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The Pen is Mightier than the Sword
Harmonious_Echos

Awakening, Quickening

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Half-elven Harmony has been asleep for a long time...due to a spell perhaps, or the darkened air of the Old Penn, or perhaps the mischief of her other-self gone awry. She isn't sure. What she is sure of, is what her senses now tell her. Something has changed.

But what?

She looks around her at the cobweb-cluttered walls, the crumbling stone, dark bits of moss growing along the damp floor, and lets out a little sigh. Her breath rustles through the air, and as her senses flitter in, she notices she's laying on her side, in a long, dark hole in the wall--a ledge, really, a few feet above the floor.

Glancing down, she sees she's covered in a soft blanket. It's made of russet velvet, a deep warm color, though nearly bare from moth-holes and nearly indistinguishable beneath the layer of dust.

She sniffs, and the scents of age and decay fill her nostrils. Ugh.

Carefully, (it occurs to her that her surroundings may warrant caution) she lifts a hand from the stone beneath her and raises it to push aside the soft covering. She slides first one, then both legs carefully from the hole, props herself up into a sitting position. Her head reels, but she knows from the cool air that whatever, or whoever, left her there left her clothing-less; she lifts the covering to bring it with her. Unfortunately, it crumbles when it is lifted. wiping her eyes, she thinks, Oh well, there's no one here anyway. Slowly, she slides out of the hole onto the floor, and stands, coated in dust, gazing around her.

I must have been here a long time, she notes; her previously shorn hair now falls once again to her feet, covering her like a shimmering cloak.

What is this strange place?

Long hallways stretch behind and before, and another to her left. All the same, they bear more long shelves, some with quietly resting figures, long since turned to bleached bone and ashen flesh. A soft absence of meaning hovers over them, as if they are somewhat unreal, or simply pieces of the décor.

A Bone-house? How curious.

The walls and floor, and the arched ceilings rising to a clear white round lamp at regular intervals, all seemed real enough though.

Might as well try one, she thinks. Nothing to be afraid of, yet.

Glancing back to the hole she came from, Harmony notices a tiny basket sitting on the floor before her shelf. Bending down, she lifts the lid.

A bright flash of golden light fills her face for a second, and when her eyes clear, she sees a light-wand & a long tunic of fine white linen. Naturally, she puts on the tunic, and hefts the (surprisingly heavy) light-wand...with fingers trembling in shock.

She has noticed one more thing, in the brief seconds it took to turn, bend, lift the lid, remove the tunic, and slide it on.

She's pregnant.

Very much so.

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"I'm sitting on the floor", Harmony thought. "Why am I sitting on the floor?"

Oh, right--she'd dropped the light-wand, tripped over a cobblestone, and narrowly missed cracking her head open on a low ledge on her way down.

Dizzily, she grasped the still-lit wand & heaved herself back up. Unaccustomed to her new weight, she swayed drunkenly & grasped the wall for support. Carefully, she leaned on it, and sat down on the ledge.

She thought a moment, then plucked a few strands of her hair & braided them deftly into a wreath. Stroking it, she whispered a three-strand spell--Sure-foot, light-weight, luck. She broke off the light-weight strand halfway & pulled out the other end to ensure she wouldn't be so light she would float over the ground. She carefully twisted it back on itself to deactivate it, & tucked it in a pocket for later. Never know when you might need to float, after all. The three-strand she wrapped around her neck and activated with a Minor Wyrding knot.

Steady on her feet now, she lifted the light-wand & continued down the corridor.

A cluster of fireflies floated at the next bend, making a light tinkling music as they flashed & flew.

"Muse!!" Harmony croaked, her voice rasping with disuse.

The firefly-cluster flashed brightly, twisted, and morphed into strand of tiny bells; they jingled in unison, and Harmony felt Muse's projected ether hug her. Then it drew back, and the fireflies reappeared, forming a flashing "?"

"I know," Harmony said, "I'm pregnant. I'm still trying to figure out what happened...how I got here, where 'here' is, and how I wound up this way."

"I heard that before," buzzed Muse, laughter darkening her firefly-light to purple.

Harmony frowned in disagreement, but didn't argue. She'd learned arguing with Muse was exactly what Muse wanted, and it was never worth the effort. Muse would never be couth, or even sane--she was loyal and amusing, occasionally useful, and that was all. Being another side of Harmony's self didn't mean that Harmony didn't sometimes wish she could be free of Muse's more boorish tendencies.

Sensing the argument wasn't going to happen, Muse turned her fireflies black and began whining her annoyance.

Harmony shook her head, and waved down the hall. "come if you wish"

"Like I would miss this," Muse buzzed, "a pregnant lady wandering half-naked through a bone-house. The only thing that could top that, would be a dragon made of bacon!" The fireflies suddenly began making a hissing noise, and Harmony's nostrils twitched as the scent of bacon wafted by her face. Her mouth watered, and her stomach began to growl viciously.

