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Once Upon a Time...
Fairy Tales had always been Christina's favorite, from Sleeping Beauty to Briar Rabbit. Though she never really understood why the little rabbit wanted the carrots so badly. Christina hated carrots, they tasted nasty and stale. At least, she thought so. But she didn't think about carrots much anymore, which was a strange realization she came to while she stared emptily out at the world that had become her own little slice of hell.

The bad thing was close to her, she could smell it, smell the rot and earthy stink that floated around it. Like a clay statue of herself, only it was hollow inside. She knew it was moving, but she couldn't see it. She didn't remember when it had taken her sight, taken it so it could see through a child's eyes. But it had and now she sat up, or what felt like up and stared out, trying so hard to listen and to sense where it was that she could feel her head start to ache. She wanted to cry, like she used to. She had learned however, that tears were useless and didn't sway the creature, which was nothing like the monsters in her stories.

This one was vicious. It hit her. And when she bled it laughed and danced around in the droplets, like some sick dark ritual requiring sacrifice. Christina's hands clenched and relaxed, clenched and relaxed. Her nails were gone, torn away how long ago, she couldn't remember. Stubby and filthy her fingers seemed to search for something to latch onto, some surface other than the hewn stone beneath her. She felt something rough and stubby, a knot that extended outwards and grew larger as she went on. She realized it was a leg. She squealed and fell backwards, an unseen strike catching her nose. She fell, hit her head on the stone floor and gasped as pain exploded around her. A wet patch seemed to instantly develop on her scalp, a disturbing moist feeling that told her she was hurt. But she couldn't defend herself, not while she was sightless and the hateful creature took full advantage of this fact.

It taunted her, using her own voice to confuse and trick her. It played at being her conscience. "You're a bad girl, Christina. I've seen it." She wanted to deny that, she was a good girl, her mommy had always said so, so it had to be right because her mommy was so smart--"Your mother hates you. You hurt her everyday because you're a bad girl. Evil, evil Christina." It replied before she could finish her thought. She tried to push tears out and to her amazement she succeeded. It had been so long since she shed a tear. She wasn't really sure what was happening until she felt it slithering down her cheek. It hung on her jaw line, a suicide jumper with second thoughts and then it plunged toward the ground. The creature laughed loudly and snatched the tear before it could splash upon the floor. It giggled and spat at Christina. "No, no little one. You shant waste tears on the floor. These are mine!" It hopped backwards and stood giggling, until for some reason, it stopped.

The giggle erupted into screaming, wild and animalistic gurgling yell that spilled into Christina's ears, forcing her hands to her ears. "Blasted creature!" It screamed. "Wicked trickster!" It strode towards her and put it's weight into it's strike, sending her flailing into the stone wall, a thick snap signaling the break of her little arm. She cried out, pain and suffering paramount in the noise. "You'll rot here, child. And death will never take you in it's release! Never!"

Christina heard it move away, a quick scuttling away and it was gone again, lost to the shadows and to the world of the surface dwellers, the humans. She cried then, more tears that warmed and cooled her face all at the same moment of tortured anguish. Hours seemed to stretch onwards in front of her, an endless procession of minutes, hours, days that would only continue to march on. She was so hungry, but death never took her. She thirsted so deeply that she tried to drink up her tears, but to no avail. She burned in intense heat and froze in the bleak cold of this place, where her only company were her own echoing sobs which took on a life of their own and they too taunted her. Her cries for her mother came back to haunt her from years past. "Help me, mommy!" They screamed and giggled with glee as her face turned to torment. She used to yell at them, ask them to stop taunting her, but that just made the taunts grow harsher.

They would mimic the creature when she tried to defend herself. "Filthy creature! Your mother never loved you! You'll die knowing she hated you!" And then she'd be spent, unable to defend herself she would curl into herself and let the wave of hateful things cascade over her body, trying to find sleep in this place of yelling and crying. Unconsciousness took her in it's arms, the only place she could find solace, the only safe place. But her dreams were vicious and hate filled. She would die in every dream and wake to find the horrible truth everyone knows when they awake: it was only a dream. A pitiful and needy dream. She wanted to die and she knew that was bad.

She cried again, the strange smell of her tears flickering back into her face. She wiped the tears away and blindly looked around. She saw nothing but could smell fresh leaves and a strange hint of berries. There was a rustling noise and then and slap of flesh on stone. A quiet but commanding voice, which rang out like a chorus of forest animals, spoke clearly to Christina. "Reach out your hand, child. Grasp what you find." Christina did as she was instructed to, reaching her thin, filth encrusted arm outwards to grasp the unknown object. It was wet and slippery, shaped like two pools balls but much more mushy. "Now relax." the voice ushered. The slick orbs jumped out of Christina's hands and plunged themselves into her eyes, pushing her dead, sightless eyes back into the sockets and melding with them. She screamed, not out of pain but out of surprise (This didn't happen very often.) and fell back. Her head still throbbed from when the creature hit her, but soon she found herself lying back and looking at a grey-black ceiling composed of nothing but rock.

She screamed again and cried out. She could see! Really see! She looked around the room and saw her savior. He was tall and thin, with large pointed ears. His green hair fell down past his shoulders and his bangs stopped just before his eyes, which were a brilliant red. He was all sharp features and mysterious auras, wearing a light yellow robe and carrying a branch a leaves with red berries peaking out. But Christina put her hand over her mouth when she saw his left hand. It was wildly out of proportion with his right, the hand itself huge and green with the skin pulled back tight to expose the bones underneath. It's fingers ended in wicked barbs that reminded Christina of knives. She muttered only a word before he cut her off. "Thank--" His voice was once again the chorus of animals when he spoke, but this time it was slightly louder and much more urgent. "--I am The Green Phantom King, Lord of the Forests, Protector of the Wyld, Prince of all that Grows. Know this, child. I save you not because I care for your insignificant life, but that instead I require your assistance." Christina's mind was a flutter with images of herself wielding a sword with animal companions and strange mythical monsters she would have to defeat to save him from--"The creature who has held you in check for these past 3 years--" Had it only been three years? "--has thoughtlessly rebelled against me. Taken to himself and fled my realm and control. Where is he?" She couldn't answer. She had lost her words so long ago and now she needed them more than ever. "Speak child, I've no time to waste with gawking." She let loose everything she could, which didn't amount to more than a squeak and a puff of air that might have sounded like "What?" The King seemed impatient. He shifted all of his weight to his left leg and ran his fingers through his hair, which writhed and moved of it's own volition. "Look Christina--" How did he know her name? She hadn't said it, had she? "--that creature is Evil, as you well know. I need to bring him back to my palace so that he wont hurt anyone else. Can you help me find him?" She croaked a weak "Yes." The Green Phantom King smiled a big sharp toothed smile. "Excellent. Here's exactly what I need you to do…"





 
 
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