Chapter 1: Discovery
It happened so quickly. Being torn away from the manor and thrown in the cellar, he was stunned. At first, he called out, begging to see someone, to be freed. But no one answered. The only person he saw for the rest of his short life, was her. She had changed, something about her seemed darker, more hostile, and nothing like the happy, loving woman he knew.
His arms hurt, his throat hurt, and his voice was hoarse. Eventually, he gave up, too tired to hold himself and he slumped against the wall and hung by his arms. He was so cold. So tired. Every time she visited, the chains would bite with cold, stinging his wrists.
Snatcher was still shaken up. The cold still lingered in his form, even after death. Despite the fear, he was more focused on creating a new home. He had found many lost spirits, 'Dwellers' he called them, and he had given a few of them physical bodies. Now, they all needed homes.
The village was small, but it was more than enough for now. Snatcher himself had his own home, a large tree with the center hollowed out. For a few good months, everyone was busy with making the forest livable, so nobody had the chance to mourn for themselves. They needed to repair the pathway to the well, someone needed to put up signs to direct others, and they needed to get rid of all this ice. That was the main problem, ice.
Snatcher was doing his daily rounds, drifting through the forest and checking in on his 'minions', when he saw something that surprised him. In the burning part of the forest (oops) there was a large chunk of ice. How it hadn't melted, Snatcher had no idea. He approached the chunk and placed a hand on its surface. When he pulled his hand back he saw that it was slick with condensation. So it was melting, just slowly.
He peered into the ice and saw a body, a familiar body.
Thinking who it could be, Snatcher drifted away. He had to figure out who that was. He hated having a hazy memory, it was a side effect of death. He could remember bits and pieces of his life, but it made his head hurt and most of what he could remember off the top of his head wasn't happy. It wasn't like amnesia, it was more along the lines of 'I feel like I'm forgetting something'. Death wasn't fun.
He quickly finished his rounds and floated off to his tree home.The identity of the frozen body tugging at the back of his mind.
The next few days, Snatcher returned to the melting ice. He told himself that he was just waiting for the body to thaw so he could give them a proper burial, but there was something lingering. Recognition? It was hard with the thick ice, but he could recognize that face. If only he could remember from where.
The ice was melting so slowly, that at first, Snatcher couldn't tell anything changed. Eventually, the body was only surrounded by an inch or less, and it was recognizable.
When Snatcher visited that day, he could finally pin where he saw that face before. It was the bookstore clerk, from way back before he had even left the kingdom to study! She had also been caught in the crossfire of HER rage. Snatcher felt a pang of guilt. She was always so nice, never treating him different than other customers at the bookstore just because he was…
He felt uncomfortable, this was someone he knew. Maybe the ice had melted enough to at least move her? He grabbed her by the shoulders and pulled, but stopped quickly due to the fact that he heard a crack. He pulled back to see a break in the ice, just around her waist. He decided against trying again.
It was dark. She could see nothing but the blazing fires. They seemed so distant. There was a splitting pain around her middle, but other than that, she felt nothing. Amidst the flames, was a twinkling something. She felt drawn towards it. She tried to move, but it felt like swimming through swamp, pushing through murky water so thick you couldn't see the bottom. Regardless, she pushed through. Making her way toward the surface the firelight was reflected in.
Chapter 2: Relocation
Snatcher gets used to death
She finally reaches her goal
(See the end of the chapter for notes.)
When Snatcher drifted through the forest, he got acquainted with his new powers as a ghost. He could phase through things, make himself melt into the shadows, travel through the ground, bring things to his hand by simply willing them. He also didn't need to sleep as often. While his 'body' wasn't physically tired, his mind could be. Eating also wasn't as much of a problem, though, he learned quickly that a soul every now and then wouldn't hurt.
It seemed that he could also communicate telepathically, at least with his minions. It tended to give him a headache though.
He was just phasing through a tree when he found himself, yet again, face to face with the frozen book keep.
She had changed, somehow. Her ears were pointed and tipped with black, her mouth, which had been holding a terrified scream, had fangs instead of normal human teeth. Her skin was purple, but that could be a side effect of freezing, her nose was nothing more than a nub and her neck was completely nonexistent.
Figures. SHE always grabbed him by the neck when threatening him.
He shook the thought aside and left the area. He had more important things to do than watch ice melt. Besides, Snatcher got the feeling that someone had entered the forest and was about to enter one of his new traps!
The poor bird tried to talk his way out of it, but Snatcher was hungry and needed a soul. As necessary as it was now, it'd take him a couple decades to get used to having to take and eat people's souls. It wasn't a pretty sight.
The souls always try to go back to the bodies, squirming and wriggling away. They almost always made noise, too. Some sort of scream or pitiful moan or sob.
He'd have to get used to it.
After taking care of the body, Snatcher went to make sure everyone was safe and accounted for, he had to make sure nobody ended up back by the manor. As little as he knew these poor lost spirits, he didn't know what he'd do if one of them got trapped. So, roll call was a daily (nightly?) thing in Subcon Forest.
