Chapter 200: Love and Fear "You like it? I'm happy." The Chrysalis nodded to herself energetically. "I didn't like how cold that place below was. So I wanted to make this place as warm as possible." "Cold, hm? That place below, if you didn't make it, do you know who did?" said
Aldrich. "The Shadows did," said the Chrysalis. The more I built, the more they built with me. I thought they were making fun of me." "I see." Aldrich did not exactly know what this meant. What were the Shadows?
If they were a part of his soul from the beginning as the Chrysalis had said, then were they just some other aspect of him? Perhaps his 'colder' side?
But then why did he lack control over it? Why was it separate to begin with?
Questions, and more questions. He would consult the Death Lord later, once he nished whatever trial he had left in here.
Speaking of, what exactly was the trial here? Was it just to witness this room? If so, it was something far less dramatic than what the Death Lord claimed the experience of encountering a Boundary core for the rst time would be. "I like it," said Aldrich. He stood up. "But I need to go." "Go?" The Chrysalis cast her eyes downward, saddened. "Already? You don't want to stay here? Where it's warm?" "I do," said Aldrich. He looked around at the familiar room around him, at all the warm memories they represented that he had lost. "But this is still the past.
I have other people out there that need me who live in the present." "Then...then can I come with you?" The Chrysalis looked up at Aldrich with wide, pleading eyes. "Don't you need to stay here to maintain all this?" said Aldrich.
The Chrysalis shook her head. "No. Once I make it, you're the one that keeps it all going." "Alright then, I don't seen an issue with you coming with me," said Aldrich. "Yay," said the Chrysalis. She hopped o the couch and looked at Aldrich. "Where do we go now?" "I was hoping you would tell me," said Aldrich. "I thought you knew a way out of here." "Me? No?" The Chrysalis cocked her head, clueless. "Hm?" Aldrich raised a brow, now concerned. Was he trapped here? There must have been a way to leave a Boundary. He had simply thought it would have been automatic as a process. And if it was not, he thought the Death Lord would tell him the manual way to leave.
The fact that she did not made Aldrich entertain the suspicion that she wanted to trap him here. It was a rather low probability suspicion, but he did not discard it.
Aldrich heard a sudden loud crackling of static from across the room.
The Chrysalis, startled, rushed to Aldrich's leg, hugging it like a pillar of support.
A wide telescreen at the other end of the room ashed alive. At rst, there was just pure static. From the reaction of the Chrysalis, Aldrich could tell she had not turned it on.
The warm lights in the room ickered on and o rapidly before dimming o completely, letting darkness take a hold of the room. And with that darkness, an eerie chill permeated through the air. The plants in vases started to wilt. The paintings started to chip away. The books started to crumple.
Decay started to leech in everywhere. The place started to look more and more like the depressingly empty training ground that Aldrich had turned it into. "No-," Aldrich reached out a hand, trying to preserve everything he saw fading away. He could not let that happen, not again, and yet, there were too many things to try and save.
The telescreen's static faded away, revealing a split screen. One half was an angry red. The other half a deep, dark blue. Twin voices radiated out from each half of the screen. From the red, his father's voice. From the blue, his mother's.
Their voices were not kind. They were not welcoming. They were not warm. "Son...what happened to you?" said his father. "Wh-what is all that behind you?" said his mother's horried voice.
Aldrich looked behind himself. Instead of seeing his family portrait, he instead saw a canvas of darkness. The darkness shaped into a host of shifting faces twisted in expressions of pain and agony. Faces he recognized. Faces he had killed. "My god...what have you done?" said his father. "What-what made you do this?" "No, no, no. You can't be our son," said his mother. "Not that sweet child who always smiled, even when we knew you were hurting inside. You always thought of others, just the way we taught you to. You can't be like this, like... like a monster."
If anyone else had called Aldrich a monster, he would not have cared. He would even have agreed. But hearing it from his parents - the word pierced through him. It felt like a blade jammed through his heart.
Those voices that had shown nothing but love and support, those voices he had always looked up to - reducing him down to nothing but a monster. The sheer horror in their voice, that sense of pure otherness, like they were talking not to their son but something to shun and curse - it hit Aldrich harder than any blow he had felt.
Aldrich felt nauseous, and he put a hand to the side of his head. This was not physical nausea. It was purely mental. It reminded him of the rst year following his parents' death, when even a small memento of them would send a wave of nausea through his body. "We told you that when someone is down-," said his father. "You always pick them up," nished his mother. "We loved you because you were like us." "We loved you because you were kind." "We loved you because we saw so much good in you." "Where did that all go? "What did you do?" "What have you become?" "We can't love you now." "Monster."
Aldrich fell down to a knee as he started to breath heavy. The Chrysalis looked at Aldrich with worry, then tentatively at the red and blue screen. She shivered, scared at the darkness that ickered around the edges of the screen.
She gently slapped her cheeks to gain courage and stood in front of Aldrich, opposing the screen. "Don't say mean things to him," said the Chrysalis.
Aldrich did not hear her. He was absorbed in thought. In fear. Like with Valera, he never feared ghting and putting his life on the line. He was never scared of a bullet or eye beam or super strength.
What he was afraid of, always, deep down, at the very depths of his being, was love.
Fear that he could not love another.
And fear that he did not deserve to be loved by the only people he had loved: his parents.
He knew they would never have approved of what he had become. But he had buried that fear because he knew he would never see them again. And yet, here they were.
The fact that this came right after feeling so many good memories about them made it even worse, twisting that blade in his heart with a cruel hand. "He-he ghts hard. He gives up so much to ght. You can't say bad things to him like that when he tries so hard," said the Chrysalis, visibly nervous but still standing as tall as she could for Aldrich.
Those words reached Aldrich. It made him think. He had given up so much to be where he was now. He had given up a happy life. Love and laughter. Even his humanity. He had become a monster.
But - "I know," said Aldrich. He stood up, the nausea leaving him. He faced the screen of red and blue with determination in his green eyes. "I know that I'm not what you wanted me to be. I know that if you two were actually alive, if you saw me as I was, learned what I did, who I killed, who I tortured, you would be horried.
I don't know how real this is, but I've also known deep within myself that you two, if you saw me as I was now, would not be able to love me. At least, not in the way you used to when I was a child.
When...when you were still with me." "How can we love you now? You've become a monster." "I know. I've always known." Aldrich nodded. "But I am my own monster. I made these choices. I made these sacrices because I thought they were necessary.
Were they the right choices?
You wouldn't think so. Plenty of others wouldn't."
Aldrich's esh peeled o in chunks from his arms and chest, baring his inhuman skeleton. "But who or what I am now is my choice and mine alone. This path I walk...is it right? Is it wrong? I sometimes wonder myself. But it doesn't change the fact that it's the path that I chose, and because I chose it, I will see it through to the end."
Aldrich stared at the screen, his eyes glowing bright. His magical energy started to return to him, swirling in an aura around him. In his mind, he remembered all the happiness he felt from his parents, all those sweet and warm memories.
They owed into him nonstop, almost as if through external force, trying to get him drown him down in fear and guilt. The blade in his heart twisted even further, but none of that stopped his next words. "And the voices of happy memories long dead won't stop me."
The telescreen cracked, the red and blue images instantly shutting o into darkness. Then, the darkness of the screen expanded outwards, engulng the room. The Chrysalis cringed as she held on tight to Aldrich's leg as the darkness swallowed them both up.