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Pneuma Rot

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*****

Frisk sat at the edge of the bathtub, staring down at the numerous veiny cracks that weaved through the tiled floor. Slowly sinking down to the ground, she wrapped her knees into her chest and gently traced her index finger along one of the larger fissures. How many times had she sat in this very bathroom, counting these dang cracks? Too many. She let her chin rest upon her knees, staring blankly at the bathroom wall, taking notice of just how grimy and gross the section was where the wall met the floor. She could hear the other girls just outside the door, talking loudly as they got ready for bed, chatting freely about their day and homework and simple, petty arguments with friends.

“Shut up…” Frisk muttered under her breath followed by a strained sigh as she slowly rose up to her feet once more, trying to block out the voices beyond the bathroom.

She stepped up close to the sink, her hands falling heavy on either side of the yellowing basin. Frisk's eyes met her own reflection in the mirror. She examined her features idly. Those dark eyes, heavy-lidded and sporting dark circles underneath them both. She lifted a hand and brushed back her chestnut hair. It was starting to grow out a bit, now touching the tops of her shoulder blades. Her bangs fell over thick eyebrows. God, she looked miserable. Frisk forced a weak smile at herself in the mirror. It didn’t help. The smile faded and she tried it again, this time flashing a grin. That was a bit better. See, she can be happy too, just like all those girls out there.

Just like everyone else…

Frisk brushed her hair behind one ear, the fluorescent bathroom light flickering once overhead as she gazed at her reflection for what felt like a long while. As she stared, her thoughts turned sour. How pathetic can you get?… She lowered one hand and reached into her pocket, pulling out a dark and worn-out box cutter blade. She placed it onto the edge of the sink.

How many times are you gonna just sit in this bathroom and stare at this knife? Just do it already! Her thoughts started to race along.

She grit her teeth together and quickly snatched up the box cutter in one hand, her fingers pushing the small rigged lever upwards, revealing the segmented blade. The blade slipped out from its metal sleeve. The ceiling light bounced off its side and for a moment. Frisk held the sharp edge to her right wrist. Her pulse was racing now… and she could hear her own heartbeat pounding in her ears. She blinked back at her somber reflection in the mirror. She would have chuckled at the morbidity of the sight had she not been so desperate for the end. Her mind bounced around in different directions. Every time her thoughts would reach a dead-end and a final decision to just disappear and end it all. It won’t be that bad, Heck, anything is better than this. She held on so tightly to the utility knife that her knuckles began to turn white, hand trembling slightly as the blade pressed against her pale wrist, but still not enough to cut flesh. Come on… come on… She inhaled deeply, holding the breath in her lungs as her eyes closed, praying for the courage to do it. Maybe in the next life, if there was such a thing, things will turn out better… just maybe.

Frisk waited for the strength to come, to pull the blade across and put an end to it all… but that strength never came. After some long minutes she opened her eyes, staring back at failure… at herself…

“Dang it…” she ‘cursed’ under her breath and roughly shoved her long sleeves up to her elbows, revealing thin arms decorated in dozens of horizontal cuts. Some were healed and just faint scars, others were red, fresh and still stung to the touch. None were deep enough to do too much damage except leave some shallow marks and bleed a bit. But nevertheless, it was not a pretty sight. Frisk shook her head at herself. I guess tonight is not the night, she thought, and slowly lead the knife up to her inner forearm. She cut into her skin, disappointed and hating everything in that moment, hating it all even more than she had before she stepped into the bathroom… but hating her own weakness most of all.

 

 

 

Frisk winced while she rinsed her bleeding arms underneath the faucet until the water ran clear. She washed off her box cutter as well and retracted the blade back into its sheath before pocketing it. Then haphazardly placed some band-aids on the cuts before tugging her long sleeves back down and stepping out of the bathroom into a large dormitory bedroom. About 20 bunk beds lined the walls. Some of the young girls were already in bed, while some sat clustered around, chatting quietly with friends.

A few of the girls eyed Frisk as she walked down the middle of the room. She stepped over to the back corner, avoiding all eye contact and finally reaching her bed. It was a bottom bunk and it pressed up against the wall where a large window overlooked the forest that surrounded the orphanage. Guarding the outskirts of the forest was a tall iron-bar fence. It surrounded the whole building except for a few entrance ways. Izzy, Frisk's upper bunk-mate, was already fast asleep and buried deep in a pile of blankets.

Frisk sat atop her mattress. She kicked off her sneakers and pulled her shirt up over her head. She shivered in her undershirt and quickly slid down beneath the bed sheets before any one of the girls caught sight of her arms.

I suppose there is always another night, there’s no need to rush it. It doesn't even matter anyways. Frisk thought and rolled over to face the window as she rubbed along one of her arms. She tapped at a band-aid, feeling the damp, small bloodspot at its center while she lazily gazed out into the darkness. There were a few wall lights above the window which illuminated the grass below. The ground sparkled, covered in dew from the night air. It was September and the nights were still as hot as the day. The light that radiated off the crescent moon smoldered gently in the sky. But the moonlight and the wall lights were not strong enough to cut through the heavy darkness just a few feet out past the fence. It was eerie. Frisk could see a thick row of pine trees swaying in the wind. She never liked walking too close to that fence, but despite her unease she felt a strong curiosity about the forest. She had been at this orphanage for 3 years now, and not once had she ever been able to explore beyond the gates.

The voices of the girls around her started to die down as they went to bed one by one. She heard the clicking of light switches and the gentle breathing of her sleeping bunk-mate above her. Soon it was pitch black in the dormitory. Her eyes adjusted to the darkness, allowing her to see outside with ease. It was getting late, but like most nights, sleep did not come easy.

Frisk lazily relaxed and tensed her toes underneath the sheets, trying to not think of anything as she glanced out at the forest with heavy-lidded eyes. She was just starting to grow drowsy when… wait… what... what was that? Something moved out there, and it wasn’t a tree.

Every muscle in her body tensed as she shot up from her pillow suddenly, leaning into the windowpane. There was something large and dark moving behind the front layer of trees in the forest. The fence obstructed the view, but it was there. Frisk pressed her forehead against the window, squinting at the figure. It moved slowly, almost like it was gliding and weaving through the trees. Could it be one of the teachers? No… No way! This figure was much too big. It was hulking! Maybe a bear? It seemed to be standing upright. She had never known creatures to move in such a manner. As Frisk pondered, the figure would disappear into the thick foliage only to return a few minutes later, almost as if it was pacing back and forth just behind the tree line.

The figure continued its constant stride for a good while, the movement hypnotizing. But then, almost as suddenly as it had appeared, the figure stopped dead in its tracks. It made Frisk jump and sent a wave of shivers up her spine. The way it stopped so suddenly… it was almost as if the creature had sensed Frisk's gaze. What the… She pressed hard into the window, her forehead and tip of her nose flush with the glass. What was that… what in the world was that thing?! It now stood right in the center of her view, completely still. If Frisk had not just witnessed it pacing, then she would have thought it was just another dark patch of trees.

The dark figure started to grow larger, and its coloring lighter and more defined. Frisk realized it was moving forward, towards her! Her eyes widened. Whatever it was was moving towards the iron-bar gate, out from behind the trees. A dynamic instinct told Frisk to shut the blinds and dive down underneath her covers, but an even stronger impulse steadied herself. She couldn’t move, paralyzed with fear and curiosity. The hulking creature was coming into view now. It was… It was like nothing Frisk had ever seen or heard of before. It was almost human, but it wasn’t. Off-white patchy fur seemed to cover its whole body from head to toe. A dark and tattered mantel draped from the creatures shoulders down to its legs, revealing huge canine-like paws with sharpened nails for hands and feet.

The creatures face… it was like the face of a goat and a wolf combined. Large white drooping ears framed its features, a long snout, short black horns atop its head and two massive, green, empty saucer-eyes staring back directly. Frisk felt her heart pound faster and faster in her chest as the creature took a few more steps forward. It stepped out from behind the trees fully, now standing behind the fence. It could have been someone in an extremely elaborate costume, but there was no way, it was too real. Its ears and paws twitched all the while staring back, unblinking and terrifying.

Frisk wanted to cry out but no sound came. The aberrations eyes were fixated, gazing directly at her, into her soul, piercing and almost painful. Then the creature grinned revealing rows of sharp dog teeth with two pointed canines at either side, and then… it vanished.

It vanished.

In the blink of an eye, the monstrosity was gone.

W-what?

Frisk scanned the forest foreground frantically, desperate for another sight. She couldn’t believe what she had just seen. She wouldn’t believe it! She must be dreaming, she had to be.

It felt like an hour and Frisk was still glued to the window, but there was no more movement. Only the soft swaying of pine trees. Reluctantly, Frisk propped her pillows up against the headboard of the bed so that she could sit up and lean back at the same time while still watching the window. She could not take her eyes off the forest… she had to know - had to know what the heck was in there, what that creature was. And as she leaned back into her pillow, the vision of those empty saucer eyes lulled her to sleep.

*****

Coming up: Frisk enters the woods and has a bad time.

Chapter Text

*****

Frisk woke the next morning to the sound of her bunk-mates alarm clock blaring in her ear. She felt exhausted. She must have fallen asleep sometime in the middle of the night. She slowly sat up, and a soreness that ran up along her neck quickly followed. Ugh. Frisk groaned and grasped at the side of her neck with one hand, wincing. Sitting up all night long was probably not the best idea. Immediately she remembered the sighting, that strange creature, those huge empty eyes and the terrible dread that had encompassed her. She pealed the covers off to sit up on her knees and peered out the window again. It looked so different in the early morning light. The sun was just starting to rise up from behind the trees. The wind had gone still and the pine trees had ceased rocking. Frisk scanned the forest, looking for any sight of the monster.

“Hey, c’mon. You don’t want to be late for class, do ya?”

Frisk jolted at the abrupt voice. Izzy, her upper bunk-mate, was already dressed and packing up a backpack with textbooks. She stood over the nightstand table next to Frisk’s bed.

“What the heck are you looking at anyways?” Izzy asked with that typical sly grin of hers, then looked back down to count some papers in a red binder. Frisk frowned, turning back to face the window. She was almost disappointed that the creature was not there… The thought that it could have just been a dream started to creep up. No… no way. It was too real.

“Nothing…” Frisk muttered.

“Well, come on then! I’m not waiting for you again.” Izzy taunted her and made a beeline for the bathroom, leaving Frisk behind. The dormitory was noisy once more with girls getting ready for classes, a typical Tuesday morning. It was just the beginning of the new school year and most of the other kids were still cheerful and rested from summer. Frisk had to pry her eyes away from the window. She glanced down at her arms and grimaced at a few of the bloody band-aids.

The dormitory was starting to clear out now with only a few late-sleepers still straggling about. Frisk was careful to face the wall as she re-dressed her wounds, then pulled on a new clean pair of shorts and a long-sleeved shirt. She so wished she could just throw on a t-shirt like the other girls but not with her arms in this state… heck no.

Frisk tried to quickly finish getting ready despite the fact that her gaze would wander over towards the window every couple of minutes. It was so distracting. Part of her knew she wouldn’t see the monster out there in the daytime… but another part of her hoped for one more glance of the creature, if only to reaffirm the fact that it was real.

 

She was the last one out of the dormitory. Frisk trotted along the hallway, staring out each large window she passed. The forest was so large, it spanned this entire side of the orphanage. On the opposite side were roads and buildings and the hustle and bustle of small city life. It was much less appealing. Frisk reached her first class just in time, quickly slinking through the door and weaving between occupied desks to take her seat at the back. Izzy was there, saving her seat as usual, but she had her nose in a book as if she forgot to study for a test or something. The orphanage also acted as a school for all the children, both boys and girls. But the dormitories were on opposite sides and segregated, of course. Most of the teachers were also employees and would help place the kids in homes or with foster families. Frisk had seen so many kids come and go. She was older now, just turned 14. Her chances of finding a family sharply declined with each passing year. Frisk tried not to think about it so much. So what if she never found a family…

She sighed and pulled out her text books as the teacher entered and started to jot down things on the blackboard. And like every day, Frisk's mind began to wander. Her daydreams were a constant part of school. Daydreams about being adopted, daydreams about characters in books she read, but the only daydream she was having today was about that forest monster. She rested her elbows atop the desk, head in her hands as she stared out the window nearby. The forest was calling to her. Even in the sunlight it looked mysterious… and deadly. The tall iron-bar fence made it look like the trees were caged in some sort of jail cell.

 

 

The day went by at its usual snails pace. Literature, Geometry, Spanish, World History… One by one the classes faded into each other. By the time lunch rolled around Frisk was starting to doze at her desk. One of the teachers even called her out on it, telling her to go splash some water on her face in the bathroom. She had no idea what time she had finally fallen asleep last night, but it must have been way too late.

“Oi! Frisk! Do you even sleep?” Izzy whispered loudly, kicking her in the shin under the desk.

“I did… I just went to bed late, that’s all. I need more summer…” Frisk grumbled back, rubbing her face in her hands. Her eyes felt like they were burning… so tired.

Finally came 9th period and the last class of a long and grueling day. “Let’s go get some dinner. Lunch sucked today,” Izzy said bluntly as she packed up her bag. Frisk did the same, still glancing at the window every so often like she had done throughout the day.

“Sure. I’ll meet you there though. I’m going back to the room to drop off these books. Too heavy.” Frisk said, nodding at her friend. Izzy shrugged but agreed and left her. The sun was starting to set as dusk rolled over the trees like a thick wool blanket. Now was her chance while it was still light out. She could wander the grounds without looking suspicious. If she was caught out in the middle of the night, there would be heck to pay. But not at this time of day. Frisk quickly stepped out into the hall and made her way through the huge building, down some stairs and then through one of the side doors, stepping outside.

 

The early evening outside air enveloped her, warm and heavy with the smell of cut grass and pine trees. Frisk walked out in the lawn and glanced at either side. It was still light out, but the sky was just starting to turn a muted lavender. The yard appeared empty and still. She felt like she was doing something wrong being out here, but it’s not like she wasn’t allowed out here right now. Granted she didn’t really have a reason to be outside… but if she was caught she could easily make something up.

Frisk walked some yards out towards the iron-bar fence. It was tall and imposing, looming over her as she stepped closer. That fear she had felt last when she first caught sight of the creature began to return. Being so close to the forest where she saw it… it sent a sweep of uneasy dread through her stomach. She wrapped her fingers around the fence bars and pushed her head between them, staring back into the forest. There was really nothing to see. Just a whole lot of trees, a couple of dragonflies buzzing by, some falling twigs. She still felt afraid. Frisk popped her head out from between the bars and started to walk along side of the fence, scouting the peripheral until she came upon one of the gates.

It was locked with a heavy iron chain-link that wrapped around one of the fence bars to hold the gate shut, but it was not locked tight enough. Frisk let her backpack slide off her shoulders and placed it down next to the fence. She pushed the gate forward to create just enough space to squeeze through. She was rather small for her age so it was no trouble at all, but the gate screeched loudly as she pushed it apart. She tensed and moved through quickly, staring back at the orphanage in case a teacher heard the sound. The coast was clear. No one seemed to hear her. No one was nearby. Frisk smiled slightly to herself. It felt like an accomplishment. She turned around with her back towards the orphanage to face the entrance of the forest.

That fear she felt before, it was starting to build inside her with even more tenacity. But it was accompanied by curiosity. A curiosity so strong that she could not ignore it. She had to see it again.

What the heck are you doing?! That little voice of reason screamed at her but she took a step forward, then another, and another, and before she knew it she was already in the forest.

 

 

It was dark. The sickly-sweet smell of mildew was overpowering. Frisk looked up and could see the shadowy, dusk sky through the treetops. Some stars had already begun to emerge and they littered the upper atmosphere like a painting. Frisk looked back over her shoulder. She could still see the fence - although the orphanage building was now obstructed by trees - and she hesitated to go any deeper. The possibility of getting lost loomed in the back of her thoughts. But as long as she made sure that the fence was still in view then there was no way she could get lost, right? She started to walk along through the forest, stepping over large piles of leaves and branches. She thought she could hear owls up in the trees. It was actually rather peaceful, in a way.

As she ventured deeper her fears started to dwindle and the forest seemed much less threatening. Perhaps this whole ‘facing your fears’ thing actually does work. The adrenaline was starting to subside as she lazily raked her fingernails against the base of a tree, feeling over the the damp bark at her fingertips. A strange-looking burl protruded from the tree and she ran her fingers around its edges idly. She was starting to get tired again. Frisk leaned back against the tree and stared into the darkening woods. It was getting more difficult to see as the darkness fell. She was just about to turn and head back when she saw something dark ahead.

Was that it? Yes… it had to be! She saw it! A dark figure weaving through the trees. It was so far deep in the forest that Frisk had almost missed it, but it was there, it was real.

That unease and dread rushed back within seconds and Frisk felt her body start to tremble with anxiety. The figure was only there for a moment. It quickly vanished in the darkness. Immediately Frisk turned and ran back to the fence as fast as she could. Sharp scraggly tree branches thrashed around her exposed legs as she ran, but nothing could slow her pace. She finally reached the closed gate and gripped onto the bars, breathing heavily as she struggled to catch a breath. She shot a quick look back over her shoulder, back at the dark forest's periphery, but there was nothing. Nothing had followed her. Nothing had changed. It was gloomy and empty and ominous, just like before. Frisk stared carefully at the trees, ready to run if she saw a mere leaf fall, but there was still nothing. She glanced down at her mud-caked sneakers that had splattered up all over her socks and shins. Suddenly she felt really stupid. The whole point of coming out here was to see that monster. She wasn’t afraid. No. No way was she afraid of that thing. And she was definitely not afraid of death. Heck, she welcomed it with open arms!

Frisk rolled her shoulders back and stood up straight. He let out a quivering exhale and convinced herself that this creature was hers to discover and hers alone. Frisk crouched down before the fence and reached a hand through the bars. Her backpack was still there. She dug her hand in one of the pockets and pulled out a simple flip-phone she had gotten a long, long time ago. It was probably older than she was and the inside screen was cracked badly. The thing barely even worked anymore. But Frisk still liked to use it for the clock and the built-in flashlight. She checked the digital clock on the front and it read ‘8:54’. So late already… But she didn’t feel hunger or fatigue, only determination, and she pressed a side button to turn on the flashlight.

Everything in front of her was quickly illuminated. She brushed off her legs with a free hand before turning back to face the forest, now armed with light. The trees looked even spookier as the flashlight bounced off the bark. It created large shadows that ran up through the pine needles and created forbidding illusions with light. Frisk took in another deep breath and stepped back into the woods. She was not afraid this time.

 

She walked slowly, clutching onto the phone. Gusts of wind started to blow through the trees overhead, creating an eerie rattling. She walked and walked, looking over her shoulder every now and then as a precaution. She could still see the lights of the orphanage in the background. And she continued walking blindly into the woods, shining her meager phone flashlight on anything that rustled in the breeze. She stepped up to a tree and saw a familiar burl embedded in the bark. This was the same tree from before. Frisk decided to try an experiment. She clicked off the flashlight and it was pitch black. She leered in the direction of where she saw the dark figure earlier. Maybe it would appear again… if it was dark enough. Her heart started to flutter with anxiety. All she could hear was wind and rustling, creaking branches and her trembling heartbeat.

Her eyes slowly adjusted to the darkness, but still nothing came. With a sudden impulse, Frisk leaned up off the tree and began to tread deeper and deeper… And even deeper into the woods. She was determined. And even when she began to feel an unexpected sensation of being watched, she remained determined. Maybe that feeling was all in her head. After all, she was alone in an unknown and unfamiliar forest in the dead of night with some terrifying creature roaming around.

Frisk looked back over her shoulder after a while and her heart sank. No more light. The faint glow from the orphanage was gone, engulfed in the darkness of the woods. Shit! Her determination and courage fell to the floor in a matter of seconds. Oh no… oh shit. She started to panic. She walked way too far, why hadn't she been paying attention!? Frisk immediately turned the phone flashlight back on and began to frantically run through the forest. Her chest felt tight, breathing was difficult, she was working herself up into a total fear-induced anxiety attack. She thought she heard footsteps… Was something chasing her!? No, it was in her head. Those were her own footsteps. Running and running as she shoved large branches to the side. She couldn’t breathe… Was she being watched right now? Was it that monster watching her? Oh my god… where the heck is the orphanage!?!

Frisk pushed another low tree branch aside and suddenly banged into something hard. She almost fell backwards. She had been so worked up running through the woods that she hadn’t even noticed the large indiscriminate wooden wall. Frisk eyes darted all over the partition, inspecting it. But it wasn’t just a stand-alone wall… it was actually the side of a building. A small building in the middle of the woods. Did someone live here? No…there’s no way. Frisk lurked around the corner of the building, carefully examining it. The wood was old and cracked, covered in thick patches of moss, almost camouflaged. She would have easily missed it if she hadn’t banged right into it. Frisk stepped around another corner and saw a wooden door. This building was a small shed.

She took a step back to take in the whole abode, shinning her flashlight over the entirety of it. It was really quite tiny, only room enough for four or five people maybe. She stepped back up to the door and glanced down at a large iron padlock. How strange… why was this shed out here? Maybe this forest wasn’t so isolated after all. Frisk continued her examination of the door. It was old and wooden, much like the rest of the shack, but the door was made out of slatted vertically wooden planks held together with horizontal planks and rusting nails. There was also a strange-looking carving at the center of the door, only noticeable when she exposed the flashlight rays right against the grain. That was even stranger… the symbol was runic and didn’t mean anything to her. Frisk tried to memorize the shape. Sharp angles at the top in three points, curling into itself towards the bottom. She ran her fingers over the carving. It almost looked like it had been scratched into the wood with a knife or a rock. As she traced the carving, her fingers dipped into the small openings between the planks of wood that formed the door. It was… cold in there.

Frisk blinked. She pushed two fingers deep between the wooden slats, trying to feel the temperature inside the shed, which immediately baffled her. It wasn’t just cold, it was freezing. How could that be? It had to be at least 85 degrees out here… but the temperature inside this haphazard little shed was as cold as a freezer. That familiar feeling of dread started to creep over her again. Frisk pressed her forehead against the wood, peering through the slight opening with one eye. There was only darkness inside. She held the flashlight up to try and shine some light through the planks. Still only darkness. She couldn’t tell if the shed was just empty or if some strange, unearthly force was preventing any light from piercing the shadows.

First that monster… now this shed… what was next? She felt uneasy and unsafe. She had to get back to the orphanage… but something held her steady. That nagging curiosity that would surely be the death of her. Frisk wrapped both hands around the padlock and rattled it. It held fast as the sound of metal against wood echoed against the trees. She bent over slightly to get a better look at the lock. It seemed pretty heavy-duty. Definitely industrial. She pulled at the iron U shape that was locked in place when suddenly…

“Ssssskk… “

She jumped at the sound but kept a firm hold on the padlock in both hands.

“W-who’s there??” Frisk called back in a trembling, soft tone. Immediately she regretted speaking out… maybe it was that beast finally come to finish her off. She waited and listened carefully. Only the sound of wind and trees and some crickets in the distance, and then…

“Sssssssssskkks… “ Again that sound! Her heart almost jumped out of her chest. “Hhhhuuuman……” The soft whispers were low, ethereal and absolutely terrifying. Frisk was paralyzed. She couldn’t move a muscle. Her eyes widened with fear as she stared directly at the wooden door in front of her, staring into the darkness between the slatted, warped wooden planks. The voice let out a low chuckle. It sounded like hundreds of ghostly utterances entwined, forming one speech together. It sent shivers up her spine and the light hairs on her neck and arms stood on end. A freezing cold breeze fluttered through the door slats and she almost let out a cry of fear but bit her lip instead. Suddenly, the padlock that she had been holding onto so tightly, started to warm up in her hands. It felt like the metal was heating up, like someone had lit an ember from the inside. What is happening?!?!?

The ghastly voice continued to make unrecognizable sounds from the inside of the shed. Frisk was so terrified she couldn’t even think straight, let alone move her feet. The padlock was growing hotter and hotter and just as she was about to let go, it snapped open. A loud metallic ‘clink’ and the lock gave way in her hands. The ghastly hissing sound was growing louder and louder from inside the shed and she turned and ran. She ran in the opposite direction of the shed faster than before, faster than she ever had in her entire 14 years of existence. Her head pounded, lungs burned, she was literally running for what felt like her life.

She burst through a group of thickets and suddenly - light! The orphanage towered before her like a beacon to the heavens. She had never been so happy to see that orphanage. She stumbled over towards the familiar fence and fell to her knees, panting heavily for a breath. Hands still trembling as she crawled over towards the fence gate and slipped through the opening, snatching up her backpack and darted forward… back to the towering building. But as Frisk reached the side door and stepped inside, she couldn’t help but feel that abhorrent curiosity taking hold once more.

*****

Coming up: Frisk goes back to the forest once more.

Chapter Text

*****

Frisk sat at her desk in algebra. The teacher was tapping the blackboard and speaking in that typical drone voice, but Frisk couldn’t hear a word he was saying. Her mind was elsewhere… out in the forest. She could not stop thinking about last night’s encounter. Seeing that monster again… and getting lost… and that shed and that voice. There were so many questions swirling around in her head. She hadn’t even cut her arms last night; she was so preoccupied with thoughts of the woods. Yes, she was terrified, but also completely enthralled. Even Izzy had taken notice of her distracted demeanor. Frisk glanced out the window at the alluring forest, lost in her own head.

What was in that shed? Could it have been the same monster she had seen out her window? Did the monster live there? And if so… why was the door locked from the outside? And how the heck had she been able to open that huge lock without a key? Maybe it was just old and rusted… but also, why and how was it so cold in there? Had that voice actually called her ‘human’? That lock… the lock… it had opened automatically in her hands. Or did she just imagine that? Maybe she imaged the whole thing. Frisk pressed her forehead down against the desk, closing her eyes as she scratched at some bug bites scattered along her legs. Perhaps it was best to wear long jeans in the forest.

 

 

“Hey, are we going to study for that science test later? I’m meeting with a potential foster mom tonight so we’ll have to study right after class. I think she might actually be the one!” Izzy exclaimed, chatting happily as she trotted alongside Frisk down the hallway after class finally let out. Frisk clutched at her backpack strap slung over one shoulder, staring blankly as she walked.

“Hey, are you listening?” Izzy growled and took a sidestep blocking Frisk’s path.

“Huh? Oh, yeah… I heard you…”

Izzy raised a brow and pushed her coily dark hair back. “Well you seem like you’re on another planet. You’ve been acting weird all day. And you ditched me at dinner last night. What’s up with that?”

Frisk snapped out of her daydreams and glanced back at Izzy. She wasn’t sure what excuse she could give… it’s not like she was out with other friends or anything. Izzy knew very well that she had no other friends.

“I just got tied up with some stuff. I started reading that old book again. You know, the one with the zombies.” Frisk lied and averted her gaze.

Izzy grinned. “You sure are a dork, Frisky. Zombies aren’t even real. Besides, you should be trying to get adopted right now, that’s the most important thing. There’s an open-house this weekend. There will be a lot of eager foster families there. You should go, really.” Her bunk-mate patted Frisk on the shoulder and Frisk almost flinched at the abrupt human contact, but luckily Izzy hadn’t noticed. She just made more idle conversation before mentioning that she had to turn in some overdue paper and trotted off, leaving Frisk alone in the hall.

Frisk pulled the old flip-phone out of her pocket. It read ‘3:00 pm’ on the dot. They had a break right now between classes. Maybe, just maybe… if she was quick enough… she could go back into the forest and try to find that shed one more time. She could bring her box cutter for protection. As long as she didn't lose sight of the fence again like an idiot it would be fine. Wait, what was she thinking?? Why did she want to go back out into those woods? A monster was probably trying to kill her last night and she actually just considered going back there? But then again… maybe it wasn’t trying to kill her… Maybe…

All of this speculation was making her head ache. She stood in the hall for a while thinking it over, then finally made up her mind. Frisk trotted down the hall with rekindled courage, weaving through various corridors, down the staircase and back to the side door. She peaked out the door’s window to the outside lawn. Not a soul in sight. Frisk pushed the door open and stepped outside.

 

 

It was pretty hot out today. The sun beat down on the top of her head and her dark brown hair soaked in all the warmth. Frisk squinted in the sun and gazed around, just to double-check. There was no one. She jogged along the side of the fence till she reached the same gate from last night. It was still locked loosely, and for some reason the sight of the untampered lock made her sigh in relief. No monsters had broken through. Nothing had followed her back home. Frisk placed her backpack at the gate, the books would just weigh her down. She decided against taking her box cutter and stuffed it in her backpack. However she kept her phone, mainly for the clock. She squeezed through the slight opening like before and stepped between the looming trees into the woods.

 

It was much cooler underneath the canopy. There was a warm breeze and a strong smell of mildew and moss. But even in the daytime, the forest made her uneasy. Frisk tried to repress the budding shiver that ran up her spine as she walked along, gazing forward with a newfound vigilance. Some birds swooped low through the trees and she heard flies buzzing about and cicadas hissing, but other than that it was pretty much quiet and desolate. She searched for the shed again, but couldn’t remember the way back to it. It had been so dark the night before. And now in the light, it almost looked like a completely different forest. The only landmark she recognized was that familiar tree with the bur on it, but even that landmark had been a trek from the shed.

Frisk sat down at the base of a tree. She leaned her head back, looking up at the bright cyan sky through the treetops, listening to the wind and the birds.

Her fear of the forest dwindled down to nothing as she let the time pass. It was so quiet and calm out here, it has been a while since she felt so at peace. Eventually Frisk dug her hand in her pocket and pulled out the flip-phone. She opened it and checked the clock. '3:30 pm'. Had she really been in here for a half hour? She was missing literature right now, and remembered there was a quiz scheduled for today, but for some reason she didn’t seem to care. She was not one to usually skip class, she often just did as she was told and what was expected of her. It was the easiest way to get by.

Frisk started to browse through old pictures saved on her phone. A photo of her mother… and another one of her mother and father together. These photos were at least 6 years old. The images brought back a wave of painful memories that caused her physical discomfort. She curled her knees into her even chest, staring at her mother’s smiling face obscured by that thin crack in the center of the screen.

Blood… The smell of blood……

and screams…

 

Wait… that was her mother’s voice… were those her mother’s screams?

No… they were her own.

Stop it… don’t think about this…

A gurgling and a panicked cough… a sharp blade plunging into something soft… soft and wet.

 

No more!

 

No… more…

 

… 

 

… 

 

… 

Frisk jolted, breaking free from those erratic memories and sat up straight. Her light hazel eyes widened and stared blankly. She was trembling against the tree. Her cheeks were wet. She lifted a hand to her cheek and… they were tears. Dang it. She didn’t want to think about that anymore. It had been such a long time since she had remembered… But seeing those pictures… She had tried so hard to delete them in the past but just couldn’t. Frisk let out a quivering sigh and closed the cell. She glanced back up at the sky to seek comfort in the beautiful clear blue overhead but something felt… off.

The sky was no longer bright. No, instead it was shadowy and overcast, as if it was going to start storming at any moment. However, that wasn’t the only thing. There was no more wind… and no more birds chirping or bugs buzzing. It was completely and utterly silent. And it terrified her.

Frisk sprang up to her feet. She looked around frantically at the forest that surrounded her, no orphanage or fence in sight. Had she really allowed herself to lose sight of it again?? No, no, no! She started to walk quickly through the thickets on high alert. The forest was so muted that it made her ears hurt. All she could hear was the sound of her own rapid breath and her footfalls.

Her breathing was really loud, louder than normal. Was it because it was so quiet? She quickly held her breath as she ran along but the breathing continued. What the- wait… That was not her breathing she was hearing. The realization made her stomach fall to the floor. There was something running alongside her in the trees, breathing fast and heavy, she just couldn’t see it.

“Who’s there?! I can hear you!” Frisk found the courage to shout out as she ran faster, but her voice shook. “Come out! I-I know you’re here!”

She scrambled through a thick patch of brush and then… she saw it. It was there. About 10 yards away, right in front of her. The beast from the other night. She would never forget those eyes.

Frisk stopped dead in her tracks, staring back at the creature. She wanted to turn tail and run but she couldn’t. Something was paralyzing her, and it sure wasn’t bravery. She was so completely afraid that she literally couldn’t move.

And after a good long minute… “Ah, yes. It seems you’ve finally found me.”

The creature spoke. Its voice was surprisingly high and feathery, laced with an unsettling ghoulish echo. But it was definitely not the voice Frisk had heard coming from the shed last night.

The creature started to move. Taking slow and ominous steps forward. Frisk took a step back, but still she could not run.

“Stay away!” Frisk screamed out at once, heart racing inside her chest, suddenly wishing she had her utility knife right now.

The creature stilled and stared. Its demon face, like that of a wolf and a goat combined, contorted slightly. It was still wearing that brown, tatter mantel over its shoulders that covered its whole body except head, hands and feet. Frisk was able to make out that the mantel was actually some sort of animal hide. The monster's matted white fur paws folded together at the middle of its stomach. The way it stood was… almost human-like and serene.

“Stay away? But you were the one who came looking for me, child.” That voice again. And the beast grinned wide, exposing two sharp canines at either side of its maw. The creature stepped forward and raised its massive paws, as if to signal that it meant no harm. Now the monster was only a few yards away. Frisk could make out every detail, staring back at those enormous green hallow eyes with a pin-point pupil in the center. “You have nothing to fear, child.”

Those words made Frisk fear the monster even more, but her paralysis was finally starting to diminish. Frisk took some steps backwards and the beast stepped forward in turn. She would run, but the thought of the creature lunging forward and ripping her to shreds the second she moved burned into her mind’s eye.

“What… what a-are you?” Frisk managed to choke out.

The creature’s grin faded into what seemed like a slight smile. “I am Toriel. The mother and protector of these woods.”

Frisk was dumbfounded by those words. Apparently this creature had a name. This was getting to be too much. With a sudden burst of adrenaline, Frisk darted backwards and sprinted away through the trees, away from the beast. But in a blink of an eye, Toriel sprung around and appeared before her again, standing in her path even closer this time. Toriel had moved so fast, it was always as if she had teleported. Frisk cried out and stumbled and fell backwards.

“Shhh child. There is nothing to fear. I mean you no harm. Now, now.” Toriel stepped close, too close, then lowered herself directly in front of Frisk who was now huddled down on the forest floor with her face buried in her hands. “Although, I am surprised at you, child.” Toriel’s ghostly voice trailed off.

Frisk fought back her cries of fear and glanced up at Toriel through the spaces between her fingers.

“You sensed me. You can see me. You sought me out, and now you run in fear?” Toriel said as her voice dropped to a reverberating whisper.

Frisk shook her head. “I… I…“ She couldn’t believe this monster was real and actually speaking to her like a human. This couldn’t possibly be happening!

The massive Toriel suddenly placed a huge, heavy paw on Frisk’s shoulder. It made the girl shudder. “I-…” Frisk began, but it was hard to find the words. “Are you from… f-from that shed?” She blurted out without really thinking. She had been pondering the question all day and the words just slipped out.

Toriel’s slight smile faded immediately and she withdrew her paw. “You know of that building?” She said, her voice turned flinty and stern. The overcast dreary light spilled overhead through the trees, casting forbidding shadows across Toriel’s features.

Frisk nodded and the creature’s long ears drooped. “You should not go near that building, child. It is a perilous place. An entrance-way to true horrors.” Those words rang in Frisk’s ears. A perilous place? An entrance-way? What did that mean? “Yet it must be protected. Indeed, it was once my home. But now the door is locked, and I am tasked with guarding it from small, curious humans such as yourself.”

Toriel’s words were like a terrible fantasy. Frisk couldn’t help but grow more and more anxious over what she was getting involved in. Toriel had just mentioned that the door was locked but… Frisk remembered the sound of the metal padlock clinking open in her hands, that warm feeling as the steel heated up. She had opened that shed just the night before. A concoction of anxiety, terror and denial was starting to make her feel sick. And it did not help that this monstrous creature was towering over her as if ready to attack at any moment. And despite the fact that Toriel spoke rather calmly, there was an eeriness to her voice that Frisk just couldn’t shake.

“I heard voices coming from behind the shed d-door.” Frisk whispered out, now staring up at Toriel, unable to look away as she still sat upon the damp forest ground.

Toriel blinked once. “You heard it?” Her voice almost sounded shocked, then she glanced away from the human girl as if lost in thought.

Frisk nodded again. She considered mentioning the padlock and how it sprang open and how the door was actually no longer locked at all, but something deep inside convinced her to stay quiet about that. Toriel slowly rose up on her massive clawed hind legs. She reached down and took Frisk by the shoulders, pulling her up to her feet. Frisk whimpered out in fear, but no harm came to her. In fact, Toriel was quiet gentle with those paws.

“Come along now, child. It’s time you go home.” The monster turned and started to take slow steady steps forward through the trees. Home? Frisk’s mind scrambled again. She considered running away from the beast, but instead she did just the opposite. She followed behind Toriel slowly, though careful to keep a wide girth between them.

Toriel did not speak anymore as they walked through the darkening woods. A warm summer breeze fluttered past. At least the wind was returning now and it gave Frisk just a hint of comfort. Frisk followed Toriel in silence for what felt like ages. Then, there was a light. A light ahead. It was the orphanage! Frisk’s heart skipped a beat as she saw the building off in the distance. She ran forward, about to run past the behemoth-like beast when Toriel swiftly grabbed at Frisk’s wrist and pulled her back.

“Child… hear my words when I say this.” Toriel pulled Frisk in close by the arm, those huge empty, wide eyes flashing in the faint light of the now dusky periwinkle sky. “If you are truly the one, the Manumitter, then you must stay away from these woods.” Frisk shook. The fear she felt in the presence of this creature had never diminished, and it was starting to rise up again as Toriel kept a tight grip at her wrist. “You are much too young…” Toriel’s thick black claws were starting to slightly dig into her long-sleeve shirt. Frisk could feel them piercing the fabric and pushing at her skin. “You have… too much to lose.” Toriel released Frisk’s arm, “The others aren’t like me, child. I want what is best for you. For all humans.” Her voice was laced with a strange sorrow. Then Toriel flashed another eerie unexpected smile. It was so sudden and so terrifying, those huge fangs revealed under the monsters dark curling lips. Frisk stared back in horror and suddenly made a break for it.

She bound forward through the short distance of trees that separated her from the orphanage fence. Frisk leapt through the final stretch of foliage and into the clearing. She turned back and saw Toriel still standing there, shrouded by trees with that hair-raising grin. Then the creature slowly turned and disappeared into the darkness.

 

 

Frisk breathed heavily, staring back at where Toriel had just stood. The sun fell behind the treetops. Frisk did not want to be out here right now, not after all of that. Was she dreaming? This couldn’t possibly be happening. Frisk squeezed through the gate and dashed to the orphanage side door, forgetting to grab her backpack which still rested by the fence. She clambered upstairs and ran into the first lit room she came across. It was a just an empty English classroom. She sat upon one of the desks, running her fingers through her messy hair trying to take in deep breaths, trying to calm herself.

What the hell was that????? She could finally think straight again, now that she was inside, safe and in the light, away from the forest. There is a monster in the woods named Toriel. It protects the woods and that shed? But that shed is really an entrance way to some other place? A-a bad place?? And Toriel used to live there but… but now she is locked outside in the forest and has to guard it? But… I opened it… I opened that door before… I opened the entrance way the other night. She said it was dangerous and I opened it. I should have told her that I opened it… oh god.

Frisk pondered over everything quickly as if she was trying to remember the plot to a movie. Then she recalled what Toriel had called her. A 'Manumitter'. Yes, that was it. But what the heck is that? Frisk slid up off the desk where she sat and walked over to one of the many bookshelves. She ran her finger along dusty book spines until she found a dictionary. She flipped through the old pages and came across the ‘M’ section, searching for that word.

“To release from servitude. To free from imprisonment. A savior. A deliverer.” Frisk read the definition out loud. She blinked and stared at the text for a long time. Then, slowly, Frisk glanced over one her shoulders, staring back a a window behind her, through the gleaming glass windowpane into the dark, unearthly forest.

*****

Coming up: Frisk returns to the forest with a newfound determination, but things take a turn for the worse when she gets more than she bargained for. Also, get ready for some Sans (finally, right??).

Chapter Text

*****

Frisk awoke the next morning in her bed. She slowly sat up and glanced out the window with sleepy half-lidded eyes to see the sky. It was still dark out and just starting to turn a pale navy blue as the sun barely peaked up from behind a vast sea of trees. It must still be early… Frisk rolled over onto her shoulder and glanced at her bunk-mate’s alarm clock. It read ‘5:45 am’. God, was she ever going to get a decent night’s sleep? Then the many incidents from yesterday rushed back all at once. Frisk straightened her spine, staring down at the stripped blanket that covered her legs.

She had lingered around in that classroom for a long time last night after she returned from the forest. Mainly she did not want to be caught lurking around the halls at night. But also because she could barely comprehend what had just happened… what she heard… and what she saw.

She had waited in the classroom for hours until she finally left, then snuck into one of the breakrooms and had vending-machine cookies, chips and Gatorade for dinner. After that, she headed back to the girl’s dormitory, showered, and went to bed as quietly as possible. Izzy had already been asleep, and was still asleep now. She was probably furious at her, Frisk thought. But Frisk couldn’t worry about that right now. She could not stop thinking about Toriel and what the monster had said to her.

‘Stay away.’ Those warning words Toriel spoke buzzed in her brain and enticed her to no end. Frisk glanced back out the window, half hoping to see Toriel out there. Of course she wasn’t. It was just miles of fence and forest. A thick, cloudy fog spilled out from the woods and blanketed the lawn. ‘The other’s aren’t like me.’ Others? What 'others'? There were more?… More monsters out there?…

Eventually Frisk slipped out of bed and quickly pulled on a fresh new pair of shorts and a long-sleeved shirt. She checked the cuts at her arms. They were starting to scab now, but she replaced the band-aids anyways. She tied a hoodie around her waist and reached under the bed to grab her backpack from its usual spot, but instead of grabbing her bag she just groped at air. Crap… Where was her backpack? Dang it… she must have left it out by the fence. With an annoyed sigh she took one of Izzy’s plastic supermarket bags out from the nightstand table drawer instead. It would have to do for now. She wanted to be out of this dorm before anyone else woke up.

 

Frisk trotted through the hallways. Rays of sunlight were just now starting to spill through the rows of windows that lined the walls. There were some teachers and older students walking around. Frisk rarely got up this early, it was weird seeing the halls this desolate in the daytime. She stopped at the breakroom and started stocking up on cookies, chips, candy bars, soda, bottled water… anything she could fit into the plastic bag. Despite her fear she was determined, and decided that she would go out to the forest again tonight. She would find Toriel, find the shed, figure out this horror story once and for all. The idea of telling an adult about this whole situation buoyed to the surface of her thoughts. No, no way. They probably wouldn’t even believe her anyways. They would just call her ‘troubled’ and send her to more counseling. They would try to get her to take medication again. That’s the last thing she wanted.

Frisk tied the plastic bag closed tight and hung around in the breakroom for a bit, waiting for 1st period to start as she contemplated her plan for tonight. The bell finally rang and she headed out to class.

 

Izzy was clearly annoyed and kept nagging why she wasn’t at dinner for the second time in a row, forcing Frisk to make up some story about having detention.

“Oh please!” Izzy whispered harshly under her breath halfway through class, “When the hell do you ever have detention?” Frisk shuffled her feet against the tiled floor, trying to avoid her friend’s consistent interrogation.

“It’s not a big deal. I just skipped a class the other day so I got detention…” Well that wasn’t a total lie. She had skipped class yesterday.

Izzy eyed her suspiciously and tsked. “You better watch it girl. If you get in trouble again they won’t let you go to that open-house this weekend. You are coming with me, right?” Frisk nodded and continued to pretend to take notes in her textbook, only half listening to the teacher drone on.

 

She spent the rest of the afternoon avoiding Izzy and any other acquaintances. By the time second to last period rolled around she was about ready to make her move. As all of her classmates piled into Spanish, Frisk slinked back against the wall, sneaking through the crowd of kids that packed the hallways. She headed to the cafeteria, where she grabbed a peanut butter and jelly sandwich to-go. She hadn’t had a real meal in literally 3 days and devoured it in the blink of an eye. She also grabbed a turkey sandwich and a bottle of sweet tea for dinner later tonight, shoving them in the plastic bag.

Frisk hung around in the hallways, pretending to look busy whenever an adult would walk by. She kept a constant eye on the forest outside. The sun was just beginning to sink lower in the sky. She checked her phone’s clock and it read ‘5:30 pm’. It would be getting dark soon. She smiled uncertainly to herself, mainly due to the building anticipation that tinged in the pit of her stomach. Her nerves were starting to give her a slight headache; the waiting was torture. Now was the time to go, it had to be now. She heard the final bell ring and a stream of boisterous kids spilled from their classrooms into the hall. Frisk quickly disappeared among the others and snuck back towards the familiar dark staircase, downstairs, then out the side door.

 

She stepped outside and inhaled the thick, warm scent of cut grass and mulch. This was the third day in a row that she had been out here. She must be an expert at this by now. Frisk hurried over to where the gate was at the fence to grab her forgotten backpack from last night. But as she stepped up to the gate, she discovered that it was not there. How strange… Maybe a teacher found it or something. Ugh… her box cutter was in there… and a lighter she had found and her band-aids and books.

She huffed under her breath. The plan was to throw this plastic bag full of snacks in the backpack for easy transportation… but now it had been interrupted. Frisk frowned to herself and just figured she would have to go check lost-and-found later. She stared back at the still-locked fence with the slight opening, took in a deep breath, and stepped on through.

 

 

She was back in the forest. It wasn’t nearly as ominous anymore, in a way it was almost nostalgic… like returning home to a long lost friend. Frisk stepped through the thick foliage, letting the free hand of her fingertips glide along each tree trunk she passed to feel the rough texture. Part of her hoped she would come across Toriel again right away. She had so many questions, and she was prepared to ask them this time around. She was not afraid, no. She was determined. She also desperately wanted to find that shed again and she told herself she wouldn’t run away. Not this time.

“Hello?” Frisk cupped one hand at her mouth and called out loudly to nothing, hoping to hear a response in turn… but there was only silence. She checked her cell to see that it had been an hour of wandering and the sky was just starting to darken.

Perhaps Toriel was wrong. Maybe whatever was in that shed was better than this. She knew she was going nowhere in her life currently. Her grades were below average, she was never going to get adopted, her life was simply an endless drawl of waiting and re-living a painful past. What was she going to do when she aged out of the orphanage? She only had 4 more years to go until she was 18. She didn’t want to face that, or think about it. Her future scared her even more than malicious whispers behind an old, worn shed door… or a huge, lurking demon-faced monster in the middle of the woods.

Frisk was lost in thought as she paced through the trees. She dug a hand in the plastic bag and pulled out the bottle of tea, sipping it as she stepped. She wasn’t even keeping track of the orphanage anymore, intentionally. She always found her way back anyways and there was no way she’d find that shed again if she wasn’t lost. The sun hung low in the sky and she could just barely see it through the trees as the canopy grew thicker overhead. Frisk stopped in her tracks and took a moment to study her surroundings. The trees here were slightly different. The trunks looked thicker and older and their roots twisted around each other creating sinister knots. This was probably the deepest she had ever been in the forest and yet there was still no Toriel and no shed in sight.

The air started to grow heavy while she walked, as if it was thick with mold, making her nose wrinkle. She moved slower and her eyes danced around the darkening forest. It smelled weird… like old stagnant water. Frisk glanced up to see the sky but quickly realized, to much dismay, that it was no longer visible. She felt a slight pang of panic settle in her chest and frantically looked around. Crap… she really was lost now. She began to step lively through the trees as it got darker and darker and darker still. She had a terrible feeling that she was getting herself even more off-track with every stride. Not only that, but it was getting even more difficult to breath as the air hung with decay. She took another sip of tea to try and steady her nerves before returning the bottle to the bag and looping the plastic bag’s handles around her forearm too free up both hands. It was in that moment that she noticed what looked like dark pieces of debris falling from the trees.

Frisk raised a hand, allowing the pieces to fall into her open palm. She rubbed her fingers against the detritus, smearing it into her skin. It was… flakes of ash? Or at least it appeared to be. Ash was raining from the trees. What the hell is this??? Frisk clenched her teeth and balled her hand into a fist, trying to subside the steady building panic and terror that grew.

“Calm down…” she breathed and tried to comfort herself by speaking out loud. The dark, thick atmosphere had a strange green hue to it, almost ethereal. Black bits of ash continued to rain down silently. The forest was changing, something was happening. Something was wrong. Frisk wasn’t sure but this was not normal. No way. What the hell is this??

Suddenly Frisk stepped out into a clearing where the trees thinned out and a huge wave of relief spilled over her. She quickly tilted her head back to see the sky, and to her disappointment saw that it was painted with black clouds and was dark greenish-blue in color. Well that is not normal. She glanced around the clearing as bits of ash mysterious continued to descend. There was a pond nearby at the opposite side of the empty space. She stepped over towards it and glanced down at her own reflection, taking notice of the dark streaks of ash that had collected against her cheeks and stained her skin. She rubbed her face and was about to scoop up some water to wash it off when she noticed how murky and muddy the water appeared to be.

 

Frisk let out a quivering sigh, staring at her reflection for a bit as she idly tried to rub the ash from her forehead, when she heard something. A sudden, loud rustling of tree branches and a small cry. Her heart practically leapt through her ribs as every single muscle in her body bunched up. She stared in the direction of the noise emanating from the woods. Her eyes widened and she heard it again. Oh crap. Maybe it was Toriel?… No… Toriel was silent when she walked, like a ghost. Whatever was coming towards her was loud. That cry again, high and piercing. Frisk broke free from her terror-filled trance and leapt back towards a thick cluster of trees to hide amongst them, holding the snack-filled plastic back to her chest. Her pulse raced so loud in her ears that she swore she was going to have a heart attack right then and there. Her couldn't help but look over the side of the tree, her hiding space. Her eyes locked on the opposite side of the clearing as the trees began to rustle. Something was coming out of the forest. What is that?… What in god’s name is that?!

It stepped out into clearing, its movement slow and coarse. Was it a human? Whoever it was was wearing a dark tattered winter jacket. The fur-trimmed hood was pulled up all the way over their head, making it impossible to see the face of whoever just stepped out from the trees. They had on ragged and loose black pants that dragged at the heels and… blue sneakers. They were tall and broad, but not quite as massive as Toriel. And they certainly were not dressed like Toriel. Maybe it wasn’t a monster at all, but just some older kid. Maybe they live at the orphanage just like she does and they also got lost in the woods?

Frisk was seconds away from stepping out from her hiding space and calling out the other, when the figure turned their head slightly and she could finally see what was hidden under the hood. W-what the… what is that?! A horrible skeletal face with sharp, exposed interlocking teeth. Where eyes should have been were simply two dark, deep sockets. And in only one socket a dim red hue glowed in a perfect circle, suspended at the center of the cavity. It was all Frisk could do to keep from crying out in horror. She quickly clasped both hands over her mouth, shutting her eyes to try and forget what she just saw. But curiosity forced her eyes back open and she stared in utter terror at the monster. It was dragging its feet as it walked and had finally turned some so that she could now see the front of its torso. Under that dark winter jacket it had on a white shirt that was… that was covered in… in blood. Oh god… was she really seeing this or was this all just some terrible, terrible nightmare? She prayed for it to be the latter.

The skeletal monster had a permanent sickening grin spread across their features. The single red glow in one socket darted around, as if scanning the clearing. Each sharp tooth had the thickness of Frisk’s wrist. It was then that Frisk was finally able to pry her eyes away from the monster’s face and take notice of what it had resting at its shoulder. Its immense skeletal hand gripped tightly on the thick wooden handle of a huge ax that lay along its shoulder blade. The sharp ax-head was also stained in a dark liquid- more blood… The red liquid glistened in the pale light, streaking down the handle and dripping onto the ground below. Then Frisk noticed what had been making that crying sound before, and it certainly was not the monster in the jacket. There was something small and brown and furry being dragged in the monster’s opposite claw. It was crying out softly as if injured. A small baby fawn. The helpless animal was being dragged by its hind legs, which appeared to be broken and twisted backwards. It was a sickening sight.

The monster finally came to a halt halfway through the clearing and looked up at the sky. The ash rained down upon it and the small fawn let out a few destitute wails. Its concentration on the sky was severed by the animals sounds, and the large skeleton roughly jerked the fawn side to side in an attempt to shut it up. Frisk held her breath, watching in horror. She didn’t even want to think about what would happen if she were found out right now. And yet she had a terrible feeling that this monster already knew she was hiding here. Her eyes locked onto the skeleton, who simply stood there still for a while in the raining ash, as if he was taunting her.

Frisk was terrified that the slightest movement she made would alert him. She was careful with the hand that gripped tightly onto the plastic bag. Even the tiniest motion would cause that plastic to crinkle. She gripped at the tree with her opposite hand, her nails digging into the rough bark.

Finally, the skeleton started moving again. It walked across the span of the clearing to the other side of trees. Frisk saw a light trail of blood stain the ground behind the dragged baby fawn, which continued to weakly struggle in the monsters grasp. But it wasn’t crying anymore.

“heh.”

That sound reached her ears. She heard it, a low chuckle coming from the skeletal demon right before it vanished back into the trees. The monster’s scoff was deep, haunting and rang painfully in her ears. She watched as the brush where he had just vanished rustled against one another, the baby fawn disappearing behind him. Frisk stood there, numb. That thing had an ax?! It was soaked in.. blood??? Oh my god… I need to get out of here. I need to run. She lunged deep into the woods behind her, running in the opposite direction.

Frisk ran and ran and ran. The ash in the atmosphere grew ever thicker, and she coughed and choked on bits of black dusty debris that got caught in her throat. Yet even still, she did not stop running. Toriel was right. Oh god, why did she have to question Toriel? She should have stayed away. She could be back at the orphanage right now. Sitting in the cafeteria with Izzy, laughing and joking around and daydreaming about potential foster families that would love her unconditionally. But no. She had let her determination get the better of her, control her.

Suddenly she stumbled. Her foot got caught under a thick loop of roots and she fell to her knees painfully, dropping the bag of treats that scattered all over the ground in front of her. Harsh wooden mounds of roots cut into her knees and shins, creating long abrasions at the front of her legs that quickly started to bleed into the dirt. Frisk panted heavily, her messy hair fell in her face and clung to her sweat-soaked forehead. She felt the sting of tears welling up in both corners of her eyes but immediately fought them back. No. No. She was not this weak. She would get out of here. Everything was going to be alright. Frisk raised her head, staring forward blankly between her tousled locks of hair and saw it… just a few meters off.

The shed! And the wooden door hung from it’s hinges, wide open.

*****

Coming up: Frisk and the Underground.

Chapter Text

*****

Frisk stared at the shed that lay before her at least 5 yards away. The shock of actually stumbling (literally) across the shed again drowned out the terrible pain that shot up from her knees, now battered and bleeding. Although she was clearly not in the deeper part of the woods anymore, since she was back at the shack, the treetops were still raining with ash. This was not normal. Not at all. Frisk glanced up to stare at the falling black bits. She still couldn’t see the sky at all… wait… The sky was visible, just barely. Only it was pitch black. Not even one star could be seen. It was like someone had doused the sky with a bucket of oil. Something was very wrong here.

Frisk forced her gaze downward as she blinked back at the shed and the ominous open door that lead to nothing. It was just blackness inside, as black as the obsidian sky. The open wooden door made the shed resemble some ghastly maw, as if it was ready to devour her. She sat there on her knees for a good while, glancing over her shoulder every few minutes as if expecting that skeletal monster to come upon her, but the forest remained silent. She finally pressed both her ash-stained hands against the floor, pushing herself up to her feet. She took a quick survey of her knees and attempted to rub dirt out of the wounds. It didn’t hurt too much, but it didn’t look that great either. She carefully stepped over the protruding cluster of roots so not to fall again and collected all of her chips and cookies and drinks that were scattered about the ground. She stuffed them quickly into the plastic bag and moved in towards the shed.

As she took slow, cautious steps she couldn’t help but think about that skeletal nightmare and her heart coursed with fear. It was still out there, out in the forest right at this very moment. Where was Toriel? Maybe that skeleton monster had gotten her?… No, that couldn’t possibly happen to Toriel. Frisk tried to shake those weighing thoughts from her head as she examined the small wooden building.

She stepped up right in front of the open door. Her heart practically skipped a beat when she felt a gust of wind come forth from the inside. It was freezing. How could that be!? The breeze echoed off the interior walls of the shed and it was in that moment that she realized that this shed… wasn’t a shed at all, but actually the entrance to a long, dark hallway. The echoing and gentle wailing of wind inside made that quite clear.

Frisk clasped at her forehead with a dirty hand. She had seen so many unbelievable things over these past few days, so it should come as no surprise to her to see that this shed wasn’t what it appeared to be. But she still could hardly fathom it. She paced around towards the back of the small building. There was no visible tunnel on the outside. There was absolutely nothing to make it seem like it was anything other than a dingy, wooden shack. She pressed both her hands against the back of the building, feeling around in the darkness. It was just wood. There was nothing special to it at all. Frisk stepped back around to the front and slowly raised her hand. She held her arm halfway through the shed’s entrance way to feel the temperature drop sharply. It must have been at most 25 degrees in there. When she pulled her hand back to her side, the warmth from the woods wrapped around her fingers quickly, heating them up with a gentle embrace. It was confusing and intriguing and Frisk couldn’t make sense of it. It was like wading in a brackish river, where both saltwater and freshwater meet. Although instead of water it was temperature and atmosphere.

Frisk continued to test the cold with her fingers. She remembered the voices she heard coming from the shed the first time she came across it. Could it have been that skeleton monster’s voice? No… she heard his voice earlier. It was different. And it wasn’t Toriel’s voice either. A third monster? The one from the shed had been ethereal and echolike, as if there were multiple voices emitting from the same mouth.

Frisk glanced down at her sneakers and noticed something buried under a tall pile of ash right where she stood. She reached down and brushed the dark debris away, revealing the metal lock. So it was still here… Frisk lifted the lock in her hands and examined it. Then she remembered… Of course, she had unlocked this door. She had opened it with her hands, somehow. This was her own doing! Had she unknowingly unleashed some terrible plague upon the forest by opening this door? Toriel did say that it was dangerous. Was all of this her fault?

Frisk was lost in her own head, her brow furrowed as she struggled with her musings and tried to keep her mind from going to a dark place. She rubbed at her eyes with the bottom of her palm - they were starting to sting from the ash. She thought of turning around and trying to find a way out of these woods, go back to the orphanage, tell an adult about everything that had happened. They would know what to do. She caressed the padlock when she remembered she had a flashlight with her. Frisk stuffed one hand in her pocket and was relieved to find that her cell phone was still there and hadn’t fallen out during all the running about. She pulled out the phone and clicked on its flashlight, shining it directly into the shed entrance way. The light barely did anything to pierce the darkness. She had never, in all her years, seen a darkness this thick before. It was abnormally disturbing.

Just as she was about to turn around and leave all of this behind her, she noticed something towards the back of the shed. Whatever it was was just barely visible underneath a heavy blanket of shadows, but the flashlight illuminated it just a tiny bit. Frisk squinted, focusing in on the object that lay on the floor. It was small-ish, red, it had straps…wait-… that was her backpack!

Frisk gasped and stuffed her phone back in her pocket. She dropped the padlock to the forest floor and inadvertently leapt through the entrance way into the darkness. The cold draped around her shoulders like a lead-lined shawl, causing the soft hairs on the back of her neck to stand on end. She ignored it and bound forward towards her bag. What the hell! How did her backpack wind up in here? She squatted down upon the ground and tugged open the cloth flap at the top, quickly taking stock of all of her things. Everything seemed to be in order. Her box cutter was still in there, the lighter, her box of band-aids, all her text books and pencils and pens and phone charger.

She sighed out, relieved that nothing was missing, and stuffed her plastic bag of food in the backpack for safe keeping. Then she swung her bag over her shoulders, clinging tightly onto the straps with both hands. It was in that moment that she realized she was actually inside the shed. Frisk glimpsed into the darkness, a dreary whistling gust exhaled from the black insides of the building and whooshed past her outside into the warm forest. She took notice of her breath that came forth from her lips in small visible white puffs. Gosh, it was cold.

Frisk slowly stood back up to her feet. She was ready to end this. No more exploring the woods. She would put this whole terrible ordeal behind her and go on living her life as if none of this had happened. Frisk smiled softly to herself, feeling a new sense of assurance. She turned on her heals, ready to head back home, when the shed door slammed shut in her face.

 

 …

 

 …

W-what…

 

She jumped and staggered backwards in shock, her heart hurtling with each beat as she stared at the back of the wooden door. She could just barely make out a figure on the opposite side through the darkness, through the thin, narrow slats that formed the hatchway. The figure that had trapped her inside the shed, it was Toriel.

“T-toriel!!” Frisk cried out, bounding forward as she pressed both her hands to the door, trying to push it open. But it wouldn’t budge. Toriel was silent and staring, those huge saucer eyes glazed in the ghostly green hue of the forest, making them appear like colossal translucent pallid pools.

“I told you, child, to stay away…” Toriel’s unexpectedly cold voice almost knocked Frisk off her feet. The monster stared back at the human girl through the door’s gaps, unblinking.

“I-I-I know… I know b-but…” Frisk stammered and tried so desperately to push her words out. She heard the sound of metallic clinking and a clunk pounded once against the front of the door. What… Toriel had… she had just locked the padlock back in place! Frisk felt like her heart was capsizing. She started to pound on the door with her fists, crying out in utter panic.

“I’m sorry! Toriel- please!”

“Did you open this door, child?” Toriel asked, finally lowering those haunting eyes downward to break the gaze as she interrupted Frisk’s pleading.

Frisk stilled her fists, staring back at Toriel with wide eyes. She was not sure how to respond. When she had encountered Toriel the other night, her gut instinct convinced her not to mention how the lock gave way with ease in her hands. It was unnatural and it frightened her, even more than this looming, nightmarish monster did.

“I-…” she began but Toriel interrupted her again.

“Do not lie, human.” Those words sent a terrible shiver up Frisk’s spine and was like a knife to her stomach. Frisk took a slight step backwards and Toriel inched forward, leering back at her through the small openings. She seemed… enraged. “Did you open this door?”

“I-… I mean… I think-…” Frisk stuttered anxiously, her fingertips were starting to feel numb from the temperature inside the shed, but her head was hot with fear. “I did-” She finally blurted out. Maybe that was all Toriel wanted to hear? Maybe she would release her now… Maybe, maybe… Please god, let that be so.

“So you are the one. You are the Manumitter.” The creature’s voice melted into a sadness. Toriel’s expression softened as she glanced into Frisk’s eyes. “Oh how I so desperately did not want that to be so…”

“The Manumitter?? No- no! I’m not that! I’m not anything!!” Frisk stumbled over her words but Toriel closed her eyes, taking in a deep inhale as her long goat-like ears sagged down and framed her face.

“You are so, my child. Unfortunately, you are so. You opened this door. And you can open the others. You must go forth, child, and open all the others.”

Others!? W-what!?! The monster's words were so cryptic. Frisk was raking her brain just trying to grasp the heck Toriel was talking about. “I didn’t mean to open this door, Toriel! It was an accident! I am so sorry… please… please just let me out. I promise I will never return to this forest.” Frisk begged, expelling all her words in one struggling breath. But Toriel just shook her head in return.

“It is too late. You have been… found out, my child. You must go forth and open the rest of the doors. Only then will you be able to return home.” Toriel leaned forward right up against the door that separated them. Frisk could practically feel the monster’s warm breath expel through the slats, cutting through the painful cold. “You must journey into the Underground.”

The Underground?? What the heck was that!? No, no no nonono! Please, no! Frisk felt hot tears well up in her eyes which blurred her vision. She was cold and desperate and confused. And she started to pound against the door again, the wood from the planks digging small splinters into her palms.

“Please forgive me. I wish it were not this way… They are making me do this…” Toriel sighed again, ignoring Frisk’s pounding and pleading, simply talking louder over her cries. “You have the ability, my child. Can’t you feel it in your hands? In your soul? You are our liberator… our Manumitter. Be strong and be alert. Because they are very… hungry.” It was in that moment that Toriel’s eyes glazed over again, and that sickening wide maniacal grin spread across her face. Frisk had seen that look the other night, in the darkness. It was as if she was possessed. Or perhaps she had been unstable this whole time.

Frisk saw the changing expression and stilled her hands. She took three more horrified steps backwards, away from the door, those ghastly green eyes just barely visible through the open slats. God, she was terrified.

Then the monster started laughing. A cold, cruel laugh that seemed to invade Frisk’s soul, causing her physical discomfort. “I’m sorry, I’m sorry.” Toriel apologized between her echoing chortles and gasps, “It has to be this way, child. They convinced me. It has to be this way! It is inevitable. Fate.”

Toriel smirked wide, her eyes slightly lidded as she grinned, exposing those threatening canines. But despite her demeanor, there was a sadness to her gaze. Frisk saw it. She knew that kind of sadness better than anymore.

“Now go, child. Trust no one. Be strong. Fight.

Frisk shook her head vigorously. She opened her mouth to protest when one of Toriel’s white paw digits slipped through the crack of the door inside the small shack. Frisk stared wide-eyed at the single monster digit, watching as a sharp black nail began to slip out from its sheath. Something was happening. A soft glow began to form at the very tip of Toriel’s monster claw. A greenish-golden colored orb started to appear in layers of translucent churning energy. It was like Toriel was summoning some sort of controlled magic.

Frisk stared back at the orb in awe and terror, her jaw hung open and trembled as she watched the orb grow larger and larger, balancing right at the tip of Toriel’s nail.

“I said go, child!” Toriel shouted and sharply flicked the finger to the right. The glowing orb that had formed burst forward in Frisk’s direction, just barely missing her head. The orb swerved right past her ear, singeing some tips of her messy hair, and then exploded directly behind her. The burst caused a hot rush of air and ember to flood the small foyer of the shed and lit up the darkness if only for a moment. Frisk cried out in fear, ducking her head down and covering her face with her arms to avoid getting hit, to protect herself from the heat and remote licking flames. She heard Toriel’s laughter through the gusts of hot air while the fiery orb of magic quickly dissipated.

Frisk shot open her eyes, staring back at Toriel who was still grinning wide, her behemoth eyes burning with a dangerous conviction. "Run forward, child. Your journey has only just begun.” The demonic goat monster sung out through clenched smirking teeth. Frisk trembled, completely immobilized, then she saw yet another sphere of gold magic start to form at Toriel’s index finger. Shit. She knew that the monster wouldn’t miss a second time. She had to run! She had to get away right now! Even if it meant jumping out of the frying pan into the fire.

The orb was growing larger and larger and Frisk turned and finally she ran. She plunged into the cold darkness, running for her life as Toriel’s deranged laughter bounced off the frigid cavern walls, following her into the Underground. Following her into hell.

*****

Coming up: And so, the journey begins.

Chapter Text

*****

Frisk sprinted through the darkness, her pulse galloping just as fast as her feet. Toriel’s laughter followed her into the black space like a flock of ravens swooping in for the kill.

She continued to run and run… and run…… and… run. Until all she could hear was the sound of her own rapid breath and her feet against the stone floor. Toriel’s laughter had been replaced by soft gusts of freezing wind that whispered past Frisk’s ears. Finally, she came to a halt. She could not take another step.

She panted heavily as she tried to catch her breath. Her lungs stung, desperate for oxygen. But it was so painful to suck in that freezing air. She gasped and coughed and clutched at her chest and it was so dark, so dark… Frisk actually touched around her eyes for a moment to see if they were even open. She lifted both her hands, feeling around in the darkness to get a better grasp of where she was. Still in the hallway. The walls narrowed in close to her, she could touch both of them with ease if she spanned out her arms at either side. It gave her a terrible claustrophobic feeling and she had never been one to be claustrophobic. Frisk pressed her forehead against one of the walls and wanted to cry. This can’t be happening right now. This can’t be happening. This can’t be happening… She let out a few dry sobs, banging a fist upon the stone wall, and her mind started to bounce off in different directions.

Izzy would have to notice her absence. They would come looking for her, right? Someone must! Frisk thought of turning around and going back to the entrance way, back to Toriel. Was the monster still waiting there for her? Would she actually stand there and guard the door to prevent her to trying to escape? She had tried to kill her! The realization made Frisk’s stomach hurt. Toriel had tried to kill her with some fiery orb of magic. Not only was she hulking and terrifying, but she had powers as well! Did all the other monsters have powers? Wait… Toriel mentioned something… Something about my hands. Do I have powers?

Frisk curled her hands into fists, still leaning against the icy wall. Another gust of wind blew past and she shivered in the darkness. Slowly, she slid down to the floor and sat with her back to the stone and her knees curled up into her slight chest. Her lungs were starting to fill up with cold oxygen as her steady breath returned to normal. All she could hear was the whistling wind. It was getting colder… now that she was not running anymore. With trembling hands, she untied the hoodie from around her waist and pulled it up over her head, keeping her hands tucked within the long-sleeves for warmth. She pulled the hoodie’s hood up to cover her ears and the lower part down over her bare scrapped knees, curling up into a feeble little ball within the jacket.

Toriel had said… there were other doors. Her mind continued to surge. Where were the other doors? Somewhere in this long tunnel? And what did she mean when she said the others were… hungry? And who the hell are the others? Maybe if she just kept going forward she would come across the doors eventually.

After a long while of sitting in the dark tucked inside her hoodie Frisk’s body heat had started to return. She would cup her hands around her mouth every few minutes, exhaling hot breaths against her fingers and wringing them together to keep the temperature up. Eventually Frisk dug a hand in her pocket and pulled out her phone. The dimly illuminated cracked screen read ‘1:13 am’. Was it really that late? No wonder she was so exhausted…

Frisk clicked on the flashlight. The meager light did its best to illuminate the small section of hallway, but not by much. She could see how close the walls were together. They were made of a washed-out gray stone with small cracks and indentations that collected at the bottom. Frisk could see the ceiling too, some feet above her. It was also just stone. Then she shined the light down both ways of the hall. Only inky, ominous blackness awaited her at either side.

She propped up her cellphone against the wall to make use of the light and slowly pulled her backpack from her shoulders, cradling it closely in her lap. Frisk opened her pack and pulled out the small bag of snacks. She unraveled the cafeteria turkey sandwich from its foil wrapper, taking a few bites. But despite it all she had no appetite, her anxiety made sure of that. She hesitantly chewed the bread and turkey, taking a very small sip of tea to wash it down. She felt dizzy and sick.

How long could she last in here? She couldn’t stay here forever… eventually she was going to freeze… or maybe even starve to death. Whichever came first. The idea of trying to use her cellphone to call someone seeped into her mind, but she knew very well that the phone had been without service for years. Frisk packed up the rest of the sandwich and glanced down at her bare legs. The blood on her knees had dried and the abrasions looked particularly nasty, like someone had taken a cheese grater to her flesh. There was also dirt and small bits of bark embedded in the wounds. Frisk pulled out an extra bottle of water from her backpack and opened it up. She carefully poured some into the bottle’s small cap, then drizzled the cool water over her wounds. It stung a bit, but was nothing she couldn’t handle. She washed the dirt and chips of wood out of her lesions, rubbing away some of the caked-on dried blood as well, then placed band-aids over each injury to keep them clean for now. The water on her skin immediately chilled due to the freezing atmosphere, so she curled back up into her hoodie and breathed down into the neck hole to warm them back up again.

Was she going to die here? She had always daydreamed about death, for as long as she could remember. But now in this exact moment she was… afraid. Afraid of death and the unknown. She didn’t want to die. She wanted to go back to the orphanage, hug Izzy, find a family, be happy. Frisk’s eyelids felt heavy and her pulse began so slow as a wave of drowsiness washed over her. So dark… so cold… so tired… And finally sleep took her.

 

 

… 

 

 

… 

 

She was in the light. In the warmth. The sun poured down in brilliant rays from overhead as she ran along a suburban road. She was laughing and running and bouncing a tennis ball against the asphalt. A large German Shepherd mutt bounded alongside her, trying to catch the neon green ball between its teeth, barking playfully.

“C’mon, boy. C’mon!” A little Frisk giggled and stopped in the middle of the road. She rolled one shoulder back and threw the tennis ball forward as far as she could. It spiraled in the air before gravity finally took it, and her dog ran after it. “Bring it here, Schafer!” Frisk called out her pet’s name, patting at her thighs to coax the dog back. He returned at a high spread with the ball in his mouth, running circles around the small girl and she let out a carefree laugh.

“Let’s go home, boy.” She smiled down at the dog who leapt upwards in an attempt to lick her face. She hooked her fingers underneath the Shepherd’s leather collar, leading him back to the sidewalk and down the block until they reached a standard ranch-style house. Her heart sank at the sight of the house, as it was a symbol for what was to come, for what awaited her daily. Then the shouting reached her ears and her brief happiness was swept out from under her.

“Frisk, get the hell in here!” That blood-curdling, aggressive voice made each one of her nerves stand on end as it called out from an open window. Her gentle smile faded in seconds and she hung her head, glancing down at her dog, who had tucked its tail between its legs.

“C’mon…” She whispered softly to her pup and dragged her feet up the walkway to the front door. She began to push the door open but it quickly swung inward from a separate force. A tall hulking man stood over her as he gripped onto the side of the door. His face contorted in a rage.

“How many times have I told you not to take that damn dog outside without a leash!” He growled out and gripped tightly onto the back of Frisk’s neck, yanking her forward inside the house. Her dog quickly leapt inside before the man could close the door, and curled up in the corner of the living room whimpering.

“I-I’m sorry, dad…” Frisk said, trying to lean back as her father’s grip tightened around the nape of her neck. She heard a soft sigh from the other side of the room through an open archway that lead into a small dimly-lit kitchen. Her mother sat at the kitchen table, her face battered and bruised. Her soft brown eyes, which once held so much life, now two shallow voids.

“You see how reckless your daughter is?” Her father shouted out towards mom as his cruel eyes locked onto Frisk, his current target. Her threw the girl up against the wall. “She’s just like her mother.” Frisk could smell the stench of alcohol on his breath and seeping through his pours. He stepped up towards her, raising a fisted hand high over his head. Frisk stared wide-eyed at the impending blow and pulled her forearms up to cover her face. Her dog began barking and growling loudly as it bound forward to protect his owner. And before she could feel the horrible pummel of fist to the side of her head, a blanket of shadows wrapped around the visuals and turned everything to black.

 

 

… 

 

 

Frisk sat in a cold sweat in barely lit darkness, breathing fast. She groped around in the gloom, searching for her blanket. But instead there was only cold stone. That’s right… She was still in the tunnel. Oh god… It was real. It was real! Why hadn't it all been just a terrible nightmare? How could this still be happening?… But that dream… that memory she had just experienced, that was actually an improvement than her current reality. She silently wished she could swap the two as she shivered against the ground.

After a long moment of contemplation, Frisk sat up straight. Nothing had changed, everything was still cold and dark. Thankfully her phone’s weak light had remained on while she slept. She grabbed at her cell to check the time and it now read ‘3:45 am’. She must have dozed off for a bit… Part of her wished she hadn’t. She subconsciously rubbed at the side of her head, pushing those harrowing memories down, deep down inside her soul. Deep and hidden away where they belong.

Frisk saw her reflection in the phone screen through the digital clock. She looked like hell. Her face was still streaked with ash, her hair was a tangled mess, her eyes were red and puffy. She rubbed at her cheeks with her sleeve, wiping away the rest of the dusty black lines. She had to keep moving. She couldn’t wait around here forever. Now was the time to go forward. She would find those doors and get the heck out of here. She would make it. She suddenly remembered Toriel’s words: ‘Trust no one. Be strong. Fight.’ They echoed in her head like a haunting melody and she clenched her hands in two fists, ready to move onward.

Frisk pushed her legs out from under her balled hoodie and stood up. The cold immediately cloaked around her bare legs and she rubbed at the tops of her knees where her shorts cut off and took in a deep breath. Then, she grabbed her backpack from off the floor, clutched her phone tight in one hand, and stepped forward into the darkness.

She trotted at a brisk pace through the shadows. The cold breeze blew past her, chilling her to the bone, but she put it out of her mind. She would get out of here, she’d escape. Perhaps she would even find Toriel again once she was back outside. Show that monster just how strong she could really be. Frisk used the light of her cell to guide her, careful not to bump into the walls which now seemed to become event more narrow with every passing minute. The empty space of the hallway were thinning around her. Frisk silently began to panic but she fought back that emotion as well and just kept going forward. She wouldn’t give up that easily.

Frisk had been so preoccupied watching the narrowing walls that she hadn’t noticed a huge puddle of icy black water on the floor, and stepped directly into it. She hissed out and stumbled backwards, but the water had already soaked her sneaker and she could just barely feel the wet cold brush against her toes underneath the sock. Dang it! The last thing she needed right now was frost-bitten toes. She shook her foot out a bit, draining as much of the water as she could, and used to flashlight to scan the puddle. There was a ring of ice collecting around the peripheral of the water where the wall met the floor. Frisk saw that the puddle wasn’t actually that big, it was just difficult to see in the dense shadows. She ran forward and hopped over the water and kept running into the deep.

The walls were really closing in now, they brushed against both of her shoulders and it was getting harder to breath. Should she turn around? Was she going to hit a dead-end eventually? How small was this hallway going to get? Maybe those doors Toriel spoke of were actually nested within in the walls and she had missed it somehow. Frisk hesitated and was about to turn around when that gut feeling told her to keep moving onward. So she did… and just as the walls started to close in on her she reached an opening within the dark.

The halls opened up into a massive, empty space. The wind whistled loudly at the exit, but as Frisk stepped out into the room the gusts died down to a silence. She walked forward and looked up. Somehow the vast chamber was not nearly as dark as the corridor had been, but it was just as cold. Frisk raised her hand and used her flashlight to try and examine where she was.

“H-hello?” She called out in a cracked, small voice which bounced off the walls of the room. It was huge and echoing. There was nothing here, just what appeared to be a massive dark longhall, completely empty and silent. But there was a soft glow coming from one side of the chamber. Frisk squinted her eyes as she looked up, way up high towards the elevated ceiling. There was a small window up there, just barely visible. A gentle, pale beam of light streamed from the opening only to dissipate in the dark shadows, but it just barely lit up the room.

Frisk stepped into the middle of the chamber and thought of calling out again but instead she stayed quiet. There was no one here. Should couldn’t sense a soul. She felt completely and utterly alone. Was she underground right now? Toriel had called this place the ‘Underground’ after all. Perhaps she was underneath the orphanage at this very moment. The thought made her heart feel light with hope.

She walked a few yards over to the stone wall and brushed her fingertips against it. As she reached the section of wall where the window was high overhead, she could see the soft ray of light spill out, dust floating around in the illumination. Would she be able to see the forest out there? It was much too high for her to see out of from down below. The single window was at least five stories up. Frisk stepped out into the center of room to try and get a better angle, but still nothing. Her foot was wet, she was freezing, this was torture. She sighed to herself while she rubbed her bitter hands together before shoving one in the front pocket of her hoodie, her phone in the other, and continued forward. She felt like she was just walking in an empty void… but then…

There was another small opening! On the opposite side of the huge dungeon she could just barely make out a small archway built into the wall. Frisk ran forward towards it and poked her head inside. More tunnel, but there was something else. She could see a light. A bright light a least a mile down the cavern. Frisk gripped onto the sides of the opening, trying to decide what to do. She could go forward, go towards that light whatever it may be, or head back now. It wasn’t too late. Maybe Toriel was gone by now. Maybe… No. No, she will go forward.

Frisk took in a deep inhale, filling up her lungs with oxygen, and released the steady breath before she stepped back into the new tunnel and stepped lively. She wasn’t going to run anymore; all it did was wear her out. But she did keep a brisk pace which added some warmth. The light was growing larger. It appeared to be spilling out from another room. Whether it was as big as the chamber she had just came from or a tiny room, she had no idea, but at least it was something different, something new. Maybe that was where the doors were.

Finally, Frisk got close enough to see inside of the connecting room. She stepped through the doorway into the flickering gentle light. It was a smaller chamber, probably less than half the size of the previous one. It was also made of stone, also cold and also empty except for where that light was originating from. A small candle sat on the floor in the corner of the room, it’s little burning ember gingerly dancing in the chilly atmosphere.

A candle?

Frisk stepped over towards the candle with caution. She looked around the room just to double check if it really was empty, and it was. But the flickering light from the candle created shadows against the stone walls and it made her nervous. Why is there a candle here? Frisk thought and actually muttered those words under her breath to herself. She crouched down in front of the candle and held both hands up to it, warming them up while simultaneously examining the object. It was about the size of a soda can and the wax… the wax of the candle was translucent. It was made up of a cloudy, see-through yellow-ish material. It was so strange. The dripping crystalline pooled down the sides and created a circular puddle around the base.

Frisk peered through the candlestick and noticed that there was no wick inside. The small ember seemed to be floating in thin air, right where it should be above the top of the candle. This was too freaky, but not as freaky as two monsters in the forest and a seemingly harmless shed that lead underground for miles. And at least it was warm…

She pocketed her cellphone - the candle provided enough light anyways - and felt an urge to swipe her fingertips quickly through the flame. They were frozen anyways and she used to watch kids at the orphanage do it with matches for fun. She idly began to glide her fingers through the meager ember. It actually didn’t feel all that hot. Maybe it was due to the fact that her hands were so cold, or maybe this candle wasn’t actually a candle at all but instead something mysterious. Frisk continued to glide her fingers back and forth through the fire. She leaned forward and gripped onto the middle of the candle stick with one hand when- w-whoa!! A huge surge of energy pulsed throughout her body, making her muscles spasm and constrict. Her vision went white and she saw stars. Her head pulsed and she cried out, not necessarily from pain but from the sudden shock of the impact. She fell backwards on her rear, staring at the candle in horror and quickly glanced down at her hands to make sure they were intact. They were both fine, and so was the candle. Nothing had changed except the little flame seemed to dance a bit faster.

What the hell was that???? Frisk’s thoughts raced like they always did whenever something supernatural happened to her, which seemed to happen daily lately. She sat up on her knees and crawled forward, peering in close at the candle once more. It made her uneasy. It was time to go. Frisk reluctantly got back up to her feet and scanned the dimly-lit room. There was yet another doorway on the other side that she hadn’t noticed before. She could keep going or stay in here with this candle… Frisk huffed out, rubbing at her dry eyes with both hands. This was truly exhausting, the unknowing and all the walking and the terror she felt every time she saw a new doorway ahead. And she took in a deep breath, pulling her phone back out from her pocket, and continued on.

 

 

She walked through another stretch of tunnel, leaving the flicking candle behind her. This tunnel was not unlike all the others, except perhaps the air felt a bit heavier and a tad colder (if that were even possible.) As she walked, she kept thinking of the candle and what that strange feeling was when she touched its wax. Had the impact done anything to her? She didn’t feel any different, but she was paranoid about that kinda thing. She also thought of Toriel, but her mind instantly went to the skeleton in the clearing. For some reason that monster in particular kept weighing on her mind… that ax, the blood… the way he chuckled. Frisk shook the memory from her head and stepped slowly down the hall, using her phone’s light as a guide, and without even realizing she walked into yet another new room.

Frisk stopped and glanced about before going any further. For a moment her heart sank, this room looked exactly like the first large chamber she had come across. Did she really just go in one big circle?! No… wait… it wasn’t the same. They looked almost identical but this room was slightly dissimilar. Its stone walls were cracked and crumbling down, revealing more stone behind the initial barrier. Also, there was no window perched up high. It was total darkness.

Frisk walked into the center of the chamber and suddenly she heard something… and it wasn’t the wind.

“Ssssskk… “

Frisk dove back through the doorway she had just come from, pressing her back against the narrow wall. She would give anything right now to just melt in that stone and disappear. Her heart ran like a racehorse and she heard it again…

“Sssssk-… “

Wait… the sound. That sound was familiar to her. Where had she heard that sound before?

“Sss…” The sound seemed to fade off into the distance until it stopped entirely. After a couple minutes of utter terror, Frisk gradually peeked her head over the side of the entrance way. There was still only darkness in the room, but that gave her no comfort. It just meant that anything could be lurking in the shadows unseen. She held her cellphone forward, using the light once more but it didn’t do much to pierce the dark, like usual.

Frisk took in a deep breath. She had decided she wasn’t going to run anymore. She was going to be strong. Strong and fight, like Toriel had told her to. She had made it this far… she must be getting close to the exit now. If she had to fight her way through a monster to return home, then so be it. With kindling bravery, Frisk pulled her backpack from her shoulders and dug a hand inside. Her fingers wrapped around her box cutter, her only weapon. She pulled it out and clicked her finger against the slider to brandish the segmented shape blade, holding it out in front of her. With her weapon in one hand and her light in the other, she stepped forward into the fray.

*****

Coming up: Something creeps in the dark...

Chapter Text

*****

Frisk walked in silence, clenching her teeth together tight, anxiety swirling in her head and in her gut. She scanned the room over with each step as she slowly made her way through the chamber. Another gust of cold wind, but no more of that hissing voice.

Wait… there was something ahead. Far off on the opposite side of the room there was another doorway. She felt a wave of relief at the sight. She preferred being in the narrow hallways rather than in the large rooms, at least in there nothing could be hiding in corners or above her within the shadows, that is unless it was right in front of her nose. Frisk picked up the pace and trotted forward, making a straight line for the open archway. She was just a few steps away from entering another hall when something dark fell right before her eyes.

A ghastly, thin, black, claw-like arm swung down from above the doorway, blocking her path. Frisks eyes went wide as she stumbled backwards and brandished her box cutter out in front of her with a trembling hand. Her eyes locked onto the thing above the door. It was clutching on the side of the wall directly above her.

 

It was not Toriel. It was not the skeleton monster in the woods. It was something different, an atrocious nightmare unlike the others. The creature had multiple dark limbs protruding out in all different directions that it used to cling onto the stone. Like some sort of terrible insect, it adjusted itself against the wall with its numerous legs, raising the limb that had swung downward towards Frisk. Each arm had a claw at the end of it, and each claw was decorated in barbed nails. It's many legs were haunting, but the monster’s body was even more macabre. All of the legs seemed to be erupting from underneath a ragged white cloth draped over a round form. It almost looked like it was wearing a tablecloth to conceal its body and face, but it definitely wasn’t cloth. The cloth-like substance emitted an unnatural gleam of light, just barely visible. It almost looked like drooping flesh, tattered at the ends. This thing was like a ghost with limbs.

Frisk stood shaking and held back a cry that simmered in her throat. The creature dropped down from the wall with a loud thump and started to straighten itself on its many spider-like legs. It soon towered over her and Frisk could see what appeared to be two eye holes cut out at the upper center of the clothy material, exposing a pair of white glowing hues for eyes.

“Ssssskk… human…“ The creature hissed out. That sound again. And it suddenly occurred to her where she had heard it before. That was the voice! The voice from the shed! So that voice belonged to this monster.

It leaned down, it’s body and those luminous eyes coming face to face with Frisk. If she hadn’t been total paralyzed with fear she would have run, or maybe lunged forward with her utility knife, but no. No, instead she just stood there and shook. Her legs felt like pudding, like they would give way at any second. Bravery? Pft… who was she kidding.

“Ssso you…. are the human… “ The monster blinked from behind the white flowing fabric. That soft whispering voice, low and ethereal and echoing off one another. Like a collective of voices sewn together with thread. “I knew you would come…and sssave us… … … ssk…”

Frisk stood, horrified, taking in the monstrous figure and staring back at those radiant eyes, the only thing visible underneath the cloth. Save them?! What??? The monster must have taken notice of her terrified expression because it leaned back slightly away from her.

“Aaah I know I must look frightening.” He almost sounded sorrowful. “I won’t hurt you… sssk…” The monster said quickly and wrung two thin claws together. The way it spoke was terrifying, but there was an undertone of sincerity to its words. Regardless, Frisk’s thoughts bounced around inside her brain like a newborn fledgling. She was about the run when she heard the monster whisper again.

“Manumitter…”

Toriel had called her that… the word that meant ‘savior’.

“W-what did you call me?” Frisk finally found her voice, though it was barely audible through the aggressive trembles that had taken hold. She kept her cellphone flashlight directly on the ghost. It was better than being in the dark with this thing.

“Ah, you do speak.” His quavering voice curled around her and he almost sounded… happy. “You are the Manumitter. I am Napstablook…”

Frisk gripped tightly onto the handle of her box cutter, trying to hold it steady pointed in the direction of the monster, apparently called Napstablook. It blinked again. The monster had no mouth, so how was it speaking? Or did it have one under that draped, glowing ectoplasm? Frisk couldn’t help but wonder what it truly looked like under that ghostly sheet.

“I-I’m not the Manumitter. I’m just F-Frisk,” She said as she finally broke her gaze away from Napstablook’s glowing eyes to watch those deadly-looking claws.

“Isss that what you are called? I see… sskk…” The apparition responded in turn and then remained quiet. It would have been an awkward, strange silence had Frisk not been so aghast. Maybe it was awkward for the ghost? Who knows. Frisk had only spoken to one other monster before, Toriel. And although Toriel made her uneasy, she seemed to enjoy conversation… at least until she had locked Frisk in a shed and attacked her.

“Napstablook,” Frisk spoke the monsters name. The creature seemed to perk up a little bit when he heard it, lowering his claws. “Have… have you seen a skeleton pass through here?”

“A skeleton?… No, no one hasss been through here in a very long time…” His words trailed off into a wisp. Once more Frisk's thoughts returned to that skeleton abomination that she had seen dragging that poor fawn… with those massive, interlocking teeth. Could that thing still be out wandering the woods? Or was it somewhere in these tunnels with them?

“No, you are the firssst being I have seen down here in agesss. It gets very lonely in here. But I’m sssure you realize that, you’ve been down here for a little while… sssk… ssss…”

Frisk blinked at Napstablook’s words. Had he been watching her or something? An unpleasant surge of unease twisted around in the pit of her stomach.

“It’sss lonely and barren… And you have no idea how hungry I am……”

Those words made Frisk take a step back, holding down a whimper in her throat. But the ghost seemed to take notice of Frisk’s altered stance and he quickly lifted those claws upwards again. “Aah… do not worry Manumitter. I don’t eat meat like the othersss ssk…”

Like the others? What did that mean? The other monsters?? Frisk wanted to get out of here. She would have done anything to get out of here right now. She was feeling light-headed from fear and sick from the cold. She parted her lips to ask Napstablook what he did eat, but then decided to stay silent. On second thought she did not want to know.

“But it’sss alright. You will open the doorsss and we will all soon be free…”

She wanted to ask him once and for all what that meant. Toriel had mentioned it too. Free them all from what? Free from this long, dark stretch of tunnels and dungeons? No… that couldn't be it. And he had just said there was no one else down here… So where were all the others? Her head ached with confusion.

“I don’t understand…” She finally admitted, lowering her head slightly. The ghost blinked his vibrant eyes.

“Well, you are a human, aren’t you… ssk?”

Frisk nodded and quickly started to realize she was having a conversation with a huge spider ghost. She should be running! No, no… just keep him talking. Just stay calm.

“You see… It is written… in the prophecy… A human will come… sskk… come and open all the doorsss… Free ussss from the Underground. Each gate is locked down here. Us monstersss cannot open them. Only the Manumitter can.” The ghost’s glowing eyes wandered up and down her form, then started to wander away towards the wall in a casual manner.

