The tiny figure slipped demurely from the shadows of the building, hesitantly, like a mouse, darting glances about for the dangers potentially lurking in every corner, then shot across the alley and slipping back into the shadows of another building. She looked about her for an exit, a sanctuary at the least, so she could gather her thoughts for her next move, preferably one that would offer a true escape. Out of the corner of her eye, she spies a door about halfway down the alley, just slightly cracked open. She rushes quickly to it and peers into the darkness beyond, then slips inside and pulls the door closed behind her.
They lumbered noisily into the alley, debris crashing about them in their invasion and sending scurrying the scavengers of the night. The smaller, weasel faced one diving into the trash bins, tossing its contents in a torrent above his head before leaping back out.
“Not here, m’lord!” he squeaked as he landed on the ground beside his companion. A grimy creature who promised to smell as fetid as he looked, his long beak nose the sole feature visible under the dirty single lamplight of the alley.
“Well, she has to be here somewhere, Allbritch, you worthless pile of worm dung!” the other yelled. He was as massive as his partner was slight. A giant lumbering creature shrouded in a long dark coat, with arms hanging unnaturally long at his side, with massive hair coated knuckles balling into fists just below the sleeves.
“She turned this direction. There’s no where else she could be. Keep looking, dammit!” Then he slammed one of his massive fists against the wall, opening a gaping hole in it, sending his weasel faced companion darting through the rest of the alley, peering in corners and testing doors.
Desolinia stood with her back and hands pressed firmly on the inside of the door, taking deep slow breaths to slow her heart thundering in her chest and waiting for her eyes to adjust to the dim light within. Gradually, the geography of the inside began to take shape and her chest began to relax somewhat. It was an abandoned warehouse or factory of some sort, broken machine skeletons and crate remnants scattered throughout. She made her slow way across the room, making sure to take inventory of all potential hiding places and potential exits. As she crossed into the growing darkness on the other side of the room, she spied a door at the far corner. She bolted toward it, excitement racing through her veins, only to discover it firmly bolted shut with iron bars and heavy locks.
She sunk to the floor desolate. She was so very tired! She had meant no harm when she opened the gate into that room. All she had wanted was to take a small peek around and spirit away before anyone had scent of her being there. And she would have done so if the small thing hadn’t looked at her so imploringly. She had never seen the like of it in any of the books she had ever browsed nor any story that had been told her. A sprite-like whisper of “something”, the creature glimmered in frantic sweeps within its enclosure, begging freedom and being dimmed by the loss of it. How could she refuse such a plea, how could she turn from offering aid to such a one? So, she stole quickly across the room and released the latch on its cage.
Like a firefly, it burst out and into the air, a trail of sparkling dust weaving behind it. She giggled softly at the spectacle, her ears filling with the sound of tiny bells showering around her head. Then gently, it lighted upon her hand and set a bag and a stone in her palm then vanished from sight. She fingered the stone softly before slipping it into her pocket, then tied the bag to her belt, its size and weight expanding as she let it drop. A knowing smile crossed her face, “a fresh magic bag!” It seemed fortune was smiling on her this day.
Just then she heard the voices above and started. She had tarried to long, they would catch her scent. And there was no telling what they would do when they discovered she set their “pet” free. Quickly, she made for the gate and did her best to cover her trace as she fled.
She had been fleeing from them for days, maybe weeks. Sometimes she had thought she had eluded them, no sense, no trace of them in the vicinity. But, just as she was about to relax and loosen her guard, she would spy one of them around the corner, at the edge of her eye. So far, the bag of tricks had kept her safe, kept her one step ahead of them. A small pinch here, a slight dip there and she would “shift”. She lost track of how many forms she had taken, each one taking a toll on her waning energy.
And now here she was, trapped, in this abandoned building; they, close on her heels. They wouldn’t lose her scent this time, this she knew. She heard the small one as he entered the building, his nasally breathing whistling in the air. The thundering bulk of the other followed right after and she looked frantically about her for a place to hide. They would surely find her where she was if she didn’t.
She spied a gaping opening at the end of the hallway and crept slowly towards it and slipped inside. It was an old service elevator, the floor creaking slightly under her weight. She froze in the corner, fearing more movement would stir another sound sure to expose her. At least she could hide for a time in here, as she waved a concealing door in front of her. It wouldn’t offer protection for long, she knew. Her magick was almost gone. But, maybe there was just enough time.
Slowly, she reached into the bag. It was almost gone! She wondered if she had enough for one last “shifting”. She pulled the stone out of her pocket and held it tightly. She had never figured out what its purpose was. Maybe just something to hold on to, something of substance. It glowed faintly in the darkness. “Hmmm?” she thought, “its never done that before!” Now, to the form.
She thought deeply on the memories of the beasties and creatures of fantasy, searching for the right one, the right combination that would make this work. She heard them approaching, it was only a matter of time before they figured out that the only place left to look for her was in the elevator and the door in front of her was as insubstantial as the air it was woven from. But, summoning a creature from story or mythlore was most dangerous. One need rely on the accuracy of the telling and hope that there did not exist an older, more dangerous version that might emerge in its stead.
Their footsteps approached nearer and she stilled her breath and willed her heart to soften its beating. She could smell the rank staleness of them. There is nothing so vile as the scent of stolen dreams and magicks left to rot upon a trophy cord. Softly, she drew in her breath and wishpered a prayer to her spirits and released her substance to their will.
A soft twitter-giggle echoed gently through the elevator shaft. Desolinia was no longer so timid. Her spirits had served her well. She rather liked this new form. Seems they fashioned her out of some of her favorite creatures, the sleek feline body, all these wonderfully tactile legs and such a tail! That barb could slay her most formidable enemies Now she supposed she needed to give herself a name. Hmmmmm???? A knowing smile spread across her face . . . . . Arachnafelorpion! Desolinia giggled again and began to draw herself further up the shaft by her silken thread. She could hear their distant voices cursing her below. She had found a form even “they” couldn’t pursue. She placed the stone back in her pocket and leapt out of the top of the shaft. It was a bright sunny day out. She figured she had earned the right to enjoy some of it.
copyright May 16, 2010