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Author Topic: [Story] Gretchen and Jebby  (Read 3686 times)
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Gredavin
Heepa-Heepa


Spell Energy / Taint +2/-0
Posts: 21


« on: August 09, 2006, 10:03:44 AM »

Gretchen found herself in a bit of a predicament. It happened every few days or so when the moon was particularly bright. Cracks formed like a shattered mirror and they stretched out around her in the middle of the frozen lake. Lake Dumneer was only one mile from her home village of Bransk, but it was infinitely farther given her circumstances. Why she woke up here she still didn’t know but Gretchen had never been in danger from falling through the ice. Spring was on its way. The child clutched at the ragged bear doll as the ice creaked and groaned beneath her feet. She tried not to cry, to be brave even, but it was very hard. Wide eyes filled with tears, but she wouldn’t give in.

“Jebby, you will protect me right?” Gretchen asked, holding out her bear and looking at the lifeless stuffed animal as though it would give advice. In her mind, the white bear was nodding and gently comforting her with warm snuggles. Gretchen had found Jebby a few days into the winter. He washed up on the shore of the lake before the cold had set in deep enough to layer it in ice. Since then, she was hardly seen without it.

“Well of course, Gretchen, if this here ice breaks, I’ll just swim you back to the shore, I am a north bear after all,” she said in the best deep bear voice she could muster.

The young girl tried a few cautious steps forward, retracting her step when cracks spider webbed around her bare toes. Gretchen knew her mother would have been very angry if she caught her out here in nightclothes. Gretchen didn’t want the coughing sickness, and she would have dressed warmer if she knew she was going outside. Gretchen shivered when she thought of what her father would say. She knew no matter how many times she said ‘but father”, he was still going to be quite upset. If only she could tell them that she loved being in the snow and that bundles of clothes only got in the way of playing. Gretchen knew none of that mattered now; she had to find a way to get home.

The ice was growing thinner as the moon disappeared and the sun took its place. The first rays of light were coming up over the horizon. The glare reflected from the frozen snow on the lake was blinding. Gretchen sat down as softly as possible and she cringed when she heard the rumble of the ice shifting.

“I don’t know, Jebby, I think you got us both into some serious trouble,” she said, shaking a finger at the bear. The bear stared back at her with black button eyes.

“You could go to the other side of the lake, Gretchen, its closer and the ice looks less dangerous if you ask me,” she said again in her Jebby voice. Gretchen didn’t know why she said such things, but she loved the connection it gave her to Jebby when she was all alone. Each time this happened, she said the same thing. You could go to the other side of the lake, Gretchen, its closer and the ice looks less dangerous if you ask me. She always wanted to but Gretchen had resisted. In the end, she always made it home safely.

“Alright, you are a north bear so you probably know better,” Gretchen replied and gave her Jebby a huge hug. With little steps she turned herself around to face the other direction. She desperately wanted to see her mother and father so that they could hold her by her hands and lead her off of the lake. Gretchen hesitated, hoping that they might come and take her away. They didn’t, so she put a foot forward and ignored the groaning ice. With Jebby hugged tight against her chest, she put another foot forward, and then another until she finally came to a place where the ice wasn’t creaking anymore. The sun continued to rise, shining brighter as the burning circle floated aloft in the sky. Gretchen had to shield her eyes just to see where she was going. It seemed like forever to the young Dornish girl, but soon enough she could see the other side of the lake. Gretchen had never been this far away from her home before. She became excited when she saw buildings in the distance; was it another town?

“Jebby, maybe there is people there who can get me home to father and mother,” she exclaimed, twirling Jebby in the air as she spun around.

“Oh, I don’t know about that Gretchen, I have a feeling all of those people are dead,” Gretchen said in her Jebby voice. She stopped and looked down at the bear. What had she just said?

Goosebumps crawled over her flesh and she dropped Jebby on the ice of Lake Dumneer. Black button eyes stared up at her. Maybe she just imagined it. She tried to convince herself of it. Gretchen’s mother always said she had a very powerful imagination. She giggled, in a way that people often do when they are frightened.

“Jebby?” She waited and stared. Nothing.

An icy blast of wind cut across the open lake, tossing the girl’s nightclothes frantically against her body. It hardly fazed her. For a long time she stared at the animal, afraid to even move. The sun was getting warmer and the ice was buckling under the strain. Gretchen knew she had to go, but she was terrified to go along and she was terrified to take Jebby with her. In the end, isolation was far worse than her imagination acting frightfully real.