After roll call, Snatcher did his final patrol before morning. He had no doubt that his minions could do it, but he preferred to make sure himself, at least for now.
While patrolling, he heard a distant CRACK, which immediately got his attention. He went to check it out and found himself back in the burning part of the forest.
The frozen corpse had apparently snapped in half and fallen over. She was now laying face down, severed from the top of the hips, and slightly charred from a nearby fire finally having access to the cloth on her clothes.
He patted her out and propped her torso back on top of her legs. He pushed the whole frozen figure against a nearby fallen tree for support. Just as Snatcher was leaving, he could have sworn he heard a gasp.
She made it, but it was moving away.
No, no it can't move.
She pushed forward. The surface reflected less now, like it was disappearing. That was good. It made it easier.
She dives into the finally still shape in front of her, and took her first breath in decades.
I promise I'll get to dialogue in a chapter or two just bear with me
Chapter 3: Greetings
A new resident of Subcon finally wakes up
Sorry for disappearing off the face of the earth for a bit there. Writers block hit me hard.
Here's chapter three!
The forest was still. Dwellers floated silently through the leaves. Minions resting in their respective tree stump houses. Snatcher was sitting in his tree, reading one of the books he had managed to snag from the frozen houses left behind.
Nothing suggested that anything was amiss in the forest, and yet, Snatcher couldn't shake the feeling. There was a constant tugging at the back of his mind that wouldn't go away. Like a headache, but less painful and more annoying.
Eventually, Snatcher gave in. He sat the book down and floated out of his cozy home and into the forest, searching for what was wrong.
As he drifted, he thought of what could be causing such a weird feeling.
Was somebody in one of his traps? Did a minion get tricked into hanging themselves again? Was it…
Snatcher looked for several minutes before finding himself in front of the thawing corpse yet again. But something was off. Have her eyes always been closed?
He was… suspicious, to say the least. Something was up, he just did know what. Turning to leave, he paused. Snatcher drifted closer to the ground.
Come here, he thought, I have something for you to do.
Instantly, one of his minions popped out of a shadow, "What do you need, boss?"
"I need you to stay in this area, keep an eye on that over there," he gestured to the body, "if anything happens, you come and get me, alright?"
Satisfied with his plan, he started back to his tree to settle down for the day.
Once the sun had set, the residents of Subcon were busy at work. The swamp's fence needed to be finished, and warning signs needed to be put around the path to the manor.
Snatcher was making a fresh batch of contracts, for any poor soul to stumble into the forest, when something tugged at the corner of his conscience. He focused on it.
Come. Moved. Stirring. Hurry.
It must have been the minion from last night. Something was happening
He passed through a shadow and appeared a few trees away from the minion and the body. He caught the minion's eye, permitting them to leave. Snatcher rose higher into the trees, keeping the thawed corpse in view.
She was definitely breathing. Well, breathing is subjective to the dead. Some did it due to habit, some just liked the sensation.
Snatcher waited in the trees as she stirred, waking from such a long 'nap' could take a bit.
Her eyes opened slowly. One of them was an empty void with only a pinprick of blue. She seemed confused, made apparent by the pinprick turning into a question mark. She tried to stand but looked taken aback by the seeming lack of legs. She shifted, as if trying to get them to reappear. Satisfied, she looked around.
Snatcher took the chance to glide out of the trees and introduce himself. She jumped at the sight of him.
"Why hello there! I wasn't expecting you to start walking around any time soon! But now that you're up, I might as well welcome you back. I'm Snatcher, King of Subcon Forest, and you are..?"
No response. Slight fear in her eyes.
"Can't talk? That's fine, you will eventually. In the meantime you should make your residence official," He summoned a contract. "Sign here, you're staying anyway, so you might as well."
She took the paper, looking it over. Hesitating to take the quill, she looked up at him.
Snatcher hummed, "Oh that's a whole story that would probably hurt your head, you'll remember soon enough, don't worry."
She held the quill with a shaking hand, pausing before signing the contract. The paper disappeared with a puff of smoke, making her flinch.
"Welcome to Subcon! I'd advise you go to the village, it's safer there," With that, Snatcher dived into the shadows, and vanished.
She didn't know where she was. She was surprised to see that her legs had vanished, they were still there but they weren't visible. Looking around to see a burning forest and a very large ghost descending from the trees.
He seemed nice enough. Introducing himself as "Snatcher". She was intimidated, but she couldn't exactly run, she could barely walk. He told her to sign a paper, saying that she was going to stay anyway. Reading it revealed that she would move into a " Subcon Village", stay in the forest unless told otherwise, and accept that she would help whenever told to. Something told her she didn't have a choice. She hesitantly asked what happened only to be told that she'd remember in time.
She couldn't remember her name. She made one up on the spot. Signing the contract under "Violentte".
Snatcher left her to her own devices, telling her to find Subcon Village.