Sinister Estate (Curse T3 Magic)
Curse had never been allowed to leave the facility.
He didn't even know where outside was. Or what it looked like. He had read his fair share of books about it, of course, but his eyes had only ever seen pristine white walls and sterile floors.
So one day, when his assigned assistant came in and announced excitedly that they were going to go somewhere that day, Curse obviously got giddy with anticipation. So much, in fact, that he all but concussed himself in the attempt to sit up while still lying flat underneath his bed frame. On every other day he appreciated the darkness and privacy that the spot provided him in his otherwise uncomfortably well-lit room, but today he cursed himself for resting there, having to slowly scoot out from under it, out into the open.
“That was fast,” Newt remarked. They were the one human who had proven to be virtually unaffected by Curse's shenanigans, including his truthfully rather terrifying speaking style, and so had been appointed Curse's designated assistant. All the better for Curse, though, since that meant he could actually talk to people, if only through Newt as his interpreter.
“Don't get used to it,” Curse replied through a smile. “Now, where are we going?”
“Ah-ah-ah.” Newt stretched out their arms, stopping Curse from exiting the room through the singular door it had. “I'm not allowed to let you see where we're going, I'm afraid.”
They held up a branded napkin or scarf of some kind, motioning towards Curse's head.
“Are you serious.”
They shrugged. “Don't shoot the messenger.”
Curse demonstratively rolled his eyes and ripped the cloth out of their hand, blindfolding himself with a few quick motions. He gestured in some sort of direction. “I don't suppose you're going to carry me there, are you.”
Newt only laughed and grabbed Curse's hand. “Come on.”
They walked for a good while. They took several left turns, then a right, a few stairs up, another right, then an elevator down a few floors – Curse couldn't tell how many – then there were a lot of echoing halls, clicking keys, another elevator… it went on and on, and Curse half expected them to reveal that, actually, the faculty was cursed, and this was his life now.
But no, after half an eternity, something behind an opening door felt different. There was air hitting his skin, but much more than he was used to in these stagnant halls. And he heard the rumbling of a big machine in front of him, smelled the scent of dust and something stronger, worse somehow.
“Good morning, Sergeant, sir.”
“Assistant Newt. You're late,” an unfamiliar voice replied sternly.
“My apologies, sir. The Paralogos tends to bury itself under its bed,” Newt explained, ushering Curse to take a few steps forward.
“Take away its bed then.” The voice scoffed. “You're too soft, Newt.”
There was no reply, but Curse could feel Newt tense up beside him.
After a moment of silence, a sudden hard shove caused Curse to land face-first against cold metal. He held back a whine, suddenly worried about the new human's reaction to him showing a sign of weakness.
He had heard about these kinds of people. Bad people. The higher you got in this facility's hierarchy, the worse they got, they said. Curse had just been lucky he had managed to avoid them for so long. And yet, just this past minute of interaction had been enough to make his blood boil. He wished, more than ever before, to skip ahead in his magical development. He wanted to curse this asshole.
“Get it inside. We have places to be,” the voice demanded, soon followed by the sound of a door slamming shut in the distance and the feeling of a much kinder hand helping him climb up whatever contraption he had to get inside of.
“We're in a van,” Newt explained quietly, “a car. It'll be fine.”
They quickly closed a door behind them, and the ground immediately started to shake beneath Curse's feet. He stumbled forward, blindly grabbing towards anything at all to steady himself. Newt reached out, guiding Curse to a seat mounted to the wall. It was too narrow for someone equipped with a tail, but after a bit of shuffling, Curse managed.
“Thanks…” Curse grumbled, clawing into his leg. “Can you tell me what's going on now?”
“Yeah, I think so. There's…” The sound of shuffling papers could be heard. “There's a brief here, for us.”
“For you.” Curse corrected dryly.
“For…” Newt sighed. “For me. Yes.”
“Yes…” Curse repeated. Of course he hated the way the staff treated him. They somehow expected him to be fully on-board with being seen and handled like a glorified dog, just because it was all he knew. But no, he had read books. Ones they shouldn't have let him get his hands on. Ones that confirmed his sneaking suspicion that everywhere else, Paralogos were treated like people. A suspicion that, truthfully, probably would've laid dormant for way longer if it hadn't been for Newt and their nonchalance towards him.
“Oh!” Newt's excited yelp interrupted the short-lived silence between them. “We're visiting some lady's haunted house!”
Curse shook his head, attempting to process what he'd just heard. “We're leaving the faculty grounds? Are you serious?!”
“Yeah! I think-” More papers were shuffled around. “Hm-hm-hm… yes, right here! It's around a ten-minute drive outside of the perimeter. She's some sort of VIP to the CEO so they made an exception, or something. I think that is what this means, anyway. They use some really convoluted jargon-”
“We're leaving the perimeter,” Curse repeated excitedly and threw off his blindfold, jumping up to look outside through any available window or perhaps crack in the van's walls. He scurried around the confined space, pulling himself up and crouching down, trying to spot even the smallest holes to peek through.
“There's- Yep- There's no window.”
