Lihan Hawkhome, Part III

Friday August 22, 2003 @ 01:14 PM (UTC)

Part I thrilled you. Part II showed you the meaning of fear. This summer, it’s a new kind of backstory.

Lihan barely breathed as the feet stalked nearer. The bed creaked, and the feet tucked back, heels only inches from his nose. Tiny soundless bells swung from the golden slippers.

“Hello,” said a voice, and Lihan was sure he had been detected. “You are so small,” it said, “So small to fill a room with fear, and fast asleep.” It was talking to Ida. Its voice sounded like a carillon, ringing but staccato and hollow. “Perhaps it’s having a nightmare. I do love a good nightmare.”

Lihan did not, could not, think of his sister. She was lost. All he could think of was his mother. She was probably already gone, too, stunned and stacked with the others like fine pelts, in the back of some vehicle drawn by a phantasm and bound for oblivion. That’s what she had told him they did, the fell beauties that fed on emotion, were drawn by fear… Lihan very nearly swore again, breaking his silent clench. It had sensed him. Mama said they could smell, or feel, fear… I mustn’t be afraid… he imagined every dream, feeling, and hope, draining from him. Be brave! He saw blue glittering eyes drawing near him, he felt his soul ebbing… Don’t be afraid, idiot! He saw the fae’s vast, warped palaces in his mind, towers made of sky growing out of the earth — his heart slowed. Impossible towers where you could climb forever and never travel anywhere. He could breathe again. Don’t think about the Fae.

He closed his eyes to the clear towers of flesh rising from the slippers, and sculpted an impenetrable fortress out of a rock in the Southern Desert. A cunningly concealed tunnel led to a windship and freedom. He laced together a city among the lofty tree-tops, and moored a secret airship in the branches for his own emergency use. He designed a pleasure palace with a thousand hidden passages promising escape. He opened his eyes at a sound, and saw the fine slippers moving off, Ida’s sudden bawling receding with them. He did not pay attention. He would build a temple from the coiled heap of a marble dragon, and leave its innards hollow and smooth, a chute to spit him down to the temple garden.

It was two days until he heard a sound he allowed himself to hear.

“By the Wind Snake’s fewmets,” a deep voice said. It was a rough voice. It swore.

Lihan couldn’t remember words at first. “Buttress!” he shouted weakly, “Cart!” finally, he dredged forth, “Please!”

“Trefoil, Hamit, I heard something!” The deep voice yelled, “Cover me!”

“River!” Lihan squeaked, as he threw his stiff arms out towards the mud-caked hob-boots. “Water…help…” he grated. He tried to cry as they pulled him from under the bed, but there were no tears left in his dusty eyes.

To be continued…


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