“I’ll always go first.”
More alternative aftermath to the game’s events for the Dimitrescu household. Bela’s turn. This gets dark.
CW: Character death, explicit violence, murder, explicit suicide & assisted suicide
When Bela came to, she wasn’t sure how much time had passed. It was bright outside, so it could have been minutes or hours, but for all she knew it could have been days as well. As she walked through the castle, she encountered no one and heard no unexpected noises. It was unsettling, and her thoughts strayed to the worst possible explanation. She had been unconscious for days and had woken up alone where she had dragged herself off to to crystallise in peace because there was no one left anymore – because the castle had turned into a graveyard. She felt a shiver go down her spine at the thought and sternly pushed it away and told herself to wait with fatalism until she had proof.
She had locked her sister in the library after Cassandra had let him escape, so if she was still there, it still had to be the same day surely, so she headed there first.
The door was open, and her first thought was that days had to have passed. The cold gust coming from the room, however, pushed her thoughts into a different direction, and her steps hurried with her heartbeat.
She almost stumbled back out of the room, and belatedly, a scream made its way past her clogged throat and her shaking fingers covering her mouth. Instead of falling back out of the door, she ran forward to the scattered remains that she could still clearly make out as Daniela.
“No, no, no, this can't be!” she screamed as she dropped to her knees and picked her little sister’s crystallised head out of the dust.
“Daniela,” she whimpered and brushed her fingers lightly over her terrified features. “No …”
Warm tears dropped onto her knees as her sobs broke loose. She screamed and cradled the head against her chest. Again and again the scream renewed in fervour.
She wanted to break down and not get back up again, but the diligent voice of reason pointed out to her that the room was still cold, so it couldn’t have happened that long ago. He was possibly still alive. The rest of their family may yet be alive. She prioritised. Protecting Cassandra and Mother, killing the bastard, avenging her sister now, falling apart later.
She touched her forehead to Daniela’s and whispered, “I will be back. I love you,” and then she headed back out to look for Cassandra.
She was where she expected her to be, in the armoury, protecting the key to the dagger.
She heard movement from upstairs, and it filled her with both hope and dread. Hope because she wasn’t dead yet and dread because she was clearly in a fight and there was a cold wind blowing down the stairs that she swarmed up.
“Why did you lock the door?! Cassandra, get out of there!”
Through the bars, she saw the wounds on her sister’s body, and her mind’s eye supplied the images of the blood that would later be oozing out of them when she thawed again. Cassandra shot her a brief look over her shoulder.
“Don't make the same mistake I did!”
She let the grate barring the way pull back up, but Cassandra still showed no sign of intending to leave the room.
“Get out of there!”
“Not now!” Both he and Cassandra raised their weapons, and Bela’s insides churned.
She seized her around the waist and pulled her back. A shot rang out, and they both went tumbling down the stairs, coming to a stop at the bottom with Cassandra lying squarely on top of her.
For one moment, she thought she had done it, and then she saw the gaping hole in Cassandra’s chest. She screamed. Spreading out from the wound, her body started to crystallise.
Frantic, she pulled her back through the fireplace, closer to the warmth.
Once they were fully in the still fairly warm room, she draped herself over her sister, pawing desperately at her face.
“Cassandra! Please, no, no, no, no, no! I can’t lose you too!”
Cassandra blinked, confused and sluggish.
“Daniela, he k– She’s – Cass, Daniela is dead,” she cried.
Cassandra’s startled features twisted in pain, and her eyes turned to Bela, newly awake and alert, and the familiar fire burned as bright as ever in them as she reached up and curled her fingers into Bela’s dress to pull her closer harshly.
“Kill him,” she ordered in a barely contained, wavering tone.
She crystallised in that position.
A startled cry escaped Bela as she watched her eyes go blunt and then brittle.
She cried out when Cassandra’s fingers broke as she moved, and then gently, so as not to break more of her, she brushed her hands over Cassandra’s cheeks and screamed. Her head dropped onto Cassandra’s broken chest, and her shoulders shook violently until she heard movement behind her and looked up immediately.
For a brief fraction of a second, the thought crossed her mind that she wouldn't care if he shot her on sight and she might die from it, but it wasn't what she truly meant. There was no chance that she would allow herself to be killed before killing the murderer of her sisters, and she wasn't cold enough that a shot to the head was likely to kill her, though it would be a gamble at this distance with a shotgun.
“You bastard!” she screamed under tears, and the pained, almost human look of the scene in front of him made him hesitate. Practice and calculation made her, however, act immediately.
She bit through his throat before he had a chance to shoot. The barrel wedged between them, and she felt shrapnel tear her already wounded abdomen apart. Blood shot up her oesophagus and mingled with his. The barrel angled away, and she realised his intention quickly enough and tossed the weapon behind herself before he had a chance to shoot the window. Violently, she held him down and bit through his neck until it came free from his torso.
She spit his blood onto the carpet when she lifted his head in the air and sneered at his lifeless expression.
Now that he was dead, her violent rage shifted into nausea, and she couldn't bear to look at his face anymore. She carried head and body back up the stairs, severed his limbs and then his torso in two with an axe from the armaments, just to be safe, and then she tossed them out of the hole in the wall in different directions.
