“A Different Path” is an AU thread written on December 13th, 2014. It takes place after Stonegit and the Warden Investigate.
Full Text Edit
Part 1 Edit
The Warden: Everything was in place. The blind one had situated himself outside the dining hall and given her permission to roam free among the minds of those who ate inside. The Warden stretched her consciousness among the rebels until she found the half-darkened form of the mad one, the one they called Tezzeret. The temptation to step into the cat-child’s mind was strong, but she resisted. She had a purpose to her prodding.
She slipped into his thoughts, blending in with the flow of his emotions, and patiently watched. He appeared to have the darkness in check, a kind of mental wall built between him and whatever devil haunted him. Interesting.
She would need to draw it out.
Eventually she began to whisper. Seems awfully dark in there…
Tezzeret Verdile: "Woah there, little one, slow down, chew your food." Tezz was sitting with Melira, Clover, Treepelt, and Starlord for dinner, the five of them actually finding time to spend together was rare. Tezz was about to eat when he heard a new voice. "Wha?"
No, that was inside of me… Hello?'
The others at the table looked strangely at Tezzeret. He smiled before taking a bite of soup.
The Warden: Hello, Tezzeret. A dark chuckle reverberated through his head. My introduction is hardly necessary, wouldn’t you agree? Don’t worry, I won’t hurt you or your friends.
Tezzeret Verdile: I’m going to guess you’re the Warden.
He glanced at Treepelt, she was laughing at something Starlord had done. She was unaware of the demon’s presence.
What brings you to me?''
The Warden: Simply acquainting myself with your mind. She circled it a few times, prodding his memories here and there. You are new to me. Oh…but that’s not entirely true. She discovered an image of the dungeon, an old, suppressed recollection. It seems we happened to be in the same place after all. Very interesting.
Tezzeret Verdile: You’re avoiding the point. I’m not dull enough to think you came here on a whim to acquaint yourself with me.
Melira sat on Tezz’s lap bouncing as she tried to steal some of his bread. He smiled down at her as he handed her a piece.
But to retort, yes I was trapped in that dungeon.
The Warden: Aren’t you a sharp madman. She left his memories alone, having seen her fill. It was all very tragic stuff. The Warden filed it away for future use. No, my motivations are of a more…benevolent nature, you could say. Quaint child, by the way, she added nonchalantly, shifting her attention down to the girl for a brief moment.
Tezzeret Verdile: From my understanding, benevolence is not in your nature demon. And you’d do best to leave my daughter out of this. Whatever this is.
He set down Melira to go toddle around and pester Treepelt. Starlord was slipping some vodka into her glass.
The Warden: The Warden acted mildly offended. What a suggestion! To think that I have no other desire than to cause pain. I have my moments, madman. I am more human than you might think…especially nowadays… She drifted off into thought before shaking himself and turning her full attention on him, keenly and hungrily watching his thoughts. No, no, I only wish to help you and your…friend.
Suddenly she surged forward and jabbed at the wall that separated the boy from his resident devil. She wasn’t intending to break it, not yet. She merely wanted to test the waters.
Tezzeret Verdile: Tezzeret clenched his hand around the spoon he was holding, his knuckles turning white. He was involuntarily causing the soup to bubble as he strained.
No, this is not a simple matter of…
His nose began to trickle blood. The 3 adults at the table looked up at Tezzeret.
He felt his other half start to wake up.
The Warden: Exactly what the possessed would say.
She pushed harder. Give up your secret, she said, her purr turning into a rumble. Let it out. Let me see him.
Tezzeret Verdile: Not everything… is as black and white as you 'percieve…. it…
The soup was now floating out of the bowl, drinks were beginning to shake on the table. “Tezz…?” Clover called out putting her hand on his shoulder. He shook his head and held his eyes shut.
Just… leave 'me… be… Their voices intertwined in his head.
The Warden: Yes… the Warden hissed, ready to pounce at a moment’s notice. Come now, madman, let him out…slip away… She latched onto the beginnings of darkness and began tugging at it, attempting to rile the demon into emerging. Surely such an entity would want to speak with one of its own…why it was being so stubborn, she had no idea. Perhaps 'it’s afraid. As it well should be. But this is no time to hide. I must see him stripped down, out in the open.
'Give him to me,' she growled.
Tezzeret Verdile: Stop this now before it’s…
Tezzeret’s eyes were rolling back in his head, they snapped open only showing bloodshot whites. Clover gasped, grabbing Melira and pulling her away. Starlord grabbed her sword, while Treepelt was wearing a look of concern.
He lost control, for the first time since harming Clover. A low rumbling laugh filled his head.
The Warden: Exhaling in triumph, she beheld the monster she had drawn out of the dark recesses of his mind.
Now, tell me your name, devil.
Tezzeret Verdile: Name? I have no name demon. I /am/ Tezzeret.
He thrashed about, destroying the sane half of Tezzeret’s mind.
And I will '''''not permit you to exist in this body.
He began to force her out, pushing with all of his power.
The Warden: A tinge of uneasiness colored the Warden’s voice. You…are…?
