(A/N: Originally supposed to be a Friday update...here goes the next chapter of Wicked! It's a long one! Enjoy!^^)

Part 55: Prisoners


"I will willingly go away with you..." (Rapunzel, Brothers Grimm)



"Don't let them hurt us..."

The darkness is swarming around me, trying to form a protective barrier between myself and actuality. I battle with it, struggling to hold on to my own thoughts, the ones being drowned out by the constant voice in my head that's screaming, "Kill them all!"

But... I don't want to hurt them, I beg the voice in my head even as the knights around me are ripped in two and fall to the ground in pieces. Their wails rise above even the loud roar of the wind that has picked up. My feet rise off of the ground and come crashing back down to the earth, one after the other, as they take me towards the one behind everything that's happened.

Queen Esperance. The voice and my own seem to merge and melt together at the sight of the horrible woman lying at the ground near my feet. My chest heaves; the darkness is starting to take over. It floods my vision, turning everything a brilliant, beautiful shade of onyx.

This is the woman who stole everything from me: a chance to live forever in my own world, a chance to escape the shadows of the Underworld.

Now they've already claimed me.

I reach down and wrap my fingers around the woman's tiny, thin neck and wrench her off of the ground so that I can see her face better. I want to see every emotion she gives off before I end her worthless life. Her blue eyes are wide with terror as they flicker over my face, waiting for my next move. She claws at my arms, drawing blood, but I don't feel a thing. I can feel her throat jump as she swallows beneath my hand.

"M-Monster..." Queen Esperance cries. "Y-You monster!"

I feel a smile ghost across my lips upon hearing her words.

"You're right," I murmur. "I am a monster."

My grip on her neck becomes tighter and tighter until...



A scream bounces out of my throat and echoes around me as I snap awake from my terrible nightmare. My body tips forward from its standing position, threatening to send me crashing to the ground. A noise that sounds like rattling chains fills the air.

Right before I expect to feel my body hit the ground, I feel a tight pressure on my ankles and wrists. I come to a painful stop with my arms wrenched behind me. I wince at the sharp pain that shoots up both arms.

Breathing heavily, it's now that I realize the darkness still hasn't left my vision. Everything is still painted black. I can see nothing but hollow, empty, blackness all around me.

I begin to panic. I shift back up to a standing position, the sound of rattling chains once more filling the room. I glance around, still finding nothing but darkness. Just barely recalling the events from earlier at the castle, I start to call for my friends.

"Death?" I cry. "Dain? Dante?" My voice seems to echo around my head, as if I were trapped in a small cave with no way out.

My cries receive no answer. I'm starting to grow terrified. Have I already been dragged back to the Underworld?

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