An Unfortunate Adventure! #freewritemadness: Day Fourteen

#freewritemadness! Day Fourteen!

It took me a while to get started today. Feeling a bit bluhbluhbluh and had no idea what I wanted to write except that I didn’t want it to be a “the next day” thing. So, this one is a week or so after the public flaying and brings into motion an idea I had in October, that didn’t seem to want to be weaved in until now. Back to the necklace!

@Dranuvar left me a comment on my Day Twelve Writings that sparked a small idea into life, and now, I need to weave it in. To my glee, it’s already there, kind of, so it just makes sense that I go in this direction. I just didn’t see it until now! Speaking incoherently deliberately.

Today’s prompt was – excuses.

Today’s wordcount was: 1644
Overall wordcount is: 27295

 


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DAY FOURTEEN

A soft snow dusted each blade of grass, the tiny specks as glitter beneath the afternoon sun, teardrop-shaped crystals dangled precariously on the tips of leaves, threatening to fall and shatter into a thousand shards, and yet the autumnal trees remained vibrant and colourful; not a single leaf dared embrace the inevitable. There had been no snow where she had once lived, merely an icy frost on the rare winter’s morning, and most trees did not turn. This was akin to a wonderland, if it were not a wonderland already.

Katéa shuffled deeper into Draven’s warm coat, wrapping her arms around herself as she sat on Glouweln’s ramshackle stairs and drank in the surroundings. He was out hunting and she wasn’t quite sure what to do with herself. Perhaps she should have joined him. She couldn’t just keep wandering into Nessie’s gardens; the elf was likely getting tired of her constant presence and there hadn’t been a chance yet to really get to know anyone else in this place. Unless she became breast… er, best buddies with T’rese. A smile touched her lips.

How long had it been since she had stumbled through the scrub and into that forest? This world seemed timeless and it was easy to lose track of everything. The days were a rapid blur that blended in with the next day, with nothing to distinguish them from one another, and the nights… she longed for. They were a joy beyond compare, hours upon hours of delighting in Draven’s warmth, his touch, his very presence, and then she would awake the next morning, held tight within his arms, his head resting against hers… her heart stirred. The Min Min Lights had been the greatest of blessings.

“I’ve been looking for you!” Nessie’s cheerful smile shone from her delicate face, her emerald eyes agleam with excitement. She plopped herself down beside Katéa and pulled something from her robe —that horrible necklace. “I do apologise; I had not meant to take so long… I needed to await the appropriate moon-cycle.” She sighed, “This would have been much easier if there were more elvenkind. As such, ‘tis only myself.” Her smile vanished and there seemed a slight hardness to her usually friendly eyes. “The necklace has been cleansed and restored.”

The silver serpents entwined about the black sphere with a soft sheen that shimmered with a vibrancy it did not have before. It seemed more appealing now than when she had first felt compelled to pick it up, but it still didn’t feel ‘right’. The black sphere did not reflect the sun, only seemed to absorb its rays, and it looked as cold and evil as the black eyes of those gargoyles that still haunted her dreams. Now the orb just needed to vibrate. To thrum as the larger sphere had. She felt if she took it and held it once more, the ground would tremble, open up, and deliver her into its depths… she swallowed.

“I still don’t like it.”

Nessie bowed her head. “Unfortunately, regardless of if one actually likes the adornment, it is a tool that must be used.” She paused, and then offered Katéa a small, mirthless smile. “And unfortunately, it has become attuned to you. Presumably from when you first picked it up in the caves.”

Attuned? What the hell was that supposed to mean? She stared at the necklace coiled in Nessie’s palm, and a disgust tainted the back of her throat —this conversation was leading down a horrible, horrible path. “Attuned?” she swallowed again. “Are you telling me that I need to wear that cursed, fucking thing? That it’s up to me to siphon Serenithyl’s energy?” and groaned as Nessie nodded. “That’s my fuckin’ luck for ya.”

Nessie dropped the necklace into Katéa’s hand and climbed back to her feet.

“We all have our burdens to bear.”

Of course this was happening. That bastard Murphy had hated her all of her life —he and his Law would never allow her to actually be happy for once. She held the necklace between a thumb and finger by a silver serpent head, not wanting to touch that black sphere, suddenly remembering the entire horrible experience of those gluey caves. The fear she had felt in Serenithyl’s cavern. That knowledge that soared through her mind, screaming that she was about to die. Now the elf wanted her to wear the fucking thing?

“I don’t even know what it is exactly you want me to do!”

