Fuck. Color coating is hard. Picasso will remain red. We'll make Red blue. The bright green is obnoxious.
So, Red was at the door. I was ready to run. It looked like another trap to me but that never seems to stop Picasso. She went right ahead and let Red in. And unfortunately, it was to our favor. It gets really difficult to scold her about doing stupid things when it occasionally works to our favor. It reinforces this insane notion she has that she can do whatever the fuck she wants and everything will work out for her.
It's going to get me killed one of these days.
So, Red immediately stepped in when Picasso opened the door.
"H-Hello?! I-I found it for you! I've been good! I-I swear!" she declared and stared at Picasso expectantly offering no explanation for what the fuck she was talking about. She was fidgety beyond belief. She looked... terrified. I moved past her and checked the hall behind her. I thought someone might have chased her up here. Not that that would have really explained how she found us but I was grasping for any explanation I could get my hands on for what the fuck was going on. Her appearance seemed so out of place, the most alarming thing about it being that she showed up with a mask around her neck and what appeared to be a sheathed katana around her shoulder. It was pressed hard against her back underneath the backpack she had on. Where the fuck did she get that?!
I don't even think she looked as I passed her by. She just stared up desperately at Picasso. SO confusing was the situation that Picasso was actually speechless for once in her life. She quietly stared back and tilted her head.
"L-L-L-L-L-Look!" she yelled getting more agitated as she took her little backpack off her back and held it up to Picasso. I think she was working herself into a panic.
I pulled it out of her hands and gave a cautious peek into the bag...
'No way!' I thought to myself. I fully unzipped it so I could get a good look. I had to be sure and I was fucking right. C4. The Backpack was FULL of C4.
I looked up to see Red nervously glancing back and forth from me to Picasso. I held it open for Picasso to see before zipping it up and slinging it onto my own shoulder. I wasn't about to give that back.
"S-See! I got it! I-I-I also found the statue! That was everything you told me... I d-did good... I-I'm good... Right?" she asked and pleaded at us desperately.
Picasso walked passed Red and looked both ways in the hall. This made Red squeal and hug herself facing down. She was shaking like crazy. Took her a good half a minute to finally look up. She seemed relieved.
I, however, was getting anxious. This was taking too fucking long. We needed to have left five minutes ago.
"O-Oh. S-Sorrry. How st-stupid! You want to see it," she said sliding against the wall to get around Picasso, for some reason deliberately going out of her way not to touch Picasso. "C-Come on!"
Picasso looked at me, she had been surprisingly quiet this whole time. I guess maybe this was one of those types of things that leave you speechless? I mean, I wouldn't know myself. I'm always speechless.
I motioned at the window. I still very much thought we should be escaping through it. She shook her head no and started following Red who had a little head start on us now. I let out a loud groan as I followed her to let her know how bad an idea I thought this was. She continued to do whatever the fuck she wanted to do, like she always does.
So, Red led us to a room on the third floor and pulled out a key and unlocked it for us going in ahead of us. There were two people tied to chairs in here. When we came in they started fidgeting and struggling against their bindings making muffled noises against their cloth gags. I think one of them might have been crying.
The way Red casually walked into the room and motioned at them was kind of surprising.
"I-I'm sorry about the witnesses! Th-They were a-already in the room... I tr-tried to kill them for you but e-every time I tried to cut them I get s-s-sent flying across the room! I f-figured, if they were a big enough i-issue, y-you could get rid of them! W-Was that b-bad?" she asked in a sheepish scared tone. Her voice slowly got quieter over the course of the sentences like a child explaining something to an angry parent already convinced they were in deep shit.
Picasso didn't acknowledge her... like at all. She moved around the room looking for something. I took the opportunity to move over to Red's hostages. I wanted to see if hurting them would really send you across the room. I gave the crying one a little flick on the nose. Harmless. It didn't send me flying either. They did, however, start crying hysterically, bawling their eyes out. Before I could experiment further with the concept, my attention was drawn back to Red as she started talking again.
"O-Oh! I-I... S-Sorry. I keep doing that. S-So, SOOO, s-sorry! N-Never again! I-I swear it," said Red moving to the closet. She did something to the top left of the closet's back wall and then that whole back wall slid open revealing a set of stairs. "It's down here!" she declared leading the way down. Me and Picasso shared a look and then we followed her.
There were a lot of stairs. Like, a WHOLE lot. My fucking god. We definitely went further down than three floors, the stairs started like a stairwell but at one point they just became one continuous diagonal. They FINALLY ended with a door, which was locked. Not that that mattered. I think Red was in the middle of explaining how she couldn't figure out the lock when Picasso tackled her way through it... old wood I guess. The whole place looked old, the entire room was coated in a layer of Dust. There were a few corpses on the floor, three doors leading somewhere else, and, of course, the thing we had been looking for was there too, a large marble statue of what I am assuming was Hecate fixed to the center of the room.