“Alright Jebby, I don’t blame you for being a naughty bear, please don’t say those things again,” Gretchen said as she picked up her bear. She didn’t hug him as close as before. It was near high sun when Gretchen stepped off of the lake and onto the shores of the mysterious village. The town was set in the middle of a wooded glen and it was covered in snow and frost. The snow was deep, as high as Gretchen’s knees. She sighed. “Well, should we go see if anyone is home?” Gretchen asked without even realizing it. She looked at the bear and her heart went to her throat. Quickly, she put a hand over her mouth and shook her head no. She wasn’t going to let the bear speak.

Putting the bear from her thoughts, Gretchen trudged through the snow and went deeper into the village. It was quite obvious from the moment she entered the outskirts that no one had been here in a long time. Snow had completely engulfed the buildings and there was no sign anyone had disturbed it in any way. Not even animal tracks. Gretchen noticed these things; her father was a very talented hunter and as far back as her memory went, she remembered his teachings in the wilderness. She also remembered his words of warning. If animals avoid an area, so should you. Even if daddy is with you, it can be very dangerous. Gretchen tightened her grip on Jebby even though she found no comfort in the bear anymore. She wanted to be home right now, tucked behind her father’s legs, peeking out at the world from the safest place she knew. The wind nipped at her bare legs but she hardly noticed. How was she going to get home she wondered.

A twig snapped, breaking her reverie. Gretchen froze; her muscles and body tensed as she turned her head towards the sound. Several figures were moving in her direction. She hesitated to move but a voice inside told her to find a place to hide. Gretchen obeyed and pulled herself through the deep snow and she ducked into the closest building. She was lucky; one of the snow drifts had forced a door open enough for her to slip through. Gretchen waited. Her heart raced and her breathing quickened.

They were closer, Gretchen could hear voices grow louder the closer they came. They weren’t pleasant, and they were saying things she didn’t understand.

“Their words are ugly,” Gretchen said to herself in a whisper.

“Goblins,” Gretchen said in her deep bear voice.

“No… no… please don’t speak Jebby… please don’t speak anymore,” she said shaking the bear and trying not to cry. The bear listened; it said nothing more and only stared at her with black button eyes. Gretchen realized the travelers outside had stopped talking. In fact, it was completely quiet again. Her heart drummed in her ears. Something was moving through the snow outside the cabin.

Crunch, crunch, crunch…

It grew louder.

Crunch, crunch, crunch…

Gretchen slowly backed away from the door. Her eyes were wide with fear and her skin was crawling. Gretchen felt the wall against her back; if she could have pushed herself through it, she would have. A shadow appeared against the inside of the door, and the snarly voice whispered something. It was right outside the door.

“Jebby… please speak… say anything… help me Jebby, please,” the child whimpered as she started to sob.

“I will protect you,” Gretchen said in Jebby’s voice. Three creatures, not much larger than she, stepped through the door. They had sharp sticks in their hands and shiny coverings on their bodies. Vicious, pointy teeth glistened in the sun and their black beady eyes absorbed any light their teeth didn’t attract. She couldn’t hold on to the stuffed bear, her hands were shaking so badly that it slipped from her grip. When Jebby hit the ground, the world stopped. Gretchen could not see straight, but screams were all around her. The cabin spun around her, blurring like a wet painting alive with bright colours of red, silver and white. The fear was gone; in this place between worlds it felt like hiding behind her fathers’ legs. The safest place she knew.

Moments passed and her vision returned to her. Gretchen found herself outside again and she was standing knee deep in the snow in the middle of the village. The cabin was a good distance away but Gretchen could see a bright red colour in the snow at the doorway. The sun reflected off metal that was cast about the red snow. She started to move towards it, to get a closer look.

“Gretchen stop… let’s go home,” she said in the bear’s voice. Gretchen held up the bear and smiled at it. Black button eyes stared back at her.

“Yes sir, Jebby,” she said in a cheery voice. Jebby had saved her life, and she loved him very much for that. With Jebby tucked under her arm, Gretchen walked out of the ghost village. Little did Gretchen realize that they way she was going would never bring her home.

In the distance, a wolf watched her disappear from view with intelligent, curious eyes.
« Last Edit: May 05, 2007, 12:18:16 PM by Nifelhein » Logged
Gredavin
Heepa-Heepa


Spell Energy / Taint +2/-0
Posts: 21


« Reply #1 on: August 09, 2006, 10:04:13 AM »

Gretchen didn’t remember falling asleep but when she woke up the landscape around her was different. She recalled the tiring climb up the side of a slippery hill and the brief encounter with a flock of ravens at the top, but all around her was endless frozen wasteland. Now Gretchen found herself in a thick forest of oak, birch and elm trees. It was nighttime and the moon was dull behind a light lacing of grey clouds. A harsh winter wind howled through the trees and it blew loose snow into the air. Gretchen covered her eyes to protect them from the tiny frozen flakes that felt like sand against her skin. Jebby was lying face down in the snow bank next to Gretchen. She reached down and picked up the white, furry bear.

