Little Lost on the Prairie

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Little Lost on the Prairie

Postby Shiress on February 5th, 2021, 2:54 am

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Day 1

The first thing Shiress was aware of when she came awake was the odd sensation of a gentle breeze stirring her hair.

The second and more jarring awareness was that, despite knowing she had fallen asleep in her bed, she was no longer in it.

Shiress's eyes snapped open, and she jerked upright, eyes squinting against Syna's rays as she dazedly studied her surroundings. Which consisted of a wall of gently swaying, tall and thin blades of...grass? Wheat?

"What the..."

Coming hesitantly to her feet, Shiress turned slowly in a circle, eyes widening and mouth falling open in an O of absolute astonishment and not a little bit of confusion. All around her, as far as the eye could see, there was...nothing. No mountains, no roads, no houses, not a single living soul. Nothing. Nothing but a vast, open grassland on gently sloping hills that abruptly ends against the blue of the horizon in all directions. On any other given day, Shiress would have thought the view beautiful, but the sight before her only filled her with dread. With a hard chill, Shiress suddenly felt very alone in a vast and unknown world.

"Hello?" she called but already knew she was well and truly alone when not even the echo of her own voice called back to her.

Shiress wrapped her arms around herself and, with a jolt, only then realized that she was as naked as the day she was born. Dropping her chin, she gazed down the length of her body and instantly blushed with a bout of self-consciousness, hands lifting slowly to cup her breasts, one leg slowly crossing over the other, eyes going wide again. Not one stitch of clothing. Not even the tie that had bound her braided hair the night before remained, leaving her long, chestnut locks lying loosely against her scarred skin.

At least her lengthy tresses covered her bare arse.

Shiress's gaze scraped across the landscape for another chime before snagging on a nearby tree. Suppose it could be called a tree. It stood only as tall as Shiress and was spindly thin, but what held her gaze was the bag dangling from one of its branches. Momentarily forgetting her modesty, Shiress relaxed her arms and stepped cautiously through the hip-high stalks of grass to the tree, and carefully pulled the bag free. With another suspicious look around, she upended the bag's contents on the ground.

A bow that resembled more a stick with a string attached, four arrows, flint, and steel, a rabbit pelt, and a clay mug tumbled free, scattering at Shiress's feet. Dumbfounded, she stared at the items a long moment before bending to pick up a scrap of what looked like thin parchment paper. Turning it over in her hand, she gently unfolded its edges, revealing a map. But of what?

Shiress studied the hand-drawn chart trying to make sense of its scribbled depictions of, well, nothing really, save what looked like hills, the occasional tree, and crude drawings of dogs, maybe, snakes, and other, smaller, animals she couldn't make out. Stranger still was a pair of Xs, one small, marked near the bottom of the paper beside a small tree, and one larger marked at the top.

Her gaze flitted from the map to the small, bag holding tree, back to the small X and the tree on the map, then straight ahead to a copse of trees off in the distance, back to the paper to a similar depiction of trees, then, again, to the tree beside her, then back to the paper. Finally, realization dawned; the small X was her location, and the large X was, what? Where she was to go? Where she was forbidden to go? Where 5,000 gold mizas were waiting for her, or maybe a strikingly handsome and equally as naked man?

Shiress sighed, exasperated, and dropped her hands, map in tow, down by her side, tiring of this game, or challenge, or petching crazy, exceptionally realistic dream already.

With nothing left to do, she scooped the items back into the bag and straightened, peering skyward. She was pretty sure it was morning, and with the sun to her right crossing the sky to her left, the big X was straight ahead. So to the north.

Shiress started walking.





[Word count: 747]
Last edited by Shiress on February 7th, 2021, 12:10 am, edited 1 time in total.
Moonlight drowns out all but the brightest stars

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Every path has a few puddles
 
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Little Lost on the Prairie

Postby Shiress on February 6th, 2021, 11:58 pm

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Day 2 & 3


And walk she did.

Shiress walked and walked and walked and seemingly got nowhere.

The sun had dipped low to her left some time ago and was now hidden by darker, more ominous clouds, and the temperature, though mild as it was, had noticeably dropped, leaving a little bit of a chill to the air. Had Shiress actually not been completely naked, she may have thought the chilly breeze comfortable, pleasant even, but as it were, it left her skin goosebumped and her body shivering.

Hunger gnawed at her belly, too, and for the last couple of bells, Shiress had kept her eyes peeled for berry bushes but so far hadn't spotted any. Thirst was another problem, but one that Shiress diligently tried not to think about since there was absolutely no water anywhere near her. If the map was to be trusted, and so far, it hadn't been wrong, what with the absurd nothingness of its contents.

Shiress huffed out an annoyed breath, coming to an abrupt halt, hiking up each leg, in turn, to rub at her sore feet. It astonished her the number of hidden dangers a flat plain could have to bare feet, and Shiress was pretty sure she had managed to step on every one of them.

Straightening, Shiress let go of her leg to thump back to the ground and immediately cried out at a sudden, hot scorching pain on the outside of her right calf. Fingers found it before her eyes did, shakingly clenching around something circular and cold and slinging it away from her leg on instinct. Her eyes caught up a moment later as she spotted it in the grass a foot or so away from her, slithering away through the long grass. A snake. Long and blackish with an odd design on its back. Was it poisonous? Shiress didn't know anything about snakes, and she wasn't about to attempt to capture the evil thing. She wouldn't know what she was looking for anyway.

"Petch!"

When she was sure the snake wasn't coming back for another bite, Shiress lowered herself to the ground, drawing her leg up and to the side to get a good look at the bite. Two deep puncture wounds, side by side, seeped droplets of blood that trailed down to her ankle in twin crimson lines. Shiress placed thumb and finger above and below the bite, squeezing, trying to coax free any venom she could. It wouldn't be enough, though, not if the snake's bite were toxic.

