The Assistant

I’m very emotional about many things from the last arc, especially Lucy. its not every day you get brainwashed into giving your best friend a heart transplant without their knowledge yknow? I sketched and colored, and Sphor did the lineart!!

I told myself i wouldn’t title this post after a song or a meme but you know what i did? I did that very thing.

03.20 – Autonomy

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Isla opens her eyes. White ceiling, white room. She’s in the palace still. Despite everything, that’s a little comforting. At least she knows where she is. She just has to–

“This is fucking sweet!” Solanus screams in the other room. “We should see the whole palace! I want to see everything! Can we, Lucy? Can we?”

“No,” Lucian says.

“But Lucy, you can’t do that to me! I’m your best friend, I’ve never asked you for anything ever! Why can’t you help me this one time?”

“Because if you stay in that thing much longer you’ll die and burn your soul out again,” Lucian replies.

Isla gets out of bed and opens the door. Lucian’s out by the balcony, with a small silver bird flapping around her face.

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03.19 – Playthings, Escaped

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It takes a tortuous twenty or so hits to break the delicate fingers apart, and another five to get them to break off entirely, and when Isla’s finished, there’s nothing but broken gears and spindles of brass clinging to the cuff bolted into Lucian’s wrist.

It takes a chisel and a pair of pliers to get the rest of it all off. It’s difficult–very difficult. Aurel had gone to a lot of trouble to keep those hands intact and attached, up to and including multiple holes, drilled directly into Lucian’s wrist. Isla glances up to Lucian’s face and spots similar holes along the side of her face. She looks down again.

She’s not sure she wants to know what Lucian went through.

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03.18 – The Other Workshop

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The wisp leads Isla down into corridors of the palace she’s never been to, away from the opulent stonework and mosaics and stained glass. The stone hallways are plain and gray. She follows the wisp down one, then the next until it stops in front of a door, then dissipates in a flash of red light.

Isla opens the door.

The room is…bleak. There’s a metal table on one side, jars on a shelf on the other, with tools hanging underneath. There are cells along the back wall, and one of them is occupied.

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03.17 – The Heart of the Matter

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Aurel is at his drawing table, working on a piece of metal. He doesn’t even seem to notice Isla in the doorway.

Isla steps into the workshop. “Aurel,” she says.

Slowly, Aurel puts down his tools and turns around. He’s wearing a set of magnifying lenses and doesn’t seem particularly pleased to see Isla. “I believe I told the servants to inform you I couldn’t be disturbed while I was working,” he says. “You are lucky you did not enter while I was doing anything delicate. What happened to my guard?”

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03.16 – Masked Confrontation

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Isla stands frozen for an entire minute, staring at the horrifying creation lying limp on the chamber floor.

She has to do something. She doesn’t know what Aurel is trying to do, but she has to stop him, somehow. He’s working on some project in his study, she knows. She can confront him, talk to him, get him to explain himself, or…or something. He’s reasonable. He’ll listen, surely. Surely, he understands that this is not okay, that he can’t do this kind of…thing to people.

To her.

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03.15 – Vicious Spell

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Voices again.

“–away from her, don’t you dare–“

A flash of knives, blue and white light in her eyes, cold pressure against her bare skin.

Lucian stands above her, a knife hanging delicate between her fingers. Isla can’t move, can’t speak, can’t do anything to make her stop as the knife sinks in–

“–wake up, Isla, it’s me! Isla, stop, you have to listen–“

Red eyes. Darkness.

There’s pressure on her from all sides, constricting shadows around her neck and burning pain trailing down her arms, glowing blue.

Then, through the darkness and the noise–that voice.

“I’m waiting, Isla.”

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03.14 – Whispering Shadows

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Isla returns to the library. She has to ask for directions two times on the way there, but she makes it eventually. The table with her books has been cleared since she was in here last, which is annoying.

She starts searching through the shelves for something a bit more useful. Spellbooks, magical theory, obscure texts about magic herbs and rituals. Anything that might help her find Lucian and Solanus.

She gets a bundle of books and starts reading. There’s a lot of useless information to sift through–things like demon summoning circles and potions and other magic that won’t do what she needs it to do. It seems like every spell she finds that might even remotely do what she needs it to isn’t quite what she wants, or there’s not enough information on how to actually cast it.

“These trifles are unnecessary,” the witch whispers to her. “You have the power to find your friends through your will and my magic.”

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