I know a lot of this might be confusing for a finale... it's dependent on the stories before it... just bear with me. You should listen to this while reading it (I think it's nonexplicit)
(especially listen to Who lives, who dies, who tells the story)
I can't wait!!!
Why were mirrors invented? Humans knew vanity was a sin from the very beginning. So why try to tempt people with hatred?
I can't even bring myself to raise my eyes to the disheveled wicked version of myself. How did those perfect black waves turn into the straight-edge mess they appear to be now? My face is paler than I expected it to be when I finally shift my gaze up higher. How did I...
"Carson," I sob, knowing that he can barely hear me from across the long hall. "When did I become..."
No. I shift away from the mirror to face the desk on the opposite side of the study, an expression of hatred passing over my face. I don't have time for self-pity. I don't have time to question who I am, and it's a waste of time to just pretend that this is all a phase.
I will enjoy being wicked.
"What?" Carson's voice drifts down the hall, releasing me of any innocence still caved inside of me.
"Don't you dare talk back to me!" I scream, trying to stand on the edge of my boots. "I can't even believe you would dare to-"
"Vedette!" he interrupts me again. Foolish boy. "I never interrupt-"
"You just did," I hiss. "Now go. Leave me be. Why don't you just reminisce in your own room?"
He shakes his head, all crossed arms and painstakingly irritating expressions. Oh, how I hate these clods.
"I think we need to talk"
"You dare to think that!" I scream, already at my wit's end. Why do people insist on making a mockery of me today? Is this just a terrible day? "Go! Leave me be before I make any sort of alterations to your current arrangements!"
He swallows, squirming under my steely gaze. "Of course. I just wanted to suggest that maybe we should talk at some point? I think it'd help you"
"Then you'd be wrong," I spit through clenched teeth. "Go!"
My painfully idiotic cousin bolts out of the room before I can twist any more of his words. Good; I don't need the miserable wretch anyhow.
"Alright, mother..." I stare down at the basement that's almost a replication of the one that used to hold me. Even when Mayweather upsized to this drafty, dull house, she couldn't even refurbish. Typical insolence. "Where are your files..."
Once again, it seems that an explanation could be in order. Not everyone can be as gifted and clever as me. Now, perhaps the beginning would work.
The wheel. Ah... I love it when a plan comes together, don't you?
Of course, I should be using its true name; The wheel of fortune reversed. Said to display the lack of control and unwelcome change. Haplessly wonderful. Well, darling, I should tell you that while I had my doubts about the twisted nature of this side of me, but I'm beginning to enjoy it. After all, I'm in the place I was meant to be. I'm changing history with every breath.
The decorations on this specific Tarot card display a sphynx riding upon a wheel, where the devil rides below. As the days turn, one follows the other, popping up in intervals. You can't ever be both good and evil at the same time. Everything is a good idea with bad intentions or a great sacrifice to end them all. The rest is just killing time.
When that wheel stared me in the face, I knew I had won. I guess you could say it was the trump card, no matter the repercussions. Carson and I traveled in less than a second to his home, a familiar place for us both.
Did I make it easy to find us on purpose? Or was it a small oversight on my part? The truth is, I am mad. Everyone else lives in a world of wonder; I'm stuck in Wonderland.
Let's just give her a second to find us. I promise myself over and over that everything will be revealed.
This is the day my reign begins.
For now, though, my hands run over the dusty boxes before me, all containing Mayweather's hidden documents. Their musty scent and dusty glow capture all essence of everything I've spent years working for. It all comes down to today, to a single wicked deed. Maybe I should trick myself; it's one bad thing to save the world. After this, I don't have to ruin lives. I get to be me.
Who is she though, I wonder? Am I the girl who nearly killed Caddy? Or the one who kissed her? Am I the queenly Sphynx riding atop the world or the devil patiently waiting in the darkness?
To be quite honest, I haven't the foggiest idea.
Finally, blissfully, that lid comes off, thrown haphazardly to the floor. I breathe in the scent, catching a whiff of my late mother's trademark perfume as I thumb my way through notebooks.
"December 2nd," I note down, the words slipping off my tongue easily. "My experiment has only just begun. I haven't told Nœl of any of my misdeeds. Nevertheless, they will believe in me.
"January 3rd. The subject is still growing strongly. Despite being taken from her original family, she seems to be warming up to me quite fondly. If I didn't have to wipe the brat's memory every so often... Still, she is making steady progress, despite her failure to receive Anima"
I nearly drop that paper right there.
Naturally, I had assumed Mayweather hadn't given birth to me. It was also unlikely that she would have created me solely from her experiments. But... she did take me from my home? She robbed me in the night, black midnight spilling like ink as she tore through the streets.
