The Rise of the Space Faerie: Discovery - Part One
Laimane sighed and shivered as the rain pouring from the
stars drenched her from head to toe. Ducking into a crouch to better fight the
mighty winds that now blew, she instinctively navigated the winding streets of
Faerieland, getting home the only thought on her mind now. She could still feel
the tingle of instinct attempting to brush her down strange streets and dark alleyways,
but she ignored it, focusing on remembering the tangle of side streets that would
lead her to her small cottage home on the outskirts of the city.
Laimane was eager to get home for reasons besides
the rain. Rain was rare in Faerieland and was often considered an ill omen,
and she didn't need the rain to remind her that remaining on the streets any
longer could be fatal. And yet, as she finally lifted her head and looked around,
she was deeply tempted to investigate the alley that now lay before her. It
branched off at a strange diagonal, the slant designed so that at this angle
she could only see two feet down the street before the opposite wall got in
her way. Unlike most of the walls that made up the Maze, a district of Faerieland
that consisted of streets and the buildings that were their boundaries, the
walls of the shops surrounding her were built of some strange black stone, not
the pale marble that was used for most of the Maze. The dark stone was chipped
and battered, and made the streets seem even more forbidding, if that was possible.
Laimane was in a strange area of the Maze, one she had rarely traversed before,
and where it was thus almost certain that she would get lost. She knew that
there were many possible dangers lurking down that road, but she also knew that
whatever great need had pressed her to come out of her haven, late at night
in the pouring rain, was waiting for her just down that hidden passage.
She frowned and impatiently brushed her lengthy
locks from her face. What if these feelings she had-all of this-was just a trick,
a plot intended to catch her off-guard once and for all, to be preyed upon by
Her ears pricked as a sound other than the constant
drumming of the rain met them, the sound increasing in magnitude and spreading
throughout the street like ripples in a pond. Footsteps. There were footsteps
echoing around her, heavy and clearly hurried. And if her hearing served her
well, they were headed in her direction. The road was completely deserted, whoever
it was would see her. Laimane didn't know who the footsteps belonged to, but
there was only one faerie she could think of who would be out on a night like
this. And she had to avoid that faerie at all costs.
The decision was made for her. Not daring to
look back, Laimane sprinted into the nearby alley, running as speedily as was
possible without making much noise. Haphazardly she dove into the shadows, stifling
the glow of her pale skin with her sopping cloak. Hardly daring to breathe,
she peered out the entrance to this enclosed street, which lay only a few feet
away from her. She could only hope that the faerie hadn't seen or heard her
escape. If she had… Laimane didn't know what she would do if she had.
Seconds dragged on like hours, the heavy footstep
growing in volume until they were as loud as the steps of Elephantes to her
ears. Laimane forced herself to be still; the slightest rustle of her damp cloak
could give her away. She thought of using her magic to try and identify the
traveler, but she scolded herself for the idea. If the faerie noticed Laimane's
magic, she would know Laimane was there, and would search without stop until
she found her.
Finally the steps stopped their pounding, softening
into a slow and cautious pace; the tempo reminded her of a Kougra getting ready
to pounce. A shadow slunk into the entrance of the alley, illuminated by a small
lantern hanging from the front of a nearby stall, its position giving away the
action of its source. Laimane grinned with triumph and silently gloated. Her
enemy was getting careless, to give her such an opportunity to spy.
Laimane's smile disappeared in an instant, as
if lead weights had grabbed her lips and tugged them downwards. She could see
what the faerie was doing, and the knowledge did not bode well for her. The
shadow, and thus the faerie, was crouching, a long thin finger tracing something
on the sodden ground beneath her.
She's following my footprints. She's tracking
me. It was a struggle for Laimane to not move, to watch as her stalker crept
closer and closer to her position. She hadn't though about her tracks, caused
by her muddy sandals, when she fled to her current hiding spot. Panic filled
her body, weighting her down as she struggled to think of what to do. She couldn't
just sit here, waiting to be found, she had to run, to hide, fight, use her
magic… she had to do something, but there was nothing she could do. Not unless
she wanted to make it easier for the faerie to find her.
Her senses became more acute, as they always
seemed to when she was in great danger. Laimane was aware of everything, of
the cold that mercilessly nipped at her ears, the watering of her frigid eyes,
the glow of the storm clouds high above her, the plink of drops of water landing
beside her, and the damp that came from the ones that landed in her hair. She
had never understood why she became so aware of life when she was helpless,
whether it was to aid a futile hope that she could still escape, or whether
it was just her body's way of reminding her of how much she had to lose, and
how much she wanted to live.