Great, she thought, not just a pregnant lady wandering half-naked through a bone-house. A spell-supported pregnant lady, in an unknown location, with an ether-self that won't stop cracking crude jokes--and I'm hungry now, too. This is SO not funny.

Muse burst out laughing as she sensed Harmony's thought, but Harmony kept walking.

The floor in this part of the passage was still un-even, but in places it seemed almost to have a pattern to its shifting rise & fall of the cobbles; under the dust & black moss a few shone brightly-colored, too, a striking contrast to the walls & ceiling which were crumbling & grey.

Harmony shifted some of the grimy moss with her foot, and saw a gleaming red tile flash beneath, reflecting red sparks onto the wall.

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Red sparks made Harmony think of Hell. They were beautiful, such a warm, tempting color, but so dangerous...red light, red magic, red, always the sign of danger.

'I wonder if this whole hall is red stone underneath the dust?' She wondered. Her hips still felt stiff and sore, even with the lightness enchantment, and each step was getting harder as she walked. Soon she'd have to find someplace to rest, find food, something. Muse, sniggering at her elbow at the mention of food (yes, she knew she looked fat) didn't help.

Still thinking, she shifted a foot onto one of the red tiles and pushed down. Just as she'd thought, a distant clicking noise began. Her sixth sense told her whatever made that noise, it wasn't good. But it sounded a long way off, and she was just too tired to keep moving. Too hungry. Too sore. Too confused.

she settled herself on the floor against the wall, put up a silence barrier between herself & Muse, and tried to think clearly.

A soon as she got in a sitting position, though, her belly became a problem. It jutted out in front of her like a linen-covered hill, forcing her to sit cross-legged and straight-backed, an extremely uncomfortable position. To top it off, the instant she sat down she felt the strangest sensation she'd ever felt before--the baby inside was moving around. Small but forceful kicks and thumps, making her whole body quiver. What do I DO, she wondered--I don't know anything about babies, or having babies! All I know is magic, and how to survive...

Suddenly she noticed Muse was making an awfully strong attempt to break the sound-barrier between them. Looking over When she say Harmony looking, she stopped and gestured down the dark tunnel they'd come down. Harmony dropped the sound-barrier and immediately noticed the clicking sound had grown significantly louder. A soft red glow rose from the red floor tiles beneath her feet. With a sigh, she heaved herself to her feet and set off again down the passage in the opposite direction, Muse bouncing along behind, harrying her with agitated squeaks.

Harmony's mind couldn't seem to grasp the situation; it kept wandering back to that mysterious rolling, kicking sensation. "Baby's awake" she thought, feeling it quiver again. What a strange, strange thing. She didn't even wonder how she got pregnant, really; it was enough to assume someone--or something--took advantage of her while she was presumed dead. Whoever it was, must be sick in the head, though. To sleep with a 'dead' elf girl, who looked like a human only 12 years old? That's like, gross. But she didn't feel angry, or even taken advantage of--just a sort of soft curiosity. She was still as much herself as she'd been before; only now, she had something more. Some ONE more, she guessed. A someone who wasn't Muse, who would have to accept her for her, for once. Not like all the other pure-blood elves or humans, who looked at her like a freak.

The rising noise level in the hall broke into her thoughts, finally, and she turned with her light-staff outstretched, to see a mechanical wonder roll around the corner behind. It was all metal, 'walked' forward by rolling on a wheel of small metal feet, each shifting forward by a turning ball of some sort that acted as a gravity-center. At the sides, it held a variety of blades, which sliced through the air with deceptive slowness, turning only a hair's breadth from the walls of the hall. There was no room to let it pass. Muse screeched and lept for the ceiling, and Harmony undid the constraint on her lightness-spell. Her body floated up toward the domed ceiling, and she snugged herself in alongside a crystal light, as close as she could get. The thing was tall, too, whatever it was. At least it didn't appear to be spelled, or intelligent at all. Only meant to shred whatever was unlucky enough to be in its path. It was slow, though, and she was getting a cramp from hanging sideways along the ceiling before it had moved on enough that she could let herself back down to the floor. She noticed something else, now, too--the mech, whatever it was, was also scraping the floors and walls clean of the decay and moss, leaving them shiny and bare. Maybe it was spelled, after all--she hadn't seen any bits of dirt or filth flying around, and it hadn't been pushing a mountain of decay in front of it. But the dirt must've been going somewhere. The newly cleaned floors weren't all red, either--there was a clearly marked path in green tile, straight down the middle. And up ahead, where a death-shelf lay, the green extended to the shelf before going back to the center of the hall. A sort of safety-path, perhaps? Or maybe the red tiles were a sort of dirt-cleaning trigger, that required something a little heavier than dust & black moss to trigger them.

