Hey Ladies and Gents. First things first .. A huge hug to the fandom. I know some of us have felt the passing of Cory rather keenly.
A talent taken from the world before his time.
Hopefully he will find the peace he was unable to find. His family and friends will be in my prayers.
On another note, to the Guests that reviewed or mailed asking if Quinntana is endgame. Am sorry but this is a Brittana fic. When tagging the fiction I put Britt, San and Q because they are in it. I didn't realise that it would mislead some of you. Again I apologise for the unintentional deception.
I wont be offended if you unfollow.
I am also sorry that it has taken me a while to update, but I really struggled with this chap, I kinda got an horrific case of hitting The Wall .. Also, the weather was gorgeous and I was busy tanning my skinny white arse. Consequently, turns out my back garden has hella WiFi.
Dedicated to BetTheDuckisInTheHat.
The Playhouse. Rome.
The main banquet hall was wrapped in a cosy, muted quiet, broken only by the soft pad falls of the Versepillis that trailed back and forth making ready for their departure in the morning.
The numerous long dining tables were empty, save for two occupants sat side by side, heads bowed, engrossed in their task. On the table top, oddly shaped miniscule brushes and tools lay strewn amongst brown and white mortars, the contents of which gave off strange smells. Bramble lay dozing under the table, curled at Brittany and Lucinda's feet.
Brittany relaxed a little as she observed Lucinda tinkering with random tools the youngster could not name. The older Vampire had taken it upon herself to teach the youngling the finer points of weapon care and, quite frankly, Brittany was grateful for the distraction.
Unbeknownst to her companions she had been struggling to hold Sebastian in a constant state of flux.
Unlike Lylah, he had, at first, continuously challenged her. It had been tiring and draining, effecting her concentration. Sometimes the youngster would find herself dipping in and out of conversations or in a room with no recollection of how she had got there.
The French girl had voiced her fears of what he might do to Santana and that once she left his mindscape, it might not be that easy to enter a second time. With her Elder's assurances as to his weakness, Brittany had reluctantly removed the parameters she had somehow placed on him. She hadn't realised how much a relief it would be to now longer have that itch she couldn't scratch and for her own headspace to return to normal.
Beside her, the ash blonde Justice Keeper murmured softly, as if she was terrified that the very vibrations of her voice might cause her hand to tremor as she inserted the pin prick point of the tool in her hand between two miniscule cogs.
"Do you see this here?" Lucinda asked, pointing to where the teeth interlocked, "See how they fit perfectly?"
The younger vampire nodded.
"It's really important no dirt or rust gets into them."
Lucinda slowly teased the pin prick along the smooth rounded edges, flicking an almost undetectable red coloured flake, Brittany couldn't tell was dirt or dried blood, out across the table top..
"Gotcha, you damn thing!" Her tutor breathed in triumph
Brittany continued to watch fascinated as Lucinda selected the tiniest brush the youngster had ever seen. She dipped the edge in one of the many mortars, wiping the excess on the lip of the stone bowl. Lovingly, Lucinda began to delicately apply the lubrication over the gears, continuing to murmur, almost as if to herself,
"You have to be really gentle. The mechanism is delicate and can easily be knocked out of alignment. Too much oil can cause it to stick. Too little, can cause it to jam."
The youngling rubbed her temples to alleviate the tightness that had been creeping upon her since they had started working on the gauntlets. Maybe being so close to the over powering fumes of the oils that burned her nostrils, was giving her a head ache.
She gave a little shake of her head to clear it.
Hunched over, her eyes never leaving her gauntlet, Lucinda reached out over the table, absently searching. Brittany pressed a scrap of yellow cloth into her hand.
"Thanks." Lucinda mumbled.
Brittany chuckled good naturedly,
"You really do take this seriously."
Lucinda looked up, her brow furrowed and her lips set in a serious line, stating gravely,
"Brittany, the care of your gauntlets can be a matter of life or death. The last thing you want in close combat is your secondary weapon to fail."
"Lucinda! "Brittany teased, "There is no way you only carry two weapons. I've seen you!"
"Shut up!" The Justice Keeper chided, with a small smirk, "I'm trying to teach you something here."
"I bet on you right now, you have," Brittany punctuated the sentence, counting off on her tapered fingers, " a stake, a dagger stashed some where AND at least two hornets."
"In a dress?" Lucinda challenged quirking an eyebrow.
"Especially in a dress."
"You're learning" Lucinda's grin grew wider as she ruffled Brittany's hair. "What's our motto?"
"Ut tenuis unus Dubois est ut tenuis totus!" The youngling recited, hesitantly,
"Not the House motto. The other one."
