I welcome all thoughts, is this even worth working on?
|...and there it was, the bridge in the mist. Kiarrah felt the tightening in her throat, the old fear crawling in her belly. Breathe, girl! she told herself in her best imitation of the shashkimi's steady ageless voice. Fear will defeat you. She swallowed and sat on the cold stone, drawing two clensing breaths and resting her wrists lightly on her knees as the old one had taught her. Kia drew inward, calling the light to her. Eyes lidded, she felt a warmth slide down over her shoulders. This is new Kiarrah thought, and then let the thought go. There would be time enough later to examine the Journey....
Something touched her lightly. Kiarrah lept to her feet and reached for a sword she didn't even know she carried, all in one smooth motion, as if she had been a warrior for years. The grass beneath her feet was soft and lush, as plush as any noble's bed. Wait...grass? bare feet? "And just how would ye be knowin' that Kia? Slept with any nobles lately?" She blinked and looked around her, turning as she did. From where she stood at the height of a short rise a land of new green spread like a cloak. Flowers of every description dotted the hillside, and a short distance to the east trees swayed gently. Small birds flitted here and there, dancing on the light breeze and singing. Kia felt the joy and fierceness of them, vying for the best mates, the best nesting places and for a moment was lost in the power of it. "'Scuse me, darlin' but would ye mind not steppin’ on me tail?"
Kia looked down and saw...what? A mouse? A squirrel? It was larger than any rodent she'd ever seen, but had aspects of many. "Umm, sorry...sir?" She stepped back and the creature gathered its tail, brought it quickly to its mouth and groomed it with a few quick strokes of its hands and a lick.
"No harm done it seems." It shook itself all over like a wet dog and sat, gesturing for Kia to do the same. "and ye can put away that glittery thing...it hurts the eyes it does." She looked at the sword she held. It was the color of that yellow gem -- what was it? She'd seen it once..amber..that was it. Gold like the sun and it glowed with fire. Kiarrah found that at her hip was a scabbard slung from a strap over her shoulder, and she slid the sword in with another practiced motion that felt right and odd all at the same time. "Ahhh better. Thank ye."
"What is this place? I'm pretty sure this isn't where I was, last I remember."
"Mmmm yessss. Questions. Tricky things they are. I suppose the answer to that is both easier and more complicated than ye want. Food? Are ye hungry?" The big mouse-thing extended a hand and in it was a crumb of something, perhaps bread. "I am actually, and thank you, " she said, not wanting to be rude. He tipped his head to one side and watched her, his whiskers flicking forward and back. Kia opened her hand and he dropped the crumb into it. As it passed through the air between their hands the shape of the crumb changed. It grew into a loaf of hard-crusted sourbread. She ripped the loaf in two and offered half to her companion. "Please, I don't want to eat alone."
"Hrmmm yess, yes. Its thankin' ye I am."
"So where are we?"
"We are not here. Ye are not here, and I am not here in an entirely different place." His black eyes glittered with some private joke. "Alright, darlin', I can see ye don' understand. Fer yer kindness I will try to answer as best I can. This" the mouse-man gestured in a wide motion, "is not here at all. There is no here, not in the way ye understand it. Ye are still where once ye were, as am I. Don't look too hard!" Kia found the grassy hill double-imaged over a cold misty bridge for a brief moment, untill the little creature's touch brought the grass back into focus. Understanding washed over her in a sort of cold shiver, and she had to take another deep breath to push the tightness away.
"We're in the otherworld aren't we?"
"One of them, in a manner of speakin', yes. There's many."
"I have so many questions....."
"Aye, darlin', ye do."
"Who are you, please? I can't keep calling you the mouse-thing."
The creature leaned back and laughed a deep laugh that semed to come from someplace far down in the earth. "So thats how ye see me? Thats rich! Ho ho.."he collapsed on the grass and it was several minutes before he was able to speak again. "He he...well hrmmm, Mouse will do, I think. Yes Mouse is a fine name indeed. But that is not the question ye wished to ask."
Kia felt as though her heart might burst from beating too fast. The question she had longed to ask for so long... tears blurred everything, the colors swirling together-- "Why?" she managed to squeak out past a throat nearly closed. Breathe! Fear will defeat you... "Why? I dream...such horrible things... why did I kill my parents?"
Kiarrah blinked. The bridge in the mist took shape again before her eyes. The rock beneath her as hard and real as the grass had seemed soft and green moments before. She fought the tears back, shaking as she drew breath. She tried to fight back the tightness, the crawling in her stomach that never left her. She stood and turned her back on the bridge, defeated once more. Then there were arms wrapped round her shoulders and Kia found herself facing Mouse, a double image of green and bare rock shifting back and forth. She burried her face in Mouse's shoulder...not caring that somehow he was now the right height for such things. "Look at me, darlin'. There are some things I can't give ye simple answers to, but this one...Look At ME!" Mouse's voice commanded her attention. His eyes held no mirth, but instead a deep compassion and ..anger. "You did nothing of the kind!"
"Then- then wha- what happened? I dream- I re-remember-"
"What ye remeber is not real. No, darlin', this much I know. Ye are not an orphan by any of your own doing."