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Posted (edited)

Hello there! This is a place where you can put your sad stories and have other read them, review them, etc.

They don't need to be related to Cosmere or Brandon or fantasy at all, anything is allowed as long as it doesn't break forum rules.

 Inspiration here, just scroll down a bit.

And with that, I believe Lunamor has something to post.

Edited by Emperor Stick
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Maybe I'll go find every sad RP post ever written...hey, maybe I'll find the DND interaction from KotC...*starts thinking about sad roleplays*

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Posted (edited)

5 minutes ago, Emperor Stick said:

And with that, I believe Lunamor has something to post.

Yes I do! I am reposting this from the Fan Works forum. I wrote a (significantly) fleshed out version of the Girl Who Looked Up that made two separate people’s hearts ache, so I guess it qualifies as sad.

(Spoilered for extreme length)

Spoiler

The Girl Who Looked Up

A young girl danced through the market, skipping in endless circles. Her bright white hair and the twin tails of her long red scarf streamed out behind her, dancing with the wind. Curses sounded as she occasionally bumped into people, but she didn’t care. They couldn’t hurt her, so long as Mother was watching. She told her so frequently, although she had not showed herself in a long time. She didn’t mind all that much. 

She passed other villagers. Women washed their clothing and men tended their fields, heads bowed. Merchants hawked their wears, selling all manner of things. Little boys wearing rags begged on the side of the road, their faces unidentifiable in the shadows cloaking them. Shadows that seemed just a little too thick, too dark, to be natural. But of course the people didn’t know that- Mother had explained it all to her. The darkness was what kept everyone from seeing the light. The light that was beyond the wall. It stretched as far as the eye could see in both directions, casting its shadow on all things behind it, including her own village. Just looking at the wall, one got the impression that several lifetimes of running would never bring them to its end.

The girl eventually stopped, slightly dizzy. Stumbling to a nearby stand that was selling fruit, she leaned against it. This earned her a glare from the merchant standing behind it. He knew better than to trust children, especially those without parents. When his back was turned, she attempted to discreetly tuck one of his pears away. It had been quite a while since she had last eaten, and her stomach had begun to grumble. She wanted to eat before she started experiencing the pains of hunger. They made it much more difficult to steal food. 

But the man was not fooled. With a shout he turned around, wielding a plank of wood and grabbing for her scarf. The girl felt a flash of terror. Mother had told her to never take off her scarf. It was how she would find her if they were ever separated. How else would Mother ever be able to find her way back? With a sudden burst of strength, the little girl tugged her scarf out of his hand and dashed away through the market, the yelling of the merchant chasing her. People stumbled as both she and the trader pushed past them. She took as many corners as she could, trying to lose him in the maze of streets. Her scarf stood out, however. The villagers all wore drab, brown colored clothing. Her bright red scarf was like a solitary blooming rockbud in the middle of an empty plain. Even worse, people pulled away from her. Everyone knew that if someone was running, trouble would soon come barreling after. And they weren’t wrong. The merchant was always able to find her again.

Finally, the man started to slow, his breath coming out in puffs. He did not have the energy of a youth. She ran for a very long time, even after she could no longer hear the angry man. Once her breathing became ragged, she skidded to a halt, her little heart thumping in her chest. Hands on her knees, she breathed deep breaths from her stomach, just as Mother had taught her to. She stared at the fruit clutched in her trembling hand. After a while she straightened, wiping the sweat from her brow. The crowd flowed around her once again, no one seeming to notice her. That was good- she hated it when she drew people’s stares. She didn’t want to think about the last time that had happened.

She nearly jumped into the air when she heard a sound beside her, but calmed down once she realized what it was. One of the little beggar boys had moaned at her. That was odd. They usually never spoke to her. She turned towards him, curious. He stretched out his hand, reaching towards her. She flinched and backed away, thinking that he wanted to take her scarf too. But she realized what he really wanted once he pointed at it. He had been reaching for her pear. He pointed at his mouth, making a smacking motion, then back at the fruit. The little girl’s stomach growled loudly, and she grimaced. She had nearly lost her scarf to get that pear, and it would be very long before she would be able to steal from that cart again, lest the merchant recognize her. But seeing the boy’s pitiful state, limbs no thicker than twigs, wrapped in soiled blankets with no beautiful red scarf to call his own, she relented. Mother had always told her to share with those who had less than she. 

Cautiously she handed him the pear, delicately pinching it by the stem. His hand shot towards the yellowish-green fruit faster than she would have thought possible, grimy fingers closing around it. She quickly pulled back, afraid he would demand more. But he only stared at the slightly bruised pear, looking at it as if it were made of pure gold. She just then noticed that she could see slight indents where her fingers had been gripping it. Had she really been terrified enough that she had unconsciously squeezed it so hard? He raised it to his lips and took a huge bite, closing his eyes and savoring the flavor. Juice ran down his face, leaving streaks in the dirt covering him. She smiled, then backed away into the crowd before he could open them again.

She let the flow of the crowd carry her along, staring upwards at the sky. She lazily spun in circles, pondering her next move. She hadn’t stolen from the south side of the marketplace for a while. Would anyone recognize her? There had been that one merchant, the one with such good oranges. He had been particularly upset when she had kinda-accidentally-purposefully knocked over his entire stand after he had tried hitting that one boy. She was a bit nervous that he would recognize her still. She didn’t think that she had ever seen someone so furious, so livid. His face had been an even brighter red that the apples he had been selling. She giggled slightly, recalling how he had scrambled to pick up his wares, looking like a lurg that someone had upended an entire bucket of water on. After thinking for a moment, she decided that so long as she stayed away from him, the south side should be safe.

Pausing for a moment, she looked up at the wall. It seemed more oppressive than usual. More menacing. Like it was planning on falling over and squashing them all. That was ridiculous, though. Walls couldn’t think. She didn’t know why, but staring at it sent shivers down her spine anyways. She quickly turned her glance downwards again, no longer wanting to see such an intimidating sight. She quickly forgot about it, becoming distracted by a cremling crawling on a nearby wall that she soon lost sight of in the dirt.

Prancing towards the southern end of the market, she spotted another fruit stand that had big, juicy looking apples resting easily within reach. It was perfect. This time she would not let the seller see her. As she approached, she faltered. The man had brown stringy hair that went all the way down to his shoulders and his dark eyes seemed to be made of steel. He glared at all who walked past and had no customers to distract him. It seemed as if he was trying to light everyone on fire as they passed him. Based on the uncomfortable looks he drew, he might have been succeeding. She almost turned back, but the rumbling of her stomach galvanized her. She desperately needed some sort of nourishment, and she was loath to dig into Mother’s hidden store of food. 

Hesitantly she approached his cart, nearly crouching. As his gaze fell on her, his steely eyes softened for some reason. How odd. Wouldn’t she, of all people, be the one to draw his harshest looks? He reached behind him, and she cringed, expecting him to pull out one of the improvised clubs that had become so common recently. Instead he held a candied apple towards her. 

She stared at it, ravenous. She was unable to prevent herself from drooling. In fact, she hardly noticed that she was salivating so much in the first place. She had never had such a treat before, but had heard others luckier than she speak of it. Mother had always promised her that she would buy her one, once they got enough money. She looked upwards at him, eyes confused. Why would he offer her something so valuable without even knowing her? He only nodded towards the apple on a stick, prompting her to take it. She wavered. Could this be a trap? Was he trying to lure her in so he could remove one more thieving little girl from the streets for good? Some of her friends had begun to disappear, and she did not want to share in their terrible fates.

Ultimately her hunger won out, and she carefully reached for the treat. Daintily holding it by the stick, she inspected it. How did one eat such a thing? The shell was rather hard. And sticky. Why did they make it so difficult to consume? Surely such an expensive luxury must be easy to eat. She looked back at the merchant, wondering if one needed something to break it open with. He simply gestured for her to eat it. A frown creased her brow. Was this a test of some sort? She pondered it for a little while longer, then just stuck the entire thing in her mouth and sucked on it, relishing its sweetness. She now understood how the little urchin had felt. The man smiled softly, setting out more boxes of fruit. After she had eaten most of the apple’s candy shell, she took it out of her mouth, wondering at how it had seemed to just, for lack of a better word, melt in her mouth. She reluctantly tucked it away for later. Mother had always said to never eat all of your food at once- you never knew when your next meal would come. 

She started at the man for a while longer. He continued sorting his apples, making no move to harm her. A question floated to the top of her mind, one that had been sunken a long time ago. With no one to ask it to, she had soon forgotten about it. She knew that Mother had once answered it, but her stories had begun to drift away, lost in the clouds. She paused before voicing her question, worried that it would greatly anger the man. But he had given her a candied apple, an extravagance that no regular person would just give away. Surely he would not be bothered by a simple question. Coming closer to the front of the wagon, she stood on the very tips of her toes in order to see him better, placing the palms of her hands on the surface of his wagon for support.

“Why is there a wall?”

The man’s smile quickly disappeared, being replaced by a scowl even worse than those he had turned upon the people of the market.

“To keep the bad things out,” he responded with a growling voice, beginning to pack some of his wares back up.

The girl was curious. What did he mean?

“What bad things?”

The merchant stuffed some more apples in a sack, hoisting it over his shoulder.

“Very bad things. There is a wall. Do not go beyond it, or you shall die.”

The man finished storing his goods, and he wheeled away his stand without another word. The little girl had a feeling that she would not receive anymore free meals from him. She sighed, then turned away, planning on returning to her home. But the unanswered question still burned in her mind, preventing her from focusing. She had to know the wall’s purpose, what was beyond it. Why it seemed to hate her so.

Seeing a woman suckling her child, the fire in her head spurred her to action. Perhaps a woman with a baby would be more open to the questions of a small girl. She walked up to the lady, dodging people on the way over, and tugged on her skirt. The woman looked downwards, confusion clearly displayed on her face. It wasn’t kindness, but it wasn’t hostility either. Finding her courage in this fact, the little girl asked her query.

“Why is there a wall?”

The woman turned away, as if shielding her child from the girl’s strange and almost rebellious thoughts.

“To protect us,” she grudgingly responded. Her posture was stiff, like someone was holding her up by a string attached to her head, then for good measure had stuck her spine to a wooden plank.

The girl felt like screaming, but restrained herself. Doing such a thing would surely drive the woman away.

“To protect us from what?” she said as politely as she could, tilting her head just slightly and keeping her hands demurely at her sides.

“Very bad things. There is a wall. Do not go beyond it, or you shall die.”

The woman then took her infant and left, her long dress swishing about her ankles. She left the little girl once again standing alone in the middle of the market. The girl buried her face in her scarf, thoroughly upset. Why was everyone dodging her questions? Did they even have the answer?

She began to run through the crowds, heedless of where she was going. She desperately needed someone, anyone to speak with, to interrogate. She knew that she could never fully rest until she had the answer. It seemed to consume her mind, pushing out all other thoughts. Even the slight, constant hunger that gnawed at her stomach was momentarily forgotten. In time, she came to a large tree, stumbling to a halt at its massive trunk. Thick branches grew close to her head, sprouting from many different places. It was perfect for her needs. She grabbed onto a sturdy limb and hoisted herself upwards, the rough bark scratching her hands. She hardly noticed. After a while of living on the streets, one learned to ignore the little pains. Focusing on those could lead to bigger hurts. Hurts you couldn’t heal.

As she climbed, she was reminded of times when she had scaled trees with Mother. They would climb all the way to the highest branches and watch the stars softly twinkling in the dark sky. She could still remember the look in Mother’s eyes as she had gazed at the very top of the wall, thinking of things that only those with the wildest imaginations could possibly dream up. Mother would tell her stories of what lay beyond the wall, things that she said she would one day see. Stories that the girl had now forgotten. 

She sniffled and wiped away a tear that had gone unnoticed, trickling down her cheek. She shook her head to clear it, then continued to advance upwards. It was starting to get late, and she knew that she had to get her questions answered quickly if she were to be able to get a good sleep that night. After a while she came to the top branches of the tree. Peeking her head out from the canopy she inspected the crowd. She was disappointed to find that she could see little more than dark, indistinct figures below her. Her plan of attempting to spot a potential person to query from up high had gone out the window. She groaned, dismayed. Now how was she supposed to get her question resolved?

She nearly lost her grip when she heard a booming snore coming from nearby. Pushing aside some leaves, she found a boy who seemed to be about her age lazily sleeping in the nook of a particularly wide branch. Hanging her head over his, she inspected him. Judging by the fact that he was slightly chubby and had enough time to spare for naps, he still had parents. Maybe they told him stories about the place beyond the wall too. Even if they didn’t, he still seemed to be as good a person to ask her questions of as any. Someone that lazy certainly wouldn’t pose a threat to her if her questions caused him to become angry. She poked him in the side. He started awake, almost falling off the branch. His jerking motion brushed her white hair hanging over his face. The girl winced and pulled back slightly, but barreled ahead and asked her question.

“Why is there a wall?”

The boy wiped his nose and blinked sleep heavy eyes.

“What wall?” he asked, his voice sounding muffled.

The girl, now beyond peeved, thrust her finger pointedly towards the wall. How could he not notice the ever-present wall that had always towered over them all, seeming to crush her with its all-encompassing shadow?

“That’s not a wall,” the boy said, sitting up and dangling his legs over the edge of the tree limb. “That’s just the way the sky is over there.”

The girl rolled her eyes and nearly began to yell at the ignorant boy, but Mother’s voice came back to her, reminding her to never raise her voice against anyone, no matter how deserving of it they seemed. She settled back on her haunches and smoothed her tangled hair, trying to calm herself down.

“It’s a wall,” the girl said, exaggeratedly gesturing towards it, unable to fully keep all of the ire out of her voice. “A giant wall.”

The boy turned his head towards the wall, lazily stretching. He looked like one of the farmer’s cats waking up from a long nap. 

“It must be there for a purpose,” he said, standing up and putting a hand on his chin. He was slightly taller than she was.

The girl nodded excitedly. Perhaps this boy would finally provide her with some useful answers, despite his being an annoyance.

“Yes, it is a wall. Don’t go beyond it, or you’ll probably die,” the boy finished, sounding uninterested. He then laid back down and quickly began snoring again.

The girl was tempted to yank all of the hair out of her head. Why did every single person refuse to give her the valuable answers that she so badly needed? Couldn’t people just be helpful for once? She let out a scream of frustration, which drew quite a few stares. That she did not like. Getting people’s attention, making yourself noticed, was bad. It drew evil things, the things that had tried to take Mother. Monsters of shadow without faces. 

The girl looked around, seeking a way to escape their penetrating looks. She slowly backed further into the foliage, leaves obscuring their faces. But she could still feel their gazes upon her. They still knew where she was. How to find her. She frantically turned her head from side to side, trying to find a way to hide, to run. Her eyes narrowed as she spotted her escape route. She swung from branch to branch downwards, the nearby branches shaking as she passed them. That was sloppy. It could let them track and follow her. But she had no time for being careful. They could already be climbing the tree, coming for her. She finally reached a limb that was level with one of the smaller rooftops. Not even pausing, she leaped from the tree onto the flat surface, rolling until she stopped only a few inches from the edge. Standing up, she put her hands on her hips, proud of her impressive acrobatics. Her bad mood evaporated momentarily. She felt like one of the strange creatures that Mother had spoken of in one of her stories. What had she called it? A monki? At least she hadn’t failed to remember that story. She grinned, feeling silly, not even noticing the large drop less than a step away from her toes.

But her terrible mood returned as soon as she glanced back at the wall. The barrier of blackness that separated her from the light. She shook her fist at it, wishing she could know all of its secrets. She began to feel a deep hatred for the wall, a feeling that she had never before felt. It was even stronger than her loathing of the greediest merchants and the cruelest shopkeepers. It pushed her to move, to do something. She didn’t know exactly what that something was, but she knew that it had to do with defeating the wall. An idea sparked in her head, quickly growing into a bonfire. She recklessly dashed forwards across the roof, a new goal in mind. She would find out what was beyond the wall herself. If it wanted to keep her out so badly, then crossing to its other side would conquer it. Leaping across the gap between rooftops, she continued without breaking stride. She didn’t stumble, her footing nimble and firm. She passed people down below so fast that they seemed to be only colorful blurs, streaks of paint dashed across a canvas. She was so focused on her task that the small chasms between the buildings might as well have not existed. After crossing between quite a few more dwellings, she came to her special roof. 

              It was completely flat, and was covered in grass and flowers. She would often come up here to sit and play with Mother. It was a rather nice place to sleep, as the grass made it very comfortable. Unlike other areas. The stones that lined the sides of the pathways made weird places in your back ache, and the farmers really didn’t like you sleeping on their crops. Even if you asked nicely. A large pile of blankets sat in the very middle to keep the condensation of the grass from making her damp. It could get really cold, and being wet did not help at all. She forced herself to wait, restlessly squatting in the blankets and fidgeting with her scarf until the sky grew dark and everyone retreated to their homes and gutters to sleep. 

