Hello, Beasts and Creatures of all kinds!
Oh my, what big eyes you have… and what big ears you have… oh, and what big teeth you have! Your fur is so soft, too! It’s like you’re one big, misunderstood teddy bear! What? How could I run screaming from something so cute? Monsters have it tough already. I think it’s time we see them differently, because…
This week’s Writing Group prompt is:
Embracing the Monster
RULES AND GUIDELINES BELOW!
Make sure you scroll down and read them if you haven’t! You may not be eligible if you don’t!
Count on all of you to start Spooky Month off with a prompt like this. But I suppose monsters are a year-round thing, aren’t they? After all, who doesn’t like to sit in the cold basement on a hot summer’s day with a good vampire movie? And it’s never not a good time for werewolves.
But I think this prompt goes a little deeper than that. We ourselves sometimes look in the mirror and see monsters. We see parts of ourselves we wish we didn’t have, parts we try to suppress into nonexistence. For some, it’s surface level. A girl using coverup to hide her freckles that adorn her entire face because she was teased about them in grade school. A little boy hiding a scar from when he fell off his bike in sheer embarrassment that if it’s seen, everyone will know he fell. But maybe one day, the rain washes away the coverup, and she’s complimented for those very same freckles. Or someone shows him they have a similar scar in the exact same spot, making them twins of a sort.
For others, it delves into parts of ourselves we fear to even look at. Perhaps someone is suffering from OCD, or depression, maybe even PTSD. It sounds strange, I know, but think about what an embrace means. It’s accepting, it’s meant as understanding. So perhaps the friends and family of the affected person accept them as they are. This in turn allows the affected to realize they’re not irreversibly broken. It lets them see that they are still human, even with all these demons inside their head. Through the supportive embrace of their loved ones, they can come to accept these “monsters” themselves, and maybe even finally take steps to getting help for it.
Of course, on the lighter, more literal side of things, this prompt could be about transformations of an entirely different kind. A newborn vampire finally accepting their new form when they realize it allows them to do so much. And while they can’t choose when to feed, they can choose who to feed on. Or a werewolf keeping just enough sense to enjoy the feel of the night wind as they bound through the woods in search of dinner, so lost in the melody of the moon that they forget they’re even hungry. Maybe the monster under the bed isn’t so bad after all. Maybe they’re just as scared of you as you are of them. For all you know, they could be your new best friend. They just need a chance.
There’s so many more kinds of monsters to be explored. So many that just need a hug, just like any of us on a bad day. I mean, it can’t be easy living in darkness and perpetually scaring everyone, can it?
So go forth and show these monsters a new appreciation!
Remember, this is part of our weekly Writing Group stream! Submit a little piece following the rules and guidelines below, and there’s a chance your entry will be read live on stream! In addition, we’ll discuss it for a minute and give you some feedback.
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Home Is Not A Place
Snow crunched under Lenore’s boots. Pine needles whipped her face. She bounced from stone to log to branch to ground again. She’d given up following the footprints. The newly fallen snow had covered them up.
A low groan floated on the wind. Lenore froze, eyes darting through the trees until they found a huge mass. At first, she thought it to be a boulder, but boulders didn’t typically sob or have feathers.
She slowly approached, her heart beating like a drum.
The creature perked up but kept it’s back to Lenore.
“Don’t come any closer.”
Ignoring Mara’s demand, Lenore kept going. “You need to come back home.”
“I told you to stay in your room. Why didn’t you listen? Why do you never listen?” Mara’s voice was a hiss. Silent and sharp as steel.
“I saw da grab his gun. He was gonna kill you.”
“Then you should’ve let him!”
Snow gathered in the pines were set free by Mara’s voice. Moonlight stretched glowing fingers through the trees.
“Go back home, Lenore.”
“Not without you.” She stepped closer.
Mara shook her head. “I can’t go back. I can’t—I won’t hurt anyone else.”
“Then I’ll stay with you.” Lenore took another step.
“No. Please, just go home.”
She was just an arm’s length away. “Lowell is just a town without you.”
“Don’t make this any harder. I’m trying to protect you! Don’t you understand?”
Lenore reached out and weaved her fingers into Mara’s dark feathers.
“I understand, I just don’t care.”
Lenore walked around to face Mara. She tried to lift the feathers away from her face, but Mara whipped her head away.
“Don’t look at me!”
“We made a promise, remember?” She lifted her left sleeve to reveal a scar on her wrist. Two V’s fallen in opposite direction with a line down the middle. “Please, don’t make me break that promise.”