Harmony lowered herself to the floor gently, and took a good look at the green tiles before setting her feet directly on them. Nope, no trap here.

A few feet further down the hall, another branch slid off to the right, as grimy as the her hall had been before. She noted the sheared-off look of the grime and dust, and saw that it was literally about 1/2 an inch thick in places, with another 1/2 inch to an inch of moss at the corners. She wondered if she should follow the cleaner path, or take this one & risk the cleaner coming past her again to scrape this path clean, too.

As she stood wondering, Muse did a backflip & landed as a white wolf, looking regal & majestic until you noticed it had wide purple eyes & a distinct lack of teeth.

It started forward into the muck of the dirty hall, then abruptly stopped & barked, twice. 'This way leads to a dead end', came the thought.

'A dead end, with what looks like a door, hidden under a decoration on that side'. Muse pointed with her long white nose.

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Don't stop posting now. I want to know what happened to the pregnant lady :)

 

This reminds me of some Tanith Lee books btw, the style of writing and the feel it creates.

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Harmony stood wondering what to do next; but the lure of a door was too much to resist. She stood for several minutes, listening to the sound of the retreating mech, before following Muse's nose down the dimly lit, grimy hallway. Carefully, she stayed to the center of the hall. The dust and muck once again obscured the tiles, but she assumed the green path would follow same as the previous hall. Reaching the dead end, Harmony saw that the decoration, as Muse had called it, was nothing more than a tattered tapestry of green leaves, obviously hand-sewn, obviously old. The edges crumbled when Muse bounded up and sniffed at it. Harmony waved her aside, impatient to see what lay behind it. At that moment, Harmony was struck by a singularly curious sensation; an almost falling, dizzying rolling sensation, followed by a shock of extraordinary pain. She gasped as her muscles tightened against her will, and her body lurched against the tapestry, sliding down to rest on the wall. Muse flashed into a small Fire-sprite, hovering next to her with a worried expression: she could feel the pain, too, but couldn't understand it. This was no magic, no wound. The moment passed, and the sensation eased.  Looking down at herself, at her body, Harmony realized that her stomach muscles were tight as steel bands, and beneath that, it felt like her body was curled in on itself. A few minutes more, and Harmony was able to hoist herself back to her feet. Heavily, she reached up to brush away the hanging tapestry. It fell to the floor in rags; behind it, a heavy metal door frame was filled with a hard, solid wooden door. One single hole at the top of the frame blazed with light, warm and golden; sunlight! Harmony's eyes filled with sudden tears. A door to the outside!! 

 

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Wow.

And I thought I took long breaks in my writing. 😁

Hope you are able to keep going on this for a while. I want to know how this turns out.

 

 

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The light broke over Harmony's face like a warm caress...she had not realized how deeply she missed the sun. Maybe it was the length of her stay under ground? Maybe it was the circumstances of her burial, which were still a fog? Maybe it was Muse, who lept at the crack of light and swarmed through it, leaving her alone, for once...seconds later, a quick 'tapping' rang out as the edges of the door burst inward, some invisible seal breaking, and loosing gusts of dust which spurted at Harmony's face. Slowly she reached out and grasped the handle, a simple curve of metal set in the heavy wood. "PUSH, Muse!" she thought, and pulled, leaning back, using her newfound weight. Slowly the door swung inward, til it stood open, and Harmony tumbled forward through it, laughing and gasping. She shaded her eyes as they adjusted to the bright golden light. Muse was skipping around in miniature fawn form, head-butting tree trunks...tree trunks! And grass! A blue sky opened its soaring chasm above her, and the sunlight sparked and glittered off dew-drops on a long, sloping hillside which spread on two sides. Between the hills, almost directly in front of her, Harmony saw a dimple of a valley, with a tiny brown creek winding down the center. It found its beginnings at the side of the rock-wall face through which she herself had just passed. Harmony left Muse to her rejoicing and studied the wall. It wasn't that high--only a few feet of wall appeared above the door, before disappearing under a thick cover of ivy, and then more grassy hillside, which rose above that. Further up, Harmony saw craggy slopes and snow-capped cliffs. It appeared the entire burial maze was beneath a mountain. No wonder it had been dark...and oddly magical. Harmony started for a moment at the stream, rippling merrily out of a hole in the solid rock beside the door; where did the water come from? There had been no trace of water within, only a moldering dampness. Yet here it was. 
Muse stopped head-butting trees and chose to jump in the water instead, splashing drops everywhere, bending down to scoop handfuls and fling them; laughing squeakily, she came up with a fish and hurled it at Harmony. Harmony pinned it on the grass with her foot, and grabbling a few sticks, she clicked her fingers to start a fire. It would be nice to eat something real. 

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