Well, I completely forgot to do a post on Wednesday, my plan to create content on a set schedule has taken a bit of a hairline fracture already. Probably will need to work on something a bit more useful than sarcastic blog posts or lazy reposts of stuff that I already have done.
So on that subject here's the second chapter of Merrily Merrily, it's the last freebie from it that I'm giving because I'd like to make some money from it, and I don't really want to set up a Patreon to offer pictures of myself in various stages of undress in return for continued support.
Anyway, when we last met Sophie she had just arrived in the Kingdom of Trancelvania with Walker the clockwork man and discovered that she was now an adult who liked to dress up.
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A Walk in the Woods
“Hey, wait a minute,” Sophie tried to keep up with Walker as he merrily strode into the dark woods that surrounded their little cave like icky hair in the plughole, “hey, stop whistling and talk to me for a minute.”
Walker was practically skipping through the mossy ground and fallen branches whilst Sophie was struggling to keep her feet. She thought about how high heels were a bad idea for a forest trek and then with a yelp of surprise she suddenly stumbled forward.
Pulling up the hem of her dress she saw that her high heels had transformed into ugly brown hiking boots.
“Well, that’s better,” she said, confused as to how she was making these changes, “I guess?”
“Come along, Miss Weaver,” Walker cheered as he poked his head from around a tree, “we still have a ways to go.”
“Wait,” Sophie ran to catch up with him, “what’s all this stuff about saving the Kingdom?”
“Do you remember when I wished you a good morning?”
Walker paused and looked back at Sophie and she became very aware of the fact that she was now standing in a spooky forest at night with a total stranger. She was pretty sure that her mummy had told her not to do that.
“Yeah,” she took a step back, “when does the sun rise?”
“It is a little after nine in the morning,” Walker looked past the gaps in the trees to the stars above, “the sun has not risen in two days.”
“What, like it slept in? How does the sun not rise?”
“Nobody knows, the light just went away,” the clockwork man looked down at his oversize feet, “it has been getting colder without the sun. I was sent to find a Weaver in the hope that you can make it shine again.”
“But how? I’m just a little girl,” Sophie lifted her arms in such a way as to show off her dress, “who apparently thinks that she is a princess, I’m not an adventurer.”
To her surprise the gown had become a green tunic and dashing white pantaloons, and matching brown satchel to go with her hideous brown hiking boots; something a bit more fitting for someone going on an adventure. A hooded cloak appeared on her shoulders to round off the look of dashing adventurer chic.
“Well alright then, I guess I’m an adventurer now,” she really wished that she knew how she was doing this.
“I do not know how were are to save the Kingdom per se, but I believe you can,” Walker took a step forward and placed a friendly hand on her arm, “but we will need the help of someone wise and of someone strong.”
“I suppose you were told all this by a kindly wizard who smokes too much and hangs around with dwarves?”
“The Oracowl of this forest came to me. I don’t know if he smokes.”
“Oracle you mean?”
“No, Oracowl,” Walker smiled and started back on his path through the trees, “he is an owl, a really big one.”
“Oh... kay,” Sophie raised an eyebrow and followed the weird tin man a few steps behind, she wondered if maybe there were a few cogs missing from the adding machine in his head.
“Are birds of prey known for their sage wisdom?”
“Eagles live as far away from people as possible,” Walker nimbly jumped a fallen log, “chickens are a tasty dinner. Which one would you say is smarter?”
“I wouldn’t want to fight an eagle for his drumstick,” Sophie said as she brushed a stray branch out of her path.
She noticed that the leaves on the trees all seemed to be fluffy clouds as if they were made from cotton candy, and felt just as sticky. Absently she tore a bit of the fluff from the nearest tree revealing some green underneath and brought a shout of ‘Oi!’
Pausing by the branch Sophie saw something hairy sitting in the greenery next to a web-like hammock, she swatted the air before her as it threw a cloud of hair.
“I don’t go breaking into your house,” the spider said as it wove a patch over the hole, “I swear, some people think they can go around doing as they please, tearing up webs, no consideration for the hardworking arachnid.”
“Oops,” Sophie said, trying not to burst into a terrified run, “sorry.”
The spider continued to grumble about the ‘Two Folk’ having no respect for an honest day’s labour and something about shift work. Sophie didn’t know what that was but it didn’t sound like fun.
