The Shore

The waves had carried the small boat to the shore. She didn’t know where it could have come from but somehow it felt it had arrived right where it should be. As she approached she noticed the young man, lying in it, his face pale and his side bloody. His breath was ragged, his skin was cold and yet he was obviously burning with fever. He was dying. She knew it immediately. He was dying and there was nothing she could do. Nothing to save him at least, but perhaps she could ease his pain. The heavy wrinkles were unmistakable traces of the suffering. They were not scars and yet they were, momentary scars of the turmoil that went on inside. He was dying and she wanted to help.

How she managed to make her voice carry to the castle she couldn’t say, all she knew is that it had and somehow the guards had found her. She had given orders and the young man had been carried to a room in the high tower, her room – she would sleep in her sister’s, it was long unoccupied anyway. Her father had come with the doctor, finding her on her knees, by the large bed, lost in her patient’s form. Her patient he was now, for even after the doctor repeated the words she had already formulated in her own mind, she insisted that she would nurse him. Perhaps not back to health but at least to a more painless death. She would nurse him if none other would try, even if were to fail, even if he died. He wouldn’t die though, she could feel it. Or at least she hoped so with all her heart, day and night, by his side, she hoped and hoped. She would not stop hoping. She simply could not. Even thought she knew perfectly well that she didn’t know him, he was nobody to her, but she had found him on the beach and thus it had become her duty to take care of him.

Day and night. Night and day. Day after day. Week after week. For months she remained by his side, only leaving to attain to the basics of her status as the castle’s lady and to sustain her self. A full moon came and went and he remained bed-ridden, shivering with cold and burning up at the same time, unresponsive but breathing. He was alive. Alive weeks after the short time the doctor had given him, alive in spite of all common sense. Hanging by a thread of sheer willpower, or luck, or divine clemency – she could not say – and taking in breath after breath, each ragged and difficult, but taken in nonetheless. Finally, one fine morning, as winter began to melt upon the world and the sun rose to the east, after refusing to go away for so long, the wound at his side finally shed its last bloody tear.

No matter the cataplasms, the potions or the spells, nothing had worked, it had kept spilling the life out of him, each day annulling the care that the lady had put into treating and keeping the young man on the edge of the last breath. Nothing had worked. It was cleaned, disinfected and stitched shut each night, and every morning it would be found open again, spewing blood. Not profusely but never a small enough amount to hope for him to recover. However, that one morning it had stopped, after hours upon hours of sweat and prayers, after days of struggling and nights of wakes, as the young woman woke up she saw no blood. It had refused to close, the deep and fateful cut as fresh as on the first day she had laid eyes on him, but bleeding no more. The day had passed and although his state had not changed in any way, it had not gotten worse. Then came night and then day again, with no sleep on her part, no rest for her weary heart and mind, which over time had grown accustomed to his uneven breathing and the boiling chill of his skin.

It was on the first light of the next day that the countless prayers she had thrown into the air, all the hopes she had kept afloat for so long, for the first time, crystalized into something beautiful. A single tear, running from the corner of the eye to the corner of the mouth. It glided soundlessly on the pallor of his skin, stopped only by her finger as she ran it on his cheek. Awestruck, she had seen the water collect and the power of gravity slowly do its deed as it attracted the painful rains to the ground. She could barely believe it but, refusing to let this miracle be lost, she let her hand shoot to his cheek without a second though and collected the living pearl. Reflexively, as her fingers touched the cold and gruff surface, she let them keep contact and run further, along the hill of his cheekbone to the ledge of his jaw line. A small beard had begun growing again and the fever had kept him at the edge of freezing and boiling, and yet, under her finger, nothing had ever felt more soft.

Still in the most complete of silence, a small wind began to blow through the half-open window and sunlight poured in over the bed. Suddenly, the world seemed to halt as she felt it. It was lightning quick and softer even than the songs of birds outside, yet she had felt it. As clear as she saw the tear run along her finger now and as strongly as she heard his ragged struggle for life, something she felt she had not in an eternity. A heartbeat. A single, solitary heartbeat, lacking strength, lacking its ever-present echo, but a heartbeat nonetheless. There, in the morning-lit room, where the dead man had kept bleeding for so long, and where silence reigned unchallenged, her shoulders began to shake…


The scene where it all begins again.

In a part of the story inspired by an old legend.

Butterfly

.

Their cries echo so far away

And I smile under this bright day,

I can hear them in the distance;

Despite this heavenly burden,

Unwavering, I keep my stance,

For this moment is my guerdon,

The sole goal of my existence,

That is the path I have taken

With fortitude and unshaken

Despite my father’s insistence,

I have succeeded in this quest

Throwing away my subsistence,

How it feels numb to be the best;

I can see her in the distance

As I kneel back down on the ground,

She cries but I can hear no sound…

.

Prince

.

I have travelled the lands

And seen the truth of life,

Men are grasping at strands

Of hope to escape strife,

Look at you, poor creatures,

All barely surviving,

Such sad, weary features,

None is truly living.

But I, I the new Prince,

I have had a vision:

End your indecision

That you should have long since,

For it is consuming

Your hearts from the inside

And no matter the stride

You will feel it looming…

.

