Post by Francis Bonnefoy on May 5, 2012 13:00:39 GMT -5
Francis didn't know what it was, but he woke up gasping and bolted upright. His skin was clammy, layered with sweat, and all he could think about was the sense of foreboding that settled in his stomach.
He buried his face in his hands.Francis knew he was heartsick; if being unable to eat, sleep, or think properly weren't signs, then the way his chest hurt every time he thought of the pirate made him painfully aware of his loss.
Taking a deep, slow breath, Francis unfolded himself from the bed and padded toward the window, hoping that the panorama of the cityscape would ease him. But the lights that usually glowed softly in the city seemed magnified, coming from somewhere in the south of the city. It only took Francis a moment more to spot a wide column of smoke snaking toward the sky.
He gasped. Horror pinned his feet to the ground and his eyes to the telltale sight of the fire consuming that part of the city.
Post by Cpt. Arthur Kirkland on May 5, 2012 14:14:40 GMT -5
For Arthur, this was the day when everything fell to pieces.
He could barely recount the last month. It had been spent either smashed out of his mind, neck deep in missions and murders, or crying himself to sleep in a brothel. It wasn't a good month.
However, one of the only things that kept him going were the children -- still in the inn, Francis still paying for them to remain there. He had to grit his teeth every time he nodded to the owner and went up to see them, but it was forgotten when he saw the children and saw how warm and well-fed they all were. Devoid of everything that happened to him in the last month, he left with a smile on his face.
It was that night that he left, probably not carefully in this instance. A night where an enemy saw where he left, and an idea went into his mind.
Arthur returned to the ship, and entering his cabin, he spotted a necklace that he had left on the desk. He frowned. He was meant to give that as a gift to Elizabeth, one of the older children, as it was her birthday soon. It wasn't much, just a necklace with a small pendant, but he'd sat with one of the elder ladies in the market while she'd made it and had a pleasant conversation with her.
Biting his lip, he looks out at the stars and the moon outside. He'll have enough time. No worries.
Taking the necklace, he heads to the port and heads back through the city. The streets are pretty quiet by now, so he's not too worried about walking hooded down the most 'frequent' streets, but as he gets closer he certainly notices something.
People are moving. In his direction.
He moves forward, trying to blank out their panicked faces for something else. It's when he catches the first whiff does his heart stutter.
Suddenly bursting into a sprint, he shoves people away past him, some now crying and running themselves, bleeding, and it's as he comes to the opening does he screech to a halt does his blood run cold and the fire licks at the emerald green of his eyes.
The inn. The inn. Is now engulfed in flames, the crackling hissing and practically mocking Arthur. The fire has already started to spread, fire running onto the slums nearby the houses, people running out of the slums in evacuation.
He doesn't notice the scream rip in his throat and before he knows it he's running, running, right into the fire and in the inn where there's still a room just smouldering ---
---and though he's surrounded by flames the world is dead dead dead ---
choking on his own throat he runs out, sure, sure (hoping) that some of the children run, run and are still in the slums, where they were---
Arthur spends the good part of half an hour running through the lums, skipping over the fire, as it tries to drag him down -- feeling like he's on fire, like the whole world is -- but he cannot find a single child. All of them gone or burnt or who knows where.
And by the time Arthur runs out again and before he knows what he's doing he's running, running as hard as he can to the other end of the City, the death in his heart and the burns and the bleeding and smouldering of his skin and clothes nothing compared to the pain of tears streaking down his face, from the heat and pain and from the hole where his hope was; he barely feels the familiar metal on his fingers as he drags himself up that oh-so familiar balcony, a balcony that makes his whole body feel sick but he's stumbling across the balcony---
---and he bursts into the room and falls to the floor, a sobbing, bleeding wreck of nothing because they're
Post by Francis Bonnefoy on May 5, 2012 16:18:19 GMT -5
The crash from across the room startled Francis out of his dismayed trance. Who else would fall on his feet but the man who haunted him? Francis was about to back away when he heard the sobs bursting out of the crumpled form.
"Ar - Captain?" Francis remembered just in time to call Arthur by his formal title, but kept his tone gentle. He approached Arthur tentatively, sinking to his knees to look closer.
Blood, ash, dirt, and the telltale sign of singed skin and clothing. Without wasting another second, Francis gripped the pirate's arms and hauled him to his feet. The pirate was a dead weight, still wracked with grief, but Francis managed to bring him to rest on his bed.
"What happened?" he asked, numerous deadly scenarios involving fire rushing through his mind.
