Tuesday, February 26, 2008
No way I could sleep even though it felt like it should be night time by now. Pacing circles in my cell nervously with the super charged energy given to me most likely by the combination of the red curry soup and my nerves my mind raced to figure out what was going on. At least that’s what I though was making me so anxious.
My ears pricked. I was sure I could hear the sound of some distant rumble outside the wall of my stone prison. It had been going on for nearly an hour or so I guessed. It was so hard to judge time down here. Michael had been rushing back and forth from somewhere, glancing at me then hurrying away again.
“What’s going on?” I called after him.
He shuffled around nervously. “San d’Oria is being attacked by the Orcs from Fort Ghelsba. Sinless has gone up with everyone else to defend the gates. I’m sorry, I’m going to see what I can find out. I won’t be long. Don’t worry, they’ll never get all the way down here.” He scurried off again.
Very odd. Usually they preferred to wait until we came out from the security of the city walls to pick weaker adventures off one at a time. Attacking the fortified city seemed like craziness. These were very strange times indeed.
“Hey Alison. Are you alone?” I heard someone familiar hiss to me in a mithran whisper.
Rushing to the front of my cell I called back. “Yes, yes hurry please I want out.”
Kammy skittered out quickly followed by a much slower moving and watchful Tastywaffles and an easy striding Zerokb. She grabbed my outstretched hands and a deep rumbling purr erupted from her. “Arrrre you ok?” she purred shaking her head a little as she finished. “Garness said there were no locks so we brought in some muscle.”
Kammy bounced back into the arms of the beastmaster elvaan named Tastywaffles who was her nearly constant companion and he caught her pushing her hair back away from her face without even looking at her as if it was so habit he didn’t even think about it anymore. I couldn’t help but smile at them and miss that kind of familiarity and affection in my life.
So distracted by them I didn’t even notice what Zerokb had done until I heard the ground crack under the giant’s great effervescent feet. Smiling in such a way that it made the hair stand up on the back of my neck, Titan winked at me. The most perplexing sense of déjà vu swept over me but as much as I struggled to grasp at it I couldn’t figure out why, like some strange dream forgotten as soon as I woke.
I’m not sure how he fit into the hall but he did. Great hands bent the bars as his fingers pushed through them to get a grip causing the steel to scream as it gave way to him. Devouring the spicy curry soup earlier had given me terrible heartburn as well as the energy burst but now it seemed to reach around my ribs crushing me like I was in the talons of the dragon I consumed. It caught me off guard and I cried out like the steel as we both felt ripped apart. Knees to the stone I watched the bars bent apart as effortlessly as taffy candy in his hands.
“Thank you old friend.” Zerokb said as he smiled and nodded to Titan. The giant bowed lower if that were possible in his current cramped quarters and disappeared as quickly as he had arrived clearing room for my friends to leap in to help me.
“Ouch.” I whimpered pathetically as the pain went away.
“What in Altana’s name was that about?” Zerokb demanded. “Did that spell link you to the cage?”
“Maybe.” I replied still feeling a little shaken as Kammy pulled me to my feet. “Let’s get out of here already. Someone is going to want to know what all that noise was about.” Pulling me along I stumbled after the mithra in the dark between the occasional torch hanging from the damp stone walls.
It wasn’t long until we heard the snarl of one of the large dog-like creatures that stalks the tunnels at all hours. I nearly slid as I stopped abruptly and jumped back just in time to avoid it’s long fangs as it lunged at me. Tastywaffles the beastmaster stepped in front of me showing the angry beast his palm and yelling at it to stop. To my great astonishment it laid down shaking its head and snarling but not attacking as the tall elvaan stared it down as if he was willing it with his eyes alone.
Scratching of toe nails on stone echoed against the walls as another dog ran to catch up with his companion. With a flick of his wrist Tastywaffles sent the first creature racing to meet the second leaping at him and catching his neck in his jaws. Crashing to the floor the dogs tore and snapped at each other until the second dog ran in a panic followed closely by his turncoat pack mate.
“Time to move.” Tastywaffles commanded us but my knees had already hit the floor again from the gripping pain.
“The bars! The bars! The bars!” I shouted as I held my abdomen tightly.
“Shusssh!” Kammy hissed.
“What in the world is she talking about?” Zerokb said clearly a little exasperated as he frowned at me.
“We need to hurry if we don’t want to be trapped in here by soldiers on one side and beasts on the other. Can’t you carry her?” Tastywaffles asked sounding a little tense himself.
“Do I look like a monk? She’s huge!” Zerokb complained as he pointed at me. “Why can’t Kammy just teleport her?”
Kammy glared. “You can’t teleport a prego Stupid. She and the baby could be very unnicely separated in the process this late term.”
