Crowley staggers backwards, clutching his neck.
"Wha- why- that was completely uncalled for! I understand that you must be upset, but-"
"You understand nothing," the student says, and Crowley realizes that his cane is gone.
He narrows his eyes. "Young man, return that at once!"
"Return me to my world," the student says simply.
"Your world? What in the Great Seven are you talking about?"
The student clenches his cane tighter, and it seems to bend. "I mean what I said. Return me to my world."
The headmaster takes a deep breath. Patience. The student is hurt and confused. He's scared, defensive. Crowley raises his hands placatingly. "Now now, let's all calm down. "
student thing's eyes bore into him, and only now does he realize how unusual and unsettling they are- pitch black voids with luminous discs of gold. Cold and inhuman, just as its voice is when it speaks.
"You say I am in Twisted Wonderland. Such a place doesn't exist in my world. I am certain you have never heard of Tellusaire either."
"I have not," he admits. "I have a general grasp of where all the students came from, but I've never even heard that name before."
"Nonetheless," it continues. "You've managed to steal me away from it. So, my demand is simple- return me to my world, and I will return your precious cane."
Crowley manages a grins. "You should have explained yourself clearly at the beginning! That is a simple request- the Dark Mirror will send you directly back from whence you came. Simply enter the Gate, and picture your home clearly in your mind."
It looks at him warily, but complies. "I will drop your cane the moment I feel a pull."
"Very well," Crowley says. His cane will be scuffed from the fall, but that is better than it being snapped in half by this monster.
"Oh Dark Mirror!" he declares. "Guide this one back to the place they belong!"
. . . it doesn't so much as whisper. He thinks he can hear his cane splintering already.
"Once more. Oh Dark mirror! Guide this-!
"It is nowhere."
". . .Eh?"
"The place they belong is nowhere in this world," the Dark Mirror booms. "It does not exist."
"Try again," the monster says.
Crowley glances between it and the mirror. "Oh Dark-"
"It does not exist."
"You heard the Dark Mirror!" Crowley cried. "Your home doesn't exist! What do you want me to do?"
He's suddenly lifted by his tie. He can't breathe. Oh Seven he can't breathe-
"Return me to my world," the monster hisses.
"I-I can't-" he chokes.
He's harshly thrown into the pews. He blinks the stars out of his eyes and finds the monster raging against the mirror.
"Take me home!"
"It does not exist."
"I was taken! Your people took me! So put me back!"
"It does not exist."
It raises his cane. Crowley's eyes widen in horror, realizing what's about to ensue. Oh no. Oh heavens no, the Beautiful Queen herself gave that mirror!
"Put. Me. Back."
The Dark Mirror's face stares down dispassionately. "I cannot."
It screams. The monster screams as it knocks his cane backwards, ready to strike the mirror. Crowley rushes out from the pews, whip brandished, hoping to take the monster down before it can shatter a priceless treasure, then-
Then it crumples.
The cane slips from its hands. The monster falls to its knees, still screaming. Crowley stops in his tracks.
monster student fallen thing raises a hand to its their neck. Nails fit to be claws plunge into their its throat and something too thick and black to be blood oozes out. It spills over their fingers, over their clothes, dribbling onto the ashy floor.
The screaming gurgles to a halt. Their head dips down, like the bud of a dying flower.
Crowley. . .stands there. Confused. Unsure of what he's just witnessed. Did it just die?
. . .was it alive?
At a length however, the figure on the floor withdraws their hand. They look at the inky grime coating their fingertips. They look at it for a long time, then they hide the blackened fingers in a fist.
"Oh Dark Mirror," they say. Despite the damage to their throat, their is voice is soft and serene, eerily so. The viscous substance still trails down their neck. "Is my lady alive?"
The Mirror is silent, then-
"I cannot say."
Black blooms from where their nails are buried in their palm. ". . .is she dead?"
". . .I cannot say."
