Interests: Orias, Bryn, Tamara, KayinMission: ScoutingGroup divide: Orias, Bryn and Tamara― ⤫ ― Story ― ⤫ ―
Name: Briella Kenna
Nickname: Brie, El, Ella
Face claim: Angelina Michelle
Role: The Security Guard
Traits: Witty, Intelligent, Observant, Kind, Tenacious || Paranoid about safety, Stubborn, Rigid, Distant
Chapter 5 - The Cell
There was a strange ringing in her ears when Briella woke up, dazed and out of touch with her senses. She must be, because there was a strange image in front of her eyes. It was…an image, viewed through white noise and static. Something was whispering to her amidst the dull ringing, but for the life of her, she couldn’t figure out what they were trying to say.
Wait…this felt wrong…
Still out of it, Briella tried to gather her senses, her head throbbing as the whispers continued, making her ears itch. The soft whispers felt…wrong, felt invasive, as though —as though trying to get into her mind, trying to convince her of something of, of—
Of what? What does it matter? Isn’t it enough to simple be alive… to listen?
Dizzy, weak, that train of thought rang clearly in her head for all of a second before a piercing screech abruptly burst through her ears, loud and sharp, causing a flood of pain to wash through her brain, rendering her momentarily senseless for a few moments.
Briella’s eyes shot open when she came to, immediately noting that her head was—blessedly —clear, and that she wasn’t looking through a static film anymore, the world was once again clear. A tickle on her upper lip drew her attention and with a wipe, she noted her nose was bleeding, however a bleeding nose was the least of her current concerns.
She was not where she had been before she passed out and she was sure as hell that where she was did not belong in the tower. She got up carefully, testing her limbs as she did so —great. Everything worked, and there were no signs of injuries anywhere. Brushing her fingers over her thigh, she noted everything she had on her person was still on her; her gun, flashlight, switchblade and the matches—
A soft, distant hissing sounded and Briella stilled her movements, holding her breath, her eyes frozen on the ground beneath her—a white….shower floor?
The hissing sounded again and then faded out, like whatever that thing was had moved away from wherever the hell she was. Once she was sure it was clear again, Briella let out a breath and studied her surroundings. She was standing in a shower cubicle and, judging from what she could make of the tiny, dim room, a prison cell’s shower cubicle. And oddly, an unusually clean one.
She ran her finger lightly across the shower’s edge, noting it was dust free. Mold-free too if she was seeing things correctly. The air was relatively clean, scents…well, no, that was wrong. There was a faintly metallic tang, one that caused her throat to tighten and her stomach to sink. It was a scent she was all too familiar with.
Images of the past shot through her mind’s eye for a moment, bringing up the images she couldn’t bear to see yet was burnt into her memories; the pool of dark red, the sharp scent of blood—no.
Forcing the bile down, Briella dug her nails into her palms, the flare of pain pulling her out of her trance. She had bigger things to worry about, her past did not belong here now. Gritting her teeth against the dull throb of an old pain, she stepped out of the shower, noting with mild interest that she not doused in water and was quite dry. To her left was the room of the cell, including the door.
She moved towards it, scanning the room —
Briella froze at the sight that greeted her. This must be some kind of sick joke.
On the spindly single bed against the wall was a curled-up skeleton, its front facing the desk opposite it. And on the floor leading to it from the door was a trail of bloodied footsteps, though they were dark red and dried, old in nature.
Briella yanked out her flashlight, flicking it on to the lowest setting, while she snatched out her knife with her other hand, flipping it open. If the skeleton moved, though she doubted it very much, she would prefer to take care of it silently instead of using her gun to draw in whatever creature was outside. Of course, her knife probably won’t do much but she could attempt to behead it. Beheading would usually work, right?
She waited for a few moments, staring at the skeleton with bated breath, waiting for it to move. It didn’t, and while she would have liked to completely ensure it was truly unmoving, she didn’t have the time to waste on it. Her heart thudded heavily in her chest, fear and panic threatening to crawl up her throat and if she allowed it to unleash, she knew it would feed into her uncertainty. She couldn’t allow that to happen.
The flashlight flickered in her hand, glitching slightly. Stepping away from the bed, she turned to survey the room, noticing a mirror hanging over the sink, but it was strange—the reflection in it was dark, distorted and she couldn’t quite see herself. Turning swiftly away, Briella decided that maybe she didn’t want to look inside it anyway. She stepped quietly over to the door, pulling out her useless ear-piece to hear better, and tried the cell door—locked.
Well, it wasn’t like she had expected otherwise.
She crouched down, angling her body sideways so that her back wasn’t completely to the lying corpse on the bed and—was that a chest at the foot of the bed, with a dragon head on it? Odd thing to have in a prison cell. Briella gave it a lingering look before pulling off her cap, tossing it onto the ground and yanking free several bobbypins from her hair. However, picking the lock did not work, no matter hard she tried, whether she’d used the knife or the pins, the door just wouldn’t give. Frustrated, Briella sat back on her haunches, contemplating her next move—
In the corner of her eyes, something moved, a shadow passing over in the corridor.
Briella ducked away from the door, deftly flicking off her flashlight and flattening herself against the wall, holding her breath as blood pounded in her ears, sharpening her reflexes. She strained to peer out between the tiny barred window of the cell door, trying to catch a glimpse of what it was—
Her blood ran cold.
