Okay, Chapter 7, woot! Back to Henry's Perspective! Sorry, but the small cliff hanger from last time will just have to wait for the next update!
Also, shout out to ~eitherangel for giving me a lot to thin about as far as the mental age, maturity, and basic knowledge that is possessed by the Creature and how he would react to Tori in certain *cough cough* situations. Okay, well hope ya'll enjoy!
Victor and I searched the park for many hours, well into the evening, but the only sign of Miss Aizen recovered was her pistol, which we found in a clearing on the edge of the grounds. I did, however, take notice of the three distinct foot prints on the ground; the smallest obviously belonged to little William, the other petite steps most likely belonged to Tori. They trailed off with a larger set of imprints, easily double the width of my own. Once the prints passed the edge of the clearing it was impossible to follow them.
We rode back to the manor house by the light of the moon. Victor was silently brooding and I would have been content to leave him so, but a sudden thought came into my mind.
"Victor, do you remember the book that Miss Aizen was carrying with her?" I asked, wondering what my friend would think knowing the name on the cover.
"Vaguely. She never really brought it out for other eyes to see, did she now?"
"I saw the cover of it once." Victor's eyes looked up at me in minor interest. "After she had jumped out of the carriage, it fell out of her pack and I picked it up for her."
"And? What was it? Some diary or journal of sort? Knowing her it was probably some fanciful adventure novel."
"No, not that I know of, but the name printed on the cover…Victor, it was your family name."
He pulled the reigns of his horse and came to a complete halt. "What?" There was a look of astonishment and confusion on his face and he pulled his horse over to mine. "Henry, did you see anything else?"
"No, but there is no doubt, the book had the name Frankenstein printed across the cover." Hesitantly he urged his horse into a slow trot. I followed at his side, waiting for him to speak again.
"Why didn't you tell me this information earlier?" His gaze stayed directed on the dark road.
"She had asked me not to."
"And you believed it to be a good idea?"
I felt the bile taste of guilt welling in my throat. "Not really, but I'm finding I maybe had taken heed of her other requests."
Victor quickly glanced over at me. "What do you mean?"
I had not meant to bring up Miss Aizen's warning of a couple nights before, but I could not lie or deny Victor his right to be angry with me. "The night you had first been sick she had stopped me in the hall to inquire after your health. I explained to her that once you were feeling better we were to set out on another search for Elizabeth. I must confess my motives for the journey were to give your family some relief and hopefully revive your spirits a little. She had requested that I postpone our departure until her say so."
"What was her reason for such a request?"
"She said she felt as if some incident was about to happen." I took a breath and continued on. "When I pressed her for more details, she claimed that your creature was going to show up. She did not know when he would, but seemed absolutely convinced that she was right in this assertion. Despite this I decided not to take her request into consideration."
Victor was visibly shaking in his mount. His head fell back and his eyes looked straight into the sky. In the blue light I could see small glistening trails descending down his face. "How does she know so much? How can she know so much?" His gaze fell to me, no anger in his countenance but rather hurt and betrayal. "Why did you not tell me?" I realized his anger would have been much easier to bear.
"Victor, I was worried about you. And your family. I do not claim this as an excuse in hopes that you will forgive me, but you had become sick, in a way that no doctor could cure. Your mood and attitude were caustic and it was taking a toll on the rest of the household, mainly Ernest, your father, and Justine." I looked towards the forest, not willing to meet my friend's gaze. "You needed a change. A reprieve from your search for Elizabeth. All of our efforts were making no progress. I thought it would be in everyone's interest if we put the search on hold."
A sudden blow landed on my face. It was not very painful, but had taken me by surprise and made me fall from atop my saddle and land in the dusty road. I looked up to Victor, his countenance twisted horribly between rage and complete anguish. "How dare you. You who are supposed to be my closest and friend and ally. But no, you betray me, just like every other being in this world. I will find Elizabeth, with or without you. You do not make such decisions when it comes to my affairs—my family. And they are my family. Not yours." He turned the lead on his horse. "Go to your own home tonight, Clerval. You are not welcome in mine." He cracked the reigns and his horse galloped off.
