#freewritemadness + #nanowrimo – Day Seventeen! 🙂
Today was nothing special. I mainly focused on closing up yesterday’s writing and beginning the next part. Not as emotional today – thank the fates! Hopefully my next inconsolable days are when the emotions are actually required. Day 29 and Day 30.
The prompt for today was – begone.
My wordcount for today is – 1577
My total wordcount so far is – 31787
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“I think we’re close,” she whispered. “This is where I found the necklace… and this, was Ceth’na.”
Nessie peered down at the skull and nodded before continuing down the passage.
“Don’t you want to do some sort of… elf… thing… to the remains?”
“Like what, Miss Katéa?” Nessie sighed, “I remember. That is all I can do.”
How could she possibly respond to that? Maybe it was best to remain silent and not try to engage her. The sweet and gentle elf who carried a solemn weight had become impatient and melancholic. Although, considering everything, it made sense. She could hardly expect Nessie to retain her usual disposition when they were following a failed path. The elves had not achieved their goals and had died, and now she —one of those dastardly humans— followed at her back. It did not matter that she was a newcomer and had taken no part in the slaughters… she was still one of them.
Drip. Drip. Drip.
Katéa groaned, inwardly so as not to disturb her guide. There was that fucking drip again —they had to be getting close. The orb weighed heavy and tried to pull her into the ground they trod upon. Maybe that’s why Ceth’na had met her demise impossibly half-buried within the stone. She straightened her posture, determined not to allow it the ability to sink her, just in case. What made it so heavy, anyway? Was it the thirty souls that it had been crafted with? It seemed so morbid. Their people were being murdered, and yet they killed more of their own kind in order to create this replica. For the greater good. She shuddered. Knowing Nessie, the thirty who had offered themselves were probably willing volunteers. They truly were desperate.
The cold wind strengthened, carrying the constant drip and an unfamiliar scent on its breath. She wrinkled her nose. It was not exactly the most pleasant of smells, but it held a strange sweetness to it that made her want to breathe it in, to try and work out what it was exactly. The passageway darkened, despite the elf-fire that Nessie summoned every few paces, and a cold shiver broke through her overly warm skin. Something felt wrong; very, very wrong.
An elongated hiss was carried along the sweeping wind and sent chills through her blood. “Nessie,” she whispered. “Did you hear a strange voice just now?”
“Nay, miss Katéa. All is silent but for that irksome drip and howling wind.”
“There was a voice… a hissing voice! I think…”
Nessie raised a finger to her lips and appeared to listen, her leaf-like ears trembling beneath the cold, false flames, and then shrugged.
“I hear nothing. Though, the scent of death grows stronger… we are nearing our goal.”
The scent of death? Katéa paused. Was that what the smell was? It hadn’t been down here last she was forced to travel these tunnels. Oh, God. What did that room look like now? To carry such a strong odour, surely it was drenched in entrails and littered with corpses. What if that incessant sound wasn’t actually water, but the constant drop of a fresh, blooded kill? Nausea rose and was swiftly swallowed. Her imagination aside, they would soon find out.
Dim light scattered across the tunnel, barely visible beneath the dark shadows. A crack in the wall —the cavern. Nessie stepped inside and the shrieking wind dulled. They were here. Katéa took a shuddering breath and followed.
Ceth’na and Thren were beside her, and of course Nessie had run on ahead. She was always the eager one, determined to prove that she belonged in this carefully selected group. The Council had almost refused to presence, fearful that the young one would inadvertently ruin the plans, and yet, she was also the only one capable of subduing the beasts and performing the rite —the only remaining pureblood with the full strength of the ancestors in her veins. Though they all shared a smattering of the same blood, the eager young one was the only one who actually belonged here. Their task would not go unfinished.
The white room shone as bright as the full moon, dressed in silver tapestries that reflected one another as repeated bodies of their image-capturing dreamer fish. The fabled sphere was in the centre of the huge chamber, drawing the ceaseless light into its abyssal centre, and it spun as fast as a child’s spin-top.
Serenithyl was not in here, and neither were her beasts. Something was amiss. Nessie stood by the sphere, peering about the area, and then motioned for her to come closer. They would begin as planned. The emptiness was the greatest of boons; it should not be discarded because of mere paranoia… her time was at hand.
