Death by Midnight
A/N: As promised, chapter 3.
(Time difference is twenty (and a half) seconds)
After exiting the cell, I was faced with a long, dingy corridor that smelled funny and was filled with groans of protest. I avoided looking into the cells and ended up staring back at the stone-faced Geki as we walked towards the ascending spiral staircase. Did the guy ever smile? Geez, it honestly seemed as if he was as expressive as a brick wall!
I detached myself from him as if I was afraid I would catch something from him; probably his dead demeanor or something along those lines. It was exactly then when I remembered the object in my hand. Cautiously, I opened my palm to see an ornate, red dragonfly pin. It was actually quite pretty, but in this situation it didn't seem to do much good. I raised my arms to appear as if I was scratching my ear, but clipped the pin onto the collar of my t-shirt, tucking it until it was mainly out of sight but still visible.
We were walking through a corridor now. The entire place- thick carpets, cream walls, candles flickering on the walls- screamed nobility, even though he was nothing but. We made a turn right and ascended a few sets of stairs before we finally stopped at a door. He knocked three times and a few seconds later the door opened.
A girl, around my age, stood there, a little weary but seemed relatively healthy. She had hair a shade darker than caramel and striking red eyes that resembled her brother's.
"Edgar!" She rushed forward with a laugh, hugging her brother. I sidestepped to avoid getting hit.
"Madeline, you're safe." He responded, relieved. A small smile graced his face. "This is Kyra."
She looked curiously at me before turning back to him. "Kyra?" She asked, raising an eyebrow. "What are you on about? Don't you remember? She's Kayla. K. A. Y. L. A."
My eyes widened. Holy shit! This person knows me! And I almost forgot her! Geki looked suspiciously at me. "Do you know my sister?"
I nodded. She looked at Geki and poked her tongue at him. "See! Even though she's dyed her hair dark and grown it out a bit, her eyes always give her away~!"
"Erm, right." He detached himself from her. "Madeline, you have business to do, yes?"
Her eyes widened at this and she slapped her forehead. "Ah! I almost forgot!" She took hold of my arm. "You come with me!" She dragged me into the room.
It was well lit compared to the hallway and the room was surprisingly spacious. She undid my handcuffs before taking off the gag. "Geki's your brother?" Were the first words out of my mouth.
"Didn't you know?" She asked, ducking into a wardrobe. "I'm surprised he didn't recognize you, to be honest. But then again, he's an idiot." She grinned and pulled out a red, full length ball gown. A fucking ball gown. The clothing of the devil.
"Maddy... I'm not wearing that, am I?" I asked, glaring at the ghastly thing with such intensity that it might as well have spontaneously combusted. For the greater good, too.
"Yes, you are!" She grinned, tossing undergarments onto the pile of clothing. "It wasn't my choice, to be honest. Your dad chose it."
"Oh, hell." I face palmed, sneaking another begrudging look at the thing. "Goddess, how does a human move in that thing?"
"Oh, don't be daft." She laughed back. "Your mum never taught you this kind of stuff, huh?"
"Nope." I sat on the bed. "So what exactly happened to you?"
She took out a shoebox and then sat down with me. "See, silly." She motioned at me and I recognised the gesture, her previous words clicking in my head. See, silly. C, Silly. Cover Story. Wasn't the classiest of word choices, but it served its purpose. "Well, I was training out in the first when I saw Edgar. As you know, he works a lot so when he showed up, I thought something was up. Turns out he was looking for me; he found a job for me so I won't have to train as much! So I left my stuff back at home and followed him until I met your father. He's actually really nice when you get to know him! He let me work as a maid in his manor as long as I didn't muck up or laze around. I've been working for him for about... Six months? I've already lost count, haha."
"Oh, I see." I had already spotted where the camera and the bugs were in the room; it was simply a matter of obscuring them. "So what's the plan?"
