The large ballroom was a golden sunlight, multicolored gems hanging from diamond strings glittering like a rippling stream. The gowns reminded her of overly colorful bloated fish that ate too much and moved too little. She forced her eyes to travel to the large banners that fun from the high ceiling, dangling from walls. Even if she cared to, she couldn’t tell one banner from the other – only the different animal shapes. They were not from her land, not her people. They were pompous peacocks that continually preened themselves – “Look at me! Look at me!” they seemed to shout. Hidden in her own simple dress, her small hand created a fist. May the fox take their hearts, she thought angrily, her stormy eyes flashing. They flickered to the king, who seemed overly indulging on the awful smelling brew. Tonight, according to the only servant who spoke her language, was her engagement ceremony. A celebration of the union between her and his son. His missing, feathered son.
She almost let out a vicious bout of laughter. If only he knew what she knew.
Revision of Hulijing’s Time
He was standing on top of the Taikoo Lee building, tittering on the edge in his drunken, addled state. He knew he shouldn’t stand so close, but didn’t give a damn. His initial fear of heights, standing so high above, vanished by the third bottle of the baijiu. Ah, Chinese booze – it was something else. He let out a sloppy grin across his face. Best company a lonely guy could have. Well, widowed. He chugged more of the violate alcohol. Ah, who fuckin’ cared anyway? The love of his life was dead. Gone, vanished, dusted before his eyes. Nothing he could’ve done to stop it.
His eyes glared up at the blurry stars– were those stars? The smog wasn’t heavy, but it was still hard to tell. Well, it didn’t matter – he was pissed with them. How dare they shine so brightly while she was rotting in the ground! The night should be fucking crying and thundering over her death! The heavens should be in a rage, storming the stars and conquering the blackness. The city lights should vanish.
He did his best to ignore the customer hovering too close to him, pushing his falling glasses up on his nose. Go away, go away, go away, his mind chanted, willing the customer to get bored and leave. The old, thick volumes were a comfortable weight in his hands, the aged pages yellow, the black ink grey. He turned his back on her and took dutiful steps forward toward the back. He would not be dealing with any living body today. Not his coworkers, not the customers, not the vendors – no one!If his boss didn’t like it, he could damn well fire him.
At this point, he would love a reason to clock the bastard. Right in the eyes or the nose. Perhaps a swift kick in the – Finn let out a snarl as his thoughts grew darker, tuning out the rest of the store as he kicked the ‘Employee Only’ door open. A rage was beginning to bubble – the source? He didn’t give a damn. Everyone expected him to do as they said. Don’t do this! Or Don’t do that! Don’t say anything, stop reading your useless books! Come back and work with the family – stop wasting your time and talent. Be a good boy now. “What the fuck am I?” the usually calm, peaceful voice stained with venom. “A fucking dog?!” Despite his rage, he gently set the books down. This was why he liked the written word a hell of a lot better than people. They knew when to leave him alone.
His ex-family, however, did not. Emphasis on the ex. Like he would ever consider those vultures of money cultists family.
And he wouldn’t take his rage out on the innocent pages. The books were probably the only things that would escape his ire. He patted them gently. He’d apologize to them later. Right now, he wanted to stew, bubble, simmer and then explode. Why did everyone always expect him to be the voice of reason?! Why couldn’t be the illogical one?! “I’m not some damn Spock! Or Data! Or Yoda!” And the next brat who asked him – “Hey, mister bookkeeper, where’s Twilight?” – he was going to lose it. Absolutely loose it.
“Finn?” He turned his vicious eyes to the source. Not the source of his anger, but damn how much he wanted it to be. A snarl to his lips signaled he was to be left alone. “Oh, I, uh, just… um, I’ll be out on the floor!” The young woman vanished behind the recently abused door. If he were a dragon, he’d be blowing fire and burn every damn thing. His hands curled into tight fists, nail drawing crescent moon blood. His eyes flickered back to the books, his gaze softening. Some days, he just wanted to be left alone and surrounded by books. Picking up a rather thick volume, he opened up to a random page. This would keep everyone else away from him.
After all, the only thing worse than a dragon foul mood bookkeeper was a foul mood bookkeeper who was disturbed while restoring books. After the fiasco three years ago… well, everyone loved the days when he was calm and dreaded the day when he became a dragon possessed.
She had been found, only to be gone. Lost in a life that was no longer hers, a void were memories and a past should have lived and played house. Yet, they still remained married, content to share a nest. Perhaps too tired and broken to put their damaged, beating muscles out for market. Two years of being missing, vanished, only to one day just appear. Guilt acted like super glue, novelty treated them as toys. Now, after two years of the comforting silence, the ease of routine, they sat before the cold lake, the night silent and dark around them. The crickets tweeted, the fireflies dancing for their amusement.
Even the lake rippled in response to the gossiping fishes. The water lilies and lotus swayed to the cooling breeze. She almost expected to see fairies sneak from their homes and frolic the scene before them. But as the stars were hidden, so were her little water fairies. Her own grey eyes stared up, remembering the moment she had been born. A white hospital ceiling, her body bandaged.
Her bones vibrated with the forgotten knowledge, the deeply embedded instincts reacting before a thought could begin to process. Deep inside, the remnants of who she was remained, but only little pieces. Most had been expelled from her pores, a new persona filled her body. She was no longer Amelia. Even if he was still Harding. Amelia had died when she had been born. Started a life as Lucy Grey.
Back then, the snow had been pure, soft, an added comfort. It would warm her, bring her victims further into her spells and illusions. No matter if she ate the heart of her prey, possessed the bodies of powerful figures, the snow was always there to embrace her, hold her, hide her. Life of a húlijīng was glamorous, brilliant, always satisfying – there was always someone worshiping her, leaving offerings at her shrine. Yet, as the modern era consumed more and more, she was reduced to her tiny shrine and the poor schmucks that summoned her. Like the blubbering mess beside her.
She finished her fifth bottle of báijiŭ, blue eyes staring through the blurry glass before she released down onto the people below. Leaning forward, a flicker of a thought warned her to let the feeble humans know. Yet, the darker part just giggled with the sudden shrieks of surprise, the glass shattering into minuscule pieces. No one was hurt… eh, there was always bottle number six! She pulled it from her long white sleeves. This was nothing to her, but to humans, within a couple of gulps, they would already start to sway. She never understood their fascination with the rather tasteless drink, it hardly ever did anything for her. Her eyes flickered to her current companion and snorted. He still was oblivious to what she was – his sorrow had summoned her, although he was too drunk to realize. The pain numbing whatever sensible, common sense he had left. Oh wait, that was the báijiŭ.
The heavy, wet droplets pelted down against her soaking hoodie, her skin freezing. Even as her soft footsteps lightly tapped against the drowned concrete, her path would not be deterred, her goal unchanged. Shadowed eyes stared out from plastered black bangs, small white puffs escaping barely parted lips. It was always strongest under the rain, beneath the black clouds. It was a smell she had grown accustomed to. She leaned forward, knees quickly absorbing the frigid water, as her hands shifted the body, looking at the extent of the wounds. Two stabs to the heart, one long gash down the middle. The death had not been quick. Her eyes rested on the slack face.
Surprise. Horror. You poor baby, never had a chance. A practice dummy.