Disclaimer: I do not own the forbidden game, or Julian. Or the 'famished' idea. Don't worry, it will not turn out the way you expect...
Famished... the claim is for us... to take forever... no longer Julians, but ours...
For a moment, after Jenny finished reading the letter, all was silence. And it seemed that no one dared to break it.
"What does it mean?" Summer asked, with a quiver in her voice.
"Um..." Even Dee looked confused. Just because they were scared, that didn't mean that they knew what was scary.
Jenny stopped thinking about her friends' confused faces. Something in her mind was clicking, and it was that poem in her grandfather's study. Something about it...
"Hey!" she began, breaking the silence of her friends' private musings, "there was a poem in my grandfather's study in my nightmare, and the poem said something about 'bone sucking, lip-licking wraiths,' and it was describing Julian"
"So," Zach said irritably and confused, "What does that have to do with anything?"
"Don't you see," Jenny was impatient, yet excited, "lip-licking wraiths, plural. This means there are more than just Julian. They could be sending the message!"
The excitement ebbed, and Jenny realized what she had just said. Her stomach clenched, and her face blanched. Her friends mirrored her expressions.
"Well then, we have to figure out what it means, dont we," Summer said confidently.
All of them looked at Summer in surprise. She had said it without a trace of fear.
Maybe he did some good, Jenny thought, maybe Julian changed us, gave us some gifts.
"Okay," Dee said, "Let's think about this… the other shadowmen are going to come. Basically, we belong to the other shadowmen. And they aren't in love with Jenny, either.
Zach laughed, a hysterical sound, coming from a person who has no hope.
"How do you know this? C'est impossible! It doesn't say anything about that, does it..." Audrey rambled on and on fearfully, but Jenny knew that what she was saying was right. Julian was locked in a closet. He had no claim over her. His relatives, or elders, or whatever they were, did. And Jenny knew that these weren't monsters in love. THey were just plain... well, monsters.
But Jenny was so tired. She HAD to sleep. "Hey guys," she said, "I am exausted. I can't even think. let's just sleep," as if to prove it, she let out a large yawn.
"But we need to figure this out, we might die!" Michael said hystarically. Jenny almost snorted with laughter. After all they had been through, he was still afraid? But when she looked at her friends, she could tell that they agreed with Michael. they were nodding along.
"No, Jenny is right. We need to sleep," said Tom, surprising Jenny. She raised one eyebrow at him. He hadn't said a thing yet this whole time, and here he was standing up for her, after just breaking up with her.
The others looked kind of shocked, but they listened to him, too.
Jenny didn't care. She was so tired. Jenny lay down, and fell asleep.
We are coming... Coming...
She woke up with ragged breaths. This was so freaky... but she knew what she had to do. She had to let Julian out. THen he could claim her, and the others wouldnt be able to. So… die by Julian or die by his elders? What a great morning thought. Well, she thought, maybe Julian would have some mercy. She snorted. Yeah, right. The same chance that she would step out of the doorway into her own house.
Hey! Let's try that, see if it works. Nope. Still in that Victorian not-so-paper-anymore house. She sighed. She went back into the room, and Just realized that her friends were not in the room.
Jenny then went out of the room, down the stairs, and into the parlor. To her surprise, her friends were already there waiting.
"There you are, Jenny," Audrey exclaimed. "We have just been talking about the-"
"Dee," Jenny said in a shaky voice, "What is that thing wrapped around you?"
"What? Oh, him. That's just the Creeper, Jenny. You'd be surprised. They're actually pretty friendly, really." Dee responded, just as Jenny felt something furry brushing against her back.
"omigod!" Jenny screamed, turning. What she saw was the Lurker. She raised her hand to smack it away from her, and to her surprise, it cowered. "Oh, you poor thing. I bet Julian wasn't very nice to you, was he?" she cooed as her instinct to protect animals welled up in her. Animals loved her. She loved animals. It was quite simple, actually. They never bit her she thought- just as she realized that it had been Julian protecting her that whole time.
She nervously took a step back from the Lurker and fell, plop, onto the couch. The Lurker followed her and began to lick her hand. She sighed in mock surrender, "okay, okay, I give up, I love you, you can follow me around, geez." She turned to see her friends snickering at her.
"It seems," said Tom in a lazy voice, "that we have two more friends" while gesturing to the two animals.
"Anyway," Audrey cut in, " We still have this problem…" she looked uneasily at the group, and shook her head.
"I can't believe that we didn't realize it before," Michael muttered. "We were so stupid."
"I know, it's like we only have two options, Julian or his elders," Tom muttered, "I wonder if that was planned by him?"