“We were just kids, Lenore. It doesn’t matter now.”
Lenore wrapped her arms around Mara’s head. “It does to me.”
Mara tried to pull away, but soon gave in and melted in Lenore’s embrace.
“A Righteous Monster”
By Hemming Sebastian Bane (CW: vomit, blood, cannibalism, violence against children)
Rot fell to her knees and retched, tears streaking down her face. Clear liquid coated the blades of grass. She punched the ground. Why?! Why did she have to do that?! Rot coughed and gagged as her stomach settled. The redheaded inquisitor laid down, away from her vomit, and sobbed.
A few days ago, she had arrived at a place she barely remembered: St. Nikolaus’s Orphanage. Tobias had told her that there should be some record of who her parents were there. Rot was unsure that she had met Father Agil before, but he seemed cordial enough. He had introduced her to the orphans: twelve children ranging from fourteen to five. Rot got to know them by name as they introduced themselves. Aloisia. Yara. Baishan. Gerlinde. Hagen. Wapasha. Gouyen. Jochen. Kriemhilde. Tiriaq. Naiche. Meinrad. She could help but see herself in them.
Agil had unlocked a cluttered mess of a room, almost filled wall to wall with loose papers. It had taken Rot most of the day to search. Occasionally one of the children would come in and either ask a few questions or help her for a little bit. Thanks to them, she had found it: the note from when she was dropped off on the orphanage’s steps. Rot had thanked Father Agil and tried to leave, but the priest insisted that she have dinner with them. Rot foolishly said yes.
At the dinner table, Rot had thought she smelled something familiar. It wasn’t until Father Agil came out with the dish that Rot confirmed her belief in horror. A golden-skinned roasted human. Rot leaped from her seat, shaking her head. One of the younger children tugged on her pants leg to calm her down. Rot’s heart felt shattered as she realized to the children, this was normal.
She killed the younger children first. It would be cruel to prolong their suffering. Some of the older children fought back, but ultimately fell to the might of Rot’s claws. She killed them all without fail.
Where she laid, Rot clasped her bloodied hands and prayed to Asena for their forgiveness.
I’ve got a Stake in You
by Matthew (Handsome Johanson)
As the car pulled to a stop near the now deserted park, Anna looked at Fred. “So, this is your surprise?”
Fred smiles. “Yeah! This park is always lovely at night, I thought we could explore it and stare at the stars together…”
Anna blushes and smiles. “I-I’d love to.”
They both get out of the car and before he knew it, Anna was clinging to his arm as they were walking through the moonlight. They walked slowly around, admiring the brilliance of the moon, the gently swaying dark trees, and the twinkling stars before finding a bench to sit down at.
Wonder was struck in Anna’s eyes as she took in the scenery, until she noticed the nervous look on Fred’s face. “What’s up? Did you have something on your mind?” Anna asked innocently.
“Y-yeah. Anna… I love you.” Fred swallowed his fears. “I love you so much. I… I want us to be a thing, a proper thing… but I, uh, want you to know something about me… if this is going to be serious. And please, you have to trust me on this… I… I am a vampire.”
Anna’s eyes fill with concern and confusion, as Fred continues. “Don’t worry, I’m never going to hurt you, but I think it’s important for you to know this fact about me.” Fred shows her his fangs. “Haven’t you ever wondered why we’ve always had dates at night? I can’t be out in the sun much?” He sighs. “I… I understand if you are mad at me and don’t want anything to do with me. ”
Anna lifts his chin up so that he’s looking back into her eyes. “You silly boy, while i’m a little miffed you didn’t tell me sooner, I could never leave you for something like this. I love you too.” She smiles and pulls him into a hug.
Fred sighs in relief and embraces her back before bursting into a pile of dust as a wooden stake penetrates his back, killing him instantly.
Anna wipes the dust off her stake and heads back to the car.
What We Can’t Forget
By L. L. Marco
Devlin opened his bleary eyes, finding a dark, small room. Various childrens toys lay scattered across the floor. Several dolls with blank, judging eyes watched him, slumped against the walls. One was propped in his lap. Stuffed animals hung from the ceiling, their stitching ripped open to reveal fluffy innards.
Wallpaper that had once been pink had peeled and greyed, flaking off in piles that lay untouched on the floor. The dust in the air was thick and the only light that dared shine was a sliver from the boarded up window.