"I'm getting you cleaned and dressed for a dance." She replied simply. "Why else would I even consider putting you through all this?" She laughed. A moment later and I heard the sound of glass shattering and metal clashing against metal. Bits of glass were sprawled all over the floor, with the remains of a clear bugging device scattered amongst the pieces. I looked for the source of the disarray; a single piece of metal was stuck amongst the remains of the vase.
"Oh, is that it?" I commented, attempting to feign the conversation to still be of the dance. She nodded. "There's a camera implanted in the doll's eyes." I pointed to a porcelain doll sitting on the drawer. "And heaven forbid, my father has officially dived off into the deep end."
"It does seem a bit creepy, but the timing was eerily perfect. Oh and I dismantled it the first day I got here." She grinned and we hugged. "Long time no see, Kayla! Don't mind Edgar forgetting about you, after all, he can be a little dimwitted sometimes."
"Oh, that's fine. Hell, I didn't even know the guy's name! You never told me that your brother was that strong, either!" I smirked and then shot a foul look at the dress. "I guess we better get started... I know you're lethal when it comes to deadlines."
"I wasn't that bad!" She exclaimed, frowning. "But you're right. I trust you still know how to operate a shower?" She stood up and dug out a towel.
"I haven't gone barbaric, Madeline."
"... Yet." She grinned, but patted my back and added, "Just kidding, but you know that."
I gathered the lot of undergarments and the towel before slumping off into the bathroom. After turning on the shower, I stripped off layers of clothing that would be an utter disgrace to even be in the vicinity of the pristine bathroom and climbed in. The water flew at me from various directions, but I basked in its warmth. I was going to make the most out of this, for the Goddess' sake! I cleaned myself off and got dressed in silence then ran a brush hastily through my hair.
I stepped out begrudgingly into the room, which had now turned into a parlour of sorts. The glass had been cleaned up. The table was full of bottles and tubes. It was a mad scientist's lab... Only worse. Madeline was sitting on a stool, a dangerous grin spread across her face. "Took you long enough!" She laughed eerily and I felt shivers down my spine.
"We're discussing a plan of sorts, correct?" I asked, slipping on what was probably the most ridiculous frock I would ever see. "Running in this will be bloody difficult." I added with a groan, taking handfuls of the dress fabric.
"Knowing you, it'll get worse. For you, that is." She motioned me to sit down and put some sort of sheet around my shoulders. "This must be a dream." She pinched her cheek. "Just curious, but when did you dye your hair?"
"Around a year ago, why?" I glanced in the mirror; there were no signs of any light brown near my roots. "It was shortly after I was hunted down by my father's guards, I think."
"Oh, I see." She started trimming off the ends of my hair. "Didn't you think of changing your eye colour, though?"
"I tried, but the optometrist wouldn't let me." I sighed. "She said it would be a waste of I changed it."
"Well, your eyes ARE really pretty." She dried my hair and started straightening it. Even though my hair is already straight. What.
"About that plan. What exactly happened? I'm pretty sure he didn't just decide to break me out after my dad threatened me with an execution. Otherwise you wouldn't have possibly known." I shifted uncomfortably at my hair being attacked vigorously by Madeline.
She paused. "I think he regretted bringing you in. I only found out you were here last week; we were planning on breaking you out anyway. Then I ran into your friends."
"Friends?" I briefly paused from fiddling with the dress to look up. "Wait... What did they look like?"
"One was tall and muscly. Black hair, red eyes. He seemed fidgety and he was using a pair of brass knuckles. The other was slim, shorter than the other and had insanely pale skin. White hair, golden eyes. She was holding a bow, but it was pointing the wrong way I think." She looked up at the ceiling, thinking.
"Oh that's them alright." I found myself laughing lightly. "How did you know who they were, though?"
"Because the white haired lady ended up pulling me aside and asking me where you were while shaking me vigorously. The other was laughing his head off." She sighed. "I do bear a small resemblance to Edgar, but geez... I think she was blind."
"So you devised a plan with them?" I asked, trying to imagine Madeline conversing with such psychotic people.
