The catacombs winded down and around, the endless tunnels tripling as a mass tomb (or underground graveyard), sewers, and the path that lead to the fountain that lead to fresh spring water. Fanic splashed through the narrow passageways, looking back every few seconds wondering if Death's lackey - Thanatos - followed him. It didn't help that the lantern light spilled out into the depths. He could only imagine Thanatos seeing the light from a distance and around corners because light never kept to itself.
Pausing, Fanic stopped, the muddy waters stilling around his knees. No sound, no voice calling out in anger. That had to count for something, but unease stirred in Fanic's stomach. Thanatos was Death's lackey and if Fanic knew anything about Death, it was that he had a tendency to sneak up on people without knowing it.
He raised the lantern higher, gazing at the long dark passageway. He moved forward slowly, hoping not to pass any random tunnels or the mysterious image of the weeping angel to guide his way. Half an hour later and the water began to flow against him.
"It's going upward," Fanic whispered to himself, his voice eerie in the stillness. "I hope that's a good thing."
He turned down several winding passageways, up and back down and up once more, and then up through a spiral so small, Fanic wondered if he was going the right way. But the signs were there, the weeping angel there at the bottom and engraved all along the walls, every few inches. Or at least, he thought it was the top. Mud slicked the sides of spiral and Fanic found it hard to get a foothold anywhere until he scrambled his way to the top where soppy wet earth blocked the way.
Fanic lay his head down, pounding it against the stones every few seconds.
"He lied. He lied. Dammit, he lied." Fanic cursed. "Never trust one who practices dark magics."
He sighed. Wait...what was this new smell? Where was this trickle of water coming from? Fanic glanced up at the wet dirt and poked it. Mounds of earth came down in clumps and the tiniest streams of life filtered through. Glad he stuck the lantern in the bag before his climb, Fanic grappled with the wet earth, inching his body upward more until he stood in a whole, a tiny hole, finding that other, tinier holes poured down the smallest trickles of water. Using these as foot and hand holds, Fanic pushed past the dirt and grim and stuck his head out into the cool morning air of a swamp,, in all it's putrid earthy scents.
The swamp was dotted with trees lopsided and spilling down into what Fanic assumed to be more tunnels to catacombs. The cold was overcast and grey and the soft touches of snow littered the treetops. He gulped, thinking of Thanatos. He might not have needed to follow him. Fanic wouldn't be suprised if Thanatos knew the entire layout of the catacombs by memory.
He stretched an arm out to tree root an began pulling himself out. He was halfway out the hole when a crunching sound echoed just to the left of him. He looked and there Thanatos stood, munching on a green apple. Fanic dared no move. He could always go back down (but the thought was quite unappealing seeing as he'd have to go find another way to escape the death-trap of the maze.)
"By all mean," Thanatos said. He took another bite. "Keep climbing out. I won't hurt you. You only knocked me on the head and ran away with my vial."
"Sorry about that. Was an accident, I swear," Fanic stammered. The words were out of his mouth before knew it.
Thanatos didn't respond. A look of indignation and evident with the statement: Really? You're serious, aren't you? Well, that's a crappy lie, and we all know it. Come now, impress me. Thanatos shook his head, a smirk playing at the corners of his lips. "I didn't take you for the foolish sort, but since you did happen to steal my vial from the constables and kill your own father, knock me out, and run away, well. I might just be speaking to the King of Fools."
"What are you going to do with me?" Fanic re-gripped the branch. His muddy hands were slipping, his toes down below too, and the awkward angle of his ankles did not help.
Thanatos smiled. Fanic eyed him as Thanatos took a seat on a fallen log, anotherr resounding crunch of the apple following. The look on his face, was...Thanatos laughing at him?
"You think I'm going to kill you?"
"If I was going to kill you, I would've done it back in the catacombs," Thanatos said. "I may work for death, but we don't decide who lives or dies. Otherwise, the world would be one bleak-looking place with very few people in it."
"No honor among devil's advocates, I see."
Thanatos shrugged. He leaned back on one hand, munching away at that apple. Fanic still dare not move. A long silence passed before Thanatos spoke. "Are you going to get out of that hole or do I have to pull you out?"
"Not going to kill me? Promise?"
Thanatos sighed. "I might if you don't move it."
Fanic nodded and soon enough, he'd pulled himself free of the hole. He was covered head to toe in mud, but that was all right. He shivered in the cold air. Sometime during the night, or early morning as it were, snow covered the ground and the lake behind them froze over, but there was no telling how thick the ice was.
Thanatos stood and threw the apple behind him. Wiping gloves hands together, he sauntered over to Fanic. "I'll be having my vial back."
Fanic stepped back, narrowly missing placing his foot in the hole. He clutched his bag. "I...I know it's yours, but here me out, please? I -"
"You have someone to kill, like dear ole daddy-kins?" Thanatos interrupted, the mocking tone lacing his lips.
"Not as simple as that," Fanic said. He stepped past a bush but Thanatos still purssued him at his slow haunting gate until Fanic stood at the edge of the lake.
"Oh please, do tell." Thanatos smirked.
Fanic didn't respond, his eyes shifting to the ground.
"Silent as the grave, I see." Thanatos circled him, venturing out on the ice and back around and around and around. Fanic closed his eyes. He could not let Thanatos win over him.
"Who is it then? Can't be the mother since she died a few years ago. I remember taking her. Not the little sister. You care for her too much and she's off at boarding school. Sweet innocent thing doesn't know anything. Not your buddies at school either. You're really just...aquaintances. Not really friends, so they don't know anything either. Who could it be? Who could it be...? Ah!" Thanatos stopped and faced Fanic directly. "It couldn't be dear stuttering Tol, could it?"
Fanic looked away and towards the ground. Damn.
Thanato's smile grew wider, his face hovering a mere inch from Fanic's own. "Oh, so it is. You're only friend, an apprentice cook in the royal household. He knows quite a lot of things, doesn't he? About the royal family and your family's connection to them. What is it, Tol got more information on how much money your daddy bribed a member of the royal family? Afraid the Congress of Justice would find out?"
"How...did you know that?" Fanic's voice was low and harsh, soft and it surprised him how the anger did not come rushing out, but elements of sadness.
Thanatos did not move back. "It's my business to know many things."
Fanic made to step backward onto the ice bu Thanatos caught his arm and a pain like ice stole the breath from his lungs, searing his side. He stumbled backwards, silver streaked with red gleaming against the snow. He looked up at Thanatos. "You...promised..."
The smile never receded from Thanatos's face as he bent, wiping the blood from the blade. His grey eyes met Fanics. "Oh, I never promised."