Monthly Writing Challenge (September 2021)

September 2021 Prompt: Change

Change was coming to Firenze.  She could taste it on the air and feel it in the land.  The colors were changing, altering, different than they had once been.

            The creatures that had once greeted her with delight, were no longer seen.  The songbirds that serenaded her had fallen silent.  The sun that had once warmed her had fallen pale and cold.  The breeze that had once stirred the boughs of her favorite trees, had drawn still.

            The sphinx no longer brought her riddles.

            The sirens no longer sang her songs.

            The pegasi no longer painted her rainbows.

            The dragons no longer whispered their fiery wisdom.

            The mermaids no longer sent their favorite shells.

            The unicorns’ magic began to fade, and then they along with it.

            By summer’s end, all of her favorites were gone from Firenze.  The trees, naked of their leaves, amplified the feeling that was alone.  She hoped that they had simply gone elsewhere, that they had found happier shores, but she had a feeling that they were simply gone from her world.

            All was empty.

            All was quiet.

            Time passed, achingly slowly.  After growing tired of the silence, the loneliness, she decided it was time to venture out.  Surely something new had arrived in Firenze to replace those she had loved.  And she would find it.

            The quiet valley glided beneath her, the still seas soared past, as she awaited a sign of new life.  The forests were shadows of their former selves; no nymphs sang their melodies; no gnomes tended the mushrooms.

            When she arrived in a clearing that had once been one of her favorite spots, she felt frozen through.  The clearing that had once held her favorite tree, now stood empty.  Nothing but a jagged stump and wood shavings remained. 

            She began to notice that others were missing, as well.  There were alterations everywhere; some big, and some small, but one thing was plain to her: Firenze was no longer hers.

            The further she wandered, the more contrasting the changes became.  The once vibrant colors became grim, muted, and dull.  The air tasted stagnant, and a foul scent clung to the breeze.

            Smoke, there was smoke in her forest.

            Recoiling, she wondered who could have caused such destruction she had found.  And so quickly.  The creatures that had once inhabited these forests, this land, had been peaceful, respectful, considerate of those around them.  These new creatures… they had to be something else entirely.

            Traversing further into the forest, she began to find evidence of those new inhabitants.  There were structures made of stone scattering the new fields they had created by removing so many of her trees.  Deep, dirt tracks raked across the landscape, connecting the structures.  The constant, guttural sound of these foul beasts communicating filled the air in various tones, pitches, and octaves.  Thin, rough vines were linked between trees, large – and small, oddly shaped – swathes of flexible, brightly colored material swaying in the faint breeze.  The wildflowers plucked; the grasses flattened.

            One of these new creatures appeared then, emerging from one of their stone structures.  It struck fear – or what she imagined it to feel like – into her.  It was hideous; no fur, nor feathers, adorned it’s sickly, pale flesh, save for a wiry patch atop its head.  Its eyes were angry, their brow creased; she backed away, into the trees and what little safety remained to her there.

            Back across Firenze she fled, across the forest, the seas, the valleys, the mountains, back to her small sanctuary atop the highest peak. 

            How had this been allowed to happen?  What were these pink-skinned monsters?

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