[twwm] Insari - Origin Prompt 3
Insari's Third Origin Prompt: "Meeting the Esk"“I love this part of the forest,” Aer said dreamily while floating over the treetops. “Same,” Squeak agreed floating next to her. “I’m glad we came out tonight, this was a good idea, it’s been so long since I’ve really looked up at the stars like this,” Winter chimed in. Winter’s little bird, Helio flew nearby, chirping around their heads. The three were closeby to their shared boundaries, and had begun to go on little flights around the forest on clear nights. This was Winter's favorite time of year, autumn, right before the snowy season began. It reminded her of her own transformation, and she was feeling lucid and nostalgic. “Do you see that?” Squeak asked, turning to look down away from the stars. Winter and Aer turned with curiosity, too. “Oh it looks like a glowing branch, but I don’t sense any other esks nearby,”Winter said curiously. “I wonder…” she mumbled to herself.Winter drifted down into the small clearing below, and Aer and Squeak followed. Winter landed lightly on the ground and made her way over to the object that caught their attention. Two small deer stood anxiously in the middle of the clearing, directly next to a large, glowing antler. “How is it glowing?” Aer asked amazed. Squeak tentatively went to meet the tiny deer and they embraced Squeak quickly. Winter’s warm aura enchantment seemed to calm them too. “I think it’s paint,” Winter said, looking closer. The three stood in silence for a moment, in awe of this glowing antler in the middle of the clearing, with the stars twinkling above it. “This is going to sound odd, but I think this is an esk,” Squeak finally said, breaking the silence. “No, it’s definitely not a vision or an enchantment or anything, and there aren’t any other esk here,” Winter responded. “No that’s not what I mean,” Squeak said quietly, “I think this should be an esk. I think this antler was meant to be one.” “I think you’re right,” Aer said in the same quiet tone, “it’s weird, I can’t figure out why, but it feels right. And I think these fawns agree, maybe they knew the deer this antler came from,” Aer pondered. Winter felt an odd ringing in the air, as if the wind had shifted in an unnatural pattern. It was a slight change, but it felt uniquely momentous. “Hm, there is a strange energy here, I can feel it too,” Winter agreed. “Well will you do it?” Squeak asked Winter. Aer looked expectantly at her too. “Why me?” Winter asked, “And I don’t know… what if they don’t want to be transformed. What if something bad happens?” “Nothing bad ever happens when you do transformations!” Aer exclaimed. The words sounded strange in Winter's head, and she could tell that this odd energy was accumulating around her. “Well not yet…” Winter mumbled. “She’s right,” Squeak agreed, “I think it’s supposed to be you.”Winter acknowledged this as the energy shifted into an odd tugging sensation, and the trees whistled a soft, otherworldly note. Winter thought Squeak or Aer had one of their enchantments on, impacting the sound she heard, but she saw that both were off. The night was enchanting all on its own. If she decided to do this it would be the first transformation she’d done on purpose. Was this ok? Would the new esk resent her? She didn’t think so. She’d been so nervous about Squeak and Aer’s transformations, but this one actually felt right. And the two fawns now laying at her feet would be pleased, she could tell. Aer and Squeak began backing away towards the edges of the clearing in preparation for the transformation, even though Winter wasn’t certain she would do it. She looked down at the glowing antler to really examine it. As she got closer she noticed a bright light come from overhead. She looked up to see a shining snowflake emblem hanging in the air. As she made eye contact with the snowflake a sudden burst of realization hit her: if she transformed this esk they would be happy. They would be abnormal, not an abnormal trespasser, but simply abnormal. And they would love their life as an esk. She knew it as clearly as she knew her own name and nature features. The glowing snowflake began to fade away and Winter now understood that it was her own enchantment, a new one. It’d been so long since she’d developed a new enchantment, the sensation was strange. She comprehended its power though, it gave her the ability to see how creatures and objects would react to transformations. How useful, she thought to herself. She pulled her attention back to the antler, and now felt sure of herself and her decision. She drew energy from her environment, and began to focus....
Doll - The Transformation
CW: climate change, senility There were few places left--perhaps none--that had been untouched by the blight that was humanity. Founder had wandered on restless feet, occasionally with a pang of guilt heavy in her chest, as if in leaving her sickly reefs she was abandoning a child to a ravaging illness, too weak to tolerate watching its decay even when she ought to be standing over it in comfort. But she had found little respite, and not just from the pursuit of her conscience. Everywhere culverts flooded dormant fields of soil that had long since yielded up all its richness, or fires swept across forests and left cemeteries of stumps as black in death as her corals were white. Everywhere drifts of plastic, seas of nylon, an endless dreary petrochemical wasteland under an unnerving hot sun. It was the last that had, finally, driven her northwards, and she had sat on her haunches and watched the crumbling and then collapse of a glacier shelf, and she had risen to wander again, pushing into the brutality of the cold Northern wastes, embracing them for their inhospitality to mankind.The Siberian tundra was vast and, here at least, uninhabited. She had spent a pleasant two days traversing snowy fields untouched by human footprints. She had watched a little village rise into view on the far side of a frigid lake and had abandoned it, turning further into the violent cold, but other than that she had enjoyed an uninterrupted stretch of wilderness, and reclined on the frozen drifts to watch an eagle dive at a hare. And then, finally, she had headed northwards still, and it was in the shade of a stepped hillside covered in ice and snow, where a small fat ground-dwelling bird she had never seen before shuffled into the light and fluffed its feathers, its eyes squinting into the sunrise, that she found the doll. It lay half-sunk in a drift of snow, its face a blank swirl of once-bright yarn, one fur-trimmed sleeve flapping in the wind like a parody of a wave, a sick little human gesture among what Founder had thought to be an untouched wild. A succession of varying but equally-violent emotions surged through her: disbelief, rage, bitterness, disgust. The latter almost instantly became directed at herself, as she felt a pang of something like grief.She had been a human once. She had shared in that almost universal human urge, at some point she could not now clearly remember, to hold a thing shaped like one of her own kind and to love it, and to pour into it a name and a story and all the kindness she now so rarely felt. She could with dimness recall being Lost: could recall sitting in a rocking chair, a fleece blanket drawn over her lap, holding a floppy-bodied baby doll--the gift of some kind orderly--and showering its forehead with kisses as her body and her brain, exhausted, relinquished their function and regressed her to her barest instincts. That had been among them, with breathing and grasping her hands and turning to anything warm: to hold a small soft facsimile of a person, and to love it. In some, it outlasted even the instinct to eat and drink. The dimmest snippet of memory: of watching little old ladies hold their dolls in their blue-veined hands and coo and coddle them, while Founder watched them with the dull dread of inevitably becoming one of them, and turning away to weep because she could not stomach watching their decline. Her eyes stung with the cold of human tears in the frigid Siberian wind, and she cursed herself this weakness: she had found this sullying stain of humanity in a supposedly-untouched wilderness, dropped by someone who should not have been here, and her instinct was to think of the one who had dropped it, weeping over this hollow fake person that they had filled up with a name and whispered secrets and, doubtless, kisses on the forehead. She tried to master it, to bend it to the will of her bitter cruelty, and had to turn away from the little woolen body half-buried in snow to do so. She could not look at it with coldness anymore than she had had the strength to remain in the dying reef or look at those shameless old women and their toys. But she had been human once. And the instincts, for all her hatred of them, still sometimes clamored. She thought of that doll that in her withered mind had seemed to reach out to her and need kindness, and she could not think of the wretched doll moldering here in isolation, undoubtedly--she cursed herself again for knowing it to be a fantasy and thinking it anyway--crying out for the love of the person who had carried it. She thought of Cradle, who had held the head of a plastic fashion doll and sobbed as if clutching the corpse of a slain friend; who could not explain, because she had never been a human, why the destruction of the thing had wounded her. And she tried to walk away from the doll, from the little Lost thing, and she could not. She turned, still weeping, and she succumbed to her weakness.She would imbue it, she thought, with all of her anger. She would make a thing that would resent its own existence as a totem of humanity’s filmy taint on the beauty of the tundra. She would make it Hate, as she Hated, and that would make it well to do what she was doing, and not a sign of the human weakness that lurked in her even now. This was her thought, as she reached out and performed the ineffable magic of Transformation. But she thought it through a well of frustrated tears and through the impulse, even now, to hold and pour love into that which was shaped like the creature she had once been. It did not even have a face, she thought bitterly, and still this feeble reversion. The fluffy bird scattered, disturbed by some swirling in the shroud of reality around where the doll had been moments before. It disappeared over the crest of the hill, where a few glittering lights rose from the snow where the sun did not touch it, and Founder beheld what she had created, waiting for some confirmation of her success.The newborn Esk gazed at her, despite having no eyes; despite having no face and no voice Founder felt its pity: pure, without condescension, with only sadness for her evident suffering. “No,” she said, trying to loom up over its tiny form and frighten it. It regarded her with its expressionless sympathy in silence, and tipped its head to one side. “No,” Founder repeated, her voice breaking up around the edges. She thought of the glacier sliding into the sea, and she repeated the word once more, soundless, and her eyes swam with tears. The Doll--for so it still was, Esk and all--did not hesitate. It trotted toward her with the patter of soft paws on snow. It did not fear her. It ignored her trembling rage and stubbornly pressed its face into her chest, a warm and glittering presence, and the instincts were there still. Founder--as she had done in the rocking chair two lifetimes ago, propelled by a yawning nameless human need that had outlived her sanity--sank into the snow and buried her face in the thick fur around the new Esk’s face, and she gave herself up to the instinct to hold--to confide in--to love this creature, a soft comfort shaped like herself....
origin #9: their haunt.
“in the shadows of the greenhouse.” Sometimes, it’s easier to hide. It’s something that Calanthe has interpreted as something of an art form, disappearing into the shadows of her decrepit greenhouse and slipping so deeply into them that she feels like she is less of an entity and more just… a shadow. A shade. Isn’t that what esks were? Just wandering shades of nature? That was what she felt like--what she felt she was whenever she decided to pull her consciousness from the static and wander around. The greenhouse was fairly large, all things considered. It wasn’t some grandiose thing of bygone days or eras, with art in its infrastructure, simply… a greenhouse. It was built like the stereotypical image you’d expect, with large panels of (now broken) glass and a skeleton of once-pristine iron now rusted and overgrown. There are sections that branch off, forming a sort of T-shape that once basked in the sunlight but now withered in the shade of towering trees. Well, one section, that is: the most decrepit, the most overgrown, and the closest to the forest. It's this section where Calanthe spent most of her time, especially her early days. The sun rarely reached this portion of the greenhouse, at least not in its full force, and only slivers of it danced on the ground and slowly walked along the floor as the day went on. There’s a workbench with hooks along the sides where gardening tools once sat, though most of them had gone missing or fallen apart. The remaining certainly showed their age, their handles cracked and the paint pale while their metal heads were largely covered in rust. And below the table were the pots, the typical terracotta orange and every other manner of shape and color. Most were cracked and broken, unused soil spilling out as mold and moss covered the shells of broken pots. And amongst these pots and their shards was where Calanthe liked to rest her weary limbs, curling her long and dainty legs against herself and carefully fitting like a puzzle piece between the leftovers of a hobby. This was where the shadows were deepest and, in Calanthe’s eyes, the perfect place to make a home. The pots hid her from any prying eyes, only slivers of violet and periwinkle visible between the shards and cracks. The moss and mold cushioned her from the hard ground of the greenhouse, soft and pliant beneath her dainty paws. In the right light, she could watch the dust motes dance through the air and count them as they slowly fell. The shadows beneath the table became her home within a home, shelter from the greenhouse when she couldn’t bear to look at the withered plants and broken glass. It was a haven, a place of solace where she could bask in the silence instead of lingering in the sound. Here, Calanthe could let herself rot. No one would search for her amongst the mold and the shards and the cracked terra cotta pots. It was just Calanthe and the silence, alone and… that was it. She was just alone. It was under the table that she’d let herself waste away, throwing away her life as an esk in favor of slipping into seemingly endless, dreamless slumbers where there was nothing to greet her but the silence. It was easier than being awake, at least. When she was awake, she was able to escape the noise of the world but found herself completely unable to shield herself from the sound of her own thoughts. By simply sleeping, the world would just pass her by. The world had for so long before, nothing would stop it now. Certainly not Calanthe. The table was rotting and moldy, its wood softened with age as it slowly began to slowly tilt to one side. But despite its flaws and its aged appearance, Calanthe considered it something of a home. When the days came to their end, it was under the table that she made her bed. And when the days were too much to bear, it was under the table that she’d find her peace--or something akin to it. And while she might seek solace in other shadowy parts of her greenhouse--around the corners, behind the larger pots, between fallen shelves--she always found herself drawn back to the broken pots beneath the rotting table. She didn’t know when it had become her home, not really. Maybe in those first moments when she was first seeing the world with new eyes, stumbling around on long legs like a newborn fawn until she stumbled over to the table. And then she hid beneath it until she finally felt ready to depart from her home and greet the rest of the world. In the end, all she really knew was that when her limbs were new and her leaves were at their greenest, when her soul was at its heaviest, she found her way to the shadows beneath the table. And it was there that Calanthe carved out a home amongst the pots and shards where she could hide from the sound and wallow in her bitterness. ... And sometimes, in the quiet beneath the table, Calanthe would wonder if other esks were like this. Did they wallow, like she did, in the shadows of their boundaries? Did they watch the shadows stretch and recede before they got swallowed up by the night, letting the days pass them by? Or did they seize the day at dawn, thriving while all she did was let herself rot. If she was going to spend an eternity deprived of death, couldn’t she make something of it? She’d think of Taemores, more often than not, and her hidden admiration. It was a closely kept thing, Calanthe’s heart, and she was always sparing with her genuine kindness, her genuine feelings. But she truly did admire Taemores. The two of them were practically in the same boat, two trespassers just trying to get by. But Taemores didn’t wallow at the roots of his trees or cower beneath their boughs, not like her. He didn’t let himself rot, not as far as she knew. And that made Calanthe envy him in the quiet beneath the table, wishing she could be some grand protector of the forest and actually do something with herself. But the shadows were deep and their touch on her fur was so inviting, cool and soothing against her weary soul. The smell of mildew was familiar like an old friend and the shards were like puzzle pieces she had seen one too many times. The table was home, where she’d lay in her silence and be comforted by the dancing dust motes. It was safety, not the unpredictability of the world beyond. Maybe… maybe she’d let herself rot a bit longer, rot until she was just a stardust skeleton tucked among the pots and the shards and the silence. No one would mind, would they?, filthy emo :/lightly mentions taemores, as per usual,but only for the last ~300 words or soalso not my best work but i wanted to do somethingfor my gal so. here it beBase Score: 23 AP (Writing: 1153 words)+50 AP (Origin Prompt)+5 AP (Personal Work Bonus)+10 AP (Other Esk Bonus: 10 AP * 1)+8 AP (Storyteller Bonus: 8 AP * 1)Total AP per submission: 96Base Score: 11.5 GP (Writing: 1153 words)+10 GP (Origin Prompt)+6 GP (Storyteller Bonus: 6 GP * 1)Total GP per submission: 27.5
Arden - Meeting the Esk
As first things to see in your existence go, Socket is, perhaps, not ideal.The thought would never occur to him, of course. Socket can think of nothing more wonderful than himself, and being recently puffed with the pride of his creation, he radiates a smug confidence as the new Esk shapes itself into being and turns freshly-formed eyes on the first object its gaze is drawn to: its creator.It--or she, perhaps; Socket knows all too well this specific struggle in the incipient moments of self-awareness--has, however, one advantage over her creator. Socket had surged into being with all the fading-but-remembered instincts of a wild creature on the brink of life-ending terror. She knows nothing and remembers nothing. Moments before she had been only a long-forgotten trinket, half-eaten by the erosion of the salt and the wind. Now she towers above this tiny Esk with his empty eye sockets crawling with flies, over his squat form studded with irregular holes and weeping red fluid with an emblem of nausea swirling over his forehead, and in the moments before her consciousness crashes in, fully-formed, she does not understand that perhaps Socket is a terrible thing to behold. He is the first thing she has ever beheld, and as awareness crests over her like a wave and she experiences the first agonizing joy of existence, she finds him, for being that thing, quite wonderful. She does not speak, exactly. It is not even that she has no mouth with which to do so: she simply has no language. Her ideas trickle into this other creature in the form of an unworded question, and he receives it with a palpable delight, rising to his stumpy little feet and wagging his stumpy little tail in excitement. She asks him if she has a name, and he fairly bounces.“No,” he says promptly. “I didn’t either, you know. But now my name is--” and she experiences pain for the first time, in the form of the sensation of a searing and unbearable toothache, which is an experience she immediately comprehends despite moments before having no conception of what a tooth was and currently, in fact, having no teeth. She startles faintly, a ripple running through her fur, but she does not flee or hide or fear, because he is still beaming such unflappable pleasure and because she has not yet understood that there are reasons and times to be afraid. Dry Socket--for that is the name of the sensation--gazes up and up at her. He is very small, and she is very large. The pleasure turns to satisfaction, as of a job well done.“You had a word written on you,” he supplies helpfully. “A couple, actually, but they were mostly gone. From the wind, you know? You were metal, though. Meat-things dissolve a lot faster,” he tells her, in the confident tone of a teacher taking a new student under his wing. “Sometimes people write things on themselves and they go really fast, once they get into the dirt. It said something-something Arden.”She sways on her enormous legs in a thoughtful, silent gesture, and then assents with a thought. Arden will do. “I found you,” he adds, suddenly turning and falling into a brisk trot as if expecting her to follow. Instinctively she does, in such enormous, ponderously-slow strides that she does not have to stop and wait for him to catch up despite his tiny legs. “You were lost. We’re all lost, you know. But now you are not lost. Look!” he adds suddenly, and he pauses, and for the first time Arden’s attention is brought away from him, and towards the place that she is.The understanding of beauty is an instinct. It does not have to be taught to a thinking, feeling creature. She comprehends instantly and wholly the spectacular beauty of the vista unfurling before her: of the sky in its pale blue glory reflected upside down against the symmetrically-flipped mountains on the horizon, of the shining of the sun on a vast and silvered stillness. She suddenly understands that Socket is not a double-creature, walking upside-down beneath himself attached to his own feet, but that he is standing on a vast mirror--she knows, somehow, what a mirror is--and she gazes downwards. In the ripples around her feet she meets her own eye, and she ingests her first sight of herself: the carved ivory of her brow, the blush-pink fur that reminds her of something she has never seen before but will paradoxically remember anyway, for the first time, when the sun sets in a few hours. She lifts her eyes again to the world that she lives in now, and then back to herself, and then back to the world once more, and she again sways in a thoughtful, contemplative rhythm.“I made you,” says Socket. “I found you and made you, because I wanted to show someone how pretty it is. Isn’t it pretty? A big mirror. And then I found a little mirror on it,” he adds, delighted still by this neat coincidence, “and made you out of it. To show you. I was tired of dancing alone and wanted a friend. Can you dance?” he asks suddenly. “Like this.” He moves his stumpy, inelegant paws, ripples moving out in broken circles, in a graceless sort of lumber. “You just move around. Like you’re doing now, but--you know. More.” She gravely assesses both this brief history of Herself and this helpful explanation, and she obligingly accelerates her swaying into something more exaggerated, lifting her feet at the end of each ponderous swing to and fro, and Socket gazes at her with unalloyed admiration.It is somehow pleasant--both the dancing and his approval of it. She dances more, still with a stately slowness, and she understands that moving is fun. It is the first time she has felt the idea of fun, and she likes it very much, in her measured and sedate way. She does not yet know it, but in this way she is very much like her creator. “I did good,” he announces, and he turns once more towards the horizon, doing a jogging little dance with every step. She falls in behind him, in a dance as lumbering as his own but vastly more graceful. “And now I can show you how fun everything is.”...
[TWWM] Zenzee - Origin Prompt 6: CW mental health
Zenzee's Sixth Origin Prompt - Their PurposeNote and Content Warning: At one point Zenzee thinks she's having mental health issues and hallucinating. Also she doesn't quite have a real name yet so she's referred to as Bell. (She doesn't use the name Zenzee until later.)I still don’t understand it. How am I even here? This is so miserable. The frightened esk let the strong rapids carry her downstream. She didn’t know where they’d take her, but she didn’t really care. She wasn’t sure how long it’d been since she arrived here. She was pretty sure she was dead, and in some kind of afterlife, but she couldn’t be sure. I’ve lost my mind. This can’t even be real, she thought to herself. Everything felt uncomfortable here. The water was cold, she had strange plants and sticks growing out of her new body, and it was incredibly unpleasant. She had discovered that leaving the river made her feel weak and sick. Her plants would disappear too, which she didn’t really care about, but she thought it was odd. There were terrifying animals here too, creatures she’d never seen, or at least couldn’t remember. Sometimes when she looked at these weird animals she’d hear voices in her head. It almost seemed like the voices were coming from the animals, and that’s how she knew she’d completely lost it. She heard screaming too, and odd wailing, scary sounds every once in awhile. She had gotten in the habit of screaming back. She had initially been horrified to discover she didn’t have a mouth anymore. She felt like this must be some kind of punishment. Still though, she screamed internally, and in her own way it was cathartic. The rush of the current had slowed, and she’d arrived at her “favorite” location. Favorite wasn’t exactly right, she didn’t like it here, but it wasn’t as awful as everywhere else. The current had brought her to the bottom of a large lake. The rapids were far above her now, and she couldn’t hear them. She appreciated the quieter environment. It was dark down here too, and she felt like she could relax just a tiny bit. She closed her eyes and drifted into unconsciousness. She woke a short time afterwards to the horrible screeching sound. She didn’t need to surface to know that the thing was back. There was this demon figure that would sometimes appear to her. She wasn’t sure how, but whenever it was nearby the awful sounds would be louder and they were impossible to shut out. She screamed back at it, as was her habit. Eventually, the sound dimmed until it was no longer noticeable at all. She wanted to stay at the bottom of the lake longer, but she had grown restless again. She felt like she was cursed. She could never stay in one place for very long before becoming overwhelmingly uncomfortable. I just want to rest, she thought to herself, exhausted. She sighed internally and let herself drift to the surface. She floated on the surface of the water for awhile. The lake itself wasn’t loud, but the nearby rapids were still too thunderous for her liking. The scenery was technically beautiful, but it made her feel out of place, like she wasn’t good enough for this lake. She felt like she was ruining it. She drifted over to the shore, and trudged up onto land. The sick feeling washed over her immediately and she ignored it, curling up into a ball to lay down. The sun was setting over the tall mountain peaks, and she wanted to lay in the last remnants of its warmth before it disappeared. Only a few moments later she heard the strangest things she’d heard in weeks— an incredibly calming silence. All she’d been hoping for was a respite from the overwhelming sounds of the river. She felt like she should be concerned, but it was so peaceful. She was just starting to really relax when a small, purple and white rabbit popped up in front of her. Oh god, not again, she thought, here come the hallucinations. “I’m not a hallucination!” the hallucination shot back. God, it really seems like it’s talking to me, she thought as she slowly got up and backed away from the weird rabbit. “No, I’m not a rabbit either. Look, I can prove that I’m real. I’m going to lift you into the air, ok?” What the hell?! Oh my god! Ahh I’m in the air, what’s happening?? Can you hear my thoughts? Rabbit, what’s happening? “Okay, okay, I’m putting you back down!” the rabbit said, and she slowly dipped back onto the ground. “Uhhh, so you can hear me? You can read my thoughts? How’d you lift me up like that? And do you know what’s going on? I’m so confused,” she stumbled over her internal monologue as the thoughts rushed through her mind. “Yes, my name is Squeak, I’m an esk, and so are you. I come by here frequently and I’ve seen you struggling, I want to help. You don’t know what an esk is, do you? What’s your name?” Squeak looked harmless, but that didn’t necessarily mean anything. And if they could lift objects into the air that meant they were a potential threat. Still though, Squeak hadn’t actually harmed her. “I don’t remember my name,” she said, “and no, what’s an esk? It’s a demon, isn’t it?” Squeak looked taken aback, “A demon? You mean like the thing from human stories? No, definitely not. We’re more like spirits. And that’s ok that you don’t remember your name, that’s very common. You can come up with a new one, what would you like to be called?”This question felt so incongruous with her new, torturous life. Why did it matter if she had a name? She hadn’t had a conversation with anyone since the day she’d been transported into this eerie, animal body.“Um, I don’t know,” was all she could think to say. Squeak stared back, still waiting for a response. When she stayed quiet Squeak finally spoke up. “Well, that’s fine! Do you mind if I call you Bell? Because of your bell flowers.” Squeak explained. “Sure. What’s a bell flower?” Bell asked. Squeak cocked their head, “they’re the pretty, yellow flowers attached to your back while you’re in the water. They’re not here right now though since you’re farther up on the land.” “Oh, I’ve just been calling them leaves or sticks or something. I don’t know, I can’t really see them, and I don’t care. Anyway— esks, what are they?”Squeak shook her head in a sad, little manner and Bell wondered why Squeak seemed so down all of a sudden. “There’s a lot of beauty to be seen from our perspective if you’re able to look for it. But I don’t think you can right now. Don’t worry, I’ll explain what’s going on, and maybe I can help,” Squeak suggested. Bell nodded, still wary, but she lay back down on the pebbled ground. Squeak spoke for a long time. This was probably the longest Bell had sat in one place since becoming an esk. She occasionally got up to stretch and float in the lake, and Squeak would follow. Bell wasn’t good at keeping track of time. The sun had set, but due to the steep angle of the mountains the sun wasn’t visible for most of the day, so it was hard to keep track. After a long while Squeak finished her lecture. Bell had asked numerous questions, but there was one question she’d been afraid to ask. If the answer was “no” then she wasn’t sure what she could possibly do to escape her current predicament.“Squeak, can you retransform me? Can you get me out of here?” Bell asked, her head lowered, afraid to look Squeak in the eye. Squeak came up to Bell’s side and she snuggled against her. Bell was surprised by the action, but she didn’t pull away. “I can’t, Bell, I’m sorry, I’m not strong enough. I think you need a true healer, but it’s something I’ve already thought about too. If there’s a place you wouldn’t mind being attached to, I can take you there and someone stronger from that Biome can retransform you. I’m guessing you don’t want to stay attached to the lakes and rivers?” “No,” Bell spat out with distaste, “please, take me far away from here. Somewhere dry and warm. It’s so frigid and loud here, I can’t stand it.” Squeak nodded in understanding. “I think we need to find Majanthi. How do you feel about the desert?” Squeak asked, looking up at Bell. Bell’s eyes widened and a shiver ran down her body at the thought of being somewhere so safe and warm with her paws dug deep into the sand. “Yes, I would love to be in the desert,” she whispered longingly. Squeak stood up in a confident, strong stance. Bell was impressed by Squeak’s stature, despite their tiny size. “Alright, we’ll do it,” Squeak promised.” Bell let out a choked burst of laughter as tears poured down her face. “I have a goal,” she said meekly, looking down at Squeak.“Yes, you do. Now let’s go!” And Squeak whisked them away from the lakeside.