Rushing after Walker she grabbed his spindly little arm and stopped him in his tracks.
“Walker, are all of these trees,” she cast her eyes around the thousands of fluffy branches that surrounded them, “are they filled with spiders?”
“Yeah, this is Spiderholme,” he brushed a few of the thrown hairs from Sophie’s face, “they are spinster spiders, they work in the silk factory on the edge of Cuddleton.”
“Are they,” she looked nervously around, having that weird ticklish feeling as if spiders were crawling over her back and in her hair, “you know, dangerous?”
“Nah,” he started walking again, “they can get a bit surly sometimes, but you would get in a bad mood too if you had to spend all day weaving cloth with your bum. Usually they are quite friendly.”
Scratching at an imaginary spider Sophie decided to stick next to Walker and hopefully they would get to somewhere a little less creepy a lot more quickly.
Far away from Sophie and Walker hidden in a mountain valley that would be black even in broad daylight there stood what might charitably be called a Dark Tower. Really though the place looked like a passing Cosmic Horror with a bad dose of the flu had sneezed on the planet and the resultant mess had hardened into this sprawling fortress.
The town within its walls might once have been a lovely place but now it was home only to banshees and ghouls, and one passing internet troll who really liked the ambiance.
The buildings were empty, with tiles missing from the roofs and paint flaking from their walls, the stone walls were stained every colour on the dirt spectrum from snot to pee. Rubbish, broken parts and abandoned carts littered the streets, market stalls sat with their produce still on display but the food long since gone rotten.
It was as if one day everyone had simply vanished.
The black tower loomed over the town like a grim and overly enthusiastic prison guard watching for the first inmate he could beat up and throw in the dungeon. The tower stood silently watching for any movement, it was keeping an eye on everything.
In places it was built in straight lines but in others it looked as though the stone had bubbled and melted to form some kind of living shell, its black foundations had twisted to wrap themselves around the outer walls of the fortress, spreading like a monstrous blob into the valley.
The trees and grass around the fortress had turned yellow and brown like something a heavy smoker would cough up. Animals no longer came near the valley and the once blue river that passed through the city and under the fortress now ran thick with mud.
Once upon a time this had been a beautiful place, that people from all over the land travelled to, but since the dark came and the magic was gone it had turned to brooding and a place of despair. The nightmare had spread out like a sickness to infect everything around it.
Nobody came to the valley anymore, even its name had been taken by the veil of dread. People now only knew it as the Castle of Pandemonium, home to a Queen blinded by anger and paranoia.
Sophie and Walker had been tripping and stumbling through the forest for an uncountable time. With no daylight it was hard to tell if it was even still morning.
Aside from a few bruises from falling as she got used to her new size Sophie found that she was not getting tired in the slightest. She discovered that since big folk didn’t have to waste energy on the whole growing thing they got much better miles per gallon.
A few song birds had tried to sing uncertainly, they knew it was supposed to be bright and singing was their gig but on the other hand people tended to shout rude things if they sang at night.
The birds weren’t the only animals that were having a difficult time of it. A quick and sprightly fox had been seen darting between the trees like a hairy ninja only to be chased home by his vixen for being out gallivanting at this time of the day.
Walker was still humming merrily to himself as if he had not a care in the world, which was quite possible if his brain was just a bunch of cog wheels.
He still had not explained how he expected Sophie to be able to bring back the sun and she started to suspect that his entire plan was:
Step 1) Find a Weaver
Step 2) Go... somewhere
Step 3) _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _
Step 4) Sunlight
It did not instil her with confidence.
He also had not explained to Sophie what a Weaver was beyond ‘it means being a Weaver’, which in the grand scheme of things was not an awful lot of help.
She couldn’t shake the nagging feeling that Walker was just making this up as he went along and hoping for the best.
“Ah, here we are,” he said as Sophie walked into the back of him, she hadn’t noticed that he had abruptly stopped.
There was a wide gap in the forest and as she looked instinctively both ways Sophie realised that this was a cobbled street. To her right was the edge of the forest and the first of a few odd shaped houses with low walls and high thatched roofs.
Lanterns burned along the road leading into the village and farmers ran carts up and down the street to the market.
“Welcome to Cuddleton.”
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