Cylus 20 720
Everything about his face still seemed to sting bitterly as he remained chained down in his chair, the room filled with almost total and absolute and total darkness now. Patrick found breathing through his nose difficult now and his right eye had swollen shut, and while thankfully the bleeding stopped a couple hours ago; the lingering pain did a lot more than remind him of past sins. It hurt. It all hurt just as much as he hurt deep within, it hurt to do anything regular such as swallow or breath; it hurt to just exist even in this empty and lonely cell. Yet he didn't fight, just imagined how the end would come. His end... He'd rot in this prison and let his life whittle away, while everyone he knew would carry on and forget he ever existed.
He'd fade from their lives in time, and eventually just fade altogether; and it was how he wanted things to be. How they should be, now that he was where he belonged. Exhaustion had settled in and finally he felt himself slip away, not in the fashion he'd hoped but welcome in comparison. For in that moment the chair didn't exist anymore, nothing confined him in that lonely cell except himself; and Patrick allowed himself to drift deep within the black abyss he wanted to slip within. He'd never forgotten it, the moment he'd laid eyes upon it. Somehow it still called out to him even now, enough to drive him to insanity as he sought to descend deeper within. Yet...
It was unusually bright and warm now, with Lake Lovalus stretched far before him. Patrick stirred as he realized he'd fallen asleep against the base of a tree, it's gnarly trunk almost buried into his lower back due to the angle he'd sat against it. As uncomfortable as that was the more painfully aggravating issue was the brightness of the area, as the sun shone high within the sky with it's reflection centered out on the lake. It was Cylus though not summer... last he recalled he shouldn't be out. That could only mean one thing. "This is a dream."
"A good one I hope."
A familiar voice resonated through him now, as the presence of another manifested within the space near him. A glittering ball of soft blue light fluttered towards him, her appearance all the more confirmation to the observation he made just now. "Because you sure aren't easy to find lately."
"Thought it would be obvious that I didn't want to be found."
He remarked with an innate rub over his right eye, surprised to find that it acted normal here in the dream world. Well... act was about the only way to put it, while he could see with it well enough; the entire damn socket felt packed with pressure. Which was another indication that he'd fallen into the dream realm... "Why'd you come here?"
He inquired as he subconsciously noted the environment itself, aware that even when while it was a dream it somehow resembled reality. The way the breeze felt on his face... how the sun warmed his skin... even how the grass felt underneath his palms.
"Because you need me, and because I can't watch you continue down this path you're on."
"Probably should've thought of that when the Knights came for me... could've used your expertise on getting away."
"Still upset about that then? That's good, anger means you're holding on."
he corrected bluntly, "there's nothing to hold onto now Ri. I'm where I belong and it'll stay that way, no matter what you say or want."
It had been a while since they'd talked last, but what Patrick said felt very much like the truth. He'd let go of the fact Ri was with his ex and son that night, that she'd taken it upon herself to abandon him like the lost cause he was.
"You say that every time, but you know you're wrong right?"
Patrick's eyes never moved from the sight of the lake, the root of something deep now active within his very being. It was a feeling... one he needed to keep buried away, one that he wanted to stay hidden above all else. "I know you Patrick, you can't really believe it's all over now can you?"
"You should leave."
He rebuked disdainfully as he immediately put all effort into quelling that lingering feeling.
"We haven't given up on you yet Patrick! So why have you?!"
She pleaded bitterly as she fluttered between him and the lake, Patrick immediately averted his gaze with a somber expression.
"I thought that was obvious already..."
He muttered lowly between himself and the fairy. "I gave up a long time ago."
The fairy's wings lessened their frantic beats as she hovered in front of him, and even though it was hard to tell she was doubtless upset with him. "Just leave. That's all I want now, is to be left alone."
She didn't dare fly an inch from her place for a moment, but the lingering silence aided in his means of persuasion. Finally after what felt like an eternity trapped by her presence, Ri'ku gave in with a sigh before fluttering up into the open air above. Moments later she was gone in the blink of an eye, but for whatever reason the dream lingered on for him.
He didn't want this... he wanted isolation. He wanted his cell once more. How many times would he fall asleep and see just this, whatever the fuck this dreamscape meant to him. Though he wasn't trapped here like was in prison, this place felt worse than that regardless. Probably because it reminded him of it all, of everything he chose to gave up when he'd went to prison. The wind picked in short and meager gusts, their dying breezes enough to carry leaves off the tree he sat against. Like petals in the wind they scattered all the way out across the lake, reminding him of life outside the red walls which kept him contained. He didn't deserve any of this... He...