“I can walk all by myself, thank you.” I snapped as I struggled to my feet. “I’m ok now.” I turned and glared at Zerokb and he gave me a flirtatious nod and a wink in return. Problem was I wasn’t entirely sure how long I could keep going on like this but stopping was not an option. I told myself it would be ok if only I could get to the fresh night air outside of this awful stifling place but I didn’t really believe me.
Wednesday, February 20, 2008
I held my precious purple link shell in my hands. It was cold to the touch but it warmed my little thieving heart to have it back. Poor naive child had it in his pocket. He was so willing to let me near him.
Why did they put me down here with only a child? Did they that wrongly underestimate me? Did they plan to keep me here with him locked away forever for being unacceptably different? Maybe they just wanted to keep me long enough to see if my child would have the proper length ears. I really did not want to birth this child down here and it wouldn’t be long now. I needed to get out.
I couldn’t believe that a Sandorian would treat another elvaan this way. I had to hope that this was very temporary and someone would come get me out and explain this madness before the end of the day. I was curious what they had in mind but I really didn’t want to stay here any longer to find out.
I didn’t hear anything near me so I put a pearl in my ear and heard it crackle briefly as it activated. “Can anyone hear me?” I whispered.
“Fearless Leader!” Garness rawred in excitement. “Where have you been? It’s been chaos without you. Naturally I stepped in and made due but we have been worried and…”
I had to interrupt. “Slow down big guy. I’m in trouble. I need you to listen.”
“Ok.” He responded in a markedly more business tone.
“I think I’m in the Bostaunieux Oubliette but I don’t know for sure yet. I only seem to have one guard right near me but I don’t know what could be down the hall. My cell doesn’t seem to have a lock so I have no idea how we’re going to open it. Can you get help? I really want out of here fast.”
“You get in more trouble than anyone I know.” He said with a bit of a chuckle.
“I know. I’m sorry. You’re the best. Don’t call me unless I call you. I don’t want it to give me away.”
“Understood” he replied.
“By the way, I’m pregnant.” I said matter of factly.
I heard him drop his pearl on the floor, no doubt in surprise, and I turned mine off now that he had all the important information. I needed to go quiet again and I really didn’t want to try to explain it all to him right now.
Then a horrible thought occurred to me. What if they had set it up knowing I would steal that linkpearl and call for help and now they knew my friends where coming and could listen in on their conversations? “Curse my absent minded spontaneity.” I mumbled and kicked a bucket hard against the wall venting out some tiny bit of my frustration.
I quickly turned the link shell back on. “Don’t use the pearls! There are spies listening!” I hissed in a rushed hush before flicking it back off.
“Are you ok Mam?” I heard the boy call as the flickering light came down the hall with him.
“Yes, I just don’t like captivity and I’m hungry.” I grumbled as I shuffled the hay against the wall looking up into his eyes angrily.
He looked a bit surprised at my change in demeanor. “I’m sorry. Sinless said that tomorrow you are going to be taken to the Chateau d’Oraguille to be a guest of the prince himself. I’m sure you will like it much more there. I’m sorry you don’t like it here.”
He looked genuinely sad that I was unhappy. He was such an odd and kind hearted boy. I’m sure he could have the potential for greatness if he wasn’t hidden down here and told he was a hideous beast unfit for the life with the rest of us. It just added to my anger. I wondered how naive this boy was. “Can you let the door stay open while I wait for the prince to call for me if I’m just a guest? I hate cages. It makes me feel just ill. Maybe you could come sit with me while we wait.”
He twisted his face and wrinkled his nose like a child. “I can’t open it. This one is magically sealed especially for you. It’s to keep you safe. Nasty monsters are lose down here and I wouldn’t want you to be hurt if one slipped past me. I do have food for you though. I’m sure you’ll feel better after a meal.”
He handed me grape juice and a bowl of hot red curry soup with some bread. I took it slowly and awkwardly so he wouldn’t notice that I dropped my link pearl back into his pocket. “Wow this is a nice meal for a captive. I don’t normally even eat this well at home.” I tasted a bit of the dragon meat and the heat of it burned in my chest and made me feel ten times stronger than my normal self. It was very good.
“It comes from the king’s own kitchen. You’re not a captive. You’re an important guest.” He looked cross that I didn’t seem to understand.
I let a huff of frustration sneak out. Honored guests don’t arrive by force to be left down here in this dank dark place. “Michael, you can slay the monsters down here alone?”
He nodded. “I have a lot of time to train and practice and Sinless brings me new weapons and amour when I earn them.”
I raised an eyebrow and sipped my soup. Really really odd things where going on down here and as much as I would love to find out more I needed to get out fast for Hope’s sake.
Friday, February 08, 2008
Added 2/23/08 Thank you Shiyu-Chan for another beautiful illustration!
