Ocean of Ideas

Part 2: The Child in the Shadows

Kat hadn't mind being mute so much, but that was because she had nobody to talk to anyway, before recently. It didn't take her long until she noticed how much these unspoken questions bugged her. AbiGail had no real home. She just slept on the ocean floor, her long body curled in a circle, with her fin over her head like a blanket. Kat noticed that the water wasn't salty. Weren't oceans usually salty? And if yes where did she learn that? It didn't burn in her eyes, in fact it didn't bother her at all. Her vision wasn't even blurred. Her movement wasn't as sluggish as it should be and she stayed wherever she was, the air in her lungs didn't push her to the surface.

She was sitting in the sands next to her new friend, waited until she would wake up. Some of her bandages had become loose and now gently waved with the water. They still completely covered her arms, partially her legs and only one was strapped around her chest over the most recent cut. These bandages made up most of her clothing now, the original dress could barely be recognized as such anymore. It was okay though, she didn't freeze, the water was nicely warm, despite the depths she seemed to be in.

Tall seaweed and colorful corals embellished the place. Sometimes small fishes came by. Red ones, yellow ones. There were even two little seahorses dancing in front of her, as if to proudly present her a dance they created. She couldn't clap or compliment them afterwards though. They simply left.

Kat was trying to get letters into her bubbles when AbiGail woke up. Kat didn't notice her watching from under her fin. Then Kat heard a bubble emerging from AbiGail's mouth.

"You can't" it said. Kat looked confused.

"You need a tongue" "to speak words."

Kat placed her chin on her knees and watched the sand before her feet with a sad look.

AbiGail put her long thin arms around Kat.

Kat remembered how the crow had taken it from her. Forced its disgusting beak into her mouth, tried to get as much of it into his beak so he could cut it all off. And then she felt him slowly pressing his beak together. It only took seconds until he had cut through it completely but it felt like hours. Hours of indescribable fear, helplessness, pain. Just the memory made her so sick she could throw up, but nothing came out of her mouth. It felt so empty. AbiGail's arms squeezed her tighter, feeling her inner agony.


Kat hadn't eaten in days. In almost a year, actually. She never received food in her room. Yet she was still alive. She didn't even look like someone almost starving and she felt no hunger at all. All these inconsistencies occurred to her only then. She couldn't come up with an explanation that didn't scare her. She just aimlessly swam through the ocean with AbiGail, pondering about this, barely registering her surroundings, trying to make sense of it. But it didn't make any sense.

Was AbiGail taking her somewhere? She looked like she was searching for something. Kat squeezed her arm to make her notice her. She looked back and explained herself.

"I'm looking for the" "Child in the Shadows."

Kat looked at her, not understanding.

"She knows everything" "Maybe also how to get you" "a new tongue."

Kat didn't believe so, how should that work? AbiGail seemed pretty desperate to make her feel better. Kat dug her feet into the sand to stop her friend. AbiGail's arm extended to about twice its length before she stopped. Her arms had no bones, it was just soft elastic flesh. Kat didn't really find it creepy, it made AbiGail seem to her like a smooth squishy plushie, in a way. She came back to Kat and her arm shrunk to normal length again. For her, at least. It was still longer than Kat's arms.

Kat tried to sign to her that she was fine, she just needed some time to get used to being mute. AbiGail accepted it for now but still insisted to meet the Child in the Shadows, just to say hello. It was fine with Kat.

After a while they finally found her in a gigantic colorful shell. It reflected the sunlight in a weird way that made it seem like the water around it was rainbow colored. The Child in the Shadows was a little girl, around the age of ten. She had ash blonde hair and wore a simple black dress. Long wide sleeves were sewn onto it and out of them stuck long purple claws. The girl had curiosity in her eyes and a big grin. It might have been a smile, weren't her lips stitched shut. Her shadow was unusually big and pitch black and instead of being casted on a surface it just stood in the air behind her.

"Hello AbiGail!" she spoke without moving her lips. The voice was in Kats head and apparently in AbiGail's too.

"Hello Caile." AbiGail bubbled. Caile wandered up to Kat and looked her in the eyes.

"And hello..." she was thinking about how to finish her sentence, "Nameless one."

"But her name is Kat" "isn't it?"

"It's not her real name. I only call people by their real name." the child's voice said in a serious tone.

"And she has" "no real name?"

"Not yet. She needs a name. And a tongue to say it. Only then she'll know who she is."

