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Tangled Souls

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Their name is Frisk.

They wake up in a bed of golden flowers, all of them thick and well cared for. The juice of their stems sticks to them as they get up, brushing the dirt off of them and walking ahead.

The halls are purple, surprisingly bright. It looks like someone put artificial lights in them. Whatever they are, they worked well enough to allow flowers to bloom from beneath layers of leaves. The trees hug the walls, stretching up to overhead to give the area a dappled effect. Their footsteps echo through the halls as they delve deeper in.

The door puzzle takes a few tries before they realize they have to only step on the outside ones, making a mental note to read the instructions first. Inside, they find quickly that they are no longer alone: monsters, devastatingly powerful creatures capable of mass destruction, getting only stronger as they kill more.

Their breath picks up, heart pounding. They can feel all the eyes on them, cursing under their breath. Their head swings around to look for something to defend themselves. They rush over to a tree, jumping up a breaking a branch off. Teeth grit, they charge at a monster that looks like a frog. It turns to dust in an instant. The others scatter, running deeper in.

Good, they’ve made their point.

Wait… what if there are more? The thought makes their blood run cold. They got lucky and killed that one while it was off-guard, what if the others come back with friends to kill them? They shake as they look for somewhere to hide, but the door's shut behind them. They can’t find any switch to open it again. Well, it looks like everyone's gone? Maybe they'll just be left alone...

Frisk freezes as footsteps come from down the hall, the sound oddly muffled as though wearing house shoes. It feels like they're breathing too loud, heart pounding in their little chest. They dart over behind a tree, trying to hide behind it. Their hands clap over their mouth to try to force themselves quieter. It feels like they’re suffocating. Slowly they slide down, hugging their legs to them in hopes that whatever it is, they won’t see him.

“Hello?” The voice is deep and gentle. Deceptively so.

“They were in here!” A shrill, uncertain voice says.

“Ribbit Ribbit! (They killed my brother!)”

The footsteps come closer, followed distantly by little hops. They get close, too close. Frisk holds their breath, eyes wide. A face pears around the corner: a horned beast with a golden beard.

“There you are chi- ah!”

Frisk swings the stick in a wide arc, hitting fur and robes. The monster rears up and they brace themselves for an attack.

But it doesn’t come. The giant beast merely raises his arms in a peaceful gesture. “Now now, I’m sure we can work this out little one. I’m Asgore, caretaker of Home. Would you like to come to my house?”

Frisk knows better than to trust it. He probably has something there. Frisk runs a CHECK on the monster.

*ASGORE DREEMURR 80 ATK 80 DEF
*King of a ruined kingdom.

Their eyes widen upon seeing those stats. They’re going to die.

They run as fast as their little legs can take them, darting further into “Home.” To their horror, there are monsters everywhere. None as big as Asgore, but they have numbers. A few of them try to block the path, but Frisk darts right on by.

They slam the door on a room with a few levers, rushing to the next door, but it’s locked. A few monsters are over there, but as far as they can tell, they have to pull a lever. It’s very clearly marked. Stick in front of them, they charge forward and slam it, monsters rushing out of their way. Good. The door opens and they go right back to running, fueled by adrenaline.

This tactic works until they hit a room full of spikes. There’s water on the sides, but they never learned how to swim. It looks too deep to just wade through.

They stand there, paralyzed as their brain scrambles for a solution. The room is quiet, but as time ticks on in their indecision, footsteps come up from behind them: Asgore.

With only the choice to FIGHT, they turn, brandishing their stick and stabbing at him. He takes it, the stick doing next to nothing against him.

He looks at them with a sad smile, kneeling down. “You poor thing… you must be terrified. I realize I have only made this worse, but I did not expect you to make it this far on your own.” He reaches a hand out. “Would you like me to show you around Home?”

What other choice do they have? They can’t run backwards with the spikes there, and he takes up most of the hallway. No matter what they do, they die, and at least a monster might make it fast. Tentatively, they nod.

He smiles and goes over, holding his hand down for Frisk to take it. They wrap their fingers around one of his, swallowing a lump in their throat. He steps forward, moving onto the spikes. As he approaches, the spikes draw into the ground as he goes along some pattern.