A wicked, unnatural energy permeated the room. He wanted to run, but when he tried to stand he found himself tied tightly to a child’s chair by the same rope he’d packed in his bag earlier that night. The man twisted and turned, but tried as he might, the binds wouldn’t budge. His eyes frantically flew about the room, desperately trying to piece together any memory of how he’d gotten here. The last thing he remembered was getting ready for his ‘date’ with the little girl from the bus, and then… nothing.
A woman emerged from the shadows. She was petite with the prettiest black hair he’d seen in a long while. It felt… familiar, somehow. Like a ghost long passed. She watched him silently, her cold blue eyes alive with hatred.
Wait. That hair, this room… It had been years, but he’d never forget the room of his first victim. They looked alike, but he’d never mistake his little love for her tainted older sister who stood before him.
She circled him. His eyes nervously followed her, sweat beading along his forehead. When she circled back, a glint of metal caught the light. A knife. But Devlin wasn’t looking at that. No, his eyes were locked on what followed behind her. An apparition with one arm rotted to bone and a rose blooming from its eye. The ghoul reached down and faded its skeletal hand into the woman’s, their fingers curled together with the same desire. They slowly raised the blade.
“Hello Devlin. We never forgot you.”
Henry and Edward
By Jesse Fisher
The dank and darkened restroom smelt of mold and lack of care. A disheveled man hovels into the derelict space. Mud and water falling off of him as he leaned on one of the complete sinks in the place. The man looked into the broken mirror.
“It came as no surprise,” He spoke to the mirror. “You bring me back to life.”
“You bleed for me, I’ll bleed for you” The mirror replied.
“What do we do now?” The man asked as he looked at his clothing. “They think we’re dead, knowing them a ‘zombie’ will just get shot.”
“You are dead but not me.” The mirror’s feature turned wild as the man just shook his head. “Henry, you know they have not seen me, they do not know me.”
“Edward,” Henry’s eyes mirrored his doppleganger. “We are just going to go and remake ourselves, again.”
“So you are going to let everyone you know, and love go to an empty grave to grieve for a man who walks among them?”
“We are already one monster, why not just add to it.”
“I’m the monster that protects you from their wrath. I choose how wicked we shall be. NOT YOU.”
The sink cracked under Henry’s grip. Neither of them noticed as they stared dagger at the other.
“If you can grow a conscience then I can lose one, Edward.” Henry yelled back as he began to rip off his clothing.
“Henry…” Pain was clear in the reflection voice but his eye could not watch as Henry turned his back to the mirror and hoveled back out into the night as the rain grew worse.
What Happened to Ella
by Carrie (Glaceon373)
This was the end, she knew it.
Ella knew the myths, she knew the stories. She read the story books aloud to her younger brothers, watching them scream with joy at the triumph over evil, no matter how gruesome it was. She knew what happened to the people—the creatures—like her.
She had always feared that one day she would wake up and be a monster. An unlikely occurrence, merely the source of nightmares, but whatever “that day” was never left her mind. It was today, her scale-tainted reflection seemed to sneer at her.
She had to run away. Run away far, run where no one would know her and no one would expect to look for her. But also somewhere that wouldn’t kill her on sight.
She couldn’t think of any such place. But that didn’t matter.
Ella ran to the kitchen, grabbing a random loaf of bread. The noise she was making was enough to rival a flock of angry geese, but she didn’t care. Let her family try to stop her, only to see what she’d become. They would never dare think of her again.
She heard someone enter the kitchen just as she opened the front door. She didn’t stop. She just had to go where they couldn’t hurt her, and where she couldn’t hurt them.
She didn’t bother closing the door behind her. She simply broke into a sprint.
Someone was chasing her, calling her name. She didn’t turn. The town gate wasn’t much farther, then she’d just follow the road until it ended, then—
She tripped, hitting the dirt with a thud.
“Ella! ELLA!” The voice caught up to her. She recognized her father’s voice. “Ella, are you—”
She looked up at him, her dark scales shining in the sun like wet ink splotches.
Her father froze. She waited for him to stagger away in fear, or scream in terror, or even pull out some hidden knife.
But he didn’t. Instead, he helped her up from the ground and pulled her into a tight hug.
“Everything is gonna be okay, Ella.”
She burst into tears.
Her True Self
Ryan knocked on Erykah’s door. It was getting late, and he wanted to say goodnight before he left.
“Hey, Erykah, I think I’m going to head home.”
“Hold up, I’ll see you out!” Erykah called out from behind the door.
The sounds of heavy footsteps stumbled inside the room, followed by a crashing and a loud thud.
