TWILIGHT’S DREAMING, CHAPTER 8

Chapter 8

With an awesome force

The maiden dreams of dying

A sunlit tower

 

“When Hayaoh awoke and found the space beside him empty, his behavior was strange to behold. Rather than panic or confusion, his first reaction was a sad, resigned acceptance, as if he always feared this day would come. Perhaps she was a dream and nothing more, he thought. Perhaps her love was more than I deserved…

Then, in the pale morning light, he saw a scrap torn from Shizuka’s bedclothes, stained with threads of her blood and pinned to the wall of their bedchamber by a knife. At once he understood: his beloved Shizuka was not a cruel illusion, as he merely dreaded. She was not gone of her own will, but taken.

Fury consumed him, a rage both as hot as hellfire and cold as the depths of the eternal sea. The force of his war cry split the earth asunder, releasing great gouts of flame and molten rock from below, and the stars above trembled at the sound.

For all of Gen’s despicable acts, for all the things for which his name would be cursed in years to come, his plan was a complete success: the old Hayaoh, the merciless warrior once feared by all, was reborn…”

[Excerpt from The Legend of Hayaoh, a collection of squirrel folklore, circa Year 500]

 

It is dark. She cannot see, she cannot move… but she can feel, and she can smell, and she can hear. Above and around her, a ceaseless skittering and shuffling of legs, hundreds of legs. Padded feet cross to and fro over her, pressing into her with their weight. Their voices call to each other, some in birdlike chirrups, others in strangled mewling like that of creatures in their death throes.

Her prison encloses her body from head to tail, a soft, tight, unbreakable shell that clings and adheres and entangles every last millimeter of her fur. Escape is impossible, for her movement is restricted to fruitless rocking back and forth, a few millimeters in either direction. She cannot cry for help; her voice is too feeble for anything but moans and whispers, her lips and tongue are numb, and there is no one to hear besides… there is only them, the things with the padded feet and alien voices. Her prison seals her eyelids shut, depriving her of even a glimpse of her captors, but she knows they are always there, always moving, even when she cannot feel or hear them. Their smell never goes away: the dry, dusky stench of withered corpses.

There is no way to tell how long it has been. The outside, the sunlight, the freedom to move, all those things are fading, distant memories. The passage of time is marked only by periods of fitful sleep, and by the protests of her stomach when the hunger is too much. Usually they hear the noise when that happens, and within minutes, they push an indescribable mash of something past her lips, something with many indistinct flavors. They manipulate her weakened jaw for her that she might not choke. It is never enough; the food—such as it is—is to keep her alive, not satisfied.

She is aware that her life is slipping away, despite the feedings. All sensation in her limbs is lost, her muscles have withered from disuse. Even if by some miracle she should be freed from her confinement, she would still be all but paralyzed. When their teeth dig into her, there is only piercing pain for a few moments while their mouth-parts pour their venom into her. The venom always brings with it more weakness, more numbness, melting away her insides little by little. Their mouth-parts drink of the resulting slurry, and when sated, they go away until the next time, leaving her to sink into darkness deeper still.

She has come to long for that darkness, for the brief times when she can dream of freedom, of rescue… when the torment of slow death ebbs enough that she can feel the barest glimmer of hope.

She is not certain whether she is awake or asleep when she hears the voices. Not the screech and chitter of her captors, but words, clear and articulate. She smells them, too: not dry husks, but fresh, warm, living bodies. People, at last. Whether they are a delusion of her fevered mind or not, she surrenders to them. Maybe, maybe someone will find her at last. Vibrations rumble through her… movement. Motion. Joy fills her failing heart…

The rumble escalates into a roar. Something huge, heavy and solid crashes nearby, and her body shakes with its impact. Then another, and another. Her relief is smothered by a renewed sense of claustrophobia, and she trembles in her prison. Air whistles above her—

Crushing force. Pain, pain that she did not think herself capable of anymore. She is bleeding in too many places to count, it oozes up hot and sticky through her fur. A massive weight is crushing her lungs, forcing the air from them like someone slowly compressing a bellows. Every time she exhales, inhaling again becomes harder and harder… until coppery fluid clogs her throat, and she cannot breathe at all. She chokes, she suffocates, she drowns… and the cacophony of many more falling heavy things assaults her as her consciousness fades. She slips into an eternal sleep to the tune of a hellish lullaby…

 

Hanami collapsed against the black stone wall, her hands pressing her temples as if trying to squeeze the vision out of her brain. This newest waking nightmare was born of someone else’s memories, of one of the many helpless victims that died when she collapsed the ceiling of the spiders’ lair. How it was possible to see and feel that person’s final moments, she did not know and did not care. It was another divine punishment, that much was clear. She killed all those people in the cavern. Whether by intention or not, or whether or not they could be saved, it did not matter. She brought the ceiling down on them… and that was just one of her multitude of sins.

The Gods demanded atonement. The Gods put the little voice in her mind, whispering the litany: I should not be here. Soon, she prayed, the Gods would grant her release.

Her vision blurred by tears, Hanami scrabbled at the wall behind her, pulling herself up by her claws. She could only see the tower window as a lighter shape contrasting with the darkness of the stones. Outside was an early evening sky, blue tinged with traces of pink as the sun set… it would soon be twilight. As good a time as any. Her hands grasped the sill…

No, said the little voice in her mind. Not yet. The time is not right. Wait.

Very well, then. She would wait. Hanami sat back against the wall… and as she did so, the tower chamber shifted around her, featureless black stone melting and reshaping into a place very familiar, one that she could not forget…

More

New Artwork: Nadeshiko, by thesilvergoddess

Nadeshiko - thesilvergoddess

Nadeshiko, by thesilvergoddess

 

Due to various factors, I unfortunately don’t have a chapter ready for this month… but here’s something of a “down payment” on the next one. This the first official design for our favorite grumpy Vice-Mistress, Lady Nadeshiko Argenteus! I commissioned this piece from the very talented thesilvergoddess, who has an incredibly appropriate name for the task, and who was unfailingly patient as we hammered out the details of Nade’s sword and armor. Please go check out their artwork on their Tumblr at http://tracersgayass.tumblr.com, and maybe commission them or buy them a coffee!

– BHS

Image

New Fan Art!

Two new items in the Gallery from Silver and Suoish!

Chibi Zero, by suoish

Tasakeru rabbit sketch, by Silver

Aside

BHS Blogress Report: 2016, Week 20 (BOOK I COVER)

http://tasakeru828.deviantart.com/journal/BHS-Blogress-Report-2016-Week-20-609455507

Progress on Shattered Skies this week, but that’s not the big news. The big news is below:

Cover for Tasakeru Book I: Without a Name Art by Chris Flemming (http://thenekostar.deviantart.com), design by BHS

Cover for Tasakeru Book I: Without a Name
Art by Chris Flemming (http://thenekostar.deviantart.com), design by BHS

NekoStar did phenomenal work on this project, and… well, the result speaks for itself, doesn’t it?

Book I is coming soon to digital bookstores, and I just got chills up my spine from typing that.

More news as it develops!

– BHS

<-Previous Blogress Report

Next Blogress Report->

Aside

BHS Blogress Report: 2016, Week 11 (Zootopia Comparison)

As you can see up there, I finally got to check out Zootopia this week, and I’m happy to say it exceeded all my expectations. I’m including the full text of my comparison between the movie and my series below the Read More tag, so check it out at your leisure. Hanami’s theme is also finished, so check it out on the Music page. The usual link to my DA page is below, where also I cover photography problems, Godzilla movies and monsters, and the final Captain America: Civil-War trailer featuring you-know-who.

http://tasakeru828.deviantart.com/journal/BHS-Blogress-Report-2016-Week-11-596636815

<-Previous Blogress Report

Next Blogress Report->

TASAKERU / ZOOTOPIA COMPARISON

CAUTION: This post will contain spoilers for crucial plot elements in Zootopia

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Aside

COPYRIGHT

Tasakeru, tasakeru.com, and all related contents, text, and media are the Intellectual Property (IP) of BHS and BHS Productions, registered in 2009, and may not be modified, reproduced, or changed in any way, shape, or form without the author's express permission. For more information on usage rights, see the From the Author page.

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