Crime of Passion
Thin clouds hung over Arcadia’s night sky veiling the light of the stars. Along the lakeside two figures wandered. Closer inspection proved them to be the Queen and her Knight-Errant. They had been chatting for hours – Collet about her royal duties and Arios about his travels across the continent. Though she often wanted to reminisce of their adventures from a few years ago his mind had been wiped blank of much of those events. A dark shadow still lingered in the depths there that carried sinsiter knowledge of just not those times but of a life before it. She knew that lie beneath the surface but was sure that it had been pushed down far beyond the point of return. Normally though she wouldn’t even step into the dangerous dungeons of his twisted mind.
But this night her long-standing curiosity finally stirred and she asked him directly, “Arios, do you ever remember anything from your past?”
He stared at the lake as he tried to find the answer. “Sometimes…sometimes I have these dreams I don’t understand but that feel very familiar.”
“What happens in them?”
“I’ve seen people talking as well as fights…and then…”
She moved around in front of him, “And?”
He looked down upon her and though his eyes must be wrong. Angelique wouldn’t wear a gray and white dress like that. With eyes so soft and sad. Upon the very wind he seemed to hear a faint ocarina melody carrying a seductive whisper.
A pulse of pain throbbed through his head and he cringed back. Collet reached for him. “Arios? What’s wrong?”
In front of his eyes flashed a thousand images, some blurred, some crystal clear, all of them loaded with raw emotion. A fire spread in his mind, consuming his sanity and finding the black charred ruin below. Suddenly, he shoved Collet back with enough force to push her to the ground. From a place not entirely within himself came a rough growl, “Don’t touch me, temptress!”
“What? Arios, what are you talking about?” She cried, her voiced severely panicked.
He swooped down upon her and flattened her into the soft mud of the lakeside. Right in front of her face, his own twisted visage hovered. “I should never have let you live. You have tainted her image and thus me. That I can never forgive.”
With the mud sticking all over her, she squirmed against his hold, “You don’t know what you’re saying. Please let me go, Arios.”
“That is not my name!” He screamed in her face and put his hands to her throat roughly. “Never say it again!”
“You’re… hurting… me,” she barely wheezed while trying to pyre his hands loose.
A grimace spread across his face as he increased the force with every word that ran slowly and dangerously over his tongue. “You deserve much worse, imposter. I’ve hated you because you’re not her yet you seem so much like her. No matter how much I want it, you will never be my Ellis.”
Ragged gasps were all that could escape her lips. The oxygen supply to her brain started to decrease as her blood vessels burst under the pressure of the expanding gray matter. Her remaining thoughts became a singular haze of survival but unconsciousness pushed hard on her. As her sight began to fade she saw his silver hair take on a very dark shade. It all came to her in a single hushed breath.
He mentally stopped short but his hands still firmly grasped around her neck. She had actually said his true name and not that lie he had covered himself with. Perhaps she did understand. Perhaps…
Perhaps it was too late as one last gasp left her.
The rage that had consumed him faded as quickly as it had ignited. And the personality that had experienced it faded back to its dark recess as well leaving Arios alone and confused.
He couldn’t stand the blackouts. They happened whenever he was sufficiently upset and he lost himself in a fog of emotion. At the end he was always left wondering what exactly had transpired.
Now he found himself gripping Angelique’s throat and he could feel no pulse beneath. The gravity of the moment hit him.
“What have I done?” He murmured hastily.
“What have I done?” The words were more strained.
“What have I done?” He clutched his head and screamed out.
“You killed her.” The statement was blunt but the voice that carried it was cracking.
Arios glanced toward the source though looked blurred to his teary vision. A haze of blue and white in the night came toward him. Only one person came to mind, “Lumiale? You saw?”
He knelt beside the other man. “I did. Arios…” He could hardly bring himself to say it through the tears, “you…?”
The swordsman removed himself from the girl and crawled closer. “It wasn’t me. I mean it was, but it wasn’t.” His words ran together in a sobbing rush. “You gotta believe me - I didn’t know it was happening. I would never… I can’t believe I…” He latched onto the Guardian in desperation. “Believe me! …please.” He broke down in choking sobs.
Even though it felt against his nature Lumiale pushed him back, griping his shoulders. “Arios, I know you’re upset but you have to calm down,” the message lost some power due to his shaking voice.
“Calm down? Calm down! I killed her! I fucking killed her!” He paused for a ragged breath which gave him a moment of morbid zen-like tranquility. “That’s it. I’ve gone and damned myself. I should have known my fucked-up self would screw me over in the end. I should just die right now, right here.”
A resounding slap forced his thoughts on a new direction. “Dammit, get a hold of yourself. We can’t change what happened. We can only try to deal with the consequences.”
“What’s this ‘we’ shit? Last time I checked it had only been my hands around her throat,” he spat.
“I saw what happened. I know that you weren’t in you’re right mind. And I will help you if necessary,” a strange soothing certainty laced his statements.
“You’re landing yourself in some deep shit.”
“I don’t want to let you deal with it alone. You’re going to need a strong ally.”
They paused and let everything sink in. Both knew that this night and the one act that would define it would be a turning point in their lives.
But presumptions like that needed to wait. “Let’s get her out of here.”
Lumiale finally looked down directly at Collet’s corpse. Her bloodshot eyes had rolled back behind heavy lids. Out the side of her gaping mouth hung her drying, darkened tongue. Tints of blue remained present on her face leading to the rows of reddened bruises around her swollen neck brought on by broken or hemorrhaged blood vessels. The rest of her skin had begun to pale and the sweat and moisture from the mud coated it in an amphibian sheen. Mud laid splattered and clinging to her dress and skin speckling her in dark blobs. Evidence of her struggle could be seen in bent, claw-shape her hands had been twisted into. With the smell of decay from the upturned mud and defecation surrounding it, the whole sight formed the grotesque scene of defiled innocence. Lumiale politely turned his head to the side and promptly vomited.
After he finished he stood and removed his outer robe leaving a light tunic beneath. He and Arios wrapped the girl in the impromptu shroud. The black knight demanded to carry the fallen queen and he and the Guardian cried silent tears all the way back to civilization.
For this chapter, I had to read autopsy and police training files on how to identify manual strangulation. I admit that I exaggerated Collet’s case to be one of the most severe possible. Leviath was probably applying around 30-40 pounds of pressure per square inch around her neck to kill her that fast and leave those kind of marks. That is three times the pressure required to kill a person.