Posts tagged Village

The Village That Burned

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It was cold, not the bitter and biting cold, but the still calm cold that follows after a peaceful snowfall. The kind of cold where you could lay in it until the snow melts. To a passerby that’s exactly what she was doing, spending her free time laying in the snow. It wasn’t until you got closer and realized she was covered only in tattered clothing and warm sticky blood that you realised the truth.

The village of Gable was spread out, each neighbor trying to be as far away from the other as they could possibly be. It was a loveless village, built to withstand the cruelty of those around them. The Dwarves resided in the center, their houses were once stacked together as a community but the empty rooms and buildings left crevasses where families once lived. They made up the smallest of the population, for the very reason that they were the bravest species ever to walk the continent.

The Orcs took up the space closest to the forest, their brutish nature keeping most other creatures at bay. Their watch towers spaced apart to watch the most amount of ground possible, serving as everything to them. If not for their weapons, the watchtowers would be the orcs prize possessions.

The Fae’s or Fairies (depending on your take of the entirety of the race) took the inner west side of Gable. They could be found farming or looking for anything else alive that they could make use of. Not typical actions for the magical creatures. But, after all, Gable wasn’t exactly natural in itself.

Lastly, there was ‘The East’ as it was called. The East was empty, it had been for centuries and would remain that way for eternity. The legends say humans once inhabited the land, but that leaves little room for logic and little explanation for the dark magic that hovers over the area.

It was mid rotation the day it was found, freshly fallen snow covered the village and the smell of smoke was on the horizons, making the orcs ever on edge.

“My dad says the snow is a sign of death.” Dergu said, kicking it with his military boots. orc teenagers were known for their short temper and constant need for altercations. His face was already littered with marks. Rusty red scars contrasting to the dark armour they all had to wear.

“You’d think your kind would appreciate it.” Neglorum grunted. “Being that you hide easier in it.” Ah there it is, the grumpiness and bluntness of the dwarf. Already so clearly ingrained in Neglorum’s personality.

“Some of us, like warm weather and fresh air Neg.” Dergu spat. “We don’t all have our heads affected by metal you know.” If not for their usual banter, one might think the two young adults hated each other. An onlooker would assume so, pale orc skin verses the darkness of a dwarfs. But for these two it was business as usual. (Heavens forbid they actually utilize the word friendship.)

“Insufferable.” A fleeting voice said from behind them. But before either boy could turn around the owner of the voice was in front of them. Ail Stone-Shade, or Stone, to people who knew him better than most, wasn’t as short as Neg or as tall as Dergu but his Big black eyes and pointy ears gave him away.

“Would it kill you not to sneak everywhere you go?” Neglorum asked brushing past him to continue on their way. It was the end of the month, and that means all three boys have been sent by their families to tend to the biggest tree on the edge of the forest. If the species could agree on one thing it was that this tree was precious and the most talented of their young should be tasked with its upkeep.

“Just because you insist on trampling around doesn’t mean I do.” Ail said, his light voice coming out as a song in the winds.

“What’s wrong, Stone? Scared the donkeys on your farm will notice you?” Dergu chuckled, slinging his broadsword over his shoulder. Having removed it in a startle when the Fae had first arrived.

“Trust me,” Ail said. “I’ve been noticed by the two biggest donkeys here already.” he said with a signature smirk. And It wasn’t long before the other two were chasing him down looking to push him into the ground for such a joke. But not as friends would of course, because in Gable friendships just aren’t allowed.

