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DarkWolf91

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Too Dark to Find It
« on: July 31, 2018, 02:54:53 am »
I had a sister once used to say, "Just when things get darkest, that's when you look for the light." Unless, of course, it's too dark to find it- and boy, was it dark that day.

It felt like somebody grabbed onto my heart and shook it up when I saw the Outfliers come in for a landin', carryin' a hunched and blackened body between 'em. I don't know how, but as soon as I saw them, I knew. I just knew. It was my own sister, and I'd already heard her voice for the last time. I was stumblin' over my own wings and I couldn't feel the ground under my feet as I ran to meet them, blood poundin' in my head like a sharptooth's roar. The closer I got, the more sure I was. Short beak, wild curve in the crest... it was Priss. I was near enough to touch her, but I couldn't. My claws were shakin' so bad I could hardly hold my arm straight.

"What happened?" My voice was hoarse. The words didn't feel right, like a stranger had said them instead of me. The Outflier wouldn't look at me. I needed to know.  I remember grabbin' his face, but I don't remember willin' myself to do it. "WHAT HAPPENED?" He flinched at the shout, and I can hardly blame him. I'd have scared myself if I weren't so far gone. The shock had done me in- I couldn't see, I couldn't think. None of it made any darn sense. It was Priss. "The skyfire got her." His eyes were sad, and he looked away quick. I had my answer, but it didn't make it feel any more real. It took all my strength to shuffle on behind as they carried her along, feelin' nothin' but empty. Her light had gone out, and I'd never seen anything shined as bright as that.

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It was just startin' to get dark when they set her up on the ridge so Old Divebomb could speak the final rites. Can't say why, but I remember the silliest things about that night. A few dried treestars swirlin' around on a gust of wind. Some longnecks fightin' in the distance, raisin' some kind of racket. Rude. Fella next to me wouldn't stop itchin' his darn beak. Must've been comin' down with a case of the flakes. Old Divebomb just kept talkin', but I'll be spiketail's uncle if I remember a single word he said. All I could hear was the last thing Priss said to me, clear as if someone were whisperin' it in my ear, over and over again. "I'll be back soon," she said, with that light in her eyes. "Don't wait up." Well, I wouldn't have to wait up ever again. My eyes stung, and a few drops fell onto my shoulders like hot skywater. You think I'd expect myself to cry at a time like that, but those tears took me by surprise. Priss would've wiped them away, said 'Buck up, life's too short for cryin',' like she always used to. Back when I was barely half her size, and she meant all world to me. We both knew just how short life could be. But the tears just kept comin' anyway, and there wasn't anything left to stop 'em.

"When the Great Ones throw the skyfire from the black clouds, these things sometimes happen." Old Divebomb droned on, close to finishin' up. "Priss was a strong, courageous Flyer- a downright asset to the roost. She will be sorely missed." Huh, the old windbag never liked her much, always givin' him a piece of her mind. He was probably thankin' the Great Ones in his head as he said it. He'd probably want to go and shake their brute claws for doin' him a favor, if he weren't such a coward. Somethin' hit me then, straight out of the blue. Why did these things happen sometimes? Weren't the Great Ones supposed to be some big old Flyers that lived in stormclouds? Why didn't someone go find 'em and tell 'em to watch where they're throwing their dang skyfire! If somebody had, then maybe the blind old sons of sharpteeth wouldnt've hit my sister! I set my jaw and clenched my fists, tears dryin' up then and there. If nobody else would do it, then I would go talk to 'em.

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I was still shakin' on and off with anger later that night, back at my own nest. I knew what I was gonna do, suicide mission or not, and all I had to do was wait for the right moment. But nothin' ain't ever that simple. I could hear Dante's lumberin' fool wings comin' from a mountain away, and pretended not to hear his claws clackin' on the ledge outside. 'Course he shuffled in anyway and stood there for a sharptooth's age, breathin' all heavy.

"Etta?" "Yeah?" My tone might've been a bit harsh, but he was the last Flyer I wanted to see just then. His cool head and slow thinkin' were just the thing I didn't need, and just hearin' his voice was enough to throw more fuel on the fire. "Just wanted to make sure you're alright." It was hard to see his face too clear in the moonlight, but his tone was enough to tell me he hadn't taken the hint. "I'm fine, and I don't want to talk about it." Might as well spell it out clear, or he'd be there all night. And it didn't do a lot of good in any case. I could see him tiltin' his head to the side, like he was tryin' to figure out what I really wanted from him. I guess he thought he'd figured it out, 'cause he started walkin' toward me. His heart was in the right place, but his head sure wasn't.

"I'm so sorry, but there ain't nothin' anyone can do to change what's happened. Only thing left is to go on livin' like she'd want you to." He reached out for me, but I smacked his hand away without even thinkin' about it. "Dang it Dante, can't you see that's what I'm tryin' to do?!" And those words cut. I could see the hurt and sadness in his eyes, but right at that moment I needed him to hurt. I needed somebody to hurt as bad as I was hurtin'. Priss was gone! Life just wasn't allowed to keep on movin' after that.

He shuffled a bit and looked at me from out the side of his eyes, like he was tryin' to get some sympathy. It usually won him a smile, but now that old trick just made me even madder. I stomped my foot and gritted my beak, fists clenched so tight I could feel the claws cuttin' in. "Get outta here with that nonsense! You think I need your no-good self hangin' around right now? GIT!" I shuffled forward and threw out my wings. I think it must've caught him off guard, because he stumbled back a few good paces and almost fell clean off the outside ledge. He huffed and dusted himself off, tryin' to regain some composure, but I could tell I'd ruffled him bad. He raised his hand, dropped it. Opened his mouth, closed it. Looked away, looked back at me. I was about to snap at him again, tell him to make up his darned mind, when he settled on crossin' his arms and givin' me that look.

"If you're dead set on bein’ miserable, then don't let me stop you." He huffed again, gave me a glare that could scare off a sharptooth, and spread his wings, turnin' to take off from the ledge. I turned my back, refusin' to watch him go. The whole thing felt bad. Why couldn't he see where I was comin' from? Any other day I might've gone after him, but nothin' was gonna change my mind on this.

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I went through time like a dead flyer walkin' after that. Barely ate, couldn't sleep, just kept my eyes glued to that horizon. Those Great Ones always come back sooner or later, and I sure as anything wasn't gonna miss 'em. They sure were bein' slow about it, though. I can't tell you how many times the bright circle rose and fell with me stuck there waitin', but I do remember the day I first caught sight of those black clouds, rollin' in the distance. The skyfire was already in my veins, and I took off after 'em without so much as a word to anyone. I flew faster and straighter than I ever had before, head-on into a cold-as-death gale; my skin went numb but that fire in me just burned, burned, burned. The wall of clouds grew and grew the closer I got, until it looked like I was flyin' toward a big, dark mountain. Faster than a fallin' rock I dove, right into the heart of the storm.

Now, things get a little hazy from there, but I'll tell it as best I can. The moment I crossed into those clouds everything got real dark, and real cold. The wind was coming from all directions at once, and it was all I could do to just keep my wings from bucklin'. Big dollops of skywater were slamin' into me from all over, goin' up my nose and stingin' my eyes. How the heck was I supposed to find anybody- even a giant somebody- when I couldn't even open my darn eyes? I shouted myself hoarse, but I couldn't hear my own voice over the roarin' of the wind in my ears. A flash of light, brighter than the brightest thing I'd ever seen seemed to come from all around, along with a crack of noise loud enough to shake my beak clean off my head. The giant flyers were throwin' the sky-fire straight at me! With my ears ringin' and my eyes shut tight I started to lose all sense of direction. I was flappin' my wings as hard as I could, but I might as well've been tryin' to beat down a mountain for all the good it seemed to be doin' me. There was a funny, sick sorta smell in the air, and my skin was startin' to prickle all over. Now, my mind had sorta shut down by this point, and all I could think was "Etta, you're gonna die, and there ain't a darn fool thing you can do about it." I just kept on flappin' and kept my eyes shut tight, waitin' for those monsters to strike me down, waitin' for the next breath I took to be the last.

It sure seemed like it was takin' a while, though. Went on so long that the wind was slowin' down, and the pricklin' started to go away. Was that what dyin's supposed to feel like? I'd always thought it would hurt, but soon I could feel the warmth comin' back into my bones, and some sort of a light was shinin' so bright I could see it through my eyelids. So, I opened 'em. Couldn't hurt to see what kind of afterlife I'd landed in, after all. I don't think I can rightly tell you the kind of surprise I got when I saw the blue sky stretchin' out above me, and those rollin' black clouds below.

I soared there in silence for a while, between the sky and the storm, just thinkin'. I was still alive, so that was somethin' at least, but I hadn't seen anything even close to a big Flyer with fire for wings. 'Course I hadn't seen much of anything at all. I took the risk for a few more shallow dives, but the whole thing just felt wet and empty. Nothin' but the skyfire itself, and the roarin' that came along with it. Where were the Great Ones, and where was the skyfire even comin' from if they weren't around? I couldn't even start to guess at an answer. I sighed and looked up to the sky, squintin' against the light, just so I wouldn't have to see the darn storm. I flew like that for a long while. The bright circle had been sittin' up there the whole time, behind all those clouds. Still shinin' like nothin' at all was goin' on beneath it. The heat of it was startin' to hurt, like it was lettin' me know it wasn't happy. 'Get on out of here. You're not gonna find something that wasn't ever there in the first place,' it scolded, scorchin' my poor back. It sounded just like Priss. 'Go home, beak-brain!' The hot tears came again, fallin' down into the storm, but I was laughin' too. She always was the one with sense. I followed the storm to its end, and then I turned back.

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And, that was that. Well, mostly. I went back to the roost just long enough to apologize to Dante, and to say goodbye. Our old home was startin' to feel a mite smaller than I liked. There was more of the world I wanted to see before I settled down, and darned if I wasn't goin' to go out there and see it. I told him I'd come back some day, and maybe I will. But we both know just how short life can be.


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Link to FF version: https://www.fanfiction.net/s/13019391/1/Too-Dark-to-Find-It

For the June '18 prompt swap. My prompt was:
At least once in our lives, most of us face a phenomenon our minds can’t even begin to understand. Write a LBT story that revolves around the theme of the unknown and the implications that follow an unexplainable event of your choice.

Aaaand this is officially my longest entry to the fanfiction prompt challenge at over 2,200 words! Hey, that's a lot for me :lol

Hope this was somewhat enjoyable! I wanted to challenge myself, so I wrote in first person AND in an unusual dialect. I apologize if it's confusing for any non-native English speakers :oops

I wanted to give Etta some time in the spotlight and explore her backstory, particularly how she came to be living without other flyers. Her line "I once had a sister..." in LBT XIV was always intriguing to me, because it implies that she doesn't have one anymore. I had fun writing this, even if I did maybe bite off more than I could chew  :smile


Sovereign

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Re: Too Dark to Find It
« Reply #1 on: August 01, 2018, 03:01:49 pm »
Even if this story was rather short, there was a lot in it that I liked. It’s great to see a new story featuring Etta as she is still largely overlooked in fanfics for some reason. The overall premise of telling what happened to her sister was a nice one to hear her being hit by a strike lightning… that certainly has to be haunting and scary way to die for a flyer. The following dialogues and especially Old Divebomb’s explanation about the source of lighting were well elaborated and it was a nice to hear more about the beliefs of the flyers, especially as this is pretty natural way to see this powerful phenomenon.

As for the ending, Etta’s way of trying to get over her loss by braving the storm was a great scene which showed her bravery and will to see just why her sister had to die. Even if there obviously weren’t any Great Ones out there, that experience was certainly something which Etta won’t easily forget.  Your decision to write this whole story in Etta’s accent was a correct one and it certainly made this fic stick out from your former work. Excellent job with this story!

rhombus

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Re: Too Dark to Find It
« Reply #2 on: August 05, 2018, 07:37:26 pm »
This was a very intriguing look at a character who hasn't been examined in much detail in fanfiction thus far.  In many ways Etta's history and inner dialogue has been unexplored, even as her voice and mannerisms are clearly established in the canon.  I think that this short story effectively combines a unique perspective on what makes Etta tick with what is known of her mannerisms in the 14th film.

An additional aspect of this story that was quite well done was your elaboration on the beliefs of the flyers.  Lightning is undoubtedly one of the mysteries of the world as far as flyers are concerned and it makes sense that they would incorporate it into their belief system as something that simply happens from time to time.  Etta's actions in the ending are a believable reaction considering her personality and character.

To close this review, I must compliment you on how you handled the first-person perspective.  This is never an easy perspective to write in from my experience, especially not in the voice of a character.  And you certainly used this perspective well to capture Etta's essence.  You did a very nice job with this tale.  :)


Go ahead and check out my fanfictions, The Seven Hunters, Songs of the Hunters, and Mender's Tale
Mender's Tale.

DarkWolf91

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Re: Too Dark to Find It
« Reply #3 on: September 12, 2018, 12:19:26 am »
@Sovereign Thank you! It was very fun to write about her, I have to assume the lack of fanfictions dealing with her must be in part due to how new she is. There wasn't even a character tag available for her on Fanfiction.net! I hope more people decide to include her in stories in the future :smile

@rhombus Thanks for the feedback! The first person perspective in combination with her dialogue quirks was a challenge, for sure! I'm glad to hear I didn't overdo it, I was constantly afraid I would make it too annoying :lol