A fizzle catches his attention, and he slowly stops his actions to look at his hands, which are fizzling in and out of existence.
“AgAiN?” The monster mutters under his breath, setting his projects to the side and studying his hand.
It’s happening more often now.
Are you sick?
“I dOn’T gEt SiCk.” He curtly responds, getting to his feet. Error doesn’t understand why but as of late things haven’t gone well for him. Of course he knows the rules of the Game, but he’s a Glitch . He shouldn’t be bound by those rules. Not unless…but that’s not possible. After all, if such a thing were, he’d have found it a long time ago, back when he was someone else.
Opening a portal results in a crack up his ulna. Error merely shrugs it off, stepping through, even as a wave of weakness seizes his body for a moment. His strings extend into the AU, instantly killing all it meets with, grabbing either the flower or the kid, or both depending on whatever AU he landed in. The reason he seems to not recognize which one he’s in is mostly because it’s everything he can do to not fall to his knees.
At the sound of another portal opening, Error stumbles through his, sending the code crashing as he flees. There’s not a moment between his portal closing and his body meeting the ‘floor’ of the Anti-Void. That hurt, he blearily thinks, noting the voices are quite thankfully silent.
Ink rolls his eyelights, playing the part of a concerned friend as Dream collapses into a crumpled heap on the floor. Phantom pains echo in his chest, but he waves them off, turning to the council again.
“For whatever reason, Error is refusing to engage in any combat, so getting him to the point of death might be hard.” Ink’s mutter even sounds soulless, but he really doesn’t care much. Dream’s out of commission, and no one else in here is worth Ink faking emotions for.
“Hm.” Classic’s eyelights flicker, a thought clearly crossing his mind, but the others all start arguing about the different spells Ink could cast to ensure the Destroyer wouldn’t leave.
Classic’s gaze moved to Blue and Dream, the two seeming to share a thought that nobody else is privy to. “Hmmm.”
Error steps into the AU, wincing as a crack on his femur extends further, cracking the hip joint slightly.
“WhAt ThE hElL?” Error mutters as he looks at the small group. To be fair to them, Error doesn’t know if he could even take a fly right now with the state of his powers. He turns to reopen the portal When did he close it? and winces as his body glitches as the rebound hits his soul.
Well that’s not good. He winces as more cracks extend. Has he already-? He barely dodges the attack, lifting his gaze to meet the angered gaze of one Swap Papyrus.
The day continues to go from bad to worse, Error muses, as he tries to tune out the constant physical assault. It’s harder than normal to pretend he isn’t hurting constantly.
“STOP!” The shout echoes through the world, Error assuming it came from Blue, everything pointing to it. However when Error opens his sockets to look at the one between him and the Swap Paps, he finds Classic is standing with a Blaster hovering right above Error. It would be terrifying, if Error could bring himself to care. But he can’t, so it’s not.
“Are you okay?” Classic questions softly, Error wincing as he shrugs.
“WaNnA…cHeCk My SoUl?” Error lets out in a faint whisper.
Classic’s eye sockets narrow, “Do you trust me?”, especially when Error’s response to the question is a pained shake of his head.
“NoT rEaLlY, bUt, YoU nEeD tO tRuSt Me, Or SoMeThIn?” Without much more prompting, Error’s already weak hold on his soul wavers, said organ floating out into the open.
According to the sickened gazes and gasps from everyone aside from Ink, Error blankly thinks that a soul shouldn’t look like his.
His oh so mangled conglomeration of several colors (which mix into a sickening color Error can only describe as “disgusting”) also features a lot of big and small cracks.
Classic frowns as Sci’s frown deepens even further. The young scientist gets to his feet, turning to Classic, Blue, and Dream, the three who brought Error, and his soul, into the laboratory.
“Can we speak outside?” Sci quietly mutters, leading the three out of the room. “Don’t worry, my guards will keep the others out, and this room has dozens of cameras.” Sci looks at Blue. “Is there anyone else who should be here?”
“Yes, He Should Be Com!ng Soon.” Right on cue, a frazzled and clearly very ill Nightmare runs in with Killer and Cross right on his heels.
“Where is Error?!” Nightmare’s pleas ends in a massive coughing fit, Killer sitting the guardian on a nearby bench while Cross steps to the group.
“I can handle things, Boss, you stay here with Killer.” Nightmare, in no position to argue with Cross, just tiredly nods, closing his eye socket.
Sci sighs softly, flipping the blank page up. “I figured you three, plus Nightmare, should know, but…”
“What?” He never thought it could happen. Error is indomitable. There’s nothing that should be able to injure or maim him aside from Ink.
Cross flits his gaze to Nightmare, knowing that Nightmare’s soul can’t take the stress of this information.
“What’s wrong with him, Cross? How much will it cost? Can we help?” Killer asks all the questions Nightmare obviously wants answered.
Cross knows Nightmare’s soul can’t take the stress. But Nightmare doesn’t like lying.
Dream was never close to Error, but he never wished harm to any of his enemies, including Error.
How had he not noticed…?
