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Glory Glory Writings

Writings of Two Forever Friends

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February 2016

Find Me Swallow: Chapter 6

Chapter 6

The dim light cast its weak shaft upon the ancient floor.  Even farther up, higher than my height, the ominous walls of the passage rose up.  I rubbed my hand upon my knee and smelled blood, but it was only a scratch.  I was sure by now that the sounds which I had been hearing were from Hum.  “Al…ow”  Sounded like Swallow.  Perhaps Hum, too, had tumbled into the precipice and crawled, frantically searching for safety, into this musty, sheltered shaft.  I stood up, conked my head on the low roof, and dropped my dagger on the musty ground.  A spark momentarily shot up.  

The floor was made of flint.  

The steel of my weapon – the refuse scattered under my bare feet – light!  vision!  Hum!  

Wildly, I dug my fingers through the gravel shards, raking up what burnable matter I could find.  I rubbed the blade of my weapon across the ground, shielding the weak sparks from the cold of the cavern.  At last, the light caught.  Fire spurted up from the ground, and I screamed and jumped away.  

Rubbing my bruised head, which I had so foolishly bashed once again on the roof of the cavern, I knelt and examined the pale, white hand which loomed so dangerously near the fire.  

Hum.  

I knelt down quickly and took his hand, which was as cold as death itself. His ice blue eyes blinked with sheer terror, and he stuttered, trying to form words.  I saw him turn his head towards me.

“F-find Ibis.” He was able to stammer.

“No way. Are you hurt?” He shook his head weakly.

“Just starving. P-please. Find food and go get Ibis. We can’t let her d-die.”  

“Why not?” He didn’t respond. “Ok…fine. Just, don’t move.”

I quickly got up. My mind finally started to accept the fact that I had found Hum, and I wasn’t entirely lost in the woods any longer. But I wasn’t out of the woods yet.  Now I still had to find food, Ibis, and Da.  Why was Ibis in on this?  She had used to be so popular, for no apparent reason except that she was exceptionally obedient, but in that trait all of us citizens of the Clan were alike…

There must be something about Ibis that was special, but what? Hum had seemed desperately agitated that I find her, to make sure that she didn’t die.  Ibis had always been a favorite child of the Elder clannies, but the clannies mattered nothing to me.  The evil Elders might as well be the dirty village streets, streets of a past long forgotten, streets which I crunched between my bare toes, streets which Ibis walked with the spoiled air of royalty –  

Royalty!

Could Ibis – could she – was it possible that she was the clan princess, the pet raised up by the Elders to mother Chief Fal’s grandchildren?  The future first Chieftess, the supposedly all-powerful, whom the Elders sometimes talked about in whispered voices?  Would I, the common and dirt poor, beaten and shamed hut-child work side by side with the most valuable person of my generation?  Would she be upset that I had stolen her faithful follower, practically servant, Hum?  Could we three youth work together to lead a rebellion, a new generation?  

Yes, we could.  There was no doubt about it.

Difficult? Yes, of course. Overpowering the clannies’ self-centered desires once and for all would be very, very hard.  I, Swallow Frond, along with Hum and Ibis could all die. But impossible? No.  There was always the chance that, bravely, we would survive  and the whole plan of rebellion would work splendidly… Together, we could overcome….

Sharply, I heard a sudden fragrance of music, the quiet morning twitter of birdsong.  

“Could it be morning already, Hum?”  I wondered aloud, rushing to the front of the cavern.  There I immediately started to try to find crevices in order to climb to the surface of the forest. I placed my hands on the small holes set in various areas over the large rock. As soon as I was high enough, I also realized that I was starving.

The rations in the clan village were awful; normally we only were allowed to have two meals a day, and then it was only very small portions of vegetables and stew. Of course, the day before, after I’d been whipped I had mostly lost my appetite and not eaten most of my portion. Looking back, I realized that that was a idiotic decision because for the most part I knew what was ahead.