"What do we do?"

"I cannot tell you what to do. You must find out yourself.” Caile paused for a moment. “The Bloodstained Bride misses her knife."

"Who is the Bloodstained Bride?" AbiGail asked but Caile already vanished in her shadow.

"She's always so vague" "but a nice girl to play with."

Kat had just listened and read the whole time. Not like she had anything to say though anyway. She wondered who this Bloodstained Bride was, if AbiGail didn't know her. The name sounded intimidating. How could she help her get a name... or a tongue? Strange scenarios ran through her head and she just followed wherever AbiGail was swimming while thinking.

She hoped she wasn't expected to do what she thought she was. But it was the only thing she could come up with, involving a knife and a person that would get her one of her goals. If so, she'd rather stay mute forever.

AbiGail elegantly floated through the water while Kat walked on the ground. The gravity pulled her on the soft sand and while she had to look out for rocks and pits, she preferred it over swimming. The further they went, the green deep sea flowers made way for red ones after a while and then a darker and darker red until they turned violet. The water turned darker too, the sourceless light grew dimmer here. There was actually darkness here. It seemed so unnatural. With the FuzzY Shadow and Caile it seemed to be part of their bodies, but actual darkness Kat had never seen. Stepping into it seemed strange. As if Kat left this world and stepped into another. One of darkness.

AbiGail pointed into the distance but Kat already saw the blue light dangling in the dark. Occasionally it fell on a mouthless face with pupilless eyes. Then it was gone again. Suddenly the glow rushed towards Kat and the face appeared just inches away from her.

Big bubbles escaped her mouth as she fell on the ground of the sea.

"Don't be afraid." The creature said with no mouth. "I'm sorry I look this way."

Kat looked around but AbiGail was gone. Oh no, had they lost each other in the dark? She pushed herself off the ground and floated back on her feet. As the light revealed for some moments, the pale creature had something that looked like a wedding dress, a hundred years old, having taken on the colors of the sands of time. Half of that color was hidden under dark red stains. Was she the Bloodstained Bride?

Kat was relieved the Bride had no mouth. She'd rather receive a name than take ones flesh and add it to her own. The wide dress waved in the water and gave the person who wore it a ghostly appearance.

"I'm sorry for scaring you... I just... I need you."
Kat wondered how to answer for a moment, then tried to write a response into the sand but the water washed it away as she wrote it.
"Oh... Are you willing to help me? I'll just tell you everything you need to know then."

Kat nodded. "Oh thank you!" the Bloodstained Bride jumped in joy for a moment, or so it looked. Kat noticed what that light following her was. It was the glowing end of a thin tentacle growing out of the bride's forehead. Unlike Kat and AbiGail, the Bride also had no hair. Then everything but her face was obscured in darkness again.

"You need to talk to the Bone SPider for me. Sadly she fears and hates me and won't give me one of her ribs. But I think she'll give you one! Her ribs are the sharpest blades around. It'll be perfect for what I have in mind! We need it for our trade."
She wanted a knife. Kat wasn't sure whether she trusted this woman. But she should visit this Bone SPider nonetheless. Maybe there she'll find AbiGail.


The Bride guided her to the Bone SPider's cave. It was lit with bioluminescent veins connected to objects that looked like pulsating hearts. The Bride said she'll wait outside. When walking through the tunnel Kat noticed it got smaller and smaller. At some point she had to crouch until she reached a hole she barely fit through. On the other side was a gigantic room with red, fleshy walls, shining violet in the light from the giant heart beating in the middle of the room. Kat stepped closer and then saw her.

The Bone SPider had her long bone limbs wrapped around the heart before she slid to the ground. The tall creature pierced its long legs into the ground when getting closer. The legs were actually elongated ribs from her exposed ribcage. Her lower body half was missing. Her face was just a skull with the flesh chewed off. Tiny red pieces of meat still stuck to it. Inside the skull were a million black eyes that stared at the small girl standing in front of them.

Kat was terrified of the beast. Too terrified to run, too terrified to even remember how to move. The skulls jaw dropped open and spoke in a language that can only be spoken with a thousand black tongues. The loud words filled her head, numbed her senses until there was only the endless depths of her mind entirely filled with the creature's voice, nothing of the outer world is heard, seen or felt.

Despite the sheer complexity of the language Kat understood every word, though it gave her a terrible headache.

This was the creature that was afraid of the one waiting outside the cave. So terribly afraid.

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