“Are we almost home, Jebby?” Gretchen asked as she brushed the snow off of his body. Jebby had little to say since the events back in the abandoned village. Gretchen couldn’t remember even speaking in his voice for the past several days.

The sun had come up and gone away five times and still she felt no closer to home than when she left. She wondered if maybe her father was on his way to find her. Every morning she looked for signs on him, any evidence that said he was nearby. Gretchen never found any and each day that passed she felt more alone and scared. The raven that was perched on a crooked tree branch above her didn’t help either. Gretchen had tried to ignore the noisy bird for several days and had even attempted to scare it off by throwing balls of snow at it. Still it followed, watching her every step of the way.

The day was coming to an end and Gretchen felt the familiar tug to move on. The girl had seen little on her journey other than the vast expanse of snow covered plains and the rare patch of wooded land. Despite how aimless the path felt, Gretchen somehow knew that her family waited on the other end. A subtle voice inside of her had kept her going when she wanted to quit. Gretchen could always hear it and it prodded her along when she was awake and as she slept. She felt the urge to face the bird as it cawed loudly in the tree. She stared at the mangy black bird and waited. The bird stared back and after several moments it launched itself into the air and flew away from her. Gretchen instinctively followed.

Gretchen traveled long through the night without a single stop along the way. The woods disappeared shortly after she set out. A long, winding valley set between the hill she stood on and another snaked its way further into the darkness. Gretchen could barely make out the crow in the night but she was able to follow it by the weak moonlight. The bird wheeled in the sky and turned circles that grew smaller as it soared into the valley below. Gretchen sighed and carefully navigated her way down the hillside. She held onto Jebby extra tight and hoped that his protection would keep her safe again.

Jebby proved reliable and Gretchen found herself in the heart of the valley. In its centre was a frozen river covered in snow beset on either side by slick, ice covered stones and pebbles. The bird was perched on a log branch that jutted out from the middle of the frozen river. It flapped its wings and then pecked at them with a sharp beak. After a brief silence, the crow shot up into the air and flew further on into the valley. Gretchen walked along the side of the river and followed its twists and turns as the bird seemed to be leading her. She had a sense of urgency about her journey now and it was the black bird that drove her onward. Gretchen was certain that home was at the end of the valley, she had traveled far too long to be anywhere else. Ahead a crumbling stone bridge stood against the backdrop of a bleak winter night. The bird was perched upon it, waiting.

“How much longer till I get to see mother and father, Jebby,” Gretchen asked as she continued on towards the crow.

“You must decide, Gretchen. I believe you are about to be offered the choice,” Gretchen said, answering her own question in a funny bear voice. She looked to the bird and it stared back at her. There was something different about the way it regarded her. Gretchen saw something in it now that she only realized as she came closer. The bird wasn’t as menacing as she thought, but rather, it was pleading with her. Its eyes told a story similar to hers. It was lost in the white wilderness and it sought the same goal; home. Gretchen smiled and reached out for the crow with a timid hand.

“You may speak if you choose, human,” the crow said in her native tongue.

Gretchen jumped back and shrieked. It had startled her but she was not frightened. After the incident with Jebby there was very little that made her afraid. She stepped closer to the crow.

“I choose to speak human,” Gretchen said. She smiled when the bird chuckled even though she didn’t understand why or how it would do so.

“There is one that comes for me,” the crow said, “a dark man who would choose my destiny. I owe this man nothing. In my lifetime I have learned many things and have come to understand that I am the master of my fate. I have learned to speak and think as your kind do. I am more than my brothers and sisters. You have ignited that curiosity in me once again and I wish to travel with you so I may learn more. There is one matter that needs to be resolved first, and I was hoping that you could help me.”

Gretchen nodded and gripped Jebby in her hands, squeezing the stuffing of the bear. She looked down at him and brushed his forehead with her hand.

“What do you think, Jebby, should we help this smart bird?” She waited for an answer, but none came. Gretchen was frustrated; Jebby only seemed to have answers when she already knew in her heart what the right path was. She swallowed and made the decision on her own. Father would have been proud. “I will help you smart bird, but what can I do to help you? I am only a young kid!”

