Broken Windmills
into the abyss: fifty themes for ico


Note - These sentences were written for the Fifty Sentence challenge at "1sentence dot livejournal dot com", using the Gamma theme set.
They were written in the numerical order of the prompts and then reassembled into chronological order with the numbers left on.
They can be viewed at the original community under the ICO tag.


#47 - Highway
The horse's back rocks rhythmically under him and the broad arms circling him are ironclad and impassive--how can he hate them, protectors of their village, and yet (he rubs at his sweat-stung face with one shackled arm, feeling his shoulders ache) how can he feel anything but fear?

#09 - Red
He bursts into her world like a sunrise--excepting the patches of sky past the windows, his is the first true color she has ever seen.

#40 - Whisper
Her words are unintelligible sounds as faint and thin as spidersilk, but he sits up further, awestruck all the same--"Are you a sacrifice, too?"

#15 - Silk
She seems spun out of dawnlight, too delicate to exist, less real than the cage she was trapped in--he draws back as her hand reaches out, half afraid that at the touch of his rough human skin, she will bleed silver and vanish.

#02 - Hero
He is the only boy she has ever seen; she knows from the moment he takes cudgel in hand and charges her mother's wraiths with a yell that he is the bravest she will ever meet.

#01 - Ring
Blue ripples spilling over his feet in icy waves, he falls to his knees and plunges his arm deep to the shoulder in shadow, groping blindly into the roiling maelstrom, and prays--

#44 - Hope
"How did you do that?" he cries in amazement, after the idol-doors have given a last grating rumble and spray of unnatural light and are still--staring in disbelief as he batters the twitching wraith into a smoke stain on the floor, she wonders in silent delight, How did you do that?

#08 - Cold
It should have frightened him, the idea of touching that ghostly skin, like milky glass lit from within; some time later, her fingers still laced through his, he notices with a flicker of belated surprise that she is warm.

#17 - Promise
If she dies, he will perish--if he dies, she is lost.

#48 - Unknown
They are both unlike anything the other has ever seen, and this is the best reassurance they could possibly have.

#42 - Talk
After their initial halting attempts at communication, they try other avenues; quickly they discover that their eyes and the touch of their hands are all the translation they need.

#29 - Dance
He pulls her in a tight circle, her slim legs stumbling awkward with surprise and confusion, just to see if she will follow...

#07 - Wings
She looks up at him from her cupped hands with a face alight with simple joy, and he waits patiently until the dove has flown away.

#30 - Body
Raised like a veal-heifer, with no greater virtue than what can be taken from her, she is astounded to see in his shy, reverent glances that he finds her beautiful in her own right.

#36 - Laugh
It would sound like a glass chime, he imagines, wondering if he will ever really know; or the whir of white birds' wings in the sunlight, rising.

#32 - Farewells
He'll be back before she knows it, wait here safely until he finds the way, scream for him if they come--unable to say it, he simply touches her hand for reassurance, and turns away.

#41 - Wait
His sandal disappears over the stone shelf overhead, and she stands rigid and still, unable to tear her eyes from the spot, until the rattle of a chain behind her announces his return at last.

#04 - Box
She is standing so close to the wall to watch him struggle with it that it nearly hits her as it tumbles over the edge; her little cry of fear stings and sticks like a splinter under his skin, and he will be more careful from now on.

#25 - Mask
Sometimes he can't help but look at her, remembering that which swelled up and dripped oily-black from the storm-swaying cage of his nightmares, and wondering how deep that bright skin reaches.

#21 - Silence
It would eat them alive and suck out their marrow if they let it, but what can they do to break it--speak?

#14 - Music
Notes fall softly like dust motes in the sun; he wonders if even the birds are afraid to sing out loud.

#13 - View
All the soaring crenellations and towers and battlements are flowering below them in a tangle of ancient faded brownstone and iron, bathed in morning mist and a glorious tumult of pale golden sunlight, and only her soft sigh behind him reminds him to breathe.

#10 - Drink
The surface of the pool gleams so perfectly glassy-still that she can't resist dipping her hands in it, but her face remains tilted back to watch as the tattered windmill blades lift and turn, creaking gently, and he rises...

#27 - Fall
The flagstones knock the breath from his lungs with a strangled gasp; as his vision clears, he sees her running toward him with an expression torn with fright, and he swallows his pain and stands.

#33 - World
Stretched low like a cloud over the distant cliffs, that line of deep green forest is the sweetest thing they've ever seen, and the most unreachable.

#03 - Memory
When this is all over, he thinks to himself sometimes, hesitant with hope and despair, a mantra he is too afraid to finish.

#50 - Breathe
Drowsing, her chest swells and falls in unison with his, shoulder-to-shoulder for warmth on the stone bench, and he wonders sleepily--when did we become two halves of a whole?

