the pendant she had to . . . what?
The paper fluttered from his hands and back to the desk. Ahiru had walked into the lake. She was trying to drown herself, to release the pendant by giving up her own life. That was where the Story stopped.
Autor's eyes darted to the letter-opener. Fakir had pierced his own hand to stop himself from continuing the horrific Story. That was why he had left in such a state—to save Ahiru. Would he even make it in time? How far away was the Lake of Despair?
Uncontrollably trembling, Autor looked back to the bloodstained sheet of paper. His mind was spinning, still trying to process what he had found.
Ever since he had been old enough to read, he had known of Drosselmeyer's love of tragedies. None of the man's books ended happily; they were realistic and dark. This new Story should not be such a shock to discover. And yet, it was.
Autor had suspected for years that Drosselmeyer had been controlling the town after his death. He had only recently learned that it was true. It had been thrilling. Imagine—a Story of Drosselmeyer's coming to life right in the real world, with all of them part of it! Story characters were now as tangible as he or Fakir or Ahiru! Mysterious and previously impossible abilities and events were quite possible to attain and take part in!
But this. . . . This. . . .
He stared in sickened horror and disbelief at the fancy cursive on the page. This was sheer cruelty. And if Ahiru died, wouldn't Drosselmeyer have technically committed murder by deliberately manipulating her into the lake?
"We're all characters to him," he whispered in realization. "He doesn't see us as real people at all."
Had Drosselmeyer completely lost his mind? Was this what had come of him writing a Story about himself in which he continued to write stories after his death? He wrote them with real people, suffering real tragedies, just like the characters in his books?
I thought life was going well, Autor thought, still shaking. I wanted to know what was happening in Kinkan, maybe even to try stopping it or rewriting it someday if my hypothesis was correct. But I didn't think the Story controlling the town was really causing any harm, even though some of the events were strange.
Have I been blind?
He looked back to the open door as the caws of the anthropomorphic crows reached his ears. Almost everyone in town had become one of the black birds. The Monster Raven loomed over Kinkan, waiting for Princess Tutu to return the pendant to the Prince. The Prince, Fakir's friend, was being held captive in the town square. And Princess Tutu (could she really, possibly be the clumsy girl Ahiru?) was drowning in the Lake of Despair. Fakir was her only hope now.
Autor slumped back. He had devoted his entire life to researching Drosselmeyer and the Story-Spinning powers. And Drosselmeyer was a genius, no doubt. Look what the extent of his powers had brought into being! The Story was real.
But . . . it should not have happened this way. It should not still be happening. It was no wonder now that Fakir had grabbed hold of Autor, ready to punch him senseless when he had proclaimed Drosselmeyer's arrival "magnificent."
His brown eyes narrowed. He may not have the Story-Spinning powers, at least not as strongly as Fakir, but he would put his envy aside. Fakir had asked for his help, and when Fakir returned, Fakir would have it. He would have it without the bitterness and resentment that Autor had carried through the first part of the evening.
It's not too late to change this, Autor determined, walking back to the open door and gazing into the night. I can't be involved the way I wanted to be, but I can do something. I can fight to save Kinkan—and maybe even the world—from tragedy.
His eyes widened as the beat of a drum reached his ears. "Could it be . . ." he uttered aloud, looking towards the direction of the sound.
In a moment three figures came into view, bathed in the flickering light of a nearby streetlamp. The noisy child was in the lead. Behind her came a completely drenched Fakir and Ahiru. They were safe.
In spite of the giant crows, Autor went out to meet them.