Summary: Late Victorian Era, there exists two. Two sets of secrets, two fates, intertwined. Hir lies, his lies, no end nigh. Dapper and prim, lacking poise and grace, they spiral toward an unwitting calamity. Can you keep my secret? Can you speak a lie? She seeks salvation in the light of deception. How will this tainted tale of love unravel? We begin in time...and end the same.
Author's Note: In this, Crona is portrayed as a female because of the clothing she wears and way she acts, but there’s more to her sex, so I’m going to misspell the pronouns for Crona. In other words, I will be using hir, hirs, and she. Hir(s) is combining her and his, and she already has he in it (because it’s a male-oriented world), and same with Woman and Women and Female.Disclaimer: The owner of Soul Eater is Atsushi Ōkubo. This work of fiction is composed entirely by me. I gain nothing material by writing this and do it solely for fun. The poem “I Am the Monster, Mother” belongs to me also.
Little children smiled and played,
All but me, I was locked away,
I don’t recall ever existing for myself;
It’s a pointless thing to do,
I feel I do not live,
But I continue to grow for you,
You have always kept jars on your special shelf,
Full of things I cannot touch or understand,
But you once told me,
I would be on that shelf,
If I was not a careful child,
Are you surprised at how I have turned out?
I am only everything you’ve made me to be, Mother.
But I’m still not the child you want.
When overcome by fear or its cousin anxiety, one often suspects the world of conspiring against them. Crowds are staring and brazenly gossiping, though speaking as callously as if secret. Even Nature scrutinizes one’s faults, with the winds spreading rumors and the trees murmuring offensive truths. For the youth Crona, solace could not be found even within isolation. Every which way she turned, a voice denigrated hir mere presence.
So when dwelling in the vast, ashy woods that the moon tinted corpse-blue nearly each night, this adult of 17 would desperately wrap a faded cloak of onyx around hir form to block out fabricated slanders. Though, to be fair, the slanders were not always imagined. Indeed, the words spawned from the scorn of the deranged carpenter’s widow.
Medusa Gorgon, respectively Lady Medusa, was once the wife of a carpenter. The estranged couple appeared well-met, until behind closed doors. Call Lady Medusa a wolf in sheep’s wool, for that’s what she was.
Many a month passed in contentment before the carpenter noticed the peculiarity of his wife. Her abundant kindness never faltered, and, had he been a simpleton, he would have told himself not to look a gifted horse in the mouth. But the carpenter was wiser than Lady Medusa would have liked. He became suspicious of her late-nights in the nursery with their new babe; at all hours with the mother the child would wail relentlessly.
One night when awakened by the cries, he investigated. Initially, he witnessed his wife asleep in her rocking chair with the fitful infant tucked within a blanket in her arms. He would have temporarily abandoned his suspicions then had he not detected another presence. He leaned over seeing a thin, curved shadow beneath his offspring’s crib and found too late what it was.
“Poor fool,” the wife muttered, “he went sooner than planned.”
She, who had seemed so lovely, was in truth wicked.
Conveniently, only a priest and Medusa’s younger sister (there as witness) had attended the marriage, so when the husband died, there was no one but choice customers to care.
“My deepest condolences Miss.” Face after insignificant face spoke to her.
“Such a shame... He was a good man. Quite a curious way to go.”
“Aye, he was... My poor love, I warned him of serpents....” More crocodile tears were wept.
Days passed and the carpenter's buried carcass was forgotten with the exception of his widow. She raised their child in secret, feeding it hatred and truth-bearing lies. “Your father was not as dumb as most, but he was still just a fool. I kept him for as long as needed. When he became a problem, I disposed of him. Remember, Crona, that to you I’ll do the same.”
The child grew into a young adult, portrayed in plain feminine garb to conceal hirself completely. Escape from the taunts and rebukes did not exist. She could only continue to suffer under their weight on hir conscience.
She existed to obey, so fretting over words and fears was pointless unless Mother told hir to do so.
There was no consolation for the child of the carpenter’s widow, and it seemed there never would be.
“The sun rose hours ago, yet you lie about. Rise Crona.
She did as hir mother commanded. Hir body protested in its need for rest after the previous day of tests, but even when drowsy the lavender pink-haired youth knew not to verbalize complaints. Hesitation was unforgivable as well.
“If you fare well during this day’s tests, then I shall feed you.”
Starvation was one of the ways she was controlled, reduced to the cravings of an animal. A trained, unintelligible mammal at Medusa’s disposal. Much like the critters the golden-haired woman performed minor experiments on, Crona was simply a living tool used to achieve Medusa’s goals. The youth was feeble and easy to control by both physical and psychological tortures.
In the basement where a tin basin was kept for washing, there were tables and carts where Medusa conducted a series of experiments using herbs and alchemy. In the center of the lightless room built directly underneath the den, there was an all too familiar stainless steel dissection table. Crona numbly climbed onto the freezing cart without a single gasp, despite wearing hir thin full slip and nothing more; it was routine.