I called his name out, but he did not stop or slow. I got up and brushed off my clothes. His rejection of my sympathies was the hardest blow, even more so than the fist to my jaw. I know I should have felt more guilt in light of the events, but I could not. I felt only a deep frustration with Victor, and this only served to make my heart heavier.
I remounted my horse and rode slowly. I did not head to my own family's modest home as Victor suggested, but rather went to town where I rented a room at the inn. I knew the owner well, so he was understandably at a loss for why I would take up lodgings so close to home. I explained that I desired solitude on that night, so he graciously guided me to a cozy room and sent up a warm meal after I was settled in.
I did not have any night clothes to sleep in, so I merely removed my boots and outer garments before lying on the bed. The events of the day bombarded all my thoughts until I slipped into a fitful sleep, and I was once more at the mercy of my devilish and disturbing dreams.
I awoke late the next morning to a knock on the door of my room. The voice of the innkeeper sounded through the wood partition and informed me that there was a summons for me. I asked from whom, and he replied the Frankensteins.
I wondered if Victor had had a change of heart, or more importantly if he had found some clue to the creature and Miss Aizen's whereabouts.
After hastily dressing and splashing some water on my face, I left the inn and rode back to my friend's home. As soon as I walked through the door he pulled me quickly to his study and slammed the door. I watched him warily, his eyes had a sagging look about them which suggested he had neglected sleep the night before. They also evoked the sense that he had gone through many different emotions in a very short time. The frustrations I had felt the night before melted away, and once I was unburdened by them I realized Victor's face had gone through another change.
"Henry, before you say anything, I must apologize." Victor stepped over and placed a hand on my shoulder. "I…I did not mean what I said. You have always been a part of this family and you always will." His fingers roughly gripped my shoulders, as if he were afraid I might disappear.
"Victor, what has happened? Have there been any new developments?"
He removed his hand and laughed manically. "There have been many new developments…or one large one…I do not know! I knew nothing, I realized—but now…now I know very much, indeed!" He walked about the room, looking up at the high ceilings as if he had never had the occasion to notice them.
"You are starting to worry me, Victor. What is this new information you've learned?" I finally grabbed his arm to keep him still for a moment.
He froze at my touch and turned to face me, a sad grin spread across his lips. "Your dear Miss Aizen is not clairvoyant, but she did have a certain source which provided her with such knowledge."
"Why do you say this?" I asked.
"I found the book you spoke of." His face took on a darkened shade. "Henry, it was like reading my own nightmare…I thought that perhaps I would wake and find that everything in it had come true."
"You read her book?"
"Yes." He went over to his desk, the wildness in his eyes had faded, replaced now with severity. He reached into a drawer and pulled the tiny volume out. It seemed even more worn and decrepit than when I had first laid eyes on it. "Here. Many of the pages are torn out from the front and there are some strange equations written inside I don't fully understand."
I cautiously opened it and flipped through a few of the browned pages. Many of them had scrawled messages in the tiny margins, most of them illegible. I began skimming through the pages and immediately stopped. What I read was impossible.
I had flipped to a random page in the book and immediately found myself reading about mine and Victor's time at the University in Ingolstadt. Every detail was correct, down to what I had been studying and the state in which I found Victor. Only one thing was missing—Miss Aizen. I went a couple more pages without looking up, remembering the fever and Victor's hysterics. Then I reached the place where a letter had come from home. I had to close the book after that. It had been from Elizabeth, and it had claimed that William was dead and Justine was the one accused in the crime. I turned back to the front of the book and was about to start reading from the beginning, but Victor pulled it out of my hands.
I looked at him feeling both disbelief and horror. "How is that possible? Where could she have gotten it from?"
"I don't know, but there's no time for you to read it now. I believe I may know where the creature took our lady of mystery."
Something about his voice seemed off. The melancholy he had been suffering from before seemed gone, which in my mind meant only one thing. "Do you think he also has Elizabeth, then?"
