But how can she breathe after the horror she just witnessed? Shadowy tendrils still lick at the corners of her vision, threatening to take everything over again. She’s never seen them before, but there’s one thing she knows for sure: they are malicious. They have to be! What dark and tendril-y things aren’t malicious?! And Wren’s face, what if it all means something more? What if the world had been trying to tell her something? What if Wren is actually a demon?
Suddenly her thought process from before comes crashing back to her: Strangers don’t save the day just out of the goodness of their hearts. Has she learned nothing from the mushrooms?! Clearly this man is out to get her, right?!
Sue considers making a run for the trapdoor, but her bee stings ache, her legs itch from ant bites, her face is swollen with bruises, and she has absolutely nowhere to go. She can’t leave… but she also can’t calm down.
Her heart racing, she refuses to look again at Wren’s face in fear of what will be there to greet her. Will it be that cheerful, freckled smile? Or something far more sinister? She curls up into a ball on the bed, pulling the blankets over her head into a shelter. She holds her breath tightly in her lungs, biting on her lip and just wanting away from it all.
“Sue, are you alright…?” The cautious voice sounds out, muffled by the blankets.
Sue doesn’t answer because she’s too busy holding her breath.
… Wren tiredly sighs outside the SueCave™, clearly questioning once again whether all of the efforts are worth it or not. “... Look, why don’t I get you some water? Then maybe we can talk…?”
Still no response. Nonetheless, Sue is graced with the gentle sound of footsteps as Wren presumably strolls around his abode. A few shuffling papers, some creaking…
During this period of time, something cold and slimy makes contact with Sue’s shoulder, beneath her little blanket cave. She flinches and looks down, revealing… A tiny frog. Sue can’t quite tell what colour it is as they seem to shift to and fro, but nonetheless, it seems harmless, looking up at her with a signature blank expression.
Abruptly, however, light streams further into Sue’s fortress, the hem of the blanket being lifted. She recoils at the movement, staring out into the world, only to find Wren’s photogenic visage.
“I got some water for you… I already had some drinking water on my nightstand before everything, uh…” He trails off before holding up the glass bottle, filled with crystal clear water and blocked with a cork. “You don’t have to have any if you don’t want to, but it might help. I think you’re being affected some sort of psychedelic - at least… you’re showing symptoms of it.”
Before Sue’s lungs explode, she suddenly gasps in buckets of air, struggling far more in all aspects of her life than any one person should. Wren only remains waiting outside the SueCave™, patiently holding the glass flask of water. As Sue regains her composure though, Wren’s eyes meet something else.
“Ah! You’ve found Fuji! I was worried about him!” He exclaims with some amount of delight, referring to the frog hiding with Sue beneath the covers. “I thought something might’ve fallen on him… I was gonna have to hold another funeral...”
Sue realizes pretty soon that Wren isn’t some horrid demon… At least, for the time being. Demons don’t hold funerals for fauna. Or do they? She stares him dead in the face for a few long moments, going over all the features of it just to make sure there’s no trace of demonic entities. Would it even make sense for an evil Satan-man to have a pet frog?
Slowly, Sue crawls out from her master hiding place, bringing the small frog on her shoulder with. “I’m sorry…” She mumbles, bringing a hand to her forehead. “I’m just.. Really confused right now. I don’t know what’s going on…
Wren has a look of understanding upon his face, nodding slowly. Wordlessly, he reaches his arm out towards Sue, offering her the flask of ever-clear water. As she takes it with caution, he also slips his hand beneath the frog’s feet, bringing the small creature away from Sue before she… you know. Kills it horribly or something.
“Am I gonna be okay?” She beckons the question, plucking the somewhat loose cork out of the bottle.
“Yeah… Yeah, you are. Just give it time.”
rolled a 4!