It didn't have a spot of dust on it. It looked brand new... magnificent. She was beautiful. All three of them were. The statue was three figures of the same women facing in three different directions, each one with a stick in hand.
But my marveling over them was interrupted by Red breaking into another little episode of pleading.
"S-See! There it is. Th-That makes me a good girl r-right?!" she demanded to know desperately. We both stared at her. I wanted to ask so many questions. I wanted to say so many reassuring things... she needed them. She really, really, really needed them.
When she didn't get an answer, she crouched over and hugged herself rocking back and forth. "It's okay. Y-You're a good girl. Or you wouldn't be a-alive. So good.... s-so good," she said making a desperate effort to reassure herself.
...What the fuck had happened to her in the three weeks since I last saw her?
I continued to stare for a moment but I was still very much in rush mode. I didn't quite feel safe in this place, I knew I wasn't going to feel safe until we were the fuck out of Black Lake.
I went to go check the doors to see where they went but Picasso grabbed me by my shoulder and shook her head at me. It didn't occur to me at the time because operating without ever saying a word is kind of more comfortable and normal to me, but my god was she being quiet. Still not a single word out of her.
She tapped my backpack and then pointed at the statue.
'Guess it's time to rip this town out of Fracture's overly self-entitled hands and give it back to the gods,' I told myself as I kneeled down and got to work setting up the C4. I found everything I would need to rig up a timed detonation.
I looked expectantly over at Red. Just where the fuck did she get all this?
"W-What?" she asked, frightened by the sudden turn of attention to her. "I-It's the good st-stuff, I s-swear! St-Stole it from the bikers like I was told to! I-I was g-good! ST-STOP STARING AT ME!" she yelled tearing up in a panic.
'Bikers' huh... probably timberwolves?
I looked away and finished rigging the statue to blow. I wanted to reach out to comfort her but I'm pretty sure she would have started screaming for her life.
The little digital display started counting down. Picasso waved her hand and a Path portal violently ripped open. She spared no time disappearing inside it. I followed her and stopped a few steps in. I looked over my shoulder to find Red still standing there in a panicked uncertain huff.
"I... H-Hello?!" she called at the portal. "Uh... Okay. B-Bye?" she said looking at the bomb then back at the portal. I reached out and pulled her in making her make an odd yelping noise. She screamed once inside in an absolute panic over her surroundings, which was odd. I mean sure, it was the path. It's a spooky, discomforting, and weird place but you'd think you had just poured a bucket of maggots on her the way she was acting. She squealed and broke into a full sprint after Picasso and dove out of the Path when Picasso opened an exit portal.
I can't say where we landed but it was some place safe. Red curled up into the corner shaking violently and pawing at her face with her palms like she was trying to get something off that she didn't want to touch.
I hate landing somewhere new when we travel with the Path. Now we needed a new car and to figure out where we were...
All stuff I was gonna have to figure out. And I did. I pulled around in the new vehicle later that afternoon. We had to keep moving. We pathed here so it wouldn't take them long to find us. I waited as Picasso packed up our stuff and held the door open for Red, who nervously crawled into the car and then curled up on the floor in the back seat.
Finally Picasso hopped into the passenger's seat and stared at me.
I wasn't sure what she was waiting for... I started to pull out a map so she could pick out a random direction for us to head for when she finally spoke for the first time in hours. "We're keeping her. Drive," she said in a grim, serious tone. Then she immediately adopted her usual big goofy grin, let her chair back, and threw her feet up on the dash board.
"HURRAY UP! I want to be somewhere with a Golden Coral. I'm gonna eat ALL THE EGGS. You're gonna be like 'No way' but then I'M GONNA DO IT and it's gonna be great! Hurry up, hurry up, HURRY UP!" she demanded. I immediately regretted the brief joy hearing her talk gave me because it looks like I'm not gonna be able to get her to shut up again.
In fact, I think she might be talking into overtime to make up for all that time she spent quiet because she hasn't stopped since we started driving. She's even been sleep talking, although not quiet as fast.
Can't fucking win with her.
At least the thing with Black Lake is gone. We even managed to save someone.
In a comment, Fracture mentioned that only half the people in Black Lake died. It's hard to imagine everyone didn't die if it was as bad as the Archivist was predicting, all the fears swarming in to claim the place at once.
In fact, he mentioned that they were rioting, which I think implies that the town is still standing... but if they swarmed the place I couldn't imagine anything would still be standing.
Whatever happened, it seems Fracture has lost control of the place. That's really all that matters.