Shiress sat back, shoulders slumping. What was this? Why was she here? Who brought her here? For that matter, was she here at all, or was she dreaming? It certainly did not feel like a dream, though. Was it a test? If it was a test, Shiress wondered what the grade would entail. Maybe this was some sort of a deific challenge, and if that was the case, what was the end goal. Surely it was more than making it to the X -where the petch ever it was- and a congratulatory slap on the back for completing it. And why her? What did Shiress do, or not do, to deserve to be deposited into this, this...whatever it was. And where was Ian? Was someone caring for him? What would he eat if she wasn't there? Surely, Shiress's mother would see that he didn't.....

The rumbling sound of far off thunder recentered Shiress's attention. Lifting her face skyward, she scanned the ever-darkening horizon, seeing licks of lightning in the same general area the thunder had rumbled out of. The cloud cover screwed with her sense of time, making it seem darker and later than it probably should, but it pretty much guaranteed a rain shower was coming.

And her leg was beginning to throb.

Returning her focus to the bite, Shiress scanned the immediate area around her for something sharp -she needed to try and get as much of the venom out of the bite as she could, and that meant cutting it deeper and bleeding the petch out of it- but didn't see anything of use. Shoulder's slumping, she returned her gaze to her rapidly swelling leg, and that's when she spotted the burlap bag lying by her leg where she had dropped it, or rather to the tip of the arrowhead sticking out from the gap in its opening. The very sharp tip.

Grimacing, she pulled the arrow free of the bag and examined its tip more closely. After a moment of scrutiny, Shiress settled a determined glare on her leg and lowered the sharp tip, pressing it firmly into one of the puncture wounds and dragged it firmly across her skin to the other, hissing through her teeth at the pain. Blood bloomed, pooled, then set free a stream down her leg. The cut she had made was deep, but not deep enough. Gritting her teeth, she set the tip again the puncture and dragged the sharp edge along the same path, carving deeper into her flesh.

After several more attempts, Shiress dropped the arrow and placed shaking fingers on either side of the gash she had incised on her leg and squeezed, milked, and pinched enough blood, and hopefully, anything vile, from the wound that a veritable river of bright red blood ran down her leg to form a small pool beneath the heel of her foot. She was left nauseous with the effort. Sweating, breathing heavily, and shaking from the pain of her endeavor, Shiress lay back, stalks of grass bending back beneath her weight, and threw an arm over her face.

Shiress awoke to the sudden realization that she had actually fallen asleep. Raindrops pit-patted around her and batted at her face, making her eyes blink at the onslaught. As the shower became harder, Shiress sat up, stretching her throbbing and stiff leg out to try and catch the rainwater, or at least get it wet enough to wash some of the dried blood from her calf. It worked, sort of, but the wound still looked clotted and angry. Shiress sighed, cursing up a storm of her own, leaning back with her hands behind her against the ground to hold her weight.

The full night was upon her, no sign of the setting sun behind the heavy clouds, so how full was unknown, but the land was blindingly dark and quiet. Only the sound of the rain for company. She felt tired, despite the near, and thought she'd be able to sleep, despite the cold rain, lack of shelter, or the derelict location she found herself in, hungry and thirsty. With a jolt, she remembered the cup in the bag, but by the time her hasty, and not a little bit desperate, digging produced the small clay cup from within the bag, the rain had slowed, then stopped. Of course, it had.

"Gods damned petching son of a shyke eating whore!" Shiress screamed the curse out into the soggy night air before flopping back against the wet ground, eyes closing. Just before she dropped off into sleep, she swore she heard a howl.

Somehow, when she came awake in dawn's first light, she felt more tired than she had when she fell asleep. And, oh God's, her head hurt. Everything hurt, actually. Especially her head. And her leg. And her back. Yeah, everything.

She forced one eye to open, scowled at the tortuous light imprinting on its retina, and closed it again. Rolling over to her belly took way more effort than it should have, but she managed it and opened her eyes to bright sunlight. Sunlight from straight overhead. So, it wasn't morning; it was near noon. How had she slept for so long? Out here?! Shiress pulled herself up to hands and knees but couldn't decide where to go from there and just let her weight fall sideways until she was in a semi-sitting position with an arm holding her up off the ground. Even that small effort had her heart speeding around inside her chest like a caged bird. She felt...dried out, hot, and shaky. Eyes closing, Shiress scrubbed a hand across her face and tried to focus. It all came back to her; waking up naked, being alone, walking and walking and walking, but why did she feel so much like shyke.

Her eyes snapped open.

Snake

Twisting around until she had her right knee bent inward, leg curved outward, Shiress examined the wound on her calf through a curtain of tangled and matted hair. And swore. Profanely and loud. The entire outside of her leg, from knee to ankle, was red and swollen, and -she placed a trembling palm over the area of the bite- yep, hot, too. Shiress swore some more.

Bringing her free hand down to join the one pressed against her leg, she flattened her fingers down on either side of the bite and pushed in gently. A bead of white puss oozed from the middle of the two-inch wound. A firmer push resulted in even more puss, making Shiress gag at the stench it made. She'd have cleaned out the contents of her stomach had there been anything on it.

Definitely infected, then, and she was pretty sure she had a low fever, but God's that had set up rather quickly, hadn't it? It could have been expected, though, had she known the type of snake that had bitten her. Maybe a quick onset of infection was known to that particular type. Shiress made a mental note to learn as much about the slithering creatures and their bites when she got home. If she ever got back home.

Deciding to leave the infected area alone, for the time being, she pulled herself to her feet, only wobbling slightly, and plucked the bag from the ground. Ok, so bending over wasn't all that good of an idea, but she regained her balance without falling facefirst back to the ground. After a brief pause for balance and orientation, Shiress took a slow step, testing weight on her bad leg, didn't topple over, so she took another. Soon, she was back to walking somewhat confidently, if not very fast-paced.

By the time she had been walking for a couple of bells, her pace had slowed even more with a noticeable limp. Pain shot up her calf to her hip with every forward motion of her right leg and then double when her foot touched down. It was excruciating, but she limped on because Gods knew that petching X wasn't coming to her.