Then a blast of stunning force hit her and almost blew her out of his mind. She fumbled for a moment before recovering, digging her claws into his mind. The scraps of the madman began to dissipate and she struggled to hold onto them. No! NO!
Dread suddenly welled up inside of her. So it wasn’t a demon after all.
She had made a grave mistake.
Tezzeret Verdile: Tezzeret’s eyes came back down and re-focused, he blinked a couple of times as the soup splashed back down into his soup. Starlord looked at him. “Are you… are you alright?”
Tezz reached up and wiped the blood from his face, a grin taking form. “Terribly so." He dropped the spoon and reached his hand forward. He pulled back and three lances formed impaling her to the table, she gasped for air.
Tezzeret stood and fled from his table, killing guards that came too close. Clover and Tree hurried to Starlords side, Melira stood crying in the walkway between the tables. He made it outside and made his way out of the camp entirely. The panic from the dining hall was only just beginning to form as he found a suitable hiding place. He sat now in waiting, he would kill the people that kept the old Tezzeret from leaving. Only then would he have true freedom.
Part 2 Edit
Tezzeret Verdile: He had been watching for weeks now. Clover and Melira had yet to leave the camp, they would be the more difficult of his targets to kill. But Treepelt, he had been watching her, followed her sometimes. She went to this cabin a fair ways away from the rest of the camp, visiting the man there. The only person that could be was her lover, Vox.
It was of no consequence though, today was the day Treepelt would die for befriending Tezzeret. She would pay for becoming a root keeping him in place.
Treepelt: Starlord’s death had shaken them all. Treepelt herself couldn’t believe what had happened in a flash; she was still in denial.
She needed Vox. Desperately.
In the late afternoon hours, she set out again for Vox’s cabin, bundling her half cape around her shoulders. The chill was worse today, but she was still determined to see him. She headed into the woods quietly, not telling anyone of her absence, knowing once she was in Vox’s arms he’d keep her safe.
Tezzeret Verdile: He knew her path, where she walked, where he could wait for her. He heard the crunch of snow as she approached, she was away from any help, this was the place where she would die. He waited until she passed him, he smelled her scent as the wind carried it to him. “Hello, Treepelt." Tezzerets voice rumbled from his throat.
Treepelt: The voice made her jump and whirl around, her hand leaping to her mouth. “Tezz!”
But it wasn’t. It wasn’t him. There was a shadow in his eyes that bespoke of something far more malevolent taking control of him. It’s his murderer side, she realized fearfully. I’m not…I’m not safe around him—
She gulped and hardened her voice. “Just—just stay away from me!” she said defiantly, unsheathing her claws. “I w-won’t go down without a fight…and Vox is just over there, if you do anything to me, he’ll—he’ll hurt you!”
Tezzeret Verdile: “If only you knew how much you’re holding me here, Treepelt." Tezzeret advanced forward, lowering his head and grinning. "You’d understand why…" He formed the water around his left hand into a blade shaped ice form. "Why you have to die." He lashed out, savoring the fear in her eyes.
Treepelt: Her heart slammed to a stop. “T-tezz…no…”
The crude knife whipped out and sliced right past her chest; it would have sunk in deep if she hadn’t twisted at the last second and allowed ti to slide through the air rather than her flesh. Her hand snapped out and, using the move Akkey had taught her, she shattered it with her claws, sending the shards skittering across the snow. “What are you talking about?” she cried out, backing up in a defensive stance, crouching slightly. “Hold—holding you? I don’t understand!”
Tezzeret Verdile: “He cares about you." Tezzeret spoke mockingly as he formed a new blade. He swings out again with the ice, moving his other hand reforming the snow to lock one of her feet to the ground. "He’s keeping me HERE!!!!" He roared as he pushed his attack.
Treepelt: Tree gasped and bent backwards again, this time almost losing her balance. She managed to catch her left foot under her as her right foot froze to the ground. The new ice blade shot towards her neck and she brought a forearm up to deflect it. The blade skidded off of her arm, leaving a thin cut but otherwise missing anything vital.
"Then just leave!" she yelled, out of desperate, adrenaline-fueled anger. "Leave and don’t return! Give him…give him back!" With tear-blurred eyes, she shoved him backwards with both hands and started pounding at the ice around her foot, cracking and splitting it.
Tezzeret Verdile: “You don’t understand!" He stood in the snow, fuming. "He cares about you, so I have to care about you. WE ARE THE SAME, HAVEN’T YOU FIGURED IT OUT YET?" He wanted to strike again, but her tears stopped him.
I should’ve '''''made this quick.
“Why can’t I kill you?" Tezzeret stepped forward and grabbed her throat, picking her up. "WHY CAN’T I KILL YOU?!”
Treepelt: All of her air disappeared and she choked through his iron grip, scrabbling at his hands. "Because…" she gasped, trying to loosen his fingers. "He…won’t…let you."
Baring her claws, she dug them into the back of his hand, black gathering at the edges of her vision.
Tezzeret Verdile: Tezzeret threw Treepelt to the rocks nearby, he fell to his knees, grasping at the back of his skull. “No… no no… NO!" He got up, balancing against one of the birches nearby. "I have to kill you Treepelt.” He raised his right hand again, forming one of his lances. “You have to die now." He walked to where she lay, and raised the lance above her.