Once all of the villagers were gone, she leapt back up from her little nest. Waiting for so long had been hard. Crawling to the edge of the rooftop on her hand and knees, she reached over its side, her fingers questing for the marks Mother had made so many years ago. Feeling them, she yanked a protruding brick out, causing several to tumble to the empty street below. She heard their muted thuds as they struck the ground, crumbling into many tiny pieces. Hopefully no one had heard that. She stuck her hand in the hole now in the middle of the wall and retrieved a sack filled with all of the food Mother had saved over the years. Peeking inside it, she found all sorts of dried meats and fruits, enough to last her for many days. There were also a few empty leather bottles, for water.

Reaching into her pocket, she placed the remainder of her candy apple in the sack as well. She was tempted to stuff it all into her mouth, but knew that she would have to be careful with how much she ate if she wanted it to last a trip to the top of the wall. She lifted the sack and hoisted it over her shoulder. It seemed fairly light, but she knew that would not last once the water was added.

She climbed down from the building, using the bricks that were jutting out as handholds. It was difficult doing so with only one hand, and she nearly slipped a few times. She did it anyways, rather than simply finding a lower building to hop off of. She would need all of the practice she could get if she was going to climb the wall. Keeping a wary eye out for any prying eyes, she set off in the direction of the well. She knew that if any other villagers caught her trying to sneak out, they would stop her. They were all too afraid of what lay beyond and near the wall being angered by a little girl. Even at night, when everything was dark, it was still clearly visible, even blacker than infinite deepness of the night sky.

Approaching the square in the center of town, she fell into a low crouch. Many homes ringed it, and being spotted would have disastrous consequences. Hopefully no one would be up at this hour. The people all feared that the dark things from beyond the wall came out during the nighttime. The urchins lining the edges of the square paid her no heed. There was an unspoken agreement between all little poor children that what they saw each other do during the darkness of the night never left their mouths.

She climbed up to the threshold of the well and perched on the low wall, staring into the water. At least, she thought there was water down there. It was so deep and dark that she couldn’t see a thing. Dipping in the bucket very carefully, as to not make a splash, she retrieved some water, which was thankfully there, and used it to fill the bottles. Making sure to fill them right to their brims, she placed them back in her pack. She could hear the water sloshing around in there. She hoisted the sack over her shoulder. Now it was much heavier, but she could handle it. Ducking away from the well, she returned to prowling through the streets, heading in the direction of the wall.

Passing the last house in her village, she turned around, feeling like she was leaving it behind forever. But that was silly. Of course she was coming back. Right? She faltered for a moment. Was she really doing this? Leaving behind everything she had ever known, ever loved? The beautiful flowers of her rooftop, the elegant trees that seemed to reach for the sky. Would she ever see them again? Was it really worth risking losing that all forever? The little girl felt the wind behind her grow stronger, gently pushing her forwards. She slowly began walking again, the help of the wind causing her to regain her confidence. She knew its secret, why it was helping her. It was really quite obvious. She didn’t tell the wind that she knew it, however. She liked the little game she played with it.

She walked a little further, until her village was completely out of sight. All she could see in each direction was trees and other plants. And the wall, of course. It was such a constant in her life that sometimes she forgot that it was even there. Never for very long, though. She could always feel it watching her, pressing on her mind. Looking around, she made up her mind. She would stop for the night here. She knew that no one else would dare venture out this far, and she was getting a bit tired. She looked around, then chose a small crevice in the rock as her resting place. It would shelter her from any wind or rain that came her way during the nighttime. She curled up with her beautiful red scarf and finished the rest of her apple, munching on it happily. She was glad she had decided to save it- it made a perfect and delicious way to end her day. Her eyes slowly drifted closed as she stared up at the sparkling night sky, with its bright pinpoints of light that seemed to always banish the constant darkness surrounding her. 

She awoke as the sun rose over the top of the wall, sending its bright light through her eyelids. She yawned and laid there for a while, not wanting to get up from the warm rock. Eventually, however, she opened her eyes and sat up. She could not afford to dally if she were to have enough rations to make it up the wall and back. Eating a small piece of fruit and taking a sip of water, she rose. She squinted at the horizon, trying to see if there was anything else she could see in the wilderness. Another village, maybe? But all she could see was foliage. It was getting really dull, really fast. Retying her scarf around her neck, she resigned herself to her boring fate and continued her walking. She did this for many days, sleeping whenever it got dark and rising with the sun. Her only companions were the wind that danced and played with her scarf and the occasional cremling she saw clicking along, skittering across the hard ground. She eyed a few of those, wondering if they would make a good food source. There were way more out her in the open than back at her village. They seemed kinda small, though. And how would she chew that hard shell? It wasn’t like she had chunks of metal for teeth. She never saw anything larger, although some of the trees did grow to be quite tall. But she had ones just like them in her village, so they weren’t anything new.

As she walked, she pondered what was really behind the wall. All she could remember was that there was some sort of light behind the wall, and that the shadows it cast upon her people prevented them from ever seeing it. This made her very sad. Perhaps that was why everyone was so cruel to each other all of the time- they were just upset at the lack of light, of beauty in their surroundings. After all, how could someone truly experience the full magnificence of something if it is covered in gloom? Maybe bringing some light from the other side back with her could help them feel better.

After many cycles of day and night, the girl came to the base of the wall. It stretched all across the land in both directions, seeming to have no end. How did its creators manage to build it? It was massive, a monolithic towering construction of some sort of dark material that wasn’t quite metal, but not stone either. Up close, she could almost feel it holding out the light from every possible source. It marched on, not caring that its very presence was hurting her people. Not caring that it brought darkness. The girl looked up, craning her neck, straining to see the top of the wall. It seemed to stretch all the way up to the Tranquiline Halls, eating up the space where the blue sky should have been. Could the top of the wall possibly be where the spirits of the brave warriors and talented farmers resided? It seemed the only likely explanation. They probably built their houses up there. 

She looked back downwards and was surprised to see an ugly looking face staring right back at her. She leapt backwards, startled. It had blended into the wall, black on black, nearly invisible. She hid her face in her scarf, sure that it was going to eat her, that it was one of the bad things that had climbed down from the other side of the wall. But after a moment, when the face with the expression of one who had been unable to eat for many weeks remained completely frozen, she realized that it was merely a statue, albeit a rather terrifying one. 

She walked around to one side of it, inspecting it. It seemed vaguely human shaped, in the way that a crude wooden club looked like a sword. It seemed… twisted somehow, not completely right. She could see the ridges of its spine and every rib beneath its sunken chest. It had pointed teeth and what looked to be really weird flaps of skin hanging off of its sides. It was hunched over, clawed hands raised above its head in what appeared to be either a gesture of aggression or pain. Either way, it was very disturbing.

She slowly extended a hand towards it, trembling. She had no idea what would happen once she touched the wall. All she knew what that she could not turn back now. As her hand touched the ugly statue’s head she flinched, but all she felt was something akin to the cool steel surface of a wagon wheel left out overnight. It didn’t bite or burn her. Honestly, she had no idea what she had been expecting. Feeling more confident now that she had assured that the wall would not disintegrate her hand, she hoisted herself up onto the statue, much like she had done climbing trees back home, taking her bag of supplies with her.

Straddling it, she found that other similar statues and these odd, spear-like protrusions that stuck out in clusters were on the wall. She began to climb upwards, making sure to stay away from the blades of the spears lest they cut her hands. They looked really pointy and sharp. It was remarkably effortless, even easier than climbing a tree. There was always another sculpture-thing within reach, and those outstretched arms made very good handholds. She started to climb faster and faster, going so quickly that she might as well have been running up the wall. A grin split her face. This was much more fun than just walking. She tried to avoid looking at the statues too closely. Something about them unsettled her, disturbed something deep within her core. They seemed too familiar, yet were unnervingly strange. She ignored that. She didn’t want to spoil her enjoyment of the climb.

Once the sun began to dip closer to the horizon, she paused and perched on the head of a particularly large and ugly looking statue that seemed slightly different from the others. Looking out over the land and squinting a bit, she was able to pick out her village. It looked to be little more than a minuscule black dot, completely dwarfed by the sheer expansiveness of the land surrounding it. Never before had she felt so small, so insignificant. Her entire world had been that little black dot until a few days ago. Never would she have imagined that it was really so tiny.

After seeing such a sight, the little girl decided that she was done climbing for the day. After all, the sun had nearly begun to set. She swung upside down, gripping the sculpture with her legs. She wasn’t worried about falling. Mother would catch her if she did. She could feel her pushing on her even then, lending her strength. She tied one end of her red scarf to its neck using her best knot. Then she climbed over to another one while holding the other end of the scarf in her mouth and did the same there. It created a rather functional hammock for her to sleep in. She put one foot in it, testing to see if it could hold her weight. It swung violently from side to side, and she was forced to cling to the statue, her legs dangling in midair. However, the knots held just fine. She stepped inside the hammock again, more carefully this time. She was able to hold it mostly still as she climbed completely inside, the sides of the hammock enveloping her. The wind gently rocked the improvised bed, lulling the little girl to sleep. 

The following morning, the girl resumed her climb. It was very lonely, with not even a cremling to keep her company. But so long as she had the wind and her scarf, she didn’t need anything else. She climbed for days and days, only stopping once the sun went down and she could no longer easily see her hand in front of her face. She would feast on some food from her sack, take a gulp of water, then tie up her hammock and sleep through the night. At one point during a meal, she was forced to wrap her hands in a strip of cloth she had torn from her shirt. They were covered in blisters, some of which had popped open and begun to bleed. They stung and made climbing more difficult, but she kept on going. She knew that she would do anything to find out what was on the other side of the wall. Hurting hands were much more preferable than the searing pain of a question unanswered.

But as she neared the top, doubts began to cloud her mind. What if there really were bad things beyond the wall, like the villagers had claimed? What if Mother had been mistaken about the light? Why else would the wall have been built? Her once sure thoughts began to feel unstable. She couldn’t be wrong about this. She couldn’t. Mother never lied. Lying was bad. Maybe it was herself that was wrong. She could have misremembered what Mother had said. Did that make her a liar? The little girl became so distressed that she slipped, her hands sliding easily on the smooth not-quite-metal. She panicked, scrambling desperately to find a handhold. Her fingernails scraped uselessly against the impossibly hard surface, not even scratching it. She managed to awkwardly wrap an arm around a statue’s neck, a particularly strong gust of wind the only thing keeping her from losing her grip. Her arm still felt like it had been yanked right out of its socket anyways. She grabbed the statue’s head with her other hand and navigated her way back on top of it, panting. Her heart thundering in her chest so loud that she could have sworn anyone within a mile could have heard it, she mumbled a thanks. She had known that Mother would have caught her, but still... falling had not been fun. She stretched her now very sore shoulder and hesitantly began climbing again, keeping her thoughts on other things.

A few days later the girl finally reached the top of the wall. She hesitated, her hand on its top but her head still below it. She did not have a plan for what she would do if she encountered one of the creatures of the dark. The fate of Mother was something that she definitely wanted to avoid. She thought for a moment, then quickly abandoned that idea. She was too excited and curious to wait to create a plan. Who had time for such things anyways? She got another hand on top of the wall, then a leg. With a great heave she pushed herself all the way up and laid there for a moment, face down on the chilly surface. 

She slowly straightened, eyes closed, afraid of what she would see. What would see her. She cracked open her eyes. And felt a blinding pain she had never felt before. She quickly shut them, thudding back down to the floor again, her hands covering her face. What in the Tranquiline Halls had that been?! Her burning curiosity got the better of her, and she once again cracked open her eyes, much slower this time. It hurt, but the pain was more manageable. She had, after all, suffered far worse. All she could see was this bright, bright light, more brilliant and dazzling than anything she had ever seen. A sudden wind blew her hair and scarves out behind her, almost to the edge of the wall. Mother must have been proud of her. Tears streaming down her face and dripping off her chin, she finally fully opened her eyes to see a sight the likes of which she had never thought she would see.

In a rush, the stories of Mother all came back to her. The gemstone covered buildings, glowing with a beautiful and swirling light that almost seemed to be alive. The plants, trees growing to monstrous heights and blooming with more flowers than should have been possible. But most of all the people, shining with the light that was contained within the jewels, brought the beauty and wonder of first hearing Mother’s stories back again. 

As she watched, a woman in a flowing dress shot down the very middle of the street, no part of her touching the ground, seeming to be pushed along by the wind itself. Another man placed his hand on a tree that seemed less healthy than the others, and his glow diminished, the tree rising and sprouting giant pink blooms. The girl caught a waft of their lovely scent even from very far away. She was so entranced by the other worldly sight before her that it took her a while to notice the giant steps before her. She triumphantly strode forwards to descend them.

But then an insight forced its way into her head. It hit her like a wave, crashing over her and threatening to sweep her away with the tide. Realization, reality. Why there were steps on this side, but not hers. She stopped, skidding to her knees just before reaching the first step. At long last she knew why there was a wall. It was there to keep evil things out, as the villagers had said. But they had been wrong about what the evil things were. The wall hadn’t been built to protect them from the creatures of the dark. It had been built to protect the creatures of the light, the people she saw before her. Her people were the monsters. 

Her village was filled with monsters. The woman nursing her baby, the merchants, the urchins, the little boy sleeping in a tree, all monsters. She was a monster. The spears must have been there to discourage the monsters from trying to climb the wall. No wonder Mother had left her to go join the wind. The girl curled up into a little ball, clinging to her scarf. Finally the strange, twisted statues made sense, why they seemed to be in pain, hungry. From an outsider’s point of view, the children huddled in the gutters, wreathed in shadows and wrapped in blankets, must have looked much like them. And the slightly different, larger statues must have been meant to represent those who oppressed and beat them down. She was reminded once again of the terrible, terrible day when Mother had been taken. The day when Mother had drawn the stares of the entire village.

She had been standing on a rooftop not far from their home, looking down right into the main square. It was a festival day, Helerareleh, a day to celebrate the new harvest. The only day the urchins had full stomachs, when everyone could just rest and enjoy their hard work. Everyone in the village had gathered in that square, the people packed together so tightly that not even the smallest child could squeeze between them. The farmers were giving free fruits and vegetables to every villager, and no hungry mouth could bear to pass up such a marvelous opportunity. The winter had been very difficult, with the crops from the previous year being so barren, and not even the most prosperous farmer was spared from an empty stomach. 

Mother had been acting odd that day. She had been raving about how something had been speaking to her, telling her that she must speak the Truth to her fellow villagers. The girl had followed Mother as she had stumbled from rooftop to rooftop, mumbling about how she needed an audience. She had paused on that roof, looking down with a satisfied smile on her face. Stepping to the very edge of the building, so close that the little girl feared her falling, she had begun her speech. She had spoken with a confidence and energy that the girl had never heard from anyone before. The bustling crowd had stopped, frozen in place, enthralled by Mother’s mesmerizing words. 

She had told them the same stories she had always told the girl, speaking of the wonders that lay beyond the wall. Her voice seemed louder than it should have, projecting across the entire crowd with ease. The people listened to her words, captivated, some even seeming to believe them. At least, until the monsters of shadow had come. They had burst out through a hole in the roof, three of them, their faceless stares chilling the girl to the bone and seeming to glue her shoes to the floor.

Mother had been too absorbed in her speech to notice them until they grabbed both of her arms, attempting to drag her back towards the hole. She had struggled, biting and kicking at them, even then still trying to continue with her speech. But it did no good. She was powerless against the monsters. One of them had clamped his hand over her mouth, silencing her and making her wide-eyed with fear. That was when she had joined the wind. 

She had looked directly at the girl, staring into her eyes sadly, almost apologetically. Then she had disappeared, melting into the air. The shadows had jumped backwards, startled. Their outcries had sounded like someone grating pieces of stone together. After stalking about the rooftop for a while, unable to find Mother, they had retreated back to the ground, without even a glance the girl’s direction. She had been left standing there, the stares of the crowd penetrating deep within her soul.

She could still feel them, still feel someone watching her. Except this feeling felt too new to be just from a memory. She slowly uncurled, dreading what she would find watching her. But this torment was even worse than she expected. Mother’s face hovered over her, radiantly glowing. The little girl moaned, wondering why she had begun to hallucinate such outlandish things. Had she pushed herself too hard? Had she fallen asleep and was now dreaming? But then Mother placed a hand over her mouth, silencing her cry. She felt real, more real than even the wall she was sitting on. 

The girl reached out and grabbed her arm, too stunned to even try and say anything else. Mother removed her hand and placed a finger on her lips, telling her to be silent. The girl complied, trusting Mother even though her appearance had been strange. Mother pulled her to her feet and led her by the hand quickly down the steps, glancing about as if she were an urchin trying to steal an entire harvest’s worth of food from a merchant. 

