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The Lost


by graveyardcandyapple

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The clean dark agony of the night grasped a cold city in its clutches, intending to shake it to its roots. Unfortunately for the feathery blanket of nighttime, that had already been accomplished, as was evidenced by the white Gelert running for his life through a maze of alleyways.

      He was panting strenuously, securely holding his cap down with one paw and struggling to keep a hold on a rolled-up scroll with his other. The Gelert paused to skid around a corner and almost lost his hold on the scroll: and then he regained his balance, glanced down to check on the parchment, and continued onward, somehow at a quicker pace. Clearly what he was trying to accomplish was a very difficult task.

      The Gelert threw a look back over his shoulder, apparently checking to see where his pursuers were. His dark eyes widened and he focused on running again, after a moment shoving his cap into a pocket of his coat and getting down on all fours. This indignity made the situation all the more apparent to any onlookers – he had to run, he had to get away, because if he didn't, he would die. Or maybe something worse would happen.

      He hurried around another corner only to hear the sounds of footsteps clattering in his direction from directly ahead of him. The Gelert dove behind the nearest bag of trash and hunkered down, shivering slightly from the exertion as he waited. He lifted one of his ears a little, trying to hear what was going on beyond the trash bag. The footsteps clattered along to a spot that seemed to be directly in front of him; and then they stopped.

      Someone cleared his or her throat from where the footsteps had halted. "Did you hear something, sister?" asked a melodic, terrible voice. The Gelert shuddered involuntarily and hunched down further, clamping his eyes shut and tightening his grip on the scroll. He began to focus on dredging up the threads of nonsensical magic somewhere within him, wishing that he had had the foresight to train himself when he had the chance.

      "Yes," said another voice, this one distinctly raspier. "Yes, I hear something. I can hear a cinnamon aura from somewhere beyond."

      The remark made very little sense, but it still made dread and anticipation rise up in the Gelert's gut. He swallowed hard to get rid of the bitter taste in his mouth and focused harder on protecting himself and the aura he knew he was emitting from his attempt to use sorcery. From beyond him, where the three awful sisters stood, he could hear one of them sniffing.

      "I can smell it," said the third sister. Her voice was that of a small child's. This one was the worst, and the Gelert knew her name: Spite. She was Spite, and her two sisters were standing there with her, seeking him out. The Gelert drew in a deep, hopefully silent breath, filling himself with grim determination, before delving deep into the magic inside.

      It was in a land of greener places, back before the Betrayer had done her work. He fought to find what he required, passing the pleasantly empty streets, searching for something he knew he could find. It wasn't until he had passed through the entrance gates that he located the magic he needed, and the Gelert concentrated harder until he was able to pull the pinkish-purple flouncy thread back out into the real world with him.

      The moment he had protected himself, he let out an involuntary breath of relief. Thank you, Fyora, the Gelert thought, even though he had stopped thanking Fyora long ago. He'd learned the hard way that Fyora was no longer worthy of many thanks, unless there was something going on in the outside world that he knew nothing of. Regardless, he silently expressed his gratitude, and then relaxed into the wall behind him, listening to the sisters' conversation.

      "I cannot sense it anymore," said the second sister with the hoarse voice. "The sorcerer must have departed."

      "Do not speak, Vanity," snapped the first sister, clearly intending her rather rude remark toward the second sister. There was a deafening silence for a very long moment before the first sister – who the Gelert determined must have been Malice – said, "It was a Krawley. It had to have been."

      The footsteps resumed. The sisters sank into silence again as they moved on; the Gelert, however, did not dare to move. His pursuers, he knew, were still back there somewhere. He waited until he heard the sisters began to speak with his pursuers to dart back into the shadowy alley.

      He drew his coat about himself and straightened up, tugging his cap down on his head to block most of his face from view. The Gelert rather thought he was safe now, having lost his pursuers and the sisters three. He settled into a comfortable lope, attempting to look more like a citizen taking a simple evening stroll.

      The Gelert reentered the artificial light of the city when he reached the entrance to the massive library. He swiftly ducked inside, keen on keeping the attention as far away from himself as possible – even though he had successfully evaded the only dangers he could encounter. He slipped into the bookcases and wended his way toward the back room, thinking of the ancient archives that would be there.

      The back room, fortunately, was open. The Gelert didn't pause or think this odd, even though he should have; in fact, he simply entered the room and gently pulled the door shut behind himself. He finally lightened his death-grip on the scroll and headed for the furthest corner, the only place that he could think to place this parchment of immense value – this reason that he had had pursuers at all.

      The white Gelert climbed the small sliding ladder in the back of the archival room and went about opening the hidden door in the ceiling. It was not a difficult task; he had done it many times before, as had his father before him – or so he had been told. He climbed nimbly up into the little cramped room above and swung the trapdoor shut under himself.

      He crawled past the dim lightsource of a tiny window and stopped when he reached the end of the strange room. The Gelert reached for a stack of scrolls that he had carefully stored away up here and shifted them slightly, afterwards picking up the ever-important scroll he had been running with and unfurling it to double-check the contents. It read:

     The curse of the grim

     Regard with chances slim

     Watch the trees moan

     Hear the grass groan

     Ask how it has come to pass

     Understand one must be last

     Smear the book of ink

     Find the missing link

     Know the strength of the lost

     Think first of what it shall cost

      The Gelert nodded once appreciatively at his handiwork before rolling the scroll back up and tying a thin red ribbon around it. The irony of the color, he thought, would work in nicely. He was still thinking inane thoughts such as that when he crawled back through the room and descended into the archives, and when he exited the archives and closed the door behind him, and even as he approached the exit to the library.

      As Cyrus Scrivenger stepped out into the near-empty street with only a Krawk in the nearby shadows to see him, the ancient archival room burst into flame. Only moments after, the Krawk vanished into the night air, and three sisters appeared as if they had been called.

     Cyrus was unable to write any more pieces for the future generation.

The End

 
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