Treepelt: Everything spun, her ears were ringing, her vision was blurry and all she could do was watch as the lance rose higher and higher.
This is it. I’m going to die. Tezz is going to kill me.
"Tezz…" she murmured, trying to focus. Then her voice grew louder. "Tezz! TEZZ! This isn’t you! Wake up!" She struggled to scoot backwards in the deep snow, holding out a hand. "It’s me—it’s Treepelt!" She was reminded forcibly of Vox trying to break through her possessed haze and the tears started to pool in her eyes.
Tezzeret Verdile: He stopped, blinking in the snowy evening. His best friend lying in bloodstained snow and stones on the ground in front of him. Tezzeret knew what he had wrought.
He grit his teeth, fighting through to speak over his other half. “Treepelt…" He began bringing his hand down, slowly, the lance came with it. It hovered, threatening to fall on Treepelt. "…Friend…" He was frozen in place now, his mind a battleground, blood leaked from his nose again from the strain. "…you have to…" Tezzeret’s voice was cracking, tears began to form in his eyes. "…have to kill me.”
Treepelt: Treepelt’s arms shook as she stared up at her friend. The hot tears began to spill. “No, Tezz, I won’t do that!” she choked, retracting her claws and pulling her hand away. “I can’t…I can’t kill again…not after…” She shook her head violently, gasping with sobs. “Come on, Tezz, you’re stronger than him. Fight back. Don’t make me…don’t make me do this.”
Tezzeret Verdile: "Friend…" Tezz’s voice was little more than a whisper, it floated in the stillness of the air. Snow cascading down around them in the twilight, the lance slowly revolving, adding a surreal feeling to the scene. "…I’m broken… I can’t fight back anymore." He was losing in his battle, he didn’t have enough time to tell her that. All he could do was whisper once more. "please… end this.." The shadows grew in his eyes as he spoke.
Treepelt: The pain he was in was so apparent to Tree, the haggard shadows in his face, the cracked voice. He looked so much older than he actually was. He’d lived through far more agony than anyone she’d known, even herself, and to bring all of that to an end…
I have to.
I won’t! she screamed to herself.
If you don’t, 'they will die. They’ll die like Starlord did. Clover will die. Melira will die. Haddock…Stonegit…Akkey…'
Slowly, agonizingly, she got to her feet, and Tezz allowed her to get close to him. Her claws slid shakily out of the tips of her fingers. She looked him in the eyes again, which were already beginning to cloud over with the murderous urge again. Snowflakes drifted in between them and their breath steamed in the frigid air, hot with the earlier struggle.
"Please don’t make me," she whispered once more, tears streaming and heart throbbing as though it were beating itself to pieces. Fragments. Shards. "Please, Tezz."
Tezzeret Verdile: "How many more… will have to die... before they can stop me?” His hand jerked forward, the lance crashing to the ground where she was laying moments before. He fell backwards into the snow, twitching, the snow had become still in the air as he suspended it. “It’s not me.” His voice was a monotone drone now. “You’re not killing me. You’re stopping him." The snow around his right hand was melting, pooling into his hand. "End this Tree.”
Treepelt: Her eyes darted to the melting snow and she knew that her time was up. One by one, she moved her feet forward, crunching through the snow stiffly, looking down on his prone form. Their eyes met, and she quickly squeezed hers shut, turning her head to the side and biting her lip. I can’t be me. I can’t think about him as a friend. I can’t think about him as Tezz. I have to think…like the Warden.
She ripped apart every memory they’d ever had together, stowing it deep, deep down within her broken heart. Every lesson he’d taught her—gone. His kind hugs—gone. His family—gone. He’s a monster. He will kill me. If you don’t do it right now, he will kill you, Tree, and he won’t even think twice about it.
The snow was freezing against her knees. It soaked through her pants. She idly focused on the cold, trying with all her might to block out the feeling of her claws placed against living, beating human skin. Tree eyed her claws placed against his neck, and turned away again. The snow brushed against her arm as she lifted it in the air. She knew what was going to happen would destroy her, and she tried to detach herself as much as possible.
The Warden. The Warden. The Warden. You’re the Warden now. She’d kill him in a heartbeat. He’s a dead man already.''
The muscles in her fingers tightened, twitching slightly.
Do it, the demon seemed to whisper in her ear. Do it, cat-child.''
She made eye contact one last time and then jerked her head away, stiffened her arm, and screamed as she plunged her hand downward, through the cold snowy air, sinking her claws into his throat with a sickening crunch.
And the scream wouldn’t stop.
Tezzeret Verdile: I forgive you…
The snow fell loftily to the ground again, resuming its decent as though nothing had happened, No event had transpired. But Treepelt knew it to be false, her war cry still resonating through the woods. Tezzeret blinked as the snow hit his face, everything below his neck lost all feeling. He knew it was finally over. Welcoming the darkening of his vision, he used what strength he had left to close his eyes and smile. The last rays of sunlight pushed through the trees, glinting off of the red stains that were settling into the snow.
She had to learn how to forget again, while Tezz had to grow to become forgotten.