Daily Prompt: Mystical

The god of the well


He looked back up at the woman dressed in a deep-violet-colored robe, unsure if he had heard well.

“You must undress before you enter the water”, she repeated with a flat voice.

A light breeze was flowing making the thin cloth flutter around her body and her short raven-colored hair ripple in waves. Her emerald eyes however were fixed on him and did not waver, he felt that she was somehow peering directly into his soul.

“The guardians of the lake will not be pleased to meet you if you are tainted with earthly possessions, one must enter pure of body to hope to have a chance to communicate with them”, she added .

Her voice echoed around them against the stone and mud walls, reverberating infinitely in his ears. He knew she was serious but he couldn’t help being a tad unwilling to comply. Being naked in front of her was the least of the reasons he could think of: the air was cold, he could see the small clouds of steam coming out of his mouth each time he breathed, and he was sure the water would be even colder. What really bothered him however was the idea of leaving his equipment behind, he knew enough to not blindly trust the sorceress nor the guardians and yet he had to do this without any means to defend himself in case something happened… He looked up at the sky, only partially visible even through the gigantic opening. The myriads of stars paled against the brightness of the Rift’s bluish glow that illuminated the aethers. The night was dark, as dark as it could have been. Apart from his breathing and the slight rustling of the clothes, everything was silent, even the water, as if nature around the lake had gone to sleep.

“You have to decide soon, traveller. The spirits will not be patient indefinitely…”

He turned to her once more, her pale face reflected the bluish gleam of the night, before setting his eyes on the dark body of water. It was even darker than the sky, barely reflecting the scar on its ink-black surface. Unmoving, its calm stillness not even disrupted by a single ripple, it seemed like black mirror made of onyx, darker than darkness itself, barely visible to the human eye as if it sucked in all the light around. He had never seen such a sight. He had never felt such a thing either. He could feel its cold presence emanating from the darkness and saturating the whole space. He knew he had to go in, not out of duty or necessity but, for once, out of curiosity. He had to. If he didn’t then he would never know… But if he did… The thought made him shiver. He felt like a butterfly flying towards a bright fire, blinded by the light and not realizing it would burn itself.

The stillness of the black body of liquid in front of him was eerie, but it wasn’t that or the freezing temperature that covered his skin with goosebumps. No. It was the things he had heard about it, about those who had tried such a thing before him. Tales of madness and death, crippling pain of unimaginable proportions and visions that would shatter more than one sane soul. Plus the look the robed woman was shooting at him wasn’t reassuring one bit. He took a quick glance at her once again, his dark gaze meeting her emerald one. Her face betrayed no emotion but he could have sworn he had seen the shadow of a smile flash through her eyes. Even the resemblance was eerie… But he couldn’t be thinking about that right now. He took in a deep breath and steeled his resolve.

He might have seemed calm in appearance but, as he began undressing himself, his heart was racing and his mind was in overdrive. What if something happened? Would he be able to react in time? Would he even know how to react? Slowly he took each and every piece of cloth on his body off. He felt his cheeks burn as he started undressing. The fresh breeze on his skin made him shiver. Finally, once he found himself in nothing but his underwear he looked at the sorceress again.

“You are on the right path, traveller…”, she commented with a smirk.

He sighed, knowing she was enjoying every bit of this, that she would not advert her gaze and that it was useless to try to cover himself for it would remain intently fixed on him. Finally he took the last piece of cloth off. Once it was done he felt completely vulnerable, more than he had ever felt in his life. And he couldn’t be sure it was because of what he was going to attempt… He took off the necklace around his neck and carefully places the silver pendant on the top of the pile of clothes. If he had been less worried he might have chuckled at the slightly ironic sight of the finely designed butterfly. He then turned towards the lake. He sighed once more before taking a tentative step towards the dark and completely still body of water, feeling her gaze on himself with every step.

As his bare foot touched the cold water it sent a unique ripple throughout its surface. The breeze got stronger as he began entering the water. He clenched his jaw and wondered what he would find on the other side, trying his best to take his mind of the freezing temperature. It took him an eternity to reach a waist-level depth but as soon as he did he felt an intense wave of magic hit him at full force. It surrounded him and grasped his body and mind like a vice. He tried to stop it, to resist, almost backing out of the lake, but found himself unable to keep control over his limbs, they wouldn’t respond to him anymore. He knew his will to be strong but against such a quick and powerful aggression, and having to face the freezing temperature of the lake, he had not been able to react in time.

He cursed himself for his carelessness, barely halfway in and he was already caught in a trap. He tried to free himself from this unknown power but it was as if he was an insect caught in a spider’s web, the more he resisted, the more he lost control. Slowly he felt himself be pulled towards the depth of the water by invisible but irresistible strings. He wanted to turn around, to yell at her for betraying him, he wanted to let his fury rage about but he was frustratingly unable to do anything except witness his own demise… As he was about to be completely submerged in the cold darkness, he heard the voice of the sorceress behind him.

“Now you must surrender everything you are to them, otherwise he will never see you… And so will your friends…”, she said with a wide smirk before turning around and slowly disappearing into the night.