Frisk blinked and listened to his reverberating, arcane words. A bubble of questions surfaced at the summit of her thoughts. “Napstablook…” She began, drawing his attention once more, “Where are these doors… exactly?”

The ghostly figure tilted slightly to the side, raising its slender, tendril arms up in an extravagant motion. “Oh there are dozens of doors throughout the Underground… ssssk… sss…”

Frisk bit at the tip of her tongue, feeling like she was missing some vital information here. “But I have been walking around down here for a while now and… and I’ve only seen the first door. The entrance of the shed.” She spoke slowly to keep her voice from shaking. She did not want to appear scared, even though it was painted all over her face. She just wanted these questions answered and to get away from this thing as quickly as possible.

Then suddenly Napstablook chuckled, that motley tone of voice wrapping around Frisk’s soul like a coiling snake. “Oh, you haven’t even ssseen the Underground yet. We are ssstill in the entry passageway.”

Frisk’s determination fell into the pit of her stomach with those words. These tunnels were just the entrance??? She seriously thought she was going to be sick and lowered her phone-holding hand down to clutch at her stomach. Napstablook tilted his head to the side with almost a gesture of concern. This was just… the entrance way… What was awaiting her outside these tunnels? Dear lord…

Suddenly another question seeped to the forefront of her thoughts. She remembered some of Toriel’s parting words spoken through the door: ‘You have been found out’. Frisk glanced up at Napstablook who seemed to be swaying idly side to side. This monster had seen her open the shed door… he was there when it happened. He probably saw the lock open in her hands… Was she trapped down here because this ghost had told someone that she could open the doors? Frisk almost felt angry, but her fear overshadowed her animosity and she decided to ask a more pressing question.

“Napstablook,” She began again, and he made a slight sound as if to ask ‘yes?’. “How can I open the doors… without a key?”

“You don’t need a key… as you are the Manumitter. The key is right here…ssk..” Napstablook lifted one of his wiry limbs up and pressed the very tip right at the center of Frisk’s chest. Frisk stumbled backwards as the limb pushed lightly against her front. She could feel the frigid cold temperature of the leg through her hoodie. “Ah-… sorry…” He began, lowering his limb back to the ground. “Everyone hassss a soul… Monsters… Humanssss… Some are just more powerful than othersss-”

But Frisk ignored his genuine apology and the words that followed. She jolted backwards away from the ghost, dropping her cellphone to the floor with a loud clatter and clutched at her utility knife in both hands, holding it out towards the monster. Without her phone’s light, only the dim glow of the monster’s ghostly body and eye holes illuminated the space between them. Frisk’s eyes were wide, teeth clenched and pupils dilated in terror, ready to defend herself against this giant nightmare if she had to.

Napstablook’s brilliant glowing eyes lock onto the knife and he shifted slightly. He took a moment, then leaned in close towards Frisk. She let out a soft cry of fear through her teeth, her hands shaking, but still she did not lunge. The monster was inches away from her face, his eyes centered-in on the knife.

“Isss that your weapon?…” He asked, his voice strained with a melancholy that she had heard earlier when he spoke of loneliness. All of a sudden Frisk felt embarrassed. Yes, Napstablook was physically terrifying, but there was a genuine courtesy about him. Instead of answering his question, Frisk lowered her hands down and away from the ghost. She pressed her thumb at the slider to sheath the blade back inside the handle.

“Are you a killer, Manumitter?” He asked and raised his gaze up to stare back into her eyes, still leaning in way too close. Frisk could feel a strange aura emanating off his form. “Are you going to kill usss, Manumitter?”

His voice was less echoic that time and it scared her. Frisk rapidly shook her head no, side to side. “N-no… no.” Her voice cracked. She felt demoralized and afraid. But the monster kept pushing it. One of his tendril-like limbs started to creep along Frisk’s arm. She jolted in shock from the sudden touch, but the spidery limb continued its way up, up along her shoulder blade. It felt like someone was dragging barbed wire along the sleeve of her hoodie and it caused her flesh to break out in goosebumps.

“Are you sssure?” He asked in that same pensive voice.

Frisk nodded fast and finally found the nerve to pull herself away from that contorted limb, stumbling over to the side. “I am not a killer! I-I will open the doors…” She would have said anything to satiate this monster.

Napstablook lowered his arm and his gloomy yet earnest demeanor seemed to return as he replied. “Ahhhh that is wonderful, Manumitter! The next door is jussst up ahead…” He stepped to the side with clicking feet on stone floor, revealing the open entrance way directly behind him.

Frisk quickly crouched down to snatch up her phone that lay on the ground. She held the flashlight back up, shinning the light in the direction of the doorway which housed only darkness like all the others.

“If you are successful in opening the ssssecond gate, then perhaps I will see you again… on the outside… sssskkk…” Napstablook spoke quietly, watching her with a keen interest. “And if you are unsuccessful, then… I will most definitely see you again in these tunnelssss…sss…” He almost chuckled, if you could call it that.

Frisk took a step forward towards the doorway. She hesitated for a second and glanced back at Napstablook, who remained where he stood. She wasn’t sure how to end their conversation. She was scared of him, but another part of her also pitied him. It was a weird, conflicting feeling. Instead she just remained silent, turned back towards the doorway, and sprinted forward.

Napstablook raised a limb up with a sparse wave, “Good luck………”

 

 

Frisk ran in the dark. Her heart pounding against the inside of her chest. She had promised herself not to run anymore, but after that encounter she made an exception. The conversation she had with Napstablook was still fresh in her mind. But the only comment that really stuck out was that these rooms and tunnels were nothing more than a lobby for the real Underground. If this wasn’t the Underground, then what was? And did she even want to find out?

Frisk shook her head as she darted forward. Her feet felt so heavy now. She held her phone up in front to light the way while at the same time scanning over the cell’s screen to check the time. It read ‘10:55 am.’ So it was morning already and she hadn’t even known it. Izzy was probably wondering where the heck she was. Her teachers would notice. They would come looking… yes, they would find her…

Frisk was busy trying to convince herself that everything was going to be alright when she saw something ahead with her flashlight. There were no more shadows, there was a wall. Was this a dead-end? Had Napstablook lied to her? She skidded to a halt directly in front of the stone wall before her. Something was engraved in the center. It was a symbol. She recognized that symbol. She had seen it before on the door to the shed the very first night she had entered the woods. Three spears at the top and a loop downward that coiled into itself in a spiral.

This symbol… did it mean that this was a gate? Like the first door? That had to be it. Frisk felt a small tinge of accomplishment, like she had just solved some difficult jigsaw puzzle. She traced her fingers along the runic symbol, fingertips now ashen white from the cold.

Frisk pressed her hand directly at the center of the etched marking. She was starting to question how exactly she should open this door, since it really wasn’t a door at all, but a wall. At least the first gate at the shed had a padlock. She pocketed her cell and allowed her now freed-up hand join the other, pushing them both into the wall in the darkness. Suddenly she felt her fingers warm up. This feeling… it was exactly like the time she had cradled the padlock. A tepid heat began at her fingertips and then spread throughout her hands to her wrists. Frisk let out a gasp when she saw a glow forming around hands. A gentle, red lustrous light that engulfed them both like gloves. The light ran up her arms and she could just barely make out the glow through her long-sleeves. She felt the flourishing warmth as it traveled through her arms, down her clavicle and to the center of her chest. It was so warm… So gentle and comforting. Frisk stared with glossed, lidded eyes at her gleaming fingers and then she heard a loud crumbling sound, the sound of rock scrapping against rock.

The wall began to shake as if it had just been hit by a boulder on the opposite side. Frisk whimpered under her breath and twitched her fingers, but something told her to keep her hands where they were. Do not remove them from the wall. You’re almost there. She held her breath tightly in her lungs and tried to still her trembling legs. The warmth started to get a little too hot inside her fingertips. What was happening?? Was she going to burn up from the inside-out? Was this her soul?

Before one more pessimistic thought could slip into her mind, the wall swung outward. It opened with a noisy, silence-shattering clatter while bits of rock and debris fell from the archway onto Frisk’s head. She quickly pulled her hands again and raised her arms up over her head, slinking down to her knees to the floor, becoming as small as possible. When the wall had opened and she lost contact with the symbol. The glow at her hands had vanished. But the gentle subsiding warmth remained.

Frisk held her eyes shut tight, ducking against the floor until all the noise stopped. A dynamic gust of freezing wind hit her hard, her hair blowing back in the strong flurry. She could see a bright, brilliant light through her eyelids and slowly opened them.

 

Before her was a forest, although it wasn’t her forest. She had never seen a forest quite like this before.

Every single inch of ground was covered in snow. The sparse trees were all dead and lurched in the cold wind, creating eerie creaking sounds. There was not one speck of green, only white and grey. The sky was a dark grey as well, and not a cloud could be seen. Or a sun, or a moon for that matter. It was just… empty.

Frisk slowly rose back up to her feet in awe. She squinted at the bright display before her. She had been in the darkness so long, it hurt her eyes to see all of this white.

So this was the Underground.

She stepped out into the snow and immediately felt the cold bleed through her sneakers. God, she really was not dressed for this weather. All she had on was shorts and a hoodie. If all of the Underground was this cold then she was going to have a huge problem.

Frisk stood a few inches out in the snow and took it all in. She could do this. She would make it. Everything will be fine. She’ll get through this just like she got through every other harrowing challenge in her short 14 years of existence. Besides, how many more doors could their possibly be? And she stepped forward into the frozen forest.

*****

Coming up: The Snowdin Forest is long and deep.

Chapter Text

*****

 

Frisk shuttered in the frigid wind as she walked. The snow crunched underneath her sneakers with each slow step. Every now and then she would look over her shoulder back at the tunnel exit. It appeared that she had been inside a mountain the whole time she was in those halls. Should could see the elevated cliffs towering over the trees behind her. Her thoughts stumbled over one another. How did she go from her forest in late-summer to a new, foreign forest in the dead of winter??? Her mind couldn’t make sense of any of it, but then again she could barely comprehend anything that was happening to her lately.

The wide boulder-like door remained pushed to the side, revealing the hollow darkness within. Those tunnels had been a nightmare, but then again… it had not been nearly as windy in there… and she had also grown accustom to the shadows. Now, standing outside in this forest, everything was new and light and somehow felt… even more unsettling. She felt exposed.

Frisk wondered if Napstablook would follow after her and she glanced back at the large cavity once more. She almost expected Napstablook to be standing in the doorway, but he was not. Nothing had changed, except that the exit was getting smaller as she tread further out into the woods. Another unyielding gust of icy wind and she shivered, rubbing her hands at either sides of her forearms. She tugged her hood back up over her head, which was continuously blowing off, and quickly stroked her hands at her bare legs to create some friction. But they were already starting to numb up. She stopped for a moment and looked down at her hands and tried to use some sort of abstract force of will to summon that red warmth back to them - the warmth she had felt when she touched the symbol on the wall. But, of course, nothing happened.

As she walked on Frisk checked her phone again. The time now read “12:02 pm.” It was lunchtime back home. Oh, what she wouldn’t give to feel warm sunbeams against her skin one more time. She’d even settle for something warm to drink at this point. Gosh, a cup of hot chocolate would be nice. Anything to beat back this chill. Frisk noticed that her cell battery read 50% and felt an immediate pang of concern. If her phone ran out of battery she wouldn’t have a flashlight anymore… or a clock. And although she did have her charger tucked away in her backpack, she highly doubted there would be a power outlet around here.

How long was this forest? Was this the entirety of the Underground? Just a huge stretch of frozen woods with doors every now and then that she’d have to open? And also… where were all these ‘others’ Toriel and Napstablook had mentioned? As far as she could see, this place was desolate. Not a bird or bug or even a squirrel. Just miles of empty snowy woods, colorless and bleak. And that sky was another thing. It was a steel slate that hung overhead, completely deprived of clouds or even a sun. It was like she had stumbled upon another planet. Another world.

Frisk looked back over her shoulder once again only to learn that the mountainside exit was no longer there. She must have taken a turn somewhere during her dazed walk. Now she was surrounded by dead trees, and only dead trees. And also lots of snow, of course.

Then, she heard a loud blaring siren overhead, abrupt and completely jarring. Frisk ducked down, looking skyward frantically. There was nothing there except grey sky and treetops, but the deafening sound shook her to the core. It was an air raid siren. Did she just step into the middle of a war or something? Was it some type of alarm to alert the monsters of her presence? The siren continued on for a good minute until it faded back into silence. It was in that moment that it hit her just how much worse this was than the tunnels.

She was definitely going to freeze out here. There was no doubt about that. At least in the tunnels she had some hope. But this… this was just torture. She felt an overpowering wave of hopelessness grip around her soul and tears started to fall from her eyes. She couldn’t stop them. Frisk covered her face with freezing hands as her soft sobs echoed around her. This was not fair. Why do I always have to suffer?

She broke down against her arms, rubbing her eyes at her shoulder to wipe away the tears that quickly became icy and just hurt her eyes even more. She still had her utility knife with her… should she just end this right now? Cut her wrists in the snow and let death take her?

A poem she had once come across in her many beloved books materialized in her mind: ‘Hope is the thing with feathers, that perches in the soul, and sings the tune without the words, and never stops at all…'

She wanted out, she did… but still… there was hope. Yes, hope. And that hope steadied her trembling hands. Frisk took in a deep, quivering breath of cold air and raised her head, staring forward into the countless scattered trees. Now was the time to focus on what to do next instead of worrying about what could go wrong. Frisk rolled back her shoulders, stuffed her hands into her hoodie front pocket, and continued on.

 

 

She walked for what felt like ages. Time went by as slow as molasses. Every moment Frisk thought she must have been traveling for at least an hour, she would check her phone, and to much dismay discover that it had only been about 15 minutes. She had to reach a town or a camp or something eventually. If there really were other monster out here then how could they survive in this? Maybe they had thick hides or something, and were built to live in the snow. Toriel should have warned her about this weather… or Napstablook.

She sighed and reached a thicker patch of trees. Frisk ran her fingertips over the bark of the one closest to her. Something was strange… The wood was brittle and covered in creeping, dark fuzzy patches. She hadn’t even noticed it before, but once she saw it she quickly realized that all the trees were covered in the same substance. It was almost like some type of mold. It ran between the cracks of bark and engulfed each tree all the way up to the high, bare branches. Were these trees infected with something?

Frisk saw that some of the moldy rot had wiped off on her fingers and she hastily rubbed them against the front of her hoodie to brush it off. This forest was sick; she could feel it in her soul. It also started to smell stale, like the inside of a mildew-coated well. She continued on and it started snowing. Small gleaming flakes drifted down from the sky silently. The last thing she wanted right now was to get caught in a snow storm, but wait… no… no it wasn’t snow. It was ash. Like the ash she had seen back home in her forest. The ash was not nearly as dense as before, and it seemed to dissipate in the wind before it even hit the floor, but it was enough to make her eyes sting and her lungs feel heavy.

Then she heard something, and it wasn’t the air raid siren this time. It was a soft, mewling cry out in the woods. It echoed off the poisoned trees and reached her ears, splitting the painful silence in two. Frisk instinctively leapt behind the first tree she saw and held her breath. What was that??? Her thoughts, which had started to grow sluggish from the cold, sprang into action and she immediately began to panic. So this forest wasn’t desolate after all! Or were her ears playing tricks on her and it was just the scratching tree branches overhead?

The noise again. It was louder and almost frantic that time. But there was nothing unearthly or nightmarish about the lament. It actually sounded like the cry of a normal animal. Frisk exhaled, her warm breath visible in the pale light which created billowing puffs. She reached a hand back into her backpack and dug out her utility knife.

'Are you a killer, Manumitter?'

Napstablook’s spectral words buzzed in her head. No, she was not a killer. This was for protection! She had no idea what awaited her in these woods. It would be foolish not carry a weapon. And time was running out. It’s time to go forward, open those doors. Time to go home. Frisk tightened her grip on the blade and dashed out from behind the tree, running forth towards the sound.

 

 

The raining flakes of ash seemed to finally cease and her run eventually slowed to a trot. The weak crying continued. It would howl out every couple of minutes, growing louder and louder as Frisk approached the source. She could make out what appeared to be a very small clearing of trees in a circle up ahead. There were also some frosty, gray boulders that collected around the peripheral of the modest expanse in clumps.

Frisk made her way to one of the boulders, as quietly as she could, and ducked down behind the stone. With slow, cautious control, Frisk peeked up from above the cold rocks to glimpse out into the clearing.

The fawn! The fawn was out there! And also-… and… also…

Her heart faltered. Her hands grew clammy in a cold sweat. She trembled and held back a terrified gasp as she took in the sight.

The baby fawn was splayed out on the floor in the snow. Its front legs kicked weakly at air, while its back legs lay limp, bleeding and broken in different directions. It would thrash its small head about in the snow, mustering a small cry, trying to roll over onto its feet. But the poor thing was so battered that even its voice was giving way. And although it was a terrible sight, it was not even remotely as ghastly as the creature standing over the fawn.

The skeleton.

 

Frisk’s eyes went wide as she stared directly at the monster. The blood on his shirt, the dark fur-trimmed jacket, the black tattered baggy pants, the single red gleaming eye. There was no mistaking it, that was the creature she had seen back home in her forest, in that clearing. The scene was unfolding so close to her, only about 4 yards out. God, she wanted to scream. It took every bit of strength Frisk had to hold her voice deep down in her throat.

The skeleton hovered over the fawn, its single red glowing hue for an eye locked onto the animal. In one lowered hand he held the ax, tainted with streaks of dried and fresh blood. His opposite claw was raised up to his chilling face. Bony fingers dipped into his right eye socket, the one that was vacant and dark, and latched onto the underside of the black, hollow cavity. His massive teeth interlaced with one another, each tooth fitting perfectly against the other to form an unsettling, permanent grin. Each tooth as sharp as a kitchen knife. His shoulders rose and fell with every steady breath. And his lone maroon eye locked onto the dying fawn, unwavering.

Frisk had a terrible feeling that she was about to watch something godawful take place. The monster was silent where he stood, and only the sounds of the wind, trees and the baby deer’s pitiful cries could be heard.

Then the monster took a step forward. He raised the blood-stained hatched high above his head and brought it down upon the fawn, cutting the thick, sharpened ax into the back of its neck.

A sickening crunch of splitting bone. Blood sprayed against the white ground, turning it red. Frisk couldn’t stay silent as she witnessed the impact. She gasped loudly at the sight. For a split second, she saw the skeleton’s grin fade and his eye dart up to where she hid. Frisk immediately duck her head down behind the rocks. Oh lord, did he see me???? Did he hear me?!?? I don’t want to s-see this! This isn’t happening… This can’t be happening! Her mind scrambled. A terrible, blood-curdling howl erupted from the fawn’s cut throat. God, it wasn’t dead yet!? Was that monster still out there?!?!? Loud cries and yelps, mixed in with an obscene gurgling, caused Frisk physical pain to listen to. She cupped her hands over her ears, utility knife balanced in her palm, but the sound made its way through. She could still hear the animal. How could it still be alive?? What was that monster doing to it???? Her terrible curiosity became too much and she peeked her head up over the stones once more.

The monster was gone. Vanished. Not a trace of him remained, except for the outrageous damage he had just inflicted upon the animal. It was still alive. Its neck cut and gushing at the nape, but it was still alive… barely. The cries were starting to become fainter and more far apart. Frisk literally could not stand it anymore. She had to do something! Wrap some cloth around it’s wound to stop the bleeding?? Or maybe try and figure out a way to stitch up the gash? Or maybe… Maybe… put it out of its misery?…………

Without considering the danger, Frisk ran out from behind the boulder and into the clearing, clambering over to the fawn. Its black eyes shifted weakly at the sight of her.

“I’m sorry… I’m so sorry…” Frisk sobbed out over the fawn’s feeble cries, kneeling down next to it. A pool of red started to form under the creature as its eyes glazed over. Underneath the dark red torn flesh and gore at its neck, she could see where the animal’s spine had been crushed. Frisk clenched her teeth together. She trembled and felt as helpless as ever. She let her backpack slide off her shoulders and dropped her box cutter to the snow. She held both her quivering hands over the creature’s torso, fingertips rubbing along the soft pelt. She could feel its little heart fluttering, slowing… but still fluttering. It was bleeding out. Fast. But what could she do?

The animal cries soon stopped and the fawn just lay there, barely breathing in a chilled puddle of its own blood. Frisk’s shoulders shook as she wept silently over the forlorn youth. It did not deserve a death like that.

Then she heard something.

Something in back of her… Like the sound of a whirlwind of dry leaves rustling on an autumn day. Frisk quickly turned her head around to see him… Him.

The skeletal monster stood directly behind her. His red eye pulsing, his grin widening.

Frisk opened her mouth to scream out but no sound came.

“well, now.”

He-…h-he spoke-! She had heard that voice before and only once before. She had heard him laugh before. That deep, reverberating sinister growl; the voice that drilled painfully into her soul. And he was so much larger up close. If Frisk had been standing, he would have been at least 3 feet taller than her.

“W-wait-…” But before Frisk could utter another word the skeleton had already snatched her up off the floor. His sharp claw pierced through the front fabric of both her hoodie and long-sleeved shirt, and pressed painfully against her sternum. He lifted her up off the ground with ease, clutching onto the fabric in his fist, her legs dangling and toes barely grazing the snow below. Frisk's eyes darted from his face to his opposite hand that still gripped onto the ax which dripped with fresh blood.

Frisk tried to speak but instead she just cried out. It simply made that skeleton’s sickening grin grow wider in return. Her heartbeat was galloping in her chest, her head spun, and she felt like she was choking against the front neck hole of her hoodie. She gripped onto his sleeved-arm with both hands, trying to free herself from his grasp. He held her inches away from his face, his single red eye pulsing like an excited heartbeat. And before Frisk could even attempt to fight back, the monster turned to the side and threw her forcefully against the boulder by the trees.

She slammed hard into the rock, the back of her head hitting the stone. A terrible pain in her skull and her vision went white then black and then… unconscious…

 

 

 

 

She could hear something. The crunch of snow under shoes. Frisk opened her eyes weakly, which was immediately followed by a terrible pain at the back of her head. It felt like someone had hit her with a hammer. She was down in the snow, facing upwards, and the skeletal nightmare stood over her.

She quickly recalled what had just happened, and realized that she couldn’t possibly have been unconscious for more than a few moments. But that was one moment too many. The hulking monster stood directly over her now, peering down with that same wide smirk. His fur-trimmed hood up over his head, shrouding his features, which made him appear even more terrifying.

“hey kiddo. you look dead tired.” He growled out through those smirking teeth and released a deep chuckle. The monster lifted one arm to the side, the one that clutched onto the grotesque ax. A strange blue wisp of shadows abruptly formed and encircled the skeleton’s hand, multiplying from nothing. The dim shadows began to collect around the ax and suddenly it vanished. The ax, along with the blue coiling fog, evaporated into thin air, freeing up both of the monster’s hands.

With both hands now free, the skeleton leapt down on top of her, his knees at either side of Frisk’s hips. He was massive and hulking, blocking out the grey sky above. He was so close… too close. And that tainted smirk ever present across his face.

“G-get away from me!” Frisk’s voice lurched out, finally. She started to kick and attempted to turn on her side to crawl out from underneath the imposing monster. Both his claws quickly wrapped around her wrists, pinning her hands up over her head into the snow. A wave of abhorrent shivers ran up her spine as she felt his bones against her skin. His slender, sharp fingers were cold to the touch… and rough. Her head ached, she trembled uncontrollably from fear and cold as some snow found its way under her hoodie and collected at the small of her back. She struggled in his grasp, which only tightened. And cried out. Was she going to die here?… just like that fawn? Was this the end?

“you’re not supposed to go where you’re not wanted, kid,” he spoke again, his voice low and dripping with malice. “ah well. i’ll forgive ‘ya. besides, you look way tastier than that brown thing,” he motioned towards the still, bleeding fawn with a nod.

Before Frisk could even react, the monster had already shifted both of her wrists into just one of his powerful grasping claws, freeing up a hand. And that free hand slide down the center of her small chest, down her stomach, down to the bottom hem of her hoodie. He tugged the fabric upwards to uncover the flesh just below her ribs- exposing her bare stomach.

The cold stung her midriff. Frisk’s chest raised up and down like some frightened animal who was about to be devoured by a hungry predator. His hand pressed against the center of her bare stomach and she cried out again, completely and utterly terrified. Despite the cold she was sweating from fear, and continued to thrash around in his grasp. I have to get away I have to get away I have to get away-

“…way more meat, too. heh.” He said as his glowing red eye locked onto Frisk’s naked abdomen and his hand curled around the side of her waist to hold her still. She could have sworn she saw an oozing pellet of drool start to form at the corner of his grinning maw. Oh god, no. Please, no!

“W-waait!!” With a sudden surge of fortitude, Frisk cried out as loud as she could muster, “I’m the M-manumitter!!”

The skeleton’s smirk faded before her eyes. The red pulsing hue, housed in only one eye socket, grew darker… and smaller. And both his sockets narrowed down at her.

“what?” He whispered out bluntly. His voice immediately lost that cruel, taunting timber. Now it was just plain terrifying.

“I-I’m the Manumitter… I n-need-… need to open t-the doors-“ She managed to stutter out of breath.

The monster’s glowing eye started to scan her face quickly, then it scanned her torso, then up to her wriggling hands, then back down to her face once more. Frisk’s heart lurched in her chest as she watched him study her… had she just saved her skin? She was going to get out of this situation unscathed? H-he would free her now, right?

But her heart plummeted as she watched his grin recover and he let out a loud, cruel, deafening laugh that seemed to flood the entire forest.

“ahahaaaha!! haha!”

Oh, no…

 

“ahahah!… a-haah… hah… oh, man… that’s a good one, bucko,” He said between breathless snickers while his hand once again continued to grope along her midriff, making her feel ill. “…but you’re not a killer. i’d know the manumitter when i see ‘em. and you’re not it. but you are… dinner.”

Frisk’s eyes went wide at his words. She shook her head no quickly from side to side. The sting of tears started to pierce the corners of her eyes. This can’t be happening-!

“…and when it comes to dinner, i like to start with the best parts first. i’m greedy like that. heh.” His hand released its grasp at her waist and traveled down her hips to her frozen, bare thighs… Oh, hell.

The monster’s savage smirk spread wide across his features at the sight of her terror-stricken face. Was he getting off to this!?

He grabbed at the underside of one leg and forced her knee to bend, lifting it upwards as her bare shin pressed into his chest. Some of the blood that stained his clothes rubbed against Frisk’s skin and she could feel the tiers of bones underneath his shirt. No no nononono! The monster leaned his head down so that the front of his massive, rowed teeth lightly brushed against Frisk’s knee cap. She would have attempted to knee him in the mouth had he not kept such a tight, painful hold on her leg. And her wrists were still trapped in his other claw.

The monster slowly tilted his head to the side, now clutching tightly at the top of her femur while that same hand simultaneously started to push her shorts upward to expose more leg. His teeth grazed along and downward, underneath her thigh to that soft, supple, cold flesh below.

“P-please!! Please s-stop!” She cried out, pleading with him. Her heart felt like it truly was going to explode. It was hammering so hard in her chest that it hurt.

Frisk watched in horror as the monster’s teeth began to part while he lifted her leg to get better access to the back of her thigh. He was opening his mouth, wide. The rows of glossy white canines dripped with a lustrous blue saliva. She could see his tongue just barely inside and it was blue as well.

The skeleton didn’t respond to her begs. He seemed much too focused on her bare legs now. His dinner. A flash of parted teeth and the sharp tips dug into her skin, slowly pressing down. Oh my god oh my god oh my god nonononono!! Frisk struggled violently and screamed out as loud as she could, but it did nothing.

She could feel his teeth start to sink into the back of her thigh. His teeth, while sharp, weren’t like razors. They were just slightly blunted at the ends. It only made it so much worse. More and more pressure against her muscle, and then that horrible, all-consuming pain shot up through her whole body from the impact like a lightning bolt the moment his teeth plunged inside her.

The pain… it was unreal. Frisk was no stranger to pain. Clearly, due to her cutting. But that type of pain couldn’t even hold a candle to this. The monster was sinking his lethal rows of teeth into her flesh, into her muscle. She spasmed and cried out. Tears streaming down her cheeks, her nose running. She struggled to breathe.

His teeth weren’t even halfway inside yet. The skeleton made a noise like an animalistic groan, with his mouth full of her flesh. He unlatched his jaw and pulled back from her leg just barely, to get a glimpse of the damage he had just caused. The double rows of deep teeth marks embedded in her pallid skin immediately began to bleed red the moment he released. The apex of each one of his teeth was stained with blood. Her blood.

She screamed out again, even louder than before, hoping someone, anyone would hear. Someone must be out there! Please god, let someone hear her screams! The monster just licked his maw over with that inexplicable blue dripping tongue and lurched in once again, planting another cruel bite at her thigh. It was in a different spot this time, overlapping the first one, and he sunk those teeth in even deeper than before.

Stars formed at the back of Frisk’s eyes. God, it hurt. Then he started to jerk his head to the side with his jaw still clenched, her flesh trapped between his teeth. W-was he was trying to pull the flesh away from her limb!? No, no no! Aah it hurts so bad! S-someone help me!

The monster suddenly released her wrists to free up his other claw. His blood-lust seemed to completely overtake him since he ignored every single one of her cries and pleads. He gripped onto her hip with the freed skeletal hand, biting vigorously at her torn flesh.

With her hands now free, Frisk pressed them both against his shoulders trying to push him off. Get him off get him off get him off!!!! Where was her box cutter!? She frantically looked around the snow to see that her weapon, her only salvation, lay just out of reach by the dead fawn. No!!!

She screamed out, using all her strength to try and shove him off her trembling form. He wouldn’t budge. And Frisk thought she heard a sickening chuckle rumble in his chest.

Her hands… they started to grow hot. Or was she just delusional from pain? No… they were hot, hot and glowing red. That familiar warmth spread throughout her palms, up her arms, to her fluttering chest. She could feel the warm energy erupt from her soul and run back down her arms once more to her hands and burst forward.

The skeleton was jolted back from the sudden flare of energy, enough so that he released his teeth from her leg, yet he remained towering over her. Frisk lay trembling in the snow beneath him with her hands held out in front. The soft red glow had dissipated as quickly as it had come.

Her blood dripped from the corners of his mouth while his red eye flashed brilliantly. For a moment he looked aghast, stunned by the abrupt power that had pushed him backwards. But then… his features contorted and he looked… pissed.

Frisk couldn’t move. She lay huddled in the freezing snow, trembling and sobbing as she tried to hold her injured thigh up off the ground. The skeleton growled back at her and slammed both his hands down against either side of her shoulders.

I’m done for. That’s it. This is the end.

“kid…” he growled out through bloody, clenched teeth. His eye sockets were wide and he was not smirking anymore. His red eye pulsed rapidly like a flickering light bulb. "i'd say your time down here is limited…"

The monster lifted one hand out of the snow to his side and that blue whirling wisp of smoke appeared again… and it started to swirl around his slender skeletal fingers like spiraling snakes. The hatchet appeared in his hand out of thin air and he instantly gripped onto the wooden handle.

Frisk panted heavily. Was she dying? Bleeding to death? She could feel hot blood seep along her thigh and stain the backs of her shorts. It dripped down against the alabaster snow and covered the ground below in wet, red blotches. Frisk thought she heard that air raid siren blaring again, off in the distance overhead. Or was she imagining that? No… it was wailing above them. Once. Twice. Frisk stared back at the monster who now shifted his ax inward, holding it directly above her exposed stomach. The siren rang a third time. Then a fourth. Then a firth. And then it stopped. “heh… time’s up.”

He raised his hand up high, the ax head gleaming with blood in the pale light. Frisk shut her eyes tight while every muscle in her body tensed up and she prepared herself for the certain fatal impact of that deadly blade to her stomach. And he brought the weapon down, and-

 

 

“SANS!!”

………………………

 

………………

 

………

 

 

What…w-what was that noise?…… Was she dead?…………

…………

 

……

 

Frisk slowly opened her sodden eyes. The ax had stopped its descent only inches away from her stomach. The skeleton was still crouched over her, holding his weapon firmly. But his head was turned, looking out towards the side of the small forest clearing… out at another monster. A tremendous, slender, towering monster. Another skeleton.

*****

 

Coming up: Frisk meets another skeleton.

Chapter Text

*****

Frisk lay in the snow. She felt nauseous. Her vision faded in and out. Her leg throbbed from the pain. She could feel her pulse deep in the torn flesh, thumping inside her thigh like it had a heartbeat of its own. She couldn’t feel her toes. Was it from the cold or from the blood loss? She had no idea.

The skeleton that had just tried to consume her was still hovering over. But his gaze was out towards the trees, out where another monster stood. Another skeleton. Frisk’s heart plummeted when she saw it. Could this possibly get any worse? It had burst through the dead branches and was standing there… staring at the both of them. It was massive and lanky. Even taller than the monster that had attacked her. And thinner.

It wore an off-white poncho draped over its wide shoulders which was tattered and stained all over. The garment had been ripped off half-way down and exposed the creatures thin, plated skeletal spine that held it upright. Frisk felt her stomach churn at the sight. It was also clothed in a blue-ish black dilapidated kilt that exposed its femurs down to its fibulas. And it had two dark boots and an enormous heavy-looking crimson scarf that dragged behind in the snow.

 

“SANS! WHAT ARE YOU DOING? I THOUGHT YOU WERE GOING TO CUT UP DINNER?”

It was… speaking. Its voice was extremely loud and caustic as if it were shouting, and it echoed mildly like all the other monsters’ voices did. Like there was some kind of electrical whisk trapped inside its chest. It took Frisk a moment to realize that this new, hulking monster was actually speaking to the other one. What the hell is happening??? Was she delusional from blood loss or something?

“heh. i was, papyrus. ‘till i came across a better meal.”

The monster with blood-stained teeth responded in turn. W-was this one’s name… Sans? Had she heard that correctly? That was what the other one had called him. And the tall one… was called Papyrus? Frisk’s headache throbbed as she tried to grasp their conversation.

Papyrus stepped up the clearing, moving in towards them. His skull was long and narrow and his eyes were small and hollow, like two restricted cavities which lacked any glowing hues or brilliant lights at all. They were simply… empty. His teeth were made up of multiple, massive thin pillars that interlocked in uneven rows and were filed flat at the tips, human-like. And Frisk could just barely make out rusty-red stains smeared between each mammoth incisor. Frisk stared up at Papyrus who now loomed over her. She almost called out to him for help… but who was she kidding.

“SANS! THAT IS A HUMAN!” Papyrus exclaimed. He almost sounded excited. And he leaned over slightly to get a better look. She couldn’t even tell where he was looking with those empty eye sockets, but his skull bent downward in her direction so she could only assume that he was staring at her. “IS THAT THE HUMAN?”

Suddenly Sans stood up off of Frisk, leaving her upon the floor. She immediately clutched onto the sides of her mangled thigh the moment she was freed. Blood soaked her fingers. She could feel the torn flesh and let out a desperate sob, hyperventilating from the trauma.

Sans’ red eye darted down towards her then back up to Papyrus. He wasn’t grinning anymore. Instead he just looked irked. “ 'pyrus… look at her. c’mon, don’t be a bonehead."

Papyrus titled his head back towards Sans and stood up straight. Frisk lay in-between the both of them at their feet. She was in so much pain, she was starting to wish for death to just come and take her away already… just end this. Her thigh shook as she tried to keep it from resting against the snow.

“SANS!” The colossal skeleton clamored again, “UNDYNE TOLD EVERYONE TO STAY ON HIGH ALERT BECAUSE A HUMAN WAS NEARBY. YOU KNOW… THE ONE FROM THE PROPHECY!” He glanced down at her again and she could have sworn that he looked upset… but it was hard to tell. “WHAT IF THIS IS THAT HUMAN?”

Sans scoffed at the other’s words. “pft… where did you hear that, bro?” His voice was lackluster. As he spoke that faint blue shadow formed around his ax hand out of thin air. It quickly wrapped around the bloody hatchet and in seconds both the weapon and the smoke had vanished. Had he just called the tall monster ‘bro’?

“I HEARD IT FROM UNDYNE!”

Sans’ eye sockets narrowed at his brother. But his sardonic smirk returned and he shrugged his thick shoulders. “please, paps. you should know that is just a myth-“

But Papyrus immediately discounted his brother’s words. Instead he tiled his head back down towards Frisk and his sockets locked onto her leg. “OH SANS… WHAT DID YOU DO?” He sighed out and let his massive, ribbed spine bend forward as he reached down towards Frisk’s leg with his hands. They were clothed in thick black gloves that matched his boots.

Frisk tried to jolt her leg away from his grasp, but the slightest movement sent an acute wave of agony through every muscle. She cried out again, ducking down under her arms, trying to imagine she was somewhere else… anywhere else.

Papyrus’ massive hands wrapped around her shin as he pulled her bare leg close inwards, examining it. God, it hurt! Don’t touch it!! Frisk’s head surged. For a moment she thought he was going to bite down on her as well… his teeth were so extensive and intimidating, she couldn’t pull her eyes away from them. Papyrus lifted her leg to inspect the dripping wound. It was caked in blood, so much so that it was difficult to even see the extent of the damage.

“i didn’t do anything.” Sans lied. He wiped the blood from his teeth, smearing it against his sleeve, then simply stuffed his skeletal hands in both jacket pockets. “just testing how fresh she is. don’t you want a nice meal from time to time?”

Papyrus tore his gaze away from the girl’s lesion and leered at his brother. “WELL, YES… BUT-…”

Sans raised a browbone.

“…BUT FOR NOW THAT FURRY MEAT WILL HAVE TO DO.” Paps pointed at the fawn that lay a few feet in the snow, clearly deceased now. Then he turned back to Frisk and spoke to her as his teeth expanded into an unnerving grin. “WE’LL GET YOU CLEANED UP HUMAN. THEN TOMORROW WE CAN GO PROVE SANS WRONG.”

Frisk winced, staring back into the monster’s vacant eye sockets. She was horrified, and it was painted across her face. But the towering skeleton seemed to not even notice her reaction.

Frisk’s eyes darted back towards Sans who stood some feet next to them. She expected for him to respond with some witty comeback, but instead his taunting smirk faded at the corners of his mouth and he leered back at Frisk suspiciously. That look… it made her soul shiver.

“COME, HUMAN. YOU CAN’T POSSIBLY BE COMFORTABLE DOWN THERE.” Papyrus released Frisk’s leg and gripped roughly onto one of her hands then he sprung back up to his feet pulling her with him. She whimpered out as she was forced to a stand, leaning all her weight on the good leg while her injured one trembled over the snow. She could feel the cooling blood run down her calf and she tried to pull her hand out of the skeleton’s grasp. But he held on too tight and barely seemed to even notice her struggles.

Papyrus started to lead her towards the forest. What!?!? No, no! Where are we going!? Her mind immediately started to surge again as blood flowed back to her brain. While Papyrus pulled her past the dead fawn, Frisk reached down as quickly as she could to scoop up her fallen utility knife and loop her arm through her backpack strap. “OH, ARE THOSE YOURS HUMAN?” He asked, glancing down at her for a moment, then continued to drag her along in an amble saunter. Frisk stared up at him and shoved her box cutter into her pocket and squeezed tightly onto her pack’s strap with her inner elbow. The thought of attacking them with her knife flashed in her mind, but she immediately recognized that to be certain death.

“SANS! DON’T FORGET DINNER!” Papyrus called back to the stouter skeleton, who had already scooped up the dead fawn on his shoulder. Its half-decapitated head hung backwards by a thin flap of skin, and he followed behind them.

 

 

The three of them walked for a while through the snowy, silent woods. Every footstep Frisk took was torment. At first she held her cries back in her lungs, but as the time passed she gave in to the pain and would release a whimper of agony with each step.

Papyrus seemed oblivious to her misery. He walked on, staring ahead and focused on where he was going. Sans, on the other hand, was completely tuned in to her pain. She could hear his whispered snickers every now and then, usually after she made a particularly loud whine.

 

“AH. HERE WE ARE, HUMAN!”

Papyrus stopped abruptly and Frisk almost bumped into him. She had been so busy watching her blood drip down into the snow as they walked that she hadn’t even noticed the large building in their path.

It was a house. A very dark and decrepit house. The two-story building nestled between the trees. All the downstairs windows were darkened and the upstairs ones were boarded up. The snow-covered roof tiles were falling off, even collapsing in at some spots, and were stained with black fungus. The shadowy concrete walls were cracking and covered in at least a hundred lengthy fractures. And despite how dilapidated it was, it looked like a house for humans not monsters.

Papyrus grinned wide and tugged Frisk forward towards the front door. He pushed it open with his opposite hand and the loud wooden creak pierced her ears. But that was nothing compared to the thick smell of mildew and rot that almost knocked her back. Frisk coughed and tried to her roll her shoulder forward in front of her nose and mouth. She squinted and peered inside. It was so dark in there; it took a moment for her eyes to adjust. But Papyrus wouldn’t give her that moment. He let out a gleeful laugh and yanked Frisk inside the house. “NYEHEH! WELCOME HOME, HUMAN!”

H-home?……

 

The inside of the house was dark and decaying. The only light source was from a single flickering florescent bulb that hung low above a table, and a flashing television propped up against the wall with only static on the screen. The air was stifling and surprisingly humid. At least it was somewhat warm.

The table was surrounded by wooden chairs and there were scattered mounds of books and boxes throughout the room, along with a collapsing burlap couch directly in the center. It was actually pretty empty. Frisk noticed some stairs in the corner that lead upstairs to the shadowy second floor. As well as an open archway on the opposite side which opened up into a smaller room obscured by darkness.

Frisk stood staring at her unusual surrounding. Then she jumped at the sound of a loud and sudden BANG. Sans had slammed the front door shut behind him.

“NOW. LET’S PATCH UP THAT LEG!” Papyrus smiled wide and pulled her over towards the table. Frisk had literally been in a state of shock the moment Sans had attacked her in the woods. She felt like she was stuck in some terrible dream right now. She felt completely paralyzed, but maybe the cold was partially to blame for that.

Papyrus scooped his hands underneath her arms and lifted her up onto the edge of the wooden table effortlessly. She didn’t even have a chance to protest. “THIS LOOKS BAD, HUMAN. BUT I AM A MASTER AT HEALING ALL INJURIES.”

He left her sitting there and stepped over to one of the piles of clutter and began searching through it. Frisk watched as Sans finally step away from the front door. He did not look at her, he simply stepped past her and walked through the archway into the smaller room with the dead fawn at his shoulder. “…don’t make a mess, paps.”

Papyrus returned and stood over her. His skeletal features, especially those humanoid teeth, looked particularly daunting in the low flickering light. “I WILL FIX YOU UP GOOD AS NEW.” Frisk wasn’t sure whether she should thank him or scream at that point. But the moment Papyrus held out a sharp, bent, rust-covered sewing needle Frisk had decided on the ladder.

“W-what!? No!!” She found her voice and wailed out, scooting back away from him, her blood smearing against the tabletop. Papyrus blinked his eye sockets and actually tilted his head to the side. “ARE YOU SURE?”

Frisk nodded quickly. She was in terrible pain, but much to her surprise her fear of being trapped in a room with these two overshadowed that pain… at least temporarily.

“I… I just need some water,” She said.

“OH, OF COURSE! HUMANS NEED THAT KIND OF THING. I KNOW JUST THE PLACE!”

Papyrus tossed the needle over his shoulder and gripped onto Frisk's sides to pull her off the table. “THIS WAY, HUMAN!” The hulking skeleton grasped at her hand and dragged her across the room, towards the stairs. Frisk let out a few trembling cries of protest and tried to pull back, not knowing what to expect. Anything could be up there! Nononono! But he pulled her up the shadowy steps into an even darker corridor. There were 4 doors that lined the hallway. He pulled her through the blackness to the door at the very end of the hall and opened it.

Inside was a bathroom. A very small bathroom with crumbling tiled floors and yellowing walls. There was a cracked toilet in one corner and a clawfoot bathtub in the other. A marble pedestal sink stood under a single boarded-up window, and next to that rested a full-length mirror propped up against the wall.

“HERE YOU GO HUMAN. THERE IS WATER IN THAT BASIN.” Papyrus pointed towards the bathtub and shoved her in the room, then he just stood in the doorway.

Frisk stumbled forward, glanced around, then slowly looked back at him. He stared back at her silently. They stared at each other. This was… weird.

“Err… t-thanks, Papyrus.” She finally said, speaking his name out loud. He let out that incongruent laugh. He almost sounded giddy.

“NYEHE! YOU ARE QUITE WELCOME, HUMAN. PLEASE USE ALL THE WATER YOU NEED. I WILL GO PREPARE DINNER NOW AND COME BACK FOR YOU SHORTLY.”

Papyrus grinned wide and shut the door.

 

 

Frisk just stood there in the tiny room, eyes fixated on the back of the door. She could hear Papyrus’ heavy footfalls make their way down the hall and then down the stairs. She stood, completely stunned at this turn of events. Was she actually standing in these monster’s bathroom right now? How was she not dead? She had been so close to death and somehow evaded it. She should be dead right now.

A sharp pain brought her back down to reality and she clutched at the sides of her swelling thigh. Frisk hissed through clenched teeth and slowly stepped over to the mirror, rubbing some of the dust off the glass with her sleeve. She turned around and looked over her shoulder to stare back at the reflection of the wound. Crap. It looked bad…

It was difficult to really examine the wound at length, since the bathroom was quite dark. The only light came from small rays that seeped through multiple cracks in the boarded window. Frisk shuddered at the grotesque sight of her injury. Her whole back calf was soaked in red, but at least the blood was starting to clot now.

While she was examining the wound, she heard a sudden BANG against the door. Frisk jolted to the side and stared wide-eyed at it, expecting it to swing open. But it didn’t. Then she saw dark spots of shadow moving underneath the small space between the door and the floor. Someone was… standing out there. Was it Papyrus?

Frisk slid down to her hands and knees, pressing the side of her face against the tiles to try and peer through the tiny space. She could see what looked like the bottom of wooden chair legs. She could also see… sneakers. Those were Sans’ sneakers. Sans was sitting right outside the bathroom in one of the table chairs, leaning back against the door. Frisk’s heart jolted and pulsed fast and she pulled her head off the ground. W-was he just going to sit out there and guard the door? He hadn’t uttered a word, not even a shallow chuckle.

Frisk slowly stood back up to her feet. Sans was sitting right outside the bathroom door blocking her only exit. She tried to put that fact out of her mind. Right now she had to focus on treating her leg. Frisk let out a soft quivering sigh and glanced back at her wound in the mirror. If she could wash it out… maybe she could patch it up with a bunch of band-aids or something.

She dropped her backpack to the floor and stepped over to the bathtub and turned the metal knobs. A loud steady stream of rust-red water spilled out into the ceramic tub. Frisk winced and thought it was blood for a second, but it was rust. There was no mistaking that smell. Eventually the water ran clear, although it was cloudy and still smelled like copper. Frisk leaned over the edge of the tub and dipped a couple fingers in the stream from the faucet.

Oh my god… It was warm! Her heart leapt with elation. She lifted both hands in the water and practically teared up with joy. Her fingers had been a sickly shade of pale blue from the cold and the water immediately turned them pink as blood rushed back into her hands. It burned, but she didn’t care. She was starting to regain feeling in them and it was probably the best thing that had happened to her in days.

Frisk quickly tugged her hoodie and her long-sleeved shirt up over her head. Kicked off her sneakers and socks. Then yanked down her shorts, carefully guiding the fabric away from her wound, and tugged down her underwear and clipped off her small bralette. She slithered over the edge of the tub and sat naked under the steaming running water. She had to warm up right now. That was literally the only thought that swelled in her mind. And she had to wash this wound out before infection set in. She didn’t even think about how insanely bizarre this must be… sitting nude in a bathtub that belonged to two monstrosities… And one had just tried to literally eat her. And the one that just tried that was still right outside the door. Jesus Christ…

The hot water stung her wound so terribly. It felt like someone had just put a dozen cigarettes out on her flesh. The water immediately turned a dark red as it soaked her thigh and she cried out from the pain. Frisk panted heavily as a wave of endorphins ran through her leg. It reduced the pain for a moment, but it wasn’t nearly long enough. She pressed her forehead down against the side of the tub, looking away from all the bloody water that ran down the gurgling drain.

Frisk sat there under the faucet for what felt like ages and the feeling eventually returned to her fingers and toes. She dunked her head underneath the water to rinse her disheveled hair and saw more blood drip down her shoulders along her tiny chest. W-what she bleeding somewhere else? She rubbed at the back of her head to see blood smeared against her fingers.

Shit… that must have happened when Sans threw her into the rocks. He had really done a number on her… A swell of fear and animosity took hold of her soul in that moment. Frisk glared over at the bathroom door. That bastard was out there… Probably listening to her in the tub, listening to her cry out in pain as she rinsed her wounds. She shook with a mix of fury and helplessness, trying to steady the anger.

 

 

Eventually the water was colorless again. Frisk lifted her thigh up to glance at the 4 rows of bite marks that now decorated her skin. They were deep, nasty looking, swollen and painful. Frisk finally turned the water off and she could have sworn she heard the sound of the chair outside shuffling against the floor. She would be in an extremely helpless position right now if he opened that door… She didn't even want to think about it. Frisk quickly reached over the side of the tub and dried herself best she could with her long-sleeved shirt. Then she threw on her underclothes, blood-stained shorts and hoodie without missing a beat.

Frisk stepped out of the tub and looked at the wound in the mirror again. At least now she could see it clearly. She dug in her backpack, searching for her box of band-aids. Thank god she had taken those with her. She found the box and popped it open and almost let out a gasp of delight. There was a small bottle of antiseptic in the box. Oh my god, thank you lord. Thank you! Frisk doused the wound with the antiseptic, clenching her teeth tight to hold back the cries from the sting. She didn’t even care how bad it agitated the wound. The antiseptic was literally a godsend.

After the medicine dried she carefully patched up every single toothmark with a band-aid. Then she ripped a strip of cloth from the bottom of her long-sleeve shirt, wrapped the cloth around her thigh tightly to protect the bandages, and stuffed everything in her backpack. Frisk examined herself in the mirror. She still looked pretty chaotic. But at least now her hair was clean, she wasn’t blue from the cold, and she was no longer covered in blood.

She let out a heavy sigh and hung her head. It’s time to get out of here now… I have to get out of here. Frisk stepped over to the bathroom door and pressed her ear against it. She couldn’t hear anything. Was he still out there? She slid back down to the floor to glance under the doorway and the chair legs and sneakers were no longer there. M-maybe… maybe she could make a run for it! Was that crazy????

Frisk jumped up to her feet and wrapped her fingers around the doorknob. She was seconds away from attempting to push it open when she heard loud footsteps clomping up the stairs and down the hallway. Frisk took a step back, and just in time too. The bathroom door burst open and Papyrus stood there with that eerie, massive grin.

“OH, HUMAN!” He clasped his hands together, “YOU LOOK MUCH BETTER! HOW WAS YOUR WATER?”

Frisk stared back up at him, bewildered. “Ah… I-it was… good. Good water. Thank you.” She stuttered out as she reached down for her backpack.

“WONDERFUL! DINNER IS ALMOST READY NOW. I KNOW YOU WILL LOVE IT. I AM A MASTER AT THE CULINARY ARTS.” He grabbed onto her hand hard, like always, and dragged her out of the room and back downstairs before she could even respond.

 

 

Sans sat in a chair in front of the only door to the house. Was he guarding that door too??? She silently thanked her lucky stars that she hadn’t tried to make a run for it just now. The skeleton was balancing on the back legs of the chair, his shoulders pressed into the door. His eye sockets were closed and he released soft breaths every few moments. Was he… was he asleep?

“TAKE A SEAT HUMAN. I WILL FETCH DINNER, NYEHE.” Papyrus released that exuberant chortle and took long strides through the open archway, which Frisk could only imagine was a kitchen. He left her alone in the gloomy room with Sans. Oh god… Papyrus, please come back! Frisk bit at her bottom lip and glanced at Sans. He was still asleep. Or maybe he was just pretending to be.

Frisk took a couple quiet steps up to the long wooden table which was surrounded by three other mangled chairs. She glanced back at Sans again. He hadn’t moved. He was completely still, except for the soft rise and fall of his chest with each breath. He was a skeleton… how was that even possible?

She cautiously stepped a bit closer towards him and looked past his shoulder at the front door. She couldn’t see a lock or anything of the sort… perhaps that was why he was guarding it. Frisk stepped even closer, probably closer than she should have. And in an instant his left eye socket shot open and that single scarlet orb constricted at the sight of her.

“beat it, kid.” He growled out through a sneering grin. Frisk almost bit her tongue when she faltered backwards. He was smirking wide, those rows of deadly teeth reflecting red light from his eye. But there was a strain to his smile as if he was faking it. Like he was actually irate. His hood was down now and Frisk could see a violent open fracture at the side of his skull. It almost looked painful.

He wanted to eat her before. He wanted to kill her before. Did he still want that? She had pushed him back with her hands, somehow… H-how did she manage that? Did he want revenge now? Her soul trembled. I need to get the hell out of here.

“SANS! BE NICE!” Papyrus must have heard his brother because he stepped back through the archway immediately. He was balancing three plates in his hands, each one piled on with… with… oh god, was that raw meat?

 

Papyrus dropped the plates upon the table then sat down in the head chair. Frisk seriously thought she was going to be sick at the sight. She looked away from the plates, holding her hands over her nose and mouth to try and block out the stench of gore.

Sans’ eye locked onto the meat and he slid up off the chair, sauntering over to the table and took a seat. The two skeletons glanced over at Frisk who was still standing some feet away from them.

“HAVE A SEAT, HUMAN.” His words were sprightly as always, and he patted at the chair opposite Sans.

Should I run? Should I lunge for the door and try the knob?! What should I do! Frisk’s head ached. This was hell.

Sans watched her carefully with that smirk. As if taunting her to try something. Oh, how he probably would have loved it if she had tried to escape right then in that moment.

But Frisk forced her feet forward and reluctantly sat upon the chair. She peeked down at her plate, which was literally a pile of raw, bloody tendons and gore. The meat was cut in jagged slabs with bits of brown fur and flesh still attached in clumps. And it was all swimming in a soup of blood at the bottom of the plate.

 

…………………………

 

Was this the fawn?!

…………

 

Papyrus grabbed his portion with both hands and started eating loudly, bits of flesh flying all over his side of the table. Sans, on the other hand, ate slower. He gripped onto a piece of meat in one hand and tore it to shreds while his other hand rested atop the table. His fingers tapped along the wood in a steady rhythm, one finger falling after the other continuously.

Sans stared back at Frisk as he ate and she was careful to avert her gaze away from his. That look was sinister.

Papyrus was glancing out towards the TV, still flickering black and white static.

Frisk pressed her hands at her stomach. She felt nauseous listening to the two of them chewing away. Although she was hungry… She hadn’t eaten anything since the other night in the tunnels. And even then that was just half a sandwich.

Papyrus suddenly tore his gaze from the television and leaned over Frisk. “HUMAN! I INSIST YOU ENJOY THIS MEAL.” He reached a blood-stained gloved hand out and pushed the plate closer towards her. Frisk almost gagged as some of the blood spilled over the sides of the plate onto the table.

“T-that’s alright. I’m not… not that hungry…” She wanted to sound confident and brave, but her words betrayed her. Instead they spilled out in fragmented stutters.

“AH, REALLY?” He almost sounded disappointed. Almost. “I WILL SAVE YOUR MEAL FOR ANOTHER TIME, HUMAN. IT WILL BE WAITING PATIENTLY FOR YOU IN THE KITCHEN.” He grinned down at her, bits of flesh stuck between each inordinate tooth.

Frisk simply nodded up at him. What else could she do? This was probably the strangest situation she had found herself in thus far - and the most daunting. And she was too disoriented and injured and exhausted to protest anymore.

Sans’ skeletal claw continued to tap along the table and he remained silent. Then Papyrus started to chat at his brother. Frisk wasn’t sure what he was talking about. He kept mentioning someone named ‘Undyne’ and he discussed all the snow they were getting lately. He even boasted about the dinner he had prepared… if you could call throwing raw meat onto a plate preparation. Sans didn’t really respond that much, except for a few low chuckles and nods and agreements every now and then. Would this meal ever end?

 

 

Finally, both skeleton’s plates were licked clean. Papyrus complained that he was still hungry.

“we’re all hungry, paps.” Sans snickered in response, resting his chin down in an open claw with his elbow on the table. His radiating eye locked onto Frisk.

“MY, HOW THE TIME FLIES! HUMAN, I WILL SHOW YOU TO YOUR ROOM NOW. WE HAVE AN EARLY MORNING AHEAD OF US.”

W-what was he talking about? Oh yeah… he was going to ‘prove sans wrong’ but what did that mean?

Frisk glanced weakly up at Papyrus as he jumped up to his feet, almost knocking the whole table over. He grasped onto Frisks arm tight. Sans stood as well and headed over towards the front door, moving the chair out of the way.

“SANS! DON’T STAY OUT TOO LATE!” Papyrus called back at him waving his other hand about. “I WANT TO SEE YOUR FACE TOMORROW WHEN I DEMONSTRATE THAT THIS HUMAN IS THE HUMAN.”

Sans chuckled under his breath as he pushed open the door. It was now dark outside and a thick curtain of snow was falling silently. “heh. you got it, bro.” He glanced at Frisk once more for just a second. His grin wide and alarming. His red eye pulsed at her. And he stepped outside and shut the door behind him.

Frisk’s thoughts began to churn around in her head. Now she was alone with the tall skeleton. Although she was completely terrified of the both of them, Papyrus made her feel just a tad less uneasy. Probably because he literally saved her life earlier. And he hadn’t tried to eat her yet. And his gaze did not make her soul burn with fear.

 

 

Papyrus lead her back up the stairs. Was he going to lock her in the bathroom again?… No, instead he stopped at the door right above the staircase and opened it.

The room was pitch black. Unlike the bathroom, it had no windows. Not one. It was completely devoid of any furniture. The walls were made out of layered stone and the floor was decaying wood. Frisk’s eyes adjusted to the darkness quickly.

Wait… there actually was something in the room. On the furthest wall across from them there was a thick iron plate attached to the base of the wall. Hanging from the plated tablet was a chunky iron-linked chain. And at the end of the chain was-… w-was that a… a collar!?

“COME, HUMAN. THIS IS YOUR ROOM. IS IT NOT WONDERFUL?” Papyrus announced with delight and immediately dragged her over towards the wall where that daunting iron collar and chain lay.

Frisk’s eyes grew wide in complete and utter terror. What the hell was he going to do!? Chain her up in here???

Frisk screamed out and jerked back. Her will to fight returning - surging through every single one of her muscles. She pulled at his hand, which gripped around her forearm. “Papyrus! Y-you don’t have to do that!” She felt tears sting her eyes and tried to scratch her nails into his glove. But it did nothing.

“HUMAN?” The tall skeleton tilted his head like he was confused by her actions. “OH, NO. YOU MUST BE KEPT SECURE, HUMAN. THAT IS THE LAW!”

Frisk thrashed around, using every ounce of strength she still had to try and break free from his grasp. But Papyrus was unbelievably strong. He pushed her down to the floor and swiftly locked the collar around her throat. It latched in the back with a heavy ‘clink’ where the chain attached. It was so heavy and thick. There was no padding on the inside, it was just a massive lump of iron. It pressed down painfully into Frisk’s collarbone and weighed her to the floor.

Papyrus returned to his feet, towering over her with that wide, humanistic grin. Only his teeth visible in the diluted shadows… “SLEEP WELL, HUMAN!”

And then he turned. His red fraying scarf dragging along the floor as he stepped back into the hallway, shutting the door behind him.

Leaving Frisk alone. Alone in the darkness.

 

*****

 

Coming up: Sleepless nights

Chapter Text

*****

 

Frisk sat in the dark. She could barely breath from panic. She was hyperventilating, clutching at the front of the heavy collar around her neck with both hands. It was so heavy and cold… and although it was too big and didn’t exactly squeeze her throat, she still felt like she was choking against it.

 

Frisk leaned back against the wall. She could hear Papyrus’ footfalls make their way down the stairs. And then it was silent.

N-now what?… What should I do? Please someone help me… anyone, help me…

She prayed silently to a god that she had never really believed in, staring up at the darkness that surrounded her. Hot tears collected in the corners of her eyes and she pulled her knees into her chest.

 

Frisk sat there in the dark for what felt like hours. Eventually she pulled her backpack off her shoulders to lean more comfortably against the wall. The only meager source of light came from underneath the space between the door and the floor. And it was already so dark out in the hallway that it only illuminated a couple of inches of ground.

She slipped her slender fingers underneath the collar to relieve some of the stress that it put at her shoulders. She could just barely hear the sound of television static billowing from behind the door. Was Papyrus downstairs watching TV? Was he honestly watching static right now?… A tremendous unease swelled in her gut. She was chained to a wall, trapped in a house with a clearly deranged monster. And another homicidal monster was probably not far off. The vision of both skeleton brothers ripping and tearing apart their dinner with their teeth materialized to the forefront of her mind and it made skin break out in goosebumps.

Frisk pressed the side of her head against the wall and tried to omit the sound of static. She thought she could hear the roaring wind outside. It must be snowing pretty hard out there… At least that was one thing she didn’t have to manage for the time being - the cold.

Her thigh stung sharply and she rubbed a hand against her make-shift bandage, staring out at the feeble light under the door. In that moment, Frisk remembered she still had her cellphone in her pocket.

She stuffed a hand in her shorts pocket and pulled out the cell, flicking it open with her thumb to check the time. The digital clock glowed softly with the numbers ’9:10 pm’. So it was night already. She had suspected as such when she saw how dark it was outside while Sans left the house.

Another mind-numbing pain through her leg and she clutched at her phone in agony, holding back a weak cry. She glanced at the screen again and noticed the battery level.

 

40%… Crap!

Her throat went dry at the realization. She may not have her phone around for much longer… What would she do then? What if things got worse? … And when the time comes… would she be able to cut open her wrists, like she once craved so desperately, and put a stop to this nightmare? In fact, she could do it now… nothing was stopping her.

Frisk hesitated. She reached into her hoodie pocket and pulled out her box cutter. Her fingers ran along the metal handle idly. It was cold and lightweight… and it gave her comfort like a soothing friend.

 

Did she have any other choice?

 

 

She began to slide the segmented blade from its sheath. She could just barely see her reflection in its metal. Frisk held the flat side of the knife against her wrist, staring down at it for what felt like a long, long time.

 

 

 

No.

 

……………

 

You will survive this.

 

……………………

 

You have the ability. Can’t you feel it in your hands? In your soul? You are our liberator… our Manumitter…

 

……

 

Those words. Toriel’s words.

 

Frisk took in a deep breath and she placed the box cutter on the floor to the side.

 

She was strong. She would fight.

 

She would open those doors. Not for those monsters, but for herself. She would escape this place.

 

Frisk clicked the button at the side of her cell to turn on the flashlight. The light quickly illuminated the room, chasing away the shadowed ambiguity that donned the small space. And a part of her was relieved to see that it was just as empty as before. She gently balanced the flashlight against the wall, keeping the gloomy room lit… mostly.

Now was the time for action. Not self-pity.

She sat up on her knees and turned to face the large iron plate mounted upon the wall. Frisk ran her fingers over its edges, studying the piece of metal carefully. It was completely secured into the wall with four nails in each corner. Trying to break the plate from the stone seemed to be implausible, so she moved on to the next constraint. The iron-linked chain.

Frisk wrapped her hands around the middle of the chain and tugged it firmly. The heavy links scrapped against one another, filling the small room with an eerie metallic rattling. She grit her teeth together and stood up, tugging at it again as hard as she could, yanking the chain away from where it attached into the wall. But again… nothing. Nothing gave way. Nothing happened. Just the loud clatter of metal colliding with metal.

Frisk dropped the chain to the floor and glanced over at the door. She walked towards it but midway through the room the chain yanked her back. It wasn’t very long.

 

Okay. Let’s try something else. The collar.

 

Frisk reached her hands back behind her neck and felt along the steel. She could feel the small indentation of where the clasp locked in place. She pressed her fingers against it, searching for any hint of how the torque remained fastened. Then she felt a small hole. A key hole. Her heart leapt and she scooped up her box cutter.

Frisk took in a deep breath and held the weapon in one hand. She swiveled the loose collar around to the front of her neck and guided the blade upwards. She knew this was probably not going to work. Obviously, this collar needed a certain kind of key to open it. But maybe… just maybe.

That sliver of hope made her head hot with determination and she pressed the sharp tip of the blade against the tiny opening now at the front of her neck. She couldn’t see what she was doing. The lock was right below her chin. Frisk twisted her hand to the side, trying to push the tip inside the opening to latch onto something.

She added a bit more pressure, biting at her bottom lip in concentration. The knife slipped and scraped along the front of the thick metal then clamored to the floor. Dang it.

Once more.

She tried again, this time holding the blade at a different angle. And again it did nothing to loosen the lock. Instead it skid towards the other side, this time cutting her finger.

Frisk winced and quickly brought her bleeding finger up to her lips, sucking it clean. God damn it. This was looking bleak.

The realization of the situation began to dawn on her and she sunk back down to the floor against the wall. feeling miserable.

 

 

She sat there in the dark for what felt like another hour, but a quick glance at her cellphone informed her that it had only been 20 minutes.

Frisk’s stomach growled loudly and she clutched at it with both hands. She had to eat something. She pulled at her backpack and tugged out the rest of that turkey sandwich and a bottle of water. Despite having no appetite at all, she scarfed it down - although everything tasted like chalk at the moment.

 

The wind was howling outside and she could hear it clearly through the wall. Frisk reached over and grabbed her cell flashlight again and held it over her thigh, reexamining the wound, and could see small patches of blood seeping through the make-shift cloth bandage.

Frisk carefully untied the bandage and pulled off each band-aid one by one. She hissed out when the plastic strips pulled against her sensitive, swollen flesh. God… would this pain ever cease? She held her leg up, glancing under her thigh to survey the bite marks.

They were still as nasty looking as ever. Sans… that bastard… And she wondered where he was at the moment.

Frisk huffed under her breath and poured some more antiseptic over the lesions and it stung terribly… It was even more difficult to maneuver with that huge, metal collar wrapped around her throat.

She applied new, clean band-aids to each tooth mark and wrapped the cloth back around her thigh.

 

 

Time inched along at a snail’s pace. The TV downstairs was still humming. The wind was still blowing. Frisk felt her eyelids growing heavier and heavier. She didn’t want to sleep. She had to stay awake. Stay alert.

She slowly crawled over to the closest corner of the room and curled up there, holding her utility knife in her lap. If she was going to be ambushed in the middle of the night, then the least she could do was be prepared.

Frisk stared at the door opposite her. Her muscles finally began to relax as her head rested against the side of the wall. She was able to find a position that worked with the collar and it didn’t feel quite as heavy.

So tired… so sleepy… Maybe just a few minutes… She’ll just close her eyes for a couple of minutes…

And sleep took her instantly.

 

 

Frisk jolted awake to the sound of loud, clambering footsteps making their way up the stairs. It sounded like Papyrus’ boots. She lifted her head from off the wall, blinking back at the door with drowsy, half-lidded eyes.

Then she saw a dark shadow appear underneath the space at the door. Her fatigue vanished immediately. Was Papyrus standing outside? Frisk gripped onto her box cutter. She’ll be ready for him… if he came, then she would fight. But the door never opened. And after a long minute, the shadows disappeared and she could hear him walking down the hall. Then another BANG of a door opening and closing.

Was… was he going to bed?

Frisk reached over for her cell phone and the clock now read “12:00 am” Gosh, it was midnight. For some reason she thought it would be later… this night had already felt like the longest night of her life.

She tugged her hoodie hood up over her head. That collar immediately dug into her shoulders and she winced. It was starting to hurt now.

Just sleep. Sleep will make everything better.

She curled back up into the corner and closed her eyes, letting that slow flood of lethargy take her once more and eventually dozed off again.

 

 

Frisk wrenched suddenly, jerking to the side. She had slid down from her sitting position onto the floor. The sudden movement had forced her awake.

God, what time was it now?… It had to be close to morning, surely…

She reached over for her cell again, the light still gently illuminating the room, and checked the clock. It read ‘2:20 am’. How was that possible??? It felt like it should be much, much later. Would she be forever cursed with the most prolonged night in existence? She wanted to cry but instead just took in a deep, trembling breath and laid down against the floor. She rested her head against her backpack. It made an atrocious pillow, but at least it helped with the weight of the collar.

Frisk stared at her cell screen, watching the time creep by. And eventually fell back asleep.

 

 

She woke again to the sound of the air raid siren outside the walls. Was it morning? She glanced over at her cell and it read “3:03 am”.

WHAT!?

She groaned out and lifted her hands to her ears, covering them firmly in an attempt to suffocate the sound of the blaring alarm out in the distance. It rang 10 times and then was silent.

Frisk prayed that the next time she woke it would be morning. She forced her muscles to relax and dozed off again.

 

 

She awoke again in the darkness, rather suddenly. Frisk lifted her head off the backpack and looked around the room.

She blinked in the faint light. Nothing in particular had woken her up this time. Not the sound of doors banging or footsteps out in the hall. Not from rolling around in her sleep. Not from sirens outside. There was only darkness… darkness and silence.

But despite that, Frisk had an atrocious uneasy feeling in the pit of her stomach. It felt like something was watching her in the darkness. A terrible surge of fear started to coarse through her veins… What was this feeling?

Frisk sat up on her knees and reached for her cell. She held it tightly and looked over the cracked screen which now read “5:45 am”. Well, at least morning would be upon her soon enough. She took some comfort in that fact.

 

Then, there was a sound.

 

An abrupt sound of stirring air - like numerous whispers, whirling together - creating a murmur that sent chills up her spine. And it was coming from inside the room.

 

Next to her.

 

Before Frisk could look over her shoulder, she was knocked forward into the floor. Hard. The chain-link leash rattled loudly and she let out a cry. Her phone dropped to the ground with a clatter and slid away towards the other side of the room. The phone faced down, blocking the flashlight. The room was pitch black.

Frisk felt two hands grip at either side of her forearms. They lifted and spun her around onto her back. It was so dark, she could barely see an inch in front of her face, let alone whoever had just attacked her. But she didn’t have to see him. She knew who it was…

Those skeletal claws squeezed her forearms painfully, holding her against the ground. He shifted forward and pressed both his knees against the tops of her hands, trapping them down. It was so painful and she could feel her knuckles crack under his weight, immobilizing them completely. Frisk screamed out as loud as she could. Papyrus was right next door. Papyrus would hear!

But a cold claw clasped over her mouth and pressed down hard to silence her cries. She could make him out, just barely, in the restricted light.

Sans leaned over her. His eye sockets were two dark craters. His usual red glowing orb of an eye was gone, and he was even more haunting without it. The sight of his widening, strained smirk spread along his skull and Frisk’s heart hammered rapidly in her chest. A panic attack came upon her in full force, causing her whole body to tremble. She tried to pull her hands out from under the substantial weight of his knees but it was not possible.

 

“so… paps thinks you’re the manumitter, huh?” He whispered out, his skull only inches away from her terror-ridden face. His voice was scornful, arrogant, cold as ice. “i’d like to see for myself…” How long had he been waiting to corner her and confront her like this? Had he been plotting this all night?

Her mind raced.

This isn’t happening… This isn’t happening. You are dreaming. This is a nightmare.

She tried to convince herself that this was all just some delusion brought on by her pain and exhaustion. But that was false. This was real. The pain she felt made sure of that.

Frisk attempted to scream again, but Sans wouldn’t have it. A thick, blue coiling shadow started to appear around his hand - the hand which pressed to her mouth. She had seen that slithering shadow a few times before, usually to recall his weapon. But this time it did no such thing. The shadow had a physicality to it, and it spread across her mouth and jawline and stifled her cries. Frisk felt like she was choking. Like someone had just gagged her with cotton balls. She could only breath through her nose and she gasped and struggled for a breath against the blue wisp of energy. The chain attached to her collar rattled violently with her movements.

“let’s get a look at that soul, kiddo.” San’s whispered against her ear.

W-what did that mean!?

He released his hand from her mouth but the faint whirling smoke remained. It became more translucent in the darkness, just barely visible, but it was still there. The weighty energy pressed against her mouth - she could feel it. It held back her screams and stifled her breath. Lack of oxygen made her head spin. She clenched her teeth together tightly, grinding them as she tried to breath in.

Sans leaned up slightly and slid one claw to the front of the collar wrapped around her throat. He pushed his hand against it, holding her still. All the while his other hand began to trail away from her forearm to her stomach. He gripped onto the bottom of her hoodie and started to pull it up. Just like before… Just like in the woods…

Someone help me!!! Is he going to t-try and eat me again!?!?!!!! Please, please pleasepleaseplease n-NO!

She could hear a slight snicker coming from him as that hollow gaze locked onto her enlarged, panic-stricken eyes. And she saw his shadowed sockets widen, almost maniacal, in the non-existent light.

The he began to wrench at her clothes… He tugged her hoodie up halfway, exposing her stomach once more… but he didn’t stop there. He continued… to pull her hoodie up… Up, further, exposing her chest…

O-oh, my god! W-what is this?! Get off of me, you pervert!!!! - Is what she would have cried out had she been able to cry at all.

Frisk’s mind clamored in her head, the internal dialogue rapping her brain. Of course she couldn’t speak a word of it, her voice still held back by some shrouded, mysterious force that Sans had summoned. Her throat still felt like it was packed with cloth.

Sans pulled her hoodie all the way up to her collarbones, exposing her bare torso and the small form-fitting bralette she wore. Frisk was not full in the chest in the slightest. Being 14, she was just only starting to develop. And she was rather small in stature anyways compared to all the girls back at the orphanage.

Frisk shivered under him as she felt tears sting the backs of her eyes and she stared up at the monster in pure panic. Her hands, still trapped under his knees, were starting to go numb and cold from the pressure.

Wait… had he pinned them down on purpose? So she couldn’t use her hands on him again?

She couldn’t breathe. Her lungs burned.

Don’t touch me! P-please make this stop!

She thrashed under his weight, trying to turn to the side to conceal her revealed chest. Horrible images of him doing unimaginable things to her started to fill her mind and she shut her eyes tight to block out the tears, trying to demolish those heinous thoughts. She didn’t want to think about that… No… no! He wouldn’t do that… he couldn’t do that………… Right?

But he didn’t undo her bralette. No, instead he pressed one of his skeletal hands directly at the center of her soft chest. His claws splayed out over her flesh causing goosebumps to run along every inch of exposed skin.

 

W-what was he doing?………

 

“heh.”

 

Then suddenly, a sharp mind-numbing pain pierced directly through the center of her torso - right where his hand lay. It felt like someone had just speared her through the heart with a sweltering metal rod. It hurt… it hurt!

Frisk arched her back, pressing her shoulders hard into the floor, lifting her chest upward against his hand in pain. The chain-link leash clattered loudly. Her lungs felt like they were collapsing. Her vision faded in and out, over and over, and she shut her eyes. Oh god, what was he doing!? Was he killing her? Was he finally going to kill her now?!?!?

She felt his hand pull away from her bare chest and the pain faded into the background.

W-what?…

 

Frisk just barely opened her tearing eyes to glance up at the monster, breathing quickly through her nose, when she noticed that his view was no longer upon her face. Instead his head tilted downward towards his hand, his shrouded eye sockets narrowed.

He was holding his claw directly above her slender bust and in it was….. Was something strange… something glowing.

Frisk stared back at the object… W-what was that??

A small, perfectly round sphere hovered above San’s open hand. The orb glowed softly. It was red and clear with beautifully glimmering molecules swimming around inside like liquid stardust. The translucent orb gleamed and dripped with a red gelatinous fluid, coating Sans’ fingers and oozing onto Frisk’s chest.

Sans did not say a word. He just stared at the gently glistening spheroid at his palm. His grin was gone and his sharp teeth ground together. His eye socket twitched. There was not one shred of that brash and arrogant expression. Instead he looked almost… nervous?… Nervous and resentful…

Then Sans pressed his sharp thumb down against center of the orb. Another mind-numbing pain at Frisk’s chest send her head spiraling and she writhed against the floor, crying out silently, still unable to speak or breath or even think. She could taste something foul in the back of her throat… Blood.

Sans’ single red hue of an eye flashed suddenly, returning to the dark socket. It darted up, locking onto Frisk’s face. He looked so sullen, so terrifying.

“this soul…” Sans breathed out. His voice sounded strained.

W-what did he just say??

“kid… your soul is… fascinating.” his single red eye constricted, leering in at her. He sounded almost excited. Frisk could see those blue, sheening pellets of drool forming at the corners of his maw. He glanced back down at the orb, staring at it like it was something delicious.

Then his hand grasped around her soul and he squeezed it tight. Another terrible wave of pain shot through Frisk’s chest. It was like a dagger - like multiple daggers - piercing her sternum one right after the other. Daggers with scorched blades. Oh god… she prayed for death to just come and stop this pain. It was almost worse than when he ripped apart her thigh. She coughed with labored breath and could taste blood against her lips. It felt like her chest was about to rupture from the inside out.

Frisk stared weakly up at the skeleton as he continued to toy with the red marble like a cat playing with a dying mouse.

Was that beautiful gem her soul?… Was he trying to destroy it?

Frisk's chest burned with a red glow, as if irritated that it no longer housed the 3-inch sphere. The orb continued to ooze in Sans' hand while he squeezed it tightly again and again. Although now the liquid was turning a dark opaque red. It was starting to look more like blood than glittering water.

 

And then suddenly Sans stilled his claw and pressed the jewel back to Frisk’s chest. And it slowly sunk inside. The red illuminated ball drove through her flesh into her sternum. It burned her skin as the orb entered her breastbone but the terrible shooting pain melted away almost immediately when the soul settled back within her.

 

The red light at her chest vanished and now only the malicious maroon hue emitting from Sans’ single eye remained and illuminated the space between them.

Frisk could see what appeared to be drops of blue tinted sweat at Sans’ forehead. That contrived smirk locked in place upon his cracked skull. His expression was hard to read. Like he was masking trepidation and excitement behind a cocky smile.

Then he tugged her hoodie back down to cover her chest and abruptly stood up off her hands. The faint shadow that held her voice back vanished the moment he released her and Frisk gasped loudly, struggling for a breath as she coughed blood upon the floor and cradled her injured hands against each other.

“you will open the doors, kid. every door.” His voice was deadly… stern… and it dripped with venom, “and i’ll be watching you. you take one step out of line and i’ll be there.” San’s eye flashed brightly for a moment and constricted back inside his socket.

Then he turned, opened the door, stepped into the hall, and slammed it shut behind him. Leaving her alone in the darkness once again.

 

*****

 

Coming up: The 3rd door awaits.

Chapter Text

*****

Frisk curled up onto her side in the dark and pulled her knees into her chest. She trembled - helpless and desperate for salvation. Her mind swum in a sea of questions… and fear. She couldn’t take much more of this… this torture, this agony. Will there ever be an end to it?

She listened for Sans’ footsteps in the hall. But there weren’t any. She glanced under the space between the door, searching for shadows. But it was vacant. He wasn’t there. Somehow he had vanished again. Like he always did.

Sans wasn't just a monster… he was truly a demon. He was not like the others. Devoid of the tiniest sliver of compassion. And she knew if she wanted to survive down here then she would have to stay as far away from him as possible.

Frisk coughed hard against the floor. She could taste copper against the back of her tongue. She was still coughing up blood… b-but why? She first tasted it when Sans had removed that orb from her chest. Was she bleeding because he had removed that strange, glittering jewel? Had it caused her to bleed internally for some reason?

And that orb… what the hell even was that!? W-was that…

 

her soul?

 

 

Frisk grit her teeth together and spit a thick clot of blood as she groaned in pain. She slowly rolled up to a seat and looked down at her trembling hands. She couldn’t feel them at all. They were completely numb. For a second she thought Sans might have shattered the bones in her fingers when he had pinned them under his knees. She attempted to move them and to much relief they reacted and wiggled in turn. Thank god.

Eventually the feeling returned, although her hands were sore and she could just barely make out black and blue bruises forming against her knuckles in the darkness. Frisk brought them to her chest and pressed lightly. It stung when she added some pressure, but the terrible mind-splitting pain that she felt when Sans had squeezed the orb was gone.

He had removed her soul from her body. B-but why? To see if she was this savior that everyone kept mentioning? Would her soul reveal that?

Frisk reached for her phone at the other side of the room, then scooted back to huddle in the corner. The iron-link leash that kept her bound to the wall rattled as she moved. Her inflamed hands trembled as she clutched the cell tightly to her chest, staring at the door opposite her.

What if he returned? What if he came back to finish the job?…

But then, why hadn’t he just finished her off right now? Was something stopping him?

 

 

He had mentioned the doors. He had called her Manumitter. Was that the reason, then? He wanted her to open the doors, just like every other monster trapped down here. Was she really this savior that everyone kept talking about? Sans had examined her soul, so did that mean he recognized it to be a soul of the Manumitter?

No, no!!! No way!! How could that be possible!?! She was just Frisk! Just a scrawny depressed orphan who had nothing and no one. Who was just trying to get by without completely succumbing to her misery. She was not the almighty savior of some horrible underground hell. This was all wrong.

 

She sat as still as she could. Her hands throbbed, her chest ached, her thigh stung, the back of her head was swollen, and the heavy iron collar at her neck made her shoulders feel like they were about to collapse. She began to wonder how long she could last down here if things kept going the way they were going.

 

 

Frisk sat in the dark for what felt like hours. The whole time her eyes focused in on that door. She held her box cutter in one hand, and her cell phone in the other. Part of her was ashamed… ashamed that she didn’t have her knife when Sans had appeared… ashamed that she hadn’t fought back.

 

……

 

‘Be strong. Fight’

 

 

I’m trying, Toriel!… I’m trying.

 

Silent tears pooled in her eyes and obscured her vision. Frisk sniffled quietly as she wept against her knees. She let out a trembling exhale, rubbing her eyes and nose against her sleeve, and looked down at her cellphone screen. It read ‘7:45 am’. So it was early morning now. What horrible things awaited her today?

Frisk unlatched the top flap at her backpack and pulled out a small bag of vending machine cookies and a can of juice. She ate a few of the snacks, mainly just to try and get the taste of blood out of her mouth. But the acidic orange juice stung her empty stomach and she swapped it for a bottle of water instead.

As she slowly chewed, she began to think over some conversations she had had with the monsters throughout the Underground so far. But one detail stuck in her mind.

‘Are you a killer, Manumiter?’ – Napstablook had spoken those words to her, which felt like a lifetime ago. He said that to her when he took notice of the utility knife. Why would he ask that?

 

And also:

'but you’re not a killer. i’d know the manumitter when i see ‘em…' – Sans had said that to her as well.

 

Was this savior, this Manumitter that everyone seemed to see her as… was this person a murder? A killer?… What did that mean. If this person was supposed to open all the doors, then why would they kill the monsters?

 

Frisk shut her eyes tight as she felt a wave of nausea rush over her. She held her stomach in her hands and took in slow, steady breaths as she waited for it to pass. Eventually it did and she rested her head down against the backpack.

Her eyelids started to feel heavy. It had been such a nightmarish, restless night. She found herself debilitated with fatigue. Frisk let her eyes flutter shut and relaxed against the backpack, holding her hands to her chest.

 

 

There was a BANG.

She jolted upright, staring wide-eyed at the door.

Loud footsteps clambered down the hallway.

Every single muscle in Frisk’s body bunched. She pulled her knees in close to her chest, trying to become as small as possible.

Then a shadow appeared underneath the space below the door. Someone was out there. The shadow hovered there ominously for a good minute or so, and then-

The door burst open and Frisk jerked back into the corner.

 

It was Papyrus. He stood in the doorway with that usual unsettling grin that exposed every single one of those extravagant, flat-edged teeth. It was practically all she could see of him through the shadows.

The towering skeleton’s hollow sockets settled upon Frisk on the opposite side of the room and his grin widened further.

“HUMAN! IT IS MORNING NOW!” He began with that deafening voice that caused a headache to swell up at the back of Frisk’s skull. “I DO HOPE YOU SLEPT SOUNDLY.”

If Frisk hadn’t been so terrified of him she probably would have let out a laugh at the irony of that statement. Instead she just clutched onto her backpack and her cellphone and the sheathed handle of her box cutter, finding solace in those few, precious objects.

Papyrus ducked his head underneath the doorway and stepped inside the room and Frisk immediately jerked back again, causing the chain leash to rattle loudly. The skeleton almost tilted his head to the side in confusion, his wide grin faltering just barely at both corners.

“S-stay away from me…” Frisk managed to whisper out. Her throat was so dry. She found it incredibly difficult to speak.

“STAY AWAY?” He repeated her words and grinned once more, “AH, I CANNOT DO THAT HUMAN! TODAY IS THE DAY I PROVE SANS WRONG. I CANNOT WAIT TO SEE THE LOOK ON HIS FACE, NYEEHEHE!”

Papyrus let out that bizarre, erratic laugh and clasped his gloved hands together. He stepped in closer towards her, indifferent to her reaction. Frisk almost lifted her knife as he approached… almost. But instead she just sat there on the floor, looking up at him pathetically with that terror-stricken expression that seemed to have become a permanent fixture.

“COME, HUMAN.” Papyrus pulled out a rusty, antique key from his kilt pocket and crouched directly in front of her.

He was so close; she could see every one of those small fissures embedded in his skull. His empty eye sockets were much smaller than Sans’ large ones, and she could actually see a very faint dark orange hue glowing deep within each crater.

Papyrus slipped his fingers up underneath her heavy collar so fast that Frisk did not even have an opportunity to flinch. His hand gripped brashly at the iron, rotation it around her neck to find the lock at the center. He pushed the key inside the space, turned it, and the weighty torque clanked open.

“THERE YOU ARE, HUMAN.” He jolted upright back to his feet. “YOU CAN FINISH YOUR LEFTOVERS FROM LAST NIGHT. I ADMIT, I ALMOST ATE THEM AS A MIDNIGHT SNACK. BUT I AM A MASTER OF SELF-DISCIPLINE.”

His voice bellowed and he gripped onto Frisk’s shoulders, tugging her up. She quickly stuffed her knife and cellphone back in her pocket and clutched at her backpack tightly as Papyrus pulled her out into the hallway.

 

 

He led her downstairs back into that gloomy, mold-infested living room. The television was still flickering with static. The light bulb above the table continued to flash weakly. Small rays of light peered through spots between congealed grim that painted the windows black.

Frisk looked over towards the front door. Sans was not there. She had expected him to be there, guarding the door and pretending to sleep. But he was gone and she found herself wondering where he was now.

“SIT, HUMAN” Papyrus shoved her down upon the burlap couch. She immediately sunk in between the grimy cushions and winced as she heard grotesque crunching sounds coming from underneath the pillows.

“I WILL BRING YOU BREAKFAST. IT HAS BEEN MARINATING ALL NIGHT.” Papyrus blustered and stepped lively towards the open archway against the far wall: the kitchen.

Frisk could hear loud clattering sounds coming from the small room. She brought a hand up to her neck and rubbed against the sides. Her flesh was rubbed raw. But at least the collar had not cut into her throat. She really could not handle anymore wounds right now.

 

Papyrus returned almost immediately, holding the same cracked plate in his hands from last night. The rotting meat stacked high at the center in a small pyramid.

“HERE YOU ARE, HUMAN.” He held the plate out for Frisk to take, hovering it right in front of her face. “I AM QUITE JEALOUS.” His askew grin softened.

Frisk suddenly remembered what Toriel and Napstablook and said. How all the monsters in the Underground were… starving. Was there no food available to them? Is that why Sans had tried to eat her? And why he had gone out into the human world when she had opened the shed to find some meat? Come to think of it…… how did he get out there? Did he trek through the tunnels like she had? Or did he… teleport? He always seemed to vanish and appear abruptly.

Frisk’s mind boiled with questions and she stared blankly at the plate of meat in front of her. Papyrus blinked. “…HUMAN?”

His voice shook her out of that deep contemplation and she looked back up at him.

“Papyrus… w-why don’t you eat the rest of it.”

His eye holes grew wide and his grin even wider. “AH, HUMAN!” He sounded elated, “I WILL ACCEPT THIS GIFT!” And he immediately plopped down next to her upon the couch and began to tear apart the meat with rows of daunting obelisk molars.

Frisk scooted to the other side away from him, mainly to avoid getting covered in small chunks of flying flesh. She stared out at one of the tinted windows and could just barely see snow falling outside. Or maybe it was more ash? No, it was snow. Of course it was still snowing out there… She had wished so desperately that the cold would just go away. At that moment she almost preferred the skeleton brothers’ house to the forest. Almost.

Papyrus finished every scrap of meat instantaneously and licked at his fingers. He had a tongue too, just like Sans. And it was orange and glistening with saliva, much to Frisk’s amazement.

“HUMAN. WE MUST HEAD TO THE GATE NOW.” Papyrus roared out. He tossed the depleted blood-stained plate into one of the clutter piles and hopped to his feet.

Frisk hesitated. “W-where is Sans?…”

The taller skeleton blinked and pushed his thick, dilapidated red scarf over his shoulder. “HMM? OH, HE IS PROBABLY OUT AND ABOUT. NOT TO WORRY, I WILL BE SURE TO RELAY EVERY DETAIL TO HIM. DETAILS OF WHEN YOU, THE HUMAN, OPEN THE GATE! WHICH WILL PROVE, ONCE AND FOR ALL, THAT I AM THE MORE SUPERIOR BROTHER. AND THAT I WAS RIGHT!”

She listened to Papyrus ramble. His sharp, ribbed spine straightened and he stood with his hands at his hips as if he was posing for a photograph. She was almost entertained by his nonsensical words and actions. Maybe he was not that terrible of a monster… The way he acted at times was almost juvenile. So unlike his brother.

Wait. No. No! He is a hulking monstrosity that feasts on raw meat! They both are!

 

Papyrus wiped at his jaw with one hand and reached out to grasp at Frisk. But for once, she was fast enough to pull away from him. “Wait, Papyrus…”

He blinked again, “IS SOMETHING THE MATTER, HUMAN?”

“I… I can’t go out there in the snow again. I’m going to die out there. It’s too… cold.” She actually mustered up the courage to speak an entire sentence. It felt like the most words she had spoken in one breath since she had arrived here.

“WELL I CANNOT HAVE YOU PERISHING, HUMAN. THEN I WON’T BE ABLE TO BEAT SANS!” He exclaimed in that boisterous, echoic tone.

Papyrus stepped away from her, moving in on a pile of junk in the corner. He started throwing refuse all over the room as he searched through the clutter. Frisk glanced back at him over her shoulder. Then her eyes darted towards the front door.

Should she run???? Papyrus seemed plenty distracted. S-should she take a leap of faith and attempt it?

 

……

 

Frisk’s heart started to race. Her soul started to pulse. She shifted against the couch cushion and inched forwards towards the edge of her seat. But then those words - Sans words - bubbled to the surface of her psyche: ‘you take one step out of line and i’ll be there.’

Frisk released a heavy sigh and reluctantly sunk back against the couch. Common sense settled within. She couldn’t possibly attempt such a feat right now. She was too exhausted, too battered, and she surely was not strong enough.

