• Published 25th Mar 2015
  • 5,087 Views, 451 Comments

We Are What We Are - Theigi


What does it take to transform three innocent youths into the most fearsome enchantresses two worlds would ever know? Redemption be damned. Sometimes one's past is too painful to leave behind. A dark, novelesque & musical Sirens origin story

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To Play the Card

She felt the room begin to spin before her legs took off into a full sprint.

"Aria!" she managed to scream this time, tripping over her feet to scramble up the stairs. Pulling herself up by the banister, the eldest Siren raced toward the bathroom door, and twisted the knob—Locked. If she had had any time for hindsight, this would probably have been expected.

Beyond the door, she could still hear the tap running, and the blaring of a low, droning radio. The smell of cigarette smoke seeped out from behind the threshold.

"No no no no. Aria, open this door!" she shrieked, banging upon the thing. The length of her arms between her wrist and elbow now felt on fire, and in spite of the apparent fury in her voice, she couldn't help but be filled completely with panic and terror.

Thinking quickly, she backed up toward the opposite wall and ran forward, throwing herself against the wood. The door held fast as she sank down to the floor, gritting her teeth, and clutching her arm in pain. Surely, a woman such as herself was not cut out for this type of thing.

"Please!" she begged, her nails digging into the wood before she realized that simply attempting to annoy Aria into a response would probably not work in her favor. Beating her fists against the door, she huddled into a frantic heap when she received no reply. Shooting up to her knees, she slapped her aching palms against her cheeks in a desperate attempt to calm herself down.

"Alright. Alright," she chanted, pretending to regain some dregs of composure. "Hairpin."

Racing off quickly toward her room, she entered, and threw her dresser apart, digging about in her jewelry boxes and drawers for the small, metal clips she sought after. Dropping half of them as she made her way back to the bathroom door, she then knelt down, bent one of the pins into shape with her teeth, and hovered it before the knob, only to discover, to her utmost dismay, that the keyhole had been jammed. Somehow, Aria had managed to fill the thing with super glue, probably in anticipation of this exact circumstance.

"Dammit, Aria!" Adagio shrilled, a distinctly Sirenesque growl of frustration escaping from the pit of her gut—an occurrence quite rare for her in her human form.

Breaking about three more pins against the mound of dried, compacted goop before giving up, she again rose to her feet, and this time, moved to the rear of the door to check the screws upon its hinges. Expectedly, they had also all been jammed up with glue so that one could not unscrew them from the back. She threw herself against the door once more, not knowing what else to try. It didn't take long for her to become dizzy, little headway having been made through the sturdy, well-built frame. Damn this house's dependable, old school craftsmanship.

Sweat dripped down her forehead. Her sweater had ripped on the arm, and her hair was now a disheveled mess. The pain coursing through her became too much to bear, and this in turn made her heart ache for her sister. The only thing more tragic than being able to share in the experience of what the younger girl was feeling was knowing how accustomed she had become to such things, how nonchalant she had reacted about her entire plan, even mere moments before...

How stupid could she have possibly been? How could she have allowed Aria to run circles around her so efficiently, and in what was quite possibly the absolute simplest of ways?

'Why can't I be happy sometimes too?' she had told her. What a crock. If there was anything at all to be learned from Aria's mannerisms, it was that whatever visibly filled the girl with mirth was usually something worth one’s very, very close attention. For Adagio to say she had screwed up was an understatement. Even still, she had to acknowledge that she had been granted a chance for redemption; for it was a fact that Aria was still alive. Her energy had dipped tremendously but had yet to dissipate. Her sister's essence still coursed through her own veins, weak, fading, but still present. There was still time.

Stumbling backward, and nearly falling over onto her rear, Adagio raised her hands, and slapped her palms against her cheeks once again. If there was ever a moment that required her particular brand of cunning, this was most certainly it.

“I'm not... I'm not working efficiently here,” she panted to herself, bending over to brace upon her knees. Wiping the sweat from her brow, she allowed her eyes to scan the length of the door, trying her best to spot a solution to her dire problem. “What am I missing?”

Her eyes fell upon the doorlock, specifically the scuffed wood of the threshold that surrounded it. Brow furrowing, head nodding with increasing interest, she turned to race downstairs to fetch the biggest, strongest, and sharpest thing they had on hand. She returned with the meat cleaver.

Eyeing the scuffed part of the threshold, Adagio aimed, lifted the blade above her head, and brought it down hard. It stuck fast within the wood, and when she rocked it back and forth, a few large splinters broke loose. The metal of the lock now came into view from the side of the scuff.