She dashed across an unblemished street, then pulled her into a smaller, empty building and sat her down, inspecting her hands. She unwrapped the cloth covering them, her eyes filling with tears once she saw their awful state. A strange spot of light moved from her shoulder to the floor, but the girl was too dazed to pay any attention to it. Mother’s luminosity decreased slightly, and the little girl watched her hands knits back together, the dead skin falling off and being replaced by fresh pink skin that eventually faded back to a normal color. She nearly cried out again, startled, but, looking into Mother’s eyes, her training returned to her and she held her silence. Mother smiled again, proud. She fingered the girl’s scarf, holding the thick fabric in her hand. A rustle sounded from outside. Mother tensed, then released her scarf, slowing creeping to the door. She peeked her head out and turned her back to the girl.

While Mother was distracted with inspecting the noise, the girl turned about, examining the room. A small pile of gemstones lay in one corner, glowing with the light that seemed to be everywhere. A little silver table with delicate, beautiful carvings sat in the center of the room. Several chairs were arranged around it in what looked to be a rather welcoming and friendly way. She could easily imagine people reclining in those chairs, chatting about happy things. But what really caught her eye was a gemstone that was larger than the rest, glowing even brighter than those embedded in the wall. 

It sat alone on a modest little pedestal, with no glass or barrier to protect it. This confused the little girl. Why would such a valuable treasure be placed where thieving hands could easily snatch it away? It was one of the biggest gems she had ever seen. It could likely be sold for enough money to buy her enough food for several lifetimes. She approached it, reaching her hand towards the light. Then, against her better judgement, she stuffed it in her pocket. If they placed it in the open like that, then surely it was meant to be shared with all.

Mother turned back to her, rushing over and grabbing her arm, her grip firm yet gentle. She motioned for silence again, then led her to the door, too preoccupied to notice the missing gemstone. She looked both ways, then pushed the girl ahead of her and back towards the giant steps of the wall. As she stumbled along, the girl noticed something peculiar. 

Not a single beggar was in sight. In a street like this, with it being remarkably clean and having plenty of perfect places to sleep, there should have been tens of urchins crowding the sides, stretching out their hands for food and wrapped in dirty blankets. Instead there was nothing, just spotless streets sparkling as if they had never been stepped on. She felt like she was soiling them with her presence. Like she was bringing in some sort of taint from her side of the world. 

Mother pushed her to the very bottom of the steps, then gestured for the girl to climb back up them. She started to obey, but then noticed that Mother was not following. She turned around, her eyebrows knitting together. Why was she not coming with her? Was Mother leaving her again? Mother simply stood there with her head bowed, looking away and hiding her face. The little girl’s lip began to tremble. Not again. She didn’t want her to go again. But she was afraid to say too much, to complain. She didn’t want Mother to become the wind again. Then she would never be able to say goodbye. 

So the little girl chose to do something in between speaking and leaving. She ran back to Mother and gave her the biggest hug she could, then dashed back up the steps before she could respond. She didn’t look behind her until she reached the top of the wall. When she turned back, Mother was gone. She heaved a great sigh of regret and sadness, taking out the glowing gemstone in her pocket. It was the only light she could bring back with her, but it would have to do. Carefully she placed it back in her pocket, making sure to not scratch it. She had a nagging feeling that doing so would result in bad things, although she wasn’t exactly sure what. She started climbing back down the wall, her scarf hanging limp. This time, she had not even the gentle wind to keep her company. 

As she continued downwards, everything seemed too... easy. No one chased her nor called after her. No one demanded that she return the jewel. Perhaps no one had noticed she had stolen it? Had she owned the gemstone, it would have never left her sight. In fact, it would have never been in such a wide-open spot in the first place. She felt at her pocket for the tenth time in an hour to make sure that it was still there. Sure enough, there was still a large bulge in her pocket. No disappearing magic, then. The girl had no idea what sort of tricks those glowing people had, but she was ready for all of them. 

The girl didn’t even look at the statues as she climbed. They were a painful reminder of what her people were, what she was. Just thinking about it would cause her eyes to brim with tears. Tears were bad. She couldn’t afford to waste any more water. She was starting to run low. Although she could likely make it back to her village, she didn’t take any chances. Mother had always told her…

She banished that line of thought. Thoughts of Mother would also bring harmful tears. Too many things seemed to upset her, so she decided to not think at all. She would have time for such things if she returned home. No, once. She had to repeat that to herself. She still couldn’t shake this nagging feeling that something wasn’t completely right. After a while she fell into a rhythm, almost unconsciously moving her limbs, automatically finding handholds. She did not sing; she did not daydream. She simply climbed. Once the sun dipped below the horizon, she mechanically tied up her hammock. Once it rose, she woke and continued her descent. 

After several days she came to the bottom of the wall. She stood there at its base for a long while, staring at that same statue she had confronted what seemed like so long ago. She felt empty. Why was that? She had answered her question, hadn’t she? Shouldn’t her head have been filled with knowledge? Instead she only felt this terrible emptiness, even worse than the burning pain of a question unanswered. While that was the itching of a finger, this absence was more like a missing limb. 

She turned away, staring in the direction of her village. She had only one more thing to do, then she could rest. Then she could try and fill that gaping hole inside of her. Perhaps bringing the light residing in her pocket to her village would fix it. Yes, it would. She tried to smile, but only the corners of her mouth faintly twitched. It was enough, though. Just barely enough to keep her going. She set off walking at a brisk pace. The sooner she could fix the emptiness, the better.

But as soon as she got about a day from the wall and was about to lie down and rest, she heard a noise even more disturbing than the statues of the wall. It was barely audible, so quiet that it could have just been her imagination. But even her hurting mind couldn’t conjure up something so unnerving, so troubling. It sounded like the very sky itself was screaming in anger, rumbling with fury. She turned to face the wall, where she had thought the sound had come from. A small lance of light shot across the sky, piercing through the clouds. Then another, and another. It looked like the very heavens were at war with themselves. 

She didn’t get any sleep that night. 

The next day she rose and continued her journey home. For many long days she walked, her feet throbbing in her thin shoes. But she did not slow her pace. That strange sense of urgency never left her. There was something hiding in the back of her mind, preventing her from relaxing. She found it difficult to focus on anything more than the next step. Anything more than the shining gem in her pocket, which seemed to increase its weight with every movement. 

Finally she came to the last day of her trek. She could just faintly see the outlines of buildings against a strangely grey sky. Buildings that looked so small when compared with the city beyond the wall. She started to jog, ignoring her aching feet. She could wait no longer. She was almost home.

As she ran, a wind began to chase her. But this was not the friendly breeze that had played with her scarf. This was a gust that sought to rip it from her neck, to steal it away forever. It pushed her backwards, making her stumble. It blew her hair into her face so she could not see. It tried to push her feet out from under her. She heard the sky yell again, except it was no longer quiet. It was a booming sound, one that caused her to cover her ears with her hands. It was a sound more frightening than the curses of the merchants, than the yells of the faceless shadows. It was a sound of a primal force that had been enraged by a foolish little girl. 

She ripped the jewel out of her pocket as she sprinted. Was it why she was being attacked? Were the people beyond the wall sending the storm as punishment for her thievery? Perhaps they would be mollified by her returning of the gem. She turned to face the storm head on and held the gemstone up, as if offering it to the glowing people. The winds abated for just a second, as if considering her offer. She smiled, glad they were no longer attacking her. Then a powerful gust of wind tore the jewel out of her hand. She watched it fly towards the village, a glittering sparkle against the grey sky. She couldn’t hear her scream of terror over the roaring of the wind.

As she turned back, she saw a great thundering mass of what looked like a wall of seething water heading towards her at an alarming pace. Contained within that mass of churning darkness and light was what looked to be bits of pieces of the wall that had stood between the peoples. Staring at it, her feet frozen to the ground, she saw the severed head of a statue pierce the front of the mist, seeming to scream in time with the sky. It crashed to the ground and was crushed by a huge torn off section of the wall. 

The girl turned and tried to run as hard as she possibly could, fighting the wind that tried to hold her back. But all she could manage was a slow walk, step by painful step. The wall behind her got closer and closer, eating up everything in its path. A boulder soared over her head and landed just a few feet away, smashing a crater and shaking the ground so hard that she almost completely lost her footing. 

Eventually she got to the very edge of her village. She saw people still standing in the streets, staring dumbfounded at the storm before them. That was incredibly foolish. How could they not see the danger that lied before them? A carton of apples blew over, scattering them across the street. Nobody noticed. Not even the hungry little beggar boys. They were all too entranced by the tempest that was quickly approaching. The girl stretched forth her hand and opened her mouth to yell at them to get inside, to seek shelter.

Then the stormwall hit, and a red scarf danced with the wind.

 

Edited by Lunamor
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Removed the triple post. Creating topics can take a bit of time so be careful of double or triple clicking the create topic button.

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3 minutes ago, Lunamor said:

Yes I do! I am reposting this from the Fan Works forum. I wrote a (significantly) fleshed out version of the Girl Who Looked Up that made two separate people’s hearts ache, so I guess it qualifies as sad.

(Spoilered for extreme length)

  Reveal hidden contents

The Girl Who Looked Up

A young girl danced through the market, skipping in endless circles. Her bright white hair and the twin tails of her long red scarf streamed out behind her, dancing with the wind. Curses sounded as she occasionally bumped into people, but she didn’t care. They couldn’t hurt her, so long as Mother was watching. She told her so frequently, although she had not showed herself in a long time. She didn’t mind all that much. 

She passed other villagers. Women washed their clothing and men tended their fields, heads bowed. Merchants hawked their wears, selling all manner of things. Little boys wearing rags begged on the side of the road, their faces unidentifiable in the shadows cloaking them. Shadows that seemed just a little too thick, too dark, to be natural. But of course the people didn’t know that- Mother had explained it all to her. The darkness was what kept everyone from seeing the light. The light that was beyond the wall. It stretched as far as the eye could see in both directions, casting its shadow on all things behind it, including her own village. Just looking at the wall, one got the impression that several lifetimes of running would never bring them to its end.

The girl eventually stopped, slightly dizzy. Stumbling to a nearby stand that was selling fruit, she leaned against it. This earned her a glare from the merchant standing behind it. He knew better than to trust children, especially those without parents. When his back was turned, she attempted to discreetly tuck one of his pears away. It had been quite a while since she had last eaten, and her stomach had begun to grumble. She wanted to eat before she started experiencing the pains of hunger. They made it much more difficult to steal food. 

But the man was not fooled. With a shout he turned around, wielding a plank of wood and grabbing for her scarf. The girl felt a flash of terror. Mother had told her to never take off her scarf. It was how she would find her if they were ever separated. How else would Mother ever be able to find her way back? With a sudden burst of strength, the little girl tugged her scarf out of his hand and dashed away through the market, the yelling of the merchant chasing her. People stumbled as both she and the trader pushed past them. She took as many corners as she could, trying to lose him in the maze of streets. Her scarf stood out, however. The villagers all wore drab, brown colored clothing. Her bright red scarf was like a solitary blooming rockbud in the middle of an empty plain. Even worse, people pulled away from her. Everyone knew that if someone was running, trouble would soon come barreling after. And they weren’t wrong. The merchant was always able to find her again.

Finally, the man started to slow, his breath coming out in puffs. He did not have the energy of a youth. She ran for a very long time, even after she could no longer hear the angry man. Once her breathing became ragged, she skidded to a halt, her little heart thumping in her chest. Hands on her knees, she breathed deep breaths from her stomach, just as Mother had taught her to. She stared at the fruit clutched in her trembling hand. After a while she straightened, wiping the sweat from her brow. The crowd flowed around her once again, no one seeming to notice her. That was good- she hated it when she drew people’s stares. She didn’t want to think about the last time that had happened.

She nearly jumped into the air when she heard a sound beside her, but calmed down once she realized what it was. One of the little beggar boys had moaned at her. That was odd. They usually never spoke to her. She turned towards him, curious. He stretched out his hand, reaching towards her. She flinched and backed away, thinking that he wanted to take her scarf too. But she realized what he really wanted once he pointed at it. He had been reaching for her pear. He pointed at his mouth, making a smacking motion, then back at the fruit. The little girl’s stomach growled loudly, and she grimaced. She had nearly lost her scarf to get that pear, and it would be very long before she would be able to steal from that cart again, lest the merchant recognize her. But seeing the boy’s pitiful state, limbs no thicker than twigs, wrapped in soiled blankets with no beautiful red scarf to call his own, she relented. Mother had always told her to share with those who had less than she. 

Cautiously she handed him the pear, delicately pinching it by the stem. His hand shot towards the yellowish-green fruit faster than she would have thought possible, grimy fingers closing around it. She quickly pulled back, afraid he would demand more. But he only stared at the slightly bruised pear, looking at it as if it were made of pure gold. She just then noticed that she could see slight indents where her fingers had been gripping it. Had she really been terrified enough that she had unconsciously squeezed it so hard? He raised it to his lips and took a huge bite, closing his eyes and savoring the flavor. Juice ran down his face, leaving streaks in the dirt covering him. She smiled, then backed away into the crowd before he could open them again.

She let the flow of the crowd carry her along, staring upwards at the sky. She lazily spun in circles, pondering her next move. She hadn’t stolen from the south side of the marketplace for a while. Would anyone recognize her? There had been that one merchant, the one with such good oranges. He had been particularly upset when she had kinda-accidentally-purposefully knocked over his entire stand after he had tried hitting that one boy. She was a bit nervous that he would recognize her still. She didn’t think that she had ever seen someone so furious, so livid. His face had been an even brighter red that the apples he had been selling. She giggled slightly, recalling how he had scrambled to pick up his wares, looking like a lurg that someone had upended an entire bucket of water on. After thinking for a moment, she decided that so long as she stayed away from him, the south side should be safe.

Pausing for a moment, she looked up at the wall. It seemed more oppressive than usual. More menacing. Like it was planning on falling over and squashing them all. That was ridiculous, though. Walls couldn’t think. She didn’t know why, but staring at it sent shivers down her spine anyways. She quickly turned her glance downwards again, no longer wanting to see such an intimidating sight. She quickly forgot about it, becoming distracted by a cremling crawling on a nearby wall that she soon lost sight of in the dirt.

Prancing towards the southern end of the market, she spotted another fruit stand that had big, juicy looking apples resting easily within reach. It was perfect. This time she would not let the seller see her. As she approached, she faltered. The man had brown stringy hair that went all the way down to his shoulders and his dark eyes seemed to be made of steel. He glared at all who walked past and had no customers to distract him. It seemed as if he was trying to light everyone on fire as they passed him. Based on the uncomfortable looks he drew, he might have been succeeding. She almost turned back, but the rumbling of her stomach galvanized her. She desperately needed some sort of nourishment, and she was loath to dig into Mother’s hidden store of food. 

Hesitantly she approached his cart, nearly crouching. As his gaze fell on her, his steely eyes softened for some reason. How odd. Wouldn’t she, of all people, be the one to draw his harshest looks? He reached behind him, and she cringed, expecting him to pull out one of the improvised clubs that had become so common recently. Instead he held a candied apple towards her. 

She stared at it, ravenous. She was unable to prevent herself from drooling. In fact, she hardly noticed that she was salivating so much in the first place. She had never had such a treat before, but had heard others luckier than she speak of it. Mother had always promised her that she would buy her one, once they got enough money. She looked upwards at him, eyes confused. Why would he offer her something so valuable without even knowing her? He only nodded towards the apple on a stick, prompting her to take it. She wavered. Could this be a trap? Was he trying to lure her in so he could remove one more thieving little girl from the streets for good? Some of her friends had begun to disappear, and she did not want to share in their terrible fates.

Ultimately her hunger won out, and she carefully reached for the treat. Daintily holding it by the stick, she inspected it. How did one eat such a thing? The shell was rather hard. And sticky. Why did they make it so difficult to consume? Surely such an expensive luxury must be easy to eat. She looked back at the merchant, wondering if one needed something to break it open with. He simply gestured for her to eat it. A frown creased her brow. Was this a test of some sort? She pondered it for a little while longer, then just stuck the entire thing in her mouth and sucked on it, relishing its sweetness. She now understood how the little urchin had felt. The man smiled softly, setting out more boxes of fruit. After she had eaten most of the apple’s candy shell, she took it out of her mouth, wondering at how it had seemed to just, for lack of a better word, melt in her mouth. She reluctantly tucked it away for later. Mother had always said to never eat all of your food at once- you never knew when your next meal would come. 

