Down in the Dirt

“I don’t know who I am
Or who I used to be before
You broke me in a thousand pieces. ”

Lysenna strode through the misty colors of the woods. The faint sun had yet to burn its way through the silver clouds that shrouded the trees, from the lofty yet thinning tops of the canopy to the old and withered trunks.
Though her steps were measured, she did not bother to suppress the sound of her coming and did not try to follow the small game that hurried away from the rythmic sounds of her approach.

“Don’t you try and help me ’cause I know
I know
Only time can heal but it’s running out
Running out”

The faded leather bag slung against her hip had a few small items in it, but brushing the items hidden inside made her hands shake. Every time her fingers stirred the cold wood edge or creased edges of old paper, it reminded her more and more of events she wished desperately to forget… and those she didn’t know if she had the strength to recall.
*could she even recall*

“Tell me how to feel, to feel okay
‘Cause I don’t know
I’ve been feeling pretty low
Ever since the day you dug my heart’s grave”

A twig snapped under a careless foot as she stalked through the dense underbrush. The sound echoed and the lyrical notes of the forest suddenly became the shrieks and wails of the thicket. Chest tight, breath caught in her throat Lysenna stumbled, knees giving way to the soft ground underneath.
A rush of copper flooded her mouth as teeth came down to still the screams still trapped inside. She would not surrender to the fear. Never again.
She had promised herself.
She. Would. Not. Submit.

“My empty heart is bruised
Broke down my walls because of you
And though I’m six feet under
My anxiety is taking over”

Short and trim nails dug into calloused palms as she fought back the swelling tide of emotions. Her knees dug into the soft moss covered ground as the ferns reached for her bowed head. They were all okay. They were all alright.
*the ones she remembered*
Shaking her head, as much to clear the thoughts as the hair off her sweat chilled brow, Lysenna stood up.

“Don’t you try and help me ’cause I know
I know
Only time can heal but it ran out’

It didn’t matter. It couldn’t.
She had to go back.
They didn’t matter. They couldn’t.
She had to go back.

“Tell me how to feel, to feel okay
‘Cause I don’t know
I’ve been feeling pretty low
Ever since the day you dug my heart’s grave”

Follow you down

“It’s crazy when
The thing you love the most is the detriment
Let that sink in”

Two conflicting sides. Two different viewpoints. Both so clearly set against each other, both refusing to bend.
Both so similar in that regard.
Why is it she was always able to see the space in the middle? The grey tones everyone seemed unable to even acknowledge?

“Oh, ’cause I keep diggin’ myself down deeper
I won’t stop ’til I get where you are
I keep running, I keep running, I keep running”

Lysenna’s mouth tightened as her gaze fell upon the two daggers laid on the table looking as out of place as a fine tableware set on the rough old wood surface.
Neither were truly hers, and yet they had both come back for her hands to hold.
She didn’t know what to do with them. She had done what Willow had asked. She had done what needed to be done. She had finally laid her own personal night are to rest. And yet.
Between the spirits, the lionfolk, the town. They all had such narrow views of what any of them would truly accept. What would they do when they realized what she… Who she…
Shaking her head violently, as much to clear the thoughts away as to feel the movement of the cool air upon her face she turned on her heel and strode to the doorway. There the verdant trees and shadows seemed to beckon to her as they always had.

“They say I may be making a mistake
I would’ve followed all the way, no matter how far”

It doesn’t matter. All that mattered was keeping her family safe. And no one, spirit or saint, was ever going to make the decision of who her family was. Circle, blood, childhood friend. They were all her family. Shaking her head in denial of the shadows and their call she walked back to the table currently crowded as her thoughts.

Damn anyone who thought they could get away with telling her what to do. She reached out, gripping the strange hilts and slowly lifted them to eye level. Her eyes glinted sharp as the blades as she brought them to her side and tucked them into her belt pouch. If anyone thought they would stand in her way, well, they were about to find out exactly what she was willing to do to take care of the ones she loved.

“I know when you go down all your darkest roads
I would’ve followed all the way to the graveyard”

Dig my grave

“forever never really felt so right, but it feels so safe when you dig my grave”

Everyone was alive and well. As she worked the oil into the wood Lysenna kept telling herself that. If she stopped, if she started thinking about what could have happened, how everything could have become even more wrong…
She couldn’t stop thinking about it.

“I know you know we both see the end of us”

Sanding the wood, she kept seeing all the ways everyone she loved being taken from her. The stricken faces of the ones who trusted her, who looked to her. She saw the blood splashing out onto the dark earth as it spilled from the man the elf had murdered.
Had sacrificed.