“Yes!” she exclaimed, raising the knife again. At this rate, the task would take a long time, probably too long, but that was something she couldn't allow herself to consider at the moment. Aria’s heart was still beating. She could still feel her, and so, she must continue to try.

Then, a blessing was bestowed upon her: At that very moment, Adagio heard the front door unlock and open. A pair of clumsy feet could be heard shuffling in through the door.

"Adagio?" Sonata's wavering, high-pitched voice called from downstairs. "Adagio, is someone hurt? My arms are—"

"Sonata, you bring those legs up here right now! Move it!" the elder girl crowed, continuing to chop at the wood around the lock. She could hear the younger girl's footsteps racing up the stairs without hesitation, and when Sonata had finally arrived, watched as she froze with fright taking in the sight that lay before her.

"Adagio?" the other girl stammered, fear slowly consuming her. "What are you—"

"Aria's in there! Get this damn door down!" The elder girl screamed, giving the door another blow with the cleaver. She watched as Sonata's expression fell into one of despair as complete understanding descended upon her. For a moment, she remained frozen to her spot.

"Sonata, we don't have time for this!" Adagio exclaimed, finally pulling her toward the door.

Half dazed and on the brink of tears, the younger girl stumbled forward, lifted her leg, and kicked it straight, striking the door with such a force that the wall itself shook. A few more splinters tumbled loose around the lock.

That was when the scent hit them, a sting to the senses so striking that it pinched the youngest Siren right in the sinuses, setting her to sneezing. Turning toward Adagio, Sonata watched as the older girl fanned a hand in front of her flared nostrils, a look of utter confusion upon her face. When she witnessed a thick wave of pungent green begin to seep out from beneath the doorway, her brow creased.

"What the hell is that?" Adagio murmured, trying to shake the smell out of her nose. Her ruby eyes went wide with realization just in time to feel her entire body go weak. Turning to meet Sonata’s gaze, she watched as the younger girl’s knock-knees buckled whilst she reached up to clutch at her own chest in agony.

Get the door open," Adagio gasped. "Do it now, before—"

There was a deafening crash from within, and the sound of sloshing water spilling out onto the floor. The radio was suddenly silenced as slick skin and solid bone could be heard slipping and knocking against the sides of the tub, the walls. Two deafening crashes, and the sound of falling glass stunned Sonata and Adagio into silence.

"A-Aria?" Sonata stammered from behind her shaking hands, tears rolling down her cheeks.

Trying to ignore the horrific din coming from within and the dizzying pain exploding in the core of her chest, Sonata pinched her nose, lifted her leg again, and kicked. This time most of the lock came loose save for its very edge.

"Yes!" Adagio yelped, a tinge of hope entering her tone. "One more ti—"

Aria's weakened, wavering voice echoed from within the bathroom for only a moment before it ceased abruptly. That ripping pain struck both Adagio and Sonata in the chest once more as weakness overtook them, sending them both crashing down to the floor. Sprawled out upon the carpet, the eldest girl shook the daze out of her head, and gazed toward her arms and legs now strewn about like a ragdoll's. She recalled these sensations.

"She's trying to wield her magic," Adagio rasped, forcing herself onto her hands and knees as Sonata writhed about on the floor beside her. Every horrid implication of this revelation was now made clear to them both.

Crawling back over toward the door upon her hands and knees, Adagio gripped the handle, and with as much might as she could muster, began to shake the thing back and forth, hoping it would soon separate the last flecks of splintered wood from around the lock. A sound, low and muffled, could barely be heard seeping out through the cracks, a raspy laugh, the faint glimmer of gold.

"Get away! Don't you...dare...touch her!" she called, wheezing every last syllable as, slowly, the remaining wood finally began to pull apart. It would seem that nothing could deter her from her struggle, not even Sonata crawling to her side in order to hold her back with what little strength she had left.

"Adagio, we can't," the youngest girl cried in exhaustion. "There's nothing in us to... to sing with!"

Shoving her away, the elder girl passed her a defiant glare, and continued her struggle against the door lock.

"We can!" she barked through her agony, sweat dripping from her brow. "Once we get inside, he is as much a threat to us as he is to her. It will work, Sonata. It has to! We just have to get in!"

