Tuesday, April 28, 2009



((7 - In Doubt))

Goat sailed through the air, tangle of wild brown hair flaring out behind him. His arms reached, straining against their joints, clawing for the leathery-winged larva floating away from him. He fell short by meters, and was suddenly dropping through a hailstorm of crystal shards, as his home exploded behind him.

Skunk and Owl came tumbling after him in a tangle of limbs and a terrified yell. A massive chunk of crystal flew out beneath the three of them, one large flat facet rising to meet their descent. The crystal seemed to gleam and shimmer jet black, like a hissing, bubbling shadow. They hit it, falling into it, vanishing into that darkness.

Owl's scream faded into the oppressive silence of the inky blackness around them. They were floating suspended in... nothingness. It was the same now-familiar empty shadow that had surrounded them inside the heart of Face, the same shadow that had swallowed Eagle and tried to kill them with spikes of crystal.

Goat looked around innocently, curiously. Skunk whirled, looking for any source or being, or anything at all in this emptiness. Owl simply floated, eyes wide, as realization slowly began to dawn on her.

Face was gone.

Her children--

Her hand clutched tight at the small gemstone on the choker around her neck, and she began to cry.

Skunk and Goat looked worriedly at the older woman, unsure of what to do.

Owl's voice let out a pained whisper. "What... what am I supposed to do now? My children..."

Something rippled through their minds. It wasn't so much a voice as a series of concepts, ideas in succession.


The three scions of Face looked around, suddenly alert. "Who's there?" Skunk snapped out.


Skunk frowned. "What do you want with us?"


She began another question, but Goat cut her off. "Hey, if you're protectors, why'd you try to kill us?"


"It has a point. We did free those... things." Skunk's voice was flat.

"Yeah, I guess." Goat thought for a moment. "What happened to Eagle?"


"I don't really understand that, but it doesn't sound pleasant!"

Letting out a strained choke, Owl spoke up, tears still running down her face. "What... what happened to Face? What happened to my children?"

The shadows rippled around them, and an image formed from the nothingness. It had the unstable, vague quality of a dream, or the reflection on a pool of water. It showed Face, laced with thin white lines. Slowly, the image swooped in to focus on a small shelter, a house, a room. Five children were inside, each impaled on a crystal spire.

When the non-voice came through their minds again, it was tinged with an unmistakable emotion: regret.


Tears welled fresh from Owl's eyes, as the image burned into her memory. She would never forget it. The darkness faded back in around them, but the sight of her childrens' corpses stayed as sharp as a papercut to her mind. Her voice shook. "What... can we do now? There's nothing left..."


Skunk scowled. "What can we do?"


Owl spoke quietly, almost to herself. "More people."

Goat quirked his head to one side. "What's the center?"

Once again the world shifted. This time, the view was of a massive expanse of white. Great spires of something that looked almost like crystal rose up from the white ground, and white flakes drifted down from the pale sky above. One peak rose towards that sky, dwarfing all the others. Above the peak floated a glowing... something. It flickered red, green, yellow, purple, flaring off great tendrils of energy and sucking them back in. It was unmistakably magical.


Owl spoke again, her voice slightly stronger. "What... what were those things?"


The rememorist swallowed. "And what... will they do?"


She nodded, wiping the tears from her eyes with one hand. "Then... then we have no choice. We can't let this happen to anyone else. We have to stop them."


The shadows rippled around them, and the three were falling again out into the empty void of fog.

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