Nessie lowered her eyes. “Once more, this would be easier if I were not the last of my kind. When the moon and stars align, Serenithyl’s cavern must be sought, blood must be spilled, and the imitation orb will sense what must be done.”

“That doesn’t sound sinister, not at all.”

A cold tendril of wind wrapped around her, piercing her skin through the warm coat. She shivered. That wasn’t a good omen, either. That felt just as sinister as the elf’s words. Goosepimples broke out as a shadow passed over the sun. It was only a cloud. A dark, greying cloud that grew larger the longer she watched.

“Nessie, I’m still unfamiliar with this place… do you get winter storms?”

Silence. The elf drew a sharp breath, her voice barely above a whisper as she said, “Nay, miss Katéa.”

The cold wind strengthened. Rustling through the long grass, the gust shook the snow from each blade and transformed it into a powdery shower that blew towards them in a thick blanket. The flecks bit into her face as tiny shards of glass, numbing her. The sky darkened further. A light vibration trembled the stairs she sat upon, and then the loud beat of giant wings travelled the distance.

“This is just so fucking typical!” Katéa shouted, leaping to her feet. It was the necklace’s fault! Everything had been fine until Nessie gave her the necklace. Out in the open. Outside of the actual building and its purported protective barriers.

“Miss Katéa, I suggest we go back inside…”

The elf’s eyes darted back and forth across the skies.

“Why did you give me the necklace out here? It called that damned bird!”

“We need to go inside.”

Katéa whipped around and tried to peer into the distant forest. Draven was still out there, somewhere, and he was nowhere to be seen. Black shadows were fast approaching, carrying a shrill shriek upon the winds, now near cyclonic in strength, whipping her hair about her as a wraparound cape.

“But —Draven is out here-”

“Draven will be fine,” Nessie interrupted, shouting through the windy wail. “We will not be. Get inside.”

For the first time, the elf sounded like she would take shit from no-one. The diminutive woman grabbed her arm and dragged her with that impossible strength, pulling her into the building. Katéa glared down at the necklace, only just restraining herself from heaving the cursed thing out the door before it shut. Maybe she could just say that she dropped it —any excuse to get rid of the fucking thing.

The candlelight flickered, and then flared back to life thrice as bright as before, casting ghoulish shadows over the heads that hung from the wall. Serenithyl was disturbing the inside of Glouweln! The barriers —whatever they actually were— were being affected.

Silently, the tavern-goers walked single-file from Grissom’s pub and out into the parlour, not a drunken chuckle or mumble between them as they peered up at the ceiling and around the walls. The building trembled —a sharp crack echoed loud, reminding her of the noise her window used to make in the middle of a winter’s night as she tried to sleep. She would snap away, petrified that someone was about to smash their way into her bedroom, but it was only atmospheric pressure. This time was not as simple as that.

The candlelight flickered once more, this time dimming down to near nothingness. There was a sigh of relief as they brightened, and then they fizzled before that collective breath had finished. A shrill scream echoed through the parlour. Hands were everywhere, shoving people out of their way as they tried to find their way out of the parlour, into the corridor, somewhere, anywhere. The floors shook, walls vibrated —thud. One of the heads fell down. A pained moan rose up, weaving about the area. It had hit someone!

Katéa pressed up against the door, her heart pounding, almost louder than the pounding that reverberated about the structure. The wood shook at her back, as though a creature of immense strength were trying to wrest it from its hinges. Another push. The door splintered, allowing a minuscule ray of light pierce the darkness. Why was she standing at the door? This was the worst place she could stand! But, if she moved now, whatever-it-was might gain entry. An image of a gargoyle slathered with bloodied froth burst into mind, shouldering its way through the door, somehow breaking the magical defences of the Master and his son. Oh, God. Draven. Tears rose and she blinked them away. He was fine, it was she who was in danger, and not just her —the whole damned village.

A crack appeared above. The ceiling, the roof, the building was being torn apart! Another push at the door sent her flying into the clawing crowd, knocking several people over in her path. Then, the candles flared back into life.

The building stopped shuddering.

Silence.

People looked at one another, looked at the cracks in the building, watching, waiting for it to begin again. But it did not. Lying inelegantly across the floor, Katéa watched the tiny splinters of wood rise up into the air, join together with other shards, and then return to where they belonged.

The building was being secured.



(An Unfortunate Adventure header made by me! Courtesy of an image from Pixabay, and images from Vidar Nordli-Mathisen, Johny Goerend, Alan Labisch, Erol Ahmed on Unsplash!)