#3 – Shallows of Morrow (1999 words)
Never think that when the moon fades away… it is dead.
– Old apocryphal proverb
The labyrinth seemed to be alive, leading her into places that it wanted her to go through, and letting her find her way in other places. Several times she had seemed lost and reached a dead end, only to back track and find another path to take. The bird had even tried to fly up and view the terrain, but each time it did that either the wall rose along with it till it could fly no more, or the terrain took on a dusty look and it couldn’t see through the haze. She had even switched her mind with that of the bird, and still couldn’t gain any advantage.
It felt like hours as she wandered around trying to find the way the labyrinth was indirectly showing her, but all through the time the skies never darkened. The shade of green remained, not once breaking off back into a more natural blue.
“The time doesn’t seem to move, does it?” the bird asked as it glided down from another unsuccessful attempt at trying to scope the terrain. “It’s almost as if the labyrinth has created its own world of rules.” The bird paused to contemplate this. “If that were truly the case, it would be a scary case.”
She looked at it with a raised eyebrow. “Well, think about it,” the bird continued. “If the labyrinth actually has its own world, then there is no telling what it might decide to do with us.” She grunted in response. “I really wonder who sent me to wait for you. I wonder if they knew that the labyrinth was possibly alive and making things happen the way it wanted them to.”
She thought about what the bird said. Could the people have actually known before sending the bird? And why had they sent the bird?
May the powers that flow through you, give you the strength to prevail.
The voice inside of the cocoon has said that. And had even mentioned a name, but it wasn’t hers. How did she know it wasn’t hers? Beyond thinking that she had to find the core, there was nothing else that she could link to a memory. So how had she been very sure that the name wasn’t hers?
May it come to you when the time is right.
It had felt like the voice knew something, but wasn’t able to let her know what it was. Had the voice decided to use riddles, or was it held down by forces she was unaware of? She knew, somehow, that she couldn’t do much about the voice. But she let the thought roam through her mind, seeing it do no harm.
“What? Water? Here? Can you imagine!?” the bird cooed excitedly as it jumped off her shoulder and glided over a small body of water, its talons sweeping through the surface. It gave off sounds of excitement, swooping down towards the water surface and then flying back up just in time before it hit the surface. She walked towards the water, trying to understand why it was suddenly in the middle of the path. And why it looked very strange. But she gave the thoughts little room as she stooped down to drink from what she could only call a stream.
No flow, and no sign of the source, it made her a little suspect. But her want to drink from it was so great she didn’t seem to notice that she actually wasn’t thirsty. And as she tried to drink from it, she realized too late why she’d thought it strange from the start. The water rippled before she touched it, and just as she was about to draw back the water snapped up and grabbed her hand, enclosing her entire arm in a blob of water.
Before she could react, she was pulled into the water, the air violently released from her lungs. With every fibre in her, she tried to swim to the surface, but the water held her down, finding its way into her nostrils and mouth. Bit by bit, the fight left her as her lungs screamed out for air, but instead got filled with water. The burning inside of her chest was hot, but still sweet and soothing.
With no fight left, she let go, allowing the water to do overcome her. When she was just about to fade away into the blackness, there was a sudden rush in her chest as she began to breathe again. The surrounding darkness gave way to light, and her senses began to reignite themselves. The colours underwater appeared suddenly sharper, and she had full control of herself.
She swam around, surprised that she even knew how to swim. In her periphery, she saw something like a silhouette watching her, but when she turned to look, there was nothing there. She disregarded the thought when she saw broken structures deeper in the water. Thinking about how the labyrinth had been leading her towards an end it alone was certain of, she decided her next destination was the bottom.
The bird was nowhere in sight, most likely held back by the water. And so she swam into the depths of the water.
She marvelled at the beauty of it all; the different fishes in their resplendence swimming around gracefully, some aquatic animals she couldn’t place and yet couldn’t help but look on as they lives moved at their languid pace.
At the bottom, she realized the broken structures had once been buildings. Swimming underneath the archways of some of them, she was struck by the potential beauty the place must have once had. How did it crumble? What made it all break down? And the people… where were they now?
Before she could really consider the questions, the water felt disturbed and, in a flash, she swam out of the path of a projectile. Three more projectiles fired forward, one grazing her lap, the other the side of her face. At that moment, her blood boiled within just as it slowly seeped out, and she was ready to tear apart whoever was responsible.
