You are 336 years old, and you've never felt more alone than you do without her by your side.
You've done everything you can think of to bring her back. You've threatened, begged, bartered. You've screamed to a god you're certain doesn't exist to bring her back.
She'd told you she loved you, and for a moment you were in a state of complete bliss. She loved you. Loves you.
You refuse to accept a world in which Laura Hollis does not exist. You know she's in the god forsaken building somewhere, but nothing you've done has given you any clues. Nothing you've read has shed any light.
Maybe you could burn the library to the ground, book by book, until it caved and returned her to you. No, you can't destroy the place that holds her, and she would be furious if you destroyed the room she spent all summer making liveable.
You've angrily thrown your fifth useless book, tears burning behind your eyes, when Lafontaine comes rushing back into the room. For a fleeting moment, you feel guilty. You've been so focused on finding Laura that their absence didn't even register.
“You wouldn't believe what I've just gone through. There's some kind of tentacled creature living in the central fountain. I've gotta tell Laura about…” they trail off, finally noticing the disarray around them.
“Where is the Dean? Don't tell me you were too busy screwing Laura--” you growl, cutting them off, and they seem to register the other, gaping, absence.
“Where's Laura?” You sigh. You are so tired.
“I don't know,” you struggle to make your voice apathetic. “Gone.” Your shoulders sag, and you bring your knees to your chest.
“Mother got free. She tried to take the talismans, we fought, we lost… Mother was about to kill Laura when she,” you choke back a sob. You won't cry in front of Lafontaine. You won't.
“The library must have transported her somewhere else. Maybe sometime else. I don't know. I can't find her. I can't do anything. I can't reachher.” The tears you've been fighting are burning, threatening to fall. You squeeze your eyes shut tight, and they finally do begin to fall. She loved you, and now she's gone.
Lafontaine has joined your hopeless task of combing the library for clues on Laura’s whereabouts. You're curled into the chair Laura most often used as a bed, her scent lingering still, staring blankly at an open book. You flip the page every so often, but you know you won't find any answers in the ink. Lafontaine is at the computer, searching the Internet for answers, having a quiet conversation with JP. Your hand throbs, still not healed from your brush with the sword. You need blood, you can feel yourself weakening, but you can't bring yourself to go out and kill something to eat. The library has stopped providing you blood. It had given Lafontaine a protein bar, but there has not been a single sweet treat to be found. You think, perhaps, that the library was only providing you food to make Laura happy. Without Laura, the thing has gone back to ignoring you. It hasn't even dropped any books on you.
You must fall asleep, because the next time you open your eyes the book you were pretending to read has fallen from your grasp and Lafontaine is no longer at the computer. They're sitting, head in hands, on the staircase. A glass of blood is sitting on the desk, and you slowly get up to retrieve it. You'll need your strength for when your mother inevitably returns. You know she intends to sacrifice you to open the sixth gate, but you won't let her take you without a fight. Laura would never forgive you.
You down the glass in three large gulps. You know the blood is disgusting, it always is unless it's fresh from the source, but the taste barely registers. Lafontaine looks up, and you pretend not to notice their eyes rimmed with red.
“She’ll come back, you know. Laura. She’s probably already working on a way back,” Lafontaine says, eyes fixed on the portal-door.
“I think she’ll always return to you, just like you will always return to her. It's what soulmates do.”
You almost scoff, but a small part of you wants to believe their words. Soulmates. You don't know if you believe in soulmates; you don't know if you believe you even have a soul, but you do know for certain that you have never felt as complete as you do when you are with her.
“I used to not believe in soulmates. There’s no science to back the theory. It's a fairytale, something to tell your kids at bedtime. But now Perry is gone, and half of me is gone with her.” Their hands are fidgeting with something, a necklace you think, and their next words come out as a sob.
“I've spent my entire life with Perry. I never thought about life without her beside me because it never seemed like a possibility. Now she's gone, maybe forever, and I don't know how to exist without her.” Tears fall from their eyes, but they make no move to wipe them. You move to sit beside them. You’re not good at comfort, but you know that they need to hear something in this moment. You take a moment to gather your words.
“We’ll find a way to get her back. She's still in there, somewhere.” Beside you, Lafontaine shakes their head.
“I don't know if that makes it better or worse. After everything she's seen, everything her body has been made to do… will she even want to be saved? How can a person ever come back from that?” You let out a sigh.
“Humans are resilient. You always find a way to survive. Perry is resilient. She’ll have help. She’ll have you.”
Lafontaine nods, wipes their face, and clears their throat.
“Yeah,” they push up onto their feet, and hold a hand out to help you up. You don't need it, but you accept the assistance anyway.
“Come on, Karnstein, we have a world to save.”