Lost in her deepest fears, she was startled
back into reality by a harsh curse in the faerie tongue. Focusing again on the
shadow, she watched as in a swift and sudden movement, the faerie rose and cursed
again, the hate-filled word seeming to burn Laimane's ears. The shadow began
to run; Laimane got a mere glimpse of a violet-cloaked form tearing past the
alley entrance before both shadow and form disappeared from her view. Frozen
in place, she listened to the fading footsteps, falling lighter and lighter
until she could no longer hear them. Only when she was certain her tracker had
gone did Laimane dare to exhale, gasping both out of exhaustion and need for
air and for the reassuring feeling that convinced her she was still alive.
Now that the faerie was gone, Laimane had confidence
in her plans. Her enemy was gone for now, but she might soon be back, and Laimane
didn't want to be caught off guard. She decided to leave the Maze and travel
to her home by walking by the outside walls, instead of traveling through the Maze itself. It was safer that way, without any chance of an encounter with
But first, she was going to explore the alley
and see what there was for her to find.
Her cramping limbs protested as she rose; their
anger at being in such an uncomfortable position for so long was clearly expressed.
The pain lessened as she began to walk, her long strides and a comfortable gait
helped to express a feeling of confidence, or so she hoped. If any faerie happened
to notice her, she would hopefully look more like a town faerie out for a night
time stroll than a restless fugitive, hiding from the world around her.
Laimane had been walking for about a half an
hour before she considered turning back. She had been walking at a hurried pace
and covered plenty of ground, and still had found nothing of interest. The path
she had followed was strange, constantly angling in one direction or another,
while most of the streets in the Maze were straight as a lance, and unlighted,
except for the glow of the muted moon and stars above. All of the coincidences
and oddities of the night were taking a toll on Laimane's nerves, and she was
nervous and wary. More than anything, she wanted to be off the streets. Still,
the tingling of goose bumps on her normally flawless skin and the slight throbbing
that had begun at her temple and dispersed to the rest of her head urged her
to continue, pressing her to keep walking, to discover what had to be found.
But, for the first time in her life, Laimane
found herself doubting her strange instinct, and longed more than anything to
leave the Maze and go home. For several years past she had worked and the beck
and call of her strange feelings, thwarting the plans of greater powers than
herself with its aid. And now it was stronger and more urgent than she had ever
felt it before, pressing at her like a heavy load upon her back, almost pushing
her forwards. But her feeling answered only to what she assumed was the greater
good; it had tossed her into dangerous situations many times before with reckless
abandon, situations that had almost cost Laimane her life. Laimane was merely
a vessel, a toy, of her instincts, and her life seemed not to be of importance.
This had always been the case, and her brush with the shadowy figure had made
her aware that the alley could easily be leading her to her death.
For the second time that night, fate made the
choice for her. As Laimane pondered what to do, a soft cry met her ears, echoing
from a short distance down the walled street. She stiffened, unnerved by the
eerie sounds that drifted down the path, carried by a soft wind that gently
brought the sounds to Laimane's ears. The cry increased in volume, until finally
it could not be classified as anything other than a wail. Though she had no
reason to know what it was, Laimane somehow knew that it was the wailing of
a young child.
Fury boiled in her veins, and every muscle in
her body was as cold as ice. How dare they! Her heart and mind were screaming
as, caution flung aside, Laimane broke into a run, sprinting as hard as she
possibly could towards the source of the sound. They didn't. They wouldn't!
Even they would not dare kidnap a faerie child! No matter how much logic her
mind tried to feed her, Laimane knew that these faeries were beyond logic. If
they could manage to steal a child and use it to catch her, they would.
The wailing grew to a sickening climax just as
Laimane was fed out of the alley into a walled courtyard. A spindly, black iron
gate, almost three times the size of the unusually tall faerie, blocked her
path into most of the courtyard, but as Laimane slowed to a stop and pushed
on the hinged door, she found that it was open.
Only then did she stop to think about what she
was doing. Everything was too convenient here, from her escape from the faerie
who tracked her to the unlocked gate before her. It was clearly planned that
she would enter the courtyard. But who wanted her to go in, and why?
Many answers came to Laimane's mind, all of them
morbid. The more she thought about it, the more sure Laimane became that this
was a plot. But Laimane could see, a mere six yards away, a small wooden cradle
laying in a beam of light, the stars above glittering as they were reflected
off of its polished surface. She could hear the murmur of the child as it finally
calmed, all of its tears spent. And she could feel the need to enter, her instinct
humming in her veins like electricity.
Taking a deep breath, knowing it might be her
last, Laimane roughly shoved the gate open and walked in.
To be continued...
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