“Jen?” I mumbled as I reached out and grabbed straw to steady myself.
“No one here but you and me today.” A young voice answered.
I was cold and confused. “I was with…then…” I paused to think harder as I tried to recall. “Someone attached us.” A moment passed before I groaned and squeezed my eyes closed at the pain of betrayal. Curling up tightly I held myself in a moment of indulgence. “Kallo.” I said painfully. “Where are my friends?”
“You are the only one they brought.” He answered.
I was in a cell about ten feet by twenty feet with hay piled up in one corner and a water trough in the other like an animal stall. It was dark and had no windows. Only torches in the hallway dimly illuminated the darkness making long shadows.
“Who are you?” I asked the boy. He was a tall adolescent and pale skinned with long wavy black hair peeking out from his hooded cloak. The torch he held reflected off the most captivating sky blue shade of eyes I had ever seen.
“I’m the caretaker. This is my section. They give me responsibility over the very most special things. You are the first person ever though. They said to watch you very close. I have to tell Sinless as soon as you start to act oddly. They said you’re my very most special thing yet.”
“Are you a human or an elvaan?” I asked. I couldn’t tell. He was tall and slender featured like an elvaan except for one important thing. His cloak draped snugly against his head without the support of elegant elvaan ears. The boy dropped his face and turned away from me.
“I’m elvaan. I’m sorry if I offend you. With my hideous deformity I stay here where Sinless protects me from the eyes of normal elvaans. He’s like a father to me.” He held his hand over his ear and slumped down in a nearby chair.
My mind raced. What if it wasn’t a deformity at all? What if this child was like mine. My moogle had told me my baby would look either hume or elvaan and no one would be able to tell the child was blended but one looked pretty blended to me.
“I’m a healer. May I touch them? Maybe I can help.” I lied.
He turned and looked at me with a shocked expression. “You could heal them?” His eyes were wide with hope.
“I’m not sure but I would like to look and see what I can do.” I said with a warm motherly smile.
Slowly he approached the bars and removed his hood. His face flushing red with shame but his eyes wide and full of trust as he knelt in front of me looking up at me with his jaw and hands clinched bravely. How could someone so innocent and trusting be in a place like this?
He was remarkable. He looked as I had hoped, an oddly beautiful marriage of the two races. His ears where those of a hume except for a lovely upward point at the top rear. On his chin he had the youthful beginnings of a hume beard. His neck was too short like a hume and but other than these clues he was the perfect picture of a young elvaan nearing adulthood.
“Can you help me?” he whispered anxiously.
“My name is Alison. What is yours?” I asked warmly.
“Michael.” He answered.
I reached out and pushed the hair away from his unique ear. “I am very glad to meet you.” I said as I smiled reassuringly to the young man.
“It’s not a curse that can be magically erased. I think you are one of the most special and handsome boys I’ve ever seen. Sometimes it’s good to be a different.”
He looked sad and disappointed as he stood up and dropped his eyes. “You’re very nice. I’ll bring you your breakfast.” He shuffled down the hall kicking rocks. The light went will him leaving me in near total darkness to take in what my eyes had just witnessed. I couldn’t help but wonder how many more there were like him. Meeting him almost made me forget the desperate situation I myself was in but not quite.
I knew where I must be. Deep under the stone walls of the Chateau D’Oraguille in Bostaunieux Oubliette is where I would expect knights from my home country to take me. In the dim light I looked around for some way out. A trap door, a lock I could pick, a loose bar, anything. I pulled at every bar of the cold cage until I was sure none were weak or loose in any way before falling down on the pile of hay to rest and think as my stomach growled to let me know the day was moving on and I was hungry. What I would do for a good cookie.
Friday, February 01, 2008
Jenjen stuck her arm out and caught me across the stomach as we both came to an abrupt stop. “Shhhh!” she hissed. “I smell something.”
I stopped and listened but had a hard time over the sound of my own heavy breathing. This baby felt like she could come any day now and moving at all was hard let alone sprinting. I could hear the normal noises of wind and the grunt of the large beasts of this area… but… as I listened closer I could also hear the tinkling sound of someone in chain mail armor moving about. I could even possibly make out the sound of more than one person not far outside of the cave we were about to dart from. We needed to get a better idea of what was going on.
“A lot of someones are out there and I think they want to fight.” She whispered wide eyed.
“I don’t want to fight today.” I whimpered as I supported my belly in my hands.
As Jenjen reached for her cesti I put my hand over her arm. “There must be a better way. Let me go peek and see what exactly we are dealing with.”
“I have to protect you. My brother will never forgive me if you get hurt because I let you go alone.” She whined.
I flashed her my most charmingly confident smile. “I’m still a thief, remember? I can handle this. They’ll never know I am near.”
