The Autumn Keep - Chain Link 12


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Last time on The Autumn Keep

Chainlink 11 of The Autumn Keep by @zakludick found Griffin recovering from his injuries and embracing some...changes.

It is now @fromage's turn to add a link to the story in Chainlink 12.
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Chainlink 12

It loped through the open field, the pristine snow churning beneath it as it ran. The meadow shone in the moonlight. The stars remained fixed in the sky.

It had no choice but to leave the others behind. They would only slow it down. Whatever had happened in the Keep, it had not only touched the man-thing. The beast, the Castellan, the boy -- the throne had mingled them all.

It did not know where it was going, only that there was somewhere it had to be. Someone it had to find. It broke into the woods, picking its way carefully through the underbrush. Slowly the forest floor began to clear. The telltale signs of the habitation of man-things. It could smell...cows, pigs...animals the man-things raised to eat. The words came fully formed to its mind. A fragment from the boy.

Still it pressed forward, out of the woods, into the city of man-things. The smells overwhelmed. The streets were filled with their waste, but the lingering smell of their food was worse. Meat charred beyond all recognition. feel the man-thing struggling inside, his hunger battling with its disgust.

Underneath it all there was something else. A drive as primal as hunger but unfamiliar, coming from the Castellan. It was easy to ignore, but it was always there, and it was getting more insistent.

The call to the Keep.

Dawn was breaking. Man-things began to appear in the streets. It expected them to recoil, to flee.They did not.Those that noticed their...its...passing merely looked on in disgust.

Something was wrong, but it could not stop. The man-thing pressed them forward. My uncle. His uncle. Our uncle. It was drowning in a sea...what was a sea? A sea of the man-thing's emotions and thoughts. Waves crashing to the beat of the Keep's song.

The inn. Stop. The Crook and Clock. Take us back. Two streets down. The younglings. Left. Right. My mate. Past the statue of father. Wait. Did it think that or did he? Where was the statue?

Bits and pieces of the chatter of the man-things began to resolve around He could understand them. Not just glimpses. Not just emotions. wanted, needed to find his uncle. Desperately they cried out as they fell to the ground.

"What was that about your uncle?" A man-thing...a priest...held out a hand to How had he understood? "Can I help you? You seem lost."

Human words began to pour from its mouth. They tasted strange but familiar at once. "Where is...statue...the statue. Did they remove a statue from here? Of sir Ichard? Ochtendzwaard?"

The priest looked confused. "Ochtendzwaard? The cobbler? His shop's just down the road here, on the left."

It stumbled past the priest, exhausted but pushing forward. The cobblestones bit into their feet.

The sign of a boot with an ornate letter "O" hung just where the priest had said. On the door it read, "Albrecht Ochtendzwaard, proprietor." My...his...grandfather. Father had rarely spoken of him. It had never been flattering. This shop was meant to have burnt down. Long before he was born in fact. How....

Their breath caught in its throat...his throat. No. Please. In the glass of the door was the face of a young man. A human man covered in furs but still shivering in the cold.

Lionbird...Griffin. Himself. Staring back at them, his mouth agape.

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The beast turned away from the town. Despite its position on a hill nearby, it had lost sight of Lionbird some time ago. He was back with his family now, at last. Or, at least, his people. It did not understand what had happened in the Keep, nor the effects on the man-thing. It could only hope that being among others of his kind would help him heal.

It paused and turned back at the edge of the forest.

Farewell man-thing. May you find peace with who you have become.

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Chainlink 12 completed!

Now the torch is passed back to @zakludick to add in Chainlink 13 of the story!

Previous Chainlinks:
Chainlink 1 by @zakludick
Chainlink 2 by @fromage
Chainlink 3 by @zakludick
Chainlink 4 by @fromage
Chainlink 5 by @zakludick
Chainlink 6 by @fromage
Chainlink 7 by @zakludick
Chainlink 8 by @fromage
Chainlink 9 by @zakludick
Chainlink 10 by @fromage
Chainlink 11 by @zakludick


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