“Your arms, stretch them out.” Medusa instructed as she filled a syringe with an unidentifiable turquoise liquid.
Crona did as instructed without hesitation. Her puffy, tired eyes of stormy blue stared at the sickeningly familiar and dull ceiling. No thoughts of importance crossed hir mind. The best she could do during this daily routine was focus on the colors and shapes that formed the decrepit world surrounding hir. If she had the ability to think of anything else, the pain would immediately override it.
The sharp, chilly needle tore into one of hir scarred, lanky arms with little resistance. Depending on what the syringe contained, it usually caused hir body to convulse, or induce nausea where she’d violently vomit stomach acid. This time, it was convulsions coupled with an indescribable burning in hir skull. Hir body heaved, but the burning distracted hir from that aspect. She focused on how the fire in hir head faded into a buzzing, like millions of copper pellets were vibrating behind hir eye sockets. Though still, it felt like she was spiraling down as she heard murmuring fading in and out. Another fabrication… Wait. No… It was Lady Medusa.
Despite hir delirium, Crona began panicking. She couldn’t understand what the murmurs said. “Ignorance is intolerable.” Crona knew that too well. Lady Medusa had said it many times. “Unforgiveable…”
“-ona, res-” The words were still fading. “Respond.” Then she heard it, the key word, but she couldn’t obey. Hir body refused. ‘Please move! You idiot, speak! Don’t anger her!’
There were no appropriate assumptions of how much time had passed before hir seizure ceased, it had all happened so fast to Crona. Tears blurred hir stinging eyes as she panted, yet she could see the foggy form of Medusa looming over with a half-emptied red syringe.
“Can you hear me now?” Medusa’s bright reptilian eyes observed while waiting for a response.
It hurt to speak, hir throat suddenly sore and constricted, but she forced a cough and hoarsely replied, “…y-yes….Madame….”
Medusa didn’t reply, but it was apparent to Crona hir mother had a particular thought process. The woman left her child’s side to jot down those thoughts with grim concentration. “Pitiful. Usually you last longer. Disappointing.” She stopped and gave a sharp look of contemplation at the lavender pink-haired test subject. “If you can complete a measly task then you shall be fed. Collect herbs from the Pagans. Their meeting should come to an end soon, so pace yourself.”
Somehow Crona forced hirself down from the table and wobbled up the stairs, palming the stone walls. That buzzing had returned, a type of dizziness, distorting hir depth perception, but she managed in the urge to obey and grabbed hir cloak from by the door before departing.
The dark, hir treacherous friend she so hated, had nearly completely dissipated as the Sun awakened the world. Yet she could hardly make out the stone bridge she’d crossed many a time to reach the forests. A single bare foot touched the icy stone before she collapsed in a fever, battering one side of hir face in the process. The cold of the bridge quickly numbed hir sickly frame as she lost vision. Finally hir consciousness left.
Perhaps fortunately, at this time a young man took his morning stroll and passed the bridge. From the edge of his vision he noticed a mound of black and turned to see it was a person underneath a shroud.
“By God, who is that?” The young man rushed to hir side and lifted the material, only to drop it in a bit of shock. ‘Of all the myths of witches and I see this… What strange hair…’ To this person, Crona didn’t look quite human in hir frailty and odd hair color, but another fortunate thing was that this person wasn’t new to peculiarity. He attempted to rouse hir to no avail, so he decided to lift this stranger similar to a bride by her groom. As he carried hir to his nearby manor he noticed with fascination how she resembled a cadaver; ashen, frigid, and boney.
As soon as they reached the secluded grounds of his home, Gallows Manor, he struggled with the rot iron gates and hurried in. ‘This person is fortunate I appeared when I did.’ After bursting into the darkly adorned building, he shouted for the house nurse, who took her time to rush out with exhausted irritation.
“Young Master, what could it possibly be at this hour?” a dark-skinned woman asked right before seeing Crona. “Enlighten me as I patch that child up. Take ‘em to a room.” She motioned hurriedly.
The voices returned to Crona’s head, murmuring things she couldn’t understand. Everything was black with splatters of dark maroon, so she half-assumed she was asleep. But then she remembered hir fall. In confusion, she wanted to move and see but could do neither. She was so frightened she didn’t even think of what Medusa would do, and Crona never stopped worrying over that. Slowly, hir sight came back in a mixture of shadows and light, and what she saw unsettled hir.
“Wh-what-” she started to yell but coughed, hir sore throat coated in mucus.
“Don’t strain yourself. I’m Mira, the house nurse of Gallows Manor. You’ll be safe here.” Mira assured.
Crona couldn’t help but strain hirself when trying to stop the fair nurse from rising up hir slip to check for injuries. She struggled to sit up and pushed Mira’s hands away, hoarsely shouting, “N-no, stop! I can’t handle this!”
“Mira, what is happening?” the young master of the house asked, rushing into the room. His unusual golden gaze went to the person he’d rescued.
“She started awake is what.” Mira replied, attempting to hold down the struggling patient.