She started at the man for a while longer. He continued sorting his apples, making no move to harm her. A question floated to the top of her mind, one that had been sunken a long time ago. With no one to ask it to, she had soon forgotten about it. She knew that Mother had once answered it, but her stories had begun to drift away, lost in the clouds. She paused before voicing her question, worried that it would greatly anger the man. But he had given her a candied apple, an extravagance that no regular person would just give away. Surely he would not be bothered by a simple question. Coming closer to the front of the wagon, she stood on the very tips of her toes in order to see him better, placing the palms of her hands on the surface of his wagon for support.

“Why is there a wall?”

The man’s smile quickly disappeared, being replaced by a scowl even worse than those he had turned upon the people of the market.

“To keep the bad things out,” he responded with a growling voice, beginning to pack some of his wares back up.

The girl was curious. What did he mean?

“What bad things?”

The merchant stuffed some more apples in a sack, hoisting it over his shoulder.

“Very bad things. There is a wall. Do not go beyond it, or you shall die.”

The man finished storing his goods, and he wheeled away his stand without another word. The little girl had a feeling that she would not receive anymore free meals from him. She sighed, then turned away, planning on returning to her home. But the unanswered question still burned in her mind, preventing her from focusing. She had to know the wall’s purpose, what was beyond it. Why it seemed to hate her so.

Seeing a woman suckling her child, the fire in her head spurred her to action. Perhaps a woman with a baby would be more open to the questions of a small girl. She walked up to the lady, dodging people on the way over, and tugged on her skirt. The woman looked downwards, confusion clearly displayed on her face. It wasn’t kindness, but it wasn’t hostility either. Finding her courage in this fact, the little girl asked her query.

“Why is there a wall?”

The woman turned away, as if shielding her child from the girl’s strange and almost rebellious thoughts.

“To protect us,” she grudgingly responded. Her posture was stiff, like someone was holding her up by a string attached to her head, then for good measure had stuck her spine to a wooden plank.

The girl felt like screaming, but restrained herself. Doing such a thing would surely drive the woman away.

“To protect us from what?” she said as politely as she could, tilting her head just slightly and keeping her hands demurely at her sides.

“Very bad things. There is a wall. Do not go beyond it, or you shall die.”

The woman then took her infant and left, her long dress swishing about her ankles. She left the little girl once again standing alone in the middle of the market. The girl buried her face in her scarf, thoroughly upset. Why was everyone dodging her questions? Did they even have the answer?

She began to run through the crowds, heedless of where she was going. She desperately needed someone, anyone to speak with, to interrogate. She knew that she could never fully rest until she had the answer. It seemed to consume her mind, pushing out all other thoughts. Even the slight, constant hunger that gnawed at her stomach was momentarily forgotten. In time, she came to a large tree, stumbling to a halt at its massive trunk. Thick branches grew close to her head, sprouting from many different places. It was perfect for her needs. She grabbed onto a sturdy limb and hoisted herself upwards, the rough bark scratching her hands. She hardly noticed. After a while of living on the streets, one learned to ignore the little pains. Focusing on those could lead to bigger hurts. Hurts you couldn’t heal.

As she climbed, she was reminded of times when she had scaled trees with Mother. They would climb all the way to the highest branches and watch the stars softly twinkling in the dark sky. She could still remember the look in Mother’s eyes as she had gazed at the very top of the wall, thinking of things that only those with the wildest imaginations could possibly dream up. Mother would tell her stories of what lay beyond the wall, things that she said she would one day see. Stories that the girl had now forgotten. 

She sniffled and wiped away a tear that had gone unnoticed, trickling down her cheek. She shook her head to clear it, then continued to advance upwards. It was starting to get late, and she knew that she had to get her questions answered quickly if she were to be able to get a good sleep that night. After a while she came to the top branches of the tree. Peeking her head out from the canopy she inspected the crowd. She was disappointed to find that she could see little more than dark, indistinct figures below her. Her plan of attempting to spot a potential person to query from up high had gone out the window. She groaned, dismayed. Now how was she supposed to get her question resolved?

She nearly lost her grip when she heard a booming snore coming from nearby. Pushing aside some leaves, she found a boy who seemed to be about her age lazily sleeping in the nook of a particularly wide branch. Hanging her head over his, she inspected him. Judging by the fact that he was slightly chubby and had enough time to spare for naps, he still had parents. Maybe they told him stories about the place beyond the wall too. Even if they didn’t, he still seemed to be as good a person to ask her questions of as any. Someone that lazy certainly wouldn’t pose a threat to her if her questions caused him to become angry. She poked him in the side. He started awake, almost falling off the branch. His jerking motion brushed her white hair hanging over his face. The girl winced and pulled back slightly, but barreled ahead and asked her question.

“Why is there a wall?”

The boy wiped his nose and blinked sleep heavy eyes.

“What wall?” he asked, his voice sounding muffled.

The girl, now beyond peeved, thrust her finger pointedly towards the wall. How could he not notice the ever-present wall that had always towered over them all, seeming to crush her with its all-encompassing shadow?

“That’s not a wall,” the boy said, sitting up and dangling his legs over the edge of the tree limb. “That’s just the way the sky is over there.”

The girl rolled her eyes and nearly began to yell at the ignorant boy, but Mother’s voice came back to her, reminding her to never raise her voice against anyone, no matter how deserving of it they seemed. She settled back on her haunches and smoothed her tangled hair, trying to calm herself down.

“It’s a wall,” the girl said, exaggeratedly gesturing towards it, unable to fully keep all of the ire out of her voice. “A giant wall.”

The boy turned his head towards the wall, lazily stretching. He looked like one of the farmer’s cats waking up from a long nap. 

“It must be there for a purpose,” he said, standing up and putting a hand on his chin. He was slightly taller than she was.

The girl nodded excitedly. Perhaps this boy would finally provide her with some useful answers, despite his being an annoyance.

“Yes, it is a wall. Don’t go beyond it, or you’ll probably die,” the boy finished, sounding uninterested. He then laid back down and quickly began snoring again.

The girl was tempted to yank all of the hair out of her head. Why did every single person refuse to give her the valuable answers that she so badly needed? Couldn’t people just be helpful for once? She let out a scream of frustration, which drew quite a few stares. That she did not like. Getting people’s attention, making yourself noticed, was bad. It drew evil things, the things that had tried to take Mother. Monsters of shadow without faces. 

The girl looked around, seeking a way to escape their penetrating looks. She slowly backed further into the foliage, leaves obscuring their faces. But she could still feel their gazes upon her. They still knew where she was. How to find her. She frantically turned her head from side to side, trying to find a way to hide, to run. Her eyes narrowed as she spotted her escape route. She swung from branch to branch downwards, the nearby branches shaking as she passed them. That was sloppy. It could let them track and follow her. But she had no time for being careful. They could already be climbing the tree, coming for her. She finally reached a limb that was level with one of the smaller rooftops. Not even pausing, she leaped from the tree onto the flat surface, rolling until she stopped only a few inches from the edge. Standing up, she put her hands on her hips, proud of her impressive acrobatics. Her bad mood evaporated momentarily. She felt like one of the strange creatures that Mother had spoken of in one of her stories. What had she called it? A monki? At least she hadn’t failed to remember that story. She grinned, feeling silly, not even noticing the large drop less than a step away from her toes.

But her terrible mood returned as soon as she glanced back at the wall. The barrier of blackness that separated her from the light. She shook her fist at it, wishing she could know all of its secrets. She began to feel a deep hatred for the wall, a feeling that she had never before felt. It was even stronger than her loathing of the greediest merchants and the cruelest shopkeepers. It pushed her to move, to do something. She didn’t know exactly what that something was, but she knew that it had to do with defeating the wall. An idea sparked in her head, quickly growing into a bonfire. She recklessly dashed forwards across the roof, a new goal in mind. She would find out what was beyond the wall herself. If it wanted to keep her out so badly, then crossing to its other side would conquer it. Leaping across the gap between rooftops, she continued without breaking stride. She didn’t stumble, her footing nimble and firm. She passed people down below so fast that they seemed to be only colorful blurs, streaks of paint dashed across a canvas. She was so focused on her task that the small chasms between the buildings might as well have not existed. After crossing between quite a few more dwellings, she came to her special roof. 

              It was completely flat, and was covered in grass and flowers. She would often come up here to sit and play with Mother. It was a rather nice place to sleep, as the grass made it very comfortable. Unlike other areas. The stones that lined the sides of the pathways made weird places in your back ache, and the farmers really didn’t like you sleeping on their crops. Even if you asked nicely. A large pile of blankets sat in the very middle to keep the condensation of the grass from making her damp. It could get really cold, and being wet did not help at all. She forced herself to wait, restlessly squatting in the blankets and fidgeting with her scarf until the sky grew dark and everyone retreated to their homes and gutters to sleep. 

Once all of the villagers were gone, she leapt back up from her little nest. Waiting for so long had been hard. Crawling to the edge of the rooftop on her hand and knees, she reached over its side, her fingers questing for the marks Mother had made so many years ago. Feeling them, she yanked a protruding brick out, causing several to tumble to the empty street below. She heard their muted thuds as they struck the ground, crumbling into many tiny pieces. Hopefully no one had heard that. She stuck her hand in the hole now in the middle of the wall and retrieved a sack filled with all of the food Mother had saved over the years. Peeking inside it, she found all sorts of dried meats and fruits, enough to last her for many days. There were also a few empty leather bottles, for water.

Reaching into her pocket, she placed the remainder of her candy apple in the sack as well. She was tempted to stuff it all into her mouth, but knew that she would have to be careful with how much she ate if she wanted it to last a trip to the top of the wall. She lifted the sack and hoisted it over her shoulder. It seemed fairly light, but she knew that would not last once the water was added.

She climbed down from the building, using the bricks that were jutting out as handholds. It was difficult doing so with only one hand, and she nearly slipped a few times. She did it anyways, rather than simply finding a lower building to hop off of. She would need all of the practice she could get if she was going to climb the wall. Keeping a wary eye out for any prying eyes, she set off in the direction of the well. She knew that if any other villagers caught her trying to sneak out, they would stop her. They were all too afraid of what lay beyond and near the wall being angered by a little girl. Even at night, when everything was dark, it was still clearly visible, even blacker than infinite deepness of the night sky.

Approaching the square in the center of town, she fell into a low crouch. Many homes ringed it, and being spotted would have disastrous consequences. Hopefully no one would be up at this hour. The people all feared that the dark things from beyond the wall came out during the nighttime. The urchins lining the edges of the square paid her no heed. There was an unspoken agreement between all little poor children that what they saw each other do during the darkness of the night never left their mouths.

She climbed up to the threshold of the well and perched on the low wall, staring into the water. At least, she thought there was water down there. It was so deep and dark that she couldn’t see a thing. Dipping in the bucket very carefully, as to not make a splash, she retrieved some water, which was thankfully there, and used it to fill the bottles. Making sure to fill them right to their brims, she placed them back in her pack. She could hear the water sloshing around in there. She hoisted the sack over her shoulder. Now it was much heavier, but she could handle it. Ducking away from the well, she returned to prowling through the streets, heading in the direction of the wall.

Passing the last house in her village, she turned around, feeling like she was leaving it behind forever. But that was silly. Of course she was coming back. Right? She faltered for a moment. Was she really doing this? Leaving behind everything she had ever known, ever loved? The beautiful flowers of her rooftop, the elegant trees that seemed to reach for the sky. Would she ever see them again? Was it really worth risking losing that all forever? The little girl felt the wind behind her grow stronger, gently pushing her forwards. She slowly began walking again, the help of the wind causing her to regain her confidence. She knew its secret, why it was helping her. It was really quite obvious. She didn’t tell the wind that she knew it, however. She liked the little game she played with it.

She walked a little further, until her village was completely out of sight. All she could see in each direction was trees and other plants. And the wall, of course. It was such a constant in her life that sometimes she forgot that it was even there. Never for very long, though. She could always feel it watching her, pressing on her mind. Looking around, she made up her mind. She would stop for the night here. She knew that no one else would dare venture out this far, and she was getting a bit tired. She looked around, then chose a small crevice in the rock as her resting place. It would shelter her from any wind or rain that came her way during the nighttime. She curled up with her beautiful red scarf and finished the rest of her apple, munching on it happily. She was glad she had decided to save it- it made a perfect and delicious way to end her day. Her eyes slowly drifted closed as she stared up at the sparkling night sky, with its bright pinpoints of light that seemed to always banish the constant darkness surrounding her. 

She awoke as the sun rose over the top of the wall, sending its bright light through her eyelids. She yawned and laid there for a while, not wanting to get up from the warm rock. Eventually, however, she opened her eyes and sat up. She could not afford to dally if she were to have enough rations to make it up the wall and back. Eating a small piece of fruit and taking a sip of water, she rose. She squinted at the horizon, trying to see if there was anything else she could see in the wilderness. Another village, maybe? But all she could see was foliage. It was getting really dull, really fast. Retying her scarf around her neck, she resigned herself to her boring fate and continued her walking. She did this for many days, sleeping whenever it got dark and rising with the sun. Her only companions were the wind that danced and played with her scarf and the occasional cremling she saw clicking along, skittering across the hard ground. She eyed a few of those, wondering if they would make a good food source. There were way more out her in the open than back at her village. They seemed kinda small, though. And how would she chew that hard shell? It wasn’t like she had chunks of metal for teeth. She never saw anything larger, although some of the trees did grow to be quite tall. But she had ones just like them in her village, so they weren’t anything new.

As she walked, she pondered what was really behind the wall. All she could remember was that there was some sort of light behind the wall, and that the shadows it cast upon her people prevented them from ever seeing it. This made her very sad. Perhaps that was why everyone was so cruel to each other all of the time- they were just upset at the lack of light, of beauty in their surroundings. After all, how could someone truly experience the full magnificence of something if it is covered in gloom? Maybe bringing some light from the other side back with her could help them feel better.

After many cycles of day and night, the girl came to the base of the wall. It stretched all across the land in both directions, seeming to have no end. How did its creators manage to build it? It was massive, a monolithic towering construction of some sort of dark material that wasn’t quite metal, but not stone either. Up close, she could almost feel it holding out the light from every possible source. It marched on, not caring that its very presence was hurting her people. Not caring that it brought darkness. The girl looked up, craning her neck, straining to see the top of the wall. It seemed to stretch all the way up to the Tranquiline Halls, eating up the space where the blue sky should have been. Could the top of the wall possibly be where the spirits of the brave warriors and talented farmers resided? It seemed the only likely explanation. They probably built their houses up there. 

She looked back downwards and was surprised to see an ugly looking face staring right back at her. She leapt backwards, startled. It had blended into the wall, black on black, nearly invisible. She hid her face in her scarf, sure that it was going to eat her, that it was one of the bad things that had climbed down from the other side of the wall. But after a moment, when the face with the expression of one who had been unable to eat for many weeks remained completely frozen, she realized that it was merely a statue, albeit a rather terrifying one. 

She walked around to one side of it, inspecting it. It seemed vaguely human shaped, in the way that a crude wooden club looked like a sword. It seemed… twisted somehow, not completely right. She could see the ridges of its spine and every rib beneath its sunken chest. It had pointed teeth and what looked to be really weird flaps of skin hanging off of its sides. It was hunched over, clawed hands raised above its head in what appeared to be either a gesture of aggression or pain. Either way, it was very disturbing.

She slowly extended a hand towards it, trembling. She had no idea what would happen once she touched the wall. All she knew what that she could not turn back now. As her hand touched the ugly statue’s head she flinched, but all she felt was something akin to the cool steel surface of a wagon wheel left out overnight. It didn’t bite or burn her. Honestly, she had no idea what she had been expecting. Feeling more confident now that she had assured that the wall would not disintegrate her hand, she hoisted herself up onto the statue, much like she had done climbing trees back home, taking her bag of supplies with her.

Straddling it, she found that other similar statues and these odd, spear-like protrusions that stuck out in clusters were on the wall. She began to climb upwards, making sure to stay away from the blades of the spears lest they cut her hands. They looked really pointy and sharp. It was remarkably effortless, even easier than climbing a tree. There was always another sculpture-thing within reach, and those outstretched arms made very good handholds. She started to climb faster and faster, going so quickly that she might as well have been running up the wall. A grin split her face. This was much more fun than just walking. She tried to avoid looking at the statues too closely. Something about them unsettled her, disturbed something deep within her core. They seemed too familiar, yet were unnervingly strange. She ignored that. She didn’t want to spoil her enjoyment of the climb.

Once the sun began to dip closer to the horizon, she paused and perched on the head of a particularly large and ugly looking statue that seemed slightly different from the others. Looking out over the land and squinting a bit, she was able to pick out her village. It looked to be little more than a minuscule black dot, completely dwarfed by the sheer expansiveness of the land surrounding it. Never before had she felt so small, so insignificant. Her entire world had been that little black dot until a few days ago. Never would she have imagined that it was really so tiny.