It was…something, what, she couldn’t quite make out but it was… it was unnatural. Long, stretched-out limbs of a creature lumbered past, jerking forward like it was suffering through seizures.
Her heart pounded, her fingers trembled. Cold sweat broke out over her body and when she attempted to slink back further into the darkness of her cell, her jacket rustled. It was soft, but it made her heart stop for fear the monster heard it.
It paused but did not turn, did not seem to notice anything, and then after what felt like hours, finally continued its shuffle down the corridor.
Once she could no longer hear or see it, Briella sprung back into action, adrenaline coursing through her, triggering her survival instinct. She had to get out and she had to it now before the monster returned or another showed up. If picking the lock didn’t work, something else had to.
As she surveyed the room once again, she glanced at the dragon chest. It really was a strange thing for a prison cell to have. She crouched in front of it, lightly tapping her knife against the padlock. There was a small key symbol on it, along with a numerical keypad. Briella’s eyebrows drew together in a frown. Why would there be a locked chest here? She climbed up to her feet, moving towards the desk and drawers. If something was locked, there had to be a key for it to open.
It didn’t make any sense for her to believe there could be a way to unlock the mysterious chest, but then again, it didn't make any sense for her to be in this prison cell out of nowhere. She glanced at the the door, silently pulling open the drawers and rummaging through it. There were several papers bundled in the desk drawer but nothing in the chest of drawers next to it. Gathering the papers, she moved to the corner in front of the chest, stepping carefully over the bloodied footprints and squatting down with the papers and her flickering flashlight. There had to be something in here because… Briella was beginning to feel like she was trapped in a puzzle. One that would have dire consequences should she fail.
Thinking back to when she chased the dog, Briella recalled the horrible event that day, and the strange figure with the glitching face. Now she was sure it was real, and whatever the hell that was, there was no telling if there were more of them.
Her fist tightened on the flashlight, turning her knuckles white.
She survived so far, thrown into this strange room with a monster out in the corridor. She had to get out, see if there was anyone else who survived, and see how many survived. She mentally went through a list of the tower’s residents, heart racing at the realization that even if she got out of this alive, there was a high possibility that many, many others didn’t, and she shouldn’t set her hopes up that they did.
Quelling that depressing thought along with the ache of not being able to protect anyone, Briella shoved them into the back of her mind for later, focusing on the task at hand. She pointed her flashlight at the papers and got to reading.
Chapter 6 - Run
Briella frowned down at one of the papers in her hands, one that held information on… well, objects. Specifically, smuggled objects throughout the years, some to do with valuable goods, others with mysterious vases, and herbs being stolen to seal… something.
Huh, what’s the Hungry Blasphemer?
Briella spared the paper one more glance before hurriedly going through the others, keeping her senses tuned to the outside of the corridor. Skimming over the paragraphs of old text, text that made no sense to her and didn’t seem to hold anything of value, she moved to the next set of papers—
The dragon chest on this page was eerily similar to the one in the room. Hope flared to life in her chest, excitement sizzling down her spine. Swallowing the lump in her throat, she read quickly through the words, squinting when her flashlight gave out for a few seconds and then came back on. Hmm, the chest had been passed down through generations, entrusted to an old family by… a -a being.
There were no details of what kind of ‘being’ they were, but this particular being, Araqiel, visited mortals and gave them knowledge of the occult, to cross worlds, tap into things—
Briella’s eyes widened as she noticed handwritten notes on the paper. In fact there was a lot highlighted, marked down and annotated, including scribbles with random sentences here and there. Sentences like ‘jesus why do they have to make things so damn complicated’ and ’they’re being a moron again stop giggling’. It make Briella think that this someone knew exactly what had been going on, and even more—they knew what they were dealing with.
A light bulb went off in her head, confirming what she’d suspected; she had to find a clue to break out of where she was. And the scribbles belong to someone who’d already made it out.
She tossed a curious glance at the corpse—if it was even a real corpse. She was starting to think otherwise.
Going back to the papers, she skimmed the official texts; the chest was eventually passed down through generations. Shifting the papers, she read through them, where the information detailed a man called Pietro Bongo, his work and the belief that sprung around it, something about the mystical significance of numbers…?
Another name was brought up; Thomas Browne, and his publications.
Beneath the notes were more scribbles, and someone had circled Sir Thomas Browne’s name and penciled in: ‘Year of first publication —Garden—really? Angels have a weirdass sense of password security.’
Briella stared at the notes, at the inputted handwritten ones, wondering what the hell they were talking about. There was nothing left for her to read but—
At the sound of faraway footsteps, slow, tired, lumbering, she knew her time was up. She couldn’t sit and wait for the monster to pass by again, because there could be a chance it would stop and notice her. She had to hurry.
Grabbing the padlock, she quickly skimmed over the texts, searching for the brief documentary on ‘Garden’, and —there it was! Publication date.
Her hands were steady as she inputted the code 1658 into the lock. To her relief, it clicked open, but to her horror, it unlocked loudly.
Whelp, no way around it. She jumped to her feet, yanking the chest open with both hands. It groaned and creaked dramatically but she didn’t have time for that, shoving her hand in to look for something, hopefully a fucking key—her hand bumped into something cold, metallic.
The footsteps came closer, still with its slow, laboured steps.