With this exclamation, the base wood around the lock cracked a little more, and a bigger sliver of light began to peek through. As it did, Adagio felt her strength returning. Not only that, but a feeling, horribly belabored, but still old, delicious, and powerful, began to grow in the depths of her chest. A deeper warmth exploded behind her already burning ribcage, and extended out toward her shaking fingertips. For the first time in months, she saw red, a red that reflected the rage now encapsulating every corner of her mind. A hum was born somewhere in the pit of her abdomen. Wordless and mostly formless, she attempted to wrap her mind and spirit around it, tried to give her anger life. In an instant, Sonata had joined her, heaving and struggling to maintain and control the power that now waxed and waned within her as well. The bolt cracked its pit within the doorframe. A furious growling erupted from out of the eldest Siren's belly.

"I swear by the Seas, Starshot, I'll make you watch yourself carve out your own liver!" she barked as the lock finally broke free.

Even as the door shot open, and the two sisters barged forward, that hypnotizing, harmonizing hum had already begun emanating up from their cores. Their mouths opened as they took deep breaths, prepared to unleash their fury before they had ever even entered the room.

Then came a sudden, golden flash of light.

—-

There was no time for tears or regret. She had a belly full of fire, both literally and figuratively, and now the moment for all this to end had come.

Aria locked the bathroom door behind her, tossed her rolled jacket onto the toilet seat, and plopped her half-finished pack of cigarettes onto the sink next to a small tube of superglue. Reaching over toward the radio that sat next to these items, she switched it on, and promptly turned the volume up. The music that filled the room was low, slow, and rumbling, something to suit the mood.

"Alright, ya sick fuck. I hope you get a kick out of this," she growled, her gaze darting about in the direction of the ceiling.

Without any hesitation, she tore off her clothing down to the underwear, and took a moment to light up a cigarette when she felt her hands beginning to shake just a tad too much. Again, she reminded herself: It was too late for nerves.

Sitting upon the edge of the tub, she reached her fingers into the water, and allowed her hand to trail back and forth within the liquid. It was warm, steaming even. That was good. It would quicken the entire, dreadful process.

Upon realizing that there was nothing else left to prepare, she froze. At last, it was time.

Taking a deep breath, she reached out toward her black jacket, drew it toward her feet, and uncoiled the thing. Her unsteady fingers clinked against its metal buttons and zippers until, finally, something else shiny, metallic, and sharp went clattering onto the tiles.

Aria's eyes glued themselves upon the blade that lay at her feet. Her toes recoiled away from the object, betraying her growing apprehension. Clearly, she had not had enough to drink, but that was something which could no longer be helped.

Gulping nothing but dryness, she reached down, and picked the thing up, clenching it tightly within her fist. Eyes never wavering from its tip, she carefully slid herself backward into the warm tub water. The liquid was welcoming, and surprisingly worked to take the edge off of her unsettled nerves. It wasn’t too much of a reach to suppose that something in her couldn't help but feel lulled by the natural sensation of water surrounding her.

Resting her cigarette upon the edge of the tub, far enough away from her arms so that it mightn't get wet, she leaned herself back into the water until completely submerged from head to toe, and then quickly drew herself out once more. The bit of alcohol coursing through her system worked with the heat to make everything feel soft and tingly. Even her eyes allowed a fuzzy halo around whatever she happened to look upon in the bright, bathroom light. For a moment things actually seemed rather pleasant… but only for a moment. Maybe under drastically differing circumstances she might have been able to enjoy this whole "bath" thing a little bit more.

Once again, she felt the need to remind herself: It was far too late for regrets.

Lazily picking up her cigarette again, she popped it between her lips, and contemplated the blade in her left hand. It was not lost on her that this was roughly the circumstance in which Starshot had probably hoped she eventually found herself over a month ago. She chuckled, finding the notion ironic.

Taking a moment to shut her eyes, she breathed in deeply, and exhaled. With it, her eyes opened with fresh purpose, and she turned about in the tub to sit up straight. Bringing the blade over to rest point down upon her upturned wrist, she inhaled upon her cigarette, and released a thick plume of gray and white into the air about her.

Fighting off the mental images of her sisters that attempted to pierce through her resolve proved futile. Her purple eyes darted about the smoke as she was suddenly drawn into a sequence of visions she would have much rather avoided: Adagio's unruly hair in the mornings, the way she'd always pretend to be annoyed as a way to hide the fact that she was extremely protective and thoughtful, the way Sonata would always find a way to put things in perspective at the most unexpected but necessary of times, and how the girl was always happily obliged to put bacon in her pancakes and syrup on her bacon, even though Aria was usually a complete ass to her.

