Chapter 2:

Chapter 2


Elizabeth packed away all her equipment from the lab. She cleaned every tool, extinguished every flame, and stowed away all the excess reagents. She twisted the valves and opened the pipes that ran through the castle and into the laboratory. A calm stream of water poured from the faucet. Elizabeth washed her hands and splashed some water on her face.

"Ugh! I feel exhausted! I must've overworked myself today." Elizabeth walked over to the door and grabbed her belongings. She fixed a fabric mask over her nose and mouth and made her way out the lab and out the castle. As she made her exit the torches near the king's chambers blew out. The castle gates opened, and Elizabeth stepped into the courtyard. The town square wasn't too far, and she luckily had a house set up there. Elizabeth tried her best to ignore the state of the world around her. The burning flesh, the rotted flesh, the diseased flesh. Countless piles of bodies and corpses. The mud and shit lining the cobblestone streets made Elizabeth feel lucky to have one of the few houses in the kingdom with the new plumbing system, all thanks to the money she made being a royal doctor and surgeon. Sickly livestock wandered around next to equally sickly people. A plague doctor scattered mint and rose on a corpse while a priest blessed their poor soul, all before the body was chucked onto another pile. Flies swarmed the air. Fleas and frogs jumped over scurrying rats and rodents. Ethros really was crumbling.

As Elizabeth walked, that unsettling feeling only grew stronger within her. It bubbled up in her belly and soon it spread and washed over her entire body. Elizabeth's face slowly turned flushed, a bead of sweat dripping down her forehead. Her head started to pound. Her eyes began to strain. She could feel her muscles tense up, like a row of daggers piercing her back and into her spine. Elizabeth felt as if she was on fire but freezing at the same time.

It's a lot hotter outside than I remember. She thought, unaware or unaccepting of her fate. Elizabeth quickly picked up her pace. She fiercely unlocked and threw open her front door. Rushing inside, she immediately ran towards her faucet. Releasing the valves, opening the pipes up as much as they possibly could, Elizabeth splashed copious amounts of water onto her face. She desperately tried to cool herself off. She just felt hotter and hotter. Her breathing became heavy, almost to the point of a pant. With no other option, Elizabeth stripped off her dress, revealing her rounded body and letting the cool air breeze past her inferno skin. It didn't help. Her chest soon felt tight. Her lungs felt constricted. Her heart felt compressed. Elizabeth keeled over in a furious coughing fit. Her throat became sore. A searing, aching pain radiated all across her body. Elizabeth felt weak, hopeless. Her legs shook and her knees buckled. Collapsing to the floor, Elizabeth clutched her stomach as she coughed more and more. She tore off her mask to help circulate more air into her system. Her eyes were shut as tight as they could be, but when she peaked them open, she saw her white mask had turned a dark crimson. Elizabeth was left stunned, unable to process the reality in front of her. And before she could let out a single word, the executioner's symptom took hold. Elizabeth vomited all over the floor.

"I'm..." she whispered. "I'm plaguebound..." Her words gagging, horrifying, no soul ever wished to ever hear those words spoken to them. It was a death sentence, a shot through the heart, something that no one could muster up enough strength to overcome. Even the strongest, most steel willed person would splinter if told those words. And here she was, the spitting image of purity having her innocence ripped away. Elizabeth's eyes vibrated in her skull, her brain struggled to process and understand what was happening. And once again, before she could say anything, anything at all, Elizabeth expelled the vile bile from her system. She continued to throw up, over and over again. Each time more violent than the last. A vicious cycle, what a cruel twist of fate the cosmos had thrusted upon her. Poor sweet Elizabeth. As she continued to retch, a painful rash spread across her arms and legs. The breakout of hives webbed itself into a pattern of veins and rings. The pain became unbearable. Her arms and legs quaked as they could barely support her own weight in this endeavor. Tears streamed down Elizabeth's cheeks as she watched her vomit slowly turn from green to red. "Why..." she cried. "I was so close. I was... so... close..." Elizabeth finally fell to the floor. In that moment she took her last breath, laying in a pool of her own blood, tears, and vomit. A strong gust of wind blew through her house, snuffing the flames of the torches inside.