Greetings and salutations! :) :)
Here is The Spring and the River Eleven! Guys, we’re at the end! One last The Spring and the River post to go after this!! At long last!!!
Note: This series is meant to be read in order. If you are new to The Fox Hole, I encourage you to go check out The Spring and the River page to read the previous installments.
The Spring seemed to follow Lucy wherever she went, and she could hide from it in neither her house nor the River. It crashed into her fragile contentment and wore down her brazenness. Never had she experienced such unrelenting pursuit, and she had never realized how loud the Spring could be.
She sat in her little hovel of a home, trying to ignore the Spring by staring at a Riverstone, but the Spring kept drawing her thoughts back itself. Marianne had given her the Riverstone in the hopes that it would quiet the voice of the Spring, but Lucy had no such luck. She decided what frustrated her the most was that she caught herself occasionally beginning to wish to return to the Spring and be rid of the confusing and increasingly unsatisfactory River. Of course, she kept this to herself for Marianne would only mock her and Lucien would become even more relentless.
Lucien had been fighting for her Restoration for three weeks now, and he had already tried to drag her to a meeting beside the Spring. She had militantly refused and had even fallen to shouting at him. She didn’t want to see the starlit Spring, she didn’t want to see the sunlit Spring, or the Spring at any time. The murmur of the Spring was becoming unbearable. The power she heard was overwhelming, and the language it spoke – something she never fully understood – was so much purer than anything she had ever known. Perhaps she had simply gotten used to the Spring’s ways, or maybe she had never really known the Spring to begin with.
“You’ve been acting so… jittery since Lucien made his announcement,” Marianne said.
Lucy looked up from the Riverstone, the sound of the Spring reaching a roar in her ears. Marianne was watching her in a hunched, hawkish way that made Lucy want to grimace.
“He just makes me nervous,” Lucy said.
Marianne laughed her annoying forced laugh before falling into a fit of coughs. “He doesn’t just make you nervous, idiot. You become… unhinged. And you look positively awful.”
“As if you can talk,” Lucy snapped. It was painfully true though; she felt and looked terrible. While she wasn’t as far gone as Marianne, her skin clung to her bones, and she fell prey to frequent illnesses.
Marianne made a face before announcing that she was going to the River. After glancing around their frowsy home, Lucy shoved the Riverstone in her pocket and followed her. They were halfway to the River when Lucien appeared, and Lucy couldn’t help but cringe away and bite back a yelp as he came near.
“Unhinged,” Marianne whispered with a smirk.
Lucy scowled at her.
“You look sick, Lucy,” he said in a voice brimming with brotherly concern.
“I’m fine,” Lucy said, not meeting his eyes.
“No,” he said ferociously. “You’re worsening! The River is killing you!” He took her bony hands in his before she could snatch them back. “Please come to the Spring with me,” he pleaded. “Please. You will be made whole again! The Spring will give you life freely.”
She finally looked into his passionate, wide eyes and was almost tempted. Marianne let out an exaggerated sigh which turned to more coughing. The Spring called, but the River called louder. Lucy pulled her hands from Lucien’s. “No,” she said. “Not today.”
She and Marianne continued on their way, and Lucien followed. Once, when Lucy glanced back at him, she noticed that he carried a white rope. As they walked, she found the rope quite curious, but she decided that she didn’t want to ask him about it as it was probably related to Restoration. While she and Marianne swam, Lucien stood with his feet firmly planted exactly four feet from the edge of the River with his arms crossed.
It wasn’t until Lucy’s foot was slammed against a rock by a violent current that she realized that they had drifted farther Downstream than ever before. Suddenly, Lucy was ripped into a strong current that buffeted her, and though she fought to keep her head above the water, she was shoved down again and again. She panicked as her head hit a stone, and she couldn’t move for a moment from the shock. As she was tossed against another boulder in the River, she screamed in the water. There was no time to think, there was not even really any time to react. There was only black terror and a desperation breathe. She thrashed about, gasping for air whenever she managed to surface, but mostly she gulped down dangerous amounts of Riverwater and choked.
Then she was dragged down to the bottom the River and was pummeled by the crashing water as power of the River held her under, and she slowly stopped fighting for her weak body could no longer go on. So the River would kill her after all, just as she had thought, just as Lucien had said, and just as it always did. She wanted to scream and cry, but she only was slammed against the floor of the rushing River.
Just as she was about to give in altogether, she heard a certain voice. It broke through the River and rushed into her mind. It was the voice of life and freedom, hope and joy, the Spring. New strength flooded her, and she gave a final shove. Miraculously, air filled her lungs as she burst to the surface, and she heard Lucien shouting.
“Take the rope,” he yelled. She glanced wildly about, water splashing into her eyes, and she saw the rope floating in the water beside her, unmoved by the River’s rapids. She latched onto it before being kicked under again. The rope went taught in her hands, and she was dragged to the surface. She clung to the rope with strength her body didn’t have, and Lucien hauled her out of the River. It bit her ankles and snatched at her dress as Lucien pulled her through the mud and up to the shore.
He yanked her the rest of the way to him, and she fell in a heap, hacking up Riverwater. Lucien stood over her like a sentinel as he cast the rope out again, and she looked up to see Marianne flailing in the River. “Marianne!” she screamed. “Take the rope!”
Marianne’s eyes met hers for just a second, and Lucy saw stubbornness and bondage in Marianne’s eyes. “Take the rope!” Lucy screamed again. Marianne went down, came back up, and the rope was right beside her, but she didn’t take it. “Take the rope,” Lucy said, sobbing now.
Marianne was dragged down again, and this time, as moments slipped into minutes, she didn’t come back up. “Marianne!” Lucy screamed. Lucien pulled the rope back up to the shore and dropped it on the grass beside Lucy. “Marianne!” Lucy cried. Lucien’s arms were around her as she wept. He rocked her back and forth, smoothing her wet hair again and again as he whispered to her, but she didn’t understand what he said. All she could hear was the Spring’s strange murmurs comforting her soul.
So, yeah. Let me know what you’re thoughts are in the comments!
Anyway! I hope you all have a blessed week! I will be posting the Epilogue next week so we can all get some closure. ;)