Sue brings the glass flask of water to her lips, the cool, refreshing treat being relieving to her. “What happened…? Is the house okay…? I don’t know what’s real anymore…”
“Y-Yeah! The house is fine, I… I used a levitation spell.” Wren begins, his eyes slowly lighting up as a groundbreaking realization seems to hit him. “I-I mean, I didn’t think I was capable of it…! I’ve tried it so many times in the past, and it just hasn’t worked… This is more than just ameteur magic, here, I’m starting to get good…! It takes so much focus and calm, and I just…!”
Sue smiles a warm smile as Wren goes on his tangent, clearly passionate about the subject of magic. Though as she puts thought into it, her smile slowly fades. “But you said most people don’t like magic. Why’s it… forbidden?”
The frown on Miss Donim’s face spreads to Wren’s quite quickly. “Ah… Yeah, that. You see, people don’t really like things they don’t understand… And honestly, I get it, sometimes. Playing with magic can be a gamble. Sometimes it can be fickle and uncontrollable… It tests the very soul. A lot of people say that all magic has a corrupting component to it that ebbs away at the soul of its user, but… I’ve found just the opposite. Magic can be used for such good things! I mean, I just used it to save my house!”
“The house that I nearly broke..” Sue mutters, hanging her head sorrily.
A nervous chuckle is let out of Wren’s chest. “Well, it takes… time to learn. And everyone learns it differently. A lot of people will never be able to learn more advanced spells… It’s just down to fate, I guess.”
Sue looks stares off distantly out the window across the disheveled room, deep in thought. Will she be one of those few people who are able to pick up magic? After the destruction she caused to Wren, is that a bear she’d even want to poke at? How does magic work? Does it need an object like Wren’s wand to be successful?
With that last question running through her mind, she makes a realization. Hurriedly, she looks down at her hands, which then rummage through her pockets, searching for something in particular.
“Oh,” Wren interrupts, reaching down into his own clothes. As if reading her mind, he pulls out the familiar black orb, presenting it to her. “You dropped this when you were having your… freakout. It seems to mean a lot to you, so… I grabbed it.”
“... Thank you…!” Sue reaches out for it, but before her hand can reach it, it comes to a pause. “... Actually… You’re… magic, right? Maybe I should let you hold onto it for now… I think there’s something in it. It seems… mystical.”
Wren’s expression takes on a tone of curiosity. “... Really?” He wonders, now taking a good look at the orb for itself, slowly getting more excited over it. “... Well… I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s magical in nature! It looks… odd enough. I’ll look into it while you rest!”
He stops himself though as he realizes he’s begun to excite himself again. “I-I mean… only if you want. This seems to be pretty, uh… pretty special, whatever it is.”
Sue slowly nods in response, putting a fair bit of trust in Wren, despite her reluctancy. Though she’s not 100% convinced that he isn’t a threat, Wren is the only person she’s actually come to know… It would be pretty bad if she drove him off, too.
rolled a 2!
Suddenly, however, another thought occurs to her. “Th-There was another thing!” She blurts suddenly, breaking the calm silence and causing Wren to jump slightly. “I still don’t remember anything about who I was, but… I did have this thing in my pocket - this piece of paper… It had a drawing of a man on it, I don’t know who it was. It got torn apart when I did that sick backflip in the lake. It’s gotta be important, right?”
“Oh, u-uh… Backflip-...? Well… It’s evidence of who you used to be, so..” Wren replies, shrinking a little bit at Sue’s sudden burst of energy, knowing that whenever she tends to get hyper, things start going wrong.
“If I can use your paper and ink, I can recreate it!”
“Uh… I guess I can lend some. Let me-”
Wren’s original assumption wasn’t that far off. As Sue tries to haul herself out of the bed, she ends up getting her legs caught in the blankets, and before her feet get anywhere close to meeting the ground, her face does. It’s amazing that she still has all her teeth intact.
Wren winces as Sue’s body hits the floor and she lets out a pained moan again. “You should really stay in the bed, ahah…”
At this point he’s not even surprised anymore.