When I reached the surface, I pulled myself up, my muscles shaking, and walked around the clearing, trying to find some berries or perhaps a wounded animal.

I was in luck! About two paces from the tree where I had spent the night was a very fat squirrel.  He appeared to be wounded; he wasn’t moving at all, a bit like a statue. I moved up behind the rodent and he still didn’t even twitch.

I moved quickly. It disgusted my soul that I was killing another creature; I had always had that ache whenever I took the life of another animal. But we were starving, and of course our cause was worthy to kill at least one squirrel to keep us alive. I gathered up the body and took it to the cave.

Hum seemed much more lively after feasting on roasted squirrel. In the firelight he didn’t appear hurt, just exhausted. After quickly scrounging up every shred of meat on the squirrel (except for a bit which we kept for Ibis) we set out again.

The mid-day sun burned on our shoulders, but we didn’t notice. We were far too distracted with the task at hand. We searched and searched for Ibis but to no avail. She seemed to have disappeared into thin air. After almost three hours of searching, we stopped for a rest.

We stopped directly in front of a clear stream. The water ran free and seemed to wave in the sunlight. The reflection was slightly blinding.  After clambering down a bank to its deep waters, I knelt to drink.  Hum did the same.  We scooped water into our hands and poured it gladly into our thirsty mouths. The  liquid refreshed us more than I can describe.  As I enjoyed the serenity of the temporary respite, I suddenly felt Hum’s hand on my arm.

“Don’t move,” He whispered into my ear. My heart seemed to freeze. Slightly ignoring his command, I slowly lifted my head to view what he saw.

The worst possible thing we could have run into.

A Hun.

Find Me Swallow: Chapter 5

Chapter 5

It may seem difficult to believe that I could get lost so quickly – but trust me, I could.  I couldn’t figure out how quickly the stockade had seemed to melt into the darkness, or how soon I had seemed to lose Hum.  And Ibis.

Oh lichen-foot.

Slowly, I rotated in a circle, rounding a tree with the thickness of Chief Fal’s largest hut.  I didn’t know where I was.  I didn’t know where my friends were.  

Wait – for how long had they been my friends?  Just a few days ago, had they not been my enemies?  Perhaps seeing me humiliated had changed them.  No, it must have been when I saved Hum.

“HUM!” I screamed, sense returning to me, or was it leaving me, for would my pursuers dare venture just a few steps beyond the stockade for murder and glory?

“HUM! IBIS!  Come BACK!”  Was this forest truly a swallower of souls?  For inasmuch I cried, I felt more hopeless still –

A rustle.  In the blackness, I readied my bloodstained dagger, after wiping the blade clean on my dress.  It snagged, and the ripping of the fabric echoed loudly against the silence of the woods.  Had not birdsong emanated from the trees by day?  How could then the woods of Eldritch be so silent during the pitch of night?

And lonely.  I tried to recall a saying of my mother’s, “Sweet birds sing, but a swallow never cries.”

More rustling.  I yelped and scurried towards a great black thing.  The warm trunk stopped me, as I stiffened silently, hiding from my pursuer, I seemed to feel it pulsing at the pace of a rabbit, similar to my heartbeat, as though alive.  I leaned further into it –

Into it?  The tree was hollow!  And there I hid, clamping my eyes and my fists shut against the forces which could lurk inside the woods…  

Dawn was just crimping the land with a faint tinge of grey when I at last dared open them.  The tree where I had hidden was hollow, wide enough for a girl to sit cross legged, with a gash through which one could enter.  A hill of dusty-white moss rose up in front of the opening, obscuring it from all but elvin eyes.  I smiled blissfully, then jolted awake.

Hum.  

I must find Hum.  And Ibis, I reminded myself, no doubt she’s lost among this mystical  woodland trap, too.  I slid silently out of my hole like a deer fearful of the hunter, expecting a waiting cult of elders to jump out from the trees at any waking moment.  

No ambushers.  Slowly, leaning against the huge tree, I looked myself over.  

