This thread will serve for any particular piece I've worked on as I finish sections or scenes. I will clearly label which story any particular snippet is from. Feedback is welcome and encouraged; please just note which piece you're commenting on.
[This is a short story I've been idly working on based on the version of Thelus NPC Elegy used in my D&D campaign. I will be updating this ad hoc.]:
The dreams were always frightening. She did not sleep often, and each time she did the dreams brought memories of endless twisting black paths and strange gray light and cold and pitiless stars. But every time she woke, Mother would be there, with gentle hands and kindly reassurances and a warm glass of blood that would burn the chill sleeping always left from her bones.
But this time, when her eyes opened and began to form a monochrome picture of her sleeping chamber, it was utterly silent.
She was not, at first, afraid. Mother left their home sometimes. People would call for her. Sometimes Mother would bring someone back, badly mangled, and she would watch Mother stitch and muster her powers and mend their broken bodies. Sometimes she would assist Mother with the simpler tasks, though her skills were not profound.
And sometimes Mother would come back with a haggard expression and a body that was emptied of that strange soft light. Mother always seemed hollow afterwards, and cried sometimes, though it had seemed strange to her to see Mother so wounded.
She had sung for Mother once afterwards, on impulse, trying to mimic something Mother had played for her on the piano once. Mother had named her Elegy. A song for remembrance.
But this was different, Elegy decided. Her fingers clicked on the lid of her sleeping chamber and pressed the opening panel. It slid outwards with a click.
The world remained colorless. No lights were on. Mother would not like that. Elegy rose carefully from her sleeping chamber and placed bare feet on the floorboards. Shock ran through her in silvery lines, though her face never wavered.
The bookshelves â€“ wonderful books, hours upon hours of reading and cunning, delicate pictures â€“ had been ransacked. Torn to pieces, in fact. Ripped bits of parchment and vellum littered the floor like mounds of the first new-fallen snow. The chair she had sat in to read was tipped over in a corner. The sconces were smashed.
How could this have happened?
Now she was afraid. Afraid for Mother. She threw open the door and bounded to the next room in the cellar.
She had been born here in this clear, cold room. She remembered Mother explaining how to open her eyes. She remembered looking down to study her naked form, prodding curiously at the stitches.
It had always been still and quiet. But now, somehow, it felt empty. The marvelous symbols carved into the floor had been scuffed and cracked carelessly. Every time she had entered the room it had pulsed with power. Now it was utterly dead.
Elegy ran from the room to the stairs up and took them three at a time. But suddenly the strange cold light of the moon fell on her shoulders in pale silver-gray shafts, and she felt the wind lick her bare skin. That was not appropriate. Motherâ€™s house was sheltered and secure and quietly comfortable, and so warm she had had to acclimate herself to the strange prickling of a fireplace.
It was still warm, because ashes and cinders smoldered around her. One wall and much of the roof had collapsed. The interior was blackened and scorched. She smelt old blood. Gone was the familiar scent of baking bread and the soft warm light of candles and the echo of Motherâ€™s music.
This was impossible. This could not have happened.
She was still for a long time, thinking. She wondered if perhaps this was one of her dreams. If so, it was very convincing. Her hands slid into the ashes and sifted through them, searching forâ€¦she didnâ€™t know. Some trace. A clue.
She found her first perhaps five feet away. Old Memory was lying on his side in the ashes. But it wasnâ€™t Memory. It was hollow, empty, like the bodies and pieces of bodies Mother stored in their vats and tubes deep below. Something had crushed the side of his sternum inwards. Flies buzzed around his ruined muzzle. His forepaws were smeared with blood all the way up to the joints.
She reached out to him, hoping against hope that she would feel the soft feathery sense of something still in that ruined body. But she felt only limp skin and old, dead blood that crackled when she touched it. Memory was gone, and she did not know how to call him back.
The strange silvery panic was boiling fiercer and fiercer. She liked cold, but this chill was freezing her thoughts. The empty husk in front of her held her gaze as steadily as one of Motherâ€™s lodestones held metal.
How had Mother let it out? She had to before it froze her solid.
Elegy focused all her attention to a single purpose. Slowly, deliberately, fighting the half-connectedness sleep always left in her and her growing shock, she threw back her head and screamed until the mountainside rang, punching the strange grief out until her vision went blurry.
She had never stopped petting the corpse. She wondered why. Memory wasnâ€™t going to feel it. It wasnâ€™t Memory anymore. But Mother would haveâ€¦done something, at least.
Clumsily, Elegy blanketed Memory in ashes and left the body lying there.
She needed to find Mother. Any trace would be a start.
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