Soon after, Sue finds herself being helped up by the kind redheaded man, as the water and mud still weighing down her clothes makes maneuvering by herself more difficult. She lies back down on the bed and lets out a tired sigh, not even having enough energy to cry about her life anymore.
After making sure Sue isn’t about to kill anyone again, Wren lets out a sigh. “Look, I’ll get you the paper and quill. The ink well spilled in the chaos, but… I think I still have some in storage. You just… rest there. Don’t do anything, don’t move anywhere, don’t try anything… crazy.”
The stress that Sue has managed to cause in this poor young man’s life is palpable, and all only in the course of a few hours.
Sue lets the heaviness of her soaking clothes wash over her, rendering her limbs practically useless as she finally gives in to Wren’s helpful suggestions. She lets the water seep almost entirely through his sad bed, finally giving herself a chance to rest.
It’s only a few minutes of clattering and searching until Wren approaches Sue with an armful of supplies. He hauls himself to the side of the bed and drops down to his knees, setting the various things on the floor. Looks like he’s got that paper, pen, and ink he’s promised, as well as a few other things. Various coloured ointments in labelled jars are amongst them, as well as spare rags and bandages.
He sets the freshly-opened ink, pen, and unstained piece of paper on the nightstand next to his bed.
“Here… Sit up, and you can try and draw while I treat your wounds.”
Nodding slowly, Sue complies with Wren’s ever-loyal help. The following minutes are actually quiet and peaceful as Wren applies the various ointments to Sue’s bee stings and ant bites. While she works away on her masterful ink drawing. He also goes ahead and scrubs the mud off of her skin, and gifts Sue a wet rag wipe down the ash covering her face from the literal explosion she had caused earlier.
At last, a grin breaks out across Sue’s bruised face. “Done!” She shouts, breaking the stark silence again, and causing Wren to flinch. She holds up the tattered piece of paper to reveal her ink masterpiece like a child excited to get their work pinned on the fridge.
DICE THROW! Everyone begged Sue to go to sleep, and 3 of 4 people rolled a 5, so who cares?
After not too much deliberation, Wren offers Sue the bed to sleep in for as long as she needs. Sue probably would have objected to sleeping in a stranger's bed, but with how absolutely exhausted she is, she can't find it in her to deny the gesture.
She manages to get to sleep reasonably quickly. Considering the fact that she’s spent the entire morning faceplanting, running from bees, and communicating with giant living mushrooms, this comes as a surprise to exactly 0 people.
Over the course of the night, Sue’s wounds gradually heal. Thanks to Wren’s enchanted medicinal ointments, the welts on her body, ant bites down her legs, and even bruising around her face heal up nicely. Magic is really turning out to be a good thing.
Sue’s eyes flutter open gently, revealing the darkened world around her. As she sits up in Wren’s bed and her gaze traces the shadowy room, she finds that very little light comes through the windows in the treehouse from the night sky outdoors. Looks like since she fell asleep a little too early in the evening, she’s now stuck with being awake in the middle of the night. Joy.
Peering through the thick darkness enveloping her, she finds that all of Wren’s possessions have been placed back where they were before, neatly organized. Even the messy papers which speckled his desk haphazardly are now in a straight stack at the corner of his desk, ink and quill lying next to it.
She places her feet on the floor and it’s not long before she finds herself at the desk, curiously looking down at his notes. She can’t very well make out any of them, especially not in the dim lighting. Plus it seems like they aren’t portraying anything she’d be able to understand, anyway. Some probably archaic language.
Her next stop is one of the the large windows in the walls, overlooking the mysterious woods stretching out below her. “Wren..?” She calls out somewhat meekly, sorely missing his presence in the treehouse.
“Down here!” The familiar, plucky voice responds. Looking down towards the forest floor far below, Sue can see Wren’s familiar silhouette in the faint moonlight, grinning up at her. “You’re awake! Come on down here, I have something to show you!”
