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Friday, March 7, 2014

Ghost of the Crystal - Part 1

This is my entry to the Dark Crystal Author Quest.  I decided to split it up into several parts.  To see it all, go to the "Dark Crystal" label on my sidebar.

Ghost of the Crystal part 1

Branches and twigs whipped against Tyrin as he rushed through the woods, tearing at his weathered clothing.  These strange, dark woods were filled with dangers, but he ignored them.  He ignored the bite of the cold night air, the sting of the thorns that brushed against his shins and arms.  He ignored the nets and ropes that would sometimes spring up at his heels, each one threatening to end his hasty journey.  Tyrin instead kept his mind focused on where he was going.  Every sense was at its peak.  They had to be to notice the traps that lay before him.  Although the screams of his companion had died away, he didn’t hesitate or try to find his bearings; that would only bring disaster.  All he could do was head towards where he remembered her voice calling from.
The darkness of the woods lifted in an instant as he burst into a large clearing.  Before him lay the only sight that would give him pause: Morra.  She hung doubled-over from the limb of a magnificent, gnarled tree.  Had it not been for her silver hair, Tyrin would have mistaken her for one of the tree's many seed pods that were suspended around the clearing.  A rope was tied around her mid-section, binding her arms to her sides.  She dangled above a slender spear made from the blackest of woods.  It was planted in the ground with its fang-sharp tip facing the girl.  Tyrin instantly recognized the makeshift weapon; he had fashioned it himself.  However, this trap was certainly not one set by gelfling hands.
After a moment of inspection, Tyrin heaved a sigh of relief and walked towards the girl and the spear.  When she heard his footfalls, Morra's ear twitched.  She lifted her head, brow wrinkled with lines of worry.
"Tyrin!" she said in a hushed tone.
"Morra!  You're all right!  I was so worried," he said, speaking louder than he meant to. "Is he nearby?"
"I don't think so.  Tyrin, don't come any closer!  It's a trap!"
Tyrin chuckled.  "Well, I can see that.  Now give me a moment and I'll have you out of there," he said.  "First I need to get rid of this thing…"  He stepped up the spear and reached out to grab it with his strong, callused fingers.
"No!  You don't understand!  It's a trap for you!"
Her words were too late.  He had already pulled the spear free.  The ground gave way under his feet.  The look of terror on Morra's face grew further away as he fell into shadow.
Tyrin gripped the spear tightly.  He had only met Morra that night, and already he had seen that expression of dread on her face twice.  Broken bits of wooden lattice tumbled about him.  When he looked down, Tyrin saw nothing but blackness.  Instinct kicked in and he tried to pull the spear down to give him something to hold onto.  Instead, the ends lodged themselves into the soft, moist dirt and held fast.  Tyrin nearly lost his grip when it jolted to a halt.  One hand slipped free, but he managed to find purchase in the dirt wall with his foot and push up to the spear, then wrapped his arms and legs around it.  The dirt settled.  His eyes adjusted.  He was trapped near the bottom of a narrow pit.
"Tyrin?  Are you all right?" Morra called.  The urgency in her voice had changed to concern.
"I think so.  I can't believe I fell for such an obvious trick."
Tears welled in Morra's eyes.  "Tyrin, I'm so sorry.  I didn't want anything bad to happen to anyone. I should have just let him have me."
"Don't say that.  As long as we're still alive, we have to keep trying, to keep fighting.  I think I can see the bottom, now.  It's not far.  I'm going to try to jump for it."  He let himself hang by his arms and swung his legs back and forth.  Tyrin let go, throwing himself at the curved wall of the pit.  His tough hands scrabbled at the dirt and slowed his fall enough so that he landed on the earthen ground without injury.  "I made it!"
As he wiped the dirt from his hands, Tyrin took in his surroundings.  The ground was littered with bits of broken wood that had once made up the trap he had triggered.  The dirt walls were moist and free of roots or handholds.  He leaned his back against the wall and sighed.  "Now what?  I can't reach the spear.  There's no way out.  How did I find myself in this situation?"
Morra clenched her jaw through the tears.  "Tyrin, don't you dare give up like that," she said sternly.  "You just told me that we had to keep fighting, and you were right.  We just need a plan.  Can you climb at all?"
"It's too wet and slippery.  There's some wood down here.  Maybe I can use it."  Tyrin put his mind to escaping and gathered up some lengths of wood.  He tore his sleeves off and ripped them into strips, which he used to bind the wood into a pole.  "I don't know if this is going to work…" he said as the pole grew longer with each addition.  When he leaned it up against the side and tested its strength, it held steady.  Tyrin grinned and started climbing up the pole.
"Morra, it's working!  Morra?  What's that light?"  He fell silent just as he reached the spear.  A deep, menacing breath echoed down the into the pit, making Tyrin's hair stand on end.

"Hhahhh… Thought you could get away?"  The voice was raspy, almost like a breathy growl, and deep.  Before Tyrin could react, a thin, translucent arm reached into the pit.  It grabbed the pole and twisted with immense strength.

[ Link to Part 2 ]

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