"No." He held the book up. "If what is written in this book is correct to some extent, then he would have had no occasion to even know who she was or her connection to me. The only reason he attacked William was because he discovered his relation to me."
"And it says this in the book?" I looked at it in his hands. He held it with an almost reverential fear. "But William is alive. That thing claims he died when we were still at the University."
He shook his head. "We have no time for discussions. There is something at work here and we need to find Miss Aizen. She knows more than she let on. Much more." He tucked the book into his coat, and we once more prepared to head out on another journey.
This new state of mind which had taken possession of Victor was unsettling to say the least. He had insisted that I read only certain parts of the novel, mainly the creature's own narrative and most of what lead up to it. He wished me to go no farther than that. While I found the contents to be startlingly accurate in some senses, I still found it impossible to take the book as some kind of supernatural artifact of Victor's life. But Victor was of the impression that this book, and Miss Aizen by extension, held the key to finding Elizabeth. He was certain she was alive, but unreachable at the present. He tried to explain the equations at the front to me, but it was clear he didn't fully understand them quite yet. He rambled on about the "properties of exchange and transference" but it might as well have fallen on deaf ears. I was not comprehensively inclined to the sciences or mathematical arts.
Suspending whatever disbelief I held to the nature or source of the novel, if Tori had indeed thought it to be the truth, I could now understand some of the motives behind her actions and behaviors that had confused me earlier. The letter we received in Ingolstadt—I realize she might have believed that to be the letter telling of William's tragic murder. I remembered the relief on her face when realizing that it was not the case. It also made it clear why she had requested I postpone our going away to search for Elizabeth, or why she had always seemed so protective of the youngest Frankenstein son.
Her feelings towards the creature, insisting that he was not a monster, I now understood why she would be of this opinion. After reading of my his feverish endeavor, I found myself disappointed in Victor. He had been like a child who misbehaves just to see how far he could go before being disciplined by a parent. Only in his case, there was no one to rebuke him for his actions—at least there hadn't been before.
Whether the events detailed in the book were true or not, the exposition of his early life was entirely accurate, Victor had been careless in his genius. Yes, his work might have started out as sincere, but genius and pride had served to taint and disfigure his original motivations.
As our day progressed, I realized he took every word in the book to be fact, or rather, the fact of another possibility. He explained that he believed this to be the progression of events of his life had Miss Aizen not been in it. She was the only piece missing from the narrative that was present in reality, and because of this he was sure she would be able to answer for Elizabeth's disappearance, which also never happened in the novel. It seemed as if his fixation no longer sat on his wayward creature, but on the girl who had somehow dropped in on his life and sent things askew.
The gentle trod of the horses upon the earth set in me a certain rhythm that made me feel like there was a kind of unraveling of my world. I could not bring myself to believe this book was real, surely it was some kind of morbid joke, perhaps put on by Miss Aizen herself. I would suspect her of writing it herself, but it was clearly printed and had an aged quality about it that suggested the tome to be at least a few years old—long before the girl had actually met us, or before Victor had even begun construction on the creature.
We were over half way to the valley of Chamounix when we stopped for the night. Though we had left in a hurry, our departure had been well after the noon hour and our going was slow due to my reading and Victor's constant interruptions to reach over and point out a new place in the book for me to look at.
I went to bed that night with a sense of apprehension. Victor, for all I could tell, did not sleep. When I had finally dozed off in my own small bed at the inn, he had been reading by dim candle light. He woke me before the sun had risen in a restless flurry of movements, gathering our things together, and dressing. We had made sure to bring heavier clothes for our ascent into the mountains.
The sun was just beginning to peak over the mountains when we mounted our horses and began once more on a path that followed the Arve into the valley. The Mer de Glace loomed before us, the light of morning sparking off its icy peak. A shudder went through my body, and I wondered for the hundredth time on that trip, what exactly awaited us upon that mountain.
Well, hope you enjoyed it! Let me know what you think, because god knows I love getting told how awesome I am. Just kidding, if you have some critiques, I love those as well!