Pain and pressure filled his face once again as he stirred, the darkness he'd fallen asleep within still present all around. He thanked Immortals that the dream had passed, aware of the fact his Celarion mark glowered just a little more before coming to. Even now... After all this time She still sought to save him too... He didn't want to be saved, why couldn't everyone who held on see that now? It didn't matter anymore, and nor did he to say the least. The glimmer dulled to a faint glow once more, the halo around his left wrist still lingering to remind him of his connections to the outside. He couldn't help but groan with annoyance now, that residual feeling deep within once again buried deeper into his spirit.
The very air swirled with particles of black as his pads under his paws pressed firmly into the tainted soil, and with his only remaining eye the lion's gaze traversed space no longer recognizable. Darkness had rooted itself deep within now and only continued it's endless consumption, which marked the closing window of time that remained for him and another. What once was the dwelling of this great beasts home now seemed completely gone, left with nothing but an endless abyss lurking all around. Yet even in the grim face of reality, the presence of hope arrived not a moment too soon. "You're late."
Lush muttered aloud for her to hear, although he did in a fashion that much resembled talking to himself.
"Sorry, circumstances kept me from getting here sooner."
The voice of a vividly soft light earnestly answered in turn, as the creature flew closer towards the lion's presence. "It's worse than we both thought."
Her tone quaked into a fade at the confirmation, signifying that underlying fear and suspicion were truly realized.
"So then I take it he refused..."
If lions exhaled much like humans did, then Lush certainly portrayed the act with utter dismay. "For what reason might I ask?"
"Patrick doesn't want to leave the prison, he seems pretty sure that's where he belongs now."
After hearing Ri'ku relay such words Lush could only scoff, albeit it was done with a faint sense of amusement on his breath. "His family's safe in Rharne now, and the Shadow Network can't reach him in prison. Which is probably why he feels that way to begin with."
"He's not entirely wrong... no doubt he's convinced that they're better of without him."
"Which means we have to change his mind... somehow."
"Which means we have to give him a reason to change it."
Lush quickly corrected as the center of his focus remained on the fairy before him.
Before his elaboration on the statement came, Lush rewarded the inquiry with a slow and firm nod.
"Without something to steer him onto the path, Patrick isn't going to seek out the means of fixing this. Shadow will only continue to swallow all that there is, until he's completely consumed and left with nothing but miserable loneliness. To keep from doing that he needs motivation, a reason to face it all and mend every wrong he's ever done."
The lines above Lush's eyes creased into a furrow as he contemplated this, since the only question that remained was the very thing which could instill such a response. A momentary pause lingered between them, until the fluttering ball of light drew in closer to the lion's face.
"Or some one."
The Lion's gaze narrowed just a bit more as her choice in words posed a curious suggestion. "Think about it, we know deep down there is still something left in Patrick. We even saw what that something was briefly, before he was arrested last Arc."
"His child... Daxter!"
Ri'ku nearly bounced in the air with enthusiasm. "I think Dax is the key to getting through to him, but how we do that is the tricky part."
"They're both in two separate places at once, so unless we..."
Finally the puzzled fixation within Lush's eyes suddenly eased, a questionable solution to the problem found in thought. "We require a means of bringing Dax in with us when we visit Patrick, but I'm not sure neither you nor me can bring him into Emea. Unless Dax is turned into a Dreamwalker as well, his father certainly won't connect with him."
"It's not something I've ever tried before... but it's worth a shot to say the least."
Ri'ku did her best to try and sound optimistic. "How is he by the way?"
"He struggles with understanding things, as would any child faced with his circumstance."
A soft sense of regret loomed within his tone, as his lone eye briefly fell to the dirt beneath them. "But he's in good health at least, coping to the best of his ability."
"That's good. Well, good enough anyways."
Certainty wasn't entirely present in her tone either, knowing that the odds were stacked against them both. "Crowley is doing what he can to help with Storm's Edge, so long as he and I remain there we have a chance to help Patrick once he's out."
"He's sure he can help?"
"He's doing what he can but with everything going on, waiting on Patrick will seem like waiting on an invitation for danger."
"Well he certainly isn't afraid of it."
Finally a faint sense of reassurance, at least in the fact one silver lining remained in all of this. "That man will do everything he needs to help, both Patrick and those who are out at the fortress."
"Which means it's up to us."
Ri'ku pointed out in turn. "I'll see inform Crowley on the situation, and together we can both figure something out for Daxter."
the Lion uttered softly with a faint smile traced on his maw, "and Ri'ku... This will work..."
Fear and hope seemed convoluted within his tone now. "It has to, or else it's over for Patrick."
They both knew what they had to do, and come the early hours of what passed as a morning; they'd begin to work on just that. Hope still lived for them but it proved fleeting, because now time became something far too precious for either to waste.