Briella whipped around, grabbed the papers, roughly folding it before stuffing it in the pocket of her pants. She picked up the flashlight flickering wildly on the floor, and slammed the key into the lock of her door, turning it and kicking the door open. It swung open with the most obnoxious screech of metallic gears.
Darting out, it was only thanks to her high-adrenaline reflexes that she jerked away in time, putting space between her and…whatever the hell that was.
Disgust, mixed with a healthy dose of terror, shot through her system at the sight before her; the monster was tall, unusually long-limbed, and had the most horrifying ear-to-ear grin—the corners of its mouth actually reached either side of its face. Besides the grin, it’s face was utterly blank and… well, glitchy.
Briella took a step back, wide-eyed as the monster glitched out of sight—
And was suddenly looming in front of her, casting a terrible shadow.
Her heart jumped to her throat. “Um…hello…”
It opened its disgusting smiling mouth, jaw practically unhinging to do so, revealing rows and rows of tiny sharp teeth. Briella could see its throat, red and… glitching? What the fuck?
She swallowed as she felt a wild rush of adrenaline pump through her.
“Lovely smile, hope to never see you again!”
She took a step back, and then another, and soon she was fleeing down the dim hallway, trying to put space between her and it—
A glance behind her showed that it was hot on her heels even though it shouldn’t be able to catch up with how slow its movements were. She flung the now useless flashlight at it—the tool landed harmlessly onto the floor as the monster glitched and was suddenly closer to her again.
Her lungs burned with exertion as she ran, the sound of her boots hitting the floor echoing around her with a steady ‘thump, thump, thump’.
She got it now. It wasn’t that the monster moved quickly, it was because it… teleported in-between the glitching.
Of course it can fucking teleport.
Gritting her teeth, she faced forward, putting all her concentration into running. As long as she didn’t hesitate or stop for too long, it wouldn’t reach her. Nevertheless, she reached for her gun, hurriedly turning off the safety, before she swerved momentarily, taking aim and firing right into its gaping mouth.
It did absolutely nothing.
Disgusted with her gun, she sprinted out of the monster’s reach, letting out a shocked laugh as it glitched in the spot she was in just a moment ago. That was close.
She spotted the sweet end of the corridor, and hoped that around the corner was—
Something… or rather someone collided into her, sending them both crashing onto the floor. Instinct meant she lurched back up, grabbing the—well, it was a human arm at least—
“Bryn!” Briella recognized the short haired woman as she hurriedly climbed up to her feet.
“Briella!” Bryn’s eyes were wide, terrified and—relieved. “Shadow-maw thing—”
The footsteps felt… louder… twice as— Briella yanked her head around and saw why; a monster just like the one that chased her was coming down the hallway Bryn appeared from, glitching and teleporting the same way.
“Oh great, the fucking smilers,” she muttered, helping Bryn move forward. “You alright Bryn, can you run?”
The two started to run, but Briella’s monster was closer and glitched right in front of them before they could make a move, unhinging its jaw to expose its mouth—
“No, thanks,” Briella muttered, fear triggering her fight or flight reaction. She swung her gun into its ugly mouth and pulled the trigger, her arm jerking face with the force. “Bryn, run!”
Again, the bullets did nothing to the creature. Bryn screamed and from Briella’s peripheral vision, she saw a long arm swing towards her. She yanked her firing arm out, and tried to jump backwards but the monster’s grotesque hand managed to latch onto her jacket, yanking her back towards it.
Oh for crying out—
Pissed, afraid, and very much wanting to scream, Briella used her free hand to unzip her jacket just as the monster yanked its arm up, half dragging her with it. Her left arm was still stuck in the jacket, the damned thing caught onto something on her shirt, and the second monster was gaining on them fast —shit, she couldn’t get her arm out, the monster’s grip was too tight—
She struggled to pull out her knife, swinging her legs up to brace against the creature’s stomach to push back. Just as she managed to get her knife free, Briella felt a pair of arms close around her waist and yank.
“Come—on!” Bryn’s grunt both relieved Briella and made her even more furious.
“I told you to run!” She sliced the knife on the shoulder of her jacket, cutting deeper than she meant to. She didn’t have time to think about the fiery pain as her arm got free and she tumbled backwards, crashing once again into her friend.
“Can’t leave you,” Bryn gasped. “I like you too much!”
Briella grabbed the woman’s arm, yanking her up to her feet.
“Great, thanks. Time to go,” she said to her, latching a hand around Bryn’s wrist and dragging her along. The two took off running, beating it like bats out of hell, barely missing the swipe of both monsters glitching at their backs, dark shadows curling around their feet, threatening to drag them down.
Ahead, something weird and bright loomed, looking something like a —
“Bright portal!” Bryn yelled. “It looks like it’s closing!”
Briella was too focused on the creatures and shadows behind them to really pay attention to the portal, but if it was closing, now was their chance to disappear through it and escape. She tried not to think of where the portal could lead to.
Shadows loomed at the foot of the portal.
The glitching footsteps and groans of the monsters seemed too close now for her liking.
They reached the glowing spot that was quickly shrinking and without hesitating, Briella threw an arm around Bryn’s waist, tensed for a split second to gather as much power as she could muster —and jumped with her, ears ringing as Bryn shrieked, Briella’s own scream of terror getting stuck in her throat.