Welts from the whip still creased my body, but they were not deep and had healed quickly.  I was bruised from the hand to hand contact with the clannies, but that was just sore.

Alas- my dress was torn!  Now I could not fix it – oh well, I can run faster with a shorter dress.  It was more like pants, I had always wanted pants – I stood up, suddenly anxious.  I must find my allies! For I knew not whether they were my friends yet.

Setting off over the hill of moss, I hurried in search of Hum and Ibis.  Calling had not worked in the silent forest last night, so I reckoned I should just look.  I passed a swampland wrapped in loose grasses.  Stopping for a moment, I surprised a sleepy pheasant, and hurling my dagger at it, was surprised to hit my mark!  I retrieved the animal, wrapping it in reeds for later.  I slung the pheasant over my shoulder as I tied the cut part of my dress out of my way.  After I picked up my sack,  I headed off into the woods, towards my rebel friends.

It seemed like hours. Although honestly, by the sun’s position in the sky, I knew it hadn’t. As I wandered throughout the mysterious wood, my mind began to wander. I began to look in awe at the leafy trees, hear the fall leaves fall onto the unsuspecting ground, while feeling the cool air blow them around making a gentle whoosh. The morning sun poked through the treetops, making uneven beams on the ground, and to me it seemed as though the sun was favoring only certain trees. I walked through the torrents of leaves through the forest until my stomach began to throb from hunger.

I came upon a sunlit clearing and sat down on my knees. I squinted my eyes because the sun was so bright. As soon as I had picked up the pheasant from my bag, I collected some sticks and got to work.

As well as I could, I rubbed the sticks together and eventually started a fire. The effort it took was painful, for my back was still aching in pain. However, I soon started the fire and began to cook the bird.

I had slept well that night. The tree trunk had seemed warm, even though I knew that was impossible. For some reason however, I had grown colder about an hour before I had awakened. I had no idea how that was possible, but I didn’t dwell on it.

The pheasant was delicious and I ate it with vigor. I drank some of the water from my canteen and stood once again. Suddenly, I heard the nearby bushes shake. I heard a voice.

“Al?” Hum.

“Hum!” I called back. “I’m here!” I ran toward the movement.

The bushes shook, and I called my shaking nerves.  Hum would have answered by now – was it a clannie sent to spy on me -?  Well, it was now or never –

I leaped into the bushes, dagger at my side.  

A blood curdling scream rolled off my lips, answered at once by a squashed animal yelp.

Wait, what?

I set myself back in the undergrowth, glancing back up at the sunlight filtering through the dim leaves above.  

Sunlight above?  

Of course the sun was above me, don’t be stupid Swallow!  I told myself, shaking.  All the same, I felt lower than I had formerly been.  Like I was in a hole…

Or a cave –

“Oh, great lichen foot!”  I whisper-shouted, rolling to my feet, “I pray I have not stumbled from the dangerous heights to the depth of a coyote’s den – quite literally!”  

The moan caught my attention again.  “Al…ow.

Cautiously, I crept through the dimly lit pass.  It appeared to be a thin segment of rock severed between two overarching cliffs.  Up above, a great tree trunk, thick as a band of angry Clannies, clung to the edge of the cliff.  With a start, I realized that that must have been the tree I had spent the night.  No other trees had I seen during all my day’s wanderings – had I walked so far, only to have gone full circle again?  

I inched my way across the slippery rock, clinging to the ridge with my spare hand, using the dagger to grip the cliff like the flickery hairs on the toes of a sloth.As I slipped along the wet rock, raising to Lichen-Foot that I would not become trapped between the icy-slick faces of limestone and granite, I noticed a dark shaft peering from the wall.  The moan came again, fainter this time.

“Al…ow.”  

Already shocked at my luck so far, outrunning the clannies, leaping safely into a narrow, unknown pit, surviving thus far my slippery journey –

I decided to try my luck once more, and leapt into the passage. 

😉

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