Did she set their house on fire too?
"March 9th," my voice trembles inside the dusty room. "She believes me to be her mother. Or at least her creator. A star, I believe. Vedette will do nicely"
I skip ahead, trying to dash the despair from my eyes, the pinpricks of tears stabbing into them. No, she didn't love me. She wasn't there for me, and I won't trust anything she says here.
"I am alone," the words come out of my mouth slowly... dripping like acid from my tongue. "Vedette has been secretly cultivating her magic while I leave. To think that she was able to grow her magic is simply psychotic. How was she able to use magic? Her body rejected Anima! So how did her body gain the ability to even stand up to me? Unless..."
No. I am not her. I am not-
"I had the wrong child," I can almost hear Mayweather's trademark hiss. "When I killed that other girl I thought had Anima... she didn't die. Vedette never had the potential to awaken the Anima inside of her because she never had it. She was a useless mistake on my part, and now she hates me. Everything is falling apart at the seams.
"There was no love in my heart for her," the tears betray me, splashing onto the stage. The words I've already read grow splotched as my stomach twists. She thought I could have had Anima? But then why did I have magic in the first place? Who even am I? Why am I the one person in this world with the capacity for immense power? Was I born to be the sick monster deading your words, mother? If I can even call you mother, that is.
"However," there are more cracks hidden in my voice than in the ceiling above me. "Despite the lack of devotion toward her, I wanted to give her advice. I set her on the wrong path; with enough persuasion, I could have led her to Aman's side or allowed her to cultivate her powers to save this unruled world. Perhaps she could have even become the next goddess. After all, ever since my lord Aman has passed, this world hasn't seen any real ruler. In my striving for power, I forgot about her ideals. She could have saved the broken human civilization. I could have helped her change the world if I only had a little more time. Funny that a time-traveler is wishing for more time.
"I doubt we will ever see each other again," Mayweather's cursive becomes more rushed, slipping down onto the lines below. "She was a treasure for me. Perhaps I've always had the capacity for love, no matter how much I attempted to rip my own heart from my chest. Vedette... if you are to ever find yourself in the same position that I am in right now when you think you have to leave the one person you love... know that there are more options. To love a goal is to be placid and fake. Lives are more valuable than power. I feel as if I'm slipping. I can barely even remember the words I place upon this parchment. In the morning, it is doubtful that I shall feel the same way I do now. I know it's not much coming from the woman who tortured you but- why am I even writing this?"
I blink back my surprise at the words. All of a sudden, it's as if a new person is writing; the manuscript becomes clean and crisp like she's stone-cold sober. "I must find that little girl that escaped me years ago. Perhaps I could use my nephew to bait her in? I'd imagine they're the same age. Yes... I can almost imagine it now. Vedette, I can only have one real piece of advice for you; if they burn your heart, set the world on fire. An eye for an eye makes the whole world fair, as I always told you.
Be proud. Be dangerous. But most of all? Be wicked"
I throw the notebook down with a roar. Really? What about the words before? I almost felt... no- I did feel a glimmer of hope for only a second.
Perhaps there is truly is no hope for someone as wicked as I.
A large hammering comes at the door, knocking me out of my delusions.
"Hey, Vedette!" Caddy's shrill scream comes at the door as I race up the stairs two at a time, brandishing a fresh new deck of cards. "I'm pissed!"
"Fuck," I curse, staring at the grand french doors that form a wall between us. Before I can do anything, a large pink ax slices through the black wood of the door.
"Here's Caddy!" she shrieks, kicking down the door. I fumble with my cards, pulling out a red queen. I don't even care which suit; whether it's daggers that come out or fire that burns her to a crisp, I'm fine. As long as I don't have to face the consequences.
"What the fuck was that all about?" she screams, creating more pink energy inside her palm. I stare at it, entranced.
"You figured out how to use Anima"
"Yeah," she snorts, throwing a sphere of rose-tinted light at my head. I simply twist out of the way, contorting my body. I steal the smile from her face, pulling more cards from my bag.
"Looks like you might need to work on your aim," I point out as she growls. Despite her claims to have 'mastered' Anima, I notice the way her body's trembling, the small tick contained inside her shield of callous pity.
"Look," she runs straight up to me, trying to land a right hook. It's almost cute how much she's failing. "I don't want to fight"
"Which is why you're fighting," I guess. "How quaint"
"Just shut up, okay! I did your stupid trials. I did everything. Now let Carson-"
"Actually," I interrupt her, throwing the cards still piled in my hand down. Sure enough, the queen of diamonds stares up at me as ruby-red daggers surround Caddy, hovering in the air. "You haven't finished every trial"
"Lied," I smile, savoring each second of the rush I'm stuck in. "Oh, Caddy... there are so many things I could subject you to. If only you-"
"Stop it!" A familiar voice breaks out from above us. I glance up, narrowing my eyes. Carson.
