Knowledge is a deadly friend if no one sets the rules; the fate of all mankind I see is in the hands of fools.

rating: +15+x

Iris trembled as she stepped off the train, stumbling and nearly splitting her head open on some miscellaneous railing. Just before impact, impossibly soft, kind, hands caught her and she turned to their owner with a sweet smile.


The bittersweet name died on her lips, as the face before her greatly mismatched her melancholic memories.

She shoved the figure away, internally burying the wisps of her face deep within the recesses of her mind.

She didn't need them anymore.

Iris's hands were gripped tightly around the reins of her horse as she made her way to Sylvan Pass.

The journey to Chickamauga and to Yellowstone was a long and strenuous one. As her knuckles whitened against the dark leather, her mind drifted back to Georgia and the horrors she had so recently experienced. Or… rather, it wasn't that recent anymore was it? What was recent anymore? It had been more than 3 days now. She couldn't bring herself to leave immediately.

She had wanted to pay respects.

It had rained almost an hour after the explosions, death, and misery had finally settled. Smoke hung thick in the air, and despite her straining lungs, Iris couldn't manage more than a weak sputter.

How long had she been on the ground before a surviving deputy had torn her away from them? She had screamed and kicked, she wouldn't be taken away from him.

Not again.

Eventually they left her to her own devices, warded off by her manic screeching and the weak threat of a half-loaded gun. She held them to her warm body, trying to imbue any part of their cold skin with her warmth.

If they were warm, it'd be all okay.

After another timeless period, she forced herself away from them, barely accepting their resounding chill.

It was as if they'd been in a freezer.

She stunk. And perhaps she deserved it. The horrible smell, the dreadful experiences, the macabre things she'd seen.

All of it was because she broke the promise between them.

Iris began dragging the bodies. The muscles in her throat felt as if they were ablaze, and she was unable to enunciate a sob. Still, the tears streamed down her face.

She had realized Elkoan was easier to carry because of his missing flesh.

When she got to a place where the ground was soft, she returned to Elkoan's once welcoming house. When she stepped in, the atmosphere was stale and empty. It was akin to an unlit candle.

Missing the flame.

She managed to find a shovel and returned to the bodies. The soft squelching of the ground made her vomit as she remembered the noises of the Old Man chewing on flesh. When her eyes flitted to the bodies, she puked again.

She still kept digging.

Once she had dug two decent holes for the bodies, she crumpled to the ground, panting heavily. Her arms ached, her legs ached, and her lungs burned.

And yet, she stood back up and kept going.

Iris dragged them to their final destination, kissing two cold, dirt-stained, foreheads before covering them in the dug-up soil. When she was finished, she grabbed the medium-sized stones she had found in Elkoan's house, marking each grave with one. Iris pulled out a pocket knife and began tediously carving names and dates into the make-shift grave markers.

Alexander Elkoan Born 1852 - Died 07/29/76

Tommi Thompson Born 1871 - Died 07/29/76

She didn't know the little girl's real name, and she felt almost forced to inscribe the name "Tommi Thompson" into the cold rock. She didn't have any real connection to the girl, but since her parents were most likely long dead, Iris felt no guilt about insinuating the child was hers.

Perhaps the girl would be the only child she'd ever have.

Iris felt adrenaline rush through her body as she narrowly avoided crashing, pulling at her horse's reins tightly. She had fallen asleep on her horse, but was comforted by the fact that Sylvan Pass was only 30 miles away. Her journey was coming to an end. She'd find whatever it was Gears had vaguely told her about and could finally go home.

Maybe put on a warm bath, drifting away until she returned to Tommy.

She pushed the thought away, but her mind just plagued her with another discordant memory.

Her bed was warm, and smelt like sage. She laughed softly as one Ovia Lorelei told her about her younger, wilder years. She had known the woman for a long time, but had only now found herself a bit enamored with her company. Iris found herself relaxing for the first time in a long time.

It was short-lived.

"Iris, have you ever thought about getting together?" She chuckled. "I know it sounds strange, the two of us, right? But what'd you think of staying by my side for just a while longer? I sure could use a sweet face like yours to brighten up the place." Lorelei had felt the blossoming connection that had been forming between them over the years.

Her voice was thick and smooth, like honey, and every word felt like velvet to Iris's ears. But as she wrapped an arm around her, she felt ice-cold.

"Are…" She paused, swallowing uncomfortably. "Are you asking for a deeper relationship?"

Lorelei looked away from her for a minute.

"In a way, yes." She could see her face tinted with a beautiful pink tinge, but it only made her feel more distant.

"You're right. It is strange.” The words felt like glass falling out of her mouth, shattering the romantic atmosphere.

She turned away from Lorelei, slithering out of the warm grasp, her skin crawling from the contact. Lorelei looked at her confused, only now starting to feel the chillness across her bare chest.

”I know it's untraditional, but haven't you always been against the world? Maybe after all this, we could go against it together?”

"I simply can't Ovia." Only her back faced Lorelei, and despite the lingering warmth in the sheets, she had never felt more alone with someone in the same room. It as if she was on another planet, lightyears away from her.

She laughed nervously. This couldn't be happening to her. "Can't do what? If you can’t stay, I get that, appearances are everything but-" Lorelei had wanted to say more, but the words died in her throat as Iris turned around.

Iris's gaze fell upon her. Or rather, it'd be more accurate to say she looked right through her. As if the idea of Lorelei even existing was wrong.

Iris's eyes glimmered with unbridled contempt.

"I can't settle down. Not even with you." The words were brittle and cheap. Like a plastic toy that broke after breaching the flimsy packaging.

Lorelei frowned, her lips curling ever so slightly. She'd never been embarrassed in her whole life as she felt now.

"Can't or won't?"

The words hung heavy in the air before Iris answered.

"Both. I can't. And I won't." She turned away from him once again.

"I don't need you, Ovia."

She continued after a moment, sounding nothing like the woman who had embraced her so warmly just moments ago and all these years. "The time with you was fun and all, but I refuse to be tied down like a wild hog."

Ovia bristled with anger. She knew that there was a risk to their relationship, and Iris had specific ambitions, but she couldn't help but feel betrayed.

The way Iris said her name clawed at her heart more than any other suitor had before.

"Get out Thompson."

And so she left.

Iris gripped the reins tighter. Lorelei was long gone now. Even if she had ever wanted to be with her long term, there was no chance of that now. Not that she had wanted to. Lorelei was- No, had been, a good person to her. But no matter how good a person may be or have been, there was never a reason to settle.

Iris belonged by herself.

Even her selfish desire to reunite with Tommy had left her alone. All her decisions had. Trusting in Maria led to Tommy's death, and besides Cain and Able, there was no other person she really knew.

She, in a sense, had always been alone.

As she finally approached Sylvan Pass, she let out a small sigh.

The worst was finally behind her.

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