A Trial of Smiles

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Booksie Classic

A random sketch I made inspired me to write this twisted little piece. It's set in the TES universe but it's only the very last line that actually makes any reference to it.

Magic incantations and rites. Complex patterns on the floor and all sorts of magical objects. It had all been going so well but then there had been darkness. I screamed, there was nothing else to do, but I couldn't even hear myself, there was only a deafening silence.

Suddenly I landed hard in water, it was only ankle deep so my head slammed into the stone beneath. The water had the foulest taste, was it even water? I crawled to my knees, retching as everything seemed to spin. It took a few moments for the world to go back to normal but as it did I saw drops of red falling into the pale green water. Reflexively I mumbled a healing spell. I looked around, I appeared to be in a grand cave. It was very dark, illuminated only by a faint green glow which seemed to originate from the water, if it really could be called that.

Things were moving in the shadows, I could make out insectile shapes. The beating of my heart almost drowned the rustling sounds they made as they moved around the edges of the dim light. What was this place? Ever so slowly I stood up, my legs barely supporting me. The shapes had glistening eyes and they were all watching me, waiting. For what?

A deep thud and the splash of water some distance behind me. I turned around, and wished I hadn't. The thing crouching down in the water was not of this world, or my world rather for only the gods knew where I was now. It's body was twisted, disproportional. Large muscular shoulders supporting skeletal wings that extended up into the darkness but it's wrists were thin and the greyish skin clung to long, bony fingers. The legs were similar, long with the bones painfully visible. A grey mane of lifeless hair obscured my view of it's chest but made the face all the more prominent and it's not a face that can be forgotten.

The eyes were sunken and unseeing, tinted with a sickening corpse grey. The skull beneath the skin far too visible and where there once must've been a nose there was only gaping holes now. It was grinning at me, blood running from it's lips down it's chin. I didn't even scream.

It raised it's hand, a stream of magic quickly closed the distance between us. I didn't have time to react before green lights were dancing in front of my eyes. A terrible stiffness settled into my facial muscles, my face was frozen into a mask of terror, I couldn't even blink. Another stream of magic. A jolt of pain shot through my body. I cried out but the sound was strangely muffled by my half closed lips.

Smile or die.” The deep voice originated from the being but the walls picked it up and threw it back, twisted unnaturally. I clawed at my face, trying to force my lips into a smile but it was no use. Another wave of pain hit me. My legs gave out under me, it felt as if something had broken inside me. Imploringly I reached towards the being, pleading for mercy without words. Blood was seeping out from under my nails. The magic was slowly killing me.

The creature didn't move but I saw drops of red falling from it's eyes. I realized what I'd taken for a grinning mouth was in fact gaping wounds. It wasn't grinning it was sad, crying. For me? I understood how to survive this cruel game now though. Another wave of pain shook my body. I had to fight to keep my hand steady as I pulled my dagger from it's sheathe. A sound escaped the being, it was like a mix between a gasp and a moan. The pain was intensified. I grasped the dagger with both hands, I wouldn't manage with just one. I put the blade in my mouth and jerked it sideways. I chocked on the blood and spent several moments coughing. The pain was still the same though, one more cut to go. My hands were shacking badly but I managed to gouge a line from my lips across the other cheek.

All at once the paralysis went away and the pain, except the one that I'd inflicted myself, disappeared. I slumped forward, gasping for breath as blood dripped from my mangled face.

Poor thing...” The words seemed awfully out of place. “You would've been better off dead.” I heard the being approaching. Strong hands roughly pulled me to my feet, reflexively I grabbed it's wrists, trying to keep my balance. It leaned forward, our faces mere inches apart. I tried to pull away from it's terrifying countenance.

Oh, no, you'd better get used to this sight right away. People around here aren't as pretty as wherever you came from.” I could only cough in response now that blood was once again seeping into my mouth. The creature whispered words too low for me to hear but I felt magic streaming through me again, healing magic. It healed what it had inflicted itself but only stopped the bleeding from my morbid smile.

That smile will never go away, such is the punishment for entering this realm uninvited.

Where am I?” I hadn't come here willingly but I had the feeling it didn't matter.

Ah, yes, on behalf of the lady Syl and the Madgod I must bid you welcome. Welcome to Dementia.

Submitted: November 08, 2008

© Copyright 2021 MrsT. All rights reserved.

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