“Oh, you have talents child that you have yet to realize,” the crow replied, his black beady eyes twinkling with mischief.

Gretchen caught movement on the crest of the far hill.

“Hide,” she said in the bear voice and then instinctively ducked beneath the stone bridge. Gretchen pulled her legs tight to her chest and tried to calm her breathing.

“It is with this that I need your help,” Gretchen heard the crow say from the bridge. “The master has come to take me to his home. Go, speak with him and send him on his way.”

Gretchen delayed. She was uncertain of what he had gotten herself into. It was a moment where her imagination ran away with her. She pictured the creatures from the village waiting for her at the top of the hill with sharp sticks and yellow teeth. Gretchen remembered the way they snarled and hissed at her. She didn’t want to live through that again.

“Gholax!”

Gretchen perked her head up at the sound of the deep human voice. She inched her way from under the bridge to get a peek at who was speaking.

“It is time to return home, Gholax. This is the last time you will defy me, I can assure you. You are to be destroyed for your disobedience. I can sense you in the valley, no matter where you go I will find you.”

Gretchen didn’t like the way the man spoke to smart bird, but it was the first human voice she had heard since she was home. Maybe the man knew where her village was. She couldn’t make out any details so Gretchen stepped out from the under the bridge and began to walk up the side of the hill. Smart bird had told her to go speak with him. She could trust him; he was a smart bird after all.

As Gretchen clambered up the side of the hill, the shadows that hid the man shriveled away in the moonlight until she could finally see him. He was a large man with features very much like her people. He wore shiny armour that covered most of his body and a beautiful purple robe that flowed down his back. Beneath him was a powerful horse, it was such a large size that Gretchen was certain it could only have been a dream. It was when she saw the weapon at his side that she second guessed her meeting with the man. By that time he had already spotted her.

“You! Come out from there,” he commanded in a deep booming voice.

His voice reminded Gretchen of her father’s when she had done something bad and he was upset with her. It was a voice that she instinctively obeyed. Gretchen stepped out of the valley onto the plain.

“Who are you, child,” the man asked as he circled his horse about and trotted in her direction.

“I am Gretchen of Bransk,” she said in a shaky voice. Gretchen felt the urge to bow to the man, but she wasn’t sure why. Jebby’s eyes told her that it was the right thing to do. She bowed quickly.

“There is no need for that. Stand up foolish child,” the big man said while he dismounted from the horse. “What are you doing out here?”

“I am going home,” Gretchen replied. She struggled to make eye contact with the towering man. He came closer and when he was only a few feet away he kneeled down in front of her to get a better look.

“You are wearing nightclothes,” the man exclaimed, “you cannot be far from home, child.”

“Jebby said I have to make a decision if I want to go home, but I don’t know what it is. Maybe he means if I help smart bird or not,” Gretchen said as she rocked the bear in her arms. The man was watching the white bear with narrowed eyes.

“Where did you find that bear, Gretchen,” the man asked. He had not even looked her yet, other than to notice she was wearing her night clothes and the bear in her arms. Gretchen didn’t like him asking questions about Jebby, it made her feel threatened.

“I found him in my village,” she said without adding anything else.

“I see. Well, I suppose that…” the man stopped short when he finally looked her in the eye. His face paled and his hands trembled. He fell onto his backside and covered his mouth. “Your eyes child… your eyes.”

“My eyes?” Gretchen asked as she wrinkled her nose.

“Shadow hide my presence here… protect me!” The man said as he fumbled with the latch that held his sword in the scabbard. Gretchen was frightened and she looked at Jebby for morale support. The bear stared back at her with black button eyes.

“He means to hurt you, Gretchen, he wants to cut you with his blade,” Gretchen said the bear voice.

Protect me, Jebby,” Gretchen said as she dropped the white bear. Jebby tumbled through the air and hit the snow with a flash of searing light. Gretchen smiled as the world blurred and she felt safe again. The pretty pattern of colours flashed around her like the patches from her favourite blanket. The screams sent a shiver down her spine, but nothing could touch her in this fortress of colour and sound. Jebby would see to that.

She was tired when it all stopped and quite sore as well. Gretchen smiled down on the white bear with black button eyes.

“Look at the pretty red colour on your fur, Jebby, so very pretty!” Gretchen said as she hugged her stuffed bear tightly. She looked around and in the distance Gretchen could see the sun coming up over the horizon. Light reflected off of silver on the edge of the hill leading into the valley. Smart bird was next to her hopping on the snow.

“You did well Gretchen, you sent him on his way,” the crow said. “Now, I can travel with you and not worry about what tomorrow may bring.”