After seeing such a sight, the little girl decided that she was done climbing for the day. After all, the sun had nearly begun to set. She swung upside down, gripping the sculpture with her legs. She wasn’t worried about falling. Mother would catch her if she did. She could feel her pushing on her even then, lending her strength. She tied one end of her red scarf to its neck using her best knot. Then she climbed over to another one while holding the other end of the scarf in her mouth and did the same there. It created a rather functional hammock for her to sleep in. She put one foot in it, testing to see if it could hold her weight. It swung violently from side to side, and she was forced to cling to the statue, her legs dangling in midair. However, the knots held just fine. She stepped inside the hammock again, more carefully this time. She was able to hold it mostly still as she climbed completely inside, the sides of the hammock enveloping her. The wind gently rocked the improvised bed, lulling the little girl to sleep. 

The following morning, the girl resumed her climb. It was very lonely, with not even a cremling to keep her company. But so long as she had the wind and her scarf, she didn’t need anything else. She climbed for days and days, only stopping once the sun went down and she could no longer easily see her hand in front of her face. She would feast on some food from her sack, take a gulp of water, then tie up her hammock and sleep through the night. At one point during a meal, she was forced to wrap her hands in a strip of cloth she had torn from her shirt. They were covered in blisters, some of which had popped open and begun to bleed. They stung and made climbing more difficult, but she kept on going. She knew that she would do anything to find out what was on the other side of the wall. Hurting hands were much more preferable than the searing pain of a question unanswered.

But as she neared the top, doubts began to cloud her mind. What if there really were bad things beyond the wall, like the villagers had claimed? What if Mother had been mistaken about the light? Why else would the wall have been built? Her once sure thoughts began to feel unstable. She couldn’t be wrong about this. She couldn’t. Mother never lied. Lying was bad. Maybe it was herself that was wrong. She could have misremembered what Mother had said. Did that make her a liar? The little girl became so distressed that she slipped, her hands sliding easily on the smooth not-quite-metal. She panicked, scrambling desperately to find a handhold. Her fingernails scraped uselessly against the impossibly hard surface, not even scratching it. She managed to awkwardly wrap an arm around a statue’s neck, a particularly strong gust of wind the only thing keeping her from losing her grip. Her arm still felt like it had been yanked right out of its socket anyways. She grabbed the statue’s head with her other hand and navigated her way back on top of it, panting. Her heart thundering in her chest so loud that she could have sworn anyone within a mile could have heard it, she mumbled a thanks. She had known that Mother would have caught her, but still... falling had not been fun. She stretched her now very sore shoulder and hesitantly began climbing again, keeping her thoughts on other things.

A few days later the girl finally reached the top of the wall. She hesitated, her hand on its top but her head still below it. She did not have a plan for what she would do if she encountered one of the creatures of the dark. The fate of Mother was something that she definitely wanted to avoid. She thought for a moment, then quickly abandoned that idea. She was too excited and curious to wait to create a plan. Who had time for such things anyways? She got another hand on top of the wall, then a leg. With a great heave she pushed herself all the way up and laid there for a moment, face down on the chilly surface. 

She slowly straightened, eyes closed, afraid of what she would see. What would see her. She cracked open her eyes. And felt a blinding pain she had never felt before. She quickly shut them, thudding back down to the floor again, her hands covering her face. What in the Tranquiline Halls had that been?! Her burning curiosity got the better of her, and she once again cracked open her eyes, much slower this time. It hurt, but the pain was more manageable. She had, after all, suffered far worse. All she could see was this bright, bright light, more brilliant and dazzling than anything she had ever seen. A sudden wind blew her hair and scarves out behind her, almost to the edge of the wall. Mother must have been proud of her. Tears streaming down her face and dripping off her chin, she finally fully opened her eyes to see a sight the likes of which she had never thought she would see.

In a rush, the stories of Mother all came back to her. The gemstone covered buildings, glowing with a beautiful and swirling light that almost seemed to be alive. The plants, trees growing to monstrous heights and blooming with more flowers than should have been possible. But most of all the people, shining with the light that was contained within the jewels, brought the beauty and wonder of first hearing Mother’s stories back again. 

As she watched, a woman in a flowing dress shot down the very middle of the street, no part of her touching the ground, seeming to be pushed along by the wind itself. Another man placed his hand on a tree that seemed less healthy than the others, and his glow diminished, the tree rising and sprouting giant pink blooms. The girl caught a waft of their lovely scent even from very far away. She was so entranced by the other worldly sight before her that it took her a while to notice the giant steps before her. She triumphantly strode forwards to descend them.

But then an insight forced its way into her head. It hit her like a wave, crashing over her and threatening to sweep her away with the tide. Realization, reality. Why there were steps on this side, but not hers. She stopped, skidding to her knees just before reaching the first step. At long last she knew why there was a wall. It was there to keep evil things out, as the villagers had said. But they had been wrong about what the evil things were. The wall hadn’t been built to protect them from the creatures of the dark. It had been built to protect the creatures of the light, the people she saw before her. Her people were the monsters. 

Her village was filled with monsters. The woman nursing her baby, the merchants, the urchins, the little boy sleeping in a tree, all monsters. She was a monster. The spears must have been there to discourage the monsters from trying to climb the wall. No wonder Mother had left her to go join the wind. The girl curled up into a little ball, clinging to her scarf. Finally the strange, twisted statues made sense, why they seemed to be in pain, hungry. From an outsider’s point of view, the children huddled in the gutters, wreathed in shadows and wrapped in blankets, must have looked much like them. And the slightly different, larger statues must have been meant to represent those who oppressed and beat them down. She was reminded once again of the terrible, terrible day when Mother had been taken. The day when Mother had drawn the stares of the entire village.

She had been standing on a rooftop not far from their home, looking down right into the main square. It was a festival day, Helerareleh, a day to celebrate the new harvest. The only day the urchins had full stomachs, when everyone could just rest and enjoy their hard work. Everyone in the village had gathered in that square, the people packed together so tightly that not even the smallest child could squeeze between them. The farmers were giving free fruits and vegetables to every villager, and no hungry mouth could bear to pass up such a marvelous opportunity. The winter had been very difficult, with the crops from the previous year being so barren, and not even the most prosperous farmer was spared from an empty stomach. 

Mother had been acting odd that day. She had been raving about how something had been speaking to her, telling her that she must speak the Truth to her fellow villagers. The girl had followed Mother as she had stumbled from rooftop to rooftop, mumbling about how she needed an audience. She had paused on that roof, looking down with a satisfied smile on her face. Stepping to the very edge of the building, so close that the little girl feared her falling, she had begun her speech. She had spoken with a confidence and energy that the girl had never heard from anyone before. The bustling crowd had stopped, frozen in place, enthralled by Mother’s mesmerizing words. 

She had told them the same stories she had always told the girl, speaking of the wonders that lay beyond the wall. Her voice seemed louder than it should have, projecting across the entire crowd with ease. The people listened to her words, captivated, some even seeming to believe them. At least, until the monsters of shadow had come. They had burst out through a hole in the roof, three of them, their faceless stares chilling the girl to the bone and seeming to glue her shoes to the floor.

Mother had been too absorbed in her speech to notice them until they grabbed both of her arms, attempting to drag her back towards the hole. She had struggled, biting and kicking at them, even then still trying to continue with her speech. But it did no good. She was powerless against the monsters. One of them had clamped his hand over her mouth, silencing her and making her wide-eyed with fear. That was when she had joined the wind. 

She had looked directly at the girl, staring into her eyes sadly, almost apologetically. Then she had disappeared, melting into the air. The shadows had jumped backwards, startled. Their outcries had sounded like someone grating pieces of stone together. After stalking about the rooftop for a while, unable to find Mother, they had retreated back to the ground, without even a glance the girl’s direction. She had been left standing there, the stares of the crowd penetrating deep within her soul.

She could still feel them, still feel someone watching her. Except this feeling felt too new to be just from a memory. She slowly uncurled, dreading what she would find watching her. But this torment was even worse than she expected. Mother’s face hovered over her, radiantly glowing. The little girl moaned, wondering why she had begun to hallucinate such outlandish things. Had she pushed herself too hard? Had she fallen asleep and was now dreaming? But then Mother placed a hand over her mouth, silencing her cry. She felt real, more real than even the wall she was sitting on. 

The girl reached out and grabbed her arm, too stunned to even try and say anything else. Mother removed her hand and placed a finger on her lips, telling her to be silent. The girl complied, trusting Mother even though her appearance had been strange. Mother pulled her to her feet and led her by the hand quickly down the steps, glancing about as if she were an urchin trying to steal an entire harvest’s worth of food from a merchant. 

She dashed across an unblemished street, then pulled her into a smaller, empty building and sat her down, inspecting her hands. She unwrapped the cloth covering them, her eyes filling with tears once she saw their awful state. A strange spot of light moved from her shoulder to the floor, but the girl was too dazed to pay any attention to it. Mother’s luminosity decreased slightly, and the little girl watched her hands knits back together, the dead skin falling off and being replaced by fresh pink skin that eventually faded back to a normal color. She nearly cried out again, startled, but, looking into Mother’s eyes, her training returned to her and she held her silence. Mother smiled again, proud. She fingered the girl’s scarf, holding the thick fabric in her hand. A rustle sounded from outside. Mother tensed, then released her scarf, slowing creeping to the door. She peeked her head out and turned her back to the girl.

While Mother was distracted with inspecting the noise, the girl turned about, examining the room. A small pile of gemstones lay in one corner, glowing with the light that seemed to be everywhere. A little silver table with delicate, beautiful carvings sat in the center of the room. Several chairs were arranged around it in what looked to be a rather welcoming and friendly way. She could easily imagine people reclining in those chairs, chatting about happy things. But what really caught her eye was a gemstone that was larger than the rest, glowing even brighter than those embedded in the wall. 

It sat alone on a modest little pedestal, with no glass or barrier to protect it. This confused the little girl. Why would such a valuable treasure be placed where thieving hands could easily snatch it away? It was one of the biggest gems she had ever seen. It could likely be sold for enough money to buy her enough food for several lifetimes. She approached it, reaching her hand towards the light. Then, against her better judgement, she stuffed it in her pocket. If they placed it in the open like that, then surely it was meant to be shared with all.

Mother turned back to her, rushing over and grabbing her arm, her grip firm yet gentle. She motioned for silence again, then led her to the door, too preoccupied to notice the missing gemstone. She looked both ways, then pushed the girl ahead of her and back towards the giant steps of the wall. As she stumbled along, the girl noticed something peculiar. 

Not a single beggar was in sight. In a street like this, with it being remarkably clean and having plenty of perfect places to sleep, there should have been tens of urchins crowding the sides, stretching out their hands for food and wrapped in dirty blankets. Instead there was nothing, just spotless streets sparkling as if they had never been stepped on. She felt like she was soiling them with her presence. Like she was bringing in some sort of taint from her side of the world. 

Mother pushed her to the very bottom of the steps, then gestured for the girl to climb back up them. She started to obey, but then noticed that Mother was not following. She turned around, her eyebrows knitting together. Why was she not coming with her? Was Mother leaving her again? Mother simply stood there with her head bowed, looking away and hiding her face. The little girl’s lip began to tremble. Not again. She didn’t want her to go again. But she was afraid to say too much, to complain. She didn’t want Mother to become the wind again. Then she would never be able to say goodbye. 

So the little girl chose to do something in between speaking and leaving. She ran back to Mother and gave her the biggest hug she could, then dashed back up the steps before she could respond. She didn’t look behind her until she reached the top of the wall. When she turned back, Mother was gone. She heaved a great sigh of regret and sadness, taking out the glowing gemstone in her pocket. It was the only light she could bring back with her, but it would have to do. Carefully she placed it back in her pocket, making sure to not scratch it. She had a nagging feeling that doing so would result in bad things, although she wasn’t exactly sure what. She started climbing back down the wall, her scarf hanging limp. This time, she had not even the gentle wind to keep her company. 

As she continued downwards, everything seemed too... easy. No one chased her nor called after her. No one demanded that she return the jewel. Perhaps no one had noticed she had stolen it? Had she owned the gemstone, it would have never left her sight. In fact, it would have never been in such a wide-open spot in the first place. She felt at her pocket for the tenth time in an hour to make sure that it was still there. Sure enough, there was still a large bulge in her pocket. No disappearing magic, then. The girl had no idea what sort of tricks those glowing people had, but she was ready for all of them. 

The girl didn’t even look at the statues as she climbed. They were a painful reminder of what her people were, what she was. Just thinking about it would cause her eyes to brim with tears. Tears were bad. She couldn’t afford to waste any more water. She was starting to run low. Although she could likely make it back to her village, she didn’t take any chances. Mother had always told her…

She banished that line of thought. Thoughts of Mother would also bring harmful tears. Too many things seemed to upset her, so she decided to not think at all. She would have time for such things if she returned home. No, once. She had to repeat that to herself. She still couldn’t shake this nagging feeling that something wasn’t completely right. After a while she fell into a rhythm, almost unconsciously moving her limbs, automatically finding handholds. She did not sing; she did not daydream. She simply climbed. Once the sun dipped below the horizon, she mechanically tied up her hammock. Once it rose, she woke and continued her descent. 

After several days she came to the bottom of the wall. She stood there at its base for a long while, staring at that same statue she had confronted what seemed like so long ago. She felt empty. Why was that? She had answered her question, hadn’t she? Shouldn’t her head have been filled with knowledge? Instead she only felt this terrible emptiness, even worse than the burning pain of a question unanswered. While that was the itching of a finger, this absence was more like a missing limb. 

She turned away, staring in the direction of her village. She had only one more thing to do, then she could rest. Then she could try and fill that gaping hole inside of her. Perhaps bringing the light residing in her pocket to her village would fix it. Yes, it would. She tried to smile, but only the corners of her mouth faintly twitched. It was enough, though. Just barely enough to keep her going. She set off walking at a brisk pace. The sooner she could fix the emptiness, the better.

But as soon as she got about a day from the wall and was about to lie down and rest, she heard a noise even more disturbing than the statues of the wall. It was barely audible, so quiet that it could have just been her imagination. But even her hurting mind couldn’t conjure up something so unnerving, so troubling. It sounded like the very sky itself was screaming in anger, rumbling with fury. She turned to face the wall, where she had thought the sound had come from. A small lance of light shot across the sky, piercing through the clouds. Then another, and another. It looked like the very heavens were at war with themselves. 

She didn’t get any sleep that night. 

The next day she rose and continued her journey home. For many long days she walked, her feet throbbing in her thin shoes. But she did not slow her pace. That strange sense of urgency never left her. There was something hiding in the back of her mind, preventing her from relaxing. She found it difficult to focus on anything more than the next step. Anything more than the shining gem in her pocket, which seemed to increase its weight with every movement. 

Finally she came to the last day of her trek. She could just faintly see the outlines of buildings against a strangely grey sky. Buildings that looked so small when compared with the city beyond the wall. She started to jog, ignoring her aching feet. She could wait no longer. She was almost home.

As she ran, a wind began to chase her. But this was not the friendly breeze that had played with her scarf. This was a gust that sought to rip it from her neck, to steal it away forever. It pushed her backwards, making her stumble. It blew her hair into her face so she could not see. It tried to push her feet out from under her. She heard the sky yell again, except it was no longer quiet. It was a booming sound, one that caused her to cover her ears with her hands. It was a sound more frightening than the curses of the merchants, than the yells of the faceless shadows. It was a sound of a primal force that had been enraged by a foolish little girl. 

She ripped the jewel out of her pocket as she sprinted. Was it why she was being attacked? Were the people beyond the wall sending the storm as punishment for her thievery? Perhaps they would be mollified by her returning of the gem. She turned to face the storm head on and held the gemstone up, as if offering it to the glowing people. The winds abated for just a second, as if considering her offer. She smiled, glad they were no longer attacking her. Then a powerful gust of wind tore the jewel out of her hand. She watched it fly towards the village, a glittering sparkle against the grey sky. She couldn’t hear her scream of terror over the roaring of the wind.

As she turned back, she saw a great thundering mass of what looked like a wall of seething water heading towards her at an alarming pace. Contained within that mass of churning darkness and light was what looked to be bits of pieces of the wall that had stood between the peoples. Staring at it, her feet frozen to the ground, she saw the severed head of a statue pierce the front of the mist, seeming to scream in time with the sky. It crashed to the ground and was crushed by a huge torn off section of the wall. 

The girl turned and tried to run as hard as she possibly could, fighting the wind that tried to hold her back. But all she could manage was a slow walk, step by painful step. The wall behind her got closer and closer, eating up everything in its path. A boulder soared over her head and landed just a few feet away, smashing a crater and shaking the ground so hard that she almost completely lost her footing. 