". . .I see."
~ ~ ~
She is not dead. You are not certain she is dead at least.
You feel the taint on your hands. You've acted brashly. Irrationally. Unkindly.
She'd be so disappointed in you.
Crowley stands nearby. You wipe your hands clean on the edge of your shirt, then take up his cane as you rise. You're certain you still smudged it. You offer it up in both hands and a bowed head.
"I apologize for my outburst," you say, the understatement of the century. You must look terrible, a broken thing soiled in ash and blood. "I will do what I must to atone for it."
". . .you've been quite troublesome."
You keep your head down. "I am aware."
You hear him sigh as he takes his cane back. "What is your name, young one?"
"Mister Yuu then. Lift your head. When you apologize, you make eye contact with the other party, yes?"
"I apologize," you repeat, meeting his gaze. "Where I am from, such action is considered impolite."
"I think tossing the headmaster of a respected institution like a ragdoll is far more impolite an action."
". . .I apologize."
Crowley pinches the bridge of his nose through his mask. You should make him tea, you think. Some migraine-mitigating tea. Ah, but does temida root even exist here?
"Things have become. . .complicated," he says. "But for now, let us assign you to a dormitory. Step in front of the Dark Mirror and state your name. Preferably without attacking me first."
He has a dry smile, as if trying to lighten the mood. You merely obey.
Yuu is your common name. You do not know what this world is like, if names still hold power the way they do in your world, but you dare not divulge your true one.
But it is a name, true enough. Hopefully it will suffice. If not, you will deal with the outcome.
~ ~ ~
"I am Yuu."
The headmaster would have found amusement in such wordplay if he wasn't so done with everything. Ah well, he'd leave this otherworldly individual to be their dorm leader's problem until tomorrow.
"Yuu. . . The shape of thy soul is. . . Pomefi-"
Sorry not sorry, Mister Schoenheit.
"Ah, no," the Mirror falters. "The shape of thy soul is. . .I. . .I do not know."
. . .what.
Crowley's voice comes exasperated and tinged with desperation. "But you said Pomefiore, did you not?"
". . .I was mistaken. What I saw was not Yuu's soul, but the curses that bind it. I cannot divine the shape or color of their soul itself."
Crowley stares at the Dark Mirror, then at Yuu. "You- Yuu- you're cursed?"
They take a moment to answer. "There are. . .multiple curses. You will need to specify. Also I. . . do not think I have a soul."
Crowley stares and stares and he thinks he might have an aneurysm. "What are you, exactly?"
"A flesh golem," they reply, and Crowley never wants to hear again.
"A-a what?" he sputters, because flesh golem, what horrific thing is that? Golems are made of stone, not flesh. Where would the material for such an abomination even come from? "And the curses? What are they?"
"They are enchantments to keep me functioning. I am cursed to be capable of human suffering, to be harmed more than any other, to live on despite the severity of injuries, to always be capable of experiencing pain anew. . ."
This is it, Crowley thinks. He's lost it. He's gone mad, stark raving mad. He's talking to a flesh golem from another world. It's probably some corpse reanimated through dark magic. It nearly shattered the Dark Mirror. It's still rattling off curses ranging from downright cruel and sadistic to mildly inconvenient as if it were some shopping list.
Crowley raises his hand. The golem stops. "This. . .this is unbelievable. . .but the unbelievable has been on parade today. . ."
He looks at what is apparently a flesh golem. It doesn't look particularly horrific. No scars, no scent of rotting flesh. Perhaps paler than normal. . . the eyes are really the only strange part of them.
He sighs for the thousandth time tonight. "This is the first time such a thing happened since I became headmaster. . . it's the first time any headmaster has experienced this, I'm sure. . . what to do. . .ah, what did you have on you when you came here? Do you have any identification, like a license for a magic car, name on a shoe. . . you appear to be empty handed."
It They blink at him. "What is a 'car'?"