After about another bell, a swift bout of dizziness made her trip, and that time she did go down facefirst, crumpling into a heap with her arms trapped between the ground and her belly. She lay there for an unmoving tick, whining to herself and breathing heavy, before hurling herself around to lie on her back, the rolling movement causing her long hair to cling to her sweaty skin and wrap around her body like a hairy cacoon. For just a moment, it felt comforting, almost like a warm blanket. She'd rest here, just for a tick, no longer.

Rain pelting her face brought her awake again, but this time it was still light out, and Shiress didn't think she had been asleep for very long. She managed to free her cup from the bag, and still lying on her back, stretched her arm out beside her and held the cup out to fill with much-needed water. She must have fallen asleep again because when she opened her eyes, it was no longer raining, and the sun had slid across the sky several paces from where it had been when they closed. Sitting up gingerly, she maneuvered the cup closer and peered down into it, hopefully, but scowled when she saw that only a small amount of rainwater filled its bottom. She drank it immediately but could have sworn that just that little bit of water had somehow made her even more thirsty than she already was.

After another tick, Shiress climbed to her feet, swaying and limp on, making sure the setting sun stayed to her left, and the petching X remained dead ahead.

Shiress snort-laughed. "dead" she shook her head and immediately regretted the movement "bout right".

Shiress was on her ass a bell later, but this time, a patch of thorns, and the way they sunk into the sole of her foot, was to blame. After plucking the little bastards from her foot and cursing each one as it came free, she peered around to give the offending pricker bush an appropriate dirty look but gasp instead. It wasn't a bush at all, but a long line of vines with small, needle-like thorns growing close to the ground. A sort of desperate hope fueled Shiress's fast crawl over to where the vine grew. There weren't any berries on it, but Shiress knew how to remedy that. Reaching out, she placed her fingers against the vine, ignoring the sharp stab of one of its thorns, and closed her eyes.

Bala's mark on her right calf heated and tingled, and then....pain

"Oh shyke, petching petcher, shyke petcher!"

Shiress crashed to her back, rolling side to side, hands hovering out by either side of her swollen, snake-bitten leg, lacking what it took actually to touch the throbbing flesh.

"Oh, petch me! Petch, I'm sorry, sorry, oh petch me, sorry, I'm sorry."

Slowly the burning pain ebbed, and Shiress lowered her leg back to the ground and just lay there, panting, eyes watering, basking in, well, not quite a painlessness, but at least less painfulness. Had there ever been any question as to if Bala's mark on her calf manifested in a physical form when she used her gnosis, Shiress now knew the answer. Yes. Yes, it so petching did.

After another moment, she lifted herself to a sitting position and peered distantly toward the stickered vine. And smiled at the bright red, wild strawberries dotting its length.

"Oh, thank you, thank you, Bala. Thank you."

Shiress leaned over her bounty protectively, shoving berries, one right after the other, into her mouth with the gusto of a starving toddler. Nausea rolled through her belly like a wave, causing her to slow the endeavor as bile rode up the back of her throat. After another couple of berries, she shoved what remained of the fruit in the bag, and laid back, hand propping on her stomach as if to will the scanty feast stay put after an ominously loud growl came from its general vicinity. Shiress groaned, rolling to her side in case her stomach rebelled. Which suddenly felt very possible. Were there poisonous wild strawberries? Shiress hadn't thought of that possibility. Either way, it was too late now.

Shiress giggled, and it didn't sound very sane.

Stomach settled as much as she thought it would, Shiress was up again and walking, albeit not exactly straight, nor steadily. Was she even anywhere near the fucking X? She glanced skyward. At least she was still heading in the right direction, but exactly how much walking she had managed so far that day she had no clue, couldn't even remember. She knew she had started out in the early morning, and it was now -she glanced up again- gods, it was nearly night, but she felt like progress was alluding her.

"Petch this game or whateverthepetchitis." she mumbled.

The sound of howling came from behind her, and she stumbled around just in time to see a pack of...dogs? Wolves? Descending a small hill off in the distance. She watched as the lot of them stopped, heads dropping to no doubt sniff the ground, then another howl, and they barrelled forward. Right in her direction. Shiress slung herself back around, tripped, stumbled, and staggard her way into something similar to a run. Noting, belatedly, that her running might just look like an enticing treaty to give chase.

Oh well...


[word county - 2660]
Beautiful Boxcode Credit: Rohka
Last edited by Shiress on February 8th, 2021, 4:49 pm, edited 2 times in total.
Moonlight drowns out all but the brightest stars

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Shiress
Every path has a few puddles
 
Posts: 839
Words: 710222
Joined roleplay: January 25th, 2013, 7:01 pm
Location: Syliras
Race: Human
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Little Lost on the Prairie

Postby Shiress on February 7th, 2021, 8:02 pm

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Day 4


The group of dogs, or whatever they were, continued on a steady path, trailing Shiress. Their pace wasn't hurried, just, well, more a confident sort of gallop, or lope. Not really running, but not walking either. They remained visible off in the distance, exactly how far Shiress wasn't sure, but it was far enough away that she felt safe enough to slow her pace as well.

This was good because half a bell ago, her taxing body gave her no choice in the matter; it was either stumble walk or faceplant.

It was now nearing the eighteenth bell, or close enough, Syna's rays having dipped low to the west. No clouds, though, at least, not yet. The night would surround her soon, and still, there was no shelter to be found. She did spot a tree, albeit a small one, ahead of her in the distance. At some point in Shiress's hazy and addled thoughts, she had made a goal to reach that tree, break off a few branches, and build a fire, but the damned thing seemed to mock her, staying the same distance away no matter how long she walked.