“See? Not so bad at all,” he says. He lets go of their hand, stopping when he reaches the end of the hall, waiting.

Frisk knows they could just dart the other way, now knowing the pattern, but they’d just hit the door again. Where can they go but forward? Staring warily at the large beast, they inch forward.

He chuckles, “I won’t bite, I promise.”

They glare at him, huffing. They do decide to come closer though. True to his word, he doesn’t bite. He holds out his hand again, but when they don’t take it, he backs off.

“I’m glad you seem a little calmer. You seemed so scared earlier. Is that why you…?” He trails off, staring at their hands. Frisk looks down and sees the dust sticking to them.

What do they even say to that?

He doesn’t push it, just leading them along, helping with puzzles and stopping to talk to monsters along the way. Frisk can hear their whispers behind them.

“I heard they killed someone.”

“Ribbit! Ribbit! (They did! Before he even saw them!)”

“They don’t seem so bad…?”

“The King really is the nicest.”

“He’s the best.”

“Maybe they’re scared? They’re still in stripes…”

None of them talk to Frisk’s face though.

They come along to some dummy. Asgore says, “Here in Home there is no need to fight. Monsters are friendly and do not wish to harm you. So long as you do not fight, they will not hurt you.” He takes on a grave look, “This is not the case beyond Home. Monsters are not evil by nature, but imprisonment and fear have driven them mad. I do not know if they can be reasoned with. If you have any intentions to leave, then please, practice here with this dummy or with me.”

They consider the dummy. They could beat it up, but would that prove? If anything, they might just realize how weak Frisk really is. Frisk can feel the eyes on them, monsters peaking around corners and through doors, thinking they’re out of sight. Maybe if they play along, they can survive? Or maybe monsters aren't so bad. Frisk hugs the dummy instead, prompting a smile from Asgore.

“And you were just scared too, weren’t you?” He goes over and musses their hair with one of his giant paws. It’s a bit intimidating, but… it’s nice. He takes their hand again, leading them deeper into the ruins, idly talking about the various plant life he’s grown. Frisk doesn’t really care about flowers, but listens anyways. He also tells them the names of every room. Of course, once they reach “Trigger Puzzle 3” they realize this guy is terrible at naming and also has had way too much time on his hands.

A few monsters chat with them, even if not long. One gives them gold, or maybe they just drop it? The little ghost-bug seemed nervous.

They won’t lie, it’s kind of nice. That said, every time they feel their guard slipping, they alert themselves again, not wanting anyone to take advantage. But they don’t.

It’s not too long of a walk to a little house completely surrounded by gold, false lights and flowers of all kinds, a large tree in the center. There’s just enough of a path to get inside the house. He takes them inside, leading them to a room.

 

“You can stay here if you wish, but feel free to explore the rest of Home if you’d like,” he says. “Just… please be good. I’m sure that you must’ve been so scared coming down here and that’s why…” He trails off, looking sadly at the dust on their hands. “It was an honest mistake, I understand.”

Guilt coils in their chest no matter how much they try to tell themselves this is a ruse. The understanding just makes it feel worse. These monsters don’t seem too bad, not like the ones outside, and they murdered one. How can Asgore just be so sympathetic? They crawl into the bed, curling up in the sheets. Asgore turns the lights off, but they don’t sleep.

Chapter Text

At some point Frisk grows tired of lying there with spiraling thoughts and dust on their hands. They take their stick and start walking around the house. There’s a room that’s apparently being renovated, completely locked. The door’s too big and sturdy for them to bring down. Next to it there’s a mirror. They decide to look into it.

Dust or not, it’s just Frisk.

They move around, peaking downstairs. The stairs are apparently also being renovated? There’s a sign on them saying they shouldn’t go down because the roof is unstable. Sounds like a good reason to them. The smell of floral tea wafts from the kitchen. A cup has been left on the otherwise immaculate stove, being kept warm by the gentle heat. They smile and drink it, enjoying the warmth as it slides down their throat.

They wash the cup, and their hands, in the sink, looking at the flowers in the seemingly unnecessary windowsill.

… why is that flower snoring?

