Cornelius Journal 4
This ain’t happening. This whole place is an illusion, no way anything like any of this could have happened in the world…
Drake’s head spun as he sat down on the soggy worn and warped boards of the old waterlogged warehouse. Constance dead in a fire, maddened actions, leaving home, friends near death, mirror images of people posing as friends and foe alike. Nothing here is to be trusted. It’s all got to be a dream. A drunken dream and when I awaken I’ll be in my cup at the Midnight Salute and Constance will wake me up to go home. Drake pushed out with his mind, trying to convince himself that that was true, that waking would come soon… But he always knew it wouldn’t.
Xan had been with them day in and day out since they got to Greyhawk, how could they have missed who he was? He acted like Xan, fought like Xan, talked like Xan, even flirted like Xan… But it wasn’t Xan. No, Xan, if this was the real Xan, was held captive with copies of the rest of us. But then again that could be a ploy too, another plot to lull us into a false sense of security. Had they gotten Liberty too when she went to bed? They swapped out for Mom, clumsily but still. You couldn’t even trust the furniture! Any damn box could try to swallow you whole!
“Only one I can trust is myself,” Drake thought. The mutagen pumping through his veins made his ability to reason harder, clouded his problem solving skills. He was so moved, so hurt, by what (real?) Xan had said about his family that he had let slip something he held closer than anything. “I gave up one of my cards… One more way for them to copy me.” No one responded, maybe they didn’t hear the admission of guilt, the advice of a killer, the experience. Maybe it’s for the best that they only heard, or wanted to hear the part about NOT killing Xan’s father… Or maybe they already knew, maybe THEIR façade was slipping.
Drake relived the doppelganger mimicking his knowledge of Constance. It wasn’t a secret, but watching yourself in anguish is a terrible thing, even if it was false. The bastard deserved every rending, wrenching, bone-snapping tear that Drake had laid into… It? The others were still talking, in slow motion, as his mind raced from one thought to the next. “How did they know?” “How much do they know?” “How could we take precautions against it?” “If we took precautions, and one of us was one of them, they would be aware of the precautions and would report back completely ruining any plans of safety.” “There is no safety.” “Can’t trust anyone.”
Drake felt the full on anxiety as he heard Xan and Lib and Mom discuss the plan. The alchemist had his back turned, but he heard. Plying Xan to have hope. “I know that killing my father would have been like killing myself.” The words stabbed Drake in his back, made his spine ache and his shoulders tense. He shuddered, cringed, and retreated into himself a little further away from the discussion again. They were coming to a consensus, Xan was thankful for the support, thankful for the kind words, Xan was behaving human. The whole world is on its head.
“There is one other thing. Something you must know.” Drake caught Xan speaking again, something was wrong with this. He wanted our opinion without the whole story? Another trick? Something in Drake’s stomach squirmed, his gut flopped at the wonder on how this could get worse, Xan’s uncertain and hesitant tone belied the dire nature of the new information. Drake perked his ears, back still turned to the others, hands planted on the planks at his side supporting his weight as he waited for Xan to finish.
“Would your decision change if you knew what Dad told me when we were in the cell together? That my father… is the man that sabotaged Deepspike…”
Drake’s mind flashed every bit of his life shaped by that fateful day, and he thought he heard a pop between his ears.