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I watch carefully as it rests on my chaise lounge. Sat myself with hands sheathed to the elbows in claret, I have poured generously into his trembling glass, provided grapes with only slight hints of rough cutting. Its eyes settle somewhere between the top of my head and the oil painting of my parents. I have lived lonely in my castle for so long that the colour has all turned stale; the silk has turned to cobwebs. The velvet is so drenched with blood that we can no longer tell what is dye and what is death; how many gallons have been shed and soaked up. Sharp corners follow you always and catch echoes. There are a hundred long corridors fit for racing down, if one ever had a child or friend. Rocks have long shot out the ornate windows, and I have long ceased replacing the wood boards when they rot. Old visitors would complain of the dust and dim light, the china plates and furniture left to fall into ruin; the clock always oscillating between midday and midnight. The cracking paper, grown grotesque with points and curls that were once purple, shrinks from corners, like dewy lettuce leaves folding back. Remembering to smile with no teeth, my voice lilts to grow musical and warm – to soft-speak the shivering thing with tones of saffron into a haze of almost-sleep.

On moon days, when melancholy has held me in bed for weeks upon months, I rouse myself with force. I float along upturned soil, chin held up as though pulled by elastic threads and a heart that I batter with threats. At my best I need only the barest of weapons to convince my prey to come hither. Sometimes just a smile will do. You have never seen such unsettling perfection that will not age and derelict with her home: eyes and canines that bicker so silently over which will pierce you first. My hair rushes for the ground like cascades of worm silk; my face, so unfairly proportioned the religious villagers cursed me and would not look in my eyes.

And I have nothing to do these days but catch strays. Invite them in and serve cold duck; bewitch them rotten and take out each eye. These eyes, most nights, become ornament: crystalline bluebells for lonely corners, that whisper to the sparkling sea. I hang up their shirts to replace the curtains long nibbled at by moths, spend endless nights sewing pocket squares into bunting. And I butcher, and I ravage, and I sing myself to sleep.

Do not look in her eyes, do not look in her eyes, chant the old hags. Eyes are the mirror of your wanting: eyes are the black pits of lost light wherein flesh is soaked in and gobbled up.

Picking my claws and brittle teeth, I sit for days in front of my mirrors, tripping into ever so slightly distorted reflections till I cannot be sure who I am. I talk and pretend they talk back. Whole floors are filled with them, by now – huge and small things that reflect each other and myself. Of course, it is easy to get lost, in this maze of distillations. Sometimes they do all the work for me – disorientating the poor rabbit until days have gone by and you are just full of imploration to be eaten: to be devastated and annihilated by the most delicate set of ivory hands.

Raised to be appreciative of beautiful things, I display my prey as I have seen others do in huge mansions. I have stared many a decapitated fox in the glassy eye, conversing with its master over red wine and soft cheeses that were always poked through with little bulbs of garlic. They hoped to catch me out, I suppose, the superstitious people who were once my neighbours, and spat over their left shoulders whenever we talked of blood.

Revolted, however, by the thought of decapitation, I hang up my dead bodies by the neck. Marionette threads pass through small holes in each hand and foot, before my tall babies are suspended from the ceilings and walls. And they dance! Oh, do they dance – they jerk in beautiful harmony with me; spin and entangle themselves in their strings, so they can never be freed to run away. When I tangle in with them, stay pressed to the skin as it cools – oh, you have not known such loveliness. I rub my cheek against their chests, smiling at a stillness of heart alike my own. Mais je suis désolé, jeune fils –désolé, désolé – we ballet. I bewitch more men to help manage the strings, sometimes; when there are over twenty marionettes and I cannot coordinate the dance myself. They spiral, they pirouette – they flit like the velveteen bats blending impeccably into our sharp, melancholy-spangled nights of red and rich blue. Our days are only pale lavender for countable hours a year; they dissolve, clandestine, into dusk-ridden nights that sit witness to endless slaughter.

But not yet, not yet, my new-born men. First, I will cradle your infantine bodies. Depleted, you shall dance through cobwebs and pools of sinking vermillion, learning the most ancient of this family’s footsteps. Dust rouses, blushing chests splice open and deluge: cataclysms follow each other with no breathing space, in these withering turrets of derelict that home a once tender, young mellow of a girl. She comes back up for air, at brief moments, when I lower my cocoons into safe-spaces under the floorboards, to rest for long hours and recoup.

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