|Sweeping up the Ashes Gracelyn's Story
Author: yowlot PM
She's a thief. She steals things to survive. It's wild, it's dangerous, it's fun. But she knows what happens to those who get caught.Rated: Fiction T - English - Adventure - Chapters: 3 - Words: 9,033 - Reviews: 2 - Follows: 1 - Updated: 05-12-12 - Published: 04-19-12 - id: 3014808
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
The man stared.
The two just looked at each other for a second, two seconds, three seconds…
The girl on the floor was silent, curled up into a tiny ball, only letting out the occasional sniffle every now and then.
"Do I… know you?" the man asked, putting down a basket full of food on the floor before reaching behind himself to pull the door shut.
"No," he finally said, licking his lips before standing slowly. "My name's Sterling." He finally croaked, reaching out a hand to show that he was unarmed. The door was shut now, there was no escape.
"Sterling huh?" the lanky bean like adult strode over, closing the distance between them in just a few steps. The man had light brown eyes that stood out against his dark brown hair, his skin however, was rather odd – a light pale color that looked more like that of a noble than of a person who spent their days out working in the sunny streets. He reached up to gently tug on the tips of his dark mustache.
It was then that Sterling realized that the man was completely ignoring the terrified girl that was still curled upon the floor. As a matter of fact, in the few strides it took him to stand right in front of Sterling, one of them had been to step over the child.
"My name is Mathias, and that over there is my daughter Nad –" it was then that the man seemed to realize the condition his child was in. Light brown eyes going wide he flew to the girl's side.
"What did you do to her?" Mathias demanded, glaring at Sterling as he gently unwinding his child's protective shell so he could search her for wounds. The man in question threw his hands up in the air, lips spluttering out some excuse.
Then the father gasped in horror.
"Where is Nadette?" he hissed at the child. The little girl had finally ceased her endless sobbing and quieted her hysterics, now just letting out a few quiet hiccups every now and then. But when her father asked her the question her lips turned up into a terrifying smile.
"She's gone," the girl hissed, dark brown hair covering her glowing grey eyes. Sterling took a step back, the sign to ward off evil flying to his finger tips. The little girl-child was a witch, and that meant she was dangerous – enough so he feared for his life as she let out a hiss at her father.
The man she was making cat-like noises at though seemed to be not the least bit impressed, and he watched her actions with a curl in his lip, his eyes filled with distaste.
"No. No she's not." He growled, and then seized the child by the face, his two giant hands dwarfing her tiny head. "Give. Her. Back."
"No," the thing (which Sterling was almost certain was not a girl, much less a child) let out an evil cackle. "I rather like it here. I mean that body could do for a little work, but…" she trailed off, gazing at the place where the ceiling had fallen away. The soft light of the stars had started to trickle through; her eyes ate at the glistening shine hungrily, almost as if she had never seen it before.
"You don't belong here," Mathias' voice quivered. He sounded on the verge of furious and broken.
"What's going on?" Sterling seemed to have finally found his voice, and he used it to the best of his capabilities. The two just ignored him though, seeming far too caught up in their own world to pay him any mind.
"You're wrong!" the girl – no, it – snapping its head back to the man, her grey eyes almost as luminous as the moon above. Sterling shuddered and continued to stare, desperately wishing that he hadn't left his sword at home. The man glared at her, seeming not the least bit scared of her luminous orbs.
"I do belong here, I'm my own person, my own soul, life, whatever you wish to address it as and –"
"I don't wish to address you as anything! You are a monster, a leech, a parasite, nothing better than the dirt on the bottom of my shoe!" at this Mathias pointed at his boots, which not only had dirt on the bottom but on the top as well. The thing's lip pulled down into a twisted version of either a scowl or a snarl.
"Well maybe I am," she growled. Then her hand snaked out faster than Sterling could blink and latched onto Mathias' arm. "But you know what?" Her grimace turned into what might have been mistaken for a smile if you were blind. "You can't do a-ny-thing a-bout it!" her last words were sang at an eerily high pitch that made the taller man wince and jerk away from her grip.
"What are you two talking about?" Sterling snapped, his tone easily carrying through the sudden silence. He winced at the sound of it filling up the air, and suddenly wished he had kept his silence when the two snapped their heads in his direction. The man was unused to the feeling of such powerful gazes burning holes into his face, and was quickly becoming glad of that fact.
"I suppose we do need to tell him," the girl – thing, Sterling corrected himself – purred, and slowly rose to her feet, wiping any remains of snot and tears from her face. Mathias glanced back at her for a split second, his face briefly turning into a mask of disgust at he looked down at her, before he turned his attention back to Sterling.