There went a pang of regret again, but this time, Aria let it fester. Hell, it would be one of the last actual things she would feel. Why not indulge?

How unfortunate to be an immortal about to end it all for good. One always says the life flashes before the eyes when they find themselves upon that dark threshold, but for someone like herself, it was more of a ten minute movie type of ordeal, all of it filled with images most unsuited for the task currently at hand.

Nevertheless, she allowed a smile to curl across her lips as she remembered that first night in the human realm, so long ago, huddled amongst a meager fire in a small, abandoned mud brick hut in the dead of winter. Those first few years were the hardest, lost in a strange, unforgiving land with little magic, and ruled by what, at the time, they had judged to be a plague of terribly ugly creatures. At first Aria thought the fighting and finger pointing would never cease. Come to think of it, it very much reminded her of what they had gone through after losing their powers earlier this very year.

She chuckled to herself again as she bore down upon her wrist with the blade, just enough to feel a familiar sting.

People threw around accusations of witchcraft like moldy bread crumbs for the birds back then. The sisters were forced to learn quickly in that era, moving from town to town, usually because of something silly Sonata would say that would bring them dangerously close to the burning stake or the executioner's axe about once every couple of months or so. They would all get the hang of how things worked, eventually, and how a few gold coins could take one a long way in terms of power and forgiveness, how just as it was in Equestria, feminine charm and wit used properly could work very efficiently to put one on the seat of kings. Sure, there had been times when, in desperation, they might have done things that they weren't necessarily proud of in order to maintain their power and freedom, but time was a funny thing, indeed. It dulled pain, and tended to do it with wisdom. An immortal born a female, like she was, should know how time loved to continuously roll on, and yet, stay the same. A girl child was still a girl child, just as she was in Equestria, and just as she was a thousand years ago in the human world, and results were still results, as Adagio would put it. One sometimes had to use the tools one was given to get by, and that was what they had done. However, the nature of their powers always vindicated them in the end, anyway. Every song was a taste of revenge for the meaningless shackles their worlds placed upon them, and more often than not, the revenge was very, very sweet.

Regardless, thinking upon the entire thing that was her life, as she was prone to do in these situations, Aria continued to struggle over the question of whether she would be the same and do the same if she had been given the choice, if she were able to try it all as exactly what she wanted to be. Failing to find an answer, she allowed the question to fall out of her mind.

Leaving England on a ship bound for Spain five hundred years ago had been an act of acceptance if anything, a show of acknowledgment that they had settled enough into this realm to thoroughly explore it, perhaps attempt to better manipulate it. By then, they had all long since acquired their tastes, and learned their likes and dislikes about this place. But who could have imagined that it would be Sonata who first suggested that Aria should pick up a guitar?

"'It would seem to suit you quite well somehow,’" the younger girl had told her, that typical, dopish expression smeared across her face. "'Wouldn't you agree?'"

Of course Aria had met this suggestion with utmost protestation, as usual, and even then, sweet Sonata had allowed her harsh words to simply roll off her back. The girl could never stay angry with her for long. At least she had felt some form of vindication when Aria finally bought one of the damned instruments for herself, and with increasing enthusiasm, learned to play. The smile she had given her at the time was a memorable one; it was only now that Aria could admit to herself that she would miss it.

A ruby droplet dotted the very edge of the blade.

She remembered the year in Paris when Adagio had sung opera, and was slated to perform as a character with a soprano so clean and concise, it was immediately clear to all three sisters that Aria’s voice would have been a shoe-in for the part. Perhaps it was just Adagio’s luck that her sister with the flawless soprano was also terribly antisocial. Nevertheless, Aria supposed that it had been the eldest Siren's drive for perfectionism that finally allowed her to muster up the humility to come to her for pointers. They had stayed locked away in their chambers practically all week until she had gotten it right. The standing ovation on her opening night was tremendous. The bouquet of red roses Adagio had tossed to her from the stage was notably beautiful, not to mention satisfying.

A hiss escaped through the ruminating Siren's teeth as she dragged the knife downward against her flesh, releasing a stream of crimson. The pain made her cry out, and the cigarette dropped from between her lips, into the water. Its sibilation melded with hers into one long, frightening lament.

Gazing upon the red that freely flowed out of her to taint the clear water, she felt herself beginning to shake. Powerful waves of fear and regret hit her again, and she made sure to quickly shake them off. This wasn't her first time. She knew that these instinctive, last minute desires for self preservation were natural, and that it was best to just ignore them. In a moment, they would begin to fade right along with everything else. She shoved her wounded hand below the water's surface so that she wouldn't have to look at it for the time being.