Eventually she got to the very edge of her village. She saw people still standing in the streets, staring dumbfounded at the storm before them. That was incredibly foolish. How could they not see the danger that lied before them? A carton of apples blew over, scattering them across the street. Nobody noticed. Not even the hungry little beggar boys. They were all too entranced by the tempest that was quickly approaching. The girl stretched forth her hand and opened her mouth to yell at them to get inside, to seek shelter.

Then the stormwall hit, and a red scarf danced with the wind.

 

Amazing story Luna! Would upvote but I'm out, I'll do it tomorrow.

2 minutes ago, Voidus said:

Removed the triple post. Creating topics can take a bit of time so be careful of double or triple clicking the create topic button.

Whoops! Sorry Voidus!

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1 minute ago, Emperor Stick said:

Amazing story Luna! Would upvote but I'm out, I'll do it tomorrow.

Thanks! You read fast :blink:

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6 minutes ago, Lunamor said:

...that made two separate people’s hearts ache, so I guess it qualifies as sad.

Make that three.

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Posted (edited)

Just now, Lunamor said:

Thanks! You read fast :blink:

That's how I read name of the wind, and a quarter of the wise man's fear in a day. Also, I've already read it.

Edited by Emperor Stick
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Posted (edited)

1 minute ago, AonEne said:

Make that three.

I’m gonna make a running tally of how many people’s hearts I have made ache now. :P

Edit: Wow.

Edited by Lunamor
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It definitely made me sad.

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2 minutes ago, Emperor Stick said:

It definitely made me sad.

Yay!

(Out is context this seems really bad. Actually, it is still pretty bad.)

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4 minutes ago, Emperor Stick said:

That's how I read name of the wind, and a quarter of the wise man's fear in a day.

Holy.

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It was a long day.

 

@Sherlock Holmes You like writing, write? (Get it?) Do you have any sad stories to tell?

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Ah, yes, the tragedy of Darth Plageuis...

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Posted (edited)

6 minutes ago, Sherlock Holmes said:

Ah, yes, the tragedy of Darth Plageuis...

Go ooooooon...

Edited by Lunamor
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You see...

Every day's a competition

The guy I work for is crazy

He blew out his back lifting a V8 engine by himself

But still I'd take you in any competition

Boy, I'm twice your age and I'd take you still

 

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Posted (edited)

.... Not a story you wrote so, it doesn't really count.

Edited by Emperor Stick
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3 hours ago, Lunamor said:

Yes I do! I am reposting this from the Fan Works forum. I wrote a (significantly) fleshed out version of the Girl Who Looked Up that made two separate people’s hearts ache, so I guess it qualifies as sad.

(Spoilered for extreme length)

  Reveal hidden contents

The Girl Who Looked Up

A young girl danced through the market, skipping in endless circles. Her bright white hair and the twin tails of her long red scarf streamed out behind her, dancing with the wind. Curses sounded as she occasionally bumped into people, but she didn’t care. They couldn’t hurt her, so long as Mother was watching. She told her so frequently, although she had not showed herself in a long time. She didn’t mind all that much. 

She passed other villagers. Women washed their clothing and men tended their fields, heads bowed. Merchants hawked their wears, selling all manner of things. Little boys wearing rags begged on the side of the road, their faces unidentifiable in the shadows cloaking them. Shadows that seemed just a little too thick, too dark, to be natural. But of course the people didn’t know that- Mother had explained it all to her. The darkness was what kept everyone from seeing the light. The light that was beyond the wall. It stretched as far as the eye could see in both directions, casting its shadow on all things behind it, including her own village. Just looking at the wall, one got the impression that several lifetimes of running would never bring them to its end.

The girl eventually stopped, slightly dizzy. Stumbling to a nearby stand that was selling fruit, she leaned against it. This earned her a glare from the merchant standing behind it. He knew better than to trust children, especially those without parents. When his back was turned, she attempted to discreetly tuck one of his pears away. It had been quite a while since she had last eaten, and her stomach had begun to grumble. She wanted to eat before she started experiencing the pains of hunger. They made it much more difficult to steal food. 

But the man was not fooled. With a shout he turned around, wielding a plank of wood and grabbing for her scarf. The girl felt a flash of terror. Mother had told her to never take off her scarf. It was how she would find her if they were ever separated. How else would Mother ever be able to find her way back? With a sudden burst of strength, the little girl tugged her scarf out of his hand and dashed away through the market, the yelling of the merchant chasing her. People stumbled as both she and the trader pushed past them. She took as many corners as she could, trying to lose him in the maze of streets. Her scarf stood out, however. The villagers all wore drab, brown colored clothing. Her bright red scarf was like a solitary blooming rockbud in the middle of an empty plain. Even worse, people pulled away from her. Everyone knew that if someone was running, trouble would soon come barreling after. And they weren’t wrong. The merchant was always able to find her again.

Finally, the man started to slow, his breath coming out in puffs. He did not have the energy of a youth. She ran for a very long time, even after she could no longer hear the angry man. Once her breathing became ragged, she skidded to a halt, her little heart thumping in her chest. Hands on her knees, she breathed deep breaths from her stomach, just as Mother had taught her to. She stared at the fruit clutched in her trembling hand. After a while she straightened, wiping the sweat from her brow. The crowd flowed around her once again, no one seeming to notice her. That was good- she hated it when she drew people’s stares. She didn’t want to think about the last time that had happened.

She nearly jumped into the air when she heard a sound beside her, but calmed down once she realized what it was. One of the little beggar boys had moaned at her. That was odd. They usually never spoke to her. She turned towards him, curious. He stretched out his hand, reaching towards her. She flinched and backed away, thinking that he wanted to take her scarf too. But she realized what he really wanted once he pointed at it. He had been reaching for her pear. He pointed at his mouth, making a smacking motion, then back at the fruit. The little girl’s stomach growled loudly, and she grimaced. She had nearly lost her scarf to get that pear, and it would be very long before she would be able to steal from that cart again, lest the merchant recognize her. But seeing the boy’s pitiful state, limbs no thicker than twigs, wrapped in soiled blankets with no beautiful red scarf to call his own, she relented. Mother had always told her to share with those who had less than she. 

Cautiously she handed him the pear, delicately pinching it by the stem. His hand shot towards the yellowish-green fruit faster than she would have thought possible, grimy fingers closing around it. She quickly pulled back, afraid he would demand more. But he only stared at the slightly bruised pear, looking at it as if it were made of pure gold. She just then noticed that she could see slight indents where her fingers had been gripping it. Had she really been terrified enough that she had unconsciously squeezed it so hard? He raised it to his lips and took a huge bite, closing his eyes and savoring the flavor. Juice ran down his face, leaving streaks in the dirt covering him. She smiled, then backed away into the crowd before he could open them again.

She let the flow of the crowd carry her along, staring upwards at the sky. She lazily spun in circles, pondering her next move. She hadn’t stolen from the south side of the marketplace for a while. Would anyone recognize her? There had been that one merchant, the one with such good oranges. He had been particularly upset when she had kinda-accidentally-purposefully knocked over his entire stand after he had tried hitting that one boy. She was a bit nervous that he would recognize her still. She didn’t think that she had ever seen someone so furious, so livid. His face had been an even brighter red that the apples he had been selling. She giggled slightly, recalling how he had scrambled to pick up his wares, looking like a lurg that someone had upended an entire bucket of water on. After thinking for a moment, she decided that so long as she stayed away from him, the south side should be safe.

Pausing for a moment, she looked up at the wall. It seemed more oppressive than usual. More menacing. Like it was planning on falling over and squashing them all. That was ridiculous, though. Walls couldn’t think. She didn’t know why, but staring at it sent shivers down her spine anyways. She quickly turned her glance downwards again, no longer wanting to see such an intimidating sight. She quickly forgot about it, becoming distracted by a cremling crawling on a nearby wall that she soon lost sight of in the dirt.

Prancing towards the southern end of the market, she spotted another fruit stand that had big, juicy looking apples resting easily within reach. It was perfect. This time she would not let the seller see her. As she approached, she faltered. The man had brown stringy hair that went all the way down to his shoulders and his dark eyes seemed to be made of steel. He glared at all who walked past and had no customers to distract him. It seemed as if he was trying to light everyone on fire as they passed him. Based on the uncomfortable looks he drew, he might have been succeeding. She almost turned back, but the rumbling of her stomach galvanized her. She desperately needed some sort of nourishment, and she was loath to dig into Mother’s hidden store of food. 

Hesitantly she approached his cart, nearly crouching. As his gaze fell on her, his steely eyes softened for some reason. How odd. Wouldn’t she, of all people, be the one to draw his harshest looks? He reached behind him, and she cringed, expecting him to pull out one of the improvised clubs that had become so common recently. Instead he held a candied apple towards her. 

She stared at it, ravenous. She was unable to prevent herself from drooling. In fact, she hardly noticed that she was salivating so much in the first place. She had never had such a treat before, but had heard others luckier than she speak of it. Mother had always promised her that she would buy her one, once they got enough money. She looked upwards at him, eyes confused. Why would he offer her something so valuable without even knowing her? He only nodded towards the apple on a stick, prompting her to take it. She wavered. Could this be a trap? Was he trying to lure her in so he could remove one more thieving little girl from the streets for good? Some of her friends had begun to disappear, and she did not want to share in their terrible fates.

Ultimately her hunger won out, and she carefully reached for the treat. Daintily holding it by the stick, she inspected it. How did one eat such a thing? The shell was rather hard. And sticky. Why did they make it so difficult to consume? Surely such an expensive luxury must be easy to eat. She looked back at the merchant, wondering if one needed something to break it open with. He simply gestured for her to eat it. A frown creased her brow. Was this a test of some sort? She pondered it for a little while longer, then just stuck the entire thing in her mouth and sucked on it, relishing its sweetness. She now understood how the little urchin had felt. The man smiled softly, setting out more boxes of fruit. After she had eaten most of the apple’s candy shell, she took it out of her mouth, wondering at how it had seemed to just, for lack of a better word, melt in her mouth. She reluctantly tucked it away for later. Mother had always said to never eat all of your food at once- you never knew when your next meal would come. 

She started at the man for a while longer. He continued sorting his apples, making no move to harm her. A question floated to the top of her mind, one that had been sunken a long time ago. With no one to ask it to, she had soon forgotten about it. She knew that Mother had once answered it, but her stories had begun to drift away, lost in the clouds. She paused before voicing her question, worried that it would greatly anger the man. But he had given her a candied apple, an extravagance that no regular person would just give away. Surely he would not be bothered by a simple question. Coming closer to the front of the wagon, she stood on the very tips of her toes in order to see him better, placing the palms of her hands on the surface of his wagon for support.

“Why is there a wall?”

The man’s smile quickly disappeared, being replaced by a scowl even worse than those he had turned upon the people of the market.

“To keep the bad things out,” he responded with a growling voice, beginning to pack some of his wares back up.

The girl was curious. What did he mean?

“What bad things?”

The merchant stuffed some more apples in a sack, hoisting it over his shoulder.

“Very bad things. There is a wall. Do not go beyond it, or you shall die.”

The man finished storing his goods, and he wheeled away his stand without another word. The little girl had a feeling that she would not receive anymore free meals from him. She sighed, then turned away, planning on returning to her home. But the unanswered question still burned in her mind, preventing her from focusing. She had to know the wall’s purpose, what was beyond it. Why it seemed to hate her so.

Seeing a woman suckling her child, the fire in her head spurred her to action. Perhaps a woman with a baby would be more open to the questions of a small girl. She walked up to the lady, dodging people on the way over, and tugged on her skirt. The woman looked downwards, confusion clearly displayed on her face. It wasn’t kindness, but it wasn’t hostility either. Finding her courage in this fact, the little girl asked her query.

“Why is there a wall?”

The woman turned away, as if shielding her child from the girl’s strange and almost rebellious thoughts.

“To protect us,” she grudgingly responded. Her posture was stiff, like someone was holding her up by a string attached to her head, then for good measure had stuck her spine to a wooden plank.

The girl felt like screaming, but restrained herself. Doing such a thing would surely drive the woman away.

“To protect us from what?” she said as politely as she could, tilting her head just slightly and keeping her hands demurely at her sides.

“Very bad things. There is a wall. Do not go beyond it, or you shall die.”

The woman then took her infant and left, her long dress swishing about her ankles. She left the little girl once again standing alone in the middle of the market. The girl buried her face in her scarf, thoroughly upset. Why was everyone dodging her questions? Did they even have the answer?

She began to run through the crowds, heedless of where she was going. She desperately needed someone, anyone to speak with, to interrogate. She knew that she could never fully rest until she had the answer. It seemed to consume her mind, pushing out all other thoughts. Even the slight, constant hunger that gnawed at her stomach was momentarily forgotten. In time, she came to a large tree, stumbling to a halt at its massive trunk. Thick branches grew close to her head, sprouting from many different places. It was perfect for her needs. She grabbed onto a sturdy limb and hoisted herself upwards, the rough bark scratching her hands. She hardly noticed. After a while of living on the streets, one learned to ignore the little pains. Focusing on those could lead to bigger hurts. Hurts you couldn’t heal.

As she climbed, she was reminded of times when she had scaled trees with Mother. They would climb all the way to the highest branches and watch the stars softly twinkling in the dark sky. She could still remember the look in Mother’s eyes as she had gazed at the very top of the wall, thinking of things that only those with the wildest imaginations could possibly dream up. Mother would tell her stories of what lay beyond the wall, things that she said she would one day see. Stories that the girl had now forgotten. 

She sniffled and wiped away a tear that had gone unnoticed, trickling down her cheek. She shook her head to clear it, then continued to advance upwards. It was starting to get late, and she knew that she had to get her questions answered quickly if she were to be able to get a good sleep that night. After a while she came to the top branches of the tree. Peeking her head out from the canopy she inspected the crowd. She was disappointed to find that she could see little more than dark, indistinct figures below her. Her plan of attempting to spot a potential person to query from up high had gone out the window. She groaned, dismayed. Now how was she supposed to get her question resolved?

She nearly lost her grip when she heard a booming snore coming from nearby. Pushing aside some leaves, she found a boy who seemed to be about her age lazily sleeping in the nook of a particularly wide branch. Hanging her head over his, she inspected him. Judging by the fact that he was slightly chubby and had enough time to spare for naps, he still had parents. Maybe they told him stories about the place beyond the wall too. Even if they didn’t, he still seemed to be as good a person to ask her questions of as any. Someone that lazy certainly wouldn’t pose a threat to her if her questions caused him to become angry. She poked him in the side. He started awake, almost falling off the branch. His jerking motion brushed her white hair hanging over his face. The girl winced and pulled back slightly, but barreled ahead and asked her question.

“Why is there a wall?”

The boy wiped his nose and blinked sleep heavy eyes.

“What wall?” he asked, his voice sounding muffled.

The girl, now beyond peeved, thrust her finger pointedly towards the wall. How could he not notice the ever-present wall that had always towered over them all, seeming to crush her with its all-encompassing shadow?

“That’s not a wall,” the boy said, sitting up and dangling his legs over the edge of the tree limb. “That’s just the way the sky is over there.”

The girl rolled her eyes and nearly began to yell at the ignorant boy, but Mother’s voice came back to her, reminding her to never raise her voice against anyone, no matter how deserving of it they seemed. She settled back on her haunches and smoothed her tangled hair, trying to calm herself down.

“It’s a wall,” the girl said, exaggeratedly gesturing towards it, unable to fully keep all of the ire out of her voice. “A giant wall.”

The boy turned his head towards the wall, lazily stretching. He looked like one of the farmer’s cats waking up from a long nap. 

“It must be there for a purpose,” he said, standing up and putting a hand on his chin. He was slightly taller than she was.

The girl nodded excitedly. Perhaps this boy would finally provide her with some useful answers, despite his being an annoyance.

“Yes, it is a wall. Don’t go beyond it, or you’ll probably die,” the boy finished, sounding uninterested. He then laid back down and quickly began snoring again.

The girl was tempted to yank all of the hair out of her head. Why did every single person refuse to give her the valuable answers that she so badly needed? Couldn’t people just be helpful for once? She let out a scream of frustration, which drew quite a few stares. That she did not like. Getting people’s attention, making yourself noticed, was bad. It drew evil things, the things that had tried to take Mother. Monsters of shadow without faces. 

The girl looked around, seeking a way to escape their penetrating looks. She slowly backed further into the foliage, leaves obscuring their faces. But she could still feel their gazes upon her. They still knew where she was. How to find her. She frantically turned her head from side to side, trying to find a way to hide, to run. Her eyes narrowed as she spotted her escape route. She swung from branch to branch downwards, the nearby branches shaking as she passed them. That was sloppy. It could let them track and follow her. But she had no time for being careful. They could already be climbing the tree, coming for her. She finally reached a limb that was level with one of the smaller rooftops. Not even pausing, she leaped from the tree onto the flat surface, rolling until she stopped only a few inches from the edge. Standing up, she put her hands on her hips, proud of her impressive acrobatics. Her bad mood evaporated momentarily. She felt like one of the strange creatures that Mother had spoken of in one of her stories. What had she called it? A monki? At least she hadn’t failed to remember that story. She grinned, feeling silly, not even noticing the large drop less than a step away from her toes.

But her terrible mood returned as soon as she glanced back at the wall. The barrier of blackness that separated her from the light. She shook her fist at it, wishing she could know all of its secrets. She began to feel a deep hatred for the wall, a feeling that she had never before felt. It was even stronger than her loathing of the greediest merchants and the cruelest shopkeepers. It pushed her to move, to do something. She didn’t know exactly what that something was, but she knew that it had to do with defeating the wall. An idea sparked in her head, quickly growing into a bonfire. She recklessly dashed forwards across the roof, a new goal in mind. She would find out what was beyond the wall herself. If it wanted to keep her out so badly, then crossing to its other side would conquer it. Leaping across the gap between rooftops, she continued without breaking stride. She didn’t stumble, her footing nimble and firm. She passed people down below so fast that they seemed to be only colorful blurs, streaks of paint dashed across a canvas. She was so focused on her task that the small chasms between the buildings might as well have not existed. After crossing between quite a few more dwellings, she came to her special roof. 

              It was completely flat, and was covered in grass and flowers. She would often come up here to sit and play with Mother. It was a rather nice place to sleep, as the grass made it very comfortable. Unlike other areas. The stones that lined the sides of the pathways made weird places in your back ache, and the farmers really didn’t like you sleeping on their crops. Even if you asked nicely. A large pile of blankets sat in the very middle to keep the condensation of the grass from making her damp. It could get really cold, and being wet did not help at all. She forced herself to wait, restlessly squatting in the blankets and fidgeting with her scarf until the sky grew dark and everyone retreated to their homes and gutters to sleep. 

Once all of the villagers were gone, she leapt back up from her little nest. Waiting for so long had been hard. Crawling to the edge of the rooftop on her hand and knees, she reached over its side, her fingers questing for the marks Mother had made so many years ago. Feeling them, she yanked a protruding brick out, causing several to tumble to the empty street below. She heard their muted thuds as they struck the ground, crumbling into many tiny pieces. Hopefully no one had heard that. She stuck her hand in the hole now in the middle of the wall and retrieved a sack filled with all of the food Mother had saved over the years. Peeking inside it, she found all sorts of dried meats and fruits, enough to last her for many days. There were also a few empty leather bottles, for water.

Reaching into her pocket, she placed the remainder of her candy apple in the sack as well. She was tempted to stuff it all into her mouth, but knew that she would have to be careful with how much she ate if she wanted it to last a trip to the top of the wall. She lifted the sack and hoisted it over her shoulder. It seemed fairly light, but she knew that would not last once the water was added.

She climbed down from the building, using the bricks that were jutting out as handholds. It was difficult doing so with only one hand, and she nearly slipped a few times. She did it anyways, rather than simply finding a lower building to hop off of. She would need all of the practice she could get if she was going to climb the wall. Keeping a wary eye out for any prying eyes, she set off in the direction of the well. She knew that if any other villagers caught her trying to sneak out, they would stop her. They were all too afraid of what lay beyond and near the wall being angered by a little girl. Even at night, when everything was dark, it was still clearly visible, even blacker than infinite deepness of the night sky.

Approaching the square in the center of town, she fell into a low crouch. Many homes ringed it, and being spotted would have disastrous consequences. Hopefully no one would be up at this hour. The people all feared that the dark things from beyond the wall came out during the nighttime. The urchins lining the edges of the square paid her no heed. There was an unspoken agreement between all little poor children that what they saw each other do during the darkness of the night never left their mouths.

She climbed up to the threshold of the well and perched on the low wall, staring into the water. At least, she thought there was water down there. It was so deep and dark that she couldn’t see a thing. Dipping in the bucket very carefully, as to not make a splash, she retrieved some water, which was thankfully there, and used it to fill the bottles. Making sure to fill them right to their brims, she placed them back in her pack. She could hear the water sloshing around in there. She hoisted the sack over her shoulder. Now it was much heavier, but she could handle it. Ducking away from the well, she returned to prowling through the streets, heading in the direction of the wall.

Passing the last house in her village, she turned around, feeling like she was leaving it behind forever. But that was silly. Of course she was coming back. Right? She faltered for a moment. Was she really doing this? Leaving behind everything she had ever known, ever loved? The beautiful flowers of her rooftop, the elegant trees that seemed to reach for the sky. Would she ever see them again? Was it really worth risking losing that all forever? The little girl felt the wind behind her grow stronger, gently pushing her forwards. She slowly began walking again, the help of the wind causing her to regain her confidence. She knew its secret, why it was helping her. It was really quite obvious. She didn’t tell the wind that she knew it, however. She liked the little game she played with it.

She walked a little further, until her village was completely out of sight. All she could see in each direction was trees and other plants. And the wall, of course. It was such a constant in her life that sometimes she forgot that it was even there. Never for very long, though. She could always feel it watching her, pressing on her mind. Looking around, she made up her mind. She would stop for the night here. She knew that no one else would dare venture out this far, and she was getting a bit tired. She looked around, then chose a small crevice in the rock as her resting place. It would shelter her from any wind or rain that came her way during the nighttime. She curled up with her beautiful red scarf and finished the rest of her apple, munching on it happily. She was glad she had decided to save it- it made a perfect and delicious way to end her day. Her eyes slowly drifted closed as she stared up at the sparkling night sky, with its bright pinpoints of light that seemed to always banish the constant darkness surrounding her. 

She awoke as the sun rose over the top of the wall, sending its bright light through her eyelids. She yawned and laid there for a while, not wanting to get up from the warm rock. Eventually, however, she opened her eyes and sat up. She could not afford to dally if she were to have enough rations to make it up the wall and back. Eating a small piece of fruit and taking a sip of water, she rose. She squinted at the horizon, trying to see if there was anything else she could see in the wilderness. Another village, maybe? But all she could see was foliage. It was getting really dull, really fast. Retying her scarf around her neck, she resigned herself to her boring fate and continued her walking. She did this for many days, sleeping whenever it got dark and rising with the sun. Her only companions were the wind that danced and played with her scarf and the occasional cremling she saw clicking along, skittering across the hard ground. She eyed a few of those, wondering if they would make a good food source. There were way more out her in the open than back at her village. They seemed kinda small, though. And how would she chew that hard shell? It wasn’t like she had chunks of metal for teeth. She never saw anything larger, although some of the trees did grow to be quite tall. But she had ones just like them in her village, so they weren’t anything new.

As she walked, she pondered what was really behind the wall. All she could remember was that there was some sort of light behind the wall, and that the shadows it cast upon her people prevented them from ever seeing it. This made her very sad. Perhaps that was why everyone was so cruel to each other all of the time- they were just upset at the lack of light, of beauty in their surroundings. After all, how could someone truly experience the full magnificence of something if it is covered in gloom? Maybe bringing some light from the other side back with her could help them feel better.

After many cycles of day and night, the girl came to the base of the wall. It stretched all across the land in both directions, seeming to have no end. How did its creators manage to build it? It was massive, a monolithic towering construction of some sort of dark material that wasn’t quite metal, but not stone either. Up close, she could almost feel it holding out the light from every possible source. It marched on, not caring that its very presence was hurting her people. Not caring that it brought darkness. The girl looked up, craning her neck, straining to see the top of the wall. It seemed to stretch all the way up to the Tranquiline Halls, eating up the space where the blue sky should have been. Could the top of the wall possibly be where the spirits of the brave warriors and talented farmers resided? It seemed the only likely explanation. They probably built their houses up there. 

She looked back downwards and was surprised to see an ugly looking face staring right back at her. She leapt backwards, startled. It had blended into the wall, black on black, nearly invisible. She hid her face in her scarf, sure that it was going to eat her, that it was one of the bad things that had climbed down from the other side of the wall. But after a moment, when the face with the expression of one who had been unable to eat for many weeks remained completely frozen, she realized that it was merely a statue, albeit a rather terrifying one. 

She walked around to one side of it, inspecting it. It seemed vaguely human shaped, in the way that a crude wooden club looked like a sword. It seemed… twisted somehow, not completely right. She could see the ridges of its spine and every rib beneath its sunken chest. It had pointed teeth and what looked to be really weird flaps of skin hanging off of its sides. It was hunched over, clawed hands raised above its head in what appeared to be either a gesture of aggression or pain. Either way, it was very disturbing.

She slowly extended a hand towards it, trembling. She had no idea what would happen once she touched the wall. All she knew what that she could not turn back now. As her hand touched the ugly statue’s head she flinched, but all she felt was something akin to the cool steel surface of a wagon wheel left out overnight. It didn’t bite or burn her. Honestly, she had no idea what she had been expecting. Feeling more confident now that she had assured that the wall would not disintegrate her hand, she hoisted herself up onto the statue, much like she had done climbing trees back home, taking her bag of supplies with her.

Straddling it, she found that other similar statues and these odd, spear-like protrusions that stuck out in clusters were on the wall. She began to climb upwards, making sure to stay away from the blades of the spears lest they cut her hands. They looked really pointy and sharp. It was remarkably effortless, even easier than climbing a tree. There was always another sculpture-thing within reach, and those outstretched arms made very good handholds. She started to climb faster and faster, going so quickly that she might as well have been running up the wall. A grin split her face. This was much more fun than just walking. She tried to avoid looking at the statues too closely. Something about them unsettled her, disturbed something deep within her core. They seemed too familiar, yet were unnervingly strange. She ignored that. She didn’t want to spoil her enjoyment of the climb.

Once the sun began to dip closer to the horizon, she paused and perched on the head of a particularly large and ugly looking statue that seemed slightly different from the others. Looking out over the land and squinting a bit, she was able to pick out her village. It looked to be little more than a minuscule black dot, completely dwarfed by the sheer expansiveness of the land surrounding it. Never before had she felt so small, so insignificant. Her entire world had been that little black dot until a few days ago. Never would she have imagined that it was really so tiny.

After seeing such a sight, the little girl decided that she was done climbing for the day. After all, the sun had nearly begun to set. She swung upside down, gripping the sculpture with her legs. She wasn’t worried about falling. Mother would catch her if she did. She could feel her pushing on her even then, lending her strength. She tied one end of her red scarf to its neck using her best knot. Then she climbed over to another one while holding the other end of the scarf in her mouth and did the same there. It created a rather functional hammock for her to sleep in. She put one foot in it, testing to see if it could hold her weight. It swung violently from side to side, and she was forced to cling to the statue, her legs dangling in midair. However, the knots held just fine. She stepped inside the hammock again, more carefully this time. She was able to hold it mostly still as she climbed completely inside, the sides of the hammock enveloping her. The wind gently rocked the improvised bed, lulling the little girl to sleep. 

The following morning, the girl resumed her climb. It was very lonely, with not even a cremling to keep her company. But so long as she had the wind and her scarf, she didn’t need anything else. She climbed for days and days, only stopping once the sun went down and she could no longer easily see her hand in front of her face. She would feast on some food from her sack, take a gulp of water, then tie up her hammock and sleep through the night. At one point during a meal, she was forced to wrap her hands in a strip of cloth she had torn from her shirt. They were covered in blisters, some of which had popped open and begun to bleed. They stung and made climbing more difficult, but she kept on going. She knew that she would do anything to find out what was on the other side of the wall. Hurting hands were much more preferable than the searing pain of a question unanswered.

But as she neared the top, doubts began to cloud her mind. What if there really were bad things beyond the wall, like the villagers had claimed? What if Mother had been mistaken about the light? Why else would the wall have been built? Her once sure thoughts began to feel unstable. She couldn’t be wrong about this. She couldn’t. Mother never lied. Lying was bad. Maybe it was herself that was wrong. She could have misremembered what Mother had said. Did that make her a liar? The little girl became so distressed that she slipped, her hands sliding easily on the smooth not-quite-metal. She panicked, scrambling desperately to find a handhold. Her fingernails scraped uselessly against the impossibly hard surface, not even scratching it. She managed to awkwardly wrap an arm around a statue’s neck, a particularly strong gust of wind the only thing keeping her from losing her grip. Her arm still felt like it had been yanked right out of its socket anyways. She grabbed the statue’s head with her other hand and navigated her way back on top of it, panting. Her heart thundering in her chest so loud that she could have sworn anyone within a mile could have heard it, she mumbled a thanks. She had known that Mother would have caught her, but still... falling had not been fun. She stretched her now very sore shoulder and hesitantly began climbing again, keeping her thoughts on other things.

A few days later the girl finally reached the top of the wall. She hesitated, her hand on its top but her head still below it. She did not have a plan for what she would do if she encountered one of the creatures of the dark. The fate of Mother was something that she definitely wanted to avoid. She thought for a moment, then quickly abandoned that idea. She was too excited and curious to wait to create a plan. Who had time for such things anyways? She got another hand on top of the wall, then a leg. With a great heave she pushed herself all the way up and laid there for a moment, face down on the chilly surface. 

She slowly straightened, eyes closed, afraid of what she would see. What would see her. She cracked open her eyes. And felt a blinding pain she had never felt before. She quickly shut them, thudding back down to the floor again, her hands covering her face. What in the Tranquiline Halls had that been?! Her burning curiosity got the better of her, and she once again cracked open her eyes, much slower this time. It hurt, but the pain was more manageable. She had, after all, suffered far worse. All she could see was this bright, bright light, more brilliant and dazzling than anything she had ever seen. A sudden wind blew her hair and scarves out behind her, almost to the edge of the wall. Mother must have been proud of her. Tears streaming down her face and dripping off her chin, she finally fully opened her eyes to see a sight the likes of which she had never thought she would see.

In a rush, the stories of Mother all came back to her. The gemstone covered buildings, glowing with a beautiful and swirling light that almost seemed to be alive. The plants, trees growing to monstrous heights and blooming with more flowers than should have been possible. But most of all the people, shining with the light that was contained within the jewels, brought the beauty and wonder of first hearing Mother’s stories back again. 

As she watched, a woman in a flowing dress shot down the very middle of the street, no part of her touching the ground, seeming to be pushed along by the wind itself. Another man placed his hand on a tree that seemed less healthy than the others, and his glow diminished, the tree rising and sprouting giant pink blooms. The girl caught a waft of their lovely scent even from very far away. She was so entranced by the other worldly sight before her that it took her a while to notice the giant steps before her. She triumphantly strode forwards to descend them.

But then an insight forced its way into her head. It hit her like a wave, crashing over her and threatening to sweep her away with the tide. Realization, reality. Why there were steps on this side, but not hers. She stopped, skidding to her knees just before reaching the first step. At long last she knew why there was a wall. It was there to keep evil things out, as the villagers had said. But they had been wrong about what the evil things were. The wall hadn’t been built to protect them from the creatures of the dark. It had been built to protect the creatures of the light, the people she saw before her. Her people were the monsters. 

Her village was filled with monsters. The woman nursing her baby, the merchants, the urchins, the little boy sleeping in a tree, all monsters. She was a monster. The spears must have been there to discourage the monsters from trying to climb the wall. No wonder Mother had left her to go join the wind. The girl curled up into a little ball, clinging to her scarf. Finally the strange, twisted statues made sense, why they seemed to be in pain, hungry. From an outsider’s point of view, the children huddled in the gutters, wreathed in shadows and wrapped in blankets, must have looked much like them. And the slightly different, larger statues must have been meant to represent those who oppressed and beat them down. She was reminded once again of the terrible, terrible day when Mother had been taken. The day when Mother had drawn the stares of the entire village.

She had been standing on a rooftop not far from their home, looking down right into the main square. It was a festival day, Helerareleh, a day to celebrate the new harvest. The only day the urchins had full stomachs, when everyone could just rest and enjoy their hard work. Everyone in the village had gathered in that square, the people packed together so tightly that not even the smallest child could squeeze between them. The farmers were giving free fruits and vegetables to every villager, and no hungry mouth could bear to pass up such a marvelous opportunity. The winter had been very difficult, with the crops from the previous year being so barren, and not even the most prosperous farmer was spared from an empty stomach. 

Mother had been acting odd that day. She had been raving about how something had been speaking to her, telling her that she must speak the Truth to her fellow villagers. The girl had followed Mother as she had stumbled from rooftop to rooftop, mumbling about how she needed an audience. She had paused on that roof, looking down with a satisfied smile on her face. Stepping to the very edge of the building, so close that the little girl feared her falling, she had begun her speech. She had spoken with a confidence and energy that the girl had never heard from anyone before. The bustling crowd had stopped, frozen in place, enthralled by Mother’s mesmerizing words. 

She had told them the same stories she had always told the girl, speaking of the wonders that lay beyond the wall. Her voice seemed louder than it should have, projecting across the entire crowd with ease. The people listened to her words, captivated, some even seeming to believe them. At least, until the monsters of shadow had come. They had burst out through a hole in the roof, three of them, their faceless stares chilling the girl to the bone and seeming to glue her shoes to the floor.

Mother had been too absorbed in her speech to notice them until they grabbed both of her arms, attempting to drag her back towards the hole. She had struggled, biting and kicking at them, even then still trying to continue with her speech. But it did no good. She was powerless against the monsters. One of them had clamped his hand over her mouth, silencing her and making her wide-eyed with fear. That was when she had joined the wind. 

She had looked directly at the girl, staring into her eyes sadly, almost apologetically. Then she had disappeared, melting into the air. The shadows had jumped backwards, startled. Their outcries had sounded like someone grating pieces of stone together. After stalking about the rooftop for a while, unable to find Mother, they had retreated back to the ground, without even a glance the girl’s direction. She had been left standing there, the stares of the crowd penetrating deep within her soul.

She could still feel them, still feel someone watching her. Except this feeling felt too new to be just from a memory. She slowly uncurled, dreading what she would find watching her. But this torment was even worse than she expected. Mother’s face hovered over her, radiantly glowing. The little girl moaned, wondering why she had begun to hallucinate such outlandish things. Had she pushed herself too hard? Had she fallen asleep and was now dreaming? But then Mother placed a hand over her mouth, silencing her cry. She felt real, more real than even the wall she was sitting on. 

The girl reached out and grabbed her arm, too stunned to even try and say anything else. Mother removed her hand and placed a finger on her lips, telling her to be silent. The girl complied, trusting Mother even though her appearance had been strange. Mother pulled her to her feet and led her by the hand quickly down the steps, glancing about as if she were an urchin trying to steal an entire harvest’s worth of food from a merchant. 

She dashed across an unblemished street, then pulled her into a smaller, empty building and sat her down, inspecting her hands. She unwrapped the cloth covering them, her eyes filling with tears once she saw their awful state. A strange spot of light moved from her shoulder to the floor, but the girl was too dazed to pay any attention to it. Mother’s luminosity decreased slightly, and the little girl watched her hands knits back together, the dead skin falling off and being replaced by fresh pink skin that eventually faded back to a normal color. She nearly cried out again, startled, but, looking into Mother’s eyes, her training returned to her and she held her silence. Mother smiled again, proud. She fingered the girl’s scarf, holding the thick fabric in her hand. A rustle sounded from outside. Mother tensed, then released her scarf, slowing creeping to the door. She peeked her head out and turned her back to the girl.

While Mother was distracted with inspecting the noise, the girl turned about, examining the room. A small pile of gemstones lay in one corner, glowing with the light that seemed to be everywhere. A little silver table with delicate, beautiful carvings sat in the center of the room. Several chairs were arranged around it in what looked to be a rather welcoming and friendly way. She could easily imagine people reclining in those chairs, chatting about happy things. But what really caught her eye was a gemstone that was larger than the rest, glowing even brighter than those embedded in the wall. 

It sat alone on a modest little pedestal, with no glass or barrier to protect it. This confused the little girl. Why would such a valuable treasure be placed where thieving hands could easily snatch it away? It was one of the biggest gems she had ever seen. It could likely be sold for enough money to buy her enough food for several lifetimes. She approached it, reaching her hand towards the light. Then, against her better judgement, she stuffed it in her pocket. If they placed it in the open like that, then surely it was meant to be shared with all.

Mother turned back to her, rushing over and grabbing her arm, her grip firm yet gentle. She motioned for silence again, then led her to the door, too preoccupied to notice the missing gemstone. She looked both ways, then pushed the girl ahead of her and back towards the giant steps of the wall. As she stumbled along, the girl noticed something peculiar. 

Not a single beggar was in sight. In a street like this, with it being remarkably clean and having plenty of perfect places to sleep, there should have been tens of urchins crowding the sides, stretching out their hands for food and wrapped in dirty blankets. Instead there was nothing, just spotless streets sparkling as if they had never been stepped on. She felt like she was soiling them with her presence. Like she was bringing in some sort of taint from her side of the world. 

Mother pushed her to the very bottom of the steps, then gestured for the girl to climb back up them. She started to obey, but then noticed that Mother was not following. She turned around, her eyebrows knitting together. Why was she not coming with her? Was Mother leaving her again? Mother simply stood there with her head bowed, looking away and hiding her face. The little girl’s lip began to tremble. Not again. She didn’t want her to go again. But she was afraid to say too much, to complain. She didn’t want Mother to become the wind again. Then she would never be able to say goodbye. 

So the little girl chose to do something in between speaking and leaving. She ran back to Mother and gave her the biggest hug she could, then dashed back up the steps before she could respond. She didn’t look behind her until she reached the top of the wall. When she turned back, Mother was gone. She heaved a great sigh of regret and sadness, taking out the glowing gemstone in her pocket. It was the only light she could bring back with her, but it would have to do. Carefully she placed it back in her pocket, making sure to not scratch it. She had a nagging feeling that doing so would result in bad things, although she wasn’t exactly sure what. She started climbing back down the wall, her scarf hanging limp. This time, she had not even the gentle wind to keep her company. 

As she continued downwards, everything seemed too... easy. No one chased her nor called after her. No one demanded that she return the jewel. Perhaps no one had noticed she had stolen it? Had she owned the gemstone, it would have never left her sight. In fact, it would have never been in such a wide-open spot in the first place. She felt at her pocket for the tenth time in an hour to make sure that it was still there. Sure enough, there was still a large bulge in her pocket. No disappearing magic, then. The girl had no idea what sort of tricks those glowing people had, but she was ready for all of them. 

The girl didn’t even look at the statues as she climbed. They were a painful reminder of what her people were, what she was. Just thinking about it would cause her eyes to brim with tears. Tears were bad. She couldn’t afford to waste any more water. She was starting to run low. Although she could likely make it back to her village, she didn’t take any chances. Mother had always told her…

She banished that line of thought. Thoughts of Mother would also bring harmful tears. Too many things seemed to upset her, so she decided to not think at all. She would have time for such things if she returned home. No, once. She had to repeat that to herself. She still couldn’t shake this nagging feeling that something wasn’t completely right. After a while she fell into a rhythm, almost unconsciously moving her limbs, automatically finding handholds. She did not sing; she did not daydream. She simply climbed. Once the sun dipped below the horizon, she mechanically tied up her hammock. Once it rose, she woke and continued her descent. 

After several days she came to the bottom of the wall. She stood there at its base for a long while, staring at that same statue she had confronted what seemed like so long ago. She felt empty. Why was that? She had answered her question, hadn’t she? Shouldn’t her head have been filled with knowledge? Instead she only felt this terrible emptiness, even worse than the burning pain of a question unanswered. While that was the itching of a finger, this absence was more like a missing limb. 

She turned away, staring in the direction of her village. She had only one more thing to do, then she could rest. Then she could try and fill that gaping hole inside of her. Perhaps bringing the light residing in her pocket to her village would fix it. Yes, it would. She tried to smile, but only the corners of her mouth faintly twitched. It was enough, though. Just barely enough to keep her going. She set off walking at a brisk pace. The sooner she could fix the emptiness, the better.

But as soon as she got about a day from the wall and was about to lie down and rest, she heard a noise even more disturbing than the statues of the wall. It was barely audible, so quiet that it could have just been her imagination. But even her hurting mind couldn’t conjure up something so unnerving, so troubling. It sounded like the very sky itself was screaming in anger, rumbling with fury. She turned to face the wall, where she had thought the sound had come from. A small lance of light shot across the sky, piercing through the clouds. Then another, and another. It looked like the very heavens were at war with themselves. 

She didn’t get any sleep that night. 

The next day she rose and continued her journey home. For many long days she walked, her feet throbbing in her thin shoes. But she did not slow her pace. That strange sense of urgency never left her. There was something hiding in the back of her mind, preventing her from relaxing. She found it difficult to focus on anything more than the next step. Anything more than the shining gem in her pocket, which seemed to increase its weight with every movement. 

Finally she came to the last day of her trek. She could just faintly see the outlines of buildings against a strangely grey sky. Buildings that looked so small when compared with the city beyond the wall. She started to jog, ignoring her aching feet. She could wait no longer. She was almost home.

As she ran, a wind began to chase her. But this was not the friendly breeze that had played with her scarf. This was a gust that sought to rip it from her neck, to steal it away forever. It pushed her backwards, making her stumble. It blew her hair into her face so she could not see. It tried to push her feet out from under her. She heard the sky yell again, except it was no longer quiet. It was a booming sound, one that caused her to cover her ears with her hands. It was a sound more frightening than the curses of the merchants, than the yells of the faceless shadows. It was a sound of a primal force that had been enraged by a foolish little girl. 

She ripped the jewel out of her pocket as she sprinted. Was it why she was being attacked? Were the people beyond the wall sending the storm as punishment for her thievery? Perhaps they would be mollified by her returning of the gem. She turned to face the storm head on and held the gemstone up, as if offering it to the glowing people. The winds abated for just a second, as if considering her offer. She smiled, glad they were no longer attacking her. Then a powerful gust of wind tore the jewel out of her hand. She watched it fly towards the village, a glittering sparkle against the grey sky. She couldn’t hear her scream of terror over the roaring of the wind.

As she turned back, she saw a great thundering mass of what looked like a wall of seething water heading towards her at an alarming pace. Contained within that mass of churning darkness and light was what looked to be bits of pieces of the wall that had stood between the peoples. Staring at it, her feet frozen to the ground, she saw the severed head of a statue pierce the front of the mist, seeming to scream in time with the sky. It crashed to the ground and was crushed by a huge torn off section of the wall. 

The girl turned and tried to run as hard as she possibly could, fighting the wind that tried to hold her back. But all she could manage was a slow walk, step by painful step. The wall behind her got closer and closer, eating up everything in its path. A boulder soared over her head and landed just a few feet away, smashing a crater and shaking the ground so hard that she almost completely lost her footing. 

Eventually she got to the very edge of her village. She saw people still standing in the streets, staring dumbfounded at the storm before them. That was incredibly foolish. How could they not see the danger that lied before them? A carton of apples blew over, scattering them across the street. Nobody noticed. Not even the hungry little beggar boys. They were all too entranced by the tempest that was quickly approaching. The girl stretched forth her hand and opened her mouth to yell at them to get inside, to seek shelter.

Then the stormwall hit, and a red scarf danced with the wind.

 

I like it a lot! It's really good!

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I'm free-writing this, let's see what happens. I'd like to call it the Path of Radiance.

You see them walking past your window, about their daily lives. Of course they are, why shouldn't they? There was a highstorm a few days ago, the money is bright, and everything should be right.

Except it isn't. 

There's a storm inside that never quiets, that whispers of the pain of the past and the failures of the present. Your vision is darkened, you can't believe that tomorrow could be anything more than the failures of yesterday. 

You get up, get ready, and try not to let anybody know what's going on. It's not their fault that it happened. They don't know what happened, what you did to survive, leaving you feeling like you might not have completely lived through what happened. You feel...dead inside. Demons from the past haunt you more persistently than the most determined poltergeist.

And yet, you continue.

You hear a friend--at least, you think they're your friend--say something negative about themselves. The storm turns to anger as you shut down that comment, making sure they don't believe it--they can't believe it. They can't feel the pain you feel. They can't fight a similar battle. A force deeper than fear erupts as you decide to ensure that the mistakes that created your past will not happen again to others.

You don't want them to fight the battle you're facing. You wouldn't wish that on anybody, including your worst enemy. 

Yet you can't find it within yourself to let go of that battle. It's your burden to carry. 

And, somewhere in the pain, you realize this is what they mean when they say some have greatness thrust upon them.

 

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Wow, @Lunamor, that was an excellent story. You can count me on that list...

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9 hours ago, Sorana said:

I like it a lot! It's really good!

Thanks!

8 hours ago, Mraize said:

Wow, @Lunamor, that was an excellent story. You can count me on that list...

Yay! Five total so far!

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12 hours ago, Emperor Stick said:

.... Not a story you wrote so, it doesn't really count.

Nobod asked for your opinion, Pulse...

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Alright here is one of mine. I just had an idea and it fit here, so I'm writing it here. You may keep all mistakes and put them on your wall ;)

Spoiler

She stood there, stared at the trees below, listened to birds singing brightly. The birds. They were so happy, so free, they seemed so careless as they winged around and danced with the wind. Smiling she reached out for them, her fingers touching nothing but thin air as the bird flew away. Wiping away a tear she followed his path with her eyes, her hand holding on to the metal behind her. The bird flew away, carried away by some unseen force and she smiled, despite everything she smiled. The thought to be free like the bird, to be carried away on the wird, it was a good thought. A cheerful thought. Looking back down she took a deep breath, smelled the warm of spring, felt the sun on her skin. She loved the sun, summer, but today they felt stale, as if they had been taken away, as if they weren't really here. Just a memory, just something trying to hold her back. Her hand flicked another tear of her cheek and and she looked up at the sun. Yellow. Bright and happy yellow, ugly and grim yellow. Why was everything so bright, so happy, didn't they see that something was wrong, that the world wasn't bright and happy, but that it was dark and sad and grim and hateful. She screamed at a bird, but it ignored her, continued to fly around as if nothing was amiss, as if it was a day just like all days. Tears clouded her vision and she looked up to the sky. The beautiful blue sky. She wanted to be free, to finally be free of all the chains, of the sadness, of the darkness claiming her. Following another bird with her eyes she stood there, stared at them, looked down at the freedom below. Then slowly she put a second had, held on more tightly. Freedom. Could she do it? Take another step, could she really be free? A small smile touched her face and took the step away from the deep, back onto solid ground. Freedom. She could do it, she was strong.

 

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Whoa, that's amazing Sorana!

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On 5/13/2019 at 11:16 PM, Stormgate said:

I'm free-writing this, let's see what happens. I'd like to call it the Path of Radiance.

You see them walking past your window, about their daily lives. Of course they are, why shouldn't they? There was a highstorm a few days ago, the money is bright, and everything should be right.

Except it isn't. 

There's a storm inside that never quiets, that whispers of the pain of the past and the failures of the present. Your vision is darkened, you can't believe that tomorrow could be anything more than the failures of yesterday. 

You get up, get ready, and try not to let anybody know what's going on. It's not their fault that it happened. They don't know what happened, what you did to survive, leaving you feeling like you might not have completely lived through what happened. You feel...dead inside. Demons from the past haunt you more persistently than the most determined poltergeist.

And yet, you continue.

You hear a friend--at least, you think they're your friend--say something negative about themselves. The storm turns to anger as you shut down that comment, making sure they don't believe it--they can't believe it. They can't feel the pain you feel. They can't fight a similar battle. A force deeper than fear erupts as you decide to ensure that the mistakes that created your past will not happen again to others.

You don't want them to fight the battle you're facing. You wouldn't wish that on anybody, including your worst enemy. 

Yet you can't find it within yourself to let go of that battle. It's your burden to carry. 

And, somewhere in the pain, you realize this is what they mean when they say some have greatness thrust upon them.

 

On 5/14/2019 at 2:32 PM, Sorana said:

She stood there, stared at the trees below, listened to birds singing brightly. The birds. They were so happy, so free, they seemed so careless as they winged around and danced with the wind. Smiling she reached out for them, her fingers touching nothing but thin air as the bird flew away. Wiping away a tear she followed his path with her eyes, her hand holding on to the metal behind her. The bird flew away, carried away by some unseen force and she smiled, despite everything she smiled. The thought to be free like the bird, to be carried away on the wird, it was a good thought. A cheerful thought. Looking back down she took a deep breath, smelled the warm of spring, felt the sun on her skin. She loved the sun, summer, but today they felt stale, as if they had been taken away, as if they weren't really here. Just a memory, just something trying to hold her back. Her hand flicked another tear of her cheek and and she looked up at the sun. Yellow. Bright and happy yellow, ugly and grim yellow. Why was everything so bright, so happy, didn't they see that something was wrong, that the world wasn't bright and happy, but that it was dark and sad and grim and hateful. She screamed at a bird, but it ignored her, continued to fly around as if nothing was amiss, as if it was a day just like all days. Tears clouded her vision and she looked up to the sky. The beautiful blue sky. She wanted to be free, to finally be free of all the chains, of the sadness, of the darkness claiming her. Following another bird with her eyes she stood there, stared at them, looked down at the freedom below. Then slowly she put a second had, held on more tightly. Freedom. Could she do it? Take another step, could she really be free? A small smile touched her face and took the step away from the deep, back onto solid ground. Freedom. She could do it, she was strong.

You guys scare me. These are great.

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