Contributed by Lucas Fisher
In a strange, chaotic and eerie realm, tucked in the deepest and darkest corners of reality, Clementine sat in the darkness. Misplaced to a locked, elongated room full of lost souls, she sat on the stone “ground” which sits oddly and uncomfortably close to the ceiling. Day by day the human sentries drag a soul using their magic, out of the prison and into unknown facilities, almost never to be seen again. At night, the children weep for the distant memories of their loved ones whose faces illuminate from a seemingly fictional sunlight. They knew that both torchlight and the shine in their dreams are different by the color.
Her feet locked in chains, Clementine stayed hopeful after three failed attempts at escape. When the humans initially gathered her species’ children for tests, some were taken away immediately while others were placed into this side dungeon. The stone and metal casings weren’t attuned to drowning out sound. The screams and various shrieks haunted them, until the tortured came back, always broken. Clementine was once taken there for an attempt to escape. Her lash marks echoed with her undying spirit. However, in one of the escape plans, she was able to procure a single accessory - a quaint yellow umbrella. The stones in the walls were loose next to her, providing a hiding place for her material.
Kept with terrible hygiene and terrible periods of sitting, no one talked. No one ever saw hope in their confined lives. The day finally came when Clementine’s shackles were broken, and the magical tug of her essence extracted her into the sentries’ arms, then a cage. Up winding stairs, they climbed as a distant feeling washed over her. The chill of wind. After pacing out of the stone confines, she saw the beginning of metal walls that hindered her before. Portholes gleamed with light so blinding and bright that it was unbelievable. Her sharp eyes needed adjustment, meek ears needed tuning to fill the silence once more. And then she was almost there.
The angry and bitter humans made a crossing, from one area of the vessel to the next with a shortcut. A bridge with no handles or railings amidst clouds. Seeing the turbines that hummed in the background, seeing the maw of air and no ground in sight, finally horrified her. Clementine had sulked through hallways, vents, and between walls diligently enough to realize why this flying monstrosity is named the Cloud. From below, the land never saw a bright sun from darkened green clouds, only an orange beacon radiating, illuminating off the peak of the Cloud. Back into the depths, her cage rolled.
Across corridors filled to the brim with separate hallways and rooms, Clementine was pushed into a private, tiny chamber that was laid out similar to a living room. Book shelves held vials of unknown substances and the hearth crackled in flames, all a center of attention to a thick wooden desk, plump chair and a couch woven from soft silk (seemingly). Her cage was abandoned to wait for a human. In the dungeon, the prisoners weren’t all like her, they weren’t a Stalker as she was, the humans needed children in general from the breeds of evolved felines with magic to races of the Stalker. For comfort, Clementine clung to her Mother’s words:
Love is eternal.
When writhing sounds of silence loomed around her, a man came in. His presence made her soul yearn to tesser, to perform an act of magic only those trained in humanistic arts could perform. With a wave of his finger, the cage unlocked and he asserted himself into the chair. The practitioner as he was.