Fever raged hot through Shiress's veins, weakening her body to the point that every step felt like a God's trial. Hunger gnawed incessantly at her belly, turning from an unpleasant empty ache to outright pain some time ago, and thirst dried her mouth out so much that she felt choked by it. The outside of her right leg was bright red with infection. Yesterday, from knee to ankle. Today, it had spread to her hip. It would be in her bloodstream soon, Shiress knew, and at that point, this little adventure would be over for her, whether she or anyone else wanted it to be or not. Still, she walked on, driven by some unknown will to reach an equally as unknown location. She didn't even possess the mental wherewithal to know whether or not she was close to the X on the map or if she had possibly passed by it already.

Shiress just kept moving forward, her dirty and mud-covered body swaying side to side on an unsteady gate, while her tangled and matted chestnut locks curtained her pale face. She walked with her green eyes locked dazedly on the grassy path before her bare feet, each step forward a deliberate effort of a disciplined, stubborn will.

She didn't register the low, warning growl from up ahead until it had turned into a vicious, wet sounding snarl.

Shiress froze in place, body going completely rigid. Slowly lifting her face, she peered around through a tangle of long hair until she spotted it. A lone dog -emerald eyes squinted to slits, observing- no, not quite a dog. Much sharper snout, bigger pointer ears. This one looked much like the ones running together behind her. Very much like, nearly identical, actually, Shiress decided.

So a type of wolf, then?

No matter the breed, this dog wolf thing meant Shiress harm, and that was enough for raw terror to set in, causing her rigid body to settle into trembles slowly.

Raising her arms slowly, Shiress held them up, palms out in an 'alrighty there fella, don't eat my face off. I mean you no harm' gesture and took a languid step backward, then another, and another. The animal watched her cautiously with a lowered head that reminded Shiress of a bull about to charge. Its lips were pulled back over long, sharp teeth that dripped bloody drool in long strings to the ground. The further away Shiress moved, the canine's lips began a slow descent back over those teeth. When he had decided the threat had moved far enough away, his head lowered, and Shiress's eyes flick down, following his movement.

Between its forelegs lay a still twitching, but well on the way to dead, rabbit. Had Shiress's dehydrated body still retained any viable fluids, she was pretty sure her mouth would have watered. Shiress wanted that rabbit, but she wasn't very keen on fighting the animal for it. Maybe she could scare it off, build that fire, and eat roasted coney. The thought had her planning with not much to plan with.

She ran her gaze along the ground on either side of where she stood, looking for something, anything she could use to throw at the animal. A rock, stick, a clump of mud. Anything. But there was nothing.

Except...

Pulling the bag out from around her back and never removing her eyes from the canine, she withdrew the wooden bow and pulled free an arrow. Shiress had never so much as held a bow in her life, but at the moment hoped beyond hope that some dormant skill lay buried within. She had seen enough people wielding a bow and arrow, so at least she knew how to hold the thing crudely.

Letting the bag fall to the ground, Shiress transferred the bow to her left hand, wrapped her fingers around its wooden middle, and fitted the tail end of the arrow to the string with her right, pinching the wooden shaft tight between thumb and forefinger. She knew this wasn't how it was done, but it was the best she could do to steady the arrow. Drawing back the string, which was harder than it looked, she aimed it toward the animal's general location and, taking in a steadying breath, let it go. And promptly let out a squeal of pain as the string scraped across the inside of her left arm. The arrow thudded uselessly to the ground right in front of her toes.

Shiress's gaze snapped ahead to the animal as movement caught her attention. It stared a moment, then lowered its head back down to its kill. Shiress hissed, rubbing at the long, raw scrape on her arm. Somehow she had to figure out how to hold the string far enough away from her arm to retain a healthy layer of skin there.

Crouching down, Shiress plucked the arrow from the ground and held it against the string. During this go-round, she shifted her feet so that the left was planted ahead of the right, angling her body, so she almost side-eyed her target. It still felt off, but this was the only way she could hold the bow at a safe distance from tender skin and still have enough give to pull back the string. She pulled harder on the string this time, too, and whatever she had done differently sort of worked, and the string only snapped against the underside of her wrist, making it sting. The arrow, however, when loosed, sailed through the air and thudded to the ground a foot or so in front of the animal, nowhere near where she had wanted it, but it still caused the thing to startle, jerk away and scamper a few feet from the rabbit.

It was snarling at her again, though, making Shiress swallow hard, despite the dryness of her mouth, which made her choke and cough. The effort caused a wave of dizziness to crash over her that made her knees weak. She wavered, staggard, and nearly fell but managed to stay upright. However, the wolf-dog saw something in Shiress's near swoon that seemed to give it more confidence because it took a slow step forward, head bowing low, as its spitting and snarling intensified. Shiress took a matching step backward each time the beast prowled forward. Up until its momentum became more than Shiress could match and remain standing.

Shiress had just plunged her hand into the bag and wrapped her fingers around the slim shaft of an arrow when the animal finally lunged, only just managing to jerk it free of the burlap just as the jaws of the beast clamped around her rising arm, trapping the wooden shaft of the arrow between its teeth and her flesh. The momentum of the impact slammed Shiress to the ground with the animal hovering over her, its teeth baring down and parting skin. Then she heard an audible snap and could only hope it was the arrow breaking in two and not the bone in her arm.

The arrow fell from her now limp hand, and without thought, she wrapped the fingers of her free hand around its broken shaft and plunged its stone head into the animal's side. It yipped and snapped viciously at her, but she yanked the arrow free and plunged it into the beast again, this time closer to its throat. Warm blood erupted from where the sharp tip sunk beneath its fur, splattering Shiress's face and covering her arm in a slow flowing ooze of crimson. The canine howled out its pain and jerked itself free of the arrow and Shiress's grip, stumbling sideways out of sight. Shiress lay there, chest heaving, eyes sliding shut as she struggled to regain control of her breathing.

After a tick, she pried open her eyes and sat up, pausing for a wave of dizziness and nausea to pass, before glancing around for the whereabouts of her prey. The animal lay on its side a few feet away, still and unmoving. It took several more chimes and a few failed attempts before she was on her feet again. After dragging the dead rabbit from the ground and dropping its bloodied remains in her bag, she slung it around her shoulder; then, the journey began again.


