The Crossroads of the Aether
The Italian man bickered away. With his arms waving, and gabbering, the English man barely got a word in edgeways.
"FRANCOLA BERTONI, PRAY, PAUSE ONE MOMENT!" screamed the English man with a smack to the Italian man's face. The Italian man reacted with shocked silence, his mouth opening and closing like a codfish, "Sir, if you would let me tell you my plans, then you will need not fear. Come, walk with me, and for all his great glory, I pray God stops your tongue for that time at least."
The two men proceeded out from the place they stood, a sparse cemetery, some miles from any village or church. It appeared like any other grim burial ground at night, with crumbled headstones and chill, lonely tombs. On this night the ground was still freshly damp from rain, the earth peaty from the boggish landscape. The soft moist earth now heaving, and stirring. As if it were breathing.
Then from the pitch soil broke a gnarled and pale hand with blackened fingertips that closely resembled spade-shaped talons than nails. After this hand emerged, an equally wan and bony arm. This arm seemed to act fulcrum, and like lightening, a long, thin, white shape exploded from the ground.
Soil scattered like a shower of rain, sprinkling the marble stones with earth. The pale form landed in a crouch, straightened briefly in a stretch, before settling once more in the slouched crouch position.
A young girl, about 14, had been sitting quietly on a tomb reading a book. She enjoyed the peacefulness of the cemetery, and often came here to be away from the rough living conditions of her home. Not that they were poor, nor was she cruelly beaten, but with numerous brothers and sisters with parents that hated each other did not make a happy house.
She had overheard the two men's "discussion" to which the man's sudden cry caused her to flinch. Raised voices always came to some distaste to her. Fortunately they left shortly after that, so she could happily return to her book in peace. 'Un'fortunately, her peaceful reading time was short-lived when the ground burst and showered her with soil. She remained silent, and frozen. Wondering what in heaven's name could have caused such an occurrence, she brushed the soil from her book and jumped off the tomb.
Creeping closer to the fresh hole in the ground, she peered in. Simply a hole.
Then the pale creature landed a few feet in front of her.
Letting out a squeak of shock, she fell backwards, dropping her book as she hit the ground on her backside.
The creature tilted it's head as it focused on the girl that sat before it, shivering in shock and fright. It stood at around 7 feet, but if it had been standing at it's full height, more likely 9 or 10 feet. Taking one step forward on it's haunched legs, the girl could see sinewy muscle tighten beneath the blank thin skin that seemed stretched over it's entirity.
Tilting it's head the other way, it inspected the girl through long cracked lids, it was clear it's eyes were huge from the length of the lid and bulge of the eyes. Black and silver orbs for eyes glided back and forth through the lids as it continued to peer at the child.
With one large skeletal hand, it stretched out; causing the girl to shudder with fear, but it reached past her and picked up the book.
It's wide, cracked lips pulled back to reveal a grin of a thousand needle sharp teeth that stretched from one side of it's jaw to the other. With a hiss, it spoke.
"You came...you came and now I may speakst with thee. You never spoke...never..." the creature held the book in it's gnarled hands, and began flicking through the pages.
The girl remained speechless, since that was all she could do. She could see, hear, taste, dance and smell, but not for the life of her could she speak, and she never had. At times could she make garbled squeaks and moans, but never anything more.
Now as the creature questioned her speech, she had no way to defend herself from anything it could do.
"You do not speak now...why..." it's speech seemed longing, as if it yearned to hear her voice, but she shook her head furiously, and pointing at her mouth.
"I do not...know, understand...your movements make no...sense."
A brilliant moment came to her, and she turned and etched in the earth which was now soft enough for her to write in.
'I cannot speak. My tongue does not work.'
The creature once more inclined it's head before speaking, "I understand...know...thank you..."
The girl watched the creature as it paused, staring blankly.
"I learnt. I learnt from listening. They spoke, and then I spoke. I did not want to speak with you until I knew talking. With talking I knew reading. I know. Understand." it proceeded to incline it's head in one direction, before switching to the other, as if in thought.
The child, now less frightened than she was, fairly certain it intended her no harm, now blanked her previous words in the ground, and sketched new ones.
'What is your name?'
"Name...my name...my name is..." it inclined it's head from one side, to the other, "My name is Francola Bertoni." it said with a slight abruptance that seemed it to be it defiantly accepting it.
By Lady Bess Eccentric.
© 2014 Created by Hephzibah Marsh.
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