Crinkling her brow, Brittany took a moment to think of all the new rules her friend had imparted in the last few days. Grinning, she added, brightly,
"Always be prepared!"
Patting her on the shoulder, her tutor exclaimed,
"That's the one!"
Lucinda returned to what she was doing, drawing the smooth cloth along the almost thread thin wires. Wrapping the cloth round her little finger, she very lightly mopped up the excess oil. The whole set shone, pristine.
The tightness in Brittany's temples began to turn into a dull throb, ignoring it, she tried to focus as Lucinda tested the tension with her pointer finger., cocking her head as if listening for something.
Lucinda held the gauntlet up to the light, turning it this way and that. Satisfied, she teased the stake back into it's snug, until she heard the tell tale click. Leaving the leather flap open so the youngster could see the inner workings, she strapped it to her wrist.
Crooking her finger, she beckoned Brittany closer, so they were sat shoulder to shoulder. Holding up her wrist between their heads, Lucinda let it hang.
Brittany waited, confused as to what her companion was doing.
Suddenly, she felt a quick whoosh of air past her ear and the silver point appeared out of the corner of her eye. Jumping back further along the bench in surprise, she exclaimed,
"Did you hear it?" Lucinda asked, bouncing excitedly on the bench, the joy dancing in her eyes like a child on Christmas morning.
"You scared the hell out of me!"
Ignoring her blood niece's shock, she repeated,
"But did you hear it?"
With a smug smirk, her fangs glistening in the lantern light, Lucinda exclaimed,
Deftly re-sheathing the stake, the senior Justice Keeper placed it on the table, holding out her other hand,
"Right! Let's have a look at yours shall we?."
The youngster handed them over and waited with bated breath as the other girl began to inspect them, turning them this and that. She gave Brittany an encouraging smile.
"I'm impressed. You did good greenhorn."
Brittany beamed with pride. She had painstakingly linseeded the leather to keep it supple but not buffed it to a shine. She remembered their self proclaimed weapons expert had pressed home that a shine could be detected by anyone, including humans, and when hiding in the shadows the smallest glint could give away your position.
"Now lets tighten up the wires. The tension of the spring and wiring is what gives it it kick. Its fairly useless against Versipellis but Mystics and our own kind."
As Lucinda's voice washed over her, Brittany's head began to pound, the walls of the banquet hall pulsing and swelling in time with the thump. She had felt this once before, the sucking sensation that heralded she was about to be pulled elsewhere.
Something was very, very wrong.
She was suddenly gripped by an overwhelming need to find Santana
Jumping up, she shrugged herself into her waistcoat, startling Bramble in the process. Lucinda looked up at the sudden movement.
"What's the matter?"
Swinging her leg over the bench, Brittany, hastily replied,
"I'm sorry. I have to go."
Taking off across the hall at breakneck speed, she ignored Lucinda's shouts as she clattered through the door and out into the corridor.
Careening round the corner and narrowly missing a bunch of thralls who moaned in alarm as she sped past, Brittany's feet skittered over the flag stones as she burst into the courtyard of the Play House.
In the middle stood the ominous torture device she knew only too well. She felt a small twinge of sympathy for its victim, strapped up, arms and legs viciously splayed, red criss-crossed welts standing out garishly against the plae flesh of his back.
Further over, Holly paced back and forth, her black skirts sweeping behind her as she lectured a sullen faced Loren. Finally, Brittany's eyes landed on a lounge sofa set off to one side and her stomach knotted with dread.
Kurt, his features pinched with worry, cradled the prone form of Santana in his arms. She lay curled in a ball, her head resting on the notary's lap whilst Charlotte hovered like a mother hen and Mako
As if sensing her presence, all the occupants of the courtyard turned to look at her. A tense hush fell across the yard.
Behind her she heard Lucinda mutter,
"This does not look good."
The grim look on her Elders did not elude her as she steadily approached. Ignoring the ice cold tendrils of panic that coursed through her veins, she knelt down beside the Mystic, watching as his gnarled, paper dry hands flittered across Santana's body.
Her lover's face was a mask of agony, her eyes scrunched closed. Her fists clenched so tight the caramel of her skin were white at the knuckles, drops of blood trickled down her taunt wrists staining the upholstery beneath. Occasionally, she twitched or shuddered as Kurt attempted to sooth her.
Brittany reached out brushing a strand of raven hair out of her face tucking it behind a tiny ear. She lightly brushed the pad of her thumb over the apple of Santana's cheek.
"Songbird?" She murmured,
Santana let out a pained whimper in reply.
