Day groans, stretches her body to its full length on the small cot, and fumbles her feet on the chair serving as the cot's extension, knocking it over. It clatters to the ground with all the serenity of an earthquake. She startles into a sitting position, her pulse pounding in her ears.
Ok, this is getting old, fast. I'm either passing out or getting scared shitless. Time to get it together!
The door creaks open on the other side of the room. "Ma'am? Are you alright?" Ma'am? How old does she think I am? Twenty-four doesn't qualify me for ma'am-hood.
"I'm ok, the chair fell over." This explanation seems to appease her guard, who closes the door after a brief moment of consideration.
Wonder what time it is? Her feet slide to the ground. Muscles flex the needle-sharp ends against the wooden floor as she wiggles her toes in the darkness. Despite their appearance, her odd feet remain a natural extension of her body.
She can be thankful for this, at least.
The shell, well, exoskeleton, is natural as well. The black coating flexes fluidly with her movements. A fingernail clicks against the armor. She doesn't feel the touch but does sense tiny vibrations against the skin underneath.
"Alright, well this is kind of cool. I came out of the fall a touch mangled, but still alive. So this exo-layer is fairly strong." Day stands, abruptly leaning against the wall as her vision clouds over and the world tilts on its axis. Once the vertigo eases, she takes a peek outside the curtains separating her from the rest of the room.
Inky darkness reigns outside the closed window, broken only by colourful balls of light floating in the landscape beyond. One of those same balls illuminates the room. The pale blue glow projects enough light to see by, but not enough to disturb her sleep. It's sometime between sunset and sunrise, which narrows it down to not morning, noon or evening. Excellent. She debates questioning the guard at the door, but decides against it. Not that important.
This room would make an ancient chemist do a happy dance. Tubes and beakers fill a central table while others remain delicately packed in baskets underneath. Bookshelves stuffed full of knowledge line the walls and pots containing rolled scrolls sit artfully in a corner. Vaguely plant-like shadows hang from hooks in the ceiling like withering fingers, drying herbs and flowers if the smell is of any indication.
An earthen clay tray rests on the corner of the large table amid the crowd of empty glass jars. On it are items she recognizes as food, apple slices and button shaped mushrooms, as well as items whose origins are a mystery to her. Is the green thing cheese? Orange berries that aren't poisonous? Is this a pastry?
Holy hell, fairies make pastries?
Her stomach growls, a reminder her last meal was days ago. "Well, when in Rome..."
The green wedge has a sweet, creamy flavour, the texture somewhere between cheese and mushrooms. Day alternates between the berries and apple slices, the combination mellowing out the sour fruit. She eats her way through half the plate, hand poised in the air on its upward journey, when the glint of blue light off a polished surface catches her attention. A full length mirror framed in delicately carved wood leans against the wall next to the door.
She hesitates, wanting to see her new body yet not ready for disappointment. Clawed extremities, dark shell, and purple skin aren't reassuring. Day swallows hard.
What if I'm hideous? Now there's a shallow thought for you. My face feels normal. Then again, so do my feet, and look at them! Nails sharp enough to rend skin! What if my eyes are multifaceted? Or my cheeks sunken in? Being part fairy has to help in the beauty department, right? The fairies I've met so far, both on the dream paths and in this world, are devastatingly lovely - or at least, would be if they weren't mutilated or dying. Small details.
YOU ARE READING
The Paths of GreythornFantasy
The dream paths, accessed by a chosen few, reveal the most likely future following any given choice. Unfortunately for the human dreamwalker Daystorm, the decisions made by the fairies of Greythorn make her long for the simpler days of sweat-induced...