That was the last thing he heard before the strings dragged him into the depths and the lake swallowed him whole. As the ripples faded away on its surface the breeze calmed down and everything became still again. It was as if nothing had ever happened, the only remainder of a human presence was the pile of clothes atop which was placed the silvery pendant, gleaming as it reflected the bluish light of the Rift.


Here is a scene I have had in mind for quite some time now and that I finally came around to write for this prompt.

I hope you enjoy it despite perhaps not getting everything.

via Daily Prompt: Mystical

The rider in the storm

Image source unknown


Night. The darkest hour. When all hope disappears. Thunder is rumbling, the wind is howling madly. The grass on the hills is bending under the power of the storm. Rain is falling hard on the ground, plundering the earth. A dark shadow is moving. A horse is running, a rider on its back. Running as fast as it can, as if its life depended on it. Running as quick as the wind. He rides, never looking back, hoping they are okay. Praying to reach them in time. The world seems against him; as if the gods were mad at him. As if they had unleashed Hell on Earth. Droplets of water, as cold and hard as ice hits him in the face, rendering him unable to see more than a few meters in front of him.

Lightning strikes, once, twice, giving shape to the shadow of a ghost. A ghost from the past that is catching up on him. He knows he should run away but he can’t. He has to cope with that growing unease growing inside him. They need him! He has to get there at all cost! He has to make it, his steed knows it also. The mighty stallion gains speed, outrunning the heavy gusts of wind. Its mane buzzing frantically as it gains more speed, sparks forming around its legs. Getting bigger and more frequent with each new step. Suddenly it lights up in a thunderous boom, thousands of tiny lighting bolts coming out of its mane and its tail, covering its entire body. It gains even more speed, running so fast it outruns even the heavenly flashes. Cutting through the mad rain, leaving a burnt trail behind it. He runs an impossible race. A race for his friends. A race against time, against himself. A race against death…


Here is a text I wrote some time ago, a scene from one of my stories that I have had in mind for some time.

Death is but a transition

“Does the people wish to hear the last words of the criminal?!” Asked the head judge as he stepped on the wooden platform where the man was chained.

Many hands shot up as he asked this question, more than three-quarters of the crowd cheered to manifest their wish to hear his final pleadings to the judges and to the sky to let him live, while the other part of the crowd just wanted to see the execution and the monster, that was still breathing, die before their eyes. None of them were particularly excited by the idea of someone dying before their eyes but he was different, he had been such a pain in their life in his foolish quest to destroy everything. Now he was being punished for his countless crimes and they wanted to see him pay. The soul lance was almost ready and in a few minutes he would his existence would have vanished from this world and they would be at peace again.

“Very well, criminal, you may speak one last time…” Said the middle-aged man who had been presiding over his trial, scratching his long bear at the same time.

The executioners walked to the chained prisoner and proceeded to unbound his mouth before taking a step back to let everyone see him as he spoke. He had short brown hair and a short, well-trimmed beard. His eyes were of a surprising color, in-between pale blue and grey, as he lifted his head to look at the crowd that had gathered before him. He stared at them for a long moment during which everyone held their breath in anticipation before he spoke. His voice was deep and calm as he started to pronounce his last words.

“I am Ascendi, I am the prince and today I am to be executed like a vulgar criminal, here are my words to you. Death is but a transition, life may be taken away from me, I may be reduced to ashes, my soul may leave my body, but do you think that it will stop me? I am Ascendi and I will make this continent crumble, I will make your houses and you palaces, your cities and you countries, turn to rubble under my foot. This will no stop me, nothing will stop me. Death is but a transition…” As his words echoed around the wide square no other sound could be heard, all held their breaths either in shock, fear or anticipation.

The judge gave the order and the executioners took the veil off the large spear that had been levitating over the wooden platform, it started glowing brighter as the put their palms out towards it and started chanting in the ancient language. A few seconds passed, during which they were the only ones who dared speak, then slowly the air started blurring around the length of the lance and red flames appeared, quickly growing and turning to orange, then yellow and finally pure white.

The intensity of the heat and the light that emanated from the flames could be felt all the way to the back of the crowd, people could barely keep their eyes open. The executioners’ chant started getting louder and louder to finally reach its peak as they gave the final words. They both took a step back and the soul lance slowly started getting closer to the man in chains, he stared at the sacred weapon with pride until it reached the center of its chest.

Then it stopped moving but kept getting brighter. The man closed his eyes and opened his mouth, letting out all his rage into a single but powerful cry. It lasted for a number of long seconds, only his voice could be heard now as he was completely engulfed by the light. Then, suddenly, there was an even brighter flash of light that encompassed the whole square. As quickly as it had come the light had vanished, along with the echoes of the criminal’s voice.

When the crowd opened their eyes the only thing that could be seen were the chains that bound him earlier, nothing of the man remained, he had completely vanished and the spear had found it place back in the center of the wooden platform. It was once more covered with the veil by the executioner before the judge walked to the crowd.

“The criminal has been executed!” He exclaimed before turning around and leaving the platform as cheers erupted from the crowd.