A low rumble vibrated throughout the hive, which caused Necta to stir. One of her forehoofs and her head draped out of her pod's opening, so when drool dripped from the corner of her mouth it landed on an unfortunate nymph below.
The sound became more intense, to the point that it became tangible and shook the entire nursery. Necta's eyes shot open and she tried to regain her balance, but by then gravity had won over her body and she made an ungraceful descent to the quaking ground below and continued to do so for a hundred of Necta's quickened heartbeats and then quieted.
All was silent. The only thing that Necta heard was her heart rate as it slowed and her body as it quivered.
Necta freed herself from her fear stood up and breathed deeply, many scents from the room crashed in. There was the familiar stench of fear, which seemed to be everywhere and in everyone. The fear was laced with worry in the older changelings, and was peppered with curiosity in a few of the younger nymphs, including herself. In her one year of life she hadn't felt anything like that before and was wondering why the Earth quaked.
Necta inhaled and smelt something new and wanted to inched closer to the hexagonal entryway to the tunnel leading to the rest of the hive. At any moment she was sure that a nanny would come along and stop her, her large body blocking up the entire walkway. Because of this fear she didn't dare enter the tunnel, but rather stood close enough to it that she was sure she could sense what she had gone on out there was just too much for the baby changeling to take in.
There was the faint, but unmistakable scent of blood. The sweet, metallic smell of a changeling's liquid life. There was also the sour and sharp scent of sadness, and the sharp spiciness of , there were always so many more scents out there, many of which she didn't know. It was the scents she didn't know that scared Necta the most. They were something deeper than fear, deeper than sadness, deeper than all the emotions she knew. She desperately wanted to jump in her sleeping pod and forget everything, but something about the unknown drew her further into the nursery tunnel.
Most of the nymphs who had woken to the sound had fallen back asleep, but one kept his eyes on her and watched her every move, but he remained silent.
It took forty of her steps before she reached the other end of the tunnel, but then she hesitated. Whatever was out there could be scary, maybe it was a big and terrible beast of some sort that made the hive shake. The guards had nearly fought it off, but it would be right outside the nursery entrance and would gobble her right up if it saw her.
Necta shook her head at the nonsense of it all. Whatever it was would be different from anything she had ever experienced before, but it couldn't be a monster like her wild imangination had thought. She took a deep breath and left the dark tunnel which led to safety and entered the unknown hive beyond. It blinded her, there was so much light. It suffocated her there was so much air and many new smells, but Necta loved it.
That was when she heard the wailing. She ran the twenty steps to the railing that blockaded the hole in the center of the hive and did her best to look down, towards the sound that disturbed the quiet hissing of other changelings.
"Let me through, please, my husband is down there in the mines, you must let me through." Necta easily found the female changeling making the spectacle and watched as a stoic guard continued to hold his ground against her.
The guard said something in a hushed tone, but while he clicked, the other changeling snuck around him and into the cave. "No wait, stop!" The guard yelped as he flew after her, trying to stop her, but the earth grumbled again.
Necta watched helplessly and screamed inaudibly as the opening of the cave collapsed and sealed the two changelings in. Necta would have covered her eyes at that moment, but didn't need to, for the everything around her was swallowed by a darkness until she too was completely enwrapped in it, but she wasn't scared. It was just a dream, and like any of her other dreams once it went dark the door out opened up.
All her senses were heightened as she headed out as they usually were after a dream like that. That was the only reason she heard the small faint voice of someone in the land of dreams. "THAT'S RIGHT NECTA, LEAVE THIS DREAM, BUT DON'T FORGET IT. YOU HAVE TO FORGET TO WAKE UP."
So Necta did, but when she opened her eyes, a different pair loomed right above her, which caused her to shriek and hit her head on the ceiling of her sleeping pod. The eyes vanished, but she heard the chirpy laughter of another changeling and she flew out of her pod and landed in front of the changeling as he laughed.
"Don't you have anything better to do than antagonize a sleeping changeling, Screamer?" she tapped her front hoof against his head, and tried give the rolling changeling a stern look, which was hard because he hiccuped in between his laughter, reminding her of the times when Thorrin laughed so hard he did the exact same thing, and a grin grew from her scowl.
Screamer was a teaser, always trying to get a laugh in even if it was at the expense of another changeling's feelings, but Necta didn't mind. He was like family to her, a little brother of sorts, even though he was bigger than her in size and he was stronger than her, but she was a few days his senior, and just hadn't fully grown yet. "Nope, and you don't have anything better to do except to sleep through a good chunk of our Spirit's class... again." Screamer clicked in between laughs, hiccups, and gasping for breath.
Necta's half scowl, half grin turned to a look of terror, "Oh, no, this is going to be my third tardy to his class. Mr. Buzzlehum always gives the worst consequences for skipping any of his classes. Last time, he gave Cricket, dung duty."Screamer stopped laughing, "Yeah, he always gives the worst jobs to us orphans, come on let's go." He jumped up and started to fly towards the nursery entrance, Necta a couple wingbeats behind.
They flew through the corriders, Necta was a few wing beats ahead. Of course that was only because she passed him at a sharp turn earlier. She was just better at the turns than she was. She passed a clock and then looked over her shoulder her shoulder to see that they were going to be ten minutes late to the Spirit lesson, and she was going to pay dearly for it.
"Halt, no fast flying in the corridors you two." Great, and now they had a hall moniter on their tails.
