Hello fair readers, it's been awhile, I know. I just re-read one of my favorite childhood novel series and decided I just had to write a Fanfiction for it. I was disturbed to see how few there were. Bracken is just a really under-developed character if I must say, so I've decided to write part of the story in his perspective. You'll have to tell me whether I should do more, or what scenes they should be if I decide to make this more than a One-shot. As always reviews are appreciated.
How the Horse Saw It: Meeting Kendra
I stared up at the stone ceiling, thinking. Stuck in this human form, trapped in a secluded dungeon far beneath the earth, thinking was something that I did quite a lot of. Sometimes, though I had willingly chosen this state of existence, I wished for my equine form merely for the mindset.
Before I had given away my third horn, time seemed to move much faster, and in an almost dreamlike, peaceful way. I still thought and felt, but not in the same manner as my avatar. As a human, everything was more immediate and distinct. And for the past two-hundred odd years confined to this dark, rotting place, that was the exact opposite of what I needed. However, I had become quite intimate with the inner workings of my mind.
I thought about a lot of things. I thought about the Sphinx and his plans. I thought about my mother and the rest of the Fairy realm. I thought about myself and the other inmates. These and many other things occupied my mind.
But out of everything, what I thought of most were my memories of being outside. How I longed for the freedom of a wide open world to roam, to feel a cool breeze on my cheek, to smell the wildflowers and to see the vast blue sky. And above all else, I longed for the sun.
The years spent trapped in this damp hole in the ground have sucked even the memory of sunlight from my skin. True, the rec room had a lamp, and I had my glowing stone, but it was all so dim and lifeless in comparison. I would give anything to see even a small ray of the sun, to feel it's warm embrace.
I tried not to dwell on it too much.
After all, these last couple of days have been the most eventful this dungeon has seen in decades. I had many more pressing things to think about than sunlight. Not that my thinking about them will do anything to change matters, stuck as I was in this miserable place. We've had at least four new inmates, and one break out.
I never thought I'd see the day when someone managed to break out of Living Mirage. I'd attempted it several times during my stay here, but all my efforts failed. And then comes Seth Sorenson. He was one miraculous kid, with a resume that could give even the most experienced adventurers a run for their money. Killed a revenant, became a shadow charmer, and survived Wyrmroost to name a few, and that was only what little I had learned in my brief time with him. Pretty outstanding for a thirteen year old. And now add to that a daring escape from one of the most secure prisons in the world.
He said he was coming back for me. In a few hours, I might be finally free of this place. But I felt very anxious. I had denied myself that hope for so many years, and then for this chance to come so suddenly, it didn't seem real. Allowing myself to hope that tonight might finally be the night felt dangerous. But all the same, the hope in my chest bloomed almost painfully.
In my mind I was already making plans about how the situation with Zzyzx could be turned in our favor again, with the Translocator in hand, worlds of opportunity opened up. And Seth said he had the Chronometer too, that could be helpful. I would have to communicate with the Fairy Queen as soon as possible...
Footsteps in the corridor just up ahead brought me out of my contemplation. I halted and snuffed out my glowing stone. It made no difference really, I could see in the dark just as well. The stone was more for my own comfort.
I watched cautiously as a figure came around the corner. Sometimes guards would come to check out these long forgotten passage ways, and to make sure nothing too drastic was happening with the prisoners behind the scenes. Usually they turned a blind eye to our activities, but they had to keep up pretenses. If they found me roaming around, they would be obligated to punish me. And the punishment at Living Mirage was never pleasant, to put it mildly.
But I'd worried for nothing as a fellow inmate, Miguel Inacio, came into view. He was in his early 50's, with a heavy limp in his right leg and a long, scraggly beard. A former spy for the Knights of the Dawn, he was captured and brought here nearly twenty years ago. I lit my stone so he'd know I was here.
He didn't jump, didn't even flinch as I suddenly came into his view. He's been here long enough that nothing could surprise him anymore.
"Ah, Bracken, just the man I was looking for." He said with his slightly Hispanic accent. He looked half confused, and half amused. We were friendly with each other, sometimes spending time together digging out the same tunnel or playing ping pong in the rec room. But he never came looking for me.
"What's happened? Have you broken through to another chamber?" I asked. He spent even more time tunneling down here than I did, and that was saying something. He's discovered no less than four hidden rooms and dug ten separate tunnels in his time here. He was quite determined.
"No, it's something else. You know that kid who escaped recently?"
"Do you mean Seth?" I was confused. What could Miguel possibly know about Seth? He'd never even met him.
"Yeah him. Well I just so happened to be walking down the tunnel behind his cell and I heard the iron door open. I heard the guards talking, and it sounded like they put someone inside, seems like we have yet another new inmate."
"They've filled his cell?" I said in astonishment, "but it hasn't been more than a couple of hours since he escaped!" This made no sense at all, why would the Sphinx allow a new person into a cell that hadn't even been properly investigated after a break out? It wasn't right, it seemed too suspicious. The Sphinx was too careful of a man to make this sort of slip up. Which may mean that this new person is a spy he's planted in order to possibly gain some information on Seth. But even that seemed like too obvious a maneuver. Either way, I had better go check it out.
"Did you hear anything else? Do you know who's inside?" I asked. Miguel scratched his chin through his beard, looking thoughtful.
"There wasn't much to hear. The guards said something about 'orders from the top' and I thought I heard a girl's voice, but I can't be sure. That's all I can tell you I'm afraid."
