The Autumn Keep - Chain Link 7

The Autumn Keep zakludick.png

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This is a Chain story passed between @zakludick and @fromage. Each writer authors a post based on the events of previous episodes and carries on the story.

There is very little collusion between the writers as it is challenging to discover and develop a story by attuning the writing to the partner's plot, style, and presentation.

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Last time on The Autumn Keep

Chainlink 6 of The Autumn Keep by @fromage.

The beast took Griffin to its lair after the man-thing passed out. Now seeing the shifting of the skies, the Lionbird runs over open ground.

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Chainlink 7

Griffin's chest burned, the poison was still making him weak. He gasped and clasped at his chest as he stared up at the heavens. Stars painted the firmament with splashes of color that Griffin had not known existed.

And it moved...

He couldn't grasp the concept. Griffin's mouth moved open and closed for a while his eyes fixated on star after star that shifted in their position, disappeared and was replaced by new stars or colored patches in the night sky that was made of some other form of star-stuff.

Perhaps Griffin had been sleeping this whole time, perhaps this had all just been a dream. He would wake up any minute now, his campfire low to the ground and still smouldering.

But he did not wake up.

“Be restful Lionbird.” The Beast padded behind Griffin. “You must stop. The… finders and … tongues can find you even on a night like… and other times as well.”

For the first time, Griffin noticed that he had left the cave and had come several hundred feet away from the entrance. He looked upward again, noting how the sky slid here and there into patterns and images.

“Do you know what this is?” He did not expect the Beast to know anything, but it was worth the attempt.

“The sky… in patterns here… the Keep… a safe place… dens and caves…” The Beast rambled on in its tongue, it was too complicated and fast for Griffin to follow it all. “The Keep in place… the forest and all the … for the largest and chief of all… cannot fight it or suppress it…” The Beast seemed to have a keen interest in the position of the starts. What that had to do with the Beast’s life he could not guess.

“Come Lionbird. We go back to the lair.”

Griffin complied. It was dark out, if it were not for the occasional flash of light among the shifting stars. There was another feeling that bothered him.

It felt disorientating enough already that the sky did not stay in the same place as it seemed to should. Then there was this talk of a Keep, that word image meant a building. How would the Beast know of structures? How exactly did all this fit in? He did not know.

Griffin shook his head to rid himself of these thoughts. He focused on following the Beast back to its lair. It was only once he had entered the cave and stepped past the young, patting them idly on their heads that he took notice that he did not feel afraid anymore at all.

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It scratched at the egg sac before itself. There were tough sticky layers which it cut with its fore-leg pincers. Then came a hard outer shell that was as hard as glass. It tapped on the shell with its head spines and gradually the eggshell began the crack.

It could hear the others doing the same. Many of them, maybe hundreds.

There was a song in its mind. The song of the mother. They needed to come out now. The mother needed them.

A chip of the eggshell fell to the floor of the egg chamber. It put its two pincered legs into the hole it had created and then twisted its claws apart. At first, nothing happened, but it did not lessen the pressure. Suddenly the crack spread down the egg and a massive tear ran through to the bottom of the shell.

It rejoiced. The mother would be happy that it was so strong. It crawled out of its shell. There were others that also began merging from their eggs, much in the same way as it did on its own birthplace.

It surveyed the egg chamber. Though it was covered in slime and strands that smelled like home, the walls had been made by other creatures. Creatures that had the ability to cut stone in straight lines and then arranged such stones in straight lines.

It did not know these things, but it could feel mother, bringing forth her knowledge to every new thing that it could see.

The urge to leave and feed became overpowering to the youngling and it was drawn to the entrance to the egg chamber. It scuttled on its three pairs of lower legs and held its two pairs of upper legs in front of it.
Outside the egg chamber, there were other creatures just like it, but these were easily five times its size. These were also the children of the mother and the big siblings looked down at him without disgust or humor.

The scrape and chitter of clawed legs on stone intensified as more and more of its siblings emerged from their eggs. This would continue for some time, as rows of newly born came forward.

Driven forward by the queen’s insistent commands.

Onwards. Ever onwards.

Finally, the corridor opened up into a massive stone cavern. This cavern had strange details about it that meant nothing to it. In the centre of this massive cavern, however, was something was so significant, it would sacrifice itself for it in a heartbeat.

The Queen Mother turned her chitinous, armored face the new children. The queen did not speak but it felt her words.

“My darlings, my sweet darlings. Autumn is here at last. The Keep is opened. Soon the foolish will come to the Keep and attempt its tunnels. We will use these so that we may feed.”

A keening sound left its mouth without it deciding on it. The Mother was strong. Its keening was joined by others. First a dozen, then fifty, and then hundreds.

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Chainlink 7 completed!
Now the torch is passed on to @fromage to add in Chainlink 8 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

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