“Are you okay in there?” Ryan asked.
“Oww,” Erykah moaned.
Ryan grabbed the door handle and opened the door. As he was doing so, he heard Erykah yell, “Don’t come in!”
A large woman lay face down on the floor, her head covered with a turtleneck sweater that she appeared to be pulling on. Thick cords of muscle rippled under the dusky green skin of her lower back, and meaty legs sprouted from under her skirt. Beside her, a floor lamp lay on its side.
“Erykah?” Ryan asked.
“Don’t look at me!” Erykah’s voice pleaded from under the sweater. The green woman struggled up to a kneeling position and pulled the sweater down. Her head popped out from the turtleneck collar.
Ryan recognized Erykah’s face, even with the dusky green skin and small tusks jutting from under her lower lip. She averted her eyes from him.
“I guess the cat’s out of the bag, huh?” Erykah mumbled.
Ryan crouched down next to her. “What…are you?”
Erykah sighed, looking down at the floor. “I’m an Orc.”
It took a few seconds for Ryan to process this information.”When were you going to tell me?”
Erykah shrugged. “Eventually.”
“So, an Orc? Like from Chambers and Chimeras?”
“Yes! I mean, no!” Erykah’s eyes met Ryan’s. “We’re not like that! Orcs aren’t evil or anything. Most of us are peaceful. I’m still the same Erykah, Ryan.”
A smirk crossed Ryan’s face. “So, you’re not planning on eating me or anything?”
“Are you…? Tell me you’re kidding! Why would I teach you magic if I was planning on killing you?”
Ryan let out a chuckle and stood up. He held his hand out to her. “Come on, I’ll help you up.”
Rain Falling in the Night
The faint trickle of muffled rainfall echoed in the distance. I could hear its constant, rhythmic song: a lullaby for a sleeping world. But I did not sleep. Instead, I sat before a desk laden with work in a dim room.
I sighed and put down my pen. Sleep crept upon my heart, beginning its slow strangle of my senses. I dearly wished to finish my work, but I could not.
I leaned back in my chair and breathed. I just breathed.
The world, so usually drowned in stress, worry, and fretful deadlines, slept. Despite the urgency of my work, I felt no rush. The night seemed an eternal moment, stretched endlessly into time.
I rose and stretched my tired muscles. No one protested, for who could? I was alone with the night, the sole patron of its peaceful quietude.
I went to the window, leaned against its ledge, and gazed upon the night. The moon rose like a pale ghost haunting a lonely sky, overlooking an empty street, steady rain, and dark clouds drifting ever on.
The frenzy of the waking world seemed so distant, somewhere beyond the comforting darkness, beyond the cool rain, and beyond the silence.
I lost myself gazing into the night. I lost myself to the rain and the darkness. Such a strange thing to be entranced by a sleeping world. To know life goes on without trembling under its scrutiny. To know all those things feared in the day remain, but to be spared from their bite. To feel truly alone in a world full of people.
To feel peace.
But even as I stood, caught by the night, I knew it would not last. A growing feeling of dread poisoned my heart, stained the moment.
What I would give to be taken by the rain, to walk into its embrace: totally consumed.
Alas, the world’s claws sunk deep, and my sleeplessness would not last. I gave the night a last, long look and then returned into the inferno.
And the flames consumed me.
But the rain still fell.
Shadows hanging over the soul
by Gage Jarman
“You shouldn’t have came.” My father’s eyes were broken with guilt as I unlocked his shackles with a burst of arcane shadow.
“I couldn’t leave you here!”
“Do you know— this was too big of a risk!”
“It was mine to make!”
“If it means you might die, then I don’t deserve to be saved!”
“You’re more worthy than any of those above us!”
“No!…” Memories flashed across his face. “No, You don’t know the weight I’ve borne.”
“And that means you should waste away in some zealot’s dungeon?” Tears trailed down my cheeks.
“But what about me? Aren’t you supposed to guide me? To teach me how to stand up and fight and be true to myself?… It’s too cruel. You’re the last sliver that remains of my old world.”
“I’m not a perfect man. I’ve failed over and over again in my life…”
I shook my head. “I don’t care.”
“No, you need to listen to this. Once, I sought glory and believed in the cause with my whole being, there was a village. It was corrupted by the dark. Sullied beyond saving. The crops were plentiful and tainted. We didn’t give them repentance… There was a child playing a knight with a wooden sword.” His face contorted in anguish before me. I wrapped my arms around the emaciated man.
