Aran hates the dark.
It’s probably strange to be afraid of something like the dark when one has spent their whole lives surrounded by monsters of the worst kind – but she does, and it’s terrible.
When Bent has tucked her in with claws that jab a bit too hard and Aran has tried her best to wrestle a bedtime story out of him (usually she loses) the girl turns on her side and squeezes her eyes shut as tightly as possible.
It’s not because of the ‘monsters’ or the ‘creatures under her bed’. Aran never believed in those, even if Basil still did. Some silly goblin or ghoul wasn’t going to stop her, especially when she has the swamp’s strongest demon pair looking after her.
Still, she hates it. She hates the absence of light and how no matter what she does nothing will ever destroy it – nothing except the breaking rays of the sun.
Sometimes, Aran doesn’t get sleep until she can finally see the glow and outline of the swamp again. It makes Bent and Prince think her an uncharacteristically lazy child, but they spoil her enough that they doubt giving her extra sleep isn't going to make her any worse.
(Besides, they both harbor a secret fondness for the absolute chaotic mess Aran is in when she finally shows up downstairs. It’s not even cute. It’s just hilarious.)
It makes her scared sometimes, that she can’t fall asleep to the sounds of the swamp as easily as she would like to. Isn’t she a part of the swamp? Wouldn’t she be used to the sounds, wouldn’t she trust the swamp as much as it seemed to love her?
(It isn’t love but greed that makes the swamp keep her there, she’s their perfect-lovely-innocent-mysterious outsider after all and she always will be nomatterwhat)
She wouldn't tell anyone because she knows it’s silly, it’s silly and weak and if Prince has taught her anything he has taught her never to look weak too easily.
...Somehow Castellia manages to find out anyway, noticing immediately Aran’s tired eyes when the family trio visits her later.
While Prince and Bent are busy bantering with Gulzar and Basil has been sent off for errands again, Castellia leads Aran away to her kitchen – the space that the frog witch guards fiercely from everyone except for Aran. (Or so she tells the little girl.)
It only takes a few moments for Aran to spill out her fears – Castellia is practically the mother she doesn’t remember, and even if she doesn’t want to be weak, Castellia’s coaxing expression makes it hard. (Aran dares to think that the woman might have used a spell on her.)
“The dark, hm?” Castellia hums thoughtfully, giving a little nod of sympathy. “When I was a wee child, I used to fear the dark as well. Though not for the same reasons as you, I suppose.”
Of course Castellia wouldn’t understand, Aran thinks as she sags. Her chin meets the top of her chest as she stares at the ground, looking especially sullen.
The witch sighs and straightens up, turning to fiddle through her shelves. There is a few clinking noises and one or two irritated ribbits before the woman gives out an ‘aha!’ so triumphant Aran is peeking at her from her bangs in curiosity.
Castellia turns and kneels down before Aran once more, holding a jar behind her back. She’s waiting for something, and Aran allows her to have it without really meaning to or realizing it.
“What’s that?” The girl chirps, and Castellia grins a thin lipped grin as she reveals the jar. Inside is a strange flash of light, flickering in a way that makes Aran have to blink in confusion to make sure she isn't hallucinating.
“Just yer average Will O’ The Wisp.” Castellia boasts proudly. Aran makes an ‘ooh’ sound as she takes the jar carefully, watching the light hover and bounce in the jar. “It’s pretty hard t’ catch one, seein’ as they’ve got the damn habit of leadin’ you to lost parts in the swamp. Some say they’re the tortured spirits of the dead.”
Aran’s eyes brim over with grateful tears, the last part of Castellia's explanation not affecting her in the slightest. “Oh, thank you Castellia!” The girl exclaims as she throws her arms around Castellia’s waist. Castellia crosses her arms in satisfaction, preening in the shower of affection the grateful human is giving her.
“Try to get that stupid Snow Witch t’ get that!” The frog witch crows. (Aran takes the statement in stride; it seems that everyone except for her and Prince seem to dislike Calla. Castellia and Bent are the worst – or perhaps best? -- examples. )
The following night Aran begins to open the jar as soon as Bent turns around, making enough rustling that the demon looks back with curiosity in his eyes.
“Aran, what are y-“ Aran pops off the lid with a satisfying pop, and it only takes Bent a millisecond to realize what she’s released into the room. The demon rushes to grab the flame, but he’s not Prince and the wisp slips through his fingers.
“Aran!” Bent snaps, pausing when he realizes the wisp is hiding behind Aran’s shoulder. The girl is looking at him in impatient confusion.
“What!” She snaps back, mimicking Bent’s tone. The demon straightens up, expression smoothing over to its perpetual state of calm.
The demon leaves the room without another word, feeling a bit insulted that Castellia would give his charge such an important gift without his consult. He leaves the castle wordlessly, passing by Prince in a flutter of white robes (who rolls his eyes, Bent really is so dramatic) with only one destination on mind.
Meanwhile Aran feels a strange sense of ethereal excitement as the Will O’ Wisp floats gently around her, sparkling more brilliantly than before in the dark. More importantly, however, she feels a thick sluggishness overtaking her body.
Aran's eyes flutters shut, and she sleeps.
Out Of Lead
· Fri Sep 27, 2013 @ 01:38am · 0 Comments