Cautiously, they poke a curled up buttercup with their stick, ready to run the other way should they need to. In response, the flower unfurls, yawning with seemingly impossible little fangs as it wakes up.

“Howdy! ^u^” The flower chirps.

Frisk just looks wide eyed at it. Like… sure there were sentient carrot things in the ruins and some kind of living jelly, so maybe this shouldn’t feel weird, but it does.

“Oh! A human! =D Are you going to stay here? Asgore is really the best, isn’t he? <3” The strange flower moves around in the pot of dirt it’s in.

They aren’t sure if they should question this. Instead, they just start backing away slowly.

“O-O Ah!!! Wait! Human, come back! ^^’’’ Floweys won’t hurt you! I’m Buttercup! Buttercup the Flowey! ^w^ Asgore named me himself! It’s best name yet!!!” The weird flower puffs itself up, grinning dopily about the name. What in the world is a Flowey anyways? Well, probably a breed of monster, Frisk is guessing. Even for a monster though, this thing just seems weird.

Cautiously, they poke the flower with their stick a few times.

“UwU? What’s this?” Buttercup asks, head moving around as it tries to catch the stick. It strikes! The flowerpot shatters against the cabinet. Frisk, startled, then hurls the stick – and therefore the flower – across the room. They hit the wall and clatter to the ground, soil getting everywhere.

“Flowey dizzy. @~@”

Frisk snatches their stick back and decides to be anywhere but the kitchen. Wandering through the ruins, they find Asgore tending to some of the flowers, some of those little fluttery things surrounding him. What were they called, Whimsies? No… Whimsun, right? He’s reassuring them, but they seem to get overwhelmed easily, crying. He’s gentle anyways.

When they notice Frisk, they scream and scatter, leaving the room. Frisk sighs, but they understand… What else should a murderer expect? They walk over to Asgore.

“Good morning my child. Did you sleep…” He stops short, looking Frisk up and down. Something sad touches his eyes, though he still smiles down at them,“Well, it was your first night. I’m sure you’ll sleep better once you have time to adjust.” He pats their head with one of those huge paws of his. They’re calloused, but still soft and gentle. “Did you see the tea I left for you? I would’ve put it at your bedside, but it would have gotten cold.”

Frisk nods and mumbles, “Thanks.”

“Ah, so you can talk. I wasn’t sure if I should bring it up honestly…”

Frisk shrugs. They just don’t have much to say most of the time. Kids should be seen and not heard after all.

The silence stretches on, Asgore apparently having expected a verbal response. When one doesn’t come, he clears his throat and smiles awkwardly. “Well then, do you want to help me tend to the flowers?”

Frisk shrugs and decides to tend some flowers with the guy. He’s pretty patient, explaining the different care regimens for different flowers. This guy really likes gardening, huh. Monsters tend to linger in the areas, but seem too wary of Frisk to get close.

Well most are. The Dummy room was pretty devoid of flowers yesterday, but there are suddenly like ten “Floweys.” OH GOODNESS WHY IS THIS A THING?

“Human! How dare!!! Pay for your mistakes! D:<”

“You gave Buttercup an owie! T-T.”

“It really hurt!”

“Help! I’m stuck! O.O” That one got a watering can stuck on its head.

Except for the watering can Flowey, the rest just kind of pop up around Frisk. Frisk, wide eyed, shrieks and climbs Asgore for safety, holding onto his horns to stay on.

The Floweys savagely nibble Asgore’s ankles, letting out squeaky war cries and throwing a few petals around. Asgore just chuckles, “Now now little ones, whatever happened?”

“Mean human threw Buttercup at a wall!”

“Was only playing! >n<”

“Grandpa cup nooooo! QnQ”

Asgore leans down, petting the little flowers on their heads. “There there children, it’s alright. Frisk, did something happen?”

Frisk hangs their head, “Didn’t mean to.”

Asgore sighs, “It’s alright. How bad was it?”

“Human didn’t say sorry! >:(” One Flowey shouts, glaring at Frisk and crossing their leaves with a huff.

“Buttercup a new pot.”

The one Flowey finally escapes the watering can, “Guys wait for me!!! >~< I wanna play get the human too!” To his disappointment, the human is safely with Asgore. “NOOOOOOO!”

