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.
From the journals of Chloe Sullivan:
The woods around Smallcroft are full of dark dangers, it is true. And as I have written before, the worst and most horrifying of those dangers are the villagers who have lost their humanity, and transformed into something soulless and terrible.
But here is the question that concerns me most, a question I cannot seem to answer, no matter how I puzzle over it. When a person turns to the darkness and loses all compassion for their fellow men, how can anyone know for certain if their evil was induced by the rocks... or if it was inside that person all along?
The expression in Clark's eyes was so full of anguish that it hurt Chloe to look at him. She knew very well how greatly he had adored Lana. He had spoken of her endlessly, telling Chloe time and time again that he was a mere farmboy, and utterly unworthy of such a lovely woman.
And now, she thought, he was having to come to grips with the notion that Lana was unworthy of him.
For a moment, she feared that he would succumb to Lana's blandishments, that he would sweep her up in his arms and run far away, never to be seen again. If he wanted to, he could take Lana where she could never, ever be found, where she would never have to pay for her crimes.
He could save Lana, if he decided that Lana's freedom meant more to him than truth and justice did.
He hesitated for a long moment, while Chloe held her breath. At last he spoke, his voice deeper and more resonant than Chloe had ever heard it.
"Lana," he said, "we cannot let you go. Your crimes are too great. We will take you to the prince and tell him all that we have learned tonight."
Lana lifted her head, and in her eyes there was something cold and calculating, something that reminded Chloe very strongly of the lizard.
"Very well," she answered, her voice just as icy as her eyes.
She strode toward Clark, quickly, and Chloe saw his face contort in sudden pain. She'd seen Clark stand very near Lana before without becoming sick, but now he was reacting to her just as he had reacted to the lizard.
The necklace, she thought, remembering the effect the lizard had had on him. It was the necklace that allowed Lana to transform, so it must be the necklace that made Clark ill.
And clearly Lana understood that.
Clark fell to his knees, gasping in pain, and anger exploded through Chloe. She did not care to see Clark suffering again, not after everything he had been through tonight. She launched herself forward, hitting Lana in an awkward tackle and sending her right to the ground.
Lana twisted, striking her in the mouth, and Chloe tasted blood. Rage rose higher within her, and she lifted her hand and struck the other woman full across the face with the flat of her hand.
Lana yanked her hair, and although it was too short for her to get a really good grip on, it nevertheless hurt. Chloe yelped, and slapped her again, harder than before.
Lana balled her fists up and struck Chloe in the chest, sending her tumbling backward. Chloe's head slammed against a log, and she lay there, momentarily stunned. Lana rose to her feet and stalked toward her, a murderous glint in her eyes.
"You'll never have him." In the golden sunlight of dawn, Lana was stunningly, preternaturally beautiful, but something dreadful twisted her face, something that made fear and revulsion curl inside Chloe's chest. "Do you think everyone in Smallcroft doesn't see how pathetic you are, chasing after a farmboy? And he's never even noticed you, not really. No matter how many times you fling yourself at him... he will never be yours. He only has eyes for me. He always has, and he always will."
Deep down, Chloe was terribly afraid the words were true. Clark had always been her friend, but except for that one stolen kiss in the woods, he'd never once shown, by word or deed, that he thought of her as a female.
He will never be yours.
Lana picked up a large, solid stick, heavy enough to stave in Chloe's skull, and lifted it over her head. Chloe struggled to get her muddled mind to make her body work, but she couldn't seem to move. All she could do was stare helplessly up at the improvised club.
Suddenly the branch exploded into flames.
Lana yelped in shock and pain, because the fire was quite close to her hands, and flung the stick aside. Chloe managed to roll her head to the side and realized that when Lana came after her, she'd walked away from Clark, allowing him to regain his powers. He still couldn't approach her, due to the necklace, but he was glaring at Lana, looking like he might just set her on fire.
Chloe had never seen such rage on his face.
Lana turned back toward him, her teeth bared, and Chloe saw her chance. With a fierce effort, she leapt to her feet, reached out a hand, and caught the delicate gold chain. It snapped easily, and she flung the green rock deep into the woods, far, far away from Clark.
Once the rock had been removed, capturing Lana had been easy. Clark had tied her arms tightly with vines, and when she had begun screaming invectives at them, he'd ripped off a small portion of his shirt and gagged her with it. Now she rode on his stallion, in front of him. Despite being bound and gagged, she held her head high, like a queen, rather than a criminal being brought to justice.
Chloe glanced at the two of them, and wondered how Clark reacted to having a naked woman against him. She wondered if he had a physical response of the sort he'd had when he kissed her. She wondered if Clark still wanted Lana in more than a physical way, or if everything he had learned today had finally cured him of his longstanding adoration for her.
Clark was silent for a long while, giving no hint as to his thoughts. At last Chloe said, hesitantly, "Once we have delivered her to the prince, you will need to return to the woods and rescue her parents."
Clark nodded, very slightly. He'd spoken to her parents and asked them to remain in the cabin with the door bolted until he returned.
"Do you think..." Chloe hesitated. "Do you think they knew about her, Clark?"
Clark let out his breath in a sigh. "I think perhaps they had their suspicions," he answered. "When I think back on some of the things they said, some of the things they did... I believe they knew something wasn't right. But I doubt they knew the full extent of her transformation, or that she was actually killing people. People are lost in the woods all too often, Chloe."
"And how many of those people have been lost to her?"
She regretted the question the moment it left her lips. Clark closed his eyes, looking more anguished than before, and she reached up and patted his arm.
"I am sorry," she said softly.
"You have nothing to be sorry for, Chlo." He opened his eyes and turned his head, looking down at her. His eyes were filled with guilt. "But I-- I was blinded by her beauty, for a long time. I never thought that she was capable of--"
"You had no way of knowing," she told him. "Nothing that has happened is your fault, Clark."
"I hope you're right," he said softly.
"Of course I am right."
They rode on, and she looked at him, seeing his slumped shoulders and downbent head. Sympathy filled her. He had adored Lana, only to discover she was a monster. His deepest, most cherished dreams had been cruelly ripped from him. She could hardly imagine the blow.
And now he was doing what he must, but she knew he would take no pleasure in Lana's imprisonment.
But she hoped that eventually he could at least take some satisfaction in knowing that no more innocent travelers would die.
Read Chapter 13 here.