"Yeah, it does seem a little ironic, and God knows that he can read our thoughts," Summer replied thoughtfully.
"Besides," replied Dee darkly, "he is the master player, after all."
Jenny watched her friends as if from a distance. She understood the frightening implications of what they said, but she wanted so badly to just go curl up in her bed and sleep, and when she woke up, the problem might be gone. But she knew that she couldn't just watch all of her friends be tortured to death, with no chance that they would survive. With Julian there was a chance. A very small chance, but a chance nonetheless.
"Guys," Jenny said loudly, "I think that, um, we will die if his elders take us, but if I let Julian out…" Jenny shrugged, embarresed at her suggestion.
"But honey," Dee replied with concern, "don't you think that he will do something much worse than them? He would make it a lot worse," Dee grimaced and shuddered.
Jenny turned to her other friends. They looked worried and frightened. Jenny sighed. She knew without question that if anybody had to open that door it would have to be her- she had closed it in the first place.
"Look, guys. If I open the door, maybe I can convince him not to kill you, or I could-"
Jenny was cut off by the sound of wild laughter coming from Dee. "or, Jenny, we could just make him angry enough to kill us quickly and save us all a lot of time and effort," Dee grinned, her barbaric smile.
All of the others choked on their laughter. Yup, this was what was expected from Dee. But there was a sad truth to what Dee was saying. The laughter was too loud for the joke, too forced. The reality was that all of the friends were worried. They had circles around their eyes, and looked haunted. The laughter was only a release of energy, fearful energy.
"Okay, guys. I will open the door when you guys are safely in hiding invthe room," Jenny stated. "Maybe I can convince him. If not, Im sorry…" Jenny trailed off as tears filled her eyes. She gasped in her tears, and began crying.
"Shh, Shh, Jenny, it's okay. We are right here with you…" Dee told her comfortingly, laying a hand on her shoulder. "No. We will not be in hiding. We will be sitting right here in the parlor, and if we die, so be it. We will support you all the way." Dee looked up at the others defiantly, challenging them to back out. But to Jenny's surprise, none of them countered Dee. They all nodded their agreement, and even Michael had a spark of courage in his eye.
Jenny had very loyal friends. She was amazed at their loyalty, even as she was going to kill them, even as she was sending them to their deaths. Well, she might as well be as strong as them, she thought. "Okay, I love you guys. Thank you. I wont let you down, but if you will excuse me, I am going to get some rest. We have a long day in front of us tomorrow, you know," she said sadly.
"Yes, we do," Tom said, his expression uncharacteristically guarded, "I will see you tomorrow, I think." And then he turned and stalked away with Summer trailing after him.
Jenny turned to look at her other friends. They all seemed sad and very, very, afraid. After a few awkwardly murmured 'good night's', they all left to go to bed. Jenny sat, thinking, by herself. She realized that she should also rest, to prepare her for the ordeal whenever she could manage it..
She laid down, and fell asleep thinking of Julian's eyes.
"Tom!" She screamed, her voice ragged, "Tom, I'm sorry, I need you, where are you!"
But then she felt icy tendrils of mist coming from behind her. "Julian?" she whispered, is that you?
She saw eyes. They were shadowman eyes, for certain, but none were Julian's. A sound like music, like ice, like darkness overtook her. Then she realized- they were laughing.
Then one with eyes as black as the night stepped out from the group. She still couldn't see it because it was covered in mist, but she could feel it's presence.
"Julian is trapped. But you know this already. But when he is gone…we can have you, all of you." They laughed again, and Jenny could feel terror drowning her like a wave. All she could hear was a whisper of retreating voices, "you are ours… forever…"
Jenny woke at midnight, in a cold sweat. She could have sworn that the dream was real. She had slept so much that day. She wondered why. She shivered. She wasn't exactly sure what it meant, but it obviously wasn't good. Especially if it was from the other shadowmen. She remembered Julian saying that he was the nicest. Remembering the fear that she had felt hearing the other shadowmen, she could almost believe that.
Thinking about Julian had made her remember that she had to free him- she winced when she thought about how angry he would be at being trapped.
Suddenly, she had an idea. A truly wonderful, brilliant idea.
She would free him right now. While all of her friends were sleeping. He probably wouldn't notice them right away, and maybe she could convince him to spare them. Besides, she didn't like the idea of all of her friends sitting in the parlor defiantly, waiting to oppose Julian. He probably wouldn't like that either. That was what she was afraid of.
The opportunity was perfect. It's now or never, she thought. Jenny slipped quietly off the couch, and opened the door of the room into her house. It was funny how she had already began to call this house hers.
