Sunday, November 21, 2010

Kingdom of the Firebird

[Meant to be a prologue; just something I scrambled to write and haven't bothered editing. If I sort out my details correctly, it should turn out rather awesome. Enjoy!]


The young woman ran as hard as her feet would allow her. She picked up her skirts, as her heeled boots splashed in dirty puddles of the bricked walkways up the dark street. Some of her hair stuck to her face with sweat, while the rest flowed behind her in a whirlwind. In her right hand, she clutched a golden locket; its chain jingling against her fingers. She heard a low, loud whisper behind her, as if someone was sucking in a breath. She gasped and turned a quick corner down an alley. She knew these streets like the back of her hand. Up ahead, she knew there was an old warehouse where she used to visit with some friends. Friends who, way back when, didn't care about debutante classes or high society. Time had changed now. She had changed, but the warehouse was still the same.

She swung to the right and arrived at the side door of the warehouse. She pulled the rusted door, wavering on its old hinges, and ran in, slamming it behind her. The warehouse was warm, and the floor was covered in old dirt and hay. The neighbors had used it in the winter to keep the cattle warm. She caught glimpse of a small room that she recognized amidst the dust and debris and scrambled to get inside. She slid into the corner and started digging through the hay. Occasionally, she'd glimpse behind her, looking at the shadows in the room, making sure they didn't move. Finally, she saw the wooden panel and digged her fingernails between the cracks to pry it open. She whimpered hysterically, growing impatient. The Cloaked One would find her soon enough. With all her strength, she pulled away the plywood and pushed it up. She looked down into the darkness. A tattered rope ladder hung on the side, swaying with the wind that entered and swirled inside the passage.

The whisper came again. The woman gasped, tears streaming down her face, and nervously tried to step onto the ladder. She placed one boot, then both, and as she stepped one foot down to make room for her legs and torso, she felt a strong wind enter the room and slam her in the back. She staggered on the ladder, struggling to get in, but then she felt her body being pulled back. Her hand let the locket fall down the passage and she threw the wood panel down, throwing the hay back on top of it. She heard the warehouse door open and slam, and then a plume of darkness enveloped the room. The woman pushed herself into a corner and cried out. "Please, please don't. I don't have it! You're looking for someone else. It wasn't us, I swear it!" As the tears still fell, knowing that no amount of pleading would help, her brown eyes suddenly glowed-turning amber, then gold, as an unseen fire reflected in her pupils. She felt warm all over, hands trembling in front of her to keep The Cloaked One away. The darkness swirled around the room like a cyclone; black gusts that almost resembled wet ink instead of clouds. It happened much faster than she could process. One moment, the fire in her eyes blazed, as a spark of flame came from her warm hands, and the next, an ink clawed hand reached out for her throat and swallowed her up in the night.