Killer’s eye sockets widened as Cross delivered what Sci said. There was no way. It…If it could come for Error then what about…? Killer’s eyelights flicker into existence, focusing on his Boss. No…
“Sci must have gotten it wrong.” Killer’s voice is numb. He’s not paying attention to what Nightmare wants to say or ask. “He can’t be right!”
Cyan tears spilled over his eye socket for the first time in millenniums. He never thought. Error was a fixture of the Multiverse, one of the only constants Nightmare could rely on.
He knew the Destroyer probably better than even that grotesque Anti-Void did. He and his boys had probably seen everything…why not this?
His eyelight widened as he realized. Error had been staying away, probably due to this.
No. He was too late. His theory was right on the money, but he was too late.
Ink’s emotionlessness, Dream’s constant collapses, the fact Nightmare was always protected in any fights by his “gang”.
And now this. His theory is correct, and he wishes it wasn’t. Especially since he sees that Nightmare is indeed sick right now even.
Sci watches sadly as all of the listeners break down, looking over the page again. Nearly every bone is cracked too deeply to repair, as Error never took time to heal or recover, hence his stamina plummeting. But the biggest issue with Error was his soul. The mixing trait was actually quite beautiful, a black-brown soul with a rainbow sheen. The problem was all the cracks. A cracked or fractured soul has a window of healing. The less fractured a soul is, the more easily it is to heal. But when you get to a certain point, not even a Life God or Goddess could save the soul.
Error’s got to that point and blew right past it like it was a red light and he was doing 70.
Sci’s only theory for how Error lasted so long is due to the very glitches which are now turning against him.
“My theory was right.” Classic mumbles, Sci turning to his older counterpart.
“Hm?” Sci hums, catching Classic’s attention.
“Sci…you know how most monsters are tied to an AU, and how their souls won’t manifest attacks if it’s pushed too far.”
“Mhm” Sci quietly responds, giving Classic his full attention.
“What if your life is filled with constant fights, and you don’t have an AU to be tethered to?” Sci mulls over Classic’s question, realizing the same thing Classic had.
Nightmare, who is clearly constantly sick by the fact both Cross and Killer know how to handle him and seem to understand everything their Boss indicates without words.
Dream, who’s collapses are very well known, hence why Blue is a near constant escort for the Guardian.
Ink, who adamantly refuses to have his soul checked
Which would be fine if not for the fact that Dream has confessed something feels wrong about Ink’s soul
, and has actually attacked someone for trying.
And Error, who is now laying on his deathbed as his magic consumes him at speeds that are terrifying given the condition of his body.
“Outcodes physically can’t survive.” Sci whispers, Classic nodding.
“The gods and guardians we’ve come to accept as normal physically can’t continue to exist as they are.”
Classic turns to Sci, a cold glint to his eye lights. “We can’t put our faith in the “gods”, not anymore.”
Sci slowly nods, sighing. “What can we do about Error?”
“Put him out of his misery.” That comes from the weakened form of Nightmare, half goopy and half not. “I won’t see my best friend suffer like this. Put him out of his misery, as painlessly as you can, please.”
“Brother! The balance!” Dream cries out, earning a cold glare from Nightmare.
"SCREW THE BALANCE! MY BEST FRIEND IS DYING BECAUSE HE PLACED THE BALANCE ABOVE HIS LIFE! I’M DONE BEING MOM’S PAWN, DONE KILLING MYSELF OVER THE BALANCE!” Nightmare furiously wipes away cyan and purple tears. “I will stay in my castle, if you decide to destroy all negativity, then you’ll do it knowing I won’t do anything to stop you. I give up. Ink didn’t want the balance, you didn’t either. You just wanted everyone to play their parts so you and Ink could!” Nightmare releases a sob, fury clear in every pore of his being. “ You hate me so much, for ‘killing’ your brother. ” Nightmare stumbles back into Cross’ hold, Killer summoning a knife.
“We’ll be cutting the castle off from the multiverse, so don’t bother trying to find us.” Killer turns to Sci. “Hurry up so we can take his dust with us. He doesn’t deserve to be buried near or by his killers.” Sci nods, leading Killer into the other room, most likely to talk to Error (if he’s awake). Nightmare, meanwhile, sobs into Cross’ jacket, Dream remaining on the floor with a look between agony and guilt.
The Deities watch as Error dusts, Killer gathering that dust into a container. They watch as the Bad Sanses close off the AU, Blue, Dream, and Classic joining them in that lovely world. They watch as Ink destroys everything outside of the AU.
They watch as the Multiverse shrinks to only be this AU, which has tethered all the inhabitants inside as soon as their AUs collapsed.
They turn to the one at the head of the table, waiting for the next story, the next order, the next game.
After all, no Deity is above the control of the Author. No Deity can do anything the Author hasn’t already planned them to do. There are no such things as one choosing their own fates.
And that is the true power of the pen. The sword can change as many fates as the people wielding the sword chooses to change. The pen does not change the fates of any in the written story. Things written down are set in stone, so to speak.
And that, the Author muses, is why the pen is mightier than the sword.