Jenjen held her lip in her teeth as she nodded with wide concerned eyes. Hiding myself I crept to the end of the cave and peeked around the corner cautiously. I almost gasped too loudly when I realized what was happening. My heart raced as I backed slowly away and turned to creep back to Jenjen.
“It would appear the whole of the Temple Knights are here to welcome us and they brought a few goblins and…” I paused a bit taken back by my heartbreaking disappointment. “Kallo is with them and he doesn’t look like a prisoner.”
My mithra friend hissed in anger as her face tightened. “I’m going to trap that rat and make him suffer as I kill him slowly. How dare he!”
“Not too loud! We need to think of some way around them. There is no way we can handle them all even if we waited for Gurok and Kjarbo and I wont be responsible for my friends getting killed or imprisoned.”
Her face lit up. “Cakes!” She squeaked in delight as she dug through her bag.
“I do love cake but I just can’t eat when things are this dire.”
Jenjen giggled and held out Mithra rice cakes. I smiled back at her. “Purrrfect.” I giggled and took one. The Rhinostery in Windurst developed these magical little delights and used them as a novelty treats during special holidays and events. I eagerly popped one into my mouth and hummed in delight at its sweet smooth taste.
As soon as I swallowed the fast acting magic made my whole body tickle and caused me to giggle and squirm uncontrollably as I shrank into the size and image of a mithran child complete with short ears and long tail that waved with a mind of its own. Jenjen bounced and clapped her hands together in delight. Her cake had already shrank her down too and we looked like twin sisters.
“Who’s in here?” A gruff voice called into the cave.
Jen and I giggled in response and purred as we skipped innocently in circles arms locked loosely with one another. “No one but us.”
“Children shouldn’t be in here alone.” The red haired elvaan said as he put his hands on his hips and tried to look stern through a smile. “What are you two up to?”
Holding hands and stopping to look up at the man we smiled warmly as I explained to him. “We want to see Tavnazian Safehold like we heard about in school. The mean taru in our class said we were not brave enough but we are plenty brave.”
“Way more than them.” Jenjen chimed in.
“We don’t care if it’s haunted. We’re not afraid of any silly ghosts.” Jenjen and I let out a unified rawr and ran past the elvaan. We had to make sure to get by them all before our magical cakes wore off.
The elvaan caught us both by the back of our shirts as we ran by and carried is out. We yowled and struggled but it was no use in this little form. “These two say they are little adventures out to see the Safehold. What should we do with them?” he asked his superior officer.
Kallo laughed and took us one in each arm. “Well aren’t they just the cutest little girls you have ever seen? Like little matching dolls aren’t they? I suspect they will grow up quicker than you think. You girls down mind keeping us company while we have a little bit of a lunch do you?” He looked at the knights. “They must be hungry right?” He grinned evilly. He knew.
I began to tickle and I knew we didn’t have long. “We don’t want to stay with you!” Jenjen protested as she squirmed. Taking a cake from her bag she tried to stuff it in my mouth but Kallo reached around her and took it. “That is our lunch! She hollered.
I reached for it but it was no use. Kallo held us tighter. “I’m sorry dolls.” He said almost sincerely as he handed the cake to a knight. “Eat this.” He commanded.
The elvaan raised an eyebrow and ate it. “It’s quite good.” He barely got out before he became our triplet.
“I was raised in Windurst too.” Kallo said as he held us tighter. To our horror we transformed back into ourselves in his arms. He kissed our noses. “Aren’t they just too cute for words now?” he chuckled back to the others.
Jenjen bit him hard and he pushed her away into the waiting arms of two of the knights who she preceded to pummel with her fists and feet as they tried to get a grip on her.
I head butted Kallo causing his nose to bleed and pulled lose reaching for my daggers as I lunged forward. Kallo grabbed me again and I spun around and stabbed his arm. “Run back Jen!” I cried.
Our bodies locked as we became trapped in a cocoon of magic. Someone had cast a bind spell on us. “Never send a thief to do a black mage’s job.” Someone chuckled as another used his healing magic on Kallo.
“You’re a little out numbered for running.” One of the knights said. “Tie them up and let us get back quickly. The wife says if I am late for dinner one more time this week she’s going to stop feeding me all together.” He chuckled and seemed very pleased with himself. I couldn’t wait for the bind spell to wear off so I could kill his ugly face.
I couldn’t help but let hormonal prego tears roll down my face. “Why?” I cried as I looked at Kallo.
“Thief, please check it.” He said as he patted the heavy looking gil purse on his belt. It amazed and hurt me to see how simple minded and evil a person he really was. I really wanted to hope that there was more to his betrayal than met the eye but I feared that it was nothing but self-centered greed. He turned his back on us and walked away.