"Yep. But I can't fill you in on all the details or else you might not be able to feign ignorance or disbelief at it, which would ruin everything." She finished up on my hair and clipped my bangs back.
"Fair enough. Tell me what you can so I can at least try to prepare myself." I grimaced inwardly at the oncoming foundation.
"Okay. First, where's the pin I had Edgar give you?" I motioned to the bathroom. "Oh, right. It was on the collar of your shirt, wasn't it?" I nodded. She quickly went to the bathroom, where I heard a visible sigh before coming back. She set the pin on the table before reaching for a narrow black cylinder with some obscure Ludibrian brand inscribed on the side. "Mascara," she explained after glancing at the questionable look on my face. "Don't worry, it goes on your eyelashes."
"Who the hell puts gunk on their eyelashes?" I asked, pointing to my eyelashes and looking incredulous.
"A lot more people than you'd rationalise, Kayla." She stifled a laugh before opening the container. "Keep your eyes open." My eyesight blurred out trying to look at her hand, which was stroking my eyelashes strangely and dangerously close to my eyes. That thing was vile. "For the record, all this make-up is waterproof for the first twelve hours, but after that you can wash it off using water."
"Twelve hours." I repeated, grimacing.
"They'll fly by, trust me." She finished applying the black stuff- Mascara, she called it- on my eyelashes and moving the container away to make way for a small container filled with pink powder. "Smile."
"Smile. I'm supposed to put this on the apple of your cheeks." She tapped the brush on the side of the container. I did as told and she awkwardly patted my cheeks. To think that people did this on a daily basis. Gah.
She set the container down and picked up what I identified to be lipstick. Fortunately. It wasn't some crazy colour, much rather a soft pink that was close to the original shade I remembered my lips to be. She put it on then finally let me look at myself fully.
"Well?" She chirped, looking excited. "How do you like it?"
"What. The. Heck." I looked at myself in the mirror again. "I don't look any different except for the eyelashes and the redder cheeks."
"Oh, trust me. You were a lot more pale before I put on the foundation. Two weeks really does that to you, I guess." She started to fiddle around with my hair. "I still liked your hair better when it was a lighter brown."
"Why're you dressing me up if I'm going to die, by the way?"
"Because you're still a hero, even after you were exiled." Her words stopped me for a moment. "Most people understood what happened with the minister, so naturally they opposed your first execution. That's why it was held in secret. The second went public only because they- your father and his followers- were at large. After that second incident your father lost a lot of followers. That's why he's making this third 'execution'" she paused to make air quotes "appear to be an accident. Other Dragon Knights, Dark Knights and various people that supported you that were secretly detained and regular citizens are all going to be there. The party will be raided and it is planned that most will die." Her voice lowered towards the end, until her last words was barely a whisper.
"Oh, Goddess." I had nothing to say for a moment, not even anything sarcastic. When my voice decided to work again, I murmured, "So it won't just be me, then. Why do they have to die too? That bastard!" I clenched my fists, trying to calm down.
She had done my hair into a loose bun with ringlets trailing off. Gah, it was just an excuse to freaking dress me up like a freaking Mariwaka doll. "It might look like it'll fall apart, but that's just the style," she explained. "It's actually quite sturdy."
I yawned and I realised that I hadn't slept well for at least a week. "Sturdy enough that I can sleep in it?" I asked as she took off the sheet.
"Try it, I guess. You can sleep on my bed if you'd like." She finished by sliding the pin in. "Keep that pin on, no matter what. It's imbued with a protective magic. I'll wake you up in seven hours, the dance starts at eight."
"Gotcha." I stood up and moved towards the bed. It was the first thing that I had welcomed openly after two whole weeks. I still can't believe I had stayed in that hellhole for two weeks... "Why'd you get me dressed so early?" I mumbled, yawning again.
"Because I know you need sleep, Kayla." Madeline replied with a light laugh. "Rest well."
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