The other Floweys laugh at his exaggerated dismay, but console him afterwards, crowding around the little flower.

Asgore laughs, giving the Floweys a little shower (to their delight) before taking Frisk home. He repots Buttercup and all is well.

“Sorry,” Frisk mutters.

“It’s okay! I’m sure it was an accident ” Buttercup says, bringing a root up to pat their head.

Asgore leans down to hug them, “Sorry little one, I should have thought to warn you, but don’t worry, Floweys are harmless creatures. Perhaps a little strange, but friendly.” He stands back to his full height. “Come then, why don’t I read you a bedtime story?”

Something warm and fuzzy sparks in Frisk. They’ve never really gotten a bed time story before. They nod, taking his hand with a little smile as they’re led off to bed. Asgore’s voice lulls them to sleep.

Chapter Text

It’s been about a week. Most of the monsters of the Ruins have come around to Frisk. They’re a little strange yeah, but surprisingly friendly, not at all like the monsters outside. That said, there’s basically nothing to do here. The Ruins are only so big after all, easily fully explored within a day. All the monsters just chat in circles about the same things, things that mean nothing to Frisk without the context they have. Most of their games, sports, and lives require magic, something Frisk is distinctly lacking in. They appreciate the attempts to include them, but it’s isolating.

Asgore is still super sweet, of course, and is trying his best to entertain them, but Frisk can only listen to him talk about flowers and tea for so long before they go insane. And they appreciate the house and food, but he gets almost stifling in his coddling, always touching them in some way and insisting he go with them while they explore. They snuck out once and he started waiting for them in the house... The way he looks at them sometimes, getting so friendly… they get the feeling that maybe they aren’t the one he’s seeing.

They know something is wrong when they wake up and Asgore isn’t in the house. Do they want to chance going outside and have him find them? Staying inside doesn’t seem any better, so they do.

The Ruins are silent. Burn marks cover the walls, precious flowers having turned to ashes. Frisk knows better than to call out for anyone. Maybe they should go back inside…

Heavy footsteps come around the corner: Asgore. Frisk sighs in relief, running over to hug him.

“My… child?” His voice seems simultaneously strained and sleepy, almost like he’s stuck in a nightmare.

“Asgore?” Frisk squeaks.

Before anything else can be done or said, white hot pain overtakes them, followed by darkness.

Chapter Text

            They wake up in a bed of golden flowers, all of them thick and well cared for. The juice of their stems sticks to them as they get up, brushing the dirt off of them and walking ahead.

            The halls are purple, surprisingly bright. It looks like someone put artificial lights in them. Whatever they are, they worked well enough to allow flowers to bloom from beneath layers of leaves. The trees hug the walls, stretching up to overhead to give the area a dappled effect. Their footsteps echo through the halls as they delve deeper in.

            They get to the door puzzle, immediately knowing to step on the panels outside, not the ones inside. Memory rushes back and they just stop, staring at the closed door. Did they… did they die? They couldn’t have, right? They wouldn’t come back…

            Oh no.

            Pulse racing, they look themselves over. To their relief and confusion, their body is their own. No fur, no horns, just skin… they think. They have an urge to just charge through the ruins to check that mirror, to see if it really is still them. But the idea of facing Asgore again, the idea of the searing pain that overcame them…

            They can’t.

            They curl up, safe on their side of the door and let out muffled sobs into their jacket, snot and tears mixing together with sap and grass.

            How are they here? Why would he do that? What even happened? Was this all a dream? Is he still going to be there? Did they die? Is this limbo? Are they just going to fall and die over and over forever? The idea makes their blood run cold, breath catching and chest tight.

            They don’t want to do it again, but staying here is worse than just facing whatever’s behind the door. Fear wins out, fear and indecision, keeping them still until their face itches from lines of dried tears and their fear has torn itself apart, fading into boredom and a dull acceptance of whatever’s going on.

            With a sigh, they push themselves up, completing the once-frustrating puzzle in seconds. The door opens and they’re greeted to the sight of monsters: Whimsun and Froggits. They’re just chatting idly amongst the flowers. Frisk makes no effort to hide this time, used to the eyes on them. The Whimsun scatter, but Whimsun always scatter. The Froggits don’t seem to really understand what’s going on.