"Okay," Caddy slouches against her right leg, pointing experimentally toward her dagger. "I have literally no idea what you're going to say, but trust me; I can handle Vedette"
"Doubt it," I tell her, pulling the floating knives closer to her. "You can't do anything to stop this"
"No," Carson saunters down the stairs slowly. "But I think I know what could stop you"
He produces a piece of paper that immediately causes my gaze to waver. My knees grow weak at the sight of it.
The last tarot card.
"The devil," Carson reads from the front. He spins the card, showing us the reversed picture of the demon. Despite his confidence, I can see his face growing pale. "When upside down, it means the end of codependency. It symbolizes the protection of deals and wagers"
"No," I whisper. "You wouldn't"
He stares back at me, already wavering. "I don't want to hurt you, Vedette. I promise that no matter what happens, I won't hurt you,"
The fall of the hero. Descent. How could I not see it before?
It was never me that Nœl should have been afraid of.
"I want you to leave," Carson whispers. "Please leave us alone. I'll... on my side of the deal, I give Caddy the strength to use Anima so you don't have to stay with us"
"No!" I shriek. The daggers begin to shake, convulsing and spasming. "No, don't seal it!"
"Your hold on power here is hurting you!" Carson yells back. "I'm trying to help you! You're damaged!"
"What do you know about damaged!" I scream back. Caddy sucks in a small amount of breath.
"Carson may not want to hurt you," she lifts her hands. "But I would"
"No! You wouldn't dare! Carson, I urge you to ret-"
Each word stabs me like a knife to my heart. Why am I cursed with intelligence in this world! Just because he thought of one smart thing everything is falling apart! The wretched fools! "I seal the contract"
And just like that, Caddy's pink energy is sent straight to me as the world seems to pop like a bubble, the noise like the explosion of a champagne bottle.
Most depictions of time traveling display a swirl of blue and red, surrounding you like a vortex. To my knowledge, that isn't how it works.
Instead, I'm dropped straight into an old-fashioned elevator, the magnanimous ticks of clocks surrounding me growing maddening. A singular clock-shaped door obscures the world from view as I sit there, silently cursing my luck.
1958. A year that would have been normal at any other time. However, as soon as I'm flung from the elevator, Caddy's atomic pink energy splashes out onto the ground, spreading out. For a moment, I think the future I've foreseen thousands of times won't come true. But when the shriek of despair breaks the air, I know it's all futile.
A girl lays at my feet, her curly red hair splays on the dirty ground of the meadow I've landed in. Before I can dash back into the elevator, it disappears, trapping me inside this time, at least temporarily.
The girl is at least three years younger than Caddy, but that's not where the similarities end. I notice a small glow coming from her hands, twisting my stomach into a thousand knots.
A pink glow shifts back and forth in her hand, a little more controlled than Caddy's, but still the same.
I've killed the other girl with Anima. I've begun the story.
"Heather!" a woman with dark skin mottled with bright green lines like a poisonous lizard's runs up the hill, a gleeful smile spread across her face. "I just wanted to come up here to... YOU!"
Her voice sounds even more broken than how my heart feels. "WHAT DID YOU DO TO HEATHER?"
The badge on her jacket screams up to me. The mark of the time-travelers. And it's not like I can't sense the power inside of her. No... I can already tell Mayweather was wrong.
It might have been more than 100 years before, but I wasn't the only person born with magic. Not only that, but she's a time traveler. A time traveler who just had someone close to her... die.
"I was trusted to protect her," the serpentine time traveler falls to her knees. Her monstrous form...
She was born a villain. She was destined to destroy us.
I can't even work through the confusion. It's like when you know you've finished the puzzle... but you don't want to. Everything clicks into place, no matter how I form it.
"You... you killed her! Tell me your name, you inept time traveler"
She towers above me, but I don't waver. "Vedette. Vedette... of the stars"
"I'll remember that," she notes ruefully. "Nœl always thought you were the one who'd become the next time god..."
She clenches her fist, a look of pure hatred spread across her face. "They'll speak my name. In fact, they'll all learn it. Quardiż will end the world!"
And somehow, as the green light of envy and pure loathing passes over the world like a storm cloud, I can believe her.
Our world ends every single day. It's only until it's unfixable that we ever even notice.
How truly vexing it is to be human.