 

Papyrus returned and held out what appeared to be a dark clump of draped fabric. He shook the cloth out in both hands and revealed a small black winter coat. Frisk blinked. Out of all the things she had expected Papyrus to pull out of that pile of rubble, clothing had not been one of them.

The coat had a brown speckled fur-trimmed neckline but besides that there was nothing remarkable about it. Well, except for one thing. There was something off about the jacket. It had four sets of long sleeves. This coat was clearly meant for a small monster, not a human.

 

“HERE YOU ARE, HUMAN. THIS SMALL HUSK SHALL KEEP YOU SHIELDED FROM THE COLD.” Papyrus looked extremely satisfied with his find as he laid that jacket upon Frisk’s lap. She examined the four sets of sleeves and almost laughed at the absurdity.

“Ah… well… T-thank you.”

“YOU ARE MOST WELCOME!”

Frisk slid up off the couch to a stand and pulled her arms through the first set of sleeves. The coat was a tad big on her, but it was padded with layers of fabric and was extremely warm. It smelt like burnt charcoal and made her nose itch, but at least it was something to protect her from the bitter weather. She wrapped the second dangling set of sleeves behind her waist and tied them in a knot at her back, creating a sort of makeshift bow. Then she latched up the large wooden buttons at the front and patted it down. The coat reached just below her knees. Her legs were still bare but she wouldn’t say no to a warm, fur-laden jacket.

Frisk glimpsed up towards the towering skeleton when she had finished and quickly noticed a change in his stance. He had been watching her carefully as she adjusted the coat, but his gaze was alarming. The way he was staring… It reminded Frisk of a hungry dog leering at a slab of ham hanging in a butchers window. it reminded her of Sans’ gaze.

“Er…” Frisk took a step back away from him and she felt her heart tremble. Her fingers twitched towards her shorts pocket where her knife was hiding. If she had to fight him off than she would. She wouldn’t hold back. Although it would be the shortest fight in existence, no doubt.

Papyrus blinked his alcove eye sockets a few times and rolled his shoulders back as he came to from his crippling daze.

“AH… MY APOLOGIZES.” He shook his head and stepped over towards another pile of clutter. What the heck was he getting now? Frisk eyed the door warily, internally struggling with the desire to dash out of the house. But the skeleton returned just a few seconds later and in his hand was… was…

A-another collar!?

“HUMANS MUST BE RESTRAINED, THAT IS THE LAW.” He said and that intimidating grin splayed across his face while his hands reached down to her shoulders. He clasped the smaller steal around her exposed throat and roughly yanked at a thick leather leash that was bound to a ring in front.

Frisk stumbled forward towards him. She fought against her urge to scream and lash out. It probably would have led to her death, but this was getting ridiculous. Just stay calm… just stay calm… She had been bound up all night and now he was going to lead her through the forest by a leash like some kind of pet!? What kind of freaks were these monsters???

But Papyrus gave her no time to enjoy the final seconds of warmth inside the house. He yanked her towards the front door and led her outside by the leash. Frisk stumbled after him into the snow. She still had her hoodie on underneath the new coat and pulled the hood up over her head and grasped at the backpack straps around her shoulders.

The freezing, bitter wind hit her. Hard. It was like a punch to the face. Frisk whimpered and lowered her head down, standing behind Papyrus so that his imposing physique would shield her from the cold. If anything it had become even colder than the day before, if that were even possible. It was a blizzard.

 

 

 

Frisk walked closely behind Papyrus, practically stepping on the heels of his boots, and pressed her face into his sinuous red scarf. It was freezing outside and the snow blew hard and fast in their direction. She couldn’t see anything through the white haze, but it didn’t matter. Papyrus was leading the way regardless. Frisk had lost the feeling in her feet, hands and legs ages ago, but thankfully the new monster coat did a decent job at keeping her arms and chest warm. However, her thigh still ached and every step she took was a salient bolt of pain.

Papyrus, on the other hand, trotted along like it was a warm summer day. The weather did not affect him at all. If anything, it put a little spring in his step. He wrapped his hand tightly around the end of the leather strap leash the other swung back and forth at his side.

This new collar at Frisk’s neck was much smaller than the one from the night before. And it pinched painfully against her skin. It didn’t help that the cold practically turned the steel to ice. It was dreadful and Frisk tried to stuff her fingers underneath it to keep her skin from touching the metal but they wouldn’t fit.

 

 

And the two of them walked… and walked… and walked through the frigid forest. The trees were as black as oil and rooted closer together than when she had first entered these woods. Frisk would glance up at the grey sky every now and then when she heard that familiar air siren alarm blaring off in the distance. She wanted to ask Papyrus what that alarm was for, but she couldn’t bring herself to speak.

As they walked, Frisk stuffed a trembling, blue hand in her shorts pocket and pulled out her cell phone. She glanced at the clock that now read ‘1:34 pm’. How long had they been out here? She was going to die before they even got to their destination.

They continued on, and on, and on… And just as Frisk thought she was going to collapse from exhaustion she noticed something ahead of them. It was dark and massive and just barely visible through the rough flurries.

A colossal stone wall.

 

 

Frisk tilted her head back as they approached. The wall was monumental and must have been at least 50 stories high. She had almost mistaken it for a mountain ridge at first, but as they tread closer she could see that it really was a wall. It was built out of stacked black bricks stained grey from the frost. There were no trees around, as if they had all be cut down to make way for it. If Frisk hadn’t been so cold and scared she would have probably been quite impressed just by the sheer size of it.

“HERE WE ARE HUMAN!” Papyrus said as they started to close in on the barrier. There was a large ancient-looking wooden doorway at the center. It looked small compared to the entire structure, but as they approached Frisk could see that it was quite massive as well. The door alone was about 3 stories tall.

Papyrus yanked at Frisk’s leash and she lurched forward, almost bumping her head into the exposed bones at the bottom of his rib cage.

“ALRIGHT HUMAN…” He surging words were laced with anticipation as he brought those massive hands down and started to untie the leather strap leash from the front of her neck. She lifted her head waiting for him to remove the collar as well… but he didn’t. Then he grasped onto her shoulders and shoved her towards the door and took a lanky step back, staring at her intently.

Frisk stood there in the cold. She stared back at Papyrus who stared back at her. He had released her. They were outside… Should she run?

……………

 

She stood there for a while, unmoving. Papyrus did not move either. He just watched her as if waiting for a volcano to erupt.

 

Might as well just… give it a shot…

 

Slowly, Frisk forced herself to turn around and face the massive door. She studied the wooden aperture up and down. There were no doorknobs or padlocks or anything. Just two towering planks of wood slammed shut.

She stepped closer and walked along the span of the doorway, letting her sleeved hand brush against the it to scrape away caked snow that painted the wood white.

 

But then her eyes caught something. She stopped dead in her tracks. Wait… what is that?Something engraved in the wood underneath the ice.

The symbol!

It was there. Faded, but there.

 

Frisk used her sleeve to rub away the frost, revealing the familiar rune carved into a section of the black wood. She traced her pasty fingers along the design, feeling each indentation and curve at her fingertips. She took in a deep breath, ignoring the cold that stung her lungs, and brought both hands up. Then pressed them against the center of symbol and allowed her eyes to close.

Focus. Focus…

 

The wind blew. The snow whirled. The trees stirred in the rough gales a mile behind them.

 

And then… warmth.

 

A marvelous warmth, lukewarm at first but growing stronger. It began at her fingertips and ran through her slender digits down to her palms. Through her wrists and up her arms and into the center of her chest. The sickly blue tint that stained her hands melted away and a gentle red glow began to encompass them both. Her hands and arms radiated vermilion and the light bounced off the white snowfall, turning the atmosphere around her a gentle pink.

 

Frisk’s stared back at the symbol upon the door as the red glossy reflection glazed over her eyes. Her expression was calm. Her soul was serene.

She heard a loud gasp behind her, from Papyrus, who was watching everything unfold. The massive wooden doors began to shake. They trembled and huge mounds of snow started to fall around them from above.

Frisk shut her eyes and pushed harder. Harder… The doors trembled under her touch and started to split open. The gate was opening outward with deafening creeks and metallic screeches. The noise was so vehement, it sounded like a building was collapsing. It echoed through the trees around them. A huge gust of cool wind blew past Frisk from the widening space between the doors. She could see through them, just barely, over to the other side.

The doors opened wider and wider. Her hands burned hotter. And then suddenly it all became quiet.

 

Frisk hunched over, eyes closed, holding her hands to her chest. The soft glow weakened the moment she had removed them from the gate but the warmth lingered. Frisk opened one eye to stare at the open gates before her. She could see now. She could see what the gates led to.

It was more forest… but it was different. It was darker, warmer. There was no snow in the air, just some upon the ground. And it looked as if it was melting. The air was heavy and the atmosphere was tinted a putrid olive green. It clashed with the freezing white wind from the opposite side where they stood.

Frisk rose to a stand and took an alarmed step back. She bumped into Papyrus who was now standing directly behind her.

 

“WOWIE!!! HUMAN!!! YOU OPENED THE GATE!” He clasped his hands together, staring astonished at the expansive unfamiliar woods in front of them. “SANS’ EYE WILL SURELY POP OUT OF HIS SKULL WHEN HE HEARS OF THIS!”

Frisk almost smiled up at him. But she was so exhausted, so cold. Although that new forest looked much more daunting than the snowy one, the warmth was too tempting to pass up. She started to walk forward but Papyrus placed a heavy hand upon her shoulder.

“I KNEW SANS WAS WRONG THIS TIME. HE IS GOING TO BE SO CROSS WITH ME, NYEHEHEH!”

Frisk looked back up at Papyrus and simply nodded then tried to take a step forward again, but he yanked her back once more… rougher that time. Frisk felt a sudden pang of fear split her heart as her sneakers skidded into the snow ankle-deep. She glanced back up at him and her eyes widened when he spoke once more…

“HUMAN. THANK YOU FOR OPENING THE GATE. BUT NOW I MUST BID YOU FAREWELL.”

 

…………

 

W-what…?

 

Papyrus released her shoulders and took a step back. He was staring directly at her with narrowing craters. The skeleton grinned wide with that jubilant deranged toothy smile, exposing every single one of his humanoid canines.

He raised a gloved hand skyward and Frisk felt the ground shake.

What is this??!

Massive bones began to erupt from underneath the snow in vast pillars. They shot up one by one, encircling Frisk and trapping her within a small confined space. The bones were jagged at the ends and cracked all over, revealing sickening dark red bone marrow inside. And there was an orange emission that glowed around each one of them.

“P-papyrus!” Frisk shouted back at him through the deafening cyclone of snow. She tried to lunge forward between a small open space to escape the cartilage cage, but another tremendous bone obelisk shot up towards the sky and stopped her in her tracks. She was trapped.

Papyrus’ hollow eyes began to glow a bright orange in both of his sockets. They pulsed and vibrated steadily. It was terrifying. He looked hungry. His crimson scarf blew behind him in the rough wind and he lifted his hand once more.

More bones started to break through the earth’s crust at Papyrus' feet, pushing through the snow as if he was summoning them from hell. They were different than the ones that formed the cage. They were smaller, sharper, and hovered around his hand in a steady circle.

Frisk stood trembling inside the casket that trapped her in place. She gripped at the bones and she tried to push them over or squeeze through the slight spaces. She watched Papyrus summon his weapons in utter terror and her mind stumbled over itself.

This whole time… she should have never trusted this monster!!! W-what about the other doors? Was that a lie? Was she going to die here now? Impaled by bone spears?? Used for target practice??

Papyrus pointed his hand directly at Frisk. The hovering bones turned sharply and locked in on her as he commanded them, obeying his every whim. And he smirked wide.

“FAREWELL!”

 

*****

Coming up: T̼̰̘̯ͤ̐͂̓̑̃͐h̀͛̇ͬͣ̄͌e͆̐̓̅̉ ̣̏ͣ̃ͭ́͐t̺̰̭͔̠͙̙ͭͪͫͥo̭̥̗̗̭ͭ̑̅ͮw̫̠͚ͅn̗̪̖̳ͧ̓ ͬ͆̌̒̉͑o̼̪̟̱̠̊͛͐f͚̺͇̿ͥ ͑̊͋͊̊̾S̳̜͋͐ͥ̏n͖̯̭o̹̣̻̥̘͖͖ͩ̓̉͆̇w̒ͦd̰͈͖͍̽ͪͦͯͅị͉̗̫̼̿̂n̠̘̉̋ ͙̜͔̲͈̇̿ͩ͑ͮ͑ă̳̱̏͆̍̂w̝̩͕͎̺̲̞ͬͬ͊a͙̬͛͛̓̆͗ͅi̪̺͕͔̯̒ͣ͑̽̇̇ͅt̟̻͈ͣ̿͗͒s̮͚̯̘͍̔.

Chapter Text

*****

 

Multiple serrated bone spears hovered around Papyrus’ gloved hand in a perfect circle. Frisk watched in horror as the bones began to glow a bright blood-orange, steaming with the monster’s energy. Each end was sharpened to a jagged point and stained with dry blood. They stirred in the air for a moment, vibrating rhythmically, then shot forward. Directly at her. Like multiple heat-seeking missiles honing in on their target.

There was nowhere to run. Frisk raised her arms straight out in front of her and held her hands up to protect her face. A vision of Sans’ smirk seeped into her mind for a brief, fleeting moment. He probably would have loved to see her die this way…

 

So this was it, then. This is how it ends.

 

She took in a deep breath, holding it tight in her lungs, waiting for that painful impact. Waiting for those spears to skewer her…

 

 

 

But there was no pain.

 

There was only…

 

Warmth?

……

Warmth that turned into heat…

……

Heat that grew hotter and hotter… And started to burn.

 

Frisk’s hands were hot. Sweltering, in fact. She thought perhaps the bones had punctured her palms and the orange energy was burning them up. She opened her eyes and clenched her teeth, expecting the worst. But she was greeted with something… unexpected.

 

A bright, red, vibrant glow obscured her vision. The glow emitted off a screen, which hovered directly in front of her. It was about 3 feet tall, suspended in the air just a few inches away from her outstretched open palms. The partition was translucent and dripped with red gelatinous liquid that shimmered in the light. Clear vermilion particles swirled around inside the shield and glimmered like a marvelous starry sky. The coloring of the shield looked familiar… Where had she seen that color before?… Wait- It looked exactly… exactly like her soul. But instead of a small orb it was a burning forcefield of pure energy. It was so warm, so beautiful. A safeguard of glittering microscopic gems that protected her from the skeleton’s deadly attack.

The bone spears spiraled forward and impaled the barrier violently, and the force pushed Frisk backwards, pinning her against the back of the cage. She clenched her teeth and squinted at the damaged shield that flickered before her. Oh god… Papyrus was too strong… W-was the shield going to shatter? But the soul barrier did not give way. Its sheen quivered, but it held firm. The bones pierced through it and became trapped, embedded inside the screen, the crimson sharpened tips only inches away from Frisk’s face.

The shield… It protected her from the barrage. It saved her life.

Frisk could just barely see Papyrus standing out in the snow through the lucid red barrier.

Oh, no…

 

Her heart sank to her stomach when she saw another cluster of orange glowing bones appear and circle around Papyrus’ hand once more. He was summoning another wave. H-he was going to attack her again!? The light that emitted off the shield shuttered. It was pierced with multiple bones all over. She knew it would not last another onslaught.

“Papyrus!!” Frisk screamed out as loud as she could through the howling blizzard wind. “Stop, Papyrus!!! Stop it!”

Papyrus raised his hand further up in the sky. She could just barely make out his skull and he looked deranged. His eyes glowed bright orange, his grin was wide and terrifying. The bones were charging up, they were quivering in place. No no no no!

“Papyrus! P-please don’t do this! What about the other doors!” It was the only other words she thought to scream out besides pleads. Frisk ducked back down behind her cracking barrier. She shut her eyes again and prepared herself for the next assault of bones.

But they never came.

 

 

Frisk opened her eyes. She could make out the towering skeleton through the shield, out in the snow some yards away. The new set of bone spears he had summoned now lay on the ground at his feet. Papyrus simply stood there with his tattered red scarf flapping behind him. He looked confounded. The burning orange hues in his sockets were gone and they were small, empty cavities once more. His grin faltered, turning downward at the corners of his jaw. He appeared almost startled by his own actions.

“HUMAN! ARE YOU ALRIGHT?” He called out.

Was this some sort of messed up monster joke?……

 

 

Papyrus trotted up towards the bone cage and gripped onto the entrapping pillars, peering inside back at Frisk. She was trembling and panting heavily and beads of sweat glistened at her forehead. Her back pressed into the bone cage bars behind her as she tried to stay as far away from the approaching monstrosity as possible. She thought Papyrus was different… she thought he was a friend…

“FORGIVE ME, HUMAN. IN MY EXCITEMENT I HAD FORGOTTEN THERE WERE STILL PLENTY MORE DOORS TO OPEN!”

That haunting, unstable, inculpable grin spread across his features once more. It was like he had completely disregarded what he had just done. Frisk’s shield started to crumble. It fell apart in chunks upon the snow and melted into a crimson glittery liquid that almost immediately lost its lustrous sheen, turning an opaque dark red. It looked like a puddle of blood… and the bone spears stuck out from the ooze in various directions. Frisk was paralyzed from shock. She couldn’t even concern herself with the shield right now.

“P-papyrus!” She could feel tears start to glaze over her eyes as she cried out. “You tried t-to kill me!” Her voice quivered. He had just tried to murder her! He had almost impaled her to death with razor sharp bones simply because he forgot!?

“INDEED! ONCE THE DOORS ARE OPENED YOU MUST BE DESTROYED. IT IS THE LAW.”

His words were so blunt. They cut through her heart and it felt as if a stray bone spear had somehow found a way to impale her chest.

“W-what?” Frisk whispered and her rage melted away and morphed into a feeling of pure poignant dejection. She stared up at Papyrus with wide glassy eyes. Had he really just said those words?

“THAT IS THE LAW, HUMAN. UNDYNE’S LAW.” Papyrus reached both hands through the bone cages and began to tie the leather rope leash around Frisk’s collar yet again. She was in such a state of shock from his curt words that she just stood there, staring blankly, letting him re-attached the leash without a fuss.

Papyrus pressed his hands to the massive bone cage bars and they started to shiver. Thin, long cracks formed in segments and ran through the bones almost immediately, and they crumbled down upon the snow in tall mounds, freeing Frisk from the enclosure.

Then the towering skeleton pulled her forward by the leash, towards the now open gate doors behind them. Frisk felt defeated. She stumbled after Papyrus, letting her feet drag in the snow. He was just going to force her to open all the doors and kill her in the end anyways… So what’s the point? Why even bother fighting it anymore? Might as well just go along with this. This horrible nightmare. This never ending hell.

And Papyrus rolled his shoulders back. He narrowed his eyes at the opening between the gateway and took a step forward, pulling Frisk along behind him like a pet dog. And they both walked through the massive archway togeather onto the other side.

 

 

The second forest was darker and warmer. All of that freezing wind and snow was now a thing of the past, although there were still clumps of ice upon the ground in piles. The ice was melting and turned the ground into gritty slush. The trees towered overhead, still covered in black fuzzy mold, but some of them actually had leaves at the branches. The entire atmosphere had an eerie moss-green hue to it. It almost reminded Frisk of her forest at home, back when she first opened the shed door. Back when she had first laid her eyes upon Sans. Then she caught herself thinking of Sans and immediately tried to push him out of her mind. Why was she always thinking about that demon?

As they walked, Frisk’s state of shock started to subside. She lifted both her hands and stared down at her open palms. They were cold again. That red glow and warmth had long since faded away. She thought of the shield she had created… That gleaming red barrier that appeared before her and protected her. Had she created that without even knowing it? And what even was that thing? Was that shield her soul? Her soul’s power? Frisk furrowed her brow and closed her eyes.

Focus. Focus.

Perhaps she could summon it again. Use it against Papyrus. Break free from his restraint.

But nothing happened. And she clenched her hands into fists.

 

 

 

Ash began to rain from the trees. The air was so heavy with mildew. It made Frisk cough and she held her sleeve up over her nose and mouth so she wouldn’t breath in the debris.

Papyrus kept a firm grip on Frisk’s rope leash, leading her into the unfamiliar forest. But each step he took was not nearly as firm and driven as before. He seemed to bit more reserved as he walked and he glanced around the surroundings in an apprehensive manner.

That’s right… He had most likely never been in these woods before, either. This was a first for both of them.

 

Some of the black cold slush began to seep through the bottom of Frisk’s sneakers, coating them in frosty mud. She coughed against her sleeve again, her eyes growing itchy. She felt sick from the heavy air and leaned in close behind Papyrus, lifting her opposite hand upwards to hold onto the back of his crimson scarf. Her fingers buried in the thick fabric. It felt warm… and for some reason gave her just a sliver of comfort.

Why is this comforting!? He just tried to murder you! Let go! Get away from him! Are you really that desperate for affection???

Her inner voice raged. The skeleton hadn't noticed her gripping hand. He was much too busy maneuvering through the forest.

 

 

“Papyrus…” Frisk finally spoke, her voice a soft and mellow wisp.

“HUMAN?” He responded and glanced back over his shoulder down at her.

“Why… why is there a law to kill the humans?” She forced the question forward. It had been weighing on her mind this entire time. She couldn’t shake it.

“THE LAW ONLY APPLIES TO THE HUMAN.” He said. She thought she could see those orange hues flicker scarcely, buried deep down in his small, shadowed eye sockets.

“You mean… the Manumitter?”

“INDEED! THAT IS THE ONE!”

“But why? I was told that I had to open all the doors down here… to help the monsters escape. If I am helping you, then why should I be murdered for it afterwards?” Frisk simply let her questions flow fourth. She was terrified and cold and miserable, of course. But if she had no choice in the matter, she might as well just get some answers. She felt like a prisoner being led to the gallows.

“THE PROPHECY SAYS THIS HUMAN IS DESTRUCTIVE, AND THE PROPHECY NEVER LIES!” Papyrus turned his head to face forward once more as he pulled Frisk through a particularly deep puddle of inky slush. It splattered up onto her shins and made her wince with disgust. “THIS HUMAN IS A DANGER TO ALL OF US, YOU SEE. INDEED, IT IS WRITTEN THAT THEY WILL OPEN THE GATES, WHICH IN TURN SHOULD FREE US ALL FROM THE FAMINE-RIDDLED UNDERGROUND. BUT THEY WILL MURDER EVERY MONSTER THEY MEET ON THE WAY.”

Frisk listened to his words carefully. Her grip tightened at his scarf.

“…SO, TO PREVENT THIS MONSTER HOLOCAUST, UNDYNE’S LAW STATES: CAPTURE THE HUMAN BEFORE THEY KILL. CONDUCT THEM THROUGH THE UNDERGROUND TO OPEN EACH GATE. DESTROY THEM ONCE THE FINAL GATE IS UNLOCKED.”

Papyrus stated the law like he was reading from a script. His words swirled around in her head and it made her think back to her conversation with Napstablook… it was hard to believe that she had been inside the dark entrance way tunnels only a few days ago. And for a brief moment Papyrus did not sound nearly as deranged as before. Perhaps this towering skeleton might be more astute than he led her to believe.

 

There was a long awkward silence as they journeyed forward and Frisk finally brought herself to respond. “But… why would they, this Manumitter, do that? Why murder the inhabitants?” Suddenly a sour hint of guilt crept its way into her soul. She knew exactly why someone would kill these monsters. Because they were terrifying, cruel, blood-thirsty beasts.

“I DO NOT KNOW WHY, HUMAN. BUT UNDYNE SAYS IT IS SO. WHEN WE FINALLY MEET HER, WE CAN ASK HER FIRST-HAND!” His echoic voice almost leapt with anticipation.

Her?…

“Where is Undyne?”

Frisk had heard that name uttered from Papyrus multiple times before. She figured it was some other monster. And she remembered that Sans seemed to have bitter feelings towards them. But Papyrus acted as if she were some kind of leader. Could the Underground even have a leader? This place was a hell hole. If Undyne truly was their leader, then she must be the devil.

Papyrus stopped dead in his tracks at Frisk's words and she bumped into him from behind, stumbling backwards. “HMM… I AM NOT SURE, HUMAN. WE NEVER SEE UNDYNE. WE ONLY HEAR HER. UNDYNE’S VOICE BELLOWS FROM THE SKY SOMETIMES AFTER THE ALARMS RING.” And he started walking again.

Frisk lurched forward as he pulled her along. She was starting to feel very cold. She tugged her hoodie back up over her disheveled brown hair, bangs falling over her eyes. She traced her fingers down the front of the rigid iron collar, still wrapped around her throat. “…What are the alarms for?” She had been wondering about those air sirens since she had first arrived.

“THOSE ARE UNDYNE’S ALARMS! NYEHEH!”

That wasn’t really an answer to her question… but she decided not to press it. Papyrus let out a bemused, haughty laugh and he wrapped the leather leash around his hand, shortening the distance between Frisk and himself.

For some reason it made her heart start to beat fast. He pulled her in closer, forcing her to walk next to him now instead of behind. Frisk staggered forward and her shoulder pressed lightly against the side of his exposed off-white pelvic bone and she glanced away from him. Papyrus simply grinned down at her with that usual oblivious macabre smile. Every single one of his flat-edged desultory molars flashed in the shadowy green complexion of the forest.

 

 

They walked in the silence of the woods for a while longer until Frisk finally spoke up again. “I’m not a killer, Papyrus…” She whispered under her breath while she stared down at her muddled sneakers.

Papyrus gazed down at her. Frisk flinched as she felt one of the skeleton's tremendous heavy hand suddenly placed upon the top of her head. He shifted it side to side, patting her. W-what is this? Frisk was baffled by his actions. They were almost tender. He had just tried to kill her not that long ago. Do not trust him. Do not trust him. He is not your friend. He wants you dead.

“AH, BUT YOU ARE, HUMAN!” Papyrus responded.

“No, I’m not…” She exhaled a quivering breath, trying to hold a cough in her lungs “…and my name is Frisk.”

Why the hell are you even telling this monstrosity your name!? He wants to murder you! He plans to murder you! And then most likely eat you afterwards!

Frisk tried to discount her pessimistic conscience and she coughed again into the sleeves of the monster coat wrapped around her form. It really was starting to get more and more difficult to breathe in this forest.

“FRISK…” Papyrus repeated her name in a softer tone compared to his usual blusters. For a moment he sounded almost concerned. But then the skeleton stopped suddenly in his tracks and the leather leash tugged Frisk backwards, the heels of her sneakers skidding into the chilled mud. She had been so preoccupied with her conflicting thoughts - and his hand against her head - that she did not even notice what lay before them at least a half mile away.

There was a cluster of tall buildings way out in the distance in a vast clearing of the woods. It almost looked like… like a village!

The buildings huddled close together. They were old and collapsing and historical. Each roof had a tall chimney but no smoke could be seen. There was a wooden fence that seemed to surround the entirety of the hamlet, but it was broken in more than one section, creating multiple entrances.

“HUMAN… DO YOU SEE THAT?” Papyrus whispered out under his breath. He sounded anxious and enthralled.

“Yeah…”

 

 

Papyrus bound forward, dragging Frisk behind him without concern. She clenched her teeth and tried to keep up with him as she gripped onto the leather leash with both hands, almost slipping in the mud.

He pulled her along roughly and the village started to grow larger and more intimidating as they approached. It wasn’t small at all. It was huge! And then, finally, they both came to a standstill at one of the open entranceways.

 

The two of them stood there, staring inside the town. Dark ash continued to rain from the treetops above and it covered the village in a blanket of black. Every structure was made of dilapidated dark bricks. It reminded Frisk of the wall where Papyrus had attacked her. Windows were shattered and the doors hung open from their hinges. There was a narrow cobblestone path that weaved throughout each building and created a small roadway. The entire town was shrouded in the ominous jade atmosphere. And despite the fact that it appeared abandoned, the village felt dangerous and evil and poisonous. There was something very wrong with this place…

Papyrus began to take a step forward onto the stone path but Frisk hesitated and pulled at her leash. The skeleton stopped and looked back at her with a tilt of the skull. “HUMAN?”

“Papyrus, wait… what is this place?”

“I BELIEVE THIS IS THE TOWN OF SNOWDIN.” He seemed unconcerned with the dangers that most likely awaited them.

“What if it’s… unsafe?” Frisk whispered out as she stared back at the multiple towering buildings. It was silent inside the town. The only noise came from the gentle breeze that stirred the falling ash.

“NYEHE! FEAR NOT, HUMAN! I AM A MASTER OF ALL WARFARE.”

Well she knew that for a fact. She had witnessed his abilities first hand. But somehow she still felt uneasy.

“COME, HUMAN. ONE OF THESE ABODES IS SAID TO CONCEAL ANOTHER GATE.”

W-what? The 4th door was located in this place?

 

 

Papyrus yanked at Frisk’s leash hard and forced her forward as he began his descent inside the town. Frisk bit at the tip of her tongue and stared wearily at each building. They were extremely decrepit. Some of the structures had been invaded by the thick patches of black mold, and the rot was spilling from the windows and doorways. The insides of each building was shadowed and completely black. Frisk felt a pang of dread each time they walked past an open door, expecting the worst.

Papyrus glanced around each building as they trudged through the soot that stained their shoes. His menacing grin was hesitant. He seemed to be disoriented by the vast majority of them.

“HUMAN…” He finally spoke and he rubbed at his forehead. “I BELIEVE WE WILL HAVE TO INSPECT EACH HOME.” His resounding voice weighed with apprehension. Was he nervous?

He started to drag Frisk over towards the closest open door and Frisk jerked her form back again.

“Papyrus… Release me. I can look as well. We will cover more ground.” Frisk stared up at the skeleton with a rare confident determination. She was actually impressed by her own words. For once they did not quiver.

“OH, NO HUMAN. I CANNOT DO THAT. IT IS AGAINST THE LAW!”

“I promise I won’t run.”

Papyrus shook his monstrous skull and began to tug at her leash again but she held her ground, digging the rubber heels of her sneakers between cobblestones. “I promise, Papyrus…”

The skeleton’s bone brow furrowed as he listened to her words. He seemed to be lost in deep thought and his uneven incisors ground against one another. Then he took a step forward, towering over her. Frisk’s heart stumbled suddenly, half-expecting him to do something monstrous and attack her again, but instead… instead he bent down and untied the leather leash at her collar.

“ALRIGHT, HUMAN… BUT I AM ONLY DISCHARGING YOU TO QUEST FOR THE NEXT DOOR.” He stuffed the leash in his kilt pocket and straightened his exposed spine back upwards. “KEEP IN MIND THAT IF YOU ESCAPE, I AM A MASTER OF RETRIBUTION.” His grin widened with those words and his eye sockets flashed for just one abrupt moment. Frisk stared back up at him and felt her soul flutter in fear. That gaze… maybe Papyrus wasn’t entirely unlike his brother…

“Y-yes…” She tore her eyes away from his and looked down the cobblestone road at the various buildings.

“SEARCH THE OTHER SIDE, HUMAN.” He motioned towards the parallel row of houses across the path. Then the skeleton turned and stepped through the shrouded doorway into a rotting building, leaving her alone outside.

Frisk stood there in the raining ash staring at the veiled open doorway. Papyrus did not return. She looked over at the rows of creeping houses on the opposite side, each one more dismal than the next. Frisk slowly started to make her way down the cobblestones and glanced back at the home that Papyrus had entered.

 

He was still inside. She was still alone.

 

…………

……

 

Run.

 

Her inner voice screamed at her suddenly.

 

Run, now!! Go! Before he comes back!

 

N-no… there will be hell to pay…

 

Only if I’m caught! GO!

 

But what about Sans?…

 

GO NOW!

 

Frisk clenched her fists and shut her eyes tight, struggling with her desire to flee. For a brief moment she saw the orphanage in her mind. The sun was shining overhead outside in the courtyard. The gentle, sweet breeze of summer, the smell of freshly cut grass. Izzy’s face… her teachers… her mother…

 

 

 

Frisk opened her eyes. Shadow, decay, corrosion, horror. It surrounded her.

 

She coughed again and held a hand over her mouth, taking in a pained, heavy breath.

And then she sprinted forward.

 

*****

 

Coming up: ♑♏⧫ ❒♏♋♎⍓ ♐□❒ ♋ ♌♋♎ ⧫♓❍♏

Chapter Text

*****

 

Frisk ran through the village, her sneakers clattering against the cobblestones. The ground was caked with black ash that continuously fell from the sky. The raining soot stained her cheeks and legs and caught in the back of her throat with each inhale, but she didn’t stop. She continued forward in a mad dash. Her heart pounded in her chest. Her mind galloped in rhythm with her footfalls.

 

She had to escape this nightmare. She had to escape. Even if she didn’t make it in the end… She would die trying.

She was not a slave. She was not simply a meal for the horrors that surrounded her.

 

No.

 

No!

 

Her determination swelled and her chest, her soul, felt warm for a fleeting moment.

 

 

Frisk continued to make her way through the decaying town of Snowdin. She skidded along the narrow paths, weaving in and out of towering rotted structures. Where were the exits!

Every now and then she would glance back over her shoulder with anxious anticipation. She half expected to see Papyrus’ massive, lanky structure chasing after her with those macabre humanoid teeth and bloodorange glowing sockets. But the gloomy pathways were barren. The village was devoid of any life. And Frisk started to wonder if this town really was completely abandoned after all.

 

 

Finally, she slowed to a trot and leaned back against the side of a disintegrating building. She coughed and held the front of her hoodie up over her mouth to gasp for a breath of air that wasn’t tainted with ash. How long had she been running? Had Papyrus noticed her absence yet? Would he come looking for her? And what then?… What would happen if he found her?

A sharp wave of nausea ran through Frisk’s stomach and she abruptly held a hand to her mouth, feeling like she was going to be sick. Oh, god… and Sans… what about Sans? Was he watching her right now? W-was he going to materialize out of thin air again? Would he make her pay for running away? Surely, her attempted escape was ‘stepping out of line’ as he put it.

 

 

No! Come on, Frisk! Pull yourself together! He can't see me! That is impossible.

 

She coughed again and waited for the anxiety-induced nausea to slowly subside. She rubbed at her eyes, which stung from the diseased atmosphere, and slipped a hand underneath her coat into her shorts pocket. She pulled out her box cutter and unsheathed its blade. Still sharp and shining dimly in the light. If one of those demons came for her, she’d be ready. She’d fight.

Frisk pushed herself off the wall, clutching tightly onto her weapon, and began making her way back down the path. She couldn’t go backwards; she could only go forwards. Although part of her wondered if she would ever find the exits of this town again.

She leered at each open window with caution as she passed them. She could just barely make out the insides of the buildings. They simply looked like disheveled homes - like some terrible earthquake had run through this place and destroyed everyone and everything.

 

The atmosphere was growing darker. The air was getting heavier. The ash started to fall in drab sheets. Frisk jogged along for what felt like ages, barely able to see a few feet in front of her. She continued on and on… and on… until she couldn’t continue anymore. The cobblestone road led her to a massive, towering building that boxed her in. There was no more path. Nowhere else to run.

 

Frisk tilted her head back and glanced up at the imposing structure. It was dark and made of stone, just like all the other buildings. But this one was different from the others. It was much larger, enormous, at least 10 stories tall. There were no windows embedded in the walls, not even shrouded ones. Rows of black brick steps led up to a pillared veranda with two stone doors settled in the center. It almost looked like it could have been the town’s city hall at one point - it gave off the vibe of a government building.

She silently scanned the courtyard for an alleyway or a small hidden backstreet to go around the structure. But there was none. Was this a dead-end? Had she run this whole way in search of an exit, only to be met with this towering coliseum? Was there really no way to go around this building?

The terrible realization that she might have to actually go through the daunting hall settled upon her. But maybe… maybe those doors were the 4th gate.

 

Frisk’s heart surged in her chest and she took slow steps forward towards the stairs. She ascended up each step, slippery with ash, until she stood in the covered patio directly in front of the grandiose stone doors.

She leaned in and examined them. There were no symbols etched in the masonry. Maybe this wasn’t the gate after all… Perhaps she had been wrong.

Frisk bit her bottom lip in thought. She noticed a petite wooden handle embedded in one of the duel doors. She wrapped her fingers around it, turned it, then pushed forward. The wood practically disintegrated in her palm but much to her surprise the door trembled and inched open.

She leaned one shoulder against the door and pressed all her weight into it. And the door swung forward. She stumbled inside the entrance way and quickly jumped backwards, back out onto the patio.

 

 

There was only darkness inside. A pitch black mysterious void that echoed with the steady wind behind her. But the temperature inside was surprisingly tepid and it smelled like… like… a fireplace?

Frisk sniffed at the heavy scent that hung in the air. It was a gentle aroma of fresh burning wood. It smelled good. She hesitated for a long while, allowing her eyes to adjust to the darkness, but still she could see nothing past the entrance way.

She reached into her other pocket and pulled out her cell phone. It had been a while since she checked the time. The cracked screen flashed ‘5:31 pm’. Whoa… it was almost night time already. Last time she checked it had been around 1pm… back when she was traveling with Papyrus. Her heart sank as she scanned over the battery life: 20%. She might as well get the most use out of the flashlight before her phone dies completely.

Frisk pointed her cell phone forward and clicked the side button. The light flickered on and quickly illuminated the inside of the building. It was a grand room with square-tiled floors and concrete walls. The space was expansive but the ceiling hung low. The room was completely desolate. No furniture, no debris on the floor, no monsters hiding in corners. Nothing. And compared to the rest of the village, it actually looked somewhat clean.

Frisk resisted the impulse to call out into the room. She waved the flashlight around at different angles, examining every inch. She thought she could see what looked like an open archway against the furthest wall. Would it be entirely insane to enter this ominous building and go down that hallway? Is it any more insane than waiting around out here in the open for Papyrus to find her?…

She gripped tightly onto her flashlight in one hand and her blade in the other and began to summon every shred of courage she posessed.

You can do this. Be strong.

And she stepped into the room and closed the door behind her.

 

 

Frisk leaned back against the door once it was shut. She stared directly in front of her, terrified, just waiting for some shrouded monster to creep out from its hiding place. But that never happened. The room was just as empty as before. She forced her feet forward and began to walk through the center, making her way towards the entrance way. She flashed her light inside the narrowing space, but there was nothing. Just a long dark hall that appeared to curve to the right.

It reminded her of the tunnels she first ventured through at the beginning of her journey. Except these tunnels were warm and had a pleasant smell. And for some reason she felt more courageous now, perhaps due to all the trauma she had been through already.

She made her way down the shrouded hallway. The walls were dark concrete. They were barren, just like everything else about the building. She reached the end of the hall and turned down the corner, only to discover even more hall. Frisk flashed her light again. It was just as empty, except for another bend at the furthest end. She walked down to the next corner and was met with yet another hall. And then another. And another. This was starting to get a bit… repetitive. Was this hallway even leading anywhere?

She continued down one of the many dark corridors, scratching at her neck underneath the collar still bound to her throat - it was making her skin very itchy. And just as she began to regret her decision to enter this place, she noticed what looked like an open door against one of the side walls. And emitting from that open door was a light.

She felt her heart race almost immediately at the sight and took a step backwards, her eyes locked on the soft yellow glow that spilled out onto the floor. What was in there… Was it a fireplace? Was that the scent she had been smelling? She held her breath in her lungs for a moment to remain as still and quiet as possible, listening for any sounds of a crackling fire. But there was nothing like that. Only deafening silence.

Very slow, Frisk began to tip-toe towards the archway. She pressed her back up against the wall as she approached. She would have to pass by the opening anyways to get to the other side of the hall… might as well just have a peek inside. Sweat collected against her back and bled through her hoodie. It was no longer freezing and the monster jacket she donned was starting to make her feverish.

Frisk took in a deep silent breath, steadying her nerves, and very carefully inched over the side of the doorway to peer inside. But it was just a small, empty room. There was nothing… nothing inside the room except… a candle!

She staggered forward into the tiny space, eyes wide with amazement as she stared back at the candle that sat in the corner upon the floor. She had seen a candle exactly like that! Back in the Napstablook tunnels! She had touched it before, and it sent a strange wave of energy through her. Why… why was it here now? Or was this a different candle?

Her mind overflowed with questions and she stepped closer towards the flickering object. She crouched down and placed her cell phone and box cutter at her feet and held her hands up towards it. This candle was just like the last one. Small, transparent, its tiny ember floating above the top suspended in thin air. Frisk held one hand out and let her fingertips press against the side and then suddenly - that familiar burst of energy. Her vision faded into white for a split second and she faltered back against the ground.

Her heart darted around inside her chest as she stared wide-eyed back at the candle. What was that!? Why did that happen every time she touched that thing! She took in deep heavy breaths, trying to slow her rapid pulse. That is it. No more delays. It’s time to break free from this nightmare.

Frisk grit her teeth as a sudden surge of animosity swelled in her head. She snatched up her cell phone and box cutter, adjusted her backpack straps at her shoulders, and dashed back out into the black hallway.

 

 

Frisk ran through the dark corridors. Her little sneakers clattered against the tiled floor. She turned swiftly at every corner with her hand held out in front of her, the cell phone light guiding her way. Her thoughts were swimming. There has to be a way out of this labyrinth. There has to be an exit eventually! There just HAS to be!

And then… there was a door.

 

 

She skidded to a sudden stop right in front of the dead-end. Well, except that it was not a dead-end. There was a door, after all. It was wood and spanned the entirety of a wall in front of her. It was a bit odd, considering that the front door had been made out of stone, along with everything else in this building. It seemed out of place.

Frisk peered carefully at the door but there was no symbol. So this was not a gate either… Disappointment weighed in her heart. Where the hell is that 4th gate?!

Her mind became clogged with grief. It seemed to be just one obstacle after another. Frisk let out a troubled sigh and leered at the door. Slowly, she raised her hands towards it. She pressed against the wood and it felt… warm? But this warmth was not due to her soul power. No, the door itself was warm to the touch.

Might as well just go on in. Perhaps it will lead back outside.

Frisk took in a substantial inhale, filling her lungs. She breathed out slowly and pushed the door open with an exhale.

But it did not lead outside. No, instead she stepped into another room. And Frisk stared around her new surroundings in awe.

 

 

It was a chamber. Extensive in size and pleasantly warm in temperature. The ceiling loomed overhead at least five stories up and the black brick walls were lined with mounted torches. Each torch burned softly with a peculiar black flame that engulfed the entire space in a haunting shade of violet light. But the size of the room and the strange torches upon the walls were not what took Frisk’s breath away.

The entire chamber was filled with rows upon rows of towering bookshelves. Each one stretched up towards the ceiling packed full with thick leather-bound tomes.

What the heck… is this place… A library?

 

Frisk stared out at the succession of bookshelves, her soft brown eyes wide in astonishment. She stepped over towards the closest shelf, stuffing the cell phone and knife in her pockets to free up her hands. The black flame torches provided enough sufficient light anyways, although just barely. She ran her fingers along the book spines. There was no writing on them, no titles. Some looked newer, some looked shabby, while others were wrapped up with string.

She came to a stop at the center of the shelf and carefully hooked her finger at the top of one book in particular. She pulled it from its place and opened it in her hands. It was filled with pages of illegible symbols. There were no pictures or diagrams… just symbols. Could this be some strange foreign monster language?

Oddly enough the shapes of the symbols reminded her of the runic engravings she saw upon the gates. Frisk shifted uneasily where she stood and looked back over her shoulders. She was still alone. She glanced back down at the tome and closed it shut.

She let out a sigh, returned the book to the shelf, and began to walk along the side of the room while simultaneously examining each bookshelf she passed. Nothing jumped out at her, figuratively or literally, although she was starting to feel uneasy. Was there a way out of this place? Would she have to go back all the way through the hallways to the beginning?… Was Papyrus still out there? Maybe he was looking for her right now or maybe he was still searching the village for the 4th gate completely oblivious.

 

As Frisk walked along, lost in thought, she stepped over a square slab of wood. The hollow sound startled her and she quickly jumped off the platform. Upon first glance she quickly realized that it was some sort of trapdoor embedded within in the floor. Frisk crouched down and knocked against it. She could hear a loud echo from behind the door underneath the ground. And then she noticed something… something in the center of the wood. The symbol!

This was it! This was the 4th gate! Well, hardly a gate. A trapdoor… but still!

Her heart shivered with elation and she scooted in closer, studying the faint emblem carefully. Perhaps not all of the doors were doors at all… some could be small like this one, or massive like the one Papyrus led her to.

Frisk furrowed her brow in thought. If all the doors were different, then she would have to be hyper-vigilant and remain on high alert for the symbols in particular…

 

Then something interrupted her thoughts.

 

… There was a sound…

 

She heard something…

 

Footsteps…Wet footsteps.

Like someone was trudging through mud.

 

Frisk scrambled up to her feet and her eyes darted around the space in a panic. Those were footsteps… oh god… Someone is here… Something is in here… Her palms began to sweat and her heart coursed.

 

“H-hello?…” She whispered, barely able to find her voice through the fear.

The footsteps ceased.

 

“………… Hello?……” Her quivering voice ricocheted off the stone walls. There was no response.

“Papyrus?…… ”

Still nothing.

“… Sans?…”

 

She inched her fingers towards her pocket to grab at the box cutter, when-

 

“H̛̥͚͓u̗̣͝m̤̯̲͚a̬͚̳̞͚̭n͓̭̺͙s̹̙̥̹̙ ̗̭͇͜ͅca̢̦̯̤̦n̞̦̥͖̱͇̕n̥̹̱̝̝̞͝o̝̗̲̺̘ͅt͟ ̣̹̘si̛̖͖͖̙m̯̰͎p͓͞l̵̳̼̱y̡̼ ̲̥͔̠s̴͖͇̹̥̤t̮o̷̞̼p ̧͈̬̭b̮̺͍̬̱͙ͅe͈̩i̧͓n͏̰g͏͚̣̮͖̦̯ ̱͍w̻̲̠ḥ͍͈̭̥͔̬o͖͕̗̗ ̪̻̦̥̰͓̞̕t͏h̟̫̹e̛̜̠y̗̖̳̞ ̗a̶̳̳͍r̡̝̖̱̤e̝͙̯ ͢I̻̟̻̲͕̯̥ ̯̩̻̘̻͠s҉͖̮̘̪͖ṷ̫̩̦͍̩p̱̹̹po͉̱͡s̗e҉͖̙ͅ.͏ ̤̣̪̦͜ͅS̮͟e҉̤̣͇l̷͎̣̫̗ͅf̨̙͎̞̳̼̣i̷̜̤̼̦͈s̺̱͞h҉̣̻̗͖͖ ̷̺̞a̤̱n̙̻̟͎̝̦͖ḍ̢̫̠̮̟ ̼̬̜͈s͚p͚̦̮͍it̖̳͟e̶̝̦̱̣̰f̞̯u̖̰͎̜͡l͏̞͖̱̻̻͕;̫ ͜y̞̪̟͙e̟͙͚͔̳t̬̦͔͔̰ s̲̹̹͔̖̫͎ti͓͕̥͇͠l͖̥l͔̙̳̲̥ͅ ̸̙̼̼͍̮̹̺v͙͘e͈̜̲ͅr̦̪͕̳̜̣̱y̥ ̲͡i̼̼̤̺n͈̤̰̲q҉͈u̡̜̬i̫̤̳̘̥siṱ̘͎͕͔̱͚i͙̼v͈̜̬̟̘̠̪e͇̻̘̳.̠”

 

……………

 

……

 

Frisk felt a wave of shivers run up her spine as she heard the strange sound behind her… A voice - unlike any voice she had ever heard before. She spiraled around with eyes wide and felt her pulse clamber at the sight.

 

There was a figure, a dark, looming figure. It was standing in between the bookshelves closest to her, obscured by the dark violet light. For a moment she thought it was a human man. But her heart quickly sank when the monster stepped out of the deluded shadows and came into view.

 

It was not human… not in the slightest…

 

It was tall, almost as tall as Papyrus. And slender and radiating darkness. Obsidian ooze dripped off the monster’s exposed flesh. In fact, its tendril-like limbs seemed to be made of black slime itself. Thick globules of tar seeped down against the floor off the creature’s form, while more of the liquid rose behind it like sentient tentacles. Like massive sprouting millipedes.

A dark grey illumination hovered around the monster, creating a haunting shadowy aura so thick it could be cut with a knife. And its face… It was almost skull-like but rounder… and distorted. Its eyes were two wide voids with multiple gaping cracks running down like tears. And its mouth was a thin black incision underneath those sockets. It was smiling.

It seemed to be draped in a black cloak but it was hard to tell if it was clothing or if that was actually part of the monsters body.

 

Oh my god, oh my god…

Frisk gawked at the creature, trembling, still standing on the trapped door.

What is that!? What the hell is that! I-it’s oozing!

 

The creature took a slow, ominous step forward. As it grew closer the overpowering scent of charcoal and rot wrapped around Frisk like a blanket and she could feel heat emitting from the monster’s form. Oh god… It was still smiling!

“Stay back!” She shouted as loud as she could. She grabbed at her utility knife and lifted it up in both hands. Her arms were trembling so terribly that should could barely keep them straight.

But the monster did not stay back. It ignored her words completely and took another step forward, closing in on her. And then, very softly, it whispered out again.

 

“Y̞̫̗o̝̠̠͎̘ųr͉̳̖̫̰̹̖͜ ͕̬s̻͔͍̙̗͢o̢u̘̯̜̬̗̭l.͚..̖͢.̜ ̻̹ͅW̷̟̺̟h̖̭a̗̖̺̹̟͚ṱ̰̳̣ ̥̬͢a͍̺̺̮ ̗̜̙̞̮͝ḑ̫̮͎̞e̞̩͠li̫̣͍̩̦̻ͅc̩i͚͇͙̻̟o̞͖̝̺͇͠u͙̖s͎͉͠ ̦s̩ọ̻u̪l̝͕̗̰̟̟.̩̭̞̝̹͉͝.̠̱̪̖.̵”

 

It spoke once more. And this time Frisk caught a glimpse of teeth under that wide smiling maw. Rows and rows of razor sharp piranha fangs in perfect alignment, just barely visible through the dark aura. That voice was so soft, so eerie. Like the rattle of tree branches scraping against a window in the dead of night. And a familiar haunting echoic tint laced through each word. But she couldn’t understand what he was saying. His voice was obscured with spectral noise and static. And he seemed to be speaking a different language entirely.

Frisk was paralyzed with fear. Her legs trembled, her heart was sprinting, her soul was shivering. She stared over her blade at the monster in utter horror. It was closing in. Dear god, run! Do something!

It continued towards her. Closer and closer. She could see a thick trail of black slime smear along the floor behind him. The slime was moving like there were worms or bugs within it. And now the monster was just a couple feet away, towering overhead.

 

“C̦͍̞̫̭ͬ̑́̂ͬ̅o̴̰͈̤m͙̣͇̗ͭ͊ͮ͌ͫ͟e̺̞̪ͣͫ̃̅̐̿ ̩̰h̖ͨe͔̯̗̰͈͚̐̃̈́̾̐r̠̹̻̺̣̞͈ͥͮe̓ͨ̽,̿̀͂ͩ͠ ̏ͮ͒̉̎̀͘l̙͓͚͇͐ͪ̍͊ͮ͆ͅï̔͊͋͒҉̺͔̼ͅt͕̟̟̽ẗ͇̫ͤ̾ͭ͌l͎̃ͥe̲̼̱̗̖̟ͭͯ̓̓͌ ̢̫͙̞̠̩̞̿ͣ̊̏ͯͩ̿ͅo̸̻͇͈̲̬͒ͫͅn̫̦̣̣̽̒ͭ̌̎̂ͥe̴͚̜̝.̶̜͈̗̽.̘͚̟́.͈͂̒”

 

Run! For the love of god, run! Get AWAY from it!

The glutinous monster raised a hand out directly in front of her as if waiting for her to take it. His fingers were white bony claws. There was a deep crater directly at the center of his hand that opened out to the other side. Squirming tendril bubbles of black ink licked up around his wrist and moved on their own. Those empty wide sockets locked on her.

Frisk felt a sudden surge of adrenaline. A surge of determination.

 

Fight!! FIGHT IT!

 

She grit her teeth firmly and bound forward, knife in hand, aiming for the center of the monster’s chest. The only thing she could hear was her own pulse throbbing in her ears and her inner voice screaming bloody murder.

But the monster swiftly side-stepped around her with graceful ease and Frisk stumbled forward, almost slipping on the slime.

Oh, no…

 

Before Frisk could even turn around and try a second time, the creature wrapped its slender fingers around the back of her metal collar. The iron immediately heated up from his touch. It was so hot, so painful! Oh god, it was burning! W-why was it so hot! S-stop!

Frisk cried out from the pain. It felt like the collar was burning into her flesh. The monster swiveled her around and threw her up against the nearest wall between two mounted torches. Frisk yelped as her head hit the stone. She panted heavily from the fear and adrenaline that coursed through her veins. And the creature moved in close, directly in front of her.

But she didn’t stop. She swiped at the monster’s chest again with her box cutter clumsily. He leaned back to avoid it once more. His movements were as fluid as his liquid form. Then he pressed her hard into the wall, pinning her there with one hand digging painfully underneath her chest, knocking the wind out from her lungs. The black ooze that dripped from his limbs immediately spilled down the creature’s hand and soaked into Frisk’s jacket. It was like boiling tar. She could feel its heat radiating through her coat and hoodie. Thankfully it didn’t burn through.

With his other hand he gripped at her forearm, pinning her knife-wielding arm down, causing her to drop the blade with a loud clatter. Without thinking she pushed at his chest with her opposite hand. Her hand sunk deep into the monster’s viscid slime and she cried out as it enveloped her fingers. The ooze was hot! So hot! It wrapped around her wrist practically sucking it inside his chest. But she ignored the heat and continued to push him back regardless. Desperate to shove him off of her. Desperate for salvation.

FOCUS! FOCUS! USE YOUR SOUL! USE YOUR POWER!

But nothing happened.

W-why wasn’t anything happening?!

 

He leaned in close and that calm, eerie haunting smile widened. Frisk’s eyes grew and her pupils constricted at the sight of his exposed teeth. Dozens of small triangular knives in perfect rows. Deadly fangs meant for only one thing: tearing flesh apart.

 

 

“Y̷̵̒ͤ̌̀̀̃̎̚҉̨͓͖̦̤̻̜̘̤͙̻̝̫͠Ơ̜̼̰͎̝̩̗̗̼͔̠̟̤̋̓̉ͦ͗̈̓̈̓ͭ̀̚̕ͅƯ̶͗͒͆̄ͭͪ͏̬͉̪͖̯̬̬̜̥͉͞'̷̵̵̺͚̫̱̱̳͚͕̟͚ͩͣ͊̔̆͊ͥ̅̐ͯͬ̾͗͛̂̔̚͜͡R̛̛̮̩̹͎̜̲̙͓̟͇̣̳̩̹̰̙̜̖͎͋̎͗ͣ̕͞E̢̓ͫ̌̇̀ͦͦ́͂̚͞͠͡҉̰̦̠̺̟̬̹͇͍̯͔̮̯̯̹̭̦ ̨͕̖̖͔͕̟̩͎̱̰̤͓̘̖͚̲ͮ͗ͥ̊͆̌̐̆ͭ̄̉̀͒̚͡M̵̢̲͓̱̦̰͚̙̟͎͍̜̱̠͎̪̮̠͌̃̒̒ͭͭ͊ͬ͌͌̈́ͬͦͣͬ̑̔̌̕͞ͅI̶̐ͧ͆̉ͣͧ̓ͣͭ̆̈̊̎̓̽̎ͪ͋͞҉͎͎̤͍͉̹̪̹͕͍͖͚̠̩̱̙N̴̢̝̱̙͔̟͚̯̮̱͚̯͕̹̣̓̑͑͗̊̎̈́ͯ̓̒ͪͨ͒̏̚͢E̵͆̽̀̉͑͗͂͆͂̏̐̒̒̓̏͝͏̰̠̗͖͔͖͎̰͍̙̘̬͖̱”

 

W-what!?!! What did he say? Oh my god! Someone help me!! A-anyone!!

She couldn’t understand him. And his foreign words were no longer a soft fog. No, now they were jumbled and screeching and twisted painfully inside her ears. Frisk screamed out as loud as she could, her cries echoing in the vast library.

But the monster held her tight. Hot black globs of glossy ink dripped all over her jacket and her bare legs as he leaned over her. His foggy aura surrounded her… and the aura was getting darker… and almost… thick. It had a weight to it. The shadows began to melt into an opaque liquid. Globs of black rot expanded throughout the air and surrounded them. It looked just like the ink that dripped from his body.

Frisk couldn’t breathe. The murky aura was suffocating her. Black oil stained her skin. Poison treacle creeped along her exposed flesh and smeared against her neck and jawline, seeping down her throat. W-what the hell…! She was choking. Gasping for a breath of air, but each inhale only took more of the monster’s contaminated liquid tar into her lungs. She coughed and gagged, swallowing down a huge mouthful inadvertently. That foul taste of burnt rubber filled her mouth and stung her tongue. It was hot, burning her esophagus. She was drowning in it. Her nose was running with black syrup. Her head was spinning. Her vision blurred. All she could see were his hollow eye sockets and serene smile through carbon black haze. He was invading her lungs, penetrating her soul. It hurt. It hurt so much.

Frisk felt her will to fight start to fade into the background. Her muscles spasmed then began to soften as she choked against the black sludge that seeped painfully down her throat. She was suffocating.

Just give in. It hurts now, but it will be over soon. It’ll all be over soon. She weakly pressed one last time into the monster's chest with her only free hand, seconds away from letting him take her…

 

 

……

 

She felt something…

 

A warmth.

 

A familiar tingling heat flushed throughout her slime-coated hand, the hand embedded within the creature’s chest. It started to burn. But it wasn’t hot from the ooze.

 

It grew hotter and hotter.

 

A flash of brilliant red beset her vision and shielded her from the black sludge that hung in the atmosphere. Her dazzling crimson soul barrier appeared before her hand. The sudden force of energy pushed the monster back and he dropped her upon the floor. She could hear the liquid squish of his feet as he stumbled backwards into one of the bookshelves. Frisk fell to her knees the moment she was released. The shield vanished once her hand hit the ground. It had gone as quickly as it had come.

She gagged violently upon the ground and vomited up black liquid tar that spilled out in a steady stream. Frisk gasped for a breath of air, unable to hold back her coughs. The ink stained down the front of her jacket and hands and legs. She retched again, heaving up another wave of the slick obsidian. It was so disgusting. The taste so vile. So painful. Her whole body trembled from the severe throbbing ache in her chest.

But the monster was just a few yards away from her. He was clutching at the front of his sticky chest with one hand, as if in pain. Suddenly the black thick aura that surrounded his body began to vibrate and the smooth liquid tar stiffened and turned into dozens of sharp tendrils that hovered in the air behind him. The creature slowly tilted his head up, staring back at Frisk. His eyes wide and he smile wider, exposing every single one of those teeth. That look… the look of hunger and fury… He was raging.

Frisk raised her head weakly, staring out at the sable sludge creature with trembling shoulders. He was starting to rise to his feet.

Oh my god. RUN RUN!!!! The trap door! Get down there now!

Frisk scrambled over towards the trap door immediately in front of her, almost slipping against the trail of black goo. She scurried to the center of the wooden platform and slammed her sticky hands upon at the symbol.

GOGOGOGOGO!!! HURRY!!! GO!!

Her heart felt like it was going to erupt. Her lungs and stomach burned from the abhorrent oil. She felt so sick and held back another gag and focused every ounce of energy she had left on opening the door. Please, for the love of god open! Open! Open! She pounded against the engraved marking, desperate now. Desperate for the gate to open underneath her.

Please!!!

Oh god, he was walking. Slowly making his way back towards her. His cloying grin spreading over his skull, his black sticky aura pulsing. He was just a few feet away!

 

Frisk felt her hands heat up again, then glow through the black sediment that caked them. She almost cried from joy. The heat pulsed through her arms to her chest and back down to her hands. And the trap door swung open outward into the ground right underneath her.

 

She fell through the open gate. Plummeting down into the cold, black abyss.

And as she fell she looked up.

The last thing she saw was the fading violet light from the library overhead and the face of that gruesome monster peering over the side of the chasm.

And then it vanished from her vision. And she fell… and fell… and continued to fall into the darkness.

And everything went black.

 

*****

 

Coming up: Frisk learns what happens when you step out of line……

Chapter Text

*****

 

 

Pitch black cold surrounded her. Every muscle ached. Every bone felt broken. Her lungs were swimming in thick mud and she coughed violently, gasping for a breath of fetid oxygen.

 

Frisk opened her eyes as she gasped for air, only to be met with darkness.

 

Where was she?… What was this place… ?

 

The last thing she remembered was falling down. Just falling into an infinite void. But then her memories of that library and that oozing demon started to creep back into her conscious and she cried out from the sudden influx of terror.

Frisk immediately scrambled to her hands and knees. There was nothing visible around her. Only a pitch black ambiance. She outstretched her hands at either side and her fingers brushed against rough stone walls. They felt cold… and wet. Like the inside of a well.

She patted her hands down to the floor. The ground felt cushioned and damp. She grasped at the flooring, scooping up a handful of what felt like decomposing leaves and mud. It must have softened her fall… How the heck was she still alive right now?

She glanced up overhead. Of course, it was only blackness. She reached one hand upwards and could feel an opening embedded in the rocks above her. She could also feel damp tree branches that seemed to be jutting out from the stone. Some of the branches were broken. Had those stifled her fall too?

 

Suddenly a sharp wave of nausea crept over her whole body. She gagged and quickly pressed her forehead against the wall and vomited down onto the floor, clutching at her chest with her hands.

O-oh… no… what was this… s-something felt… wrong.

Her whole body felt like it was eroding from the inside out. The bile was thick and sticky and tasted like burnt charcoal. … T-that monster’s sludge… she had breathed it in… swallowed it down.

Frisk felt tears sting her eyes. She hurled up another wave of black tar then faltered against her rear, panting heavily, sitting in the pile of wet humus upon the floor.

Calm down… Just take in a deep breath. Everything is okay. There are no monsters here. You are safe.

She felt a tender stinging surge at her throat and suddenly remembered the burn. How that monster had grabbed her collar and it heated up and burned into her skin. With trembling hands, she tried to lift the collar, but it was too tight around her swollen flesh.

 

Frisk sobbed against her knees as she hugged them to her chest, trying to ignore the sickness that swelled in her stomach and the pain at her throat. She wiped the black syrup from her mouth and chin and tried to calm her restless nerves.

 

Slow breaths. In and out.

 

Her mind buzzed and she desperately tried to remember just exactly how she got to this point.

She had been with Papyrus… He was leading her to the gate. But then… then he attacked her? Somehow she summoned something… a shield… a barrier that her soul created. She stopped his attacks and then he… he ceased when she reminded him of the other gates. It was then that he said she would be murdered once the final gate was opened. He would kill her!… And then there was a town… it was old and decrepit and somehow she was able to free herself from the skeleton. Oh, right… she had lied to him. She said she would help look for the 4th gate but instead she just… ran. And she ran into a large building… and then she met that monster… made out of a black slime… and it infected her… but she was able to get away. The 4th gate was a door within the floor and she just barely made it out… and she fell. Fell down here. That’s where she was right now.

All of the memories spilled back into Frisk’s head like an overflowing sinkhole. She rubbed at her wet eyes with the backs of her hands and tried to steady her trembling shoulders.

 

Eventually the tears dried and her hysterical breaths returned to normal. Frisk reached a hand in her pocket and pulled out her phone and clicked on the flash light. She didn’t even want to check its battery life, she knew it was probably in the single digits by now. And the small space was quickly engulfed in light.

She was in a modest stone chamber that lead out into a long tunnel. Actually… it looked like some type of storm drain or sewer system. The stone floor was flooded with water to her ankles and leaves and debris floated along the surface. She flashed the light overhead to see where she had fallen from. It was a long way up and obscured in shadows. There were tree branches rupturing fourth from the walls and they ran up the entire pipeline. Some of the branches looked broken, a few were hanging limp. So those branches had actually suppressed her fall.

Frisk flashed her light down at where she had retched upon the ground. Her heart started to race at the sight of it. She was vomiting up an inky dark substance… thick black bile that the creature had forced inside her.

T-that can’t possibly be a good sign.

Was she infected with something? She certainly felt horrible. And her hands and jacket and legs were stained with the substance as well. Panic and tension started to pool in her mind.

She reached for her backpack that lay next to her leg and found a bottle of water. It was damaged, most likely from the fall, but thankfully it hadn’t leaked out. She popped it open and cleaned the black gunk off her hands. Then she drank the rest, trying to get that horrible taste of charcoal out of her mouth. It didn’t really help.

 

 

Frisk shuffled through her bag and considered the small collection of snacks she still had. She felt like she had been poisoned or something and had absolutely no appetite, so she left them. She examined the various small cuts and bruises all over her legs from the fall but it was nothing to waste her few precious band-aids on. She also checked over the bandage at her thigh and the bite-marks didn’t hurt nearly as bad as before.

She pulled out that tiny bottle of antiseptic and poured it down against her neck underneath the collar. A terrible, burning pain pierced through her flesh and ran down the front of her chest and she struggled to hold back cries of agony. God… how many wounds had she dealt with so far? It was getting difficult to even keep count. But she couldn’t do much else for the burn.

She reached into her pocket and felt around for her box cutter. … Oh… no… oh, god… Where was it!?! It wasn’t there!! She felt like she was going to be sick again when she remembered that it had dropped to the floor during her fight with the monster. It was still up there… up in the library. Her only weapon! Well, her only reliable weapon. This strange soul power she possessed had certainly proven itself untrustworthy in a tense situation. It only appeared when she was desperate enough. But it had not prevented her from absorbing in that monster’s foul black residue.

Frisk hugged her backpack tight and sat there in the shadowy darkness for a long while. She had to regain her courage… her determination. She still had to get out of this torturous underworld. She was now past the 4th gate. How many more were left? She felt so sick… But it was not a normal feeling of sick. It felt like her soul was drowning in a bucket of wet cement. What was this feeling?

 

Eventually Frisk forced herself up to her feet and she glanced down the long dark of drainage pipe. She just barely fit and had to duck her head down to keep from hitting the ceiling. She flashed her light down that one and only stone channel. There was nowhere else to go. And even if she could somehow go back up the way she came, she wouldn’t do that for a billion dollars. Without a proper weapon she would have to be extra careful now.

She grabbed her backpack and began the journey down the circular narrow tunnel.

 

 

Frisk tread along slowly and silently. Water seeped into her sneakers with each step and it made her shiver. At least the water was room temperature and not freezing.

The tunnel seemed to wind around and stretched out for miles. Frisk began to think about how many dark caverns and hallways she had walked through during her time in the Underground and almost laughed.

As she walked along, her mind kept returning to that terrifying liquid monster. What was he doing?… Trying to kill her? Poison her with black slime?… Eat her?… It seemed that most monsters in the underground were unaware that she was the Manumitter. Sans’ didn’t know, nor did he seem to care at first. And that slime monster didn’t know or care either. And they were all so… hungry. No wonder it was written in the prophecy that she should be killing them as she goes along.

Frisk came to a standstill at her realization. She looked down at her waterlogged sneakers. If she ever escaped this place, what then? Would she relay her findings to the adults at the orphanage? Would they send the military in here and kill all these monstrosities? Perhaps she was getting ahead of herself…

 

 

She continued down the drain pipe. Frisk flashed her cell light around with one hand while simultaneously staring down at the other. It had a couple scotched blisters on it from when she pushed it inside that hot black slime, but they didn’t hurt too badly. She relaxed and tensed the tendons in her fingers then closed her eyes.

Focus. Focus.

Frisk opened one eye and peered down at her hand. It didn’t glow. It didn’t even feel warm. She just felt… sick. She frowned and stuffed her hand back in her jacket pocket, feeling hopeless.

 

 

She continued to walk for a while. Every now and then a terrible wave of nausea would wash over her and she would have to stop and hurl up more bile. Just the sight of it made her feel atrocious and she tried not to look. Her nose also began to drip with the same velvety black ink. It felt like a nosebleed, but… it wasn’t blood.

The fear that that monster had contaminated her with some decaying deadly rot started to drive her anxiety up the walls. She glanced at her cell screen and saw the time. ‘8:22 am’. It was already morning. Last time she checked it, it had been around 5:30 pm the day before. She must have been knocked unconscious for a bit when she fell.

 

Frisk was starting to feel cold. Not from the temperature in the sewer, which was lukewarm at best, but from another source. Perhaps from the poison inside her. It was getting harder and harder to walk. The wet atmosphere around her felt heavy. She stumbled with each weak step, trying to keep her head up. She felt like she had been drugged and the toxin was just starting to take hold.

But wait… there was something up ahead. Way out in the distance. Was she delusional? No… there was a light. There was a light!

She almost sprinted forward but immediately was hit with another wave of queasiness, so she kept her pace steady and slow and eventually she reached the end of the tunnel.

 

 

Light spilled out in small segmented streams from open grooves in a drain grate. Frisk staggered up to the round iron threshold and pressed her forehead against the cool metal. It felt good at her feverish forehead. She peered through the vertical slits of the gridiron and stared out into the other side. Out at what awaited her.

It was some sort of swamp. There was not one speck of snow, or even ash. Just a vast forested wetland. The water was muddled, stagnant and completely lifeless. There was no breeze in the air and the bog seemed to stretch on for miles. It didn’t look too unusual. It could have almost been mistaken for an ecosystem in the human world. Well, except for that dark mist that ascended up from the water. And every cluster of trees had been painted with that familiar black mold.

Frisk squinted her eyes and saw a raised wooden plank pathway that seemed to led deep into the marshland. It was wide and rose out over the water, weaving in and out of the bunching trees.

So this was the next battlefield.

What nightmares could be hiding in this dreary purgatory?…

 

 

The bog was light enough to not need her flashlight, so she clicked it off and stuffed it back in her pocket. She still had not brought herself to check the battery. She knew it was most likely dangerously low.

Frisk scanned the grate. There was no symbol. This was not the 5th door. She laced her fingers through the small openings and pulled it to the side. It was so heavy, and the extra exertion of strength made her want to puke again, but the round barrier slowly gave way and slid open.

She stumbled out from the drain pipe and hopped down onto the wet, muddled floor. Her sneakers sunk into mud almost immediately. It made her wince in disgusted and she dragged her feet over to higher ground. She walked towards the wooden steps that led up the raised pathway. Dark fog from the swamp spilled out along the floor of the wooden route and the sight sent a chill down her spine. Frisk started to walk up the stairs and just as she reached the top step she felt another terrible surge of sickness wash over her. She clutched onto the path’s wooden railing and heaved over the side into the swamp water.

U-ugh… this is… b-bad…

She wanted to cry. Her stomach felt like it was collapsing in on itself. Frisk pressed her forehead down against the railing, letting out a heavy trembling breath.

………And then she heard something.

 

The sound of rushing wind.

 

Oh, no! Oh, god!

 

 

The swamp had been so muted that the tiniest sound made her swivel around.

Her heart sank to the floor and she felt sick again… so sick… at the sight…

Sans.

 

“hey kiddo.”

 

 

Sans was leaning back against the railing opposite her. His hood was pulled up over his cracked skull. Those deadly sharp interlocking teeth splayed out in his signature smirk. His lone crimson eye flashed, buried deep within one of his massive sunken eye socket, taunting her. It pulsed rapidly like an eager heartbeat, like he was excited… so excited to see her.

Frisk stared back at him in horror and quickly clutched her hands at her mouth to keep from puking. Oh, god… oh, no… oh, hell……!!!

The eerie dark fog from the swamp made the large skeleton appear even more daunting as the shadows distorted his features. Sans had both hands in his jacket pockets and his white shirt was stained with dry bloody streaks. He did not have his ax with him. Although Frisk knew he could summon it in an instant if he wished.

“i see gaster really fucked you up, huh?”

Gaster? W-what??

Sans let out a chuckle that sent Frisk’s already wounded soul spiraling downward. Every muscle in her body tensed. She slowly lowered her hands and gripped onto the pathway railing behind her, shifting her sneakers against the wood ever so slightly.

Get ready. Get ready to run. And if you are caught… show him no weakness.

Sans took notice of her readiness. He leered down at her fidgeting feet then glanced back into her eyes. He knew that hesitant stance. She knew that he knew… that she was going to make a run for it.

 

Then Frisk bound forward towards the stairs.

 

Too slow.

 

Sans lunged after her and swiftly grabbed a hold of her hoodie’s cowl. He threw her backwards hard. Into the wooden floor at his feet. Frisk let out a yelp as her tailbone hit the ground painfully and she instinctively raised her arms up to cover her face.

“you stepped out of line, buddy.” His voice was sardonic and cold, and at the same time it dripped with a malicious rage that festered inside of him.

Sans crouched down next to her, his sneakers causing the wooden planks underneath to creak. He wrapped his rough skeletal claws around her upper arms, pulling them away from her face, and pinned them down into the floor as he hovered over.

Frisk clenched her teeth and held her breath in her lungs. She felt like she was drowning in her own fear. All she could focus on was that single blood-red eye, burning so brightly in the gloom. It hurt to look at. She started to struggle violently, kicking at him, crying out, thrashing under his hold. She shifted her arms about and managed to grab onto one of his wrists with her hand.

Use your power!!! FOCUS! FOCUS! Push him back with your shield!!!

Her conscious was spinning inside her head like a tornado. She so desperately tried to focus… please focus!

 

… But… nothing happened!

 

Why didn’t anything ever happen?!

She couldn’t feel that warmth. She couldn’t feel that determination.

Something was wrong. Wrong with her soul.

 

Sans simply smirked at her feeble struggles. He leered down at Frisk’s hand clenched around his wrist and shook his head.

“i know what you’re tryin’ to do, kid. that little magic trick might work on ‘pyrus and gaster, but it won’t work on me. not again.” He let out a cruel sneer and tilted his head back slightly. His fur-trimmed jacket hood slid down to his shoulders and exposed the jagged, grotesque empty cavity at the side of his skull, “…besides, your soul is infected. you can’t use it anymore.”

………………

 

W-what did he say?……

 

She stared back at him, shock and confusion painted all over her face. And Sans grinned wider, drinking in her turmoil like it was something delicious.

“heh. what? you hadn’t noticed?” He released one hand from her forearm and let two off-white claws trail down along her throat, brushing against the collar, down lower to the front of her ink-stained jacket. “see this? it’s rotting your insides as we speak.”

His words made her jolt in fear and stomach churn. She was paralyzed with trepidation. She glanced down to watch his fingers smear the sticky tar that stained her chest black. Then she slowly looked back up at him in bewilderment.

“W-what are you talking a-about?……” Frisk used every ounce of courage she had to push her words fourth, whispered and trembling and barely audible.

What was he talking about?? Was she truly infected? Had that vulgar slime creature poisoned her??

 

“i can show you,” He responded in a whisper, his eye sockets lidded as he gazed down at her. That vehement look of hunger… it was all she could do to keep herself from sobbing. He removed his wandering fingers from her chest and gripped onto both her forearms.

Frisk started to shake her head ‘no’ and began struggling under his hold once more. Her pulse sounded like a rampant powertool drilling in her head.

“Get away from me, Sans!” She cried out abruptly and raised her knees to her stomach to press the bottoms of her muddy sneakers to his chest, trying to push him away with everything she had. But her weakened strength was nothing compared to his.

“kid, i’m gonna show you what some monsters can do… if you’re not careful.” Every single one of those thick vicious fangs flashed in the dim light, and he roughly flipped her over onto her chest.

Oh god!!!! H-HELP- HELP ME!!

Frisk started to hyperventilate, now pinned on her stomach. Sans crouched over her with his knees digging down at either side of her hips. She could feel the solid strong weight of his pelvic bone pressing into the bottom of her spine through her clothes… against her backside. Her heart pounded frantically in her chest. Feverish blood rushing to her brain. Sweat dripped down her forehead and the back of her neck. H-he was right over her… there… oh god… he had her pinned.. on her stomach… right… right behind-… w-what- what was h-he going… to… do…!!! No no no no no no nonononononono!!!!

But Sans merely chuckled at her panicked reactions. He released her arms and his daunting hands made their way down her sides… down… lower… down to her waist. His heavy rib cage pressed painfully into her back, restraining her small form underneath him.

Frisk outstretched her now free arms in front of her and clawed into the wooden planks. She frantically tried to crawl out from under him, trying so desperately to get away. He was too heavy. She couldn’t move. She felt like she was suffocating.

“G-get off!!!” Frisk screamed. It did nothing.

One of his hands started to inch its way underneath her, between the floor and her torso. It slid up under her winter jacket… under her hoodie… while his other hand grasped at her waist. That sinister hand under her clothes pushed into her tender stomach. Frisk could feel his segmented bone claws splaying against her bare navel. She almost threw up again, her shoulders lurching forward. His lingering touch made her feel sick and violated. She held the black bile back in her throat and choked and gagged against it.

“it would probably be best to get it all out, kid…” Sans sneered into her ear from behind as he felt her dry heaves. His skull was so close… brushing against the side of her face. She could feel the front rows of of his canines lightly graze along her jawline and his heavy, impatient lukewarm breaths cascaded against her skin. It made her shiver in disgust. “…even though it’s too late, anyways.”

Too late!?!???? What was he talking about????

She wanted to beg him for answers but instead she just cried out.

And that hand… oh god, his hand… It continued to slide up along her stomach, up further over her slender ribs and between her small breasts. He pressed his hand down hard into her breastbone. Stop it! Stop!!!

It hurt!!

Frisk cried out from the pain that swelled directly under his hand. Oh god, it hurt so terribly. Like a burning spike was pummeling into her chest over and over and over. She couldn’t breath. Her outstretched hands scratched painfully against the wood and countless splinters buried inside her palms.

“i got it,” He whispered in her ear and she could just barely see his vibrating red hue out of the corner of her eye. He got what?…… W-what was he talking about?

Frisk felt so weak. Her heart was racing and her chest was pulsing from that burning deep agony. She suddenly felt a strange emptiness swell up inside her. Sans began to pull his hand out from under her hoodie. He lifted his arm over her shoulder and held out something - that small red shimmering orb - right in front of her face from behind.

“take a look, sweetheart.”

Frisk panted heavily and stared forward at the sphere in his hand.

 

It was her soul.

 

But… but something… something was wrong with it.

 

She could see through the small red lustrous gem and it was filled with black oil. Oh, god… it was dripping with that thick dark sludge and it coated Sans’ fingers and oozed against the floor. Sans skewed the orb to the side and shook it a little, stirring up the dark fluids, letting Frisk get a good look at her own contaminated, poisoned soul.

“see?” he chuckled again and tightened his grasp upon at the tar-filled marble, squeezing it.

A sharp pain shot through Frisk’s chest when he clutched it tight and she let out another pained cry. She panted heavily from exhaustion as her small tongue hung out from her mouth.

Sans smirked to himself. He brushed her sweaty bangs back with one hand while he dropped her toxic oozing soul to the floor. It rolled along the wooden planks, leaving a black trail of slime behind it.

Frisk stared back at her damaged soul and felt tears sting the backs of her eyes. W-what did this mean then?…… Her soul was damaged? Broken? Sans… he just pulled it out of her and threw it aside like it was garbage.

 

“stay away from gaster next time.”

Next time!?! What next time????

Her heart jolted at his words. Her thoughts began to race again, so fast, swirling inside her head like a raging hurricane. What did he mean!?

Suddenly, Sans lifted his heavy weight up off her back and Frisk gasped for a strained breath. It had been so hard to breath with him on top of her, she panted heavily as the oxygen rushed back to her head making her dizzy and nauseous.

“now…” Sans began, his tone of voice so sinister that it cut her heart in two, “… with your soul in that state, you’re going to die anyways… and i am starving, kiddo.”

Frisk slowly turned her head to look back at him over her shoulder.

 

N-no……

 

He was hovering over her with that wide, malevolent smirk. Drool oozed down from the corners of his maw, blue and translucent and gelatinous. It dripped upon Frisk’s back. His single red eye pulsed rapidly, constricting and expanding over and over. He looked so hungry… so eager for another taste.

Frisk stared back up at him in horror, her chin quivering as she held back a scream. She attempted to lunge forward but he gripped at both sides of her hips and yanked her back. He pulled her into his chest and lifted her up off the ground against his lap.

She thrashed against his grip. Sans’ hold on her was like a vice. T-too strong! It was suffocating! He leaned his head down, nudging the front of his skull between the small space at her neck and the top of her shoulder. He began to claw at the front of her jacket, pulling it to the side, down below her shoulder. And he gripped at her hoodie too, lowering it further to expose the smooth skin of her shoulder, upper arm and her thin clavicle.

He lowered his head in between that small, sensitive section of flesh. N-no!!! Get away from me!!! P-please!!!

Each one of his canines could have been the thickness of her wrist. He started to open his jaw and those barely-dulled pointed teeth brushed against her exposed skin between her collared neck and shoulder.

“think of this as your punishment for lying to my brother…” Sans whispered against her rotator cuff. His voice was velvet venom and fevered with desire. She could feel each one of his lusty exhales against bare skin. His hot saliva trickled down her slender collarbones and smeared against her chest.

His teeth parted wide around the end of her shoulder and then… they clamped shut.

He began to bite down. Sinking in deep. Plunging into her soft skin. Descending inside her muscles and tendons. Cracking her bones.

 

White hot mind-shattering pain.

 

Every single one of her nerves were screaming.

 

A rush of endorphins followed by crippling agony.

 

The sheer intensity of the pain blinded her and Frisk screamed and cried and gasped and begged him to stop between sobs. She violently struggled in his arms that wrapped around and held her firm. Blood spilled into his mouth and seeped down the sides of his monstrous maw, dripping onto the wooden planks below them in puddles.

Oh my god… i-it hurt so terribly. T-this cannot… be……

Someone help!… A-anyone… help… Izzy…… Mom…… h-h-help… m-me…

……………

 

All Frisk could do was scream and tremble and pull weakly at his hands and scratch at his chest. It did nothing. He was devouring her alive.

Sans began to tear apart her shoulder muscles with his teeth, jerking his head to the side viciously like a starved wolf. She gasped and gagged from the pain as he ripped thick chunks of flesh from that soft spot above her clavicle. Tearing her shoulder to shreds. Into a mess of blood and gore and meat and protruding bones. He growled out, groaning deep in his chest from the taste, excited from her raw cries. She was so soft, so delicious. He was overtaken by a lust so strong that nothing could stop it now.

Frisk sobbed and her head hung to the side as he continued to rip apart and devour her shoulder and upper arm. She began to cough up blood. Her body was bloodied and damaged beyond repair. Thick gore spilled down the front of her clothes and his shirt, staining them a foul crimson red. She couldn’t stop screaming and crying… though now even her voice was starting to fail her. Her vision was fading… in and out. It was getting so dark… so cold. She couldn’t feel her hands anymore… or that arm. Had he torn it off? She tried to press at his wet vermilion chest with her opposite hand in one last desperate attempt. But her limb fell lifeless to her side as her strength faded immediately. She was going limp his grasp, whimpering between sobs against his blood-soaked shirt. Her eyes began to glaze over, blood-shot and half-lidded. S-she couldn’t see… anything… not even his red pulsing eye… everything was ….g-going black… she was so cold…

As he held her tight into his upper body she thought could feel something… something beating fast… so fast. It pulsed rapidly against her torso through their bloodied clothing…… it was coming from Sans’ chest…

 

……… Was that his heartbeat?…

 

…………………… His soul?…

 

Sans’ lithe, messy fingers ran through her hair at the back of her head, holding her steady as he tore into her shoulder without a shred of compassion, over and over. She could just barely feel the sensation of his wet wide tongue lapping inside her open wounds, penetrating the massive laceration. And then… she couldn’t feel anything anymore.

“see you soon, kiddo… heh.”

It was the last thing she heard before she bled out.

 

*****

 

 

Coming up: 1̣̞̺͔͙̜͍̍ͦs̛̛͓͇̻̬̭̤͈̈́ͦt̩͕͕͖͕̠ͣ̈ͫ͌ͭ͐́ ͖͕͊͂̏̿̃̑̾͟r̛̠̟̻͉͈̰ͪ̓̾͆̀̆̽̂ȇ̷̝͈̘͎ͤͥ̇͛̉ͨs̰͕̝ͯ͑́ͧ̚ē̸̩̹͕̦̙̲͖̩ͭ̏͆ͧ͢t̷̖̬͔̟̯͋ͧ̇̃ͬ

 

Chapter Text

*****

 

 

It was so hot.

The sun was beating down against the back of her head as she walked along the cracked sidewalk, her lunch box in one hand and her bookbag in the other. Frisk made her way down the suburban street from the bus stop. School had just let out and she couldn’t wait to sit in front of her small electric fan at home.

She trotted along the concrete, little sneakers patting against the hard path. And she eventually reached the last house on the block, that standard ranch one-story with the red tiled roof and white wooden paneling. No landscaping and every window was open, like always.

 

Frisk stepped up the winding path and reached the front door. She didn’t need a key. She didn’t even need to knock. It was always open.

She pushed the door inward and was immediately met with the sounds of sobbing.

“Mommy?…” Frisk whispered out as she closed the door behind her.

A woman sat with her head in her hands at the kitchen table, the florescent lights in the small kitchen flickered ominously overhead. She was visible through the open archway from the foyer. Her long dark hair fell over her hidden face.

“Mommy… what’s wrong?” Frisk asked gently as she dropped her things by the wall and carefully stepped up to where her mother sat. She pressed her little hands against her mother's shoulder, shaking her gently. But the sobbing woman shrugged her off, ignoring the small child.

Frisk stood there with a pained heart… What could she do?… It was always like this.

Then she heard a voice, that voice, the one that made her skin crawl. That atrocious, deep shout that made her want to curl up into a ball and disappear forever.

 

“Fuckin’ dog!!” Her father was shouting from the other room. Frisk’s ears perked at his words and she scampered from the kitchen and ran down the dark hallway, leading towards the back of the house, following the voice.

Oh no… oh no!

Her heart was pounding and she almost tripped over a rug in the center of the hall. She reached the back room door, opening it frantically.

Her eyes grew wide at the sight. Her hands started to tremble. Her knees grew weak.

 

Her father, drunk and stumbling, stood in the center of the room towering over her German Shepherd. The wounded animal lay on its side, whimpering, bleeding and barely moving while the man kicked into its flank over and over. So violent and aggressive… senseless cruelty.

Frisk stood in the doorway, stunned. “S-stop it!!! Stop it!!” She cried out as loud as she could and bound forward, tossing herself over the dog and took a hard kick to the ribcage instead.

Frisk sobbed into her pet’s warm, bloodied fur.

“S-Schafer?…”

She could feel the animal’s labored breathing, slowly raising up and down.

She couldn’t stop her tears.

Blood stained the front of her school uniform…

 

B-but…

 

There was so much blood… There was so much…

 

Blood and teeth

 

………

 

Oh god, it hurts……………

 

Please stop!!! P-please…

……………

 

I’m so afraid…

 

There’s s-so much pain……

 

Blood and bone and sharp, ripping fangs……

 

And that red hue…

 

That red glowing eye… pulsing…

 

Always… watching me…

 

Please stop!!

 

No… No!! NO NO NO!!!! GET AWAY!!!!

 

GET AWAY FROM ME!!!!!!!!!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

A flash of blinding light and Frisk was screaming, clutching at the back of her head with both hands, her face pressed against her knees.

She gasped for a frenzied breath between trembling cries and immediately gripped at her shoulder. She squeezed the side of her collared neck and her clavicle and her arm. Her heart was pounding so rapidly. Her chest felt sore from her pulsing heartbeat. It was beating so fast… too fast. She could barely breath, asphyxiating on her own violent, hysterical sobs.

 

O-oh god……

 

Frisk took in deep trembling breaths and clutched onto her shoulder even tighter. She slipped her hand underneath her hoodie and her fingers examined over every inch of skin… but… but there was no blood. There was no gore or torn flesh or jutting bones. Her arm was still attached.

And there was no mind-shattering pain. No pain at all, in fact. And she didn’t feel nauseous. That terrible taste of burnt charcoal was gone. Her neck did not burn. Her stomach felt normal… Her soul felt light.

 

What was happening………

 

She was curled up in the corner of a dark, warm, temperate stone room made of black bricks. And it smelled like fresh burning firewood. It was completely desolate, except for a small candle that flickered silently right beside her.

Frisk’s thoughts stumbled over one another. Had it all been a dream?… No… That was not possible. It was not a dream.

 

She sat in the corner staring blankly, hyperventilating, lost in her own mind, her eyes wide and red and sodden from tears. Her throat felt like it had been rubbed raw with sandpaper from the inside. She started to undo the buttons at the front of her monster coat and pulled it off, then tugged her hoodie up over her head. She glanced down at her bare shoulder and examined it in the flickering light.

There were no open wounds. There were no cuts or teeth marks. No scratches… Not even a mere bruise.

 

’see you soon, kiddo’

 

Sans’ cryptic words rang in her head. The last words she had heard… She could see his red pulsing eye in her mind, the last thing she saw. Every single detail of her death spilled over her thoughts like fresh paint, yet it was obscured behind an umbrage shroud of incredulity.

Had he actually devoured her alive? Did that honestly, truly happen? It was so clear in her conscious. She began to peel back the layers of her memory… Sans ripping into her shoulder, flaying her flesh, her bones snapping between his teeth as they dug inside so deep inside her … and her arm… her arm… h-had he… ripped it from her socket?…no, no… she was choking against her own blood, begging with him to stop… S-sans… please, stop!… but he just ignored her cries… and it hurt so terribly she just wanted to die… It played out like a movie in her mind… over… and over…and over… no… no no No NO!!

 

I don’t want to see this… Don’t show me this!

 

Frisk cried out again and clutched at either side of her head with trembling hands. Her tears dripped down to the stone floor and her shoulders quivered and she weakly pulled her hoodie over herself like a blanket, curling back into the corner.

 

 

Time inched by slowly. Frisk remained in the corner. She felt numb, barely able to move, and stared down at the flickering candle ember with an empty lidded gaze. She found herself compulsively grasping at her shoulder every couple of minutes, as if to check that it was still in one piece. She was so exhausted…

 

’see you soon, kiddo’……’see you soon’…………

 

………………

 

She couldn’t stop… she couldn’t stop replaying it in her mind. And no matter how tired she was, she couldn’t sleep. Every time she closed her eyes she saw it all again. She could practically smell the fresh blood… her blood.

 

 

After a long while Frisk finally started to shift her legs. She glanced down at her feet where her backpack lay. She pulled the bag in her lap and clicked open the top flap, then she dug inside for something to drink.

W-what…

Her eyes widened and she pulled out that bottle of water… The same one she had finished when she fell in the storm tunnel.

 

What. Was. Happening……

 

She couldn’t fathom it. Had she gone back in time somehow? Why was she in this room?

In that moment she realized that her legs and her winter jacket were no longer stained with black tar… And there were no splinters or blisters on her hands. And also… the burning pain around her throat underneath the collar was entirely g-gone?

Wait a minute… If she HAD gone back in time…… then none of that had happened yet. None of that had come to pass. She had not met that grotesque slime monster in the library. She had not been poisoned. Her soul was still intact.

 

'stay away from gaster next time.'

 

Sans’ words pierced through her thoughts like an arrow.

 

Was this her ‘next time’? Had she been given a second chance?… Had she… died and been reborn?