"Why is he here anyways?" his tone was sullen and petulant. He sounded defeated.
"Because he is needed. An important character of the future," the cryptic answer easily swept from the thing's lips, and it smiled at Sterling, making him wince. He was pretty sure that he didn't want to be important for any of her plans. Mathias didn't seemed satisfied with this response though, and glared down at it.
"That's not an answer Na – whatever your name is," he growled, stepping away from it so he was closer to the flickering fire. The thing just smirked at him, satisfied with the knowledge that he was completely and totally powerless against something.
"Well," Sterling began, eyes scanning over the small room again, searching for some other kind of escape. But there was none, the front door was the only way in and out, unless he could some how manage to climb out through the roof. "I'm not sure I want to be involve in your future."
The thing that looked like a child laughed eerily.
"My name is not something that you humans can pronounce," it said, and Sterling's eyes got wide. You humans? "However, the nickname Supreme Ruler of all the Universe will suffice."
Sterling was having a hard time telling if it was serious or not.
"How 'bout we call you Poppy for short?"Mathias grumbled, not the least bit amused by its antics.
"How can you call me that for short when it has nothing to do with my real name?" Poppy replied, turning its head to face the man before it. The thing blinked its large glowing eyes slowly, almost as if it was trying to will the idea of such a ridiculous nickname out of the man's mind.
"Creature," Mathias addressed the thing with a voice shaking with either fury or fear, Sterling was unsure of which it emotion. "You are lucky that I have not dragged you out of that body by my bare hands yet."
"The possibility is highly unlikely," the thing mused, seemingly not the least bit intimidated by the man's quiet and threatening tone. It placed a hand on its chin and tilted its head to the side thoughtfully, almost as if it were thinking. But Sterling guessed that this was not the case, and that it was just mocking Mathias.
"Unlikely," the man replied, stressing the word so that the thing knew that despite the probability of such a incident not occurring was minuscule that didn't mean it wouldn't happen. Daisy nodded her head, bobbing it up and down in agreement.
"True, true," it said. "But you would not be able to as such without harming your child in the process," it spread its arm wide and gave the man a mocking grin, almost seeming to say 'hit me with your best shot'. Mathias somehow managed to restrain himself from doing so.
Sterling sighed and watched their banter continue. He was ignored, and the two seemed to have completely forgotten about him once again. How had he gotten himself into this mess? Oh, that's right, he decided to follow some random witch child into her hut. Great plan soldier, great plan.
Maybe he could get out though. Sterling cautiously glanced around the two and spotted the door, still closed. He knew that if he could somehow manage to tiptoe around them he'd be able to escape. All he needed was a little stealth and a little luck and then he'd be home free and out of this strange place. Maybe then he could just pretend that it had never happened.
So, as quietly as a mouse, Sterling rose up onto his toes and as silently as he could, began to tip toe towards the exit. The thing and Mathias seemed too caught up in metaphorically ripping each other's faces off to notice his quiet escape.
" – and how do I know you won't do anything to harm her?" the other man roared, pointing a finger at the thing – Poppy, as Mathias had named it – making it smirk at him.
"You don't," it replied coyly, crossing its arms over its chest.
Sterling shook his head and turned his attention away from the pair; he shouldn't be distracted by their antics. They were just two crazy people, a creepy two faced father and a child with a split personality disorder. He shouldn't be bothered by them.
But he was. For some reason he felt like he should stay and try to help them, to try and figure out what was wrong with the sweet little child he had encountered only hours before, that had now transformed into a demonic little demon. This was why he had to keep reminding himself that it was not his problem and that he shouldn't worry about them.
Sterling turned his thoughts back to the door that was only several paces away. He was almost out. Then he could just forget about all of this ridiculous mess and continue with his mission to the find the girl. If the person he was looking for even was the blonde child that Poppy had shown him, the thing had probably just lied to him now that he thought about it.
He mentally sighed. There was a whole day that he wasted with a crazy person, gone forever. He'd never be the same now.
Sterling cautiously glanced over his shoulder, and seeing that Mathias and the thing were still absorbed in their own argument, he slowly lowered his hand towards the door handle. He tensed when his fingers hit the knob, almost as if he had been waiting for an alarm to go off or something when his skin collided with the metal. But the only sounds he heard were the angry voices behind him.
This time he actually did sigh aloud, and slowly he turned the knob.
