The Wickerman


delia2_icon.gif s_huruma_icon.gif

Scene Title The Wickerman
Synopsis Trapped in a place she doesn't want to be and tied to a man that cuts her like a knife, Huruma's only savior is the nothing beyond.
Date December 2, 2010

The Edge of Might Be

Days, months, years, decades? The moon has been high in the sky for so long that the dark temptress has lost count of how many days she's been here. Hanging. Staring at the void of Nothing on the edge of Might Be that rings around one of the borders of All. Long ago, the amazon was deputy to the Marshal that protects the borderlands. She was lost during a raid on the township, taken by the half men as a hostage. When no one paid the ransom they demanded, they didn't cut her loose, they did something worse.

They crucified her.

They hung her by her wrists and ankles to a wickerman just on the edge of Nothing. Every few hours she can hear the cackling laugh of the half men just a few miles from her position. They watch, they wait, knowing that she will crack and beg them for mercy, beg them for death rather than fall into the void. In them, her soul would live on, perhaps in pieces, but she would be eternal. There… in the black… unfathomable.

The force that drove her to struggle against the bindings has all but actually left her; replaced by a perpetually dry mouth, ribs and bones and organs that feel as brittle as leaves in the late fall, dusty and cracked ebony skin. To say that she is a shell of her former self is not inaccurate, though it is not completely true. Every time she hears the voices in the distance, that light behind her pale eyes sparks just enough so that in her mind, she can curse them. Not only the half men, but those that failed to come for her. It wasn't right, that is all she knows. Whether for their own reasons, or reasons that were beyond control, this is the same place- the same wicker figure, with sharp sticks that have long since dug like thorns into her back.

The endless night has often assailed her with a choice- she could give herself up. Her pride has damned her to a continuous, unending ebb and flow between the void, or sacrificing herself for something always eternal. Pride damns her, and so does that lingering, biting need to not give her enemies an inch. Tonight is the same as it always has been- scowling with edged features at the distant noise, reflective eyes upturning to find the dangling moon.

The fight between her immortal and mortal selves is one that will take its own lifetime to play out; the battle between what she knows that she is, and what she may not be should the void swallow her whole. Fear, however, is always there- biting like the thorns in her back, omnipresent. The fear of being swallowed, the fear of nothing, the fear of a true death. Fear that she may not make a choice before it is too late, even if one of those choices is the same fate. Like the wicker man, she is unbending, unyielding, yet soft, and brittle, and dry as tinder.

The choice that they had offered, the one that has always been hers is quickly becoming just that. Too late. As the wisps of shadow lick the dust at the foot of the wickerman, a few tendrils reach up to caress her foot, stinging it with cold reality. Reality that all of this, is nothing. Everything she's believed all of her life, is nothing. That she does not exist.

The curls of umbra wind further up the legs of the wickerman, swallowing it in little pieces, causing it to teeter dangerously. It bends and leans down so far that the woman's nose nearly touches the void. Dangerously close before she suddenly feels something wrapping itself around her throat and choking her. The woman's head wrenches back against the wickerman and she's suddenly yanked backward to fall against the ground.

The thing uncoils itself and above her the pale moon shines down on her face. A shadow sweeps across her field of vision and she can feel something at one wrist. "Ssshhh," it beckons in a harsh whisper, sounding so much like the half-men. "You musssstt ssstay quiet."

Too late for a great many things. In that short span of seconds, whatever used to be hers, whatever she used to be wanting for- it flickers in her memory like embers, and as the wicker man crackles and leans, she reels back, face wrinkled and eyes widened into a panicked grimace. The spines digging into muscle and flesh dig in further still, when she pinches at her bindings to stay away from shadow crawling past her face. Pressure on her throat forces a rasp of air from her dry lips, peeled back into a snarl of hard teeth and parched tongue.

The moon mirrors on her eyes, what seems to be the last bit of moisture left in her. They shimmer in faint realization, followed by a faint hope, and then a flicker of determination. Wrists and ankles tug hard on bindings, sinewy frame writhing against the thorns. It sounds like a half-man, it moves like a half-man, it must be one. A snarl comes again, thrumming and growling in her chest.

"Ssshhhh," the hoarse whisper insists, "Don't make a sound, they'll get suspicious." Sounding less like a half man now and more like the voice of a young woman, Huruma can feel her right hand coming loose from its bindings. Another shadow passes quickly over her field of vision before her left hand feels the same freedom.

Two dry hands paw swiftly at the dark temptress' face, smoothing over her skin. The careful flutter of fingers stops before the mouth of a bottle is pressed to her lips and a sweet liquid is poured down her throat. A fruit nectar of some type. "Drink it… and please be quiet. If they know you're down, they'll come for both of us."