“Here, let me.” he interjected, taking Mira’s place next to the queen-sized bed in which Crona writhed. Hir terrified eyes watched him lean nearer, completely composed. “Please calm yourself, I mean you no harm. My name is Kid, son of Lord Death. Who might you be?
She wasn’t sure what to say, or if she should say anything at all, but it distracted hir enough to settle down.
“Please Miss., I require a name.” Miss? She’d never been called that before, or anything remotely similar.
Curiously, she replied, “Crona.” This response seemed to please Kid, who smiled lightly. A smile... Crona made a face at him without meaning to, for she’d never encountered a smile that held no ill meaning. She’d only seen Lady Medusa with the expression, far more malicious. Aside from his smile, she noticed another peculiar quality: his ringed amber eyes. They were hauntingly familiar, inhuman and bright, just like Lady Medusa’s. So similar, it unnerved her. She eyed him cautiously.
“What an intriguing name. Might I ask of your surname?
She hadn’t one. She’d never needed one, and there could be no evidence of connection between hirself and Lady Medusa. She was never meant to meet a person who would ask hir. She shook hir head to indicate ‘no’, and Kid’s smile faltered.
“You must be curious of the situation. I found you collapsed on a bridge nearby. Do you remember how you came to be there?” Once again she shook hir head, knowing she’d have to mention Lady Medusa, and she loathed questions. “Well…that being the case, I welcome you to stay the night.” Then he strode away, motioning for Mira who quickly came to his side.
“She’s starved and dehydrated.” Mira told him quietly, a perturbed look in her ice-blue eyes. “Wherever she came from, it was not a pleasant place.” They subtly glanced over at their guest who lay weakly breathing.
To Mira, Kid said, “’twould be callous not to assist her. Please do so.” The nurse nodded in comprehension and left the room to fetch food. With one last look at Crona, Kid left the room as well.
Hours passed as Crona drifted in and out of a restless sleep, being fed broth inbetween fits. By midnight she’d regained some sense of self and hir immense fears returned. She waited several anxious minutes for Mira to leave the room, if just temporarily. As soon as the nurse did, the sickly youth used what little strength she’d recovered and ran for the door. Not knowing which way to go, she ran blindly down the dimly lit and decorated hallway until she nearly bumped into someone.
“Whoa there!” a slightly older female exclaimed with hands raised defensively. “Oh…you are…Kid’s guest, am I right?” Crona stared at the young woman with slightly long caramel blonde hair for a moment of dumb hesitation before shooting past her. “Well, that was odd.” the lady muttered to herself with an eyebrow cocked.
It didn’t take long to escape the residence since the room Crona had been staying in was down a hallway connected to the spacious foyer. From there out of the doors she stumbled along the only path in sight, fenced in by trees and a stream, until she spotted the familiar bridge.
Medusa’s house was barely a mile away. When she arrived, the house was completely dark. Due to a sense of impending doom, she couldn’t bring hirself to enter. She stood outside with bated breath, eyeing the wooden door reluctantly.
“Do you plan on prolonging my wait?” the strong, feminine voice of hir mother sounded from inside. Tremors shook hir body as she reached for the door handle, suddenly dizzy. Stepping inside, pitch blackness consumed hir, but she could imagine Medusa standing in front of hir with those fiercely disapproving eyes. For a while neither of them spoke, the tension so thick in the air Crona was suffocating. Then Medusa uttered, “You forgot your shroud. I wonder where it is.”
Crona’s nails dug into the arm she anxiously clutched, realizing the already horrid predicament she’d put hirself in had worsened. ‘I should have left sooner, I should have-…’
“Since you have once again failed me, you shall receive proper punishment. Repentance for your ill behavior will accompany you and only that. For your own sake, pray your absence does not cause me further grief.” Hearing her footsteps, Crona followed the woman through the lightless house to hir room.
They stepped inside the small room that contained a worn twin bed and small table where a single candle stood, which Medusa lit. She turned toward her child, about to speak again, when she noticed Crona flinch. “Flinching? As if I would lay a hand on such a worthless maggot as you. Now stop dawdling. You know what to do.”
Obediently Crona moved to the center of the room and knelt down to unhook a latch in the floorboards and hesitated. Medusa reminded quietly, “If I am required to touch you, then the pain will be beyond any severity you’ve experienced.”
Underneath the floorboards was a cramped, dark chamber, just big enough for a single fully grown person. Crona, who had spent much of hir life inside it, slipped feet first into the cold hole. Carrying the candle, Medusa stood over her child with a frigid, emotionless stare before shutting and locking the false floorboard.
Even though she felt she deserved this, the youth with lavender pink hair thought of the three strangers at the mansion and felt a growing sorrow unlike any she’d felt before.
Any helpful comments on dialect would be strongly appreciated. I did my best to keep their words accurate to the century, but I’m far from being an expert. I’m terribly sorry how angsty that was! I promise that there will be plenty of romance in future chapters.
Thank you for reading!
Please review so I know what you like, dislike, and all that jazz.