Please don’t be a pit of monsters waiting on the other side—
Chapter 7 - Safe
As they jumped through, Briella caught a glimpse of—people.
That was all she needed to know in that split second that they were in the right place. With Bryn’s weight, she didn’t land as elegantly as she’d hope, but rather, stumbled weakly before hitting the carpeted floor face first. Beside her, poor Bryn suffered the same fate.
She jumped to her feet in a panic, whirling to face—a wall? The familiar beige wallpaper was the only thing there.
The portal and monsters were… well, gone.
“They can’t get through here.”
Briella let out a breath at the familiar voice, already turning back to help Bryn up, giving her a quick once over to ensure no serious injuries.
“Orias, you made it,” she said to the man, giving him a relieved glance.
“Ori!” Bryn cried out, visibly too shaken up to move any further than just sitting up. “I thought I’d never see your grouchy face again.”
“A tragedy.” Orias seemed quite unimpressed, though his eyes betrayed him. He moved to inspect his assistant with a thorough gaze, offering her a hand and hoisting her up to her feet.
“How’d you get out?” Briella asked, checking him out for injuries—he was fine. Unscathed, even.
There was a pause as he hoisted Bryn’s arm around his shoulders.
“I threw books at them.”
Briella blinked. “Ah. Um, books?”
It didn’t seem like he wanted to clarify, and he didn’t, so she dropped it; there was no point investigating him. He got out, threw books, and survived. That was all that mattered.
“Well, okay, I’m happy to see you’re alive and well,” she murmured, turning away. She paused as she caught a glint of something in his pocket—a golden chain? Strange. However, there were more pressing matters.
“Where are we?” Briella asked, scanning the room with its luxurious chairs and tables, and a bar at the very far end. Without waiting for him to reply, she answered her own question, murmuring to herself. “The lounge.”
She recognized some faces, but not a single one of her colleagues were there. Her heart sank even further when she realized that only a few handfuls of people were there, and nearly none of the residents. No children, no teenagers. A few people were seated, wide-eyed and pale, some sported visible injuries. Others were standing, looking around anxiously, as if waiting for something. Waiting?
Her eyebrows came together. That’s right, no one seemed particularly impressed or surprised that she and Bryn had jumped out of virtually nowhere, and Orias did mention that ‘they’ couldn’t get through.
Slipping her knife back into her secret pocket, she mulled over the current situation for a moment before flicking her gaze to Orias, only to be taken mildly aback when she realized both he and Bryn were staring at her. Or rather, her shoulder. “About the—what?”
“You’ve got beautiful tattoos!” Bryn blurted out, eyes wide. “And… uh, you’re bleeding.”
Orias sighed. “Tattoos are not the pressing matter here, Bryn.”
“But they’re so beautiful.”
At the mention of blood, Briella glanced down at herself—oh, okay, yeah her white shirt was stained pretty badly with blood. Her nose wrinkled in distaste at the condition of her work shirt. It was ripped and some parts were missing, and ah, that’s right, her tattoos were peeking through the ragged sleeve of her left arm. With her free hand, she ran it lightly over her shoulder, flinching as she touched the raw wound from where she’d accidentally dug her knife through.
“Thank you, Bryn. And it’s not a big deal, it doesn’t hurt that much.” She wasn’t lying, the wound didn’t hurt that badly, just throbbed. Her eyes got drawn to movement at the far end; it seemed someone else just stumbled out of the weird portal things—Tamara. Briella’s heart jumped at another familiar face, happy to see her in one piece.
With Bryn in good hands, Briella felt the need to go around the room and check on the people. She’d have to maybe make a head count on who survived, and the condition they were in. Briella rubbed her forehead, wincing when she touched the stupid bruise from the premiere. She was starting to feel a little light-headed, but goddammit she didn’t have time for that. Glancing around the space, she eyed the doors that led to the other lounge areas; there were bathrooms and a room or two, plus a bar area and perhaps… a kitchen space? If memory served correctly, the lounge facilities were equipped enough to tend to most needs for a few days.
She was striding across the room before she realized it, with Bryn appearing at her side, jogging along.
“Aren’t you going to take care of that?” Bryn asked, gesturing to her shoulder. “It’s gotta hurt.”
“I’ll survive,” Briella assured. “I’ve had far worse.”
“It’s covering the flowers on your arm.”
“You’re bleeding out,” Orias clarified, keeping pace easily.
“Hm?” Glancing down once again, Briella halted in her steps. Okay, maybe she should first stop the bleeding. She was going to make a mess with all the blood—not that it mattered, surely there were far worse things at the moment. Nevertheless, she gave a nod to the authenticators, trying to reassure them.
“Right, okay. Ah, why don’t you two rest up and recover your energy? I’ll take care of this and then maybe join you guys in a little bit—”
She turned at the sound of her name. Tamara was walking towards her, face pale but jaw set.
“Tamara, it’s good to see you,” Briella clasped the woman’s hand, squeezing it lightly. The woman returned the squeeze with a grimace.
“Likewise. It seems not a lot of people were lucky enough.”
“You’re very dusty,” Bryn pointed out to Tamara. “Where did you come out of?”
Tamara was covered in dust bunnies and appeared gray in some areas. Briella reached out and helped brush away some of the dust and grime from her clothing.
“Storage closet?” she asked.