The twisting growth of the heartseed and Chropolar’s apprentice enterwined. Pallid light pulsing, a bright green but wrong somehow in a sickly imitation of life. The chalky dust of the remainder as it fell through Henri’s clenched fist.

“follow my lead, take my hand, things don’t always go to plan”

She kept seeing the fear and agony in Isabel’s face. As she pushed against the presence that had worked to alter her.

The rage and disgust in Granny Jo’s voice as she order Hugo to take action against Alphonse.

The despair in Marinette’s pleas to everyone to think things through.

“close your eyes, let’s misbehave, while you dig my grave”

The strange dreams with their dullness and emptiness were nothing now compared to the reality of the gathering. The luminous colors and exuberant music of the maypole dance all seemed so far away now. As far removed from the bloody shadows of the night before as the Throne was from their meager village.

“tell me why I tried so hard to hold you so it wouldn’t come, can’t keep pushing all the weight of everything that came undone”

She couldn’t undo the past. Or do the impossible. But she could do everything in her power to keep those she loved from harm. She could continue to stand up. To speak up. To shout. To scream. To fight. To bleed. To live. To die.

“I’m no hero, babe, but I can take a punch”

If all she could do was live and die, she could at least make it count.

The echoes of what comes

The mists protect.

Of all the things she had been told by her mother, the one she never doubted was this. “The mists protect us.”

Lysenna stared out the window as the rain continued to fall. The snow had melted, and the ground was back to its soft state. Spring was coming, slow though it may be this year. The cycles continued whether we chanced to follow them or not.

Her hands continued their movement without thinking, so used to the work and process that she was able to devote only a portion of her attention to it. The leonem was almost complete, the finer detail carving work done earlier. She continued to softly sand the back edges to ensure nothing would scrape against the skin or clothing of the wearer, rubbing a nail against the grain, checking for anything her eyes may have missed.

Setting that piece down, she pulled out another chunk of soft wood. The kind she kept for the small animals she made the children. Laying out her tools, she started carving. Recalling the conversation she had with the young Mervaille and chuckling. She never forced wood into a shape. It called. It spoke. It knew far better than her what it could be. She simply gave it form. She thought back to the day. It had been such a quiet day. She had never expected it to turn out the way it did.

Looking down, she noticed a dark spot on the piece and frowned. This was new growth pine, soft and warm yellow. It shouldn’t have any dark spots unless… Turning it over, she realized the discoloration wasn’t disease but blood. She had nicked herself. She stared at the bright drop welling on her thumb and disappeared into the memory.

~The scarlet drops shone brilliant on the fresh fallen snow. The screams of the other townsfolk still echoing in the clearing as they battled for their loves and those of the dead. Cuilon had gone to protect another of those who were walking the old ones back to their resting spots. Sophie and Isabelle were gone as well performing the rites and they were so close to the end. She wanted to sink down to the floor but she kept seeing Cadence by her side, sword out and keeping the ghosts from getting closer than they already had. Marinette’s gentle voice was cutting through the breaks in soft gasps of sound. The hammer was heavy in Lysennas’ hands, and she knew she wouldn’t be able to help for long. Her ribs and abdomen still hurt, and it took all her strength to stand and stay. Henri’s quiet voice came closer, and as he sobbed they pulled out another. In her mind she screamed at the thing that kept taunting her friends and family, but in reality, all that made it out was a rasping growl.
They had made it this far, they. Would. Not. Stop.~

Pulled out of the memory with a snap, Lysenna realized she had dropped the knife. Hands and head shaking, she reached for a bandage in her pouch, recalling the warmth in Granny Jo’s voice as she had bandaged her up and Cuilon holding her hand as she bit through the pain. Corbin’s hand on her shoulder, and Ettiene across the table. Hugo in the Grove, watching and guarding. Ruger making her laugh with those ridiculous eyebrows. Colobri and her songs. Her family had grown a bit more than expected. That was true. And some of them may have scoffed at the idea of her calling them that. But still. They were *hers*. No one hurt them without her noticing.
Wrapping the soft linen around her finger to staunch the blood flow she suddenly remembered the rest of her mother’s words.

“The mists protect us. But remember mon bebe, protection is not an empty threat. The knife cuts you as easily as another.”

Picking up the knife she stared at the blade. The keen edge did cut her as easily as anyone else. That was true.
But she would do whatever she could to protect them.
Damn the blood. Damn the cost.