No. She didn’t simply die. She was murdered.

 

Frisk felt tears burn her eyes again and she quickly rubbed them away with the base of her palms. She let out a trembling whimper and tried to take in slow, steady breaths. She lowered a hand down to her chest over her heart and for a moment she thought she felt Sans’ rough skeletal claws against her skin. He had been so close to her… right on top. The thought made her heart start to pound and her head feel foggy with vertigo. And she felt disgusted and wanted to scream in anger. The way he had touched her… The way he ripped her to shreds… And defiled her…

Don’t think about it. Don’t think about it. It never happened. Put it out of your mind.

She had never felt so helpless and weak in her life.

 

 

It felt like hours had passed by the time Frisk finally sat up. She ate some cookies from her bag and pulled her hoodie back on. She folded up the 4-armed monster jacket and stuffed it in her backpack, it was too warm to wear anymore anyways.

Much to her surprise, her box cutter was still in her pocket. She hadn’t dropped it in the library yet, and that one fact almost made her cry with joy. Then she idly stared at the candle for a little while longer. She touched the side of it with her fingers, but nothing happened. There was no sudden shock of electricity or flash of white light and she thought that was strange.

Eventually Frisk stood back up to her feet. The familiar open archway loomed at the other side of the room and she walked over, peering down the lengthy dark hallways at either side. She recognized them immediately. The subtle warmth, the smell of firewood, the dark stretch of tunnels. This was the large black-brick government building in Snowdin.

What should she do?… Maybe… go back to the entrance? Look for Papyrus? Beg him for forgiveness and stay by his side?… Perhaps Papyrus could kill that slime monster. Or maybe… Maybe she should go forward by herself. Run past that monster, go back down the 4th gate… But what about Sans? Was he still in the swamp, waiting for her? Was he watching her right now?

Frisk’s head ached from the conflicting thoughts. She was at a cross-roads. Which path should she take?… Both had benefits, but they were also overshadowed by terrible disadvantages, of course. If she ran back, Papyrus may kill her… or worse. And if she ran forward, that slime monster, Gaster would be waiting. And if she remained where she was? Well, honestly that seemed like the safest bet at the moment, but she couldn’t stay in this room forever.

 

Frisk closed her eyes.

 

Be strong. Stay determined. Trust no one. Fight.

You will escape this place.

 

She opened her eyes again to meet the darkness. Frisk grabbed at her cellphone from her pocket and flicked on the flashlight. There were only two paths, left and right. And they looked exactly the same. She took in a deep breath and followed her gut. Whichever way she went was fate. Whether it be towards Gaster or Papyrus. She turned right and sprinted down the hall.

 

 

Frisk ran through the darkness of the black brick corridor. Every time she turned a corner, her muscles would become rigid with apprehension. But it was always just more hall. Part of her hoped that she was heading back to the town, back to Papyrus. But her heart sank when she reached that dead-end. The wooden door.

 

Density led you here. This time you will not falter.

’stay away from gaster.’

I will. He won’t lay a hand on me this time.

 

Frisk stood directly in front of the door. She clicked her phone light off and stuffed it in her pocket and swapped it out for the box cutter. She did not need a light, she knew exactly what awaited her on the other side. She knew exactly where to go. Frisk unsheathed her box cutter blade and shoved the wooden door open with her opposite hand.

 

 

That warmth, the violet light, the wispy shadows. All of it embraced her the moment the door swung open. Frisk felt a sudden influx of terror and the memories came racing back. That grotesque black tar… how it wrapped around her hands and dripped along her legs and chest and seeped down her throat… ughhh STOP thinking. STOP IT.

She felt like she was going to gag for a moment and clutched at her stomach. Breathe. Stay determined. You know where the door is. You will not hesitate this time.

 

Now go.

 

Frisk felt a surge of adrenaline and burning fortitude. She sprung forward into the library and ran as fast as she could along the side of the room. Her heart was racing… faster… and faster… Gaster was in here. Was he watching her? Was he waiting? Waiting in the shadows for her to run past? Each familiar dark violet torch curled around the stirring air as she dashed past them. She could see the wooden trapdoor. Up ahead. And it was still locked shut.

Frisk stumbled forward onto the hollow wooden platform and immediately fell down to her knees. She shoved her utility knife in her pocket and roughly slammed both hands hard against the center of the engraved symbol.

 

Focus. FOCUS. FOCUS!

 

She shut her eyes, clenched her teeth, pounded her hands against the runic engraving once more. Every muscle in her body stiffened as she waited. She knew what to expect. When the door opens, she would fall… down into the darkness. Be strong.

 

OPEN! OPEN! OPEN!!!!

 

Her mind was galloping in her head. Her heart felt like it was skipping over every other beat.

 

For the love of god OPEN UP!!!

 

She heard something……… Footsteps.

 

N-NO NO NO!! OPEN!! OPEN!! OH GOD, OPEN! P-PLEASE!!!

 

Frisk started to breathe hard and fast and she clashed her hands against the symbol again.

 

“Please open!” She actually cried out under her panicked breath. The footsteps were getting louder. Something was moving in the shadows. It was lurking behind the bookshelves.

She turned her head to the side and saw it… that white round face, distorted and grotesque hollow gaping eye sockets, black liquid feelers sprouting up all around him. That eerie wide smile. Gaster.

 

NO NO NO!!!! NO! NOT AGAIN!

 

Frisk ripped her gaze away from Gaster as he slowly started to move towards her. She screamed and slammed her sweaty hands again upon the trap door in desperation.

 

Then she felt it. That heat. Collecting at her fingertips, running up her hands and wrists and arms. The warmth burst into her chest, into the center of her soul. It ran back down and illuminated her limbs with a bright, dazzling red.

And the door swung open. And she fell into the dark.

 

 

She was falling. Fast.

Falling down into the tenebrous shadows.

The cold, damp wind licked at her legs and hands. Wet tree branches hit her from all sides and she plummeted down the narrow pipeline just barely big enough for her. The wind wooshed past her ears quickly and she held a scream back in her lungs. She shut her eyes tight and held her arms up to protect her face from the protruding sprigs.

Another barrage of tree branches, scraping against her knees painfully, and her hoodie’s cowl caught against one and almost immediately halted her decent.

“A-ach!” Frisk cried out and grasped onto the flimsy tree branch above her with both hands, clutching to it tightly so her hoodie neckhole wouldn’t choke her. She could feel multiple twigs and branches around her sides. They pressed painfully against her arms. Some jutted out against her waist and back, some more right below her feet. She was surrounded by them.

W-what should I do?… Let go and continue falling?

Frisk was so completely overwhelmed with adrenaline. She thought she was going to faint as a full-blown panic attack took over. She wrapped one of her arms around the branch she clung to and clumsily grabbed for her phone in her pocket. She clicked on the flashlight and it immediately illuminated the small space.

She panted heavily and flashed the light down below her feet and her heart leapt. She could see the floor! She wasn’t far off. It was about two stories below her.

 

Be brave.

 

Her soul pulsed with determination and she shut her eyes tightly, tensing every muscle, and let go of the branch.

 

 

 

Frisk fell down hard into the sloppy mound of mud and leaves and broken twigs. She cried out from the sudden impact. She had landed on her side against her shoulder and it hurt but at least… at least she was alive. She had escaped Gaster this time. She had not been poisoned. Her soul was intact. She had her knife.

This was a fresh start. A second chance.

Frisk quickly clambered up to her feet, wiping the mud from her shins, and almost smiled. It really did feel like a small victory, though fleeting. She brushed her messy bangs out of her eyes and stared ahead into the darkness. Then she grabbed at her cell phone and clicked on the light. The clock read ‘6:04 am’. Her first time in these tunnels it had been around 8 am. So she was early this time.

Frisk reached into her other pocket and pulled out her box cutter, then she raised her flashlight out in front of her and started to dash down the narrow tunnel. The muddy water splashed up with each hurried step, soaking her knees and flooding her sneakers. Stay determined.

 

But as she ran Frisk’s mind started to falter. Her thoughts went back to that dark place… a place of blood and teeth and that palpitating crimson hue. Those rough skeletal claws scratching along her bare flesh under her clothes. She suddenly felt extremely dirty and her pulse surged with an abrupt rapid tremor. Sans.… Was he still out there? Out in the swamp waiting for her?… Would he jump her like last time? She could never feel safe… never again.

But her fear and worry melted into budding rage. It festered deep inside. It was so overwhelming, it made her soul feel heavy and noxious, and she grit her teeth in anger as she ran along. T-that bastard… pervert… monster! He KNEW she would come back to life. He knew it… What did that mean for her then?

 

 

Then there was a light. Deep down at the end of the tunnel. Those familiar rays spilled out in multiple thin horizontal rows. Frisk ran forward until she met the grate and peered through its narrow openings.

The swamp.

Everything looked exactly the same albeitit a tad darker. The water was just as still, the breeze just as absent, the air silent and stifling. An eerie bog that stretched on for miles, blanketed by a dark looming fog.

You can do this. You have come so far. Your soul is burning. Your determination is at a climax.

Frisk took in deep, unwieldy breaths. She dropped her phone back in her pocket and grippd onto the grate, pulling it to the side. Then she jumped down into the mud which immediately rose to her ankles and absorbed her sneakers. She winced and trudged through the muck, over towards higher ground, then scraped her feet against the dirt and slowly lifted her head, staring back at the stairs… those wooden stairs. They lead up to the raised trail that entwined throughout the thick mangrove clusters.

Her heart began to pound. Fast. Faster. So fast. It hurt. Frisk let out a trembling exhale and clutched at her chest with one hand, her blade in the other. She forced her feet forward, slowly ascending up those stairs.

This is where you died…

Frisk felt so weak and overcome with anguish. She fell to her knees at the top of the steps and pressed both hands down against the planks. She was trembling and her eyes glazed over with tears… T-this… spot… The wood was clean. There was no blood, no stains, no bone or flesh. No Sans…

Nothing.

She clenched her hands into fists and pounded them down hard against the hollow wood then raised her head and screamed out in agony. A rage was burning in the pit of her stomach, she could feel it… tainting her soul.

“SANS!!!” She shouted as loud as she could. It was jarring to hear her own voice so heavy with resentment. And it echoed throughout the marshland.

“S-sans…” Her voice lowered to a trembling whisper as the tears started to spill. She pulled her knees into her chest and remained there in the quiet dark for some time. In the spot where she died.

 

 

 

 

Frisk walked along the wooden trail. Her feet felt so heavy. Every step she took was exhausting. The path stretched on for miles and miles and miles. Was it even leading her anywhere? How far would she have to walk until she came across something new? Did she even want that?… This gruesome, heinous, harrowing hell… She didn’t want any of this anymore. She never did.

Frisk stared idly out into the muddy swamp that surrounded her. It was so quiet, her ears buzzed painfully from the silence. The stagnant water was devoid of any life. The air hung low, heavy and lifeless. The sky was that familiar slate of grey. All she could hear were her own breaths and reserved footsteps. Her eyes were red and her throat felt laden from crying. Her determination… it was dwindling. She didn’t want to do this. She just wanted to sleep. She just wanted this to… end.

Frisk came to a stop and let out a sob against her long hoodie sleeve, rubbing at her eyes and runny nose. She still had her box cutter in her other hand. Some good that weapon was… Frisk stepped to the side of the trail and glanced over the railing down at the shallow water. Dark fog spilled over the surface like a tablecloth but she could just barely see her reflection within the carbon glaze. It had been a while since she looked at herself in a mirror. Her eyes had dark shadows under them, her hair was knotted and tangled, and her hoodie and shorts were stained with grime and dried blood. She looked like she hadn’t had a decent night’s sleep or a meal in months. How long had she been down here in this hell?… It certainly felt like a month. Had it really only been a few days?

Frisk slowly sunk down to a crouch and she slipped through the small space between the wooden bars of the railing. She hopped down into the mire, which reached to her upper thighs. Her sneakers sunk into the mud under the thick water, but she didn’t care. She didn’t care about anything anymore.

And if I die again… what then? Will I go back in time once more?… There was no electric shock from the candle a second time. Maybe I only had one chance. Maybe it will all be over… An escape from this wretched place.

Her head hurt. She felt dizzy and hopeless and so, so alone. And every time she closed her eyes she saw his red eye. Haunting her. Watching her.

 

Frisk clenched her teeth together and held back a rush of turmoil as she began to roll her sleeves up to her elbows. The dark fog wrapped around her pale arms, decorated in dozens of long thin scars. She almost felt foolish as she gazed down at the mended cuts. Back then, she never knew what real pain was. She had no clue. Her past self was so naive. She longed for that time… back at the orphanage. Doing homework and lazing around outside on the weekends and reading her ghost stories and zombie novels and cutting her arms over the bathroom sink at night because she thought she was so lonely. She thought she was so unhappy.

Frisk exhaled. She leaned over and sunk her hands down into the murky dark water. She could just barely see them through the shade, and she gripped at the unsheathed box cutter tight in one hand.

Just two swift slices… and it will all be over. Don’t give Sans another chance. He won’t ever touch you again. End it all now. Things will only get worse. End this now.

Her inner voice was oppressive and dismal and it guided the blade. She watched through her tears and pressed the flat side of the knife to her wrist underneath the surface of the water. She held the blade there for a lingering moment…

I am sorry Izzy…Toriel… Mom… I am not strong enough.

Frisk blinked away her tears and closed her eyes. She slowly tilted her wrist to the side, leaning the blade inward. The sharpened edge began to press against her flesh. She could almost feel her pulse vibrating through the thin metal of the blade. She pressed down a little harder. It started to sting.

Please… Please just end this… There will be no more pain after this…

Frisk hesitated for a moment. She released another slow, trembling exhale. Do it. She lifted the blade and brought it back down to her wrist and-

 

 

 

“Stop.”

 

 

 

 

A voice……

 

There was a voice…

 

 

Frisk’s eyes shot open as her hands faltered and she dropped the box cutter into the water. She staggered back against the wooden path planks behind her, staring forward. Her heart was darting around in her chest at the sight.

 

T-there was a figure. Standing out in the murky bog just a few yards away from her. A small, dark-haired figure dressed in all black.

 

 

A human.

 

*****

 

Coming up: You are not as weak as you think you are.

 

Chapter Text

 

*****

 

 

Frisk stared wide-eyed at the person before her.

I-it was… it was… a human!

 

It was a human!!

 

She blinked in disbelief. T-there is no way… that is a human!… Wait… no… No, this is a trick. This is a trap. There is no way!…

The human was small, much like Frisk, with black choppy hair that framed their face. Their skin was pale, almost ghostly, and they were draped in a long-sleeved black sweater and dark knee-length shorts. It was a girl. At least Frisk thought it was a girl. And although the girl’s expression was stoic and cold, Frisk couldn’t help but think that this human almost… almost looked like… like herself.

Except there was something wrong. Something was off. Their eyes… A pale cyan, spectral and uncanny. And those constricting pupils were thin dark fissures embedded within the blue. Reptilian eyes…

 

This was not a human.

 

Frisk clenched her teeth together as terror began its decent deep within her chest. She frantically began grabbing around at her shorts pockets for her weapon, but immediately realized that she had just dropped the box cutter in the water. Down to the bottom of the swamp.

Frisk was panicking. She shot her hands up, outstretched in front of her. Use your shield if you must! Her arms were trembling, her knees were weak. She stared directly back at that false human in dismay.

 

Don’t let them trick you! D-don’t let them come near!

 

“Stay back! D-don’t come any closer!” She shouted back at the human, trying to keep her voice as steady as possible.

But the girl just stared. Unblinking. Unmoving. Completely silent.

The girl looked so ambiguous. But Frisk could tell that she was very young, perhaps around the same age as herself. But… no. No. This just couldn’t be… with those eyes… that is a monster.

 

Trust no one.

 

Frisk grit her teeth firm and kept her hands raised out, palms facing forward, “Who are you!?” She shouted back again, listening to her own quivering voice permeate the foggy marsh.

W-what should she do? Make a run for it? Climb back up onto the trail and run? Last time she tried to run it led to her death… And why weren't they moving? Why weren't they saying anything? Oh, god… T-this is bad… stay away from me… g-god…

Frisk’s thoughts were climbing the walls of her mind, her anxiety so strong that it hurt to breathe.

But then, the human, the dark-haired girl, took a step. A slow, ominous step forward. And she……

 

She smiled.

 

Frisk’s heart immediately started to clamor as she watched the human take one daunting step after the other through the thick water. She was moving closer… closer towards her.

“Stay back! Stay away from me! I-i-i mean it!!” Frisk screamed out again, her hands trembling so terrible she could barely hold them up.

 

Focus! FOCUS! FOCUS! Use your shield! Call it forth! Protect yourself!

 

The dark-haired human stopped in her tracks, but that modest aloof smile spread across her features. Those bright blue eyes looked like two perfectly circular finch eggs. Those eyes were the only things clearly visible behind the rolling shadows.

 

 

“I'm you.”

 

 

……… What did she just say?

 

That voice… She spoke. And smiled even wider. But she did not possess sharp razors for teeth. She had normal human teeth. Every single thing about her resembled a normal human, except for the eyes of course.

 

“……… What?” Frisk responded in a hushed whisper. She quickly shook her head and tried to steady her raised arms once more, “You’re not me! You’re a monster like all the others!” She yelled back at the figure and desperately tried to will her shield forth. Please! Please! Of course it did not come. And the dark-haired child’s smile wavered.

 

“Frisk…”

 

The human spoke again. T-they said… her name. Their voice was a gentle wisp of smoke. Impassive and dry. There was no echoic tint to it either. All Frisk could do was stare back into those lucent sky blue eyes. They made her heart fluctuate.

“H-h-… how d-do you know… my name?” Finally Frisk forced her words forth, so hushed that she could barely hear them over her own heartbeat pounding in her eardrums.

“Because I am you.” That eerie placid smile returned and the human took another step forward, causing the dark water’s surface to ripple outwards. “Manumitter……”

Frisk felt her heart jolt again when she heard that word.

 

‘Manumitter.’

 

“You are not me…” Frisk responded and she scowled back at them. Frisk could feel a hint of anger buried under multiple layers of fear. They are lying. They are a monster, like every other cruel creature in this place. Don’t let her get close. Stay away. “You are a liar!” Frisk shouted back and spayed her fingers out wide as she waited for her red soul barrier, praying for her shield to spring forth and drive away this impostor.

A heavy weight of panic started to take hold. Frisk’s chest hurt and her breath was short and limited. Her head was spinning. She felt so weak, so dizzy. She closed her eyes, shivering violently. And she was besieged by a sudden surge of memories. She was pinned under Sans’ chest. It was wet and stained vermilion. She was crying out, bleeding to death in his arduous grasp, his jaws locked in her flesh. She was numb and choking against her own blood that spilled up from her throat… and that eye… That terrible red eye locked on her like a missile. Pulsing. Hungry. Eager. He was devouring her and it hurt so terribly. She wanted to die. Please let me die.

 

Please let me die!

 

 

…………

 

“……Frisk-…”

 

…………………

 

They spoke again…

 

…………………

 

“……You are not weak.”

 

……

 

W-what?……

 

 

 

Frisk opened her eyes, her vision masked by a hot film of tears. The dark-haired child stood directly in front of her. Frisk’s bottom lip trembled and she tried to take a step back, but the wooden path behind her deterred any movement.

Then the human stepped even closer and Frisk’s outstretched arms pressed directly against their chest. T-they felt… warm. Warm and alive, unlike the monsters in this hell. Was this really, truly a human? Another lost human just like herself?

 

Frisk stared back at the other, unable to move from shock. And they smiled again. It was almost kind, yet detached at the same time. But those eyes… Those eyes. There was something wrong with those eyes. Something… flawed. Something buried deep.

The dark-haired child raised one single hand and pressed it between Frisk’s outstretched arms, then gently placed it at the center of her chest. There was a warmth to the mystery human’s touch, and Frisk’s fear and anxiety and deep-seated despair seemed to melt away.

 

W-who… are… you…?

 

“Your soul… our soul… It is unlike any other-” Their words flowed forth like a melody. It embraced Frisk with a warmth she had yet to feel in the Underground. “The soul of the Manumitter.”

Frisk gazed back into those haunting blue mirrors in a trance. She could almost see her own reflection in them. Her own soft, hazelnut eyes stared forward, mesmerized. The other child’s hand was so warm against her chest, pressing gently into the center of her slight torso. Frisk couldn’t pull her eyes away and each one of her harrowing thoughts seemed to disintegrate.

And the dark-haired child just smiled and spoke again,

 

“And your soul… it is a weapon.

 

What?…

 

“And with that weapon, you will never feel hopeless.”

 

Those words wrapped inside Frisk’s mind like entwining snakes. They were seducing. Captivating. They trampled over every fear, every worry. But still Frisk could not respond. She was enraptured with the gentle building heat at her chest, the heat that seemed to secrete from this strange human’s hand. Frisk could almost feel the heat penetrate her soul. And those whispered words kept her hypnotized.

 

Suddenly the child pulled their hand away from Frisk’s chest, away from her rapidly pulsing heart. The girl raised her hands and pressed her palms flat against Frisk’s. Then she laced their fingers, entwining them together.

 

“Manumitter… They want you dead. He wants you dead. You can fight back. You are not powerless. You are not weak. Your soul, our soul, is stronger than you know.”

 

He?…… Sans?…

 

The dark-haired enigma spoke those words and stared directly into Frisk’s eyes as their thin reptile pupils dilated and constricted in the dark, foggy atmosphere. Their eyes were so blue and clear, sharp slivers of ice. It almost pained Frisk to look into them. It felt like this person was staring directly into her thoughts, reading her mind, peering into the depths of her soul.

“I-I…” Frisk still couldn’t speak. Her hands merely trembled within the grasp of the other’s. A tepid fever seeped through Frisk’s hands and arms. But it was not that familiar heat of her own soul that she knew so well. It almost felt… unstable. Yet it was masked under layers of gentle warmth, obscured behind that serene glow.

Frisk could just barely grasp the tainted feeling that spilled from the human, but before she had a chance to even consider it, the girl broke contact. The dark-haired child let go of Frisk’s hands and instead they grabbed at Frisk’s exposed wrists.

Frisk flinched, but the strange girl tilted Frisk’s hands, shifting her wrists to the side to lift her inner arms upwards. They glanced down at Frisk’s various healing scars with that stoic blue gaze.

 

“There is a limit. Each death will take you a step back… And bring you closer. Remember that.” The girl spoke in riddles.

 

Each death? A step back? Closer? Closer to what?

 

“And not every door is the correct door.” The girl ran her sallow fingers along some of Frisk’s scars, then released her wrists before glancing back up at her once more.

Frisk bit at her lower lip as she considered those words, staring back at the mystery girl in a stupor. “Who… who are you… really?…” Frisk whispered, desperately trying to look away from that cerulean gaze.

 

There was a long, unsettling silence. But it was broken when the strange child spoke.

 

“Chara.”

 

The girl, Chara, grinned as she revealed her name. She flashed her pearly teeth in the dim light. Yet her expression remained tranquil, her eyes lidded and sly.

 

…… Chara…

 

The girl took a slight step back from Frisk and she reached down into the murky water, her dark long-sleeved arm plunged into the cloudy black quagmire that surrounded them. Frisk watched the girl, completely mystified and curious. She felt a strong connection, like she was under an aberrant spell.

Chara pulled her arm out of the water and held out Frisk’s box cutter. It was caked with mud from the swamp floor, but besides that it was unharmed.

“Frisk, you will need this… in the end.” Chara slowly placed the handle of the disheveled utility knife into Frisk’s hand. And Frisk glanced down at the blade, wrapping her fingers around it tightly.

Frisk felt a wave of emotion overtake her. Her shoulders started to tremble and she let her head drop down. Her disheveled chestnut hair fell in her face as she tried to hold back a sob, shutting her eyes, quivering and clutching the knife close to her form. “C-chara…” Frisk whispered, holding back her tears.

She slowly raised her head to glance back at the mysterious girl… but…

 

She was gone.

 

 

 

 

Frisk stared forward, her eyes wide. She blinked and looked around. That girl… The girl had vanished. Not a single trace of her remained. The water had not even rippled. Frisk’s shoulders slumped as she glanced up at the ash-grey sky. She was alone once more.

Had she really seen that? Or was it an illusion brought on by the swamp fog?

Frisk didn’t know what to believe anymore. But her fingers wrapped tightly around the box cutter in her hand and she clutched the weapon to her chest.

 

’You will need this in the end…’

 

The end, huh?…

 

…………

 

Chara……

 

 

 

Frisk’s vigorous trance was abruptly severed by the sound of an air raid alarm wailing overhead. It made her stumble backwards and almost slip into the water. She hadn’t heard those sirens in a while. Actually, she had completely forgotten about them… Had they always been that loud? It hurt, and Frisk clamped her hands over her ears to try and block out the sound. It almost sounded like they were nearby.

The air raids blared for a good couple of minutes until they finally faded back to silence.

 

Frisk rinsed her box cutter in the murky water best she could before sheathing the blade and stuffing it into her pocket. Her contact with that strange, ghostly child… Chara… had kindled something deep inside her. In that moment, she no longer wished for death.

Frisk stared out into the morass. Her eyes scanned over the labyrinth of low hanging swamp trees and dense sawgrass. The nonstop blanket of fog billowed along the surface of the water. It was a gloomy sight, but Frisk felt her determination start to take hold of her soul. Though it felt different than before. It was still warm and encompassing, but there was a seed of animosity that nested deep within.

You will escape this place. No matter what.

Her inner voice was almost hostile. She clenched her teeth and curled her hands into fists.

Yes. I will escape. By any means necessary.

 

 

 

 

Frisk climbed out of the swamp back up onto the wooden path. She began to make her way down the winding trail. Her step had been rejuvenated with a newfound energy and she trotted along in silence. She was determined once more. She would keep moving forward. She would stay strong. Stay strong and fight.

 

As Frisk continued on, she lifted her hands towards herself with palms facing upwards. They were grimy and pale, stained with mud from the swamp. Frisk took in a deep breath and filled her lungs with musky oxygen. She slowly exhaled and turned her hands to face outwards, then she closed her eyes and began to tap into her soul.

 

Focus.

Focus.

 

Her cluttered thoughts churned inside her head. Toriel, Napstablook, Papyrus, Gaster…Sans… She saw them all in her mind’s eye. Each one a vicious, blood-thirsty monster set on her destruction. And Chara’s words laced through each monstrous vision, melting them into nothing.

 

 

’Your soul is a weapon.’

 

A weapon?…

 

’They want you dead.’

 

I… I know…

 

He wants you dead.’

 

He’s… h-he’s a monster…

 

’You can fight back.’

 

I will… I will fight back…

 

’You are not powerless. You are not weak.’

 

I am not weak.

 

’Your soul… it is stronger than you know.’

 

 

I am… NOT WEAK.

 

 

 

There was a sudden burst of energy. A burning heat wrapped around Frisk’s hands and ran up her arms, piercing the center of her chest painfully. A heat so strong it felt like she had stepped through a curtain of fire. Frisk saw the bright flash of red from behind her eyelids and her heart started to pound vigorously. She stopped dead in her tracks and slowly opened her eyes and she saw it… the shield.

It was larger than before, spanning from her ankles to the top of her head. A beautiful, radiating barrier of liquid crimson crystals. Transparent and gleaming so brightly it hurt to look at. It was brighter than it had been during her fight with Papyrus, and it turned the humid atmosphere around her a brilliant scarlet.

Frisk stared back at the shield. She was enamored with its extruding warmth. It was so much like her soul, it even dripped with that viscous liquid-red and stained the wooden planks at her feet.

She had summoned her shield. She did it! She did it all on her own!

Frisk smiled softly to herself and stiffened the muscles in her arms, holding the shield out directly in front of her. She raised her arms high, and the shield remained hovering before them just an inch away from her fingers. Then she spread her arms apart, bringing them down to her sides forcefully. The shield remained floating, but it began to waiver. Without her hands there, it started to sink where it hung in the air, sliding down to the floor.

Frisk quickly brought her hands back and the shield froze. She guided her hands back up and the barrier followed, leading it back to it’s rightful spot in front of her form.

 

I need to learn…

 

Her heart was pounding so quickly, her thoughts were spinning like a top. She let out a soft laugh of pure elation, feeling joy for the first time. Now, she just had to learn how to control this power. And learn exactly how it functioned. Although the shield shined brightly, it did not look extremely solid. After all, it was transparent and almost fluid. It reminded Frisk of melting glass. But she knew just how strong it was. She saw it take a wave of Papyrus’ bone spears. And now it was larger than before. It was much more substantial.

 

Frisk stared back at the shield for some time. It just hovered in front of her hands, emitting a gentle hum mixed with the subtle sound of stirring crystals like a wind chime. She tried to reach out to touch the barrier, but every time the shield would inch forward just barely out of her grasp. And all the while Frisk’s hands and arms illuminated with that gentle vivid crimson that matched the screen.

Now… How to put it away?

Frisk bit at her lower lip in thought. She balled her hands up into fists but it did not affect the shield. She lowered her arms down, and it also did nothing but move the shield slightly downward. Hmm… wait. She remembered. Frisk quickly pulled her arms apart to her sides, away from the shield swiftly. The red screen started to tremble the moment she removed her both hands away from it. And it started to sink in the air. Its sheen flickered a few times, like a flashing light bulb. The clear, stardust liquid inside started to lose its glow and the shield faded away. It vanished.

Frisk stared back at the now vacant space before. She reached a hand out, swiping it through the air. There was nothing there, and she began to walk again.

 

 

 

The wooden plank path seemed to stretch on for more than just a few miles. Soon the minutes turned into hours. Every now and then Frisk would stop and sit and pull out a pile of snacks from her backpack. She finished a bag of chips, a muffin, some smoked jerky and a can of soda. She would sit at the side of the trail, her legs hooked over the edge with the tips of her sneakers just barely touching the still, stagnant water below. The swamp was eerie and dark. But at the same time, Frisk found it almost peaceful. Compared to the rest of the Underground, it was pleasant. No freezing bitter wind and snow, no falling ash that made it impossible to breathe. It was humid and the lukewarm atmosphere made her clothes stick to her skin, but she’d take that over the other areas any day. And she was starting to grow accustomed to the stark silence.

 

 

Frisk walked on. And as she walked, she continued to test her shield. She discovered that she didn’t need both hands to summon it. She could call forth the barrier with just one hand as well, although it seemed to be slightly more unstable when she did that. She remembered her clash with Gaster, and how she pushed him away using her one-handed shield. It was a very useful trait.

As she walked down the trail, Frisk summoned her shield over and over. Memorizing and practicing every way she could hold it. It was definitely a learning process. And she was slowly but surely getting the hang of it. Although every time she summoned the shield, she found herself growing more exhausted. It was a powerful exertion of energy each time so she decided to take a break.

Frisk thought of Chara as she walked along. Was that girl really a human? Her words had been so arcane and ambiguous. What did she mean when she said ‘Each death takes you a step back and brings you closer’? She had already died once… Did that mean she had multiple lives? What did Chara mean by ‘a step back’? And what did it bring her closer to? A permanent death? And also ‘Not every door is the correct door.’ Was Chara talking about the gates?… And what did she mean when she said ‘I am you’? There were just so many unanswered questions, and it caused a sudden wave of unease to settle in the pit of Frisk’s stomach.

She then found herself thinking of all the monsters she had come across. Toriel… What was Toriel doing right now? Still out in the woods back home? Guarding the shed door? And what about Napstablook? Did he remain in those dark, gloomy tunnels or did he escape into the snowy forest? And Papyrus… Was he still back in the poisonous town of Snowdin? Was he searching for the 4th gate? Had he noticed that she made a run for it? And Gaster… He must still reside in the library or had he tried to follow her down into the sewers?… And… and Sans… What about Sans?…

She saw his red, pulsing eye in her mind and almost felt his touch along her bare stomach, gliding up over her rib cage against her chest… And she could just barely feel that pain… the terrible pain that formed under his skeletal claw each time he stripped her of her soul… No. No. Do not think about him. You are not weak.

Frisk shuddered and rubbed a hand to her forehead, trying to push those memories back down, burying them deep within the depths of her consciousness. She sighed and stopped walking for a moment, leaning back against the side railing. She had been so busy playing around with her newfound shield summoning skills and recollecting her thoughts that she hadn’t even noticed how dark it had become. The sky was now a shadowy flint grey and just as desolate as always.

Frisk reached into her pocket and pulled out her cell phone. She flipped it open and saw the time: ‘7:10 pm.’ Last time she checked it, it had been 6 in the morning. She couldn’t believe how late it was already. Frisk was dreading it, but she quickly let her eyes scan over the battery. It read ‘6%’ Her heart twisted in a surge of panic.

6%…

She held her finger over the off button at the side of the device. If she wasn’t using the phone, then she decided she would keep it turned off. That might help save what little battery life she had left. She stuffed it back in her shorts pocket and started walking again.

 

 

She walked on, staring idly out in front of her. She was tired but she did not want to stop. And as she wandered forward something strange happened. The dark, gloomy fog that constantly flowed over the surface of the water started to glow. Its shade of graphite black morphed into a hue of azure blue. The glow illuminated the swamp, and it actually… it actually looked pretty. But it was also perplexing. At least it provided light, and Frisk was relieved that she didn’t have to walk in the dark.

The drooping marshland trees were starting to grow thicker. The branches hung low over the path, creating a canopy. Frisk reached up and touched the thinning rows of leaves. But she immediately pulled her hands away when she felt that fuzzy mold. So that stuff was on the trees in this swamp as well… It seemed to be everywhere in the Underground.

Frisk began to nod off as she walked. Her eyelids grew heavy and she stumbled over her own feet. Perhaps… perhaps she should take a little break… She came to a stop and looked around. The swamp was just as quiet as before, the water just as still. It was too dark to see down the path and the shadows obscured the trail, creating a daunting passageway. The rising azure fog illuminated the water around her an uncanny blue. The color almost reminded Frisk of Sans’ magic. That blue wisp of smoke that would wrap around his hands when he summoned his ax. And she immediately found herself liking the glow significantly less.

 

Frisk finally came to a lethargic stop. She sunk down to her knees by the side of the path and pulled off her backpack, placing it beside her. She grabbed the folded monster jacket from her bag and shook it out, then tugged it over her shoulders like a blanket. It was probably not the best place to camp for the night, but she had no other choice, and she was too exhausted to doubt it. Frisk rested her head against her backpack that created a makeshift pillow and stared out into the spectral marshlands. Her fingers ran along the front of the iron collar still wrapped around her throat as she watched the blue mist roll on the surface of the water like a phantom. She blinked slowly and a steady wave of drowsiness took hold. So… tired… just rest… just sleep… You are safe here.

She allowed her eyes to close and her muscles to relax. And, finally, she slept.

 

 

 

 

The delicate blue glow seeped along the trail. It buried the planks under a heavy sheet of fog. There was someone sitting next to her, right next to her backpack where her head lay. They were facing the swamp. Their legs dangled over the sides of the path and their fur-trimmed hood was pulled up over their head. A hand rested atop her shoulder… It was cold… cold and heavy and squeezing her gently.… Their fingers were off-white and slender… a skeletal hand…

Sans.

 

 

 

 

Frisk’s eyes shot open and she sat up abruptly, breathing hard. She turned her head forward, but no one was there. She was alone. Alone in the dark cobalt haze.

Sans was not there.

A dream… it was a d-dream…

 

Calm down. It was only a dream.

Breathe. He was never here. You are safe.

 

Frisk let out a quivering whimper and rubbed at her shoulder. She thought she could still feel the pressure of his hand there. It had felt so real. Was… was it really just a dream? It must have been, because the way his hand rested against her… it… it almost felt… comforting. That was not the Sans she knew. Frisk shook from the surge of trepidation that had woken her so abruptly and curled up into a ball.

It was still dark. It must still be pretty late.

Frisk pushed her bangs out of her eyes. She felt sweaty and feverish from the humidity and she pulled her sleeves up above her elbows and the hoodie’s bottom hem up to her ribs. It didn’t really help. It was still uncomfortably warm and muggy. Frisk forced her eyes shut and tried to fall back asleep without thinking about that monster. Eventually, she did. And she had no more dreams after that.

 

 

 

 

There was a strange noise. The water was bubbling. Small waves rippled along the surface… What was that noise? It was getting louder and louder. And it wouldn’t stop… What was that?

The bothersome sound stirred Frisk from her slumber and she opened one eye. She was half asleep and her surroundings were just a confusing haze. Where… where the heck was she? Frisk slowly sat up and rubbed at her eyes with both hands, trying to wake up. She felt so sore from sleeping on wooden planks all night. She glanced around lazily and remembered she was still in the bog. But it was light. The darkness had melted away, along with the gentle blue glowing mist. Once again, the marshland looked like nothing more than an ordinary swamp.

Frisk yawned softly and blinked a few times. She shifted to the side to grab some snacks from her backpack… but she saw something. A movement out of the corner of her eye.

 

Something… someone… was there.

 

And it was right next to where she sat, down in the swamp water outside the pathway below.

 

There was a face… a scaly, yellow-tinted face. It was reptilian, and yet it had four stacked sets of large black eyes with a crimson dilating pupil at the very center of each one. The creature had a protruding row of dark, sharp platelets that ran vertically from the tip of its snout, up the bridge of its nose and down the center of its forehead and skull like some sort of dinosaur. And it stared up at her, its quadruple eyes locking onto Frisk keenly.

 

Another monster.

 

 

*****

 

 

Coming up: Waterfall and the 5th door.

 

Chapter Text

 

*****

 

 

Frisk’s drowsy state disappeared in an instant as she stared back into those four leering eyes. She cried out and hopped up to her feet, staggering backwards against the opposite side of the path.

 

Oh, god… oh, no… She had NOT been alone in these swamps after all. A monster! Another monster! No no nonono!!

 

Her heart was darting around inside her chest and she felt nauseous from fear. It was hard to see exactly what the monster looked like or how big it was, since she could only see just a fragment of its face between the vertical railing bars. It was drenched in swamp water and liquid clumps of mud dripped down the side of its face.

“Get back!!” Frisk screamed and held her trembling arms in front of her. There was a flash of bright red and she immediately summoned her soul shield without hesitation. The barrier displayed its lustrous crimson sheen, glowing brightly and dripping with liquid rubies.

Frisk’s pulse raced, her fear felt like it was ramming against the back of her skull. But despite it all, she was relieved that her shield, her soul, had appeared the moment it was called. She held it out directly in front of her and peered through its translucent luster at the monster on the opposite side.

Frisk expected to hear some beastly growl or a hiss from the creature, but instead-…

 

“Whoa!”

 

 

…………………

 

 

Did… D-did it just say that?

 

The monster’s head rose up and its multiple eyes stared back at her shield in a daze. Its nostrils flared at the end of its short, tapered snout and Frisk could see sharp rows of alligator teeth jutting down from its upper jaw.

“I-I mean it! Get back or I will hurt you!…” Frisk fought against the quiver in her voice. She tensed up every muscle in her arms, desperately trying to hold the shield steady.

 

You are not weak.

 

Her knees were trembling and her head was spinning. But the monster… the monster was starting to rise. It was leaning up out of the water. Oh, no… oh, hell! She stared back in horror as it ascended from the swamp and began to squeeze through the space between the path’s wooden railing. Frisk felt faint but she couldn’t bring herself to run. The monster climbed up onto the path directly in front of her.

But much to her surprise, it wasn’t very big. It was only a couple inches taller than she was. It was draped in a heavy brown leather cloak that reached its ankles, dripping with mud and pond scum. Oddly enough it didn’t appear to have arms, either that or they were hidden underneath the soaked mantle. Although it did have two thick-set legs with sharp webbed toes and a wide scale plated tail that rose out from the cloak. And those four sets of black eyes and sharp rows of serrated teeth sent a current of dread up Frisk’s spine.

 

“That is an amazing soul!”

 

It… it spoke again. The monster’s voice was a blithe rumble woven together with that familiar echoic touch. And he almost sounded… enthusiastic. He wasn’t frightened of Frisk’s shield at all. In fact, he leaned in even closer to the red barrier, staring directly at it in awe as all four of his eyes blinked in unison.

Frisk slowly stepped to the side, trying to distance herself from the monster. Her teeth clenched together tightly to imprison the whimpers in her throat. Should she make a run for it?? Could she outrun this unnerving bipedal reptile? Should… should she attempt to fight it? But before Frisk could even settle on a decision, he spoke again.

“Are you a human?” The monster asked. He tilted his large head to the side ever so slightly as he peered through the shield directly at Frisk.

Frisk just stared back at him, stunned and terrified. “I-…” She managed to stutter out before he interrupted her.

“You must be, ‘cause I’ve never seen a soul that color before. What are you doing out here?” The monster spoke almost casually.

“Erm-… I… I’m… o-opening… the doors…” Frisk immediately regretted her response and bit at the tip of her tongue. Don’t tell this monster what you are doing! Don’t give him any information to use against you! They want you dead, remember!? Just run!

Her inner voice was raging but the little monster blinked again, and then he grinned… wide.

“Oh! Are you the Manumitter!?” He exclaimed and his thick scaled tail started to pat against the hollow wooden planks behind him creating loud thumps that sent vibrations through the floor. “I’ve heard about you! But you’re a kid, like me. That’s pretty cool!” The monster was gushing. His massive black eyes went wide and each red pupil darted around as he glanced from Frisk to her shield, then back to Frisk again. “You’re in big trouble, you know.”

Frisk blinked at his words. She lowered the shield just barely. Its sheen was starting to flicker and grow dim, but Frisk was much too preoccupied with the monster's words at the moment. “W-what?” She asked, petrified.

“Yeah, Undyne’s alarms have been going crazy ‘cause of you.”

The monster started to rub his thick webbed feet against the floor as muddy swamp water dripped from his cloak and formed a puddle underneath him.

“Undyne?…” Frisk repeated the familiar name that sent bells ringing in her head. That was the monster Papyrus was always speaking of. W-wait… that was the monster that had a law enforced to kill the Manumitter… To kill her.

“Yeah! She has the whole Underground on alert ‘cause she heard you were here.” The monster grinned again. But his smile was zealous, not threatening.

Frisk’s arms were starting to hurt from the burning glow that wrapped around them. The shield was draining her energy, fast. And she couldn’t stop it. She winced, trying to hold her barrier up, fighting through the pain, but the shield’s glow flickered and started to turn an opaque crimson. Reluctantly, Frisk pulled her hands to the side and the shield vanished immediately. She panted from the extensive exertion of energy and leaned against the side of the railing, arms shaking.

The monster blinked again as her shield faded into thin air and made another sound of amazement.

“Where… w-where are we?” Frisk changed the subject. Her heart was still pounding and her head was foggy. Although this monster was apparently young, and certainly acted juvenile, she had to keep her guard up. His eyes were alarming, but it was his teeth that put her on edge. Those teeth were not to be underestimated. But he didn’t seem very interested in eating her. He seemed more interested in her soul shield.

“You don’t know? We’re in the swamps of Waterfall right now.” The monster started to pat his tail against the floor again, splattering muddy water everywhere. “Well, I should probably take you to Undyne now.”

He stepped closer towards her but Frisk immediately jumped backwards, creating as much distance between them as possible. “W-what? No! I don’t need to go to Undyne!” Her heart began to stumble over itself as it pounded faster and faster. If she had the energy, she would have called forth her shield once more, but she was completely drained.

The monster just blinked and tilted his head to the opposite side. His look of eager excitement morphed into one of concern. “But… it’s the law.”

Frisk quickly shook her head. She knew that this Undyne monster was bad news… If Undyne was the one who set forth a law to kill her in the first place, then it could only mean death if she was captured. Also, Frisk was highly suspicious that Undyne was some sort of leader in this abhorrent hell. They were clearly a dangerous monster.

Frisk’s thoughts were pulsing in her head. But despite her fear, she began to devise a plan. “Look… I just need to open the doors. That’s what the Manumitter does. They open the doors and then you can all be free.” Frisk kept her words surprisingly stable. She was actually impressed with herself for once. Her terror started to melt into that gentle embrace of determination instead. You will escape this place.

The little reptile monster seemed to be thinking over her words. His stare was blank and his rapidly patting tail slowed to a sluggish wiggle. “But… I’ll get in trouble…”

Frisk shook her head again “If you show me where the next door is, I promise we will go meet Undyne afterwards,” The moment her words, her lie, spilled from her lips, she immediately remembered Sans’ warning. And a cold wave of dread spiraled down to the pit of her gut.

 

 

'you take one step out of line and i’ll be there'

 

 

Last time she had lied, she paid for it dearly. But last time her soul was contaminated and she couldn't defend herself. This time… this time she could fight. She had her shield. Her soul was growing stronger. Her determination was tenacious. If Sans came for her again, she'd be ready. She would fight him. All she had to do was get through the doors as quickly as possible. She felt like she had been traveling for ages. She must be close by now.

“Oh, I know where the door is!” The monster piped up and his concern seemed to fade, “Just follow me.” He stepped past Frisk and began to trot down the wooden path.

Frisk stared after him, shocked. He… he was really going to lead her there? He was going to show her the door? He actually believed her? Frisk blinked a couple times and her determination swelled in the center of her chest. She smiled to herself, feeling a bold courageousness she had never felt before. Then she quickly scooped up her backpack from the floor and followed the monster throughout the winding marshlands.

 

 

 

 

 

The two of them walked on, following the wooden trail. The little monster was quite a talkative one. As they walked, he started to chat at Frisk. He mentioned that his name was MK and that he lived in the main section of Waterfall. He talked about how boring the swamps were, how there was never anything to eat, how cool Undyne was, and how he always thought that the Manumitter was a myth.

Frisk kept her feedback to a minimum, simply responding with a nod of the head or a ‘yeah’ and an ‘i see’.

They had only been walking for a short while when Frisk saw something up ahead. It looked like a mountain along the horizon. The fog that rose from the swamp was so thick that she had not noticed it before. But now as they grew closer, it was clearly visible. Although it was nothing like the mountain she had seen back at the very beginning of her journey. No, this was a mesa that settled low with a stretch of flat plateau at the top. But it was massive regardless and spanned the entire skyline. Frisk even noticed what looked like adobe mud buildings assembled along the sides and at the highest elevation of the mountain.

“That’s Waterfall!” MK explained and nodded towards the mountain, “There are a ton of doors in there.”

Frisk furrowed her brow, “A ton of doors?” She was immediately reminded of something Chara had said to her.

 

'not every door is the correct door'

 

Frisk felt a swell of unease and she stared at the back of MK’s head, following cautiously.

“Yeah. I can show you the room that has a bunch of doors in it, but I don’t know which one you have to open. They don’t tell us kids those kinds of things.” MK said as he trotted along.

“How many monsters live in Waterfall?” Frisk asked. It suddenly occurred to her how dangerous the journey into Waterfall was going to be if it was some sort of town and had a population of monsters. She might be able to fool this little alligator kid, but it honestly just felt like dumb luck.

“Hmm… not too many. We all live up top in the village. I’m not even suppose to be out in the swamps. But sometimes I find meat out here.” MK turned his head and grinned back at Frisk with a wide smirk. She didn’t like it one bit, but she held her emotions in check and simply gazed back out at the mountain in front of them.

 

 

Suddenly, the wooden trail ended. It was such an abrupt cutoff, like the path had been crushed by something. There were jagged planks of wood sticking out from the dead-end that led into the swamp. Frisk peered over the bog and stared at the mountain… and she noticed that the mountain had a gaping cave entrance. The swamp actually seemed to lead inside the grotto.

MK jumped off the side of the trail and started to wade through the shallow murky water as if it was just a normal everyday activity. Frisk stopped and stood at the edge, staring back at the ominous chasm in the side of the mountain. She was starting to doubt herself and felt a building upsurge of fear.

 

You have come so far. Do not hesitate now. The 5th gate is in there somewhere. You can do this.

 

Frisk closed her eyes for a moment. Her determination smoldered deep within the center of her chest. She lifted her hands and pressed them against her sternum. She could feel her heart pounding softly. That warmth, the heat of her soul, simmering inside. She opened her eyes and hopped down into the squalid bog, treading slowly.

 

 

 

 

The water reached her mid-thighs like before. But as she followed after MK the water rose, and she pulled her cell phone out of her pocket before the water reached her waist. It made her wince in disgust as the repugnant greenish pond scum circled around her. The mud down below absorbed her sneakers with each step and she almost lost them a few times. The rising fog didn’t make it any easier. Soon Frisk found herself missing the snow. She’d take cold over wading waist-deep in a putrid marsh any day. But eventually the water started to decline. And by the time they reached the massive cave entrance the water was back below her knees.

Frisk wrung out the bottom hem of her hoodie as she stared into the deep chasm. The inside was obscured in dark expanding fog, and it looked like the marsh simply continued on within the cave. MK stood beside her, but he seemed impatient to go in because his tail kept churning up the murky water below them. He was always doing that… always patting against the water with his tail… It was starting to irritate her.

 

 

And the two of them set off into the cave. Frisk kept looking over her shoulder back at the fading light behind them, back at the dreary marshland and drooping trees. The inside of the cave had no trees. It was just swampy muddled water and thickets of sawgrass. The atmosphere was pleasantly cool, but the darker it got the more concerned Frisk became.

“Hey MK, have you ever seen a… a candle around here?” Frisk finally broke the silence as they waded through the water.

The little monster glanced back at her, all four of his dark eyes blinking simultaneously. “A candle? No, I’ve never even seen fire in Waterfall!” He chuckled.

Frisk chewed at her lower lip and looked back over her shoulder again. It was getting even darker and she could barely see the entrance to the cave anymore. Though MK seemed completely comfortable in the darkness. Frisk was about to turn on her phone and use what little battery life she had left for the flashlight, when that familiar blue cobalt glow began to settle at their knees above the water’s surface. She stopped in her tracks and stared down at the gentle haze. It chased away the obsidian shadows and illuminated the entire cavern an eerie azure.

“Oh, the swamp fog turns all blue when it gets dark. Cool, right?” MK grinned and splashed his tail around in the foggy water. Frisk nodded and continued on. That color… it always brought her thoughts back to Sans. She frowned to herself and unconsciously grasped at her shoulder with one hand.

 

 

As they walked deeper within the cave, the water started to clear up. The slime and mud began to thin out, and Frisk could actually see her feet underneath the surface. But then the water started to deepen once more. It rose back up to Frisk’s waist, which she didn’t mind too much because at least it was clear this time. But a heavy wave of worry cascaded inside her as the water simply got deeper… and deeper… and deeper. Soon it was up to Frisk’s chest and she had to hold her backpack and cellphone up over her head to keep everything dry. It was starting to become too concerning to ignore, so she came to a stop.

“Hey, MK… This water is getting pretty deep… er-… are you sure this is the right way?” She called out to the monster in front of her.

“Yeah, there’s a path up here,” He motioned to the right and Frisk followed his nod.

She had been so busy worrying about the water levels that she hadn’t even noticed the various multiple open tunnels entrance ways that lined both sides of the cave. Perhaps they led up to the top of the mountain? Each open entrance had a stripe of paint over it in a different color.

 

MK led Frisk over towards the right side and they stopped in front of one of the apertures. Frisk peered inside and it seemed to be a long tunnel that led into a chamber. She looked up above the opening and saw a streak of white paint marking it. Perhaps, one day, she would need to find this passageway again… and she quickly memorized the shape of the stripe.

 

Frisk followed MK into the narrow tunnel. Thankfully the water started to decline and it sunk back down below their knees. Frisk shivered, dripping wet, and tried to wring out the water from her hoodie and shorts again. At least the clear, cool water had rinsed all the mud from her clothes, but the temperature in the cave now felt significantly colder. Her teeth chattered and she brought her hands under her hoodie try and warm them against her own skin. It didn’t help much.

They reached the end of the tunnel after a brief minute and Frisk stared out into the vast chamber before her. It was still illuminated blue from the fog, but there were minuscule rays of light cascading down from the high rock ceiling. It was like… like some sort of sunken arena.

Overhead were multiple tiers of stone balconies that encircled the room. The various streams of light descended from narrow openings in the ceiling, creating thin glowing rays that criss-crossed above them. With the blue glowing atmosphere and the intersecting beams of light, it almost looked pretty. But Frisk’s heart sunk when she saw what the room contained.

 

 

Doors. A whole bunch of them…

 

 

The room contained dozens of open archways that lined the wall. The archways lead into smaller nooks, and each one contained a door. And each door… had a different yet similar symbol carved at the center.

 

 

Oh, no………

 

 

Frisk stood in the center of the arena, glancing around at every hollow inlet. T-the symbols… they all looked so familiar. Any of them could have been the 5th gate! How was she suppose to find the correct one? She stood there, stunned and cold and absolutely aghast.

MK stood next to her and grinned wide. “See! I told you I’d take you to the doors!”

Frisk stepped over to one of the archways and stared at the door towards the back of the small den. It was large and wooden and had an engraved symbol upon it. It could have been the correct symbol, or maybe… maybe it was the wrong one. Why had she never copied the symbol down!? She had paper and pencils in her backpack. That would have been really useful right about now!

“Ah… why… why are there so many?” She asked as she stepped up close to the door in front of her and examined the runic engraving. She racked her brain for any details, anything at all from previous gates.

“Undyne created a bunch of fake doors to fool the Manumitter.” His voice was blunt.

There was a nefarious hint in his tone. Frisk instantly noticed it. Something was wrong. MK’s enthusiastic timbre was gone. And he was violently slapping his tail against the surface of the water.

She felt a wave of terrible unease spread throughout her limbs like pins and needles. Frisk staggered back in the water, moving away from the door, and turned to look at MK in the center of the room. He had a shrewd smile spread across his crocodile features.

“MK-…” Frisk began, but her words were cut off from a sound overhead. Like the sound of metal scraping against stone…

 

 

Oh, no………

 

 

Frisk glanced up. There was a large daunting figure standing on one of the stone balconies above them about three stories up. Another monster.

 

Oh… crap……

 

Her heart plummeted and spiraled down to her feet. She thought she was going to be sick with dread as her stomach churned painfully. Her pulse started to beat so fast in her skull that it gave her a headache. And her soul was burning in the center of her chest, burning with pure panic.

 

 

Oh no… oh, no nonono!!!

 

’Trust no one.'

 

Was… W-was this a trap!?

 

 

“I got her, Undyne! I got the Manumitter!” MK yelled out, his voice echoing off the walls, and he sprinted through the water making a beeline for the tunnel they had entered from. Frisk ripped her gaze from the figure overhead and watched as MK shut a heavy iron cage door behind him, locking Frisk inside the water arena. She hadn’t even seen that gate in the shadows when they had entered! Oh, this was not good……

 

No…… No NO NO NO!!

 

Frisk’s paralysis diminish and adrenaline took its place. She dashed towards the iron-barred door and shook it violently with both hands, but it held firm. “MK!!! MK!! Don’t do this!!” She screamed back to him through the tunnel, but he was already gone.

 

Someone was… w-was laughing…

 

And it shook her to the core.

 

That figure, the monster that towered above her perched up on the stone balcony… Undyne. She was laughing. It was cruel and cold and made Frisk’s soul convulse. Slowly, Frisk turned and stared up at the monster, her eyes wide with genuine terror.

 

 

Undyne was tall and covered in scales just like MK, though her scales were a deep shade of sapphire blue. A set of sharp pectoral fins framed her face and her rust-colored hair was tied back in a messy knot. Her right eye was a narrow slit of red with a golden pupil and the other side of her head was wrapped up in bandages. They concealed her left eye and a dark crimson bloodspot seeped through the bandages and ran down the side of her cheek. Her teeth were thick needles, interlocking with each other in a perfect row to form a grotesque wall of skewers. And every tooth was stained blood-red. Her webbed claw hands were massive and she was dawned in thick crimson-colored iron armor: a breastplate, plated breeches and thick tassets that hung from her hips. And Undyne gripped onto a large iron spear with a sharpened, hooked tip.

Frisk trembled in the water where she stood. She stared up at the wyrm woman in horror. She couldn’t run. She was trapped… trapped in this small flooded coliseum. And Undyne clearly had the high ground.

“Manumitter! Is that REALLY you??” Undyne shouted a taunting provoke down to Frisk, that sickening red smirk spread wide across her features. Her voice was a harsh reproach. It blustered out like a chorus of echoing war drums and incited pure fear throughout Frisk’s whole body.

“Fwuahah! I’ve been waiting for this moment! I knew you weren't a MYTH! I knew it!” Undyne called out and raised her spear, she twirled it between her webbed claws then gripped tightly around the center of the pole-arm and pointed it directly down at Frisk, “Now, hold still!”

Frisk’s eyes grew wider. Her heart was racing and she couldn’t breathe. Tears of fear started to sting the backs of her eyes. She… she couldn’t move……

 

Run, dammit! Run! Run now!!

 

Her conscious was screaming at her, trying to will her legs to act. But she just stood there, trembling fiercely. She couldn’t move… her determination was drowning in terror.

Frisk watched as Undyne rolled her shoulder back, taking aim, and then threw the iron javelin right for her. It happened so quickly. It speared through the side of Frisk’s hoodie sleeve with such a violent force than it pulled Frisk backwards into the stone wall behind her, pinning her arm against the rocks. The sharp spear just barely grazed Frisk’s flesh, only centimeters away from skewing through her forearm completely.

Frisk cried out as the sharpened thick metal scraped against her skin under the sleeve. It stung and she saw blood seep through the fabric out of the corner of her eye. The sudden jolt of movement and abrupt pain shook Frisk from her stupor. She used all her strength to rip her long-sleeve free from the piercing polearm at the wall.

“Don’t move, Manumitter! We still need you alive! FOR NOW!

Frisk could hear Undyne sour screams overhead. She scrambled over to the other side of the room, moving out of Undyne’s line of sight. Her hoodie sleeve was torn and stained crimson. Her mind was literally twisting inside her skull. Pure trepidation backed by adrenaline.

 

Oh my god… Oh my god!… GET TO A DOOR NOW!!! TRY AND OPEN ONE!

 

She sprinted to one of the open alcoves and her eyes locked on the door at the back of the shallow cavern. She could hear Undyne’s heavy iron-plated greaves overhead. Undyne was running. She knew that the monster was moving to the other side to target her again.

 

Use your shield!!!

 

Use it NOW!

 

Frisk turned to face the arena and held her trembling arms out in front. Dazzling red blinded her as the liquid ruby soul shield appeared before her hands instantly. It spanned the opening of the nook, protecting her inside with the door. Frisk could see Undyne through the translucent barrier. She had run to the other side opposite and was leering down at Frisk below. And Frisk watched in horror as the armored monster began to summon another spear. It appeared in her claw through a green wisp of smoke. Undyne was scowling at Frisk’s shield, spiraling into a rage.

“You… little BRAT!” Undyne shouted and propelled the second spear directly at the shield.

Every muscle in Frisk’s body tensed and she shut her eyes. She let out a cry as she heard the polearm skewer the screen. But… but it held firm. Her soul held strong! It didn’t shatter or crack or even tremble. The spear just barely pierced the center of the gleaming crimson barricade.

 

The door! Try and open the door! FAST!!!

 

Frisk knew she couldn’t keep her hold away from the shield for very long without it vanishing. In a reluctant gesture, Frisk tore her hands from the shield and quickly slammed them hard against the door behind her, directly at the center of the engraved symbol. Hurry… for the love of god, hurry!! She could hear Undyne screaming above and an earsplitting crash as yet another spear puncturing her shield. She was racing against the clock.

 

OPEN! OPEN!!!!

 

But something felt… wrong. When she pressed her glowing hands against the symbol, it didn’t feel warm. The door felt cold and corrupt. Its aura was contaminated. This door is a fake door. This is a ruse. Don’t touch it!

Frisk pried her hands from the door in a panic. She immediately swiveled around and replaced her hands against the shield, which now had three spears jutting out from it on the other side.

“Get out here, you LITTLE BRAT! I’m not playing games!” Undyne taunted her from overhead.

Frisk was sweating, fighting against the anxiety induced head-rush that started to paralyze her again. She had to move! She couldn’t just stand here behind the shield! It would shatter eventually! Its sheen was already starting to flicker.

 

You have to try another door! You have to be fast!

 

Frisk scanned the doors on the opposite side of the arena. Her eyes locked onto one of the symbols. It looked somewhat familiar, but she couldn’t be sure. She would have to test it. It was the only way……

 

Once the shield is down you RUN.

 

Frisk counted down in her head, desperately trying to ignore Undyne’s provoking jeers that rained down on her from above.

 

 

One…

 

Another spear came flying down and drilled into right side of the shield.

 

Two…

 

Her soul’s barrier was starting to waver and she heard a sharp cracking of glass as a narrow fissure ripped through the liquid red. The shield was starting to shatter.

 

………THREE!

 

 

Frisk pulled her hands to her sides and the shield disappeared. The multiple spears fell into the water with a loud splash and Frisk darted across the arena to the opposite side. She skidded into another alcove and quickly summoned a new shield behind her as fast as she could. This was too much! She could barely breathe. Her heart was frantic and battering the inside of her chest.

 

T-this one… Try this door!

 

She ripped her hands away from her shield for just a moment to try the second door but it was just as cold as the first. Her heart sank… a-another fake!?

Frisk heard Undyne start to laugh overhead. That echoing cackle was so bitter that it literally left a bad taste in her mouth.

“Fwuahaahahaha!! Confused, Manumitter? I can do this all day, but you certainly CAN’T!” Undyne shouted and Frisk flinched as she heard another spear ram into the shield behind her. Frisk quickly pulled her hands away from the second false gate and replaced them back at her barrier. Sweat was dripping in her eyes and her heart weighed down in the pit of her stomach with apprehension. She was panting heavily, struggling for a breath. Her arms were growing weaker… the soul barrier was draining her energy.

 

This is… bad.

 

Frisk peered through the shield, back at the other doors. She was at a loss. Spear after spear pierced her soul’s wall. Every symbol… they all looked so similar! W-what could she do!? A full blown panic attack was starting to grip around her heart. Every shred of hope was dwindling. If this monster caught her… would that be the end? Was this the end of the line?

 

Somebody help me! Anybody help me!

 

 

This is hopeless…

 

 

…………

 

 

‘Your soul... it is stronger than you know.’

 

……

 

 

Chara's words rung in Frisk’s head like a distant lighthouse out at sea, piercing the darkness that hovered all around it. A shred of hope. An upsurge of determination. And it cut through the despair.

 

Frisk blocked out Undyne’s screams and perpetual piercing arrows. She closed her eyes, breathing hard as she searched deep within her memory.

 

 

Remember…… Remember…… Remember the shed door… Remember that symbol… The first time you saw it… How scared you were… How dark it was… It feels like years ago, but you can see it… You can see that symbol… It had sharp angles at the top in three peaks… Curling downwards… Curling into itself in a spiral…

 

 

…………

 

 

……

 

 

And she saw it. She saw the symbol in her mind’s eye. She remembered.

 

 

Her eyes shot open and scanned every door frantically. But wait… wait, that door… the door towards the opposite right side of the arena. Frisk’s eyes settled upon that alcove in particular and she saw it. The symbol. That was it. That was the one. That was the 5th gate!

Frisk pried one hand away from her shield and dug inside her pocket. She pulled out her box cutter, gripping it tightly, and slid the sharp 5-inch segmented blade out from its sheath.

 

 

'You are not weak.'

 

 

No. I’m not.

 

 

Frisk ripped her hand away from her shield, pierced by at least ten of Undyne’s iron pikes. The shield vanished instantly and all the spears plunged into the water.

 

 

Run.

 

 

Frisk lunged forward through the center of the room, splashing through the ankle-high water making a straight line for the door. The 5th gate. Her escape.

 

Suddenly the whole arena shook violently. The abrupt motion made Frisk trip forward and she fell down to her hands and knees in the water. She was so close! Only a few feet away from the 5th gate.

But Undyne had jumped down from her pearch. She sprung down to the lower waterlogged floor with such substantial force that it shook the entire hippodrome. And she was just a few yards away from Frisk. Just a few yards away in the center of the chamber.

 

Oh god, RUN! RUN NOW!!

 

“I am DONE playing games!” Undyne sneered as she threw her spear to the side to free up both her claws. Her crimson teeth clenched together so tightly that her gums started to bleed down her chin.

Frisk clambered back up to her feet and gripped her box cutter tightly. Her knees were shaking so terribly that she could barely stand. She stared back in horror as Undyne approached. Frisk could see her clearly now that they were both on the same level. And she was so much more terrifying and daunting up close. Frisk started to sprint again but Undyne was already charging after her.

 

She’s right behind you!!! USE YOUR SHIELD!!

 

But Frisk was too slow. Undyne grabbed at the back of Frisk’s backpack, tearing it from her shoulders and threw her hard into the flooded floor. Frisk slammed against her side in the water with a yelp. And Undyne stood over her, that sickening red smirk dripping with her own blood.

“You are coming with me, you little BRAT!” Undyne screeched out and reached down. Her sharp webbed claws dug into the front of Frisk’s soaked hoodie, piercing the fabric, digging into her flesh painfully. Frisk cried out as those claws punctured her chest. Undyne lifted her out of the water off the floor, holding the girl only inches away from those grisly teeth. And Undyne’s claws curled deeper inside Frisk’s skin. It hurt! Frisk’s mind was spinning from the pain. The armored monster grinned wider at Frisk’s trembling cries and growled, “ … And after you open that last door, I'm going to mount your head above my MANTEL!"

 

Your blade! USE IT NOW!

 

This was it. The last desperate attempt. Frisks determination surged throughout her entire body. Her soul felt like it was burning a hole in the center of her chest. And her power ran down both her arms, turning them a brilliant scarlet. She lifted her box cutter in one hand, her fingers encompassed in spiraling liquid red like circling snakes. The dazzling gelatinous material ran down along the knife’s handle, down the blade, and extended outward, creating a… a weapon. A shimmering blade made of red translucent liquid glass, shining so brightly in the humid atmosphere.

 

 

Her soul…

 

Her soul modified that measly box cutter into something new. Something powerful.

 

Her soul had generated...

 

A sword.

 

 

 

Frisk brought the sharpened edge of the crimson crystallized sword down against Undyne’s gripping hand without thinking. It cut into the monster’s flesh and she screamed out and dropped Frisk to the ground.

“W-what!?!? You-… LITTLE… FUCKING… BRAT!” Undyne was raging and cursing as she grasped at her damaged hand. She was bleeding… Frisk’s sword had actually cut deep enough into the monster’s exposed wrist to make her bleed.

Frisk stared back at Undyne, pure horror and amazement overthrowing every thought. She scrambled up to her feet and darted to the door. To the 5th gate. Her heart was pounding so fast, her head was spinning, her lungs burned with each frenzied inhale.

 

GET TO THAT DOOR NOW! THROW UP YOUR SHIELD AND OPEN THAT DOOR!

 

Frisk didn’t even know if the 5th gate would lead to an escape from Undyne. But it was the only chance she had. She scampered through the water to the alcove. There was no time to think. No time to consider the consequences and Frisk needed both her hands. She dropped her box cutter to the floor and the gleaming crimson sword immediately disappeared the moment she let go, morphing back into an ordinary utility knife. Frisk threw up both her hands in the alcove archway, creating another soul barrier between her and the arena.

But Undyne wasn’t far behind. She ran after Frisk and stopped in front of the barrier. Undyne was cursing and screaming and she summoned another spear and started to stab it repeatedly into Frisk’s soul shield. Over and over. So jarring and enraged. The monster’s own blood splattered against the shield. She was in a frenzy.

“GET OUT HERE, YOU FUCKING BRAT! GET OUT HERE AND FIGHT ME, MANUMITTER!”

Frisk’s arms were trembling violently as Undyne’s spear jammed into the shield in the same spot. Oh, god… She was trying to break through . The barrier was going to crack. It won’t hold if she kept that up!

 

Open the door! Open the door!!! HURRY!

 

Frisk whimpered from pure terror. She only had one shot at this. Only a few seconds to do it right. She had to try.

 

Frisk ripped her hands away from the shield and slammed them down against that familiar symbol engraved upon the door. All she could hear was the sound of Undyne screaming and smashing against her shield behind her. Her chest was bleeding furiously through her soaked, ripped hoodie. She tried to ignore the pain and just focused on the door. Focus. FOCUS.

 

 

P-please!

 

Nothing happened…

 

Come on!!! PLEASE!!! PLEASE BE THE CORRECT DOOR! PLEASE OPEN!

 

Undyne was screaming incoherently behind her.

 

PLEASE!

 

The sound of glass splitting pierced her ears. Her soul’s shield was starting to break. It was beginning to shatter.

 

O-oh god… HURRY!!! It can’t end this way!

 

 

Then, her red luminous fingers started to tingle.

 

She could feel that familiar warmth flow down her arms to her open palms from the very center of her soul. Her hands grew hotter and hotter against the engraved symbol and the door started to tremble under her touch. This is the one! Her heart leapt with elation and the wooden door creaked open. A sudden rush of humid wind blew Frisk’s hair back as the door swung outwards. It was pitch black on the other side and a deafening noise of fast rushing water was the only thing she could hear.

 

A waterfall…

 

She was standing at the top of a waterfall.

 

 

“YOU’RE NOT GOING ANYWHERE, MANUMITTER!” Undyne was screaming at the top of her lungs. Frisk heard a sickening shatter over the sound of the loud surging waterfall at her feet. Her soul shield was cracking and crumbling to the floor.

 

 

YOU NEED TO JUMP!! JUMP NOW!

 

Frisk looked over her shoulder in a panic, back at Undyne who was literally tearing the soul shield to pieces, ripping it apart with her bloodied claws, trying to grasp at Frisk through a jagged opening in the crystalline glass.

 

JUMP!!! HURRY!!

 

Frisk tore her terrified gaze from Undyne and staggered forward into the dark open doorway.

 

W-wait!! The box cutter!? It was in the water!!

 

She swiveled around and saw the blade below the clear water at the base of her crumbling shield.

 

THERE IS NO TIME!!! LEAVE IT!

 

Undyne burst through the shield and clumps of liquid rubies crumbled to the floor, turning a putrid opaque crimson. The armored monster lunged for Frisk, her sharp clawed hand outstretched. Her nails just barely grazed against the back of Frisk’s wet hoodie.

 

GO!!

 

Frisk felt like she was moving in slow motion. She staggered forward, holding her breath, closing her eyes tight, and stepped through the open archway into the misty darkness. A rush of turbulent water immediately swept Frisk off her feet and she was sucked down into a black, sinuous river.

 

Deep down into cold, rushing, liquid darkness.

 

 

 

*****

 

 

Coming up: Hotland.

 

Chapter Text

 

 

*****

 

 

Frisk coughed and gagged and gasped for a breath as she fought against the pitch black rushing water. The swell pulled her under a surge of choppy waves. She couldn’t see anything. It was as dark as night and the piercing water chilled her to the bone as each crashing wave cut into her skin like knives. She could barely hear her own cries over the roar of the winding and twisting upswell.

And then she was falling. She was falling down in a crashing torrent of water, down the waterfall. Every muscle in her body tensed as she waited for that painful impact and she hit the maelstrom below severely. It felt like she had just fallen on a bed of needles. The impact knocked out what little wind she had in her lungs and she gasped for a breath, only to breathe in a painful mouthful of water. And even after reaching the bottom of the falls, the water continued to rush. The channel tide was relentless and she started to crash against wet rocks along the surface of the surging flood.

 

GRAB ONE!

 

Frisk gasped and coughed violently in the dark and she tried to grab onto one of the boulders. They were so slippery. She kept missing them.

 

You are going to DROWN if you don’t do something!!

 

Frisk reached out and grabbed the next slab of rock that hit her. She dug her fingers hard into the stone and shifted her body to the side of it. The water raged and she lost her gripping. She was swept up by another tide, but she slammed back into something hard. It felt like… like the stony riverbank.

Frisk nudged her way in between two jutting boulders, trying to gasp for a breath of air above the surface. She used what little energy she had left to pull herself up onto the rocks and climb over them, away from the raging river. She crawled forward in the darkness and collapsed just a few feet away from the fierce stream on the riverbank.

 

Oh… god…

 

She lay there in a puddle, panting heavily and coughing up the water that stung her lungs. Her chest hurt terribly, but she couldn’t even see the damage. It was so dark… but it was not completely black. There was a light. Frisk could see a light out of the corner of her eye from above. She weakly glanced up towards the light and she could see the open doorway. She could see the gate that she had just opened. And she could make out the massive waterfall… Had she honestly fallen down THAT!? How the hell was she alive right now!

It had to be at least twenty stories up.

Frisk also saw the dark silhouette of a figure standing in the doorway at the very top of the falls. oh, god… It was Undyne. Frisk could easily make out the spear she was holding. There was someone standing next to her. W-was that… MK??? MK was standing next to her and they were both peering over the side of the waterfall. Were they searching for her?

She could just barely make out the taller figure stamping her feet and throwing her arms up in the air. Undyne was in a rage. C-could they see her down here? No… no it was too dark and obscured by the waterfall and mist. They looked like they were arguing. Undyne was probably furious.

Frisk stared back at the two dark silhouettes. Her eyes were slowly but surely adjusting to the stark black that surrounded her. She could see the raging river now, and the multiple jutting boulders that decorated the banks. She could also see the side of the cave walls. The cavern was large and stretched on for miles, and the river ran right down the center of it. She weakly stared back up at the figures at the tip top of the waterfall. She watched Undyne turn away, heading back into the arena. The shorter figure reluctantly followed behind her. They both disappeared and all Frisk could see was the empty bright doorway hanging ajar.

 

Holy hell… What… W-what should she do now?

 

Frisk panted heavily, struggling to catch a breath. She tried to stagger up to her feet but fell back down to the floor immediately. She had no strength. Every shred of energy she had had been drained during the fight with Undyne… and the last ounce of determination was spent to save herself from the raging river.

Frisk pressed her forehead down into the puddle of water below her. She was soaked and shivering and her chest stung terribly. She reached underneath herself and held a hand to her breastbone. She could feel warm liquid seeped against her open palm… blood.

Undyne had scratched her chest to shreds and she was bleeding through her hoodie.

“G-god…” She couldn’t even hear her own voice over the vigorous tides beside her. She slowly sat up and glanced down at her chest. She could just barely make out the damage in the shadows. Her fingers ran over the torn fabric. There were three aggressive, sunken claw marks that ripped through the front of her hoodie - It looked like she had been attacked by a bear - and she could see her wounds through the holes.

The lacerations were deep and her torn skin was caked with glossy crimson. The lesions ran down between her small breasts to the bottom of her rib cage. Her skin was flayed at the edges where Undyne’s claws had hooked under her flesh.

Frisk clenched her teeth tightly and hot tears began to stream down her cheeks. She couldn’t stop them. She felt so desperate… so hopeless. The wounds sent waves of agony up her torso and she pressed both her hands against her front to try and stop the bleeding.

 

How long… How long can I keep this up?…

 

She wanted to scream but instead she sobbed. She hung her head, short wet chestnut locks falling in her face. She wanted to die in that moment. It was too much. It was not worth it. Too much pain, too much terror. And for some reason Frisk saw that red, pulsing hue appear in her mind.

 

 

’and i’ll be watching you…’

 

 

San’s voice rung in her head. Was he watching her right now? Was he getting off to watching her suffer like this? Or was it all some hilarious joke to him?

But before Frisk could contemplate another second of those harrowing thoughts, she heard a loud siren wail overhead. It was so loud that it cut through the roaring river tides. Oh crap… The air sirens, they were screeching loudly, echoing off the wet walls of the cave which only amplified the sound even further.

 

Undyne must have sounded the alarms. Those were her alarms, remember!? Every monster in Waterfall is going to be searching for you! You have to move!

 

Frisk somehow managed to stumble to her feet. She reached around for her backpack, but quickly remembered that Undyne had ripped it from her shoulders. She also lost her box cutter in the arena… her blade… The memory of her knife dawned in red and glowing and extending out like a sword swept through her mind. But she didn’t have time to evaluate it right then. She had to get as far away from this place as possible.

Frisk staggered up and limped over towards the side wall of the cave. Her shoulder pressed against it and she slumped forward, grasping at her chest with one hand. She began to take slow, steady steps, following the river downstream. She glanced back over her shoulder at the roaring waterfall and the faraway open gate, but soon they both began to disappear into the misty shadows as she moved.

 

 

 

 

 

And she walked and walked and walked on in the wet darkness. She moved slowly. She was completely drained of the slightest shred of energy. Her determination was buried under a blanket of pessimism. Frisk reached a bloodied hand into her pocket and felt around. Miraculously she still had her cell phone. She pressed her thumb against the side button but the phone did not turn on, and water leaked out from the backside. Shit… Now she had no light either. Or a clock… or food… or anything. And the air raid siren continued to wail… but it was starting to soften. Frisk was slowly making her way deeper into the dark tunnels, away from Waterfall, away from Undyne and MK, away from the sirens.

 

 

Take deep breaths…

 

I’m so tired…

 

I know. Breathe in and out. You are still alive.

 

It hurts so much...

 

 

Frisk let out a whimper, still clutching at her soggy hoodie. The blood that stained her hands in thick layers had already begun to clot and dry. Somehow she wasn’t bleeding out. Perhaps the wounds weren't nearly as deep as they looked. And they certainly looked nasty.

She stumbled along in the dark, using the wall next to her to guide every step. It was terrifying, and she started to grow more anxious with every passing moment. She kept expecting to hear footsteps from monsters out on the hunt for her. But all she could hear was rushing water, and even that started to subside. The once raging upswell of waves had dwindled down to a steady bubbling stream.

Suddenly Frisk noticed something and she stopped dead in her tracks. She saw it, out of the corner of her eye. It was just barely visible… it was… it was a light. A dim, red hue that rose up from the river. Frisk blinked, staring cautiously at the waterway in the center of the yawning cave. She slowly made her way towards the riverbank and peered down into the stream. There were long, bright red gaping fissures at the very bottom of the river. She could see them clearly through the unclouded water. W-what… what was that?

Frisk decided to keep walking along the river’s border. Her eyes followed the red crevices. They were starting to become brighter, and the light illuminated the tunnel in a faint maroon glow. At least… at least she could see now. She wasn’t in the pitch black anymore, but the red light gave her no peace of mind. If anything it made the caves even more disheartening.

 

Frisk would stop and sit every now and then. She felt so weak from her fight with Undyne and from blood loss. She wished she had something to eat, maybe a snack would have helped her regain some strength. Frisk stared down in the water as she rested along the bank. Her eyes studied the fissures carefully. It almost looked the red hue inside the cracks were moving.

She blinked and lowered her hands, holding her palms over the slow churning surface of the stream. The water… the water was hot.

 

What the…

 

The water was actually steaming. Frisk sat there in a stupor and slowly pulled her hands away from the surface. And it suddenly hit her. Those red fissures down there… W-was that-… lava? Some sort of underwater volcano crevice? She had noticed that the cave, which was once pleasantly cool, had been getting warmer and warmer as she journeyed forth. But she just figured that it was from her own anxiety, or maybe she had a fever from the blood loss.

Frisk stared back at the red running underwater breaches. There were dozens of them, and they ran along the bottom of the river like tree roots. They were actually somewhat aesthetically pleasing to look at. The color reminded Frisk of her own soul.

 

 

 

 

After the short break, Frisk pulled herself up to her feet and continued on. The temperature rose steadily. At least she wasn’t cold anymore… but Frisk soon found herself trying to fan her face with her hoodie sleeve. And as she walked along her thoughts began to swell with visions of her soul shield… and that sword. Was that a new ability she had discovered? Chara had mentioned that she would need her utility knife ‘in the end.’ Is that what she had meant? Had Chara known that her soul could summon forth such an amazing, beautiful weapon with the use of her box cutter? And if that was the case… how did Chara even know that? How did Chara know so much?

 

'I'm you.'

 

Frisk clenched her teeth as Chara’s words spilled over her brooding thoughts. They made no sense to her, and she didn’t want to think about it.

But suddenly, Frisk noticed something up ahead. She stopped dead in her tracks and almost crouched down. It was hard to make out in the dim maroon light, but there was something dark against her side of the cave wall. It was… it was an open archway. And there was a pale light spilling, just barely visible, from the opening.

Frisk’s heart lurched at the sight of something new and unexpected. She stepped over to the side of the wall and slowly slinked along, moving towards the archway. She couldn’t hear anything except the sound of the running river and her own heart beat. All of Waterfall was probably out searching for her right now. She had to be cautious.

 

 

 

Frisk reached the edge of the opening and pressed her back flat against the wall. She took in a deep breath of warm, humid cave air, and very slowly peered over the side into the small dwelling.

It was simply a small empty cavern. But wait-… There was… there was a candle.

 

There was a candle!!!

 

Frisk stumbled forward and ran over to the candle towards the back of the room. She fell to her knees before it, staring at the gentle wisping ember with wide, glassy eyes. And for some reason the sight of the candle, the sight of something familiar, made her smile. Tears began to glaze over her soft brown eyes and she almost wept with joy. A candle… a save-point… something recognizable in this hell hole…

She reached a hand out towards the candlestick. Clear, glossy beads of wax dripped down its sides, forming a translucent puddle around the base. Slowly, she inched her fingers closer and closer. She knew what to expect and tensed up every muscle, and her fingertips pressed into the warm wax and she felt that sudden surge of electricity run up her spine. The swift force blinded her, turning her vision into a robust white light. The shock propelled her backwards but it was over in a split second.

Frisk opened her eyes. Her hand was still outstretched and trembling, and she breathed heavily as she glanced back at the candle. She could never quite get used to that. But a wave of relief spilled over her. Last time she had died, she returned to a candle. If she went by that logic, then that means that if she were to die again then she would return to this candle. Just the thought of having to face Undyne again filled her with dread. At least she was past Waterfall.

 

 

 

 

Frisk remained in the small hollow alcove next to the candle for a while. She leaned back against the wall and pulled her hoodie up over her head, trying to rest. She checked the wounds at her chest again. The bleeding had stopped but the entire front of her clothing was soaked with blood and ripped to hell. At least the tears in the fabric didn’t reveal anything besides her injuries.

Frisk began to doze in and out. Sleep would take her, but then she would wake shortly afterwards from pain, or anxiety, or from the stifling warmth. She was hungry… and thirsty. She lifted her hands and tried to summon her shield. Her arms glowed faintly but the shield never came. She did not have enough energy to call it forth. And she could just barely feel her soul simmering in her chest, but it felt wounded and tired.

What should she do? She couldn’t stay here in this little alcove forever… She had to keep moving forward. She had to find the next door… the 6th gate. How many gates were there? Would she be doing this forever? Frisk started to wish that she had asked more questions. She should have interrogated Napstablook or Papyrus or even MK when she had the chance.

 

 

After what felt like hours of unsuccessfully trying to get some sleep, Frisk rose up to her feet. She glanced back at the candle one more time before she turned and exited the small stone niche. And began walking down the red illuminated cave once more.

 

 

It was getting hotter. The water was turning redder. Frisk stared down at the river and noticed that the crimson fissures at the bottom were now gaping wide. That layer of lava was actually starting to spill into the water, cutting it in two. What was once a cool, rushing stream was now a river of melted molten rock. The stench of toxic sulfur hung heavy in the atmosphere and it burned Frisk’s nose. The cavern was no longer dark, it was illuminated a bright red from the lava stream and Frisk could see every corner clearly. She could actually see the ceiling now and it hung high overhead.

 

The cavern extended outwards. The narrow tunnels were now large chambers. The lava river expanded and formed multiple currents that ran along the floor. It was so hot. Frisk was sweating. She tugged the front of her hoodie up over her nose so that she wouldn’t breathe in any thick toxins, but it reeked of blood under her clothes. She couldn’t decide which was worse.

As she walked, Frisk began to notice something strange along the edges of the cave chambers. There were large crushed stones, but they looked like they had once been carved to form square bricks. It looked like… like ruins. Some of the rocks were painted different colors. Had there been a village down here? Who could have survived in this place? This certainly was not Waterfall… Perhaps this was a desolate, abandoned village like Snowdin. Except it was inside a volcanic mountain.

Frisk carefully maneuvered her way through the room, stepping over narrow streams of bubbling lava. Just standing close to them made her feet burn up. At one point she thought that the heat was going to melt the rubber soles of her sneakers. Frisk inched towards the edge of the room, away from the lava streams, over by the ruins. She studied the rocky debris. It was so dilapidated but she could see broken pillars on their sides and crumbled roof shingles. A small house once stood there.

 

This place… This place has a dangerous aura…

 

 

She was dripping with sweat and felt light-headed from the heat but she kept moving, she kept walking along the edge of the massive caverns. She tugged at Papyrus’ metal collar still wrapped around her throat. It felt like it was choking her.

It was… so hot… It was getting harder to breathe. Her vision was starting to go hazy. Her head was spinning. There was… no oxygen in this place. The boiling heat was stifling and she was so damn thirsty. She watched as shivering mirages rose from the lava and the sight made her feel queasy. Frisk panted heavily and stumbled over towards some collapsed, broken walls that lay in chunks on the ground. She sunk down to the rocky gravel floor and grabbed at her bleeding chest with one hand allowing her eyes to shut.

 

 

You can’t stay here… you have to keep moving…

 

I can’t… It’s too hot… I’m so tired…

 

You have to move! It’s dangerous here!

 

I don’t want to move anymore…

 

There’s something alive…!!

 

So hot…

 

There’s something alive and moving in the ground! Can’t you hear it!? Get up!

 

So… tired……

 

G-get up!! Move, you idiot!

 

 

Frisk’s inner voice began to trample over her debilitation and she slowly opened her eyes.

Wait… she had heard something. And it was not the sound of the bubbling lava. It was the sound of stirring gravel. And it was getting louder.

Frisk glanced down at the ground with a depleted gaze. Something was trailing under the rocky soil, heading straight towards her. Her eyes immediately shot open and her heart started to hurdle at the sight. Oh, god… w-what the hell!! What was that!?!?! Please, no… not another monster. She couldn’t handle it. She couldn’t take another monster right now.

Frisk tried to stand but she stumbled back down to the ground. Her legs felt like jelly. And whatever was under the soil was moving closer, heading straight for her.

“G-get back!” Frisk cried out back at the buried lump. It was not very big. The moving mass was probably about the size of a bowling ball. But regardless, she didn’t want to meet it, whatever it was. Frisk tried to grasp at some of the rubble behind her and climb up to her feet but she faltered again. Her energy was long gone.

The shrouded bulge burrowed its way directly in front of her before it stopped short. Frisk stared at the mound in horror, her teeth clenched as she held back a terrified whimper. She raised one frail arm outward, her other hand still clutching at her bleeding chest, and tried to summon her shield. A dull light flickered before her palm, but it didn’t stay. She was too weak. Her soul was exhausted.

And then, whatever was hidden under the rocky soil, started to rise up. It burst through the crust of the earth at her feet.

 

It was…… i-it was… some sort… of plant?

 

What the hell.

 

It was some kind of flower. But… oh, god… it was not like any flower she had ever seen before. It had a face directly in the center framed by dozens of decrepit, mold-stained petals. And within its face, it had one single, daunting eye. It also had a mouth with thin black razor blades for teeth positioned underneath the eyeball. It was like some kind of grotesque alien life form.

The plant monster rose up from the ground in front of her. Its thick snake-like stem was adorned with small red tipped thorns. The eerie monster’s solitary cyclops eye was massive and tinted a deep red with a round green constricting pupil at the very center. Its teeth were small shards of obsidian that interlinked perfectly with one another and reflected against the red light of the cave.

And the macabre plant monster… smiled.

“Get away!!!” Frisk screamed without hesitation. Please, for the love of god, please summon your shield! Please! Please!!!

She dug deep into her soul, searching for her determination, searching for her power. Her hand trembled out in front of her as she tried to call forth her barrier. But there was simply a meager flicker of crimson for a split second, and then it vanished into nothing. She couldn’t call it… s-she couldn’t protect herself.

And the flower blinked slowly and smiled wider. The way it smiled, it was almost cheerful - a stark contrast to its alarming and grotesque features - and that jubilant smile terrified her even more than its appearance.

 

And then… then it spoke.

 

“Hi-ya.”

 

…………

 

The flower…

 

The flower just said ‘hiya’……

 

“What’re you doing down here?”

 

Oh, god… It spoke again.

 

Frisk stared back at it, her auburn eyes as wide as saucers. She clutched at her bloodied chest with one hand while the other stretched out before her, trembling fiercely. The flower’s voice was an echoing screech that burrowed deep inside her ears. It was piercing and acidic, like jagged fingernails scraping against a blackboard. It sent goosebumps along every inch of her flesh. And the monster was starting to skulk even closer towards her. Its thick stem contorted and inched forward in the air like a cobra ready to strike.

Frisk pressed back firmly against the rocks behind her. The heels of her sneakers dug and slipped into the dirt. She felt so light-headed from the heat that she thought she might have been hallucination.

The flower inched in so close, his macabre face just inches away from hers. That round vermillion eye began to narrow as the monster studied her over. His teeth were clenched, baring an elated grin that disturbed Frisk to no end. And his sickly-green pupil darted around in a pool of red.

“I haven't seen anyone down here in ages.” He spoke again. His cheery grin expanded along his simple features.

Frisk’s chin quivered as she stared back at the coiling creature. She reached deep down in her exhausted soul for some courage to face him. There was none. “P-please…” She whispered out in a dry, desperate plea. She couldn’t do it anymore… She could not manage anymore blood-thirsty monsters. She was so tired. She was in so much pain.

But the flower acted as if he hadn’t heard her. “You’re a human, aren’t ‘cha?” His voice spilled out like corrosive oil. The flower twitched and shifted to the side, leaning out of Frisk’s line of vision. Frisk quickly turned her head, watching him carefully. She did not want this delusive creature out of her sight even for a second.

 

You need to get away from this thing… right now!

 

The inner voice was frantic and panicking. Despite his cheerful smile, Frisk knew this monster was malicious, whatever his intentions were. Frisk could practically sense his nefarious weighty aura.

Then there was a sound, like stones scraping against each other, and Frisk turned to look down at the ground. One of the flower’s tendrils had pierced through the gravel flooring. It was a thick bronze stem adorned from top to bottom with rows of thorns… large, massive thorns.

“I knew you were a human. I could smell your blood from a mile away!” The flower’s wide, daunting cyclops eye ripped its gaze from Frisk’s face and it glanced down at her bloodied chest. Her hoodie was still torn, and it was caked in sticky, clotting crimson. The flower… I-its eye locked onto her multiple lacerations. The way he stared at her injuries… it made Frisk’s stomach churn. It reminded Frisk of the way Sans stared at her…

 

Run. NOW. RUN.

 

Frisk felt a terrible surge of fear. A crushing upswell of terror, almost as aggressive as it was during her fight with Undyne.

 

MOVE!!

 

Frisk summoned what little energy she had left and clumsily leapt up to her feet. She almost tripped against the cracked ground as she bound forward towards the center of the volcanic chamber, clambering away from the monster.

 

But… but something… s-something grabbed her

 

Something powerful and gripping wrapped around her ankle from behind and it yanked her leg backwards out from under her. Frisk fell forward painfully against floor. Her chin hit the ground and she inadvertently bit her lower lip hard.

She cried out, immediately tasting blood, and gasped as the wind was knocked from her lungs. Oh-… oh, god… something was dragging her back. Frisk screamed weakly and kicked her foot behind her, trying to shake off whatever it was that was hauling her back towards the stony ruins. She frantically peered over her shoulder and her heart started to plummet at the sight.