“No, air vent. I had to solve a puzzle and then climb out of it.” Tamara’s face hardened. “And those fucking monsters…”
Briella looked her up and down. Besides a few scratches, the woman appeared perfectly fine. “It’s good to see they didn’t get the best of you, Tamara.”
The older woman frowned, her eyes latching onto her shoulder. “Can’t say the same to you, Brie. That’s a lot of blood.”
“And tattoos!” Bryn added in excitedly before stopping, her eyebrows drawing in together. “She nearly got caught. Guns don’t work on those things.”
Tamara’s eyes widened. “Guns don’t work? Well, there goes our prospective weapon. Are you alright, though?”
“I’ll be fine,” Briella said to Tamara, chuckling at Bryn’s enthusiasm with her tattoos. It had been a very long time since anyone had appreciated her flowers. She hadn’t had the heart to show them to people for the past few years.
Someone walked past, sporting a bandaged arm, and Briella stopped them in alarm.
“Kayin! It’s good to see you—your arm. Are you alright?”
The man gave a wry smile, eyes flicking around their little group. He raised an eyebrow at Briella.
“Before asking me, you should ask yourself that. You do realize that you’re covered in blood?”
Briella jerked her head in affirmation. “Yes, I do realize and I will take care of it. How did you get—”
“The same way you did, I presume,” he motioned to her shoulder. “I had to figure out a colour puzzle with a telephone—yes, I know—but once I got out, I was ambushed. I’m fine, though. Don’t worry about me.”
Briella gave his injured arm another worried glance before looking around the room. Her eyes latched on a group of familiar faces from Health Me and just as she started to move towards them, she was stopped.
“Maybe,” Tamara said with a lift of her eyebrows, “you should take care of the wound before you go around checking the survivors. You’d scare them more than whatever is outside.”
― ⤫ ―
Briella hissed in pain as she peeled off the shirt from her wound, unbuttoning her shirt and slipping it off. Beside her, Bryn made a face.
“It looks worse than it feels,” Briella told her, grabbing the blood-free edge of her shirt with her teeth and ripping it. With a few napkins, she did her best to clean up the blood that had seeped down her arm and torso. Bryn helped her roll up the blood-free sections of her shirt and use it to apply pressure to her shoulder in an attempt to stop the bleeding.
The tank-top she wore underneath the work shirt was still damp from her attempts to wash it free of blood.
“There’s a first aid kit available, you know,” Bryn said. “I can grab that for you.”
Briella recalled one of the other small groups using it to tend to someone. She shook her head. “I’m fine for now. We’ll just use this temporarily.” So saying, she ripped out another strip of fabric and folded it neatly into a square-ish shape before carefully placing it on her wound.
“That’s…going to get infected.”
Let’s hope not.
“I’ll switch it out with a proper one later,” she promised, using the strap of her tank top to hold down the edge of her truly hideous attempt at emergency first-aid. They left the bathroom together, Bryn off to Orias’s side and Briella moving around the room to check on the current shaken up community.
Between sitting with people to decide their next move, and ensuring there was enough bottled water to go around, she never did get around to grabbing the first-aid kit, and soon enough she forgot about it.
It was only when she was awoken by sharp throbbing in her shoulder that she realized she’d completely forgotten about her wound. She was surprised to find that she could sleep at all after all the events that had happened, but she chalked it up to being exhausted, physically and mentally.
Sitting up carefully, Briella gingerly lifted the makeshift bandage from her wound in an attempt to lessen the pain. Nearby, she could just about make out Bryn sleeping on the couch opposite her. Getting up slowly so as to not make any noise, Briella moved towards the bathroom but as she neared it, she heard quiet sobs emitting from the other side. There were soft murmurs, probably word or two of comfort for the crying person.
Not wanting to disturb that, she retreated to one of the empty areas, flicking on the light and setting it to the dimmest tone. She sat on one of the chairs, but not trusting her balance —thanks to her stupid light-headedness— moved to the floor. Getting to work with slipping off the straps of her bra and tank top off her left shoulder, she twisted her head to check on—okay, yep. If she didn’t take care of it soon, she was going to start inviting infection to have a party.
At least the blood stopped flowing out. She studied the gash with interest, noting the discolouration around it and the uglier bruise spreading out. It looked much, much worse than it felt. She could almost hear Julie and Marcus’s complaints about her constant injuries and how she should really take better care of herself….
”Geez, we would have to stock an entire cabinet full of first-aid kits with how often you come in with a new injury. You might even give us a heart attack if you appeared without one.”
”Briella, is that a cut? How did you get—seriously? No one gets a cut that way! Fiiine, let me just wrap it up for you. Please take better care of yourself, it’s worrying for us!”
Jasper used to say the same thing. Guess they were right… funny, that.
She startled at the wet droplets that fell on the back of her hand. Oh, shit, was she crying? Hurriedly, she wiped away her tears, looking up to stop them from falling even more. This is stupid, she thought to herself, I don’t have time to be crying like this.
But… it hurt.
She heaved a breath, letting out a shaky sigh. Peering around to make sure no one was around to intrude, she allowed herself a few moments to grieve, to be a little selfish and think about her colleagues who didn’t make it, the kids who didn’t make it…
It hadn’t even been a day and she was already this torn up about it.
Stupid weak Briella. This is exactly the same reason you quit the force. Weak, weak, weak.
