Burn the Boat, Burn the Sail (Take Two)
Feel the thunder start to call
Hounded by lycans and desperate to save yourself, you stumble into the reservoir completely by chance. An unlikely saviour offers you safety and solace in return for kinship. When the alternative is being left to fend for yourself, it isn’t much of a choice.
Fandom: RE8 Relationships: Salvatore Moreau/Reader Rating: SFW (for now)
Take two of this fic, although admittedly part one hasn't changed much. Enjoy!
Feet pounding, lungs burning, you sprinted across the rickety platforms as fast as your aching legs allowed. Your shoes kicked up cold water that soaked into your skirt, sending a chill through your bones even as you ran.
Behind you, the chorus of howling lycans followed.
If you had a gun, perhaps you would have stood a chance in a fight. Even a knife would have been better than your empty hands. Without anything to defend yourself, you had no choice but to run faster, careening around corners at random and praying that the rotten old wood wouldn't give way under you.
Feet skidding on the wet, slimy platforms, you all but slammed into the side of an old wooden shack. There was an awful crack as you made contact with the wall, but it wasn't the wood splintering that caught your attention. No, what made your heart sink as you came to a skidding stop was how, in your panic, you'd snapped one of the rusty levers that allowed the platforms to rise out of the water.
Now, the only thing in front of you was an expanse of dirty grey water.
The lycans continued to screech and howl, closer with every painful second. They clambered over the platforms, shoving and snapping their huge, twisted jaws. Any second they'd be on you, and now there was nowhere to go. With a spike of fear you realised your choices; stay here and be mauled by those beasts, or dive into the water and pray that the icy depths didn't kill you.
With one last glance behind, seeing the lycans lurch ever closer, you made the decision. You put one foot forward, feeling the water lap at your boots. Another step, and then the water would envelop you-
A hand shot out from the depths of the shack, long fingers clasping around your wrist. Then someone - something - hauled you backwards just as the first lycan came crashing towards you. You gasped as claws sliced inches from your face, but then the door slammed shut and you were tumbling backwards, where you landed ass down on the damp shack floor.
The lycans continued to scratch and fumble with the door, apparently unable to understand the concept of handles. You gazed up at the door as it shook on rusted hinges; but for now, they weren't getting in.
Finally able to breathe, you forced yourself to stand. And okay, your legs wobbled more than you wanted to admit and you were definitely struggling to breathe; but considering your near death experience, who could blame you? As you stood, your head whipped around to try and find your strange saviour - but without windows it was almost pitch black, and all you could make out was a lumpy, vaguely human shape in the corner.
There was no answer, but the figure shifted in response to your voice. Although it was difficult to tell, the person looked oddly hunched, as if they were crouching or bending over... not only that, but they seemed to be wearing some kind of cloak. At first your mind screamed lycan, but when had you ever seen a lycan act out against one of its own. This strange person had saved you, after all.
Taking a deep breath, you forced a step forward. "I'm sorry, I didn't realise that anyone still lived here. I thought everybody had been forced to move since the reservoir was flooded. It's a good thing you're here though; thank you for saving me." You tugged at your dress, which was now soaking wet from the knees down, and took another hesitant step into the shack.
Which only served to make the figure press further into the darkness. This close, their body looked twisted. Wrong. Yet you couldn't make out enough details as the darkness swallowed them up.
Behind you, lycans continued to pound against the door. Their growls filled the shack and reverberated against the walls; a reminder of what was still outside. Waiting.
"Do you think the shack will hold?" you asked the stranger, "I'm no locksmith, but this doesn't look strong enough." Your voice wavered, and you winced.
When the stranger spoke, however, your attention was snapped from something new. "They won't hurt you," they spoke in a low, guttural tone. The only way you could think to describe their voice was wet, like every syllable was a struggle forced from their throat. "You're safe as long as you're with me." If their voice itself didn't make you shudder, the damp cough that followed did. You saw the darkness shift as the person turned, their whole body wracked by a painful wheeze.
You wanted to dark forward to help, but instead you reeled back with enough ferocity to send you stumbling as the smell of rotten fish filled the shack. Immediately, you knew that they had just thrown up. Nothing else, not even the dirty reservoir itself, could produce such a stench.
"I'm sorry," the stranger slurred, "I can't help it. It's... beyond my control. Please don't laugh at me..."
Laughing was the furthest thing from your mind right now, but you managed to hold your tongue. Despite the horrible smell that refused to dissipate, you felt a sting of sympathy for this poor person. Man? Truthfully, you couldn't tell. "Are you sick?" you asked quietly, "there's a doctor in the village, I could take you to her? As a thank you for saving my life."
You reached out a hand but they - he - flinched away as if you were made of poison. "I'm not sick," he uttered, and his voice dipped and waved like the depths of the reservoir outside. Always changing, but always a struggle. "This- this was a gift from Mother Miranda. It's my own fault that I struggle, because I'm not strong enough. But I was still strong enough to save you. Will you stay?"