The monstrous flower had wrapped his thick thorny tendril around Frisk’s ankle. It was exceptionally powerful and dragged her backwards towards him. Frisk clawed at the ground, trying to pull herself away, kicking violently behind her.

 

Oh my god, oh my god!!! D-do something!!

 

There’s nothing I can do!!! Get this thing off me!!!

 

“G-get off!!! Get off me!” Frisk finally found a voice. It trembled and cracked as she screamed out and she clutched onto the sweltering rocky cave floor with both hands. It did little good. The flower’s brooding vine yanked her back so aggressive, so jarring, pulling her towards him. Frisk felt a terrible pain at her lower leg and for a moment she thought that the plant monster had crushed her ankle under his squeezing root. But… the pain was distinct. Frisk looked down at her foot and she could see the monster’s thorns were actually piercing into her flesh. They dug in deep, slipping inside her skin like hot scalpels cutting through raw meat.

Frisk screamed out. It hurt… it hurt so terribly. The skin at her ankle was sensitive. The stinging spurs pierced through her flesh, pressing into her joints, into her bone. She could feel hot liquid running down in her sneaker - thin streams of blood. She tried to kick off the thorny tendril again but it yanked her back even rougher and soon Frisk was positioned underneath the coiling flower.

“S-stop… please…” She begged him weakly. If she had the strength she would have tried to jab at the creature's eye with her fingers, or kick at his face with her opposite foot. But instead she just clung to the floor with both hands.

The flower’s delighted wide grin never wavered. He simply tightened his grasp at her ankle and leaned in close to the side of her face. “Ya know, I can’t even remember the last time I had a decent meal. And you smell sooooo good.”

Her heart started to pound furiously . No… no no no NO NO! This cannot happen! Not again!

“S-stop!! I am the Manumitter!” Frisk screamed frantically. She reached back for the vine that grasped her ankle and started to pull at the coiling, malleable stem with her fingers. The thorns dug into her hands the moment she grabbed them she cried out again from the sharp pain in her palms. It stung… It burned! Thorns sunk into her hands like thick needles and it felt like they had just been doused in acid.

The flower blinked down at her. He was finally listening.

“Oh, the Manumitter? Is that right?” But his words were a sly scoff. He may have been listening, but he certainly didn’t believe her. “HAH! That’s rich.” And his squeezing tendrils tightened at her ankle and started to jerk her around, pulling Frisk against her shoulder on her side.

She heard the sound of rocks crumbling again. She could feel the floor stir underneath her, and two more thick curling roots sprung up from underground. They immediately wrapped around her hands and wrists, binding them together, and her other ankle, pinning it hard to the floor.

The thick vines bound her limbs, the thorns dug into her flesh and she could see blood seeping from each pierced wound. The palms of her hands were covered in small, bleeding cavities from where the thorns had been. She was starting to feel… strange… she was starting to feel dizzy. Her limbs felt hot, but it wasn’t that familiar warmth of her soul. Something was wrong. It felt like she had been drugged.

“N-no… Please!… I- I need to open the doors… Don’t you- don’t you want t-to be free?!” Frisk tried to ignore the vertigo burrowing in her head. Her words were literally the only leverage she had over these blood-thirsty beasts… and half the time it didn’t even work. Frisk was slowly starting to discover that most of the monsters didn’t even want freedom… they just wanted… a meal.

The flower leaned back down towards her where she lay, bound by multiple thickset restraining tendrils. Frisk glanced weakly into his spectral red eye. She could see her own reflection in it, like some grisly scarlet mirror.

“What, are you trying to be funny or something? I know for a fact that the Manumitter is a fierce warrior. You are no warrior. You’re a puny, bleeding little runt.” The flower let out a laugh… an upbeat, buoyant laugh. He sounded so elated even while he tortured her. It made Frisk feel sick to her stomach and she could see his tongue buried in that narrow mouth as he spoke. It was black… like his teeth. “I’m not sure how you got all the way down here, but I could care less.”

“I s-swear… I can show you…… I can show you my soul… p-please…” She begged him, but her words were starting to slur. Something was terribly wrong. Her arms and legs had gone numb. It was as if those thorns that pierced her flesh had injected some type of toxin into her bloodstream. She couldn’t move, she couldn’t even struggle. The room was spinning. Her vision was blurring.

“Pfft! If you were the Manumitter, then I’d probably be dead right about now! The Manumitter is a relentless killer.” The cruel weed hissed at her and Frisk could feel another vine wander against her side… It was yet another thorn encrusted tendril. It began to slide around Frisk’s waist, moving up along her chest at the outside of her hoodie. The flower’s winding arm pressed against the bloodied lacerations that Undyne had left on her torso.

Frisk’s eyes went wide as the thick vine started to prod into her wounds. She cried out again from the pain, desperately trying to move her limbs. But even if she hadn’t been numb her ankles and wrists were still bound by thorny tendrils.

 

T-this is… not fair… T-this is cruel… What did she ever do to deserve such torture…

 

Another vine burst from the floor and began to wrap around her throat. It squeezed up underneath the collar at her neck, thorns scraping painfully against her sensitive skin. The winding shrub arm coiled around her throat as it slipped up under her tight collar, leaving not one centimeter of wiggle room. The thorns were burrowing into her jugular vein. She was choking and gasping for a frantic breath. And the poison started to make the inside of her esophagus go numb as well.

All the while the flower’s bright red eye watched her sadistically. His teeth were splayed in that ecstatic beaming grin. That look… it was deranged. And he kept glancing down at her bleeding chest. It was her blood that urged him on.

“Ehh, sorry shrimp…But down here, it’s eat or be eaten.” Wicked words despite a jarring smile.

 

N-no…… god, no…

 

Frisk stared up at the monster, her eyes wide and tearing from the pain around her throat. But at least… at least she couldn’t feel her legs or arms anymore. The flower’s poisonous thorns made sure of that. But she could certainly feel the pain in the center of her torso… and against her stomach… It was even worse than the pain at her neck.

The flower monster’s thick, jagged tendril had pushed it’s way through the rips at the front of her hoodie. The vine was pressing against the open wounds, pushing inside… slowly… piercing her bleeding gashes… Frisk screamed as she felt the vine cut through her flesh at the center of her torso. She could feel hot liquid start to spill down her stomach. Blood pooled against her hips and seeped between her thighs, staining the front of her shorts and hoodie a bright red. It felt like someone had skewered her with an iron rod.

She started to violently cough up blood. Blood mixed with stomach acid. She was choking and gasping for a breath as she convulsed against the floor. Her throat already felt numb. She couldn’t swallow and was drowning against her own scarlet fluids. It spilled down the corners of her mouth and dripped to her neck and painted that other vine that continued to squeeze her throat a deep red. She kept her fading gaze forward… She didn't want to see it… she didn't want to see the damage.

 

P-please…… help…

 

Chara…… C-chara… please help m-me…

 

Frisk wasn’t sure why, but her thoughts went to Chara. She saw the dark-haired girl in her mind - that first time they had met out in the swamps of Waterfall. The way Chara had made her feel… Powerful and fearless… and just a little bit… malevolent.

 

But that vision was almost immediately replaced by one of Sans… when she was back at his house… when he first laid his eyes on her soul. And then when he first killed her…

 

 

He made her feel so weak.

 

So pitiful…

 

God, she hated him.

 

S-she wanted to kill him…

 

She wanted to kill them all.

 

 

Frisk’s thoughts were interrupted by an unbelievable wave of pain that advanced throughout her torso. The pain escalated and spread, reaching every corner of her body that wasn’t numb. She tried to scream but instead she coughed and gagged against another thick mouthful of blood that erupted from her throat. I-it hurt… It hurt… She wanted to die.

Her eyes were lidded and glazed over as she stared blankly up at the flower monster’s face. He was still… smiling. His thick tendril was contorting inside her stomach now. The serpentine root pushed inside her so deeply. It would slip out for a brief moment, allowing a thick stream of blood and clotting carnage to spill from the fatal gaping incision, only to push back inside her once more. He impaled her organs, curling between her liver and the underside of her rib cage… ripping open her stomach before penetrating it. The blood-soaked thorns slashed the edges of the opening. The pain was unbelievable… crippling, but at the same time it began to subside ever so slightly as the thorns injected her internal organs with that numbing toxin.

There was so much blood… Frisk felt like she had just been doused with a bucket of it.

And then… the sadistic monster started to squeeze another root inside her wound. The second one was even thicker and it was ripping her open, mutilating her insides. It pressed flush against the first as they both wedged inside her stomach, bulging underneath her slight body fat and trembling muscles. The vines invaded her mangled entrails, ripping them apart with those thorns, coiling inside her like lethal serpents.

 

P-please… just let me die…… please…

 

Her vision was fading in and out. Her heart beat was a sluggish thump. She knew what was coming… she had experienced this once before. Frisk glanced up with a hollow stare, blood spilling from her lips. She could see the flower’s mouth moving like he was speaking, but she couldn’t hear anything. And everything… was getting dark… dark and cold. It was a familiar sensation. The pain was melting away but the forceful pressure against her stomach remained. And she thought she could feel a third thorny tendril push inside her, assaulting her soft insides and ripping her organs to shreds. Turning her viscera into nothing more than wads of meat.

 

And then it all went dark.

 

 

…………………………

 

 

…………………

 

 

………

 

 

……

 

 

 

 

……………

 

 

 

Open your eyes.

 

 

 

…………

 

 

……

 

 

 

 

Manumitter.

 

 

 

………

 

 

 

 

 

Frisk slowly opened her eyes. She was trembling, laying on her side with her hands concealing her face. Hot tears streamed down her checks. Her throat felt sore from sobbing. She tried to catch her breath between frantic whimpers as she cried into the palms of her hands and curled into herself.

She was in the small alcove…the one along the river in the cave. She was back in Waterfall. Back from the dead.

Frisk peered beyond the slight spaces between her fingers, staring at the candle that settled directly in front of her eyes. It’s gentle ember hovered over the top and that lovely translucent wax oozed down the sides like gracefully falling pearls.

 

You’re alive…

 

 

“I don’t want to be alive!! I want to die!!!” Frisk started sobbing harder and she cried out, shouting back at her own consciousness in the dark. Her voice echoed off the walls of the small chamber and her loud bawls were deafening.

 

……

 

You don’t want that…

 

“Yes I do!!! I-I can’t do this anymore!” She clutched at her chest with both hands. She was still bleeding, but it wasn’t from the massive open wound that the flower monster had produced. It was from Undyne’s deep scratches. Her time in the lava chambers had not yet come to pass.

 

……

 

Don’t you want revenge?…

 

Frisk sniffed and continued to sob against her sleeves. She was so exhausted, but… but she could feel her determination, deep down inside her chest. It was blazing ever so faintly. It scared her.

 

…… Revenge?…

 

No, no… That’s-… no…

 

Don’t you want… to make them pay?

 

 

Frisk felt something…

 

She felt an abrupt pressure against her shoulder.

 

A hand.

 

She flinched and jolted, clambering backwards on her hands and knees, away from the unexpected figure that was kneeling behind her. Frisk heart hurdled violently in her chest from the sudden shock. S-she hadn’t been alone… This whole time there was someone with her… It was… It was…

 

Chara.

 

 

Frisk stared wide-eyed back at the familiar face. That raven choppy hair, those large sky blue snake eyes. The girl wasn’t smiling. Her expression was stoic and bleak, just like before.

 

……

 

“… Chara?…” Frisk managed to stutter out between heavy whimpers, her eyes were glassy and rubbed red from tears.

 

Chara sat calmly with her legs folded underneath her knees and her hands resting on top of her thighs.

“How… how d-did you get here?…” Frisk asked with a voice hushed and trembling and raw from crying. She was aghast.

Chara stared back at her, those eyes like perfect orbs of ice. “I’m you, remember?” And then the girl smiled, very gently.

Frisk clenched her bloodied, grimy hands together into fists and started to shake. She wasn’t shaking with fear or anguish, but with fury.

“Y-you’re not me! Stop saying that! Stop lying!” Frisk screamed out as she shouted through the tears that continued to pool in her eyes. She clutched at her head again with both hands, leaning over and pressing her face down into the floor. She was so distraught. So tired. She just wanted to sleep. Every thought, every recollection, it was all too overwhelming. She just wanted it to disappear. She wanted to forget.

A sudden surge of memories impaled Frisk’s mind… that flower… his blood soaked tendrils stabbing inside her… that excruciating pain… so deep… so s-shameful…so depraved… Please… no more… don’t show me anymore of this…

 

I don’t want these memories!

 

Frisk felt two soft hands light press against the tops of her shoulders. They were warm and gently caressed her collarbones through the hoodie. They ran up the sides of her neck, still locked behind the collar, moving further up to Frisk’s slender jawbones, and then they cupped against both her cheeks.

Chara lifted Frisk’s head in her hands, the girl’s pale thumbs wiping some of the hot tears from her face. Frisk stared back at her, her brown eyes wide and glassy, her chin quivering. She felt so ashamed… so distraught. But those warm hands against her cheeks, they were reassuring.

Chara stared back into Frisk’s eyes, blinking slowly. And then she spoke.

“Frisk… Can’t you feel your soul?… Your power?…” Her voice was a gentle blossom swept up in a raging storm. But those cold eyes, they narrowed. And she whispered out with a bit more tenacity, “You are the Manumitter. So act like it.”

Frisk stared back at Chara’s frigid gaze. Her hands were trembling against her knees. She couldn’t move. That gaze… that gaze pierced her soul. It mesmerized her, it soothed her, it frightened her. And the girl’s hands held her head steady.

Chara slowly released her warm hands from Frisk’s cheeks and she brought them down, directly at the center of Frisk’s chest. The girl pushed her hands into her torso, against her heart, against her soul. Frisk was in such a state that she didn’t even flinch when Chara’s fingers grazed over the open lacerations.

There was a warmth. A familiar warmth she had felt back in the swamps, back when Chara had first appeared. Chara had pressed her hands to Frisk’s chest back then too. And that budding heat… it was- it was getting stronger. It felt strange. A burning, captivating fever that encompassed Frisk’s soul from the inside out. It wrapped around the culmination of her being, squeezing tightly. Frisk felt a tinge of pain, she gasped and bit at her lower lip.

 

This heat…

 

It felt… so strong… corrosive… toxic… captivating…

 

Her determination was rising and pulsing within her. She felt a surge of strength. Her soul was radiating with a deep-seated resentment. And Frisk was suddenly unafraid.

 

Chara stared deep into Frisk’s eyes as her fingers twitched and her hand pressed harder against Frisk’s chest. “You know what you have to do…”

Frisk stared back at her, unblinking. Her eyes glazed over. She was spellbound by that heat. That power.

“They want to kill you, Manumitter. He wants to kill you. They won’t stop.”

Her words oozed with animosity. Frisk was trembling. Her head was spinning. So much… vigor. The vitality was overwhelming.

“Just look at what they did to you…” Chara continued and her fingers gently ran along the bloody scratches before she returned her hands to Frisk’s soul, “… and what they will continue to do to you.”

 

T-they are evil… They are monsters.

 

“They will never stop. You know that.”

 

I know… I k-know…

 

A slight smile painted across Chara’s features and she removed one of her blood-stained hands from Frisk’s chest. Chara lowered her hand and let it slip into her shorts pocket. And then she slid something out. Something small and thin and metal. It reflected in the pale candle light that illuminated the cavern. Frisk glanced down at the object in the mysterious girl’s hand.

 

Her box cutter.

 

Chara was holding the box cutter. Her fingers ran along the handle slowly and her thumb began to push against the small lever to the side, unsheathing the long segmented blade. “Frisk. I will send you back. You must open the doors… the right way.”

 

W-what?…

 

Chara started to raise the box cutter upwards, twirling it around between her fingers, while her other hand pressed against Frisk’s chest firmly. Another wave of warmth wrapped around Frisk’s soul, that all-consuming bitter heat which secreted from the girl’s touch. Frisk couldn’t look away, she couldn’t tear her gaze from those ghostly pale azure orbs.

“Remember, everyone has a soul. Monster… Humans… You just need to know where to look-” Chara pressed even harder against Frisk’s chest and she let out a soft whimper. It hurt. “…-right here.”

The foreign warmth that seeped inside Frisk’s soul was contorting and growing within her. It felt noxious and alien to her body… but at the same time it felt so, so good. Such power. Such fury. It was intoxicating.

“Your shield is simply a barrier,” Chara narrowed those pale eyes of hers, both pupils dilating, “But this… this is your true weapon.” She held the blade up before Frisk’s gaze, tilting it as the blinding reflection bounced off the side of the knife into Frisk’s eyes. “… so keep it safe this time.”

 

My weapon… my sword…

 

“Frisk, I am sending you back. Back to your previous reserve. Back to Snowdin.” Chara swiveled the blade around in her fingers and swiftly gripped onto the handle. She leaned in close to Frisk and tilted her wrist, lifting the blade up against Frisk’s throat underneath the collar. And Frisk flinched, her eyes growing wider. It was cold, and the sharpened edge pressed into her skin. It stung… the razor edge began to dig in deep. Chara pushed the blade forward, and then she whispered…

 

“Kill them all.”

 

 

K-kill them…… Kill them…

 

 

Kill them all…

 

……

 

I’ll kill them all.

 

The blade burrowed deep inside Frisk’s throat and Chara swiftly yanked her wrist to the side, severing the jugular vein instantly. The dark-haired girl brought the blade back down and pushed it in deeper, sawing through Frisk’s throat, slicing through her vocal cords, hitting against her ribbed spine at the back of her neck. Glossy vermilion spilled down the front of Frisk’s chest.

 

She could taste the blood. She couldn’t scream. She coughed and gurgled against the crimson, raising her trembling hands to clutch at Chara’s wrists.

 

But she bled out before she could grab them.

 

And she collapsed onto the floor.

 

 

*****

 

 

Coming up: G̵͍̩̞͕͓̟͇͎͈͈̹͡ ̶̟̤͇͓̩͎̤̱͙̻̪È̛̺̮̝͖̘̀͟͜ ̸̧͔͚̼̦̯̣͙̙̱̱͕̮̮̪͘͟ͅͅͅŃ̨̢͔̹̪̜͉͇͚̖̰͇̝̙̹ͅͅ ̨͜҉͙͕̫̻̖̕͝Ó̷̷̻͈̬͎̹͉̲̯̰̼͠ ̶̦̫͖̼͕͡C̸͖̭͉̫̰͉̫̬̟̞͉͖̥͞͝ ̵̢̮̲͓̫͎̗̲̤̟̀͘͢I̸̶̜̳̹̪͍͓͕̲̲̖̯̦̭̪̻̙̯͟͝ ̛̙̦̹͖̖̕͟͠D̵̴̮̥̦͍̜̺̟̝̘̺̖͚͚͢͝ͅ ̷̴̡̲̗̬̩̳̻̳̪̘͙̥̻̟̬̰̥͢E̡̘̯̟̩̬̪̜͢͢͡

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

*****

 

 

 

 

……

 

 

Open your eyes, Manumitter.

 

………

 

……

 

 

 

 

 

It was dark.

Dark and humid.

A gentle warmth wrapped around Frisk’s limbs. The oppressive atmosphere permeated through her clothing. And a strong aroma of firewood encompassed all her senses.

 

She was alive…

 

Again.

 

Frisk kept her eyes closed and lifted both hands to her neck. Her fingers pressed against something hard… the collar. Papyrus’ collar was still clasped around her throat. She guided her fingertips down to the exposed flesh underneath the torque, but there was no blood. There was no pain. Her throat was unscathed. Frisk’s fingers wandered down further to her chest. Her hoodie was not torn. The claw marks… Undyne’s claw marks were gone.

Frisk slowly opened her eyes and took in the dim light. Her pupils dilated in the flickering glow of a candle that settled next to her upon the floor. She glanced around the room. It was familiar… Yes, she had been here before. The black brick walls and flooring. The scent of firewood. This was Gaster’s building. She was back in Snowdin.

 

……

 

Back… in Snowdin.

 

The sudden realization made Frisk jolt up from the floor where she lay. She sat on her knees and frantically looked around the room. Her hands started to tremble as she pressed them hard against the ground. S-she was completely alone. No Chara. No Sans. There was no movement at all besides that small, shuddering ember that perched atop the candle beside her.

But Frisk’s shoulders started to quiver and she sunk back down to the floor on her side.

 

All of that work… All of her traveling… She had gotten so far…

 

All of it for… n-nothing.

 

For NOTHING.

 

FOR NOTHING!!!

 

“God, dammit!!” Frisk screamed. A violent wave of anger settled in the pit of her stomach and spewed throughout her entire body. She was trembling with rage, her hands curled into fists, her teeth clenched tightly together. Her features contorted in fury and she shut her eyes again.

 

So much wrath… anger… hate.

 

Anger for every monster in this abhorrent hell. Anger for Chara who sent her back here.

The hatred consumed her. It was like a toxic venom that coiled deep within her pneuma.

Frisk began to curse loudly as she screamed. She staggered up to her feet and lunged towards the closest brick wall next to her, slamming her fists against the stone violently. In that moment she was blinded by her resentment. She slammed her fists down against the wall, over and over, until they were raw rubbed with abrasions. She screamed out in a fury until her throat was coarse. A burning, besieging mania of anger. It was the first time she had ever screamed in such a rage.

 

I-I had gotten so far… It was all a waste… It was all pointless…

 

Will this hell ever end!!!!

 

Burning tears started to form behind Frisk’s eyes. Her head was spinning from that ignited exasperation. She tried to take in deep breathes. She tried to calm herself. But the resentment continued its decent inside her soul. It was almost painful.

Frisk glanced down at the floor as she tried to hold back her enraged cries. Her backpack lay at her feet… She had not lost it in Undyne’s arena yet. She patted her hands down to her pockets and felt the outline of her cellphone in one and her box cutter in the other.

 

'You are the Manumitter.’

 

 

’So act like it.'

 

Chara……

 

'This is your true weapon.'

 

Chara's haunting words washed over Frisk like a smokescreen. Her bloodshot eyes went wide as she remembered it all. Chara had killed her. Chara had brought her back here. Frisk stared blankly at the brick wall in front of her while all of the memories came rushing back in a flurry. The lava, that sadistic flower. And Chara had… had cut her throat?… Chara had cut her throat open with her own blade. She had died twice in a row.

Frisk let her fingers wander into her pocket and she pulled out the box cutter. The soft candle light reflected off the metal handle and Frisk stared down at her meager weapon, unblinking. She wrapped her fingers around the knife’s shaft and pressed her thumb against the side lever, unsheathing the thin blade. Frisk turned to face the center of the room and held the utility knife out in front of her. She glanced down at the exposed shank. The ember glow reflected against the grooved metal like there were fireflies trapped inside it. It was hypnotic and Frisk’s eyes glazed over as she stared.

 

’Your true weapon.’

 

Chara’s words…

 

’Your TRUE weapon.’

 

Chara’s essence… It weaved in and out of her thoughts… tainting her spirit.

 

Focus.

 

Frisk teeth clenched again and she shut her eyes.

 

FOCUS

 

A toiling heat began to rise within the center of her chest at the very crux of her soul. That animosity remained sheltered deep inside and it simply kindled the budding fever. The heat began to spread. It seeped out from her soul and ran down along her arm, the arm that held her knife. Her limb grew bright red. The color of her soul. The hue erupted from her flesh and licked up in the air like embers. It ran down her forearm to her wrist then encompassed her entire hand like a velvet maroon glove. It was beautiful. Shimmering clear crimson that danced and entwined between her fingers.

The radiating red wrapped around the handle of the knife in her grasp. It was coiling around the box cutter like some thick, translucent serpent. It slithered up the exposed blade and encased the metal. That glistening gelatinous energy squeezed the blade tightly. Her soul… It was her soul. It expanded against the sharp knife and spread outwards and formed that familiar shape… the shape of a sword. It was see-through, similar to her shield, and thick red clouds of shimmering stardust swirled around inside the larger blade. The sword encompassed her box cutter within it. She could easily see her initial measly weapon embedded inside.

“My true weapon…” Frisk spoke under her breath as she stared down at the dazzling sword in her hand. Although it was much bigger than her box cutter, it did not feel heavy at all. In fact, it felt like she was still holding the unaffected utility knife.

Frisk lifted the sword high over her head then brought it down. It cut through the air in a swift motion. It felt powerful. She could hear that familiar gentle sound exhaling from the weapon. Like the sound of muffled, vibrating wind chimes. It was the same sound that her soul shield created.

And the sword emitted a burning heat that spread through Frisk’s fingers as well. It felt strange and slightly uncomfortable. Her fingers tingled like hot blood was rushing to them. But Frisk simply tightened her grasp at the handle of the sword and sliced it through the air again.

And her soul… Her soul felt different. It had a heavy weight to it: a flourishing fever that would not subside. It felt like it had been contaminated with something she couldn’t explain. But at the same time it contained a volatile surge of strength and energy that Frisk had never felt before.

 

She was unafraid.

 

She was… irate.

 

Frisk continued to stare at her sword in a daze. Her other hand idly reached up to her throat and her fingertips caressed the front of the collar clasped around her neck.

 

Papyrus…

 

She ripped her gaze away from the captivating sword and stared out towards the dark, hollow entrance that lead into the hall. Her soul was burning and her whole body felt fevered and inflamed. She squeezed even tighter against the shaft of her weapon and took a step forward.

Frisk left her backpack upon the floor next to the candle. She didn’t need it. And she stepped through the doorway, dawning her newfound luminous crimson cutlass to light the way.

 

W-what are you doing?…

 

……

 

Her conscious was weak but she could just barely hear it burrowed under layers of cloying anger. She pushed her inner voice down, deep down inside her soul and suffocated it underneath a thick blanket of malice. She didn’t want to hear it.

Frisk walked through the tunnels and she turned to the left. She remembered this time and knew that the right hallway led to the library. She was not going to the library. No… no, she was headed back out to the decrepit village.

 

This is unwise…

 

Shut up.

 

SHUT UP.

 

Frisk clenched her teeth tightly and a rush of memories coiled with her thoughts, taking hold. That flower… Undyne… MK… Papyrus… Napstablook… Toriel… Sans.

 

Each one of them made her feel so weak… so powerless.

 

They would never make her feel that helplessness. Ever again.

 

Another burst of vehement enmity. Her soul was burning and Frisk’s fingernails raked around her sword’s handle. She held the blade up in the dark, illuminating the narrow black brick tunnel with dazzling soul energy. She walked along in silence, staring ahead sternly. Her heart was beating fast and her pulse throbbed within her ears.

 

Don’t you want revenge?

 

Y-yes……

 

Don’t you want to make them pay?

 

……

 

The winding corridors were just as long as she remembered them. It all felt so bizarre. Walking through the tunnels overpowered her with an uneasy feeling of déjà vu. And for a split second Frisk almost let out a chuckle from the entire absurdity of her situation. She knew very well that it wasn’t simply déjà vu. She had walked through these very tunnels just a few days ago. But back then she has been so weak… so terrified.

And as Frisk walked through the winding tunnels her eyes locked onto her guiding sword. The illumination glazed red over her vision and the realization hit her… of just how much she had changed in only a few days. Was it… was this an organic change? Or was it something else? Her soul felt different, yes. She couldn’t put her finger on it. And just as she started to skim the surface of the conflicting thoughts, another all-encompassing wave of anger washed over and distracted her.

 

They are monsters.

 

They will never stop hunting you.

 

He will never stop hunting you.

 

Suddenly, Frisk stepped out from the hallway into the large chamber. She immediately recognized it to be the lobby of the building. It was massive and pitch black with dark tiled floors and stone walls, completely devoid of any furniture or debris. And it was so dark that the burning glow from her sword couldn’t even reach the shadowy corners. She carefully tread through the center of the entrance hall, her sneakers gently squeaking against floor, and she reached the towering wooden double doors on the opposite side of the chamber.

Frisk stared back at them. Her determination was boiling within her soul and it hurt her chest. But the raging fortitude masked any pain. Frisk brought her sword down to her side. Despite the impressive soul sword she wielded, the ordinary box cutter remained intact underneath the glow. She slid her thumb upwards and grazed over the lever of the handle, pulling it down to retract the shape blade back inside its sheath. The moment she did this the glow of her sword flickered and began to dull. The red liquid crystals that formed the weapon started to melt and ooze against the floor. The material had become unstable. Her sword was collapsing. And it vanished.

Frisk blinked and tilted her head down to stare at the ordinary knife in her hand, but she couldn’t even see it. Without the glow from her sword the room was pitch black once more. She could feel sticky remnants of the weapon staining the palm of her hand and it dripped from her fingers. Frisk wiped the handle against the front of her hoodie and stuffed it back into her pocket. She pressed both her hands to the door and felt around. She touched something, the doorknob. She wrapped her fingers around it and roughly pushed the doors outward.

 

 

 

 

Gloomy grey haze blinded her eyes for a moment as the doors opened, revealing the dismal landscape before her.

 

Snowdin…

 

She really was back in Snowdin once again.

 

It felt like a dream. The air was cold and thick and stagnant, just how she remembered it. Frisk stepped out from the doorway onto the covered patio. She glanced around her surroundings, watching the thick curtain of ash continuously rain down from the sky. She had only been outside for a few moments and her lungs already began to feel saturated with the toxic debris that danced in the air.

Frisk raised a hand and held it over her mouth as she began to descend down the steps, slowly, one by one. Her gaze was sober but her soul… it was boiling. A resentment reached every corner of her being and urged her forward. It took control of her actions. She was possessed by it. Blinded by vengeance.

 

Stop… You can still turn back.

 

Frisk grit her teeth and ignored her internal hindsight as she began her descent back inside the village. Instead, she forced her thoughts on Papyrus.

 

Papyrus…

 

That daunting, deranged skeleton. He had locked her up… Bound her with not only one, but two collars. He had attempted to murder her. He summoned a cage to entrap her, then tried to skewer her with razor-sharp bones like he was shooting a fish in a barrel. Like she was simply target practice. He was cruel. He was evil. He was a monster, just like the rest of them. He wanted… he wanted to eat her.

Don’t forget the way he stared… That hunger in those empty sockets. He wanted to rip the flesh from her bones. That’s all he wanted.

 

He saved you… He saved you from Sans. Don’t you remember that?

 

 

He gave you a jacket to keep you warm…

 

SHUT. UP.

 

Frisk clutched at her head with both hands and came to a stop. Her head ached in an unusual way. And her conflicted thoughts were so distracting. She hadn’t even realized that her mindless wandering had lead her to the ash-coated cobblestone path between the dilapidated and battered buildings.

She stood in the center of the path. Each breath she took was strained and she panted softly while grasping either side of her head. She slowly released the hold at her skull and brought her hands down to her chest. Her spirit was pulsing inside. It hurt.

 

It was burning.

 

But…

 

No…

 

No more doubt.

 

You are the Manumitter.

 

Frisk straightened herself. She brushed unkempt hazelnut locks back behind her ears, relishing in the seething rage that consumed her soul once more, and continued on.

 

 

 

The ash had begun to wane and finally she could see clearly. Frisk listened as she walked along. She listened for any foreign sound or the blusters of Papyrus’ voice. But most of all she listened for the sound of brisk, rushing wind… Was Sans watching her right now? She buried that concern deep down beside her conscious and focused on the sound of her own footsteps and shallow breaths.

Frisk leered at each house she passed. They all looked identical, except she noticed a few landmarks along the way. One house was completely collapsed from the molting black rot. She remembered it, she had run past that house when she first fled from Papyrus. She must be getting close… he must be nearby. That is, if he was still in this town. Perhaps he returned to the forest in search for her. The timeline confused Frisk. She did not really have a concept. How long had she been away from Papyrus? If she was reborn at the exact moment she touched the candle, then it had been about an hour or so - maybe longer - since she escaped from him.

Frisk was lost in her own complicated thoughts when she heard a sudden sound. She stopped dead in her tracks in the middle of the cobblestone path, eyes widening. There was a figure clambering out from one of the houses. It was pushing through a thick curtain of rot that draped the front of a doorway. Frisk’s heart pounded rapidly as she stared back at the monster… that familiar lanky structure, that bright crimson flowing scarf. It was Papyrus.

 

He was still here. It was Papyrus.

 

The hatred that engulfed her soul started to pulse at the sight of him. Frisk’s fingers twitched anxiously and she stood there, unmoving and staring back at the monster that stepped out onto the cobblestone path. He was just a few yards away from her. Papyrus lifted his gloved hand up to shield his eyes from the falling dust while he glanced around the village. Then he turned his head and his hollow sockets settled upon Frisk.

 

 

“HUMAN!”

 

He… he called out to her……

 

 

Would he attack?………

 

Every muscle in her body constricted as the massive skeleton immediately began to sprint forward towards her. Frisk’s hand automatically inched towards her pocket, towards her box cutter, but she stilled herself. She steadied her frantic, racing thoughts.

 

Be calm… Bide your time…

 

 

The massive skeleton ran straight forward and came to a skidding stop as he reached her, towering overhead. Frisk could feel her heart spiraling down to her stomach. S-she felt… scared. But only for a moment. She glanced up at Papyrus, using all of her courage to keep herself from flinching or running.

But he didn’t attack. He just tilted his head down, those restricted black cavities for eyes locking on.

“HUMAN! WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN?” Papyrus bellowed. His voice had a hint of ire to it. Was he angry? His hollow eye sockets narrowed down at her and he furrowed his browbone. Each humanoid teeth ground against one another.

Frisk stared up at him. She fought against the fear that sideswiped the rage inside her soul. She swallowed and averted her gaze away before finally forcing herself to speak, “I… I was looking for the gate.” What a lie. It spilled from her lips so unexpectedly. Her voice wavered a bit, but it did not tremble.

“AH! DID YOU DISCOVER THE GATE, HUMAN?” Papyrus asked and his skepticism seemed to melt back into that unhinged, buoyant enthusiasm almost instantly.

 

So… he had not even noticed. He had not even noticed that she fled.

 

He was still looking for the 4th gate this whole time. He believed her.

 

Frisk’s soul burned with septic toxicity. An unusual smile spread across her features and she turned her head back, glancing up at the skeleton.

“I found it, Papyrus. I can show you,” Her words spilled forth. They were so calm and serene, they sounded foreign to her own ears. They almost reminded her of… of Chara.

Papyrus clasped his gloved hands together above her head. “THAT IS WONDERFUL, HUMAN! I HAVE BEEN SEARCHING THIS VILLAGE TOP TO BOTTOM. BUT, AS YOU CAN SEE, I HAVE COME UP EMPTY HANDED. PERHAPS MY TRACKING SKILLS ARE NOT NEARLY AS MASTERFUL AS I BELIEVED THEM TO BE.” He let out a genuine chuckle and pushed the tattered scarf back over his shoulder.

Frisk simply stared at him. Her forged smile wavered back to that stoic gaze and she nodded once. “It’s this way…” She turned on the heels of her sneakers and stepped over towards a random deteriorated shack, the one closest to them.

 

 

 

 

The building was crumbling to the ground. Black layered mold and soot caked each cracked window. There was no door, just an ominous empty archway that led inside the rotting house. And inside the home was nothing but piles and piles of large rocks and rubble and an ordinary decaying door at the back wall which most likely lead to a closet.

Frisk stepped through the doorway and stood at the center of the room. It was small and dreary and completely obscured in shadows. The only light descended in a single ray from the open doorway. She walked over towards the wooden door at the very back of the space and stared directly at it. She knew this door was not the 4th gate… she knew that.

“AH, I THOUGHT I ALREADY SEARCHED THIS HOME. PERHAPS I MISSED IT.” Papyrus said as he followed closely behind her, ducking his head underneath the open archway. He glanced around the room before his eyes settled upon the ordinary decaying door, “IS THIS THE GATE, HUMAN? WHERE ARE THE ENGRAVINGS?”

Papyrus stood directly behind her and leered at the door. She could feel the bottom of his rib cage subtly press against the back of her head and the frayed ends of his tattered white poncho feathering lightly against her shoulders. Frisk’s heart was scampering. Her pulse pounded painfully in her head. Her soul was boiling within a smog of malice.

 

'They want to kill you, Manumitter. They won’t stop.'

 

Her fingers twitched. Her hand made its way into her pocket silently.

 

'They will never stop. You know that.'

 

She felt the cold steel brush against each fingertip.

 

'Everyone has a soul. Monster… Humans…'

 

Her slender fingers wrapped around the handle and she pulled the blade from her pocket, promptly pushing her thumb against the lever, unsheathing the knife at her side.

 

'…You just need to know where to look…'

 

Her soul was burning. Her chest felt so hot. It was so painful. Her rage… her rage was at a peak.

 

'Right here.'

 

Frisk felt a terrible pressure at her chest. It felt as if her soul had been pierced with a scorched fireplace poker. It hurt. It was burning her inside out.

And she hesitated and stared directly at the door. She could hear Papyrus’ soft breaths behind her.

Slowly, she turned around and took a slight step back to face him. He glanced down at her and tilted his head to the side in question.

 

“HUMAN?”

 

Do it.

 

A sudden burst of crimson light. Sporadic heat instantly encompassed her entire arm. Red coiling translucent energy made its way down her wrist and wrapped around the utility knife. Her sword erupted from the box cutter in a fitful malevolence within seconds. Luminous red liquid flames danced high in the air, illuminating the entire space around them. The power that oozed from her sword was unlike her shield. Its energy was unstable, violent, irregular and malignant. It was as if the weapon was bewitched by some unseen compulsion.

Papyrus blinked down at the glowing sword, his sockets widening. It had been so unexpected. He barely had a second to react. He flinched and began to shift his feet, when-

 

DO IT.

 

Frisk lunged towards him. She raised the blade high over her head and brought the sharp sword down directly at the center of his chest. It cut through his clothing with ease and sunk in deep between his ribs to the hilt of the blade.

Frisk’s eyes were wide and burning, her teeth clenched, her hand trembled from a fury that poisoned her soul and tainted her innocence.

Papyrus faltered backwards with the sword pierced through the center of his torso. Frisk pulled the blade from his chest swiftly and stabbed him again in the same spot. And she did it again. And again. And she screamed out in a frenzy of complete madness as she impaled his chest with the heinous weapon.

“H-HUMAN!”

She could hear his voice through her screams. He sounded surprised and began to cough up a vile opaque orange fluid mixed with… with blood. It ran down his jawbone, soaking the front of his scarf.

 

Kill him.

 

N-no…

 

Shut up! DO IT!

 

Stained blood-orange liquid began to spread throughout his white poncho, directly at his chest where the weapon impaled inside him. The liquid coated his entire front and it dyed the sword’s blade and dripped against Frisk’s fingers. Papyrus faltered back and fell to the floor, but Frisk pounced on top of his rib cage and continued her relentless assault. She stabbed at the front of his chest repeatedly, tearing open his poncho until she could see cracked and bleeding long curved rib bones. They were broken from her attack, from the power of the sword, and the jagged open fractures dripped with velvet red blood and clotting bone marrow.

She could see Papyrus’ soul settled deep inside past his bones. Her sword had pierced it dead center. It was a small, round, glowing honey-colored orb that hovered within the middle of his rib cage. It reminded Frisk of her own soul, except his was not translucent or shimmering.

Frisk’s eyes locked onto the orb. And in her treacherous onslaught, she began to cut open the spherical essence. It split and oozed with cloudy orange energy and she could hear Papyrus scream as she hacked it in two. Blood began to spill from his spirit. It dripped all over the inside of his ribs, soaking his spine and her sword and her hands as she sawed through the globule relentlessly.

 

KILL HIM.

 

She cut his soul open completely and teared it apart with her blade. Blood and orange ooze sprayed against Frisk’s arms and chest as she began to chisel the sphere to pieces, crushing it, destroying it. Her other hand gripped tightly around Papyrus’ cracked ribs. Her shoulders trembled as she tried to catch a frenzied breath.

“F-FRISK……”

 

DIE! DIE! DIE!

 

She could hear his voice. She could hear her name. Frisk’s manic eyes darted up to Papyrus’ face. His sockets were glowing faintly, blood and orange clotting fluids spilled from his jaw which hung open halfway. His body was trembling ever so slightly underneath her and he raised a gloved hand, reaching out for her. But it collapsed back down against the messy floor.

Frisk ripped her gaze from his skull and stared down at his soul. Its glow had faded. It was no longer hovering within his interior. It lay against the inside of his chest cavity, severed and cut into multiple grotesque chunks. And her sword was still embedded within him, pierced through his thorax to the back of his vertebra.

She slowly staggered up to her feet and pried the sword from his ruined soul. Papyrus let out a shallow, trembling cry as she ripped the blade from his broken bones. She stood over him, dripping with fading orange energy and dark red muddled blood.

Frisk glanced down at her sword. It was so caked with that clotting tangerine that she could barely see its translucent red. She pulled the lever down with her thumb and retracted the blade back inside the handle. Her sword vanished immediately and she dropped the ordinary box cutter to the floor.

 

S-stop this…

 

No.

 

She lifted her leg, climbing up off of him, and stood over the dying monster. Frisk leered down at the fading skeleton. He had once scared her so much. Not anymore. Her hands were shivering with adrenaline and toxic rage. Papyrus was trembling and coughing and choking against his own blood. His gloved hands slowly grasped to his chest. She watched as he weakly fingered around through his exposed broken ribs trying to reach for the shattered soul within him.

Frisk stepped over to the side of the room and picked up a large mold-encrusted boulder. It was heavy and she had to use all her upper body strength to lift it. She stepped back over towards Papyrus, standing directly over his skull with the massive rock in her arms. She glanced down at him, her expression apathetic and sober but her eyes… her eyes were abundant with lustrous spite.

 

This is wrong…

 

Her inner voice fought feebly against the noxious anger that possessed her.

 

FINISH HIM.

 

But her soul continued to burn and guide her actions.

 

Papyrus whimpered out as he stared up at the massive slab of rock in her arms. His sockets were wide, his teeth were chattering lightly against each other. She could sense his fear.. He coughed again, turning his head, and started to retch blood and orange bile against Frisk’s sneakers.

Frisk raised her arms up over his skull from above. She hesitated for a moment, listening to the sounds of his vile gurgling groans. And she released the boulder. It plummeted down directly on top of his skull.

The sickening crunch echoed off the walls of the dismal room. The heavy rock crushed his skull underneath. Shards of bone and teeth ruptured forth and clattered all over the floor, along with a hot spray of blood that squirted against her shoes.

 

………

 

……

 

W-what… what did you do……

 

Frisk stood over the mangled corpse. She stared down at the large boulder that sat directly above Papyrus’ ribbed vertebra that was his neck in a puddle of blood and bone. Her hands were trembling, her eyes wide and twitching, her soul was on fire.

 

……

 

 

What did you do…

 

I-I……

 

He deserved it.

 

Stop it!!

 

The conflicting voices in her head began to scream all at once. Frisk cried out from the pain that burrowed deep within her sternum and she clutched at either side of her scalp with bloody hands. She dug her fingers in her hair clawing at both sides. And she stared down at the skeletal remains at her feet and fell to her knees beside him. Her eyes scanned the grotesque open cavity of his chest. Each one of his broken ribs were coated in fluids. He wasn’t moving. He was completely still. He was… he was…

 

Didn’t you want revenge?…

 

That voice again. The voice in her head. Her own voice. Frisk whimpered through clenched teeth and clutched at her chest with one hand and she grasped around at the floor, reaching for her box cutter that lay next to her. She lifted the blade up and held it tight.

She outstretched her opposite hand along the skeleton’s midriff and her fingers wrapped around his thick exposed vertebral column. His bones… they were cold and so intricate. Frisk’s inquisitive fingertips brushed along the curves of his hip bones and in between the small dips within his iliac crest. She led her hand lower and slid her fingers inside Papyrus’ kilt pocket. She felt something cold and metal and looped her fingers around it. And she pulled out a large iron key. Frisk brought the key up to her throat and she slipped it inside the small keyhole at the front of her collar. The moment she turned it, the torque opened and fell to the floor behind her.

 

Didn’t you want to make them pay?

 

Y-yes… yes… but-

 

This is your revenge.

 

Frisk dropped the key to the ground and ran her messy fingers along her bare throat. She leaned over Paprus’ chest and lowered her hand to his neck. She entwined her fingers between the folds of his scarf still hanging from his steady shoulders. Her fingers dug deep within the burgundy fabric. It was still warm.

 

You are the Manumitter.

 

Frisk took in deep, frenzied breaths. Seething mania that settled deep within her soul continued to grow and spread. It was all-encompassing and she was starting to surrender to the enmity.

 

So act like it.

 

Frisk lifted the box cutter in her hand and unsheathed its blade once more. But this time she did not call forth her sword. No, instead she pierced Papyrus’ thick scarf with the knife and started to cut through a long piece of draped fabric. She sliced off one of the hanging textiles and lifted the cloth up in her hands. She buried her face against it, taking in the scent. It just smelled like mildew… and blood.

 

Don't linger. You need to move on to the next target. Sans could show up at any moment.

 

Her heart jolted at the sudden realization. That’s right… They were brothers… They were brothers. She had just killed Sans' brother.

Frisk’s fingernails dug deep into the scarf fabric and she almost let out a deranged laugh. She peered over the cloth back at the blood-stained boulder, her light brown eyes wide and glazed over with maniacal corruption.

 

Now go. Finish off the rest of them.

 

She slowly pushed herself up to her feet. She wrapped the ripped torn scarf around her neck and glanced down at the carcass one more time. Then she tightened her grip on her weapon’s hilt and stepped over Papyrus’ body towards the open doorway.

All she could hear was the sounds of a gentle breeze outside and the delicate rustling of ash drifting to the floor. Frisk wiped some blood and honey-colored residue off her cheeks and she sprinted back out and down the cobblestone path, leaving the somber corpse behind her.

 

 

 

 

She ran through the deteriorating town taking heavy, frantic inhales, listening carefully to her surroundings. It was quiet, except for her feet and rapid breath. Her newfound stained red scarf wrapped around her neck and drifted in the air behind her. She made her way through the town, weaving in and out of buildings. She knew exactly where to go. She had been through this village three times now. Frisk ran along while the corroding hate that encompassed her soul edging her forward, until she finally reached the massive black brick government building in the center of the town square.

Frisk glanced over her shoulder as she came to a stop. She half expected to see Sans standing behind her, but she was alone. Perhaps he wasn’t watching her so closely after all. A caustic smile spread across her features and she turned her head back to the daunting building. She ascended up the steps and kicked the double wooden doors open with the bottom of her foot.

 

Gaster. Gaster is next.

 

Frisk stepped into the large entrance chamber and held her knife out in front. A painful surge of energy shot through her arm as she called forth her sword once more. It spiraled up along the blade and formed the weapon, illuminating the shadows all around her a bright, eerie copper. And Frisk set off into the tunnels at high speed.

She ran through the dark corridors as the rubber soles of her sneakers skidding along the tiles. That delicate, nostalgic scent of firewood suffused her senses. She almost ran past the open entrance way with the candle settled in the corner but she slid to a halt. Frisk glanced in the room and saw her backpack laying there in the center of the space and she quickly snatched it up.

 

 

She continued on through winding halls, turning each corner sharply. Her thoughts went to Papyrus for a moment… and what she had just done… but the polluting hostility within her insides immediately repressed it. It was as if she had no control… no control over her own thoughts or actions.

Frisk panted and trotted along. Normally she would have become tired by now, but the anger that wrapped around her soul seemed to give her a second wind. It boosted her energy and she felt fearless. Frisk clutched at the red scarf wrapped around her neck with her other hand and she came to a skidding halt. A dead end. A grand wooden door. The library.

Sans’ low, haunting voice rang in her head as she remembered his warnings about the slime monster, Gaster. But Frisk wasn’t worried. She knew what to do. She was no longer a timid, weak child. She was so much more powerful now. Her soul was scalding hot and overflowing with malice and it made her powerful.

 

Power, eh?… You ambushed him.

 

Shut up…

 

Frisk buried her inner thoughts back down and tried to keep them there. She pressed her opposite hand against the door and shoved it open.

 

 

 

 

Flickering violet light, rows upon rows of towering bookshelves, and the heavy aroma of burning wood took hold as she entered the massive chamber. Frisk stepped into the room and glanced around. He was in here… somewhere. But she wouldn’t have to search. She knew he would reveal himself in time. He was too hungry not to.

Frisk walked inside the library and moved over towards the wall. Her hollow gaze settled upon one of the spectral torches mounted upon the stone in a perfect row. She raised a hand up to the nearest torch and let her fingertips skim along the wooden haft that was linked to the wall by a detachable chain. Then she wrapped her fingers around it and unhooked the burning torch and held it out in front. With the blazing violet beacon in one hand, and her inflamed sword in the other, Frisk followed the wall along the edge of the grand chamber until she came upon that familiar trap door.

 

The 4th gate.

 

Her eyes settled over the shallow runic engraving that decorated the wood. After her fight with Undyne she could never forget that symbol again. Frisk stepped to the side of the hatch and leered out into the shadows that draped over the bookshelves beside her. She stared forward, glaring into the obscured darkness.

He was in there. He was in there, somewhere. He would come for her eventually.

Frisk took in a deep breath of scorched oxygen. Her arm arched from the additional exertion of energy used to keep her sword intact. Her soul was burning in the center of her chest. The pain put her on edge and she began to wonder if something was terribly wrong… Wrong with her soul… With herself…

 

Something is wrong.

 

But her mind drifted to thoughts of Sans, like it so often did. She could see his red, pulsing hue so clearly. She hadn’t seen him in a while… and the last time she saw him he was ripping her shoulder apart with those gnashing canine fangs. The thought made her shudder and her pulse start to course with malignance. Where was Sans now? Surely, he hadn’t seen her murder Papyrus, or he would have put a stop to it. Was he waiting out in the swamps for her? Was he even watching her at all?

 

The sound of footsteps stifled Frisk’s cluttered thoughts.

 

Wet footsteps…

 

She blinked and stared ahead sternly. Gaster. He was here. He was coming for her, just like she had anticipated. And she almost grinned.

 

How predictable.

 

But her brash demeanor instantly diminished as the vile monster stepped out from behind the shadows. Frisk felt that wave of shivers drain down her legs at the sight of him. He was just as she had remembered. Towering, slender, dripping with glossy velvet obsidian ooze. And those hovering tendrils sprouted up behind him and coiled in the air. His large hollow sockets settled upon her and that grin… that grin spread wide along his pale face.

 

And he spoke.

 

“W̙͓̆̚h̺͋ͯ̆a̖͕̒͆t͈ ̩͙̹͉̻͖̼͋͒̎ͧa͎̩͖͈ ̝ͭͮ͂̋͌ͧ̚p͒̂ͨ̌ͥͧe̖̣͎c͓̲̯̯ͨͨȕ̻̾̓ͭ̎l̞̊̂ͯͥ̃ͧi̻͇͍̻̫ͅa̟̙r͔͇̼̪͚ ̐ͨs̗̦ͨ̑ọ̭͚̬̲̞͍ͭͭ̂ͫü͚̠̜̤l̬ͭͅ.͎̰͖͋.̝̠̰̾.̼͙̜̰͔ͯ̒̑̎ͥ͂ ͈̤̖̩͋͛ͭ́T̗̩͕̤͒̉ͨͭ̏h̬̲̗͇̫̩̾͆͒ȁ̳̫̻͙̫̑̈́ͣt̲͙̗̼̍̉ͭ̆ ͕͖ͦi̙̱͉̞̦s̙̰̖̝̭͎͕̓ ̻̦͖ͤͮ̇̓̐a̬̫̪̝͎̔̾͆̾ͩ̅ ̥̣h͙̱͉͈͔͇͊͑ͮ̇̔̿̒u͚̐m͓̰͉͖̎͛͒̇ͩa̖̗̺̼̙͉͔̎͒ͫ̄̚n̚ ̆̂s̬̗̫̞̿̇ͨ̀̚o̫̦̣̍̓̍͑̍̆̇ȕ̪̻̱ͦl̲̦̲̥͍̔̍̓̈́ͩͅ.̱ͮ̃.͇̋̑.̖̋”

 

His voice… she could never forget that voice. It was soft, eerie, fortified with haunting vibrating static. Although she couldn't understand his words. He spoke in a language she did not know.

The dripping monster stepped out into the haggard violet light. Frisk’s eyes widened and darted around his presence. She felt a sudden surge of fear take hold of her heart, but the malevolent rage cut through her anxiety in an instant. It would not allow her to be afraid.

“Gaster…” Her words spilled forth automatically and her auburn eyes narrowed back at him. She tightened her grip around both the torch and her sword at either side.

The monster came to an abrupt and swift stop as he heard his own name spoken out loud. His facial expression contorted ever so slightly. His white, skeletal hands rose up and tapped against one another in front of his chest. And he stared back at Frisk with a look of perturbed perplextion.

 

“Hu̜̠ͥm̱̲̫͇̱̞͎̌̀a̳̦͔̙̣̞̘̾̌ͫ̄͗̈́n͙͓̗̳̳̍̀ͅ.̲̖̃̍̽ͯ̉̉̚.̗̹̰͕͉̹̳͆̍̄ͪ͛̑̒.̗ͬ͋ ͙̘̼̩̊ͩy̩̥̎͂͊̅ͮ̃o̜͌ͪu̻͔̣̤̹͐̄͑̈ ̤̟ŝ̼̤m̟̪̉ͪ̍ͯëͫͯͭl͇̬̰̜͙̼̙̊̇͐͗̋l̺͈͈̓͆̂͂ ̹̫̣̍l̝̬̣̠ͬ͒͌ͅi̾ͫ̿̃̄ͯk̞̑ͪ̉͋e̥̱͚̟ͭ͌̓̏ ̦͒̏ͭ̐b̪̺̗̈̍̏̽l̲͕̣̜͓̦̀͋̔̽͋̚o̍ȏ̤̂d̲͒̍́͑͂̈́.͇̩.͓̪.͈͕͚̞͎͛̂͛̋ͅ”

 

He spoke again. That astringent voice stabbed through Frisk’s courage. But the sweltering frenzy of resentment which ignited her soul burned throughout her entire form. She rolled her shoulders back and lifted her arms at her sides. She kept her solemn gaze locked onto his face. She wouldn’t look away.

 

Come get me, you bastard.

 

Gaster took notice of her taunting stance.

All of a sudden the black, inky liquid tendrils that sprouted from his back began to shiver violently behind him. They grew in size and the ends morphed into sharpened spears that dripped with hot black tar. A nauseating sneer spread across his face and Frisk gritted her own teeth at the sight of his razor sharp fangs. That wide smiling maw. His teeth formed a perfect barrier of interlocking scalpels, just barely visible underneath the heavy black aura that surrounded him.

 

Let him come to you. Do not falter.

 

“Y̯̘̝̱̹̖̆̊ͧ́̍ͥ̔o̙̱̭̬͕͋̀̑̀̉͆̔ͅṵ͆ ̲͚̞͙̃ͥͯͧ̂s̍̌͛ͧ́̎m̯̗̞͉ͭ̔e͕̮̗̖̝̣͍l̝͕ĺ͇͇̖͈̭̐̔̏ͬ̚ ̣̣̺̻̈̏͆͂͐̿ͅl͖͎̙͋̄̅̀̍̿̒i̤k̬̬̙̼̺͊ë̺́ͦ̽͗̄̉.̮̔.͕̥̩̭͎͈ͯͪͯ.̞͓̙͕̹̤̠̇̒̔̄͆̂͌ ̭̘̹̤̜̰̦͂ͦ̔͌ṃ̮̖̗̤̟ͪ̎̎ͩͤ͆ͣͅo̰̗̪̯n̤̜̮s̰͚͚͔̋͐ͩt̗̠̯̰͉̺͎e̩̞̥̥r̺̎ͩ̉̒ͭ̇ ̔̅̚b̞̞lȯ̫ͬͫo̖͕̮̺͎͖ͥ̃d͕̻ͫ͌ͯ̍.ͪͫ”

 

He spoke again.

And then he lunged.

Gaster charged forward directly towards her. Frisk’s eyes widened as he bound for her so suddenly. Slime tendrils rose up over his head and at his sides and they spiraled forward, aiming for Frisk’s chest.

Poison heat took control of Frisk’s body and she dove to the side immediately, just barely evading the fatal impale. Gaster’s liquid tapered barbs grazed against Frisk’s shoulder and they pummeled into the stone wall directly behind her.

 

Run!!! GET BACK!

 

The brick wall split in two and cracked under the impact. Deafening echos of crumbling stone engulfed the entire room. He was fast. Frisk panted heavily and her whole body began to tremble as adrenaline took hold. She had dodged his attack, but only barely, and her hoodie sleeve was soaked in charcoal slime. It reeked of burning tar and she could feel the heat of the liquid through the fabric.

Gaster’s black inky arms ripped from the stone and he began to charge her again. S-shit! Frisk scampered past and ran as fast as she could through the shadowed towering bookshelves. She weaved in and out of the massive rows. Her heart was pounding frantically, desperately. She… she felt f-fear… She could feel her own fear through encompassing fury. She took in frenzied inhales while darting forward and squeezing at her sword’s handle and torch in her hands.

 

Don’t let fear soften you! Lure him out! Use the torch!

 

She could hear him moving in behind her. He was right there. He was so close. She could feel the heatwave radiating from his body. He was only a few feet away, closing in on her. Frisk could see his spiraling tendrils propel forward out of the corners of her eyes at either side while she ran. His sentient tentacle limbs were faster than she was and they rocketed ahead and interlocked directly in front, blocking her path.

 

GET DOWN!

 

Frisk ducked and plummeted to the floor, rolling to the side. She just barely avoided the entrapment but Gaster's dripping oil aura had already smeared against her back and arms and cheeks. It burned. She immediately tried to rub off some of the sludge from her face with her shoulder as she tightened her grip around her duel weapons in both hands.

 

H-holy crap…

 

I-I… can’t do this…

 

YES YOU CAN! GET UP! KEEP MOVING!

 

She gasped for a breath and lurched against the floor as she scampered up to her feet. The violet torch flame in her hand wavered in the air as she ran. And her opposite arm burned as she kept her sword summoned. Her chest felt like it was going to burst. It hurt! Animosity smothered her anxiety. She felt like someone had taken control of her body and and she sprinted around Gaster behind him back down the tunnel of bookshelves. And as she ran she stared down at the muddled glossy slime trail upon the floor. Gaster’s slime trail…

 

DO IT!! NOW!

 

Frisk came to a skidding halt and swiftly turned back to face the monster. Gaster was at the end of the bookshelf passage. His tendrils were vibrating in the air all around him. He was raging. He was furious that she had evaded his attack a second time. And he started to charge her again.

 

 

“M̧͇̥̫̖̬͈̙͕̹͌̿̐̐̒͌͛͛̎̉̊̌̀̋͆̓̍̄͡͞Ą͇̩̙̟̫͙͎͓̖̦̇̓ͤ͂̓̄ͤ͘N̘̫̻͔̟̪͕̯͕̫̥̙̭̦͕ͥ̔ͨ͐̓̓̂̈́̂̈ͩ́ͭ̅͗͠͡ͅU̸̧͈͖͙̭͓͔͙͉ͨ̇ͮ͌̊ͦ̅M̿̎̉̂͝͏͈̭̙̖͙̺̗̗̼̤̟̠I̡̡͔͎͕̻͓̦̹̯͎̳̝͔̗͎̝̥͐̈́̓̈́̉̎̍̒̒͛̐͒ͨ̄̅̚T̶̸̼̠̟̤̖̩̮̘͕̦̹̃̔̒͗̔͠T̸̶̢̩̟̻̞̮͈̆ͯ̏̅͂̿̃̄̑̾̌͊̓̊̇̐ͥ͌̚͝E̵̷̸̡͚̱͈̪͙̠ͩ͊̒́͊͑͑͆͑̇̃ͩ̔̚̚̕Ȑ̢̛̙͕͓̫̖̥͙̯͓̻̺̰̲̺̺͍̌͂̐ͤ̾̈̈́̉̒ͦ̀̍̋̋͘͞!̵̛͙͈̹̺͎̓͗͋ͪͮ͛ͪ̂̓ͪ̓̚̕͜͠”

 

 

KILL HIM!

 

Frisk threw the violet burning torch down into the stream of sludge next to her feet. A brilliant wall of fire erupted from the oil the moment the flame collided with the path of ooze. It was so hot. So bright. Searing purple flames leapt high into the air like wildfire and it swept down the liquid tar trail back to Gaster. The moment the fire reached the monster he rose up in a tremendous mass of fire.

Frisk staggered backwards with her back pinned against the bookshelf, away from the fiery barrier. She stared back at the monster in horror and he began to run down the side of the library. He was burning alive. Encompassed in flames. Appalling screeches and ear-splitting screams emitted from his form as he ran. The sound made Frisk feel ill and a toxic stench of burning rubber soon replaced the aroma of firewood.

It was so hot and the flames were so close. The violet fire was out of control and it bound high in the air against the ceiling, licking at the bookshelves, catching them on fire as well. Frisk ran along the side of the passage back out into the spacious edge of the library. The whole room began to flood with thick smoke and bright amethyst light. She could see the trap door upon the floor and sprinted for it, but that malicious inner voice wrapped around her form and steadied her feet.

 

No. Go back and finish him.

 

B-but…

 

FINISH HIM.

 

Frisk’s legs trembled and she averted her gaze away from the trap door. She turned towards the opposite side of the room. She could hear the monster wailing out over the roaring fire, every sound he made sent a wave of dread through Frisk’s whole body.

She slowly walked along the side of the library and turned a shelve corner.

Gaster had collapsed to the floor on the opposite side of the library. The fire that had encompassed him had died down now, but his whole body remained engulfed in low burning cinders. His face was charred black and his hands were trembling at his sides. His form had begun to melt onto the ground. It shaped a putrid puddle of black sticky tar around him. The sight was appalling and Frisk almost retched, but the smell of burning rubber was even worse.

And despite her horror, ferocity urged her forth. Frisk stepped slowly up to the convulsing monster. She stood over him, careful not to let the continuously burning lavender embers lick at her legs. She stared down at his limp broiling tendrils that lay trembling.

Another injection of rage shot throughout her limbs and gripped around her soul.

 

Kill him.

 

……

 

KILL HIM NOW!

 

Her head hurt. Her soul was scalding hot. Her eyes were wide and twitching. Frisk started to pant heavily as her chest and shoulders rose up and down from each toiling inhale. She slouched over the monster and pointed her burning scarlet sword directly at his pathetic physique.

 

“Die…”

 

Frisk heard her own whispered voice spill forth. It sounded foreign to her ears. It sounded vile. But she couldn’t stop herself. She lifted her sword up high and brought it down with all her strength, impaling the crimson blade through the searing monster’s chest.

Gaster let out another deafening scream. It pierced through her ears but she did not flinch. She sunk her saber deep into the monster’s body, jerking her wrist to the side to get better leverage as it pierced through him and struck the floor underneath. The monster was twitching violently against the ground in a pool of his own filth. Gaster’s hollow eye sockets were wide and black ooze started to rupture from his mouth in grotesque bursts.

Frisk grit her teeth together, watching the monster struggle… watching him die.

His skeletal hands rose and tried to grasp at the sharp edges of Frisk’s blade. He was trying to pull the weapon from his chest to no avail. Frisk scoffed and yanked the sword from him, then stabbed him again in a different spot. Her blade cut through his burning liquid body like a hot knife through butter and he shrieked out once more. Hot tar erupted from his mouth and eye sockets and chest and it splattered all over Frisk’s bare legs and sword-holding hand. It was hot, but she didn’t care.

Frisk continued to stab him repeatedly. Over and over. Slicing through his body with her blade so violently, so overcome with hate. The fissures she left upon him burst with heinous foaming ink like popping boils. She stabbed his chest vigorously, destroying his body, destroying his soul. Until he finally stopped moving.

Soon all Frisk could hear was her own rapid breathing and the sound of flames overhead. The whole library was engulfed in fire now and the flares swirled amidst the top of the ceiling. Every single bookshelf was burning fiercely. Frisk could barely see her oil-coated sword or Gaster’s body through the smoke. She stumbled backwards away from the oozing corpse.

 

Now it’s time to go…

 

Frisk turned and ran. She coughed from the heavy smog that descended and wrapped around her. Her eyes were watering. Her legs were dripping in hot, blistering tar. She could barely see through the smog. The heat was suffocating.

As she ran, Frisk quickly sheathed her box cutter blade and in turn retracted her soul sword. She shoved the weapon in her pocket and finally reached the wooden trap door. She fell to her knees and slammed her hands down upon the engraving.

Crimson light burst forth from her arms almost immediately. That translucent liquid red wrapped around her limbs and ran down to her hands. The light encompassed the entirety of the wooden exit and her soul forced the door open and it swung out underneath her.

 

And Frisk fell into the damp shadows, back down into the sewers.

 

Her furor pulsed as she plummeted in the dark.

 

Her poisoned, burning determination cut through any fear.

 

Her voice of reason was gone.

 

Her revenge had just begun.

 

 

 

*****

 

 

Coming up: N̷̶͇̩͔͔͕͍͍͍̺͔͕̲͍̾ͥͦ̓͑̃͊̆̆̉̏͐͘o̷̶̷̭͙͖͍̠̥̳̹̰̠̬̪͕̥̗̪͒̔ͧ̃͆̈́̐̓͞ͅ ͆̓̂͌ͤ͑́͏҉̠̜͖̳̜̬m̡̜̳̳̝͔͍͚̑ͤ̉̈e̵̛̝͈̯̹͚̩̥ͤ̈́͊̾͌̇ͥͥ̌̈́̇͗̚̚r͚͕̗͎̳̤̞͔̝̤̩̘̫̮̊̌͛̆̿͛̄̎͛͗͒̚̚͟ċ̸̰͎̬̪̲͔̜̩͍͕̟͊͐̇͆̋͜yͯͮ̓͒̿͒ͭ͐ͧ̇ͣ͑̈́҉̷̴͓͓̻͉̼͡͝

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

*****

 

 

Frisk plummeted down into the cold darkness. Wet, sharp branches struck her arms and legs as she fell through the stone drain pipe. Every muscle in her body tensed and she held back a cry as she plunged. She tried to grab onto one of the many coiling tree roots that swept past her, but they were so wet and her hands were soaked and slick with black sludge. She couldn’t grip them. Her hold kept slipping.

She fell further, and another wave of branches clashed against her body and they began to cushion the speed of her descent. She could hear the branches snapping all around her and suddenly she landed onto the ground with a loud, painful thump.

Frisk lay against her side and groaned out, gasping for a breath. The painful impact had knocked the wind from her lungs and she whimpered out, panting and taking in deep, struggling inhales. Every inch of her was sore. Her chest ached. She felt like she had just fallen from a twenty story building.

 

F-fuck…

 

Don’t linger. You need to keep moving.

 

That voice again. Her own voice rung in her mind like it had a conscious of its own. It was controlling and burned hot within her head. Frisk panted as she lay against her shoulder and brought both hands to her chest. Her sternum was still broiling with energy. She could still feel that rage… a turmoil that squeezed around her soul.

Frisk sat up in a thick pile of wet leaves, hands at her chest. She looked around but there was only blackness. Not one shred of light. It was as dark as she had remembered. She knew exactly where she was.

The sewers.

This was her third time in this squalid tunnel. But at least… at least it wasn’t freezing cold or sweltering hot. Frisk began to cough and held a grimy hand over her mouth. Her lungs were burning, perhaps from breathing in fetid smoke in the library.

 

Oh, crap… t-the library.

 

She tilted her head up to glance above her, but of course she saw nothing but velvet black. Her mind began to dart around in her head like a caged canary. She had killed Papyrus… she had brutally murdered him. Then she murdered Gaster and set the entire library on fire…

Frisk started to tremble. Her eyes went wide and she grasped at either side of her head with both hands, tousled hazelnut bangs falling in her face.

 

They deserved it. Remember?

 

N-no… No… that’s…… That’s not-…

 

They are monsters. They would have killed you anyways.

 

But…

 

They want to kill you, Manumitter.

 

Frisk felt her soul start to shiver and coarse and she hung her head. That overwhelming wave of hate and resentment burst forth from her chest and it caused her hands to shake terribly. She was breathing hard, her shoulders raising up and down like some deranged beast.

Frisk’s shivering hands finally released her scalp and began to grope around at her knees and bare legs. Her flesh was sticky. She smeared the slippery oil against her fingers and attempted to wipe the remnants of Gaster from her skin but to no avail. Frisk pulled her backpack from her shoulders and she immediately thanked her lucky stars that she had grabbed it. She opened her bag in the dark and felt around for a bottle of water blindly, while her other hand dug into her pocket and pulled out the box cutter. Thank god… thank god she still had it with her.

She wrapped her fingers tightly around the sheath of her weapon while she pushed at the knife’s side lever. The blade extended outward and summoned her soul’s power forth. In an instant that bright red dazzling illumination flooded the small space and she could see. Her sword appeared before her hand and glistened so beautifully in the dark, humid atmosphere. Frisk smiled down at her weapon. She was actually quite impressed with her own ability to summon it so effortlessly now.

She held the weapon over her legs to get a look at the damage. They were covered in obsidian fluid. Blisters and burns caked under tar. Frisk open the water bottle and started to douse her legs, washing the ink from her skin. The water rinsed away most of it. She could see the wounds easily now. Her injuries stung but the scalding pain inside her chest overshadowed them.

Frisk tossed the empty water bottle aside and reached in her backpack again. She pulled out a small plastic bag of vending machine mini muffins. Despite everything - the deaths, the onslaughts, the rage and fear and pain - she was still hungry. Frisk tore open the bag with her nails in one hand, keeping her sword in the other, and popped one of the mini muffins into her mouth. But it tasted… it tasted revolting… Why? Frisk coughed the food onto the floor and grit her teeth.

 

W-what the hell… Why did it taste so vile? What was this?…

 

She rose her sword up overhead and used the light to peer back down into her backpack, glancing over her dwindling food supply. Her eyes settled upon a strip of beef jerky… and… for some reason… her mouth began water. It felt unnatural. What did this mean?

But the searing animosity that had taken hold of Frisk’s soul smothered her troubled thoughts and she snatched the jerky from her bag and immediately ripped open the plastic wrapper with her teeth. She scarfed down the meat like she hadn’t eaten in days. She was craving that flavor… the flavor of flesh.

 

You have been infected by a monster…

 

Be quite.

 

Frisk blinked and stared ahead at the mossy walls. She finished the jerky and licked at her chops and fingertips before tossing the plastic to the side. She slowly tugged her backpack over her shoulders and stumbled up to her feet. Her eyes traveled down to her chest. Her entire hoodie was soaked with black liquid grime. The sight made her cringe. She also saw streaks of crimson blood… and muddled orange.

Frisk tore her frigid gaze from her hoodie and her eyes settled upon the ruby scarf wrapped loosely around her neck. She let her fingers slip through the thick folds and held the fabric up to her nose, taking in its robust scent of mildew with closed eyes.

 

That’s quite a trophy you got there.

 

Her eyes shot open. Her expression was detached. Her deadpan gaze as cold as ice. And she stepped forward through the singular tunnel. She held her sword out in front of her and used its vermilion fluttering luminescence to light the way. Her heart was palpitating rapidly and her soul simmered in a clout of fevered toxic animosity that refused to subside.

 

 

 

 

Frisk tread through the murky waters of the drain pipe. It was just as she remembered it the last two times. However this time, she was not afraid. She was encased within a fortress of power. It spewed from her soul and traveled to her hands and fingertips. It spawned her sword. And it guided each movement she made. She was powerful and determined and ruthless.

 

That’s right. You are the Manumitter.

 

She walked calmly through the waterlogged aqueduct. Moldy leaves and twigs encircled her ankles as she marched. And her thoughts returned to Sans… Sans. She tightened her grip around the shaft of the sword. Was he even watching her or had that just been a lie meant to terrorize? Where was he right now? Was he waiting for her at the end of this tunnel? Perhaps… perhaps he was just biding his time… Waiting for her guard to falter. And then he would strike.

Frisk’s anxiety ruptured forth and began to pulse throughout her limbs. The idea that he could be lurking around any corner was even worse now than she had ever known it to be. The suspense alone was torture. W-was this part of his torment? Part of his game? Could he really be that cruel?

 

You can take him.

 

Are you insane?…

 

Every monster has a soul. Even Sans.

 

But he is not like the others.

 

She came to a stop. Frisk grasped at her forehead with a free hand and tried to settle her painful clashing mentality. She was trembling. Her teeth were clattering from restlessness. S-something was wrong… Nothing is wrong. Another painful burst of agony, heat and resentment fractured deep inside her soul. She continued on through the drain pipe.

 

 

 

 

She traveled through the wet tunnel silently. There was a light up ahead. Those familiar vivid rays streamed out in multiple segments. Frisk recognized it immediately and sprinted forward. Her sloshing steps slowed as she reached the drain grate. She held her sword down to her side and pressed her opposite hand against the cold, wet metal while she peered through its vertical crevices.

The swamp awaited her on the other side. It was just as bleak as always. Miles of lifeless, putrid marshland. The air was stagnant and utterly silent. The mold-coated weeping willows hung low around the raised wooden pathway that weaved throughout the bog. And the shadowy black fog glided along the surface of the mire like a phantom cloud.

Frisk looped her fingers between the iron grate and began to force it to the side halfway, but her own malignant words suddenly whispered in her ears.

 

Caution. Sans could be lurking…

 

She hesitated and held her breath, knees feeling weak.

 

Prepare yourself.

 

Frisk let out a slow, shuddering exhale and shoved the heavy grate open.

She jumped down into the dreary limbo. Her legs sunk knee-deep into a morass of mud. However, she did not flinch. She quickly wrapped both her hands around the crimson sword and held the long blade out in front of her. Frisk’s eyes narrowed as she scanned over the landscape.

 

Where are you, you bastard…

 

It was silent. No movement. Not even a mere breeze. Even the obsidian fog seemed to solidify. Frisk felt her heart pound so rapidly in her chest. It was difficult to breathe. The toxic, controlling rage ripped through her fear and it was painful.

 

He’s not here. Keep moving.

 

Frisk blinked and glanced over at the wooden bridge a ways away. She trudged through the mud up towards the high ground and stood at the bottom of the stairs. Her stoic gaze locked onto the spot directly above the steps. Her eyes glazed over as she stared. That spot… T-that spot.

 

Never forget what he did to you here.

 

Frisk’s teeth bared and she and clenched them together brashly. She wanted to scream out but some unknown force held her voice down in her throat. Her rage simply continued to storm and fester within her soul as she released a volatile exhale and began to swipe through the air in front of her with the burning blade. It was a temporary release of anger but it helped a bit.

She sighed and retracted the knife into its handle, and in turn the soul sword. Her arm ached from the additional energy used to keep the weapon summoned for such a long period of time. She clutched at the handle and began her ascension up the steps.

Wooden planks creaked under her feet. Frisk began her journey along the side of the bending path. She couldn’t believe she had to do this walk again. But something deep within her soul told her it may not be the last time.

 

 

 

 

Frisk stepped quietly as she ventured forth, again, along the wooden trail. Her heartbeat continuously pulsed through her veins. She was paranoid and kept looking over her shoulder out behind the trees. But as she walked, she found herself glancing down over the wooden railing into the swamp water. Thick dark fog obscured the marsh, but she could just barely see her reflection painted along the surface. And the sight of her own reflection made her soul course.

 

W-what…

 

Frisk came to a sudden stop and crouched down next to the edge of the path. She poked her head in between the wide wooden columns and reached her free hand downward to swipe away the black mist. Frisk blinked down at her mirror image. A budding lump of unease started to sprout in the pit of her stomach and clog her throat as she stared at her own reflection. H-her eyes… Something was wrong with her eyes.

Frisk leaned in further to get a better look. She used her fingers to pry open her eyelid. The coloration of her iris… it w-was distorted. The soft hazelnut hue had been fractured with slivers of ice. She carefully examined the fissures of pale blue within the brown. It looked… it looked frightful and infected. Her pupils were small, narrow pinpoints directly within the center. The rest of her looked a mess but ordinary, regardless. It was her corrupted eye color that really scared her. That light blue discoloration… it reminded her of… of Chara’s eyes.

She let out a dry huff, trying to calm her nerves. She felt sick to her stomach, yet hungry at the same time. S-she wanted more jerky… Frisk used the tarnished scarf to wipe away stray smudges of oil from her cheeks. She stumbled back up to her feet and continued on. Oddly enough, her anxiety settled almost instantly. The parasite within her soul infiltrated the unease and worry and smothered her concerns. And she felt that placid, malicious energy take hold once more without a care for her altered eye color.

 

 

Frisk began to pick up the pace. She trotted along the path with the box cutter sheathed in one hand. Where was Chara? When she first met the mysterious girl, it had been out here in these swamps. Shouldn't Chara be here? Frisk scanned the dismal horizon of the water as she ran. It was barren. Chara was nowhere to be seen. After her reset, her death, both Sans and Chara were not in their usual spots. Well, she sort of expected that Sans wouldn’t be there, but Chara? Perhaps… perhaps those two… were different somehow. They were both unaffected by her resets. Unlike Papyrus and Gaster.

 

Do not let your thoughts distract you.

 

……

 

You are the Manumitter.

 

………

 

Your only objective is to destroy these monsters.

 

But… what about the gates?

 

That is secondary.

 

Frisk clenched her teeth as she ran faster, only the sound of her sneakers clattering against the wooden planks echoed along the path. Despite her inner voice’s words, her thoughts returned to Chara once more. Chara had killed her… she had sent her back to Snowdin. B-but… how? Frisk had never died twice in a row before so it was something new. Every previous death had happened right after she touched a candle, a savepoint. And she found herself wondering exactly how those candles worked.

 

‘There is a limit. Each death will take you a step back… And bring you closer.’

 

Chara’s ambiguous words echoed in her mind. Each death will take you a step back… a step back… Had she been speaking about the candles? So after each death, she would go back a candle? Was that why she had returned to Snowdin? Because she had already died by Flowey's hand and used up her savepoint in the Waterfall cave?

Frisk’s eyes widened. Her thoughts sprinted faster than her own feet. D-does that mean… that her next death… will take her all the way back to the beginning? Back to Napstablook’s tunnels?! No… NO NO NO! That CANNOT happen! She could not return there. She had to get to the lava caverns. She had to find another new candle as soon as possible. She felt fear. Her fear was so strong that it burned through the tainted animosity that held her soul. She could not die. It was not an option. She could NOT allow herself to be killed again.

There was an electric surge of determination and she ran faster. The humid air brushed her hair back as she sprinted along the wooden road. ’There is a limit.' A limit to the amount of resets she had… so her very first save, Napstablook’s candle, was the final threshold. What happens if she were killed without a candle to return to? Would that be a permanent death?

Frisk smiled weakly to herself at the thought. A permanent death certainly sounded better than anything she had encountered during her time here. Her mind glazed over old memories of the orphanage… of Izzy… It felt like those days were centuries behind her.

Her soul began to throb painfully. It hurt. It burned her sternum and Frisk let out a soft whimper. She clutched at the center of her chest with her opposite hand, breathing hard while she sprinted. Her soul… h-her soul was poisoned. You are fine. There was a parasite within her. You are the Manumitter. Like like when Gaster had contaminated her… This is your destiny. Except… it was different this time.

 

'Are you going to kill usss, Manumitter?'

 

Napstablook… Those words he had spoken to her, so long ago.

 

S-she had… become a… a killer…

 

THEY DESERVE THIS. REMEMBER WHAT THEY DID TO YOU.

 

Frisk struggled to fight against her malicious mentality. Her head was aching. Her chest felt like it was being gouged open with sweltering needles. But the rage… it won in the end, and her doubt died back down. And Frisk’s gaze stabilized as she stared dead ahead, waiting for the massive caves of Waterfall to appear over the horizon.

 

 

 

 

The bleak light that hovered around the entire swamp was starting to subside. How long had she been running? She did not feel tired. Her muscles ached, but they urged her forward regardless. The landscape around her was starting to grow darker. The number of wilting swampland trees had begun to increase and they hung overhead, creating an eerie hollow canopy. The black mist that constantly rose up from the water was growing thicker… and very softly the color began to morph into a deep shade of azure blue.

Frisk stumbled and stopped in the middle of the path. She brushed her sweaty bangs out of her eyes and watched the lighting change from a dim, murky grey to ominous black. The fog wafted up into the atmosphere and illuminated the swamp a dense sapphire. Why… why did this happen? Was it just a natural occurrence out here in Waterfall’s swamp?

 

You cannot stop.

 

But… it’s so dark…

 

Call forth your sword and continue on.

 

She squeezed the box cutter in her hand and pushed the lever up, unsheathing its blade. She summoned her unstable soul energy. It burned at the center of her chest and wrapped around her arm before it ran down to her hand, creating the dazzling saber around the ordinary knife. Frisk held the sword out in front of her like a resplendent torch.

 

Keep your eyes peeled for MK…

 

 

 

 

And she continued on her way. The blue hue from the fog and the red shimmering light from her sword turned the humid atmosphere around her a gleaming shade of amethyst. It was unsettling and as quiet as ever. Frisk continued to glance over her shoulder every now and then. The thought of Sans appearing out of thin air was a constant weight on her mind. And now, in this darkness, it was even more daunting. She tried not to think about what would happen the next time she saw him… But as always, her aggravated rage smothered her thoughts instantaneously. She couldn’t think about it anyways, even if she wanted to. Her mind would not allow it.

As she ran, there was a sound.

 

A sound.

 

Get down.

 

Frisk plummeted to the wooden planks below her. Her movement felt automatic, like she had no control of her own body. She immediately retracted her sword and the red shimmering light vanished. Her heart was racing in her chest and her hands felt clammy from fear. Oh, god…… Oh, god… w-was it Sans?

 

It’s the kid.

 

Frisk blinked and peered through the wooden railing pillars at her side, out into the dense blue swamp. She heard the sound again. It sounded like soft, distant splashes. Like someone was out in the middle of the mire trudging around. Frisk narrowed her eyes and squinted through the fog. She couldn’t see him, she could only hear his slow movements.

 

Don’t trouble yourself. He will come to you.

 

Those words pulsed through her head. It was her own voice. It had a mind of its own. Somehow… the voice… it knew. T-the parasite… The infection that gripped her soul. She didn’t want to think about it. And her trepidation wouldn’t allow her to ponder over any concerns. She simply sat up and scooted back, sitting in the middle of the obscured path with her shoulders slumped forward, legs crossed and head hanging. And she waited in the shadows.

 

 

 

Frisk idly played with the scarf as she sat. She traced her fingertips over a dried stain of blood while simultaneously listening to MK out in the distance. She knew he would approach her eventually, when he realized that he was not alone. And then… and then she would…

 

He’s simply a monster, just like all the others.

 

He’s just a kid…

 

So are you.

 

……

 

He deceived you. He led you to Undyne. He led you to your downfall. Don’t you remember that?

 

………

 

Don’t be so naive.

 

Frisk took in a trembling inhale and pressed her face against an open palm. She felt like her mind and her soul were being torn in two. And the pain within her chest never once receded.

The subtle splashing out in the swamp was growing louder. MK was trudging closer to the path. She could hear him, hear his thumping wet steps. Rage started to churn in her stomach and it spread throughout her whole body as she listened.

Frisk pulled her face from her hand and glanced out into the swamps. She could see him. MK was standing waist deep in the blue misty bog. He was only a handful of yards away. And he was staring back at her, all four of his dark stacked eyes as wide as saucers.

“Whoa! Hey!”

She heard him call out and the small scaled monster immediately darted forward. He reached the edge of the path and stared up at Frisk with a look of pure amazement. Frisk remained silent. She stared back down at the monster, the traitor. Her gaze was apathetic and callous. Her abnormal eyes glazed blue from the glowing smog.

"Wow! I've never seen anyone else out here before!" MK exclaimed and his crocodile teeth widened in that large familiar smile. He was bursting with excitement.

MK forced his way in between the wooden pillars of the path and squeezed through them, climbing up onto the planks using his teeth as grappling hooks. He was dripping with scum and algae. And Frisk quickly rose up to her feet in front of him. The little reptilian monster shook himself off, spraying water everywhere. He was still dawned in that stained brown leather cloak.

“Where are you from? You’re not from Waterfall, are you? How did you get here?” His questions spilled forth as those dark quadrupel eyes scanned Frisk from top to bottom.

 

Watch out for his tail…

 

His what?

 

His tail.

 

Frisk stared blankly as she listened to the conversation in her head. She could barely hear the monster's words over the voices. Hatred began to fester deep within her soul like it often did, and it pulsed vigorously. Every thought that filled her mind dripped with venom and anger. An anger so strong that it made her light-headed. Her hands were trembling at her sides and she squeezed around the handle of her box cutter so tight that its metal edge cut into her palm.

MK blinked his eyes simultaneously and stared back at her. His look of amazement altered into one of concern.

“Hey… are you a human?” He whispered under his breath and he took a step forward moving in close.

Frisk blinked. Her deadpan gaze darted down, locking onto the creature's tail at his side. It was thick and scaled and it wiggled silently in the air. And it began to rise behind him. He was going to bring it down against the wood. So that was how he did it. The vibrations from his slapping tail… He had done it consistently back then. That was how he had alerted Undyne last time.

 

Kill him.

 

……

 

NOW.

 

In an instant, Frisk flipped her thumb against the utility knife’s lever, unsheathing the blade, and her brilliant glistening sword ruptured fourth. The light was blinding in the dark and she couldn’t see through its glare, but she knew where to aim. That guiding force urged her feet forward and she lunged to the monster's side then brought her arm down behind him, slicing her sharpened translucent blade through the middle of his tail. Her movements had been so swift that the small monster hadn’t even flinched.

MK let out a gut-wrenching scream which echoed throughout the whole swamp. He staggered down to his knees and began to writhe on the floor. His tail had been severed - cut in two. The amputated detached appendage wriggled against the wood as crimson blood gushed from his open wound. The sight was appalling. The monster screamed louder, his eyes wide and tearing, his stubby feet scraping against the bloody planks below him.

And Frisk ripped her blade from the floor. Her sword dripped with blood. The crimson fluids ran down the handle and painted her hand. She rolled her shoulders back, taking in a deep inhale, and stood over the frantic convulsing monster. Her face was expressionless… but her heart was pulsing rapidly.

 

T-this… this is too much…

 

FINISH HIM OFF.

 

Frisk stepped over the monster with her feet at either side of his waist. He was screaming and crying and shouting inaudible curses back up at her. His whole body was trembling as blood spewed from the base of his severed tail and it pooled against the wooden floor and dripped into the water through the slits between each plank.

But Frisk simply stared down at the creature. Her poisoned eyes were immense and maniacal. She wrapped both hands around the blood-stained handle of her sword and held the blade over the monster’s chest, locking it into position. MK’s frantic movements stilled and he stared at her with wide eyes. His face contorted with fear.

And a soft stream of words whispered past Frisk’s lips.

“I’m not just a human. I’m the Manumitter…

She did not even recognize her own voice. Frisk lifted the sword high above her head and brought the sharp blade down governed by resentment and rage. The blade cut through the monster’s torso so violently. It pierced through his cloak and penetrated the front of his scaled chest. But Frisk did not stop. She ripped the sword from his flesh and brought it down again. And again. And she repeated her heinous, brutal assault, hacking him open.

Blood burst and ruptured fourth as Frisk ripped the sword from the monster’s insides, only to bring it down once more. Dark, silky crimson coated the front of her hoodie and scarf and it splattered against her face and legs and hands.

 

They want you dead, Manumitter.

 

She sliced the blade through his body until she could feel the tip of her weapon pierce the wooden floor underneath.

 

They are all the same.

 

The length of MK’s torso had been cleaved in two. His cracked exposed rib bones jutted out underneath the gore and viscera that spilled onto the path. His eyes were wide open, his tapered reptilian jaw hung ajar. Yet Frisk continued her rampage.

 

Kill them all.

 

She could see blood pooling in the back of his throat and dripping down his teeth. He was not screaming anymore. He was completely still.

 

I’ll kill them all.

 

Frisk’s hands finally steadied. She panted heavily, barely able to catch a frantic breath. Adrenaline and hate coursed through her veins. She was dripping in his blood and her whole body felt flushed with anger. Her soul… her soul was savoring the depraved rancor that tainted her entire being.

Frisk swapped her sword’s handle to one hand and brought it to her side. She stepped over the monster and stared down at his mutilated corpse as blood dripped from her bangs and ran in her eyes.

 

That was easy.

 

S-stop this…

 

The perishing voice of reason was so faint that she could barely hear it. Frisk sheathed her sword and stuffed the bloodied weapon back into her pocket. She crouched down next to the remains of MK. And for some reason… her mouth… her mouth began to water at the heinous sight. She peered inside his open chest cavity and her eyes locked onto something just barely visible within his ribs. There was something buried deep inside his ruined entrails.

His soul.

A small brown orb, splintered like a broken marble. It oozed blood and auburn energy.

 

It’s time to go.

 

Frisk heard her own voice purr in her ears, but her curiosity urged her arm forth. She reached a hand and slipped it inside the monsters gushing, fatal wound. It was warm inside him… and slippery. Her fingers wrapped around the small broken soul. She ripped the sphere from MK’s body and held it up in front of her eyes. It dripped with hot essence. The color reminded her of the muddled swamp water. It was fitting, she supposed.

 

Move.

 

Frisk reluctantly rose to her feet. She glanced down at the maimed mound of blood and internal organs spread out before her and she dropped his soul to the floor. It landed with a soft thud and rolled along the wooden planks until it reached the edge of the path and fell into the water.

Frisk lifted her head and stared up at the canopy of black molded trees above. She allowed her eyes close and took in a trembling inhale before releasing the breath slowly. I am the Manumitter. A ruthless killer. Powerful. Vengeful. And a tranquil smile radiated along her features. Then she turned and continued down the path, leaving a heinous trail of bloody shoe prints behind her.

 

 

 

 

Frisk walked along the wooden trail using only the rising azure fog to light the way. It was still dark. Her entire body was stained with clotting blood and it had begun to dry against her skin. It felt itchy and uncomfortable, but Frisk did not stop to wash it off. She knew the end of the path was up ahead, and in turn the entrance to Waterfall. Her voice of reason no longer whispered in her head. Frisk walked in silence and her thoughts were static and hollow. The only ideation that bubbled in her mind was the urgency to reach Waterfall’s caverns, get past the lava caves, and find another candle… a new save point.

 

Frisk came to a sudden stop and stared down at the path. She finally reached the end of the trail and the abrupt cut-off of jagged wooden planks was unchanged, but she did not hesitate like last time. Frisk stared ahead and stepped down into the murky mire. The blood that coated her legs immediately began to wash off in the water and it permeated along the surface below the blue fog. She trudged forward in the substantial darkness. Soon the water rose to her waist but she was completely unbothered by it. Besides, the water was efficient in cleansing her flesh of blood… but it could not wash out the deep red stains that tainted her clothes.

Frisk lumbered through the thick swamp. Her sneakers caught on mounds of mud and roots at the marsh floor. But she did not have to walk long before the water started to dwindle back down to her ankles and she came upon the massive gaping cavern entrance.

Waterfall.

She stared down the continuous stretch of swampland that spanned the length of the cave and stepped inside.

 

 

 

The temperature plummeted the moment she entered the cave. The trees were gone and she was surrounded by nothing by swamp, rising sapphire fog, and wet cavern walls. Soon the clearing water began to rise to her chest. It was no longer muddy swamp water. Frisk glanced down through the azure mist and she could see her own feet underneath the glassy surface. She pulled her box cutter out of her pocket under the water and rinsed it clean of any blood.