Post by Cpt. Arthur Kirkland on May 5, 2012 16:22:23 GMT -5
Arthur didn't let go; instead reaching up and clinging and grasping even though it hurt like hell to be touching another peron with the burns. There was a few minutes where he was sobbing so loudly that he couldn't form words, but he managed to choke them out.
Post by Francis Bonnefoy on May 5, 2012 16:31:36 GMT -5
Francis felt his breath knocked out of him with the force of a hovertrain at high speed. No. No, not the children. He began to tremble, recalling all their faces and how he had seen them just a week ago. And the innkeeper...his wife...
His stomach churned at the thought, and his heart constricted painfully in his chest. They - they couldn't all be...dead.
"H - how?" Francis managed to say. "Why?"
But when he glanced down at Arthur, finally seeing him through the haze of his shock and growing anguish, Arthur's skin was mottled with red streaks and spots. Burns. Arthur had barely survived.
Francis scrambled to his feet, tearing himself from Arthur's arms. He called for his butler and ran toward his water basin.
"Help!" His butler and his valet arrived quickly enough. As Francis fell to his knees beside Arthur, already pressing one of his cool, dampened shirts on the burns, he asked for medical supplies to brought to him as soon as possible.
Post by Cpt. Arthur Kirkland on May 5, 2012 16:43:39 GMT -5
Arthur barely seemed... present. Tears were streaming down his cheeks as he was gently aided to lay on his back, his layers of clothing being removed from him. Honestly, he really couldn't care what state he was in or whether he was about to die -- the point was is that they were dead. They were dead and it was all his fault and he couldn't save them. He can't say for sure how it happened, but he sure as heck could guess and sure as heck knew it was because of him.
His eyes manage to rest on Francis after a few moments, green eyes bloated with tears but yet dead, so so dead and laden with guilt, and not just for the mosst recent instance.
He looks away, a mute expresion on his face. He hasn't just 'barely survived'. He died, a while ago.
Post by Francis Bonnefoy on May 5, 2012 16:53:06 GMT -5
The servants arrived in record time, and they helped Francis soothe and bandage Arthur's burns. Once Arthur was patched up and changed into a set of Francis' clean clothes, the servants left and Francis thanked them.
Now that they were alone again, and without the urgency of Arthur's injuries needing to be tended, Francis wasn't sure what to do. Seeing the pirate so listless and grief-stricken broke Francis' heart all over again. It seemed that Arthur was a master of that particular skill.
"You mustn't lose hope, you know," said Francis, finally breaking the silence. He was standing a distance away from the bed, his arms crossed protectively. "They can't all be dead. They could have escaped. Some, if not all, must be alive, Captain."
Post by Cpt. Arthur Kirkland on May 5, 2012 16:59:47 GMT -5
His breath hitches, a whimper under his breath as he lies there. His lips tremble.
He wants to tell him to stop calling him that. To call him by his name. To forget everything that ever happened. He can see the distance Francis is at, and it's suddenly scaring him more than the guilt he's bearing. He wants to tell Francis it's all his fault -- everything -- from thinking Francis was just a 'resort' and that he'd made a mistake in choosing him because he had made a mistake -- a mistake for ever walking out of that door -- and that he was the one that would have been seen walking from the inn, the one that some noble would have wanted to get revenge on or ruin him in someway and so set fire to the inn.
But Arthur can't bring himself to say it, because he just hurts too much, and so he simply curls onto his side and sobs to himself, shoulders heaving. All he can smell is Francis' scent.
Post by Francis Bonnefoy on May 5, 2012 17:12:54 GMT -5
The sound of his name nearly made Francis crumble. Instead, he stiffened and inched toward the bed, seating himself on the edge. He hesitated before placing his hand lightly on Arthur's shoulder.
"I'm here," he whispered. He contemplated Arthur for a moment. "You just need to rest. I - I'll take care of everything."
When Francis glanced out the window, a wave of despair broke over him. The fire raged on, and thought Francis was sure there were attempts to put it out, they weren't enough. Francis would have to rally people with more access to water and emergency supplies to extinguish it, and only then he could search for the surviving children.
Francis looked back down at Arthur. The pirate was in no shape to deal with any of it.
Post by Cpt. Arthur Kirkland on May 5, 2012 17:22:53 GMT -5
He was there, but he's not here. Francis certainly isn't here. He could be on the other side of Granor, for all Arthur felt at the moment.
He regrets coming here, he regrets thinking he'd somehow be okay and and that Francis would pick up the pieces like he always had done and put him back together and it would be alright and everything would be alright.
He was an idiot.
He wanted Francis.
He doesn't respond, still curled up and sobbing on his side. He's too injured to move, otherwise he might've made attempts to leave. Or he really was that desperate. Either one.