[word count - 1581]
Beautiful Boxcode Credit: Rohka
Last edited by Shiress on February 8th, 2021, 1:39 am, edited 2 times in total.
Moonlight drowns out all but the brightest stars

Character sheet
User avatar
Shiress
Every path has a few puddles
 
Posts: 839
Words: 710222
Joined roleplay: January 25th, 2013, 7:01 pm
Location: Syliras
Race: Human
Character sheet
Storyteller secrets
Medals: 7
Featured Character (1) Featured Contributor (1)
Featured Thread (2) Mizahar Grader (1)
Overlored (1) Donor (1)

Little Lost on the Prairie

Postby Shiress on February 7th, 2021, 10:29 pm

Image
Day 5


Pain and heat were the first things to pass through her awareness.

Shiress's entire body hurt just below the surface of an intense heat that radiated like a pulse across her skin. Her tongue darted out in a vain attempt to moisten dry and cracked lips enough to call out for someone, Ambrosia or Caspian, maybe her mother, but the most she managed was a low guttural groan. She tried to move her arm up and over to the bedside table to, hopefully, knock something over to gain someone's attention, but the limb was too heavy, her hand too numb. She tried to call out again but only coughed, wheezed in a tight breath, and coughed again. Her throat felt like it had been scraped raw by something very sharp.

The next time Shiress surfaced to consciousness, it was to the feeling of cold steel plunging into her back over and over. She attempted to roll away from it but didn't think she had even managed to move at all. The icy barrage against her back ramped up, eliciting enough focus for Shiress to realize that it wasn't daggers plunging into her back but cool drops of rain hitting her fevered skin.

Water, she realized, belatedly, something she desperately needed at the moment. Sticking out her sore and swollen tongue, she felt a couple of cool drops fall and spread across her lips and tongue, but not nearly enough. A miserable attempt at lapping up the moister from the ground only filled her mouth with mud, choking her, until she coughed herself into such a predicament that she was sure she would stop breathing. For a time, she lay panting through a heaving and tight chest and would have cried, except her dehydrated body had no tears left to shed.

At some point, she managed to roll onto her back and crack open gummy bleary eyes. It was dark, and the black sky above her was cloudless, and the stars were bright and shining. It reminded Shiress of scattered diamonds across a black surface. She tried to smile at the beauty of it but winced when the parched flesh of her lips cracked and split open.

When had it stopped raining?

Another moment passed, and Shiress realized that she might die out here. That the infection in her leg had spread and now more than likely flowed rampantly through her veins. Maybe even the bite on her arm was infected, too.

Who knew?

She tried to chuckle but wheezed instead, then coughed.

Groaning, Shiress raised herself first to an arm, rested a tick, then managed to sit fully upright, the world around her swirling and tipping until a decent intake of breath settled her.

Ian came to mind.

Shiress's baby boy. The eight-month-old was able to sit up now, all by himself, and probably a whole lot more stable than his Mom currently, and he was doing his best to crawl. Shiress did smile then, ignoring the ache in her dry, splitting lips. Ian's smile was contagious, and his little baby giggles were addictive, and she wished that she could hold him. Thinking this made Shiress's arms fold across her chest, almost instinctively, imagining the soft press of her son's tiny body as he snuggled against her chest; his bright, sky blue eyes, so full of love, staring up into her gaze as he nursed.

Shiress went completely still, her thoughts jolting to an abrupt stop before restarting again and bounding forward to a finish line her brain had only just then realized was even there.

Shiress's arms slowly uncrossed and lowered enough until both hands could gently cup each of her tight breasts. A breath, then her right hand squeezed once. Shiress lowered her emerald gaze, almost reluctantly, and watched as the thumb of that hand slid across her taut nipple, leaving in its wake a bead of breast milk. She gasped, closing her hand back over her breast as if to hide the very tool of the hideous thought.

Dare she?

On a burst of newfound strength, Shiress twisted around, frantically searching for that godsbedamned burlap bag, jerked it up, and began slinging out its contents until she found what she was looking for. The clay cup.

Clutching the cup in her left hand, Shiress settled its rim just below her right breast and used her right hand to squeeze firmly. Nothing. She squeezed again. This time breast milk squirted from the small rounded nub, and, startled, Shiress very nearly dropped the cup. It took some time, but she milked her breast for all its worth until it was red and throbbing and completely drained.

Lowering the cup, Shiress peered down at its contents apprehensively. The yellowish, thin breastmilk nearly filled half the cup. She stared at the liquid, sloshing in sync with the shaking hand that gripped the cup. Her tongue darted out, sliding over her bottom lip as if it could already taste the lifesaving milk.

Ian drank it, right?

It can't be that bad.

Could it?

Lifting the cup, Shiress let a small amount of the warm milk pass her lips, paused cautiously, but when the blessed wetness spread across her swollen tongue like water across the cracked dirt of a desert, it was all she could do not to choke as she slung back the cup and drained it, tipping it up until she had sucked down every last drop. Satisfied that she had successfully drained the cup, Shiress was tempted to promptly de-milk her other breast but thought better of it. She'd leave that one for tomorrow.

Covering her mouth as if shameful of what she had just done but not really knowing what she should be ashamed of, Shiress laid back, eyes sliding closed. Thirst still lingered, but not nearly as daunting as it had been, but the relaxed state she found herself in ebbed as the aches and pains of her still fevered body slunk back to the surface.

Shiress suddenly couldn't keep her eyes open.




[word count - 1006]
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Moonlight drowns out all but the brightest stars

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Little Lost on the Prairie

Postby Shiress on February 8th, 2021, 3:56 am

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Days 6, 7, & 8


Sunlight, soft and warm, lulled Shiress to wakefulness.

Then betrayed her with its refulgent illumination carved through her retinas like needles when Shiress endeavored to crack her eyelids apart. Slapping a hand over her stinging eyes, She tilting her face away from Syna's cruelty, blinking rapidly until her eyes acclimated and the throb in her head ebbed to something less like a king's gong.