But as Frisk tread deeper into the cavern, that unsettling wave of paranoia started to suffuse her soul once more. She found herself glancing over her shoulder every couple of minutes. Sans…… Sans… Where are you?…

 

Don’t you worry about him.

 

She dropped her blade back in her pocket and cupped her hands underneath the clear glistening blue water. She bent down and splashed some against her face and dunked the top of her head underneath the surface, rinsing away stray splatters of blood.

As she continued on her eyes began to scan the walls. Soon she noticed the open archways, each only sporting a different colored streak of paint above the inlets. Frisk came to a stop and she felt her heart shiver with a rare collision of apprehension. The white paint… That is the one you need… The white streak on the right side of the cavern.

Frisk stepped over towards the right wall and she slowly passed each open tunnel entrance. Her eyes quickly studied every stripe of paint. Blue… red… purple… no, no… oh wait- that one. White. She came to a stop and peered down the long stretch of tunnel. It was narrow, flooded with spectral blue fog, and she could see the arena at the end of the passage.

Frisk lifted her foot to take a step forward but the predominant rage that had settled inside her soul stilled her movements.

 

No. Undyne must be destroyed.

 

But… but the 5th gate is this way…

 

That is not why we are here.

 

………

 

Use the next tunnel up ahead.

 

Frisk chewed at her lower lip and for a brief moment she felt like herself again as a rush of emotions fought with the parasite in her soul. But, like always, the hate attacked her conscious and she felt that terrible shooting pain pierce her dead center. I-it hurt… She clenched her teeth and held back a cry, grasping at her chest with one hand and stumbled back against the cold, wet wall. She took in unsteady, agitated breaths. T-this must stop…

 

Do not linger. Now move.

 

She pushed herself up off the wall and staggered forward, walking past the entrance with the white streak and headed for a narrow opening next to it. It was a tunnel as well, and the archway had a black streak of paint above it. Frisk peered down the second channel and she quickly realized that it wasn’t a tunnel at all, but a long stretch of ascending stairs.

 

Go on.

 

Frisk stepped through the archway and began to climb the stairs that rose up out of the water. Without the swamp, the blue hue diminished and Frisk found herself scaling the steps in darkness. They were slippery and she pressed both of her hands at either side of the walls to steady her movements. But the stairs were only about three flights up and soon she could see a light at the top of the steps. Frisk peered through the open archway as she reached the final stair.

She was at the top of the arena… she was standing upon the stone balconies that hovered over the concave Colosseum. Horizontal streams of light descended from those slight openings embedded within in the ceiling and illuminated the space. This… this was where Undyne had loitered during the first half of their skirmish.

Her soul began to pulse with seething resentment. Frisk found it difficult to stand breathe. She slowly stepped over towards the side of the stone edge and peered down into the arena. It really did look like a fishbowl. So this was what Undyne saw. What a cruel and unfair advantage she had… Frisk’s hands curled up into fists and she dug her nails into her palms with closed eyes. Her teeth clenched as her soul soaked in hate and rage like a sponge.

 

Manumitter, open your eyes. And go finish her off.

 

Frisk obeyed. She stared ahead, back towards the end of the circular space. On the opposite side of the room was a small concave alcove. And within that narrow space was a massive stone throne with an… an armored monster… sitting right in the center.

Undyne.

Frisk felt faint at the sight and immediately sunk to her hands and knees.

 

O-oh god… Had she seen her!? How could she have NOT seen her???

 

She had been out in the open distracted by the stone platform verandas, completely unaware that she was standing in the same room as that terrible, deranged wyrm woman. But w-why wasn’t she shouting? Why wasn’t she attacking?

 

Be calm. She is resting.

 

Those words settled the burning anxiety and fear that clutched around Frisk’s heart. She slowly lifted herself from the floor and squinted back at the alcove on the far end of the room. Undyne was perched upon the throne with her legs crossed at her knees. Her scaled claws propped atop either side of the chiseled stone arm rests and her thin iron spear was leaning against the side of the throne. Undyne’s only visible eye - the eye that was not wrapped with bandages - was closed. Her platemail clad chest rose and fell softly with each steady breath she took. She definitely appeared to be asleep.

 

Be quick.

 

Frisk’s legs were trembling but she could not stop her slow tiptoeing advance forward. She stepped silently along the side of the rounded room, making her way towards the back, towards Undyne. Her body felt fevered and her soul felt like it was going to shatter from searing pain. Frisk’s hand inched towards her pocket and she reached for her box cutter, pulling it out and unsheathing the knife without a sound.

 

This is insane! You are going to die!

 

SHUT UP and FINISH HER!

 

Frisk stepped closer…

And closer…

She could hear Undyne’s constant breaths. She could see the monster’s sharp black claws scraped into the stone. She stared at the left side of Undyne’s face, at the sticky, wet blood-stained bandages glistening in the pale light. Even in her sleep, the monster’s teeth were bared. That grotesque interlocking wall of thick bleeding needles. They cut into her own gums and red velvet liquid oozed down her chin.

Frisk stepped up to the side of the throne. She could see Undyne’s closed eye twitch underneath her eyelid for a brief moment and Frisk felt as if she was going to cry out from fear. S-she’s going to wake… oh, god… she will wake… But the toxic rage steadied her terror like it always did.

 

If you do it quickly, she won’t wake.

 

 

She will die in her sleep. That is a rare luxury.

 

………

 

One she does not deserve. But we are running out of time.

 

 

So finish her now.

 

I-…

 

Do it.

 

Frisk stepped forward and stood directly in front of the sleeping monster. Her distorted eyes were wide, her pupils constricted into thin specks within her iris. She lifted her hand, holding the drawn box cutter out in front of her, the blade pointing directly at the monster’s exposed throat. But Frisk’s hand was trembling, her soul was engulfed in the flames of hate and turmoil… but also confliction. A voice of reason, her mercy, ignited within the depths of her soul in one last desperate attempt of cohesion.

 

Manumitter, what are you waiting for?

 

Please…

 

Out of all the monsters you have defeated, this one warrants your vengeance the most.

 

I know that… b-but…

 

It was UNDYNE’S law that states you be captured.

 

It… it was…

 

It was UNDYNE’S will that you be led through the Underground like a dog.

 

She’s… just a monster…right?…

 

It was UNDYNE’S aspiration that you be murdered after the final gate is unlocked.

 

She’s a beast…

 

SHE is the reason for all of your suffering! For all of your pain!

 

She must… die.

 

Now KILL HER.

 

I’ll kill her.

 

KILL HER!

 

I’ll kill them all.

 

Undyne’s singular eye twitched again underneath the blue scaled lid. Her eye was starting to waver.

All of Frisk’s hate and anger and resentment for this abhorrent hell, for every monster in this purgatory, for Papyrus and Gaster and Toriel and Napstablook and… and Sans, all of her tremendous loathing burst forth in the form of her soul’s energy. The translucent unstable flames erupted from her chest and arm and licked up into the air violently. The power ran down her limb, through her tendons, and enveloped the box cutter in an instant. And her magnificent sword generated before her eyes and burned so bright and erratic. The blade was volatile. It was capricious. Her soul was completely unhinged with fury.

Undyne’s eye shot open, but it was already over.

Frisk swiped the blade horizontally and her sword’s edge cut clean through the monster’s throat. It severed Undyne’s skull from her neck and her heavy decapitated head landed upon the floor with a revolting wet thump. Undyne’s decollated body slumped to the side of the throne while vermilion claret spewed from her cleaved neck.

But Frisk was not finished.

She screamed out in a rage over the sound of her sword’s energy, and she started stabbing through Undyne’s torso. Her sword pierced the thick armor and impaled the monster’s breasts and chest violently. Frisk’s hate was so overwhelming, her energy was burning, her limbs felt like they were aflame. She stabbed through Undyne’s body, through Undyne’s soul, counting the numbers of each thrust in her head until she lost track of them.

 

 

 

 

 

Frisk stumbled down the stairs back into the main cave. She made her way through the tunnel that led to the bottom level of the arena. Her movements were sluggish. Her eyes wide and twitched with vitality. Frisk’s soul sword was still drawn and she dragged it behind her, its crystallized sharp tip scraping along the waterlogged stone floor. She was soaked in blood and slivers of blue flesh and scales. The red scarf she wore dripped with it. Her entire body was shaking. Her mind was simply an overflowing basin of poisonous malice.

Frisk’s hollow, bloodshot eyes scanned the room until they settled upon the 5th gate. She lurched towards it and slammed her free hand down upon the symbol. Her energy spewed forth and the door swung open immediately. She was so strong now. So strong… Her power… Her energy… It was unparalleled.

She let out a deranged chuckle and a sweeping gust of cold wind blew back blood-soaked hair from her face. The waterfall. She stood atop that dreadful waterfall. The water raged before her feet. There was nothing but obscured darkness on the other side of the door, along with deafening rushing riptides.

But there was no other way down. And the malevolent parasite that had now taken complete control directed her forward. Frisk swiftly sheathed her blade and gripped onto the handle tight before stepping down into the water. She was immediately swept up by the current. She held her breath tight in her lungs as she was sucked under the glassy surface. It was cold and the underswell of waves pummeled against her. But it did not last long. The roar of the raging current grew louder as she reached the edge of the waterfall and plummeted down the massive length of the falls and into the deep river below.

Frisk’s heart was pulsing frantically in her chest as she was swept down the river, but she did not feel afraid. The anger that possessed her masked every shred of fear. Her hands gripped onto the first rock she felt and she pushed herself back against the riverbank. She climbed up the rocky edge and coughed against the floor. Her whole body was trembling but she did not feel cold. Her skin was flushed with burning vehemence.

 

Good job. Now move.

 

G-give me a minute, will you??

 

Frisk coughed again, retching up foul river water she had breathed in, and clumsily pushed dripping locks out of her face. The voice whispered so clearly in her head over the roar of the falls next to her.

 

There’s no time, Manumiter. Flowey is next.

 

Flowey?…

 

I’m sure you remember Flowey.

 

Frisk’s hands curled into fists. Her knuckles turned white from the strain and she leered forward in the darkness as that malignant rage spread through her once more.

 

That flower…

 

 

She summoned her sword began the hike along the river’s edge, using the red glow to light the way. Her movements were slow and staggered. She felt like she had become a puppet to some internal parasite. Her whole body ached but the pain was severed by the monster within her. It wouldn’t let her rest. It wouldn’t allow her to feel fear or empathy. She was simply a husk of her old self.

As Frisk walked along, the river’s current began to soften. She saw that red glowing hue rise from the water’s surface out of the corner of her eye. She knew she was getting closer… closer to the lava chambers… closer to the unknown. And then she came upon the small cave.
Frisk stopped in her tracks and turned her head to glance back at the hollow inlet. A familiar candle sat by the wall and flickered gently. For some reason the nostalgic sight made her heart pound eagerly. Frisk’s curiosity pushed her forth and she stepped through the open archway and up to the spectral candle in the small chamber. She sunk down to her feet and let her fingers graze over the warm wax… but nothing happened.

 

Did you really think something would happen? You have already saved here. You must find the next candle, Manumitter.

 

She felt her shoulders start to tremble and took in a deep, unsteady breath. She felt sick… and deplorable.

“Chara…” She spoke softly and her voice actually sounded like her own for a fleeting moment, “Chara, where are you?”

But nobody came.

 

 

 

Frisk eventually rose back to her feet and continued on along the stony riverbed. She watched the water as it went from a clear, rippling stream to a luminous river of bubbling crimson. The lava filled the entire space with stifling heat and soon Frisk was sweating. She remembered this feeling very well. She had felt it right before she died.

She rolled up the sleeves of her hoodie and tread closer to the walls of the vast caverns. She walked along the edges of those familiar stony ruins and narrowed her eyes as she studied the dismal landscape.

 

This monster is a tricky one. He will come to you under the right circumstances…

 

Frisk blinked and squeezed the handle of her sword.

 

He is hungry. Hungry for blood. Use that weakness and lure him out.

 

She stopped in her tracks and glanced around the interior of the sweltering cave. Her rage throbbed and she turned around to face the rubble behind her, gripping tightly onto one of the broken pillars with a free hand. She climbed up onto a disheveled wall of the ruins and leaned over the side, glancing down at the floor.

 

Go on.

 

Frisk let her energy spread through her arm as she retracted her sword back within her poisoned soul. But she did not sheath the blade of her utility knife. No, instead she held the measly sharpened edge to her palm and cut into the flesh. She flinched slightly from the sting and watched as a few drops of blood dripped onto the floor. Her blood… Her trap. She’d lure that vile demon out from his underground dwelling and destroy him.

And Frisk crouched quietly upon the ruins up off the ground. Her eyes locked onto the small beads of blood on the gravel. She was lying in wait for him. She was the predator now. And it did not take long. It had only been about 10 minutes before she heard the sound of stones shifting.

 

He’s coming.

 

A mound began to rise up from underneath the earth’s dry crust. It was him. Frisk watched with narrowed eyes, pupils distending with anticipation. She leaned forward silently, perched upon the low wall.

The flower broke through the gravel directly in front of the blood spots. He was facing away from Frisk. He hadn’t seen her yet. He rose up from the ground like a twisting serpent and lowered his head down at the blood, inspecting it over.

 

Kill him.

 

Frisk hesitated. Her scathing soul drummed painfully.

 

KILL HIM.

 

That familiar burst of rage took hold and she surrendered herself to the controlling fiend within. Frisk swiftly flicked her wrist and her unhinged soul energy burst forward down her arm through the knife. The dazzling transparent sword erupted forth before her eyes.

It only took a second.

Frisk jumped down off the wall behind the rising flower and pierced through the top of his head with her blade. He didn’t even see it coming. She speared through the center of the creature over and over, stabbing his singular cyclops eye until it was nothing more than a bloody pulp. She could hear his screams as she skewered his entire physique, the tip of her blade piercing him into the floor. Frisk swiped her saber through his coiling vines that formed his body, hacking the creature into multiple pieces. Some of his trembling thorny tendrils burst from the ground, but she cut each one down the moment they reached the surface.

He was no match for her vengeance.

Blood and petals and chunks of red smearing vine coated her legs. Frisk continued to stab her sword through the monster's head and thin body until he was nothing more than mounds of bloody flesh.

Die! Die! DIE! DIE!!

The flower’s form was unrecognizable. It was vile and heinous. And Frisk sneered as she stomped the bottom of her messy sneaker down into the heap of gore. Red pulp splattered against the stones and upon her shoes. Her discolored eyes were wide and twitching and a cynical smirk spread across her features. She was gone. Long gone.

 

 

 

 

 

Manumitter…

 

……

 

Frisk took in enticed inhales as she stared down at the splattered viscera. Her smirk twitched, her hands shook with excitement. There was so much power running through her. So much fury. But the voice was ringing in her ears and would not give her a moment to relish in the kill. And it sounded different. It sounded… anxious.

 

Manumitter. You need to move.

 

Frisk blinked and slowly lifted her head, staring ahead with demonic dead eyes.

 

He’s close.

 

………

 

What?…

 

Move now.

 

Wait… w-what!?

 

There is a candle up ahead. Go!

 

Frisk’s maniacal smirk faded almost instantly. Her distorted eyes started to quiver. He’s close… She felt her heart plummet to the center of her stomach. Her pulse was galloping. She even felt a fragment of fear start to splinter through the pit of her soul. Oh, crap… And she immediately bound forward.

 

Get to the candle! Quickly!

 

The malicious inner voice sounded frantic. It had never sounded like that before. It scared her. Frisk clenched her teeth and gripped a blood-stained hand tightly around her sword’s hilt as she ran through the vast caverns. She jumped over narrow streams of lava that weaved throughout the floor. The heat singed the bottom of her sneakers, but she didn’t falter. Sweat dripped in her eyes. She still did not stop her frantic dash forward. If she could just get to the candle… but where is it!? Where is it??!!

Frisk ran into another vast broiling chamber. Towering ruins along the walls seemed to rise up from the ground. They loomed overhead and reminded Frisk of white ancient Roman structures, but they were completely demolish.

She scanned the room frantically. Her conscious was screaming at her but she couldn’t hear the words. She darted forward, leaping over multiple lava trails. Her anxiety was almost crippling.

 

But wait-… Wait, she saw something. Out of the corner of her eye. Yes, a light…!

 

On the opposite side of the chamber, perched up high upon broken columns within a mound of ruins. A candle.

It was a candle!

It flickered softly and it looked like a little speck of ember surrounded by collapsed white buildings. Frisk stared up at it with astonishment. She glanced down at a row of thin ascending steps that seemed to lead up to the balcony… a stairway that rose up to the high shelf where the candle was perched.

 

Run, you idiot! Get to those stairs! Hurry!

 

Frisk held her blade at her side. She darted forward, stumbling over more lava and piles of sweltering obsidian gravel. It was so hot and the shivering mirages danced around the sultry atmosphere and burned her bare legs. It’s so close! Just get up those steps! She stumbled towards the expansive and intricate collapsed structure and skidded around the corner of a towering wall.

 

And then-

Something hit her…

 

Hard.

 

It was like a kick to the face.

Brunt force slammed into her jaw and Frisk was knocked to the opposite side of the rubble enclosure. Her head bashed against stone and she immediately tasted blood in her mouth and violently coughed up a tooth, her own tooth, that struck against the back of her throat from the savage impact.

 

Oh… o-oh, god…

 

Something had knocked out her tooth…

 

She staggered to her feet. Wet bangs hung in her face and blood dripped from her mouth. Her jaw felt like it had been fractured. She slid her tongue over the space between her teeth where her front canine tooth had been knocked out from the clash. Frisk blinked away the sweat that ran in her eyes…

And she heard it…

 

That deep, reverberating sinister chuckle that made her blood run cold.

 

There was a large figure standing before her…

 

He… he had been hiding behind the walls.

 

Waiting for her…

 

N-no… no…

 

 

“end of the line, kiddo.”

 

 

Sans.

 

 

 

*****

 

 

Coming up: b a d t i m e

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

*****

 

 

Frisk pushed herself from the stone wall and staggered back up to her feet. She grasped at the side of her aching jaw with a free hand and held back a cry, still gripping at her sword’s handle in the opposite hand. God, it hurt. The entire left side of her face felt numb from the impact and she peered through sweat-soaked bangs that fell like a curtain in front of her eyes.

 

S-sans…

 

It was Sans.

 

The towering skeleton stood before her. His fur-trimmed hood lay back, framing his shoulders, and Frisk could see that gaping, jagged aperture at the topside of his skull. His hollow sockets were wide and twitching at their lower lids. His single vermilion malevolent sphere, the hue that haunted Frisk’s thoughts day and night, pulsed rapidly within the right eye socket. The way it throbbed… it was like a thrashing heartbeat. And Frisk could just barely see a black pinpoint pupil visible within its center. His eye shone so brightly that she had never even noticed a pupil before… and it was locked on her like a missile.

Sans grasped at the side of his skull with one hand and his sharp phalanges curled around his cheekbone and dipped inside the parallel cavernous socket. His opposite hand hung down at his side, clenched around the middle of that grotesque blood-soaked wooden handle… the handle of his ax. His weapon… his weapon was drawn and he was ready for combat. His thick, sharp teeth interlocked in a wide, cruel grin. A resentful smirk. He was furious. He was… seething.

Frisk stared back in utter terror. She ripped her trembling gaze from his face as her eyes locked on to his chest. Dark maroon streaks decorated the entire front of his white shirt. There were way more bloodstains than she had ever seen on him before. But they looked dry. And mixed within the smudged red were… w-were smears of… of orange. Muddled blood-orange liquid stained his clothes in splotches. It was all over his dark jacket sleeves.

 

Oh…… crap……

 

Oh, god…

 

Oh, no- no no no nonono…

 

He- He saw Papyrus… He saw it… He had seen Papyrus’ corpse…… He saw what she had done.

 

MANUMITTER!

 

The dominant voice screamed in her head, but Frisk's fear was all-encompassing. She couldn’t move. She was paralyzed with apprehension. She stared back at Sans in horror, clutching at her jaw with one hand and the sword handle in the other. Her arms were trembling and her palms were sweating so terribly that the glowing saber almost slipped from her fingers.

 

MANUMITTER! YOU NEED TO RUN!

 

Please, no…… no… no…

 

MANUMITTER! LISTEN TO ME!

 

Sans’ wide shoulders rose and fell in a steady pace as he took in rabid breaths. The way he stood… She could see that his entire form was shuddering ever so slightly. But unlike Frisk who was quivering with fear, he was quivering with fury.

“kid…” He growled out and his voice cut through her soul like scalding hot knives. “…i’ve been looking for you.” He took a slow step to the side, moving out of the shadows that cascaded from the deteriorating wall and stood directly in front of the bottom of the stairs, blocking Frisk’s only avenue to the candle above them.

 

MOVE, DAMMIT!

 

She still could not move. Her feet were planted within in the hot gravel. Her knees were trembling, she was overthrown with panic. She could barely breathe. And Sans’ tainted smirk widened. He could see her fear painted across her face, he could sense it deep within her tainted soul, and he drank it in like it an exquisite elixir.

“S-sans-” Frisk began, her voice a stuttering wreck, but the heinous skeleton spoke again and abruptly cut her off.

“you really stepped out of line this time, buddy,” Each one of his words dripped with bitter toxin. Sans pulled his clawed fingers from the empty eye socket swiftly and he brought his hand down to the ax handle. He squeezed around the middle of the shaft with both claws and lifted his weapon, holding it out in front of him, directly at her.

 

FRISK!

 

She heard her name. It screamed in her ears so loudly that it shook her to the core and pierced through her paralysis. She could move. Frisk shifted her sneakers against the dry ground and blinked. Wide eyes darted to the side, towards the vast empty sweltering chamber beside her right outside the ruins.

 

Manumitter! You can take him! Lure him away from the stairs! NOW!

 

A sudden surge of energy pulsed within her chest. The demon, the parasite that had taken refuge within her soul, it was slicing through her fear and anxiety. It was forcing her to move. It made her feel unafraid, if only for a brief moment.

Her hesitation was cut short. She couldn’t think, she could only act. Frisk automatically dove to the side and ran out past the ruins’ archway entrance. She sprinted out of the rubble enclosure back into the sweltering lava chamber, her tattered scarf fluttering behind her. She could taste her own blood. It seeped against her tongue to the back of her throat from her wounded gums. Frisk hurdled over small streams of lava that spread throughout the ground like bright red tree roots. The back heel of one of her sneakers slipped and skidded against the edge of a tiny lava stream and it burned through the rubber instantly. But she held back the pained cry in her lungs and kept running. It was as if some overpowering force had taken control of her entire body.

 

BEHIND YOU!

 

Frisk could hear a churning rush of wind directly behind her. In an instant she wrapped both her hands around the handle of her box cutter, her sword, and swiveled around mid-sprint holding the blade in front of her defensively.

 

Sans had followed after her.

 

He was only inches away.

 

He lunged behind her and he brought down his ax from overhead so forcefully, his attack was boiling with uncontrollable anger. The bloodied metal of his jagged ax head clashed with her vibrating soul sword and a blinding burst of red sparks erupted from the impact. An abhorrent sound of metal scraping against glass echoed around them. Frisk was terrified that her sword was going to shatter, but it held. It actually held his weapon at bay, somehow. And she managed to parry his strike.

Sans leered over the clattering weapons. His eye sockets narrowed down at her, the corners of his smirk twitched. He was delirious with rage. Sans tore his ax from Frisk’s sword and started to thrash his weapon down repeatedly into her blade.

He- he was so strong. So powerful. She could barely stand her ground. Each impact from his daunting tomahawk sent a wave of burning sparks flying in the air as he attempted to cut through her sword so violently, over and over. Frisk‘s heels dug into the ground from each brutal blow. Her arms were trembling as she tried to steady her blade out in front and above. S-she couldn’t stop his assault. And he knocked her backwards each time he brought down the heavy ax.

 

FOCUS, MANUMITTER!

 

The voice was screaming within her mind and it steadied her fear. Frisk clenched her teeth and she took the offensive, lunging forward towards Sans' torso for the split second when he had lifted his ax. She swiped her blade at his chest but-

 

Too fast.

 

Sans jumped backwards instantly. He was so quick, it happened in the blink of an eye. And he stood some yards away from her in the center of the cave. He was breathing heavily, his shoulders rose up and down like a fervent wild animal. But unlike Frisk he displayed no fear. He was excited.

“so you want it like that, huh, kid?” He breathed out with that wide taunting smirk and released one claw from his ax’s handle. Sans swiftly brought his free hand down to his side, then began to lift it up in the air in front of him. That familiar blue swirling whisp of smoke started to appear out of nothing and it wrapped around each one of his skeletal phalanges. He was summoning forth his energy… his soul’s power. Frisk blinked the sweat out of her eyes and stared at his rising claw, watching that azure-blue serpent shadow encircle his fingers. She felt her stomach lurch in her throat and almost instantly the ground at her feet started to shake. S-something was erupting from underneath the floor directly below her. W-what… what was that!?

 

MOVE! HE’S GOING TO CAGE YOU!

 

The ground convulsed below her feet like a miniature earthquake. Frisk darted to the side just in time, rolling onto the sweltering gravel. Thick blood-red bones shot up from the floor in an encircling entrapment only inches away from her. They were massive pillars with sharp jagged ends like spears atop each pinnacle. And Frisk’s thoughts immediately returned to that bone cage that Papyrus had used on her… but Sans’ version was so much more sinister looking. Each bone was a deep shade of maroon, covered in ripping fractures, exposing the sickening bloody bone marrow within. It was like something out of a horror movie.

Frisk staggered back up to her feet quickly, using her sword’s glassy blade as leverage, and she started to run along the peripheral of the cavern. S-she has to get away… this… this is bad! She took in frantic inhales, the stifling volcanic oxygen burned her lungs terribly. Her pulse was churning within her veins and she could feel it thumping at the backs of her ears.

But Sans wouldn’t give her a moment to recover. His red eye followed her as she ran and he lifted his hand again in her direction. Another wave of bones jutted out from underneath the ground, grazing the bottoms of her sneakers, causing her to stagger forward. Frisk sprinted faster, just barely missing the rising sharp tips of another cage that shot up directly behind her.

 

MANUMITTER! YOU NEED TO GET BACK TO THE CANDLE!

 

Sans grit his teeth together as his enclosure missed her for a second time. Frisk could just barely see a hint of irritation painted across his features out of the corner of her eye. She sprinted forward without stopping. She was panicking. She w-was… scared. Sans clenched his risen hand into a fist and he released a low scoff.

“heh…” The daunting skeleton lifted his forefinger, pointing it at Frisk, following her movements along the periphery of the cavern. A blinding burst of blue energy detonated around his slender digit and about a dozen thin, narrow bones started to apparate out of thin air. They hovered directly in front of his hand, sharp knives made out of cartilage. They were also blood-red in color, but a soft hue of blue surrounded each one, controlling them. They shivered in the air like hummingbirds, awaiting their master's orders.

 

YOUR SHIELD!

 

F-fuck…!

 

Sans swiped a claw in the air and the sharp bones spiraled forward like arrows. Frisk ripped one hand away from her sword’s handle and lifted it out in front of her as she came to a skidding halt. She felt a terribly surge of pain and heat within her chest and her soul shield erupted from her open palm. The dazzling barrier appeared before her in seconds and it blunted the terrible blow just in time. Dozens of bone spears pierced through the translucent shield and became stuck within the gloss. The force of the collision knocked her back into the side of the cave.

 

T-they were so strong… They were piercing through her shield!

 

Frisk tried to steady her trembling arm, holding it out in front of her as the bones impaled her shield violently. She watched in horror as her soul’s glowing blockade started to waver. O-oh, god… it was going to collapse! She could see sharp cracks splinter through the liquid crimson. They ran down along the shield as its energy weakened and began to shatter under such a volatile pressure. Sans stood in the middle of the chamber. He watched her through the translucent red. His eyes were narrowed, his malicious smirk dawned, his solo eye was pulsing with anticipation as he watched the girl struggle.

 

FRISK! THE CANDLE!

 

The pressure against her shield was so strong that it almost knocked her to the floor. Sans swiped his hand within the air once again and the bones started to pierce through the barrier with even more force, like iron nails driving through drywall. Her shield was crumbling. The bones were pushing through, directly in front of her face and chest.

 

GET DOWN!

 

Another surge of pain shot through Frisk’s soul and it encompassed her limbs. Her soul shield shattered and she dropped down to the floor as the bone arrows launched forward. They pierced through the cavern wall directly above her head, but-… b-but Frisk was not unscathed. One of the lower hovering bones had met its mark. It had plunged deep within her shoulder during her descent to the floor and it embedded itself inside her muscle. Frisk let out a cry from the pain. F-fuck-… It hurts! Her soul’s shield crumbled to the floor above her like vile chunks of bloody glass, and the moment the pieces fell they melted into a puddle of cloudy gelatinous red liquid.

Frisk still had her sword in her hand, but she could barely lift it. The bone spear within her shoulder dug deep and pierced through her onto the other side. It skewered her directly underneath the collarbone. The pain was so tremendous, it felt like Sans was sinking his teeth into her flesh all over again. Frisk held back terrible whimpers of agony in her throat. Her quavering eyes locked onto the jutting weapon embedded within her. She lifted her opposite hand up, wrapped her fingers around the end of the bone, and tried to pull it from her flesh. But it wouldn’t budge.

And she could hear Sans… Out in the center of the chamber as he watched her… H-he was… he was chuckling.

“you wanted a fight kiddo, well you got one.” His voice made her stomach churn. She felt sick from such physical pain. Blood started to seep and stain her hoodie where the bone had pierced and it ran down the length of her arm.

 

MANUMITTER! THE CANDLE! GET UP AND GO NOW!

 

The voice screamed so loudly in her head that it felt like someone was crushing her skull in a vice. Frisk staggered up to her feet. She could barely grasp at her sword’s handle with her injured arm. Her body was trembling and blood streamed from the wound and ran down her fingers upon the blade’s hilt and dripped to the floor at her feet.

“hm?” Sans blinked. He almost looked taken aback. She actually had the strength to stand up? But his look of surprise immediately melted back into that smirking glower. He took it as a challenge. His sickening grin was wide and malicious as he spoke, “you want more, huh?” He laughed and swiped his hand in the air again, summoning another wave of sharp bones.

 

I-I… c-can't do t-this…

 

YES, YOU CAN! THE CANDLE!!! GO!

 

Frisk ripped her terrified gaze away from Sans and invoked every scrap of strength she had left. She lunged forward, following the edge of the cavern, making her way back to the stony ruins on the opposite side of them. She fought through the terrible pain in her shoulder as tears stung the corners of her discolored eyes. She dashed forward and jumped over multiple streams of lava.

Another burst of blue and Sans directed his cartilage weapons at her like bullets. They impaled the wall behind her in rapid succession, just barely missing. All she could hear was the sound of her frantic breathing and the burst of crumbling stone as each bone pierced through the cave’s rock walls.

 

GO! GO! YOU’RE ALMOST THERE!

 

Frisk finally reached the ruins’ entrance and she swerved around the corner. She could hear more bones pummeling into the wall that separated herself from Sans and the rest of the cave. The stairs were in front of her… t-the stairs… the candle was right above her!

 

HURRY!

 

The voice sounded so frantic, so alarmed, as it wailed in her head. Frisk lunged forward and began to clatter up the crumbling steps. The candle was right overhead. It was so close. She could see it! Like a marvelous beacon of hope, just barely out of reach.

 

But there was a sudden burst of blue energy right before her eyes.

 

Sans teleported directly in front of her, right upon the next step that she was about to take. And he kicked her hard with the bottom of his foot in the center of her stomach, knocking her down the stairs back to the floor.

Frisk cried out and toppled down the white, crumbling stairway. She fell back into the shrouded enclosure, dilapidated white rubble surrounding them. She collapsed upon the ground and landed painfully on her tailbone. The back of her head hit against a wall behind her. Bright stars ruptured in front of her eyes. Pain blinded her and the fall wrenched the wind from her lungs. Frisk gasped out and released a piercing cry. She released her sword. The moment she dropped the weapon her soul’s energy vanished and it morphed back into her ordinary box cutter and clattered down to the side. Frisk automatically clutched at the back of her head with both hands. T-there was blood, oh god, it was dark red and hot and it seeped against her fingertips.

And Sans began his slow, ominous descent down the steps, one hand in his pocket, the other grasping at his ax. Frisk whimpered and sobbed as she tried to add pressure at the back of her scalp to stop the bleeding. Every part of her body ached and she could barely keep her wounded arm lifted due to the bone which remained embedded clean through her shoulder.

 

GET UP, MANUMITTER!!!

 

The malicious internal voice was screeching at her, but she couldn’t move. She could barely breathe.

 

HE’S GOING TO KILL YOU!

 

Frisk peered through a film of tears as she trembled violently. Copious amounts of blood stained the palms of her hands at the back of her skull. It matted in her hair and smeared against the wall behind her.

 

YOU IDIOT! YOU HAVE TO FIGHT!

 

She could see her tormentor’s pulsing red eye flashing brightly overhead. Sans was standing above her. H-he was right in front of her now.

 

YOU CAN’T LET IT END LIKE THIS!!

 

And he swooped down upon her in an instant.

 

Sans’ heavy knees pressed against either side of her hips. He lifted his ax and held it in place against the wall above her head while his other hand slammed down into the center of Frisk’s chest, keeping her pinned underneath his imposing form. His skeletal fingers slipped upwards along her torso and they entwined around the front of her scarf… Papyrus’ scarf… which hung from her neck.

His smirk widened and quivered at the corners as if he was masking a deep-seated repentance. His expression was enraged and maniacal and his sharp fingers dug into the stained fabric… his brother’s scarf… her trophy.

 

N-no…

 

Frisk stared up at him and started to thrash violently under his crushing weight. O-oh my god, oh my god!! She pushed through the pain as only adrenaline surged through her veins and she tore her bloody hands from her head and pressed them against the front of his chest, trying to push him off.

Sans simply grinned down at her. This sick bastard… He was practically getting off to her feeble attempts as she struggled to shove him back. He lurched down towards her, his skull only inches away from her face.

“good try, kid. but not good enough.” The tone of his voice sent a flood of ice cold shivers down her spine. It was deep and reverberated within his hollow chest. His red eye pulsed and Frisk could see round, clear droplets of blue-tinted beads of sweat drip along the sides his skeletal forehead. He was enraptured with her fear.

 

FRISK! YOUR SWORD! STRIKE HIM NOW!

 

Frisk’s soul throbbed rapidly within the center of her chest, underneath Sans’ firmly pinning hand. It was so hot, her entire body felt fevered and her soul’s tainted energy ruptured fourth and spread down her arms. Frisk clenched her teeth, her demonic eyes burning as she glared back at Sans. Her anger… her hate… had returned. The fear was severed for a split second as the demonic monster inside her took hold. She released her grasp at Sans’ chest and lurched one arm out to the side, grabbing at her utility knife.

Her fingertips brushed against the handle and she scooped the meager weapon up in her hand. That burning bright crimson luminous glow shot through her bleeding arm. The red dazzling hue ran down to her wrist and encased her hand as her sword’s blade burst outward around the ordinary knife. Her sword… her beautiful, relentless, searing sword. It would protect her. Yes, this was her salvation! She brought the blade down, aiming to strike against Sans’ shoulder. She’d slash him open. She’d cut him down. She’d kill him!

 

KILL HIM!

 

But-…

Sans……

His movements were swift and precise.

And they were so much faster…

 

So much faster than hers.

 

In a matter of seconds he gripped around the handle of his hatchet against the wall overhead. Sans furled the weapon around in his grasp and brought it down. Down upon her arm. Directly above her elbow.

The thick blade cut through her flesh. Through her bone. And sliced all the way through until it hit the ground underneath.

 

W-what-…

 

FUCK!

 

Frisk’s eyes widened. She ripped her gaze away from Sans and stared down at her limb. The red swirling energy of her soul that had been wrapped around her arm immediately dispersed and she could see the damage clearly… Her severed appendage.

 

A tremendous rush of endorphins ran up from her elbow to her shoulder but the pain chased it away instantaneously.

 

Hot, searing, mind-numbing pain.

 

It was crippling. She couldn’t breathe.

 

O-oh, god… i-it was… it was unreal. Pure, unabated agony.

 

H-he cut her arm… He had cut off her arm…!!!

 

Frisk gasped for a breath as she sobbed and a blood-curdling scream erupted from her throat and echoed off the walls of the entire cavern. Her arm had been dismembered right above her elbow and the open wound immediately began to gush with a deep red stream of glossy blood. She could see ripped tendons and the inside of her muscles and humerus arm bone It was a horrifying sight. Sans pulled the blood-soaked ax away from the impact. S-she had never felt such a pain before… Dear, god… h-he cut it off! W-what- No!!!

Her severed lower forearm lay limp upon the floor in an expanding pool of blood. Her soul sword immediately vanished the moment Sans had cut her arm in two and she could see her utility knife laying in the palm of the detached hand beside her.

She couldn’t stop screaming. Her cries spilled from her lungs as she began to hyperventilate from the pain. She reached her other hand around her chest and grasped at the open wound, at the cleaved end of her bicep. Nausea burrowed deep in her stomach. She swiveled her head to the side and began to cough and retch up nothing but stomach acid. She had barely eaten in days. There was nothing to vomit up. But that didn’t stop the all-encompassing queasiness that rose up from her stomach like a tidal wave.

Sans was still hovering over her. He idly dropped his weapon to the side and wrapped his blood-stained fingers around Frisk’s jawline, forcing her head back to face him. Frisk could feel his hand lightly shivering as he grasped her face. His shallow inhales were sharp and eager, his malicious smirk was wide. His gaze pierced through her trembling soul… And he looked so hungry.

That single red eye of his locked upon her and Frisk saw his dark specked pupil dilated ever so slightly. He was staring back into her eyes… He was examine them. And then, he spoke, in a soft, cold whisper between impatient breaths.

 

“chara…”

 

D-did he just……

 

Frisk’s bloodshot eyes widened at his words. For a moment she thought she was just delirious from the pain. Did he just say…‘Chara’? He was so close to her face, his heavy exhales cascaded along the front of her neck. He was studying her eyes. He was inspecting those light blue schismed splinters that fractured through the hazelnut brown in each discolored, tainted iris. He knew… Somehow…… he knew.

Frisk trembled violently in his grasp and she cried out again, sobbing as another crippling swell of agony shot up from her severed limb and ran throughout her small body. She was bleeding out at the back of her head. The sharp bone in her shoulder drilled through and punctured her directly underneath the left collarbone. And her left arm was beyond repair, amputated directly above her elbow.

Then she heard the voice. Her own voice. The parasite’s words swirl around in her head. It sounded weak, like it was fighting to control her, yet it continued to guide her rage regardless. Even with a severed arm, the strong rot that contaminated her soul would not give in that easily.

 

Manumitter… your shield. U-use your other hand.

 

Frisk’s struggled for a frantic breath, but she obeyed. She ripped her grasping hand away from the open wound at her arm and stretched her bloodied hand out to Sans’ chest. Her soul began to burn again and another spiral of red, translucent energy ran down along her uninjured opposite limb.

 

Yes…… M-my shield…My shield…

 

But Sans knew exactly what she was attempting to do. The red glow around her arm gave it away in an instant. Before she could call forth her barrier, he wrapped one hand around her wrist tightly and jerked her hand backwards.

 

Oh, god!

 

Frisk tensed up as he began to force her wrist back so violently. H-he was breaking her wrist. He was going to snap her bones!

 

“S-sans!!! Please-!!” She could hear her own trembling words over distraught cries. Her voice cracked and she sobbed hysterically and fought against the pressure he inflicted upon on her slender limb.

But he just… he just grinned.

He chuckled and ignored her pleas and roughly jerked his grasp backwards. He snapped her hand back, severing her wrist bones forcefully. It happened in an instant and Frisk screamed out again as she heard the revolting crunch of breaking bone.

 

Oh god… please… I don’t w-want to die again…

 

P-please… this is…… I-I was s-so close…

 

Frisk sobbed and gasped for a breath of harsh oxygen. She felt like she was drowning in a sinkhole of pain. Both her arms were ruined. Sans had mutilated them without a second thought. Her broken wrist went numb from the fracture. She couldn’t feel her fingers and she could see her jutting radius wrist bone puncturing through the swollen, torn flesh at the base of her palm. Her disjointed hand hung limp and backwards.

 

C-chara…… help me… p-please… help me…

 

That forceful voice within her head had gone silent. It had abandoned her.

 

But Sans was not finished. Frisk’s demolished wrist lay trembling against her chest, while her amputated bicep continued to bleed out at her side. Despite the sweltering heat within the cave, she felt cold… so cold and so weak. And yet the frenzied waves of agony and nausea refused to subside. Her vision was starting to blur and all she could see was the haze of Sans’ vile, daunting smirk and pulsing eye.

“stay with me, kiddo.”

Sans’ sneering whisper spilled over her neck. He began to slide his hand along her lower stomach. She could just barely feel his blood-stained claw slip up underneath her hoodie, trailing along her soft quivering navel, over her ribs and to the center of her convulsing chest between two barely formed breasts. And she was too weak to fight off his groping hand.

 

But she knew what he was after…

He was searching for her soul.

 

The tips of his phalanges dug into her chest and scratched down along her skin. Frisk sobbed harder as she struggled to turn onto her shoulder, anything to move away from him, but he held her down firmly with the opposite hand. His open palm pressed against her sternum and she felt that familiar burning pain burst forth from her breastbone, right underneath his palm. She whimpered through clenched teeth, shutting her eyes tight, her back arching upwards. It hurt… it hurt and he wouldn’t s-stop! He was ripping her soul away from her body so painfully. He wanted to cause her pain. He wanted to break her.

Frisk felt a snap at the front of her chest like a thick tether had been severed. She coughed violently, vomiting up another wave of bile against her uninjured shoulder. Sans’ slipped his hand out from underneath her hoodie and held it over her.

In his hand was her soul. Her soul… It was bright red, just like she had remembered, and it shimmered softly between the monster’s skeletal fingers. Sans adjusted his grasp around the sphere and held it before her eyes. And Frisk could see it clearly through her clouded vision.

 

But… something was wrong… something was wrong with it…

 

Swirling inside the hallow of her small sphere was a liquid. But it was not that beautiful, translucent crimson stardust she had once seen. The liquid… it was dark red, muddled and clotting like infected blood. It looked like- like gore from some diseased rotting carcass. The vile dark fluids dripped from small pours and seeped along Sans’ fingers and down against her chest.

 

She had been infected… this whole time… H-her soul had been poisoned.

 

Sans’ eye sockets narrowed as he inspected the orb carefully. He wasn’t smiling anymore. He almost looked troubled by the sight of her sickly soul. He gave it a squeeze for a brief moment, causing Frisk another terrible wave of agony, and then he threw the dripping contaminated globule to the side with a growl. Her soul rolled along the hot gravel a ways away from them, still oozing with noxious, fetid sludge. Sans leered back down at Frisk. He wiped his messy hand against her hoodie while his other claw gently caressed the side of her face.

His fingers smeared hot blood along her skin, yet they still felt cold. And Frisk flinched from his touch. After everything he had just done to her… He actually had the gall to stroke her like that… H-he’s a monster…

“kid… “ His malicious smirk returned, spreading wide across his skull in an instant as his words purred out in a tainted whisper, “ …you’re in for a real bad time,” Frisk felt her heart sink into the pit of her stomach at the sight of his grin and the sound of his voice, “i’m not even halfway finished with you yet.”

 

……

 

She truly thought she was going to vomit again, but she was too weak from blood loss. She could barely even scream or cry anymore, let alone move.

Sans roughly released his grasp at her jaw and snatched his heinous ax from the floor. He leaned back off her, just barely, and pushed the bottom hem of Frisk’s hoodie up to expose her hipbones and bare stomach. Sans let the blade of his weapon hover directly above her gently trembling abdomen, the sharp edge grazing against her navel like a gentle caress.

His pinpoint pupil constricted into almost nothing and his vicious red eye resonated deep within its concave socket. He started to breath hard and fast and he lifted the demonic hatchet up in his hand.

“see you soon, sweetheart…”

And he brought the blade down. Down through the middle of her lower stomach, cutting through her flesh, through her insides, puncturing her fading internal organs. He jerked his hand to the side, ripping open the massive laceration as he disemboweled her instantly. Frisk’s lower intestines spilled from the gaping wound. Blood and gore spilled down to her hips and pooled at her crotch, staining her shorts. The glossy deep vermilion seeped along her sides and started to form a puddle of hot crimson underneath them both.

Sans dropped his weapon to the side the moment he eviscerated her. His hand slipped between the fissured flesh, sliding over her exposed sultry viscera and he pressed his claws within her violently. His fingers explored her insides as he stared down, that single red eye pulsing wildly. The lust in his gaze was palpable. Sans began to rip the intestines from her decimated body and he feasted upon them like he hadn’t eaten in weeks.

But Frisk couldn’t feel a thing.

Her eyes stared dead ahead, glazed over and lifeless.

She was already gone.

 

 

 

………

 

……………

 

………

 

 

………………

 

 

………

 

………

 

……

 

 

……

 

 

…………

 

Manumitter…

 

……

 

 

…………

 

……

 

 

 

It was cold.

 

So cold…

 

Why…

 

 

Her memories floated along the surface of her thoughts like a distant dream. She could barely grasp them. But she remembered the heat… and the red, bubbling lava.

 

What happened… what happened to the suffocating heat?

 

Where was she now?…

 

Frisk kept her eyes closed. She could just barely see a dim flickering hue on the other side of her eyelids. The cold hard ground pressed into her shoulder at her side and she immediately realized that she was laying down on a hard stone floor. Her fingertips grazed along the rocky surface underneath, feeling each dipping crevice within the ground.

 

And then, almost instantly, the memories started to swell around the outer edge of her mind.

 

And they all came rushing back at once like a terrible nightmare.

 

S-sans…

 

Frisk’s eyes shot open and she let out a deafening cry. Oh, god… oh, my god… Sans had killed her… S-she had tried to FIGHT him. That voice… that voice that had guided her. Controlling her movements. That terrible voice that pierced through her conscience… that heinous voice that made her… made her perform unspeakable acts… no- no no… She h-had… murdered… She had KILLED. And then… and then Sans… he-… He had cut off her… her arm, oh my god! Her arm!!!

 

Frisk pushed herself up off the ground and clutched at her left arm with a trembling hand, cradling it against her chest. But… her arm was intact. W-what?…

She blinked down at her arm with wide, glassy eyes. Frisk lifted her arm out in front of her and tugged her hoodie sleeve up to examine it over. It was completely unharmed, well besides her healing self-inflicted scars, of course. She wiggled her fingers and each one moved flawlessly. Frisk glanced down at the opposite hand. Her wrist was not broken. There was no jutting bone or blood. It was intact. Both her arms were perfectly ordinary.

Frisk scanned over her legs. There were no blisters or burns. They were completely unscathed… and the bandage… that make-shift bandage she had wrapped around her thigh ages ago after Sans first attacked her was gone. There were no bite marks. Her hoodie was clean of any blood or black sludge. There was no terrible burning pain at the center of her chest and that voice… the voice that had rung consistently in her head… it seemed to be gone. The lingering persistent craving for meat had vanished too. She felt completely normal, albeit rather cold.

 

That’s right… she had died… wait-… if she was dead, then that means-

 

Frisk started to frantically look around her dark surroundings from where she sat upon the floor. Her eyes locked onto the small, shivering candle right beside her leg. The atmosphere did not smell like firewood at all. Instead the heavy air hung low with the scent of damp, frigid musk. And it was so chilly, she felt like she was inside a walk-in refrigerator.

She was not in Waterfall’s caves. She was not back in Snowdin inside Gaster’s vast dwelling. She was… She was back in-…

 

Napstablook’s tunnels.

 

She was back in Napstablook’s tunnels.

 

Back…… All the way back… At the very beginning………

 

 

“N-no…” Frisk muttered out loud under her breath and hot tears started to swell along the rims of her eyes. She pulled her bare knees up to her chest and buried her face against them. She felt like she had just woken from the most disturbing, soul-shattering nightmare in existence only to find that it wasn’t a dream. It was reality and she was still stuck within it.

 

This cannot possibly be happening. She had gotten so far. She was so CLOSE.

 

The candle back in the lava caverns… it was right there, within her grasp. But she just couldn’t reach it.

Her mind stumbled back over her memories of Sans. The way he had attacked her with his bone knives. S-she had actually fended off his ax for a brief moment. But… that bastard could teleport. He had stopped her ascension up those stairs, only a second away from touching the next save point. He had sent her all the way back here.

Frisk started to feel sick as she remembered the way he had severed her arm and snapped her hand… and how he pulled out her soul. Wait- her soul. It had been infected with something. W-what was that!?

She continued to shiver, curled up in a sobbing little ball upon the floor. She rubbed at her eyes with one hand and her forehead with the other. She didn’t want these memories. The vile things she had done… and the way she had been killed… it was too much.

 

Shhh… Don’t worry. It never happened. You reset. Those things never happened.

 

She tried to remain calm and convince herself, taking in slow, steady breaths. That’s right. Since she had returned to the first threshold then those terrible things never happened. But- but why did she feel so tainted, then? Tainted and depraved and malicious. She had become a monster.

Frisk sniffed and rubbed at her runny nose with the hoodie sleeve. She blinked the tears from her eyes, wiping them away from her cheeks, and continued to glance around the shadowy stone room. She remembered it very well. It was rather small, with two umbral entranceways leading into opposite tunnels at either side. One hallway led to Napstablook and the 2nd gate. The other led to Toriel and the 1st gate.

 

Wait…

 

Toriel.

 

Toriel… M-maybe Toriel was still outside, guarding the first door!

Yes… Yes, that's what she'll do. She'll run back to the beginning of the tunnels. Back to Toriel and beg her, plead with her, to free her from this hell. She could not continue to open these gates. She could not keep doing this! She was not the Manumitter. These monsters were wrong about her. She's just… just a kid! Surely someone else could perform this terrible task. She had been killed four times now… FOUR. She had to go back to the orphanage, back to classes and back to focusing on finding a family and doing her homework and getting good grades and spending time with Izzy and-… and…

But wait…

 

…Could Toriel even help her?

 

The gate was locked from the outside. Frisk herself would have to touch the padlock to open the door, like the first time she had come across the shed. Toriel couldn’t open the gate, only she could.

No… no, surely there was a way. There must be! She’d break the damn door down if she had to. She’d use her sword and slice through the wood. There had to be another way out of this torturous limbo besides the final gate. There just HAD to be!

 

Wait… her sword.

Frisk’s eyes darted down around upon the floor. Her backpack lay a little ways away near the candle. She stuffed her hands in her pockets and felt around. Both the cell phone and box cutter were still there. Thank god… She still had her sword.

 

Frisk scooted back towards the wall and pressed her shoulder against it and she slid up to her feet. She stood trembling from the cold while her frenzied thoughts collided into one another. That’s what she’ll do… She’ll go back to Toriel. She came to the decision and began rehearsing what she would say to that ghastly goat demon in her head. Last time she saw Toriel, she had attacked her. Perhaps this time that would not happen, what with her sword and shield.

 

Frisk let out a soft sigh and reached down for her backpack. She stepped over towards the hallway opening, the one furthest away from the candle. She remembered that it lead to the beginning of the cavern. She took one slow step in front of the other as she reached the shadowy passageway.

But…

There was a sound-

 

And a flash of light.

 

Directly in front of her, inside the hall.

 

A bright sudden flash of blue accompanied by the sound of a rushing whirlwind.

Azure bursts illuminated the walls of the stone hallway for brief second. And then everything went dark instantly.

Frisk staggered backwards into the small room behind her and she stared at the shadowy opening which was once again shrouded in darkness. W-what the heck was that?…… She took another step forward to inspect, and she could see something… a figure… a figure was emerging from the obsidian veil.

 

 

Sans.

 

 

Her blood ran cold at the sight, as cold as the atmosphere around them. Her heart began to pound frantically within her chest. So rapidly, it literally hurt the inside of her rib cage. Her pulse was like a ticking time-bomb and she could hear it clamoring in her ears. Her knees grew weak. She felt sick. Her eyes widened and her head went fuzzy with fear and anxiety. P-please… she must still be dreaming… this has to be a nightmare…

Sans’ fur-adorned hoodie cowl was pulled up over his head this time. The hood shrouded his already cloaked features. But his burning eye was visible through the darkness, so clearly, like a sphere of fire. And that loathsome signature smirk of his widened as he took a slow, daunting step forward into the small chamber.

R-run…

Frisk’s instincts took over and she stumbled backwards and swiveled around, leaping for the opposite tunnel. But she did not get far. Sans dove towards her in a second and grasped at the back of her head. His fingers dug through Frisk’s messy short hair and he squeezed at her thick locks and yanked her back. G-god! It hurt!

Frisk let out a panicked cry, reaching her hands back to pull at Sans’ wrist, trying to free her hair from his powerfully clenched fist. He jerked her hard and threw her into a corner of the room. Frisk’s shoulder hit the wall with such force that she fell to her knees upon the ground.

She cried out from the pain that pierced the back of her head and clutched at her scalp with both hands, but luckily he hadn’t ripped her hair and she could feel no blood. Frisk frantically turned back to face him. He stood only a few feet away from her in the center of the chamber. His shoulders rose and fell with each rooted breath. The look on his face… he was smirking and his eye was pulsing and he looked just as enraged as he did during their brawl in the lava caves.

But a swelling surge of courage wrapped around Frisk’s soul. Her determination. She hadn’t felt it in so long. That feeling… it was like a long lost friend.

“Get back!” She screamed out at Sans and lifted her hands out in front of her. The heat from her soul began to swell in her chest and that bright glossy red illumination wrap around her arms and ran down to her fingertips. Her soul shield burst forward, lighting up the entire space, and it hovered in front of her where she sat upon the floor. The beautiful translucent shield glistened with swirling stardust. Her patron… her protector. But the shield was quivering. And it was not glowing nearly as brightly as it once did. It was as if her soul had been weakened from so many deaths. Something was definitely wrong.

Sans sneered at the shield. His anger was just barely visible underneath that daunting grin. He called forth his weapon instantly and those eerie blue wisps of smoke wrapped around one hand, summoning his ax within his grasp. Oh, god. S-she couldn’t take another fight. She was too weak! Sans lunged towards her and began to smash the head of his hatchet into her shield. Frisk cried out from the impact and looked away. Her arms were trembling. She could hear the sound of his ax piercing through the barrier. It was not strong enough- it was too weak to hold him back!

He brought down the deafening blows one right after the other in the same spot, weakening her shield until it began to crack under the pressure. His rage…… His rage was like a typhoon of fury. Thick spiraling fissures ran through the luminous liquid red and her shield shattered overhead.

 

No! N-no… please… please, this cannot happen!

 

He had destroyed her shield so quickly. So effortlessly.

 

The shield fell to the floor in chunks and melted into the ground and Sans was upon her in an instant. He withdrew his ax back within his soul and quickly wrapped those cold, rough skeletal claws around her wrists, pinning her hands down into the floor below. Frisk was trapped underneath him, pushed into the corner of the room. Her back was pinned to the floor and the larger skeleton’s knees dug at either side of her hips. W-why did she always find herself bound under this monster… it was like a waking nightmare.

Sans lurched down as he leaned in close, his skull just inches away from her face. His vermilion hue was blinding and Frisk whimpered and cried out and started to struggle against his hold. She was so desperate as she fought back his gripping hands. If she could just free them- if only she could free her hands!! H-her knife was in her pocket! She could summon her sword!

“if you wanted another fight, kid, all you had to do was ask,” He chuckled and dry sarcasm stained his words. “ …but i’m not really in the mood for another battle.” Sans tightened his grasp around both her wrists. He was squeezing them so tightly, it hurt! Pain began to run up and down her forearms. Oh, god… would he break her arms again!? No!!

“G-get away from me… y-you monster!” Frisk cried out in response. Her whole body was overcome with fear and she shook violently against the cold floor.

Sans let out a cruel laugh. It echoed off the walls of the small room. “ahah-…… i’m the monster, eh?” He pressed her wrists hard into the ground and forced them back, lifting them over her head against the floor, “you should take a look in the mirror, buddy.”

Frisk began to feel a cold, heavy weight encompass both of her wrists. It was not his hands, it was something else. Blue ghostly magic was spewing from his fingertips and dozens of magic serpent-like cords wrapped around her arms and locked them down against the floor over her head. Her hands compress back into the corner of the room painfully and Sans pulled his newly freed-up claws away from her arms.

 

T-this…… This is bad…… You need to break free! You need to get away, somehow!!! Whatever it takes!

 

Frisk fought against the ropes of energy that kept her hands pinned. She tried to summon another shield. Red magic burst against her arms but it seemed to cut off the moment it reached the blue bindings. Frisk’s low lip quivered as she stared up at Sans in horror. That look he gave her… He looked hungry… and so, so eager.

Sans’ watched her terror-filled expressions with a lusty lidded gaze. He chuckled again, a teasing snicker that sent a wave of dread through Frisk’s entire body, and he lowered his hands to her hips. He began to push her hoodie’s bottom hem up along her stomach, pushing it up further exposing her small chest and collarbones, letting it rest in a coiled bunch at her neck.

 

No!!! He’s going to take your soul!! He’s going to take your soul again! I-if he takes it, you will be powerless!!

 

Frisk cried out from panic and dread and fought against the bindings. They simply tightened with each vigorous thrash. And they were so cold, like dry ice cutting into her flesh. She could feel Sans’ rough phalanges glide along her bare torso to her chest and he slammed his hand down against her pounding heart, against her soul.

His red eye flashed brightly. His black pinpoint pupil within the center shivered in a pool of red. His grin widened. H-he was an avid beast - relentless without a shred of empathy. The sharp pain started to form deep within Frisk’s chest and she cried out again. It was like a collision of burning awls piercing of sternum over and over. My god, it was agony! But in an instant the pain settled and Frisk could see the soft glowing orb within his grasp. Her soul…

 

He had taken it again. This had been the fourth time he tore it from her body…

 

Without it she felt even weaker, her chest felt hollow. And Frisk stared back at the lovely round sphere in the skeleton’s palm, breathing fast. Sans examined it carefully like he had done so many times before. But there was no blood-red gorey fluids swirling around inside. There was no black sludge or contamination. It was healthy and vibrant, just how she remembered it the first time she saw it. And inside swirled that beautiful gelatinous translucent crystal silt.

Sans raised her soul up high and another burst of blue erupted from his fingers. He summoned a cloud of energy forth and it wrapped around Frisk’s soul, encasing it. Sans tossed her soul in the air and it hovered above them. H-his energy… it held it there… H-how?!? Sans pushed the glowing orb away from them and it gently floated through the atmosphere like it was submerged underwater. Her soul glided to the opposite wall by the candle, idly hovering.

 

F-frisk… your soul… you have no determination!

 

The warmth in her chest was gone. She attempted to summon her soul shield again, but nothing happened. Without her soul she was completely stripped of all her abilities. And she was powerless and trapped underneath Sans’ heavy weight. Oh, crap… she was… in trouble

“now then,” Sans growled out and his voice vibrated within his chest. The way he spoke, there was a hint of fevered greed laced within his words. It made Frisk’s heart beat so fast. She felt a panic attack start to come upon her in full force and she desperately tried to push it down.

“S-sans…” Frisk whimpered out and tried to steady her trembling form. Use your wits! Free yourself! Her thoughts were spiraling in her head like a riptide, “Sans… if you k-kill me again… then that’s it. No more resets…” Frisk’s words spilled forth and she used every scrap of courage she had to keep them from cracking. Show him no weakness! “ …If you kill me now… t-then you and the rest of the Underground… you will never be free…”

She stared back into his pulsing red eye directly above. He leered and his grin softened ever so slightly at her words. Yes… had she just saved herself? He would free her?… He must free her! She almost felt a small sweeping sensation of triumph.

But-… but it vanished… in seconds.

Sans’ grin widened suddenly. His sharp teeth - like the ends of thick machetes - interlocked with one another in that terrifying smirk right before her eyes.

 

 

No-…

 

“i wasn’t planning on killing you,” He whispered out and his heavy breath cascaded down along Frisk’s bare chest. His eye was shivering within the hollow alcove of his socket, and she watched that narrow pupil start to settle downward. Sans ripped his gaze away from her face… he was staring down at her barely clothed chest… “no, i have something so much better in store for you, kid.

And he began to shift his weight. His heavy pelvic bones pressed right against… against her hips … H-his hands… they wrapped around either side of her slender waist and he pressed his open palms against the soft skin of her midriff. His rough skeletal fingertips dipped between her protruding rib bones at her sides and he pushed his hands up further…further… further… until they curved underneath her barely formed breasts, which were almost flat as she lay against her back. His fingers slipped underneath her white cloth bralette and hooked around the fabric, lifting it up to expose her.

 

Oh, my god…. O-oh, god!!!! DO SOMETHING!!! NO NO NO!!! H-he’s going to- NO!!!! DO SOMETHING!!

 

There was nothing she could do…… T-there was nothing……

 

Sans’ hands cupped and pressed down against her pubescent flesh. Frisk’s nipples began to stiffen in peaks almost automatically, against her will, from the jarring painful touch. His fingers were so rough against her sensitive tissue. Frisk started to hyperventilate and cry out and she struggled to pull her legs out from under his weight. Her sneakers dug into the ground frantically, she fought against the binds at her hands. Oh, god… this pervert… this shameless demon… his hands… they were groping at her naked chest… His fingers were digging into her skin… H-he had l-lifted her bra… this can’t happen-… no- no… please, no!

Sans’ eye sockets were wide and twitching. His grin was shivering with a hungry vehemence at each corner. His red eye throbbed rapidly like an impatient pulse deep within its alcove. And Frisk’s struggles and cries simply drove his sick excitement up the walls. His thumbs dipped down against her dense tender nipples, pressing them inward and rolling them around against his touch. His fingers were sharp… it hurt!

Frisk started to scream out again, but a sudden thought pierced through her mind like a lightening bolt.

“NAPSTABLOOK!!! NAPSTABLOOK, H-HELP!!! PLEASE HELP-!!”

She screamed at the top of her lungs and her voice resounded off the stone walls. That ghost! That spectral demon with those sharp long limbs… Yes, Napstablook! He lived within these caverns. He was nearby. He would hear her! He would save her!

Frisk sobbed out and continued to scream. She could feel her own rapid heartbeat pounding against the inside of Sans’ fondling palm. But Sans started to chuckle, his shoulders lurching forward. Then he tossed his head back as he let out cruel laugh and his fur-trimmed hood fell down to his shoulders.

“a-haha! hah-… heh… i already took care of that ghost, before you even opened your eyes, kiddo. it’s just you and me down here.” He purred. His rough knuckles began to knead into her flesh. Frisk felt her mind go numb and she jerked her head to the side, burying her face against her shoulder. S-she didn’t want to look at him. She didn’t want to watch this… This cannot be happening… But Sans was hungry for her cries. He tilted his skull down towards her chest and parted those massive teeth, his sapphire-blue dripping tongue lolling out past his canines. Thick saliva trickled down against Frisk chest. It was wet and warm and repugnant. It sent a terrible wave of shivers through her whole body and she quickly lifted her head down to watch his movements. I-it was… humiliating!

Sans wide tongue pressed down between her breasts and slipped up along her budding flesh. God… it was so vile and disgusting and Frisk felt sick from the sensation. He lapped his thick tongue upwards, leaving a trail of lightly-tinted blue saliva upon her torso. His teeth began to graze against one of her nipples, teasing her, taunting her. The entire front of her chest was coated with his oozing saliva and it dripped down the sides of her ribs and smeared into her curved underarms.

“S-sans… please… don’t… don’t do t-this-…” She whimpered out between hiccuping sobs. Her voice trembled so terribly that it was almost inaudible. Her face felt hot as blood rushed to her head, flushing her cheeks over like a burning fever.

He ignored her pleas. His eye locked onto her bare chest while his hands slipped over her saliva-coated breasts and they began to travel downward… lower… down to her hips. His fingers left trails of slick salivation along her waist and navel before his claws reached her hipbones. Then his fingers hooked against the waistband of her shorts.

 

NO!!! NO NO NO!!!!! GOD, DAMMIT, NO!!! YOU CAN’T LET THIS HAPPEN!!!!

 

Frisk's internal dialogue was almost as loud as her cries. She shook her head violently side to side and Sans lifted his weight up off her ever so slightly. The moment he pushed off her Frisk pulled her knees up to her stomach and roughly kicked at his chest with the bottom of her sneakers. She kicked him as hard as she could. G-get away! Get away!

But Sans swiftly grabbed onto her ankle and held her foot firmly. His sharp claws dug into her skin and he twisted her foot to the side. A sharp pain bound through the center of Frisk’s calf. H-he’ll break your foot… S-stop… It’s not worth it! He was twisting one of her ankles painfully. He was so strong, it was inhuman. And then… he began to slip off her sneaker and sock.

 

W-what!?

 

Frisk flinched as the cold atmosphere wrapped around her bare foot. And Sans’ vile, oily tongue slid up against the sole of her foot, between her toes and down the front of her shin. The sensation sent wave after wave of tingling dread down her spine. It was s-so… disgusting. He was tasting every inch of her leg like she was a piece of hard candy. His other hand grasped tightly at her opposite limb. And despite the vice-like grip at her calf, she continued to writhe and thrash underneath him. Her ankle swelled in pain, it felt like it had been sprained. Sans’ tongue slipped up along her inner thighs and his teeth lightly pressed against her taut flesh.

“heh… no teeth marks. well whaddya know, it’s like our first encounter never happened,” His voice rolled out from his chest as he examined the backs of her bare thighs. Frisk could barely hear him over her panic. She was hyperventilating against the ground, her exposed, sticky chest raising up and down in rapid succession as she struggled to take in a breath.

“i plan on leaving a lasting impression… this time around.”

He began to bite along the insides and backs of both her thighs, decorating her flesh in shallow bleeding lesions. He was careful not to bite through her muscles this time, but the bite marks still bled regardless. The flavor of her blood simply urged on his lust. His groping hands were shivering with debased, perverted furor. Frisk screamed each time his teeth sunk into her skin. It was like dozens of razors were being dragged against her. It burned and it hurt. And the blood oozed down her legs, creating a red, slippery mess against Sans’ open palms.

And then his claws returned back to her hips and he looped his phalanges under her waistband and began to tug her shorts downward… along with her panties… down to the middle of her bleeding thighs… This is not happening this is not happening this is not happening.

Sans’ hands rolled around her backside, down along her exposed rear, before he continued to pull her shorts even lower until they caught at her knees. Frisk immediately clamped her bloodied and bruised thighs together, concealing herself as fast as she could. Her eyes were wide and a thick layer of tears glazed over them, blurring her vision, as she stared back at her rapist in an all-encompassing terror.

“Sans…… P-please… I’m sorry… I’m sorry!! Please don’t do this… I-i’m so sorry-…” She sobbed out between gasping inhales. Her thighs were trembling in his hands. Her fingers were standing to go numb from the binds that held her wrists in place. Frisk glanced down at the monster that hovered low over her stomach, begging with him, pleading with him. S-surely this was just to scare her!… H-he couldn’t possibly do what she thought he was going to do…

"kid… i'm gonna show you no mercy, just like you showed my brother." His words were so harsh. They dripped with that liquid velvet venom and they cleaved through her trembling heart. Sans’ bloodied claws grabbed around her kneecaps and he forced her thighs apart roughly, spreading them open.

 

D-dear, god… You are not here. You are elsewhere. This is happening to someone else, not you…

 

Waves of anxiety and panic and dread ruptured from Frisk’s quivering chest and she cried out again, screaming for someone… anyone… for the one person who may be able to save her from this impending hell.

“CHARA!!! H-HELP ME… C-chara!!……”

Sans ripped his eager gaze away from her exposed velvety heat. His eye sockets narrowed as he leered up at Frisk over her spread knees. He was still smirking wide, but there was a shallow underlayer of ire stirred into his expression. His red eye flashed brightly as he spoke.

“that fiend can’t help you, kid. why do you think chara tainted your soul and used you to do her dirty work in the first place?” The steady stream of words cut through Frisk’s panic and she stared down at him with wide, tear-glazed eyes, ”yes, she is manipulative, but physically she is weak. she can't help you anymore than you can help yourself.”

 

W-what!? What was he saying!?! C-chara… Chara had… had been the one to infect her soul?… Chara was responsible?

 

And with his words, Sans’ wide, daunting smirk returned in an instant and he drank up Frisk’s terror-stricken visage with a chuckle. Her heart was beating so fast, it was bursting from her chest.

 

Then his claws slipped down underneath Frisk’s knees.

 

And he spread her wounded, soft thighs apart wider.

 

Yanking her forward around his waist. Forcing her thighs to wrap around his hips.

 

No- no...no...no… no… please, not this… please… anything but this…

 

Sans began to grind his crotch between her legs, rolling his thick sacrum bone against her spread pink vulva. Her soft velour slit seeped with honey, and it smeared against the front of his pants and along the subtle folds. Frisk was not wet from pleasure, but from the monster’s consistent taunting touches. Her body felt like it was betraying her. The way he moved against her… it was so horrifying and vulgar. She wanted to die.

 

Please let me die…

 

Frisk was sobbing so terribly. She couldn’t breathe. She felt like she was suffocating. And then she felt something… something firm and pulsing faintly… r-right underneath the front of his tattered pants… It was throbbing and straining against her through the fabric… between her thighs… The mound grew at the center of his heavy pelvic bone. It was pushing between her smooth pussy lips, only a single layer of damp fabric creating a barrier between them. And it felt like it was… growing in size. Sans thrusted hard against her, grinding his bulge against her exposed entrance. It felt wet…… Fluids were seeping through the fabric. It was so wet and… and warm and hard.

Sans began to growl softly in his chest. His eye continued to pulse rapidly, matching the rhythm of his throbbing bulge. His excitement dripped from his forehead and droplets of drool formed at the corners of his mouth. He was completely overcome with malevolent desire. Sans grasped at one of Frisk’s thighs with one hand, holding her close against his pelvic bone, while his other hand slipped down between them and pressed at the front of his pants, pushing down the hem with his fingers.

And Frisk could see it between their aligned hips… she could see it through her tears. It was blue and glowing softly, just like the magical soul energy he possessed… G-god… it was as thick around as her upper arm, lavish and dripping with azure translucent fluids that matched his saliva. Sans wrapped his fingers around his cock and guided it out from underneath his pants. He pressed the underside of his palpitating erection against Frisk’s smooth rounded pubic mound. Hot oozing precum that dripped from his cock and smeared along her flesh as he began to rut against her so forcefully, grinding her body down hard into the cold floor.

 

T-this cannot happen this cannot happen… no- no NO NO please… no… don’t let this happen… I-i don’t want this to be my f-first-… please… somebody… anybody!!!!

 

Tears ran down Frisk’s cheeks. Her head felt like it was stuffed with cottonballs. All she could hear were the sounds of her panicked sobs and Sans’ depraved growls of excitement. He was breathing fast as he stroked his dripping length down against her hipbones and lower stomach, pressing against her milky flesh, imagining that he was back in Hotland and her abdomen was split open and her organs were spilling down her sides. What a sick bastard.

“S-sans… please…” Frisk whispered out through her cries, begging him for forgiveness in one final desperate attempt. “P-please… I’m sorry… a-ah!… I-I’m begging you! Please don’t d-do this… please stop-!”

Sans’ stroking hand came to a standstill and he leaned over her once more, his daunting skull directly above her head. His erection pressed painfully into her lower stomach, it was sentient and fluctuating against her. Frisk could see his foul desire painted all over his face. His pupil dilated and constricted within the flashing red hue, his eye sockets were lusty and lidded, his smirk was just barely quivering with an eagerness… an eagerness to feel her insides. He could barely contain his excitement.

“tell me, did Papyrus beg when you crushed his skull?

A flash of maniacal animosity surged along his features as he spoke. There was a fury burning within his crimson eye. It was so terrifying, the way he stared down at her. Frisk couldn’t respond. She couldn’t speak at all. All she could do was cry and weakly struggle under his pinning weight. Sans lifted his hips back for a brief moment and guided his cock down, the head smearing against her slippery entrance.

H-he was… pushing forward… He was starting to drive his hips forward…

The head of his erection began to push against her slight opening. He was forcing himself inside.

N-no- too big! It hurts!! Please, no!!

Frisk let out an ear-splitting scream as Sans guided the head of his cock between her dripping tight opening. It felt like she was being impaled with a knife. It hurt so terribly, despite how wet they both were. She kicked her weak legs back against the floor, trying to push up off him, trying to push away from his pelvis. But Sans’ wouldn’t allow it. He released his hand from his dick and grabbed at both sides of her hips, pulling her down roughly upon his lap. His cock slipped deep inside her, forcing it’s way in, stretching her tight quivering muscles open around him.

“f-fuck…” He breathed out through his clenched, smirking teeth. He could barely contain the pleasure that cascaded up from his loins and tingled along his fevered pelvic bones. Frisk’s velvety soft insides wrapped around his length like a glove. So tight, he could barely even move inside her, and he wasn’t even halfway in yet. Sans continued to pull at her hips, pushing her down against his cock inch by inch. He groaned and began to pant, bent over her, his forehead pressing against the top of Frisk’s head.

But while Sans was in heaven, Frisk was engulfed in a pain so terrible. It was hell on earth. She shut her reddened eyes to block out the tears. Her throat felt dry from the constant sobs. Sans was piercing her insides. It felt like she was being ripped open. O-oh god… He was starting to move now. Sans rolled his hips forward. His cock pushed deep inside her just a little more than halfway. He shuddered from the intense thrill, and he pulled his hips back, letting his cock slip just a few inches out only to thrust back inside her once again.

Frisk could do nothing by cry and continue to beg him to stop. It felt like she was being penetrated with burning daggers. The agony was overwhelming. He ignored every word she uttered and began to fuck her hard. Sans’ dripping erection pressed deep within her plush, virgin insides. The head of his cock began to grind against her cervix. He was so deep. Too deep! Gelatinous cerulean luminescence coated the walls of her depths a glossy blue and it dripped out from her stuffed pussy against the floor each time he pulled back. And she felt so sick… so nauseous… it hurt worse than any pain she had ever experienced, as if her lower abdomen was going to rupture at any moment.

His onslaught was relentless and sadistic - pumping into her, forcing her trembling hot muscles open painfully around him. Frisk tried to hold her cries back within her lungs each time he thrust forward. She was so desperate to keep her voice down, fighting against Sans' cruel efforts to extract a pained wail or a whimper. That was what he craved. To see her writhing in fear and agony. She couldn’t give him that… no… b-but she could not help it… as a quivering sob spilled from her parted lips each time he thrust forward and struggled to slide himself all the way inside.

And every continuous powerful thrust jolted her entire body back hard into the corner of the stone chamber. Frisk felt fevered and she dripped with sweat, despite the cold atmosphere. Something clicked in her head, like a mental defense mechanism, and suddenly her mind was on the ceiling. This is not happening. This is not happening. You are in a terrible nightmare. You are safe. You are not here. But each time she tried to disassociate herself, Sans would bring her back. His pulsing erection slammed so forcefully against her tight silky cervix entrance deep inside, it was as if he was trying to fuck her womb.

His hands left her hips and one of his claws glided against Frisk’s throat, squeezing it lightly before he brought it behind the back of her neck. His fingers stroked against her nape as he violated and penetrated her without any regard. The thrusting movements of his hips were ruthless and oozed with pure simmering malice, but his stroking hand at the back of her neck felt almost tender.

Frisk closed her eyes again. His skull was so close to her face. His heavy, hot breaths cascaded against her jaw. The way his red pulsing hue stared into her eyes, it was as if he was not only assaulting her body but her mind as well. She didn’t want to see it. She just wanted to die. She felt numb from the waist down and she turned her head to the side against her outstretched bound arm. But suddenly she felt Sans’ hands cup at either side of her cheeks as he continued to grind so deep inside her. The unexpected touch made her flinch and cry out.

"open your eyes, manumitter…"

That phrase…… she often heard that gentle phrase fluttering along the surface of her conscience. He whispered it out between lusty panting breaths. His harsh, rigid movements slowed for a moment, giving her a chance to recover from the pain.

Frisk shook her head and kept her eyes shut. G-get away…… Get away…… I want… to die… p-please let me die…

“open your eyes…” He spoke again, a little more vigor in his tone. He was growling softly in his chest and his rough phalanges trailed down her tear-stained cheekbones, pushing her messy brown locks behind her ears. She kept her eyes shut tight.

Sans thrust hard into her unexpectedly, causing her whole body to jolt hard into the floor. She cried out and her thighs trembled against his hips. She felt his thumb… His thumb was stroking along her face… It was gliding against the bottom of her eyelid. It-… it was starting to hurt. He was pressing his sharp skeletal thumb down against her right eye. He was pressing hard… Oh, god… no- please!! W-why!

“S-sans no!! Please! P-please… please…… no!” She shot open her left eye but the right remained closed. He was prying his finger between her eyelids, piercing through the center of her eyeball. Bright white glowing spots feathered along her vision like fireflies. The pain was unreal and she screamed as he dug his digit through her single right eye, penetrating the socket, blinding her. His hands clasped tightly at either side of her head like a vice. And with her left eye she watched his malicious smirk and pulsing hue. He was overcome was rage. He was possessed by hatred. This was his revenge. She was paying for each murder… for the genocide… for her sins… for Chara’s sins.

 

 

Sans ripped his thumb from her bleeding, gouged eye and she watched as he licked the blood and sickly fluids from his digit. The pain at the right side of her face was so intense, it felt like she had just been doused with acid… She felt like she was dying. And all the while he continued to fuck her hard, thrusting so deep within her abused, torn insides.

“P-please… just… kill me…” Frisk begged him. Her words were a monotonous slurring, devoid of any timber. The pain and the trauma coursed through her whole body as she continued to tremble underneath him. She stared up at Sans with her single unscathed eye. It was glazed over and hollow. She was already dead on the inside.

“kill you?” Sans responded with a fervored grin. He pressed his forehead down against hers softly. “but you still have to open the gates, sweetheart. and now you have to start from the very beginning.” Those words were almost as heinous as his actions. “…and this time… i'm not leaving your side.” He whispered out the final verdict, barely audible.

Sans brought his blood stained hands back down her her hips and his deep, aggressive thrusts turned into short, slow strokes inside her. He was close. His chest pressed down against Frisk’s own and she could feel his fluttering heartbeat… his rapidly pulsing soul practically bursting with excitement. It was embedded deep within his rib cage and it vibrated along his bones and in turn vibrated against her. Frisk simply stared back into his crimson eye with a blank, lifeless gaze. She had no fight left in her. He had taken everything from her… everything. She had never wanted to die so badly before than she did in that moment.

Sans grabbed hard against her hips roughly and pulled her whole body downward, forcing her to meet his upward thrusts. He panted hard and fast, pressing the front of his skull against the side of her neck. He was so close, only moments away from that sweet release. Each time he pounded so forcefully inside her, her muscles would wrap and squeeze around him automatically and it felt so deliriously amazing. He couldn’t hold back, he couldn’t hold on anymore.

He let out a husky gasp followed by a sharp inhale as he kept his breath back. He pushed his hips forward between her thighs and held himself there. His throbbing cock was buried deep, so deep, almost entirely embedded within her. And thick translucent glossy blue cum erupted forth, flooding her insides with his essence, with his soul energy. Frisk felt the burst of heat. It gushed internally throughout her, flooding her womb, warming her up from the inside out. Frisk clenched her teeth as hot tears spilled from her single eye. Her damaged eye was bleeding down her cheek, throbbing and ripped open so heinously.

She was fading. Her whole body felt numb and her head roiled with vertigo from the grotesque agony within her right eye. Her body was spent and it trembled uncontrollably. The pain and the exertion… the humiliation… it was too much. Was she dying? God… god, she hoped so. She was praying for death. She could feel Sans continue to push within her even after his release, churning up the thick load of cobalt syrup, forcing his ejaculant deep inside. He lifted an idle claw to her bound wrists and she felt the tethers fall limp as they released her cold hands. But she couldn’t even move them, they simply lay lifeless.

Sans looped his arms up underneath her chest and his fingers caressed her spine. He lifted her from the floor, holding her small marred body against the front of his rib cage so tight.

 

His soul was pulsing rapidly like a caged sparrow deep within him.

 

She could feel his heartbeat entwining with her own.

 

All she could hear was static buzzing in her ears.

 

Her vision was fading in and out.

 

And she went limp in his arms.

 

And then everything went dark.

 

 

*****

 

 

Coming up: Journey to the 6th gate.

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

*****

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It was raining.

 

 

 

The rain fell down in sheets.

 

The sky overhead was dark, embellished with thick clouds.

 

The scent of wet grass and dirt hung heavy within the atmosphere.

 

The air was warm, but the downpour was cold. And the conflicting blend of temperature made her skin break out in an influx of goosebumps.

 

Frisk was kneeling in the grass. She was outside, out in the backyard behind her house. She glanced up at the wooden fence paneling that ran along the perimeter of the small enclosure, various planks broken and fractured in more than one section. The yard was vacant except for that rusty charcoal barbecue that lay on its side in the corner of the field.

But now… now there was a new addition. A large rock rested in front of her bent knees upon the ground.

The rain soaked Frisk’s chestnut hair and she pushed back a thick curtain of bangs that fell before her eyes. She tugged at the collar of her yellow plastic raincoat, readjusting the parka with little success. She was already soaked anyways. Frisk pulled her gaze from the fence and stared down at the rock before her. An unwieldy, trembling whimper spilled from her throat and the rain continued to stream down, running along her cheeks, fusing with the hot torrent of tears that just wouldn’t stop.

Frisk lifted her hands from her knees and placed them atop the rock. Her shoulders started to shake. She stared at the boulder, teeth clenched tight as she fought back another wave of sobs. S-schafer… Schafer… Her beloved dog… Her only companion… Her only friend in this world. She was alone now. Terribly, terribly alone… Perhaps she had always been alone. But now without the distraction of her German Shepherd, it felt authentic. Her loneliness. Her misery. It was absolute. It was all-encompassing. And there was nothing she could do… Nothing she could do to save herself from the pain.

Frisk’s small hands caressed the sides of the boulder. She let them trail downward to the patch of raised earth underneath her and gripped at the mud. The fresh grave… She had watched her mother dig it through the kitchen window. But she could not watch as her mother lowered Schafer’s limp body into the ground and fill the hole back up again.

An overwhelming surge of hopelessness spread throughout her. She bent forward and pressed her forehead against the rock, releasing another choking sob.

 

Please… please rest well, Schafer. You are in heaven now. You are free.

 

But why… why did you have to leave me behind?

 

The sudden sound of a creaking door from behind jolted Frisk from her lament and she quickly lifted her head and glanced over her shoulder. Her mother stood in the doorway, that usual apathetic, lifeless expression infused within her features. She lifted a cigarette in one hand and idly rubbed at a black-and-blue eye with the other.

“Frisk… c’mon.” Her mother’s detached, monotonous voice lulled Frisk to her feet. She quickly rose up and stood at the center of the fresh grave, wiping mud from her knees.

“Come inside, now…” Her mother turned and stepped back within the house, leaving the door open behind her. Frisk let out another trembling sob. She rubbed at her red eyes with the backs of her hands and glanced down at the simple gravestone one last time. It was such an inadequate monument for the memory of such a beloved friend. The melancholy sight sent her heart spiraling down like it was sinking in a bucket of wet cement.

 

Goodbye…

 

Frisk turned and took slow, sluggish steps towards the open door, following her mother back inside the house.

 

 

But…

 

 

It suddenly grew dark.

 

A blanket of black satin fell before her vision, concealing everything.

 

The rain, the delicate scent of fresh outside air, the gentle sorrow… It all melted into a shadowy void.

 

The memory had been severed.

 

The dream… it had been fractured in two.

 

Her distant recollection was shattered by… by…

 

 

Pain.

 

And…

 

Fear.

 

 

And the overwhelming stench of blood.

She was choking against the darkness. It hurt! Her flesh was on fire. Every part of her body ached and burned. She was being crushed underneath a flood of surging mud. Sharp spikes decorated the floor and drove into her spine like nails.

It was chaotic. She couldn’t breathe. Her flesh was being flayed and rubbed raw and split open. But the battering turmoil wouldn’t kill her. It wouldn’t let her die… It refused. It kept her alive, just barely, to continue the ruthless torture.

And she saw that bright red hue in the center of the darkness. It was burning against the back of her eyes. It hurt to look at… s-so, so terribly. It was agony. It was a swelling inferno piercing deep within her skull. Penetrating her head. And her body. And the red burrowed inside her memories, inside her vigor… and her soul. It tainted her entire being and she wanted to die… please… just kill me… p-please…

 

 

Please let me die…

 

………

 

 

……

 

 

 

 

 

 

Frisk’s eye shot open and she was screaming.

 

She gasped for a breath and rolled over onto her side against the hard floor, clutching at her face with quaking hands. She couldn’t breathe. She couldn’t think. She was suffocating in a sinkhole of agony. The right side of her head felt like it had been bludgeoned with the backside of a hammer. The pain was so intense, it blinded her limited vision over and over, like the flare of a camera flash in the dead of night.

She sobbed from the ache in her head and curled her knees into her chest. W-what was this?! A migraine?? It was unreal. Her fingers quickly ran over the right side of her face, examining the source of the pain. She let her fingertips press against her right eye, but… t-there was something there. Something tangible. It felt like… like cloth? Like a thickly layered square of gauze held on by tape of some sort.

Her fingernails dug against the edges of the tape, trying to peel the strips from her skin and remove whatever this bandage was. But before she could manage it, another terrible wave of pain shot through her head and galloped up her spinal cord. She clutched at the right side of her face with one hand and tried to push herself up off the floor with the other, but faltered back down to the ground.

Another pain, a different type of pain, erupted from her lower abdomen and ran down the insides of both thighs.

 

This pain… It pierced through her stomach and heart and made her whole body quiver.

 

And then… the memory…

 

The ordeal…

 

Every detail…

 

Every single vile, depraved, nefarious detail came rushing back.

 

Her eye… he had…

 

He had gouged out her eye.

 

And he had… n-no… no!

 

It played out in her head, against her will, like a living nightmare.

 

Over and over.

 

And over.

 

And over…

 

And Frisk screamed out again as she began to hyperventilate. Rage and hopeless and fear, and every other negative emotion in between, it was coiling within her stomach and pressing against the inside of her heart. N-no… It never happened. She pushed those visions down. They were false. It had been a nightmare. S-sans… NO! Those were fake memories. An illusion.

She ripped her hand away from the side of her face and slammed both fists against the stone floor. The ground below her was cold… and damp. There was a light at the opposite side of the room that she could just barely see out of the corner of her single, uncovered eye. A soft flickering hue. The candle.

S-she was still in this room… She was still in the beginning passageway… at the first candle… in Napstablook’s tunnels.

 

No… NO NO NO NONO!!!! NO NO!!! GODDAMNIT!!! NO!!

 

Frisk started crying out with anger and disbelief. Tears erupted from her left eye and spilled along her cheek and neck. She brought her trembling hands down between her thighs and they were… sticky… Oh, god. Frisk quickly looked down, blinking away the partition of tears. Her thighs and legs… they were covered in a coating of tacky, drying blood. And visible under the crimson bloodstains were dozens of bite marks embedded within her flesh. Each one looked more heinous than the next. But the pain at her thighs was almost nonexistent, as it was nothing compared to the pain within her skull and the agony that drilled inside her abdomen.

 

It never happened. It never happened. It was… a dream. Yes, a dream. Just a terrible dream. A nightmare, in fact. But it did not happen to you. It happened to someone else, not you.

 

Frisk began to rub violently at the tops of her thighs with her sleeves, scraping away flaking blood from her skin. She quickly lifted her head and glanced around the surrounding area in a panic. But she was completely alone. Her backpack lay propped up against the side of the wall right next to her. She was still housed within the corner of the room.

 

I-it didn’t happen… Not to you… not to you…

 

Very slowly, Frisk pushed her hands against the floor again, lifting herself up from the ground into a sit. She cried out as another pain shot up from her hips this time. She felt so sore and bruised all over. She leaned back into the corner where the two walls met, breathing hard and fast. Her chest felt hollow. Her soul… It felt like her soul was missing… There was no warmth within her.

 

It never happened.

 

Frisk reached a quivering hand forward and lifted her bag closer. She unlatched the buckle at the top and grabbed a bottle of water and began to pour the clear liquid all over her thighs. It stung terribly, but the worst part was the frigid atmosphere that immediately felt ten times colder the moment she soaked her skin. She washed the blood away best she could, using the entire bottle. She could see each bite mark easily now. They were adjoined in rows, and they wrapped around to the backs of her thighs.

 

It never happened…

 

Frisk wiped her legs dry and she pulled out the box of band-aids, placing a flesh-toned rubber bandage upon each bloody tooth mark. She was careful to give first priority to the particularly deep ones, the ones on the insides of her thighs. But as she toiled over the wounds, her eye glanced along the front of her shorts. H-her shorts… the zipper… the front button… it was… it was opened… It was opened.

 

It n-never happened…

 

Frisk’s hands started to shake at the sight. She clenched her teeth together, but she could not stop them from clattering. Small whimpers of fear and dread stirred inside her throat as she slowly brought a hand down to the front of her pants. She slipped her fingers underneath the hem, sliding them lower… lower… between her thighs. O-oh… god… no… It felt… w-wet.

 

P-please… please… tell me that it never happened… It was a dream, right? It was a nightmare… right?

 

She just barely scooped her fingers against her opening and let out a sharp, sudden cry. It hurt! I-it… hurt… she felt torn. It hurt so terribly. She couldn’t touch that spot without flinching from the pain… but she had to know. She had to be sure. And she rubbed her fingers against herself again, wiping off some of the wetness, and pulled her hand from her shorts.

She glanced down at the thick fluids upon her fingers…

 

 

 

Blue…

 

 

 

It was blue…

 

 

And translucent… and it dripped down her palm.

 

And strings of thick, twining blood weaved through the glossy cobalt extract.

 

………

 

N-no……

 

 

No…

 

NO NO NO!!

 

NO!!!

 

Frisk’s hand fell limp to her side and she stared up at the ceiling. She ground her teeth together to hold back a sob. Hot tears spilled from her left eye, and in turn her right covered eye burned terribly. She felt so defeated… so tired… Her chest felt hollow. Her soul was gone.

 

It had not been a terrible dream.

 

It had not been a nightmare.

 

Sans…

 

That depraved, heinous monster. That demon… He had-… He had actually-…

 

Don’t say it. It WAS a dream.

 

Frisk’s powerful mental defenses immediately rose up and contrived a barricade of walls within her mind. They tried to block out each memory, each detail. But deep down she knew. And in turn the details spiraled fourth and clawed at the surface of her thoughts. Sans. Sans had attacked her… His tongue… his tongue had scraped along her bare chest. His hands scratched against her stomach and hips… Every touch was painful… He held her thighs apart… around his waist… Grinding against her… Forcing himself inside her… He… he-…

 

STOP!

 

Frisk’s trembling hands began to button up her shorts then she dug them into her pockets without a second thought. She pulled out her cell phone and searched for her utility knife… but her blade… her box cutter… the only freedom she still had from this hell… her only escape… it was gone. It was gone. No… NO NO NO!!