            Frisk sees the tree, the one they broke their stick off of. It’s whole. While they’d never really needed the stick, it feels almost like losing a limb after having it so long. They went everywhere with that thing, it was perfect for walking, for poking, and for pretending to have a sword. With a nod, they find the one that looks most like their stick and break it off with a loud crack, swinging it a few times and satisfied with the weight of it.

            There, back where it belongs.

            They look back and now the Froggits have run off too. Frisk shrugs and just decides to start heading in, knowing these ruins up and down by now. The feeling of eyes on them is familiar. Honestly the constant de ja vu is just getting unnerving. It feels like the first time they came here, but also… not. The monsters didn’t seem to recognize them, but then… They didn’t kill one, did they? It’s their fault it’s different. Is that why Asgore didn’t come?

            They find the little spider bake sale – apparently an effort by some “Muffet” to spread her business beyond “Snowdin” – but realize that without Asgore, they don’t actually have any gold. They get the feeling spiders probably won’t take a bandage as currency either, so they leave it alone.

            As they get further in, they start to get nervous. They’re almost to Asgore’s house. Phantom pain shoots through them, memories of burning to death in an instant. Why did he do that? He was so nice why would he try to hurt them? Yes, something seemed wrong, but that doesn’t justify killing them! What did they ever do to him! No. Better question, why did they ever trust a monster? The little ones, the Froggits and the Whimsun, they don’t attack because they’re too weak, because Frisk can dust one easily. Surely that’s it… surely that’s it. Asgore was just toying with them, wasn’t he? They can’t believe they ever fell for it.

            Something burns deep in their soul, teeth grit as the edges of their vision tinge with red. Their ears are ringing, chest hammering. The oh-so precious flowers fall to their footsteps, stems breaking and petals ripped. Good. Who needs those dumb flowers anyways! Asgore talked about them so much you’d swear they’re his children! They’re sick and tired of these idiot flowers! They rip their stick through the soil as they run, delighting in the small bit of extra carnage.

            Asgore’s house. They hesitate only a minute outside its gates. There’s a small crowd of monsters outside it, but they scatter in terror when they see Frisk. Good, they were in the way.

            They slam the door open, hinges protesting as it crashes against the wall.

            … empty. How disappointing. He must have been on some side road or something. They could hunt him down, but deprived of their immediate goal, the fire inside them simmers to a low burn. They know one monster should still be here though.

            Slowly they walk to the kitchen. There’s a flower in the meaningless windowsill, staring into space like an idiot. It notices them as they come closer.

            “Um… human? What’s with that look…” the flower shrinks back on themselves, leaning away from them. “Chara?”

            Their name is Frisk. They pick up the pot, raising it over their head, breathing hard.

            Something catches their eye and they jump. They feel silly as they realize it was just the windowsill, but…

            They need the mirror.

            Flowerpot still in hand, they go to the mirror. Their reflection stares back at them, eyes too wide and hair frazzled, the carnage of dozens of flowers coating their lower half. The Flowey has curled up tight, petals shut as it whimpers. Looking deep into the puffy, bloodshot eyes of their reflection, they have to ask.

            Is this really them?

            Cold, damp guilt puts out the fury in their soul, tears springing back into place. They gently pet the little flower, holding Buttercup’s pot in one arm while the other holds the stick. As they head to the kitchen to put him back, they realize something: the stairs aren’t under renovation. Curiosity spurs them downwards.

            Buttercup peaks out and makes a funny little noise, “0o0! Human! No human! Don’t go this way!!! The Underground is dangerous!”

            It can’t be more dangerous than Asgore. They walk on, unflinching.

            “Human? ;n; Did I do something bad? I didn’t mean to… I don’t want you to die…”

            That makes them pause. Would they die? Have they already died? They aren’t sure, but they know one thing, the answers aren’t here. They set Buttercup down, trusting that Asgore will eventually find their pot, and go forward. There’s a big door… no turning back now, right?

            They open it, walking forward through the darkness and finally coming out in the ice and the snow.