All morning it had been the same; walk a little, rest a lot, wake up feeling worse than the last one. Shiress knew her fevered body wouldn't -couldn't- carry her much further, but she would push herself as hard as she could to get to that tree. The one lone tree in miles and miles of open grassland. Reaching that tree meant something to Shiress; even if it was just a personal goal to prove to herself, she could do it. The X...who the petch knew? Shiress was fairly certain the marked spot on the now waterstained and smeared map was unattainable, at least for her anyway.

That tree, though. That one tree was getting closer and, Gods help her, she might make it.

Dragging herself to her unsteady feet once more, Shiress secured the strap of the bag around her slumped shoulder, focusing her emerald gaze ahead, and trudged forward, one foot in front of the other, in a lumbering limp of a walk, head throbbing, body an inferno of raging heat.

Shiress felt like she had been walking for bells and had nearly made it to the tree when a flash of fur darted through the high grass to her left, then another. Two more darted by her on her right. Straight ahead of her, four nearly identical wolf-dog faces peered at her over the top of tall grass. They weren't snarling or growling; they only seemed vaguely curious of her. Shiress couldn't bring herself to care and merely walked on, the animals bounding a little further away for every few steps she took to keep the same cautious distance between themselves and Shiress.

By the time she had reached the tree, however, Shiress was faced with a problem; the canines were between her and her goal. She thought briefly about luring the beasts away by tossing the dead rabbit but just as quickly dismissed the thought, suddenly feeling about as feral minded as the wild animals around her. She had fought with her life for that meal, and she wasn't about to toss it away.

She did, however, have something similar.

Plunging a hand into the burlap bag, Shiress withdrew the rabbit pelt and hurled it behind her. At first, she thought the wolf-dogs would ignore it, but eventually, they spread out and slunk toward it, wary eyes observing Shiress as she started forward again. It wouldn't keep them fooled long, though, but hopefully for as long as it would take for Shiress to make it to the tree.

As it turned out, the tree was hardly worthy of being called as such, its tallest branches stretching only a bit higher than Shiress's head. Still, its thin trunk held enough bare branches for a small fire and a spit.

But first...

Shiresslet the burlap slide from her shoulder then followed it down to the ground, resting her back against the small trunk, closing her eyes, just for a tick.

She hadn't planned to lose complete control of her consciousness.

When her eyes opened again, Syna was no longer slinking off to the west but sat regally halfway through the eastern sky; she had lost bells, an entire night. Settling her eyes back to her surroundings, Shiress's gaze caught on a broad stone-tipped arrowhead poking out from a small dense patch of greenery, then spotted the wooden shaft of another lying close by. A gentle breeze blew through the tall grass, swaying stalks back and forth. Shiress watched as a small bit of yellowish paper blew up from the ground, snag momentarily on the tip of a blade of grass, before it flipped up, caught the wind, and fluttered away out of sight. The shredded remains of the map, no doubt.

The clay cup was lying an arm's length away from her foot and, just beyond that, the godforsaken burlap bag, surrounded by what was left of the wild strawberries strewn along the ground. It was ripped and torn open with no sign of the dead rabbit anywhere. Shiress stared at it for a very long time, breathing heavily with a familiar emotion but unable to fulfill the need to cry. She couldn't help but feel that her will, so much like the bag, was ripped and torn open. She wondered if what remained was the shredded will to survive or...something else.

"Why?" she whispered, her voice coming out a cracked and hissing thing, gaze losing focus.

Why was she here?

Why was she made to struggle and survive...again?

Why was she taken from her family and left naked and alone and afraid in this place?

A memory came unbidden to her mind. A scene playing out like a picture book across her thoughts of a Zith swooping down from a canopy of trees, the tips of his wide, leather-like wings colliding with long branches, causing sticks, splintered wood, and leaves to break free in the wake of his descent and rain down around them in a vile imitation of snowfall. Shiress saw the creature's fist lash out and razor-like fingers unfurl to rake across her leg, felt the hot rivulets of blood flowing down her thigh.

Then she was looking into her master's face, his lips spread apart in a sordid smile, his teeth chipped and yellow. She felt the ropes cutting into the flesh of her wrists and ankles, the dip and sway of a wagon, and the darkness covering her eyes as she was taken from Syliras.

Then she was in Ravok bent and breaking again beneath subservience.

She felt the bonded threads of a Bondmate wither away and die.

She felt the shattering grief of lost love like the frigid kiss from dead lips deep within her soul.

Then something in her mind shifted, broke, and fell away, and different memories drifted across the plain of thought.

Shiress saw herself crawling, crawling, crawling free of the treeline. Felt her broken body pulled from the ground, pressed against a warm chest, and carried into Syliras.

Saw herself standing over her dead master, blood pooling in a circle across his belly, a bloodied dagger in her fist.

She saw Rook's gentle smile.

Felt Elias's warm and soft lips against her own.

Saw her son's wandering cerulean gaze find her green, and the steady lift of drool glistened lips into a toothless grin.

"Fight" they whispered.

"Fight" the wind whispered

"Fight" a bird squawked

Shiress jerked awake, chest heaving, just as a bird let out another loud squawk and took flight from the top of the small tree she leaned against.

"Fight.." she whispered on a breath, "I have to fight."

Shiress peeled herself from the tree, scooped up the cup by her foot, and collapsed back where she'd been, and positioned the cup below her left breast; she had drained the right -had it been yesterday? The day before?- whatever day it had been, and prodded and squeezed as much milk her body was willing to give in to the waiting cup. It wasn't much. Not near as much as the first time, but it would have to do. Lifting the cup to her lips, she drank with none of the hesitations as before.