It struck Brittany odd how she had never noticed just how small Santana really was. In her mind Santana was larger than life, full of fire and defiance. Seeing her like this, fragile and as weak as a kitten, terrified the youngling and caused her heart to clench.
Finishing his examination, the wiry old man beside her scratched his head, sending up a flurry of white flakes as he announced in his Scottish brog,
"It isn't physical as far as I can see. The lass be having a demon in her noggin."
Continuing to watch the internal struggle play out across Santana's features, Brittany was vaguely aware of the Mystic getting to his feet and Charlotte thanking him.
In another life people had called Brittany a simpleton and a dullard, but it didn't take a genius to figure out what had happened.
She had warned them that something like this might happen and they had ignored her.
Stupidly, she had believed their assurances and trusted them with the most precious thing in the world.
She felt her Dam lay a light hand on her shoulder.
"Little one." She began.
Whirling round, Brittany shoved her Mistress from her, her accusation ringing off the walls of the yard,,
"You said this wouldn't happen!"
Charlotte recoiled from the youngster's sudden wrath and Brittany caught a flicker of fear in her eyes. Turning to face the rest of them, Brittany continued,
Standing with her hands on her hips, scowling, Holly stated,
"It shouldn't have but somebody thought it would be a great idea to feed him."
"Who the hell did that?" Lucinda piped up.
Shifting her shoulders uncomfortably, Loren ducked her head, sheepishly admitting,
Brittany went to take a step forward only to find Lucinda moving in a blur, ramming the Versipellis full force in the chest with the heels of her hands, screaming,
"You stupid bitch!"
Belying her size, Loren flipped with grace, landing on all fours. Curling her lip and baring her fangs, she snarled,
"He was unconscious, what else was I supposed to do."
Lucinda approached her, hissing,
"Follow orders, like a good little doggy!"
The Justice Keeper squared up to the large girl, looking tiny in comparison. Towering over the vampire, Loren growled.
"Watch your mouth, Ive eaten bigger things than you for breakfast"
Refusing to back down, Lucinda replied icily,
"You look like you've eaten a lot of things!" She paused. Lacing her voice with malice, she spat, "Mutt!"
Loren's face turned purple and her bunched muscles rippled. Roaring, she launched herself towards Lucinda only to have the china doll blond rush to meet her.
The yard descending into chaos, as Versipellis and Vampire grappled in a flurry of feet, claws and fists. Babel and Holly shouted and yelled as they struggled to pull them apart, still swiping and screaming obscenities at each other.
In the midst's of it all a high pitched giggle caught Brittany's attention. The rest of the yard fell away into the back ground as Brittany's eyes landed on Sebastian, his shoulders shaking with mirth.
Clearing the space between them, she gripped him roughly by the throat, her fingers digging into his soft flesh demanding,
Sebastian continued to chuckle, the sound came out as a gurgle, spraying bright red blood down his chin.
Brittany squeezed, feeling his windpipe buckle slightly in her grasp. His bloodshot eyes glinted with malice. Suddenly, the corners of his mouth turned up as if they had been screwed tight, revealing his red coloured fangs and giving his face a manic quality.
Even under the extreme pressure, he managed to rasp cavalierly ,
"No, I don't think I will!"
Loosening her grip slightly, Brittany steeled herself. As she had come to know the slippery weasel, she knew gaining entry into his inner mindscape and staying there would be the hard part.
Closing her eyes, she took a huge gulp of useless air finding the action calming as she tried to remember how she had managed it the last time.
When she had first come across Sebastian, she had caught him unawares and had barged into his inner most thoughts and bent him to her will before he had anytime to gather himself.
If she could some how recreate the frame of mind she was in when she had first commanded him then maybe she would be able to gain the information they needed and then have done with him once and for all.
She tuned out the back drop of everything in the square, concentrating on all the hurt Santana had received at this animal's hands. She thought of those that they had lost senselessly, corralling all her rage and frustration.
Opening her eyes a sliver, she found Sebastian watching her with an almost animal curiosity. Bowing her head to avoid his gaze, she reached out with the feelers of her mind, gently probing.
There was a narrow pathway. Seizing it, she forced it open
Feeling herself leave the safety of her own thoughts, she careened down the conduit, landing in in something sticky and surrounded by murky darkness.
Every mindscape presented itself uniquely, tailored and created by the individual, a representation of how they imagined themselves or for those of a weaker mental nature, a jumble of pictures and memories stacked upon each other.
Usually they were quite simplistic and the person didn't realise that she was there. Some were heavily fortified, closed off from any outside influence, curled up in on themselves. Those individuals tended to struggle and attack her.