“Oh, by the light, I slaughtered him with a smile on my face. I watched the light leave his. Those pitiful mewlings for salvation, they’re a part of me. I’ve done the best I can with these bloody hands.
“It’s almost funny the way life mocks you because I’m glad it happened. I hate myself for it, but I never would have met your mother otherwise. I never would have made you. ” My father gave a pained grin. I helped him to his feet and lent my shoulder. He was so frail.
“Come on. We’re going home.”
“Do you think differently of me?”
“I don’t know. I never knew that man. He wasn’t my father.”
“Ah, I see.” He smiled, letting his first tear fall.
Many hours after the Modern Art Museum had closed, a figure clad entirely in black silently creeped through the halls, looking for a specific display. He passed many valuable paintings from dozens of renowned artists, until he reached a secluded corner with a peculiar exhibit, an inhuman bust carved from stone.
The most striking thing about the eldritch carving wasn’t the smooth, black stone that made up most of the vaguely humanoid head, or the white marble that composed its empty stare. It was the smile.
Its smirk was wide enough that it had probably swallowed its own ears, with a mouth that wrapped around the head like a bandanna.
The teeth of the statue were dozens of triangular mirrors arranged with minimal gaps between them, polished to perfection. If one got close enough, they could peer through one of these rare gaps to see the inside of the bust was hollow, with a space large enough to fit a liter size bottle of soda comfortably.
The man smiles, his and the sculpture’s reflecting each other. Readying a canvas bag, he reaches out to grab his prize when he sees something strange. From between two teeth, no, they were mirrors the man reminded himself, a small droplet of a red liquid seeped through.
The thief drew back his hand sharply, no longer smiling. The toothy grin of the monster before him, however, only grew wider. No. He was seeing things again, it hadn’t moved. There was no bl- unidentified red liquid.
He looked at it for a time, judging whether it was safe to try again. There was no sign that anything was amiss. The dark of the museum must’ve been getting to him. Further down the hall, a light was approaching. The guards were making their rounds.
He reached out again, but now the liquid, unmistakably blood by its stench, was pouring out of the beast’s mouth. He attempted to retract his hand again but found no response from his arm.
He looked down at where his hand should have been, and discovered where the blood was coming from.
The Bloodsucker And The Wormeater (Nyx’s Story)
By Calliope Rannis
Nyx was in a miserable mood. Sure, her seat was soft and comfortable, and the setting sun outside was beautiful – but it just made her feel worse. Instead she just sat listlessly, slowly scraping her sharp black nails against the wood of her chair, watching how it splintered and peeled away.
It felt like she was there for a long time, wallowing in her gloom. And yet the light had barely dimmed before she heard footsteps approaching her, with the familiar rustle of crude, scratchy clothes.
“So. What was it this time, my dear?”
“Nothing important Louise,” she replied sullenly.
“That scream I heard told me a very different story, dear.”
Nyx looked up, her hazel eyes meeting with the mismatched irises of her companion. One was a dark leafy green, the other purple as a bruise, set within a face of vivid pink skin, a shock of ragged white hair, and a crown of horns grown from her skull.
Louise’s expression was stern, but her eyes were worried. That genuine concern was enough for Nyx to relent. “Look, I was just,” she gestured to a book flung onto the table before her, “trying to read. That’s all it was.”
An understanding nod. Then a flash of anger. “Fie to that book! It always hurts you like this.”
“That’s hardly the book’s fault.” Nyx looked down at herself again.
More rustling, a creak of the chair, a gentle weight on her lap, and a hand lifted her cold chin up to meet Louise’s eyes once more, now only inches from her own.
“I can tell you a story, if you need one.”
“You don’t need to read me the book-”
“Hah! No, not THAT story. I will tell a story once told by my mothers,” she replied, as her fingers stroked Nyx’s fangs. “A spoken story, that lives and wriggles and leaps. Not some dead tale stuck within leaves and leather.”
Their foreheads touched, and Nyx felt the welcome pricking of horns against her scalp.
“I think I would like that very much, Louise,” she said with a toothy smile.
What was hidden under (Haven’s tale)
By Lari B. Haven (Larissa)
“Sweetie; I saw you being fun, cute and sassy… But alcoholic?” Dove approached the fox girl drinking alone in Cabaret’s bar. “Souring with glass in hand is for the lost ones. You still have hope in your eyes Haven, my dear…”
“Spare me the talk, I don’t want to hear it.” She poured herself another shot. “I would rather drown in liquor.”