The orb about her neck weighed her down, forcing her hands to meet the sphere. It stopped rotating at her touch. Ceth’na and Thren were positioned on either side of her, their blades drawn lest they were interrupted. Nessie took another quick glance about the empty chamber and then stepped forward, her eyes reddening as she retrieved the ancestral blade from her robe. A giant shadow descended and the ground shook —Thren screamed a long wail that faded into the nothingness. She couldn’t turn about to see what had happened; she couldn’t move! Nessie looked as serene as the summer skies, calm and collected, and unperturbed. A swift hand bade the bird stay in place, her other held the blade high. She was controlling Serenithyl! What-? She struck down and pierced into her neck. No! That was… not part… of… the rite…
All turned to black.
“Katéa? You need to stand here, please!”
Nessie’s voice was desperate, pleading, and tears welled in her emerald eyes.
Katéa blinked. Ceth’na and Thren were gone; it was just her and Nessie. That elf had been with the original group —she had killed the orb-weaver! She stepped back, gripping the crack that served as entrance.
“You killed her!”
“It was my task!”
“Don’t fucking lie to me! She was confused. It wasn’t part of the rite.”
The tears escaped Nessie’s eyes and rolled down her cheeks. “It was the only way… it was my task! I needed to wear the orb once it had been filled. I was the only one strong enough-” A shadow descended, shrouding the bright cavern in a heavy shadow, and the ground shuddered as Serenithyl placed herself behind the orb. Nessie’s emerald eyes turned to red and she pulled the silver knife —the ancestral blade— out from her robes. “Quint served his purpose, as did you. You are no longer required. Begone.”
She couldn’t move! Katéa stood frozen in place, mesmerised by Serenithyl’s gleaming golden eyes. They were so large… encompassing the entirety of her sight the longer she stared. The knife flew through the air and embedded itself in her neck. No! Draven… she slid to the ground. A hundred voices —or was it thirty— sang through her ears and called the energy from the sphere. The orb was getting heavier, as were her eyes… her body. Draven’s warm gaze flashed into mind, his dimpled cheek smiled down at her, only to be replaced by Nessie’s ruby-eyed glare as she stalked over, unclasped the necklace, and yanked the knife out from the flesh, twisting as she pulled.
“My task will not go unfinished.”
I told you to turn back. Why are you humans so foolish?
Her vision darkened, heavy wings beat overhead —large claws curled about her body and lifted her into the air— and Nessie’s angry shriek was the last thing she heard as she drifted into oblivion.
Something hot and rough touched her skin, soothing the throbbing ache that pulsed through her neck and down to her toes. The glaring sun was bright behind her closed eyelids, threatening to blind her if she dared open them —ughh, she could barely move. Oh, God… that fucking elf! What had she done?
Draven was here! She squinted one eye the tiniest fraction —she needed to see his face, to feel his heart against hers, to know that she was still alive… both eyes widened. What the fuck was that? A large tongue descended from a gaping mouth filled with fangs the size of her entire arm and licked at her neck. She shrank back, away from the monstrous beast, and yelped as arms grabbed her.
“Hey, hey. It’s okay. Calm down.” Draven held his arms around her. “Frukaith possesses healer’s saliva.”
“He pulled you from the cavern. Just in time, by the sounds of things…” he placed a gentle kiss on the side of her head.
Greetings, foolish human.
A crimson creature the size of three fucking houses loomed over her, its tongue flickering as a snake’s between its gigantic teeth. Its scales gleamed with an iridescent sheen beneath the glaring sun and its umber eyes shone with their own luminescence. It snorted a breath at her through its long snout; it was hot and smelt of the first strike of a match… oh, how she used to love that smell.
Wait —she whipped upright, her hands flying to her neck. No! Nessie had taken the orb. What the fuck was she going to do with it? What was her task?
Draven pulled her back down, holding her in place. “Calm down,” he whispered into her ear.
“No, no, no! Nessie took it. She’s going to do something with it. I don’t know. She needs to finish her task… whatever the fuck that is. She killed the orb-wearer last time, too. The orb-wearer didn’t know!” Tears rose as she tried to struggle out from Draven’s grasp. “The orb-wearer… she didn’t know.”