Something deep in your gut told you to leave; to run as fast and as far as you could, just to get away from this man. Yet he was so sad and pitiful, so clearly desperate for your company, that you couldn't bear to leave. Shifting from one foot to the other, you asked, "can I at least see you first? To thank you in person."
The figure shifts, somehow seeming to hunch even more in on himself and you're sure there must be something wrong with his back to contort himself in such a way. "I don't think that's a good idea..."
You felt queasy, and the knowledge that something was wrong began to creep up on you. "Please?" you asked in a small voice.
With a long, wheezing sigh, he slowly began to stumble into view. First his head, hidden by a long jacket with a drooping hood; then the rest of him, hunched and twisted to inhuman proportions, shuffling painfully as if each step caused pain.
With an intake of breath, you stumbled back and muttered, "Lord Moreau?"
You had unwittingly stumbled right into the domain on of the four lords.
Lord Moreau was so unlike what you expected, so twisted and misshapen and inhuman, that you couldn't help but stare. You knew you shouldn't, but the way his hunched, pitiful form heaved with every shaking breath had you shuddering, and the eyes that peered at you from beneath that hood were such a pale, watery blue that they almost seemed to glow in the non-existent light.
He ducked his head, although he was already so hunched with that enormous back that it was difficult to tell. "I'm sorry," he muttered, slinking back into the safety of the dark corner he came from. "I knew you wouldn't want to see me. I'm sorry, I'm sorry..." He repeated it like a mantra, and a vice clenched around your heart.
You stepped forward, boots creaking on the rotten floorboards. "It's all right," you crooned, voice so soft it's barely audible even in the silent shack. "I'm the one who should be sorry, my Lord. I've never had the honour of seeing one of the four Lords in person before, is all." A little white lie wasn't so bad, especially when you saw that it had his twisted body relaxing enough that you caught a glimpse of his face. His skin had a pallid tinge and his mouth was stretched into a grimace far wider than should have been possible, but upon a second glance, he wasn't as frightening as you expected. The only thing that gave you pause was the stretched and lumpy flesh of his neck, hanging in loose folds until it disappeared inside his coat.
He noticed you staring and lurched back, skinny arms making an effort to wrap the coat around himself. It didn't do much to hide his distended flesh, and your heart lurched at the pitiful sight.
A shrieking wail, just outside, reminded you that you weren't alone. The lycans continued to scrabble and howl, and Moreau was momentarily forgotten as the sound filled you with dread.
"I know somewhere," Moreau gurgled, and you whipped around to face him again. He beckoned you closer, although he still pressed himself into the darkness. Afraid to be seen. "If you come with me, I can keep you safe. I promise!" His breath came in heaving gasps as he staggered towards the far end of the shack, where another door greeted him. "Follow me."
You listened to the shrieks of the lycans, the talons scraping against wood, and knew you had no choice. Whether you liked it or not, your life was in the hands of this odd creature now. You grew up on tales of the four Lords, monstrous and horrific. They were the reason that your village was destroyed, the reason people cowered in their homes and feared for their lives. But this one... he didn't seem so bad. There was a childish eagerness to him that made you think, just this once, you could trust him.
When he stretched out a gnarled, webbed hand, you didn't think twice before taking it.
Together the two of you rushed through the door and onto the docks beyond, across the rotten piers and rickety, dangerous platforms that swayed and shook beneath your weight. "Can't you just tell them to stop?" you called above the howl of the waves as they smashed against the railings.
"They don't listen to me," Moreau replied, voice garbled and distorted, "nobody takes me seriously, not even the lycans... but I won't let them hurt you."
You felt a pang of pity for the poor man, even now as you sprinted with burning legs. Your lips parted to reply, but all that left you was a heaving gasp as your foot snagged. For a moment you simply stumbled across the rotten wood and there was a brief second when you thought everything was fine - and then your legs simply gave up and you crumbled to the floor.
"Get up," Moreau hissed, "you have to get up. I can't... protect you out here."
Hands flat on the wood, you heaved yourself up. Every part of your body ached now, knees protesting as you climbed upright. The wooden platforms creaked and groaned, and each plank dipped and waved like a bridge about to collapse. Yet it held, and so did you, and then you were moving again.
The screams of the lycans were distant now, but not distant enough. While you could run just fine, so long as your legs kept up, Moreau hobbled along beside you with the heaving gasps of a man choking. "Not much farther," he grunted, one elongated hand pointing towards the shore.
There was a building there unlike the others. It was on land, for starters, and you felt a jolt of relief upon seeing the sturdy building and solid door. Finally - a real, proper building and not more of those awful shacks. You could have called out, if you hadn't been so breathless.
Moreau shoved open the door and you stumbled inside. Darkness took over a second time, leaving you blinking in the pitch black. "Are there any lights?"