Coming back down the stairs, the pain from the cold ebbed, but her sobs and her screams did not, and in the warmer chamber, she fell back onto Cassandra’s body and cried bitterly into her cold chest until their mother found them like this.
Alcina lost her composure at the sight of them. She had not been prepared to lose another daughter that day. She sank down beside them and caressed Cassandra’s lifeless cheek.
“My darling.” Then she turned to Bela in rage, and for a horrible split second in her disturbed state of mind, she thought it was directed at her. “Where is that man? He will pay for what he’s done.”
Bela shook her head.
“He’s dead. I scattered him.”
Alcina calmed down a little at her words.
“Good. Then he can't hurt you anymore.”
Bela sobbed loudly.
“Daniela, she –”
Alcina shushed her gently and reached out.
“I am sorry, mother! I have failed them! I have failed you! It should have been me! It should have been me, not them!”
Her mother gathered her into her arms, and she wept openly into her white dress, staining it red with the evidence of the day’s tragedies.
“You haven't failed any of us. This is not on you.” Bela buried deeper into her dress.
“I’m sorry! I’m so sorry!”
“It’s not your fault.”
“They’re dead! They’re gone! I can't do this!”
“I’ve got you. I’m here.”
She didn’t have to look up to know that her mother was crying bitterly as well.
She felt soulless in the following days. Living became labour, labour that she only worked up the effort for for her mother’s sake. She could not kill herself while her mother was grieving, while she still needed her. She couldn't leave her alone, even though she desperately wanted to be reunited with her sisters.
Alcina clung to her daughter’s life with a desperation matching Bela’s desire to let go, for both their sakes, but she knew she was fighting a losing battle. Nothing she could do managed to elicit a single smile from her that wasn’t drenched in sorrow.
Bela made no secret of it that she was only staying alive for her mother and that it would be temporary, that she had already given up on immortality.
“We made a promise, when we were younger. If one of us dies, we all die.” I’ll always go first. Nothing will happen to either of you while I’m alive, she had said to her sisters back then. It sounded like the worst lie she had ever told now. “We could have lived forever instead. We could have had everything.” Her voice dropped to being barely louder than a breath. “We had everything.”
“Don’t leave me!” she ordered, reaching out to touch her cheek. “I can’t live in a world without my daughters.”
“It is the same for us.”
“I cannot lose you!”
“I can’t break that promise. It’s all I have left of them. I’ve broken one promise already, I can’t break this too.”
“You will not follow them into their grave!”
She watched her mother’s distraught tears streak down her cheeks with a calm as if she were already laying in their shared tomb amongst her sisters.
“Don’t ask me to break my promise to them, because I will.”
“Bela!” She took a second to catch herself and be able to say her next words with composure. “You cannot ask of me to give you permission to kill yourself.”
Bela looked to her feet.
“I know,” she said quietly and bit her lip. She pushed the heels of her hands into her eyes. “I can't choose between you!” she cried. “I can't break our promise, and I can't leave you behind. I can't do either. What do I do?”
She looked up at her mother, her eyes wide and open, her gaze steady. It looked so young and vulnerable to Alcina. It reminded her so much of the first time she had seen her eyes, scared and lost and desperately looking for hold.
She took a deep breath and then slowly, softly sank to her knees in front of Bela and took her face into her hands. Bela turned into the touch and held her gaze steadily.
“Give me a few days,” Alcina said quietly, ringing softly with finality. “A few final days with you. We will spend them remembering, and then I will follow you where you are going.”
They spent several days going through every item that reminded them of Daniela and Cassandra, reminiscing over the seventy years they had spent together. Memories that they had long since forgotten, that had spent decades buried under the sands of time, were brought to their minds’ eyes again as clear as on the days they had been made. It made the wait until the end unbearable but worth every second all the same. Once they had started, Bela would have refused to stop until all of their memories had replayed in her mind.
And then, on their final day, Alcina led Bela into the sisters’ room. Sitting on the bed, she took the dagger into her hand, the one thing that could reliably kill her. It would be enough to kill Bela too.
Bela reached for the knife, and she held it just out of her reach. Bela frowned up at her in confusion, and Alcina met her gaze patiently.
“It’s okay, Bela. You don't have to do this yourself.”
Her mouth opened to protest, but she knew the expression on her face. It said, plain to read, I am your mother. What kind of mother would I be if I made you do this yourself?
Bela relaxed, and Alcina cradled her head softly with one hand.
“It’s okay. It will only hurt a moment.”
She raised the dagger, and Bela put her hand on hers to stop her and looked calmly into her eyes and smiled, a sad, broken, but honest smile.
“I love you, ma.”
“I love you too, little angel.”
Bela removed her hand, and while retaining eye contact, Alcina pushed the dagger into her neck, severing her spine. Her body shut down quickly, and she wouldn't feel any more pain until the poisons killed her fully, and then she stabbed herself twice, once in the heart and once in the Cadou, and then she held her daughter until she died peacefully in her arms before she drifted off into oblivion herself.
Right in the spot where all those years ago the sisters had been reborn together – together, how they should always be –, Bela finally followed them into the dark.