"Crrrrrrrrrrreeeeaaaaaakkkkkk…" it groaned almost as loud as a thunderclap and Sterling resisted the urge to bash his head into the wall. Great. He was done for now. But another glance over his shoulder assured him that the other two hadn't even noticed.
So he opened the door and took in the fresh night air, free, free, free, no longer was he trapped in that too tiny house with those two crazy people, nope, he was gone, gone, gone and –
"Slam!" he nearly lost his nose as the wooden door snapped shut quicker than a blink. Sterling stared in shock at the previously inanimate object.
"And where exactly do you think you're going?" growled two equally angry voices in sync. Sterling resisted the urge to sigh in annoyance.
Oh dear, he'd been caught.
So he wheeled around on his heels to face the two other in the room.
The man, Mathias, had his arm outstretched and fingers forming a fist. Sterling assumed he'd been the one to close the door. Just great, another witchy-warlock what-cha-ma-call-it. The little girl-thing had her hands placed firmly on her hips and eyes narrowed down into an evil glare, that was no longer being directed at the man besides her but at Sterling.
"Well you two seemed awfully caught up," Sterling said patiently, hoping that maybe if he treated them like children than they would be as powerless as one. It didn't work.
"Well why don't you take a seat," the thing pointed its finger towards the cooking fire at the center of the room. Sterling was about to protest when he felt an invisible hand latch onto the collar of his shirt and drag him towards the bright flames. He gasped wildly, trying to breath by the hand blocked off all air, his eyes watering as he was yanked towards the fire – and he was going too fast, he wasn't going to be able to –
Sterling gulped as a bead of sweat trickled down his forehead right between the eyes. The invisible hand held him just dangling about the fire, nose inches away from the flickering flames. He could feel the unbearable heat on his face, chasing away all thoughts of escape and replacing them with just mindless words of fear.
"Creature," Mathias growled warningly, bringing his hands back down to his sides, fingers still curled into tight fists. "I assume you need him alive."
Poppy the Creature looked at the other man, her glowing grey eyes placid. But Sterling could see the strain her magic was taking on her, and how she was struggling to hold him up with her powers. Its face contorted into a dark scowl, and hurriedly whipped the start of sweat off of its forehead, almost as if it were trying to deny the weakness to itself. Then it sighed.
Sterling let out a sharp yelp as he was yanked back from the fire. He landed on his butt, sliding back a few feet in the dust before stopping, a safe distance away from the burning heat. The man breathed in the sweet air with heavy gasps, placing a reassuring hand over his chest as if to slow his racing heart.
Poppy continued to glare at him.
"I like it better when he was quiet," she huffed. "Quiet and compliant." Sterling returned her glare with equal ferocity.
"I liked you better when you were a child. Stupid and powerless," he snapped in return. But instantly wished his words back into his mouth. Great idea soldier, he thought, just insult the thing that restrained itself from killing you.
"Well I like him just fine," he bellowed, a volume that Sterling figured to be his natural tone.
"Well no one asked you," Poppy grumbled at him, before seating itself in the dust as well.
"Soldier," it addressed Sterling. "I need you – no, we need you." Mathias glared at her when she corrected her words.
"I know for sure that I don't need him for anything," he growled at the thing. Sterling rolled his eyes and tired to settle down comfortably into the dirt: he knew that this was going to take a while.
"Yes, actually you do," Poppy hissed back, narrowing her eyes up at him, almost as if she was daring him to counter her comment. The man just grumbled something under his breath in response, but luckily the thing ignored it and turned back to Sterling.
"We need you," she continued in a calm voice. "To find that girl."
Sterling blinked and tried to resist the urge to look at the thing like it had lost its mind. If it ever even had one in the first place.
"Now why in the world would I do that?" he finally answered after a long awkward silence. He decided to try and put the fact that they were probably both all mighty all powerful sorcerers aside, knowing he wouldn't be able to think straight if his every word or move might be cause for some kind of powerful explosion in his direction.
Poppy the creature snorted, and let out what might have been a laugh or a cackle. It looked obviously amused by Sterling's bold demand, and not the least bit intimidated. Mathias on the other hand was silent. Sterling wondered if the other man even knew what was going one or it he was just completely oblivious – probably the latter.
"You want to find the girl because she's the one you're looking for, dumb-dumb," Poppy said. She waved her hand over the dust, and in seconds there was the detailed picture of the blonde child engraved into the floor again. Big brown eyes starred naively at Sterling, completely unaware of what was about to happen to her.
"And how do you know that?" Sterling grunted suspiciously. It was only after he had voiced his words that he realized that the answer to his question was obvious: the thing was a witch. It could know whatever it wanted to know – his dreams, his hopes, his thoughts.