Their return to London had been rather unceremonious. Huddled together amongst their riches, fineries, and delectable mortal meals seemed a simple thing to do amongst the grimness of Victoria's reign. It was a time that Aria had been particularly fond of in the oddest of ways. Introversion no longer seemed a sin, dullness of character, a rather acceptable trait for the times somehow. She wasn't too ashamed to admit that she had moved through that grim age with relative ease.

The inevitable shift to America at the turn of the century was the renewing breath of fresh air that all three of them seemed to have needed. Things began to move faster then, and no matter how the times changed after that, both Adagio and Sonata met it all with grace and, dare she say, optimism. But her sisters had always moved through the ages in a similar fashion. In a blink, corsets were exchanged for garter belts, cars for carriages, salons for nightclubs and jobs, and lovers equally so, and it went on and on. Yet, Aria had always failed to admit how difficult she had found it to keep up. Everywhere she went, people read her in exactly the same way: old fashioned, old souled, old, old, old, and what's worse, she'd never felt sorry for any of it. She'd never seen reason to change herself, to attempt to fit in with the times until it became unquestionably necessary. Even way back when her sisters had cut and bobbed their hair, as was the style of the day, Aria's locks had remained the way they had always been: long and flowing, ever antiquated and unchanging, just like herself. Looking back now, this particular quality of hers seemed to be her ultimate undoing. She would never miss an opportunity to tease or ridicule her sisters about their eagerness to watch the mortals and to emulate them, to take interest in every, silly, minute thing that they did, but like many of her aggressive reactions, it was easy to see now that it was just a defense technique, probably even jealousy. It became obvious that it was she who had been the weak one all along. It was she who had never learned how to properly and quickly adapt. It was she who, predictably, would grow weary of it all, and her unchanging self amongst it.

Her sisters would definitely be better off without her.

Images of Cirrus flashed across Aria’s mind as she forced herself to raise her blade out of the water. Then Dustin, that scallawag, appeared, and then the few others whom had somehow managed to penetrate that scarred over, beating husk in her chest, and for just a moment, her face showed a more appropriate age. Tired and worn, she remembered those visages through the ages, and how she had lived long enough to watch each and every one of them either drift away from her or grow old and wither to dust. This was yet another thing her sisters somehow seemed able to maneuver through with great dignity. Even goofy Sonata had always met the fickle and finite nature of the mortals with such profundity that it would make Aria wonder where she had learned to adapt to it so well, all the leaving and dying off of their few, sweet, beloved, finite things.

Her mind fell upon Cookie, and a deep, rattling sigh shook her. There was something comforting in the notion that she would never have to watch the woman fade away, or worse yet, the both of them inevitably grow distant. She would never have to end up like all of the others.

Pulling her unwounded wrist out of the ruddied water, Aria took a deep breath, lifted her blade with an increasingly unsteady grip, and again pressed it against her skin.

"Alright, Starshot," she scoffed, an unexpected grin spreading across her lips. "You and me... We're even now."

Looking around the room, she neither sensed nor did she smell anything out of the ordinary. Something in the back of her mind felt disappointed, but in the heat of the moment she dared not dwell on why. Mustering her mettle once more, she muffled the involuntary whimpers and gasps now escaping from her own throat, and quickly bore down upon her right arm.

She shrieked this time when the burning hit her, losing her grip, and accidentally dropping the blade onto the tub rim where it ricochet off, and landed upon the bathroom floor. Red splattered everywhere as the clanging of the metal hitting tile resounded throughout her now reeling head. Scrambling for the knife before she grew too weak to do so, she snatched it up, and immediately dunked both of her arms back into the warm water once again, hoping it would dull the pain, make the blood flow faster.

It took a while, but when she grew dazed enough, she finally admitted to herself that she was shaken, a little afraid. Her entire body trembled. Her chest heaved. Though her vision was dipping in and out, she forced herself to stay conscious. There were still no striking smells of note. Pity. And now she could hear a sound, a strange thumping echoing throughout the air. What was that noise?

"Aria, open this door! Please!"

Another smile broke through her pained, grief-stricken grimace. So, the cheesepuff had finally figured it out. Either that or, at some point downstairs, she had eventually developed the worst wrist cramps she’d probably ever felt in her entire existence.

"Thought I couldn't get one over on you, huh?" the fading Siren slurred to herself in her delirium. "Guess you ain't so smart after all, Dazzle."

