Word Count: 1,675
Daily Reward: Maybe Chai and a Belgian biscuit for morning tea?
illustration by Crash (Fox?), depicted with plushie of Dark the Nidoran (from an entirely unrelated story).
Introducing the other plot: including some supernatural-style encounters and a non-supernatural cat.
Have a feeling my pacing is off, but don’t really care. It’s not like I’m writing this story for anything except my own gratuitous pleasure. I’m not going to sell it (probably). I’m not going to rewrite it. It’s just for fun. And half the fun of this passage is to reveal some of the finer intricities of the inner workings of Tirra-Inle. Note that I’m not going into huge detail here about the magic – magic is fairly common place to all Furrae involved and not worthy of being remarked on in any manner different from how we’d say “turned on the lights” or whatever. Likewise, Kataryna has some special traits that, whilst relatively unique to her – or rather stronger in her than other people – don’t feel unusual to her, since the story is written from her POV and she’s lived with them all her life.
Daniel isn’t in this chapter, although he is alluded to a couple of times.
Lilith was one of my Nocturne created for “Reborne”. She never made it into that story before I ran out of steam, and thus is very easily manouevered into this plot. Of course, she’s dead (allegedly).
Ursula is supposed to be a bear, but part of me feels I should transform her into a wombat.
Also, there are so many Pokemon in everyone’s neighbourhood right now (special event thing until the 11th)! I’ve achieved my word count, its just past 10 am and I start work at 11.30. I’m going hunting 🙂 I’m seeing Pokemon spawning INSIDE other Pokemon (weird Staryu/Nidoran hybrid, a Poliwag with Goldeen fins). It’s freakish!
Turning right, her path led into an unfamiliar corridor, and she shivered a little at the chill in the atmosphere. Was it her imagination, or was it colder than it should be in here? Then again, the walls were stone and untouched by direct sunlight, dimly let only by the jagged incandescence of runic weave. So it made sense, didn’t it? She pressed her hand against the soot-stained wall, and snatched it away as the heat seemed to drain from her palm. She shuddered, remember Daniel’s words: “Her name was Lilith. She did terrible things…” What kind of terrible things? Her pace quickened, inhaling the faintest scent of smoke, residual from the fire? Then why did it seem to be growing stronger. A throbbing started in the back of her head, a slight, incessant pounding. That would be the stresses of the day, her own exhaustion. The sooner she got a warm shower and some sleep, the better. A slight stinging pain in her hand, and she glanced down to find that the cut, which she’d sealed with saliva — hadn’t she? — now dripped a trail of tiny red droplets to the stone floor behind her. She stuck it in her mouth, tasting the coppery, musty sweetness.
Her footsteps echoed hollowly in the empty hallways and the magickal lighting flickered, creating dark patches of looming shadow. She tried to focus on the logic of it: the age of the runic weave; the lack of maintenance; the levels of cobweb and likely smoke-damage. But it was easy to see figures amongst the shadows. Kataryna knew that the Furrae brain — like that of the Ancients — was designed to perceive faces, even when faces did not exist, but this felt like it was taking it a step too far.
She passed a multitude of doors and doorways, some boarded over, others grinned like missing teeth, nothing beyond them but gaping pits of darkness. Noises, rustling and sibilant whispers, seemed to issue from within. Vermin and wind, she told herself. Vermin and wind.
“.. She committed terrible crimes,” Daniel had said. Murder? Torture?
Something screamed, a thin, reedy screech beyond one of the boarded-up doors. Kataryna’s heart fluttered into her throat and she feet took flight. She ran down the corridor, turned several corners, barrelled out into a brightly lit main thoroughfare and almost charged directly into a broad-shouldered, bear of a woman. She was clad in the blue and gold uniform of the Tirra-Inle staff. Her name badge read “Ursula”.
“There’s someone… a scream… I heard it… someone in trouble?” Kataryna’s words fell out of her in a mad jumble, each one racing to fight the other but beaten into submission by her gasping breath. She gestured back down the poorly lit corridor.
“Deep breath,” Ursula said, patting Kataryna on the shoulder. “Slow down. Someone is in trouble, you say?”
Kataryna nodded. “A scream.”
“What were you doing down there? Did you not see the barrier ribbon?”
Kataryna suddenly realised that she had somehow acquired a long banner wrapped around her waist. She must have run through it in her haste. She plucked at it. “I came from the other end.”
“You’re in the tower?” The woman’s eyes widened. “I didn’t know they had opened that up to the students again.”
“I’m not a student,” Kataryna began, then faltered. “Someone’s in trouble. Please, can you help them?”
“Of course.” Ursula drew her telekommunicator from her belt, activated the runes and barked a few short words into it. “In case we need back-up,” she comforted Kataryna. “But I’m sure we’ll find there’s nothing much amiss. Students have been reporting things from that hallway for years — that’s one of the reasons we’ve cordoned it off — but we’ve never found any evidence of real foul play. Unless you believe in ghosts?”
“I’m a scientist,” Kataryna assured her. “I’ll believe in things with tangible evidence.”
“Ah, that’s good then. Let’s go and investigate, shall we? Care to lead the way?”
With the powerful ward matron behind her, Kataryna felt a great deal more confident. Ursula paused to knock the wall at several points, encouraging the magical weave to flare more brightly, banishing all but the most persistent shadows. She found the door from behind which she’d heard the scream without too much trouble — the boards held it shut, but a hole the size of a large foot had been kicked into the corner.
“This one?” Ursula queried, casting a glance at Kataryna.
“Yes,” she said with a nod.
“Right then.” The powerful woman charged it with her shoulder, wood splintered, tore with a terrible groan, and the door swung open, to hang from one hinge. Ursula took her blackemarr rod from her belt, held it aloft and ran her fingers along its length, causing blue-tinged light to radiate forth. Kataryna made a mental note that she must acquire one of those.
The light illuminated a bunk room. Four free-standing beds, plus two alcove beds. The mattresses were grimed with dust and more floated in the air, glowing faintly green with the light’s radiation. All smelt of must and stagnant air, tinted with the sharper, acrid stink of animal piss. The animal itself soon became obvious, a small grey and black tabby cat, back arched and tail fluffed. It stared at them though golden eyes slitted in accusing at their invasion of its territory.
Ursula laughed, a deep booming that seemed to issue from deep in her belly. “There’s your someone,” she gasped, between the guffaws. “One of the tower cats. Probably in heat.”