She pulled her backpack into her lap and began frantically searching for it. But it was nowhere to be seen. Vanished. Sans… he must have taken it. Did he know what she would have attempted had she still retained her knife? Why couldn’t he just let her DIE! She immediately wrapped both hands around her throat and began to squeeze… harder… harder… but each time her head began to feel foggy, her grasp would automatically lessen. Her body rejected the self-strangulation. It wouldn’t let her die.

Frisk sobbed and threw her backpack to the floor and turned to her side facing the wall. She slid back down to ground and lay there, curling up into herself in the dark cold chamber.

How long would it take to freeze to death in here?

It was cold… but… not that cold.

She closed her eye and tried to force sleep to take her. Perhaps if she simply stayed within this room she would just fade away. Maybe starve to death, eventually… but… what if Sans came back?

 

’you still have to open the gates, sweetheart …and this time i'm not leaving your side’

 

Sans’ words cut through her heart and her eye shot open.

 

N-no…

 

She had to get out of this room. She had to run. What if he returned? And attacked her again? What if he brought her back to his house… a-and kept her there and-… oh, god… No no no!!! She had to escape… back to the snowy forest… Yes… Toriel could not help her anymore. And it was foolish to think that Toriel ever could. She was a monster, just like all the rest of them. Frisk’s only salvation was death. And it couldn’t come soon enough. If she ran to the Snowdin forest and just plunged herself deep within the snow, then she would freeze to death. Yes, she would pass away… All of this suffering would end. She was at the final threshold. There were no more resets left. It would be over. All the pain would finally be over. She would be free.

 

Frisk lifted herself off the floor once more and attempted to stand. Her legs felt so weak. Her head was throbbing and she managed to stagger to her feet. Wave after wave of sharp, searing agony shot through her abdomen and ran down her thighs and up her stomach. She could feel a disgusting trickle of wet seeping out from inside her, down the back of one leg. God… p-please just let me die… I just want to die…

Frisk steadied herself and turned to face the empty hallway opening. She knew it led directly to the 2nd gate, to the snowy forest. But what about her soul?… Frisk rested one shoulder against the wall as she stared directly in front of her. Her chest felt hollow, her soul… it- it was… gone. Just like her blade. Sans had taken it.

She lifted her arms out in front of her and tried to summon forth the shield, but nothing happened. Without her soul could she even open the gate? Didn’t she need that to open them?

Frisk let out a trembling sigh and clutched at her throbbing lower stomach with her hands. It was worth a shot… She might as well just try to open the gate. The only thing she cared about in that moment was suicide. She had to try…

And she stumbled forward, grimacing with each step. It was so painful just to walk, but she took in deep breaths. Inhaling the cold musky oxygen, then releasing, then inhaling again. You will be free soon. It will all be over, very soon. She fought through the pain and began to journey fourth into the dark tunnel.

 

 

Frisk walked along through the shadowy stone corridor. Her head was throbbing so terribly. She grasped at her right covered eye with one hand, adding some pressure to try and relieve the pain. She was in denial. She could not come to terms with the fact that… she was partially blind now… She could barely come to terms with Sans’ assault. Her fingers ran along the front of the gauze patch. Who put this here? Sans? No. Don’t think about this. It is pointless to think about this. You will be gone soon anyways. It will all be over and there will be no more pain. No more suffering.

Frisk reached a hand into her pocket and pulled out the cell phone. She clicked the flashlight’s button at the side and quickly illuminated the narrow hallway. And she couldn’t help but glance down at the cracked screen. The time read ‘6:04 am’ and the battery was at 67%… So she really had gone back, then? All the way back to the very beginning.

She stumbled through the tunnel, letting out soft groand of pain with each step. She stared ahead… she could see the end of the hallway. It was obscured in draped shadows, but she could just barely see it. That large chamber where she had first met Napstablook so long ago. She immediately found herself wondering where Napstablook was… then her thoughts returned to Sans and the assault and she just couldn’t shake it. It was a constant memory that seemed to play on repeat inside her head.

 

Please… let me die…

 

Frisk staggered towards the slight narrow opening. A soft rush of wind bellowed through the archway from the larger cavern. It was so dark, even the cellphone’s flashlight could barely cut through the black. She took a step forward to enter the spacious dungeon.

But something immediately rose from behind the wall right outside the doorway.

 

Something blocked her path in an instant.

 

 

An arm…

 

 

But it was not the thin, long ghostly limb of Napstablook…

 

It was a sturdy arm draped in dark fabric like a jacket sleeve… with… with a skeletal hand.

 

 

Frisk cried out and stumbled back, hitting her shoulder against the side of the tunnel. She dropped her phone to the floor with a loud clatter, turning the entire space around them pitch black. And she shut her eye and lifted her arms up defensively over her face. No… no… No… please, no… H-he had never left… He was here this whole time… waiting to ambush her again!

 

 

Sans…

 

 

No… no… NO-… NONONO NO NO!!

 

Frisk felt a cold claw, rough and slender, wrap around one of her wrists and it yanked her forward. She was lurched out from the hallway into the chamber but kept her eye closed. She was shivering so terribly. Her legs felt weak and blood rushed to her head. She felt as if she was going to faint.

“kid…” She knew that voice. She could never forget it. Ever. It was deep and harsh, laced with a haunting echo that speared through her heart like a barrage of arrows. The sound of his voice sent her spiraling back into that small room… she was underneath him again… he was grabbing at her hips… tearing up her flesh… ripping through her insides… P-please… no more!… And Frisk couldn’t even move. She couldn’t even attempt to pull her wrist from his tight grasp. She simply stood there in front of him, cowering with her head ducked down underneath her free arm.

 

This isn't happening. This isn't happening. No… please… you should have stayed in that small room. You should have stayed there! You allowed yourself to get caught again!

 

Frisk kept her head lowered, but she couldn’t hide from him. He wouldn’t allow it. His cold phalanges feather along her chin and she recoiled. They grasped at her jaw roughly and forced her head up, tilting it back to face him. The tips of his claws dug into her cheeks. S-she couldn’t run. She couldn’t fight. She just stood there so pathetically, trembling and desperately trying to hold back distressed sobs as he clutched her jaw.

His grip began to tighten and Frisk finally let out a cry. Her left eye opened slowly… slowly… It was so dark within the room… but his bright crimson hue flashed and pulsed rapidly before her. The red illuminated the space between them and she could see his face clearly within the vermilion shadows. His eye sockets were lidded and devious. He glanced down at her with that heinous smirk. She couldn’t help but stare back at his teeth… and she could just barely see red stains along the pinnacle of each canine… her blood… her blood.

“what's with that look? you didn’t think i’d leave again, did you? don't you trust me at all?” He chuckled. He was taunting her. Even after everything he had done… God, he was cruel… He was twisted… She felt sick… She was going to vomit. Frisk's stomach churned. She could barely keep her knees steady and she started to stagger to the floor. But Sans released his grasp at her chin and his hand immediately lurched behind her and squeezed against the nape of her neck painfully, pulling her in closer towards him. “i never left you, kiddo… ” She could see that veiled rage buried deep within his scarlet eye as he spoke, his pinpoint pupil shivering with a usual look of… of hunger. And hate.

“S-s-sans… p-please…” Frisk whimpered over the stutters. She could barely speak. She could barely move. She was so overcome with fear. And Sans’ fingers slipped up underneath her thick short hair at the back of her head, scraping along her skull. It was repugnant.

“enough.” His voice was suddenly harsh and his concave sockets narrowed down at her. He released his grasp from her wrist, but his other hand remained gripping at the back of her head, holding her steady. Sans dug his hand into his jacket pocket and pulled out… oh, god… the collar… The one that Papyrus had used on her so long ago… N-no… god… Was he going to use that on her now!? Dear, lord… please no…

“you are going to open the doors, kiddo. and i know you won’t step out of line again, right?” He raised a browbone down at her while looping his index finger through the collar and began to idly twirl the iron ring around his digit. The metal clattered against his bony finger as he taunted her with bondage… and with the possibility of another rape.

“N-no… I… I swear-” Frisk’s left eye was wide and glazed with fear as she responded. Her heart was pulsing so rapidly in her chest. It hurt… her chest hurt from that beating heartbeat. She thought she was going to collapse from fear, truly.

“that’s a good girl.” He sneered, drinking in her terror-stricken expression. Then he shoved the collar back inside his jacket pocket. W-wait… he was not going to bind her? He was going to allow her to walk freely?… Perhaps… it was because he knew there was no reason for it… Unlike Papyrus, she could never escape from Sans… Ever.

And he swiftly lowered his hand back down to the back of her neck once more and pulled her to his side, then shoved her forward into the open chamber. Frisk stumbled in front of him. She held back a cry of pain in her throat from the abrupt movement. Her whole body was so sore. Her head was aching and her insides writhed from trauma.

“go on.” He growled out. Sans stood close behind, towering over. And he shoved at the middle of her back once more, pushing her forward. W-was he honestly going to march her through the Underground? Lead her through each door until they reached the end? Was he going to finish what his brother had started? Frisk could hear his sneakers shift against the ground. She could tell he was already starting to become impatient and she did not want to test him… n-not after… what he had just done to her.

So she slowly stepped forward into the darkness, walking through the center of the massive enclosure. It was so dark and the only light came from Sans’ red eye. It did very little to illuminate their surroundings. And Frisk took slow steps forward. The soft squeaks of her sneakers against stone resonated through the chamber. All she could hear were her own steps, her racing heart, and the steady sound of Sans’ breath directly behind her. He was following so closely, but at least he wasn’t touching her.

 

God, kill me… please let me die…

 

They continued to make their way through the chamber. It felt so much larger than it had when she first walked through this room and met Napstablook… W-wait… Napstablook… Where was he? Had Sans… had Sans killed him?… Although Frisk had tenacious, bitter feelings towards that ghost, the monster who was pretty much solely responsible for her entrapment within the Underground, she found herself wondering where he was. But as they began to approach the opposite side of the room something caught Frisk’s eye. There was a faint light up overhead. A faint blue light. It was way up high, within the furthest corner of the room against the ceiling. She could just barely see it with her uncovered eye. W-wait… was that Napstablook?!?

Frisk came to a stop and she felt Sans brush against her shoulder. She stared up at the glow against the ceiling. It was a blue hovering cloud of azure energy, floating within the atmosphere above them. And entrapped within the wafting mist was… the ghost. It was Napstablook. He was trapped inside Sans’ soul energy. He wasn’t moving or struggling. He was just gently hovering within the cerulean fog. Oh god, was he dead? Was he asleep? Stunned? Frisk’s head was racing with questions.

“Napstablook…” She whispered under her breath and stared at the confined monster in shock. She could see Sans’ red eye flash brightly to her side and felt his hand grasp at the back of her neck once more. She flinched at his touch and quickly tore her gaze from the imprisoned ghost above. S-she shouldn’t stop walking… She didn’t want him touching her ever… ever again. If she just obeyed then he wouldn’t touch her, right?…

“he’s fine. move.” Sans almost sounded annoyed and he pushed her forward once more.

 

 

 

They walked through the chamber and reached the final tunnel opening. Frisk continued forward into the hall without stopping. She refused to hesitate as they stepped through the archway and journeyed into the narrow passage towards the 2nd gate - she did not want to give Sans any excuse to touch her again.

It was so cold. Her fingers were numb. She could barely see in front of her but continued forward regardless, taking in labored inhales. She wanted to cry. Her rapist walked directly behind her. He was so close… she could almost feel the fur-trim from his lowered hoodie’s cowl brushing against the back of her head. Please don’t touch me…

But then, suddenly, they could not continue any further. A dead-end… It emerged from the shadows and blocked the way. But Frisk knew very well that this was no ordinary impasse. She stared at the runic engraved symbol upon the wall. This was the 2nd gate. She remembered opening this gate so clearly. She had been so startled when she first opened this door… When she had seen her soul’s beautiful power erupt forth for the first time… She had been so innocent back then… Naive and filled with determination to escape this hell. N-not like now… Not like now…

She felt a building surge of sadness wrap around her heart. Frisk hung her head and she trembled where she stood. Hot tears burned in the corner of her left eye. Her shoulders were quivering. Sans leaned in close behind her. She let out a terrified whimper from the sudden contact. His firm chest pressed against the backs of her shoulder blades and both his hands gripped around her upper arms. He would not speak a word, and the fact that he said nothing made it all the more terrifying. Frisk’s heart started to pulse with anxiety as she felt those skeletal claws sweep down the outside of her arms. He leaned forward further, practically pushing her up against the wall, and he wrapped his fingers around both her wrists and lifted her hands up…

He forced her hands flat against the center of the barrier, directly upon the etching. Frisk stared ahead at the barrier with tears in her eye. She held back the sobs in her lungs which in turn made her throat feel like it was thick and compact. She hated him… she hated him… Get away from me, please… p-please don’t touch me, you- you evil, cruel d-demon… pervert… rapist! She wanted to scream out her thoughts and pull away, but instead she just stood there with her arms outstretched and palms flat against the surface of the cold stone.

Sans held her hands there for a moment, then he released one claw from her arm. Frisk could hear the sound of him digging within his pants pocket… He was searching for something, and he pulled it out and lifted it over her shoulder before her eye.

 

Her soul…

 

It was her soul.

 

Frisk’s heart leapt at the sight. She stared down at the softly glowing red orb within his grasp, just as beautiful as ever. It shimmered and swirled with glittering red liquid embedded in translucent sphere. It dripped energy against Sans’ fingers as his thumb lightly glided along the surface, wiping away the dazzling crystalline residue.

“you’ll need this first, kiddo.” His words purred from deep within his chest and he pulled his hand back… and then he lowered his arm against her side… and wrapped it around her waist. Frisk’s muscles tensed instantly as she felt his arm press flush against her. He was inching his hand up underneath the bottom of her hoodie from behind, like he had done so many times before to remove her soul… but this time, this time he was returning it.

Sans slipped his hand underneath her clothing and pressed the hot, dripping orb against her navel, up further along her quivering abdomen, against her rib cage, directly at the center of her chest. His opposite hand released her wrist and he gripped onto her waist, holding her close as he began to push the soul firmly against her sternum.

Frisk cried out from the sudden influx of pain and heat. She gasped and her knees buckled and she took in sharp breaths, holding oxygen within her lungs, fighting against the broiling pain that pierced through her breast as Sans pushed her soul painfully back inside. And she gasped and stumbled forward and lowered her forehead against the wall. I-it hurt… please… just hurry… She could feel Sans’ hard rib cage firmly against her upper spine. S-she could feel his heartbeat pulsing rapidly and his skeletal claw shivering ever so slightly between her breasts as he pushed her soul deep within. G-god, he was getting off to this, wasn’t he? Her pain was his pure bliss. He was so depraved… He was truly a spawn of hell.

But then almost instantly the pain vanished and Frisk felt that tremendous warmth cascade deep within her body. Her soul was back. That hollow feeling that weighed within her chest had been filled. It felt so warm… and it would have felt almost comforting had it not been for Sans pressing into her back directly from behind… it almost felt like he was grinding into her. A wave of terrible, heinous memories drilled through her mind and she shuddered and slouched forward, feeling sick.

But Sans did not remove his hand from underneath her hoodie. He kept his skeletal palm splayed flat upon her warm chest. Oh god, why!? W-why… don’t touch me… please. Before Frisk even had a chance to protest, she felt her arms start to burn. Her soul was overflowing with simmering energy, with determination. The dazzling red glow wrapped around her arms instantly and they spread down her limbs, down her wrists, encasing her unsteady hands in gauntlets of clear scarlet. The red illuminated the space around them and Frisk watched as the wall started to shiver under her touch.

 

It was opening.

 

The sound of crumbling rocks immediately bellowed forth. The wall started to shudder violently and it strain outward. Frisk cowered and ducked her head down. Stones and debris fell from the ceiling overhead like an avalanche. Her hands were quivering but she kept them in place and the wall ruptured fourth with a silence-shattering clash of rock. All that red luminescent energy at her arms faded as the wall unfastened forward. The gate… it opened… out into the snowy forest.

Bright, blinding white and a bitter gust of freezing wind collided with Frisk and she stumbled backwards into Sans’ chest.

She stared ahead at the cold landscape with her single chestnut eye wide. That freezing snow… She had forgotten just how cold it was. Just how treacherous. Another gust of wind and she shuttered and pulled her hands back to her chest. But- Sans… his hand was still pressed hard against her sternum under her clothing. G-god… Would he ever stop his brutal torture?…

Almost instantly, Sans wrapped his opposite arm around her middle so tight and yanked her small form back against his body. It was as if he had expected her to run forward. Frisk released a cry, his sudden violent touch brought her back to that small chamber all over again, the room that would haunt her for the rest of her life… She could almost feel his claws upon her bare thighs… And his pulsing vigor… thrusting deep inside her… But a sudden pain brought her mind back. A terrible surge of swelling agony within her chest.

 

N-no… He was-… he was removing her soul again!? He wouldn’t let her keep it!?!

 

Frisk cried out, tossing her head back against his shoulder, panting heavily as her chest rose and fell and her heart fluttered with fear. Sans’ hold on her was strong and he lifted her feet up off the ground. He restrained her body tight, violently tearing her soul from the safety of her chest. It hurt so terribly, just like always, as if someone was ripping open her chest with thick talons. And then she felt that familiar snap as he wrenched the soul from her body. She almost went limp in his arm from the agonizing endeavor.

“heh…”

He chuckled behind her, his skull just inches away from the side of her face. But she couldn’t see him. He hovered by her right side… by her blinded eye. Eventually he pulled his hand from under her clothing and grasped tight against her soul, sending a wave of pain through her briefly before shoving the orb back in his pants pocket.

 

No… n-no he couldn’t possibly do this… Was he going to return and remove her soul for every single door? Was he honestly going to control her in this appalling way?

 

Sans placed her back on the ground and released her waist. He pressed both hands atop her shoulders and lowered his head. Frisk could feel each one of his lukewarm breaths against the back of her neck.

“let’s go.” His voice was like a rigid jab to the spine. It was so unyielding, so unkind. And he shoved her forward into the thick blanket of snow.

 

 

 

 

 

Frisk tread through the freezing, wet snow that wrapped around her sneakers. Each step she took was still agony. The right side of her head was pounding, and she found herself clutching at the thick gauze bandage every couple of minutes. Erratic waves of pain shot through her lower abdomen and refused to wane. And now to make matters worse, the bitter cold wrapped around her entire body and pierced her core.

It was so cold… so cold… and so tired. She just wanted to collapse into the snow and fade away. But every time she staggered and began to slow Sans would shove her forward forcefully with one hand.

 

He wouldn’t let her rest…

 

He wouldn’t let her die…

 

Sans paced close behind. Frisk could just barely see the vibrating crimson radiance from his eye reflecting off the silver forest floor. She knew he certainly was not cold, but she had lost the feeling in her legs and arms. Would he even care if she got frostbite? Pft… who was she kidding… of course he wouldn’t… Well, that is, as long as it did not affect her hands. She had to open the damn doors, afterall.

As they walked, Frisk stared out at the vast forest that surrounded them. The woods rose up overhead and twining dead branches collided with each bitter gust. That familiar black mold adorned every tree and Frisk could just barely see ashen flakes of debris falling from above. It was not snow. It was the molding soot that seemed to plague this entire hell.

Suddenly there was a sharp, shrill sound overhead and it made Frisk stumble backwards into Sans’ chest. T-the air sirens… Air raid sirens bellowed loudly, stirring the whole forest. She had completely forgotten about them. The first time she trekked through these woods she had heard them… And back then she thought she had entered some kind of forbidden war zone. Sans gripped his hands at the sides of her shoulders for a moment, jolting her back from the memories, and pushed her forward again.

They continued on. They walked in silence. Sans would not utter a word. It was terrifying, knowing that the one monster who caused her so much pain and anguish was hovering so close behind. If he wanted to try something again, there was absolutely nothing she could do. She was stripped of every ability. She had no weapons to defend herself… The only leverage she had was the fact that she was on her last life. If she died now, then it was all over for her and the Underground as well. But… that was hardly leverage when it came to Sans. She knew very well what kind of torture he could inflict without killing her.

 

Suddenly a strange feeling began to course within the center of her chest.

 

W-what… What is… t-this…

 

Frisk clenched her chattering teeth and brought both colorless hands up to her breast. What w-was this feeling?… It was a building pressure deep within her rib cage, where her soul would normally settle. She could feel the ghostly remnants of warmth even though she knew there was none. The pressure was pulsing down through her abdomen and it made her legs tremble. But it was not painful. Just a squeezing tension that affected her entire body and forced a soft cry to spill from her lips as she staggered to a stand-still in the snow.

 

What… the hell is… this???…

 

Was she dying because her soul had been outside her body for too long?

 

It almost felt as if she was dying… It almost felt… like a sweet release…

 

The burrowing tension would decline, causing her to gasp out from abrupt relief, but then it would simply grip within and continue again. W-what the… hell… Sans stepped up beside her and tilted his skull down. God, she had almost forgotten that he was still with her. Frisk glanced up at him as gripped both hands onto the front of her hoodie, fear and confusion quivering in her single uncovered eye. Sans’ sickening smirk spread wide. His thick sharpened canines interlocking in that sly, cryptic sneer. His alcove sockets were lidded and his crimson hue actually throbbed slowly for once. He pressed one hand against the center of her back, but his other hand… his other hand was buried in his pants pocket.

 

W-was he doing this?…… Was he doing this, somehow?… No… no way…

 

“c’mon, kid.” He spoke in a low whisper and pushed her forward. The strange sensation began to slowly dwindle down as they continued on. And the pain returned, deep within her right eye and her abdomen and thighs. Whatever that was… it had been a brief distraction from her agony… but she did not want to feel it again.

 

 

 

Frisk could see a small clearing between the thick forest as they continued on. She saw large boulders encircling the space. She remembered that small expanse. Yes… she could never forget… Where the fawn had been killed… Where Sans had first attacked her… And Sans shoved her forward, directing her towards the gap within the trees.

Frisk slowed just barely as they stepped into the circular clearing. She glanced down at the snow, but there was no blood. No mutilated baby fawn. Nothing except more snow. Sans stood beside her. His eye start to flash rapidly again.

“the first taste. heh… i’d be lying if i said i wasn’t hooked from that point on.”

God, his words made her feel sick… sick and angry. And he spoke them so casually. Frisk clenched her hands into fists, feeling hopeless. She tried not to remember what had occurred in this spot, when he had ripped her thigh to shreds. But her conscious drifted back to a much more heinous memory almost instantly.

His cold claw returned to the back of her neck and she flinched. Sans pushed her forward again and continued to lead her through the clearing back into the thick forest.

 

 

 

It was getting colder. The bitter wind began to collide into them, brushing fast in their direction. Each frigid gust pierced through Frisk’s core. She felt like her bones were going to crumble from the cold. She released hot breaths against her shivering hands and would shove them in her hoodie pocket, desperate for any warmth. But her body heat was minimal. Perhaps she would freeze before they got to the 2nd gate… The thought was almost comforting and she pictured how furious Sans would be if she froze to death before she could open anymore doors.

 

That would show him…

 

But suddenly Frisk could see something out in the distance of the woods. A house. That was Sans and Papyrus’ house! And it was just as decrepit as she remembered. And they… t-they were walking towards it. A sudden influx of panicking thoughts surged through Frisk’s mind like a cyclone. Would he bind her up in that room again?… N-no… no… please… Her breath turned short and shallow as she struggled against building dread.

They walked closer towards the house and Frisk could just barely see through the dark grime that caked each bottom window. She could almost see a flickering light within, that low-hanging lightbulb and the TV screen. And then she thought she saw a dark figure sweep past the window. Papyrus!? That was Papyrus! He was inside the house… He was still alive! Frisk felt her heart leap at the sight. She had never killed him. He was alive and bustling around inside the gloomy home. She could practically see the bright red of his scarf through veiled glass.

Never in a million years had Frisk thought that she’d actually be happy to see that tall, slender skeleton. No matter how deranged he was, he was certainly a better option than Sans. He had protected her once before, perhaps he could do it again? And Frisk found herself craving the humid warmth of their home. She stepped forward in the direction of the front door as they passed it, but Sans swiftly gripped the nape of her neck and held her still.

“i don’t think so.” He words were as bitter as the snow around them. “you’re not going anywhere near my brother, manumitter…

Frisk looked over her shoulder at the towering, cruel demon behind her. Sans’ eyes were narrowed, his pinpoint pupil constricted deep within the flashing sphere. His grin faltered at each crevice. He was masking burning resentment… but she could see it. She knew his expressions well. He looked so enraged… as if he was remembering… remembering what she had done. And Frisk felt her heart sink into an ocean of fear.

“go.” He growled out and shoved her forward roughly, guiding her around the house and back out into the dense forest. Frisk felt hot tears prick at the back of her lone eye. There was no salvation from this monster. He was her living hell. Her rapist… torturer… executioner. H-he wouldn’t even allow her one shred of comfort… God, she wanted to die.

 

Please let me die…

 

And the cold burned her limbs as they continued on. The forest was growing darker. The rushing wind blew faster. The falling ash had been replaced by actual snow, and it danced around them in brisk flurries. Frisk pulled her hoodie’s cowl up over her head, but it did little to warm her. She moved slowly through the snow as if she had been submerged under water and was fighting against an oncoming current. And as they walked, Frisk found her thoughts drifting to… Chara. It was a welcome diversion from the memory of the savage assault that continuously plagued her mind.

'why do you think chara tainted your soul and used you to do her dirty work in the first place?'

Sans' words…

Chara had poisoned her soul, just like Gaster had done so long ago. But Chara’s poison was different. It was controlling. It had possessed her. Chara had tainted her essence with rage and burning vengeance. But when had she done it? When they first met in the swamps? She had touched her chest then. Frisk remembered feeling that malicious warmth spew from the dark-haired child's fingertips against her. Or maybe it was in Waterfall, when she saw her a second time right before she cut her throat? C-chara… why… why did you… do this to m-me?… Why did you make me… kill? The murders, the deaths, Sans' revenge… it was all Chara's fault.

 

It was all Chara's fault… right?

 

And then Frisk saw something up ahead. About a mile out away from them. There was a vast clearing within the woods and it opened out into a wide stretch of nothing… and erupting from the ground was… was the wall.

That enormous, towering black brick divider. It spanned the entire horizon. She could just barely see it shrouded underneath the building snowstorm. The 2nd gate. She almost fell to her knees at the sight of it, but Sans shoved her forward painfully, urging her on.

They trudged along in silence until they finally stood directly before the limitless barricade. Frisk had forgotten just how massive the blockage really was. That grand wooden vertical gate erected within the center of the wall and towered over them. Frisk stared back at the snow painted wood. She knew there was an engraving hidden underneath that thick layer of white. She remembered this gate like it was yesterday. Her brief battle with Papyrus… When she first saw her shield.

Sans stood close behind her. He reached a hand over her shoulder, brushing away the snow from the gate, revealing the engraved symbol right before their vision. Three peaks. A coiling spiral downward. The gate’s distinctive marking.

Sans wrapped both his hands around her forearms. Frisk clenched her teeth and watched as his hands worked their way down to her bare wrists. God, his fingers were so cold! Don’t touch me you sick bastard! He guided her frozen hands and pressed them against the front of the gate like he had done before, back at the 1st door.

Sans’ firm chest pressed flush against her spine directly behind. The thick, layered fabric of his winter jacket rubbed against the back of her neck. His body shielded her from the terrible gusts of wind and it… it almost felt… warm. Stop it… STOP IT… I know you are cold… I know you are desperate and defeated… but don’t you dare find comfort in this monster. Don’t you dare.

However, Sans wasted no time. He released one of her wrists and plunged his claw within his pant’s pocket, pulling out her soul once more. He wrapped his opposite arm around her waist and slipped his hand under her hoodie. H-his hand was freezing! Like dry ice burning through her flesh. Frisk let out a cry from the sudden contact of his fingers against her navel, but he simply lifted his hand higher up to her chest and pressed the warm, dripping soul against her sternum.

That familiar agony. That burning heat. It pierced through the core of her being. Sans did not hesitate or taunt her with pain this time. No, instead he shoved her soul back inside her quickly and in an instant the blinding red burst from her chest and encompassed her arms and hands. Her soul’s crimson energy burned high, like a bonfire's flame dancing in a deluge of snow… Her power… It was surging through her chest. It felt hot and forceful and almost hostile. It almost felt as if it had… grown stronger.

The wooden gate began to tremble under her palms and it slowly spread open, splitting outward into the next adjoined forest.

A gust of chilly, damp air rushed forth from the gate. That familiar smell of sodden mold, like the inside of a basement, encompassed her senses. The door opened before them and caused the ground to shake violently. Frisk shut her eye and pressed back even further against Sans’ chest, holding her hands up over her head. Clumps of heavy ice and snow tumbled from the shaking doors and fell all around them. She could feel Sans’ arm wrap tight around her waist, his opposite claw still pressing to her bare chest. And Frisk slowly lifted her head and blinked up at him.

 

Sans was watching the door open. His red eye pulsed rapidly. His smirk was wide and frenetic. There was a look of eagerness, a look of triumph within that aberrant gaze.

 

It was Sans who was opening these gates, not her.

And he was delirious from this newfound ability… from this power.

She was simply the tool.

 

The hardware.

 

He would free the Underground, yes.

Free Papyrus.

Free them all.

 

 

N-no…

 

 

That cannot happen.

 

 

 

But in an instant mind-shattering pain rupture from her chest. Sans tore her soul away… again. Whimpers of agony erupted from her throat. She was shivering in his tight grasp. She shut her eye and gasped for air. The way his hand pressed upon her bare skin… and his fingers explored the edges of her small breasts… The way he ripped the warmth from her body. It felt like he was assaulting her all over again. S-so disgusting… Don’t… touch… me…

But the pain was severed and her soul was back within his grasp once more. Sans lowered his hand out from underneath her hoodie and shoved the red orb back in his pocket for safekeeping. T-this… bastard… Then he lifted his hand up to her face and his slender claws wrapped around Frisk’s jawline. He smirked down at her as they stood between the threshold of both drastically different forests.

“heh. you did good, sweetheart.” Did… did he actually just say that?… Those words made Frisk’s heart start to race rapidly in her chest, whether from fear or anger or shame, and she ripped her gaze from his face with clenched teeth. Monster… He released his claw from her chin and pushed her forward aggressively through the gateway… onto the other side.

 

 

 

 

 

It was so dark.

Dark and damp and that noxious jade hue hovered within the stifling atmosphere. The ground was covered in melting black slush and ever step Frisk took pushed the icy mess further through her sneakers. Her whole body was still numb from the previous snowy forest, but at least the feeling had slowly returned to her legs and arms. This ecosystem was not nearly as cold as the previous, although it had a completely different set of faults and Frisk couldn’t decide which was worse. The air was so thick with mold and falling ash that she could barely breathe. Each inhale made her cough. Frisk held her hands over her nose and mouth to block out the dust. She was so tired.

 

J-just let me die already…

 

Sans walked close behind. She could hear his heavy footfalls trudging through the freezing mud. They walked in silence for what felt like ages. Frisk remembered her journey through these woods… She had been with Papyrus. There had been a collar wrapped around her throat. She had been so scared. But she had also been determined. Determined to break away. Determined to free herself, despite the impending doom. Frisk almost smiled to herself as she remembered her daring escape from Papyrus… Ah, it was a stupid move, but a bold one nonetheless.

 

Would she ever feel that courage again?

 

And they walked on… and on… and on.

Frisk knew that the town of Snowdin, the 4th gate, was somewhere up ahead. But each time she glanced forward there was nothing but more dismal, diseased forest. And every time her pace began to slow, Sans would shove her roughly. She truly felt like his prisoner… like his slave. A burning pit of hate swelled deep within her stomach, but it was swept away in a sea of fear… her potent, constant fear of him. Monster. Rapist. Pervert. Sadist!

Frisk rubbed at her single eye with one hand. It had become red and watery from the contaminated atmosphere. It was difficult to get used to her new limited vision. She still refused to believe that this was now a permanent fixture. That she was permanently blind in one eye.

And Frisk stared ahead with a blank gaze, but the sight of something dark out between the trees made her heart start to coil. The town… the village… yes, it’s there. It’s up ahead.

The ample town of Snowdin settled within the trees before them. For some reason the sight made Frisk pick up the pace of her footsteps. She was eager to walk on cobblestones instead of vile muddy slush. And the two of them walked on until they reached the outer edge of the fence.

 

 

 

Sans led Frisk along ash-coated cobblestones. Dusty flakes of soot began to rain down overhead and Frisk started to cough even with her hoodie sleeves pulled up over her mouth. It was painful… painful to breathe. They walked on through the village. Uncomfortably silent and just as dreary as always. The small houses that lined the edge of the path were crumbling from disrepair. Frisk knew that there were no monsters hiding within the dark doorways, but she couldn’t help but cringe with dread each time they walked past a particularly shadowy one.

Frisk turned her head to stare out at the homes. They continued on and they reached a section of the town that immediately looked very familiar. So familiar. She felt her heart and head start to drown in a noxious feeling of distress… and she came to a sudden stop before one of the houses. That house. That was the house… where she… murdered… Papyrus… She thought she could still smell the blood.

She felt nauseous and her legs trembled as she remembered… She remembered that feeling of rage and hate and poisonous malice. It drove her actions. It turned her into a killer. A ruthless killer. She remembered that feeling of elation when she plunged the blade deep within Papyrus’ chest and tore apart his soul like it was nothing. How she… crushed his skull… and smiled while she did it… How she ripped his scarf and donned it over her own shoulders like some marvelous memento.

 

 

 

Wouldn’t it be wonderful to do it again?

 

 

 

 

 

 

That voice…

 

 

 

 

Frisk’s single eye widened. Each muscle in her body became rigid with fear.

 

That voice.

 

Her voice.

 

The voice with a conscious of its own.

 

For a moment she thought she had heard it… whispering deep within the recesses of her mind. A ghostly memory of a heinous past. Chara…

 

No. No that was not possible.

Chara was gone.

 

Chara had abandoned her.

 

Sans came to a stop beside her. His daunting presence shook her from the troubled rumination. She quickly glanced up at Sans. He was staring back at the house as well. H-he remembered… he remembered it… Sans’ smirk wavered. His massive teeth clenched tight, grinding into each other. The bright, burning hue of his crimson eye began to… to darken… into nothing… until they had become two hollow sockets.

“S-sans…” Frisk could barely speak. God… h-he looked so enraged. Without the red he looked even more terrifying than ever. She took a step away from him but his hand immediately grabbed at the back of her neck and he lurched her in close against his chest. P-please… don’t touch me… “Sans, please… I’m sorry… I’m s-sorry…”

Frisk whimpered as fear squeezed her heart. She was paralyzed with dread and could almost feel her rapist’s soul pounding frantically against the front of his chest. Sans slowly tilted his skull down at her and she watched as the red started to form back within his single socket.

 

But he said nothing.

 

There was nothing to say.

 

And he roughly shoved her forward back towards the dusty path through the buildings.

 

 

 

 

The lack of clean oxygen made her head spin. God, she was so exhausted. Her legs ached from their nonstop journey. Her thighs and abdomen continued to burn from the assault that had only just happened. The pain within her right eye was a constant pulsing throb. Please… just let me rest… I’m so tired…

Sans forced Frisk through the town until they eventually came upon a familiar clearing. Soot fell from the sky in thick curtains. The massive, black windowless building towered above them. Gaster’s library. Frisk rubbed at her tearing eye and stared up at the structure as Sans led her towards the stairs. They ascended each step slowly and stood before the wooden doors.

Sans pushed the doors open with one hand while simultaneously jolting Frisk forward into the dark expanse with the other. The doors closed behind them and it was pitch black. Well, besides the flashing red hue that hovered overhead. For some reason the abrupt darkness sent a wave of dread through Frisk’s vertebrae and she felt the sudden urge to run.

 

Run… Run!

 

No-… There’s nowhere to run…

 

It was lukewarm within the space. That familiar scent of burning firewood hung in the air. But Frisk shivered where she stood as she felt two skeletal claws grip around both her shoulders. Sans’ grasp was so strong and his touch made her flinch in fear like it always did. Every time she felt his phalanges upon her, those terrible memories would crash down within her mind like a fatal tidal wave. Please… kill me…

“let’s go, kid.” Sans muttered out. It was the first time he had spoken in a while. Sans pushed her forward and led her through the dark entrance hall, his maroon glare lighting the way, but this time he did not release her. One claw kept a firm grasp upon her shoulder and his other hand stuffed down into his pant’s pocket. He forced her to walk along beside him as they entered the narrow winding tunnels.

And they continued on through the shadowy labyrinth.

But as they walked, Frisk began to feel that strange sensation once more. O-oh god… no…… not again! That deep-seated swelling pressure rising up from her chest, spreading down to the nethers of her body. It sent wave after wave of hot shivers down her spine and her legs quivered as she walked.

 

W-why… was this… happening?…

 

Frisk hung her head, her chest rose up and down rapidly with each fluttering breath. She tried to hold back a desperate whimper in her throat. God… Sans… was still… clutching at her arm. He could probably feel every shudder that swept through her form. Frisk hesitated and tried to pull away but Sans’ grip simply tightened… and she thought she heard him… chuckle.

“you alright there, kiddo?”

 

…D-don’t touch me…

 

The sensation… it almost felt like… like a building heat… a stirring fever of… pleasure. It was so vulgar. It was unwanted and the feeling made sick. It felt forced and tainted and vile. And on top of everything it was confusing… and so embarrassing.

Frisk grit her teeth tightly and held down a gasp as another unwanted wave of pressure lurched vigorously. P-please… stop… She was so distracted by the feeling that she barely even noticed the familiar alcove entrance against the side of the hallway as they passed by it - a room with the flickering candle.

“heh…”

Sans chuckled and he stared ahead, the sharp ends of his fingers lightly raking along her shoulder.

Slowly the straining tension began to die down again, but it left Frisk’s head spinning and thighs shaking. She took in quivering inhales and relished in the calm after the storm. And then suddenly Sans stopped dead in his tracks. Frisk stumbled and glanced up. They stood before a large wooden door… the door… the door to the library…

The door to Gaster.

Hundreds of questions started to flood through Frisk’s mind. Would Sans fight Gaster? W-would Sans force her to fight Gaster? W-what… what was going to happen now? Would Sans trap Gaster in another one of those blue encompassing energy entrapments like he did with Napstablook? What if… what if they fought and Gaster actually won? Was that possible? No… no way. Sans was too strong. But… if Gaster did win, then what would happen to her? Each thought was more dismal than the next, and Frisk watched in horror as Sans slipped his hand from his pocket and pushed open the doorway.

 

 

 

 

Flickering violet light spilled forth and Frisk squinted her left eye at the vast library. She had so wished she would never see this room again. Just the sight of it sent her heart spiraling down to her gut. Sans stepped through the archway and pulled her along. He closed the door behind them and tilted his head down. His smirk was not nearly as brash as it usually was and his eye was barely pulsing. He looked almost stern.

“wait here, kid.” That brazen grin returned for a moment as he spoke softly. “i don’t think i have to tell you what’ll happen if you step out of line.

Frisk’s lone eye widened. Fear swelled within her expression and she quickly nodded her head back at him. Sans just chuckled. He turned and stepped forward along the perimeter of the colossal chamber and disappeared within the shadows, leaving her alone by the door.

 

W-what?

 

Frisk blinked and stared back at the veil of ghostly obsidian. He… he was gone… she was alone… Was he going to ‘take care’ of Gaster?… She bit at her bottom lip and slowly sunk down to a crouch upon the floor. Her heart was racing. She was so exhausted. She just needed to sit for a little bit. But the moment she sat down, she felt that heinous pain against her hips and wanted to cry.

 

………

 

Run…

 

God! No!!! Do NOT RUN.

 

Her thoughts were so conflicting. Frisk stared back into the shadows from where she sat upon the floor. She idly reached a hand into her pocket, searching for her phone, but it was not there. That’s right, she had dropped it… Damn…

A slowly budding swell of drowsiness began to wrap around her head. She stared with a half-lidded gaze into the darkness. The warmth and scent of spiced firewood simply fed into her debilitation. So… tired…

But before she could even close her eye to rest the sound of footsteps rung in her ears. Frisk quickly staggered up to her feet, chasing away her fatigue, and watched as Sans returned from the shadows. He took languid steps towards her with that typical smug smirk and vibrating hue. Both his hands were in his jacket pockets and his fur-trimmed cowl was now pulled up over his head. Had… had he taken care of Gaster? She hadn’t heard a sound. What did he do?

“c’mon,” He muttered out through his teeth and nudged his head to the side as he motioned towards her. Frisk walked along the edge of the wall and he followed close behind.

“What… what about… Gaster?” She asked, trying to keep her voice as steady as possible. But Sans did not respond. He simply guided her forward in silence until they came upon the large wooden trapdoor embedded within the ground.

 

 

Frisk stared down at the 4th gate. The 4th gate… She hated this gate. It was painful. Every time she plunged down that stone pipe-way into the sewers it was agony. It would knock the wind out of her and she was honestly surprised that she had never broken a bone from the fall.

She hesitated and ripped her gaze away from the gate, glancing up at Sans who stood directly beside her. Sans leered down at her with a hint of impatience. Then he swiftly looped his arm around Frisk’s waist and lurched her forward roughly against his chest. D-dammit!

Frisk’s mind started to race instantly. She knew he was just going to return her soul… she knew that… but each previous time he had done it had been from behind… she did not have to look at his foul face that way. And now the way his chest pressed flush against hers… it made her whimper and want to scream and the sensation brought her back to the trauma.

She was panicking and shivering in his grasp, but Sans simple dug one hand within his pocket and pulled out her soul. He slipped his claw down between them and began to slide his hand up under her hoodie. Frisk clenched her teeth and looked away from him. She didn’t want to see him. She hated him. S-she wanted to kill him!

Sans’ hand slid up her torso, rolling her hot, wet soul against her flesh as he did so, and finally reached her chest. He pushed his palm down flat against her sternum.

The usual pain and Frisk let out a sharp gasp. The monster forced the essence back inside her so violently. She could see his red eye pulsing overhead and his other hand ran up her back, to her neck, to the back of her skull, and he pressed her head down hard against his chest holding her there. No… There was not much she could do except take the pain and trembled against him. Her ear was against his chest… she could hear his heart beating rapidly. Did he even have a heart? Was that possible? But almost instantly the pain was gone and he released her. Then he shoved her onto the door.

Frisk stumbled forward and stood there, staring back at him. Her soul sent waves of warmth through her whole body. S-she had her soul now… and his hand was not against her, ready to remove it… She could… she could try something… Ridiculous ideas of actually attempting to summon her shield right now pierced through her mind, but she quickly shook them from her head.

 

Don’t you dare step out of line…

 

“go on,” He growled, leering back at her. His smirk was immense. The look he gave her… it was sickening. He was taunting her. He probably wanted her to try something. He would have LOVED that.

Frisk shifted her feet. The wood echoed underneath them. She glanced back down at the engraving, then back up at Sans and she felt so hopeless. Tears began to swell in her eye and she fought against the building wail within the inside of her throat.

“S-sans… this gate… p-please-…” She began to beg him but her words stuttered into nothing as she watched his expression shift to that terrifying glower of rage. Rage and eagerness and rancor. And his grin widened and his eye pulsated violently.

Frisk shook at the terrifying sight. There is no choice. She fell to her knees, letting out a heavy sob, and pressed her hands flat against the symbol. Perhaps… perhaps the fall will kill you this time. Then it will all be over. Try to land face first. The fall will break your neck. And you’ll be free. Those bleak thoughts cascaded around the rim of her mind. They were comforting in a way.

She closed her eye and took in a deep inhale of warm oxygen. Her soul’s power began to swell in her chest and burst outward. Bright red flashes of liquid energy wrapped around her arms and traveled downward to her hands. Frisk opened her eyes and stared at the liquid pneuma flutter along the surface of the gate.

In an instant the door began to heat up under her touch and it swung outward underneath her knees.

And she plunged down into the darkness, praying for death.

 

 

*****

 

 

Coming up: Journey to the 6th gate.

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

*****

 

 

She was falling.

 

Fast.

 

Plunging down.

 

Deep down into a vacuum of shadows.

Darkness wrapped around her arms and legs while damp, malleable sprigs began to whip at each limb painfully. The warmth and fetor of firewood above mutated into frigid wet and a thick musk of decay.

Frisk held her voice down in her lungs as she plummeted. It was difficult to breathe against the rushing wind, but it didn’t matter. She could feel each protruding tree branch slap against her, but she did not reach for them. She wouldn’t grab on. She wouldn’t save herself. And she tried to rotate around to face downward during her descent, so that she would land head first, but the stone channel was too narrow to manage it.

Frisk grit her teeth hard and each one of her muscles bunched involuntarily as she waited for the impact, that fatal contact that would hopefully end it all. Please… please… please let this be the end. Let this be the final fall. The last ounce of pain that I have to endure in this miserable life. She welcomed the impending collision. And as she fell she saw flashes of the orphanage in her mind’s eye. Brief snippets of lazy summer days with Izzy outside in the courtyard… And… and her beloved dog Schafer… And her mother… And a gripping wave of sadness sunk deep within her heart as she realized that those far and few recollections were the only comforting memories she had ever known.

The clusters of branches grew thicker and she knew that the end was near. Please… please… The volley of snapping wood echoed around. Each bough gave way under her falling weight. She braced for the fateful impact, her left eye shut tight. Please!-

 

But…

 

Something seized her abruptly in mid-air.

 

… M-more branches?

 

No…

 

Someone had caught her just a couple of feet from the floor at the very bottom of the duct.

She could feel the thick padding of their jacket and those sturdy arms looped underneath the backs of her knees and supporting the middle of her spine. Her shoulder pressed roughly against… against his firm chest. She could feel each tiered indentation of his rib bones through his shirt. And that lukewarm, erratic breath cascaded against her trembling arms.

 

Sans…

 

It was Sans.

 

He… he must have teleported to the bottom the moment she opened the gate. Had he known what her initial intentions were?

 

God, dammit!

 

Frisk opened her only eye and she immediately saw that shivering radiance of red above. It cut through the pitch black of the sewers and illuminated the space among them. She was trembling in his arms from the shock of the fall, and the cold and the fear. And she quickly shut her eye again and jerked her head away from his chest. She didn’t want to look at him. She hated him.She hated him so much. But he simply let out that usual deep, brash chuckle which echoed off the walls and sent abhorrent tremors down her vertebrae.

“you didn’t think i’d let you off the hook that easy, did ya?” Sans whispered under his breath. His fingers slipped from their grasp at her shoulder and feather upward along her jawline, up further to her cheek, before they reached her forehead. Bony digits ran through her messy chestnut locks, pushing them back away from her face.

She immediately flinched at his cold touch, but in turn he gripped hard at a fistful of hair and yanked her head back towards him. She kept her eye shut. P-please… put me down… don’t touch me!

“you know i can’t let you keep this…” His bitter words trailed off and he released his tight grasp. Sans' hand ran down to the front of her chest - to her soul. He pressed his palm against her sternum through her clothes and Frisk recoiled again. But in a split second he sunk down to ground and slammed her hard into the wet, leafy floor.

Frisk let out a cry from the abrupt entrapment and her eye shot open. He was hovering over her just like he had done so many times before. He… he was so close… so close, directly above. His smirking interlocked teeth were only inches away from her face. The sewers’ alcove was cramped and there was barely enough room for one person, let alone two. He was much larger than her and practically filled up the entire space around them.

 

Please… I can’t… I c-can’t handle anymore of this…

 

His red eye pulsed rapidly and the black specked pupil within began to dilate from the darkness. One of his hands pressed against her lower abdomen and the pressure sent waves of agony through her entire body. I-it hurt! Her insides were still so sore… right there in that exact spot. It was like he knew exactly where to press to cause her pain… he knew it. And his other hand began to inch its way up underneath the bottom of her hoodie to steal her soul again.

Frisk shoved both her quivering hands against his chest. Terror ripped through her pounding heart and almost automatically, without any control, her chest began to burn. Her soul was shivering. It started to pulse. No! She could feel that familiar heat. It was stirring and spilling down her forearms. She was starting to summon her shield, Oh, god!… S-she wasn’t even trying to! It was materializing all on its own! And it began to rupture forth without any regard.

Sans saw the red wrap around her arms and he felt the building heat underneath his palm. He ripped his opposite claw from her abdomen and automatically wrapped those rough phalanges around her throat, squeezing hard.

“…don’t you dare.” His voice was a snarling resound of rancor and those deep, concave sockets narrowed in turn with the threat. Sans’ red hue pulsed so rapidly, like the wild raging flames of a forest fire, and his usual taunting smirk wavered and shifted into a dangerous sneer. That look terrified her. God, he was terrifying.

Frisk stared back at him with one wide eye and desperately tried to pull her soul’s spilling energy back inside its capsule. She gasped and strained for a breath, fighting against the squeezing hand at her throat. Yes, she wanted to die, but her body acted on its own in an instinctual self-preserving struggle. And slowly the heat that spilled from her chest and arms began to reside. And she pulled her soul’s energy back, burying it deep within her chest.

 

Thank god…

 

Sans’ grip at her throat softened, but that pain was almost immediately replaced with a splitting agony that was so much worse, directly within her breastbone. He ripped her capricious soul away from her. It hurt so terribly, it hurt more than it ever had before, as if he was causing her this extra pain as punishment for allowing her soul to act on its own accord.

Frisk shook. Tears spilled down from her left eye. She stared up at Sans weakly, crying and gasping with each burst of agony. She was hyperventilating underneath him, watching his teeth grind together. His crimson sphere flash maliciously as he dug her soul out from within her. The way he looked… the way he hovered directly over her, the pain, all of it brought her back to that small candle-lit room in an instant.

That vulgar memory… it slashed through the inside of her mind, tearing at any shred of hope she still had left… at every fragment of happiness… at her determination. It was so painful… shameful… and she thought she could feel his teeth against her thighs all over again. How his claws wrapped around her waist… That memory… She wanted to die… She wanted to die as he pulled her down against his hips so violently, so rough… battering her insides, ripping them raw, splitting her soul in two.

Sans… p-please…… I’m sorry! I-I’m so, so s-sorry!…

 

……

 

 

 

“S-sans… I’m sorry…”

 

 

“I’m s-sorry-… “

 

……

 

“I’m… sorry…”

 

 

Frisk could hear the sound of her own voice. It was not one of her internal dialogues. She was speaking softly, each plead a quivering whisper of fear. The memory slowly faded back to the recesses of her mind. The recollection freed her from its terrible clutches once more and she opened her eye to gaze up at Sans. Her chest was hollow. Her blank, glazed stare so defeated.

He was hovering over her. He was only inches away from her face. But… the look in his eye… The expression he wore… It had changed. It was different… She had never seen that demeanor before.

He was no longer smirking or sneering, and his wall of teeth curved down at each crevice. His eye had shifted from a daunting rapid flash of hate into a dim shade of maroon just barely illuminated. His sockets were lidded and his gaze… his gaze was somber.

 

The look on his face…

 

That look…

 

A look of…

 

…remorse.

 

 

 

 

 

 

No… no way.

 

 

It was faint, but it was there. Frisk could just barely see it buried deep within that red sphere. But it was fleeting, and his gaze turned stern again almost instantly. Sans blinked his sockets once and he released his grip at her throat. He pulled her faintly beating soul out from under her hoodie and stuffed it in his pants pocket. And then… he averted his stringent gaze away from her.

 

W-what?…

 

“Sans?…” Frisk muttered softly as she stared up at him with a timid look of surprise. Had she honestly just seen that look? No. There is no way. It was not possible. She must have been mistaken. Sans was not capable of emotions like remorse or regret. He did not feel those things. He was a monster.

Sans pressed his hands upon the floor as pushed himself up to his feet. Then he swiftly reached a claw down and grabbed at Frisk’s wrist, yanking her up with him.

“… c’mon, kid.” His voice was flat and hard to read. He almost seemed irritated, but there was an underlayer of something else Frisk just couldn’t grasp. She staggered up to her feet and pressed a hand against the side of the stone channel to try and steady herself. The skeleton tightened his hold on her opposite wrist and stepped forward, down into the waterlogged aqueduct, pulling her behind him.

 

 

Frisk stared wide-eyed at the back of his skull as he tugged her along. Her gaze locked onto the jagged, notched crater against the topside of his head. She stumbled in the water, trying to keep up with him, and glanced down at his skeletal hand around her wrist. He… he wasn’t saying anything… And for some reason the silence felt awkward.

He does not feel regret. He does not feel remorse. He violently raped you. He has taken everything from you. Don’t think even for a moment that he cares. You are nothing but a tool to him. A tool that will unleash unspeakable horrors upon the human world. That’s all he cares about. That’s all.

Frisk let out a silent sigh and hung her head. The negative thoughts engulfed her mind in a churning whirlpool, but they were right. He never cared. He felt no remorse. He was a cruel, evil monster and she hated him.

 

 

 

 

They walked through the sewer pipe in almost complete darkness. The only light came from Sans’ lone eye. It was bright once more, and it flashed and turned the gloom around them an eerie muddled red. Frisk’s head was spinning with fatigue. Her wrist ached from the skeleton’s tight grip. She stumbled behind Sans, bumping into him a few times, and she almost tripped and fell more than once. God, she was exhausted. She wouldn’t be able to go on much longer at this pace. They had just spanned the entire first 4 gates so rapidly without stopping once.

But as they tread through the ankle-high water, Frisk found her thoughts gravitating to her soul. She glanced down at Sans’ pocket. She could just barely see the gentle glowing outline of her shimmering red orb through the fabric. Sans was so powerful. He had crushed her during their battle in Hotland… so why? Why did he have to remove her soul after every gate? Was it simply to cause her more grief? To torture her any chance he got? Or maybe he just wanted an excuse to grope her bare chest like the heinous pervert that he was… But… but what if… what if it was for an entirely different reason?…

 

He fears your soul. He fears the power it contains.

 

 

’kid… your soul is… fascinating.

 

Those words that Sans had spoken to her so long ago… The way he stared down at her soul back then, like it was something exquisite and supreme. But there had also been a concrete look of greed and hunger in his gaze… like he wanted it all for himself.

An overbearing rush of fear swept through Frisk’s whole body and she idly tried to pull her hand from Sans’ grasp. Of course it wouldn’t budge, if anything his clutch tightened. But almost immediately the dread that flooded the pit of her stomach dwindled as Frisk noticed a dim light way down at the end of the stone artery. She held her breath and stared around Sans’ side at the streams of light. The swamp. However the light that spilled in those segmented rays were blue in color. It… it must be dark outside.

 

 

They reached the circular iron grate and Sans’ looped his fingers through the slats, shoving the barrier open with ease. That spectral glow of azure was there to greet them. It was already pitch black out in the swamplands. The only light came from the sapphire vapor that rose off surface of the water like an eerie apparition. And it was completely and utterly silent.

Sans stepped out through the passage and roughly yanked her behind him down into the mud. G-god… She grit her teeth and glanced up at Sans who didn’t really seem to mind. Actually, he almost appeared to be… distracted. His gaze remained solemn and it stared ahead into the mire. But he did not linger. He yanked her forward through shin-deep grime towards higher ground and the wooden pathway beside them.

They reached the bottom of the stairway and Sans began to ascend up each step, but Frisk stumbled over the first stair and immediately faltered backwards, pulling her hand at his grasp. T-these stairs… this spot… he had attacked her here once. He had devoured her here. That heinous memory came upon her in full force. It was a memory she had not recalled for a while and it made her stomach turn. She tried to jolt away from his grasp again as a small whimper stirred in her throat.

Sans glanced back down at her. His arrogant smirk quickly returned. His eye flashed bright and he pulled her forcefully up the steps into his chest. He let out a daunting chuckle while his opposite hand rubbed against the side of her face.

“c’mon, kid. as tempting as it is, i promise i won’t eat ya this time… heh.”

 

G-god… She hated him… she hated him she hated him she hated him-

 

Frisk shook and clenched her teeth, feeling a fever of anger spread over her flesh as his skeletal claw caressed the wounded side of her face… directly underneath her patched right eye. D-don’t touch me… But Sans simply released his grasp and turned, pulling Frisk by her wrist behind him as he began the long journey down the wood-planked trail.

 

 

 

 

They walked on in silence for what felt like hours. Frisk was so exhausted, her body ached, her head was spinning with pain and anxiety. She stared weakly up at Sans’ fur-trimmed lowered hood with an abashed gaze. She began to wonder how many times she had walked through this swamp… This will be your fourth time. Four times? Really?

She lazily glanced to the side, staring out at the vast blue stretch of bog. The smoke ascended so slowly, as if it was solidifying within the air. Thick mysterious mist spilled out along the surface of the pathway at their feet. And Frisk squinted her eye as she stared… Chara… where are you?…

It was probably foolish to think of Chara, but she couldn’t help her wandering mind. This was where she had first encountered that dark-haired child, afterall.

 

 

 

 

And they walked on… and on… and Frisk grew more exhausted with each step. Her legs were trembling. The pain within her right eye burrowed deep and fed into her dizzying weary. She felt a terrible swell of vertigo take hold and stumbled to the side, falling to her knees. But Sans caught around her waist immediately.

“S-sans… I’m begging you… p-please let me rest…” She was actually somewhat shocked by her words. She never would have spoken to Sans before but she was desperate from the drowsiness. Of course he wouldn’t let her rest. She must be crazy to think otherwise. But her pleads spilled from her lips regardless and she shivered with that all-encompassing fatigue against his supporting arm. “… I’m just so… tired…”

Sans tilted his skull and stared at her. He let out a reluctant scoff, but his taunting smirk wavered just barely.

“… fine, kid.”

 

W-what? Really?!

 

Frisk’s sleepy eye widened up at him. She actually felt a pang of gratitude stir deep within her heart. But she quickly realized how defective it was to be thankful that he accepted her request. He was… so toxic.

Regardless, Frisk was relieved. She didn’t even cry out when he shoved her down to the floor. She leaned back against the wooden path railing and allowed her eye to close for a moment, trying to relax her sore muscles. It hurt to sit, but that terrible pain in her abdomen had been dulled due to the lethargy. Sleep… sleep… It will make everything better.

Frisk pulled her knees to her chest and she slowly opened her eye. Sans had taken a seat upon the path directly across from her. He was sitting cross-legged, his gripping claws upon his knees, leering back at her with an alarming, strained sneer. His eye flashed in a steady pace. His teeth ground into one another slowly. That look… it was so intimidating. Oh, god… Maybe… maybe it was not a good idea to stop walking…

But Sans said nothing. He just sat there and stared her down. Frisk quickly shut her eye again. She didn’t want to look at him. The way he stared directly into her eye… it felt like he was trying to peer inside her mind… and his sharp gaze always brought her back to the assault. He had forced his penetrating gaze deep within her eye then, too.

Frisk sunk down to her shoulder against the hard wood floor and she rolled over to the opposite side facing the swamp.

 

Just… try to sleep…

 

What if he attacks in the middle of the night?

 

He could have attacked while you were walking too. At least now you can recover some strength.

 

She opened her eye and glanced out into the swamps. Blue condensation danced gently over the glassy surface and the fog almost looked tranquil in its own way. The gliding translucent mist was so unusual. Its sapphire shivering movements reminded Frisk of the aurora borealis.

She remembered resting out here once before, back when she was still filled with determination. She had dozed off staring at these same swamps and the gentle movements had lulled her to sleep. And she… she had a dream… Sans… He had been in her dream. And in the dream he sat beside her and his claw rested against her shoulder. His hand was cold… but it lay gently. That dream…

 

That was a dream. Just a dream and nothing more.

 

Frisk felt a sudden plague of sadness take hold in her mind. Her shoulders began to tremble and she held back quiet sobs in her throat, biting her lower lip to keep them from spilling. She was so tired of this life… She sniffed and rubbed at her tearing eye with one hand and her nose with the other and she curled herself up into the smallest ball possible. Was Sans still staring at her? Was he getting off to the sound of her lament?

Her curiosity was too much and she slowly turned her head back over her shoulder.

Sans remained seated in his spot. He was leaning back against the railing, but… his head had turned away. He was shifted ever so slightly, staring out into the swamps behind him. She could see the profile of his skull. His smirk was gone, his gaze was distant and detached and almost melancholy. That look again, the look she had seen in the sewers. His eye was a dim shade of red and it barely shivered. He was staring blankly out into the mystifying marshes, listening to her quiet sorrow.

 

 

What was going through his mind right now?…

 

……

 

Staring at him from this angle reminded Frisk of the first time she saw him. Back before she had even entered the Underground, when she was still in her own forest. She remembered it like it was yesterday… He had stared up at the sky with that wounded fawn in one hand and ax in the other. But… but how did he get there? How did he arrive in that forest?… The 2nd gate had still been locked at the time, so it was not possible for him to trek through the entry ruins.

Was Sans truly trapped down here in the Underground like all the others?… He was different. He was different from the rest of them. He was unaffected by her resets. Was he trapped or was he actually… free? Was he free yet simply remained here within this desolate hell… to watch over his brother… and to help salvage the other monsters?

 

If that is the case then you will never be rid of him.

 

Even if you manage to escape this hell… you will never be free.

 

 

I will never be free…

 

 

Frisk took in a slow inhale and tore her gaze from the skeleton behind her. She turned back to face the marshes and let her eye close once more. Sleep… sleep… sleep…

It was so quiet. She could just barely hear the sound of Sans’ steady breaths. Cerulean fog rolled along the path, creating a warm, damp atmosphere around her. Her sore muscles relaxed and each aching pain subsided. And the sweet relief of sleep finally took her.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Manumitter…

 

 

 

 

Manumitter…

 

 

 

 

Wake up, Manumitter.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Frisk opened her eye.

It was still dark. The dense, azure vapor continued its deluge over the entire landscape.

 

How- how long had she been asleep?

 

A voice… a voice had woken her.

 

A familiar voice.

 

Frisk slowly pushed herself up with one hand and blinked back at the mire in a sluggish daze. There was nothing out there except a vast stretch of darkness and hovering blue. It was completely still… and deafeningly quiet. But there was a stirring sense of foreboding in her gut. Something was wrong.

Frisk slowly shifted herself to face the path. Sans was still behind her. He hadn’t moved. He was leaning back against the side of the trail. His legs were crossed and both hands rested atop his thighs, but his head tilted downward with his chin at his chest. His sockets were closed and Frisk could just barely see the slow rise and fall of his shoulders as he took in lethargic, steady breaths. He was asleep.

 

 

Run.

 

 

W-what??… No!

 

Run now.

 

I can’t run from Sans. He’ll find me!

 

That’s right. He will always find you.

 

………

 

 

C-chara…

 

 

He will always find you. That is why you must kill him, Manumitter.

 

Chara… is that you!?

 

Frisk clasped her hands over her mouth and began to shake. She heard it. That stern, controlling, stoic voice whispering deep inside the far reaches of her innermost self. It was her own voice, but at the same time it wasn’t. It had a conscious of its own. It was alive within her.

 

B-but how!? Sans… Sans had ripped Chara’s rot away from her soul… And h-her soul wasn’t even in her body anymore! How… Was Chara nearby?… Or had Chara infected not only her soul, but her mind as well?

 

Kill him.

 

Chara…

 

Kill him.

 

Chara why… why did you do this to me…

 

KILL HIM.

 

Please don’t do this…

 

KILL HIM!

 

STOP IT!

 

……

 

 

Chara?…

 

 

…C-chara?…………

 

 

The voice vanished. It abandoned her again. It had gone as quickly as it had come and Frisk sat on her knees, staring wide-eyed back at Sans. Her shoulders were trembling and she could barely keep the whimpers from seeping past her lips. But there was a heat building within her mind.

 

A rage…

 

She could feel it. It was there. Like Chara’s ghostly words had planted a seed deep inside her conscious.

 

He will always find you… You will never be free… Even if you escape this hell, you will never truly be free of him… He raped you… He blinded you… He has taken your soul… He has taken everything… He will never stop hunting you… And in the end, he will kill you… Once you have completed his mission… Once you have released the monstrosities of this world upon your own kind… Only after it’s all over will he finally kill you.

 

Frisk clutched at both sides of her skull. She took in shallow, frantic breaths. Her lone eye was wide and shivered in a delirious, distraught panic. Her head hurt. Her thoughts were like violent monsoons that drowned out all reason. And she slowly lifted her head and stared back at Sans across from her…

 

Sans…

 

Frisk released the grasp at her head. Her hands fell down to her sides as she stared back at the skeleton… the monster. H-he was… asleep… He was asleep. That seed of vehement hate embedded itself inside her racing thoughts. And although she had no soul, she could still feel its ghostly fever spreading in her chest.

 

S-sans…

 

Frisk leaned up upon her hands and knees and she crawled closer to Sans, who remained resting against the opposite side. Her movements were silent and slow and she sat directly in front of him. Every logical part of her brain was screaming at her, but the cognizant, scornful hatred urged her on.

 

Sans… You must die… Y-you must die… so that I can live…

 

This is insane!!!!

 

There’s no other choice…

 

Chara… Chara…

 

Frisk’s eye was trembling with a concoction of deep-seated loathing and relentless terror. Her thoughts were so capricious and they all seemed to shout at once within her mind. She stared back at the sleeping monster and slowly lifted a hand out towards him.

 

He’s a cruel, vile, sadistic rapist. A murderer. A torturer. He deserves to die! He deserves this after what he did to you!

 

This is crazy!!

 

You are stepping out of line!!!

 

Kill him…

 

Frisk’s quivering eye locked upon Sans’ front jacket pockets. His hands… they lay still upon his thighs. She could… she could slip her hand very slow… very quietly… within his pocket and find her knife. He had taken it… he must have it hidden somewhere. Her box cutter. And after shes taken her blade… she will steal back her soul…

 

And kill him.

 

Yes, she will kill him. She will kill him and free herself.

 

Frisk felt a surge of tainted determination grip around her frantically pounding heart. Her fingers twitched and trembled as she lifted them closer to his torso. Her fingertips lowered down towards Sans’ stomach and they brushed against the edge of his open winter jacket at the side.

 

Slowly…… slowly…

 

She was leaning over him, hovering above his crossed legs, so close. Her eye darted up to his tilted skull directly overhead. His sockets remained closed and his steady breath continued. He was fast asleep.

 

Hurry…

 

Frisk let her fingers caress the edges of his jacket pocket at the left side. She slipped her digits within the fabric alcove. Her heartbeat was a rapid pounding in her head, like the violent clatter of a jack hammer. Her fingertips grazed against something in his pocket. Yes… there was something there! It was cold… and made of metal. Her heart almost leapt within her chest. W-was it her knife!? Her sword!? But as her fingers traced along the rim of the object, she could feel its curve. And it was hollow… and circular.

 

No… that’s the collar. That’s the collar, remember!?

 

Frisk clenched her teeth, trying to take slow and steady breaths. But each movement she made sent her heart winding into itself with adrenaline. Her sneaking hand wouldn’t stop trembling.

 

The other pocket… Try the other one…

 

She bit at the tip of her tongue and slowly pulled her hand back, avoiding the opens edges of fabric and the placement of his arm. Her head ducked under his tilted skull and she was so close to his chest, she could practically see the faint blue glow underneath the front of his stained shirt… His soul.

 

Once you have your knife and your soul… you will pierce his chest… pierce it with your dazzling blade… and be rid of this demon once and for all.

 

Frisk’s quivering wide eye darted back up to Sans’ face. His sockets were still shut. His teeth were clenched in a dormant disposition. His browbones were furrowed ever so slightly.

 

The other pocket…

 

Frisk pulled her sly hand back towards her chest. She took in a deep, silent inhale before she reached her hand out again towards the opposite side, the right side. This is so insane! She buried those frantic thoughts of reason down immediately and curved her hand around to the pocket tucked under Sans’ arm. Her fingers slipped inside and brushed against another object… It… it was also cold… and also made of metal… and slender and long.

 

That is it!

 

Frisk’s heart soared and she couldn’t help but smile to herself. Her blade! Her box cutter! Her marvelous, beautiful sword! She carefully wrapped her fingers around the sheath. Just the feeling of the weapon in her hand felt like she was being reunited with a distant, beloved relative. And Frisk held her anxious breath deep in her lungs as she pulled the weapon from Sans’ pocket.

The metal just barely brushed against the fabric and she cringed, every single muscle in her body tensing up as she pulled at the object. Her eye darted back up to watch Sans’ face… He’s still asleep… he’s still asleep… keep going… She continued to pull the blade from his jackets nook until it was halfway out.

Suddenly Sans’ breath shifted. Frisk froze and held a cry of dread back inside her lungs.

 

Oh god oh god… Oh my god……

 

But… nothing happened. His sockets remained closed. And his slow, steady breathing returned to normal. F-false alarm…

Frisk griped her fingertips against the edge and pulled the blade free from his pocket. She immediately clenched the weapon against her chest. Her heart was pounding so rapidly from fear and panic but in that moment she felt elation. She was reunited with her beautiful blade once more. Her salvation. A symbol of her power. Frisk stared down at the weapon in her hands and tears almost fell from her lone eye as she smiled.

Now… your soul.

 

She inched her hand down and slipped the blade into her shorts pocket for safekeeping. She rubbed the wet glaze from her eye and quickly glanced back up at Sans again. He was still asleep… still asleep. She maneuvered herself towards Sans' pants pocket at his side. She did not like this angle. It was hard to watch his face from this direction and she could only see the profile of his skull at a slant. But her gaze fell to his pants pocket once more and she stared at the rounded shape buried within.

 

Your soul… your soul is in there. It’s so close. Just reach in and retrieve it!

 

Frisk lifted her hand and lowered it down to his pocket. The way he was sitting… it would be difficult to retrieve it without her fingers brushing against him. But perhaps, if she moved slowly and silently enough, then he wouldn’t feel it. He was sound asleep anyways… he wouldn’t feel it… he couldn’t possibly feel such minuscule movement.

And her quivering fingertips reached down and grazed against the rim of his pocket. She slipped one finger inside the fabric niche. There was a heat within. A heat radiating from her soul. It was warm and damp and her fingers pressed against the soft, gelatinous crystal orb.

 

Your soul… your soul…

 

She couldn’t see it, but she could feel it. It was there, just barely within her grasp. Frisk inched another finger, and then another into Sans’ pocket. Her heart was galloping. It was difficult to breathe and her head felt hot and fuzzy. But her fingers continued on and they brushed against the pliable sphere.

Her entire hand buried within his pocket and each finger inched around the orb, grabbing on. She could feel the sturdy thickness of Sans’ femur bone through the fabric. It made her uneasy, but she couldn’t grip onto her soul any other way. Her knuckles grazed against him. Frisk’s wrapped her hand around the globule tightly and she felt its heat radiate in her palm. Her eye darted up to Sans face. Still asleep. She glanced back down and watched as she slowly began to pull her hand from his pocket.

She squeezed her soul tightly, so tight that she could almost feel a twinge of pain in her chest. Inch by inch her wrist slipped from the pocket and the cherry red glow spilled from the dark cloth cavity. Her soul. Her beautiful soul. Frisk held a gasp of joy back in her lungs and she slithered the orb from Sans' pocket.

It was glowing so brightly in her hand. It spilled gelatinous red lustrous against her fingers and she almost cried with joy. So beautiful, like liquid stardust. Her soul pulsed and the fluttering radiance shone so brightly that it seemed to illuminated the entire space around her.

But…

 

It was almost too vibrant… unnaturally blazing and… and shivering… And the flickering red illumination seemed to be cascading down upon her from above…

 

Wait…

 

No, no that red hue was coming from a different light source…

 

 

W-wait…

 

 

O-oh… Oh, no…

 

 

Dear, god… n-no…

 

Frisk’s heart skipped a beat and her blood ran cold and she slowly tilted her head back.

 

Sans.

 

He was no longer asleep.

 

His deep concave eye sockets were wide and twitching. The rounded blood-red hue pulsed rapidly like it had a heartbeat of its own and his pinpoint pupil constricted into almost nothing. Those sharp canine teeth wove together like a wall of knives and they were smirking wide and trembling with unstable furor. That rage… that frenzied anger… it seeped from his expression and drove through her heart. It was paralyzing.

 

No…… no…

 

And Sans wasted no time.

He swiftly lifted his hand and wrapped a skeletal claws around her wrist, squeezing at her limb so tight that Frisk cried out and dropped her soul against the floor. His other hand darted for the red, translucent orb and he grasped at it and began to crush it so painfully between his fingers.

Frisk let out a scream as those sharp tips dug into her soul. O-oh god… No no no!! The pain was agony. It coiled within her chest like poisonous serpents entwining underneath her flesh, inside each limb. But the fear that surged throughout her was almost worse than the pain.

Sans smirked wider, his eye locked onto Frisk like a missile, and he clasped his claw around her soul again. She cried out and sunk down to the floor, writhing in pain, clutching at her chest with both her hands, gasping for a breath of oxygen. G-god!… No! H-help… please!

“… kid…” Sans spoke. His voice was a low murmur. That tone was even more terrifying than his provoking growls. And it was trembling with uncontrollable resentment. He grabbed at her hoodie’s cowl with his opposite hand and violently yanked her around from his side to his feet upon the floor. He pressed the bottom of one of his grimy sneakers down directly in the small of her back, pinning Frisk painfully into the wooden planks below.

She cried out between panicked gasps. Her cheek pressed firmly against the ground as she scratched frantically at the floor, struggling under his foot. But Sans grasped at her soul once more. Another wave of crippling agony. G-god it hurt… it hurt!! It felt like her bloodstream had been invaded with sewing needles and they were tearing her apart from the inside out. Every nerve ending was screaming and the inside of her chest felt like it had been set on fire. She watched in horror as Sans pierced his sharp fingertips against her soul over and over and over again in the same spot.

“S-sans! P-please!” She gasped and clenched her teeth hard, holding back another scream, trembling so terribly, unable to fight against his pinning weight. She could taste copper at the back of her throat… blood… and began to cough it up against the floor.

“… you must be aching for another lesson, kiddo…” Sans whispered. His voice was dry and deep and rubbed raw with pure rage. Those words sent her heart plummeting into the pit of her stomach. O-oh god… she had stepped out of line… she had stepped out of line! Tears swelled in Frisk single eye as she stared back up at him from the ground. Her lone eye was trembling and her expression were nothing but a visage of dread. But Sans’ deranged smirk widened as he continued, “… otherwise why would you do something so stupid?

He grasped upon her soul a third time and the agony sent Frisk spiraling. T-the pain… she couldn’t even move from the pain. Sans’ opposite hand slipped into his jacket pocket… and he pulled out the collar. He parted his massive canine incisors and placed Frisk’s soul directly between his teeth. He bit down against it, not hard enough to break it, but just enough to keep her writhing in pain to free up both his hands temporarily.

And Sans' movements were instantaneous as he snapped the thick iron collar around Frisk’s throat. Please, god… why… why did you have to do something SO STUPID. Tears glazed over Frisk’s limited vision as she convulsed in pure agony against the floor. Sans began to thread that familiar leather leash through the small metal ring at the front of her collar. N-no… no…

He pressed his foot down harder against Frisk’s back and roughly yanked at the leash, checking to see if the knot would hold, jerking her head painfully to the side in the process. It was stable and he sneered and pried the dripping soul from his teeth in one hand, the leash in the other.

Frisk’s head was spinning. She could barely breathe from the pain in her chest and the collar clasped around her neck. She felt like she was suffocating under its weight and she gasped and cried out and pulled back, struggling against the leash that held her still.

“S-sans- Please! I’m sorry! I’m sorry! I… I didn’t-… I didn’t mean to…” All she could do was beg him, plead with him, beseech him for the smallest shred of mercy. She could barely speak over frantic cries and quivering inhales. She stared back up at Sans in horror as he leaned over her where he sat. He lifted his foot from the middle of her back, but another sharp pain within her chest sent her reeling and she still couldn’t move, she couldn’t fight. She couldn’t do anything but squirm at his feet so pathetically.

But something shifted in his expression. That burning rage morphed slowly… into that lusty sneer… into a daunting glare of building excitement. She knew that look… she knew that look very well. And she immediately felt sick with dire anguish. No… please…

Sans pried his fingertips from her supple dripping soul. His whole hand was covered in the gelatinous essence like crimson honey. His thumb ran over the orb, wiping away some of the fluids, and then it began to grind against the side of the sphere in slow circles. He was not piercing her soul anymore, instead his phalanges rolled around the hot, oozing marble and kneaded down into it, toying with it.

The pain… The pain morphed into a deep, grinding tension. The terrible, mind-bending torture melted away and all that remained was a building pressure that pulsed deep within Frisk’s chest and spread down through her stomach. T-this… feeling… Frisk gasped and pressed her hands against the floor, trying to push herself up to her knees. But Sans simply rolled two fingers deep within the orb, pressing them down, back and forth, and that pressure shot through Frisk’s stomach and she stumbled back down to the ground on her elbows.

G-god… this… sensation… S-she had felt this before… Back in Gaster’s building…… Back in the snowy forest…

This whole time… it had been Sans toying with her soul! He had been stroking it in his pocket as they journeyed, causing her these tremors… these disgraceful attacks of… of… forced pleasure. God, she felt sick.

It did not hurt, but the feeling was overwhelming in a different way… a way that was so much more shameful. And she preferred the pain over this… This was… god, it almost felt good. Frisk continued to writhe as shallow waves of tainted pleasure seeped down… down between her thighs. W-what the hell… was he doing!?

“you think you can fool me, kiddo?” Sans sneered with lidded sockets. He yanked at her collar’s leash suddenly and pulled Frisk forward roughly, forcing her between his legs and against his chest. Frisk gasped as he wrenched her in so forcefully and she tried to push away from him, but the steady leash held her firm and she could barely even move due to the tension that spread through her whole body and made her tremble uncontrollably.

“…even without chara’s contamination… you’re a killer.

 

N-no…

 

Frisk shook her head. She opened her mouth to plead with him, but another press and stroke against her soul sent her words spiraling down and instead she just gasped and released a trembling whimper. His opposite arm wrapped around her waist, holding her small body tight against his chest while he held her soul just out of reach, squeezing and kneading and pushing his knuckles inward against it. It was glowing so brightly in his claw, the hue was trembling just like her body, and it dripped all over his fingers turning them into a sticky mess… and Frisk’s heart surged with horror as she felt a building pressure run down her hip bones… down her lower stomach… down between her thighs… G-god… The way he rubbed into her soul… it was making her… w-wet…

“you have always been a killer…” Sans smirked wide. The way she writhed against his chest, the involuntary whimpers and cries that spilled from her lips, it all began to drive his lust up the walls. He squeezed her soul again and she desperately held back a relinquished moan and gripped at the front of his jacket with both her hands. “heh… and if you think you can beg for forgiveness and make everything alright again-…”

Frisk fought against the forced, ravishing arousement. She tilted her head up and stared back at Sans, panting heavily. Her heart was racing so fast and her body felt so weak from fighting the degrading fever. But she wouldn’t submit to him… N-never…

“S-sans… you’re… wrong…” She actually managed she speak between gasps. Sans’ sockets narrowed down at her words, and his toying fingers stilled for a brief moment against her soul. “Sans… I’m not…a-ah… I’m not the Manumitter… Please… you are w-wrong about me… please…nh!”

She couldn’t stop her words as they spilled forth like a breached floodgate. Tears swelled in her eye and she pounded a fist hard against Sans’ chest.

“I n-never wanted… to kill Papyrus… Sans- please… I’m begging you… I-i didn’t want to! I never wanted… to kill anyone!… Please… Please… please believe me… I- I just want… to go home-…” She was so overcome with emotion and terror and the words just flowed forth on their own.

Sans stared down at her. His smirk wavered ever so slightly as he seemed to listen to each word she uttered. His fingers had stopped their movements and he was simply grasping soul lightly. And he hesitated for a moment but after a few seconds his eye sockets narrowed once more and his smirk widened and he let out a cold laugh that made Frisk’s heart turn to ice.

“ahah- that was a cute speech, kid. a fuckton of lies, but cute otherwise.”

 

W-what!? He… he didn’t believe her?!

 

Frisk eye widened as she stared back up at him in pure horror. She grit her teeth and roughly shoved both her hands against Sans chest, pushing herself away from his grasp during the brief freedom from forced tremors. But Sans was swift and he simply rolled her soul between his fingers once more.

And then he brought the dripping, tender orb up to his smirking maw.

He spread his teeth apart, allowing his thick, azure blue tongue to loll out past his canines…

And he rolled his hot, lavish tongue along the side of her soul.

 

D-dear god-…!!

 

An influx of convulsing pressure, wet and hot like a fever dream, gushed through her entire body. The sensation wrapped around her thighs and pressed against her tight, sore insides… g-god it felt vile… Like there was a ghostly swelling pushing inside her tender heat. Her slick, clear nectar dripped from her aching pussy, smearing against the insides her thighs. Her head was a tornado of dread and burning shame and her face felt so hot and she wanted to die.

This was so much worse… this was so much worse than the rape… he was forcing her to enjoy it. I-it felt… it felt so g-good… it was dizzying and confusing… Please s-stop!

Sans wrapped his tongue around the pulsing orb. His glossy blue saliva coated her throbbing soul and dripped down his fingers and he watched her keenly with a sideways glance. Frisk’s trembling hands clutched at the front of his shirt. Her thighs quivered and spread apart from the toiling sensation that started to pulse and move inside of her. She wanted to scream and shove him away and struggle and fight… but the intense pleasure turned her body and mind into mush.

“don’t fight it, kiddo.” An eager, lusty whisper purred out from his chest as he wiped some of his saliva from her physical pneuma and continued to massage three fingers into it now. Her soul turned hot and gelatinous in his teasing hand. Each time his fingers dipped against it, it would shudder and spill its fluids against his bones. It had become like warm clay, and it was so soft that Sans could practically push his fingers inside it and there was no pain, just wave after wave of unwanted stimulation.

Frisk buried her head down against the side of Sans’ winter jacket. S-she didn’t want him to see… she didn’t want him to see her face… She was sick over her own shameful actions, each noise she made, each shudder that vibrated through her spine. Her panties and thighs were a sticky mess from the honey that spilled from her quivering heat. And then she felt something firm and hot press against her leg.

Frisk flinched and quickly lifted her head from Sans’ chest. She could see that growing bulge underneath the front of his pants and immediately felt nauseous at the sight, pulling her leg away from his crotch best she could. S-shit… he-… he was getting… hard…… d-dear god, no no nonono!!

She whimpered and tried to push back again, but Sans simply yanked at the collar’s rope leash and forced her down against his torso. His red eye was pulsing so fast, so eager to hear her whimpers and moans, even if he had to extract them by force. He rolled his knuckles against her soul, pushing them deep down, practically pushing them inside the trembling orb.

His opposite hand released the grasp at Frisk’s collar leash and he wrapped that arm around her waist and brought his claw to the hem of his pants, pushing it down, letting his thick azure-dripping erection slip out from underneath the fabric.

Frisk cried out at the sight of it but she couldn’t move. She was paralyzed, squirming against his chest with his knee propped up against her side. Her face burned with embarrassment. She didn’t want this!! She didn’t want this but… But her body… it was betraying her! Her soul… it was literally putty in his hand…

Sans’ lidded sockets glanced down at her. He wrapped his fingers at the base of his exposed erection and began to stroke upwards, rubbing his oozing extensive cock against her trembling thigh. His other hand squeezed her soul and he lowered it down… down… down… holding the sphere directly above his throbbing erection.

 

N-no!!! Please, no! Not that!

 

Frisk cried out and shut her eye and dug her nails against Sans’ shirt as he began to roll her dripping soul against the topside of his cock. The contact of drastically different energy sparked against Sans’ hand. Her vermilion secretion melded with his azure blue, turning the fluids a glossy transparent lavender. It was grotesque and Frisk could barely breath from the sensation that swept through her. He rolled her soul down along his cock, stroking his thick length in his hand with her soul pressing flat underneath his palm simultaneously. There was so much friction, so much heat, it felt like her insides were melting.

“Nnh-… god… damn…” Sans groaned out through gritting canines. His spinal cord shuddered from the pleasure. Her soul’s seeping essence was so hot and it coated his entire erection and tingled and pulsed like a lewd sex toy vibrating against his sensitive vigor. He tilted his skull and pressed his forehead down against the top of her head while rapid, excited breaths cascaded against her collared throat… But he spoke again, very softly, through his intense arousement.

“you’ve already murdered 5 times…… and you’ll do it again, given the chance… with or without chara’s help. … i won’t allow that.” His voice was a velvet whisper that pricked her ears.

And even with those daunting words, Frisk could do nothing but release muffled moans into his jacket and waver against him. Her needy hips rolled against Sans’ waist as she trembled on her knees between his legs. His free arm simply wrapped around her tighter. Corrupting her body was not enough, he had to defile her soul as well. She hated him. She wanted to kill him. She wanted to grab at the knife in her pocket and spear it directly through his chest.

Sans rolled her soul up and down along the length of his cock, letting her dripping orb feel every pulse inside his thick muscle. And he rolled it up further… further… up towards the oozing head of his member.

His hand cupped around her soul as he held it directly against his tapered apex.

And he furled his grasp downward, forcing her trembling sphere to spread open around the head of his cock.

“heh… fuck…”

 

Frisk cried out, pain and flushed pleasure stirring deep inside her chest and coiling through her lower abdomen. I-it felt like he was slipping his cock inside her. The sensation… it was so intense. And he hadn’t even touched her there. The burning friction seemed to spread her open and it throb against her tender insides, grinding into her sweet spot so deep inside. But it wasn’t painful or ripping her apart, although the heat was almost too much for her to handle. Sweat dripped down her spine under her hoodie and Frisk panted with her tongue hanging past her lips, grinding her hips into him like a kitten in heat. She felt faint.

 

S-stop… stop clinging to him… g-get… away from him!-

 

Sans’ wide smirk shivered from the thrill as he watched her needy, wanton motions. He began to roll his hand down firmly, sliding her saturated burning soul around his cock. He didn't even have to move his hips. His hand did all the work. And he began to fuck her quivering soul, squeezing it down around the sides of his erection. The gelatinous orb enveloped around him and his blue luminescent precum spilled inside, turning her soul purple.

The feeling… it was so vulgar. She could almost feel his thick girth pumping slowly inside her, stretching her open around him, thrusting deep and stuffing the recesses of her silky, trembling insides over and over. And it felt… g-good… and that feeling was sickening. And although there was no sharp pains or physical agony, it was a mental torture. Just knowing that he could defile her soul in such a way… turn her once beautiful, radiant source of power and determination into nothing but an object for his obscene, carnal desires… She felt tears swell up in her eye and buried her face back down within his chest.

 

I-I hate you…

 

Sans continued to drive deep inside her round vitality, stretching it open like soft, ductile rubber. He kept his forehead pressed against Frisk’s head and his red eye locked onto her soul in his hand, watching the way it squeezed around him and vibrated tenderly in his grasp. Sans’ opposite claw slowly released Frisk’s waist and he ran his fingers up her spine to her head, holding her down into his chest.

“… if it feels good, then show me, sweetheart.” He purred out and rolled his hips forward while simultaneously pulling her soul down, letting the malleable gelatinous sphere stretch and encompass the entirety of his cock. “… i want to hear your voice…” He was completely swept up in the ecstasy, overcome with depraved desire. What he was doing was forbidden and shameful in more ways than one, but that only excited him more.

Frisk, on the other hand, wanted to die. But she couldn’t stop her trembling thighs as they spread wider and rolled her hips into the side of his pelvis repeatedly. Her own actions sickened her. She had no control at all. Fervent moans seeped from her parted lips. Sans began to fuck her soul harder, squeezing it so tight in his grasp, sliding his pulsing erection in and out of the soft sphere, forcing it to stretch around his expansive girth.

He wrapped his fingers at the side of her face and pulled her head away from his chest. G-god, she didn’t want to look at him! She didn’t want him to see her fevered demeanor! But he gave her no choice and Sans held the back of her head firm and pressed his forehead to hers. His red eye flashed so rapidly, only centimeters away from her face. His smirk was languid and dripping with lust.

“don’t you dare step out of line again… frisk…”

 

He… he said her name.

 

Frisk’s lidded eye widened at his words. She stared back into that pulsing radiance. Its luster was so bright that it was almost blinding. Frisk shut her eye again and her fingers dug deep into the soft folds of Sans’ jacket. The sensation was too intense and it wouldn’t stop, it wouldn’t give her a chance to hold on. The feeling rolled along the edges of her soaked labia, pressing against her sensitive round pearl and sent her body into a state of tremors. She was so close… She was almost there.

Sans held his erratic breath as he pushed her tender soul all the way down around his cock. He squeezed and stroked at the base of his erection in short slow motions, the inside of her soul rubbing against his sensitive glands at the head. He couldn’t hold back anymore, the heat was too much… his eager desire was overflowing. And Sans took in a sharp inhale through smirking teeth as released inside her soul.

Thick bursts of glossy blue flooded the orb, making it swell with foreign sapphire viscous. It was no longer a glimmering red. No, now her soul was a glossy semi-transparent purple as it expanded from Sans’ cum that continued to spill inside.

The sudden surge of heat brought Frisk over the edge. Her entire body trembled, pressed flush against Sans, and she gasped out and cried from the overwhelming pleasure. It was too much… it was so depraved… she had never felt anything like it before. Her slick, clear honey spilled from her fevered heat and smeared against her shorts and thighs. Every muscle in her body clenched as she reached her climax. And she continued to rub her hips into Sans, desperate for more, desperate to actually feel him inside her, not just some teasing phantom apparition.

 

D-dear god, stop it!!! What the hell are you thinking!? You don’t want that!!!

 

And Sans continued to fuck her soul through her climax while his cock swirled and mixed both of their essences within the dripping abused orb.

Frisk collapsed against Sans' chest, still shivering. He released his hand from her head and wrapped his arm back around her waist so tightly. God… I hate you… Shame and humiliation immediately gripped around her mind, but the feeling of Sans’ fluttering soul deep inside his rib cage distracted her bitter thoughts. She could feel it… she could feel it pulsing through the front of his shirt. She wondered what his soul looked like… And an all-encompassing surge of lethargy weighed in her head.

 

I… hate you…

 

She was exhausted. Completely drained. She could barely keep her eye open. She couldn’t pull away from Sans, even if she wanted to. He held her too tightly and his hand rubbed against the small of her back in small circles, almost comforting.

 

… I hate you…

 

Frisk shuddered and whimpered from a sudden heated tension as Sans finally pried her violated soul from his cock, but still she could not move.

 

… I… hate… y-you…

 

He lifted his other hand, fingers coated in purple ooze, and he wrapped both his arms around her small frame.

 

He held her tightly against his chest, his forehead pressing down upon the top of her head.

 

 And Frisk's tear-filled, lidded eye slowly closed while the sound of his coursing soul lulled her to sleep.

 

 

*****

 

 

Coming up: Hotland and the 6th gate.

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

*****

 

 

 

 

 

………

 

 

 

……

 

’Be strong’

 

 

 

……

 

’Trust no one.’

 

 

 

……

 

’Fight.’

 

 

……

 

It was quiet.

 

Quiet and warm… and humid.

 

And those words…

 

Those distant words she had heard so long ago…

 

They skimmed along the surface of her debilitated thoughts.

 

Those phrases… like something once whispered to her in a life long past.

 

’Be strong. Trust no one. Fight.’

 

Toriel… Toriel had said those words to her.

 

Another lifetime ago.