She chuckled whilst listening to the distorted sound of her sister attempting to pick the bathroom lock, and subsequently discovering that it was filled up with superglue.

"Dammit, Aria!" the eldest Siren called from the hallway. The younger girl couldn't help but burst out into another weakened snicker at the sound of her sister growling with frustration.

Eyes trailing down toward the water, she saw that it had now gone so red that she could barely see through it. Her body was beginning to go pale. She imagined that perhaps it was sheer determination alone, and perhaps those last, little dregs of her Siren essence that continued to keep her aware. Her brow furrowed as her mostly numbed fingers edged about in the water to find the handle of the blade one last time. When they did, she clutched at it weakly.

"I suppose at this point, I can assume that this is what you wanted," she blubbered into the air to no one in particular. "So, in that case, I'll stop dragging things out..."

She faded off, her voice cracking with emotion at the last second. Forcing herself to sit up one last time, she gazed down at her own nicked and scarred abdomen, and ran a finger across the one notable gash upon her ribs, the one she had shown Cookie. Though the rhythm of her racing heart now echoed like a drum in her ears, beating in her chest so hard it hurt, she still managed to steady her mind and body just enough to line the blade up with that accursed mark upon her upper belly. Taking a deep breath, she gripped the handle with both hands, and braced herself.

The world went still.

It occurred to her in that fleeting moment that this was how she had regained her Sirenhood all those many lifetimes ago. It seemed almost fitting, poetic even, that it should also be the way in which she lost it.

Or maybe I'm gaining something else.

Her forehead creased at the thought, one she didn't quite understand amidst her daze. Without thinking, she closed her eyes. Moving of their own accord, her hands wrenched forward with all of their might, and...

She gasped once as the pain wracked her entire being. The sounds of the world died down, and in its place grew a ringing so loud that she wished she would hurry and let go of life just so that she might escape it. Briefly glancing upon the cracking wood on the edge of the doorframe, her eyes then rolled up into her head. Something hit her in the back, and she flinched before realizing it was her own failing body hitting the rear of the tub.

The world went black before the ringing finally began to fade away. Some semblance of satisfaction washed over her as she imagined that at least the fire of the time mage's rage would no longer be so hot with her gone. His guard would be lowered, even if it was just slightly. Adagio would be able to deal with him herself, then.

Her sisters' voices calling to her from beyond the door, even in their distress, brought her comfort. She had faith in them. Even if they resented her at first, surely they would come to see why she had done what she did. Surely, they would come to forgive her once they sat down to ponder upon it all one day in the future when they were free, perhaps even restored.

She smiled. The searing, crushing pain in her abdomen no longer hurt. Nothing hurt anymore, and as every sensation faded from her body, she couldn't help but know that now everything was going to be alright.

—-

Taking a deep breath, she gripped the handle with both hands, and braced herself.

The world went still.

It occurred to her in that fleeting moment that this was how she had regained her Sirenhood all those many lifetimes ago. It seemed almost fitting, poetic even, that it should also be the way in which she lost it.

Or maybe I'm gaining something else.

Her forehead creased at the thought, one she didn't quite understand amidst her daze. Without thinking, she closed her eyes. Moving of their own accord, her hands wrenched forward with all of their might, and...

Something latched onto her wrist firmly before the blade could do anything worse than graze her. She became aware of a powerful odor beginning to surround her, one extremely rank, but also quite familiar. Her eyes shot open as realization hit her, and when they did, her half-lidded gaze locked with two, burning, golden eyes inset into a gray frame.

"You must think yourself quite clever," Starshot rasped in that grating tone of his, a simpering grin upon his face.

There was no time to think. Even still, in her haze, Aria managed to force in a deep breath, fill herself with as much power as she could manage—as the sound of Adagio and Sonata faltering away from the door came from the hallway—and let forth the beginnings of a melody just before being struck hard across the face by the wizard’s fist. Jarring pain was what silenced her. It would seem that the spirit of irony had a dark sense of humor.

The wood near the lock of the door was splintered and shook forward in a threatening way. She could hear her sisters, feel them calling to her through the source they all shared.

"Get away! Don't you...dare...hurt her!" came Adagio's muffled voice through the barely sealed threshold.

Ignoring this, and grabbing the strap upon her shoulder, the time mage dragged the weakened Siren out of the water. As he did so, his head shook, his hand moved about frantically, one minute gesturing wildly in the air, the next, running anxiously over his head whilst he mumbled to himself. Upon his right wrist was a solid black watch which his eyes would sporadically dart toward every few seconds or so.

