The Shrine Maiden

Talking to Elizabeth made Sandy feel much better. Her questions were very simple and direct, cutting straight to the center of Sandy’s aching worries. If she wasn’t in danger, then what was she afraid of? Slowly, she began to rationalize it all. She wasn’t in danger in the sense of a monster attacking her in the woods. But she was afraid of going back to a life before Fable, which was a special kind of monster just for her that was ever-present and always dangerous. That was terrifying to her. Even though Sandy had just met Elizabeth, she felt she could tell her everything… and then she did.

And that’s why I need to ask for more supplies. I’m so sorry. I don’t want to just unload all my worries onto you. Think nothing of it. I wish people would do it more, to be honest. But that’s definitely not going to happen any time soon. I’m connected to a lot of people around here. But that doesn’t mean they enjoy seeing me. Why’s that? I’m a bit hard to handle. And by that, I mean I love being in charge! Once people depend on you for their livelihood, it sets you apart. You seem great to me… You say that because you don’t work for me! Hahaha! No one really confesses all their worries to their boss, you know? Oh, I understand. I would have never, ever… Gosh. I’m so tired. Help me take care of these statues. It’ll clear your head. The woods are always trying to take these shrines back from us, and… well, I’m not the kind to let that happen. It’s why folks call me Fable’s “shrine maiden”. Silly, right? So… Those loud guests you’ve got sound like a handful. Yeah. And they actually like it here. I don’t know why I went to pieces… I think I have a good idea. You do? How? Because the fog is rolling in… O-oh… Wow, it is. I’ve heard it’s dangerous. Should we go inside? There’s nowhere that fog can’t go. That’s why you have to stand up to it. Stand close to me and the shrine. There you go. Right there. Eep!

Sandy felt a shiver pass over her as a cool wind took the fog and lifted it towards them. The bottom of it would billow and roll while the top sank inside like a crumbling wall. Just as the rushing fog reached the shrine, it broke like water against an invisible rock, splitting suddenly left and right until it surrounded the small patch of forest Elizabeth was tending.

The fog loves it when people worry. It feels a kindred spirit and rushes to meet it. You’re acting like it’s alive. Everything’s alive. That’s why you have to show it your spirit. Oooh no. I just want to go back home. And look at what life gives you when you act like that… Yeah. That’s what I thought. You want the new girl but you don’t want to mess with me, do you? A-ah… Are you talking to it? Mmmhmm. Look.

Sandy looked over Elizabeth’s shoulder nervously. Small droplets of thick, green goo started to form out of the fog like condensing rain drops. The slimes they formed were everywhere and all all different sizes, from small pebbles to thick gooey beanbags. Sandy felt a shiver rush down her back as she saw little faces on their round bodies right in between two nubs that rolled around the outside like hands. Sandy could feel she was in danger, despite the eager smiles each slime had on it.

AAH! Aaah no… No I don’t want any more of this! So what’re you going to do about it? Me? The fog wants you. But you’ll just feel worse if I bail you out. Instead, I’m going to teach you how to live in this land! ! Watch this, new girl!
Put up your hands and show them you’re not going to roll over. I d-don’t know how to fight… Good day to learn, don’t you think? The fog thinks it can do whatever it wants to you. Is that true? No. Square your shoulders. Look straight ahead. Start by showing them you’re ready! That’s the first step to taking control of your life! This is our home because we can defend it! No other reason! Okay! Come and get it! HYAH!

And that’s when Sandy kicked one of them! She’d never done anything like that to another living thing in her whole life! She went in hard on the first one to come in range, kicking the slime so hard that Sandy watched its face bend all the way inside its round form. Their pleasant smiles didn’t change one bit when Sandy’s shoe passed into it and then popped out the other side, sending a flash of green back slime into the fog.

Uuuggh. My sock! They ruined your sock, new girl! Show them how that makes you feel! I… I hate it! I hate that anyone can do anything they want to me! Good! Tell them that! It makes me angry! I had a very bad day and I want to be left alone! What’re you going to do?! Yell it out! I’M GONNA GO HOME AND TAKE A BATH! Aaaahahaha! Yeah, I guess that works!