The Thief cast his way down the great corridor with inhuman speed, almost gliding above the marbled floor. Babbo continued to scream with unbelievable intensity, considering the figure didn't technically have lungs.
The Thief was getting nervous...he hadn’t thought that this painting would have the ability to communicate; the design was so loosely formed to that of a face.
The howling from Babbo intensified. As they glided along, the paintings along the walls stirred from all the noise. A few of them began to scream from the commotion also. Poor things; they never really did get to see much excitment hanging on those walls.
"Will you shut up!" The Thief rasped, half yelling and half whispering at Babbo underneath his arm.
The howling stopped. "I beg your pardon?"
The Thief was so surprised, he actually slowed his pace a bit. "I...I said shut up!"
Babbo was indignant. "How dare you! You filthy little--" It mumbled underneath its breath for a few moments before piping up again. "I don't think you have the right to tell me to do anything! After all, I'm the prestigious painting here and you’re the dirty criminal!”
The Thief actually stopped now, pulling Babbo from underneath his arm so he could have a good look at it. The voice sounded eerily familiar to the Thief...but he couldn’t place it. “Listen, I’m not only a thief, you sorry excuse for art.” Babbo gasped auibly at this. “I’m pretty prestigious too.”
“Oh, you are, are you?” Babbo hmphed at him obviously. “Somehow I fail to believe you.”
“Look here—” The Thief stopped. He knew that voice now. “Archibald?”
“It’s Babbo, you twit. Babb-O.” Babbo rolled his eyes, if you can believe it.
“No, you sound...you sound just like Archibald, Victoria’s father.” The Thief was clearly rattled at this new realization.
“Well, obviously. I am named after him, aren’t I?”
“You are?” He tried to remember Victoria ever calling her father by Babbo. “Was it a nickname of some sort?”
“A nickname!?” Babbo smirked as much as the smooth lines of his paint would allow. “Oh, you are so uncultured. If you would recall, Victoria spoke italian.”
The Thief ran this little piece of information through his confused mind. Finally: “Yeah, so?”
“So! Babbo...italian...father.” If Babbo could have put his hands on his hips, he would have.
The Thief still had a blank expression on his face.
“Oh, for bleeding sakes man, ‘Babbo’ means ‘Father’ in italian!” Babbo let out a final huff as realization dawned over the Thief’s face.
He didn’t have time to figure out what this meant, anyhow. He had wasted far too much time arguing with the painting as it was. He needed to get out of there, back to his awaiting accomplices. It was time to put their plan into action.
Just as he resumed his glide, he heard a voice call.
He turned around involuntarily at the sound of his name. Before him, just a few metres down the great corridor, stood Archie. To Xavier he looked so old and frail. He couldn’t help letting a smirk sneak over his soured mouth.
“Sorry, Archibald. You’re too late; you won’t stop me.” He sounded very far from sorry.
“But why, Xavier? Why do you need my Victoria’s last painting?”
“You wouldn’t understand.” He was about to turn around and leave but he could feel a lump of pity growing in his throat. All the old man had was these pitiful screaming paintings around him. Xavier supposed he could at least give him some sort of explanation. “This painting; Victoria’s last painting, contains her very essence, her magic; moreso than any other painting of hers. Me and...some others, need to use it for...something important.” That was all he was willing to divulge.
“You’re not leaving with it.” Archie sounded firm, sure.
“I’m afraid I am, old man.” As Xavier turned to make his escape, he stopped dead in his tracks. The painting on the wall opposite him now contained dozens of figures, many more than had been there just a minute before. He glanced around at the painting beside it. It was the same; filled up with dozens upon dozens of people, most of them with swords, axes...some even with rifles. In fact, now that he looked, every painting along the walls of the corridor held hundreds of people, all with scowls on their faces. “What is this?” He asked, spinning this way and that, trying not to keep his back to any one painting at a time.
“Oi, this is yer fall, mate.” It was Henry, standing proudly before one significant mass of figures. “Ready?” He was smiling.
So was Archie.