With a smile, Sue nods, and as soon as her feet hit the lush grass coating the ground beneath the treehouse, she makes her way towards the slender young man. Upon her arrival, a grin breaks out across his face.
“Watch this…” He tells her with a chuckle, birch stick in hand. He raises the wand up past his head, and the warm green glow soon envelops the very tip of it again, providing a decent amount of light other than the moonlight. Sue is forced to bring a hand up to her face, eyes having a hard time adjusting to the new bright glow..
“This is the best part of living out in the middle of the woods.” Wren exclaims in a whispery voice, adorably excited.
Sue joins him beneath the green spotlight, the enthusiasm from Wren spreading to her as she latches onto his arm. Slowly, Wren lowers the wand, pointing it towards the ground. As the green glow sinks, it suddenly sends off a chain reaction. Hundreds upon hundreds of floating fireflies light up a vibrant teal, hovering no more than a foot to the ground. With each one that comes to life, 5 more around it follow suit, all gathered below waist height.
Within just a few seconds, the entire forest floor is glowing with brilliant teal lights, illuminating every blade of grass, every tree, and every small critter around them. And with the lighting of the luminous fireflies, Sue’s eyes and expression beams with joy. “Wow…” is all she is able to sigh out, breath taken away by the breathtaking sight. “... This happens every night…?”
“For as long as they’re around every year....” Wren replies simply, very pleased by their surroundings as the glow fades from his birch branch.
Suddenly, however, everything comes to a halt in a literal sense. The brilliant glowing bugs come to a pause in the air, Wren’s proud smile is locked in position like a stone statue, and not even a breeze flows past. With the sudden silence and pause, Sue finds her head beginning to pound with every heartbeat.
She’s visibly taken aback by this as she unlatches from Wren and stumbles backwards, unable to even feel the grass beneath her feet. Slowly, her hands crawl downwards, delving into her pockets, and her fingertips meet with a familiar and glossy surface…
As she brings her large pearl from her pocket and raises it in front of her face to look at once more, whispers ring from it loudly, being the only sound to hear in miles other than her own breathing. As she stares, her headache pounds harder and harder, feeling like an icepick through her head.
This isn’t you... You are above this. You can do so much more.
Sue. Sue. Sue...
Sue’s hand ends up barreling into Wren’s face, swiftly knocking him down onto the distinctly wooden floor.
Confused and disoriented, she takes in her surroundings again, finding herself back inside the yellow-sunlit treehouse, on Wren’s worn bed. Speaking of the poor guy, he picks himself up off the floor, not looking too impressed.
After a short pause of trying to figure out where she is and what just happened, Sue gasps and turns her attention to Wren. “Oh my gosh, I’m so sorry! What-...?”
“It’s alright, it’s alright! You were whimpering and struggling in your sleep… I thought I’d, uh… wake you up.” Wren explains, his palm on his face. Despite how good Sue is at pummeling him and making his life generally miserable, he manages to bring her that genuine, dopey grin. “Remind me not to bug you when you sleep!”
“S-Sorry, sorry… I… I was dreaming about something… I don’t remember what.”
“Yeah, uh… about that… You’ve, uh… been passed out for the last 15 hours. I… slept on the floor.”
DICE THROW! BackSet
rolled a 3!
Taking a breath for herself, Sue’s eyes narrow as the headache pierces through her head. Trying to distract herself from the uncomfortableness, she looks off towards the sun streaming through the window, deep in thought. “... My dream…”
“Was it bad…?” Wren asks with concern marking his face.
“I don’t know… I think so. But it felt like more than that…” She mumbles, her voice taking on a tone of unease. “Is there a such thing as dream magic…?”
Wren looks intrigued, underlied with excitement as his favourite topic is brought up: Magic. “Well,” he starts, a hand on his chin. “Yeah, there’s a such thing... Very few people can perform such feats, though. And those who can… don’t. It’s pretty high-tier stuff, but it doesn’t give as much reward as the other high-tier magics, so it’s a really rare and niche practice…”
He gives her a pause, raising a red-haired eyebrow. “You don’t think your dream had magic in it, do you?”