In front of Huruma, sits a female of the half-men. Tangled curls of red frame the outside of the mask and tumble down to the length of her middle back. The once white dress she wears is decorated with brown flowers that seep into one another. Whatever is untouched by the dried blood is dingy with dust. Overtop that she wears the duster of the Marshal.

Huruma is about to reach out and dig her hands into whoever- whatever- this is, until she feels fingers on her face and something at her lips. Instead of lashing out, her hands find wrists, fingers trailing down a pair of hands and onto the bottle practically being forced down her throat. So maybe this is not what she expected- if this thing is so insistent on doing something, she will stop growling, and start drinking. Granted, the liquid nearly makes her choke, a sputter coming out from her mouth between gulps.

A short hiss comes when the bottle is either emptied or taken away- whichever comes first. Her eyes wild, the hair takes up most of that which she sees first. It's not the blood, the mask, or the dress that she sees next, but the coat. The one thing that she does recognize as being severely out of place with this wiry creature.

Huruma sits up, torn flesh at her back bleeding sluggishly as it rips; her long arms reach out to snatch the female by the collar of the duster, making to yank her nearer. The gesture speaks for itself. Where did you get this?

The young woman stumbles and nearly falls to the ground with the strong pull. A cruel gesture after saving a life, for certain. One hand raises to lift the cub skull off her face and the answer to the silent question stares her plainly in the face. Forbidden eyes that match those of the Marshal himself greet the moon colored orbs of the dark woman. Her gaunt face, pale and bruised, looks hollow compared to when the young woman first disappeared.

The same night that started it all. The darkness, the void, all, and might be… Just days before Huruma herself was lost.

"You changed," Delia points out quietly, stating the obvious was always one of her gifts. "They tamed you." With that, she wrenches away from the amazon's grip and stands to her full height. While shorter than Huruma, from the darker woman's seated angle, she looks as tall as a skyscraper. "Get up, you have to go or you'll be lost."

"No." Huruma's wrenching away to unbind her feet cracks and snaps the wicker under her. "I refused terms of captivity." And they strung her up for it. The dark woman sways onto her feet, the jagged marks at her back bleeding rivulets down to her legs. One hand goes out to snag Delia by the collar again, half-inspection, and half-assertion. "I am no'th'only one to have changed." Her breath is a hiss between her teeth, but her knuckles loosen off of the duster and the same palm moves to smooth over the red mane, thumb searching lower for a cheekbone.

"You've been here, with them." The more wretched of half-men.

"I got lost," the reply comes with a pang of regret and the piercing blue eyes dull as the young woman flits her gaze down to the ground. "I got lost and I couldn't find my way back…" Which would explain what she's doing so far into Might Be. Lifting her hand, Delia pulls the bone mask down to cover her features and hunches down to look more like one of the hollow beings.

"I don't know if I'll ever be able to find my way back…" Her eyes flicker up to Huruma's meeting them with a stare that can't be considered kindly. "I don't have it as easy as you do." Whatever she means by that statement, the way she's looking at the woman doesn't bode well.

"They have all been looking for you… You can find your way back if you come with me." Huruma's stare down at her, though not unkind, is ultimately bitter- and she cannot ignore the one coming from the girl. "You think that I have it easy?" The bitterness comes out in her voice now, peppering the half-dry rasp with something unpleasant. "You have no idea."

"I owe you for helping me, but I cannot leave you here, an'I will no'listen t'such things."

As if timed, the cackle and yips of the coyotes echoes over the glassy plains causing the young woman's head to pivot towards them in panic. "You have an easier way of getting back than I do… I'm lost and I can't go with you. If I do, I'll die." Turning back toward Huruma, she pulls off the duster and holds it out for her to take. "Tell Dad and Lu that I'm here. That I'll be waiting."

As soon as the dark hands reach to grasp for the material the redheaded half-man pretender braces herself and pushes with all of her might. The force of the blow sends Huruma reeling backward, into the void, to the bleak Nothing. The last thing that can be seen or heard as the amazon melts into the umbra is the young woman looking down at her from the edge, "Don't forget…"

"I told your parents that I would look after you-" Huruma's inability to want to leave Delia behind allows the cries to come closer. It may have been a dream in which her mother told Huruma such a thing, but it was real enough. Her fingers are wound through the duster as it is handed over, and the force of the push that Delia abruptly centers on her cracks the edge under her feet and sends her toppling down. What? Rescue me to kill me? The arm that is not held through one arm of the duster scrabbles for purchase on the Nothing, but there is- and will be- nothing.

Nothing, until there is suddenly everything. Gravity, the world spinning and toppling in a sudden rush and buffet of dampened fabric and heavy wool. The hard floor wakes her, cold stone biting against limbs and the curve of her face; her own voice ringing and snarling in her ears. The tangle of blanket around her serves as an obstacle in pushing her to her knees. A disoriented look casts to the left, to the worn cot, now bare.

Don't forget, don't forget. How could she dare?

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