“Golly jeez!” She rested her back against the bar. “What a Dejá vu! I had this exact conversation just a few days ago with your lover-boy. You and Jack are truly alike.”
“If you are going to mock me…” she pointed at Dove with the bottle.
“Oh! The gods know I root for you two.” Dove took the drink from Haven’s hands. “But you two seem to have an absurd fear of being honest with each other. And I can’t help but find this appalling.”
“I’m afraid of myself, Dove. I have done things with Jack that are… Nothing like me.” Haven looked at her feet. “I was terrible yesterday. I’m really like this? A destructive, vindictive, and jealous mess.”
“Yes, and no. We are many people. Sometimes people that we can’t fathom to be.” She smiled. “What you see in this skimpy dress is smoke and mirrors. I have many flaws, monstrous ones. I learned and accepted that they are me. Good and bad. Especially bad. I fought to change the ones I could, others will take more work.”
“But I don’t want to be bad,” Haven sobbed.
“Haven, be a dear to me and speak to that little devil inside you. Give it a hug. I know that in time, you will deal with it.” Dove embraced her friend until she stopped. “And for god’s sake, tell your lover-boy the same. It’s impressive how much you two dwindle in the same problems.”
With a kiss on the cheek, Dove accompanied her to Jack’s office. It was time to mend things up, and perhaps deal with some complicated feelings.
A call of freedom rang through the night air as a beat up convertible sped down the country road, breaking through the otherwise silent night. The weather was perfect for a summer night and the sky was alight by the moon and stars; all the more reason to travel.
Nero smiled as Saor pulled himself up and sat down on the back of the vehicle, spreading his arms wide and closing his eyes. His black hair reminded him of the night sky as it blew wildly in the wind, and the feathers that were beginning to grow back on his chest and arms flowed beautifully. It’d been a few months since he’d seen the Avian look so excited, so…free. These night drives were their escape, the only time they could simply exist without judgement.
“Stretch your wings out, babe!” Nero shouted over the rushing air, glancing up at his love. A nervous look crossed his face, and Saor was quick to glance at the world around them. But once the man confirmed that they were alone and no one else was around this late at night, a relieved sigh came from him.
Saor’s smile was beautiful; he rarely showed it when he was forced to stay inside due to the features that were too difficult to hide. And when he fully embraced the appendages he had been ostracized for all his life, Nero couldn’t describe how beautiful he was.
Black wings sprouted from his back, bursting out in a flurry of obsidian feathers. They reached upwards, the very tips pointing to the heavens, seemingly touching the stars above. In the bright moonlight, they were illuminated.
The Avian flapped his wings, his eyes opening once more and landing on Nero. “Hey, focus on the road!” He chided, his face flushing a bit when he realized the man was staring at him.
“Sorry, you’re just so beautiful when you let loose.” Saor said nothing in response, simply fluttering his wings and looking away.
“But I’m a monster…”
“I won’t hesitate to slap you.”
Mornghynia breathed hard as the two statues began to exude color. She could feel a pressure mounting, like two storms converging or a couple trying to stay polite but clearly angry with each other. They were engaged in an argument of silence and will.
The statues were dark and light, pristine and worn, ember and rose. The ireful statue stepped toward her, its stony eyes still on its twin. The pale statue, with pops and grinding and immense heat, brought its hands down, still holding the mouldering compost and its fungus.
Mornghynia realised then what she was seeing; these were not made things, they were vessels. There were people trapped within these statues, locked away behind the genuflecting faces. She shivered, remembering the first of these statues she had seen, its face pallid and still, its color gone. It still held a mouldering compost, but no life sprouted from it.
She wondered if she had been wrong, if the fiery statue hadn’t been hunting her, but trying to protect her; then the viney statue would be the danger. If, then. Or maybe both were hunting her. She didn’t know enough about this place, the vast pillars and basilicas, the impossible portals that moved. It was like a hall of stars and nightmares.
The fiery statue lifted one hand to her, its fingers dark and cool, only its elbows glowing with inner power as it moved.
The mouldering statue lowered, not kneeling, but genuflecting still. Its open mouth whistled as a breeze passed its face. It seemed to say, “Choose me,” with its posture and hands held forward.
She hated the idea of choosing. They might kill her, she was a trespasser here after all. They were what was left behind by whoever built this palace of gods. She looked up again. An orange light lit the ceiling so high above. The fiery statue had lit up its palm, a small orb of color in its own dead hand.
The rosy statue moved toward it, its unwavering expression terrible, and Mornghynia danced forward to save that beautiful little orb of souls.