You are trapped.
You aren’t sure who they are, but they have cold hands and left the scent of bitter coffee. A faint light comes from a far corner of this…cave. It’s reflecting light in a peculiar way, faceted and angular. You begin to come back to yourself, feeling around you. Your hand comes back wet and stinging, with a smell of copper and salt. Come to think of it, everything smells like salt. As your eyes adjust, you see the way the light reflects from the top of the cave, beams creating rosy light.
The area above your head is filled with crystal.
You look at your hand, and notice the dark, seeping liquid. It’s stopped stinging at least. Your eyes continue to adjust, and you see the smooth area that you occupy. Your skin has taken on a blue tinge, you blood looking darker then it should. It’s hard to look away from the sight. You become aware of a soft dripping to your left, which echoes around you, and you look over the ledge. A pool of liquid, disturbed by the droplets that fall from above it. At the center of the pool, there lies a strange skull. It’s not like what you’ve seen before, it’s missing…missing most of its eye sockets. It only has two. The horns spiral out in a peculiar fashion.
Something shifts in the darkness and begins to clink.
You crouch behind a crystal to watch. The clinks stop at the base of the pool and a spindly shape moves into it. All you can make out are appendages. It’s strange to look at. You touch the crystal beside you, and your hand tinks against it. There are dark, glassy tendrils surrounding your hand. Tapping them with your finger, the surface is hard and armor-like. And you can touch the crystals with it. You bite back fear and lay your other hand against a crystal.
It stings and the smell of copper fills the air.
Something below you tinkles, like glass shards falling. The appendages have moved, startled by something. It looks at you. You’re not sure how you know, but it does. And it’s starting to move towards you. It’s dark enough that the black shape becomes almost invisible as you panic, your dark glass hands and blue skin more clumsy then helpful. So you run. You stumble against sharp crystals and your left side sears and there’s blood forming an area of glassy hardness, copper-smell fading. You start into the maze of razor-like rock. Towards the light. That’s your goal.
You run, and the crystals rip your skin. The cuts bleed into long glassy tendrils trailing off your skin that snap and shattered behind you. The sharp clicks behind you increase their tempo, and they sound so close and you can’t seem to get away from the sounds of shattering glass. The pale light at the edge of the cave is the only thing that you can see at this point, it’s all narrowed down to this pink glow. You stumble over a crystal, and your hand catches a ledge. The armor encasing your limbs grinds as you climb, closer and closer and the rustling and clicks are farther apart but still there and then
the light is there to your left and you can taste the relief on your tongue.
As you move closer to the light, you see how dark your blood is and your skin… your skin is blue, not sickly pale, but a bright, glowing blue, your hands only have five appendages how did you lose three digits… and you reach to your face… where are your eyes where are your eyeswhereareyoureyes all you can feel are the bones surrounding them and the thin delicate skin covering horrible horrible eyes and they somehow are letting you see and when you open your mouths to scream there is only one.
The panic for your body overtakes the panic of the pursuing clicks. You try again, to open your mouths, that should have long teeth and have languages of their own but they are gone and you are alone with the clicks, no gentle languages murmuring, no eyes seeing the alternates, nothing…the light. The light will have answers.
The clicks behind you have stopped. There is a figure, tall and fragile looking, all limbs and emptiness and there is shadow wrapped about it like a cloak. The silence of it makes you feel more dread then the noise it made. The figure raises a spindly appendage into the light to reveal blackened bone-like limb. Something in your hearts recoil from it. It begins to speak, speak in no language you know, but whispers that you feel more then understand. Reason appears where there was panic, and you understand that it is comforting you.
When the figure stops its murmurs, it speaks in a common tongue. “Fear the voice that claims answers where there is no truth.” You close the weak eyes in your skull, and nod. The spindly figure quietly disappears; the bone and shadow leave behind chalky dust and the smell of heather. You take a breath with your single mouth, and then turn towards the light. Beyond it, there lies uncertainty. You grab the crystal that hangs just before the exit. The sharp pain and smell of copper fill your head, and you step into the light.
As your eyes adjust to the brightness, everything around you seems to shiver. A voice, liquid and dark comes from just beyond the trembling plants and creatures. You move closer to the voice, feeling the sharp glass armor covering you, and the advice of the being ringing in your ears. "fear the voice that claims answers where there is no truth." This is the end, you think. The voice has become louder and clings to your jagged protection and you desperately wish for your missing eyes to see where this would lead.
The voice speaks of salt, and how it changed the ways.
It speaks of how it gave them knowledge, gave them courage. The voice pleads, pleads with you not to be angry. You are the first creature it found. It tells you of how it removed several of your hearts, used them to heal the others… how your eyes allow them to see, your mouths allow them to speak, and in return this body is yours to live in freely. You look around, with your weak eyes, and see the creatures. They look to you in fear, cold and empty. The voice reminds you of your sacrifice, reminds you of how god-like you are. You created them! It cries, and you look to your strange hands, and how sharp the glass is.
You wonder how easy it would be to take their lives,
to destroy what you’ve been forced to give. What the voice has given them. Fear the voice that claims answers. Fear the reasons that it has given. It has created life that will never know joy, it has created empty shells of creation, patched together with parts of your hearts and eyes and mouths. Fear the voice that claims answers where there is no truth. How can they these creatures know what life is? Can the voice, is all its darkness, see the pain in their eyes? It took your eyes and mouths and hearts, took your skin,
and created life that wants nothing but to die.
So you walk to the voice, which rises in volume, colder and darker, speaking of reasons you are deaf to. There is no life to be created from these caves, no joy to be created. The creations behind you stir, and you hear them, their mouths, your mouths, singing in gentle, strange languages. Urging you on. The voice is overwhelming; it begins to drown out the songs. You enter the dark space it occupies. There are no answers for these creatures, no answers for you.
You’ve been robbed of yourself, and they of a life.
You are calm, and the glittering armor gives you hope. The voice has created nothing. It claims to have an answer, one that you have no interest in. You’ve moved close enough to the voice that it has overpowered your ability to hear anything else. The voice continues to plead with you, desperately snarling about salt, sobbing answers for why it has done this, and you feel nothing but disdain. Life wasn’t meant to be born from the suffering of others, wasn’t meant to be created to feel nothing but fear. You walk to the source of the voice, and the closer you are, the more overpowering it is, begging, pleading, wheedling, shrieking in fear and anger.
Then it falls silent.
The scent of fear seeps into you, the smell of bitter coffee and crushed sulfur. You reach out, and the moment your skin stings with warmth, you close your hand. A soundless death. Your hand is warm and wet, the smell of iron filling your nose. There are no answers here. The voice is gone. When you turn back to the clearing, the gaze of the creatures is clearer somehow. You see your eyes and mouths, bits of your body scattered around. These creatures, you must do what you can for them. They are alive, and they are a part of you. You point to where you came from. You tell them you know someone who could help them. There are no answers here. Excuses for creating pain and suffering are not answers.