But this time was different. The cut on her shoulder ached, as if reminding her of its presence.
This time… this time, she won’t allow for her weaknesses to hinder her.
Briella’s eyes drifted to the echinacea flower, along with the snapdragons around it, tattooed on the inside of her wrist and for a moment, dazed and lost in her memories, she ran her fingers lightly across it.
After a few moments, she pulled herself out of that haze and gathered up her resolve. She will get out of this tower with everyone here, no matter what. Even if she was scared shitless, she’ll fucking do it.
Ha, first she’s got to make sure a stupid wound won’t be the end to that promise to herself.
She turned back to her cut and eyed the old, bloodied material. Bryn had tossed her work shirt into the garbage, so maybe if she just ran this piece of cloth under the water for a few—
She perked at the sound of footsteps walking nearby.
As far as she knew, most people were asleep or trying to sleep, and those in the bathroom wouldn’t need to pass by her little area…. Perhaps it was Bryn? Bryn did sit here for a while earlier…
Briella twisted her neck, trying to see who it had been. Maybe Bryn had woken up, or one of the other residents. She hoped it was the former.
A figure walked in, and it wasn't a woman.
"No, sorry. Just me."
Briella's heart jumped in surprise and she froze in her movements, her hand awkwardly holding the stained makeshift bandage. Orias's eyes scanned her, zeroing on what she was holding.
"We have a first-aid kit. Don't use that anymore," he said, eyebrows drawing together. "One moment."
But he'd already left. Briella just sighed and peeked into the mirror of the alcove, studying her wound. As long as she didn't try to reach for anything high up, she was fine. She climbed to her feet and took a seat on one of the chairs. It didn’t take long for Orias to return with the first aid kit.
"There's not a lot of supplies left in it because some of the others had also gotten quite injured."
Briella reached for it with her good arm, flashing him a quick smile. "Thank you, Orias."
When she opened it, she found just enough materials to take care of her wound; a tiny bottle of disinfectant, gauze, and adhesive tape.
She blinked at the tape and then looked up at Orias who was leaning against the wall, watching her. A half smile-half-cringe came onto her face.
"Do you think... um, can I get…" Briella frowned at her lack of words before trying again. "Will you please... help me?"
"Of course," he replied immediately, appearing slightly amused at her sentence struggle. He moved to the mini sink and washed his hands thoroughly before taking a seat on the chair behind her.
To make things easier, Briella ran her hand over her hair, making sure they were all away from the wound and instead, rested on the other side.
There was a momentary pause before he rummaged through the first aid box. She felt his fingers, warm and gentle, press against the back of her neck, tilting her head slightly away from the wound. Something cold and simultaneously hot touched her wound, burning her. She clenched her jaw, fingers fisting the ruined bandage in order to contain the pain. Stars burst in front of her eyes as he continued to treat the affected area with slow, meticulous movements.
Once the burning sensation cooled, she felt the disinfectant getting patted very lightly on the surrounding bruise.
"Why didn't you tend to this earlier?"
Orias's voice was quiet, soothing and she clung to that to distract herself from the pain.
"Didn't want the others to see it," she muttered, flinching as he went in for another round of disinfecting.
"It's not unusual for people to be injured, Briella," he pointed out. "Many got hurt trying to get here."
There was the sound of scissors snipping.
"That's right," she agreed with a sigh. "But I'm the only security guard who made it. At least to a few, I should be strong and reassure them that I can protect them."
He placed something on her wound—a gauze. She couldn’t stop the jerk in her body.
Something, probably his thumb, rubbed circles at the base of her neck, soothing her ache. "No one here holds their status or position right now. You don't have to strive to protect anyone just because of—"
"No. I want to protect them. I'm capable of it now, I'm strong enough to at least try."
More snipping. Another layer of gauze. She didn’t flinch this time, and something like disappointment hit her when he removed his hands from her body.
A sigh left Orias. "You don't have to sacrifice yourself for that."
She blinked. "When did I—"
"Bryn told me how you got the injury," he said, securing the bandage. "You told her to run whilst you tried to…" here, he let out a long-suffering sigh, "fight against monsters with no effective weapons."
"I had a gun," she tried.
"Could have been shooting at the air for all the good it did."
Briella glanced back and saw him lean back slightly to check his handiwork.
"I also had a knife."
"Yes, which you used to slash yourself," he indicated to her wound.
She frowned at him, tilting her body slightly to face him. "How much did Bryn tell you?"
He gave her a deadpan stare. "Enough. She was also quite fascinated with your body art."
His eyes trailed down to her arm that was covered in tattoos of flowers. Her first instinct was to shyly cover her arm from his gaze, mainly because she hadn't shown her tattoos to many in a very long time.
But well, now it was exposed, surely it wouldn't hurt for them to see it clearly.
Careful not to jostle her newly-wrapped injury, she stretched out her arm, extending it and resting it against her leg.
His eyes flickered up to hers, and like always, she felt flustered, but this time it felt a little different. Was it because she was showing off a part of her that not many knew about? She wasn’t so sure, all she did know was that his gaze made her feel inexplicably shy. His stare was so…. deep, like endless pools of knowledge and intellect, yet there was also a shadow concealed within their depths, something that she couldn’t quite put a name to. Whatever it was, it intrigued her.