 

……

 

 

Frisk opened her eye only to be met with a grey and dreary stretch of swamp. Obsidian fog accumulated along the surface of the muddled water. The mist stretched over the entire expanse and shivered like patches of thick smoke billowing from a chimney. The ecosystem was no longer veiled in black shadows and cerulean mist. Now every drooping weeping willow and cluster of mangroves were visible in the drab light. But… everything was still… everything was silent.

 

The swamp…

 

You are still in the swamp.

 

Waterfall’s swamp… Don’t you remember?

 

Frisk lay on her side facing the edge of the path. She stared out into the mire before her with a lidded, vacant gaze. Her mind was a hazy snowstorm. Every single memory was veiled behind a blanket of smog. Every recollection hung at the edges of her conscious, just barely out of reach. Was she still jailed within the Underground? No… that had all just been a terrible dream… she was back home… back at the orphanage in her bed… She had to get up and get ready for class… r-right?

 

You have died four times.

 

 

Frisk’s shoulders began to tremble. Her whole body quivered as a silent surge of tears spilled from the corner of her left eye, streaming down her cheek, dripping upon the wooden planks directly beneath her.

 

S-sans…

 

She slowly tore her blurred gaze from the extending bog and lifted her head just barely. Frisk looked up at the path’s banister beside her, but the space was desolate. No one sat leaning against the thin pillars. She glanced behind her, and the opposite side of the path was empty as well. She looked down the long reaching trail in front of her… it was vacant. And then she glanced down the opposite stretch… also empty. Frisk lay in the center of the wooden-planked route, completely and utterly alone.

 

Alone…

 

She was dripping with sweat from the humidity. The air was so heavy that it was difficult to breathe and she coughed and rubbed a hand against her single, uncovered eye. Her fingers slipped further down her cheek to her throat and her neck was bare. No collar. Frisk slowly sat up and ran her fingers through her bangs, wiping away the perspiration that decorated her forehead. But the moment she came to a seat she could feel a deep stirring ache within the center of her lower abdomen. The slowly healing soreness throbbed gently within. She rubbed her pelvis slowly with one hand. The feeling was quickly accompanied by another pain, buried against the left side of her face. She lifted her opposite hand to her eye and her fingers feathered over the thick square of gauze.

 

This is real. This is not a dream. You were blinded. Assaulted. And now you are alone.

 

Those factual thoughts cut through the haze within her mind. Frisk blinked and stared blankly.

 

Sans.

 

Last night-

 

Her stomach lurched as the recollection of last night collided with her foggy conscious. O-oh god… Sans… he had done grotesque things to her… to her s-soul… a-and she… she just clung to him… She had watched his hand curl around her tender essence over his-… h-his erection… She had rolled her hips against him as if begging for him to take her.

Frisk groaned and winced and released the grasp at her head and stomach. She glanced down at her band-aid covered thighs. Her fingers trailed along the small rubber bandages that slipped inward and some of them felt… sticky. There was no blue ooze, thank god, but she knew immediately that the residue was from her own climax… that Sans had been solely responsible for…

 

Holy fucking god…

 

She wanted to throw up. She literally felt sick and crawled over towards the side of the path, pressing her forehead down against the railing, breathing hard. But her stomach was empty. There was nothing to retch up. So the nausea stayed with her and churned in the pit of her gut like a dreadful foaming gush.

 

God dammit… The things he had done to her soul… H-he had actually penetrated her soul… He had filled it up with his vulgar blue excretion and turned it purple. Was it contaminated now? Polluted with Sans’ energy?

 

But…

But it had felt…

 

… so good…

 

Just the mere memory of the sensation made Frisk’s thighs begin to quiver and she quickly latched onto her knees to steady them. F-fuck… This is-… don’t think about this. Put it out of your mind, like the rape. It never happened. It never happened! She sunk back down to a sit and let out a hopeless whimper, staring into the desolate malaise landscape.

 

Sans is not here… you are alone.

 

Frisk grit her teeth at the sudden realization. She was indeed alone. Where was Sans? Was he planning to ambush her again? Had he teleported away to check on Papyrus or something? But as her thoughts cascaded over the daunting skeleton, she couldn’t help but see his lusty fixed stare and that fevered, languid smirk he wore as he gazed into her eye… while he penetrated her soul. The memory sent a dreadful shiver up her spine and Frisk took in another slow, deep breath. D-don’t think about it…

She lifted a hand to her pocket and let her fingers slip inside. Her blade! Her box cutter was miraculously still there. Frisk’s heart leapt at the feeling of the cold metal. Had Sans truly not realized that she had taken it? Had he even bothered to check his own jacket pocket? Or did he simply not care? Frisk’s opposite hand lifted to her chest and she pressed down. The space underneath her sternum was still hollow… still cold. Her soul was still missing. Without her soul, the box cutter was next to useless against Sans’ powers. It was just an ordinary, feeble knife.

 

Perhaps… perhaps you should run…

 

Run where? Into Waterfall and encounter Undyne again? Run back into the sewers? Run deep into the swamps and just plunge down underneath the water and try to drown?

 

Perhaps… you may see… Chara.

 

Frisk’s eye widened.

 

C-chara…

 

And then the intricate details of last night began to rush her thoughts, the details of what had lead up to Sans’ humiliating degradation of her soul. She had heard that familiar, destructive voice in her head… her own voice laced with Chara’s poison. And that voice convinced her to attempt to steal her soul back from Sans… and then… to murder him.

Chara… Chara had urged her on. She had been enraptured with that torrid, scorching hate and rage once more. It buried deep in her mind, cutting through all sense and reason. It had taken control of every action and she had stepped out of line. What a ridiculous, foolish, determined move that had been. What the hell was she thinking!?

 

You weren't thinking. It was Chara’s will.

 

But… was it… really?…

 

Frisk’s mind was pulsing rapidly in rhythm with her own beating heart. She lifted her hands up and stared at her palms, down at the small slivers of wood embedded in her flesh from… from clawing at the floor… overcome with pleasure… g-god… Frisk clenched her teeth and her cheeks felt flushed. She had to stop thinking about that. She wasn’t sure she’d ever be able to look at Sans anymore without recoiling. All the things he had done to her, it was twisting her mind and her emotions up into cancerous knots. She hated him.

Frisk idly picked at the splinters that littered her hands with her fingernails. It was something repetitive and tedious that she could do to keep her mind off everything. She stared back at the melancholy swamp, filled with unease. She listened intently for the sound of rushing wind, Sans’ teleporting abilities, but it was completely silent.

 

Chara…

 

 

Eventually, she stumbled up to her feet, clutching onto the edge of the path’s railing. Her throat felt so dry, she was so thirsty, and she immediately began to wish that she still had her backpack. She had left it back in the ruins after the assault… She had been so desperate to just end it all, she didn’t even care about food or water at that point.

Frisk ducked her head underneath the rail and squeezed in between the wide wooden pillars. She jumped down into the bog and the muddled water immediately rose to her knees. Her sneakers sunk into the condensed mud below and it made her cringe with disgust. But she began to wade forward, taking slow steps a couple feet away from the path into the marshland.

Being out here… alone… in the gloomy, somber swamps… she couldn’t help but think back to the first time she met Chara. The first time.

 

 

“… Chara…”

Frisk whispered under her breath and clenched her hands into fists. She grit her teeth hard and scowled. Chara. It was all Chara’s fault. She was the reason for the rape. She was the reason for the murders. That fiend had turned her into a monster… into a demon just like all the rest of them… if not worse.

“CHARA!” Frisk screamed out suddenly as resentment and rage burned deep within her. “SHOW YOURSELF! I know you are out here!”

 

It was Chara’s fault. Chara’s fault! Y-yes… it was… wasn’t it?

 

’Wouldn’t it be wonderful to do it again?’

 

N-no! NO! Stop it!

 

But that power… that surge of determination you felt after each kill… don’t you want to feel that again?

 

I-…

 

Don’t you want to kill him?

 

 

Frisk pressed her hands against her chest and hung her head, releasing a trembling exhale. She closed her eye and each morbid memory swept over her, weighing her down, tainting her spirit and vigor. The hopelessness was like a poison that had been injected into her veins. This was all so pointless…

She was on her last life… there were no more resets now. No more second chances.

Frisk opened her eye and peered through the dark, stirring shadows that wrapped around her knees. She could see her own reflection painted along the surface of the water. She started to tremble at the sight of the eyepatch. Actually seeing it forced the realization of her partial blindness to finally sink in… Her single, uncovered eye was so hollow… so lifeless… and a dark circle hung underneath it. She had never seen herself look so dismal before… She wanted to die.

 

Sans is gone… now free yourself.

 

 

Free yourself.

 

Frisk’s fingers twitched and inched closer towards her pocket. It felt like déjà vu all over again, being out in these swamps, longing for death, lingering so close to the end. She slipped a hand in her pocket and her fingertips traced along the edge of her blade. It felt so cold, despite the muggy warmth that hung in the air.

“C-chara…”

But Chara did not appear.

She was gone.

The voice was silent.

And Frisk was alone.

Entirely and utterly alone, like she had always been.

And her small frame trembled and she clenched her teeth and blinked the hot tears from her lone, chestnut eye. Please end this. And her fingers wrapped around the fatal weapon’s sheath in her pocket and she began to pull it forward.

 

 

 

“…kid.”

 

Frisk jolted softly from the voice.

She hesitated and dropped the utility knife back in her pocket at the sudden utterance. T-that was not Chara’s voice.

She recognized that deep, echoic timber immediately and slowly glanced back over her shoulder with a departed gaze.

 

Sans…

 

Sans sat upon the topside of the railing directly behind her. He was leaning forward, his hood was pulled up over his cracked skull and it created subtle shadows along his features. His skeletal claws clutched at either side of the wood. He was leering back at her with a furrowed brow and a dimly pulsing red hue. But, his gaze was mellow. His usual taunting sneer was not delusive or hateful. Instead, his pointed teeth interlocked in a pensive disposition. And Frisk almost thought she saw a hint of concern hidden underneath that stoic expression. No… Do not search for hope where there is none…

“come on… we’re halfway there.”

He spoke again and slowly lifted his hand, outstretching it towards her to take.

Frisk stared back at him with her single wide eye. She wanted to cry. She wanted to scream. She wanted to lunge towards him and pound her fists against his chest and cause him pain… Pain and hurt and agony just like he had caused her. She wanted him to drown in his guilt… But that wish was an impossible one. He was just a monster, after all.

And Frisk took a slow, anguished step forward through the water, and she placed her small hand in his.

 

 

 

 

 

The two of them walked in silence along the path. Frisk had forgotten just how long and endless the swamps were. Last time she had walked along this route she had been in a frenzy of rage, on that maniacal killing spree. But now she just felt like some forlorn prisoner awaiting execution. She stared at the back of Sans’ hooded skull as they traveled forward. He hadn’t said a word to her and he wasn’t gripping at her wrist anymore. Frisk was relieved to have a bit of freedom from him.

She walked slowly behind him, trying to create as much distance as possible. But every now and then he would stop and glance back at her, flashing that sullen smirk, as if to hint that she pick up the pace. Frisk would feel her face go hot each time, and she’d quickly avert her gaze from him and step a little faster. G-god… she hated him… But he never mentioned last night. He didn’t have to. It was still swirling fresh in her mind, and perhaps in his as well.

Frisk rubbed her throat as they continued on. She was so thirsty. She glanced down at the glassy swamp surface and wondered if that water would be harmful to drink. Even just a small sip would help. Anything. She was desperate at that point, feeling so dehydrated from sweating all night in the oppressive, stifling humidity. And from… well… her time with Sans.

She felt nauseous again and coughed, licking her lips over, panting softly as she mindlessly followed behind the daunting skeleton. Maybe she would die from dehydration. Her steps became sluggish and she coughed again and let out an involuntary groan. Sans must have heard her discomfort because he came to an abrupt stop and turned to face her. Frisk immediately skidded to a sharp halt and took a step back. She shifted her sneakers uncomfortably and averted her gaze once again. S-she couldn’t look at him… but… but why was he stopping?

Sans stared down at her with that languid, lazy trademark smirk. He picked up on her unease in an instant and let out a chuckle. Oh god… was he going to try something again? Frisk felt numb. Her heart started to pound frantically due to the building anxiety. He stuffed one of his skeletal claws underneath the side of his jacket. Please… not the collar…

But he did not pull out the metal restraint.

No, instead he pulled out…

 

What-…

 

Sans pulled out a bottle of water from underneath his coat. A bottle of water… One of the bottles she had in her backpack! She recognized the brand immediately. Frisk stared back at the bottle in his hand as he held it up over her head. She was bewildered. How long had he had that stowed away in his jacket? What else did he have? Her eye widened, fixed upon the clear container. And Sans tilted his wrist while he stirred up the water within before her desperate gaze.

“P-please-…” She whispered and stepped forward, reaching a hand up towards the bottle above her. But Sans immediately wrapped his opposite claw around her wrist and yanked her towards him and he held the water high, just out of reach. But even as he pulled her close into his chest, Frisk’s destitute gaze never wavered from his hand.

“first you will answer some questions, sweetheart.”

 

Questions?…

 

Frisk pulled her gaze down and stared back at Sans, mystified by his words. She blinked once and the monster’s lidded sockets locked upon her startled expression and his grip tightened around her wrist. What the hell was this!?… But Sans did not wait for her answer. He simply smirked and spoke again.

“tell me, have you seen Chara?” Sans’ voice was dry and curt. His rough phalanges uncoiled from her wrist. But that hand immediately swooped in to the back of her neck. He caressed his open palm against her nape. W-why did he always have to touch her? This constant torture… But his question had been so unexpected that Frisk barely flinched, and she stared up at him wide-eyed.

“W-what?” She stuttered and in an instant her mind started reeling.

“answer the question.” Sans’ fingers grazed against the back of her neck, lightly pressing into her spine. His claws ran up underneath her thick hair, along the back of her scalp. And all the while he continued to stir the water bottle in the air overhead. Tempting her, persuading her, bribing her.

Frisk was shocked by his words. S-should she lie?… Would anything good come from lying about this? Maybe he would finally take pity on her if she told the truth. He would finally understand that the murders were not her fault, but Charas… What information was he really after?…

Frisk hesitated and bit her lower lip but she finally came clean.

“Yes… I’ve-… I’ve seen her…” Frisk spoke softly in return, trying to keep her gentle timbre as steady as possible. Sans’ sockets narrowed at her words. His flashing red hue began to pulse faster, but besides that his expression remained unchanged.

“and you have heard her voice inside your head?”

She tried to pull away from him but Sans kept his hold still and steady and he simply pulled her in closer. She was only inches away from pressing flush against his chest. She didn’t want to touch him… her knees were quivering and her hands shook and she glanced back up at the water bottle again as her mouth began to salivate in desperation.

“I-…” But her voice wavered.

“have you?” Sans leered and ran his sharp fingertips along the side of her skull, lightly scratch behind one ear.

“I… did.” Frisk answered. Sans slipped his fingers forward and looped a lock of her warm, auburn hair behind her ear. She immediately shut her single eye. She didn’t want to see his face… that haunting crimson pulse…and his open palm caressed the side of her cheek while his thumb ran over the thick eyepatch.

“and have you heard this voice recently?

Frisk felt her heart sink at his words. Why… why was he asking these questions?… She immediately remembered some more of the fine details from the night before. While Sans’ had been toying with her soul, he had mentioned Chara a few times.

‘…even without chara’s contamination… you’re a killer.’

He had removed Chara’s poison from her soul in Hotland. But even after that… she had still heard that determined, stern vigor in her mind. She had heard it last night, clear as day. And it had persuaded her to act out.

 

It is unwise to tell him the truth.

 

Frisk’s dour voice of reason droned within her innermost self. If she told him now that she had heard Chara even without her soul… what would he do? What did that mean? What was… what was Sans' connection to Chara? They clearly had some sort of history… And what was Chara’s role in this hell?

“I-…” She hesitated and slowly opened her eye yet she kept her timid gaze averted down to the floor, “…no… no it’s gone…” What a lie.

Sans stared at her expressions keenly. His thumb continues to glide over the padded eyepatch. She was immediately reminded of when he had first gouged her eye… with that same thumb… and she used every bit of strength she had to not jolt away from his grasp. She was so thirsty…

Sans’ red hue pulsed softly in his concave socket. His teeth were clenched in a forced grin as he listened carefully to each word she uttered. His dangerous, caressing hand left her cheek and slid down to the front of her throat, barely grasping it. And eventually he brought the water bottle down towards her. He flicked off the plastic cap with his finger and held the container's spout to her lips and Frisk felt an overwhelming wave of relief. She lifted her hands and wrapped them both around the middle of the bottle, tilting it and downing as much as she could so eagerly. But Sans kept a tight hold at the bottom of the container, keeping it steady in her grip. His crimson eye started to flash rapidly as he watched her drink in such a desperate way… and his smirk widened.

But he pulled the bottle from her lips before she could finish and capped it. “that’s enough, kiddo.” Sans snickered and stuffed the bottle back underneath the front flap of his jacket. Frisk whimpered as the water dripped down her chin. She was still so thirsty… And he wiped the stray drops of water from her lips. Then he looped his claw around her shoulder and continued on down the path, holding her close against his side.

 

 

 

 

They journeyed on and Frisk felt somewhat better physically, but mentally her mind was melting with dismay. Now Sans was grasping at her, forcing her to walk directly beside him. Her heart was beating so fast and her shoulders shivered uncontrollably under his touch. She was sure he could feel it, he probably enjoyed it as he always seemed to take pleasure in her terror, but Frisk was too fearful to glance up at his expression to check.

As they walked, Frisk began to wonder about MK… and Undyne… and what would happen when they reached Waterfall’s caves. Had Sans ‘taken care’ of both of them as well? He seemed to always do most of his work when she was asleep. How many actions had he taken behind her back? She didn’t want to think about it. But then her mind returned to Chara and Frisk parted her lips to speak.

“Sans… “ She began, her voice as delicate as a seedling swept up in a raging wind, “Is Chara… human?”

 

'I'm you.' … Chara’s words… so long ago…

 

Sans fingers shifted against her shoulder but he did not hesitate, and he responded.

“chara is an abomination.”

 

… W-what did that mean? Was she a monster then? A monster with the appearance of a human? A shapeshifter of some kind?

 

Frisk’s thoughts curved towards a more pressing question.

“Chara… She can only infect the soul… r-right?” Not the mind? Frisk wanted to ask those final words but instead she kept her question vague. For some reason she did not want Sans to know that she continued to hear those voices, even without her soul. For some reason… what ever simmered between him and that dark-haired demon seemed poisonous and lethal and she had already been caught in the middle of it once before.

Sans’ eye flashed a bit faster. He stared down at her as they walked, “the extent of her abilities are… unknown.” He spoke under his breath while his hand glided up along the top of Frisk’s shoulder, his fingers dipping down against her collarbone through the fabric.

Frisk’s unease swelled from his words, from his touch. And she hung her head and chewed on her lower lip. She heard Sans chuckle again and he squeezed her shoulder and… it almost felt comforting… No. It is NOT comforting. He’s an atrocious rapist!

“chara’s not here kiddo, it’s only you now.” Sans spoke again. Frisk felt a sudden deep tension in the center of her chest and she almost stumbled. T-that feeling again… She lifted her head and threw a sideways glance towards Sans’ opposite arm. His hand was buried in his pants pocket… where her soul was stowed away.

 

I-if this bastard starts toying with your soul again, then I swear to god-…

 

But the feeling was fleeting and it vanished and did not return. And they continued on until they finally came upon the abrupt break in the path: The dead end that led to a stretch of swamp and the entrance to Waterfall.

 

 

 

 

The waterlogged tread through the rest of the swamps felt brief. Frisk had been so distracted mulling over Sans' questions and the memory of Chara’s words that their journey seemed to move quicker. It was like trying to put together a jigsaw puzzle.

They eventually reached the massive cave entrance way and trekked fourth. Soon the dismal slate-grey light of the swamp was gone and they were surrounded by dark shadows and that azure rising mist. Never in a million years would Frisk had thought that she’d be in these spectral caves once more with Sans at her side. She stared down at the clear water that rose up to her waist. She could see Sans’ sneakers underneath the surface… and the way the heavy underswell pushed back against his leg as he walked, exposing the outline of his tibia and femur underneath his pants. It was curious.

His grip never once left her shoulder. Soon Frisk could see the multiple archways that lined the walls of the darkened cave. They came upon the familiar passage, the white streak of paint, and Sans knew immediately that that was their route. He lead Frisk over towards the wall and down the shadowy, narrow hallway.

They stepped into the arena. This dreadful arena. Frisk tilted her head back and stared up at the stone balconies overhead. Her eye darted from one to the next… searching for… a glimpse of Undyne. But the room was silent and empty. Only the sound of water rippling against the surface around their ankles could be heard. Undyne was gone. And Sans glanced down at Frisk and grinned. He seemed to know exactly what her concern was, and his hand stroked down the side of her upper arm.

“i already took care of her.” He said and directed Frisk over towards one of the multitude of doors… the familiar engraving… the 5th gate.

Frisk stared at the wooden door before them. The memory of first opening this gate swept through her cognizant. She had been so scared, so frantic and desperate. And it had all been in the middle of a heart-stopping battle with Undyne. But the second time… the second time she had opened this gate… Her hands had been covered in blood. Her gaze had been stoic and deranged and she laughed as the door swung open underneath her pulsing power.

Frisk’s shoulders began to tremble at the thought, but Sans quickly grasped upon both of them from behind and he leaned over the top of her head, moving her inward towards the door. He released one hand and dug his claw into his pocket and pulled out her soul. And Sans held the orb over her shoulder before her vision.

Oh god… It… it was still purple! Although the violet hue was not nearly as vibrant as it had been last night, she could plainly see that tint of lavender and the slightly-cloudy sheening fluids swirling around inside the crystal sphere. Its ooze dripped against Sans’ fingers like always and she recoiled back into his chest at the sight of it. Why was it still that shade!?… She didn’t want that inside her… N-no… it was contaminated, tarnished, corrupted by Sans’ harrowing perversion!

“nice color, eh?” He chuckled as if he had read her mind. It sent Frisk’s heart spiraling with disgust.

And Sans brought her soul back and slipped his arm around her waist from behind, sliding it up underneath the front of her hoodie. His opposite hand latched on tight to her hip and Frisk flinched and squirmed in his grasp. He was sliding the orb up over her navel at the middle of her torso. She could feel the residue smearing against her flesh, leaving trails of wet purple sullied essence upon her. It made her shudder and whimper and she hated him. S-so… disgusting… He was going to force that desecrated soul back inside her… god, she hated him.

Sans hand stilled once it reached the center of her chest. He coiled his fingers around her soul, rubbing into it lightly, before pressing it down. Each one of Frisk’s muscles constricted and she grit her teeth hard, preparing herself for the pain that would always follow. But while Sans drove her soul back inside her, his fingers kneaded against the orb, and the sensual touch drowned out the pain. He restricted her agony again. Her knees buckled and she started to breathe hard and fast and Frisk pressed the back of her head firm against Sans chest. She clutched at his arm as her dripping soul sunk slowly back inside her. And a rushing surge of power tingled within her rib cage.

Deep burning heat ruptured fourth. Her essence, her spirit, it felt different. It was overwhelming, almost painful, like there was a heavy agitated weight burrowing within her sternum. S-sans power… it was Sans’ spirit. And she felt so powerful and that dexterity surged through her limbs and made her whimper and shake in his grasp.

So much… power… It made her rageful. It was similar to Chara’s poison, but in a different way. While Chara had made her soul vindictive and deceitful, Sans’ reproach had more of an unequivocal anger to it. An inflamed wrath… accompanied by ambition and desire… and Frisk’s soul surged with a determination she had never felt before.

Sans simply watched her from above. He smirked to himself as his fingertips explored the subtle curves along her even chest. “feels good, doesn't it?” He whispered through his canines against her ear and leaned into her spine, pressing her forward before the door.

Frisk stared at the gate with an enraptured lidded gaze. She slowly lifted both hands and guided them upon the symbol, her fingers splayed wide, her palms pressed flat. She began to summon her corrupted soul’s power. Her chest burned, it hurt, as the energy coiled within her and spread down her shivering arms. She felt something wet drip from her nose, a nosebleed?… but was distracted by a bright burst of light that blinded her and she shut her eye, crying out. The shivering energy danced along her arms, her limbs felt numb as the broiling power encompassed her hands and spread along the front of the gate. Frisk slowly opened her eye and saw… purple. Her newfound energy… It was no longer dazzling red. It was a semi-transparent glow of lavender… just like the color of her soul. She stared back at the radiance, horrified, but the door began to waver under her touch and it swung open before them.

The purple glow faded from her arms and the deafening sound of rushing water pierced through the silence. Frisk stared down at the dark river just below the threshold. This gate… it was worse than the last one, but Sans gave her no time to contemplate. He immediately began to pull her soul back from her chest. Frisk gasped and cried out as she struggled against the pain that always accompanied a soul removal. She weakly clutched onto his claw at her waist. She could see Sans’ eager gaze out of the corner of her eye, drinking in her agonizing expressions. But in time her soul was back in his hand and he pocketed it again.

Sans lifted his claw to the side of her face and wiped away the blood that spilled from her nose against her lips. “too much for you, kiddo?” He sneered. Frisk just panted hard against him, staring blankly into the void of darkness. And Sans pushed her forward through the doorway but she flinched back into him again.

“don’t worry, i’ll catch you.”

Frisk almost scoffed. Why did that sound like complete bullshit coming from Sans? But… he had caught her at the previous gate. He did not want her dead. She knew he would do everything in his power to keep her alive, at least until she saved at a new candle. Frisk hesitated and stared at the misty shadows, but Sans acted swiftly and shoved her forward into the water.

 

T-that-… monster!

 

She staggered into the sweeping river and was immediately submerged underneath the surface. The water was deep and freezing and it coiled around her, pulling downward, clashing against her skin. Frisk cried out and struggled to the surface and gasped for a breath before the tide wrenched her back down. And then, in an instant, she was falling down the length of the waterfall.

Frisk knew how tall this waterfall was, but she moved fast. She barely had a chance to brace for the impact. W-would Sans catch her!? Would he?!

 

No.

 

She collided with the raging river surface below, like sharp knives digging through her flesh, knocking the wind from her lungs. It was so painful and she could not even gasp for air as the barrage of waves pulled her down. She tried to inhale a breath, only to take in a mouthful of frigid water. She was going to drown! She was much too weak to grab onto one of the many rocks that crashed into her side.

But just as Frisk started to force her muscles to relax and let the inevitable take her, she was yanked from the water by her hoodie’s cowl. And those steady arms wrapped around her soaking form and lifted her up into his chest.

 

He would not let her die…

 

Sans stood on top of one of the boulders in the center of the rushing channel. He plucked her from the raging surface and instantly leapt over the water to the stony riverbank. He held her tight. Frisk turned her head and coughed and clutched at her chest, gasping for oxygen. She could see his red hue pulsing in the darkness, and the wet particles of mist hovered around the faint crimson illumination. It was so dark… all she could see was his skull above.

“Y-you… didn’t c-catch me…” Frisk whimpered between strained gasps for air.

 

Of course he didn’t. He wants you to suffer, after all. You were hopeful… because he caught you last time. But that is part of his ploy. To extract your hope, your determination, and then crush it.

 

Frisk shivered in his arms and hung her head. But despite his cruel intentions Sans’ gently pushed her wet hair back with one hand.

“i don’t always meet my mark, sweetheart…” There was an arcane timbre to his words and Sans continued to stroke her soaked locks out of her face. He crouched down and lowered Frisk to the floor, sitting her down in front of him upon her knees. Then he slipped a claw under his jacket and pulled out something small and white and… square.

… Gauze?…

Sans leaned in close towards her, his smirking expression was not nearly as cruel as it often was, but it was still wicked despite the softness. He lifted a free hand and held the side of her face, and then with his fingertips he began to peel back the thin strips of tape that fastened the bandage over her blinded eye.

Frisk flinched and cried out and pulled away from him but his grasp tightened. He forced her head still, and he began to remove the soaked square of gauze from her gouged socket. He was going to replace the bandage with a fresh one, she knew that, but it was so painful. The tape tugged at her sensitive skin and the bandage pulled at her torn flesh. She was thankful she couldn’t see the wound. She simply stared back up at Sans with her lone eye, trying to fight back the tears, feeling so cold and defeated.

Sans pulled the wet, bloodied bandage from her eye and quickly replaced it with the fresh one. He worked slowly, his eye pulsed in a steady rhythm, and she hated him. She hated him so much… but… but his tender touches… the way he gently reapplied the gauze……

 

Tender!? He GAVE you those wounds!

 

She knew that… but still…

 

Stop it!

 

He was being… affectionate… The only one who had ever shown her any kind of warmth…

 

This is NOT affection. This is NOT love! This is a MIND GAME!

 

Sans pulled out small strips of tape and he cut them with his sharp fingertips to make them smaller. He placed each one at the corners of the bandage, locking it in place. He let out a chuckle through his teeth and caressed her dripping jawline with his claw, taking notice of her vexed gaze.

 

This is a trick. A ruse. He just wants you to open the gates. That is all he wants. Then you will be useless to him.

 

Sans stood back up to his feet and Frisk lifted a hand to her eye, pressing her fingertips along the dry, clean bandage. He reached down and clutch at her wrist, pulling her up, and his arm wrapped around her shoulder once more. His clothes were dry, unlike hers, and they were… warm. And Sans began to step forward, holding her tight against his side underneath his arm, and they journeyed down the dark cavern with only the sound of the rushing river echoing around them.

 

 

 

 

Frisk stumbled alongside Sans as they continued on. The river’s tide had gone from a violent surge to a slow, subtle flow. That familiar red sheen began to emerge along the surface of the water, and the cave grew warmer and brighter, illuminated by an eerie red. They were approaching the lava chambers. The faint scent of sulfur hung thick in the air.

As they walked, Frisk noticed that small, familiar open nook embedded within the side of the cave and she saw the candle flickering inside. Her thoughts twisted in her head. Right there… that was… that was the last time she had seen Chara… But Sans ignored the alcove and urged her along beside him. His tightly grasping hand never once left its spot upon her shoulder. He stared ahead with a determined gaze.

Frisk wanted to speak to him. She wanted to ask him more questions about Chara. She wanted to ask him more questions about the Underground, and the famine, and the prophecy… and why… why he had to be so cruel. But she couldn’t bring herself to speak. And in a way, the silence was more comfortable. Perhaps it was better not to know the truth. Perhaps ignorance truly was bliss sometimes.

And soon the cave opened up into a wide, vast multitude of interlocking chambers. The river turned to shallow streams of bubbling red. Thin stems of lava decorated the ground in intricate weaving patterns. White towering ruins of an ancient city long past crumbled along the periphery surrounding them. The oxygen was hot and stifling and Sans tightened his grasp and lead her towards the cavern’s edge, away from the lava, and they continued forward.

 

 

 

 

It was so hot. Frisk was sweating, but at least the dampness of her clothes kept her somewhat cool. She panted softly against the smothering atmosphere. She wanted to rest again, but she was too afraid to ask, so instead she simply leaned into Sans’ side and listened to their footsteps and the bubbling lava. But suddenly… a new sound… a new sound began to stir around them. The sound of shifting rocks. And Frisk jolted in the skeleton’s grasp and swiveled her head around, searching for the source in a panic.

Sans came to an abrupt stop. She glanced up at him and he almost appeared burdened by the sudden noise. Had… had it startled him as well?… Wait… oh, god… Frisk immediately remembered the type of creature that lurked in these dreadful caverns.

 

That flower…

 

And she saw something moving towards them, burrowing deep underneath the Earth’s dry crust. It traveled under the surface of the ground at an alarming rate, making a straight beeline for them until it was only a few feet away. The sight of the shifting mound made Frisk’s stomach churn. A wave of dreadful memories plucked at her mind and she struggled against Sans’ arm. She wanted to run. She wanted to dash back into the cooler, dark caverns and just hide there until she passed away from starvation. But Sans held her firm against his side and his sockets narrowed down at the emerging monster, his red eye was a rapid pulsing flash of anticipation, and his teeth grit together in a cynical smirk.

Flowey burst out from his hiding spot underneath the rocky soil. His coiling serpentine body twisted in the air, ascending upwards directly before them. The red hazy light reflected off of each thick crimson-tipped thorn that decorated his tendril body. The monster blinked his single cyclops eye back at them, a foul blood-red with a constricting bright green pupil. And he smirked wide at the sight, exposing every single one of those obsidian incisors that dripped with black glossy saliva.

“Heya,” He spoke and Frisk wanted to cry out at the sound of his sharp, scratching voice. It burrowed inside her head and brought back the memory of such a dreadful death he had caused. She shivered under Sans’ grasp, but the skeleton’s claw tightened against her shoulder.

“… I haven't seen anyone down here in ages." Flowey spoke again. His word were familiar, the malicious glint in his eye was dangerous and daunting, and the coiling plant monster’s sharp gaze moved from Frisk, to Sans, then back to Frisk… where it settled.

Sans was staring at the flower with a narrowed glare and he pulled Frisk back just barely, moving her behind him to force Flowey’s gaze to sever. The plant monster leered back at Sans and coiled his body ever so slightly to get another look at Frisk… He was hungry, and she looked simply delicious.

“heh… still scrounging around down here on remains, i see.” Sans spoke, much to Frisk’s surprise. He spoke to the flower and forced out a chuckle, but Frisk instantly picked up on the loathing in Sans’ deep voice. And his words… h-his words… of recognition… like he knew this dreadful creature.

Flowey finally tore his gaze from Frisk and stared back directly at Sans. His taunting thin grin wavered and he narrowed his single cyclops eye, lost in thought. But then Flowey’s eye widened, like his dusty memories had all come rushing back, and he leered at Sans.

“I remember you…” Flowey’s voice was like sly, streams of oil that spewed between his teeth. And as he spoke that dangerous grin returned along his simple features. “How’s that little brother of ‘yers?” He let out a sharp laugh and rose further from the ground, that single eye now locked upon Sans.

Frisk stared back at the callous creature before she tilted her head up towards Sans. Her small quivering hands clutched tight onto the side of his winter jacket. He looked enraged, she could see the multiple layers of burning resentment hidden underneath his contrived smirk, and his red eye flashed so quickly like a freshly lit flame. But Sans did not respond, he simply glared down at the alien creature. So Flowey spoke again.

“What do you have there?” Flowey’s gaze immediately returned to Frisk and she felt faint and averted her gaze. S-sans wouldn’t let this creature have her… would he? No… no way. Sans was… he was protecting her. Only for his own selfish reasons, of course… but he was protecting her nonetheless.

Sans ignored the flowers words and he took a step forward. Frisk clenched her teeth as he pulled her alongside him, and they began to step past Flowey. But the coiling plant creature’s smirk immediately faded at the rejection. And the monster lurched around in front of them to block their path, only a handful of inches away, rising further in the air while his tendril body curved and bent like a cobra. Flowey rose directly in front of Sans. He leered back at him, provoking him.

“I’m surprised you’d bother to ever show your face again, skeleton.

W-what was Flowey talking about? There was clearly some history here that Frisk knew nothing about and her mind was churning with curiosity.

Frisk could feel Sans’ sharp phalanges dig against her shoulder and she almost cried out from the pain. She glanced back up at him. His daunting smirk was just barely quivering with deep-seated rage. This flower… what ever this flower was referring to, it was making Sans furious… Frisk almost half expected Sans to summon his ax and cut the creature down, but instead he parted his sharp canine teeth and spoke again.

“why don’t you go search for some more corpses to pick at,” Sans leered as his eye flashed bright within the concave socket, and he stepped around the flower once more, ignoring his taunts, disregarding his threats, “rotting flesh always was your preference… heh…” And Sans’ grasp was a vice upon Frisk’s shoulder as he lead her past the flower, walking forward without looking back. Frisk did glance back, however. She watched the coiling flower turn sharply and grit his teeth in a dreadful sneer.

 

… Would he follow them?

 

But he didn’t.

Flowey watched them for a while, twisting in the air as if he was throwing a silent tantrum. Then he plunged back down underneath the dry soil and burrowed towards the white ruins beside the cavern wall. He did not follow after them… Sans had kept the dreadful carnivore at bay… somehow.

Frisk glanced back up at Sans as they walked. His grasp at her shoulder remained tight and shivering slightly with resentment, his teeth clenched in anger, his sockets leered in a direct gaze ahead.

 

 

“Sans…” Frisk whispered softly, but Sans did not respond. He did not even glance down at her. He simply continued on along the edge of the adjoined caverns with that determined stare. And soon they reached a familiar open grotto… and Frisk stared back at the ruins on the opposite side of the cave… those white towering ancient remains… and perched atop it all was the small flickering candle like a beacon of despair.

That was it. The new save point. The next candle. If she touched that candle… then she would have four more lives. Four more lives to waste. She would no longer be mortal. Her wish for death would be hindered. This perverse, sullied timeline would continue on.

 

N-no…

 

Sans began to lead her towards the ruins, towards the candle. Frisk automatically dug the heels of her sneakers into the sweltering gravel and stumbled and fought against his guidance. She did not want to save. She did not want to continue on… She wanted to die. This timeline was debased. She had been raped… She was missing an eye… and her soul was defiled. She wanted to start over, go back to the very beginning and start fresh. But Sans’ wouldn’t have it. He ignored her protests. He growled and shoved her forward, pushing her through the archway amongst the rubble where he had once murdered her, directly at the base of the ruin’s stairs.

“S-sans… please…” Frisk began to beg him and she tried to furl away from his grasp but Sans simply clutched tight upon her shoulders and pushed her up the steps, one by one, slow ascending to the roosting candle. “Please!… I-I… I don’t want to continue… I want to die!” She cried out and felt hot tears prick the corner of her lone eye.

But Sans did not respond. And as she fought against him he grew more and more impatient until he simply grabbed her by the arm and practically dragged her up the crumbled steps, and soon they reached the mezzanine. Sans shoved her down to a seat directly before the candle and he crouched behind her. His arms wrapped around her small trembling shoulders and those rough, cold claws grasped at both her wrists and began to lift her hands.

Frisk sobbed and glanced back at him with a tear-filled, defeated gaze. Please… please don’t make me… Sans would not look at her, he was staring down at the candle that erected right before her knees. His eye pulsed quickly and his smirk was a steady mix of determination and… greed. But he slowly tore his gaze from the candle and glanced down at Frisk’s pathetic expression, and his smirk softened just barely.

“you must save, sweetheart.” He chuckled under his breath. His sockets lidded gently and he tilted his skull down, pressing his forehead against the top of her head. His red eye flashed. She could feel his beating soul pounding so quickly within his chest, pressed flush against her spine. He lifted her hands and guided them forward, inching them closer… closer… closer to the wax-coated candlestick. Please…

And Frisk let out another sob and hung her head and gave in to the monster’s fortitude. He controlled her every move and pressed her trembling fingertips along the clear shimmering candle.

 

She felt it.

 

That sudden surge of energy. She hadn’t felt it in so long. Her limited vision was blinded temporarily and she saw stars against the back of her eye. Her whole body felt like it had been electrocuted and Frisk cried out and recoiled away from the candle, but Sans held her steady. The flow of power ran through her instantly, like a deluge of pins and needles pricking every inch of skin. The sensation was so familiar and she knew… she knew that her resets had been restored. And her vision returned and each muscle softened and Frisk leaned back into Sans’ chest with clenched teeth, feeling so demoralized.

 

So that’s it, huh?…

 

He made you save…

 

How pathetic…

 

She could see Sans’ wide smirk spread along his skull out of the corner of her good eye. Sans wrapped his claws around her hands and laced his rough, cold phalanges between her fingers, holding her close against him. H-he… was so… sadistic… Why did he always have to touch her in this way?…

“good job, kid.” His voice was a coursing, parlous whisper. Frisk could practically feel Sans trembling with excitement. He had gotten what he wanted… everything was going according to his plan. His plan to free the Underground.

Frisk went limp in his grasp and stared back at the meager hovering ember of light that floated directly over the candlestick. Her gaze was lifeless… detached… she was simply a husk of her old self. Just a slave to this monster’s will, with no freedom or privilege at all. He was like a cancer that spread throughout her entire body. Sans… he was her tormentor… her salvager… and in the end, he would be her executioner. But what was she to him? Just a martyr? She remembered that brief hint of penance she had seen in his gaze back within the sewers… Or had she just imagined that?… Was she just so desperate for affection that she had simply imagined that look?

Sans grasped his large, skeletal hands tightly over hers and held her close to his chest. And after a long moment of silence he finally shifted and stood up to his feet, pulling her with him. And they continued on into the unfamiliar, sweltering caverns. Into Hotland.

 

 

 

 

Frisk staggered beside him in a daze. The caverns were growing larger. The thick streams of lava were starting to widen and take up more space within the chambers. It was becoming so much more difficult to avoid them now. The vast stretch of ruins that decorated the walls of the caves were growing more and more dilapidated until they were nothing but piles of rubble. Every now and then Sans would stop and give her another small sip of water, and brush her sweaty bangs back and flash her a haunting look of depraved desire. He could make a meal of her now and she’d simply return to the previous candle. Nothing was stopping him. And that fact was terrifying. But he didn't attack her. He kept his hunger in check and continued to guide her through the caverns.

Frisk weakly glanced around as they journeyed. This entire stretch of cave was unfamiliar to her now. She had never gotten this far within the Underground before. Were they going to reach a gate sometime soon? Was the rest of this hell just tunnels of sweltering lava? That would be rather fitting, actually… And Frisk stumbled again and breathed heavily, gasping for a breath, feeling faint from the heat. She felt as if she was going to collapse and she clutched upon Sans’ jacket sleeve, closing her eye for a moment to fight back the vertigo headrush.

But as she slowly opened her eye and stared ahead, she saw something. There was something different, way down at the furthest stretch of the caverns. It was difficult to see it though the shivering mirages that rose from the lava and coiled and danced in the air, but she could just barely get a glimpse of it between the fumes.

 

It was… a building.

 

Some type of large structure. It was embedded within the cave wall, massive, jutting out from the stone, and spanning up towards the very top of the ceiling. The building appeared to be made out of… steel. There were no windows, no signs, just expansive iron with a large door at the center. The door was steel as well and it… it had… A symbol.

 

The 6th gate.

 

That was it. The 6th gate. They had finally reached it. It felt like they had been journeying for so long, and now they had finally come across the next stage of this dreadful adventure. Frisk’s eye widened as she stared at the building. They were approaching it rapidly. Her mind started to race like a galloping steed. Oh god… that was the next gate… What was in there? What was in that building? What horrors awaited her within that dreadful, bleak structure and beyond?

 

… And how many gates were still left to go?………

 

She tried to push down those harrowing thoughts. She did not want to think about the end of this journey… Not yet. And before she knew it, they had reached the wide iron wall and stood directly before the door.

Frisk stared back at the symbol within the center of the gate. It had been etched against the metal crudely, but she could recognize that symbol anywhere. Sans stood beside her and cast a sideways glance, his red hue reflecting off the glossy surface of the alloy. Frisk could practically feel his restlessness emitting off his form, and Sans pressed a hand to the center of her back, edging her forward.

He slipped the opposite claw in his pocket and slowly pulled out her soul. Frisk looked down at the small orb in his hand and her heart started to pound frantically with joy at the sight. T-the purple… that lavender tint that had debased her vigor, it was fading! The red was returning. And Frisk almost smiled to herself. Although she was still disgusted, it was a relief to know that Sans’ contamination was not a permanent fixture. The violet hue was just barely visible within the transparent, swirling stardust and it radiated a soft maroon.

Sans stared down at the orb and stepped behind Frisk like he often did, slipping his hand under her hoodie, trailing it up to her bare chest. His movements were swifter than usual, as if he was eager for her to open the gate and see what was inside. But… these gates did not hinder Sans… so it was likely that he already knew what awaited them… right?

Sans pressed his claw flat against the center of her chest and the orb slowly sunk underneath the surface. Frisk gasped from the sensation. It burned her skin and waves of agony surged up and down her body, coiling painfully in her head. But she was starting to grow accustom to this feeling. She trembled and took in sharp inhales. Sans leaned his skull over the side of her shoulder. She could feel each one of his lukewarm breaths torrent against her neck.

“go on…” He purred beside her ear.

Frisk shivered, but she obeyed. She lifted her hands and pressed them flat against the door. The metal surface was hot and it made her flinch, but she kept herself steady. And she closed her eye and began to summon her energy. She felt her soul pulse deep within. There was a slight trace of malignant stamina, most likely the small remnants of Sans’ essence, but besides that it felt like her old self again. There was no animosity within her, just a strong, scorching outpour of energy… of determination. It was so warm and comforting and the heat spilled from her chest as glistening red ran down her arms and wrapped around both hands.

Frisk opened her eye and watched the metal door start to shiver underneath her fingertips, and Sans’ watched from over her shoulder with a keen interest. The door creaked, followed by a deafening piercing screech of metal scraping against metal. Frisk grit her teeth and tried to bare the turbulent bellow. But it did not last long, and soon the door swung open outward into the building, into the darkness.

It was pitch black inside the open doorway. It reminded Frisk of the time she first entered Gaster’s building. She could feel a faint breeze coming from the entrance and surprisingly enough it was somewhat room temperature, not sweltering hot like rest of Hotland. Although the scent of sulfur was still overpowering. Like most districts within the Underground, it was not without its flaws. For some reason an overwhelming sense of terror speared through Frisks heart. And it was peculiar since there was just darkness inside, like all the other buildings, but her fear was completely engulfing. Her dread was palpable.

“S-sans…” Frisk whimpered and lowered her hands. She turned and tried to move away from the open door, but Sans held her tight with one claw at the back of her neck. He smirked down at her.

“don’t worry, kiddo. i’ll be right here.”

His words and that roguish grin were not comforting in the slightly, but he left Frisk no choice. And she braced for the painful removal of her soul, but… it never came.

Sans simply slipped his hand out from underneath her clothing. He… he had left her soul inside her.

He did not remove it.

 

…… He did not remove it………

 

W-what?…

 

But… why?…

 

Frisk stared back at him wide-eyed. Sans simply chuckled under his breath and shoved her forward with one hand, pushing her into the darkness. Frisk whimpered and walked slowly while Sans placed a claw upon her shoulder as he guided her forward.

 

 

Their sneakers clattered upon the floor and Frisk could tell that the ground inside the building was also made of steel. Sans’ red eye flashed brightly and illuminated the space as it always did. The walls… They were metal as well, and reflective like mirrors, and Frisk saw her own reflection and winced at the sight. It honestly looked like a nightmare standing next to Sans. He towered over her and his white shirt was stained in dry blood and she stared back at the open jagged cavity at the side of his skull.

Sans glanced at her though the reflection and simply pushed her forward, past the foyer, down a single hallway before them. They turned a corner and soon the entrance way behind them was gone. And they ventured through the metallic corridor until it opened up into another room, and then another hall, and then another room followed by yet another hall.

And that horrid sense of dread never once subsided as they walked. Each time they entered a new corridor, Frisk would turn her head and stare into the polished walls. She half expected to see some ghostly monstrosity lingering above or behind him. S-she hated this place… she hated these metallic walls… And it was so dark, only the red from Sans’ eye lit the way.

They soon entered a room with three hallways and Frisk stopped, staring at each one. Though Sans pushed her towards the center path without hesitation, like he knew exactly where he was going… like this place was familiar to him. Eventually Sans released his grasp upon her shoulders but he continued behind her. He never said a word, and neither did she. And Frisk felt terrified and wanted to run back to Hotland. She actually wanted to return to the lava rooms, but her soul was pulsing faintly… and she felt a subtle hint of determination within. She never thought she would feel her determination again, not after everything she had been through.

They continued on and on, entering more rooms with various hallways. It was like a labyrinth, and it was so much more intricate than Gaster’s building. They reached another room that was much larger than the others. It now had 5 different hallways that lined the reflective walls. Frisk stepped out into the chamber but Sans lingered behind her in the archway. He was staring at each alcove. His sockets narrowed and his browbone furrowed. Frisk blinked back at him before she turned and stared at each open entrance again. She rubbed at the back of her head.

“Which one, Sans?”

 

Suddenly it was dark.

 

Pitch black.

 

Sans’ red hue disappeared in a second.

 

And Frisk was standing there in a void of obsidian.

 

“S-sans??…”

She felt numb as she stood in the darkness and swiveled around and stumbled blindly forward to where Sans had just been. She outstretched her hands in front of her frantically, feeling around for his form, but he was not there.

 

Vanished.

 

“Sans!” Frisk cried out again and her heart started to pound. Oh, god… oh, god… no no no! W-where did he go!? Did he leave??? Did something happen!? Why would he leave her alone in here! To torture her some more? P-please, no!

“Sans, where are you!!” Frisk yelled out, her trembling voice bouncing off the walls of the iron room. Her legs were shaking and her pulse was thumping so loudly in her ears that she thought it would burst an eardrum. Her breath stuck in her lungs from fear and she felt dizzy and paralyzed and so sick.

 

Your blade… it is still in your pocket.

 

Use it!

 

That voice of reason piped up within her mind, making Frisk go rigid in the dark. She had completely forgotten that she had stolen it from Sans' jacket back in the swamps. She stuffed a trembling hand in her pocket and felt for the box cutter. It was still there, her sword. And she pulled the knife out and held it directly before her.

Frisk slowly pushed her finger along the lever at the side of the handle, unsheathing its blade. She took in a slow, deep breath and tried to steady her frenzied nerves, then she focused.

 

Focus.

 

Focus.

 

A surge of heat spilled from her chest. It ran down her arms and a bright, blinding burst of red quickly illuminated the entire room. Her soul’s energy danced high in the air and it wrapped around her hands and the utility knife, forming the dazzling blade of liquid crystal crimson directly before her eyes. She almost teared up at the sight. Her magnificent weapon. She never thought she’d see it again. It had been too long.

Frisk smiled to herself and she gripped tightly onto her sword’s handle in one hand. She swiped her sabre once in the air then brought it down to her side and stared ahead at the reflective mirror-like wall in front of her.

But…

Frisk’s smile faded.

And her blood ran cold in an instant.

 

There was something…

 

There was something within the wall.

 

N-no… it was not inside the wall… The wall was reflective… it was behind her.

 

A creature.

 

Large. Reptilian.

 

Covered in yellow scales and draped in a blood-stained white coat. Its arms dangled down low at its sides. It possessed massive claws adorned with sharp, black talons that twitched in a grotesque fashion. Its head hung to one side like its neck had been broken. Every single one of those shark-like teeth were visible in rows along its crocodile-maw, and they were yellowing, cracked and jagged. And the creature’s eyes… its eyes… they were simply two massive white saucers. Like a pair of colossal glossy pearls, glazed over and ghostly and lifeless.

And then creature began to lift both twitching arms at either side, holding up their massively clawed paws directly behind her.

And then it grinned. Wide.

And it spoke…

 

“… Welcome.”

 

 

*****

 

 

Coming up: Ś̮͚͒ͬ͂͞m̵͈̹ȅ̝̲̄ͨ̐̚l̹͔̭͚͚̜̤̒̄͂̏ͮ̐l̵ͧ̅̍ͬ͛s͔͕͈͔̻̟ͥ̌͋͒ͩͅ ̗͇͓͚̺̅̐̿̓̉ͨ͟l̹̗̫̞ͯ̄͐̇ͦͫǐ̵̎̓̆k̲̱̐̐̕e͏̹̩͓̥̱̘ ̤̝̀ͭ͌̈͒̑̋͜s̰͖͙̦ͯ͊̎ͦ͆ͥ̀w̠̟̤ͪ̐ͧ̓̄ė̖̘̔̈́͘e͖̼͈̺ͨ̏̉ͅt̩̙͋̂͛̅ ̲̘͈ͮ̈̋l̹̜̭̼̪̻̇ͨ͛̀é̥̠̺̩m̪͚̭͓̌ͧ̃ͯ͜ồ̖̼̦̠̫͆ͬͩ͛͜n̞ͨ͗ș͔͈̻̮̟͌̿̈́ͥ.̦̝̜͉̠̲̩̎

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

*****

 

 

 

 

It spoke.

 

 

The monstrosity spoke.

 

Its voice was a tremor of whispers. Vaporous and spectral, like a dozen phantom murmurs sewn together with string. The creature’s massive hands rose up directly behind Frisk and twitched continuously, each one about the size of her head. Thick fingers curled inward into its palms like deformed twisting centipedes, before violently springing back into place. The way the creature shivered and jerked around so abruptly, it was as if it was possessed by some involuntary force. It was atrocious and each jarring tick reminded Frisk of the undead.

Almost like…

 

Almost like a zombie…

 

But Frisk couldn’t move. She was paralyzed. That suffocating dread that she felt so strongly at the entrance of the building maximized to the fullest. Her knees buckled and her hands shook. She could barely keep her sweaty grip on the handle of her luminous blade. She stared wide-eyed into the reflective wall, watching the bipedal tetrapod twitch and lift its arms behind her.

I-it was so close… It was so close in back of her, only a couple feet away, and its arms were ascending towards her shoulders. Frisk could feel the monster’s lukewarm breath descend against the back of her head, rustling her hair. It was rancid and Frisk would have coughed from the stench had she not been so completely overcome with terror.

 

D-dear, god… you- you need… to r-run-

 

Her inner sense of reason stammered loudly. The panic in her stomach was swelling and she felt nauseous. She- she had to run. She had to move! But Frisk simply trembled where she stood while her heart darted around, her single eye wide and shivering, lower lip quivering in fear.

It was hard to tell, but the demented creature was almost grinning. And Frisk could see rows of numerous serrated sepia-toned fangs as clear as day. But those eyes were what really sent her anxiety into a tissy. Those haunting white eyes, faintly glowing, like two shivering puddles of reflected moonlight.

The monster spoke again.

“… W-we-welcome-… h-human…

And it reached its claws further and Frisk could feel the sharp tips of each ebony talon graze the back of her hoodie.

 

P-please… please move… please…

 

Frisk’s immobile feet began to shifted against the metal flooring. Her paralysis started to crumble. Her acute stress response took over in full force and she stumbled forward suddenly, away from the monster, breathing hard. She swerved around and stared back at the creature as her features contorted in horror. But the monster did not remain in that spot. It began to take slow, discordant steps forward and Frisk’s single eye darted towards the five open entrance ways at the side of the room.

 

Pick one and run!

 

“H-h-hum-aaan…”

 

For the love of god HURRY! PICK ONE!

 

Frisk was too frightened to fight. Her determination was at an all time low due to her time with Sans. She couldn’t lift her sword to protect herself. Hell, she could barely even move. But the swelling dread in her stomach forced her to act and she dove towards the side wall and darted down the center tunnel. She couldn’t fight, so instead she would run.

She bound down the corridor, propelling herself away from the creature as fast as she could. O-oh my god, oh g-god- Please!! Frisk held the blade out in front and fiery crimson bounced off the metallic walls. She almost slipped against the polished floor, breathing hard and frantic. Her convulsing heart sunk down to her gut as she heard a sound… the sound of scampering footsteps behind her.

 

Shit!!

 

Frisk turned to look over her shoulder as she ran. The creature… it hadn’t stayed in the room… it was clamoring after her, chasing her down the hall. Its maw was open wide with thick stringy strands of saliva connected the top row of fangs with the lower ones. It was grotesque. The monster was immense and its sides pressed scraped against the walls of the narrow corridor, but it did not stop the creature from coming. Each dissonant step it took resonated and sent a shockwave through the floor. Frisk could barely breathe at the sight of the demon so close behind.

She ripped her gaze from the atrocity and sprang forward, running as fast as she possibly could against the sleek ground. P-please!! S-sans! Where are you! Her thoughts were a jumble of incoherent hysteria. The tunnel that extended out before her seemed neverending.

“SANS!!” Frisk finally found her voice and screamed out as she ran. The monster was closing in behind her. The stampeding steps grew louder and she could almost feel those hot rapid breaths against the back of her neck. “S-SANS! PLEASE!!”

Frisk was crying out for him and her shouts trembled between each inhale. But her eye widened as she saw the end of the hallway approaching fast, and she recognized it to lead into yet another iron-plated room. She grit her teeth and clenched her free hand into a fist and sprinted forward, faster… faster! She ran out in front of the beast behind her, distancing herself from the monster by a few yards.

She could see the room at the end of the hall. But her fear flourished as she closed in on the open space.

The room had not one, not two, not ten, but dozens upon dozens of dark open doorways all lining the walls. Oh, god!

 

Get in that room and run down a hall! Any hall! And sheath your blade, it’s too bright!

 

Frisk burst forward into the room and scanned the open space as fast as she could. The monster was still in the tunnel behind her but it was advancing quickly, only seconds away. She barely had time to think, let alone act. She lurched towards the side and ran down one of the more covert hallways at the furthest corner of the room.

Frisk immediately pulled the lever of her blade down the hilt. The crimson liquid sword vanished in an instant. She was in the dark again. She stumbled down the hall in pitch black, moving away from the entrance as fast as humanly possible, but she skidded to an abrupt stop to quiet her footsteps. The creature… it had finally burst forth and she could hear it back within the room of tunnels.

 

O-oh god… w-would it check each passageway? Would it find her? Could that thing see in the dark?

 

Frisk held her breath in her throat. She pressed her back up against the wall. Her hands trembled as she clutched the box cutter and held it against her pulsing chest. She could hear each heavy footfall, as if the creature was pacing around. The dozens of doorways seemed to have been enough of a distraction… and they threw the monstrosity off her path. But then Frisk heard its voice again.

“H-h-hhummaann… HHUMANN!”

It was screeching. The tone was no longer a wispy murmur. It was jarring and pierced through Frisk’s ear drums so painfully. But she was too scared to move. That creature would hear the echo of her footsteps the moment she made a sound. So Frisk stood there in the dark hall, shivering violently.

Suddenly the heavy footsteps stilled. The creature… it stopped pacing. Frisk bit at her lower lip in dread. She tilted her head to the side and stared back at the opening where she had just burst through, but she couldn’t see a thing. It was like a curtain of velvet had been draped over her only functioning eye. It was as if she had become fully blind. Sans… where are you?…

And it was completely silent. There were no more footfalls or rapid heavy breathing. All Frisk could hear was the overwrought pulsing of her own heartbeat in her head. But suddenly… suddenly there was a sound that severed the silence. That monster spoke again. Its cries had settled back down and its voice was a velour whisper once more. But… but it almost sounded like the creature was speaking to another.

 

P-please tell me there’s not more of those things within this winding metallic labyrinth?

 

“Find… the… h-hu-human-”

 

Those words… That creature… It was as if it was speaking to another being… or perhaps the monster was delusional and was simply speaking to itself? Frisk could not be sure. She was not sure of anything anymore. But the building dread in her gut churned and she felt so sick with fear. A terrible vertigo began to ferment inside her skull.

There were more whispers. Soft and spectral, as if dozens of distant bells were all chiming at once. She grit her teeth and trembled terribly where she cowered. But then the whispers began to dissipate. They grew softer and softer until the eidolic voices were replaced by the sound of footsteps once more. The reptilian creature’s slow and steady footfalls eventually faded away, and it was completely quiet.

 

The monster must have picked a hall to search…

 

It was… it was leaving.

 

Frisk felt a wave of relief as the sound of the monster's movements dissolved into darkness. Somehow, she narrowly avoided that creature’s fatal clutches. She had been able to shake that dreaded fiend off her tail… just barely. But the consolation she felt melted back into a chimera of fear, dread, and foreboding panic. Now she was stuck, lost, in this building… alone… in the dark… and that monstrosity was still out there slinking around the halls, searching for her.

And it was not alone. Could there really be more than one? She hadn’t heard anymore footsteps… only voices. But anything was possible when it came to this dreadful hell, so Frisk could not disregard it. She had to get out of this dwelling. She had to leave this place as fast as she could. She would run back to Hotland… and maybe… maybe Sans would be there? Sans…

“S-sans… please… h-help me… ” She whispered softly, almost inaudible, under her trembling breath. Frisk lifted both hands to her face and clutched at either side of her skull in the darkness. She was panicking and she felt so dizzy from fear that she truly thought she would pass out. But then a disgusting realization dawned over her. She was actually begging for Sans to appear, begging for her rapist to help her. She had once wished death on him, and now she was praying for his salvation. God, it was twisted. As least she could recognize the askew mentality of it all, but that didn’t stop her from pleading silently for him to return.

And she cowered in the darkness for what felt like ages. She had to move. She had to act. That monster could return. It would most likely search every single hallway. It was only a matter of time until it happened upon the one she occupied. She had to keep going. Please… be strong.

Frisk silently slid up to her feet, leaning back against the wall for support. It was so dark - a mind-numbing jet black abyss - but she was too fearful to call forth her sword. It’s light was too radiant and it would draw unwanted attention in an instant. God, how she wished she still had her phone’s dull flashlight right now. Frisk stepped forward and lifted both hands, brushing her fingertips against the walls on either side, although she kept her box cutter tucked under her thumb. The tunnel was narrow enough to allow her arms to span the entire distance. And she began to step forward down the corridor.

 

 

 

Frisk held her breath in her lungs as she tiptoed along. This was the first time that she had ever been completely without light before. It made her feel so susceptible. Each one of her muscles bunched painfully as she stepped through the velveteen shadows. What would she do if she bumped into a figure in the darkness? Pull out her blade and actually attempt to fight it? Run? One after another, dreadful scenarios swirled in her mind but-… but through it all… she prayed for Sans to return.

 

T-this was… part of his game… He wants you afraid… He wants you to rely on him… And he wants you to want him… right?

 

Frisk hung her head as she continued. At least… if she died… she would return to Hotland, if that was any consolation. She so desperately wished that she had never saved. She should have fought off Sans. She should have tried something, anything to prevent that save. And her regrets started to pile up. This life was such a heavy burden…

 

There’s no use in thinking about it now. What’s done is done…

 

Her inner thoughts provided no comfort, but they were right. It was useless to dwell on it. She had four more chances now. And perhaps she could use those newfound lives to try and escape this nightmare. Perhaps, if she dug deep enough, she could revive that lost fortitude… that surging courage she had once felt so long ago, her determination to escape. And maybe, just maybe, she could return home.

Frisk continued on in darkness as her contrasting thoughts surged against the inside her of subconscious. But suddenly she saw something. She saw something. Her feet stumbled to a sudden stop as she caught a glimpse of something down the very end of the metallic corridor. T-there was a light up ahead… a light. A faint white glow reflected off the surface of the iron wall at the very end of the tunnel. She could make out the edge of a corner… an alcove into another adjoining room.

Was it an exit? T-that light… it couldn’t be from the monster that had chased her. That creature had provided no light during its ambush in the darkness. So what was it? Whatever the illumination emitted from, it appeared to be shivering ever so slightly. Perhaps another candle?

Her curiosity was too much. The possibility that it could be an exit from this dreadful dungeon weighted on her mind. She took slow, trembling steps down the hall as she clutched her concealed box cutter blade in one hand. She stepped up to the very end of the tunnel and pressed her back flat against the side. Her heart felt like a trembling fledgling, it was beating so quickly. She took in a deep breath and very slowly turned her head, peeking around the corner into the open space.

The room was small, iron-plated like all the others, without any open hallways. It was a dead end, except the room was not vacant. And Frisk’s felt as if her soul was going to melt into her stomach at the sight.

 

Another monster. A creature.

 

A ghost.

 

A massive spectral figure hovered directly within the center of the cramped space. Its bulky, contorted body was a white transparent swelling of mist. It had no lower limbs, almost like a serpent, but it did possess two thin, winding arms. In a way the tendril-like limbs reminded Frisk of Napstablook, although its arms were also translucent like its body. Though it did possess rows of thick black nails upon its claws that were not made of vapor like the rest of it. Frisk could just barely see the profile of the ghastly demon’s face. It was large with two amber slits for eyes and a expansive, enormous maw that exhibited rows upon rows of thick mustard-yellow fangs.

Frisk’s lone eye shivered wide as she stared back at the creature. Her clenched teeth began to clatter in fear and her heavy, frantic breath caught in her throat. And despite how terrifying the vision was, she could not look away. She could not pull herself back. She was hypnotized by the gentle, illuminating glow that seeped from the banshee’s form.

The creature moved in close to the far left wall. It stared back into the reflective metal, hovering slowly above the sleek ground. But there was something strange at the end of its thick, tapered serpent tail. A thin tether of white vapor wrapped around the tip of the creature’s coiling abdomen, like some type of fastening cord. And the ghostly binding sunk clear through the floor.

 

T-that thing… that ghost… if that thing saw her-… w-would she… would she even be able to kill it!? It was a phantom!

 

Frisk’s hand clutched tight upon her blade and she slowly began to shift her sneakers, leaning away from the corner of the wall. But before she could pull her head back entirely, the creature began to move. It was… it was sinking. It was slowly cascading down towards the flooring… and its transparent body began to disappear within the ground.

The haunting apparition was actually descending down into the floor, very slowly. It was as if the creature was completely made up of a thick, cloudy vapor and solid objects could not hinder it. Frisk watched the apparition submerged itself and the glowing white light vanishing along with it. It was gone. Frisk was in darkness once more.

She stood in the dark and grit her teeth together painfully. Her shoulders started to tremble and she could feel the despair bubbling up against her rib cage, moving upward along her throat accompanied by burning tears that began to coat her single eye. She let out a soft sob, holding back her terrified wails in her throat. She was so scared… so scared.

Chara was gone. Sans was gone. She was all alone. So completely alone, trapped in a infinite nightmare. The darkness around her was so thick that she felt like she was choking on it. Please… pull yourself together… y-you can do this… there must be a way out of this place. There has to be!

Frisk took in slow, shivering inhales, attempting to steady her misery. She ran her fingers along the hall’s corner edge and maneuvered herself in the darkness. This room was a dead end, she had just witnessed it. She had to go back… back to that chamber with dozens of doors. And she began to head back down the hall in silence.

 

 

 

Frisk’s fingers trailed along the sleek metal walls as she moved. She felt another corner and stumbled backwards. I-it’s too dark… you can’t do this in the shade. Her inner voice was right, she wouldn’t be able to proceed in this darkness. It was next to impossible. So she took in a deep breath and held her box cutter back out in front of her. She willed forth her soul’s energy the moment she unsheathed the blade.

Burning heat pooled within her chest and spilled down her arms. It collided with her knife. In a matter of seconds the sword appeared and it lit up the large adjoining room. Her soul’s weapon turned the entire space an eerie deep crimson. The chamber was empty except for dozens of clones of herself in the walls. Frisk ignored her bleak reflection and stared back at the multiple halls. Each one resembled a daunting black hole, but at least there were no monsters lurking in the archways. It was completely desolate.

And she stepped forward into the room and her dread began to build once more.

 

Pick one.

 

She darted forward and ran down a different hallway opposite her. Every single tunnel in this labyrinth looked exactly the same, but it didn’t take long for her to reach the end of the corridor and she stumbled out into another small room. Another dead end…

She almost cursed in frustration as she leered around the room, staring at herself in the reflective walls like it was some twisted house of mirrors. Frisk’s sneakers squeaked against the polished floor and she turned and ran back down the hall into the initial enclosure.

 

Try another one.

 

She reached the large room with the multiple doorways again and ran down the adjacent hall next to her. Perhaps this one would lead to something new. God, this place was a maze. Would she ever find her way out of here? She tried not to think about the monsters that lurked silently within the entanglement of tunnels. And the fact that they could vanish through solid barriers held no comfort. She was really out of her element here.

Frisk finally stumbled out from the foyer into another small room. Another dead end. Damn it! She squeezed her hand tight around her sword’s handle and wanted to scream. But instead she turned sharply and ran back to the beginning. Sans… Where are you?!

She burst back out into the main chamber and ran through the room to the opposite side. She would try a different section of tunnels. She was bound to find the correct tunnel eventually. Frisk darted through another new corridor. She glanced to the side and watched her own reflection as she ran. The wind blew back her messy hair. She looked absolutely terrified. Her desperate thoughts raced. This building truly was a labyrinth, like it had been built solely to confuse its guests. Frisk remembered her fight with Undyne and the multiple deceptive doors.An intentional puzzle. Perhaps this place was not dissimilar in that regard.

 

She reached the room at the end of the hall. It was also small… and also empty. Another dead end. Frisk couldn’t help the loud groan that erupted from her throat and she swiped her blade through the air in frustration. God dammit! Her patience was starting to wear thin. Along with her caution. Frisk grumbled and abruptly turned back towards the hall to leave, but her eye locked upon something rising slowly from the ground.

Something was rising… rising right in front of her… something glowing.

 

S-shit!

 

There was a ghastly phantom glow of white erupting from the surface of the floor. It rose quickly, right in front of her only escape, blocking Frisk’s path. She stared wide-eyed at the eerie illusion as it advanced.

 

It was another ghost, a different ghost.

 

It was massive and hulking like the previous one, but this creature… it had no true appearance. It was simply a distortion of vapor, twisting and winding into itself. It almost appeared to have a bulbous head embedded within its torso, and a circular mouth with a ring of glossy black teeth. There were no eyes that Frisk could see. The lower body was a distorted fume tethered to the floor by a phantom leash. And despite its gnarled, anamorphic form, the poltergeist had arms. Two thick shivering limbs adorned with black claws like the prior apparition. And the arms rose towards Frisk, twitching and askew.

Frisk’s eye widened at the sight of the monster. She cried out from shock and stumbled backwards, grasping at her sword with both hands in front of her. Her heart turned to ice and plummeted to the floor. T-these ghosts… Were these the creatures that the reptilian monster had been whispering to!? How many of them were there??? But the ghostly monster did not utter a sound. And it silently began to make its way towards Frisk, pulling at the strange fastened cord that seemed to almost bind it to the ground.

Frisk staggered backwards until her back pressed into the wall. She held her sword out in front of her, arms shaking, knees buckling.

“G-get back!!! Get away from m-me!” She cried but the monster kept coming. And a dizzying head rush of panic fluctuate in her skull and she swiped her sword at the oncoming creature.

The monster came to a stop. Her sword held it back. But its twining arms rose overhead, each one of its clawed digits retracting and advancing in a frantic tempo. The apparition had no face or voice… but Frisk knew… she knew that the creature was resentful. She could feel the heavy choleric aura that churned around it and flooded the room.

The ghastly specter lifted its limb over Frisk’s blade, high in the air. It inched closer and closer, reaching out and downward for her. She stared up at the monster in horror, watching the rapidly twisting talons swoop down before face. She was cornered against the wall. There was nowhere to run. There was no one to save her. She had to save herself.

And with a petrified surge of adrenaline, Frisk lifted her blade and swung it in front of her, slicing the shivering red cutlass through the middle of the ghost’s thin limb. It was a spirit, it did not have a physical form, she wasn’t even sure if it would do anything. Frisk’s heart stammered in her chest and she swung her blade a second time through the creature’s arm. And it recoiled.

The ghost faltered backwards.

It made no noise, but its movements were no longer slow slithers. It lurched backwards and seemed to quaver violently in the air. Its damaged limb had not detached from Frisk’s swipes, but the section upon its arm turned bright red, like Frisk’s blade had contaminated it somehow. The red stroke looked painful.

Frisk stared back at the floundering creature, panting hard and fast as terror cemented her back against the wall. The ghost shivered around like it was in terrible pain. And it sunk down into the floor in an instant, leaving Frisk alone in the room with nothing but the red illumination off her sword reflecting off the walls.

She had fended off the ghost. She had protected herself from the creature. She should be overjoyed, but instead she was terrified. Her mind began to surge and the fear grew… She had not killed that creature… no. She had simply alerted it to her presence… and to her soul’s power.

 

R-run… RUN! It will alert the others!

 

Frisk darted forward. She ran through the small room and down the hall as fast as her legs could carry her. She reached the initial large chamber, lined with multiple open entrance ways. She wanted to cry as she spiraled in the center of the space. W-which one! Which one should she take!! She felt like she was running out of time. She bound over towards the first hallway that she had entered from and stared back at all the openings.

 

Sans had guided you through the middle halls, remember?… The centermost passage.

 

Frisk bit her lower lip and her single eye locked onto the open archway opposite her. It simply looked like all the others… but… as she began to examine it in depth, she noticed one small difference. It was slightly taller, only by a few centimeters, but it was enough of a change to set it apart from the rest.

 

That’s it! That’s the exit! RUN!

 

She bound forward, sprinting down the middle hall. Her sneakers clattered loudly. She held her blade out in front, lighting the way with red. She struggled to take in sharp inhales, barely able to breathe through her fear. The hall was long… it was longer than all the others. It felt endless. This hall… it was different. Perhaps it really was the exit.

Frisk could see the end of the tunnel. She could see the dark narrow rectangle of black… the corridor’s exit. She ran faster, biting at the tip of her tongue. She felt like there was something chasing her but a quick glance over her shoulder proved that to be untrue, just paranoia, but it did not stop her frantic rushing feet. And she finally reached the end and burst out through the hallway. She staggered into a massive space… a new room.

 

A huge, towering, colossal chamber.

 

 

 

Frisk stumbled to a stop and held her blade high overhead, illuminating the space around while she gasped for a breath. The ample expanse was extensive. Metal. Dark. Just like every other room in this building. But it was not vacant. There was… furniture. Large stacks of what appeared to be disheveled cots and boxes and iron tables and various piles of equipment had been discarded along the sides of the territory. There was junk everywhere, it almost looked like a tornado had rushed through the very center of the space, knocking all the furniture to the walls.

Frisk stepped over towards the periphery and stared at all of the miscellaneous collateral. She could see multiple iron cots and stretchers. They almost… they almost looked like operating tables. There were sinks and tubes and large metal chairs stacked up in unsteady towers. Frisk walked along slowly, examining the mess. Had this place been some sort of hospital? A laboratory? W-what was this horrifying dwelling?

Frisk stumbled over something as she walked. She almost tripped but caught herself quickly, and she lowered the glowing sword to get a look at the cumbersome object.

 

W-wait… that is…

 

 

 

A severed hand.

 

An amputated monster claw lay before her feet. Frisk almost cried out and she staggered backwards in horror, eye locked on the detached body part. It was old, almost mummified, but she could make out each curling digit and the fractured bone that jutted from its torn wrist as clear as day.

 

D-dear god… this place… this place is a nightmare…

 

Frisk felt faint. Her heart was hammering. Her pulse was like boiling water in her veins. She frantically stepped over the severed limb and darted forward. And as she ran, she noticed more body parts. Fragments of remains lay entangled in the clutter. A leg. An arm. A decrepit embalmed torso. Frisk cried out to herself as she ran down the shadowy stretch of chamber. She tried to avert her eye away from the debris and the carnage. S-she didn’t want to see anymore… she didn’t want to see these horrors! But her vision returned to the disarray.

She caught a glimpse of what appeared to be a shattered glass tank filled with nothing but a variety of burnt limbs. None of the parts were human, most of them looked reptilian, but it was ghastly and grotesque and it make her feel sick to her stomach. She blinked a tearing eye and began to run away from the edge of the wall, moving in towards the center path of the room. She couldn’t handle the horrors that lined this decaying laboratory. She had to escape this place. S-sans… please… please help me!

Her feet clattered loudly against the floor as she ran. She was too overcome with panic and dread to move slow and silently. She held her blade out in front as she sprinted, just waiting for something new to erupt from the darkness.

And something did.

 

A wall.

 

She had finally reached the end of the massive chamber. Frisk stumbled to a stop and stared up at the barrier before her. The room was so vast, she could not even see the ceiling with the light her sword provided. Frisk squinted her eye and spotted a tunnel entrance. It looked so small and meager compared to the colossal wall, but it was there. An exit! She darted forward towards the shadowy tunnel. That has to be the exit… There has to be the way out of this place…

She held her blade out, only a few yards away from the tunnel. She felt a surge of determination and hope erupt from her shivering soul. She was so close!

But… but something was moving…

 

Something was moving within the darkness…

 

… inside of the tunnel.

 

And it began to emerge from the shadows. And Frisk stopped dead in her tracks before the opening and watched in horror as that monster, that reptilian blood-stained creature, stepped out from corridor, blocking her only path.

“H-h-hum-ma-n…”

 

N-no… No, please.

 

It took slow strides forward. Massive arms hung at either side and its head dangled upon its shoulder. Those wide, glossy alabaster eyes were unblinking and they appeared to be fixed on her. The long surcoat it wore was tattered at the bottom and stained in blood and other grotesque fluids… and the more Frisk stared at it, the more it began to look like… like a lab coat.

T-this creature… Had this thing been responsible… for those severed limbs?

For those noxious, defiled corpses?

 

Her wild thoughts began to run amuck but she reined them in instantly. You cannot think about that right now! You have to escape! And the pipedal creation began to step closer, moving slowly and ominously. It lifted its arms at either side like it had done earlier… but… something was glowing. Something was glowing softly against the tips of each black talon, like some sort of gentle radiating white thread, oozing from each nail. The ropes grew in size and spilled from the beast's claws, entwining into a thick braid that fell down to the floor. And large, bulbous apparitions began to appear at the ends of the tethers like two disfigured nebulas.

 

The ghosts.

 

The pair of horrifying banshees began to form in mid-air, attached to the strings that were bound to the monsters claws. This creature… it was summoning them, like two appalling pets. The conjured ghosts twisted and turned in the darkness, both of them displaying their own unique and equally ominous traits. The one with yellow eyes and teeth snapped its massive maw and the opposite apparition, the one with no face or features except a mouth, shuttered and lifted its arms high overhead. Frisk could still see the thin red slivers embedded in its wrists where her sword’s had sliced through… and it still seemed enraged.

Both of the amalgamates rose in the air, bound to the reptilian creature’s hands that controlled them like some ungodly puppeteer. The monster parted its massive jutting maw and whispered,

“T-t-tha-that… soul… We n-ne-need that soul…”

Frisk’s spine shuddered at the sound of the reptile’s ominous tone. Her trembling gaze was fixated upon the monstrosities directly before her - the ghastly entity that blocked her only escape. She held her blade tight in both hands and lifted the sword, staring back at the chimera through its translucency.

And the central cognizant monster lifted its hands, and the tethered duel ghosts spiraled forward.

 

RUN!!

 

Frisk darted to the side, just narrowly missing the collision of the two wraiths, but they didn’t stop. She stumbled and ran back into the chamber. O-oh god!!! P-please help! Someone! Anyone! She cried out as she ran, but both haunts were right on her tail. They were side by side, practically melting into one another to form and even larger phantom, and they surged forward without any reluctance. Frisk skirted towards the opposite side as she ran in a zigzag pattern. She was so desperate, so terrified.

“S-stop! I’m here to open the gates! I’m here to save you!” She cried out between frantic gasps, but there was no reasoning with these monstrosities. The Underground was poisoned and each creature she had come across was more deranged than the last. This place… this place was an everlasting hell.

 

Use your sword! Cut the tethers!

 

Her inner thoughts pulsed with an idea. It seemed improbable, but she had to try something! She couldn’t run forever!

The ghosts lurched forward at her again and Frisk rolled onto the floor, just narrowly missing the thick black claws of the mawed apparition. She felt the physical weight of its talons barely graze her shoulder. These ghosts… their bodies may be vaporous… but those hooked nails were definitely not.

Frisk staggered up to her feet. Her mind was racing and her heart felt like it was locked in an icey vice. She maneuvered behind the phantoms, closing in on the two twining fetters that bound the ghosts to their host.

 

Do it now!!! HURRY!!!

 

Frisk’s inner voice was screaming in fear. She moved fast and brought her weapon down and sliced through one of the restraints. The misty white cord snapped underneath the sharpened edge and vanished in an instant, along with the creature. The wide-mawed ghost was gone, as quickly as it had come, leaving its partner alone. Frisk heard a bellowing screech from the deep darkness. It was so loud… and it screamed out in blood-curdling agony.

 

She recognized that screech. It came from the reptile. The anchor.

 

T-their host… the reptilian monstrosity in the blood-stained lab coat…

 

By severing the ghostly parasite, had she somehow inflicted damage upon that monster?

 

But there was no time to consider it as the second and single banshee spiraled forward. It was so sudden. Frisk attempted to leap to the side but the ghost’s embodiment collided with Frisk's shoulder. A-and it… it… hurt! The moment the apparition’s vapor came into contact with Frisk’s body, her flesh tingled and burned like it had been set on fire. The creature brushed through her shoulder and Frisk screamed out. A wave of vibrating agony, like her shoulder had been forced down upon a simmering stovetop. The pain was unbelievable. The flesh under her clothes felt like it had been flayed with a clever then doused in alcohol, and Frisk gasped and held back a scream. But she ran forward.

She ran from the creature, barely able to hold onto her sword with both hands. Her injured arm trembled terribly. She glanced at her shoulder expecting the worst, but… her hoodie’s sleeve was untorn. There was nothing to indicate any type of physical pain in the slightest. W-what… the h-hell?! The creature was still coming. It was right behind her, Frisk could see a white glow out of the corner of her eye.

 

Come on!! You can do it again!! Cut the tether!

 

Frisk’s heart surged. The pain shot up and down her arm, making her fingers go completely numb, but she sprinted. She could feel it… her determination. It was there, just barely. Even after everything she had been through, her determination flushed deep within her soul. And it gave her hope. Aspiration. And Frisk bolted to the right side as the ghost spiraled forward again, missing her once more. She lifted her blade in a swift sudden motion and brought it down upon the tether behind the creature instantly.

It snapped under the weapon and the apparition erupted into a hazy cloud of glowing white then vanished within the shadows. Y-you did it… you did it! But her elation was short lived when she heard another silence-shattering scream. The screeching collided with the metal walls of the chamber, even louder than before.

She felt the ground shake.

And she could hear heavy trampling foot steps moving in her direction.

 

RUN NOW!

 

Frisk ran from the center of the room towards the cluttered wall. She frantically darted over piles of debris and broken medical supplies and mangled body parts. Corrupt screams bellowed all around her and she almost tripped to the floor as the ground trembled under her feet. That reptilian beast was searching for her, chasing after the red illumination of her blade. Frisk took a quick sideways glance. She saw the dark figure closing in, headed straight for her.

“H-HU-HUMA-N!”

The monster lunged with an outstretched claw. Frisk tried to dodge it by ducking, but those multiple sharpened obsidian nails met their mark. They dug into the side of Frisk’s throat, cutting into her flesh. Frisk screamed out, yet she continued to dart forward and the monster faltered and missed her.

 

O-oh god… oh no!!

 

Frisk stumbled but the adrenaline kept her moving. She could feel hot liquid spill from the wounds at her neck, dripping down to her collar bone, soaking the shoulder of her hoodie. It hurt… it hurt worse than the ghost’s burns. But she held back burning tears and galloped forward, making her way to the end of the room, back to her escape.

The monster was not far behind her. Frisk reached the final wall and she scampered into the corridor archway.

 

YOUR SHIELD! NOW!

 

She released one hand from her sword, holding it down to her side. She swiveled around to face the room and watched in horror as the massive monstrosity erupted from the shadows, only a couple yards away. Frisk shot up a trembling hand and called forth her shield in an instant. The red dazzling barrier burst from her open palm and created a wall of liquid glass that encompassed the entirety of the doorway.

The monster collided with the shield and began to scratch and claw and bite at the barrier. Frisk knees buckled. She watched the creature attack her soul’s blockade. She could see each terrible jutting tooth and scratching talon through the red translucence. W-would her shield be able to hold back this frantic beast?!

 

Push your shield forward! Knock it back! Then RUN!

 

There were so many questions swirling in her head. She had no clue if this tunnel even led to an exit! For all she knew, it simply led into another decrepit hospital room. Or more tunnels. Or into a chamber with more ghosts! She could not be sure of anything. But the deformed wyvern's nails were beginning to pierce and rip at her barrier. The shield’s sheen started to quiver and Frisk knew it would not hold the monster off for much longer.

Her determination burned her chest, her neck stung and she could smell the aroma of blood… her own blood. She was lightheaded from the all-encompassing panic and grit her teeth and summoned forth her energy, more energy, digging deep into the depths of her soul to conjure it. A bright flash of garnet glare burst outward and her shield shot forward briefly, colliding with the monster, knocking it back. It was only a temporary move, one she had used once on Sans so long ago in the snowy forest, but it was enough to push the terrible creature away and stun it for a split second. And in that second Frisk swerved around and clamored down the hall.

 

RUN! RUN! RUN! HURRY UP, FOR THE LOVE OF GOD!

 

Her sneakers skidded and clattered loudly upon the slippery floor. She bound forward, running down the tunnel that seemed to twist and turn unusually. The three deep claw marks embedded in her throat bled and she could feel flecks of blood splattering back against her cheek as she scampered. Her heart pounded as quickly as her sprinting feet. Frisk could feel the floor start to tremble again. N-no! It is chasing you! It’s behind you! She did not dare turn her head, she simply held her beaming blade out, cutting through the shadows as she raced forward.

She turned a sharp corner within the hall and continued but… but there was something… There was a light! A LIGHT! Frisk could see a faint glowing hue at the very end of a long tunnel. It could be an escape… or it could be a room with even more monstrosities. All she could do was run and pray and her gripping determination urged her on. She clamored, lurching forward, gasping for a pained breath. She could hear the sound of heavy growls and panting groans a ways behind her. That monster was closing in on her fast. The ground was shaking and she could smell its rancid breath.

And as Frisk ran forward, the light grew. It was dim and tinted red. And she could see a doorway through the shadows. An open doorway. A broken iron gate hung from its hinges and the archway appeared to open out into… out into the caves! It was an exit! It was an escape!

 

COME ON!! IT’S RIGHT BEHIND YOU!

 

Frisk’s heart leapt. She darted for the exit. It was only seconds away!

And she burst out into the cavern.

 

 

She was outside, back outside in the lava caves… however, there was barely any lava.

She was on the other side… on the opposite side of the massive iron building. She had made it through the nightmarish laboratory alive.

And she continued to run forward through the center of the cavern. But as she sprinted, the ground ceased shaking. The putrid stench vanished. The growls and screeches dissipated. Frisk turned her head over her shoulder as she ran. She could see the daunting iron building behind her… the open doorway… and the monster… the monster lingered in the archway.

It was not chasing her. It remained in the building, as if it was bound to that dreadful place for some reason.

Its white saucer eyes stared back at Frisk. The sight sent shivers up her spine. And she watched as the monstrosity slowly and reluctantly turned and disappeared within the shadows, returning to its appalling lair, defeated.

 

 

 

 

 

Frisk stumbled to a slow tread as she watched the reptilian creature disappear back within the structure. She stared at the building. She was not being chased anymore, yet her adrenaline continued to surge, her heart continued to pound. She was struck with disbelief and her knees buckled and she staggered to the floor.

Frisk dropped her box cutter upon the rocky ground and the crimson blade vanished in an instant. She lifted both her hands to her shoulders and clutched them tightly, bending forward, panting hard and fast as she tried to catch a breath. Hot tears stung her eye. S-she was alive… she was alive… She was out of that place… She was out of the darkness…

She was in such a state of shock that she barely felt any pain during her gallant escape. But the moment she was still, the pain started to take hold. Her neck… her throat was wet. She lowered a hand to her neck and let her fingers graze over the wounded side. She grit her teeth sharply at the sudden surge of agony and touched the edges of the jagged open lesions. Three claws marks embedded deep within her throat. Somehow they had missed her jugular artery, but the crimson continued to seep and soak the front of her hoodie a noxious red.

Frisk pressed her open palm against the wounds and cried out again from the pain. She tried to stop the bleeding with her hand. But it wouldn’t stop. It continued to flow.

“S-sans…”

Frisk cried softly, tilting her head back, staring up at the large cavern ceiling.

 

Where was he?… Where did he go?…

 

He had… he had left her… to die…

 

She clenched her teeth and held back desperate sobs as a thick film of tears glazed over her lone eye and turned everything fuzzy. She stared at the towering iron building on her knees, overcome with disbelief and shock.

 

 

……

 

 

 

… What now?…

 

……

 

 

 

Frisk eventually rose to her feet. Her legs felt gelatinous. She could barely walk, but she managed to stand. She clutched at the box cutter and turned, facing the vast, shadowy caverns, and began to make her way down the center of the cave. She had to keep going. Keep going forward.

 

 

 

 

Frisk stumbled forward in a haze. Her head was foggy from the bloodloss. One of her ankles felt sprained and she was forced to limp. The caverns around her were much like the previous ones, although this second section of Hotland was different, and Frisk preferred it. The space was not nearly as hot. There were no thick, bubbling streams of lava. Instead there were deep fissures embedded within the rocky floor. The lava was buried deep inside the crags and it made the red light a dull umbra. It was still quite humid, but it wasn’t sweltering. But the dim red created eerie shivering shadows within the caverns and it was unsettling.

White ruins lined the cave walls once more. They were not nearly as dilapidated. Frisk could actually make out structures, small adobe huts, columns and stairs and tall two-story buildings. It was daunting, the fact that these homes were not disheveled. In a way it almost looked like a small village. And soon the white buildings began to extend out from the wall and actually take up space within the center of the caves.

These weren't just isolated buildings.

No… this was…

 

… a village.

 

An extending hamlet within the caverns.

 

And soon there was no more empty space. The number of buildings increased dramatically and they spanned over the horizon.

 

Frisk came to a stop as she reached the extensive perimeter of this newfound village. The white buildings were crumbling and clustered in close to one another. There were multiple pathways that ran through the structures into a district. She would have to walk through this town… past these buildings. There was nowhere else to go.

Frisk grit her teeth. She clutched at her sticky bloodied throat with one hand and her knife in the other. The white stone village had an unsettling aura to it, but it was nothing like the sense of dread she had felt from the laboratory. And in a way it was not as daunting as the Town of Snowdin either. Perhaps… maybe… maybe there was food or water within this place… something of sustenance. She was so dehydrated from the bloodloss. Her stomach churned with nausea and her head was spinning and her hands felt clammy and cold.

She slowly took a step past the frontier houses, walking in between the cluster of buildings. There was no path to follow. This village was rather disorganized, like it had been created haphazardly without any guidance. It was very different from Snowdin. There was no black decaying mold, or cobblestone road, or rhyme or reason.

Frisk sneaked by the open doorways of each home, her eye darting around inside the small spaces. They were empty. Devoid of any furniture. Some of the buildings had piles of white stone and rubble inside, but there was nothing to signify that any monster once occupied them.

But as Frisk walked on through the tightly-knit groups of buildings the light began to fade. The deep lava-filled chasms within the ground were dwindling, and in turn the vermilion glow began to diminish. These dim crimson hues reminded Frisk of dusk in the desert, and the shadows that rose up along the stone buildings grew more eerie, more intimidating. That soft pulsing red… like Sans’ gaze.

She walked on, stumbling a few times over some stray bricks. She pulled her blood-caked hand away from her throat and pressed it against the white adobe walls, leaving heinous trails of blood beside her, but she barely noticed it. Her vision was starting to fade… and it was not from the darkening caverns. The gushing wound at her throat wouldn’t stop even when she pressed her hoodie sleeve against it.

I-I don’t want to die here… I made it through the laboratory… I don’t want to do t-that again.

Frisk almost fell forward. She jerked to the side and pressed her shoulder into a wall. She stared blankly in a daze, blinking her single eye, breathing slow and heavy. Every inhale she took was painful against her torn throat. Her fingertips… they felt numb…

“Sans…” She whispered softly under her breath and closed her eye as she leaned the side of her head into the stone. Determination was dwindling… Hope was fading… The pain at her neck coursed through her whole body and she thought she could taste blood in the back of her throat. “S-sans…”

 

 

“Sans, huh?”

 

……

 

A voice.

 

 

 

A soft