"We're sorry sir, we accidentally slept in and are incredibly late to Mr. Buzzlehum's class, sir." Screamer said as Necta did her best to keep her long mane from falling in her eyes as she hovered, but she couldn't help but feel that the soldier was somehow familiar.
"I remember having Mr. Buzzlehum's class for a while until my father agreed to let me stop going; he gave me this hallway patrol job instead. He never did agree with Buzzlehum's teachings anyway," the guard boasted, in a very familiar way. Only one changeling she knew clicked in that way.
"Thorrin, is that you?" Necta finally got tired of hovering and landed, moving her mane out of the way better so she could see him without the tendrils obscuring her vision.
"The one and only, well, I'm technically the fourth Thorrin in my family on my mother's side, but yeah, it's me. Took ya long enough, didn't it Necta? I knew it wa-" He would have kept talking if Necta hadn't moved to embrace her friend whom she hadn't seen in a long while, almost two years.
"Thorrin, huh? I should have guessed it because you were a bit smaller than me, it's good to see yah," he moved to brohoof Thorrin, but was left hanging as Thorrin returned Necta's hug. Necta thought she smelt some hurt and jealousy, but it was gone before she could trust her nose.
She couldn't help but feel safe in her friend's embrace, and she lost track of time. It was Screamer's restlessness that made her come back to reality, "It was swell seeing you again Thorrin, but we really must get going, otherwise Mr. Buzzlehum is going to have our heads." It was then that she realized that other changelings were looking at them and walking about, class must have finished.
"That is a fairly accurate statement, for you, Miss Necta." The familiar voice of Mr. Buzzlehum echoed through the corridor, and the crowd parted, letting the older changeling through."You three, into my classroom now." His eyes darted between the three class skipping changelings, almost as if daring one of them to move first.
"I guess I'll be seeing you later Necta, Screamer," Thorrin chirped as he started to walk away, either oblivious to Mr. Buzzlehum's commands, or ignoring them.
"Excuse me Mr. Thorrin, clearly you did not understand this simple math equation, . If you leave there will only be two changelings, and I commanded that three changelings enter my classroom. Do you understand?" Necta looked closely at Mr. Buzzlehum and noticed that smoke seemed to be rolling from his nostrils.
"Yes sir," Thorrin usual chirp seemed closer to a hiss, but he walked to Mr. Buzzlehum's stoicly anyhow.
Buzzlehum whipped around to look at Necta and Screamer, but as soon as he was about to say something, Necta stalked silently to the classroom, and Screamer followed close behind.
"Thorrin, what is the meaning of this?" Commander Sting growled as he waved the letter from Mr. Buzzlehum and then impaled it with one of his hoofblades, which Thorrin shied away from, for he knew that when his father was angry...angrier than usual, terrible things could happen.
"I come home from a long expedition and I find that my son, my own flesh and blood, has to 'help with the preparations for the Day of Honor'? Those are the priests' and orphans' duties, not the duty of the son of the living Commander." He hissed as he took off his other hoof blade so that he could impale it through the letter as well.
"Sting dearest, I know you're upset with Thorrin, but that is no reason to take it out on the table, that took a weeks worth of jewels to buy." Thorrin's mother, Riza, came in to the apartment and wasn't fazed with her husband's behavior, and only looked mildly upset that her prized table had a hoofblade in it.
She had her saddlebag on and there were flowers overflowing from it, obviously a welcome home present from her to... well, herself. His father was hard to please, and the only thing that seemed to please him was when Thorrin and Riza were happy.
The Commander dislodged his hoof blade from the table and gave his wife a quick kiss, an action that disgusted Thorrin even when he was younger. "I am not upset with Thorrin, Riza. I am upset with Buzzlehum." Sting gestured wildly at nothing in particular. The note was still attached to his father's hoofblade. Thorrin's father hissed quietly, trying to surpress his anger, "He thinks he can just go and order around my son, MY son, to help with preparations for the Day of Honor," his anger still showed through his tightened jaw and his inflamed eyes.
Thorrin watched as his mother fed off of some of his anger, which calmed the commander slightly. "He isn't supposed to help prepare it, he is supposed to partake in it, give an offering, but he is not to stoke the fire, or douse the Stone of Spirits with incense or whatever it is they do with that stone."
Thorrin despised it when his parents, or anyone for that matter, talked about him as if he weren't there in the same room with them, but they did it often so Thorrin had learned to cope.
"Here, may I see this dear?" Riza bent down and pulled the note off of Sting's hoofblade, and quickly read it.
"Sting, this was signed by the queen herself. I don't think you can clear this one with just Buzzlehum." She showed it to Sting, who pored over it again.
Thorrin looked down at his hooves as his father reread the note. Mr, Buzzlehum had indeed taken them down to the queen, not because what he did was so jurastically wrong, but because Mr. Buzzlehum AND Thorrin wanted his father to heed Mr. Buzzlehum in this one instance, but Thorrin's reasoning for wanting to go was different than Mr. Buzzlehum's. They were in the courtroom for a total of three minutes, but he hadn't been scared because Necta had been beside him the entire time, even though she didn't have to be.
Thorrin looked up to see the door slamming behind his father, he was either going to Mr. Buzzlehum or to the queen to revoke this assignment, and Thorrin prayed to the Spirits that the Queen and Mr. Buzzlehum stood their ground. He didn't want to lose this chance to be with Necta again.