On cue, a mermaid swam towards her with a spear, zipping through the water with murderous intent. She was able to kick out of the way in time, and the spear whooshed past her harmlessly. If she had been slower, the spear was poised to stab her through the heart. Gaining her balance, she looked back to view her assailant.
The mermaid had pools of black in its eyes, its hair flowing into spikes at the ends, arms lean and covered with scales from the top of its shoulders down to the tip of the fingers, its lean build going from upper torso to its tail. The mermaid bared its teeth, getting ready for another attack. She pulled out her dagger and got ready to launch, the buoyancy of the water keeping her a little unsteady.
The mermaid lunged forward, feinting with the spear to the right. She didn’t catch the feint in time, and as she dodged the spear the mermaid’s tail whipped her. It knocked her off balance long enough for the mermaid to get close and thrust with the spear. Quick reflex allowed her to parry the spear away, giving her the chance to give a knee to the mermaid’s chin. The mermaid retaliated by grabbing her calf and digging nails into the skin, releasing more blood into the water.
She lashed out with her other leg, connecting her foot with the side of the mermaid’s head. The hit made the mermaid loosen its grip, and she was able to get her calf free of the nails. She lunged forward, stabbing with the dagger when she was close. The mermaid raised an arm in defence, the dagger glancing off the scales. Not backing down, she delivered a few more slashes, some glancing off the scales and some connecting with skin.
The mermaid lashed out, her hair’s spiky tips jerking and firing bolts forward. She was caught by surprise, and the bolts went through her skin, each one bringing searing pain that clouded her vision as she tried to fight off tears while underwater. The pain from the bolts pulsed through her insides, paralysing her and making her an easy target for the mermaid.
The mermaid grinned maliciously as she swam forward and grabbed her prey by the throat, applying pressure to crush the windpipe. The grip on her throat made her breathing laboured, and again the darkness started to creep in from the corners of her vision. Her blood seeping out of wounds, she began to feel her strength wane as the mermaid applied even more force to the crushing.
The mermaid was about to deliver the coup de grace with her spear when there was a sudden disturbance in the water, followed by a harsh clang of weapons hitting against each other. Again, the darkness receded, and all she could see what red, and the shock on the mermaid’s face. A look at her arm told her what had happened; her blood had coagulated into a spear and given her something to fight back again.
Had she done that? And was she the one that deflected the spear’s thrust?
Answers didn’t come as a sudden rush of rage swept through her mind, blinding her rationale and giving her just one thing to do; to demolish the mermaid.
The shock on the mermaid’s face turned to fear as she started to bolt away. But with a strength unknown, she kicked after the mermaid, plunging her crystallized blood spear into the tail of the mermaid. The mermaid screamed, the sound travelling with eerie reverberation through the waters. But it didn’t stop her. Instead, it only fuelled her rage more.
Her free hand dug into the tail, ripping out chunks that floated with the screams of the mermaid. The mermaid tried to whip what was left of the tail in her face, but she caught the fin end with her teeth, tearing it away with force and elation. With the blood spear still in, she sliced open the mermaid’s tail into two, letting all the blood and pieces float around her.
The mermaid swiped with the spear, but she deftly ducked under that and used the blood spear to pierce its belly. With her hand in its guts, she twisted and moved her arm from side to side, shredding the insides completely. It tried in vain to claw at her arm, but the crystallized blood protected her from any damage.
Her rage reaching the peak, she grabbed its neck and squeezed tight, watching the life slowly go out of the mermaid. In her rage, one thing caught her surprise; the reflection in the mermaid’s dark eyes showed that her own eyes were tinted red, with red capillaries snaking around on her face.
The sight frightened her, and it was enough for her to gain some control over her rationale. She pulled out her blood arm and thrust it through the mermaid’s head, ending its suffering. The mermaid writhed in the water before it became still, its body slowly falling apart before her eyes.
As she watched, the crystallized blood began to spread, rapidly moving up her arm until it covered her in a crystal of bright red.
Do you remember yet? Do you know why you do this? A soft voice spoke to her. Like before, she felt cool and calm. This time, she saw the silhouette she had seen earlier, but it was nothing more.
Do you know your name?
She still didn’t know it. The voice spoke a name to her, but somehow she knew that wasn’t her name.
May you find it when the time is right.
The silhouette faded away, and the darkness began to creep in once more. But this time, it took over.
**to be continued
A/N: Data has become an issue for me. So online activity will reduce drastically.