|The Skeleton in the Pit
Author: Our Vulnerability PM
A oneshot from the thirdperson perspective of Twitchtip. It covers her last moments, and some flashbacks relevant to Prophecy of Bane. Reads a little awkwardly, so beware.Rated: Fiction K+ - English - Angst - Words: 2,508 - Reviews: 13 - Favs: 8 - Published: 11-28-07 - Status: Complete - id: 3917534
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
The Skeleton in the Pit
-A oneshot covering Twitchtip's final moments-months. Inspired by boredom in its purest form: something only obtainable from school.
The cold ground provided an uncomfortable respite for Twitchtip, but after the violent serpent attack, she had no option but to succumb to her wounds, waiting for either death, or the Overlander. Her condition was worse than most gnawers ever experienced; her recently patched up wounds were still openly bleeding, the bandages coming off slowly; her nose was broken and wrapped up, rendering her usually acute sense of smell completely dysfunctional; and her exhaustion was reaching the point where she just wanted to submit to a sleep.
Of course, her consciousness refused to fulfill this desire, still clinging to last hopes that the Warrior would kill the Bane and return before a group of soldiers appeared. It was unlikely: she could not deny that, but the thought of regrouping with Gregor took her mind off of the persistent pain that assaulted every nerve in her body.
The Overlander was different, not only different than the humans, but everything in the Underland. He rescued her, a rat: the enemy. Twitchtip did not support the gnawers any longer, after they cast her out for her abilities, and often dreamed of peace where she would not be considered an outcast. It would be different if the humans accepted her, but to them, she was still a distrustful gnawer, and to the gnawers, she was a treacherous enemy. If someone was going to overcome the biases that were so forcefully ingrained in the spectrum of Underland creatures, it was the Warrior.
Twitchtip blinked her eyes to clear her vision, straining to listen for any sign of Gregor or his bond, Ares. She was not accustomed to putting her trust in her hearing, because usually anything within several miles could be derived simply by a deep breath, but now she had no other option. Being a scent seer was, without a doubt, convenient at times, but in the long run, it tore Twitchtip's life apart, skewing anything that could be considered 'good' to a point where it was unrecognizable.
That was one thing she and Gregor shared; abnormal abilities. He was civil enough to not misuse the gift of being a rager; from what she heard, he hated it. Ripred certainly shared the same similarity, but he was more accepting of his perverse ability, and considered it advantageous. And it was. She would have traded her scent seer powers for the endowment of being a rager any day, she did not mind fighting.
Her thoughts were interrupted as a sharp sound echoed from nearby. Claws, she thought, claws scraping on the stony interior of the Labyrinth. The noise brought dread to her already pessimistic outlooks. Praying that her ears were deceiving her, that she was imagining the grim fate in her apprehension, the sound gradually grew closer, the soft patter of paws now resonating after each claw scratch. Twitchtip abandoned her final hopes as a gnawer with a dull, gray pelt rounded the corner, looking anxious.
"Oh," the gnawer exclaimed mockingly, raising his eyebrows as a maniacal grin spread across his face, "What do we have here…" Twitchtip ordinarily would have been able to fight back as a last resort, had it not been for her wounds. She at least wanted to snipe back at the gnawer, but was fatigued to the point where she could not muster the strength to open her mouth. The Warrior was most likely in combat with the Bane now, it had been almost ten, dreadful, minutes since he and his bond left.
"I thought I smelled bandages," the gnawer continued, deliberately moving in her direction, "Siding with the humans, what a shame…" Twitchtip found the idea laughable, realizing that this particular rat did not know who she was. If circumstances were different, there would have been a chance that she be siding with the gnawers, but rejected the thought now. All rats follow the general gnawer path, the only two that were pacifists were her and Ripred—and they weren't everyday gnawers.
"Clawcut," he called, "look what I found!" Twitchtip's heart sank, considering the punishments the gnawers could offer. She shuddered, noting that her only movement was involuntary, induced by fear.
Soon enough, another soldier joined the party, curious and excited. It too, looked amused when it saw Twitchtip, who was starting to lose consciousness in the trepidation of the recent revelations. There was one thing she could think of that was worse than outcast: prisoner.
Ripred prodded her to speak, to reveal her ability. Ordinarily, Twitchtip would have snarled at anyone else, and it was strange that she did not at Ripred. She owed him, though, for taking her under his under his wing, even though he gave her no respect and treated her like a crawler at times. Lifting her nose from the protective aroma of the soft moss, she showed them her skill, "The boy's sister is located on the third level of a large circular structure in a room with eight other pups and two grown ones. She's just eaten cake and milk. She's cutting a new tooth. Her catch cloth is yet, and her shirt is pink."
Immediately after the word 'pink' her nose instinctively went back to the moss, as the humans continued their discussion. Something about her ability and how the humans could use it to her advantage. There were a few advantages to all of this; she would be accepted into Ripred's band, an honor and a privilege; she could get back at the gnawers who rejected her, who threw her out of society, erasing her from their memories as if she were actually corrupt enough to use their secrets. On the other side of the coin, she would be forced into a boat with humans, fliers, and only god knows what else.
Her nasal passages were still clotted with blood, drying at the edge, and forbidding any chance of smelling her way out of her predicament. While her scent seer power was the reason that she was cast away into the Dead Lands, they were also the reason that she survived there. In the time that it took to breathe one breath, she could anticipate danger within miles of her refuge, and concoct a plan for escape. Now, rendered useless for days to come, she was forced to utilize her lesser senses.
Looking up, horror dawned upon her. She was in a pit: one of the worst levels of the gnawer prisons, reserved for torturing the gnawers greatest foes. Seldom would one find a gnawer here, even traitors, which were rare, and usually were penalized immediately by death.
The only catch: being in the pit was worse than death, with its cold, inhospitable slopes, trapping prisoners in a literal death trap. Fed just enough to get by, captives slowly wasted away, often beaten. It was a slow, merciless death. That was where rumors ended, and the horrible reality would settle in.
All of Twitchtip's hope diminished as the odds of escaping lessened to the point of nonexistence. She knew that the morons on the boat would not care to help her, blinded by their genetic hate, misunderstanding that she was in fact on their side.
One more rotation, Twitchtip noted, as she struggled to lift her head high enough to get a wholesome breath. Then, something unexpected happened. The Overlander was diving into the water, a rope connecting him to those on board the ship. He was quickly carried off by the vicious cycle of the whirlpool, but abruptly halted as the rope went taut. A gracious hand reached out to lock with my paw.
"Don't – let – go," Twitchtip pleaded, one claw in the rope, literally hanging on for her life. Now they were fighting the current, the only variables were the strength of the Underlanders on the boat, and her grip on Gregor's hand.
"No," the Overlander managed a reply, the faithfulness in his voice ringing like a bell. Twitchtip would have smiled, had she not been hanging over a whirlpool.
The most gruesome part was the lack of nourishment. Already expectant of infrequent meals, Twitchtip hoped for a chance to eat daily, at least. However, the cruel, sadistic gnawers running this particular prison decided that the most vile, diseased crawler remains would suffice for a week's diet. Due to the lack of nutrients that every growing gnawer needs, as well as fully grown gnawers such as Twitchtip, her form painfully diminished to a skeletal frame. Her rib cage became heavily accented as all wholesome bulk vanished from her body.
In addition, her wounds never healed, save for her nose. Everything else remained damaged and sore, infected by whatever already inhabited her meals and failing to heal due to her body's inability to do so.
Taking her own life would have been easy, and Twitchtip had multiple ways to do so if she pleased. Without her scent seer abilities, she probably would have, but they offered a slight reprieve in the pain inflicted by being bound in the pit. Her nose allowed her to reach into her enemy's backgrounds, invade their thoughts and secrets to an extent. It allowed part of her soul to break away from the pit, and explore the world outside.
Death imminent, her will to live fading, Twitchtip succumbed to the torture of the pit. Her mind would reach an apathetic state at most times of the day, where she would focus on blocking out everything—her thoughts, her pain, the situation. The times where she was sober enough to thoroughly evaluate her world were spent pitying her, wondering about hope for survival, which was a common fantasy for her as her condition waned.
At first, she had wondered why she bothered to commit it to memory, death was certain; a predator playing with its prey before mercifully finishing it. At last, she admitted to herself that it was because of the Warrior. Unable to fully discern the specifics, only catching brief phrases of discussions, she had to settle with the assumption that the first encounter with the Bane was a failure.
She was going to die, because of a failure. The whole mission could have been skipped, for all she cared, and she would be safe and sound in the Dead Lands, despite the irony of that statement. The only differences were her mortality, and some of the gruesome details, which would most likely add up to nothing at the end of this ordeal.
Attempting to place blame on someone, she at first accused the Overlander. He could have ended this all if the Bane were simply killed, if he were competent enough to do his job. He was, after all, a rager, a natural born killer, possibly even comparable to Ripred—more than she could say about most Underland creatures. Something obviously went astray, she forced herself to decide, knowing it probably wasn't within Gregor's power whether or not he killed the Bane. Probably just stupid Sandwich's fault, for prophesizing the end of the Underland, instead of a nice peace treaty, and maybe a pardon for her.
Months of restriction to a inescapable, dreadful pit gave her plenty of time to think about things, even with the nagging thought telling her she was missing a major piece of the puzzle. She didn't care, though, her thoughts mattered not, for they would not be voiced to anyone but her empty void some would call a mind. They were the best conclusions she could draw, based on what she overheard and smelled. She took notice as the gnawer's feelings switched from fear to relief to something resembling happiness to apprehension. It was interesting, if anything, but nearly impossible to decipher. In the end, after hours of painstaking contemplation, she gave up.
All of these thoughts were forsaken by now, though, as her last ounces of strength were waning. At first the gnawers were vicious, beating her almost daily, until unconsciousness settled in, but now things changed. Patrols were rare; guards were apparently repositioned or drafted during the War of Time, because their smell was much less intense, and they watched her infrequently. This was not all good; sometimes the beatings numbed her pains, and now there was much less food being hunted, her hunger strengthening with every day.
Soon enough, Twitchtip decided that there was no chance. Even if she were rescued, recovery would be impossible. The wounds she currently sustained lost the opportunity to heal after all of the repeated damage they endured. Most of the day was spent sprawled out on the rough floor, moving to eat, nothing more. At last, Twitchtip determined that her life had come to an unfortunate end. Relaxing her muscles, she deliberately released her remaining energy for the cold oblivion take hold, bringing a pensive conclusion to the Skeleton in the Pit.