This post has the following content warnings:
Dec 16, 2018 12:08 PM
Carel & Dianav in a fairyland
+ Show First Post
Total: 438
Posts Per Page:
Permalink

Thank you. She looks in the direction she indicated for a sudden moment. You won't have a choice if you don't find a way out, take a closer look at the trees if you don't believe me, she says quickly, and takes off in the other direction.

A few moments later a dog tears across their path and pays them no mind as it pursues the fox.

Permalink

And if they pause here and peer at trees, what do they see?

Permalink

It's easy to miss if you're not looking for it, but an awful lot of these trees have shapes in the bark that look like human figures and faces. None of them look calm or happy; most look terrified or in pain. It could be a trick of the light. Maybe.

But it probably isn't.

Permalink

Carel doesn't sigh. "If any of you can and would like to express any preferences or anything else, I'm trying to listen right now." They pause, listening and watching.

Permalink

If the trees have anything to say, it's impossible to tell.

Permalink

"I don't think I can see or hear any communication from you at the moment. We might need to proceed under the assumption that the trees here can't communicate."

They share another look. The local god, if the witch is a god, is probably not one of the nicer ones. That might be a reason not to seek them out. On the other hand...

They start walking toward where Emma Harris said the witch lives.

Permalink

Nothing unexpected happens before they come across a small hut in what could just barely be called a clearing. A thin rope with clothes hanging on it stretches from tree to tree to tree above the hut, higher than the average person could reach on their own. A pen full of chickens stands to one side of the hut; on the other side there is a small doghouse and a bowl of water.

Permalink

Carel knocks on the door of the hut.

Permalink

It swings open.

The inside of the hut is larger than it should be; even just the room they can see wouldn't possibly fit if there weren't magic at work. It's a kitchen, with cobwebs heavy in the corners and a broom gathering dust on the floor. Footprints are clear throughout the room—some barefoot, some boot marks, some paw prints. A pot is boiling on the stove. There is no one obviously inside.

Permalink

"Excuse me, I was hoping to speak to the person I think I was told lives here," Carel says. Neither of them try to go inside.

Permalink

"I am she," says a voice from behind them.

The woman attached to it is shorter than they are, but she carries herself like she's taller by far. No expression is discernible from her face, and in fact her face looks almost pasted onto her head; it looks wrong and unattached and far too still. She wears a plain dress, no shoes, and a chicken foot on a cord around her neck, and she exudes an aura of 'I am deigning to acknowledge you, and you should be grateful.'

Permalink

Carel bows. Dianav makes a gesture that amounts to the same thing.

"I don't know how we got to this forest but we spoke to someone who we understood to have implied that it was your domain. I was hoping you would tell us if there are any things you would prefer we do or avoid doing while we're here."

Permalink

"You will make yourselves useful or you will starve," the witch says. "I would prefer the former. My house needs sweeping."

Permalink

"How often and to what standard? Are there any things we should be careful not to disturb? Will you be lending us a broom to do it with?"

Permalink

"As often as necessary, until there is not a speck of dust left. You are not to open the room with the green door. There is a broom on the floor."

Permalink

"A broom," she repeats. To Dian, with a glance at him, and they come to a silent agreement. They haven't been given a real standard, so the only safe thing is to never not have the broom in use. So fortunate that there are two of them. "Will you decide when and how much we can eat of your food, or are we free to take anything as long as we're at work?"

Permalink

"If I am satisfied with your work when I return, I will give you something to eat." She does not wait for a reply, and instead turns to walk away from the hut.

Permalink

Something. Isn't that a stunningly reassuring promise. If she's satisfied. Which may be totally uncorrelated with any observable quality of the work.

Carel goes first. Dianav takes a very brief nap. They don't talk out loud except about work. She might be listening.

Carel does the best job she can, excluding the room with the green door, and is looking for additional dust specks when the witch returns.

Permalink

The witch returns with a handful of red flowers, their roots still shedding dirt as she walks. She stops at the doorway and surveys the room; after a few moments, she nods, steps over to the stove, and sets the flowers on a shelf above it. A stack of bowls sit by the stove; she spoons the contents of the pot into two of them, and sets them on a small table. They contain some sort of thick soup, with chunks of potato and meat of unclear origin.

"Eat," she tells them.

Permalink

"Thank you, ma'am. We can eat before sweeping the dirt the flowers left on the floor?"

Actual food! She is so much more reasonable than they feared she might be. The time limit on figuring out how to escape or steal her magic or kill her isn't going to be how long it takes them to starve to death.

Permalink

The witch waves her hand. "There is always more to do. When you have finished eating, feed the chickens." She goes into the next room and passes out of sight in the direction of the green door.

Permalink

They eat.

When they're done eating, they look for the witch. Seems like she's behind the green door. Carel stands right by the door and doesn't open it. "Excuse me, ma'am," she calls in a voice meant to carry into whatever's in the secret room, "I need a clarification, who do you want us to feed your chickens to?" There is absolutely no indication in her tone of voice that she is joking.

Dianav smiles but doesn't laugh. They're only slightly making fun of her. Mostly they want to get her to be clearer about things the first time without having to actually ask her to change her behavior for them. Better if she chooses it.

Permalink

There is no answer.

Permalink

Carel tries again louder. "Ma'am, I'm not sure if you want the chickens fed to something or something fed to the chickens and in either case I'm not sure what the something would be!"

Permalink

The door opens, just a little. "There is feed by the pen." Pause. "You are clever children. Solve your own problems and do not come to me with little details. I have work to do." The door opens a touch further and then slams shut.

Total: 438
Posts Per Page: