The Beast Beneath the Well

Written by Kriltch

1, Season Sorrow 7626

  I know I should write this down before I forget. I've been in this cage for all about… To Yon, I don’t know how long; I can’t tell time down here. I'll begin with how I arrived in this horrible place.   My name is DaeSo, family GagSuGaeHg. I’m a delver by profession, part of my family’s company. My nest sister and I had been assigned to survey duty. The two of us were to scout out the area and report back all that we found. The cavern we explored turned out to be a complicated labyrinth. And though overgrown with foliage, the area contained evidence that suggested prior inhabitation. Structures of stone could have been…   Nevermind, I'll get to the point. While deep underground, I slipped into a river. My water-logged feathers prevented me from escaping the rapids. Giaka attempted to rescue me, but I kept slipping from her talons. Soon, the river gave way to a waterfall; I was sure I was going to die then and there. I tried to fall away from the curtain of water, to be in the air and maybe catch the wind or vine. Something pulled me back in and under, then water filled my lungs. I felt the thing tearing me apart, it was dreadful. My feathers, they were ripped off in heaps. Then my skin was torn away. My muscles and organs. My very soul. I cannot express with words how much pain I was in, I can only write what happened.   I still don't know what it was that spoke to me. It wasn't Hyana, and certainly not anything within this current silence. But something whispered to me. A whisper of warning, wise and sorrowful. It whispered to me: "Give in to despair, and succumb to the beast beneath the well."   Then nothingness was all that remained.   I now wish that the nothingness had never left me. For when I woke up, I found myself here, in this horrible place.    

2, Season Sorrow 7626

  I know it had been the first day of the season of sorrow when we left for survey duty. I don't know how much time has passed since then. I will have to guess what the day is by when I sleep, at least until I get out of here.   There's so much I want to tell, but I fear I may run out of space if my stay is for too long. My left-wing is sprained; I am unable to fly and now walk with a limp. I won’t be going anywhere soon. So, for now, I will chronicle my situation, as much as I may detest my company here.   Continuing from where I left off in the prior entry: When I first awoke in this bewildering place, it smelled damp and heavy. Once I gathered enough of my bearings, I started to scream out for help. My captor was the one who responded.   Our captor, who Hyana named “Hollow” in her tongue, is a horrible beast that I find myself absurdly fearful of. I feel that, even by looking at it for too long, I may bring its ire upon me. I will describe it here so I may save myself from looking at its dreadful appearance. The creature is similar to a humi in its general shape, bipedal and hairless, but twisted to near unrecognition. Its whole body is gaunt, starved to where its gray skin looks to have been wrapped over a carcass of rotten bone. The monster’s limbs are too long for its body and its knuckles sway below its crooked knees. Its limbs are also segmented with countless stubby bones and joints, reminiscent of some insects that I've seen. And Hollow’s face, that hideous visage, is contorted in ways of which I am unable to describe.   And worst of all are its eyes.   When I came to and I screamed, I drew Hollow’s attention directly to me. The giant made a sudden and hideous snapping sound denoting its arrival. It loomed over my cell, those two abysses that took the place of its eyes being all I could see. It stared at me through the bars. I could not look away. I could no longer scream. I could not think. My gaze was captured by the two voids for I don’t know how long. Eventually, it decided to draw away. Now, it faces away from the colosseum of cages, standing with a stillness that sets in me great discomfort.   I do not know what kind of creature Hollow is, nor does Hyana, despite how long she claims to have been here. Trying to have any form of conversation with it is beyond fruitless as well. I’ve found that any sound I make brings its petrifying gaze upon me.   After I collected myself from my shock, I took in my surroundings.   Nothing since then has changed. I do not know if this place will be the exact same for whoever reads my scrawlings. I sincerely hope that it is not. The only sound I can hear is that of falling water; I presume that is how I had arrived here. My eyes have adjusted to the near absence of light. Even then, I can barely see the beast a few bodies in front of me. I do not know where the small amount of light comes from, as I feel no life around me here deep underground. The only two auras I feel are that of Hollow and Hyana. When I first arrived, I only felt Hollow. Or at least, I think I did.   Hollow’s behavior is not unique to me. Hyana, as I’ve come to learn, had this happen to her when she first arrived as well. I will write my notes on Hollow’s behavior here before I begin to write of Hyana. My meal should arrive soon as well.   Hollow:
  • The faintest whisper, a croak, a cough; nothing escapes it. Curiously, any sounds I may make from moving around my confining cell do not seem to stir it in the slightest.
  • At all times other than when I draw Hollow’s attention, it stands in the center of the colosseum in front of the cells.
  • Its eyes are grotesquely arresting, and I am unable to speak, move, or think while it stares at me.
  • Hollow’s aura is very weak. On top of that, I can’t seem to place the emotion it gives off.
  • Hyana warns that “bad things” will happen to me if I try to leave. I am not inclined to find out. -- do not try to leave!
  • - Holl-w hat-s -i-h-.
  • 4, Season Sorrow 7626

      The meals I receive here are repulsive. I don’t know what they are, and frankly, I don’t want to know. They appear in my cell in the time when I sleep. I presume it’s Hollow that leaves it there, I can’t imagine it would be Hyana. And there’s no one else. No one.   Right, Hyana. When I first arrived, I was only aware of Hollow. It took me a long bit of concentration to find any other living thing near me. Who I found, blessedly, was someone I could converse with. Well, not at first. It was a struggle to find her, and even more so to talk to her. She’s very broken, poor thing. When I escape, I will come back for her.   Her aura, it was so faint I thought she was only an insect or a small plant at first. Her mind, when it noticed mine, completely overwhelmed me. Her head was... still is filled with whispers of too many voices. I tried to ignore her for a time, I couldn’t handle her. I didn’t even know she was a female, or her species, or anything really. Only that she was not too far away. After, I want to say a day or two, one of the voices that constantly pelted my mind became more distinct. More distinct in its emotion as well, filled with loneliness. It took a while, but she eventually crawled her way out of the thousands of voices to talk with me.   I wish I could talk with her in voice. Though that would probably be even less productive, considering she speaks another language, let alone how Hollow may react. But this trading of thought, it’s painful. It doesn’t take long for the whispers to overtake her when we talk, sending me reeling. But while it is only us that are talking, I can only feel sorry for her. Her ideas take so long to come together, like she hasn’t fully retrieved her whole self from the sea of whispers.   Slowly, I lifted some information out of her. She’s a Vinsel from a village I had never heard of. And she speaks a language that has been dead for quite some time. At least, that’s what the loudest voice tells me. She seems to change her story as our conversations dragged on. Even if I can’t trust her, she’s the only one around. And she hasn’t moved from her position, below me somewhere. I have no reason to not believe that Hollow has locked her up as it has done so kindly for me...   When I pressed her to tell me about this place, and why she is here, she says she doesn’t remember. I don’t like it. She had an answer for everything that didn’t relate to the beast or the cells, even if those stories changed. I will have to be wary of what she tells me. I will have to pull the truth from her.   I need to get out of here. I need to get back to my sisters. I miss them so much.  

    6, Season Sorrow 7626

      I am finally well again, well enough to fly, at least. And I’ve made up my mind; I will attempt to fly past Hollow, towards where I hear the water. Hollow didn’t respond to when I flapped my wings at it, or when I discovered that the door to my cell was unlocked. When it creaked open, my heart leaped into my throat. Now I’m sure it’s something having to do with my voice. Hyana refuses to speak as well. Don’t worry Hyana, I’ll be back for you.  

    -\-

      Kak, what in Yon happened. I, Giaka, I hate this. This place, this beast, it can all wait in Yon!  

    13, Season Sorrow 7626

      What happened. I attempted to escape. I failed. I’m sure, as I explain it, this will all seem impossible. My soul to Tukk, it’s what happened.   My wing was feeling better, and I’m no slouch of a flyer. My plan was to stick close to the wall and out of Hollow’s reach. I had hoped to find a crevice to slip in to, one that would be too small for it. I never got the chance. I should have listened to Hyana.   What happened is that... I died. Even saying it, writing it, it sounds ludicrous. How can I say I died when I’m still here, in body and soul?   What happened. I opened the door, Hollow didn’t so much as flinch. I flapped my wings, just to make sure my assessment was correct. It didn’t move. I leapt from the cage and it still did not budge. But when I was only a few bodies away from my cage… It grabbed me. Its icy grip tightened around me, wringing me like a fruit.   It brought me to its face. It stared at me with those horrible eyes. It horrified me. I guess that’s what let me move, despite those eyes. Fear. I flailed my neck about, the only thing not being crushed in its vice. I spat in its face through instinct. I regret doing that. I illuminated its twisted features. I saw the crevices in its broken skin, pulled over shattered bone. Its eyes. Somehow, they were still just as hollow and empty. My red flames became liquid and sloughed off the beast like the fire was a part of it. It almost looked as though it were crying.   It squeezed me tighter and tighter. The pain, I couldn’t begin to describe it. I’m not sure if it was worse than what I felt when I arrived at this horrible place. I really can’t say. I’ll…   I need to think before I write. I I might run out of space.  

    16, Season Sorrow 7626

      There’s a lot of cages around me. A lot of them are empty. I didn’t manage to see Hyana.   I talked with Hyana some more today, I told her what had happened. She seemed to come around for a bit. The real her. I caught a glimpse of one of her attempted escapes. She died too. She was crushed, stepped on by Hollow not much further out from the cage than I made it.   I guess sharing that memory helped her come back, she willingly shared some more with me. Only glimpses before the whispers overtook her. I’m so sorry, Hyana.   I saw her village. It is old, not too far from where Giaka and I entered the cave system. The village seemed cozy. Typical for a small town, with many short huts. Lots of vinsel. Everyone knew each other. Businesses were run by the families. I respect that. I don’t know what her occupation would have been, but I’m sure… I need to stop letting her in my mind so often.   The town I saw, I’m sure of it now, she’s old. Very old. That town is nothing but stones now, looted well before my family decided to delve in the area. I don’t want to believe her. I can’t, frankly. It seems that Hollow has been keeping her alive. I asked her about that. I did. Me. She didn’t respond well.   It made me miss my home. Yes, I do miss my nest sisters. Giaka, SoHeo, KaKam, SeLmi. I even miss our mate, HoiLuLo, the big oaf. I wonder what you’re all doing right now. Still looking for me, I’m sure. I want to be with you all again. I want to curl up with everyone, even KaKam’s hatchlings. I’ll admit, I never did like them, they were too fiery for me. But to see their little muzzles again, I would give my place in Tukk. I think it was supposed to have been my turn to care for them this week. But here I am, shirking my duties.   A thought just occurred to me. How do I know any of this is real?  

    18, Season Sorrow 7626

      I’m now convinced that none of this is real. I tried again the other day, to leave. The same thing happened. The pain of dying, I felt it. But here I am, alive and breathing. My body is intact, my wings are not crushed, and my lower half is still attached to the rest of me.   This is some demented illusion from some twisted soul. Why does it have to feel so real? When I find who’s responsible...   I need to calm down. I need to figure this out. If it is an illusion, it’s beyond my capability to break out of it. At least, while I’m in the dark still. If I could just find some kink somewhere. Something that would allow me to worm my way into the mind of the demon. I bet Hyana has something to do with all this.   Hyana’s gotten a bit full of herself too. Or maybe I'm weak from hunger. I’m letting her into my mind too much. She’s shared more with me, more about who she was. She seems to be thankful, at least, for bringing her back. Her stories are more consistent as well. Her mother -even if her name constantly changes- seems to be the same person. Long whiskers, pleasant demeanor, quiet, exquisite lavender fur. She must have loved her mother very much. I wish I could say the same.   I think I think she’s getting better. She doesn’t shut herself off when I ask about Hollow now. I’ll add this to my earlier notes. Hollow hates light. And she’s right. With a breath of just the smallest kindling, it was there, staring at me with those horrible eyes.   Those whispers are grating. I need to keep her out for a bit. I can start to hear some of them, louder than the others. They’re telling me terrible things. They tell me how I am worthless. They tell me to do horrible things to Hyana. They tell me they will kill my loved ones.   Giaka, please find me. Rescue me.  

    25, Season Sorrow 7626

      To Yon! I told Hyana she needs to control herself! She entered my mind without my permission and refuses to leave. May those whispers wait in Yon. You can’t it’s so hard to write. It’s so hard to think. Those whispers. To Yon Hyana!   We can’t even I don’t remember when they started. When was it Hyana crept her way in here? Leave I said!   Shut up! I’ll writing helps me. No, I said. I’ll clear my head.   How did Giaka? No, her feathers were onyx. Really pretty, yeah. Onyx and emerald, just like me. Just like all of us. KaKam had some azure on her tail. She her hatchlings had that, too. But they had their father’s crimson eyes. No, my eyes are what were my eyes? I can’t remember my eyes. They were emerald. Yeah, just like Giaka.   I I think they're gone. I will want to try to write without interruption. The Illusion, I don’t think Hyana has any part of it. I asked her, or rather, the whispers told her that I was thinking it. To Yon, was I really so stupid? Writing no, I need some sleep.  

    26

      I’m hungry, so hungry. The food isn’t enough. This food, or at least what I’ve been eating. Yes, it’s in a bowl. It smells like food, too. Hyana eats it. At least, she tells me she does. How do I know that? How can I trust her?   Her mother, Timia was her name. I Hyana, she had a mother that loved her. She had a family. She would go to the smith, every bit of free time she had to had been with the smith, to learn from them. She liked welding. No, metalworking. Not the big stuff the smith was commissioned with. She wasn’t experienced enough for that. She shaped nails, simple jewelry, small stuff. She was an artist.   No, she wasn’t. None of that is real. She told she said she was born in 6805. There’s no way she is that old. Right, there’s no way she’s that old.   Giaka, have you forgotten about me? I’m still here. I need help. No, I don’t. I’ve come up with a new strategy for getting out. If this thing won’t let me leave, then I’ll make it leave. Then I would If I can learn to throw my voice. It shouldn’t be hard. I have time... if it’s going to keep me here.   It’s so hard to think when you’re hungry. Hah, if I could just ask it for a bit more gruel. Maybe I can take some of Hyana’s, I don’t think she’d mind. After all, she’s been here so much longer than I have. Than I have. Why didn’t I write down the date? I don’t know how how much time has passed... since nothing changes. I mark my sleep, but I don’t know when that is. It must have been a couple of weeks. A season? Why are they taking so long? Giaka knows where I fell in.  

    27

      I tried to escape again. I knew I would fail. I always do. But I needed the information. I needed to see if she even exists. Yes, Hyana is real. And she is a vinsel, she has the same lavender fur. And she is old. Her skin draped on the floor, her body propped up by bones. Poor thing. She saw me. She asked why I kept trying. She, of all people, knows how it feels. She’s here too.   No, I need to... To Yon, I need to concentrate. I’ve discovered some of Hyana’s whispers have names. None stood out to me in particular. I’m not sure of the significance of this development. Is it the illusionist? Are they toying with me? I’ve had a lot of time to think, lately. I don’t believe thinking hides my ideas any more than writing does. And writing, at least I can remember.   I’ve noticed I’ve stopped writing down the date. What good does it do me anyway? I have a wall almost full of tallies now.   I want to cry. I want to curl up and deflate. But I can’t. Light, it will attract Hollow. Sighing too. To Yon, why couldn’t Giaka have come down here with me? At least then then I’d have someone to talk to. I’d have someone sane.   That’s a funny word to use, sane. I’m not sure I am anymore. I can’t tell what’s real. Hollow, it’s just an impossible monster. Hyana won’t get out of my head. I might not hear her, but those whispers won’t stop. Of course. I’ve learned to ignore them.   I die, or at least feel my body crushed and my soul absent. I do feel that. Or is it nothing that I feel? What’s the difference? I don’t personally know any ghosts, but I’ve read... I miss reading.   Concentrate. What do I know now? Hollow, it is my enemy. Right, my plan.  

    -/-

    Yes, I can throw my voice. I can hear myself speaking from the cage below me. No, it’s not any of you… the whispers. I know my own voice. I can still hear. The silence, it hurts hearing noise now. So I know I made a noise, I spoke from somewhere else. And still it still does nothing. I thought you hated voices, Hollow. I know, when I speak, it gets your attention. What do you want!  

    -/-

    All does all it does is stare. I guess it’s better than it crushing me, breaking every bone in my body. But why what do you want from me? Ask it, hah, right. Hayana, for as long as she’s been here, knows less about it than I do. Makes sense, me being a drake. But still, her spirit... My being here has helped her come back. But Hollow, I just don’t understand it. It’s humi in shape, but it’s not a humi. And what sort of twisted mind The same one that put me here. I want to know why; I guess that won’t be given to me.   I need to figure out where how to get out. I’m so tired. I can’t get out with my mind or even my soul. I’ve tried. I know. I can’t think of tricks. I can’t get out physically, Hollow makes sure of that. Hyana is useless. She actually makes things harder for me. My claws can’t dig, I can barely scratch what I’m writing now.   I want to make a quick note for myself. I don’t know that I’m in an illusion. It’s only a theory.  

    28

      Hyana that Nea, that water bag. I can’t believe her! She “claims” that she isn’t in my head. Lies, I hear them. I hear her whispers. I know she’s there. I tell her to leave, but she's still there. I even I yelled at her. I yelled at her while Hollow stared at me. No, Hyana needs to stop. I don't care if Hollow stares, she needs to stop! Those memories, they aren't mine, I know they aren't.   I don't like metalworking. I'm a delver, just like my sisters. I take that ancient jewelry, I don't make it. No, that's her. She's the one in the small village, living in a house of stone, living with her pack. My house, my sister’s home... It's much better than hers. We eat like queens, any food we want at any time we want. And we worked for that. We risked our lives for that lifestyle. No simple jeweler could afford that.   She told me she lied to me, saying she's not in my head. She said that to me in my head! I told her, with my voice -I know you won't do anything, Hollow- I told her to tell me herself. Prove it, take the whispers away I told her. Then she, this is stupid, she did shout back at me. I saw Hollow move to her cage. Hollow doesn't seem to have any fur... Those whispers, they didn't stop. I told her she lied. She said it wasn't her.   I need to create make a note. Hollow will stare at whoever talks. It will suddenly appear at blink to the cage of whoever's talking. Hollow can blink, be there then here at once, something I can't do. Maybe that's why I could never get away.   I could never no one is there to help me. Hyana, she couldn't, she has no strength. Her voice, it hurt to listen too. Raspy and lying. She isn't here to help me, she's part of the Illusionist's plan. I’m sure of it. Giaka, why haven't you found me? Do you hate me? I don't know what I did. Was it when I pushed KaKam's hatchlings on you? You knew I was busy, I had to make sure we got a fair deal on the obelisk. I never I would never do anything to hurt you! You know I love you. I love all my sisters. Why would you abandon me like this? You know where I am, just follow the river. I can hear the water, I shouldn't be hard to find.   Unless Unless you don't want to find me. Unless you're in on this. Hollow isn't real, you made him just to spite me! I bet you're in on this with Hyana. If the sick illusionist of this madness can read this, I want you to pull out Giaka's feathers. Make her suffer like she's done to me. Maybe have Hollow take her. Let her feel what it means to die.   I'm already dead. I'm in Yon. It has to be.  

    29

      The whispers, they won't stop. Some of them tell me I'm in Yon. Some of them tell me I'm under a spell. Some of them tell me I'm in a tree. None of them know what's going on. They want to trick me. They lie to me, just like Hyana.   I need to settle down. It's been still is difficult, but I'm managing to push the whispers away, little by little. Their lies, it makes them easier to ignore, actually. I’ve been able to think for myself. I need to plan, to find a way out of here. And, unfortunately, I’m the only one who can do that. Hyana, even if she isn’t in on everything somehow, is wouldn’t be able to help me. So it’s all up to me. Only me. Without anyone.   Giaka, I want to tell you that I'm sorry. I do love you, and I know you’re doing everything to try and find me. And, it’s been so long, I don’t think you will find me. Whether it’s the illusionist, Yon, or something else, I can see now that you’re unable to get to me. I’m just so tired, so hungry, so lonely. Hyana, whispers, Hollow, none of them are company. And I’m so sorry, I didn’t mean any of what I said. I want you to come and get me, I want HoiLuLo. Yes, I was jealous. I was angry that you had him the most. But I don’t care about that anymore. I’ll do anything to get home, to be with everyone again. I’m so sorry, please, don’t abandon me.   Anyone if anyone manages to read this, to find me. No matter what kind of a state I'm in, please take me away from here. I’ll I’ve been trying to send a message, myself, anything outside. But these walls around me, it must be Hollow. The whispers, they won’t let me either. It doesn’t matter what’s stopping me, I can’t get anything out beyond these walls. Hyana, she’s the only one I can feel, the only one around.   I’ve been practicing, trying to be able to do more things. I’ve gotten good at moving my voice around outside. I’ve gotten it further and further, moving it towards where I hear water. At least... I did. But then, I couldn’t move it any further. If I tried, it would grab my throat, squeeze it, I couldn’t breathe.   Please, someone. Anyone. Save me.  

    30

      I’m hungry, so hungry. I’ve decided not to eat anymore, to see what that would do. It’s just made me hungry. And I’m still here. Two walls are filled with tallies now. Hollow, still, only moves when I agitated it. The whispers, they’re there, Hyana too. Nothing has changed. Nothing but me. The stuff Hollow feeds me... I tried throwing the bowl out of my cage, I need to not be tempted by it. I heard the bowel shatter on the ground. Hollow did nothing about it.   When I woke up next, it was there again, the bowl filled with gruel. What kind of substance was I eating, I tried to find that out too. It’s so dark, I think it’s brown. It feels like sludge, but it has no taste. I hate eating it, but my body needs wants to. My stomach hurts each time I look at it. Luckily it doesn’t carry a scent. I inspected the bowel too. It’s stone, nothing special about it.   My claws hurt. It hurts to write. But I Well I I need to. It’s I think it might be the only thing that is keeping me sane. Or what’s left of me. My claws are dull and my feathers are falling out. I’m not molting, they aren’t growing back. It makes me cold. Cold and hungry. And wet. My flame sac, there’s nothing in the air. There’s no fire, none at all, not anywhere around me. I’ve tried to conserve... I’ve run out a while ago.   I don’t think Hyana has to deal with the cold. But I don’t know, she’s a corpse. I haven’t asked. I refuse to talk to her anymore, not until she gets out of my head. It’s been easier to write this... since I’ve started ignoring the whispers. It’s like losing a limb, you get used to it eventually. Who am I kidding, I hate them. I hate Hollow. I hate this place!   I don't think this is Yon. There should be more people here. I should have been conscripted. There should be hate, there should be legions. There’s nothing here, only cold and emptiness. This place is something else. I don’t think it’s an illusionist either. Time, it’s flowing right, I’m sure of it. I’ve felt my soul, it’s mine, no one else's. What I see, what I sense, it’s all real. I know, that’s what makes a good illusionist, to convince me. But I’ve given in to them. I’ve told Hollow, I told him to its horrible eyes that I give up! Whatever they want, I’ll give it to them. I’ll do whatever they want. I’m not making a good case for this, but I’m sure it’s not an Illusionist and I know it’s not Yon.   So what else is there? I’m out of ideas. I’m tired. I’d rather not think anymore. But I need to get out. I need to Nevermind. Hyana, I know you’re the key to all of this. You’ve been here, you’re the one with the whispers, you’re trapped in here like I am. You’re the only one I can work with. The only one who exists.   I guess I'll have to apologize to her. I don’t care about Hollow’s stares anymore, though they still feel like they’re killing me. I’ll talk to Hyana out loud, I’ll tell her that we will escape.  

    31

      I was able to make up with Hyana, but not in the way I intended. It all happened so fast. I shouted to her, getting her attention, if not slowly. And, Hollow, it must be smarter than I thought. It didn’t stare at me like it normally should have. It slammed its hand against the bars of my cell, shaking the world. Somehow, I wasn’t scared. Or maybe, I’m too tired to care anymore. Too scared? It did leave me shaking, it was so loud. My ears are still bleeding.   Hyana was quick to talk to me after that. She was afraid. We talked inside our heads. I didn’t feel like dying again. She told me Hollow had never done that to her. She asked me to never do that again. I told her I would do it again, it’s the first thing that’s changed in this horrible place. But I tried to calm her. I told her I would let her know when it was going to happen. She didn’t like it... but accepted it. She seems tired, too.   For the first time since I arrived here, I feel somewhat happy. Something had changed, meaning I can make more things change. I’ve found the kink. I wonder how much Hollow can think... Or act. Now that I look at it, I think I’m pretty sure this is all Hollow’s doing. The whispers, it’s that thing outside my cage. That beast. I hate it...   I’m sorry, everyone. I’m not strong, I tried to give up. I haven't eaten any of my meals for days now. I shouldn’t be alive. I know it’s stupid of me, since I die every time I try to leave. But I hoped Nevermind. I’m sorry. I should be dead, I wanted to die. I want all of this to end. But here I am, sitting in this putrid cell, lined with what I couldn’t scrape off. I couldn’t find a way out. I I still want to give up. I’m so tired. Everything hurts. I want this torment to end.   It’s been so long. I think even if you all did try to find me, something isn’t letting you. I don’t think you can. I I don’t want to give up hope. I also I can’t imagine I'll be found. I think there’s only one way out.  

    32

      Hollow gets angry. Those horrible eyes, they must be angry when I talk, only when I talk. If I try to leave I don’t feel its stares. Only pain. Hah, I write it so simply. Write, It takes me a while to do that now. My claws are so dull I’ve stopped making tallies. I have no idea how long it’s been. There’s no point to it, I'll run out of space. I’m already having to write around them, the tallies. I don’t want to count them. I’m sure I’ve missed plenty of times I’ve slept. I’ve been here too long.   I’ve been talking with Hyana. Talking with her, it doesn’t make the whispers any worse. We’ve come up with an idea. We think the whispers are coming from Hollow. He’s in our heads, that’s why we can’t get away.   Hollow gets angry. Hollow has emotions. Hollow is living. For a while, a long while, I thought it was some creature a body without a soul. I mean, I couldn’t feel its aura’s emotion at all. But I was wrong, it’s been there. It’s been here. I’m just now noticing it... Its hate.  

    -/-

      I tried talking to the whispers, to Hollow. They aren’t any help. There are so many of them. The ones I pick out they all tell me different things. Lies! All lies! I hate you!   No, shut up! Nea, leave me alone!  

    33

      I need I will ignore the whispers, Hyana and I. Push them out. Kill them.   I will I will write more about Hollow. I am not cannot be sure if the whispers are Hollow. She I let them in. No, Hyana let them. I did. Hyana, she looked to Hollow. She can’t she doesn’t have a good angle to see him. She’s below me.   So hard to think now. They won’t leave me alone. Hollow is Hollow might not be the whispers. I don’t know. It should have been.   Talking listening to the whispers. Nothing done. Hollow is separate, I think. Its eyes, staring at me. Whispers do nothing. I need time I will not. I said let go!   Hyana and I have come up with a plan. If Hollow is them, the whispers, I can we can kill him. The whispers, I don’t care if it’s Hollow. They must die. To kill I’m sorry. Giaka, I’m sorry. I’ve become a monster, I hate it me. But I can’t I need to come home. You’re probably all waiting for me.   How are the hatchlings? I bet I bet you have hatchlings of your own now. KaKam’s must be grown up by now. It must be years now. I can’t tell. But I remember, my memories. I remember when you first found HoiLuLo. You two were so cute together. Inseparable. We all loved him too, but not as much as you did. You would go off, just the two of you, riding the thermals to find new places. It took us forever to find a home. KaKam was so picky about that. But, I think it was worth it. SoHeo, she was the mastermind behind it all. It was thanks to her that we were given licenses as delvers. And SeLmi, so meek. She was, now that I remember, she kept us together. Giaka, we’ve fought before. KaKam too. It was Selmi who would always bring us back together. I love you all.   I’m so sorry.   Hyana, our plan is to we will kill the whispers. They are in our heads, overwhelming me us. We have experimented. I talk with them No, Hyana talks to them. She is lost. She becomes lost, taken over. I think they want to consume her. I pick her out. I think that’s what I happened what I did when I first came here. I picked her out, brought her back. I can do it again, I have done it again. But now, she needs to do it for me.   She can’t move, her body does not respond. She can’t talk anymore. The little that we did, it tore her vocal cords. Poor thing. She can’t leave, I have to get her out. I have to save her. But I can’t, not with Hollow there. The whispers, they need to die first. They make it so hard to think. But I’m hungry. I’m cold.   The plan. I will allow the whispers in. I will let them take me. But not before Hyana will take me too. I don’t care anymore. With the whispers inside, Hyana will push me. Hyana will take my body. She will have me walk out of my cell. And then I know. Hollow will kill me. Hollow will kill the whispers. Hollow, if you don’t, I’ll get away. You’d better kill me. Kill the whispers.   No, I am not afraid. I am not afraid of death. I can, I will save us.  

    34

      Hyana... I’m so sorry. Hyana, why? Why did you leave me? How could you leave me now? Hyana, please. I can feel you there, why won’t you answer me? Hyana!  

    -/-

      Hyana, she won’t respond. I don’t know what happened, what went wrong. I I let the whispers in, I let them take me. I could see it was hard, I Hyana walked me out of my cage. I can’t fly, I’m not strong enough anymore. The plan, it was successful. Hollow, it picked me up. It crushed me just like I knew it would. It sent me to oblivion, at least for a little while...   I woke up in my cell. Again. I’m alive. Still. The whispers, Hollow, all still here. But Hyana... She won’t respond. Why won’t she respond? What happened, what did she do? I can’t her mind isn’t there. I can feel her aura, so much fainter than before.   Please, come back to me! Talk to me. Remember your mother? You loved her. We can when we get back... There’s so much jewelry you can make. We can live together, you can come live with me and my sisters. Please, I’ll be your family. Don’t go. I’m sorry. Your village, we can find everything that was stolen. We can buy it all back, your people’s things. We can We can find your family. I’m sure you have some relatives. I’m sure you have family alive, children’s great-grandchildren. Imagine what it would be like. I don’t think any Vinsel has ever lived as long as you have. You could teach them so much, teach them the ways that may have been lost in time.   We could we would rebuild your home. We know where it is. We could build it back up, to be just like you remembered. We could clean the river, fix up the old mill. It could all come back. But you need to be here. You need to be with me. You can’t leave!  

    35

      Hyana is dead. It took so long... I don’t know, ten meals say. But she’s dead. Nothing of her remains. I watched felt her slowly slip away. She died. She died a true death. I am envious.   And now, I’m alone. I can’t won’t be angry with her. She doesn’t deserve it. Still, I can’t they are still here. Hyana, she left me alone with the whispers. Alone with Hollow. All alone. Like her for so long. I don’t want to be alone. I don’t want to stay here alone alone so long. Why did she have to die? Why did she have to leave me? Leave me alone to forget. I wish she would come back. I know she won’t...   Her she... I’m not sure what to say. I want to I should write about her. In memoriam. Before I forget. After that, I will go to her. I’ve decided I will not be alone. I will be with Hyana. This is her letter a letter to her. I want her to know before I forget. Give I need to… Collect myself. Then, I will write.  

    -/-

    Dear Hyana Kuulin,   I am sorry we had to meet in such a horrible place. If we had met under better circumstances, I am sure my sisters would have loved you. I have thought and written some very hurtful things about you. I am sorry for those, you did not deserve them. You were strong, stronger than I am. You never did give up. You loved life and cherished it. For however long you were here, you never gave up. I know this, you shared it with me yourself.   You were here for too long, suffered for too long. If it’s any consolation, I’m glad you died. I’m happy you were able to escape. After so long, you can now find yourself at peace.   May you ready yourself in Tukk,   Daeso GagSuGaeHg.  

    36

      This is the last thing I will write here. If someone, anyone manages to If anyone gets trapped here like me. Look for my mark. My family. Don’t let me be alone. |+|  

    Hyana’s Cell

      I made it to Hyana’s prison. I found a way I could make it here. It was hard, it took so long, but I made it. I will eat. I will wait. Here is this is how I did it.   Hollow, it doesn’t notice when I leave right away. I was able to leave my cell for a few seconds. Before it would catch me. But those few seconds, it is was enough. The cells, none of them are locked. I can’t fly, and probably never will again. But I can fall. I dropped myself, barely being able to pull my body up into the cage before... Hollow often ended up slapping its hand into the wall. I can’t hear the water anymore. Nevermind.   Some of the cells weren’t empty, bones and decay filled a few. I don’t know why I couldn’t smell them. They were old. Every cage I entered, I left my mark in. I’m jealous of those bones. Some of them even left messages for me. There’s too much to tell. If you’re reading this, I believe you can make it there to them. Read what the others’ have to say.   I fell from cell to cell, that was the easy part. But Hyana, from where I felt her for so long, I had to cross over from cell to cell too. Those times Hollow caught me a few times. I’ll admit, it was disheartening. I wanted to give up again, not wanting to have to start the journey over every time. But I'm here now, I made it. I will be I am with you Hyana.   Hyana, her body, I do not know what state she will be in when you read this. I don’t know what state I will be in... if anyone does read this. I hate the thought of that. But she I’m torn. Her body, it's a corpse. Her paper skin is sloughing off her bones. I hate to see her this way. I want to see her the way she showed herself in her memories. But I will leave her there, as a reminder. I need to remember.   Hyana she remembered, she left a message for me. It took me a while to read it, the letters are messy and of her older language. I will carve her message into the stone... because she had written it in blood. So I don’t forget... I can not thank you enough, Hyana.   DaeSo,   I want to apologize for leaving you, it was selfish of me. I hope you can find it in your heart to forgive me. I would have stayed, I wanted to stay, so you wouldn’t be you alone. However, I can’t keep myself here. What you did for me, I will be forever grateful. It is thanks to you that I’m able to leave. The whispers, they left for a little while. Your plan, it worked. I can’t thank you enough.   Do not give into despair,   Hyana.

    Comments

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    21 Sep, 2019 21:49

    What...an interesting...story. It is that rare breed of story that you hate to like. But, as much as I am loathe to admit it, I do like this story.

    22 Sep, 2019 15:12

    I'm glad did like it in the end!