The streets of Grismara were filled with screams, a croaking chorus of terror and fury. Of dark appetites that could never be sated.
Even strapped to a chair far beneath his former estate, Victor heard their din over the competing newscasts droning from the newsfeeds. He and Lucy were the only ones left now. Despite initial evidence, the last batch was clearly another failure. When had he injected himself? Three nights past?
Disregarding the taut wrist-straps, his outsize greenish fingers continued to twitch madly of their own volition. He needed to collect himself. Lucy was depending on him. They all were. He must prepare another effort. He was so close.
Lucy's furious assault on the door jolted him awake. So. Her too. He had seen the telltale signs. He had even gone so far as to assure her that he would never let it happen, secretly vowing to at least be there when it did. Now only static flickered from all screens but one. The inner perimeter had been breached. He had perhaps an hour left before they scraped and burrowed their way in. The formidable Lady Darkos had sworn that she would return to retrieve them within the hour, but it appeared that fate had finally come to claim its due.
At least he could fulfill his promise and be with Lucy, at the end. Even now, she clawed at the door, shrieking for ingress. Unbuckling the final restraints, he lurched for the door, dislodging flasks and crucibles in his wake. None of it mattered now. As he undid the locks, Lucy began to growl incomprehensibly from the other side. He felt himself near choking on his grief.
Just as he began to pull the door open, he caught sight of himself in the mirror. And stopped short, staring. His face looked...less monstrous. Still grotesque, but...far less. The last batch had worked. His Vitalus Serum could indeed stave off the worst effects of the Contagion.
Then the door was swinging inward and Lucy was falling into his arms. Through her lank strands of black hair, he saw the mob she had been running from, scrabbling and shrieking towards them, so close he could smell their fetid breath. Then together he and Lucy slammed the door in their mottled faces. His daughter’s eyes took in the healthy flush of his face and slowly widened with realization. And then determination. Their people could be saved, they just needed to hang on a little longer.
Then the hordes were gouging furrows in the steel door while he and Lucy cast wildly around for objects to use as a barricade.