Bearing weight on her leg, it seemed, was now a thing of the past. After finding herself in a heap in the dirt when her leg had given out beneath her, Shiress drug herself over the ground to where the berries were scattered and ate what she could find of them. Once she repositioned herself beneath the tiny tree, back resting against its tiny trunk. All she could do now was to wait, but what it was she was exactly waiting for, Shiress had no idea. Wait to die? Wait to be rescued? Nevertheless, she'd wait and give a valiant, although vain, attempt to remain awake as much as her body would allow.

Throughout that day and night, Shiress's consciousness wavered somewhere between the surface and deep darkness. At one point, her awareness surfaced enough for her to realize that it was raining, and she managed to set out the cup to catch what rainwater she could before falling back into darkness. When next she awoke, it was to Syna's rays, blinding in their midday brilliance, warming her fever chilled skin. The endeavor to catch rainwater had been fruitful. Weak and feverish, Shiress drank from the cup, pausing between gulps to catch her breath.

Hunger kept her conscious throughout that day, and just as Syna had slipped overhead and into the west, Shiress's gaze fixed on a vine, devoid of berries, about the length of her hand, that had snagged in the rough fabric of the burlap bag. That godsbedamned petching shyke eating bag. Shiress stared at the vine dreadfully for a long moment, knowing what price using Bala's mark would cost her body. The mark was on the same leg as the infected snake bite, nearly in the same spot, and the pain that activating her gnosis caused was nearly intolerable.

Still, in the end, hunger trumped Shiress's pain tolerance, and she scraped and dragged herself across the dirt to the bag and plucked free the vine. Once she had settled back against the tree, she called on Bala and her growth. Fire tore through Shiress's leg and radiated up and out through her body. By the time she held the vine with now a handful of ripe strawberries, Shiress was sweating and shaking and half-conscious. Despite their toll, She gratefully ate the berries.

On the morning of the eighth day, Shiress awoke to find that she had fallen away from the tree and now sprawled across the hard ground on her back, her skin sweat-slick and body thrumming with pain. She couldn't find that she even cared her arms were covered in ants or that she no longer could focus her eyes. She was pretty sure, at one point, she lifted her arm to her mouth and licked several lines of the tiny ants from her skin and swallowed them with relish.

It rained again sometime during the day, and all the strength Shiress could muster was to open her mouth and hope for the best before sleep retook her.


[word count - 1769]
Beautiful Boxcode Credit: Rohka
Moonlight drowns out all but the brightest stars

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Every path has a few puddles
 
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Little Lost on the Prairie

Postby Gillar on May 12th, 2021, 5:00 am

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“Everything in nature invites us constantly to be what we are,” were the words that Shiress heard whispered in her ear by an unknown source. As the words were spoken, the soothing scent of flowers filled her nose. The melodic songs of birds filled her ears. The sweet taste of wild berries tanged her tongue. The soothing tickle of dandelion seeds brushed her skin. Finally, her vision was filled with a myriad of brilliant greens, blues and reds that undulated slowly, blending together and forming new hues of striking colors. These colors soon begin to transform from amorphous pools to defined shapes. It was as if a someone had dumped different colored paint on a canvas only to then paint a picture from the chaos. As Shiress found herself floating in the middle of the “painting”, grass begin to form at her feet. Towering trees took shape around her. Flowers happily erupted outward into sight. Before her very eyes, an entire landscape came into being; created from what had been but a great splatter of color.

Within a matter of moments, Shiress found herself standing on a small hill surrounded by grass that gave way to a seemingly endless forest. On top of the hill, looming over her, was a tree. It was quite unlike any other tree she’d ever seen. The first sense was that the tree was incomprehensibly ancient. There were a handful of exposed roots covered in impossibly thick bark. These roots led to a series of six trunks that twisted around each other to form a single, massive whole. Although not incredible in height, the main body of the tree formed by the numerous trunks was easily twenty feet in diameter. It rose at least fifty feet in height with countless branches. Leaves, the colors of which could not be described by mortal terms, were interrupted in many places by strange clumps of thumb-sized constructs that resembled miniature bundles of bananas. What stood out most however was the color of everything. The sky was a blue that Shiress had never knew existed. The same was true for the grass, trees and flowers and even the birds and other small animals that came into being from otherwise moving swirls of color.

When the onslaught of her surroundings began to slowly normalize within her senses, Shiress then realized that any of the wounds, scratches, cuts, bruises or worse, were gone; it was as if they never happened. The accumulated filth and grime of the past seven days…vanished. In fact, it felt as though she had bathed in the most luxurious bath ever to have existed. Her skin smelled of the best thing they’d ever experienced.

After a few moments of getting her bearings while trying to reconcile what she had experienced for the past several days with where she was now, Shiress felt a hand lay upon her shoulder. Turning to look she would see nothing. Turning back, she saw a woman sitting on one of the great tree’s exposed roots. The woman was as naked as Shiress was. Her skin was an especially pale green color while here hair was the deepest of green with the texture of moss. Her eyes were colored the deepest of brown. From her hair, it looked as though flowers grew from the moss itself. Her skin was flawless, her lips a ruby red. Her finger and toenails were an autumn orange.

Her head was lowered but upon being noticed, she raised it. In a voice that sounded like the best mother’s voice, carried on the wind, complete with the chill of long lost, cherished familiarity, she spoke.

“Saying that this is all rather odd…is not quite describing what you have just been through. For that, I offer my apology. Mortal words, no matter the language, do not fully encompass the experience.” The woman hopped down from her perch upon the exposed root and walked a few feet to stand before Shiress. As the woman took her steps, flowers grew where her feet touched the ground.

“Again, forgive me for any lack of civilized manners. I may not be as formal as you are used to. You may know me as Caiyha, the Goddess of Nature. To answer your next unspoken question, you have undergone what you could consider a challenge of sorts or a test. It was a test to see if one such as yourself was capable of surviving in a place devoid of nearly all the trappings of civilization. Obviously, you indeed survived, despite the challenges.” Caiyha spoke while casually walking around the area beneath the tree.

She stopped at one point to pick up something which was concealed in her closed hand. Turning back to Shiress, she smiled.

