Clark/Chloe/Lana/Lex Elseworld (inspired by The Princess Bride and the Edgar Rice Burroughs Barsoom books)
Disclaimer: These characters belong to the CW and DC Comics, not to me.
Read the previous chapter here.
Read the story from the beginning here.
This cannot be.
Clark's first thoughts were full of anguished denial. He remembered seeing the lizard rip a man's throat out. He remembered seeing twenty corpses strewn through the woods, some of them horribly mangled, and bile rose in his throat.
His perfect, glorious, beautiful Lana, the woman he'd loved, practically worshipped, could not possibly have committed such evil deeds.
And yet he'd watched her transformation. There could be no denying that she was in fact the lizard.
"It was you," Chloe said. Her voice was full of shock. "You tried to kill me. You tried to kill both of us."
"I could not help myself." Lana turned toward Clark, her eyes wide and appealing. She seemed unashamed of her naked state. "When I am the lizard-- I have no choice, Clark. It is as if a dark and terrible evil takes me over from inside. But you know me. You know I would never kill anyone deliberately."
At her words, relief eddied through him. She hadn't meant to hurt anyone. She'd just been caught in the spell of the green rocks. "Of course you wouldn't," he answered staunchly.
"Clark!" Chloe turned her head and glared at him. "We saw her kill that man. She's killed twenty others tonight. She cannot claim innocence, or that she had no control over her actions."
"Chloe." Clark felt impatience welling up inside him. Chloe had never really understood his devotion to Lana. "You know better than anyone that the influence of the green rocks can be malevolent. Many of the villagers have been turned into something dreadful. But they cannot be held accountable for their actions, can they?"
Chloe frowned. "I suppose," she said cautiously, "that it depends. Lana, are you saying that you transform every night, in the darkness? It is the darkness that turns you into the lizard, and the light that turns you back?"
Lana nodded her head eagerly, still gazing at Clark with her large, luminous eyes. Clad only in the morning sunlight, she was the most beautiful creature he had ever seen. "Yes," she said. "In the darkness, I become the monster."
"And yet I have seen you at balls at the castle at night," Chloe said. Clark knew that she'd watched such functions from behind the railings of staircases, or potted plants, and he also knew that deep in her heart, she was envious of the lovely gowns the ladies wore. Lana's gowns had not been among the most glorious, as she was only a farmer's daughter, and yet her ballgowns were lovelier by far than anything Chloe possessed.
Lana hesitated, for only a second.
"If I stay near enough to firelight," she said earnestly, "I do not transform."
Disappointment and fear coiled in Clark's chest, and for the first time he wondered if Lana's nudity was clouding his judgment. He was not accustomed to seeing a woman's ankles, let alone her... well. He suspected any man might be dazzled into foolishness by the sight of a naked woman.
"Lana," he said, "you are not being entirely truthful with us. I have seen you walking in the darkness some nights. You do not always transform in the dark."
Her eyes narrowed, and for a moment she looked far less lovely than was her wont. Suddenly he could see the cold, flat eyes of the lizard staring out from her face, and he shuddered involuntarily.
"You have been spying on me," she accused.
He had watched her upon occasion when he was younger, but he judged it best not to bring that up now, lest she divert the topic to his malfeasance rather than her own. "No," he answered steadily. "But some nights I am unable to sleep, and I take walks."
"So you do not transform just due to the darkness," Chloe said. "What exactly is it that makes you transform, Lana?"
Lana hesitated, longer this time. At last she spoke in a low voice. "It is the necklace."
The necklace. Of course, Clark thought. It was the only thing she wore right now, a polished, cut meteor rock suspended on a delicate golden chain around her neck. She'd once told him that it was a talisman, made from a rock that had fallen from the sky perilously close to her parents. They'd had it made into a necklace for her, as a reminder of their good fortune.
Fortunately for Clark, she didn't wear it too often. And now he thought he understood why.
"If you wear the necklace at night, you transform?"
Slowly, she nodded.
"Then it is your choice," Chloe said. "You choose to put on the necklace, Lana. You choose to become the lizard."
Lana glanced at the other woman, then back at Clark. Her eyes brimmed suddenly with tears. "I am weak," she whispered. "I confess, I have grown to enjoy the transformation, and the base instinct of the animal, and the life in the darkness of the woods. But even so, when I change back... I am ashamed."
"But not ashamed enough to stop doing it," Chloe said tartly.
"It was Graham's fault." Lana's voice rose almost to a wail. "He encouraged me. He... he fed me. If not for him, I would have given up the transformation a long time ago."
"Is that why you killed him?" Chloe demanded.
Lana was sobbing openly now, tears running down her cheeks, glittering like diamonds in the morning sunlight. Clark felt his throat tighten at her obvious remorse. Despite all the things she'd done, he'd loved her for a very long time.
At least, he'd thought he loved her. It was beginning to dawn on him that he hadn't known her at all. Could one love a stranger?
"Chloe." He turned his head and spoke quietly but firmly. "Stop haranguing her. She is sorry for her actions."
"Sorry!" Chloe glared at him. "She has killed over twenty men tonight, Clark! She cannot simply apologize for such an act. She must face justice."
"I could not help it," Lana whispered.
"You could help putting on the necklace in the first place," Chloe responded tartly. "And tell me this, Lana. If you cannot stop yourself from killing people, then why has no one in Smallcroft died when you transform?"
Lana hesitated, and Chloe went on, "What of your parents? Did you kill them, too?"
"No. I saved them. They are in the cabin, awaiting me."
"In that case, you can help killing people," Chloe said. Her voice was very cold. "You simply choose not to."
It was true, Clark recognized with sorrow. Lana was clearly responsible for her actions, and as such, she must be turned over to Prince Lex for justice. He thought of her rotting away in a dungeon for the rest of her life, and another shudder rocked him.
Lana must have noticed it. She turned toward him. "Clark," she whispered, and his heart twisted in his chest at the fear in her eyes. "You cannot let me be imprisoned. Please. I have always loved you, Clark. Take me away from here on your stallion, and from now on, I swear I will be worthy of you. Save me, Clark. Please."
Read Chapter 12 here.