Curse growled, feeling his magically amplified voices layer over each other even stronger than usual, each one pulling into a different direction, rendering his erratic demands to see, to perceive, truly incomprehensible, even to Newt's trained mind.
Their guesses were pretty well-educated, though.
“I promise you, they won't make you investigate blind. You'll get to see outside in a bit, so I recommend calming down so-”
Curse's head snapped around. “Investigate?”
Newt silently pointed to the seat Curse had recklessly abandoned, and after another annoyed snarl, Curse obliged and sat back down, his legs bouncing furiously.
“Thank you.” They cleared their throat. “So, the woman has reported experiencing strange events inside her mansion, including but not limited to: objects having moved without her doing, doors opening and closing on their own, weird sounds… you name it. Basically, she thinks the house is haunted, but paranormal investigation turned up nothing, and there's no sign of a break-in, so… your turn.”
“They think her house is cursed?” Curse summarized.
“I mean, could be, right?”
“Yeah, sure. There's-” He got interrupted by being thrown violently sideways as the car abruptly stopped moving.
“Ah, we're here. Then I'm… Hm. I would like to apologize in advance.”
Before Curse could react, Newt grabbed Curse from behind and put some sort of straps around his back and arms, securing them with a click.
“What the fuck-”
“I said I'm sorry! They wouldn't let you walk freely, so this is the best I could do.” Newt shrugged helplessly.
“A dog leash?! This is the best? Really? I mean, really?!” Curse shook his head, attempting to wrestle out of the full-body leash, to no avail.
“Listen, I talked them down from using a shock collar by saying you're very well behaved. Do you want to go back on that? Because I'm sure I can ask the Sergeant to lend me one from his reserves.”
Curse groaned. “No. No, of course not. Urgh. Fine.”
At that, the van's door opened, revealing the Sergeant's gruff face; A middle-aged man with a grey beard outlining his scarred, square face, his utterly unimpressed eyes staring Curse down. “Get out.”
There was a pull at Curse's back as Newt shuffled past him, the lead in their hand gently pulling him to follow. So he did, the opportunity of seeing outside outweighing the shame of being walked like an animal, if only barely.
Outside was breathtaking. There were colors; So, so many colors! They were standing in a small yard, with what must've been hundreds of flowers and bushes and a big flowering tree, even! The sun was shining brightly from the pale blue sky, a gentle warmth on his skin. A faint sweet scent hung in the air, dreadfully overpowered by the engine's smoke, however.
The fact that Curse could not feel a breeze, despite the tree's leaves moving as though there was one, went fully unnoticed by the Paralogos. As did the one flower in the corner of the yard that appeared to be glitching in place.
All Curse noticed was the utter gorgeousness of the scenery. He could've stood there and stared at it, mouth agape, for hours. Days even, he was sure. Alas, there was an incessant tugging at his back that became more desperate by the second.
“…Curse, please. We can look at the flowers again later, I promise.” Newt tried their best to coerce Curse into cooperation. “They will have my head if you don't-”
“Is it broken?” The Sergeant stared Curse down menacingly. “You said it behaved, Assistant Newt. Am I to believe you lied?” He threateningly spun his taser gun around his finger, visibly more than happy to use it.
“N- No, sir. The Paralogos is just- just enamored with Lady Periwinkle's landscaping, sir. It has never seen-”
“Excuses.” He stomped on the tiled ground in front of the door once, a terrible tremor echoing between them. “Get it inside. Now.”
There was no room for debate, and Curse begrudgingly understood as much. He snarled, biting back a sarcastic comment, before finally having to rip his gaze away from the beautiful flora and towards the ancient mansion he was meant to investigate.
Right, investigation. He had a purpose. He nearly forgot about that. What was it…? The house was haunted…? Something like that.
He looked around as they walked through the grand entrance hall. It had seen some use, that much was clear from the get-go. The embellished tapestries all around them were crumbling and tearing, heaps of dust settled into every crevice. The chandelier above them was clearly rusted beyond repair, having taken on a color that did not seem intentional by any margin. If it were to fall down while they were investigating, it would not surprise him.
“-free to investigate the entire estate, per the Lady's request. If you wish to discuss the matter with her directly, she is currently reading in her study upstairs. However, she asks you to knock clearly and wait for an answer before entering, as she is quite easily startled, nowadays. If you have any questions or require assistance, I will be around at all times.”
Curse turned around to spot a woman in a fancy suit explain some sort of rules to Newt and the Sergeant.
“Thank you. We will do our best to keep this short.” The Sergeant nodded politely and then gestured to Newt, ordering in a much kinder voice than before: “Go ahead.”
Newt nodded back, visibly nervous. “Yes, sir.”
Curse watched as Newt walked towards him, quietly ushering him to walk.
“Where are we going?” He asked, unsure what the procedure for this sort of thing was supposed to be. Could he just… explore?
“I don't know!” Newt whispered back, eyes wide. “Just like, go somewhere. Look busy. Do your thing.”
Curse snorted. “Alright.”
He walked forward, trying to let his instinct guide him. If he was a curse in a house, where would he be? What would be cursed? The whole house?