"We're not staying here," he muttered, and you saw his misshapen silhouette stumble towards the opposite wall. From the way he weaved uneasily past more unknown shapes, you guessed that this room was full of furniture. Tables, chairs and desks littered the small space, and although you struggled manoeuvre past, he seemed to do just fine. You had to wonder if it was because he knew this place so well, or if Mother Miranda's 'gift' included night vision.
A horrible thud from outside cut off your thoughts before they could wander further. A heavy body slammed against the door, followed by a mournful howl. A lycan had found you, and it was summoning more.
"This way," Moreau gargled out, each word a struggle. Was it your imagination, or was his voice becoming even more difficult to understand? When you turned, eyes beginning to adjust, he was wrestling with a heavy metal hatch that led... somewhere.
With one last look towards the door, listening to the echoes of the lycans outside, you hurried forward. "Here, let me," you interjected. There wasn't time to dawdle, and each second lost was a second you could have been using to get away. Darting forward, you grabbed the hatch handle from Moreau's hands and heaved it open.
He didn't go in right away, nor did he urge you to go ahead. He simply stared with wide, glassy blue eyes as you threw the hatch back. If not for the fact that he was a Lord, you might have assumed it was a look of awe.
Not until you were inching through the opening and beckoning him in after, did you realise that you had accidentally bumped his damp, clammy hand with yours. Just how long had it been since somebody had touched him, even so casually?
No time to dwell on it, you realised, as the resounding thunder of a door bursting open echoed through the room. Suddenly nothing else mattered - not the thin layer of slime sticking to your hand or the steep decline of steps leading into the darkness. No, all that mattered was that you were gone before the lycans spotted you. Reaching up, you slammed the hatch down, relief flooding you when you saw it had a latch on the inside. Now, they couldn't follow.
Breathing heavily, sweat clinging to your skin, you collapsed onto the dry earth with a sigh. "That was too close," you mumbled into the near perfect darkness. "Where are we?"
"In the caves, below the reservoir," Moreau replied. His voice sounded more stable now, although it was still deep and garbled and honestly, kind of disgusting. You shouldn't have been thinking of a Lord in such a way, but the thought still stuck. Especially when he let out a wracking cough and doubled over, spewing acidic green vomit all over the floor.
Immediately the smell hit you - except now, underground, it was worse. Strong enough to make your eyes water and acidic enough to make your nose sting, you had to fight down your own urge to throw up. For once you were grateful for the darkness, just so that you didn't have to see that.
Stepping around the puddle of vomit, which you swore was acidic enough to be eating into the dirt floor, you followed him down the gentle incline and towards... well, you weren't entirely sure.
"Where are we going?" you asked after a moment, voice shattering the uneasy silence. Your footsteps echoed too loudly in the narrow cave, and you half expected to hear the roar of lycans somewhere in the distance. But for now at least, you and Moreau were alone.
"I live at the other end of the reservoir," Moreau heaved. His voice was honestly difficult to listen to, a rising wave that was never the same from one moment to the next. "It's small, and dark - oh, but you'll be safe there! Yes, I'll keep you safe." He turned to stare eagerly up at you, pale eyes blinking in the darkness. They almost seemed to glow; but surely you imagined it.
You blinked at him in the semi-darkness, worry filling your chest. "I can only stay for a little while."
Suddenly, a damp hand shot out from the depths to wind around your wrist, so tightly it hurt. "You promised to stay," Moreau muttered, voice echoing in the cave. "You can't leave, you only just got here."
The pitiful look on his face should have disgusted you, those fleshy growths swaying with each begging word that slipped from his throat. Yet there was something about him that you felt sympathy for. Was it his desperation for company, or the way he looked at you with such wide, hopeful eyes?
"The lycans will still be looking for you," he continued lowly, hand tightening around your wrist. Although you didn't think he even realised he was holding on so tight, you felt his long, uneven nails digging into the flesh of your palm. "Just stay a while... please? Then you can go, return to your family. It's just... the other lords, they always laugh at me, and - and it isn't fair! But you'll stay and talk to me, won't you?"
You cast a long look at the darkness ahead of you. The darkness behind. You thought of those awful, terrible creatures that would have ripped you apart quicker than dogs with a chew toy. And then you're eyes landed on Moreau, his lips split into a grin to reveal yellowed, uneven teeth, and there was something just so oddly endearing about it all. Just like that, you're resolve crumbled. "Okay," you murmured, resolve crumbling. "I suppose it can't hurt to stay."
Moreau patted your shoulder gently, then seemed to think better of it and let his hands fall to his side. "Yes, good," he murmured, "you'll be comfortable here, I promise." Then he continued on, hobbling on legs that looked too skinny for his oversized frame. Just what was hidden underneath that enormous coat, anyway? "You'll need to eat, I suppose," he continued, but now he seemed to be muttering more to himself than to you. "I hope you like seafood. Oh and - and cheese. Not together though. No, that's never a good combination..."
Forcing a calming sigh through your nose, you picked up the pace and followed on behind him. And although you were grateful to be safe, it was impossible not to wonder just what this strange creature wanted from you.