An unsatisfied frown is brought to Sue’s lips. “... Yeah, maybe… It’s probably nothing, though, right…?”
Mm-hmm. It’s probably nothing, right? We’ll go with that.
rolled a 2!
A thought suddenly occurs to Sue. “Oh! That orb! The one I gave you yesterday! Did you find anything about it?” She exclaims, suddenly excited again.
Wren’s eyes light up as Sue grabs his attention. “Right, that black ball! Yeah, so… When a wizard spends enough time around magic, he can kind of grow to sense it, to an extent.” As he explains this, he plucks the familiar object out of his pocket, playing with it in his fingertips. “... I do think this is magical, in a sense. But there’s somethin’ off about it. I personally think there’s something inside it, and the pearl’s built to keep it in.”
“I KNEW it!” Sue suddenly yells, again making Wren flinch and jump, as he does every time. “I knew it had something in it! I mean… I haven’t had the chance to really sit down and look at it, but… I heard whispers coming from it earlier, and in my dream!”
It’s not long before the excitement plastered onto Wren’s face swiftly morphs into the fakest smile one can imagine as he drops the small ball from his fingertips into his palm, closing his fist around it. Seems like he’s made a realization that maybe dark, whispering, magical orbs aren’t the best thing to mess around with. “A-Ah yeah! Whispers! That sounds… good!”
“Doesn’t it?! That’s so cool! We should figure out what’s inside!”
“Right!” Wren replies, his voice quivering slightly as it desperately tries to mimick Sue’s unbridled enthusiasm. “... Or… We can not.”
“Pfft, don’t be silly. The tiny person’s probably not comfortable in there, we need to help them out, right?”
Wren lets out a nervous laugh in response to Sue, and then a dread-filled pause as yet another realization hits him. “You’re, uh… not just gonna let this go, are you?”
Oh, Wren. You’ve only met her her within the past day, yet you already know her so well. “... Probably not,” Sue admits, shrugging her shoulders. “... Can’t you use magic to open it up?”
“... N-... No..?” He fibs, seeing if Sue will even consider the response valid.
Sue’s eyes narrow onto him intensely, staring straight through his soul.
rolled a 4!
Rather than Sue asking Wren for food, Wren ends up being so desperate to get out of this impossible scenario that he tries the distraction tactic. “Heyyy! You haven’t eaten since.. Who knows when? At least since the middle of yesterday. Why don’t we head into town and get you some food? It’s a long walk from here, but it’s worth the trip.”
Turns out Sue has less of an attention span than a chicken. A chicken that’s already been plucked and cooked for dinner.
Intrigue fills her at the mention of a nearby town... “I thought you said you lived out in the middle of nowhere…? Away from all the anti-magic folks...”
As he manages to get away from the subject of the undeniable orb of darkness and everlasting death, he slips said orb into his pocket and continues his explanation. “Ah well… I do, kind of. I live far enough from the town that no one actually wants to come out to find me, and deep enough in the woods that even if they did, they’d probably miss me, or get distracted by the lake’s beauty. “
“Once in awhile I’ll put on my town clothes and head down to the village… I’ve gotta keep a low head. There are a few people who know about my magic and are… neutral about it. Not many, but a few, and they’re only like that cause I did them a few favours once. Now they show their appreciation by helping me get anything I need from around the village.”
“Now,” He begins again, offering a hand to help Sue off the bed. “I’m thinking you need some good food in your belly and a set of new clothes. I don’t know what you were doing before I found you, but… you’re honestly filthy. The baker’s family - the one who helps me when I’m in town... it’s through them that I normally get my stuff, and I’m sure they won’t mind sending someone out to get a fresh set of clothes. Whaddaya say?”
Wren offers with a smile, hand outstretched expectantly as the little frog “Fuji” hops up on his shoulder, bright red eyes watching.