There was something strangely exciting about having his eyes on her, making her heart race in her chest and sucking the very breath out of her lungs.
A flush crept up to her face as she held his gaze head-on. "I thought you'd like a better view… of, uh, the flowers..."
He held her stare for a moment longer, before casting those intense eyes down wards and focusing on the brightly coloured tattoos. His eyes traced the start of the tattoos from her shoulder, down her arm, and all the way to her wrist, looking so serious and focused as though he were studying it for a higher purpose. It was ridiculous, but it made her feel bold, made her want him to do something.
She lifted her arm up slightly, ignoring the slight burn in her shoulder. “Do you want to touch them?”
He looked up, an eyebrow lifting. “They’re etched into your skin. I doubt I’d feel anything out of the ordinary.”
She tilted her head to the side, a playful side coming out. God, how she wanted to tease this serious person. “Oh, come on. It’s for the experience.”
He rolled his eyes. “Experiencing touching a tattooed person? I’ll have you know it’s not unusual for me.”
She just smiled, offering her arm. “You wouldn’t know unless you tried.”
“Mhm,” he muttered, obviously just agreeing to get her to stop. He caught her wrist, lightly turning her hand wrist up. His eyes focused on the flowers and instead of crawling up like she’d expected, his stare stayed there, hyper focused on something.
Briella’s heart lurched in alarm as she suddenly realized what he might have seen—the scars that didn’t completely go away, the ridges across her skin that constantly reminded her of its presence. She started to pull her arm back, her earlier mirth gone.
“Maybe we should go—”
His grip tightened slightly, not letting her escape. “Snapdragons, hm?”
She tried not to show her panic. “Um… yes…”
His gaze lifted to meet her eyes and a jolt went through her at the eye contact. “Interesting choice of flowers.”
“Is it?” Her mouth felt so dry. She hoped he couldn’t feel her heart racing, both in mild panic and physical attraction to him.
“The snapdragon has quite the symbolism surrounding it,” he said quietly. “In Victorian times, people used to send messages to each other using flowers, and snapdragons were used to symbolize truth-telling.”
“I-I heard that it was an encouraging token,” Briella stumbled over her words. “Because of how it… um, grows.”
“Perhaps the symbolism has changed today, but that was what snapdragons were used as before; as charms against falsehood.”
She let out a nervous laugh as he released her. “You didn’t seem to be someone who believed in myths or legends. Or symbolism.”
He leaned back in his chair, lazy, thoughtful. “Symbolism across ancient artifacts has always been a constant, it would be strange of me not to have knowledge in them. Most artifacts retain their value based on some form symbolism across many cultures and eras.”
When Briella finally retreated back to her sleeping spot after thanking Orias for his help, she wondered about it, the symbolism of things or events, and soon her mind drifted to the cell, mulling over what the lying corpse and the bloodied footprints were meant to symbolize. Her thoughts soon led her back to the dragon chest and her findings. She would have to go through those papers again tomorrow, once she had regained some of her strength back.
― ⤫ ― Outfits ― ⤫ ―Escaping | In the Lounge
Chapter 8 - The Stereo
Of the many things Briella noticed; one, that no more people were jumping into the room through the portal, leaving only a few handful of survivors in the lounge area. Two, their supplies were running low really quickly and they were in desperate need of first-aids and food, but no scavenging could be done until the floor was cleared. And three, Kayin and Orias steered very, very carefully away from each other, something that stood out as she communicated with both men regularly enough. It was odd to her, unusual even, for Kayin to be wary of anyone given his outgoing nature. Orias too didn’t seem like he would go out of his way to avoid anyone… but well, that just showed her that one really didn’t know people.
And she definitely did not know a single thing about Orias, the handsome man who often had his nose buried in a difficult book.
“I did not expect you to be joining the scouting team,” Briella said to him as the scouting team got ready to leave the room, carrying with them whatever could work as a weapon. She still had her useless gun and while bullets may not hurt the monsters, eh, it was something she could throw.
“Where else should I be?”
“I thought you’d be good with maybe scavenging, or…” her voice wavered under his stare, “uh, you know, taking stock.”
“I hope I didn’t give you that impression because I work with artifacts,” he mused.
She tried to hide a smile. “Not at all. It also wasn’t because you don’t seem much of a fighter.”
A glint entered his eyes as he regarded her coolly. “Making stereotypical assumptions, are we, Briella?”
Embarrassed, she dropped his gaze as heat rushed to her face. “Um, no. Sorry, that was stupid of me.”
“How’s your shoulder?”
She lifted her arm up, hiding her wince at the sharp stab of pain. It felt better than it did two nights ago. “It’s good.”
What surprised Briella even more than Orias joining the scouting team, was the fact that Bryn joined too. Tamara was there too—but Briella wasn’t surprised by her presence—along with two other guys; Nathon and Anton.
Briella hated to admit it, but she was feeling a little anxious about Bryn and Orias being there. The others seemed tough enough to deal with the monsters, none of them had suffered anything worse than a few scratches, but… well, Bryn and Orias were mysterious to say the least. She didn’t know much about them, besides their outwardly polite and Bryn’s charming personality, and it was of course possible that they could defend themselves. Come on, she’d seen the way Orias’s rolled up sleeves clung to his biceps, and those were definitely not gained by him just sitting and doing research all day—
She lurched to life, glancing back to where Orias was giving her an exasperated stare. Behind him, Bryn was looking around carefully, a sort of excited glint in her eye. Tamara was standing next to Bryn, holding a flashlight and keeping a lookout behind them. Nathan and Anton were just a few steps in front of Briella.
