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[personal profile] wonder_city
Here's the second Compass Rose episode this week. I hope you're enjoying Tom and Christopher's adventures!

Christopher raced across the suddenly open ground. “Watch out!” shrieked Tom, as a general warning against the hunters circling in from the left, the hounds closing in on his flanks, and any sudden gopher holes.

There was a lot of excited shouting behind them, along with the blowing of horns (Really, thought Tom, you’d think someone was filming this. Who can ride a horse and play a goddamn trumpet at the same time anyway?) and the barking of surprisingly large dogs. Christopher swerved -- he must’ve gotten sight of the hunters circling in and clearly a deer’s eyesight wasn’t a patch on that of whatever-kind-of-bird-Tom-was -- and paused to kick a dog that was leaping at his flanks. Poor thing, thought Tom, but whether it was about the dog or Christopher, who ordinarily would have regarded name-calling to be excessive cruelty to animals, she wasn’t sure.

“Why... aren’t... they... shooting... at us?” panted Christopher, as he darted from side to side in an increasingly futile attempt to shake off the dog pack and regain the shelter of the trees.

“Hell if I know,” said Tom, flapping her wings desperately as she was shaken from side to side. “Fuck! In front of you!”

A set of hunters on brown horses were racing to cut them off. Two of them were carrying something that Tom was able to pick out as the reason no one was shooting, with arrows or otherwise: a net.

“Crap!” said Christopher, and Tom shrieked, “To the left! YOUR OTHER LEFT!”

The net went over them as the hunters raced by in a move that looked like some sort of high-speed dressage event. Tom let go of Christopher’s antlers and made her second abortive attempt to fly, which ended much as the first had. As they rolled in the net together, Christopher kicked another dog that got too close. It rolled over, still barking, and then lay on its side, twitching, barking, and air-running in a repetitive loop. A red-hooded hunter reached down and fiddled with its collar, and it went still.

“Have it picked up by the wagon,” said one of the men on horseback. “That’s three for the repair shop, not too bad.”

The red-hooded hunter nodded, and fiddled with a control mechanism in his hands. The dogs left off circling Christopher and followed the hunter.

Several pairs of hands disentangled the net and presently they were trooping through the forest, Christopher haltered to two horses and Tom in a large birdcage.

“Where are we going?” asked Tom after Christopher had been stubbornly silent for a good quarter of an hour.

No one answered. Apparently, it was beneath them to discuss things with a bird, even one that asked reasonable questions. Tom wondered if the horses were animatronic too, like the dogs, but decided that even if the hunters had been answering her questions, they might not have understood the inquiry. Wait, she should be able to tell the difference by smell, right? Didn’t horses have a strong odor?

That’s funny, Tom thought after a few surreptitious deep breaths. I don’t smell anything. Not even outdoorsy smells. Don’t birds have a sense of smell?

After what Tom thought was some hours of travel (she fell asleep for a while, so had no way of knowing for sure), they arrived in -- of course -- a castle courtyard. Two of the horseback riders chivvied Christopher into the castle, while a third (a woman, Tom noted) carried Tom’s cage. They were carried to the throne room, where there was no one in residence but guards. The throne itself was very tall and had multiple points on the back pointing at the groin arches of the ceiling.

“Please tell Her Majesty that we have succeeded in capturing the stag and the raven,” said one of the hunters.

What, I’m not even a hawk? This sucks.

The guards looked at one another, obviously uncomfortable, and after a moment one of them said, “I’ll go, you went last time,” and exited the room via a side door.

There was a pause.

There was a sound of slamming doors, a crash not unlike crockery hitting a stone wall, and running feet. The guard re-entered the room, breathing quickly, and took up his former post.

There was another pause.

A very young woman stamped into the room. Her relative youth was somewhat underlined by the fact that she was wearing a black gown with the skirt mostly ripped off, torn black spiderweb stockings, a bodice which was rather obviously built for a much more mature figure, and black lipstick. Her black hair was curly and unbrushed.

She was also wearing bunny slippers. Pink bunny slippers.

She threw herself into the throne, swung one foot over the arm, and said, “What is it this time?”

One of the hunters cleared his throat. “We, ah, have succeeded in the quest you have given us, Your Majesty. Here are the white stag and the golden raven, as ordered.”

Tom said, “We have names, you know!”

The woman carrying her cage shook it and snapped, “Quiet, you! Silence in the presence of the Witch-Queen of d’Aulnoy!”

The Witch-Queen of d’Aulnoy paused to examine a purple-painted thumbnail, and worry it with her teeth. “Oh. That.”

There was another uncomfortable pause, and then the hunter who had spoken first said, “Your Majesty... What shall we do with them?”

The Witch-Queen sighed petulantly, examined the ends of her unbrushed hair, kicked off one of her bunny slippers, and finally said, “Oh, I don’t know. Why do I have to do all the work around here?”

The hunters looked at each other uncomfortably.

The Witch-Queen of d’Aulnoy frowned and stood up, her bare foot hunting absently for the bunny slipper she had kicked off (which was over on the right side of the throne). “You’re so lazy, all of you!” She pointed one finger at the ceiling, and the candles in the three enormous iron chandeliers burst with red sparks.

Everyone cringed. The Witch-Queen sighed, gave up the bunny slipper as lost, and kicked off the other one. She folded her arms and wandered over to the side of the throne room, peering out of one of the huge stained-glass windows. “I dunno, lock them up or something. I don’t care, even.”

The hunters bowed. “It shall be as you command, Your Majesty.”

“Yeah, yeah.” She flapped a hand at them without turning around and their captors hustled them from the room.

As they were being led (or carried) down a number of stone corridors, Christopher finally spoke up.

“I have a bad feeling about this,” he said.

Tom would have given a great deal to have been able to hit him over the head at that moment.

Date: 2012-12-29 10:37 pm (UTC)
the_rck: (Default)
From: [personal profile] the_rck
Now I'm intensely curious about the Witch-Queen!

Thanks for writing!

Date: 2012-12-31 04:01 pm (UTC)
heavenscalyx: (Default)
From: [personal profile] heavenscalyx
Thank you!

Date: 2013-02-27 07:51 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
I'm curious as to whether they've actually been transformed or they're bodies are somewhere else with some kind of headsets making them run the Raven and the Hart.



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