“I know you have many other questions. What is the purpose of this test? Why me? What happens next? Likely many others. First, the purpose of this test is simple, at least to me. Since the beginning, I have sought out those who show respect and reverence for all that I’ve created. Those who seek to protect it and nourish it, I show them my grace. Recently however, I began to wonder. What about those who don’t think about my creations or who don’t feel truly a part of it all. What about those who, with a little push, may discover on their own, that they are connected to me. This is why I chose you. There is something about you that peaked my interest. It isn’t something I can describe other than to say you have a quality about you. It was that quality I decided to test. Can this mortal, left with only a physical body, natural skills and talents and the least number of civilized connections, survive my creation? Obviously, you passed that test so what comes next. We will get to that in a moment. First however, I wish to offer you a moment or two to ask of me what you will, within reason.” Caiyha plucked a flower from her hair, brought it to her nose and took in its scent before raising it into the air. The flower then erupted in seed before the petals dried and fell to the ground; quickly consumed by insects and thus contributing to the greater cycle.
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Little Lost on the Prairie

Postby Shiress on May 16th, 2021, 1:37 pm

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So, this was what it was like to die.

This; the soft voice, the sweet scents, the sounds, the saccharine flavor filling her mouth. And, oh, the myriad of colors that danced before Shiress's eyes, mesmerizing and stunning, were formed of hues and chromas that Shiress had never before seen.

This was what fostered the gentle, peaceful smile on the pale lips of those who were dying.

Shiress thought she would be smiling, too, had she the body and mouth to do so with. As it was, she didn't quite feel as if she were in possession of a corporeal body, but the sensation was short-lived. The whirling colors surrounding her began to slowly solidify and take shape, gradually coalescing into a landscape of the same magnificent colors from before.

Shiress was standing beneath a magnificent cloudless sky, surrounded by a rich, green forest, and before her stood a tree, unlike any other that Shiress had ever seen.

She stood, swaying, so utterly captivated by the beauty surrounding her that it took her several moments for her gaze to drop and for her to realize that she was completely and wholly hale. And clean, not a speck of dirt anywhere when what felt like just ticks earlier, she was covered in filth so thick you couldn't make out her skin color. Now, it was like nothing of the last eight days had even occurred.

So enthralled with the revelation, Shiress failed to hear someone step up behind her and the sensation of a hand touching her shoulder had her spinning around, but there was no one there. When she turned back, she gasped, taking an involuntary step backward.

A beautiful woman sat at the base of the tree, and Shiress instantly mistook her for Bala, the goddess that had appeared to her as a child to bless her with the goddess's mark; they were so alike in appearance. The Goddess spoke and moved closer to where Shiress stood and introduced herself as Caiyha, The Goddess of Nature, and Shiress knew then why she had been mistaken.

Shiress listened closely as the Goddess spoke, trailing around the roots of the great tree, and smiled to herself when flowers erupted from the ground in the wake of Caiyha's steps.

So, she had been chosen, not once or even twice, but three different times by the divine for their purposes. Once by Bala, then by Rhysol, and now Caiyha. Shiress didn't know whether or not to be utterly humbled or extremely terrified by this.

"So, this is real, a challenge, and..." Shiress whispered, the words more a coming to terms with what the Goddess had said, rather than a question. "The last eight days really did happen, and I survived them. I-" Shiress glanced up, finally meeting Caiyha's dark eyes, and immediately diverted her gaze, unable to look upon such beauty without feeling shame. "I don't know what to say." She admitted, "You have seen something within me that I never knew existed; a strength that I would have argued I didn't possess. Your words humble me. Thank you."

Shiress's eyes roamed over the colorful topography surrounding her, watched as a flock of vibrantly colored birds flew over the great tree and disappear off in the distance, then, settling her gaze on the Goddess once more, asked "You spoke of a connection to you? Could it be that your daughter, Bala, chose to mark me with her Gnosis when I was a child? She is your daughter? Bala?"

Shiress glanced down to her left leg and to the mark that Bala had etched into her skin. What she didn't say was how she had resented the mark for many seasons after being enslaved by a greedy farmer because of it. Over time the resentment lessoned, though, and Shiress began to use her Gnosis more and more, even if she let very few people know of it. The mark had even saved her life once by growing thorns large enough to wield as a weapon.

As far as what to ask of the Goddess of Nature, Shiress grew still, contemplating what "within reason" might mean. Was Caiyha offering Shiress a boon, or was she offering Shiress knowledge. Was one so different than the other? Shiress frowned down at her bare toes, or what she could see of them buried in the plush grass she was standing on.

So many questions came front and center; where was her brother, Zane? Where was her lover, Elias? Were they alive? Could Caiyha lead one or the other, perhaps both, back to her, or her to them, but the answer frightened her so much so that Shiress was loathed to ask the question.

"I have so many things that I want to ask you, so much I wish to know, yet some things I think to ask of you, I find I fear your answers to them more." She admitted finally, eyes lifting to the Goddess, but not quite enough to meet her gaze completely "There is something." Shiress took in a deep breath, "I can only think of two things on Mizahar that I care most about; my family and my patients."

A warm, gentle breeze stirred the hair around Shiress's face, she thought she caught the scent of vanilla and something floral, and she closed her eyes, breathing it in, letting it calm her. "If there is something or some way that I can better my skills as a doctor, a way to better care for those who place their faith in me as a healer, I would like to hear it, and I would like to know.." Images of her son, and of Caspian and Taalviel and of her parents danced across her mind's eye. Her family. The few things Shiress has left after so much has been ripped away from her. "Is my family safe? So much has happened -I have lost so many that I have loved. My brother, Zane, my lover, Elias, my bondmate, Rook, and.."

Tears welled in Shiress's eyes, and her voice shook with emotion. "I just want to know if my family is safe and what I need to do to ensure that no one ever has the chance to hurt those that I love again."
Moonlight drowns out all but the brightest stars

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