#16 - Cover
His hand over hers is the first and closest thing to love that the world has ever given her.

#20 - Talent
Every leap is terrifying to watch, his small body arching like a bow, flailing airborne towards the safety of the other side and then...the rib-bruising thump of landing, a scrabble up over the edge, and she can breathe again.

#46 - Gravity
Swinging precariously over the endless drop, his fingers clutched around hers so tightly that her delicate bones are welding together with the pain, she digs her bare toes into the stone and pushes up with all her strength as he pulls...

#05 - Run
She always waits until he is elsewhere in the castle to rub her arms where the joints ache from his endless yanking--she can protect him from very little, except this small guilt.

#19 - Candle
He's on the verge of pounding his fists against the looming round portal in helpless frustration, when he hears the liquid murmur of her voice and turns to see her standing tiptoe, stretching her hand up to the alcove in the wall--"Oh!"

#39 - Overwhelmed
There are too many of them, dozens of filmy wraiths crowding and flapping and hissing, dragging her down as the floor creeps up over her face and into her gasping mouth to choke her and closing over her head like something hungry, her one free hand flung up to him like a prayer...

#18 - Dream
Remembering the horrible cold that sucked at his limbs in that first jittering twilight vision, he swings the sword with all his strength--they will /not/ take her into that!

#22 - Journey
How long have they wandered these empty halls together, he wonders, looking over his shoulder at her familiar stumbling silhouette--a few hours? days?--he feels as crushingly exhausted as if he had circumnavigated the world.

#49 - Lock
The doors of the towering stone gate are shuddering into motion and swinging out over the sunlit abyss below, and he stumbles up from where the shockwave threw him and runs to her side with their freedom forgotten, grabs her shoulder in alarm as she trembles, clutching her thin arms around herself in pain--just a little further--

#45 - Eclipse
She feels the shadow creeping up her bare legs, numbing her skin, like an oilslick flood rattling with heavy black ice, and she closes her eyes tightly--she has never learned how to weep.

#06 - Hurricane
Clinging to the creaking wet boards as he awakens, he doesn't know at first if the raging storm is above him or inside him.

#43 - Search
He will find her, he will; if he has to tear apart every stone one by one barehanded until the towers slide into the sea, if he has to fight them with clenched fists and teeth and horns until his body weeps blood, he will still do it, because they can take away his heart and his horns and his liberty, but not her--never her.

#11 - Midnight
The only illumination the smothered sky offers him is an eye-searing flash of lightning against the boiling black clouds; he faces the cliff with its rain-slicked heights and decides that it will have to be enough.

#26 - Ice
He is so cold and aching that his bones tremble inside him and he can feel every fiber of frozen muscle clinging to them, straining not to rip free--and his cries for her echo off the storm-blasted crags above him--and still, his fingers curl around the next rusty pipe, and he climbs.

#31 - Sacred
The sword on the altar is nothing to him, heavy and painfully unwieldy, but he takes it in both hands and runs because by now she is everything...

#37 - Lies
She cannot survive in the outside world, that cruel commanding voice repeats in his memory--he looks at the small pale motionless form frozen at his feet and and his heart squeezes sharply with rage and pain--she might at least have been given the chance to try...!

#34 - Formal
She leans her bonewhite cheek languidly on her hand, an expanse of dark writhing skirts spreading around her to trail in smoky tendrils across the floor, a vast horrible blur with a face carved of marble and yet so effortlessly a queen in her echoing vault of a throneroom that--how could she, how could she, her own daughter...!--he has never hated anyone so much and so hard in his fierce little life.

#23 - Fire
Three steps towards revenge, and then without warning he is thrown back and the wall slams into him with an explosion of green light behind his eyes--his head rings thunderous like a struck bell and it burns, split like a stone--and her mother's laughter is all around him, simmering...

#12 - Temptation
Years later, it occurs to him for the first time that it would have been possible to flee across the bridge to safety, to push the boat away from the shore, to put down the sword and go.

#24 - Strength
What startles her more than anything is how heartbreakingly light he is, a limp blood-stained featherweight as she gathers him up in her fading arms.

#28 - Forgotten
Do not tell your children about me, she prays as the boat vanishes into the distance--let the freak remain in her cage, and fade.

#35 - Fever
He tosses and turns half-conscious in the bottom of the boat, restless with the throbbing of his temples and the slow slicking of blood in his hair, and the unforgiving heat as the sun beats down on the tiny bobbing craft; sweat seeps damp like a second skin beneath his clothes, and he whimpers to her fitfully as the blue ocean sighs and sighs again, because somewhere in all this light she might be, she must be...

#38 - Forever
There is enough white sand and sun here to last them an eternity, miles of it stretching along as far as the gray seaside cliffs rear to the sky, and--her heart takes to the air like a bright gull, floating--there is not a wall in sight.