"Well silly isn't it obvious?" it said, getting to its feet and brushing off dirt from her clothes. It really made no difference – the shift the creature was wearing was already filthy.
Then it skipped forwards till the two of them were nose to nose. Sterling jerked back in alarm, eyes wide with fear and hands flying up to protect himself from the strange thing. The creature in a child's body cackled, and for an instant its eyes flashed a color darker than that of a moonless night.
"It's because I'm a demon."
"What?" Sterling gasped out, quickly clambering to his feet and stumbling towards the door. He was in a room with a demon! It was going to kill him – no, curse him – no, it might even turn him into a demon! Gods and he had spoken to it so disrespectfully too – thinking it was just a mere magic user and yet it was something of the darker sides of the realm.
Mathias had the nerve to let out a laugh.
"There you go creature," he said, rising to his feet and striding over to the pot on the fire. Sterling had forgotten all about the 'dinner' the creature – no demon – had planned to feed him. His eyes widened as he realized that the food was probably poison – or worse, maybe the demon had been planning on eating him.
"This always happens when you bring these innocent naïve little people home and try to spoon feed them ou – my sob story." Mathias lifted the lid off the pot and sniffed the contents cautious, instantly drawing back with disgust, mouth pulled down into a scowl of distaste. "What did you put in here?" he snapped at the demon.
The demon just rolled its eyes and glared at Sterling.
"And here I thought you had enough guts to be able to comprehend that fact that I like to eat souls for brunch." It huffed, crossing tiny arms over its chest.
Sterling just gapped at it.
"I also thought you had a bigger brain capacity then to make such expressions at a creature of my stature," it waved a hand and Sterling felt his mouth snap shut, teeth forcefully clicking together.
Rubbing his jaw and trying to recover what was left of his scatter wits, Sterling found himself struggling to think straight, but it was rather hard considering he was in the presence of a demon!
Said demon just rolled its eyes and walked over to the fire to join Mathias. The man glared daggers at the creature when it came too close and scooted as far as possible away from it, trying to remain close enough to the pot so he still had access to whatever was inside. The demon returned the look just as poisonously, and sniffed the food in the bucket.
"Well I think it smell just fine," it hissed at Mathias. The man snorted in response and grumbled something about how demons had no taste when it came to food, and slammed the lid of pot back down.
"Good for you," he growled, and marched away from the creature, walking over to Sterling. "I am truly sorry about all of this," he said, his face looking almost sincere. "But that… thing," he glared at the demon. "Seems to think that it can tell the future, and it thinks that somehow your future is…" he paused for a minute, gesturing with hands as if trying to find the right word. "Conjoined with ours," Mathias finally finished his words, and then met Sterling's steel eyes.
"So," he dangled the bait but the soldier didn't bite. "Sooooo… will you help us?"
Sterling somehow managed to resist the urge to slap the man upside the head.
"Of course not," he snapped. "I work for the king! I don't work for people like… like…" he struggled for a minute. "Like you!" Well, not all that descriptive or smart sounding but it works.
Mathias sighed and began to stroke his mustache, his brows creased in concentration.
"Besides," Sterling continued, his lips curling into a scowl. "I don't even know what you want me to do! For all I know you might ask me to kill that girl you want me to find – or worse!" The demon's eyebrows rose at that, almost as if it was thinking of what Sterling possibly thought was worse than death. Luckily it didn't ask though.
Mathias had opened his lips and looked like he about to speak, but it was the creature that responded first.
"Whatever we want that girl for couldn't possibly be any worse than what the king wants to do with her," it said coolly. Sterling's eyes flew to the thing, surprise coloring his face. That's right, he had forgotten, the king wanted him to find the magic user of the prophecy, the same prophecy that foretold the death of the king and his family. Of course the second he brought that girl into the palace walls her fate would be sealed, and it would be his entire fault. He would have the blood of an innocent child on his hands.
But what did these people want with her? Unless…
"You're trying to assassinate the king!" he hissed accusingly, pointing at the demon. He then realized what he had just said and clapped his hand over his mouth. Gods he was going to die today.
The little demon looked at him for a minute, scrutinizing grey eyes going wide at his words. Then it threw back its head and roared with laughter.
"Ahahahahaha – did you hear that Mathias?" it shouted, slapping its leg with its hand as it struggled to remain standing. "H-he thin-thinks w-we're trying to ki-kill the king! Oh isn't that funny!" Then suddenly, just as quickly as it had come, the laughter ceased.
"It's funny because you are exactly right."