World on a String

Koriana woke up and groaned at the wooden floor below her. The last thing she remembered was trying to drag her boyfriend out of a bar in South Lucroy harbor. Had they gotten out of there and back to their little farm? She wasn’t exactly sure. Her head was spinning and it was hard to get her bearings. Maybe the horse had gotten them home safely and maybe not. Maybe she had given in and joined him for a pint or two. It wouldn’t have been out of the ordinary for that silver-tongued devil to reverse her efforts to sober him up. If he did, it would account for her light sensitivity and a funny feeling in her stomach.

It was at this point that she realized that although the ground below her was wooden and quite hard-looking, it didn’t actually hurt to lay on it. In fact, she felt pretty numb as she lay there and the realization was more than a little troubling. What had happened the night before? She had a huge blank spot in her head when she tried to recall the night before. She reached out to feel the floor with her fingers and that numbness persisted. She heard a scraping sound as her fingers moved over the wood and it was the only way she knew she was making contact at all. The whole thing was very strange.

Koriana started to climb to her feet but nothing seemed to be working. Her muscles wouldn’t gather under her so she could push herself to her feet. Her head would barely move and she felt so heavy and strange. She didn’t even feel tired or hurt, her body just wouldn’t cooperate with her. The room had been absolutely still and silent and the silence suddenly struck her as odd. If she was home there would be the sound of the dogs, the birds and all the other animals. If she was near the port there would the sound of the sea and the city. There was absolutely nothing and that was strange.

The silence was suddenly broken, the sound of a rough wooden door opening echoed throughout the room followed by creaking hinges. There were thunderous footsteps and fear went straight for Koriana’s heart like a dagger. Why were those footsteps so big? She had hear of giants but thought they were only a myth. However, magic had touched her life before and she had seen myth become reality in earlier days. The thought terrified her and she tried to move again but only managed to wiggle a little. She was frantic to run, to hide but again nothing was working.

“You need to relax, little one. I imagine it may take some time to get your strength back in your present condition.” The voice was surprisingly soft and heavily accented.

“In… In.. In m m my present condition?” Koriana managed to choke out though somehow her voice didn’t feel like it was coming from her body.

“Let us shed some light on your situation, shall we? I will warn you, this may come as a bit of a shock.” The voice said. Koriana barely had time for that statement to scare her. How bad was her situation? What was her situation? She felt herself get pulled to her feet and she could now see the room. The room was giant and the man in front of her was huge as well. She was sitting on what looked like a humongous desk. “Now, I found you in this condition and I was able to reverse the enchantment a little bit. I’m glad it allowed you to speak. Perhaps it will allow you to move soon.” The giant said.

“You keep saying condition. P P Please tell me what y you mean.” Koriana said.

The giant set a mirror before her and she was shocked at what she saw. She looked back at her own face but it was now wooden and her hair was made of thread. Her body was wooden under doll’s clothes. She hung there just above the desk by strings through her wrists and knees. She was the very model of a marionette and she felt her vision dimming with the revelation as if she would just black out. The giant watched her from just beyond the mirror and Koriana fought back to consciousness.

“I told you it would come as a shock.” The giant man said.

“I I Is this what giants do? Turn human beings into p p puppets?” Koriana asked. She looked up past the mirror and directly at the man with what she hoped was an accusatory glance.

“Giant? I assure you that I am as human as I believe you were. This was the work of a djinn. It made a deal with your husband and he was unprepared for the results. Whatever his wish was, it and your body were twisted. I only know as much because I coaxed the story out of him when he sold you to me.” The man said. His voice and eyes were steady and Koriana felt he just might be telling the truth which was devastating enough.

“So I’m a doll now?! What am I supposed to do now? How am I supposed to live?” She asked.

The man took the mirror away and brought his face level to her entire body. “The first step is to cut those strings. He can no longer control you. Although I paid for you, I do not own you either. You are your own woman. Your destiny is in your hands now.” He cut the string connected to her right wrist carefully and her arm fell limp. Slowly she flexed it and found she could move afterall. He held a small blade out to her and she grabbed it with her tiny wooden fingers. She reached and cut her own strings and fell to the desk. After a few moments she was able to push herself to her feet. She held the blade out to him.

“Thank you for your kindness. Thank you for setting me free.” Koriana said with what she hoped was a smile but was probably just the same painted wooden face.

He gestured for her to keep the blade. “Keep it. My gift to you. I sense a great strength within you but the small need every advantage they can get. What will you do now?”

She hefted the blade and it was just about sword-sized for someone of her stature. “Revenge on my husband maybe.”

“And after that?”

“I don’t know.” Koriana said. A future as a wooden doll was daunting.

“Meet me back here if you can’t figure that out. I may have a path for you yet.”

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