“What?” she whispered to Orias, as the group crept along the corridor.
“Stop doing unnecessary things,” he muttered, tapping the arm she had unconsciously thrown out in front of him, Bryn and Tamara.
She blinked down at her arm, hurriedly yanking it back. “Sorry, I’m a little paranoid.”
“About the monsters?”
She gulped, wondering if he would get mad. After an uneasy pause, she leaned in towards him. “About the safety of you guys. I’ll try to stop, though.”
“What floor are we on?” Bryn asked suddenly, a frown on her face. “This doesn’t seem familiar.”
“That’s what I thought, too,” Tamara murmured, a scowl etched onto her face. “It feels wrong.”
Briella nodded, eyeing the corridor warily. “It feels distorted, doesn’t it? I think the floor is—”
A soft sound, like slow, tired footsteps was heard up ahead and everyone stilled, their bodies tensing. The sound came again, closer, and soon, it sounded like another was added to it.
“More than one,” one of the guys in front whispered, his hands tightening on his choice of weapon. Briella pulled out her stupid, useless gun, comforted by its heavy weight. She waited, eyes trained to the corner of the hallway—
Just as she’d expected, the monster glitched and turned the corner, now visible to them. It was still just as ugly as she remembered.
It opened its hideous mouth, revealing the rows of teeth, but they got distracted by his buddy who glitched right next to him.
― ⤫ ―
As it turned out, her concern for Orias’s wellbeing was for naught. What the man did not tell her was that he was apparently a very good fighter and if she didn’t know any better, she would have thought he lived his days fighting monsters. Atleast she knew why he was totally unscathed when they first came through the portal.
The man…. The man had abs… Briella was so taken aback by that silly fact that she was actually struck stupid for a moment.
“Brie, let’s go!” Bryn called out. “Stop staring at Orias!”
Right, she had no time to be oggling her crush. Turning away from him throwing whatever he could find around at the monsters, Briella darted into one of the doors that they had kicked open earlier. The sound of grunts and objects hitting solid figures echoed around behind them. They had been unlucky enough to get ambushed, trapped by the monsters on either side of the corridor. Without knowing how else to fight them, Briella and Tamara had broken down one of the room doors nearby and raided the room, grabbing whatever heavy material they could find and using it to push back the ugly creatures.
She yanked something off the the table—someone’s laptop it seemed— and ran back out towards one of the monsters, taking aim and slamming the thing into its face, pleased when the laptop got jammed in its mouth.
There was loud cussing and she whirled around to find one of the guys sprawled on the floor, his arm bleeding, as he backed away from the looming, glitching nightmare. It’s terrifyingly long limps reached out, a hand trying to grab for him. Tamara and Anton were occupied with another beast. Briella’s lungs burned as she sprinted towards them, trying to get a better grip on her knife. If she got close enough, maybe she could slice its hand off.
She lunged as its hand started to close around his leg—
There was the sound of loud crashing, followed by a loud static shrill.
Her knife slashed through—nothing.
The smiley monster disappeared. She crouched by Nathan, head whipping about as she expected the monster to re-appear at any moment. Nothing happened. Aside from a single, consistent tone ringing through the corridor, there was silence.
Breathing heavily, she glanced over to assess the situation; Anton and Tamara were standing, looking just as bewildered as she felt.
“What the hell?” Nathan muttered as he got up.
Orias strode down the hall, brows drawn tight together. “Bryn!”
The young woman poked her head out of one of the rooms, a sheepish smile in place. “Sorry, I was trying to grab something but knocked over the stereo system in here.”
Briella was up and jogging towards her in no time. “It got rid of the monsters.”
“I wouldn’t say ‘got rid of,” Orias said. “It could just be a temporary fix.”
Tamara and the other two joined them.
“Is it portable?” the technician asked.
Bryn nodded, leading them to where two small stereo systems, similar to speakers or radios, lay on the floor, cracked and letting out that dull mono tone. She picked them up and handed them to Orias.
“I don’t think there’s any more.”
Briella frowned, absently massaging the spot under her shoulder wound. Valiantly, she ignored Orias’s and Bryn’s look, turning to Tamara and the others. “We can’t just hang around and look for more. What if the sound cuts off?”
Tamara nodded. “I could take a look at them later and try to make the sound last longer, but I can’t do that now.”
“We should clear the floor first,” Anton said. “And barricade the exits.”
“Let’s split into two, each group with one of these,” Orias handed one of the broken speakers to Tamara. Briella looked around the trashed room, wincing at how messy they had made it in their haste to grab whatever they could find.
“We can meet up once the floor is clear, exits barricaded, and then we can scavenge for supplies,” she added.
Once it was agreed, the group split into two; Tamara with Anton and Nathan, and Briella with Orias and Bryn. It turned out to be a fairly quick mission now that they had their new weapon, with any lingering creatures dissipating once the sound reached them, they had no trouble clearing the floor and barricading the potential entrances or exits of the monsters.
Now the next step was to figure out what the fuck to do next.
Round 1: Done | Round 2: Done
Last edited by MistyMisty (24/10/2021 at 21:26)