"Six seconds until the vapid one bumbles over again,” the mage grumbled.

When Aria breathed deep to force something, anything, out of her throat, he drew her slender frame up into a magic halo of gold, and tossed her like a ragdoll against the wall, while at the same time never ceasing his odd rambling. He nodded in vindication when the sound of cracking wood could be heard coming from the door.

"Right. One minute left now," he mumbled under his breath, wide-eyed, high on adrenaline.

Aria screeched as she hit the towel rack, and sputtered when the force of her flying body shattered the bathroom mirror. Everything clattered and crashed about her. Blood red water splashed onto the white tiled floor. When the time mage was finally convinced that she had been sufficiently knocked senseless, he threw her down onto her back. Strangely, it took him a moment to regain his energy. A flickering spark could be seen coming from somewhere within his jacket lining. Ignoring this, he pulled a rather simple looking roll of gray duct tape from said lining, and tore some loose.

"For those "hard-to-fix" leaks it says," he panted, an almost jovial glint in his eye as his attentions were drawn back onto the suffering Siren now trying her best to inch away from him. "I suppose we'll find out soon enough, won't we?"

When Aria felt the tape plastering up her mouth, she panicked. However, flailing about, much less reaching up to claw and scratch at Starshot's face as he pinned her down, was completely out of the question. She was far too frail from blood loss, and growing weaker by the moment.

Pressing his knees into her thighs and his forearm into her throat, the wizard attempted to hold the delirious girl still. Another bang came from the doorway. The screaming on the other side of the door heightened into panic.

"Right. Twenty seconds," Starshot muttered, checking his watch, and then pulling a thick coil of bandages from his pocket. Leaning forward, it only worked to confuse the terrified Siren more when the mage spoke into her ear in what she could only assume was supposed to be his version of a soothing tone.

"Be still, little creature! Be still, I say, or you'll bleed out right here upon this filthy floor!"

Both exhaustion and confusion hit Aria like a brick, and she wasn't quite sure which one was culpable for finally making her go silent once and for all. The cracking and scratching at the door seemed little more than ambiance now, and even then it was overshadowed by the trembling sound of a fierce harmony beginning to seep through the air.

At the odd noise, Starshot's eyes went wide. His eyes darted toward his watch as he shook his head, and snatched up Aria's wrist into his grasp.

"What's all this, then? Dammit, the tile is amplifying them. Should have accounted for this," he stammered, haphazardly beginning to unravel the bandages. His attention was clearly drawn, and seeing her opening, Aria took the opportunity to muster all of her remaining energy into her legs to give the mage one, good kick to the lower stomach. However, as her leg shot out, he, completely unphased and unsurprised, dodged out of the way, grabbed the appendage, and twisted it at the hip until the Siren again went still.

“Listen, you. I’m on a predetermined schedule. So, if you think that you'll somehow do something to catch me off guard, then allow me to quite literally save you the time and energy by telling you that this would be impossible.”

He tossed Aria’s limp legs to the side carelessly, and busied himself with her arms once more.

Something at the back of the girl’s mind told her that the time mage’s words weren't quite what they seemed to be. However, too weak to process anything but the impending song of her sisters, and the blaring bathroom light hovering somewhere above her, she allowed these thoughts to fade away in lieu of conserving her energy.

Passing the wizard a wicked glare, or at least whatever sort of glare someone in her current predicament could muster, she let loose a sputtering laugh through the tape sealing her lips, mocking the mage when she saw how nervous he became when he touched her. Despite his supposedly precognitive plan, his eyes continued to dart between her, his watch, and the door where could be heard the ever growing sound of her furious sistren preparing to wail for his blood.

"Tricky," he grumbled to himself, more out of anxiousness than anything else. Shaking what he could of the Sirens’ wretched sound out of his ears, it was only by chance that Aria noticed the small, half perforated earplugs lodged inside each of them.

Starshot’s hands shook as he carelessly continued to wrap the bandages around Aria’s wrists, and it was only after a few seconds of this that his brow furrowed. Apparently, there was a problem.

Pausing briefly, he turned to check his watch once more, growled in fury, and without warning, wrenched the bandages from around the Siren’s arms. Aria yelped at the sting of it, and then fell into a weak, ridiculing chuckle as she watched him toss the bundle of wraps to the side. He, again, reached into his pocket, and when his hand reappeared, it was holding what looked to be a few small bits of wire and a tiny, blue gemstone. From his fingers hung a large, mechanical ring made of something resembling bronze. It seemed big enough to collar a large dog.