Well, at least that confirms my suspicions about the placement being deliberate. But a girl's voice? He must've misheard. I nodded and thanked Miguel before setting off in the direction of Seth's old cell.
There were maybe a total of fifteen women currently imprisoned here out of the sixty-seven inmates that I knew of, most of which had cells in a completely different area of the dungeon for safety purposes. As misguided and even villainous as the Sphinx could be, he maintained a certain respect for women. And as unsavory as the truth was, a secluded dungeon filled with an overwhelming majority of desperate and depressed men, many of which weren't of the particularly respectable kind, was no place for a lady. There was a tunnel connecting the two sides of the prison, through which I had met Seth's friend Mara, but I was one of a very few who knew its location.
The Sphinx knew all this of course, which is why I couldn't understand why he would choose to put a female so far into the depths of the prison. Perhaps he put her there to disarm me? No, he knew that it would take more than that to fool me. I couldn't follow his train of thought, this all seemed so far out of character. Maybe she was highly dangerous and therefore needed to be placed in one of the higher security cells? But if that was true, than wouldn't she be in one of the cells without access to any of the tunnels?
As I rounded the last corner I thought I heard a feminine giggle through the walls. I stopped, startled. My hearing was good, better than a normal human's, but not that good. How had I heard such a small sound through the thick stone walls? Or perhaps a better question would be why was the girl inside laughing of all things?
I stood and contemplated for a moment. I now knew that the cell was indeed occupied, and by a female, just as Miguel had said. It's been so long since I'd heard a woman laugh, I'd forgotten how pleasant the sound was...but that was beside the point. The way I saw it, she was most likely a spy, but on the off chance that she was just another unlucky prisoner, I didn't want to go in hostile and frighten her. And even if she was a spy, it might be more prudent if I was pleasant to her anyways, to maybe get her guard down enough to obtain skin contact. That sounds rather inappropriate when phrased that way, but I need to touch her in order to gain access to her thoughts and emotions. That was the quickest way to see if she was trustworthy. It would be the same routine as with Seth. All the same, I tucked my small knife into my waistband for easy access. Then, I opened the wall.
My every coherent thought was immediately washed away as I was engulfed by blinding light. My eyes, so used to the dimness of the darkened tunnels, burned in the brightness, painful enough that I had to turn away. It was like staring directly at the sun. It was as pleasant as it was painful. More so, even. I raised my hand to shield my eyes from the light, trying to get a good look at the person in front of me. It was almost impossible.
"W-who are you?" A high, feminine voice asked hesitantly. I still could not look directly at her, but decided to stick to my earlier plan of being pleasant. She sounded nervous enough without me being confrontational.
"One of the neighbors." I said simply, being purposely vague, just in case she really did turn out to be a spy. "I thought my sources must have been mistaken when I'd heard that they'd already filled the vacancy here."
"You know who was here before?" The girl asked cautiously. Her voice was smooth and sweet, with a certain ring of innocence to it. It was disarming in a way that should ring alarm bells in my head, but for some reason didn't. Unicorns tend to be particularly drawn towards innocence, it wouldn't be too out of the question for the Sphinx to use that against me.
"I do." I stated. I tried to sneak a peek at her, but only caught the brief outline of her silhouette before the light forced me to turn away again. "Can you turn it down a little?" It was quite difficult trying to hold a conversation with someone you can't see.
"Excuse me?" She inquired, a little louder than her last question.
"Hit the dimmer or something, you're shining like a lighthouse." I told her as I forced myself to look in her direction. I could vaguely make out her shadowy figure before having to look away once again. My eyes were gradually starting to adjust to the new light source. I suppose it was taking longer than it should have because of the profound absence of such light for the past couple hundred years. I forced myself to look at her face, catching a glimpse of green eyes before looking away, eyes watering. I blinked it away.
"Most people can't see my light, including me." She said, suspicion creeping into her voie. And suddenly, I realized that the light was indeed on a completely different spectrum than most. But I know of only one type of mortal being that could give off such light unintentionally... Overwhelmed by curiosity to see if my assumption was correct, I tried to keep my eyes open as I stared just to the right of her.
"Right. Give me a moment. My eyes will adjust." I told her. Ever so slowly her glowing form started coming into focus as I forced my head to gradually turn in her direction. Although she was still blurry, the pain was slowly slipping away, enough for me to look straight at her without feeling like something was stabbing my retinas.
"Okay, I think I can handle it." I said quietly as her body came into sharper focus. I think I may have stopped breathing for a moment when I could finally really see her. The best I could describe her was as I pictured an angel might look. An ethereal being surrounded by an aura of warm, intense light, like a single star in a vast black sky. No, like the sun. My own personal sun come to bring light to my eternal existence in the dark. I had dreamed for hundreds of years to see something like this again. "Wow, you'll never be dim." I told her, awestruck.
As for her physical appearance, she couldn't have been more than fifteen or sixteen, younger than I had expected. But she was quite beautiful, in a unique way. Her green eyes were large and expressive, with flecks of gold near the pupils. Her face was round, but with high cheekbones spattered with light freckles. Her nose was straight and her bottom lip was quite a bit fuller than the top. She had wheat blond hair that waved gently down to her middle back. But what struck me overall was how very innocent she looked, like all the hardships of life might have passed her by. But of course, if she was who I thought she was, than that couldn't be true. But with her bright, open face, her blinding radiance, it was hard to believe I'd ever suspected her of anything malicious at all.
It took me a moment to realize I was staring at her. I scrambled to find something to say. I still wasn't much of a socializer, and it was at times like this where I wished I'd practiced more.