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Monday, 19 April 2021

Drown In Sorrow

 This short story is a collaboration piece with MischiArt

Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

 

      Long, withered fingers closed slowly around the decrepit battle standard. With a deathly tug, it was dragged it down into the bog. The surface barely rippled as it vanished.

     There, down below, in the deep murk of the dead, stagnant water, six inhuman pupils contracted over the stained and ragged banner. The fabric shifted lifelessly in her blighted grip, and those fingers traced the broad, branching tree emblem stitched in rotten thread with unearthly care.
     Then, her touch hesitated.
     Rain pattered steadily over the water surface above. M'lok sank deeper.
     Her chest felt heavy as she stared at the decaying weave. Something was moving beneath her ribs, through fluid, through algae, through reanimated bone - something that shouldn't have touched her in the safety of her waters, yet seized her all the tighter for it: her muscles stiffened, a pit yawned open in her gut, and a chill ran over her torn and withered skin. And above it all, bleak shadows formed and flickered in her mind, dredged up from somewhere long since drowned and severed. And she found she had no power to stop it.
     M'lok clutched the banner tight enough to tear it, while her triple-irised eyes burned into that emblem with strength enough to set it alight. Something intense screamed inside her, commanding her to shred it, to throw it away, to spare herself the noxious confusion that choked her heart. But her fingers wouldn't open.
     The colours, the shapes...every lost banner, every shred of humanity discarded at the edge of her bog had power. Power enough to boil her blood, tighten her jaw and grit her teeth. To make her lip tremble and her body curl up like shrivelled moss. And, once in a while, to make her feel so small, aching and desperate that she wished she could vanish entirely for lack of any clue of how to make it stop. Never once had she understood why. And never once had those shapes given her the strength to find out.
     Again, she willed her fingers to open and discard the banner. And again, they ignored her.
     In a ragged heartbeat, she wrapped it around herself with the others instead.
     The longing passed rapidly, and anger oozed into its place. She welcomed it. It was easier to handle.
     She cast a festering look around herself, and watched the bog seethe with her; snakes and larvae wriggled through the mire and brushed over her skin, the rain above swelled the waters and spread her reach, and she could see the grey tail of a great crocodile on the nearest bank: Gortythe sitting ever-watchful in the drizzle. She could feel every tendril of life, just as they could feel hers. The turtles, the frogs, the eels; the leeches, the nymphs, the mosquitoes; the flytraps, the fungi, the moss...everything was connected, and she connected to it.
     And so the nervous footsteps of the trespasser in the eastern reaches shuddered its way through all life in the bog in seconds to tremble in her waters.
     A smile skittered across her face, and that brief desperation sparked once again into something irrational and blistering. She wouldn't wait. This time, she would hunt.
     The water clung to her as she rose, slowly sliding over her skin as she broke the surface without a sound. The earth shifted just as silently beneath her feet, moving with her stride. And the white, ghostly fungal mass of drooping lion's mane clinging to a misshapen log in the centre of the water pointed a long, crooked arm to the east.
     Gortythe turned and ambled forwards, and M'lok's tongueless snarl gripped her once-beautiful face.
     They would regret ignoring the old warnings.
     They would drown in her sorrows.


     Mischi makes wonderful illustrations, and is creating equally wonderful and immensely evocative colouring books, Contested Canvas, featuring battle maidens fighting one another for their place among the Battleborne. There are two available - Recruitment, and Adversaries - with a third, Battle Aria, on the way. Follow her on twitter and on Patreon, and find her colouring books and individual colouring page downloads on Etsy!
 
 
 
 
Character and concept by MischiArt, words by Kim Wedlock.
No part of this may be reproduced without both of our written permission.
Copyright © 2021 Kim Wedlock  




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