8.3 – In the blue

Hnnhrhaff

For the flutter of a butterfly wing, she is certain that father is here. Until Brittle realises that she and her own aching form is the grunt-maker.

Ghrrraaa

Is this what it feels like to be eaten by a spider? She feels surprisingly whole, though painfully aware of every single joint and bone in her body. She is, apparently, able to move her arms. Trailing her hands down her front, she stops as she feels grandmother’s forelegs, still tickling her core. But that was before?

Hnnna

These legs though, are feathery.

Ah.

She is on her feet in the flicker of a frog’s tongue, waddling around in terror on uneven ground. Stumbling, falling, getting up, falling again. And everywhere she lands, or steps, or careens, there’s fearrows. It’s like trying to escape a giant bird’s nest, but far more sinister. Downy, bristly barbs everywhere. After a panicked eternity, she crashes into a cave wall. The cold stone feels like Brook’s embrace in comparison to the treacherous ground. Panting, she realises that she can’t see a thing. It’s blacker than the depths of Briar’s eyes in here. And the ground is like a feathered swamp, endless layers of fearrows. Her feet never touched solid ground when she was bumbling around. The spider. She touches her forehead. Yes, of course. The fearrows broke her fall, the impact knocked her out, tiny thrice-eyed grandmother provided the vision. Time enough later to figure it all out, now she needs to get out. Somehow.

Not a sound. Is Brute…she has to stop this…Brand still up there? Before giving herself a chance to think it through, she shouts „Hello?!“

Hello?! Hello?! Hello?!

Brittle gulps and instantly wishes she had strangled that particular impulse before it drew breath. The hairs on the back of her neck rise. The horrible image of her unstable copy viewed through Brook’s eyes shimmer in her mind’s eye to make up for the lack of visual input in her immediate surroundings. She clutches her throat with both hands, trying in vain to protect herself from swift, imminent death. But she hears no rustling, no slithering, no signs of an impossible creature catching her scent, or sound, as it were. Only the dying of her own reflected voice, finding its final resting place among silent stones.

Nothing. No Brand. No Bridge. No fearrowing. Just her and a cavernous void covered in the detritus it left behind. „Well, Brittle. Time to show you are of Brave’s blood,“ she whispers to herself. She knows by now that things are not that linear when sparks and family are concerned, but the notion gives her a sense of closeness to her great grandmother. And that is enough, enough for her to dare to feel her way along the wall, feet slipping in a sea of fearrows constantly trying to submerge her feet.

She has no idea of how long she has been walking for. There is just the struggle in the dark. And then, the light. A faint, blue glimmer that is there one moment, and gone the next. It’s a goal, something to reach. She leaves the safety of the stone and wades into the fearrow marsh. Her fear is less palpable now, just manifesting as a tremor of unease on the surface of her skin. It’s hard to keep a straight line, but the light reappears often enough for her to get her bearings.

Raahrf!

Her knee meets rock. A ledge of sorts. She hoists herself up and takes a good few moments just hugging the hard foundation. Hoping against hope that this is not just some little isle in the fearrow sea, she gets up and takes a few trying steps. And is rewarded by the reappearing of the light, much closer now, bobbing up and down in the darkness. Brittle does not know how, she just feels certain beyond certainty that this is neither trap nor bait with ill intent, but something pure. She walks slowly, constantly testing the ground. The light remains constant, and she seems to be getting closer and closer. Then, all of a sudden, it disappears, flying off to the left as if being carried off by someone in a mad dash. „Hey!“ she shouts, frustrated.

Hey! Hey! Hey!

Without thinking, she sprints blindly in pursuit. The blue gleam blinks in and out of existence, travelling further along. „Hey!“

No echo. She must be in a different space now. There it is again, awfully close, swiping off and vanishing again, this time to the right. She times herself and tries as best she can to follow in its wake. As she turns where she believes the light spun around, she stops. Not out of caution or despondency. Out of awe.

Before her is a small cave of crystal. Thin, long shards of translucent stone growing together in clusters, looking like the backs of petrified giant hedgehogs. And in the centre of things, on a plinth made of that same material, is a carved crystalline seven-faceted gem. It emanates blue, soft light, lighting up the entire space, allowing her to see. But the light is not created by the gem, merely filtered by it. The source of illumination stands just behind the central contraption.

Bridge, her fawn. Eyes glazed white and forehead shining like a blue lantern.

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