"Forget it," he hissed to himself, pressing the wire and gem between his lips for safe keeping as he bore down upon Aria again. She flailed, and then finally having lost all the amount of blood she could stand, began to convulse. The wizard’s eyes shot open wide.

"No, no, no!" he protested in vain, tapping her a few times in the face in a foolish attempt to stabilize her. Again, he tried to shake the growing, hissing Siren song out of his head with little success. It would be only a few moments now before the other two found their stride, and when they did, he'd be done for.

"Alright, Starshot. You've missed something obviously, but it's alright," he mumbled, staring Aria over. "You've... you've seen this before. It's the heart."

Taking a deep breath, he arched over Aria's writhing form, placed his hands over her chest, and pushed once, twice, three times. No effect.

The wood around the lock of the door splintered.

"Oh, dammit! That's it!" he hissed.

Having had quite enough of all this noise and confusion, the mage got to his feet, dropped the mechanical bits and bobs he was holding onto the sink side, and turned to face the entryway. Breathing deeply, he mustered up a golden glow around his clenched fists and waited.

"I swear by the Seas, Starshot, I'll make you watch yourself carve out your own liver!" Adagio barked as the doorlock finally broke free.

Everything seemed to move in slow motion, even without the aid of his magic. They were a terrifying sight, their eyes having gone all red, and when the eldest Siren trained hers upon him, they only seemed to glow hotter.

Adagio Dazzle. Somehow the countless images of her through his spell bubbles could not do her justice. The witch was still beautiful. Just as they had forced him to believe those many years ago. Even now she continued to capture his heart, much to his dismay. Those few stray notes of her song prodded about his ears, attempting to find something to latch onto. They were absorbed easily. Those old melodies, the ones he knew some part of him would forever crave, had barely begun to twist and clench onto his brain before he managed to knock himself hard in the side of the head, momentarily freeing his mind from their grasp. He could tell the song that was soon to come would be lovely, one of utmost power, and he detested them all for how much he longed for its beauty.

There was an intake of breath as Adagio's arms reached out toward him. Something rumbled in the Siren's chest, and her lips parted just as the time mage cocked his arm, and threw it forward, half full of rage and the other half all regret. The action surrounded both Adagio and Sonata in a sudden flash of golden light. When the glow had faded an instant later, Starshot stood before what appeared to be two living statues lost silently in their rage, completely frozen mid-stride. The smallest bit of gold still surrounded them as they stood within their temporary time prisons, eyes all aglow.

Collapsing onto the floor, shaking the haze out of his head and the lingering pre-melody out of his ears, Starshot again turned his attentions toward Aria. He sighed and rubbed his temples upon the realization that girl had already expired, her glimmering violet eyes, once sharp and full of life, now gone all dull and dark as they stared listlessly up at nothing.

"By Celestia," he scolded himself, rolling his eyes, and drawing open the side of his jacket. “Let me guess where you ruined the count this time. The acoustics carried the melody earlier than what could be perceived elsewhere, I blubbered about it for a good two seconds, tied the bandages loose, and thus they had to be redone, yes, Starshot? Does that cover it all, you grand fool?”

He sighed as if already knowing the answer to his own question. Again, taking a look at the lining of his jacket, upon closer inspection, the golden glow within was revealed to be coming from a small disc of light contained within the jacket's left breast. The glimmer was fading in and out, an aspect which seemed to put Starshot on edge.

"Oh, well. It isn't as much as I'd like, but it will have to do."

Rounding again upon Aria, he collected the Siren up into gold, extended his hands, took a deep breath, and began to roll his arms backward by the elbows. The glow grew brighter around her body as she moved, twitched, and flailed about in the most unnatural of ways, until finally coming to a rest once more upon the floor, unconscious but alive, her heart still beating.

"Good," the mage nodded in satisfaction, swiping the back of his hand across his brow. "Now, let's see what we can do about these wounds."

Author's Note:

I should've written this damned author's note before I posted. Still kinda loopy. Sorry about the delay, lovelies. I have been very... very sick for the past two weeks, and just got around to... being conscious again just recently. Hope you enjoy the chapter. It's a split into two actually, and the one coming next week is actually ridiculously long. I know how much you all love those. :trollestia:

EDIT: Umm... is this chapter gore? Do I need a gore tag now? I'm so desensitized from being a horror movie fiend, I literally need people to tell me. If I do, I apologize for anyone I made queasy by accident!