She snuck quietly past all of her friends, and was about to go up the stairs to the third floor, when she ran into something soft, but immobile. The thing grabbed her arm before she could dart away. She yelped, but the thing put his hand over her mouth to keep her from making any sound.
"Be quiet; you don't want to wake up your friends, now do you?" Tom's quiet voice hissed from the darkness of the hallway.
Jenny let out a sharp intake of breath. She had thought that it was Julian- or something worse. Like the shadowmen, she thought.
"What were you doing, sneaking out in the middle of the night?" Tom asked. " You obviously didn't want to wake everyone else, or talk to me, now did you?" he added sarcastically.
Tom took his hand away from her mouth, and said, "Come on, tell me what is going on. Otherwise I will wake up Dee, and she will get something from you."
"Alright!" gasped Jenny, " just don't scare me like that!"
"You could almost say that you scared me," Tom countered back, "All I want to know is your reasons for sneaking around here in the middle of the night."
Jenny sighed. "Okay, I will tell you. Remember when Dee said that you guys would be in the parlor, waiting for me whem I opened the door to let Julian out?" she asked him.
Tom nodded. "well, I don't want you guys to get hurt. So, I am opening the door alone. While you guys are sleeping," She said tiredly. "I just don't want you to get hurt."
"Oh, Jenny," Tom whispered. "I think that you are the bravest, and most wonderful person out there."
"Then why did you not want to be with me, in that way, I mean?" Jenny asked bitterly.
"The same reason I told you that you and Julian are perfect for each other," he said quietly. Jenny gasped.
He continued on, ignoring her, " Opposites attract. Look at Audrey and Michael; opposite. Look at Zach and Dee; opposite. And," he said, wincing, "look at me and Summer. The way you and me used to be. I need to be in control. But when Julian had shown me the mirror of you, I realized that you had changed. Not that there is anything wrong with you, but we just grew apart. Do you understand?" His voice was earnest now, desperate even.
"Yes," Jenny's voice was gone, leaving her to only whisper, because some sort of hard knot had grown somewhere in her stomach, leaving her feeling chocked, but she knew that he was right, and she just had to get over this.
"Tommy, please just go back to sleep, so that I can go kill myself to save your ass," Jenny said in a lame attempt for a joke.
But Tom laughed, and whispered into her hair, "Go for it, Thorny, and remember, Im always here for you, no matter what." And what he said made all the difference.
As Tom departed into his room, Jenny quickly walked up the stairway. The closer she got, the faster her heart beat, and she felt extreme terror and hysteria bloom inside of her. Her hands were shaking, and her skin was the color of ash. Finally, she came to the door of her grandfather's basement.
The door swung open with ease, and a glance around showed the room the way it had always been; charms and books and strange things she didn't know the name of. Finally, her eyes lingered on the door. The door. The door with the rune, the X marked on it. The rune of constraint. She slowly walked towards it, waves of fear and nausea threatening to send her into permanent madness.
She stopped outside of the door, and calmed her nerves. This was coming a little too fast for her. After standing outside of the door for ten minutes, she started hearing whispers, and seeing eyes. The others were coming! They did not want her to open the door. She had tp, she wrenched the door open.
Ice. Pure Ice. Shadows. A wave of Ice and Shadows. That's what it felt like; like when you open the door and waves of heat bore down on you. Except this time, it was waves of cold, freezing cold.
"So, Jenny, how has your day been?" a musical elemental voice said evil, angry, and amused. Jenny knew that she would be afraid. She had forgotten just how afraid. She had wanted to talk to Julian, persuade him, plead to him, anything to get out of this mess. But she forgot all of that as she saw his flashing eyes- clearer than the sky, pools of glacier water, those eyes…
As he moved closer to her, she snapped out of her trance. The fear that had been pushing at her now gripped her with a certain ferocity. She forgot everything she had come for. Now I know what a rabbit feels like being chased by a fox, she thought.
And then the figure began to come into view. She could see the perfect body, the White hair- hair like death- the strange outfit, and that wolfish smile.
That was all of the pressure she needed. At that moment, her fear took hold of her, and she took off running, running away from him, towards the stairs. If I get in my room I will be safe, a small irrational part of her told her. That was the part that drove her.
When she got to the stairs, she hesitated. But then she heard the pounding of feet behind her, and she took off down the stairs.
She couldn't exactly explain what happened next except that there was a furry thing, and then there was Blackness that sucked her away to another land.
"Jenny" she heard a panicked voice. And then the blackness overtook her and she went under.