“Then it’s just the three of us,” Gretchen said giggling. “Three friends on a journey home.”
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Gredavin
Heepa-Heepa


Spell Energy / Taint +2/-0
Posts: 21


« Reply #2 on: August 09, 2006, 10:04:27 AM »

The fire flared high into the sky. It was visible for miles across the barren white plains, a searing red beacon that warned the wise to keep their distance and invited curious fools to fall into its embrace. Black smoke coiled into the starry night sky as the inferno devoured the thatched roofs of Huntsman Borough. There were no villagers to staunch the growing flame with blanket or bucket of water. There were bodies, hundreds of scorched, twisted corpses that in their final moments had seen some ghastly horror. They were forever frozen in terror, immobile until the very moment the flames claimed their souls. Splatters of gore and fur lay scattered about the heart of Huntsman Borough, evidence of the animals that had exploded before the fires even started. As the night grew longer, the village of Huntsman Borough became a charred tomb and as the flames finally lingered in the early morning light of the dawn, only the shadow cast by a small girl remained.

A cold southerly wind scattered the dust of the village across the plains, blowing the remnants of its inhabitants into history. The biting air tossed the small girl’s dress against her legs. She shivered, but not because of the cold.

“Did we find what we were looking for Jebby,” Gretchen asked as she held the bear with her outstretched left arm. The bear’s black button eyes faced out towards the village.

“Yes, Gretchen, we found exactly what we were looking for,” Gretchen growled.

“Good, this place is creepy and it smells funny,” the little girl said. “Like when mommy used to cook the chicken for too long.” Gretchen turned around sharply when she heard a child giggling. There was no one there. Flesh bumps crawled up her pale skin and suddenly the village loomed like the bug monster from her nightmares. The impish laughter slowly died away and the little girl stared wide eyed into the heart of Huntsman Borough.

“Stop playing mean games, Gholax,” Gretchen cried out, looking to the skies as the raven wheeled about in the smoky sky.

“I play no games, little one, I am watching over you to keep you safe,” Gholax said in a voice only Gretchen could hear, a voice that felt strongly like it was only in her mind.

“Alright, Gholax… I believe you.” She felt the urge to move on, to leave the scary place behind her. There was no time to dawdle, something always kept Gretchen moving forward. The terror expedited what she already felt deep inside. In the far off distance, Gretchen could see a lake shimmering like a thousand icicles in the morning sun. It was unfathomably large; she could not see the end from one side or the other.

“The Pellurian, child, a landmark on our journey,” Gretchen whispered in a raspy voice.

“It’s ever so big, Jebby, how could we ever get around it,” Gretchen asked with wide eyes as she tucked a loose strand of flaxen blonde hair behind her ear.

“There is one who waits for us, Gretchen, someone who is very eager to see us,” Gretchen growled. She looked down at her right hand, a soot covered hand that clutched a smoking torch. Gretchen dropped it on the snowy ground and the torch hissed with the remaining heat caught in the embers.

The answer was all she needed; knowing someone waited for them was comforting. Teddy bear in tow and raven overhead, Gretchen journeyed on to the Pellurian.
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IORNBORN
Insurgent Spy
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Spell Energy / Taint +0/-0
Posts: 116


WE WILL ALL SOMEDAY DIE. . . I CHOOSE TO DIE FREE!


« Reply #3 on: August 28, 2006, 12:51:51 AM »

BRAVO SIR!

You have me hooked and waiting for the next part of this story!  Who is good and who is evil?  Is the girl undead? I gits to know!

IORNBORN
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Gredavin
Heepa-Heepa


Spell Energy / Taint +2/-0
Posts: 21


« Reply #4 on: August 28, 2006, 10:50:22 AM »

Iornborn,

Thank you for reading the story. It is a piece I really love, and was one of the last Midnight themed stories I wrote.

Unfortunately, it has taken a backburner status as I write and work on other non Midnight related stories. I do plan to return to the story, albiet in a new approach. Gretchen and Jebby will be stripped from the Midnight world and thrown into 18th Century America during the Salem Witchhunt. It'll be an interesting change, but one that fits rather well.

When I return to it, I will post the story here.

Again, thanks!

Gred (Kurtis Wiebe)
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Pheros
Avatar of the Witch Queen
*****

Spell Energy / Taint +6/-2
Gender: Male
Posts: 1,502



WWW
« Reply #5 on: August 29, 2006, 12:42:52 AM »

That's quite a change Gred!  Though, I'm sure you'll do a good job of it regardless of the surrounding story, so keep up the story.

Joe
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