He stopped in the middle of the stairs, staring intently at the ground, concentrating. Was he feeling anything? Any hint of a curse, anywhere? At least a trace?
All he felt was static, his own feelings of discomfort and exciting new discoveries clashing with Newt's overbearing anxiety. The pressure of the Sergeant and hints of the Lady's worries. It was all here. But he couldn't feel a curse. He couldn't even feel dark energy. And it felt wrong.
He kept walking, pulling Newt forward relentlessly.
“There's nothing here,” he grumbled, sticking his head into one dusty room after another. “There's supposed to be something here.”
“I mean. If it's not cursed, it's not cursed. We're just supposed to make sure. Like, just look important. It's fine.” Newt reassured, seeming much more composed ever since they had left the Sergeant's watchful eyes.
“No.” Curse said, turning to stare into Newt's eyes. “Something is supposed to be here. I can feel the intent.”
“Now what does that mean?”
He groaned, looking around erratically as if that would help him see some sort of hint. “It… It wants to feel bad. Like, be experienced as bad.”
“The house…?” Newt tried.
“No. I mean, yes. I guess.” Curse shook his head. “The curse. Or whatever it is. I can't really tell and it's-” He screamed into his clenched fists.
“I would've gone with 'killing me', but sure.” He sighed. “Let's try the other side.”
Newt just nodded and quietly followed Curse, awing at the gilded portraits that were lining the walls.
Were those cursed, maybe?
No. Of course not.
But as he found himself walking down the hall, increasingly agitated, he felt his senses gradually perk up, guiding him towards a door that read “study” in fancy golden lettering.
He was about to slam the door open when Newt stopped him. “Wait, we have to knock first.”
Curse rolled his eyes, waiting impatiently as Newt knocked, waited for a reply, and then slowly opened the door. As soon as there was enough space for Curse to slide in, he did.
The force that hit him inside was overwhelming. He felt as though several kilograms of evil incense had been burned in this room mere minutes ago with all windows bolted shut.
Oh someone hated this woman, Curse realized in an instant. This poor elderly woman, sitting worriedly in her armchair that was so large it nearly consumed her. This little old lady, who did nothing wrong, except all the things you have to do to become a rich old lady. But that wasn't it. She wasn't cursed by the people. She wasn't cursed by fate, or karma. She was cursed by-
“Do you have any surviving family?” Cursed asked her calmly, his eyes impossibly wide, staring into layers of reality humans would never be truly privy to.
The woman sank further back into her chair, clearly scared. Newt moved half between the two of them, putting one hand on Curse's shoulder to try to signal her that she was safe. Her lips quivered for a while before she finally answered.
“I… I have a son. Johan.” She blinked as though in pain, though her lips formed a gentle smile.
She nodded sadly. “M-my husband passed away in-”
Curse could not find it in himself to listen as he excitedly pieced together the riddle's answer that had been evading him thus far. Because, he could see it clearly now. It was so obvious. The house was trying to tell him all this time.
“The house isn't cursed,” Curse interrupted her, a finality to his voice. “You are.”
“W-What…?” She looked at him pleadingly, wishing so desperately to understand. To finally be relieved of the constant terror she had been subjected to. To know what she had done to deserve this.
“He needed you to seem insane. Doors would slam shut, but only for you. Things would break, but only when nobody else was there to see it wasn't you. You'd hear weird noises and whispered voices and feel terrors that were not there. And if anyone looked, they would not find anything. Because there was nothing wrong. It was all in your head.”
He shook his head, slowly taking a step towards the shocked woman. “Your son wanted you to be permanently hospitalized. Alive but no longer in charge of your property. He wanted to take it all.”
“But… but why…” Her eyes grew hazy, tears starting to roll down her cheeks.
“Greed. All I can feel is greed.” His eyes grew hazy as well, but instead of sadness, it was from anger. From pure disdain.
He took another step towards her, and then another, until he stood directly in front of her. He reached out for her hand. She instinctively pulled back, clearly on the verge of breaking down.
Curse was not thinking. He didn't know how to do this, or what he was even trying to do, exactly. All he knew was that this was wrong.
He could feel his body move on his own. The way he climbed up the armchair, the way his arms reached around the woman's shoulders, the way his mouth opened wide, stretching his bandages as if they were made of thin rubber. The way his blunt teeth gently dug into her neck.
He felt it. The way he sucked it out like venom, every lick of malice trickling down his throat as the woman convulsed, convulsed, and then relaxed under his angered grip. Pure spite fueling his manic grin as he undid this bastard's dastardly plan, as he consumed all the power that had been used up trying to ruin this woman's last few years on Lingua just for cold, hard cash. It sickened him, yet he enjoyed it. He enjoyed absorbing it. He enjoyed ridding the world of this curse malpractice.
It felt electrifying. Every nerve of his skin alight as he finally felt himself pull back, now convulsing himself, shaking violently.
Was this what true power felt like? Or the raw satisfaction of having helped someone else? Was this glee?
Curse blacked out before he could realize that, no, this was the taser gun.
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