Others lay out before her, open and inviting and she would meander, taking her time observing every aspect of their lives.
Once whilst in Paris, Brittany had grabbed a simple street vendor. His mind had been a cavernous library and he had presented himself, dressed as a scholar, pacing and reading aloud from a book in his hands.
At the centre of the library, on an illuminated lectern lay a huge leather bound tome. When the street vending scholar had spied Brittany, he didn't resist or fly into a rage at her intrusion, he had simply inclined his head and returned to his pacing.
When Brittany had cracked open the leather, the pictures on the page moved and the words had risen up in sounds, whispering and fluttering around her like butterflies in a forest glade. All it had taken to change his thoughts was a quill and a few choice words written upon the parchment.
To this day, she classed it as one of the most beautiful and amazing experiences.
Lylah's mind had presented itself as a myriad of subterranean archways and aqueducts covered in filth and grime. Brittany had heard creatures scuttling out of her way as she had wandered through them. Stagnant pools reflected the images of the girl's transgressions, repeating on a loop.
The stink of the place and what she witnessed had turned the blond girl's stomach and at one particular image she had vomited.
Some of the archways had been reformed with different types of stone giving the whole place the feel of a decrepit patchwork.
Somebody had been here before the novice Justice Keeper, breaking Lylah over and over. The red head had tried to fix herself but at some point had given up.
Lylah hadn't even attempted to hide from her. In fact the red head had shadowed her through the archways and recesses, appearing as a bedraggled teenage waif like spectre, her dress in tatters and feet and lower legs black from travelling the excrement covered walkways.
The russet haired vampire had lost herself in the pain and hurt that she had caused, that or she just didn't care anymore. She had been malleable like soft clay and it hadn't taken much for Brittany to refashion her thought process.
As Brittany left the red head to snuffle like the rodent she deserved to be, she had dashed the masonry to smithereens. As she had destroyed all in her path, she had seen a memory of an infant Lylah baking pies with her mother. It had been thin and grainy from lack of use.
A memory on the verge of being forgotten.
Brittany had left the memory intact, not having the heart to erase it.
If Lylah ever managed to regain her faculties, she would have something good to remember.
However, Sebastian's mind was nothing like she had ever witnessed. It had a light shimmering film, like a protecting force field surrounding a distorted grand looking mansion in the distance. It crackled and sparked, tendrils of electricity striking and scorching the surrounding earth.
The place was like a fortress.
The ground beneath her feet, swirled and changed. One moment she was stood on solid flagstones, the next she was ankle deep in a mire.
Trudging through the dirt that sucked at her boots, she muttered darkly under her breath, cautiously navigating the perimeter, searching for a point of weakness. The air was stifling and claustrophobic, the heat fraying Brittany's already delicate temper.
There came an almighty crack followed by a boom and the ground before her exploded sending up sprays of dirt. Brittany lost her footing, harshly landing against the light film.
It seemed to bend slightly before it pulsed, electrocuting her and blasting her back out into the darkness.
Brittany slammed back into her own body. Her limbs trembled and she was convinced she could smell singed hair.
In front of her, Sebastian cackled.
Howling in frustration, she punched him repeatedly in the face, enjoying how his bones shattered beneath her knuckles.
A piercing shriek rang out across the yard, chilling Brittany to the bone.
Even with a broken face Sebastian began to giggle hysterically. Leaning into her grip, he hissed mockingly,
"Dance monkey! Dance!"
She let go of him as if she had been burned.
His head lolled forward uselessly and his shoulders shook as he continued to guffaw.
Taking a few steps back, she surveyed the yard, struggling to control her emotions.
Santana lay in Kurt's arms, her body stiff as board as her toes scrabbled to find purchase in the soft cushioning.
Why had she gone against her better judgement and released him.
She shook herself. This was no time to feel sorry for herself; there would be time for that later. Pushing back the worry and the guilt, she focused.
If she could just find the place were he controlled her, Santana would be free
She could do this. She couldn't fail Santana, not this time.
Determined and resolute, Brittany gathered herself.
Eerily calm, she gripped Sebastian's jaw, stating coldly.
"I tried being nice. Now I'm going to make you rue the day you where born!"
She smelt the hint of fear as he replied with false bravado.
"Do your worst!"
Fashioning her anger in to a sharp point, she grinned evilly.
"I was hoping you would say something like that."
She caught the flicker of doubt in his eyes as he began to struggle weakly against his restraints, grunting with the effort.
He let out a low groan as Brittany unleashed her weapon and obliterated his defences.
Well , let me know what you think so far guys. I kinda wanted to show you what Britt see's when she enters a mindscape.